This summer, I’ve decided to add a new feature to piano lessons. I know that many families travel during the summer months and it’s sometimes difficult to practice.
These daily assignments, June through August will help you and your students learn a bit more about the pieces they’re learning during the year – or maybe give ideas for something that they’d like to learn.
Each piece has a bit of composer info and several different interpretations, some of which are very humorous. Some of the assignments appear in Piano Maestro so be sure to have that handy, if your student uses that.
Some days give hints that the assignment of the day may be played (or reviewed) at the next lesson so please be sure that your student takes note of that (no pun intended!)
• 1974 ~ William DeVaughn, a soul singer, songwriter and guitarist from Washington, DC, received a gold record for his only hit, Be Thankful for What You Got.
• 1976 ~ Ear doctors didn’t have to drum up business this day. There were plenty of walk-ins as The Who put out a total of 76,000 watts of power at 120 decibels. They played the loudest concert anyone had ever heard, making it into “The Guinness Book of World Records”.
• 1977 ~ “Beatlemania” opened at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 920 performances
• 1989 ~ First presentation of rock n roll Elvis awards
• 1994 ~ Herva Nelli, Soprano, died at the age of 85
• 1997 ~ “Once Upon a Matress,” closed at Broadhurst Theater NYC after 187 performances.
• 2002 ~ Mario Lago, an influential composer, actor and political dissident, died of lung failure. He was 90. Throughout a multifaceted career, Lago wrote more than 200 popular songs and appeared in 20 films and more than 30 telenovelas, Brazil’s version of television soap operas. He was also an active member of Brazil’s Communist Party, and was imprisoned six times during Brazil’s 1964-86 military regime. One of Lago’s most successful songs, Amelia, sang the praises of a woman happy with very little from her husband. The name came to signify a submissive woman in Brazilian slang. Lago continued acting until January, 2002 when he was hospitalized for a month with emphysema.
• 1909 ~ Benny Goodman, American jazz clarinetist, composer and bandleader. He became a leading player with his own bands during the 1930’s and also commissioned works from classical composers including Bartok and Copland.
More information on Goodman
• 1913 ~ Pee Wee (George) Erwin, Trumpet with Tommy Dorsey Band and Isham Jones Band
• 1913 ~ Cedric Thorpe Davie, Composer
• 1920 ~ George London, Baritone singer with Bel canto Trio (with Frances Yeend and Mario Lanza); member: Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera; Artistic Director of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Director: National Opera Institute; head of the Washington Opera and established the George London Foundation for Singers in 1971.
• 1922 ~ ‘Smilin’ Ed McConnell debuted on radio, smiling and playing his banjo. McConnell quickly became a legend in the medium.
• 1911 ~ Sir William Gilbert, English librettist who together with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated on many operettas, died of a heart attack after rescuing a woman from drowning. He was 74.
• 1911 ~ Carl M Story (1916) Fiddler
• 1912 ~ Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA — for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job!
• 1919 ~ (Walter) (Wladziu Valentino) Liberace, American concert pianist and showman. His trade mark was a candelabra on his piano.
More information about Liberace
• 1922 ~ Iannis Xenakis, Rumanian-born French theorist and composer
More information on Xenakis
• 1923 ~ Eugene Wright, Jazz musician, bass with Dukes of Swing, played with Brubeck
• 1935 ~ Josef Suk, Czech violinist and composer, died at the age of 61
• 1930 ~ Eleanor Fazan, Opera and show choreographer
• 1937 ~ Peter Kolman, Composer
• 1941 ~ Roy Crewsdon, Guitarist with Freddie and The Dreamers
• 1942 ~ The biggest selling record of all time was recorded. A little out of season, perhaps, but White Christmas, the Irving Berlin classic, was recorded by Bing Crosby for Decca Records. The song was written for the film “Holiday Inn”. More than 30-million copies of Crosby’s most famous hit song have been sold and a total of nearly 70-million copies, including all versions of the standard, have been sold.
• 1943 ~ Hermann Hans Wetzler, Composer, died at the age of 72
• 1943 ~ “The Million Dollar Band” was heard for the first time on NBC radio. Charlie Spivak was the first leader of the band that featured Barry Wood as vocalist. The unusual feature of the show was the awarding each week of five diamond rings!
• 1945 ~ Gary Brooker, Keyboard player, singer
• 1948 ~ Linda Esther Gray, opera singer
• 1948 ~ Michael Berkley, Composer and broadcaster
• 1949 ~ Francis Rossi, Guitarist
• 1949 ~ Gary Brooker, Rock keyboardist with Procol Harum
• 1950 ~ Rebbie (Maureen) Jackson, Singer, oldest member of the Jackson family
• 1951 ~ Dimitrios Levidis, Composer, died at the age of 66
• 1996 ~ James George “Jimmy” Rowles, Jazz pianist, died at the age of 77
• 1997 ~ Jeff Buckley, Musician, drowned at age 30
• 2003 ~ Janet Collins, the first black prima ballerina to appear at the Metropolitan Opera and one of a few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died. She was 86. In 1951, Collins performed lead roles in “Aida” and Bizet’sCarmen and danced in “La Gioconda” and “Samson and Delilah” at the Met in New York City. That was four years before Marian Anderson made her historic debut as the first black to sing a principal role at the Met. Collins left the Met in 1954. During the 1950s, she toured with her own dance group throughout the United States and Canada and taught. Collins also danced in films, including the 1943 musical “Stormy Weather” and 1946’s “The Thrill of Brazil.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1974 paid homage to Collins and Pearl Primus as pioneering black women in dance.
• 1966 ~ Percy Sledge hit number one with his first, and what turned out to be his biggest, hit. When a Man Loves a Woman would stay at the top of the pop music charts for two weeks. It was the singer’s only hit to make the top ten and was a million seller.
• 1973 ~ Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, German composer and conductor, died at the age of 73
• 1975 ~ The Doobie Brothers went gold with the album, “Stampede”. The group, formed in San Jose, CA, recorded 16 charted hits. Two made it to number one, becoming million-selling, gold record winners: Black Water in March, 1975 and What a Fool Believes in April, 1979.
• 1977 ~ Jiri Reinberger, Composer, died at the age of 63
• 1915 ~ Mario del Monaco, Italian opera singer famed for Verdi and Puccini
• 1928 ~ Thea Musgrave, Scottish composer, best known for her concertos operas and choral and other vocal works.
• 1929 ~ Donald Howard Keats, Composer
• 1930 ~ Eino Tamberg, Composer
• 1931 ~ Veroslav Neumann, Composer
• 1932 ~ Jeffrey Bernard, Singer
• 1935 ~ Ramsey Lewis, American jazz pianist, composer and bandleader
• 1935 ~ Elias Gistelinck, Flemish Composer
• 1939 ~ Don Williams, Country singer
• 1940 ~ Rene Koering, Composer
• 1942 ~ Priscilla Anne McLean, Composer
• 1947 ~ Liana Alexandra, Composer
• 1950 ~ Frank Sinatra made his TV debut as he appeared on NBC’s “Star-Spangled Review” with show biz legend, Bob Hope.
• 1957 ~ Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Dallion), Singer with Siouxsie and the Banshees
• 1957 ~ That’ll be the Day, by The Crickets and featuring Buddy Holly, was released by Brunswick Records. On September 14th, the tune became the most popular record in the U.S. It was the first hit for Holly and his group after two previous releases went nowhere on Decca Records in 1956.
• 1961 ~ Singer Johnny Cash turned TV actor. He appeared on the NBC drama, “The Deputy”.
• 1972 ~ “Applause” closed at the Palace Theater in New York City after 900 performances
• 1994 ~ Red Rodney, Bebop-trumpeter died at the age of 66
• 1995 ~ C W Stubblefield, Music Promoter died at the age of 64
• 1995 ~ Ulysses Simpson Kay, Composer, died at the age of 78
• 1996 ~ Albert “Pud” Brown, Clarinetist and saxophonist died at the age of 79
• 1996 ~ Ivan Sutton, Concert Promoter died at the age of 82
• 2017 ~ Gregg Allman, the soulful singer-songwriter and rock n’ blues pioneer who founded The Allman Brothers Band with his late brother, Duane, and composed such classics as “Midnight Rider,” “Melissa” and the epic concert jam “Whipping Post,” died at age 69
• 1954 ~ Liberace presented a three-hour, one-man concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 13,000 women and 3,000 men attended. The performance nearly broke the box office mark of 18,000 set by pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski.
• 1967 ~ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, by The Beatles, was released. It took the Fab Four only 12 hours to record their first album, “Please, Please Me”. It took them 700 hours to complete “Sgt. Pepper’s”.
• 1995 ~ Ron Weatherburn, Jazz pianist, died at the age of 61
• 1996 ~ Matima Kinuani Mpiosso, Musician, died at the age of 45
• 2002 ~ Oscar Florentino Tellez, one of San Antonio’s best known bajo sexto players who was a regular with the Grammy-winning Texas Tornados, died in a one-vehicle traffic accident near Cotulla. He was 56. Tellez, a native of Laredo, taught himself to play music as a small boy. By his teens, he had learned to play the bass, drums, accordion, the keyboard and the bajo sexto, a Mexican bass guitar that resembles a 12-string guitar. In Europe, Tellez was affectionately called the ‘Frito Bandito.’
• 2003 ~ Almir Chediak, a music producer who dedicated his life to preserving the memory of Brazilian popular music, was shot to death. He was 52. Chediak was best known for transcribing the music of Brazil’s top musicians such as Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim and publishing them in the form of song books. He was also a music professor who taught some of Brazil’s top stars, including Gal Costa, Tim Maia, Cazuza and Morares Moreira, and in recent years he had gone on teach a new generation of Brazilian musicians. He also wrote two music text books that took harmonic theory out of the conservatory and made it more accessible for popular musicians. His publishing company, Lumiar, also produced CDs of important Brazilian musicians.
Faking, smudging, flying, putting the orchestral pedal down – there are so many ways to describe not being able to nail every last note. Yet it is, to some degree, the great unmentionable of orchestral playing, as witnessed by the fact that every musician I interviewed preferred not to be quoted by name. Perhaps that’s because we’re professionals. We’re supposed to be able to play anything, at the switching on of a little red light. Yet I can still remember these heartening words from the principal cellist of a major orchestra about the ‘Storm’ from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony: ‘How do I play it? I don’t play it; I fake it. I never even met anybody who could play it!’So why is it that, given the extremely high level of orchestral playing worldwide, even the best (occasionally) have to fake?
One reason is the amount of rehearsal time available. There’s no doubt that the more prestigious the orchestra, the more rehearsal sessions are allocated per concert and the more likely it is that the said concert may be repeated: all factors making faking largely unnecessary. There are also marked international differences, with orchestras in the Far East and the US generally getting more rehearsal time than orchestras in Europe, especially the UK.
• 1924 ~ Theodore Morse, Composer, died at the age of 51
• 1925 ~ Aldo Clementi, Composer
• 1926 ~ Miles Davis III, American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He combined be-bop, modal chord progressions and rock rhythms to create ‘cool jazz’. He was one of the major influences on the art from the late 1940s. Read quotes by and about Davis
• 1926 ~ Kitty Kallen, Singer
• 1928 ~ Frigyes Hidas, Composer
• 1929 ~ Beverly Sills, American soprano and opera administrator, chairperson of Lincoln Center; National Chair of March of Dimes’ Mothers’ March on Birth Defects
• 1934 ~ Gustav Theodore Holst, English Composer, died at the age of 59
More information about Holst
• 1936 ~ Tom T. Hall, Singer
• 1936 ~ Jan Levoslav Bella, Composer, died at the age of 92
• 1943 ~ Leslie Uggams, Singer
• 1943 ~ John ‘Poli’ Palmer, Musician, sax, flute, keyboard with Family
Another of the Who Knew?-type posts. It’s National Tap Dance Day. When I was a little kid, I took the “required” ballet and tap classes for a year. My mom has a picture of me in my tutu and one in my majorette costume for the tap recital. I imagine I only took for the year because those costumes cost extra money.
Later on, I bought tap shoes – still unused – and signed up with a friend for a local adult tap class. Unfortunately, we were the only ones who signed up for the class and it was cancelled. It was a major nightmare trying to get our money back. They wanted to give us a credit for the next time, but that would cost more money which we didn’t want to pay.
But, I digress.
National Tap Dance Day falls on May 25 every year and is a celebration of tap dancing as an American art form. The idea of National Tap Dance Day was first presented to U.S. Congress on February 7, 1989 and was signed into American law by President George H.W. Bush on November 8, 2004. The one-time official observance was on May 25, 1989.
Tap Dance Day is also celebrated in other countries, particularly Japan, Australia, India and Iceland.
National Tap Dance Day was the brainchild of Carol Vaughn, Nicola Daval, and Linda Christensen. They deemed May 25 appropriate for this holiday because it is the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a significant contributor to tap dance.
Even Legos can tap to Puttin’ On The Ritz! A tribute to Fred Astaire, in the classic scene from the 1946 musical, Blue Skies, with the music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. Although originally written for vaudevillian Harry Richman in 1930, the lyrics were readapted along with a brand new dance sequence some 16 years later.
Here’s the original from Blue Skies, although some has been cut with stills of Fred inserted:
And another version, with Michael Jackson 🙂
Just for comparison, the real original 1930 movie footage of Irving Berlin’s world-famous song, sung by Harry Richman, from the film of the same name.
And something completely different with my old favorites, The Nicholas Brothers from the film Stormy Weather.