Article in the Rutland Herald today

I’m proud to share this article that appeared in the Rutland Herald today, April 6, 2015.

Our town of Bennington, VT has been hit by a number of difficult headlines that has tarnished the image of its beautiful artsy and charming nature. I intend to keep chipping away at changing the tune of this town, making it sharp rather than flat.

Puns aside, apparently the adult pianists who attend the Sonata Piano Camp here in Bennington also care about the local youth of our town, wanting to give them the gift of music by offering scholarships to our very own Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp (see for information on all of our piano camps).

So far, over $32,000 has been raised by the adult pianists. There’s a matching gift of up to $28,000 which has inspired many to give and make it to the matched $56,000 goal.

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of these pianists – over 68 have contributed to date. It is my intention to try and make this an annual gift to and for the local schools of Bennington, VT so that a music student may attend the very piano camp that the adult pianists love and come back to year after year.

Here’s the article:

Thank you, Patrick McArdle, for Playing It Forward, too!

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The love of music

Love this blog post from Michele Bernstein. Had to share since it mentions piano camp prominently!


In 2000, DH sent me to piano camp as a birthday gift. We were both taking music lessons (piano for me, guitar for him), and read Noah Adams’ book, Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures. The description of Adams’ week at Sonata Piano Camp as an adult student inspired DH to surprise me with the same.

music quilt detail

It turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. I went many more times after that. I made great friends, and even improved my piano skills. One of my new friends attended with her mom, Betsy. Betsy was my duet partner in 2001. She was an amazing woman: A college math teacher, marathon runner, downhill ski racer, knitter, quilter.

music quilt 2

When Betsy was dying in 2012, I sent a note along with a CD of her playing at Sonata, including the duet that we played. It arrived the morning she passed away…

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Piano, not Netflix, on a Snow Day


Piano caught in the snow

Tomorrow, January 27, 2015, is going to be a snow day for most of the Northeast.

Why not spend it practicing piano? Join your friends in accumulating some nice hours at the piano.

Write in the comments, below, how many hours you put in and what repertoire you worked on.

Piano is a lonely instrument, at times, so I enjoy encouraging a greater community in small ways like this one.

Have a warm, musical and fulfilling day. And, a cup of hot chocolate!

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Sonatina website gets a new look


Dive in and check out our new website!

Yippee! Sonatina Enterprises, Inc., also known as Sonata Piano Camp, Intermezzo Weekends and Summer Sonatina International Piano Camps, has a new website at

Matt Moon, our tech-guy for all of the videos and livestreaming that we do at camp, has designed and put together the new website. We are delighted with the new look.

On the site you can instantly find the program that you’re looking for (Sonata, Intermezzi or Summer Sonatina). Clicking on that, you’ll find some muted videos and pictures as well as some text.

You can also instantly find the “Apply” button if you want to register without searching deeper for it on the site. There’s a button at the top of the site or you can go to the program and find a similar button.

Making payments got easier too. We now accept Discover, American Express, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal or by check. Such options!

Here’s some fun features on the site:  poke around the EXPLORE section of it and you’ll discover many things.

Availability: click on that and a lightbox will come up telling you how many slots are available for camp or if there’s a wait list.

FAQs: a question and answer section for either Sonatas/Intermezzi or Summer Sonatina.

My online piano lesson information: with a free TRIAL set up and tech session, how-tos, etc.

Video archives: this was an extraordinary amount of work and Matt will continue to add to the array. So far, all videos from 2014 have been added and there’s now a section that allows you to search by composer, piece or person who played.

There’s a ticker counter showing how many more days/hours/minutes and seconds until the first day of Summer Sonatina 2015!

My blog is linked to the pages, there’s a food and garden section with a description and pictures, more photos of the facilities (beds, pianos and rooms), a short blurb on the history of camp, and recent publicity about piano camp.

Scroll down some more and you’ll see where the livestreamed section of our website is hosted.

Below that, is a cool left to right line up of faculty with pictures and bios.

Finally, scrolling down further, you’ll find a map that includes airport distance from Bennington, VT.

Pretty cool, huh?! Thanks and major BRAVOS to Matt Moon for the hours and weeks of work that went into this. So, have some fun and enjoy the new site. We’d love your feedback, too.



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Happy New Year!

To all the pianists, far and wide, that I have met and worked with here at Sonata or  Sonatina International Piano Camp: I’m wishing you all a wonderful 2015 New Year.

Some of you might think that I always need to rely on a chef day in and day out, as is the norm when you come to piano camp. Here, below, is proof positive that I do cook. Most of you have seen pictures of me at the piano so I wanted to add a new flavor to your experience of me!

I look forward to sharing stories about things related to the piano and the various roles I play when being a teacher, colleague, friend, Mom, wife, sibling, daughter and more, to you all.

May 2015 bring you lots of gifts at the piano, whether in practice or performance.

Love, Polly


Photo by Laurie Devine

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How-To Videos on How to Start a Piece and Pedaling

At every Sonata Piano Camp session, I offer a couple of morning classes. This year, my topics were How to Start a Piece, ranging in difficulty from a simple 5-finger pattern to a Brahms Intermezzo and How, What and When to Use the Pedals, depending on the repertoire selected, the acoustics of the room and other reasons.

Each time I offered the class, people would ask me if it’s been recorded. On the final Sonata Piano Camp of the season (there are over a dozen per year if the Intermezzo weekends are included), I had Matt Moon videotape me and they are posted, below.

