Piano Maestro: A Parent’s Guide

Piano Mania

 

It will be fun watching your child improve their piano skills all while having fun using Piano Maestro in lessons each week!

As your child’s teacher (or YOUR teacher!), I’m looking forward to seeing the progress they will make when they start using it at home each day. This guide will help you understand how this app will benefit your child and how to get it set up on your own iPad.

Overview
What is Piano Maestro?

Piano Maestro is the ultimate piano practice tool that will have students quickly playing their favorite classical, pop, rock, TV and video game songs and themes. It is available in the App Store and works on the iPad.

What skills does it improve?
• Note reading
• Sight reading
• Rhythm
• Inner pulse
• Confidence

What makes it so fun?
• Upbeat background tracks
• Stunning graphics
• Instant rewards and feedback
• Satisfaction of playing REAL music

It works with an acoustic piano?

Yes! Your child practices on your real acoustic or digital piano. Piano Maestro listens from the iPad’s built-in microphone. No wires needed.

I’m already paying for lessons. What value does this add?

Sometimes I wish I could be there with your child to encourage them to keep practicing daily. I’m sure it’s not always easy, as unforeseen challenges will arise.

Since our time each week is just too short, this app will give me eyes on the ground and it will keep them practicing longer and improving more quickly.

How will it be used in lessons?

I will spend a few minutes of each lesson helping your child master a couple of new songs all while having fun! I will also teach them how to use the practice options at home.

At the end of the lesson, we will choose Home Challenge assignments within the app that will show up in your account at home. I’ll get updates when progress is made.

 

 

Getting Started
Wow, this sounds awesome. Now, how do I get started?

1) Download Piano Maestro on your iPad from the AppStore
2) Create a JoyTunes account with a parent’s email, under which, you can have multiple profiles for each member of the family.
3) Create a profile for each family member (that means you too Mom and Dad!) inside the Parent/Teacher zone (top right-hand corner of the main screen)
4) Connect to your teacher, me! After creating a profile in the “profiles” tab of the parent/teacher zone, select the student’s profile and click “connect to teacher.” Once I approve the connection to your child, they will receive full access to all content for FREE! I will then also begin receiving weekly progress reports.
5) Start Playing – I will now start assigning you homework, meanwhile, get started on Journey Mode.

When you connect to the O’Connor Music Studio, Piano Maestro is free for as long as you study here.

Ornaments Aren’t Just For Christmas

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

How to Play using J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

 

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

July 13, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Will you be going to the Circus this Summer?

Here’s some information about circus music.

WINDJAMMERS

Circus marches are called “screamers” because they are traditionally so high, loud & fast!! Circus Band members are often called “windjammers” because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers. Playing the circus requires incredible endurance & skills on your instrument. The windjammers play almost none stop and much of the music is really difficult!

The greatest circus bands were about 100 years ago in the heyday of the circus. At that time the big top band could be 25 or so, plus there were often sideshow musicians as well. Cowboy bands, women’s bands and bands of Blacks were often part of the sideshows.

Contemporary circuses are much smaller all the way around, and some don’t use live musicians at all, just “canned” music (recordings). Others carry 3 musicians, a drummer, a trumpet player and a keyboard (synthesizer) player. A few, like the Big Apple Circus, still have bands. The Big Apple Circus has 8 musicians on its bandstand: a conductor/trumpet, a person who plays alto sax and clarinet, one who plays tenor sax and flute, a violin, a trombone, a bass player, a keyboard player and a drummer.

In the “old days,” being a circus musician was one of the most strenuous jobs a musician could have. In the days before musicians’ unions, the windjammer would be expected to play for the circus parade, play a pre-show free concert for the townspeople, ballyhoo around the grounds before the big top show, play the show itself (nonstop for two or three hours!), play post-show concerts on the grounds or play sideshows. Then after everyone left, they helped take down the tents or do other chores around the grounds. It was a busy day and the pay was not very good, but it was an exciting life with lots of great music, and many musicians loved it!

THE MUSIC

Entry of the Gladiators (Thunder and Blazes) was written in 1897 by, the Czechoslovakian composer, Julius Fucik (1872-1916). This march is a classic circus march & one that just about everyone will think, “Ah, circus!” when they hear it. Thunder and Blazes (as it is most frequently called) and Fucik’s Florentiner March are probably his most well-known marches.

