Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tobin Music System

I've just finished watching an amazing video of Candida Tobin's Music System.

In this video you will see Julie Hall, an excellent primary school classroom music teacher revising the music theory knowledge of 8 year old children. The children from an ordinary class at Bird's Bush Primary School in England are reading simple music, understanding melody and chords and composing as well.

Downloading the video requires having fast broadband, as the video is 26 minutes long and 160 odd megs! It is professionally produced and is a pleasure to watch.

Dame Evelyn Glennie is one of many professional musicians who endorse the scheme.

I read about it at the International Piano Teachers Group, which produces a weekly interesting newsletter based on emails received from people all over the world who teach guess what? [Hint: it's the king of the instruments, and rude people make jokes about its similarity to a body part.]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Performance Workshop

Today I did something I've never done before. I ran a performance workshop for my students in which a colleague kindly came and wrote comments about the performances, and then shared her observations with the students after they had all performed.

A few weeks before, I had attended a concert at our conservatorium which was organised by my colleague, recorder expert and teacher, Elizabeth Hassan. It was a terrific concert, which included Baroque and contemporary pieces for recorder, soprano, cello and harpsichord [though not always at the same time!]

Elizabeth had some helpful comments to make for each of the six students who played, and did this in a constructive and positive manner. She kindly drove over 50 kilometres [each way] to give her insights to my students.

And she had a great quote to share which I'd never heard before:
Amateurs practise until they get it right
Professionals keep practising until it can't go wrong

She told us she got that from her own teacher, many years ago.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Einstein Factor

At last I can blog about my appearance on ABC TV's Einstein Factor. Coincidentally, the episode in which my special subject was The Music of J S Bach was recorded on 21st March, Bach's birthday.

It was not nearly as nerve-wracking as I'd thought it would be. All of the staff were pleasant and made us feel at ease, and the questions on my special subject were so easy, I didn't clam up while I was answering them. But I wasn't fast enough to get through all fifteen questions.

It was fun to win, of course, but the highlight was getting a free trip from Bathurst, in western New South Wales, Australia to Melbourne, capital city of Victoria and being able to see my son Daniel and his wife Louise. Since they moved further south, we have not seen them as much, and we had never been down to visit them.

If you would like to see my Bach jokes, a few clicks on the above link will get you there.

And if you have a broadband account, you may even wish to download the video of Episode 19 and watch the program. Please tell me if you do.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chopin trumps Mozart?

People always talk about Mozart as a great prodigy, composing and performing as he did from the age of 4 or 5.

But if you compare Chopin's earliest works, from about the age of 7, they are amazingly intricate and much harder than anything Mozart wrote as a lad. You can buy Alfred's publications of Chopin's earliest works and of his easiest works. The earliest are by no means easy, and many of the easier works are not the earliest works.

So far, I've not seen anything cleverer, written at such a young age from well known composers, but I'm happy to be corrected.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tell me that you've heard every sound there is ...

Neil, of One Salient Oversight, says he celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper by listening to Revolver.

Hi Neil.

I was a Beatles fan from 1964. I eagerly awaited the arrival of each single [didn't know a lot about the albums].

My friend, Paul invited me over to listen to Beatles For Sale. I met Paul at a Christian Endeavour sports day. We were the kids sitting eating lollies while the other kids were running around. We saw each otehr after that at Christian Endeavour youth rallies and Tahlee Bible College camps.

Beatles For Sale is a much-maligned album, but I loved it, and I must admit that part of this is because I listened to it with Paul. Even if you like Beatles For Sale, you are supposed to say "But I don't like Mr Moonlight". But I did. I thought that conga drum and John's raver vocals and the organ were terrific.

Dunno how, but I missed Revolver. I heard Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine, but never knew that there was an album released in 1966 until 1968.

One day I saw a copy in a department store and wondered how I'd ever missed it.

Revolver is a superb album. Remember listening to it at Duncan's place in Belmont North.

But Greg's folks had a record player [3-in-one jobbie, I think] which had a big bass speaker, and when you heard the first notes of Taxman, after the little bit of studio chatter [added on later for effect], that low D boooomed.

I enjoyed every track on Revolver, but especially
Taxman - loved the crazy lyrics, and the way the PM and Leader of the Opposition were dragged into the song
I Want To Tell You - loved the weird harmony created by the persistent piano swung quavers
And Your Bird Can Sing - I was captivated by the 2 lead guitars playing that wonderful backing obbligato, as well as by the vocals
Good Day, Sunshine - it has lots of musically interesting features, including the great thumping piano accompaniment, the vocal harmony and modulation at the end of the song

Think I'll have to take up Neil's suggestion.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It was 40 years ago today

I've just finished listening to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, on the 40th anniversary of its release in the UK. My parents bought me a copy for my 15th birthday in 1967. Mum commented that I had told her it would cost $5.25, but it was actually $5.50, which she thought was a bit steep!

I still have the record [which is mono]: it is well worn and the cover has a few tears. Many people say the mono version is superior to the stereo version, but I enjoy listening to the CD and like hearing the bits and pieces coming from the different speakers.

It is still very enjoyable to listen to, after all these years. Don't play Beatles CDs much now: played my records and later the CDs to death and can now "play" them without putting them in a reproducing device!