Music for the Community

Welcome to our Music for the Community page! Since we can't take our music out to local nursing homes and libraries at the moment, we're inviting you in to enjoy it here instead. Each day you'll find a new student performance on this page, along with some info about the composer or instrument - and sometimes words too so you can sing along. 

If you're interested in a particular category, you can sort performances by student age, instrument, singalong music, composer and so on - click on the orange tags under the text. We hope you and your family will enjoy watching our students share their music! 

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Displaying items by tag: Piano

Tuesday, June 23 2020 00:00

Day 57 - Chant Arabe by Chwatal

Pianist age 8 plays "Chant Arabe" by F. X. Chwatal

Franz Xaver Chwatal (1808 – 1879) was a Bohemian pianist, composer and music teacher. He was the son of an organ builder, who gave him piano lessons as a child. He wrote many pieces of lighter popular music such as this one.

Like so many other pieces we’ve featured, this one is in A – B1/B2 – A form, giving it a pleasing symmetry. In the A section, you can hear the pianist’s left hand playing one chord that’s repeated over and over, like the unchanging, rhythmic plod of the camels across the desert.

There are several singalong options here – try them all, and let us know in the comments which one you like best!

(A) In far-off desert lands, where the oasis stands, camels in caravans trail across burning sands.

(B1) Riders in flowing turbans sit / high atop the swaying animals;
(B2) Bells tinkling, jingling, sweetly ring / out across the desert air and gently tell us...

(A) In far-off desert lands, where the oasis stands, camels in caravans trail across burning sands.

 ~ or ~

(A) I am thirsty and hot; I am thirsty and hot; I am thirsty and hot; I am thirsty and hot!

(B1) I sure would like some lemonade; / Mother may I? Honey, yes you may.                                                                                                                  (B2) I sure would like some lemonade; / will you get some for me now? Just wait a minute....

(A) I sure like lemonade; I sure like lemonade; I sure like lemonade, when I’m thirsty and hot.

~ or ~

(A) Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot!

(B1) Softly the camels tread with their / heavy load across the burning sand;
(B2) Under the blazing sun they plod / on and on and on across the endless desert....   

(A) Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot! Oh, it’s hot, very hot!

Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, June 17 2020 00:00

Day 53 - Mary Had a Little Lamb (piano)

Pianist age 4 plays "Mary had a Little Lamb"

We've shown Mary had a Little Lamb before, on flute, but of course it sounds very different on piano. People are often surprised to learn that although the piano has strings, it's actually classifed as a percussion instrument. But percussion basically means "instruments that make their sound when you hit them," and that's what's happening here: when you press the piano keys, they operate hammers inside the piano, which hit the strings and bounce off again.

So an important skill for pianists is learning to touch the keys with enough strength for those hammers to produce a sound - but not so much that the sound is harsh. Although he's so young, you can see (and hear) that this young man is already doing an excellent job using the weight of his arm to drop his fingers into the keys, producing a round, ringing sound.

You probably already know that words to this song! But just in case:

Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb –
Mary had a little lamb; fleece was as white as snow. 
Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, June 10 2020 00:00

Day 48 - Chopin Waltz in A Minor

Pianist age 11 plays Chopin Waltz in A minor

Polish composer Frederic Chopin (1810 – 1849) was in fragile health for most of his life. His father was French and immigrated to Poland at 16, becoming a French teacher at the Warsaw Lyceum (high school). The father also played flute and violin, while Frederic’s mother played piano and gave lessons to the high school students. By the time Chopin was 7, it was obvious that he was exceptionally gifted musically, and he was already giving public concerts and composing small pieces. 
In 1830, while he was traveling in Europe, there was a popular uprising in Poland which was crushed by authorities. Devastated, Chopin never returned to Poland and ended up settling in France. All of his 230 surviving pieces feature the piano, and almost all are short solo pieces - waltzes, etudes, and Polish dances such as Polonaises and Mazurkas that express his longing for his native land.
Although a brilliant pianist, Chopin did not perform in public much - he preferred to play for small groups of friends, as he felt that his intimate music was more suited for that kind of setting. This waltz was written some time between 1843 and 1848, and probably performed at one of those small gatherings of friends.
Published in Music For Community
Tuesday, June 09 2020 00:00

Day 47 - Lightly Row

Pianists age 6 and 8 play Lightly Row

This is a favorite of beginners everywhere, and we show it here with right hand only, then with hands together, so you can hear how the left hand adds lower, deeper tones (see also here). Like most of these singalong songs it has a  simple construction with a lot of similar material, making it easy to learn.
There are many singalong possibilities for Lightly Row! Here are a couple of more traditional ones:
(A1) Lightly row, lightly row, up the river we will go;
(A2) Mississippi, Mississippi, in our boat we go, go, go!
(B1) One, two, three four, five, let’s go,
(B2)One, two, three, four, five, lets row, 
(A2) Mississippi, Mississippi, in our boat we go, go, go!
(A1) Lightly row, lightly row, gently down the stream we go,
(A2) Birds are singing while they’re winging, on their way and to and fro.
(B1) See the fluffy clouds up there, 
(B2) Building castles in the air.
(A1) Birds are singing while they’re winging, on their way and to and fro!   
Or - some students love this one!
(A1) Hey there mouse, in your house, better stay there in your house!
(A2) Hey there mousie, in your housie, someone’s waiting there for you!
(B1) Pretty kitty loves you so, 
(B2) Thinks you’re just so tasty - oh!
(A2) Hey there mousie, in your housie, someone’s waiting there for you! 
Published in Music For Community

Pianist age 6 plays "This is not Jingle Bells" and "Row, Row, Row your Boat"

Well, it does sound at first like it’s going to be Jingle Bells - but then it changes its mind! Can you identify the other tune? And does it come in the right order, or….? 
That first one could be confusing to try and sing along with, but Row, Row, Row Your Boat is pretty straightforward, and you can feel the lilting triple time in “Mer-ri-ly, mer-ri-ly…”, as if you’re on the water.
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream;
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily –
Life is but a dream!
Published in Music For Community
Thursday, May 21 2020 00:00

Day 34: The Dance of the Spider and the Fly

Pianist age 8 plays "The Dance of the Spider and the Fly" by Donald Waxman

A native of Baltimore, Donald Waxman met his wife Jho at the Peabody Conservatory, and shortly after graduation the couple founded a music school in Nyack, New York. Like our Day 2 composer, Kabalevsky, the Waxmans felt that musical language in the piano methods of the time was dated, and not challenging or interesting enough for 20th century students. 

Mr. Waxman says, “ I wanted young students to be working in a language more varied than that of so many piano method books. I wanted students to be playing and hearing music written in a wide variety of intervals, modes and tonal and chromatic combinations that go beyond the extreme limitations of music based primarily on the triads.” We think you’ll agree that he succeeded!

Published in Music For Community
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We're doing something a little different this week - taking you on a journey from the earliest stages of learning an instrument through to musical mastery. First, our beginners who are just learning to pick out a simple tune...

Pianists age 4 play Twinkle, right hand and left hand

There’s so much learning going on right here! First, we show two videos today so you can hear a basic feature of the piano – notes played with the right hand are higher in pitch (actually, they vibrate faster), while those played with the left hand are lower in pitch (they vibrate slower). Since you play these notes with different sides of your body, the concept of pitch is also reinforced through movement. Ears, hands and intellect all begin to make cross-connections (for string players, we have other ways to achieve the same thing).
Meanwhile, the Twinkle song needs no introduction, and its simple notes and structure make it work for beginners on pretty much any instrument. But - did you know that it’s also a “sandwich” piece?
Bread (“A” music) Twinkle, twinkle, little star - how I wonder what you are!
Cheese (“B” music) Up above the world so high
Cheese (“B music again) Like a diamond in the sky,
Bread (“A” music again) Twinkle, twinkle, little star - how I wonder what you are!
Beginners are thrilled to discover that as soon as they can play the first piece of “bread” and slice of “cheese” - they can actually play the whole song! As we teach them to recognize these overall musical patterns easily, they quickly develop a sense of mastery over new material.
This is your kid's brain on music! 
Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, May 06 2020 00:00

Day 23: Beethoven’s “Für Elise"

Pianist age 11 plays Beethoven’s “Für Elise (For Elise)”

Who was the mysterious Elise for whom Beethoven wrote this short but very famous piece? There are quite a few possible candidates!

One is German soprano Elizabeth Rockel, who sang in Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. She met with Beethoven quite often, and it’s known that he wanted to marry her at one time. Another soprano called Elise Barensfeld has also been suggested, although less is known about her.

But in fact, what  Beethoven actually wrote on the manuscript was not "Für Elise" - but "Für Therese"! It’s widely acknowledged that the Therese in question was Therese Malfatti, to whom Beethoven proposed marriage in 1810, the same year he composed the piece. As further evidence, she was also the owner of the manuscript.

She must have been rather put out when - thanks to a sloppy copywriter who made the 19th century equivalent of a typo - her name on the published version of the work was changed to someone else’s!

Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, April 29 2020 00:00

Day 18: "Just Struttin' Along" by Martha Mier

Pianist age 11 plays “Just Struttin’ Along” by Martha Mier

Martha Mier is an American composer and piano teacher who was born in 1936 and lives in Lake City, FL. She has written more than 60 books of catchy solo and duet pieces for piano students from elementary to advanced level.

Many of her pieces, including this one, are written in a jazz style (remember Tick Tock the Jazz Clock?). Her music is really fun to play!

Published in Music For Community
Wednesday, April 22 2020 00:00

Day 13: Cuckoo

Pianist age 6 plays "Cuckoo"

This easy piano piece from the Suzuki Piano Program is based on a German folk song, but we gave it English words to help students learn it.

Cuckoo, cuckoo sings from the forest.Cuckoo, cuckoo sings from the tree.

Let us be singing, let us be dancing,Cuckoo, cuckoo, springtime is here! 


Cuckoo, Cuckoo, high in the treetops,Cuckoo, Cuckoo, sing me a song.

Sing in the morning, sing in the evening.Cuckoo, Cuckoo, I’ll sing along!

Published in Music For Community
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