Monday, September 13, 2010


COMPOSER: Chopin Etude in C Minor "Revolutionary"

Played by Richter

1. Discuss the meaning of the word "etude" in relation to Chopin's music.
OBJECTIVE: Intro to Percussion
1. Quote by Leonard Bernstein
.....a. Bernstein was a very famous 2oth Century American conductor and composer.
.....b. One of his most famous pieces was the musical "West Side Story" about gang violence in the late 1950's New York City. (

Opening Scene from "West Side Story"

2. Solfege Roll: Review solfege hand signals adding "Sol." Teacher asks with hand signals: Sol-Mi-La-Sol-Mi ("Mar-y did you finish your quote?")/Student answers with hand signals: Sol-Mi-La-Sol-Mi ("Yes I did") and show the quote to me.
3. Pass out various percussion instruments:
slapstick, tambourine, cabasa, jingle bells, hand drum, guiro, triangle, finger cymbals, spoons, castanets, bell tree,
claves, woodblock, sand blocks, cowbell, ratchet, maracas, and vibra tone (wah-wah)
4. Review how to follow a conductor's silent cues (signals) and how to start and end together.
a. Experiment with how to make instruments sound loud and soft (some examples: try striking the instruments at different places, try producing the movements that generate the sounds fast and slower, try striking the instruments with different pressures).
5. Go over "Beat Goes On" graph of the beats and the form [already practiced with BP (body percussion)] and exchange to instruments. Purple is everyone, wood sounds play the color blue, pink is used for the bell-like metals, and green for instruments that are made of skin and that scrape or have a raspy sound.
a. Students to play with help of the teacher but then be able to follow chart without that help. Students learn to track with their own eyes and listen to the patterns of sound on their own.
6. Do not forget to turn in signed rule sheets: worth 1 point

OBJECTIVE: Shoulder Rests and Violin Hold Set-Up
1. Review and practice how to get instruments out and into the cabinets.
2. Work on learning how to put on a shoulder rest and comfortable set-up of the violin as it sits under the jaw.
a. Violin is to be held at the neck at an angle parallel to the floor without the hand holding it.
b. Left hand of the violin must be free to finger the instrument so violin must be held by the neck.
c. Angle of shoulder rest must be established for the comfort of each individual player; everyone must find their own personal shoulder rest placement that makes the violin comfortable to hold.
d. Once found, the student needs to memorize their particular angle so they can place it back on the violin the way it feels comfortable the next time they play.
3. Collect loan forms; those who return them may take the violin home.
a. Since we have not worked on the bow yet please do not experiment with the bow. Wait for proper instruction as it is delicate in needs special handling.
b. When taking the violin home, unless someone in the family already plays violin, please do not try to tune the strings (move the pegs). Strings are expensive and if the student does not know what they are doing strings are easily broken.

OBJECTIVE: Preparation for Harvest Day performance on October 28th/Hoedown music
2. Cello is taken out for the first time: Review of names of strings and discussion of how they are tuned.
a. A few students to try cello; students may take turns (since we only have 3 to use) and if some want to, may play one of our performance songs on the cello.
Here is a step-by-step review of what I taught in class today:
3. Start third section of "Hoedown" BOWING:
a. Practice the passage using open string bowing first: DDAA, DDAA,DDAA, DDAA then AAEE, AAEE, AAEE, AAEE.
b. Bowing we are trying to achieve is called "Spiccato" where the bow spits or bounces off the string; an example is something like a "dribble" in basketball (or a drum roll): down bow pressure is applied with enough speed to cause the bow to bounce up thus one body movement can produce two bow movements allowing for the bow to move at a very fast rate of speed without a lot of physical effort.
c. For this bowing technique the bow is placed in the approximate middle (the balancing point) of the bow and uses only about an inch or less of the bow area.
d. Small amounts of bow are used when playing fast and combined with playing in the center of the bow forces the use of the right wrist muscle (a small muscle movement); RULE: Fast playing small muscles, slow playing large muscles.
e. Always start the passages down bow as the reverse will force the bow to go against gravity and the spiccato will not be sustainable for any length of time.
f. ALWAYS practice slow and even. Then try a little faster but still even. As the speed increases (assuming all the directions are followed) there comes a point where the bow will start to bounce naturally.
g. To allow the bow to bounce the right bow hand "pinky" finger needs to off the bow. Keeping it down on the bow will stop the natural bounce upwards.
h. Lastly, remember that separate bowing and changing strings fast at the same time require different bow levels then bowing and changing strings slowly at the same time. To practice this section, place the bow on two strings (as you would double-stops) and rock the bow between the two strings for bow crossing fast. Doing this will create the correct wrist motion needed to play this passage.
4. Third section of "Hoedown" FINGERING:
a. This is to be practice after the bowing is learned.
b. A single finger is placed down on the lower string and is not picked up as the bow crosses to the neighboring string and plays it open; a back and forth alteration of a fingered note on the lower string with the higher open string repeating the pattern 4 times before changing the finger.
c. To be successful at this KEEP the fingered note down while playing the open string and be sure not to accidentally touch the open string with the finger that is remaining down.
5. Class reviews last section CODA. (Remember that 1st finger on the "E" string is at the "nut" but it must be moved back to its normal position before playing the last 2 notes.)