Chopin is one of my personal favorites. His music is refined and thoroughly gorgeous. 

Highlights for M:
  • Name: Frédéric Chopin
  • Image: 
  • Lived: 
    • Poland, 1810 – 1849
    • During the “Romantic” era
  • Known for: 
    • Virtuoso pianist, composer
    • Wrote many pieces for solo piano in many forms: nocturne, ballade, waltz, etude, and more.
    • Wrote for orchestra as well – but it always featured a piano
  • Influences:
    • Classical tradition of Mozart, Schubert, and Bach
    • Polish folk music
  • His personality:
    • He never played in large concert halls, only for small audiences (mostly in “salons” – small events in the homes of aristocracy) 
    • He was thin, and “dandy” – he had thin long fingers
    • Sickly throughout most of his life 😦 This link supposedly has all of his piano nocturnes. I only listened to the first few minutes – but it does start with one of my favorites. Nocturne in B-flat minor. Here is a pianist playing Nocturne in B-flat minor where you can see his hands. M should notice how his wrists are level. His hands are relaxed and “dancing” just like a ballet. You can do amazing things on the piano if your hands arerelaxed and you have good technique! Here is a pianist playing one of my favorites ever: Ballade in No.1 G minor. At 3:52 M can see really great technique (better than above) close up. By minute 4:50, the piece really starts to get cooking (it sounds like M likes the big dramatic pieces)… don’t let her miss the dramatic ending either! She should also notice how he’s able to go “piano” (soft) and “forte” (loud) and by so doing, it makes the piece emotional, and tell a story.

Is Talent Enough? Mitsuko Uchida

What is talent?
1. the deep need to express yourself through music and nothing else
2. intellect
3. technique
4. charisma

Uchida says that #1 is the most important and the only one you are born with. The others can be developed. She is great and I mostly totally agree.

[I think most all artists across disciplines agree that you can translate *facts* about talent and artmaking across all artistic disciplines. I’ve never heard argued otherwise. So I’ll say this from poet Rilke.]

Related to this, my great friend Josh sent me an amazing book for my birthday last year. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Here is his response to a man who asks whether his verses are good: “Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you write. This above all – ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? … A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity.

Talent is nothing more than the urge to create – and the ability to delight in abstract sensations. This is a paradigm shift from what mainstream culture raises us to believe. This is something I teach my students: you cannot let the world tell you if you have “talent” because the world does not understand “talent”. You are talented already because of your enthusiasm to play piano even though you may not yet be proficient as you want to be. Desire is enough. Passion is talent. (Or perhaps a more accurate claim would be: talent is a myth). Cultivate desire to drive you to work and work and delight and work.

10 Genres of Metal – Electric Guitar Subtleties

Wow I wish I could play electric guitar!

This is a good video to show intermediate students to keep them engaged. Also to great video to work on listening sensitivity, i.e. Help students sharpen skills for making judgments and assertions about music in cultural contexts. Same skill applies if I were to ask you to identify a baroque piano piece from a classical piano piece.

Lesson ideas: ask what exactly distinguishes each genre. He’s using the same tempo, same instrument, same timbre, same “energy”…what changes? How do the genre names relate to the sounds he was making? Do they actually? And why? How did each genre make you feel?

It also will just get kids excited about making music. (At least that was my reaction)