Early Life

I don’t remember learning to play the piano. My mother told me I started at two, crawling up on the bench trying to make music like my father, who played every night after dinner. One of my fondest childhood memories is of playing piano duets with him or singing while he played. I can still see him at the dinner table conducting a disembodied orchestra with his knife, while we listened to some piano concerto on the stereo. My sister took lessons, too, and our house was always full of music.

My influences come from a lot of places. My father and my piano lessons exposed me to classical music. At the same time, I can remember my sister crouched beside our radio in 1964, waiting for the next playing of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I thought it was totally cool. I discovered musicals early, which I adored passionately. I cut my vocal teeth (don’t laugh, now) on Mary Poppins. When I was eight, I sang music from The Sound of Music over and over, trying to get it right. I can’t think of anyone better to emulate, technique-wise, than Julie Andrews. Then when I was eleven my sister came home from college with a guitar. It was 1969, and she was playing Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Peter Paul and Mary. I got hooked on folk music and guitar playing.

In the 70s I was influenced by Kansas, Queen, Styx and ELP. Queen in particular helped to shape me, as they had songs with many different styles. I used to practice my singing, imitating Freddie Mercury, who I thought was amazing. With Queen I got to practice singing hard rock, crooning 40’s style, ballads, and operatic style. It was great training! I still listened to the acoustic artists like Cat Stevens, Livingston Taylor (James’ lesser-known but just as wonderful brother) and CSNY. And, of course, more musical theater and classical music. I had quit piano lessons, but took classical voice training. I practiced and played constantly; all the high school talent shows, coffee houses, local theaters, and then bars when I was old enough. At eighteen I was playing in my first band, complete with Les Paul and black bellbottoms. (Well, it was 1977.)

By the 1980s the popular music scene turned its eye on scantily clad guys prancing around with big hair. Fun to look at, but largely a “boy’s only” club, unless you could play wailing guitar leads, which I couldn’t. For an acoustic guitarist/pianist there wasn’t much work in the popular music world. I’d always loved classical and rock music, but I couldn’t figure out how to be both a classical and a popular musician. I didn’t have any role models. The genres seemed completely separate, and in fact, at war with each other. But as I listened to more and more of Keith Emerson, I realized he had managed to integrate the two very disparate styles of music, and he was a Juilliard graduate. I figured if he could do it, so could I. So I enrolled in Music College. I had neglected my classical roots while trying to make a living playing popular music, and Keith Emerson’s inspiration drove me to refocus on my classical piano skills. I wanted to be as good as he was.

College Years

Music school gave me an opportunity to devote my time to doing nothing but practicing and studying. It was wonderful. I had enrolled in Combs College of Music in Philadelphia, where I stayed until I had a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance with a Minor in Voice. While at college I seriously considered the life of a concert pianist, but I wasn’t willing to focus exclusively on classical piano. The life of a concert pianist is pretty single-minded. They practice many hours a day on only classical music, and I was too interested in a variety of styles. In retrospect, I might have been able to do it, but I didn’t see it that way at the time.

Just before I left college, three things happened that totally derailed me, professionally and emotionally. First, my father died of cancer. Not only was I mourning his loss, but it threw me into a musical identity crisis. He had been such an influence on me – a comrade in a life devoted to the love of music. Second, his death left my handicapped mother needing someone to help care for her. Third, I had been plagued by very bad tendonitis while I was in music school, and after I graduated I actually had to stop playing for a while out of frustration and pain. After assuming all my life that I would be a professional performer, it suddenly seemed I would have to choose another profession. I was devastated. I had lost two things I dearly loved, that helped to give me my identity. I floundered. Finally I turned to writing. I had been writing all my life, but the focus on music had eclipsed it. For about three years I helped care for my mother, wrote science fiction and poetry, and studied writing. The two most useful things I gained during that period of my “life without music” were: 1) I developed stronger writing skills, which have helped my lyric (and other) writing immensely, and 2) I realized that for me, a life without being actively involved in music was like just passing the time until I died. Music was what put the magic in life for me. I resolved that no matter how much trouble I had with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome (I have that too), I had to get back to playing music.


So very, very slowly I started playing again. I would make sure my hands were warm and relaxed before I began, and I wouldn’t play for very long. Fifteen minutes to start, easy pieces, and not every day. I also went for regular massages and asked the massage therapist to work gently on my hands. Slowly I built myself back up into a state where I could perform again.

