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The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players

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A literary musical mystery novel by Eileen P. Duggan, released in April 2016 by Rocking Horse Publishing. 

The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players follows four music majors who struggle to make it in a community college music department that has a Juilliard mentality.

Lynnéa, Erin, Holly and Austin form close friendships despite the fact that two of them study piano with the heinous Professor Dickson, who is despised by the other two. Along the way they find music and friendship, success and failure, lust and love, trust and threats — and murder.

The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players is a peek into the world of classical music education with a mystery running in the background.


Professor Elbert Dickson waddled into the classroom, carrying a brown hard-case briefcase. He was medium height, but his lumpy stomach and pear shape made him appear shorter. His Army-green slacks looked as if they had been worn too many times — the seat of the pants nearly outshone his brown lace-up Florsheims. Masses of unruly black hair struggled to overcome a relentlessly receding hairline, and thick horn-rimmed glasses rested on his pudgy face.

He was five minutes late.

* * *

The Players

Lynnéa Lewis: Beautiful and talented, this Jane Austen-reading English transplant does double duty on piano and viola. She has no trouble snagging a serenading suitor, but is he enough for her romantic soul?
Leitmotif: Woven ring
Catch phrase: “Mother of God”

Erin Brennan: A savvy working redhead, piano is her ticket out of office drudgery and a broken romance. She’s the class’s cool and calm big sister, but does she really have it together herself?
Leitmotif: Auburn rectangular glasses
Catch phrase: “F*****-A”

Austin Aguilar: A piano neophyte, his goal is to play Carnegie Hall, but it’s a long road, and the path is strewn with obstacles, pitfalls and diversions.
Leitmotif: Sapphire blue eyes

Holly Turnbeau: She toils at the piano day and night, but it’s never enough. She wants to believe, but disillusionment lurks in the shadows.
Leitmotif: Salem Light cigarettes
Catch phrase: “Oh, s**t”

The Professors

Elbert Wayne Dickson, piano professor: He runs the piano department like it’s Juilliard. Alas, it’s just a community college, and his students don’t have the right stuff for Juilliard. In fact, they have the wrong stuff. He has his fans, he has his detractors, and he revels in sowing discord between them.

Claire Summers, piano professor: She’s beloved among her students, but of Dickson, she is not a fan. The feeling is mutual. She sees all and pays a price.

Henri Travisano (“Triviata”), music department chair: The eccentric composer, music history professor and department chair plays both sides when caught in the middle.

Carlton Rogers, journalism professor: Instrumental in introducing music reviews to the college paper, he chases the stories until he finds the truth, no matter how long it takes.

The Ensemble

Student chorus: Cliff, Hal, Led Zeppy, Classical Bob, Ashkenazy Girl, Venus the Rock Goddess, Mark, Math Mike, Greg the flutist, the Scattered Harpist, Tenor A, Tenor B, Ryan and Suzie-Q accompany Lynnéa, Erin, Austin and Holly on their journey.

Support staff: Ivy Haller, the orchestra maestro; and Jan Lennon, the voice teacher.

The Music

Lynnéa’s Music

Bach: French Suite VI
Mozart: Sonata K. 309
Chopin: Nocturne Op. 55, No. 1

Amarilli, mia bella (Caccini)
Vittoria, mio core (Carissimi)
The Salley Gardens (arr: Britten)
Oliver Cromwell (Britten)

Un bel di (Puccini)
Ave Maria (Schubert)
Pas de deux (Tchaikovsky from Nutcracker)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach)
[All viola pieces are fictional arrangements]

Erin’s Music

Chopin: Prelude Op. 28 No. 15; Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1
Octavio Pinto: Scenas Infantis
Mozart: Sonata K. 333
Scarlatti: Sonata in D minor, K. 34
Schubert: Impromptu in A-flat, Op. 142, No. 2; Military March in D (duet)
Shostakovich: Prelude, Op. 34 No. 7

Nel cor piu non mi sento (Paisiello)
Ave Maria (Schubert)

Holly’s Music

Clementi: Sonatina Op. 36 No. 1
Czerny Etudes
Pinto: Scenas Infantis
Mozart: Sonata in C K. 545; Sonata in D Major K. 311
Bach: Two-part Inventions Nos. 9, 13; Three-part Inventions (Sinfonias) Nos. 9, 12;
French Suite VI
Czerny: Etudes Op. 299 Nos. 11, 21
Haydn: Sonata No. 4 in C
Chopin: Preludes Op. 28 Nos. 6, 15 and 16; Nocturne in E minor Op. 72 No. 1
Debussy: Pour le piano Suite
Beethoven: Sonata Op. 31 No. 3 Allegro

Se tu M’ami, se sospiri (Pergolesi)
Sebben, Crudele (Caldera)

Austin’s Music

Bach: Two-part Inventions Nos. 4, 13; Prelude & Fugue No. 1, WTC I
Czerny Etudes
Chopin: Prelude Op. 28 No. 20 in C minor; Polonaise “Military” Op. 40 No. 1;
Etudes Op. 10 Nos. 3 and 12 (Revolutionary), Etude Op. 25 No. 9 (Butterfly);
Scherzo in B-flat minor Op. 31; Nocturne in C-sharp minor Op. 27 No. 1
Beethoven: Sonata Op. 31 No. 2 (Tempest)
Prokofiev: Despair and Suggestion Diabolique
Debussy: La Puerta del Vino
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6
Schubert: Military March in D (duet)

Scarlatti: Gia, il sol dal Gange
Clokey: “The Rose”


Available at:

Paperback through: Amazon

[The book is temporarily out of print & e-book as the publisher went out of business. Some small online booksellers have some available through Amazon.]

Paperbacks are avalable at these locations:

The Book House, 7352 Manchester Road, Maplewood, MO  63143

To get a copy by mail, please contact me through the About page.

Check it out at:

Brentwood Public Library

Maplewood Public Library

Kirkwood Public Library

St. Louis Public Library — Central and Buder branches


Comments and questions accepted, but no spoilers allowed!


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellen Cusumano permalink
    July 16, 2015 12:15 pm

    Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this new musical murder mystery!

  2. June 25, 2015 7:16 am

    So proud of you!


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