Hats off to the SCAPA All Star Jazz Band

What a great way to wrap up the 2014-15 school year.  One of SCAPA’s newest additions is the Jazz Band.  While still in its early stages, we are making excellent progress, specifically in the area of improvisation.  The band/class is not quite like any other current offerings in the Fayette County school system, as the focus is on teaching improvisational skills through the study of jazz and blues standards, and by learning the music of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Red Garland and John Coltrane to name just a few.

We were given the opportunity in June to perform for two worthy events.  On June 11th, we were asked to play for the Kentucky Superintendents Conference held at the Marriott here in Lexington, and we received a very positive response from many of those in attendance.  A little over a week later, on June 22nd we were asked to play for the final meeting of the Fayette County School Board for the school year.  It too was well received, thus giving the students a wonderful opportunity to exhibit their improvisational skills.  So all in all, a very positive experience, and I am looking forward to the coming 2015-16 school year as I think this band is really offering kids a unique and yet challenging opportunity to expand their musical skills.

Obviously, I am looking forward to this year’s SCAPA Piano Majors!  This year’s class is amazingly talented and it is going to be fun watching and hearing them develop.  Our recital this year on May 9th was a phenomenal success with some incredible performances.  It can currently be viewed on Cable Channel 13, (the Fayette County Channel).  I was immensely proud of each and every pianist.  Really hard to believe these kids are only in elementary and middle school…such poise, maturity and profound musical expression.  They really play beyond their years.

Stay tuned!  I hope to do a better job this year keeping these posts current and up to date.  Until next time….



Busy, Busy, Busy…

What a busy last 4 weeks it has been.  In terms of performances, I started November off right, playing piano for a lovely event at Idle Hour Country Club.  Always a joy to play for the members of such an old and established County Club with a long tradition of classy events and receptions.

Both myself and Nancy Campbell presented our annual performance of piano and strings at SCAPA Bluegrass on November 19th, and I must say, it was well received.  A very good program with some very talented musicians, and some challenging and delightful selections.  I confess, I have become a big fan of piano duets.

Two weeks ago it was my pleasure to play piano at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.  The event was called “The Sporting Art Auction.”  I especially enjoyed myself as they had provided or I should say, had a baby grand delivered for the event.  (I confess, I always prefer playing an instrument that I didn’t have to carry in).  But the event was quite an eye opener.  I played the pre auction reception…this was the event that allowed potential bidders to come and inspect the very, impressive and expensive art pieces.  Indeed some remarkably beautiful and very old “oils,” along with some bronze sculptures, many from the 1800’s.  I don’t know how the auction went the following night, but I would have loved to just attend to see what was auctioned.  Needless to say, the event was so much fun to play for, with a lot of delicious food and some interesting people in attendance.

A little over a week ago, we were very lucky to have some of the piano faculty of Morehead come to SCAPA to perform for the piano students.  What a great presentation they gave!  And most entertaining.  Dr. Paul Taylor along with Dr. Chialing Hsieh and their resident Jazz Instructor Josh Espinoza all came and again, gave a most entertaining as well as informative presentation.  I even got the opportunity to play a bit with Josh on a couple of tunes.  “All Of Me” and the Monk tune “Straight No Chaser.”  That was fun and I know I could learn a few things from Josh.

Well, that’s it for now, friends.  I want to wish one and all a most Joyous, and Happy Christmas, (or indeed, whatever holiday you choose to celebrate), I hope it is filled with wonder and magic and good memories.  I also hope everyone has a most prosperous and a healthy 2015.  Until next time!

SCAPA Piano and Strings Concert Tonight!

Be there now and don’t ask how!  Looking forward to another delightful concert of strings and “delicious” piano duets.  The concert will be this evening (11-19) at SCAPA Bluegrass, in the Multi Purpose Room.  It will begin promptly at 6:30.  The pianists will be playing some truly wonderful duets by W.A. Mozart, Scott Joplin, Anton Diabelli, and even a very clever Duet Fugue based on the tune, “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga.  It should be a most entertaining performance.  If you like the sound of strings and piano together, this is the place for you tonight.  Love to see you there.

SCAPA Piano and Strings Public Performance. Your Invitation!

