How to prepare to attend a classical music concert.
This goes deeper
Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (1977) with scrolling score
The score and parts are at the bottom of this page.
I recently returned from Scotland where I attended, Mostly Audio 2023, an audio/music/Ai workshop and conference. This video summarizes all that's wrong with Ai generated music while missing the creative possibilities of Ai.
My take aways from this video.
However, this video does raise interesting questions for music education. The structure, delivery methods, and content of musical education will need to quickly evolve to stay relevant. But I have a few questions.
Relevant to whom?
Do all students want to be creators or producers?
What will be the nature of musical collaboration?
Who will have time to listen to all this easily generated music?
Who will care?
Is the joy of making music in the work or the output?
How will this be monetized?
Did the "creators or producers" of this video have licenses to use the likenesses of John Coltrane?
This is a perennial favorite of music students. Let's look at a few key terms and concepts.
Canon is a melody that accompanies itself at a staggered interval. Row, row, row your boat is a well-known example. In this canon the melody, played by the violinists, follows itself in two measure intervals.
Ground Bass is the violoncello melody that repeats its 8 note pattern throughout the piece.
Cembalo or continuo is the chordal accompaniment that is improvised behind the violins. In this video it is played by the organ and the lute. Notice that the cembalo left hand outlines the ground bass.
Other notable orchestral canons can be found in J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering. The canons in that suite of pieces feature 2 violins chasing each other around accompanied by the continuo.
I suggest you vary the tempi, dynamics, and articulations of the following warmup etude. These passages can also be transposed to other keys, both major and minor.
Super video demonstration but...
Let's consider the assumptions he is making about you the student/listener.
What is my job?
I prepare students to understand and execute what he is talking about. The first thing we will do is assess your situation and then we'll draw up a logical plan.
BTW: in 2017, I studied with Peter Martin in Rome Italy. He's a great guy and a very skilled musician. When I grow up, I want to play piano like him. FYI. I was in Rome studying jazz drumming with Greg Hutchinson. Greg played in Ray Brown’s last group.
When learning to play Brazilian jazz it is best to go to the primary sources, the original and other seminal recordings recorded in Brazil, both past and present. At the end of this sample of Brazilian recordings is a fine recording by Kenny Barron, who it must be said, has listened to the original recordings.
Spend an afternoon playing the melody with the recordings, mimicking as much as possible what you hear. Then add the chords.
Here is my top 10 list of skills to work on ahead of camp. You don't need to be an expert, but you will need some familiarity with the following skills and activities.
1. Comping and voice leading chords.
2. Practice sightreading simple chord charts like blues in Bb and F, Summertime, Killer Joe, etc. Click out the Aebersold picture for some suggestions. By clicking on the image, you will go to a product page. I don't take a commission.
3. Play along with recordings.
4. Record yourself and listen back.
5. Practice playing louder because drums are loud.
6. Practice your right-hand broken chords for every tune on the Aebersold list.
7. Use a metronome on everything you play and practice.
8. Learn to clap and count aloud eighth note jazz rhythms.
9. Listen to jazz daily.
10. Sign up early to camp because piano spots go quickly.
What tunes should you practice?
If I can help you, call me. I've attended a dozen jazz camps over the years as a pianist and drummer.
Have fun. If I can help, call me.
revised August 2022
Playing the piano is much easier when the scales and chords have become automatic in our hands. Below is the fingering chart for all 3 note chords like C major and G minor. Another name for a 3-note chord is a "triad". I've cropped this image from a student's notes.
If I can help you, call me.
My first demonstration of pedaling using the Midiculous software.
Jane is learning how to play chords to her favorite pieces. This is how I've recommended she spend her time.
Practice time breakdown
25% scales and chords with metronome at various tempos
25% review of old work
25% new pieces
25% sight reading tunes off the internet. Notice the search terms in the image below. Click on images and viola things to practice.
October 2022 Update: Jane is still in lessons. She is currently learning how to create and play walking bass lines in jazz standards.
Revised October 2022
I'll send you a Zoom link, a list of learning materials required for the first lessons, and suggestions from colleagues on setting up Zoom audio and a picture on where to set up your camera.
See you in class.
YouTube has many piano duets you can enjoy. You play primo. The score for this piece is available, free of charge and registration, through the link above. Learn your part then put on headphones, or ear buds and play along. Remember YouTube videos can be slowed if required.
Revised November 2022
4 hours of practice: No Grinding.
Top 5 tips for practicing any musical instrument
General and Jazz Specific Theory
If you would like some help, call me.
Being able to recognize the forms within a Baroque Dance suite, by ear, will be helpful.
This will get you started on your listening journey. Enjoy.
How I Prepare to Learn Or Teach A New Piece of Music: Haydn Sonata in C And Bourrée in F By Telemann
When I take on a new piece of music of any complexity I will go through some or all the following steps. My goal is to have a clear artistic impression of the piece before I begin.
1. Compare the different scores available to me.
2. Seek out professional recordings.
3. Print the music as I will be marking it up.
4. Study the form and phrasing of the work. Sometimes, as in the Telemann I will mark in the phrasing.
5. I will consider the era in which it was written for clues on possible interpretations.
6. I translate any unfamiliar terms I find in the score.
7. I might consult other sources to explore the style and era of its creation. For the Sonata in C, I enjoyed re-reading the section on Haydn ornaments in the book below.
8. I will listen to multiple professional performances and mark on the score ideas of interest. I often will slow down a recording to hear how the artist plays their ornaments.
9. I might consult with a colleague or my piano coach as well.
In short, I will have a clear set of ideas, those I discovered and my own, to explore as I now start to "learn" the piece. I will share these with my students.
If I can help you discover intriguing world of classical music, please call me.
Bach's WTC would be one of the 2 music books I would take with me if I was to be exiled to an island.
Links: Sound Ways of Knowing: Music in the Interdisciplinary Curriculum : Janet R. Barrett Claire W. McCoy Kari K. Veblen : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Know more than the notes. Exploring the questions of sociological context, compositional techniques, recorded history and more will add depth and sophistication to your playing and security to your memorization.
Click on the picture for more, or for the "science" click the link.
Here is a simple example:
1st Movement of Sonata in F minor op. 1
Who created it?
Beethoven, German Romantic era composer 1770–1827
When and where was it created?
1795 Vienna Austria
Why and for whom was it created?
Dedicated to his teacher Joseph Haydn. Apparently it was his first publicly published work.
What does it sound or look like?
Dramatic opening rocket type theme of the tonic, then dominant chord announces that there is a "new kid in town". Great dynamic contrasts throughout the movement keep us focused. A composition of a young man.
What kind of structure or form does it have?
Classic Sonata Form
What is its subject?
The interplay is between the 2 main themes in the exposition and their development through many key centers.
What is being expressed?
Youthful exuberance, drama and compositional skill demonstration of the classical era style.
What techniques did its creator use to help us understand what is being expressed?
I'm going to check out Yann Tiersen today. An artist I'm not familiar with. This book is a favorite with many adult students.
Restarting piano after a 4-decade hiatus? How to get started.
The hands will be slow. But they will improve. Patience is the key here. An analogy: You were at 18-year-old track star back in the day. You buy a pair of expensive running shoes, the kind that promise speed, endurance, and youth. First day out, you run 10K. It is glorious, next day you can’t move. Shoes go in the closet; you are back in front of Netflix. Oops, you’ve made a tactical mistake. Try this instead.
Have fun, if I can help, call me.
My decades old copy of Opus 821 by Czerny. Still on the piano.
When I want to work on my tone, I go here. When I want to work on the different physical moves required in piano performance I go here.
This work covers all the keys in very short 8 measure exercises. I'm able to work on finger independence, arm weight, rotation, octaves, staccato, legato, portato, drop, thrust, dynamics, balance, and tone.
Last weekend I attended the National Ballet of Canada's performance of "etudes". It is a 45 minute ballet of bar moves and set pieces to the etudes of Czerny. It was fun to recognize many of the pieces. It was instructive to hear the music interpreted by the dancers.
Click here for a free copy: https://imslp.org/wiki/160_kurze_Übungen,_Op.821_(Czerny,_Carl)
My go to podcasts. I listen in the car on my way to classes. One reason I bounce through the door on arrival.
A list of tunes I've played at public jam sessions in Toronto over the last 2 years that I've been attending as a drummer.
All of me
Now's the time
Scrapple from the apple
It don't mean a thing
C jam blues
Another cool one
Straight, no chaser
All the things you are
East of the sun
If I were a bell
There will never be another you
What is this thing called love?
Have you met miss jones?
Song for my father
Take the A train
All the things you are
Scrapple from the apple
There is no greater love
Girl from Ipanema
Days of wine and roses
Softly as in a morning sunrise
Lester leaps in
Fly me to the moon
Blues for Alice
My little suede shoes
A night in Tunisia
How high the moon
Stella by starlight
Body and soul both fast and slow
I hear a rhapsody
Up jumped spring
There will never be another you
I love you
Out of nowhere
Night and day
The link below offers some good advice to read before you attend your first jam, including a short list of essential tunes for beginners. You don't need to learn the entire list before attending. A blues in Bb and F, a common standard or two, one bossa and you are ready to go.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.