From the Way-Back Machine

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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 ~ June 21, 2020

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German title means “a little serenade”, though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as “a little night music.” The work is written for an ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass but is often performed by string orchestras and there are many arrangements for other instruments as we will see below.

Part of a full orchestral score:

 

Follow the score…

Easy piano sheet music might look like this:

 

The first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, with a graphical score.

 

One of my favorites, Barbershop-Style.  Eine Kleine Not Musik by the Gas House Gang tells the story of The Magic Flute (from June 19) to the music of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

 

A piano transcription

For four recorders, all played by the same person

From the Muppets: The Great Gonzo performing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on bagpipe while sitting on a ten-foot pole!

 

When my son and I played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart arranged for 2 pianos November 30, 2014 we were the last people to play in the old Steinway Hall.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good video camera 🙁

2014-08-10 12.49.02 2014-08-09 12.20.39 2014-08-09 12.16.45 2014-08-09 12.15.17

 

Find this arranged for piano in Piano Pronto: Movement 2, Movement 3, Encore, Coda and Mozart: Exploring His Life and Music.

June 21, 2019 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German title means “a little serenade”, though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as “a little night music.” The work is written for an ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass but is often performed by string orchestras and there are many arrangements for other instruments as we will see below.

Part of a full orchestral score:

 

Follow the score…

Easy piano sheet music might look like this:

 

The first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, with a graphical score.

 

One of my favorites, Barbershop-Style.  Eine Kleine Not Musik by the Gas Houe Gang tells the story of The Magic Flute (from June 19) to the music of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

 

A piano transcription

For four recorders, all played by the same person

From the Muppets: The Great Gonzo performing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on bagpipe while sitting on a ten-foot pole!

 

When my son and I played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart arranged for 2 pianos November 30, 2014 we were the last people to play in the old Steinway Hall.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good video camera 🙁

2014-08-10 12.49.02 2014-08-09 12.20.39 2014-08-09 12.16.45 2014-08-09 12.15.17

 

Find this arranged for piano in Piano Pronto: Movement 2, Movement 3, Encore, Coda and Mozart: Exploring His Life and Music,

June 22 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German title means “a little serenade”, though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as “a little night music.” The work is written for an ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass but is often performed by string orchestras and there are many arrangements for other instruments as we will see below.

Part of a full orchestral score:

 

Follow the score…

Easy piano sheet music might look like this:

 

The first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, with a graphical score.

 

One of my favorites, Barbershop-Style.  Eine Kleine Not Musik by the Gas Houe Gang tells the story of The Magic Flute (from June 19) to the music of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

 

A piano transcription

For four recorders, all played by the same person

From the Muppets: The Great Gonzo performing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on bagpipe while sitting on a ten-foot pole!

 

When my son and I played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart arranged for 2 pianos November 30, 2014 we were the last people to play in the old Steinway Hall.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good video camera 🙁

2014-08-10 12.49.02 2014-08-09 12.20.39 2014-08-09 12.16.45 2014-08-09 12.15.17

 

Find this arranged for piano in Piano Pronto: Movement 2, Movement 3, Encore, Coda and Mozart: Exploring His Life and Music,

Why is Theory Important for Piano Students?

Music_Theory

 

Students at the O’Connor Music Studio know that music theory is always a part of lessons.  I strongly believe that theory is needed so that students understand what they are playing and why.

To me, theory work is just as important as playing.  A firm knowledge of musical structure makes playing everything easier.

Music knowledge learned through piano lessons transfers easily to other  musical activities.  Students in Fairfax County Public Schools, students learn to play recorder.  Students are sometimes surprised to learn that they already know all the notes – from their piano lessons!

When you sing in a choir, harmonize with Sweet Adelines, play an instrument in your school or community band/orchestra, join your church’s handbell choir (note:  Pender UMC has an excellent Handbell program), teach yourself guitar – theory will help in every instance. By learning to read, write, and understand this musical language, many more musical opportunities will be made available the rest of your life.

Most piano methods come with a theory book that matches page by page what concepts are being learned in the lesson books.  I actually recommend that students do the theory first when they get home, while the concepts are still fresh in their minds.

If the student is not in a piano method, I’m starting to use the Theory Time series.  Book One covers music alphabet, introduction to keyboard and staff, stem rule, steps & skips on a keyboard and staff, repeated notes, dynamics, treble clef lines & spaces, bass clef lines & spaces, quarter note & rest, half note & rest, whole note & rest, dotted half note, bar lines, double bar line, measures, time signatures, rhythm drill, vocabulary, ear training and a review test. Free ear training videos for each ear training exercise are hosted on the Theory Time YouTube channel. The Grade One workbook is appropriate for beginning 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade students. This workbook includes 51 pages, 13 lessons and 8 Fun Sheets.

For adults and more advanced students, I have a copy of All About Music Theory: A Fun and Simple Guide to Understanding Music which can be used as a review or a “try before buy”.

Stop procrastinating and go do your theory!

Why Work on Music Theory?

Music_Theory

 

Students at the O’Connor Music Studio know that music theory is always a part of lessons.  I strongly believe that theory is needed so that students understand what they are playing and why.

To me, theory work is just as important as playing.  A firm knowledge of musical structure makes playing everything easier.

Music knowledge learned through piano lessons transfers easily to other  musical activities.  Students in Fairfax County Public Schools, students learn to play recorder.  Students are sometimes surprised to learn that they already know all the notes – from their piano lessons!

When you sing in a choir, harmonize with Sweet Adelines, play an instrument in your school or community band/orchestra, join your church’s handbell choir (note:  Pender UMC has an excellent Handbell program), teach yourself guitar – theory will help in every instance. By learning to read, write, and understand this musical language, many more musical opportunities will be made available the rest of your life.

Most piano methods come with a theory book that matches page by page what concepts are being learned in the lesson books.  I actually recommend that students do the theory first when they get home, while the concepts are still fresh in their minds.

If the student is not in a piano method, I’m starting to use the Theory Time series.  Book One covers music alphabet, introduction to keyboard and staff, stem rule, steps & skips on a keyboard and staff, repeated notes, dynamics, treble clef lines & spaces, bass clef lines & spaces, quarter note & rest, half note & rest, whole note & rest, dotted half note, bar lines, double bar line, measures, time signatures, rhythm drill, vocabulary, ear training and a review test. Free ear training videos for each ear training exercise are hosted on the Theory Time YouTube channel. The Grade One workbook is appropriate for beginning 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade students. This workbook includes 51 pages, 13 lessons and 8 Fun Sheets.

For adults and more advanced students, I have a copy of All About Music Theory: A Fun and Simple Guide to Understanding Music which can be used as a review or a “try before buy”.

Stop procrastinating and go do your theory!