Besides playing music together, here's what we did:
September: (We learned what a "Cookie Quiz" was!)
Music History: We learned that Bach had 20 children, walked 200 miles once to hear an organ concert. And he played the violin and organ and is considered one of the greatest composers of all time.
We learned that Baroque music had a lot of details and was the period of music from 1600-1750. Music became more expressive during this period of time. Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, and Telemann are famous Baroque period composers.
Music Theory: We learned that a fugue is a way to write music and has a subject. They are a bit like canons, which we call "rounds." "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is an example. Fugues don't have to use the exact same notes, but canons do. Listen to the Bach Double Violin Concerto for an example of a fugue.
Music Theory: We learned basics of sound: Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. When any object vibrates, it causes movement in the air particles. These particles bump into the particles close to them, which makes them vibrate too causing them to bump into more air particles. This movement, called sound waves, keeps going until they run out of energy. If your ear is within range of the vibrations, you hear the sound.
We learned about a special kind of sound: Music is a very special kind of sound: it has pitch and rhythm for starters and moves the emotions of people the same way no matter their culture or geography. Only humans play and sing music.
“Music is the universal language of emotions communicated through intelligently ordered sounds consisting of rhythm and pitch.”Music Theory, Jonathan Peters
We learned the order of sharps and flats: Read forward for sharps and backwards for flats: "Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle"
Music History: We learned that Vivaldi had red hair, wrote 400 concerti (200 for violin). He never married and worked at an orphanage in Venice. He was a tourist attraction along with the girls who sang and played instruments. But he fell out of fashion and died so poor that his funeral didn’t even have any music. We learned there are storms, insects, birds, chattering teeth, etc. in The Four Seasons, written for violin and orchestra. It was his most famous piece. People are still finding missing Vivaldi musical compositions in attics, so if you want to be a private investigator in the music world, you might find one!
Music History: We learned about Georg Frideric Handel: Born the same year as Bach (1685), but they never met. His father (a surgeon and a barber) didn't want him to learn any music, but his mother hid a clavichord in the attic for him to play. A very fortunate event occurred when he and his father visited a Duke and he played the organ for him. Duke recognized Handel's musical gifts and urged his Father to get him music lessons. The rest is history! Wrote the most famous choral piece of all time, "Messiah."
We learned what opera, oratorio, and libretto are. Do you remember?
December: (John Syzygy began helping us for part of our group lessons.)
Music Theory: SOUND: “Something heard or that may be heard.” (Cambridge)
TIMBRE: Why does one instrument sound different from another? Why does the violin sound different from a trumpet? Timbre is the reason:
“A quality of sound that makes voices or musical instruments different from each other.” (Cambridge)
NAMING NOTES IN MUSIC:
A, B, C, D, E, F, G….then we start over. That’s all we have. We can also name them: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do.
Who came up with this idea? Guido of Arezzo, a monk who lived back in the year 2nd century. Things evolved over the next couple hundred of years from there.
CLEFS: We learned G (treble), F (bass), C (alto and tenor): The clefs that are used most often are the treble clef and the bass clef.
The treble clef is also known as a G clef because it looks like a fancy G. The treble clef circles the second line of the musical staff to tell you that it is G. All other notes fall on the other lines and spaces accordingly.
The bass clef handles the lower range of notes. It is also called an F clef because it came from an old fashion F symbol that looks like an F. The bass clef marks the fourth line of the musical staff as F. All other notes fall on the other lines and spaces accordingly. Other clef symbols, less often used, are the C clef and the percussion clef.
Music History: Twinkle: Did you know that Twinkle started out as a French poem in 1770? Here’s the original in French and a translation into English:
Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman Ce qui cause mon tourment ? Papa veut que je raisonne Comme une grande personne Moi je dis que les bonbons Valent mieux que la raison.
Translation: Ah! Will I tell you, Mommy Ah! Will I tell you, Mommy What is tormenting me? Daddy wants me to reason Like a grown up person Me, I say that sweets Are worth more than reason.
Music History: In every civilization throughout the world you will find music. Its origins are unknown, but where you find human beings, you find music and musical instruments. Music is at all our celebrations. It’s at funerals, too. It deeply affects our emotions. Its language is universal.
From “The Mind Unleashed,” 2015: In the 19th century, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called music “the universal language of mankind.” He had no idea how right he was – a recent study concluded that music can have a similar effect on people from completely different cultures. Researchers from two Canadian universities, McGill University and University of Montreal, together with scientists from Technische Universität Berlin, traveled to the depths of the rainforests in central Africa to play certain musical compositions to 40 Mbenzélé Pygmies, an isolated tribe in the Congo, and study their emotional and physiological responses. The results were compared with the responses of 40 Montreal residents to the same melodies and it was found that the music caused similar feelings in both groups.