Most circus marches follow the standard American military march form, but often abbreviated (no repeats in the second half):

  • Introduction (a bit longer than military marches)
  • First strain (repeated)
  • Second strain (repeated)
  • Trio (more mellow and the key changes)
  • Breakup strain (often called the dogfight in military marches)
  • Last strain

In a circus march, the last strain is often the same as the trio, but louder, and often the trio, breakup strain and last strain are not repeated like they are in a military march (in military marches, the trio and breakup strain are often reversed & the way they repeat may vary).

The music sets the scene for the performer’s act. Different music is needed for different kinds of acts: the bareback riders galloping around the hippodrome need a lively tune, the trapeze artists want something more peaceful, and of course the clowns need music that sounds humorous (like trombone smears!).

In the early days of the circus, the band masters would take some of the European classical music and arrange it for the circus band. “The most obvious example would be the beautiful, flowing waltz music that is essential to the trapeze artists (‘flyers’ and ‘catchers’). The bandmaster and musicians must be precise in coordinating the music and the timing of the artists, requiring rehearsal with the artists and the musicians.  Similarly, it may be interesting to note that the bareback riders perform in a smaller ring because of the gait of the horses. The centrifugal effect requires a ring of a certain diameter for timing. Thus, the conductor must follow the gait of the horses, whereas the aerialists depend on the tempo of the music for timing their act.”

Modern circuses also play a lot of popular tunes, jazz and other songs that people will recognize. You will likely hear fewer of the standard circus marches at a circus today.

The drummer has a particularly challenging and important role in the circus music. He/she must “play the tricks.” Usually the drummer is situated so that he can see the ring because it is his job to accent and intensify what is happening in the ring. This was true 100 years ago, and it is true today. If the act is getting tense, the drummer will get intense. If someone slides down a rope or vaults off the trampoline, there will be a cymbal crash or drum hit when the performer reaches the floor. Sometimes the cues come from the conductor or from the ringmaster, but sometimes it is the drummer who is really in charge!

Circus bands occasionally play a John Philip Sousa composition during the traditional Center Ring Concert, but his melodic marches are not the right structure for most circus acts.

Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever is never part of the regular program. It is reserved for emergency use – sometimes called the “Disaster March”. If a major problem happens — an animal gets loose, a high wind threatens the tent, or a fire breaks out — the band plays the march as a warning signal to every worker on the circus lot that something is wrong.

(Click here for information on the Hartford fire of 1944)

Charles Nelson Reilly – who grew up to be a famous actor, comedian, director and drama teacher – was attending the Ringling Bros. circus, in Hartford, on the day the big top burned to the ground.  Listen as he recalled his memories of the fire.

 

For lesser problems, the 12th Street Rag was played to alert the clowns to come out and divert attention during the more common mishaps.

Edward F. Shevlin describes what goes on in the circus band as follows:

“Our music is usually by Karl King,  Alexander, Fred Jewell, C. E. Duble and other old time circus bandmasters and musicians.  Much of the music by these circus musician-composers is amenable to quick cut-offs and tempo changes as necessary to fit particular acts. Hence, Windjammers usually play two musicians to a stand so that when the conductor cuts to a new piece and tempo, one musician can quickly move the music to expose the next piece while the other continues without skipping a beat! We might quickly go from a march to a Samba or rhumba or galop; or from a waltz to an up-tempo march or galop for the “come down” when the aerialists quickly descend into the net or slide down a rope at the conclusion of their act . . .followed by that ubiquitous B-flat chord! The old circus bands would play anything from Ragtime to a Polonaise or a tone poem!”

*Information from an email from Edward F. Shevlin, a Windjammer who happened upon this page! Many thanks, Mr. Shevlin!

THE BANDWAGON

ParadeWagon

When the circus came to town, there was always a circus parade — the parade served to get the wagons filled with people, equipment, baggage, tents and animals to the location of the circus, but it also provided some free advertisement. The wagons were very elaborate & were intended to get people interested in the circus so they would come and see the acts. The band road on top of a bandwagon and inside the bandwagon was luggage, tents and other necessities.

Hey, have you ever heard the term, “jump on the bandwagon”? Here’s the story. In 1848, when Zachary Taylor won the Whig party nomination for president, Dan Rice, a famous clown whose attire inspired the image of Uncle Sam, invited Mr. Taylor to ride on the bandwagon that Dan Rice had. When the bandwagon arrived at the center of town, Dan Rice stopped his parade and made a very emotional speech supporting Zachary Taylor’s candidacy. Someone noted that Dan Rice was on Mr. Taylor’s bandwagon and the term stuck, so that to jump on the bandwagon means to get involved with whatever the issue is. “He jumped on the ecology bandwagon.” “She is definitely on the civil rights bandwagon.”

