Monday, June 24, 2013

Suzuki Cello Book 1, No. 1: Twinkle Variation A

Focus Points:
  • Get into a good playing position every time, do not just let something slip.
  • Put your bow on the D string.
  • Start thinking of the rhythm: "pepperoni pizza" or "mississippi stop stop" or "1-e-and-a 2-and"
     however you think about it, go for a consistent rhythm on each note. 
  • Stay relaxed and enjoy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bastien Piano Basics Level 1, No. 3: Sleepy John

Focus Points:
  • Make sure you are in C position with both hands: right hand thumb on C and left hand pinky on C.
  • This is the first time in the book that the left hand starts
  • At the end of the piece, in the last two measures, the right and left hand alternate. Make sure that you do not skip the double C in the right hand.
  • Try playing every note in the song with "pepperoni pizza" like in the finger concerto.
  • Play the p (piano) really soft and the f (forte) really strong to make a dramatic difference.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Frederic Chopin: Virtuoso Piano Player and Composer

Portrait of adult Chopin

"This exquisite, lofty and eminently aristocratic celebrity remains unattacked. A complete silence of criticism already reigns about him, as if posterity already had come." ~Franz Liszt

Historical Period: Romantic
Nationality: Polish
Born: Zelazowa Wola (near Warsaw), Poland in 1810 A.D.
Died: Paris, France in 1849 A.D.
Family: French dad, Polish mother, 3 older sisters
Married: No, but he tried.
Specialist Genres: solo piano music
Major Works: 4 ballades; 27 etudes; 56 mazurkas; 19 nocturnes; 2 piano concertos; 25 preludes; 4 scherzos; 3 sonatas; 44 waltzes. 

     Frederic Fracois Chopin (Polish spelling: Fryderyk Fraciszek Szopen) started writing music from when he was 6 and started learning to play the piano even earlier. He is famous for writing a lot of beautiful, passionate, fun, and really hard music for the piano. Some of the songs that he made up are called mazurkas and polonaises. These kinds of songs for the piano are from dances in his country Poland. This shows how much he really loved his country. Do you really like your country? Try composing a song to show your appreciation. Other composers learned from Chopin, like Claude Debussy and Robert Schumann

        At around 20 years old, Chopin left Poland to visit and work in other cities of Europe. But, before he left Poland, Chopin took a little bit of dirt and put it in a tiny box to take with him wherever he went. 

Chopin never really liked to play for big crowds; he rarely did it. One time, Chopin went to England and play a recital under a different name. Even though he lied about his name, which is terrible, people who were at the recital knew it was him. Another famous composer, Mendelssohn, was there in the crowd and said that it was definitely Chopin because of how beautifully he played the piano. 

Most of the time, Chopin played for small groups, especially his friends. Some of his friends that were at these famous parties included Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, and Robert Schumann, who were also great composers and piano players.

So how did Chopin come up with so many great pieces of music? From what some of his students said, Chopin would start playing around on the piano and as he would play he would come up with a new piece. The interesting part is that after he composed the song as he was playing, Chopin would take many months to write it out, because he wanted to make sure it came out his best. As you play your instrument and as you compose music be ambitious to make sure your pieces come out your best.

Chopin was always getting sick, and at 39 years of age he died of tuberculosis. To honor his love for Poland, people brought dirt to put in the grave when they buried him in France.

What Violin Size Should I Play on?

It is pretty easy to determine what size Violin you or your child should play on:

1. Scroll Grab: Can you reach around the scroll (top) of the violin with a slightly bent elbow.
2. Fingers Painfree: Can you put all your fingers down on the G string able to play the note D easily and painfree? Play each finger to see if it is comfortable and in tune.

      It is easy to give in to the desire for a parent or a violinist to want to get to the bigger size instrument because of the potential sound. The problem is that you are not meant to grow into the vionlin like we do with shoes.

The disadvantages outweigh any advantage of playing a size too big. Here are some losses of playing on an instrument that is big:

1. It will be more difficult to play in tune.
2. The fingers may hurt when stretching to reach the correct position for the note.
3. Bad playing position: posture, violin position, bow hand.
4. The tone will come out more rough, crunchy or squeaky because of the struggle to get the notes.

Check out what another violin teacher's explanation on the size of the violin.
Copyright © 2013 Mircea & Daniyela Ionescu. All rights reserved.