Friday, October 31, 2014

Practice Tips for Long, Long Ago Suzuki Book 1

   Get ready for a dynamics roller-coaster in your new piece, Long, Long Ago. Here are some tips to go along on the ride with this folk song:
Playing Position. Go to playing position a few times with your eyes closed. This will help challenge you to get ready to play.

Structure. The piece is laid out in 3 parts. The order in the songs is the following: part 1 (first line) mf, part 2 (second line), part 3, and part 2 mf (third line).

New Skills.
1. Theory: Moderato means medium speed, decrescendo means get gradually quieter.
2. Rhythms: half rest equals 2 beats and looks like a small box sitting on the third line of the staff.
3. Dynamics: crescendo. The crescendo was introduced in O, Come Little Children, where in part 2 and 3 we get louder and louder. Towards the end of the song we have a decrescendo, which means to get softer and softer
4. Three Strings: We now have the opportunity to play a song that uses the E, A and D string. In part 3 we hop the first finger from the A to D string.

1. Warm-up with the bow exercises, now with an emphasis on crescendos and decrescendos.
2. After you listen to the song one time and follow the notes, listen again and clap the notes along with the song to starting learning the rhythm of the song.
3. Practice hopping each finger 3 times from the A to the D string.
4. Play along with the Youtube video above.
5. Add crescendos and decrescendos to numbers 1-6.

     If you want a quick way to boost the speed of your progress, challenge yourself to do a 2-minute Theory Flaschard Challenge. This means that you push yourself to see how many flashcards you can get in 2 minutes. Let me know how it went and were my tips helpful?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prctice Tips for May Song, Suzuki Book 1

     You have started songs on the A string, on the E string, down bow, up bow, and with 2 fingers on the A string. So now you are ready for May Song, here are some tips:
  • Playing Position: go to playing position a few times with your eyes closed. This will help challenge you to get ready to play.
  • Structure: The order is part 1 (first line) f, part 2 mf, part 2 p (second line), and part 1 f (third line).
  • New Skills: 
    • rhythms - the dotted-half note. This note is worth 1.5 beats, it is easy to make it too short (1 beat) or too long (2 beats). Listen to how I play the first four notes on the video get an idea how to play it.
    • dynamics - there is now forte, mezzo forte, and piano. May a distinct difference between these three levels of volume with the amount of bow that you use.
  • Strategies:  
    • Warm-up with the bow exercises, now with an emphasis on alternating between forte, mf, p and dotted-quarter notes.
    • After you listen to the song one time and follow the notes, listen again and clap the notes along with the song to starting learning the rhythm of the song.
    • Play along with the Youtube video above.
    • Add f, mf and p to the songs you already know.
This week, practice songs and exercises in a different order than usual. Spend one minute on something then go to something else, do this until you practice 5 minutes more than usual. Parents, let your child choose what to switch to next and have fun with it. You can put a timer so that it is easily seen, enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Antonio Vivaldi: The Finale, Part 3

     In our first post and second post we talked Vivaldi's start in music, which came from his father, and then his career move to teach at the Ospedale della Pieta (the Devout Hospital of Mercy). Where did he take himself towards the end of his life?        

  The Finale

          Vivaldi was loved and very much appreciated but was “beat out” of his music by other more modern composers. Longing for popularity he moved to Vienna, Austria. But instead of what he was looking for, he found himself in poverty because his patron Charles VI died, leaving Vivaldi with nothing to look forward to in Vienna. Sadly, Vivaldi died in poverty on July 28, 1741. Many people had buried him in a simple grave but did so without music in the procession.

          A short time after his death, musicians and scholars including Alfredo Casella, worked to make the Vivaldi revival week in 1939. It was a success and Vivaldi's music, from then on, was played by more and more people. One of his compositions, Gloria, was revived and became widely popular, usually played around Christmas. With over 500 pieces and millions of international fans, Vivaldi ended up having a good profession and life. He influenced and inspired many composers in his lifetime such as Johann SebastianBach. We will always remember the one and only Antonio Lucio Vivaldi as a great man. 

