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
* In the Air Tonight
* Killing Me Softly with His Song
* Let It Be
* Message in a Bottle
* Satin Doll
* Take the ‘A’ Train
* Unchained Melody
* What’d I Say
* and more!
Wolfgang 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.
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
• 1637 ~ Bernardo Pasquini, Italian composer of operas, oratorios, cantatas and keyboard music.
• 1840 ~ Hermann Goetz, German Composer
• 1842 ~ The Philharmonic Society of New York, the first permanent orchestra in the U.S., held its first concert. Despite uncomfortable seating, the event was a huge success. They performed works of Beethoven.
1863 ~ Pietro Mascagni, Italian composer and conductor
More information about Mascagni
• 1879 ~ Rudolf Friml, Musician, composer
• 1887 ~ Ernst Toch, Austrian-born American composer
• 1899 ~ Antoni de Kontski, Polish pianist and composer, died at the age of 82
• 1911 ~ Louis Prima, Trumpeter, bandleader with Louis Prima and His New Orleans Gang, Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra; songwriter, singer, married to Keely Smith
• 1931 ~ Bobby Osborne, Musician, mandolin, singer with the duo – Osborne Brothers
• 1942 ~ Harry Chapin, American folk-rock singer and songwriter, Recipient of Special Congressional Gold Medal, Worldwide Humanitarian for the Hungry, Needy and Homeless
• 1948 ~ NBC presented Horace Heidt’s Youth Opportunity Program for the first time. The talent show earned Dick Contino, an accordionist, the $5,000 prize as the program’s first national winner.
• 1949 ~ Tom Waits, Singer, songwriter, playwright, married to Kathleen Brennan
• 1954 ~ Mike Nolan, Singer with Bucks Fizz
• 1957 ~ Pat Boone was at the top of the pop charts for the first of six weeks with April Love. His other number one hits included Ain’t That a Shame, I Almost Lost My Mind, Don’t Forbid Me and Love Letters in the Sand.
• 1980, Leonard Bernstein received the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. His co-recipients were James Cagney, Leontyne Price, Lynn Fontanne, and Agnes de Mille.
At the White House reception for the honorees, President Jimmy Carter said:
“Leonard Bernstein single-handedly, or I might say, with both hands and his entire body, as a matter of fact— [laughter] —has brought great music as a vital part of the personal lives of literally millions of Americans and people throughout the world with his deep commitment, his knowledge of communication, his ability as a teacher, and the inner commitment that makes his words and his attitudes a kind of a burning inspiration to those who have admired his own works and the way he interprets and explains the fine works of others. In motion pictures, on Broadway, in the concert hall, and, I am thankful to say, here in The White House, he’s been a favorite of us and of millions of his fellow Americans.”
• 1984 ~ Michael Jackson was in Chicago to testify that the song, The Girl is Mine, was exclusively his and he didn’t swipe the song, Please Love Me Now. It was a copyright infringement case worth five million dollars. He won.
• 1990 ~ Dee (Delectus) Clark passed away
• 2016 ~ Greg Lake, English rock vocalist and bassist (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer), died of cancer at the age of 69
• 1596 ~ Nicola Amati, Italian violin maker, teacher of Guarneri and Stradivari
• 1729 ~ Padre Antonio Francisco Javier Jose Soler, Spanish composer whose works span the late Baroque and early Classical music eras. He is best known for his keyboard sonatas, an important contribution to the harpsichord, fortepiano and organ repertoire.
• 1876 ~ Hermann Goetz died. He was a German composer.
• 1883 ~ Anton Webern, Austrian composer and conductor
Read quotes by and about Webern
More information about Webern
• 1907 ~ Connie (Connee) Boswell, Singer Connie or Connee (a spelling she preferred later in life), who also played several musical instruments, arranged vocals for herself and her two sisters. Although she was stricken with polio and worked from her wheelchair, she never let this get in the way of being part of her jazz-singing trio. The Boswell Sisters’ talent was quickly recognized and by the time Connee was 24 years old, the sisters were doing vaudeville, radio, playing New York’s Paramount Theatre, recording with the Dorsey Brothers: You Oughta Be in Pictures; making films and appearing on the U.S.A.’s first public TV broadcast. One thing led to another and Connie went solo, entertaining World War II troops, making films, appearing on Broadway and recording with big names like Woody Herman’s; even a duet classic with Bing Crosby: Basin Street Blues. Her musical influence spanned many generations and music styles. If you’d have asked Ella Fitzgerald, she would have told you, “They just don’t make ’em like Connee Boswell anymore.”
• 1911 ~ Nino Rota, composer (Torquemada)
• 1923 ~ Maria Callas (Calogeropoulous), American soprano
More information about Callas
Read quotes by and about Callas
• 1925 ~ The first jazz concerto for piano and orchestra was presented at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Commissioned by Walter Damrosch, American composer George Gershwin presented Concerto In F, and was also the featured soloist playing a flugelhorn in a slow, bluesy style as one of his numbers.
• 1927 ~ Phyllis Curtin, Singer: soprano with the New York City Opera, MetropolitanOpera, Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala, Teatro Colon; coordinator of Voice Dept and Opera at Yale School of Music, Dean Emerita of Boston Univ School for the Arts
• 1927 ~ Ferlin Husky (aka: Simon Crum, Terry Preston), Singer
• 1930 ~ Andy (Howard Andrew) Williams, American Emmy Award-winning entertainer, singer
• 1931 ~ Jaye P. (Mary Margaret) Morgan, Singer, performer
• 1941 ~ Johann Christian Sinding, Norwegian composer
• 1944 ~ Frank Sinatra was in the Columbia Records studio recording Old Man River.
• 1948 ~ Ozzy (John) Osbourne, Songwriter, singer
• 1949 ~ Mickey Thomas, Singer with Jefferson Starship
• 1953 ~ Kismet opened on Broadway in New York. The show ran for 583 performances.
• 1955 ~ Elvis Presley’s first release on RCA Victor Records was announced. No, it wasn’t Hound Dog or Heartbreak Hotel. The first two sides were actually purchased from Sam Phillips of Sun Records: Mystery Train and I Forgot to Remember to Forget. Elvis was described by his new record company as “The most talked about personality in recorded music in the last 10 years.”
• 1960 ~ Camelot opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. Richard Burton and Julie Andrews played the leading roles in the musical written by Lerner and Loewe. Robert Goulet got rave reviews for his songs, If Ever I Would Leave You, Then You May Take Me to the Fair and How to Handle a Woman, among others. Camelot had a run of 873 performances. Broadway went Hollywood in the 1967 film version of Camelot. Its run was not quite as successful.
. 1965 ~ The Beatles sixth studio album Rubber Soul was released. Often referred to as a folk rock album, Rubber Soul incorporates a mix of pop, soul and folk musical styles. The title derives from the colloquialism “plastic soul”, which referred to soul played by English musicians.
• 1968 ~ The O’Kaysions received a gold record for Girl Watcher. The song had a promotional reprise in the 1990s as a theme for Merv Griffin’s Wheel of Fortune, with the revamped lyrics, I’m a Wheel Watcher…
. 1969 ~ The Rolling Stones recorded ‘Brown Sugar’ at Muscle Shoals studios. The single went on to be a UK and US Number 1.
.1972 ~ The Temptations earn their final #1 hit with “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”
• 1977 ~ After 29 weeks in the #1 position on the album charts (a record, literally…), Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac, was replaced at the top spot by the album Simple Dreams, sung by Linda Ronstadt.
• 2000 ~ Kevin Mills, a member of the Christian rock groups Newsboys and White Heart, died after a motorcycle accident in Hollywood. He was 32. Mills, of Louisville, Ky., was a singer and bass player, his family said. He also was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and appeared on TV in “An Inconvenient Woman” in 1991. White Heart started in 1982. Newsboys, an Australian band now based near Nashville, was formed four years later. Newsboys have sold nearly 3 million records and earned three Grammy nominations on the religious rock circuit.
• 2002 ~ Rich Dangel, credited with creating the opening guitar chords of garage band staple Louie Louie, died of an aneurysm at his home. He was 60. Dangel was a member of the seminal Northwest rock band the Wailers, who introduced the nation to the Northwest sound – raw, unpolished and catchy. He may be best known for coming up with the power chords that opened the Wailers’ 1961 regional hit, Louie, Louie, written by rhythm-and-blues singer Richard Berry and taken to the top of the national charts by another Northwest band, the Kingsmen from Portland, Ore. Dangel co-wrote his first chart hit, “Tall Cool One” with fellow Wailer John Greek when he was still in high school. The song resulted in the group’s first album, “The Fabulous Wailers,” a cross-country tour and a 1959 appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”
I’m thankful for my piano studio, my students, and my piano 🙂 During Covid, I was especially thankful for the Internet!
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.
Miss 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)
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 Aragonaise 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 during my sophomore year and I was devastated. There was more about him in a post on January 26, 2022 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, recorders, a 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 and the new ones I have found…on the internet.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s towering monument of organ music, with its deep sense of foreboding, will forever be associated with Halloween.
The piece is recognizable to most and has been featured in many films, including: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Black Cat (1934), Disney’s Fantasia (1940), Sunset Boulevard (1950), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and The Great Race (1965).
This is arranged for very easy piano in PIano Maestro. 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…
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.
Mormon Tabernacle Organist, Richard Elliott, performs an eerie rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata in D Minor” with the Salt Lake Tabernacle pipe organ, the Tabernacle Organ has 11,623 pipes. “Toccata” is often played in the full extent as “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” This piece is one of the most famous works in organ repertoire.
As a bar graph
Just because…one of my new favorites, a mashup of a different Bach d minor work and the Phantom of the Opera. I bought it at MusicNotes last year, in case anyone wants to give it a try!
The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d’une marionnette) is a short piece by Charles Gounod. It was written in 1872 for solo piano and orchestrated in 1879. It is perhaps best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which originally aired from 1955 to 1965.
In 1871-72, while residing in London, Gounod started to write a suite for piano called “Suite Burlesque”. After completing one movement, the Funeral March of a Marionette, he abandoned the suite and had the single movement published by Goddard & Co. In 1879 he orchestrated the piece. The instrumentation is: piccolo, flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in D, 2 trumpets in A, 3 trombones, ophicleide, timpani, bass drum, triangle, strings. The work is in the key of D minor, with a central section in D major. Various arrangements by other hands exist.
There is a program underlying the Funeral March of a Marionette: The Marionette has died in a duel. The funeral procession commences (D minor). A central section (D Major) depicts the mourners taking refreshments, before returning to the funeral march (D minor).
The score contains the following inscriptions in appropriate places:
La Marionnette est cassée!!! (The Marionette is broken!!!)
Murmure de regrets de la troupe (Murmurs of regret from the troupe)
Le Cortège (The Procession)
Ici plusieurs des principaux personnages de la troupe s’arrêtent pour sa rafrâichir (Here many of the principal personages stop for refreshments)
Retour a la maison (Return to the house). (Wikipedia)
Download this music in several versions from IMSLP. Click on Arrangements and Transcriptions. There are also some arrangements for piano at the O’Connor Music Studio, including an advanced level. This is arranged for three levels starting with very easy piano in PIano Maestro.
On Alfred Hitchcock:
From Faber Piano Adventures Performance Book Level 3B No.7 (Also available in the OCMS Library):