Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

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Writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died on Sunday, August 30, 2015 at age 82, spent his life wondering on the myriad connections among biology, thought, emotion and perception.

For those of us who obsess over the how and why of music, Sacks’ work on sound and its effects on the brain – and vice versa – was particularly illuminating. His book on the subject, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” remains essential reading for those who want to understand the mechanics of music.

Through bountiful research and mesmerizing case studies, Sacks addressed topics including music and amnesia, music therapy, musical prodigies and those who suffer from debilitating aural hallucinations.

Read more at Oliver Sacks & music: On brainworms, hallucinations and sonic overload – LA Times

The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain if anyone would like to borrow it.

 

Piano Maestro: Vivaldi’s Spring

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Vivaldi, one of the greatest baroque composers, has a very interesting story. He ran an orphanage in the 18th century in Italy that became famous all over the western world for its musically talented children. A lot of his pieces were written for specific children in his school. Vivaldi learned the violin from his father, and was trained as a priest. He was nicknamed “the red priest” for his red hair and was apparently somewhat sure of himself, having claimed once he can compose a concerto faster than it can be copied.

Vivaldi wrote over 500 pieces, most of which are lost today. He is considered one of the greatest musical landmarks in history, having inspired many composers that followed him, including J.S.Bach and others.

Other fun facts about Vivaldi can be found here.

Vivaldi’s Spring is available on Piano Maestro, which is available to my students free of charge.

Manuscript of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K331 Discovered in Budapest in 2014

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The manuscript of Mozart’s A major piano sonata K331 has recently been discovered in Budapest. Having spent the majority of its life in the Budapest’s National Széchényi Library for decades, the coveted manuscript was rediscovered by Haydn scholar Balazs Mikusi.

“When I first laid eyes upon the manuscript, the handwriting already looked suspiciously ‘Mozartish’,” said Mikusi, who is the head of the music collection at National Szechenyi Library. “Then I started reading the notes, and realised it is the famous A Major sonata … My heart rate shot up.”

The piece was composed in 1783 and contains Mozart’s most popular jam, “Turkish March,” which has become a piano lesson staple all over the world.

Although, unfortunately, Mikusi can’t say how or when these pages found their way to Hungary; they reveal subtle differences from the published editions of the sonata. The key variances are seen in the phrasing, dynamics and occasionally the notes themselves.

“It is very rare that a Mozart manuscript pops up. Moreover the A Major Sonata had no known manuscript, so it is a really big discovery,” he said.

The library has only released teasing images of the manuscript, nothing more.

 

From Manuscript of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K331 Discovered in Budapest’s National Széchényi Library : Classical : Classicalite.

The whole sonata:

 

From the Radio Show Piano Puzzlers!

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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!

Piano For Very Young Children

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Student books in 5 different categories are available now in both digital and hardcopy.  There is now “To the Lake”, “Outdoor Adventure”, “To the Farm”, “Country Carnival” and two levels of “Rockstar Rally”.

  • Ideal for students ages 4 and up.
  • On the staff from the start
  • Music is a mix of familiar tunes and original pieces
  • Multi-key approach
  • 18 songs that can be learned by note or rote
  • Clean easy-to-follow pages (great for special needs students!)

 

 

Two levels of Roadtrip! are currently available in Piano Maestro.

Register for Roadtrip!  Students (ages 4-5) are scheduled for half-hour lessons with their parents present.

How to get your Kids to the Keyboard!

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Let’s face it. Most kids don’t want to practice the piano. And if they do find the time to practice, it’s usually because their parent kept nagging them. How frustrating!

Piano teachers are frustrated too. It’s nearly impossible to teach students new concepts when they don’t understand the old ones–all because of a lack of practice.

If you’re a parent in this situation, I have just the solution you’re looking for.

In this upbeat book, I share all the tips I’ve discovered in my 14 years of teaching piano. You’ll learn fun, practical ways to get your kids to the keyboard.

But this easy-to-read guide goes one step further. I’ll show you simple ways to encourage better quality practice. Even if you’ve never had a music lesson in your life!

I wrote this book for kids of all ages. There are creative ideas for elementary students and also a section for teens.

There’s even a section for what to do if your child wants to stop taking piano lessons. That’s right, there is hope and my book will show you exactly how to get them interested in piano again.

Don’t be the kind of parent who sits on the sidelines waiting until their child wants to practice. Piano lessons are too expensive for you to let another “no-practice” day go by.

This book is your answer to get your child to the keyboard, have good quality practice and develop a life-long love of music.

Get it on Amazon