By guest student author: Isha, Suzuki Violin Book 2

 The Baroque Period – an article

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Should My Child Do Their First Recital?

     This week I am having each of my students do a recital during our lesson time. Students range from around 4 years old to high school at a variety of ability levels. Many teachers and parents wonder, "When should a student do their first recital?"

Short answer: In the first session of lessons, which for me is 10 weeks longEvery student first learns all the Twinkles and then we play them together for the family; that tends to be the first recital. Then every session students play a mini-recital of songs they have learned and are mastering.

     The recital usually consists of the student playing all the songs he or she has memorized for family and friends. This goes hand-in-hand with Dr. Suzuki's idea of home recitals being performed regularly for the family. This is an easy way to introduce students and parents to public performances. It also motivates students because they not only have a long-term goal, but also short-term goals in mind. It is very rewarding as a teacher to see students start to have the confidence to invite friends and others outside the family.

     For newer students, I have some surprised parents that I would do a recital in this way and so soon in part because they are used to recitals being once in a while, each student plays one piece and it is a very serious occasion. So I understand the reluctance to do a recital if all you've known is once in a while, serious and stressful. But I do not look at recitals in that way. I think of them as a time of fun and celebration; as a way to show others what you have learned. Students get to dress nice, bring snacks, take a picture together, and have a great time celebrating their progress and accomplishments along with their family. Plus, the family can record the recitals so they can go back to see where their child started. Parents do see the benefits of these recitals after the second and third recital, because they see the progress themselves and see how much their child has accomplished. 

    Yes, students do still get nervous and still make mistakes. But this is part of the process of becoming a musician and you can still have a nice recital. Some teachers, out of good intentions, push really hard that everything be done "perfect," so they wait and wait before having their students play. Some teachers have students play only once a semester, but students need to gain experience playing in front of people as much as gaining proficiency on their instrument. 

    What have you experienced in recitals? What do you think of doing mini-recitals for the family and friends? Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Antonio Vivaldi: The Red-Haired Priest, Part 2

     In our first post, we talked about how our red-haired priest was taught the violin by his father at a young age and how he joined the priesthood of the Catholic church briefly. After leaving the priesthood because of poor health, Vivaldi dedicated himself to his music.

It’s Music Time
     At the age of 25 Vivaldi started working with mostly orphaned girls at the Ospedale della Pieta (the Devout Hospital of Mercy). He helped instruct the orphaned children in the area to become great musicians. After starting his teaching career, Vivaldi took the next step bringing the most talented musicians together to form an orchestra. Vivaldi helped the orchestra gain international attention by performing many types of music, like his famous concertos and even religious choral music. 

Alongside all of his teaching and orchestra directing, Vivaldi started composing operas in 1715. In the Baroque era, operas were new and they were considered a big deal. He performed and made several major operas. Two famous operas that still remain are the works La constanza trionfante and Farnace. In the year 1716 he was appointed musical director and took the lead role finally reaching the height of his musical profession.

Vivaldi started searching for a better job and in his search found many short-term jobs funded by patrons (a patron is someone that gives financial support or just support to a person, organization or an activity). These helpful patrons came from Mantua (a city in Italy) and Rome (capital of Italy). It took Vivaldi about 4 years (from 1717 to 1721) to make his most famous composition, The Four Seasons. He put these pieces together with sonnets (sonnets are poems consisting of fourteen lines of any number or rhyme). But, it is said that Vivaldi either may or may not have written the sonnets used in his piece.

Many famous monarchies adored him. For one, King Louis XV liked Vivaldi because one of Vivaldi’s compositions,  Gloria e Imeneo, was written especially for the king’s wedding. Emperor Charles named him a knight after his beautiful music and many great compositions.

Guest Author: Isha, Suzuki Violin Book I student

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Practice Tips for Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Suzuki Book 1

Believe it or not, but you are 1/4th through the book, a few more songs and you are half way! I have posted some tips in a previous post (check them out), but there's more! Here are some more strategies to Go Tell Aunt Rhody:
  • Playing Position: Prepare the playing position before starting the song, remember that these few seconds of preparation will make it so much easier to play the piece.
  • Structure: The order is part 1 (first line) mf, part 2, part 2 piano (second line), part 1 mf (third line)
  • New Skills: 
    • rhythms - you now have a mix of quarter, eighth, and half notes in the song.
    • dynamics - for the first time in the book you switch from mf (medium strong) to p (softly), so after you get comfortable with the notes and rhythms you can add this interesting aspect to the song. 

  • Strategies:  
    • Warm-up with the bow exercises, now with an emphasis on playing one string mf, the next p and so forth.
    • After you listen to the song one time and follow the notes, say the notes in rhythm as best as you can (parents this is a good opportunity to sing along with your child).
    • Learn part 2 first so that you can start trying out the dynamics.
    • Play along with the Youtube video above.
    • Add mf and p to the songs you already know.
    • Perform a Quarter-Book Recital for family and friends.
      Parents and students alike are looking for getting everything right as quick as possible all the time. Take the time to focus on the progress that was made, point it out to yourself or parents make sure to point it out to your child. We all need encouragement, give it to yourself and to others throughout the week it will make a difference in your practicing and others aspects of your life.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, The Red-Haired Priest, Part 1

Historical Period: Baroque
Nationality: Italian
Born: March 4, 1678 in Italy
Died: July 28, 1741 in Austria
Contemporaries: J.S. Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Francois Couperin, G.F. Handel, Henry Purcell, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, G.P. Teleman. 
Works: The Four Seasons, Gloria, Stabat mater, cello concertos

 At The Start

     Antonio Vivaldi was born on March 4th, 1678 in Venice, Italy. He was a priest for a short period and then focused on composing and teaching music. He was known to people as “the red haired priest” (il Prete Rosso). Later on, he decided to pursue his passion for music. He created many works and was known for making his music in Baroque style (The Baroque time period was from the 17th and 18th centuries, more here). Vivaldi wrote operas including Bajazet, Motezuma and Orlando Furioso, but was especially known for his concertos.

Vivaldi was very talented from a very young age. His father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, taught him to play the violin very well, as his father was a professional violinist himself. At the age of 15 Vivaldi wanted to become a priest in the Catholic church, so he studied to become a priest. He eventually was ordained in 1703
, but he quit the priesthood after health problems got in the way of his duties. So Vivaldi focused on his love of the violin. 

Come back for Part 2 next week!

Guest author: Isha, Suzuki Violin Book 1 student

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Louisville Philharmonia' Symphonic Smorgasbord!

"Free Fall Concert on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:30PM. Come join us and enjoy this FREE musical evening. The concert program is a virtual Symphonic Smorgasbord with a sampling of selections from Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky. 

The musicians of the Louisville Philharmonia are very excited to be members of an orchestra which is operated and managed by the musicians and its conductor, Daniel Spurlock. The orchestra is made up of local part-time and full-time musicians who have come together to perform great music and share their passion for and love of music with the community."

Talk about a practice strategy. You want to make your practicing at home more smooth, fun, effective and efficient, go to free concerts. Many parents and students maintain their passion for their music through concerts such as these. I know I do!

WHEN:  Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:30PM  
WHERE: Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church

"Symphonic Smorgasbord"
Brahms  Symphony No. 4   III. Allegro
Beethoven  Symphony No. 7   II. Allegretto
Sibelius  Symphony No. 3   II. Andantino con moto
Berlioz  Symphonie Fantastique   IV. March to the Scaffold
Mozart  Symphony No. 35 ("Hafner")   III. Menuetto
Schubert  Symphony No. 8 ("Unfinished")   I. Allegro moderato
Tchaikovsky  Symphony No. 4   IV. Allegro con fuoco