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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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. 
Monday, June 01 2020 00:00

Week of June 1st: Lament


To quote Martin Luther King Jr., "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." As members of communities both smaller and larger, what affects some of us affects all of us, and if we stay silent in the face of egregious injustice, we risk becoming become complicit in it. 
In light of the multiple blatant incidents over the past few weeks (which of course are just the visible tip of the iceberg) involving the targeting and victimization of Americans of color, culminating in the horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25th, we therefore offer a musical commentary that surely speaks for itself: Lament.

"Lament", performed by the composer

We would like to thank the artist for allowing us to offer their powerful composition as commentary. This is our only "Music for the Community" for this week.

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. 

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!
Wednesday, May 27 2020 00:00

Day 38: Bourrée 1 & 2 by Bach

Cellist age 16 plays Bourrées I & II from Bach Solo Suite #3 in C 

More old-fashioned dance music today, but unlike a Minuet, a Bourrée (pronounced "boo-ray") is in duple time (ONE two, ONE two) – similar to a Gavotte. Still, like our Minuet and Trio on Day 36, this set of two Bourrées is again made on an overall A B A pattern.  

Why is this such a common musical form? It's because it's satisfying: after you hear the A, then the B in contrast, returning to the A gives a feeling of “coming home”, and also provides a simple sense of symmetry. That’s true in very small pieces like Twinkle, in dance sets like this one – and even often in big symphonies by composers such as Beethoven. Teaching students to hear and understand this in the music they're playing helps them to appreciate all music more deeply.
The music of Bach’s six unaccompanied cello/viola suites is some of the most beautiful there is to play, and gives musicians both a musical and technical workout. It’s always exciting for us as teachers when student reach the milestone of being ready to discover them!
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. 
Monday, May 25 2020 00:00

Day 36: Mozart Minuet and Trio

Violist age 12 plays Minuet & Trio by Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1766 in the beautiful Austrian city of Salzburg. When he was 3, his father starting teaching his 7-year-old sister Nannerl the clavier (the forerunner of the modern piano). Wolfgang was fascinated and began picking out simple intervals right away, so his father began teaching him too. He began composing at the age of 5 – by which time he was already performing on both violin and keyboard. 
After spending his childhood performing all over Europe, at age 17 Mozart was appointed court musician at Salzburg. But he had bigger dreams, and soon resigned the position to move to Vienna to seek more fame and fortune. He found plenty of the first and less of the second, as he frequently more money than he earned. By the time he died at the age of 35 he had composed more than 600 works and was the most highly-regarded composer of the classical period. Older classical composer Joseph Haydn, who at one point had given him composition lessons, wrote: "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."
We talked about “sandwich construction” on a small scale in Twinkle. A Minuet and Trio set is the same idea on a larger scale – a short “A” piece, followed by a “B” piece, then back to “A”. As discussed here, the minuet was a very popular dance music form of the 18th century. Minuets are always in triple time: see if you can hear the “ONE two three, ONE two three”.

Cellist age 15 plays Vivaldi Cello Sonata in A minor

Born in Venice on the day of an earthquake, Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678 -1741) is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, and during his lifetime he was famous across Europe. He composed many instrumental works, especially for string instruments - many of which were written for girls at the orphanage in Venice, whose musical skill improved their marriage prospects at a time when there were few other options for women. He also wrote a large amount of church music, and more than forty operas. His best-known work is the series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons - we featured "Spring" earlier in this series.

Vivaldi wrote a set of six cello sonatas (works for a solo instrument, usually with accompaniment by a keyboard) between 1720 and 1730. All of them have four alternating slow and fast movements (separate pieces); this is the second movement of the third sonata.

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!

Wednesday, May 20 2020 00:00

Day 33: I Want a Popsicle

Day 33: Violinist age 5 plays Twinkle Variation D, “I Want a Popsicle”

Another Suzuki variation today - this one introducing the student to triplet rhythms. Whether you learn this with the words “I-want-a/pop-si-cle/I-want-a/popsicle” or as some students prefer, “blue-ber-ry/straw-ber-ry/blue-ber-ry/straw-ber-ry”, coordinating the fingers and bow in these continuous running notes can be very confusing at first! But this student, who started in our very first class ever of Wayland Rec beginners, is very comfortable with the whole idea by the time of this performance and dispatches it with ease. 
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