Below you will find some links to pictures of bandwagons.

PT Barnum’s Bandwagon http://www.vintageviews.org/vv-3/t_land/pages/trl02_002.html

Windjammers in a Bandwagon http://www.circusparade.com/album/albmusic.htm

Pawnee Bill Bandwagon No. 80 http://www.circusparade.com/wagons/w_pawnee.htm

The Columbia Bandwagon– purchased by James Bailey for the Barnum & Bailey Circus — and see this wagon hitched to FORTY horses!!! The picture including the wagon & the band is at the bottom of the page.

The Mirror Bandwagon http://www.circusmodelbuilders.org/twohemis.htm

A clown marching band (Baraboo, WI High School) http://www.circusparade.com/album/albpic22.htm

 

THE CALLIOPE

Most people pronounce this instrument “cal eye’ o pee”. Circus people pronounce it “cal’ ee ope” (last syllable like “rope”). What is a calliope?? It is a huge instrument made of whistles with a steam engine that blows steam through the whistles when you press the key. Most calliopes are played with a keyboard like a piano keyboard & each key controls one whistle. It is LOUD!!!! Some can be heard up to 3 – 5 miles! Don’t stand too close to one!

The calliope traditionally brought up the rear in a circus parade.

Here is a picture of an early calliope – this one is not on wheels like a circus instrument would be. http://mmd.foxtail.com/Calliope/index.html

Go to this site to see an instrument built recently and see how it works. http://mmd.foxtail.com/Calliope/davis.html

 

SUPERSTITIONS!

Most performing entities have some superstitions. One of the superstitions in circus bands is that you can not play Franz von Suppe’s Light Cavalry March. Quoting from Mr. Beal’s book:

“To play it on the circus lot means disaster and sudden death.”You may not believe this but most circus folks do, at least those who know the facts. Played once in Oklahoma, a train wreck followed and sixteen were killed. Played again, this time while [Merle] Evans was on tour with Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West, a blowdown followed and 38 fatalities resulted. [A blow down is a wind that destroys all or part of the tents.]

“And the last time Merle played it a cornet player died immediately after the performance. That was enough for Evans. He collected the parts, tied them up in a neat bundle, and dropped them over the nearest bridge…

“From that day to this the music of Suppe’s Light Cavalry march is taboo. Even its presence in the music trunk would be considered a serious menace to the life and safety of the circus musicians.”

A second superstition about the music played is that the only time you can play Home Sweet Home is during the very last performance of the season, the very last song. Otherwise, it could mean the immediate closing of the show.

Information from:
Beal, George Brinton. Through the Back Door of the Circus with George Brinton Beal. Springfield, Massachusetts: McLoughlin Bros., Inc., 1938. p. 1-20.

Some important Windjammers and composers of circus music

Links to other Circus Band Websites

Definitions & Explanations

Screamers – Circus marches are called screamers because they are so loud, fast & often very high!

Windjammers – Circus musicians are often called windjammers because they jam so much wind into their instruments in the process of playing these screamers.

Ballyhooing – The dictionary defines the verb “ballyhoo” as a vigorous attempt to win customers. When not playing, the musicians went around the grounds & the town shouting about the circus & trying to get people to come to see it. Ex: “Come to the circus tonight! See flying trapeze artists and the ….”

Hippodrome – The hippodrome is the track around the inside of the ring where the horses were run.

Trombone Smears – Smear refers both to a trombone technique and to a type of music. The technique (officially called a glissando) where the trombonist pulls the slide in or out without tonguing and you get a smearing sound as the notes move up or down, rather than a distinct set of individual notes. Smear also refers to a type of music that includes and features these smear techniques. These pieces are often used as clown music. Henry Fillmore wrote many trombone smears and they had an African-American minstrel sound to them.

Adapted from http://bandnotes.info/tidbits/circus.htm

On May 29 in Music History

• 1680 ~ Abraham Megerle, Composer, died at the age of 73

• 1680 ~ Luca Fumagalli (1837) Composer

• 1730 ~ William Jackson, Composer

• 1731 ~ Orazio Mei, Composer

• 1741 ~ Johann Gottfried Krebs, Composer

• 1750 ~ Giuseppe Porsile, Composer, died at the age of 70

• 1753 ~ Joseph Haydn’s “Krumme Teufel,” premiered

• 1791 ~ Pietro Romani, Composer

• 1833 ~ William Marshall, Composer, died at the age of 84

• 1860 ~ Isaac Albéniz, Spanish pianist and composer
More information about Albéniz

