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Calming Classical Music For Your Quarantine

Perhaps you are feeling a lot of stress during these strange days. Or perhaps you just need some general chill. Well, I’d like to help with providing a playlist of calming, classical music that you probably haven’t heard. I’m going to do it via Youtube because everyone seems to have that — although I do have a Spotify playlist in the works if anyone is interested, just comment below.

Also, please feel free to share your favorite calming pieces. This list is not intended to be piano, so go nuts!

In no particular order:

  1. Billy the Kid, Billy in the Desert (Waltz) by Aaron Copland

2. ‘Mondnacht,” Liederkris Op. 39, no. 5 by Robert Schumann. Here performed by the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone (1974)

3. Die Zauberflote Act I: Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen

Of course, as you may know, pretty much all of Mozart’s body of work is extremely calming. This is just me picking something representative that I really like.

This is actually my “road rage song.” Probably self-explanatory, I think.

4. String Quartet in Gmin, op. 10, mvt. III. Andantino doucement expressif by Claude Debussy

5. The Goldberg Variations (complete IMHO), J.S. Bach as recorded by Glenn Gould in 1956 (he also re-recorded it in 1981). Yes, I know this one is long BUT it was actually composed to cure a fancy lord’s insomnia back when it was written in 1741 – or at least that’s the story that was told (and is now questioned for its accuracy). Regardless, it’s a beautiful work that works out your tensions like a deep tissue massage. If you can’t stand to listen to something so long by one composer, please at least listen to the Aria, the first piece in the set – it’s basically a lullaby.

6. Salut d’amour in E major, Op. 12 by Edward Elgar, performed by Itzhak Perlman

7. ‘O Silver Moon’ from Rusalka by Dvorak, performed by Renee Fleming

8. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 2 Fuga

Ok, Bach gets two pieces on this list. But I’m a Bach lover extraordinnaire, so there you have it.

This piece is for violin solo and performed by the brilliant Hillary Hahn.

9. Chopin, Barcarolle in F-Sharp Major, Op. 60

Chopin wrote an exceptional amount of relaxing pieces. If you are looking for more to listen to, I recommend the Nocturnes (all) and the Berceuse (“Cradle Song”).

9. Beethoven, Sonata No. 8 in C minor Op. 13 “Pathetique” 2nd movement, performed by Daniel Barenboim.

This is the second movement of an otherwise fiery (and sometimes over-played sonata). To me it’s a sigh of relief. Beethoven wrote 32 sonatas which range in human emotions – if you are feeling up to it, check them out along with the Coursera course discussing them by Jonathan Biss.

10. Salva Regina by François Poulenc, for choir. Poulenc was a 20th century composer of French origin. This piece just slaps, in a calm way of course.

And now my inner choir nerd has been released! Watch out!

11. Dmitri Shostakovich, Piano Concerto No. 2, mvt 2.

12. Samuel Barber, Songs, Op. 2 No. 1 “The Daisies” by Thomas Hampson

13. Wondrous Love – Arr. Parker/Shaw

14. Lux Aeterna by Ivo Antognini (b. 1963)

15. Rachmaninoff, Vocalise, Op. 34 No.14

16. And last, because I can’t stop unless I make myself. The final trio from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.

And, here’s the link to the entire playlist, which I will likely be adding to over time. So get some tea, lie down and close your eyes, and relax to this wonderful selection of music. Hope you enjoy 🙂

And again, please feel free to add suggestions of your own!

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FREE WORKSHEETS

HERE’S A FEW WORKSHEETS THAT I HAVE MADE AND NOT YET SHARED. THEY ARE ALL LINKED TO THE SAME PAGE, WHERE YOU’LL FIND OTHER RESOURCES YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YET. ENJOY! FEEL FREE TO SEND ME FEEDBACK OR COMMENTS!

NEON BANANA PRACTICE CHART

SPRING FLORAL PRACTICE CHART

MUSIC MATH WORKSHEET (quarter, half, dotted half, and whole notes with addition and substraction.)

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Resources for Quarantined Music Students (and their Parents!)

Hi everyone,

I hope that you are well and simply being driven crazy by your children/spouse, etc. The world is a scary place right now (as though that needs to be said). I’ve got a few things on my mind that I’d like to share – resources, news, offers. These are all for different ages, which I’m not specifying.

I will try to update this post, as it occurs to me. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments section!

Offers

  1. Free first online piano lesson to anyone anywhere!
Free first online lesson – email or text. collin@neworleanspianoteacher.com
Lessons are in English, mais je parle français (pas très bien).

