Music for Halloween: The Addams Family

 

Students always find this piece fun with its finger snaps.  There are three versions in Piano Maestro and it’s in several piano books including Halloween Songbook (Easy Piano).  There was a a new Addams Family animated movie out in 2019, so your students are going to be snapping all over the place when this Halloween rolls around.

The original:

From the 2019 movie:

The cartoon opening:

All intros from 1964-1998

Piano:

Organ:

Sing along:

It’s all about the finger snap!

From the Way-Back Machine

ocms-logo

 

Today, since it’s a “teaching day”, I’m thankful for my piano studio, my students, and my pianos 🙂

 

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 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.

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 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, tenor and soprano recorders, 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.

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ July 3, 2020

 

 

toccata-d-minor

 

Johann Sebastian Bach’s towering monument of organ music, with its deep sense of foreboding, will forever be associated with Halloween.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, 2-piano, simplified…

It’s also available in Piano Maestro, Piano Pronto Encore and Coda

If you want this in a book with other Bach transcriptions, amazon has this: Toccata and Fugue in D minor and the Other Bach Transcriptions for Solo Piano, arranged by Ferruccio Busoni.

Here, Virgil Fox performs it on his Allen Digital Touring Organ.

 

Diane Bish plays the Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Institution and talks about this instrument.

 

Animated organ:

Glass harmonica

Accordion

Cartoon:

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ July 2, 2020

 

Today’s piece is the other one of two pieces that are so often played incorrectly that they have the distinction of being banned from competition in Northern Virginia Piano Teacher competitions.

The first was Fur Elise.  This one is Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich.  It’s in many, many piano method books.  When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I tore it out of my book, put it in a construction paper cover and played it for some Girl Scout talent show.  I have no idea why I couldn’t leave it in the book.

The left hand is supposed to sound like the foot pumping the wheel to make it move

 

This is part of a larger work called Musikalische Genrebilder, Op.14 which can be downloaded at IMSLP:

Spinnliedchen (Spinning Song), the best known item from the set, seems to be universally referred to as number four. The announcement of the first edition in Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte lists it as the fifth item. In Schirmer’s 1878 edition (see cover: here) of Op.14 it appears that items two and three were possibly combined into one number (entitled Sorrow and Consolation) so that Spinnliedchen became number four. Perhaps, this is the origin of the re-numbering.

To learn this sheet music, it’s available in Piano Pronto Movement 4 and Alfred Premier Piano Course Book 6

Here’s a sample:

 

A tutorial

With scrolling sheet music

For organ

How to conduct(?)

While this piece is not usually popular with other instruments, a trumpet quartet gave it a try

The DMS Percussion Ensemble

Singers from the Londonderry Middle School gave it a try:

The first half of this video is flute tuning. After that is a lovely flute duet.

 

For clarinet “quartet”.  Quartet is in quotes because the performer wrote “This is a ‘cover’ I did of Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich. I played all the parts on my clarinet, using the really crappy camera I have. So the sound quality sucks… Also, I don’t have a bass clarinet, so the low part is edited down… and it sounds like a saxophone… oh well. lol!”

I can’t take any more of these!

 

Daily Listening Assignments ~ June 18, 2020

 

‘The Magic Flute’ (German name: Die Zauberflöteis Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final opera, and it contains one of the most well-known arias in music. But what is ‘The Magic Flute’ all about?

 

An animated version:

Played as a piano/organ duo:

 

Arranged by Ferruccio Busoni for 2 pianos:

 

Why Mozart’s Magic Flute is a masterpiece – an introduction (The Royal Opera)

 

The accordion version:

Find this in Piano Pronto: Movement 3, Encore, Mozart: Exploring His Life and Music

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/

 

April 24: On This Day in Music

today

. 1706 ~ Giovanni Battista Martini, Italian music scholar and composer

. 1792 ~ La Marseillaise composed by French army officer Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

. 1913 ~ Violet Archer, Canadian pianist and composer

. 1916 ~ Stanley Kauffmann, Theatre critic for the New York Times

. 1922 ~ (Samuel) Aaron Bell, Jazz musician, bass, composer

. 1923 ~ Freddy Scott, Singer

. 1928 ~ Johnny Griffin, Jazz musician, tenor sax

. 1934 ~ Shirley Boone (Foley), Singer, married to singer Pat Boone since 1953

. 1934 ~ Shirley MacLaine, Entertainer, Academy Award-winning actress, sister of actor Warren Beatty

. 1934 ~ Laurens Hammond, in Chicago, IL, announced the news that would be favored by many churches across the United States. The news was the development of the pipeless organ — and a granting of a U.S. patent for same.
Read more about the Hammond Organ

. 1936 ~ Benny Goodman and his trio recorded China Boy for Victor Records. Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson and Goodman recorded the session in Chicago.