• 1843 ~ Emile Pessard, Composer

• 1862 ~ Franciszek Wincenty Mirecki, Composer, died at the age of 71

• 1881 ~ Frederik Septimus Kelly, Composer

• 1883 ~ William Beatton Moonie, Composer

• 1889 ~ August Strindberg’s “Hemsoborna,” premiered in Copenhagen

• 1890 ~ Francis de Bourguignon, Composer

• 1897 ~ Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Austrian-born American composer
More information about Korngold

• 1897 ~ Ignace Lilien, Composer

• 1899 ~ Frantz Jehin-Prume, Composer, died at the age of 60

• 1903 ~ Bob Hope, Entertainer

• 1905 ~ Fela Sowande, Composer

• 1905 ~ Leon Francis Victor Caron, Composer, died at the age of 55

• 1906 ~ Hans Joachim Schaeuble, Composer

• 1910 ~ Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev, Russian Composer, died at the age of 73

• 1911 ~ Sir William Gilbert, English librettist who together with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated on many operettas, died of a heart attack after rescuing a woman from drowning. He was 74.

• 1911 ~ Carl M Story (1916) Fiddler

• 1912 ~ Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA — for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job!

• 1922 ~ Iannis Xenakis, Rumanian-born French theorist and composer
More information on Xenakis

• 1923 ~ Eugene Wright, Jazz musician, bass with Dukes of Swing, played with Brubeck

• 1935 ~ Josef Suk, Czech violinist and composer, died at the age of 61

• 1930 ~ Eleanor Fazan, Opera and show choreographer

• 1937 ~ Peter Kolman, Composer

• 1941 ~ Roy Crewsdon, Guitarist with Freddie and The Dreamers

• 1942 ~ The biggest selling record of all time was recorded. A little out of season, perhaps, but White Christmas, the Irving Berlin classic, was recorded by Bing Crosby for Decca Records. The song was written for the film “Holiday Inn”. More than 30-million copies of Crosby’s most famous hit song have been sold and a total of nearly 70-million copies, including all versions of the standard, have been sold.

• 1942 ~ “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, based on life of George M. Cohan, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring James Cagney and Joan Lesley, premiered in New York City (Academy Awards Best Actor 1943)

• 1943 ~ Hermann Hans Wetzler, Composer, died at the age of 72

• 1943 ~ “The Million Dollar Band” was heard for the first time on NBC radio. Charlie Spivak was the first leader of the band that featured Barry Wood as vocalist. The unusual feature of the show was the awarding each week of five diamond rings!

• 1945 ~ Gary Brooker, Keyboard player, singer

• 1948 ~ Linda Esther Gray, opera singer

• 1948 ~ Michael Berkley, Composer and broadcaster

• 1949 ~ Francis Rossi, Guitarist

• 1949 ~ Gary Brooker, Rock keyboardist with Procol Harum

• 1950 ~ Rebbie (Maureen) Jackson, Singer, oldest member of the Jackson family

• 1951 ~ Dimitrios Levidis, Composer, died at the age of 66

• 1951 ~ Fanny Brice, Ziegfeld Girl (Baby Snooks Show), died at the age of 59

• 1951 ~ Josef Bohuslav Foerster, Composer, died at the age of 91

• 1951 ~ Robert Kahn, Composer, died at the age of 85

• 1951 ~ Danny Elfman (1953) Singer with Oingo Boingo;, composer of soundtracks to Batman, Beetlejuice and The Simpsons

• 1956 ~ LaToya Jackson, Singer

• 1956 ~ Hermann Abendroth, German conductor (Gewandhausorkest), died at the age of 73

• 1956 ~ Arnold Schoenberg’s “Modern Psalm,” premiered

• 1960 ~ Everly Brothers Cathy’s Clown hit #1

• 1961 ~ Melissa Etheridge, Singer

• 1961 ~ Uuno Kalervo Klami, Composer, died at the age of 60

• 1961 ~ Ricky Nelson reached the top spot on the “Billboard” singles chart with Travelin’ Man. It was Nelson’s second chart-topping hit. Poor Little Fool made it to the top in August of 1958.

• 1962 ~ Barbra Streisand appeared on “Garry Moore Show”

• 1967 ~ Geronimo Baqueiro Foster, Composer, died at the age of 69

• 1971 ~ Max Trapp, Composer, died at the age of 83

• 1972 ~ The Osmonds received a gold record for the album, “Phase III”.

• 1975 ~ Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown, Singer

• 1976 ~ One Piece At A Time by Johnny Cash hit #29

• 1977 ~ Goddard Lieberson, Composer, died at the age of 66

• 1989 ~ Danielle Riley Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley

• 1991 ~ “Les Miserables” opened at ACTEA Theatre, Auckland NZ

• 1992 ~ Peter John “Ollie” Halsall, Guitarist, died of a heart attack at 43

• 1994 ~ Oliver “Bops Junior” Jackson, drummer, died at the age of 61

• 1994 ~ “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” closed at Minskoff Theater NYC after 223 performances

• 1996 ~ James George “Jimmy” Rowles, Jazz pianist, died at the age of 77

• 1997 ~ Jeff Buckley, Musician, drowned at age 30

• 2003 ~ Janet Collins, the first black prima ballerina to appear at the Metropolitan Opera and one of a few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died. She was 86. In 1951, Collins performed lead roles in “Aida” and Bizet’s Carmen and danced in “La Gioconda” and “Samson and Delilah” at the Met in New York City. That was four years before Marian Anderson made her historic debut as the first black to sing a principal role at the Met. Collins left the Met in 1954. During the 1950s, she toured with her own dance group throughout the United States and Canada and taught. Collins also danced in films, including the 1943 musical “Stormy Weather” and 1946’s “The Thrill of Brazil.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1974 paid homage to Collins and Pearl Primus as pioneering black women in dance.

On May 22 in Music History

today

• 1722 ~ Johannes Schmidlin, Composer

• 1759 ~ Gervais-François Couperin, Composer

• 1780 ~ Jan Emmanuel Dulezalek, Composer

• 1783 ~ Thomas Forbes Walmisley, Composer

• 1813 ~ (Wilhelm) Richard Wagner, German composer
Read quotes by and about Wagner
More information about Wagner

Happy Birthday Wagner-Style

• 1820 ~ Alexander Ernst Fesca, Composer

• 1850 ~ Johann Schrammel, Composer

• 1852 ~ Emile Sauret, Composer

• 1865 ~ Enrique Morera, Composer

• 1879 ~ Eastwood Lane, Composer

• 1879 ~ Jean Emile Paul Cras, Composer

• 1884 ~ Alceo Toni, Composer

• 1885 ~ Julio Fonseca, Composer

• 1900 ~ Edwin S. Votey of Detroit, MI patented his pianola, a pneumatic piano player. The device could be attached to any piano. Batteries not included.

• 1914 ~ Sun Ra (Herman Blount), American jazz composer and keyboard player who led a free jazz big band known for its innovative instrumentation and the theatricality of its performances. He passed away in 1993.

• 1916 ~ Gordon Binkerd, Composer

• 1924 ~ Charles Aznavour, French chanteur and composer

• 1924 ~ Claude Andre Francois Ballif, French composer

• 1926 ~ Elaine Leighton, Drummer, played with Billie Holiday

• 1928 ~ Jackie (Jacqueline) Cain, Singer

• 1930 ~ Kenny Ball, Musician, trumpeter, bandleader

• 1933 ~ John Browning, American pianist

• 1934 ~ Peter Nero (Nierow), Pianist

• 1950 ~ Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist

• 1966 ~ Iva Davies (1955) Guitarist, singer with Icehouse

• 1958 ~ Wedding vows were taken by rock ’n’ roll star, Jerry Lee Lewis and his thirteen-year-old cousin, Myra.

• 1965 ~ The Beatles got their eighth consecutive number one hit as Ticket to Ride rode to the top of the singles list. The song topped the charts for one week and became their eighth consecutive number one hit.

• 1966 ~ Bruce Springsteen recorded his very first song at the age of 16, along with his band, The Castilles. It was titled, That’s What You’ll Get. The song was never released.

• 2003 ~ The final manuscript of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which was annotated by the composer, sold at auction for $3.47 million.

It’s National Buy a Musical Instrument Day

Piano 8

 

 

Each year on May 22 we observe National Buy a Musical Instrument Day.  The day is all about playing music.  If you are a musician, it might be time for a new instrument.  Maybe you can learn to play a second or third one.  If you have never played an instrument before, National Buy A Musical Instrument Day might be the motivation you need to start.

Naturally, here at the O’Connor Music Studio, a piano, keyboard with weighted keys (and 88 of them!) or organ is recommended but this day is for all types of instruments and is for people of all ages.  Grandpa can play his ukulele while the grandkids play the drums, trombone, and flute. Together they can all make terrific music!

Adapted from http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-buy-a-musical-instrument-day-may-22/