2. Group classes

I’m going to be scheduling a few live classes regarding music theory and music history as well as music appreciation as interest is expressed. If you are interested, please email me at collin@neworleanspianoteacher.com and specify what you are interested in and when available.

3. Rewards for Referrals

As a student, if you recruit a new student for lessons, get an additional free lesson!

Classical Music News

3. Famed (and currently controversial) opera singer Placido Domingo has tested positive for Covid-19. Here’s the article. Domingo is 79 years old.

Resources

4. ClassicalFM.com has a host of articles, videos, and news of interest, so if you aren’t already following on social media or online, check it out!

5. PianoNola.com (my site) has many online games and lessons (customized from musictheory.net) as well as worksheets for beginner to intermediate players. Check the For Students page. Also follow social media for announcements and funny music memes. Bonus: Resources for teachers available by following wordpress link.

6. University of Iowa, Piano Pedagogy Youtube channel.

I really like this one for teachers, students, and listeners because it features professors of piano, performing easy and intermediate piano pieces. These are often hard to find good recordings of. I also like students to use it to “shop” for new or interesting repetoire that I might not have considered.

6. The Royal Opera House is among many arts organizations offering free streaming access to performances. These are live or youtube and facebook. Article here.

7. Online courses regarding music at Coursera.com (click link to find music classes). Below are some I’ve personally enjoyed or at least partially viewed.

And here’s one I think I’ll try out:

8. Reading suggestions that I’ve read recently (affiliate links)

A word of caution . . .

I do not recommend finding online youtube teaching videos to learn any instrument. By self-teaching without anyone to check you, you will likely develop bad technique habits or other problems that will eventually limit your ability to play or make your playing less musical than it otherwise might be. (Of course, there are exceptions, but, face it, you probably aren’t one.

3/24 UPDATE:

Sheet Music Downloads

https://www.musicnotes.com/: This website has a ton of different options that you can download and print at home. Today through April 6, they are offering many free pieces with the code “mefree.” Includes classical and many other types of music and settings. I find It is Well with My Soul especially comforting in this difficult time, regardless of religious or spiritual believes. Bonus: Many of the pieces are offered in multiple keys!

IMSLP or Petrucci Music Library. This website allows free downloads of TONS of sheet music in different editions, from original manuscripts to printed. Watch out because not everything that is posted is free from copyright in every country. It also has audio recordings and other goodies. I believe this website is still free but you can also support the site by buying a yearly membership for 28 USD. This really is a great and valuable resource.

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New Free Worksheets for Early Advanced Students

This worksheet is meant to both review the notes in each scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B), but it also designed to help students see the patterns in identifying the tonic/root/I; subdominant/IV; and dominant/V. I will make a subsequent worksheet to pair with this, in which the chords will be written out.

The link to download printables is here.

Preview of worksheet

Please let me know if you have any comments/questions/or suggestions! Thank you!

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Concert Happenings Oct 24-26, 2019

Tulane is having a vocal arts celebration this weekend!

Here’s the schedule. I hope some of you can attend some part of the event. Because one of the tricks of playing piano is to try to imitate the legato that is truly only done best by singers.

I highly recommend the master class (either), the lecture on performance anxiety, and the final concert.

Tulane Vocal Arts Festival Schedule of Events

Friday, October 251:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Tulane Voice Faculty Recital:

Leonard Raybon, Michael McKelvey, Amy Pfrimmer & Aigerim Magavina (Dixon Annex Choral Rm)

2:00 PM – 2:50 PM

Welcome – Coffee and Conversation Break (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

3:00 PM – 4:15 PM Guest Artist Master Class: Michael Hix (Dixon Annex Choral Rm) Collaborative pianist – Aigerim Magavina

Singers:

  • Melanie Albert, soprano Vedrai Carino from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Madison Jones, mezzo soprano A Foggy Day by George Gershwin
  • Natalia Glavnenko, soprano Piangerò la sorte mia from Giulio César by George Frideric Händel
  • Reid Bowman, baritone Lydia by Gabriel Fauré
  • Kim Chatelain, soprano (alternate) À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn.
  • Wayne Amedee, baritone (alternate) Lasciatemi morire by Claudio Monteverdi

4:30 PM – 5:45 PM Guest Artist Presentation: Ingela Onstad: “Courageous Artistry: Understanding and Conquering Performance Anxiety” (Dixon Annex Choral Room) 

6:00 PM – 6:50 PM Festival Reception (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

7:00 PM – 8:15 PM Guest Artist Recital: Malinda Haslett, soprano and James Kelley, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM

Guest Artist Master Class: Malinda Haslett (Dixon Annex Choral Rm) Collaborative pianist – James Kelley
Singers:

Grace Patterson, mezzo soprano Der Blumenstrauß by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Emma Schreier, soprano Elle a fui la tourterelle from Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach 

Sammy Maza, soprano Notre amour by Gabriel Fauré

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

Guest Artist Recital:

Michael Hix, baritone, Ingela Onstad, soprano and Michael Borowitz, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

1:30 PM – 2:20 PM Coffee and Conversation Break (Dixon Annex, Room 251)

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Sing Free! A Festival Singers Musicale, James Kelley, piano (Dixon Annex Recital Hall)

  • Nicholas Rains, baritone
    • Erlkönig by Franz Schubert (1727-1828)
    • Shenandoah arr. Jay Althouse (1951-present)
  • Kim Chatelain, soprano
    • Lascia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo by George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)
    • À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
    • Lasciatemi morire by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1743)
    • Amarilli by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618)
  • Olivia Gilbert, piano
    • L’isle Joyeuese, L. 106 by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
  • Haley Lindsley, mezzo-soprano
    • Que fais-tu blanche tourterelle from Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
    • O del mio amato ben by Stefano Donaudy (1879-1925)
  • Eric Anderson, baritone
    • Die Forelle Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
    • Ich grolle nicht Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
  • Arynne Fannin, soprano
    • Apri le Luci from XXXXX by George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)
    • Porgi amor from Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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Strengthening the Left Hand from Day One.

Glenn Gould dazzled the classical world with his 1956-released recording of Bach’s at the time, dusty, out-of-fashion, piece called the Goldberg Variations. There’s much to write on both Gould, the music, and his history and much has been written (or documented by film). But one of the universally-agreed-upon reasons for the jaw-dropping playing that took the world by the collar and shook it was that Glenn Gould had an exceptional independence and control over the fingers of his left hand. (More on his technique referenced here.)

A common challenge pianists of all levels (whether righties or lefties) is that their left hands are less agile and fatigue quickly. In my studio, I’ve been employing some strategies to help counter the right hand supremacy from the first lesson.

Have students read and play LH pieces first.

Many method books start with RH reading and playing, which tends to focus the student on the right hand and teach them that the left hand is secondary,. Where you can, always start with introduction of left hand playing and reading bass clef.

Do technique exercises with LH first when playing hand separately.

This forces students to focus on reading the left hand/bass clef part first and in contrast to my observation that students prefer to read the treble clef in the beginning.

For technique, practice the LH exercise 3 times for every one time you play it with RH.

This will allow student to really focus on technique, and make sure the LH develops more swiftly to keep up with RH, which often in pieces carries the more technically complex passages.

Play Bach. A Lot.

Bach is a composer whose music treats RH and LH roughly the same. It’s great for developing independence of the hands and one of the areas Glenn Gould focused on in his student days.

Practice RH passages in pieces with LH.

Obviously, this one can be very irritating as you have to re-finger everything, but in pieces such as those composed by Chopin, you could really challenge the LH this way.

Practice etudes that are designed to develop the LH equally to RH OR that focus on LH.

There are tons of pieces written on for just the LH. Berens has an entire set; The Art of Finger Dexterity, Op.740 (Czerny, Carl) is my preference du jour; Persichetti has a set of “mirror etudes” where the hands play the same thing interesting ways. IMSLP has a whole host of recommended pieces (some quite advanced) and etudes if you need to look for additional resources.

Here’s another set of links from a slightly different search term on IMSLP.

This book below is a little advanced for the beginner but good for later elementary players. (And right now it’s only $4.79 on sheetmusicplus!)

look inside For Left Hand Alone – Book 1 National Federation of Music Clubs 2014-2016 Selection Later Elementary Level. Composed by John Thompson. Willis. Instruction, Recital, Left Hand. 16 pages. Willis Music #8369. Published by Willis Music (HL.414630).

And last, but not least, teachers, write exercises or pieces designed to target the LH that suit your student’s level!

Have any strategies that you use with your students? Or have any opinions on mine? I’d love to hear your feedback, comments, and any questions you might have.

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Announcement: Live stream and Twitch Lessons

Hi everyone,

Today was a first in that I used Instagram live on my personal account (@frecklesnola) to livestream my practice session. It was interesting to do and I think I’m going to try it again in the future. For now, I’m going to keep doing it from my personal insta because I have more followers there, but my hope is to transition to my piano account (@piano_nola) eventually. Anyway, please follow either or both if you want to check it out.

