On August 31 ~ in Music History

today

• 1834 ~ Amilcare Ponchielli, Italian composer
More information about Ponchielli

• 1903 ~ Arthur (Morton) Godfrey, Ukulele playing, TV/radio entertainer

OCMS 1918 ~ Alan Jay Lerner, American lyricist for the musical theater
Read quotes by and about Lerner
More information about Lerner

• 1930 ~ Dudley “Big Tiny” Little Jr, American pianist on the Lawrence Welk Show

• 1939 ~ Jerry Allison, Drummer with The Crickets

• 1939 ~ Frank Sinatra recorded All or Nothing at All with the Harry James Band. The tune failed to become a hit until four years later – after Ol’ Blue Eyes had joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

• 1945 ~ Itzhak Perlman, Israeli-born American violinist, recorded with André Previn and Scott Joplin

• 1945 ~ Van Morrison, Songwriter, singer with Them

• 1955 ~ Anthony Thistlethwaite, Saxophone with The Waterboys

• 1957 ~ Glenn Tilbrook, Guitar, singer, songwriter with Squeeze

• 1959 ~ Tony DeFranco, Singer with The DeFranco Family

• 1970 ~ Debbie Gibson, Singer

• 1976 ~ A judge ruled that George Harrison was guilty of copying from the songHe’s So Fine (a 1963 Chiffons hit). The judge said that the chorus to Harrison’s My Sweet Lord was identical to He’s So Fine and it eventually (appeals went on for about five years) cost the former Beatle over half a million dollars.

• 1987 ~ This day saw the largest preorder of albums in the history of CBS Records. 2.25 million copies of Michael Jackson’s Bad album were shipped to record stores. The LP followed in the tracks of the Jackson album, Thriller, the biggest Jackson-seller of all time (35 million copies sold). The Bad album was successful but sold only 13 million copies.

• 2002 ~ Lionel Hampton, American Jazz vibraphone player and actor, died at the age of 94

• 2016 ~ Jacques Leduc, Belgian composer, died at the age of 84

Did You Know? Radio Show Piano Puzzlers!

puzzlers

 

The Piano Puzzlers book is available in the O’Connor Music Studio library if you’d like to give any a try.  Piano Puzzlers as heard on American Public Media’s “Performance Today.” Includes 32 tunes with songs by Gershwin, Berlin, Arlen, Porter, Rodgers, Fats Waller, Lennon & McCartney, and others disguised in the styles of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Janacek, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, and Copland.

Includes an introduction by Fred Child, host of “Performance Today” as well as background info by Bruce Adolphe. “Bruce Adolphe has taken a common musician’s party game and elevated it to high art and truly funny musical slapsticks. The Piano Puzzlers are a unique combination of extraordinary insight into the styles of many composers subtle, expert workmanship and great, great fun!”

From http://jasonmorris.blogsome.com/2008/08/08/piano-puzzlers/

If you’re a music geek (like me), I have a program for you. Now, let me be clear, to fully qualify as a music geek…you must have a fond appreciation for classical music (no, Poison, Quiet Riot, and Zepplin do not count as classical music). So, if you’re a “music geek” without an appreciation for classical music…well, I hate to burst your bubble…but, you’re not truly a music geek. Instead, you’re a music appreciator, but not a geek. So, if you just listen to indie music and scowl at anything on a label larger than Matador…don’t bother following the link I’ll provide…the fun will be lost on you…And, you probably won’t have a chance.

Every Wednesday night, on my way home from WNL, I turn on my local NPR station to listen to Piano Puzzlers on Performance Today. It’s absolutely incredible. A pianist/composer (Bruce Adolphe) takes a familiar folk or pop tune and sets it inside a classical masterpiece (or in the style of a particular composer). Sometimes it’s easy…sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult. There are days when I say, “got it” on the first pass. Then there are days when I say, “what the heck?” And, more often than not, I’m able to get either the popular/folk tune or the composer.

This is sad to admit, but there are nights when I’ll slow down on the drive home or sit in the car in the driveway to finish an episode. In fact, I get a little worked up if someone stops me after WNL…as I might miss the beginning of Piano Puzzlers (it usually hits around 8:20pm on our local station).

Take a listen to some of the archives and see if you can figure it out! It’s really cool…but probably only appreciated by music geeks (the kind of people that listen to NPR for their musical programs and not just the snipets of cool indie rock between segments on All Things Considered…which is a great show too).

Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!

On August 30 ~ in Music History

today

• 1842 ~ (Victor) Alphonse Duvernoy, French pianist and composer. His works include operas, various pieces for piano and orchestra, chamber music, songs and piano music (including a set of 100 studies).

• 1853 ~ Percy Goetschius, American music teacher and critic

• 1919 ~ Kitty Wells (Muriel Ellen Deason),‘The Queen of Country Music’, Country Music Hall of Fame, married to Johnny Wright

• 1922 ~ Regina Resnik, American mezzo-soprano

• 1922 ~ The New Orleans Rhythm Kings recorded Tiger Rag, one of the most familiar ragtime jazz tunes ever. It was released on the General record label.

• 1935 ~ John Phillips, Singer with The Mamas & The Papas, actress MacKenzie Phillips’ father

• 1941 ~ John McNally, Singer, guitarist with The Searchers

• 1945 ~ Van Morrison, Irish blues-rock singer, songwriter and instrumentalist

• 1968 ~ The Beatles recorded their first songs for their own Apple label. The initial session included the big hits Revolution and Hey Jude.

• 1968 ~ The stars came out for charity as John and Yoko Lennon hosted the One on One concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Among the music greats appearing were Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack. Over $250,000 was raised to aid mentally retarded children.

• 1984 ~ Beatles fans paid $271,180 dollars for memorabilia at an auction in London, England. An unpublished manuscript by John Lennon brought the largest amount – $23,056. A snare drum belonging to Ringo Starr brought $1,440.

Studio Incentives: Bravo Badges

 

A new reward system for fall.

These collectible cards will excite and motivate your beginning students. Your student will get one when they complete a task or accomplish a goal in their musical journey! Each level has fifty-four achievement cards. There are enough for the whole year.

Bravo Badges are designed to be eye-catching. Your students will love showing off their collection.

When the next levels become available, intermediate students will be able to collect these, as well.

On August 29 ~ in Music History

today

• 1920 ~ Charlie Parker, American jazz alto saxophonist
Read quotes by and about Parker
More information about Parker

• 1924 ~ Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones), Singer, Lionel Hampton’s band from 1943 to 1946

• 1928 ~ Thomas Stewart, American baritone

• 1942 ~ Sterling Morrison, Bass, guitar, singer with The Velvet Underground

• 1943 ~ Paul Whiteman Presents, a summertime radio replacement show, was heard for the last time. The hostess for the show was Dinah Shore. Whiteman’s 35-piece orchestra serenaded listeners on the NBC radio network. Whiteman’s well~known theme song was Rhapsody in Blue, composed by George Gershwin.

• 1946 ~ Ella Fitzgerald and The Delta Rhythm Boys recorded It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight on Decca Records. The song turned out to be one of Lady Ella’s most popular.

• 1958 ~ Michael Jackson, American rock singer

• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman was released. It hit number one (for 3 weeks) on September 26th and became the biggest of his career.  The title was inspired by Orbison’s wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out; when Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected: “A pretty woman never needs any money.”   Oh, Pretty Woman was Orbison’s second #1 hit. The other was Running Scared on 6/05/61.

• 1966 ~ The Beatles performed at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. It was the group’s last live appearance before they disbanded in 1970.

• 1986 ~ The former American Bandstand studio, at the original home of WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, PA, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The studio is located at 4548 Market Street. We expect that any day now, Bandstand host Dick Clark will also be placed on the National Register.

Chopstick therapy: how piano lessons could help us age better

Chopsticks

Stephen Powers first thought of his grand piano as an impressive piece of furniture.

But he enjoyed listening to music so much when friends played at parties at his home in North Wilmington that he began taking lessons.

“I enjoy having a couple of songs under my belt,” says Powers, a 52-year-old banker. “I play Happy Birthday. I play Getting to Know You for my mom.”

Powers is part of a boomlet of adults who are studying piano. Many took lessons briefly as children and regret giving it up. Some simply enjoy music. Others gravitated toward the keyboard because studies suggest piano improves mental acuity while reducing the odds of dementia.

A Swedish study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when a twin played a musical instrument later in life, he or she was 64 percent less likely to develop dementia than the twin who did not play.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2013 evaluated the impact of piano lessons on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in adults age 60 to 84.

The group that studied piano showed significant improvement in tests that measure executive function, controlling inhibitions and divided attention, as well as enhanced visual scanning and motor ability. Piano students also reported a better quality of life.

Some grownups simply relish a challenge.

