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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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 (1648 -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 concertos, especially for string instruments, as well as a large amount of church music and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as the Four Seasons - we featured "Spring" on Day 25.

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. 
 
 
Tuesday, May 19 2020 00:00

Day 32: Harry Potter

Cellist age 9 plays Harry Potter: Hedwig’s Theme and Fireworks

 
“Hedwig’s Theme” (by John Williams) is the dominant theme used in all of the Harry Potter films. In spite of its title, it doesn't always specifically represent Hedwig, Harry’s owl, but rather the wider idea of magic and the Wizarding World. 
 
“Fireworks” (by Nicholas Hooper) is first heard in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, and is a musical picture of the antics of the Weasley twins, Fred and George, who frequently cause havoc with their mischievous magical experiments.
 
This young performer not only found and prepared this music herself, then persuaded her talented Mom to accompany her - she gave us an extra bonus by performing in full Harry Potter costume!
Monday, May 18 2020 00:00

Day 31: Lollipop Man

Violinist age 8 plays "Lollipop Man" by Katherine and Hugh Colledge

 
Husband and wife team Kathy (b.1952) and Hugh (b.1945) Colledge both worked as instrumental music teachers in East London before moving to Norfolk in 1995. Their compositions and arrangements are a joint effort, with Kathy being the string instrument composer and Hugh writing the piano accompaniments.
 
This student learned "Lollipop Man" as part of her preparation for the Royal Conservatory external evaluation program. We’ve offered this program since 2014 for students who want to challenge themselves; we’ve seen enormous growth those taking part, and have been proud to see several of them honored with both Evaluation Center and State level “Certificates of Excellence” for the highest mark at their level.

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 here and here. 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.
 
Wednesday, May 13 2020 00:00

Day 28: Etude by Suzuki (Skills, part 3)

Violinist age 8 plays Etude by Suzuki 

 
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.
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