I should warn you though – I will NOT be performing. I will being doing very detailed practice of small passages of music, like I encourage my students to practice. (And hopefully I”ll make my piano students watch it every once in a while.) Because instagram is kinda of difficult to embed things, I don’t think I”ll be able to embed the streams in this blog, so sorry for that.

Second announcement is this: I am going to start a beginning piano class on Wednesday mornings at 9 am central time. Of course, I don’t advise anyone learning piano without a teacher (you can learn some really bad technique without feedback), but I’ve always wanted to try to teach over the internet, so this will be an experiment. Perhaps I could make a way for students to send me videos and provide feedback, but I’ll have to look into that. Anyway, I’ll be streaming those sessions on Twitch, where my username is @frecklesnola. So feel free to follow along, comment, provide feedback (no one is perfect), and participate if you are interested.

Wish me luck! And please join me even if you are an experienced player and want to discuss or provide feedback.

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Listening Homework; Bach

Students will be learning about concertos for a bit in my piano studio. We will be using this book (pictured) and picking pieces therefrom. To start, we will be listening to the Bradenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach. There are six concertos, so it’s a fairly long listen, but some of them are quite short. Notice the use of the harpsichord instead of the piano as well as other instruments common at the time of composition.

The Concerto by Michael Steinberg

Below, you can read about the Brandenburg Concertos, listen to a playlist of the complete set, and download a general listening sheet for students of the intermediate level.

Excerpts on Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto from Steinburg’s The Concerto.

Performances by the Freiburger Barockorchester from Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

And here’s an accompanying listening worksheet that I give to students of the intermediate level. I would recommend filling one worksheet per piece concerto.

Listening Worksheet – General

Let me know in the comments if you used this worksheet or have any thoughts or questions about anything related to this!

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Freebies: Color by Musical Note Worksheets for Beginners

I’ve been making these sheets on my own for students. I’d tried using the Color by Note series, which is great, but it doesn’t match the other methods I use with these beginning students. So I’ll be sharing a lot of these over the next few weeks.

Here’s a preview of the worksheet.

piano worksheets
Seal Coloring sheet with CDE on keys and quarter note.

To download, go to PianoNOLA > For Teachers. 

Feel free to collect some of my older resources while you are visiting.

Happy teaching!

Symphony concert not to be missed – Mozart’s Requiem

On November 21, 2019 and November 23, 2019, the Louisiana Philharmonic will be performing Mozart’s Requiem, and I highly encourage everyone, even those who are rare symphony-goers to attend.

You see, a work of this size requires a full orchestra, a full choir, and a set of opera singers for its success. That’s a lot more musicians on the stage collaborating than in your typical symphony concert where you’d have a full orchestra playing with a soloist and then just a full orchestra. And it is something to be appreciated.

Also, works like Mozart’s Requiem are particularly soul-stirring in my opinion. This work was one of the last works that Mozart composed before his death – he worked on it in the second half of 1791 and died in December 1791, leaving the work unfinished (ultimately finished by a student of his, named Franz Xaver Sussmayr). Parts of the requiem were performed for Mozart’s own funeral mass. The history of the work has been enshrouded by myths and untruths by scholarship since its inception – a most recent example is the film Amadeus, so the work itself has some spectre surrounding it. But even without knowing any of that, it is sublime to hear, see, feel, and experience. It touches my soul.

You can read more about the history of the work in Michael Steinburg’s excellent Choral Masterworks: a Listeners Guide. Oxford University Press, 2005 (pp. 219-229).

IF you can’t make the concert, add it to your future events to look out for (along with all great choral masterworks). If you’d like to hear a performance from youtube, please see below and enjoy!

Download: Music Math and Rhythm Quiz

If you follow my blog, you know I routinely share worksheets and resources that I make for my own piano students. Toda

I created a new worksheet or quiz that is a mix of the following types of questions:

  • music math questions,
  • circle incorrect measures
  • complete the measures

The worksheet is intended for beginner students and includes the following:

  • quarter notes, quarter rests
  • half notes and rests
  • dotted half notes
  • whole notes and rests
  • 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures

Here’s a preview of the worksheet, which will be available without the watermark to subscribers under the “Downloads” tab of the website.

Enjoy!

Free music flashcard template

I’ve been struggling with how best to make or have my students make good flashcards, so the other day, I sat down with Illustrator and made a printable template. I can’t be the only one that has this problem, so I thought I’d share it with you today 🙂

You can download for free here.

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