In the United Kingdom, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, took to the keyboard at age 56. He chronicled the year he spent learning Chopin’s demanding No. Ballade 1 in G Minor in the book Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.

Richard Swarmer, 57, of Lewes, played the trumpet from grade school through college. He has sung in several choirs. This year, he began piano lessons.

Learning the piano isn’t easy even for someone with a musical background. Still, Swarmer appreciates that the creative thought process is different from the focus required by his job for a medical benefits company.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking piano lessons as an adult,” he says. “It provides a welcome respite from the demands of my job.”

Ethel Thirtel of North Wilmington is 71 and a student at the Music School of Delaware. She is also taking French lessons to help keep her intellect sharp.

“Both pursuits involve active studying and practice to master new skills,” she says.

To meet rising demand, the Music School of Delaware offers adults-only evening group classes to accommodate working people, says Matthew Smith, student and alumni relations officer. The school also provides instruction for adults 50 and older through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Delaware.

“In addition to professionals, we are getting a lot more inquiries from older adults who are retired and have time on their hands,” he says.

Geri Smith, a Julliard-trained singer, musician and composer, has taught piano to children in public schools as well as private arts centers. Her adult students include a 59-year-old writer who took up piano after the death of her husband, a gifted musician.

“Teaching children is a different experience than teaching adults,” says Smith, of Unionville. “Kids pretty much do what you ask them to do but adults ask lots of questions. They want to know why things have to be done a certain way.”

An important part of learning piano is creating new pathways in the brain. A Harvard Medical School study examined the impact of practicing the piano on synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning.

Volunteers practiced two hours a day for five days, playing a five-finger exercise to the beat of a metronome. To learn how that impacted the neurons scientists used transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS), in which a wire coil sends magnetic impulses to the brain.

They discovered that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to the finger exercises had expanded like crabgrass.

“Playing the piano creates new synapses,” Smith says. “Think of it as creating a conduit so your right hand can talk to your left hand.”

Meldene Gruber of Rehoboth Beach, who has taught piano for more than 40 years, has seen a surge in adult students in the past two years. Now, half her students are adults.

“A number of my adults say they think playing the piano will help with mental acuity,” she says. “Playing the piano forces you to use both sides of the brain, which is great for neuron firing.”

Most adults have specific goals in mind, such as learning to play Christmas carols or a few favorite pieces.

“You don’t get adults who are focused on becoming concert pianists,” Gruber says. “They come for the joy of playing, not because their mothers made them.”

via Chopstick therapy: how piano lessons could help us age better — NewsWorks.

On August 28 ~ in Music History

• 1826 ~ Walter Cecil Macfarren, English pianist and composer, born in London

• 1850 ~ Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin, was performed for the first time.

• 1894 ~ Karl Böhm, Austrian conductor

OCMS   1913 ~ Richard Tucker, American tenor
More information about Tucker

• 1924 ~ Dinah Washington, American rhythm-and-blues singer. She popularized many, many great songs, including What a Diff’rence a Day Makes, Unforgettable, and several hits with Brook Benton.

• 1925 ~ Billy (William Wayne) Grammer, Singer

• 1931 ~ You Rascal You was recorded by Henry Allen, with the Luis Russell Band, for the Victor label.

• 1939 ~ Clem Cattini, Drummer with Tornados

• 1948 ~ Daniel Seraphine, Drummer with Chicago

• 1951 ~ Wayne Osmond, Singer with The Osmond Brothers

• 1964 ~ The Beatles appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine.

• 1965 ~ Shania Twain (Eilleen Regina Edwards), Grammy Award-winning singer

• 1984 ~ The Jacksons’ Victory Tour broke the record for concert ticket sales. The group surpassed the 1.1 million mark in only two months.

• 2002 ~ Kay Gardner, whose last musical work with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra memorialized the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, died of a heart attack. She was in her early 60s.
On hearing of her death, symphony officials scheduled Gardner’s work, “Lament for Thousand,” for the orchestra’s season-opening concert Oct. 13 at the Maine Center for the Arts in Orono.
Gardner was a pianist, flutist and conductor who performed in 46 states and several countries.
More than 20 years ago, she sued the Bangor Symphony, unsuccessfully, for sex discrimination after she had applied for a conducting position and learned that orchestra members had been asked how they felt about working with a female conductor.
In 2000, she was the guest conductor for a 40-member orchestra of women from the Bangor Symphony, playing a repertoire written by women.
Gardner studied music at the University of Michigan and at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1972, she helped found a feminist and openly lesbian women’s band, Lavender Jane.