Timeline of classical music: Classical music is divided into periods, which contain fairly distinct musical styles. Confusingly, one of these periods is called the Classical period, but this is just one portion of the whole of classical music. (source Wikipedia) Medieval Period - from about 800 to 1400 Dominated by church music. Gregorian chant or plainchant is typical. Monophonic refers to the fact that only one note is sung at one time. Renaissance Period - from 1400 to 1600 Still dominated by the church but with more sophisticated melodies and harmonies (polyphony). Different styles begin to emerge. Composers include Palestrina, Monteverdi and William Byrd. Baroque Period - from 1600 to 1750 Music flourishes in complexity, and scope. Instrumental music becomes dominant, and most major music forms become defined. Composers include Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Classical Period - from 1750 to 1830 After flowering during the baroque, music now settles into several well-defined forms, following strict rules. The main forms being the sonata, the symphony and the concerto. Composers include Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven. Romantic period - from 1830 to WWI Music begins to break out of the classical strictness, and becomes more expressive and emotional. Rules get broken and new ideas develop. Composers include Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Wagner. Twentieth Century While some composers on the twentieth century remained in the romantic style, most composers moved on. The only rule was that there are no rules. New music, new styles, new ideas. Composers include Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Ravel.
We have focused on the Baroque era the past few months. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann are its most famous composers. Handel was the only composer who was appreciated during his lifetime. Unfortunately, the others didn’t become popular until well after their deaths.
Music Theory: Monophony: just one line of music at a time Polyphony: multiple lines of music at the same time
Music Theory: This month we learned about intervals. How you describe the relationship of one note to another is an "interval."
Do you remember the way we abbreviate intervals? Perfect 1st, m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, Tritone, P5, m6, M6, m7, M7, P8 Small "m" means "minor." Large "M" means "major." I've always thought it a bit odd that music theorists name the same note at all, but they do and call it P1, perfect 1st.
Eventually you will learn a song for all the different intervals. Do you remember "Here Come the Bride?" It begins with a perfect 4th. And Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star begins with a perfect 5th. Now you will always be able to sing a perfect 4th and 5th.
Whatever piece you are working on for the recital, how does it begin? Can you name the interval?
How do you describe the relationship of the open strings of the violin? G, D, A, E? Answer: Perfect 5ths.
We will be talking about intervals more and more for playing the violin during lessons. But here's a bit more info for you. All of the intervals are "steps" apart. On the piano when you go from one key to the one right next to it, whether white or black, that's a 1/2 step. On the violin, when your fingers are touching one another that's 1/2 step. When there's a space between them, that's a whole step. On the piano a whole step means there's one key between.
You also learned from John about "overtones." When notes are played, other notes are actually heard faintly at the same time. Here's a bit more on the subject. This is presented by Leonard Bernstein, who was a very famous conductor (of the New York Philharmonic) and a composer. I think your parents will enjoy this. He wrote "Westside Story." There's a famous song that begins with a tritone (Eflat-A) in this musical called "Maria." Try singing that one!
And do you remember the mathematician who also was devoted to describing how musical sound works? It was Pythagoras. And here's something a bit in depth. For starters, you just need to know that Pythagoras mathematically described intervals, which then became the whole basis for Western music.
I passed out a rhythm packet last month and we will continue to work with it in the next few months. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Reminder of why you are taking music lessons!
Enormous emotional, social, and intellectual benefits from learning a musical instrument. Plenty has been written about this. But even more: you and the universe are wired for music; therefore, everyone should do music! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ REVIEW:
To wrap up the year, here's a review of the basics of violin playing. Some of you may have all this memorized since I talk about the following constantly, but it's good to ask yourself from time to time: "How am I doing?"
1. Humility: Wow, that teacher is always telling me to do things differently! It takes a lot of humility to learn the violin and follow all those instructions and accept all those corrections. But those who submit to this process will make fast progress. 2. Posture: What do I look like? depressed or like the violin is going to drop, or that I will need a chiropractor in a couple of years because of the way my head is bent? 3. Left hand: Am I squeezing the neck of the violin? Do I have a little space for that mouse to run through? Are my fingers curved naturally? Does my arm rotate under the violin from string to string a little bit? 4. Bow arm: In the upper half, am I just using my forearm to keep the bow straight. Is my upper arm free? Is the level of my arm on the same level as the bow? 5. Relaxation: All the parts of the mind and body need to "let go" and have only enough tension as necessary for execution of violin tasks. Most students and professionals must practice relaxation. It doesn't come naturally. Practice relaxing BEFORE you pick up the instrument. 6. Musicality: Am I listening to enough music so it gets into my bloodstream and becomes part of me? Am I learning to shape phrases? Does my music impact anyone emotionally? I've actually seem my dog respond to my violin playing. It should move someone in your house, emotionally speaking and not negatively speaking. 7. Precision practicing for long-term rewards: Unlike so many things in our world, the violin isn't a short-term project or immediately gratifying. You need precision practicing. Do I have my eyes on the long-term rewards or am I demanding instant gratification? Put another way: you need a lot of patience with yourself. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________