The following post is from guest blogger, Emily Steves:
Some of the most important instruments in the history of music have been stringed instruments, which range from early to modern forms of the violin and the guitar, through to contemporary experiments with amplification and electric or digital recording. Forerunners to current instruments have been found in ancient burial sites, and demonstrate a clear historical progression into the stringed instruments that we use today.
Some of the earliest stringed instruments have been identified in archaeological digs of Ancient Mesopotamian sites, which include artifacts over three thousand years old. Lyre instruments with wooden bodies, and strings used for plucking or playing with a bow represent key instruments that point towards later harps and violin type instruments; moreover, Indian instruments from 500 BC have been discovered with anything from 7 to 21 strings.
During the medieval era, the rate by which string instruments developed arguably varied from country to country – Middle Eastern rebecs represented breakthroughs in terms of shape and strings, with a half a pear shape using three strings. Read more…
Posted in Music History & Facts
As a teenager I was intrigued how my history teacher could refer to the Victorian period as being both in the 1800s and in the 19th century! It wasn’t till more recently that I fully understood the two methods of counting numbers humans have mysteriously been using over the years and the interesting impact that has on the world of music. Curious? Let me explain. Read more…
Posted in Music History & Facts, Music Theory, Teaching Tips
We all know there are lots of online resources out there, but often we can’t afford to comb through it. Very useful pages are out there that we never hear about. I know I’ve made some very useful resources on my own site, including online tunelearning pages, and the people who know about and use them are mostly students, because it’s hard to let the right people know about it, and expensive to advertise. Perhaps you’d like to share in the comments below some of the ways you like to get the word out about your offerings?
One ever-changing music site with a lot of useful information, especially at a more basic level, is the about.com website. For ideas related to music education, go to http://musiced.about.com and you will find descriptions of various music methods (such as Kodaly, Orff, Suzuki), quite a few lesson plans for elementary school music ranging from Beethoven to Duke Ellington to folk songs; lesson plans that integrate music into language arts and other subjects; also reading lists, ads, biographies of composers, timelines for different periods of music, ads, Read more…
Posted in Music History & Facts, Music Theory, Practicing, Product Reviews
“Judaism in Music” by Richard Wagner, 1869
It was the dead of night. A large marble statue of the Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn was quietly dismantled to avoid attention. It was hurriedly moved into a nearby cellar and completely smashed to pieces!
Who was responsible for such an act? And why such extreme hatred?
It all started just three years after Mendelssohn’s death. In 1850 an article entitled “Judaism in Music” appeared in a music paper. The author’s identity was concealed but he later republished his article in 1869, this time boldly revealing his identity. It was Richard Wagner! In the article, Wagner fiercely attacked Mendelssohn’s music and the music of other Jewish German composers whom he had previously praised. “The life and works of Mendelssohn clearly demonstrates that no Jew, however gifted and cultural and honourable, was capable of creating art that moved the heart and soul.”
In 1881, Wagner truly revealed the extent of his anti-Semitic feelings in article in the Bayreuther Blätter entitled “Know Thyself!” In it he praises the massacres of Jews in Russia as “an example worthy of imitation.” He concludes with these impassioned words about the Jews: “Drive them out, German people-but not like the Egyptians, those Hamitic fools, who even gave them golden vessels for the journey. For they must go away empty-handed. Whither I know not, but I wish them all the same fate. May they find no shelter, no homeland; unhappier than Cain, may they seek and not find; may they descend into the
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music History & Facts
As the season of gift-giving and holiday performances approaches, in my teaching experience this means: preparing and perfecting holiday music (myself and with my students), printing recital programs, finding that sherbet punch recipe, wondering if “Susy” is actually going to get “Jingle Bells” performance-ready in time for the recital, deciding what I should give my students as a gift and….the list goes on.
