Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recital Memories


 I am reflecting on the success of the fall recital. It was not perfection but there was perfection in the overall feeling of warmth and comfort we receive from music. 

We did a few new and daring things.  " Davy Jones Plays the Organ" was actually played on the organ. "Firework" was arranged by a student and played with a new style, while in the second recital the same piece was played as a duet on two pianos. Two students played and sang, which added fun and pizazz to some old favorites. Three students played their own compositions.

My son, the Piano Man, played a fantastic Brahms "Capriccio" and introduced the half steps which undergird the whole composition. I got the whole audience singing "Beethoven's Door" while I played his Bagatelle Opus 33 No.1

  Thank-you to all the parents who encourage and uplift their children in this life long pursuit of acquiring skill on a musical instrument. My aim is to train independent musicians who find joy in playing and sharing their music.


As I post these pictures I feel sad that I did not get a shot of each of my students. Please understand that I was uebermaxed out with things to remember.

"My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.'
Edward Elgar 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Bagatelle

    Every recital an idea emerges among the many pieces my students play which needs to be explored. This time it is the genre of the Bagatelle. The name bagatelle literally means a "trifle", as a reference to the innocent character of the piece. It all started when one of MFPA students played Beethoven's Door, a piece in Book 2. 

                                         It was snippet of music from Beethoven's Opus 33 No. 1.

 I recognized it and turned on the old I-Pod to Alfred Brendel's recording of the Bagatelles. My student listened with interest as the knock, knock part repeated three times.
   "Why does it repeat so many times?" I had an opportunity to explain variation on a theme. Each time the Knock, Knock part appeared it was preceded by a more complex variation. This Bagatelle is challenging with triplets followed by sixteenths and the cascade of sound is a merry wash of color. The best-known bagatelles are probably those by Ludwig van Beethoven, who published three sets, Op. 33, 119 and 126, and wrote a number of similar works that were unpublished in his lifetime including the piece that is popularly known as Für Elise.  
   Several students are playing a Bagatelle, not of Beethoven's, and so I am working the No.1 up myself.

                  It is great fun to play and I hope I can increase my tempo before the week is over.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recital Time

  It's late fall and I always schedule a recital the Saturday before Thanksgiving. With two weeks left I have some serious questions to ask my student. These questions are conversations starters that help us think honestly about our performance pieces. (Click on resources and scroll down to Recital Time)
  I have hosted close to 50 recitals in my teaching career and the anxious feelings never change. Some students don't get lessons started until late September and 8 weeks is a short time to prepare a challenging piece. Two weeks prior I wonder if they will be ready. But, they always pull it off and life goes on. Next week I will teach lessons at the recital venue and that is the real testing ground. We rehearse our piece, talk about the stiffer grand piano keys, and practice standing on the stage and announcing our name and the piece we are playing. Looking at the audience and talking is very hard for some. I feel pleased when these students overcome their fears.
   Performance is an opportunity to share and show gratitude for those who sacrifice to provide us lessons. Those are the words I say when a student asks, "Why do I have to perform?" These words can sound lame to an anxious child but they are true to me. Thanks, Mom, for guiding me to the bench each day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fun With Measures

  Explaining time signature is hit and miss with my 5-6 year-olds. I was struggling with the concept of the measure line with my first student of the day and failed miserably. Even when we worked in the writing book and drew the measure lines I felt I was not connecting. The next student was the same age and we were doing the same lesson. I remembered copying  learning tools from Susan Paradis called rhythm blocks. This seemed to do the trick.
    We lined up the cards into 4 count units using my colored pencils as measure lines. This allowed D. to find out what combinations make up four beats. Then we changed the time signature and only put three beats between fences.
   Fences, measures, sometimes words make such a difference in communication. On some days I feel tongue tied and unable to say things that make sense and other days I am right on.