Memorial Day: Piano Improv with Ravel and Augmented Chords

What do Memorial Day, Maurice Ravel, and augmented chords have in common? Read on! The breezy “Happy Memorial Day!” always makes me bristle, a little. I know it's well-intended, but Memorial Day is a time to remember Americans who died serving in our armed forces. I guess it’s American to be so relieved for a rare day [...]

By |2018-06-18T14:04:02-04:00May 29, 2017|0 Comments

A Piano Piece I call “Debbie Downer”

I LOVE browsing The International Music Score Library Project !! It's like rummaging through music at an antiques shop, but without the dust (well, hopefully). This little piece  (<- click for the PDF) by Finnish composer Erkki Melartin had me laughing by the second phrase. I'm not sure what he had in mind, but it reminded me of Debbie Downer (who even has her [...]

By |2015-12-04T01:39:04-05:00September 14, 2015|0 Comments

“The Charming Shepherdess” for Piano

(Originally posted January, 2007) What's in a title? Sometimes, inspiration! Here are a few playful ideas for piano students who enjoy creative play at the piano, or for yourself -- whether for your own enjoyment or to add to a lesson for your classes. Among my antiquarian music collection are pieces with titles that are funny [...]

By |2015-09-13T20:24:01-04:00August 29, 2015|0 Comments

“Little Ants”

Here's a tune from 1893, adapted slightly to create a miniature solfege study for young children. The song was originally designed as a fingerplay: closed hands make the ant hill; fingers open one at a time on the numbers. It's still useful that way, especially for teaching finger numbers. As a variation, assign five children [...]

By |2015-08-29T19:39:11-04:00August 29, 2015|0 Comments

June: Crusis and Anacrusis in Tchiakovsky’s “June” Barcarolle

Originally posted June, 2006. Open pdf score downloaded from IMSLP: Tchiakovsky June This is an exploration of anacrusic elements in Tchiakovsky “June” (Bacarolle), Op. 37 No. 6. It is one of those pieces that’s poignant, even elegant, in its very simplicity. There’s nothing very complicated in its melody or harmony, making its beauty all the more dependent [...]

By |2018-06-18T13:48:35-04:00March 9, 2015|0 Comments

November: Scott Joplin’s “Bethena,” A Concert Waltz

For November, here's piece from a composer with a November birthday: Scott Joplin (born November 24, 1868). "Bethena: A Concert Waltz" was the first piece he composed after the death of his young wife, Freddie Alexander. Just twenty years old, she died only ten weeks after their marriage from a cold that turned into pneumonia. [...]

By |2015-08-31T22:27:42-04:00March 9, 2015|0 Comments

Exercise from Emile Jaques-Dalcroze

Plastique Exercise from Emile Jaques-Dalcroze Originally posted October, 2006. This is an interesting exercise from Jaques-Dalcroze's "Exercices de Plastique Animee," Vol. I.1 Piano accompaniment for the melody is contained in his previous Marches Rhythmiques,2 and I'm also including that music here (with free PDF download). Let's start with the main exercise from the Plastique volume, [...]

By |2018-06-18T13:53:59-04:00March 8, 2015|0 Comments

Gavotte Antique

Gavotte Antique (A Preview from "The Kinesthetic Keyboard") Originally posted July, 2005 To open the PDF, click here:  Piano - Gavotte Antique Here's an example of a piano piece that's useful for a range of levels. Henriques' "Gavotte Antique" is a nice study in consistent phrasing, with a canon at the end. I used it [...]

By |2016-01-08T16:04:53-05:00March 2, 2015|0 Comments

A Crusic Challenge from Jaques-Dalcroze

A Crusic Challenge from Jaques-Dalcroze (Originally posted in March, 2005) I recently found a set of pieces by Jaques-Dalcroze titled Marches Rythmiques, published in 1906. These 80 pieces aren't all "marches," however. I emailed Jack to see whether he was familiar with them, and of course he was (I can't discover anything he doesn't already [...]

By |2015-08-29T18:19:17-04:00February 6, 2015|0 Comments

Example from Jaques-Dalcroze’s Thirty Melodic Lessons

(Originally posted August, 2005.) Subtle Unequal Beats Here's an example of a "Melodic Lesson" by Jaques-Dalcroze, from his set of Thirty Melodic Lessons (Trente Lecons Melodiques). This study, the last of Jaques-Dalcroze's Thirty Melodic Lessons, deals with unequal beats -- but in a very subtle fashion. Begin by considering the piece as having two beats [...]

By |2020-01-08T12:21:24-05:00February 10, 2013|0 Comments