. 1937 ~ Joe Henderson, Musician, composer. He played live in sextet at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner and also played with Blood Sweat and Tears

. 1942 ~ John Williams, Guitarist

. 1942 ~ Barbra Streisand, American actress and singer of popular music, Grammy Award-winning Best Female Pop Vocalist (1963-1965, 1977, 1986), Best Songwriter in 1977, Academy Award-winning Best Actress, Oscar for Best Song (Evergreen in 1976)
Read a news item about Barbra Streisand

. 1943 ~ Richard Sterban, Musician: bass, singer with The Oak Ridge Boys

. 1945 ~ Doug Clifford, Drummer with Creedence Clearwater Revival

. 1954 ~ Billboard magazine, the music industry trade publication, headlined a change to come about in the music biz. The headline read, “Teenagers Demand Music with a Beat — Spur Rhythm and Blues” … a sign of times to come. Within a year, R&B music by both black and white artists became popular.

. 1959 ~ Your Hit Parade ended after a nine-year run on television and many more years on radio. The show debuted in 1935. On the final show, these were the top five songs on Your Hit Parade:
1 Come Softly to Me
2 Pink Shoelaces
3 Never Be Anyone Else but You
4 It’s Just a Matter of Time
5 I Need Your Love Tonight

. 1965 ~ Game of Love, by Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, made it to the top spot on the Billboard music chart. Game of Love stayed for a short visit of one week, before Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits took over the top spot with Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.

. 1968 ~ Climaxing his birthday celebration, the Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, accidentally drove a Lincoln Continental into a hotel swimming pool in Flint, Mich.

. 1969 ~ The singing family, The Cowsills, received a gold record for their hit single, Hair, from the Broadway show of the same name.

. 2000 ~ Singer and pianist George Paoa, whose smooth voice and mellow style introduced generations of tourists to Hawaiian music, died. He was 65. For more than 40 years, Paoa entertained vacationers at isle hotels with a repertoire of old Hawaiian standards, light jazz and hapa-haole music, a tourist favorite with its blend of English lyrics and Hawaiian melodies. Paoa played with the jazz recording star Martin Denny in the 1960s and two of his children sang on his 1994 album, “Walking in the Sand.”

. 2001 ~ Jazz singer Al Hibbler, who was known for his rich baritone and exaggerated phrasing, died at the age of 85. Hibbler is best remembered as one of Duke Ellington’s most colorful vocalists. Hibbler went solo in the 1950s and enjoyed his biggest hit, Unchained Melody. Another of his hit songs was After the Lights Go Down Low. The Mississippi native, who was blind from birth, joined Ellington’s band in 1943 and became popular for singing tunes with the band that included Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me and I’m Just a Lucky So and So. Hibbler’s penchant for distorted vocal effects were described by Ellington as “tonal pantomime.” Hibbler started his professional singing career in the 1930s, after vocal studies at the Conservatory for the Blind in Little Rock, Ark. After winning amateur concerts in Memphis, Tenn., he led a group in Texas and toured with Kansas City bandleader Jay McShann in 1942. Hibbler went on to record with Ellington’s son, Mercer Ellington, Billy Taylor, Count Basie, Gerald Wilson and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He sang When the Saints Go Marching In at Louis Armstrong’s funeral.

. 2016 ~ Billy Paul [Paul Williams], American singer (Me & Mrs Jones), died at the age of 81

All About Music Theory

theory

 

As all my students know, I teach theory with all piano and organ lessons.  Sometimes, it’s from a theory book that matches a lesson book, sometimes on the fly on an “as needed” basis.

This book looks like it would be interesting to use as a review or to look ahead and see what’s coming.  I have just ordered a copy for the studio if you want to check it out at the next lesson.

From amazon.com:

 If you wish there was a fun and engaging way to help you understand the fundamentals of music, then this is it. Whether it’s learning to read music, understanding chords and scales, musical forms, or improvising and composing, this enjoyable guide will help you to finally start understanding the structure and design of music.

This fun-filled, easy-to-use guide includes:
* Music notation
* Scales and modes
* Melody harmonization and counterpoint
* Chord progressions
* Song form and structure

Listen and learn with the CD that has 90 tracks, including over 50 popular songs such as:
* Beauty and the Beast
* Candle in the Wind
* Imagine
* In the Air Tonight
* Killing Me Softly with His Song
* Let It Be
* Message in a Bottle
* Misty
* Satin Doll
* Take the ‘A’ Train
* Unchained Melody
* What’d I Say
* and more!

maryOivoryandroses

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

mozart-birthday

 

 

Wolfgang Amadeus MozartWolfgang Amadeus Theophilus Mozart lived between 1756 and 1791. He is considered to be a classical composer. Mozart, born in Salzburg, Austria, began composing before most children go to kindergarten. By the time he was six he had played the piano and violin in public.

A Wunderkind, a prodigy of the first rank before the age of five, Mozart astounded the musical world with compositions of unsurpassed brilliance. His father Leopold had recognized his talent at the age of three and immediately set out to teach him to play the harpsichord, violin, and organ. Mozart and his sister made their debut in Munich when he was just six and traveled about Europe together, performing at courts and before royalty, always with success. While still a little child Mozart was inventing symphonies, sonatas, and his first opera. Legends abound about how Mozart could hear an entire work in his head and write everything down without making even one change.

As a child performer he was often treated as a freak. People would cover his hands as he played the piano, make him compose tunes on the spot and perform all sorts of other musical tricks.

In 1787 Mozart became court composer to Joseph II. He played for royalty, received commissions from aristocrats and in his short lifetime composed nearly a thousand masterpieces, including symphonies, operas, serenades, sonatas, concertos, masses, vocal works, and church works.

Mozart was a prolific composer writing masterpieces using every form of music, including his operas “The Marriage of Figaro” (based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais), “Don Giovanni”, “Cosi fan tutte” and “The Magic Flute”. His mastery of instrumental and vocal forms, from symphony to concerto and opera, was unrivalled in his own time and perhaps in any other.

Composing the Requiem Mass commissioned for Count Walsegg, he felt he was writing his own requiem and he died before it was finished.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer, died in Vienna Austria at the age of 35, penniless, on December 5th, 1791, of malignant typhus. Mozart, the precocious child prodigy, composed several pieces that are deemed central to the classical era. Though he ranked as one of the greatest musical genius, he did not live a life of affluence as none of his compositions earned him a decent commission but the world is forever enriched by such works as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the Symphonies No. 38 through 41 and the Coronation Mass.

In the year 2000, there have were some new discoveries about Mozart’s death

     Mozart’s birthday

     Mozart’s son, Wolfgang Amadeus Franz Xavier Mozart

     Listen to Mozart’s music.

You might be surprised to hear what “Ah Vous Dirais-je Maman” is!


     Read quotes by and about Mozart

     In Praise of Pianos and the Artists Who Play Them

     Guess what my li’l Chopin played today

     History of the Piano

     Mozart’s first public concert with his sister

     Books and CD’s by Mozart

         Mozart for Children

     Read Amazon.com’s Get Started in Classical feature

University offers opera instead of traditional discipline

 

 

2019 Christmas Countdown: Gesù Bambino

 

Gesù Bambino by Pietro Yon has always had a place in my childhood memories since my church choir sang it every Christmas.  Other than that, it didn’t seem to be too well known but this song has been turning up in piano books lately.  There are now several versions in the O’Connor Music Studio if you are interested in learning this beautiful older Christmas carol.

Gesù bambino was written in 1917. The melody was used by Frederick H. Martens in his English language carol “When Blossoms Flowered ‘mid the Snows”. The melody and lyrics of the chorus are derived from “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful).

A piano version

Piano and Organ

 

Sung by David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir