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!
To have each week's videos and accompanying info sent to your inbox*, please subscribe via the orange button.
*Videos are delivered twice weekly; you can unsubscribe at any time, and we will never share or sell your info.
Violinist age 16 plays Mozart's Violin Concerto #3 in G major, 1st movement
We hope you’ve enjoyed a peek behind the scenes of students’ musical and technical development in this week’s entries. Our aim as teachers is to help students enjoy and celebrate all these stages on a well-planned journey, giving them appropriate music for their age and skill level along the way. But we do this also with - from their very first lesson - the long-term goal of giving them full ownership of their own musical and expressive voice.
So to finish our week, here’s a video to show where this has all been heading: a performance by a student who is well past the basic and intermediate stages, and is now ready and equipped to explore professional-level repertoire in the form of one of Mozart’s sparkling violin concertos.
While the video was not taken from the best angle, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy this young man’s sensitive and expressive playing, and how he's now able to put his technical skills at the service of Mozart's beautiful and timeless music.
Violist age 15 plays Seitz Concerto in D, first movement
Friedrich Seitz (1848 - 1918) was a German violinist and composer, conductor, concertmaster (first chair in an orchestra), and teacher. He wrote five “Pupil’s Concertos”, as he called them, as a stepping-stone between easier short pieces and the longer, more challenging concertos of Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart. This student is well on the way to completing that transition.
The viola is bigger and lower in pitch than the violin – see also these performances. It loses the highest string (E) on the violin in exchange for a lower one (the C below middle C) at the other end; this, and the greater volume of air inside it, makes for a darker, richer, velvety sound. But the fingering system is exactly the same as on violin, so anything written for violin can be very easily adapted for viola, as has been done here.
An etude (French for “study”) is a technical piece that’s more complicated than a simple scale, but still focuses on teaching one new technical skill to prepare for more complex music using that skill.
This student is almost ready to move beyond basic folk songs and tackle the easier music of Bach and other classical composers. To do this, he’ll need to learn a new fingering pattern which goes beyond the basic set-up that complete beginners learn. This lively Etude has many repetitions of this new pattern, helping him to build the muscle memory to be able do it without much thought.
In turn, that muscle memory will serve him well in the Bach Minuet he’ll meet next, leaving him free to keep his focus on the music. He already has this new technique well under control, and is even comfortable enough to throw in a little spur-of-the-moment inspiration on his final note - to the amusement of his audience.
Continuing yesterday’s theme of learning musical structure, students have a lot of fun singing about poor John, who really overdid it on the snack food! See below for the words.
Meanwhile, though, they’re taking in more complicated rhythms (mix of slow and fast notes), and a new phrase structure (A1, A2, B1, B2, A1, A2 – see here for explanation) – so putting the notes together on their instrument is made much easier.
Along with this musical understanding comes quicker technical development. If you watch this student’s bow closely, you’ll see he’s doing a great job of using shorter bows on the shorter notes and longer bows on the longer ones – because having internalized the music more easily, he has enough of his brain freed up to handle this challenge.
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.