Monday, October 20, 2014

Canned Laughter

Of course Weird Al Yankovich is the king of musical comedians.  Tim Hawkins is a great second.

And what was his name?  Oh yes, found him:Victor Borge.  I knew it started with a B.

He did musical stand up comedy to make uprights fall over.
I tried.

Oh, and I must insert my favorite piano joke:

Which kind of piano does God love best? 

God favors the upright.

*canned laughter*

Not as much a shining group, but maybe worth perusing: 10 Essential Musical Comedians - Comedians

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bach Would Be Proud: I Teach Modern Basso Continuo (Chords)

As I talk to prospective students and their parents, I think more about explaining why I teach playing by chords and ear, not just by note reading like most teachers, and how remarkably effective this
teaching method is.  I'm passionate on this and want to spread this method!   Learning chords is a very old and somewhat forgotten essential keyboard skill.  Really, essential.  Like scales.  But it's been lost for the most part.  Why?  Especially since learning to play by ear and aural training is still common in Eastern Europe, Russia (Eur-russia is where a LOT of the greatest pianists and composers come from) and Asia (think Suzuki method for toddlers).

Familiar with Bach? In Bach's day, it was taken for granted that a keyboard player could be given the basso continuo (their equivalent to chord symbols) and realize the appropriate harmony in order to accompany other musicians or simply a melody.  Bach would be proud: I teach that.  Why don't others?

There are many reasons many pianist don't know, much less teach, chord playing today. Since I'm a history buff and music history was my major's concentration, this development was fascinating to me.  One reason for chord playing's neglect is that this skill was not the rage of the mid to late 1800's, when learning piano became a favorite American hobby especially for the young.  The rage was to be able to play like Chopin - or at least play Chopin.  And every other virtuoso that was the rockstar of Victorian audiences.  Seriously, Franz Liszt was the Beetles/BG's/Ricky Martin/One Direction/Backstreet Boys of his day.   (I had to think hard for the names of these girl-gaggle-gathering boy stars.)

  Though the piano rage started to wane as Elvis and the Beatles came on the scene, it seemed like by the 50's, hardly a house lacked a piano, and everybody's aunt taught lessons. For the purpose of playing classical and sacred music by note.

And still today piano teachers are trying to get every student to be Rachmaninoff.  And yes, I totally completely 100% want every pianist to play classical music!!!  But, Bach would say they need to play chord symbols too.  And Rachmaninoff would scoff (I had to) if he heard musicians didn't have aural training.  So, let's all get together, take over modern America, and LEARN TO PLAY THE THREE WAYS!  **cue in 1812 Overture Canons**