Today, since it’s a “teaching day”, 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.
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)
I doubt that I played this well but here’s what it was supposed to sound like:
A few years intervened and we 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.
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 my sophomore year and I was devastated. There was about him in a post on January 26, 2018 here: 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 were under my piano as they slept on cots.
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 accidentally 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, a hand-made (by me!) 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.
• 1521 ~ Josquin Desprez, French/Franco-Flemish composer, died. Generally acknowledged as the greatest composer of the High Renaissance.
More information about Desprez
1886 ~ Eric Coates, British composer and violist
More information about Coates
• 1889 ~ Charles G. Conn of Elkhart, IN patented the metal clarinet. More than 100 years later the name, Conn, still represents one of the most popular musical instrument names, especially for clarinets.
• 1909 ~ Lester Willis “Prez” Young, American jazz tenor and saxophonist
• 1927 ~ Jimmy ‘Cajun’ Newman, Singer
• 1937 ~ Tommy (Adrian) Sands, Singer
• 1939 ~ Singer Allan Jones recorded I’m Falling in Love with Someone on Victor Records.
• 1942 ~ Daryl Dragon, Grammy Award-winning musician, songwriter, duo in The Captain and Tennille
• 1944 ~ Barry Conyngham, Australian composer
• 1944 ~ Tim Bogert, Bass with these groups: Showmen, Cactus, Vanilla Fudge
• 1949 ~ Jeff Cook, Singer, guitar with Alabama
• 1953 ~ Alex Lifeson, Guitarist with Rush
• 1970 ~ The Troubadour in Los Angeles, CA was the venue of singer Elton John’s first concert appearance in America and a record company executive for UNI records (a division of MCA) signed Elton to a recording contract.
• 1984 ~ The Menetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village opened. It was the first new off-Broadway theatre to be built in 50 years in New York City. The ribbon cutting was done by “America’s First Lady of the Stage”, Helen Hayes.
• 1990 ~ Stevie Ray Vaughan, killed in helicopter crash
Today’s piece is Solfeggietto by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (aka C.P.E. Bach). The piece is commonly assigned to piano students and appears in many books because it fosters the playing of an even sixteenth note rhythm by alternating hands.
Clarinet starting about a minute in:
Find it on IMSLP, in several anthologies of music at the O’Connor Music Studio, in Piano Pronto: Encore
. 1717 ~ Guillaume Gommaire Kennis, composer
. 1792 ~ Johann Friedrich Schwencke, composer
. 1837 ~ Alfred Gaul, composer
. 1852 ~ Anton Rubinstein’s opera “Dmitri Donskoi”, premiered in St Petersburg
. 1870 ~ Franz Lehar, Austrian composer of operettas. He achieved worldwide recognition for “The Merry Widow”.
More information about Lehar
. 1883 ~ David John de Lloyd, composer
. 1884 ~ Albert Israel Elkus, composer
. 1885 ~ The Boston Pops Orchestra formed
. 1885 ~ Luigi Russolo, composer
. 1886 ~ Frank Merrik, composer
. 1900 ~ Train engineer Casey Jones was killed when trying to save the Cannonball Express as it highballed its way through Vaughn, MS. The famous song about Jones is based on this train accident.
. 1903 ~ Victor Records made its first Red Seal recording this day. The premiere disk featured Ada Crossley, an opera contralto.
. 1916 ~ Robert Shaw, American conductor, Robert Shaw Chorale; music director of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
. 1933 ~ Willie Nelson, American country music singer, songwriter and guitarist
. 1940 ~ Jimmy Dorsey and his band recorded the bandleader’s signature song, Contrasts, for Decca Records. The song went on to become one of the most familiar big band themes of the era.
. 1941 ~ Johnny Farina, Musician: rhythm guitar with Santo & Johnny
. 1943 ~ Bobby Vee (Velline), Singer
. 1944 ~ Richard Schoff, Singer with The Sandpipers
. 1953 ~ Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle became a team this day at Capitol Records in Hollywood. Sinatra’s new musical style, under Riddle’s direction, brought the crooner to the top of the record world for the second time in his illustrious career.
. 1954 ~ Darius Milhaud’s Fourth Concerto for piano and orchestra premiered in Haifa
. 1956 ~ Richard Farina, folk singer: Reflections in a Crystal Wind
. 1983 ~ Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) passed away. He was an American blues musician.
. 1987 ~ Three more compact discs of music by The Beatles went on sale for the first time. The discs were Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver. All became hits again for the Fab Four.
. 2000 ~ Bill Woods, a band leader who helped Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and other country music stars launch their careers, died. He was 76. In the 1950s, Woods ran The Blackboard country music club in Bakersfield. The club attracted many country music stars and helped develop what became known as the Bakersfield Sound. Woods also could play many instruments, including piano, guitar, fiddle, drums, and the banjo.