What’ the purpose behind of all this holiday recital frenzy? Oh yes, sharing the gift of MUSIC! It’s amazing how the clutter of the holiday season hides the true reason of why my doors are open for pianists from 6am to 6pm Monday through Friday, why parents submit monthly tuition payments, sometimes equivalent to a car payment if they have multiple children enrolled, why I schedule performance opps and, why I write this blog: MUSIC!
Earlier this summer I was fortunate to attend SMU Piano Institute for Teachers in Dallas. While shopping at the Pender’s Music Co. exhibit, a book caught my eye: What Music Means to Me. The picture book includes large pages with colorful images that capture the essence of various gifted musicians. Alongside each photo is a personal, touching essay about the profound impact of music on their lives.
Posted in Music & Technology, Music History & Facts, Performing, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips
Image by aaron.michels
Have you ever noticed that you experience music differently depending on its context? I don’t mean just whether you are in a concert hall or a supermarket (although that can be significant too), but also depending on what you have just been listening to. Juxtaposition can be illuminating. One day I had my iPod on shuffle on a long car journey, and although I have a very eclectic collection of music of all kinds- classical, indy, world, etc.-the iPod kept selecting African-American singers. After the third song in a row, my hair began to stand on end. I think it must have played at least eight songs before the spell was broken. It felt as though my iPod had its own, very meaningful agenda. Read more…
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music History & Facts, Performing, Professional Development
Famous German Composer Felix Mendelssohn
My journey of discovery into the extraordinary relationship that the famous German composer Felix Mendelssohn enjoyed with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert began back in 2009. Whilst researching his visit to North Wales, as outlined in my previous article (“Mendelssohn: Part 1 – In North Wales”), I discovered that he had made several visits to Buckingham Palace in London where he and the royals struck up a close friendship based on their mutual love of music and the arts.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as Musicians
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince Albert (1819-1861) were both very accomplished pianists and singers. Prince Albert was also a keen composer from an early age, writing many songs and choral pieces. It was their shared love of music that helped them form an attraction to each other. Victoria noted Albert’s skill at the piano when they first met in 1836. The day after the Queen’s proposal of marriage to Albert, she wrote, “…he sang to me some of his own compositions, which are beautiful, & he has a very fine voice. I also sang for him.” They enjoyed playing piano duets together and accompanying as the other sang, always taking their sheet music with them wherever they would travel. They were both keen followers of theatre and opera, Queen Victoria seeing up to 50 performances per year! Whilst in London as a youngster she would attend two or three performances in the West End each week!
Enter Mendelssohn: 14th and 15th of June, 1842
Prince Albert was an enthusiastic follower of Mendelssohn’s music and it was he who introduced the Queen to Felix’s works for piano and voice. The composer first met just the Prince on the morning of the 14th of June 1842 when he hand delivered a letter from Albert’s cousin, the King of Prussia (Frederick William IV). He was then invited to Buckingham Palace the following evening to meet the Queen. According to an account by Kupferberg, the royals were feeling quite nervous about meeting their musical hero; “for all their exalted station, [they] were quite fluttery!” Apparently, Mendelssohn felt the same way. Read more…
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music History & Facts
As you may recall, I posted a survey to find out if music teachers integrate jazz/pop music into their teaching. Although the results below are taken from the 1,114 responses received (wow!), I can only see the comments and Poll Daddy detailed reports for the first 200 responses. Many of the first 200 survey participants left insightful comments and I wish I could share them, just not enough space here. The comments of the rest (800+) will go unread as I didn’t want to pay the extra $200. The initial data below provides plenty of interesting findings and may generate further discussion here.
So, what do you glean from this survey? Are the results surprising? alarming? pleasing? as predicted? Will you change how you teach after seeing the results of this survey? If so, how? Is jazz/pop music a legitimate style to integrate in your curriculum or should it be used to “entertain” students who are losing interest in lessons? Do you feel validated in your present approach to teaching jazz/pop? Is there a disparity in how you were trained and what you actually teach? What are the implications for the future of music education, publishers and your teaching style? Did I miss one important question in the survey?
I have my opinons, but I’d love to hear yours!
