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: Violin

Friday, June 26 2020 00:00

Day 60 - Mozart Violin Concerto in D major

Violinist age 14 plays Mozart's Violin Concerto #4 in D, first movement

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born 1756) wrote at least five violin concertos between 1773 and 1776, when he was not much older than this student. He probably wrote them for himself to play in his position as concertmaster (first chair) of the Archbishop of Salzburg’s orchestra.

This one was written in 1775, when he was 19. He did perform it at the time – but after he left the orchestra, he updated it and made it harder for the new concertmaster (Antonio Brunetti) who took over his job! It’s nicknamed the “Military” concerto, and if you listen to the violinist’s opening few measures you’ll hear why – they sound rather like a brass fanfare.

We love it when our older students play beautiful works like this with ease, inspiring beginner and intermediate students with a vision of what can happen if they keep on practicing. But as we make sure to point out to them: students like this were also once beginners learning to pluck open strings, just like the young man in yesterday’s video!

For more music by Mozart, see here and here.

Published in Music For Community
Thursday, June 25 2020 00:00

Day 59 - Cross Lake Blues

Violinist age 7 plays "Cross Lake Blues" by Joanne Martin

Parents are often surprised when we invite their very new beginner to play in an upcoming recital! But if the memory of your own childhood recitals makes your palms sweat - think again: our recitals are very supportive and festive events, where even students who’ve had only a few weeks of lessons can share pieces using just one or two notes, and find themselves enthusaistically celebrated for doing so. 

This jazzy piece from Joanne Martin’s “Magic Carpet” album is a favorite of our violin beginners, as all you need to play it is two open strings, A and E. In spite of that it’s a fun recital piece, and a great way to dip your toe into playing for an audience. Experiences like this get our students feeling comfortable right from the start with the idea of sharing their music with others - as you can see throughout this Music for the Community series. 

Published in Music For Community
Monday, June 22 2020 00:00

Day 56 - Handel Sarabande

Violinist age 14 plays "Sarabande" by Handel

It's probably no surprise that Georg Frederic Handel (1685-1759), an exact contemporary of Bach, also wrote many pieces featuring the dance forms that were popular among composers at the time. But it's hard to believe that the stately sarabande was originally thought to be a terrible influence -  it was described in a "Treatise Against Public Amusements" in 1609 as  "enough to excite bad emotions in even very decent people"! 

The Sarabande probably had its origins in Central America, in particular Guatemala and Mexico, in the 16th century. It was actually banned in Spain by King Philip II in 1583, thanks to the sentiments above - but that didn't stop it being performed. It spread to Italy in the 17th century, and then - thanks to composers like Handel and Bach, who often used it in their suites of dances - to France, where it became a popular slow court dance.

Having started his career in his native Germany, in 1710 Handel became Kapellmeister (Music Director) at the court of Prince George of Hanover. But in 1714 Prince George became King George I of England, and Handel's success in England led him to settle there permanently. His famous "Water Music" suite was performed several times on barges on the River Thames for the King and his guests. In 1727 Handel was commissioned to write four anthems for the Coronation ceremony of the next king, George II, and one of these anthems, "Zadok the Priest", has been played at every British coronation ceremony since.

Published in Music For Community
Friday, June 19 2020 00:00

Day 55 - Bach Concerto for Two Violins

Violinists age 12 and 16 play Bach Concerto in D minor for Two Violins, second movement

The beloved "Bach Double", one of the composer's most famous works, is usually recognized by its fast first movement. Here, though, we're featuring the lyrical second movement with its expansive, lilting melody. The two violinists have equal parts that weave in and out of each other in a soulful musical conversation in the flowery Baroque style, taking turns with the melody and the accompaniment, finally coming to rest together.

Bach probably wrote this concerto when he was "Kapellmeister" - Director of Music - at the court Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen between 1717 and 1723. This was a very happy employment situation for Bach - Prince Leopold, who was a musician himself, appreciated Bach's talents, paid him well, and gave him a lot of freedom to compose and perform whatever suited him. Much of the music of Bach that we've shown in this series comes from this time, including the orchestral suites and cello suites, as well as his music based on 18th century dances (here, here, and here).


Published in Music For Community
Thursday, June 18 2020 00:00

Day 54 - Allegro by Fiocco

Violinist age 12 plays "Allegro" by Fiocco

Joseph-Hector Fiocco (1703 – 1741), born in Brussels, Belgium, was a composer and harpsichordist of the late Baroque period. His father, Italian composer Pietro Antonio Fiocco, and his older step-brother Jean-Joseph Fiocco gave him much of his musical education. He also learned Greek and Latin well enough to be able to become a schoolteacher in both those subjects.

He became music director at the cathedral in Antwerp, so much of the music he wrote was choral and religious in nature. He also wrote two suites of pieces for harpsichord - but ironically his best-known piece is this Allegro for violin, played by intermediate violinists the world over. "Allegro" literally means "happy", but in musical terms it means "fast and lively", and that's certainly the case with this piece!

Published in Music For Community
Monday, June 15 2020 00:00

Day 51 - The Happy Farmer

Violinist age 8 plays "The Happy Farmer"

German composer and pianist Robert Schumann lived from 1810 to 1856. He was a brilliant pianist and intended to make a career as a perfomer. Unfortunately a hand injury put an end to that idea, so thereafter he focused on composing. 

Meanwhile, he had fallen in love with his piano teacher's daughter, Clara Wieck - herself a wonderful pianist - but her father was very opposed to their marriage. Robert eventually won out, though, and married her in 1840 after a court battle.

By 1848 he and Clara had three young daughters (they eventually had eight children, seven of whom survived). He composed a collection of 43 easy piano pieces for them, "Album for the Young", and The Happy Farmer is one of these pieces. As with our other singalong songs, the words reflect the musical structure, which is little unusual here: A1 - A1 - B - A2 - B - A2, with the A section having two different endings. The B section is very short: the farmer (A) barely lets his wife (B) get a word in edgewise before interrupting her again!

(A 1) The happy farmer loves to plow his fields;
He rides his great big tractor with its big green wheels.
(A 1) The happy farmer loves to plow his fields;
He rides his great big tractor with its big green wheels.
(B ) His wife is quiet, and very small and neat -
(A 2)  The happy farmer loves to plow his fields;
He rides his great big tractor with its round, red seat.
(B ) His wife is quiet, and very small and neat -
(A 2) The happy farmer loves to plow his fields;
He rides his great big tractor with its round, red seat.
If you listen carefully to the piano part, you'll also hear the farmyard chickens going "cheep-cheep" in the background!
Published in Music For Community
Friday, June 12 2020 00:00

Day 50 - Czardas

Violinist age 12 plays "Czardas" by Monti

We’re back to Hungarian music today, to finish the week with Vittorio Monti’s sizzling “Czardas” - a tribute to the wonderful violin tradition of eastern Europe. A Czardas (pronounced Shar-dus) is a Hungarian music folk music form, which starts out with a slow, soulful section called "lassu" and ends with a very fast "friss" (literally "fresh"). 
This is the music of coffee houses and campfires - and there is an ongoing argument in Hungary about whether it’s actually Hungarian folk music, or really belongs to the traveling  Romani people. Either way, Hungarian violin music is known the world over for its passion, romance and virtuosity.
This piece is no exception. It's full of variety in speed and mood, with plenty of fiery technical tricks thrown in, and an ending to bring the house down. In fact, it's so catchy that it's been has featured multiple times in movies and TV, from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to an episode of “Peaky Blinders”  – and Lady Gaga used part it as an introduction for her song "Alejandro". 
Published in Music For Community
Monday, June 08 2020 00:00

Day 46 - Hongroise (Hungarian Dance)

Violinist age 9 plays "Hongroise" by Robert Pracht.

Robert Pracht (1878 -1961) was a German composer and music educator who composed many piano and string works for both professionals and students. He was also well-known in Germany as a choral conductor, and composed over 200 works for male voice choirs. 
This short dance is in the fiery Hungarian style - and we'll have more of this later in the week. For now, if you’ve been following our posts on musical construction, you'll probably be able to hear the overall "A-B-"A form. 
Published in Music For Community
Friday, May 29 2020 00:00

Day 40: The Boy Paganini

Born in Prussia (now part of Germany), Edward Mollenhauer (1827–1914) achieved success in America as a violin soloist and teacher. His best-known pieces for young violinists are “The Infant Paganini” and “The Boy Paganini”, written in homage to the legendary Paganini himself - see below - and including some of Paganini’s own special violin techniques. Of these, listen out for:
harmonics (1:40 - 1:50)
left hand pizzicato (plucking) mixed with bowed notes (2:54 - 3:11)
chords on all four strings (3:27, 3:49)
simple octaves (4:49)
Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) himself was a household name in his time, touring Europe to rave reviews and swooning audiences. He was a great showman as well as artist, and would wow his audiences by playing so furiously that he would break all his strings except one, then finishing the piece with flair on the one remaining string (of course, he had perpared this on purpose!).
Paganini composed all the music that he played at his own concerts. In the process he wrote some of the most fiendishly difficult technical works for violin, including his famous set of 24 Caprices - which still offer the highest of technical challenges for 21st century violinists. 
Published in Music For Community
Tuesday, May 26 2020 00:00

Day 37: Red Parrot, Green Parrot

Violinist age 8 plays "Red Parrot, Green Parrot" by Edwards Huws Jones

This is one of our favorite easy pieces for violin – the parrot squawks are always a big hit, in lessons and in recital!
It’s also great for singing along. It has a simple A, B1, A, B2, A pattern – think “Jingle Bells” with chorus, verse, chorus, verse, chorus. The only difference between the two B sections is that in the first one, the violinist has the tune and the pianist provides the parrot squawks; while the second time around they switch. Of course, that’s the part that everyone’s waiting for! 
A) Red -- parrot, green -- parrot, 
Perch -- on a tree,
Red -- parrot, green -- parrot, 
Fly -- ing -- free!
B1) Red -- parrot squawk: SQUAWK!!
Green -- parrot squawk: SQUAWK!!
Some -- parrots talk -- but --
These ones only squawk.  
Then back to A, B2, A – same words as above.
You need only 2 fingers on one string, plus the other open strings, to play this song. But you're learning several musical skills along with these easy notes – including changing rhythms, “dynamics” (switching from loud to soft, both suddenly and gradually), and listening to the other player while you keep count, so you can jump in with your squawks at exactly the right time. 
Published in Music For Community
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