Technic: Scales and Arpeggios

scales

PDF Article on Scales and Arpeggios

In music, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch.

An arpeggio (it. /arˈpeddʒo/) is a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than being played together like a chord. This word comes from the Italian word “arpeggiare”, which means “to play on a harp”. An alternative translation of this term is “broken chord”.

Make any scale or chord here

 

Piano Exercises by Charles-Louis Hanon

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Since the first release of this classic Schirmer edition over 100 years ago, almost anyone who has taken piano lessons for more than two years has played from The Virtuoso Pianist.

Most anyone who has ever played piano has a love-hate relationship with the “Hanon”.

The Virtuoso Pianist (Le Pianiste virtuose) by Charles-Louis Hanon, is a compilation of sixty exercises meant to train the pianist in speed, precision, agility, and strength of all of the fingers and flexibility in the wrists.

First published in Boulogne, in 1873, The Virtuoso Pianist is Hanon’s most well-known work, and is still widely used by piano instructors and pupils although some teachers are getting away from the mechanical playing these can produce.

Personally, I’ve sometimes played these on “auto-pilot” since all one really needs is to get the first pattern going, then move up a step, up a step…

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Notes by C. L. Hanon: Preparatory exercises for the Acquirement of Agility, Independence, Strength and Perfect Evenness in the Fingers. For studying the 20 exercises, begin with the metronome set at 60, gradually increasing the speed up to 108.

From Wikipedia:

The exercises are intended to address common problems which could hamper the performance abilities of a student. These include “crossing of the thumb”, strengthening of the fourth and fifth fingers, and quadruple- and triple-trills.

The exercises are meant to be individually mastered and then played consecutively in the sections they are placed in.

Apart from increasing technical abilities of the student, when played in groups at higher speeds, the exercises will also help to increase endurance. The exercises are divided in three parts:

  1. Exercises 1 – 20: Labeled “preparatory exercises”, these are also the most famous exercises, and are used to develop finger strength and independence. Each exercise contains a sequence of 8 semiquavers, beginning on C, which is then repeated starting on D, and so on across two octaves. The exercise is then repeated in reverse down two octaves to the starting C. The exercises are intended to be practiced in groups of three, except for the first two which are practiced together.
  2. Exercises 21 – 43: Labeled “further exercises for the development of a virtuoso technique.” This more difficult section is meant to be played after the pianist has fully mastered Part 1. Part 2 includes scales and arpeggios.
  3. Exercises 44 – 60: Labeled “virtuoso exercises for mastering the greatest technical difficulties.” Since this section is considerably more difficult, Hanon recommends the mastery of both previous parts before proceeding to this one. This part includes repeated notes,, and more.

After all three parts are mastered, Hanon recommends all exercises be played through daily to retain technique.

The O’Connor Music Studio has several editions of this work.

From Remind, Our Messaging Service

As you may know, we use Remind for various communications and music game challenges.  Here’s info from them about an upcoming change:

 

We’re sorry to write with disappointing news. Recently, we learned that Verizon will be charging Remind a new fee that makes it impossible for us to continue supporting free text messaging for anyone who has Verizon Wireless as their phone carrier. Please read on for all the important details—we promise to keep this as short as we can.

What’s happening?
To offer our text messaging service free of charge, Remind has always paid for each text that our users receive or send. Now, Verizon is charging Remind an additional fee intended for companies that send spam over its network. Your Remind messages aren’t spam, but our efforts to resolve the issue with Verizon haven’t been successful.

As a result, the Verizon fee will increase our costs of providing text messaging by 11X—pushing our annual costs into the millions of dollars. This isn’t financially feasible for us to support, and it’s forcing us to end Remind text messaging for everyone who has a wireless plan with Verizon.

How will this affect you?
Beginning January 28, 2019, the people in your classes who normally get your Remind messages as texts will no longer receive these messages if they have Verizon Wireless as their phone carrier.

What can you do?
To make sure people in your classes continue receiving your messages, ask them to download the mobile app or enable email notifications—both of which are free of charge. Our team’s also working hard on a solution that allows your classes to continue to use Remind by text, and we’ll share more details with you before January 28.

In the meantime, we’ll keep fighting to make sure educators, students, and parents have access to effective communication. To do this, we need your help: If using Remind has made a positive impact in your classroom, at your school, or anywhere in between, please ask Verizon to reverse the fee here: www.remind.com/verizon-fee

We’re very grateful for your support, and we’ll be in touch soon with an update.

Sincerely,
The Remind team

 

“Intervals Roasting”: The Most Educational Christmas Carol Ever

music-theory-song

Music theory has never sounded so catchy with this witty remake of the holiday classic The Christmas Song (with apologies to Mel Torme) Try not to laugh at the ending.

Though it is a bit humorous, this version titled ‘Intervals Roasting’, with lyrics by David Rakowski, attempts to encapsulate the fundamentals of music theory in just over two minutes.

It does a good job of explaining the intervals and harmonic structure of the song and also gives you an idea of how to use music theory to analyze or compose music.

The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy if anyone wants to learn this 🙂

December Listening and Coloring Pages

I have just purchased a set of Christmas Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book for the studio.

Please let me know if you do not want your student to participate in Christmas activities and I will assign alternate activities.

Each week, I will print out some of the pages for your student and put them in his/her notebook.  After listening to the music on YouTube, the student may color the pages.

After they are colored, please return them to the notebook so that there will be a complete book when finished.

If you are an adult and want to listen and color, too, just let me know and I’ll print you a set.

From the website:

Get your piano students listening to great classical music!

The Shades of Sound Listening and Coloring Books are a great way to encourage students to listen to great piano and orchestral repertoire. Students of all ages will love coloring the fun pictures while listening to and learning from the music of the great composers.

This Shades of Sound Christmas edition includes 20 pieces of piano and orchestral literature for the Christmas season, from the Baroque to the Modern period. Includes background and historical information on the pieces and the composers, and a beautiful coloring page for each piece.

The Christmas Shades of Sound book includes 20 different pieces, including:

  • In Dulci Jubilo from the Christmas Tree Suite by Liszt
  • Pastorale from the Christmas Oratorio by Bach
  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach/Hess
  • Farandole from L’arlesienne Suite #1 by Bizet
  • Christmas Sonatina by Reinecke
  • Elegy #4 by Busoni
  • The Adoration of the Magi by Respighi
  • Winter Sonatina by Rowley
  • Christmas Concerto by Corelli
  • Ave Maria by Schubert/Liszt
  • Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Gillock
  • Diversions by Dello Joio
  • Nuit de Noel by Busoni
  • Sheep May Safely Graze by Bach/Petri
  • Carol Symphony by Hely-Hutchinson
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky
  • Trepak by Tchaikovsky
  • Arabian Dance by Tchaikovsky
  • Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky
  • Hallelujah Chorus by Handel

 

Giving Thanks

Adapted from a post at http://www.maryo.co/giving-thanks-day-2/

 

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I’m thankful for my piano studio, my students, and my piano 🙂

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.

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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 Aragonnaise 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 will be more about him in a post on January 26, 2019 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 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.