1) Are you a classically-trained teacher?
- Yes 92%
- Somewhat 7%
- No 1%
Posted in Financial Business, Music History & Facts, Music News, Professional Development, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Teaching Tips
20 year old Felix Mendelssohn by James Warren Childe, 1829
Back in 2009, I did an internet search one day to see if there were any fellow composers living near me. To my surprise the top search result was a brief article on Felix Mendelssohn’s visit to North Wales, UK! In all the years that I had known of Mendelssohn and his music, I had never heard of him coming to North Wales, especially as he stayed for ten days in the little village of Rhydymwyn which is a mere seven miles away from my house! My excitement was further heightened when I read in the article, that as well as working on several of his famed compositions during his stay, he also wrote three piano pieces specifically for the daughters of his host as a farewell present! As a pianist and composer myself, I impatiently waited for these compositions to arrive in the post so that I could find out what this great nineteenth century musical legend had written in my very own community! More information was contained in the music book’s Preface which intrigued me further and set me on a fascinating journey of research into a little known area of music history, even amongst locals!
Let me share with you a little of what I’ve discovered so far on my adventure…
First of Ten Visits to Britain, 21st April – 28th November, 1829
In 1829, the famous German composer Mendelssohn visited Britain for the first time. He was just 20 years old and having completed his education, his wealthy banking father offered to fund a three year tour of Europe to help him “find himself as a man and as an artist.” After several months soaking up the rich music scene in London, Mendelssohn journeyed up to Scotland with his travelling companion Karl Klingemann and there found inspiration for what would later become his ‘Scottish’ Symphony No. 3 in A minor (op. 56) and his Hebrides Overture ‘Fingal’s Cave’ (op. 26). After departing from Glasgow and journeying through the Lake District on the top of the Mail Coach at the impressive speed of
Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music History & Facts
I thought it would be helpful to make a list NOW (while they are fresh in my mind) of new music iPad apps and books I discovered over the summer that will definitely be used again next summer, in the near future, or, from now on. From past Music Teacher Helper blogs, you know that I enjoy holding Piano Olympic Camps along with various lesson options. I’ll limit this blog to Ms Leila’s Summer Blockbusters….
OOPS….hold on…I published this without mentioning the latest MusicTeachersHelper App. I love it–this makes it SO easy to check upcoming events, invoices, etc. Can’t I believe I forgot it, but thank you for the updated app, MTH. I highly recommend it!
Music Style Bingo (book/CD) by Cheryl Lavender published by Hal Leonard. Plans for the third day of camp included various stations. While one camper worked with me at the piano, another enjoyed an iPad app (see below), another spelled triads with blocks and magnets on a white board and yet another listend to 24 sound samples of music styles. The Music Style Bingo CD was imported to my iPod, so students listened to each excerpt with headphones. As the camper listened to each style (a narrator names the style on the CD while the book provides a brief explanation of each) he/she placed stickers on a reproducible chart provided in the book. The next day of camp, we had a rousing game of music style bingo–thanks to the catchy musical excerpts that range from Barbershop Quartet to Reggae to Opera. There were so many styles to keep straight it was hard for students to always label them correctly, but I know that pulling this game out again and again will help them develop a keen ear for discerning styles.
Music Makes the Scene Grades 5-8 by Cathy Blair published by Heritage Music Press. If you click on the title, you will get a better idea of what the book/DVD includes. What I loved? This fit so well with my movie Olympic camp celebrating movie soundtracks. The DVD provides clips of various scenes. Each clip is shown three times with a different soundtrack. Students act as “movie producers” and make decisions on what type of music fits best with each clip. The book offers reproducible guides to direct students’ listening ears. My Olympians enjoyed the “board room power” of choosing the “right soundtrack” and I was intrigued by their discernment. They all based their decisions on what fit the best and not necessarily their favorite musical excerpt.
Music iPad Apps
Posted in Music & Technology, Music History & Facts, Practicing, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips