Giving Thanks

 

 

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I’m thankful for my piano studio, my students, and my piano 🙂 This year, I’m especially thankful for the Internet!

When I was growing up, my dad was a minister, meaning we lived in whatever parsonage the church chose to let us live in.  The one we had in Pawcatuck, CT had an upright piano that someone had put out in the sunroom.  Not the best place for a piano, but I digress.

Since we had the piano already, someone – probably my mom – decided that I would take lessons.  We had the organist from the Baptist church just across the river in Westerly, RI

Apparently, Clara Pashley was fondly remembered at the church (now Central Baptist Church) since she was mentioned in an article from 2010.

screenshot-2016-11-04-10-04-33
25-centsMiss Pashley walked to our house each week and taught me (and my mom who was always listening in) piano for the grand sum of 25 cents.

I started with Ada Richter’s classic Teaching Little Fingers to Play, which has now been morphed into the John Thompson library.

From there, it was the Michael Aaron series, and some sheet music.

There was no music store in our town, so I have no idea where any of this music came from – but I still have it all.

My parents did very well for their quarter a week investment, especially since my mom paid good attention and was able to beef up lessons she’d had as a child.  Later on, she played well enough that she was church organist for a local Roman Catholic Church.

But I digress…

In those days, kids couldn’t do a whole lot of activities, so in 6th grade, I decided I wanted to be a Girl Scout.  Bye, bye Clara.

Girl Scouts didn’t last long but I did play piano in a talent show.  I remember, I carefully cut Burgmüller’s Ballade out of my Michael Aaron book and made a nice construction paper cover.  (I still have this, too)

balladeburgmuller

I doubt that I played this well but here’s what it was supposed to sound like:

A few years intervened and moved to Springfield, MA.  The parsonage piano there was in terrible shape and in the dark, never-used basement.  But I decided to make it mine and cleared up the area around it and started “practicing”.

My Junior or Senior year of High School I decided I wanted to major in music in college.  I decided to learn, on my own, a piano arrangement of Aragonaise by Jules Massenet.  I have no idea why or where that sheet music came from but I started working furiously on this piece.

aragonnaise

Hopefully, at some point, it should have sounded like this:

I started pedaling (no pun intended!) my music to the Universities of Connecticut and Massachusetts and ended up at UMass Amherst since we were state residents.

Early morning gym classes (usually swimming), then wet hair traipsing across campus to music theory in winter 5 days a week.  AARRGGH!

But I stuck it out.

My wonderful piano teacher, Howard Lebow, was killed in a car accident during my sophomore year and I was devastated.  There was more about him in a post on January 26, 2021 here on https://oconnormusicstudio.com

I took yet another break from piano lessons – but I kept playing.

After DH graduated, we moved to Milwaukee, WI for his graduate school.  Besides working 2 jobs, I found time to commandeer the practice rooms at the University of Wisconsin.  I also found a teacher at the Schaum School of Music.  She was amazed that I had no piano at home to practice on.

When we later moved to Alexandria, VA my DH gave me a choice of new car or piano. So, I found a used piano.  The owner had acquired it in a divorce and wanted it gone.  Yesterday.  She even paid to move it out of her apartment.

The new-to-me piano took up half our living room.  When my parents came to visit, their feet we under my piano as I slept.

I found yet another new piano teacher and she is still my best friend to this day.

That piano moved to several locations before I bought a brand new Yamaha grand piano.  The movers accidently brought in the wrong one and I made them return it.  The people who lived in an apartment were probably unhappy when they had to return my piano and take their own new baby grand back.

I started teaching as a traveling piano teacher in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I continued that in Wilmington, DE.

When we got to Fairfax, VA I decided no more traveling.  Students would come to me.  And so they have since 1973.

What is supposed to be our living room is filled with music books, electric keyboards, the grand piano, 2 organs, 2 violins, 2 clarinets, recorders, a dulcimer and other musical “stuff”.

Piano playing has gotten me through the worst times of my life.  Teaching has been a lifeline for me, as well.

I am so thankful for the students who have stayed with me over the years and the new ones I have found…on the internet.

Over the River and Through the Woods

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“The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”, also known as “Over the River and Through the Wood”, is a Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child originally published in Flowers for Children, Volume 2.

Although many people sing “to grandmother’s house we go,” the original edition shows that the author’s words were “to grandfather’s house.”

This poem celebrates the author’s childhood memories of visiting her Grandfather’s House.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way,
To carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop
For doll or top,
For ‘t is Thanksgiving day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
With a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark,
And children hark,
As we go jingling by.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play—
Hear the bells ring
Ting a ling ding,
Hurra for Thanksgiving day!

Over the river, and through the wood—
No matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get
The sleigh upset,
Into a bank of snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all,
And play snow-ball,
And stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple grey!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For ‘t is Thanksgiving day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
And straight through the barn-yard gate;
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells;
He shakes his pow,
With a loud bow wow,
And thus the news he tells.

Over the river, and through the wood—
When grandmother sees us come,
She will say, Oh dear,
The children are here,
Bring a pie for every one.

Over the river, and through the wood—
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurra for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurra for the pumpkin pie!

 

November 25 ~ On This Day in Music

 

 

 

. 1787 ~ Franz Gruber, composer of Silent Night. The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816.

The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.

1896 ~ Virgil Thomson, American composer, conductor and music critic
Read quotes by and about Thomson
More information about Thomson

. 1924 ~ Paul Desmond, was an American jazz alto saxophonist and composer, best known for the work he did in the Dave Brubeck Quartet and for composing that group’s greatest hit, “Take Five”.

. 1925 ~ Derroll Adams, Country singer, played with Jack Elliott

. 1931 ~ Nat Adderley, Musician, cornet, mellophone, French horn, trumpet, brother of Cannonball Adderley

. 1941 ~ Percy Sledge, Singer

. 1949 ~ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, by Johnnie Marks, appeared on the music charts and became THE musical hit of the Christmas season. Although Gene Autry’s rendition is the most popular, 80 different versions of the song have been recorded, with nearly 20,000,000 copies sold.

. 1955 ~ Following a summer at the top of the American pop charts, Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets became the #1 song in Great Britain.

. 1959 ~ Steve Rothery, Guitarist with Marillion

. 1960 ~ Amy Grant, Singer

. 1965 ~ Dame Myra Hess, British pianist died

. 1966 ~ Stacey Lattisaw, Singer

Giving Thanks, 2021

Snoopy-Thanksgiving

 

I think this poem by Aileen Fisher says it best…

~ All In A Word ~

T
turkey, talk, and tangy weather.


H
for harvest stored away,
home, and hearth, and holiday.


A
for autumn’s frosty art,
and abundance in the heart.


N
for neighbors, and November,
nice things, new things to remember.


K
for kitchen, kettles’ croon,
kith and kin expected soon.


S
for sizzles, sights, and sounds,
and something special that abounds.

That spells THANKS — for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.