. 2001 ~ Herman “Rock” Johnston, a musician known for his innovative work on steel drums, died of prostate cancer. He was 63. Johnston gained acclaim in the early 1960s with an innovation that stretched the musical range of the instrument from 24 to 36 notes. During his career, the Trinidad native appeared at the United Nations, Lincoln Center and Radio City Musical Hall in New York City, and with the Boston Symphony at its summer festival in Tanglewood. His repertoire spanned rock, spiritual, classical, show tunes and Caribbean folk music.
. 2003 ~ Bill Napier, a clarinetist who rose to prominence with the premier San Francisco jazz bands of the 1940s and 50s, died. He was 76. Napier helped create a catchy West Coast style with a Dixieland sound and a San Francisco vibe. He played with jazz stars including trombonist Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band. Though he took some lessons, Napier essentially taught himself to play. His talent, and his love of music, brought him to an eclectic mix of venues – from cable car turnabouts to halftime of Harlem Globetrotters’ games to Silicon Valley soirees at the height of the dot-com boom. His last show was December 30, 2002.
. 2015 ~ Ben E. King [Benjamin Earl Nelson], American soul singer (Stand by Me), died at the age of 76
.2016 ~ Phil Ryan, Welsh keyboardist and composer (Man, Pete Brown), died at the age of 69
. 1653 ~ Arcangelo Corelli, Italian violinist and composer
More information on Corelli
. 1909 ~ Marjorie Lawrence, Opera soprano: “One of the truest Wagnerian interpreters of our time, unchallenged for the stirring magnificence of her Brunnhilde and the tender simplicity of her Sieglinde, or the stately loveliness of her Elsa and the compelling malevolence of her Ortrud.”
. 1923 ~ Buddy (Boniface) DeFranco, Clarinetist, bandleader. He won all modern jazz music polls in the early 1950s
. 1933 ~ Bobby Lewis, Pianist, singer
. 1941 ~ Gene Pitney, Singer, songwriter
. 1945 ~ Zina Bethune, Dancer, choreographer, actress
. 1946 ~ Dodie Stevens (Geraldine Ann Pasquale), Singer
. 1954 ~ Doris Day’s single, Secret Love, became the #1 tune in the U.S. The song, from the motion picture, “Calamity Jane”, stayed at the top of the music charts for three weeks.
. 1962 ~ The Beach Boys started making waves with their first Southern California hit, Surfin’. Their new musical style swept the U.S. like a tidal wave when they hit nationally with Surfin’ Safari in August of this same year.
. 1962 ~ Gene Chandler hit #1 with Duke of Earl on this day. The song stayed at the top for three weeks. It hit #1 on the rhythm & blues charts, as well. Duke of Earl was Chandler’s biggest hit out of a half-dozen he recorded. His only other million seller came with Groovy Situation in
. 1970. Curtis Mayfield wrote several hits for Chandler, including Just Be True, What Now and Nothing Can Stop Me. Chandler’s real name is Eugene Dixon. He owned his own record label, Mr. Chand, from 1969 to 1973, though Groovy Situation was recorded in 1970 for Mercury.
. 1966 ~ Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler received a gold record from RCA Victor, for both the album and the single of The Ballad of the Green Berets. Sadler, who recorded one other single (“The “A” Team”) for the label, had served in Vietnam until injuring a leg in a Viet Cong booby trap.
. 1972 ~ Billie Joe Armstrong, Grammy Award-winning singer (1994), guitarist and songwriter with Green Day
. 1998 ~ Bob Merrill passed away. Merrill was an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter.
. 1690 ~ Announcement of the invention of the clarinet.
. 1812 ~ Sigismond Thalberg, composer and one of the most famous virtuoso pianists of the 19th century.
. 1780 ~ François-Joseph Dizi, Flemish harpist and composer. He died sometime in 1840
. 1888 ~ Stephen Heller, Hungarian composer and pianist, died at the age of 74
. 1900 ~ The Giacomo Puccini opera “Tosca” had its world premiere in Rome. The opera made its U.S. debut on February 4, 1901.
. 1908 ~ Russ Columbo, Singer, bandleader, songwriter
. 1917 ~ Billy Butterfield (Charles William Butterfield), Trumpeter, founding member of World’s Greatest Jazz Band
. 1925 ~ Alban Berg’s atonale opera “Wozzeck” premiered in Berlin
. 1929 ~ Billy Walker, Singer, known as the ‘masked singer’
. 1931 ~ Caterina Valente, Singer
. 1938 ~ Jack Jones (John Allan Jones), Singer, son of Allan Jones and wife, actress, Irene Hervey.
. 1939 ~ The program, “Honolulu Bound”, was heard on CBS radio. Phil Baker and The Andrews Sisters were featured on the program.
. 1949 ~ Joaquín Turina, Spanish pianist/conductor/composer (Rima), died at the age of 66
. 1953 ~ Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ Sinfonia Antartica first performance.
. 1964 ~ A hootenanny was held for the first time at the White House, as the New Christy Minstrels entertained President and Lady Bird Johnson, as well as Italy’s President.
. 1965 ~ Jeanette (Anna) MacDonald passed away. She was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy
. 1968 ~ LL Cool J (James Todd Smith), Rap singer