These are in an informal setting and the cameras pan between the keyboard, an enlarged PDF file of the music discussed, the Sonata participants listening to the lecture and myself. Both videos last about 90 minutes each.

Feel free to watch them and learn some of the techniques I use in my teaching methods. If you have any questions, feel free to post your question on this blog post below. Enjoy.


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Thank yous from Summer Sonatina 2014 Scholarship Recipients

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For pianists, it’s high 10s, not 5s!

For the past couple of summers, we have received wonderful support from adult pianists who wanted to give the gift of piano camp to youngsters who live in Bennington, VT or surrounding towns. This year, the scholarship fund swelled to $8700 and allowed 10 students to attend Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp. Due to the success of this program and the wonderful feedback we received from the young recipients (who were all need-based and of various levels and years of piano study) after they attended piano camp, we plan to add to our fund again for the 2015 summer season. Please enjoy these heartfelt and thankful letters from some of the 2014 local recipients, below.

From V.E., age 11: It has been a great summer for my sister and I, but one of the best parts was Camp Summer Sonatina. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this year, I met some new people that became my best friends in just a couple of days, I encountered some of my old friends who I knew from last year and we all bonded in an incredible way, it’s so amazing how music can bring so many different people from different parts of the world together. Sonatina attracts some of the most talented children and teens from all over the world, for example there have been children from Russia, Turkey, Spain, France, Canada and so many more. I keep thinking of what a privilege it is to be able to come to this extraordinary place and meet so many extraordinary people who play their music beautifully and passionately.  I hope that Camp Summer Sonatina goes on for many, many years and every child who comes back home from Sonatina comes back with a smile on their face.

From A.C., age 11: Thank you, I had a really fun time at your camp! After I came back from your camp I could sight read a lot better and I could just pick up a song and learn it in a day.  My piano skills are better as well. I’m a lot quicker on the piano now and I am learning a new song every day. At Summer Sonatina, I met a lot of new friends that I am still in contact with and I talk to them a lot. One of my best friends at Summer Sonatina was my “dorm parent.”  She was really nice and helped me with the songs that I was working on at that time. But, what made her really special was that she was like a friend. I am honored that Summer Sonatina gave me a scholarship and I am really happy that I came to Summer Sonatina. At the end of Summer Sonatina, it was really hard for me to say goodbye to my friends and the house. I can’t wait for next summer because I am definitely coming again. Also, I hope that I get the same roommates and I hope that I get my same dorm parent as last year. I absolutely loved your camp and learning more piano music!

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Two double artist benches with happy pianists

From J.E., age 9: I really enjoyed myself at camp this year. What amazed me the most was that even though the violin is my main instrument, I play the piano really well because your faculty and counselors teach us so well. I also like that you don’t just want us to focus on playing the piano but you also want us to focus on getting outside and running around and bonding with each other, and the field trips are just extraordinary. We get to see all kinds of cool ballets and orchestras. Because I’m a violinist I particularly enjoyed Joshua Bell. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and my sister. Can’t wait to go next year!

From N.R., age 14: Thank you for giving me a scholarship to attend Summer Sonatina this year. It was a lot of fun and it helped me get better at piano. I was able to polish several previously learned pieces and learn some new pieces. The teachers were very nice and helped me a lot and 3 hours of practice daily helped me learn how to organize my practice time. Then I got to perform on the wonderful Fazioli piano at the Bennington Center for the Arts – twice! I even got to play on the radio, on WBTN!  All with plenty of games, sports and some new friends made. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun and my parents noticed the difference in my playing when I got home. Thank you so much for helping me do all this and I hope you continue to help other kids do the same.

From A.K., age 9: Thank you for giving me a scholarship. I really enjoyed learning about all the different tricks you can do with the piano. I made two great friends this year and I can’t wait to make more in the following years. Summer Sonatina taught twice as many songs as I knew when I first started. I had a great experience and can’t wait until next year! Thanks again!

From H.M., age 13: To begin with, I would like to say a huge thank you for giving me a scholarship sot that I could attend to my second year of Sonatina. While being at Sonatina, I was able to improve my skills on piano, met new people interested with music like me. I find myself practicing more at home and I cannot wait to go next year again. Thank you so much.

From A.M., age 11:  Thank you so much for the scholarship. I had a great time improving my piano skills and learned a lot. I probably wouldn’t have gotten in if it weren’t for the scholarship. I hope I can go next year because I want to learn more. It was my first time at sleepaway camp and I liked feeling independent. I also liked making new friends.

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Love the pink crocs for pedaling!

From a parent: Both of my children received a scholarship to attend piano camp this summer. This was a much anticipated second year and a first time sleep away camp for my second child. The enthusiasm for music that manifest in our home as fighting over who gets the piano is a delightful energy! When we got in the car to bring the children home, one remark was: “Ok, only 51 more weeks until Sonatina.” Besides the obvious musical enhancement both children received from your talented instructors, they gained confidence in themselves as young individuals who sometimes find difficulty finding their way socially being “music geeks.” As a parent it has been a struggle to convince them their people are out there and this experience helped prove my suggestion that this is indeed the case. I am impressed by the awareness Polly has of children’s needs well beyond what they need in their musical development. This is remarkable despite the amount of work that must go into running this operation. So, a huge thank you from a very impressed parent who, by the way, enjoyed the first child-free week with her husband in 13 years!

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With 50 fingers, almost all 88 keys are covered!

A big THANK YOU to all who contributed so generously. We couldn’t have all these wonderful pianists without your help! Bennington, VT is lucky to count you all as our piano angels.


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