November 7, 2013

 Dear Parents, Students (and private teachers),

     Just a brief letter to inform all of you, that the piano and string majors will again be presenting their annual public concert for your entertainment, on Monday, November 18th.  The focus of the piano performances will be to feature piano duets, as well as participating in some chamber music, (which should present a nice contrast to our solo recitals in the spring).  This particular performance will allow us to exhibit our abilities performing duets and again, along with various string ensembles.  The strings will also be performing their various selections.  Needless to say, it should be a delightful concert.

      The performance will again, take place on Monday evening, November 18th in the multi-purpose room.   Mrs. Campbell has scheduled the performances to begin at 6:30 but has asked that all guests and performers try to arrive by around 6:10 P.M.  The entire performance should not last much more than an hour and twenty minutes.

      Again, this always proves to be such a lovely event, and I am extremely happy to be able to include the pianists, in what I think will be a very educational, memorable and enjoyable experience.

      I look forward to seeing each of you on November 18th, and hearing some excellent piano and string music from some very talented young musicians.  If you have any questions, comments and/or concerns, please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,

 David Gillespie


Saturday Afternoon Socials and Recitals

Well I must say, I had a delightful late afternoon performance at the Tanbark Retirement Community in Hartland Hills on Saturday, September, 14th.  Such an attentive and appreciative group of people.  I should confess that I thought I would be providing some casual background dinner music, but that was not the plan.  I was to perform after dinner, in essence, a small and intimate recital of jazz on the piano. While I was at first surprised, I quickly welcomed the notion of giving a more formal sort of performance.  The residents all came in and sat quietly in various couches, and chairs in anticipation of a live performance of jazz standards played on the piano.  I think what I most enjoyed was that, based on the age of those in attendance, much of what I played (jazz standards), was well known by the audience and their applause after each tune was encouraging and appreciated.  While I wish the piano itself had been a bit better, all in all, it was an enjoyable late afternoon event and I was happy to have provided a bit of “comic relief” to the residents in attendance.  As always, I continue to be thankful and grateful for the opportunities I am given to share my craft with those who appreciate live music.

The Labor Day Edition


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It will be brief!  Afterall, this is a day of “no” Labor.  All is well as we begin another year at SCAPA.  The Jazz Lab Class is showing promise as we begin to learn new Standards…all from Lead Sheets.  (I have also managed to pen an original for the group, “Rad’s Radical Blues”).  The piano majors have all been given their first duets and I am looking forward to hearing them performed, as we begin the process of working towards our Fall, Strings and Piano Performance, featuring Piano Duets along with Piano and Strings selections.  I believe the tentative date for this event is the third Monday in November.  Stay tuned I will confirm soon.


A New School Year!

Yes indeed, it is once again, that time of the year.  Looking forward to getting back in the classroom and working with some very talented young pianists.  I’ve got a feeling, it is going to be an amazing year, with some exciting new performances.  We are starting a new class at SCAPA this year called Jazz Improvisation, and while it will be challenging to teach, it may end up being one of the most rewarding classes I’ve ever been involved with.  Teaching improvisation at the middle school level just has so much promise.  Wish me luck!  Stay tuned, I will be updating this page regularly, and posting any upcoming performances.  I can confirm that in November, the piano and strings program will once again combine, to present some wonderful chamber music.  Details to follow…

It’s summer time and the livin’ is (mostly) easy…

It’s summer time and the livin’ is (mostly) easy.   I am getting ready to start up summer piano classes with my awesome piano students and I am looking forward to the many discoveries that await us.  Happy to announce that I have added a couple of new students to the roster and they look most promising.  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacations….and don’t forget the sun screen!

SCAPA Piano Recitals

I am happy to report that this year’s Piano Recitals at SCAPA Bluegrass were both impressive and truly amazing.  On May 11th, 2013 both recitals took place at Central Christian Church in downtown Lexington.  The first show featured the Elementary students (4th and 5th graders) and the second show featured the Middle School students (6th, 7th and 8th graders).  The Recitals featured a wide variety of solo piano compositions, everything from jazz and boogie to beautiful works by J.S. Bach to Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin, as well as Gershwin to Shostakovitch.  Both recitals were filmed and can be viewed regularly this summer on the Fayette County Television Channel, Cable Channel 13 or can be viewed online by going to fcps.net and clicking on Channel 13.  Enjoy!

Dave Gillespie