Once I had achieved that I began teaching piano lessons. I hadn’t felt comfortable teaching when I couldn’t play myself. I enjoyed it more than I imagined I would. In fact, I realized I love teaching.
In the late 1980s I returned to performing popular music – first solo and then with bands again, and was pretty successful. The one duo I was in went far enough to open up for Eddie Money and The Little River Band. Yet I was still discontented. I missed classical piano and musical theater.


Around 1990 I took a long look at what I really wanted to do with my musical life. I had always wanted to write original music, but my early attempts were mediocre. For some reason it finally seemed to gel, and I started writing in earnest. Most of this early work is singer/songwriter material for guitar. This eventually resulted in the release of Labyrinth (1995) and dancerdemonloveranswer (2001). The process of creating both these albums was a great joy. There is nothing quite like watching your music come alive in the studio.

Also, in 1994 I was hired by HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) as a part-time instructor of music classes. It was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. Teaching music history added to the depth I could bring to my private piano teaching. I’m still employed there, and I love it!

After the release of dancer I started writing for the piano. The piano is really my home, and my first true love. I wrote a few songs, but then turned to more serious art songs and instrumental works. Some of those will be on an upcoming CD, along with some of my father’s compositions.

Recent Years

In the early 2000’s I spent almost six years studying piano with Julia Benfer, a Master teacher. She studied with some of the great teachers and pianists (see “experience” listing on the instruction page) of the 20th century, and her knowledge transformed my playing and my teaching. She was amazing. Think Yoda for piano. She died in 2009, at 99. Believe it or not, she took me on as a student when she was 92, which means I studied with her until she was 98!

During this time I also recorded Cover to Cover (2007), which, in addition to originals, has some covers on it that not only are the favorites of some of my fans, but remind me of my roots and the music that made me who I am.

In 2009 my husband and I bought some land so we could build our own house. He is pretty handy as a carpenter, although he’s a Nurse Practitioner, and I had had some experience with building and carpentry too. My father had been a builder, and so I had picked up some skills from him. That knowledge didn’t prepare us in the least for all the things we would have to learn how to do; digging the foundation, laying cinderblocks, wiring, plumbing, etc. We started in early 2011, and it took us three and a half years to complete. As you can imagine, it put a crimp in my musical career, and totally exacerbated my carpal tunnel to the point where I could barely play, and I had to really cut back on my performing. However, we are now living in our gorgeous house, built just the way we wanted. I’ve got a private studio where I can teach lessons, and we have a beautiful view of rolling farmland and trees. We made a point of planting mostly native Pennsylvania plants and mowing very little. It’s important to us to provide habitat for birds and pollinators.

After that my hands were so bad that I finally broke down and had carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand in 2018. The results are awesome! I can play as well as I could years ago. No tingling, no numbness. It’s like a miracle. I have been able to resume performing again.

One thing I haven’t mentioned at all yet is my interest in CAM, the common acronym for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Eric (my husband) and I had always been interested in herbalism and natural healing. In fact, although he is a Nurse Practitioner, he is also a Classical Homeopath. All my life I’ve been interested in music and mysticism, and the possibility of using music and sound as a healing tool. Around 2010 I started studying Sound Healing in earnest, and was just starting to learn quite a bit when we started to build the house. That kind of derailed my studies for a few years, but once the house was built, I resumed. I took Reiki training, Level I and II, and took a number of classes in various ways to use sound for healing.

Then in early 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I won’t bore you with the details here, but the short story is: 1) I am now cancer-free, and 2) I used my knowledge of CAM to help me weather my cancer treatment (which included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation). It was so successful that I decided it was time to add Sound Healing to my repertoire. So I am now a Sound Healing and ReikiSound™ practitioner, and do some Sound Healing instruction. I’ve also added sound meditations to the “gigs” I do. (If you can call leading a meditation a gig.)

Additionally, my experience inspired me to write a book about my experience called Cancer Without Fear: Integrating Complementary and Alternative Medicine with Mainstream Treatment. (link to writing page.)

I am currently living with Eric and our four cats in our beautiful house, enjoying the wild and varied activities in my life: Teaching, performing, writing, leading meditations, doing Sound Healing and ReikiSound sessions. I am happier than I’ve ever been.