In March we celebrated the birthday of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, who was born on March 4, 1678. Vivaldi was born in Venice, Italy and was a violinist, composer and an ordained priest. In those days, children from poor families could receive a free education by training to become a priest. However, within a year of becoming a priest, Vivaldi choose to devote his life to music.
Vivaldi spent 36 years composing, conducting, and teaching violin at a conservatory and orphanage for girls in Venice. People would travel from all over Europe to listen to the girls' angelic voices and hear Vivaldi play his violin. Vivaldi wrote symphonies, concertos for string and wind instruments, and 39 operas. He preferred to write for instruments - even writing for the guitar and mand0lin, but his most important works were composed for the violin.
Vivaldi's four violin concertos titled "Spring", "Summer", "Autumn", and "Winter", known as "The Four Seasons", are his most famous pieces. (A concerto is an instrumental composition where the orchestra accompanies one or more solo instruments.) Our students enjoyed watching a video clip of violinist Julia Fischer accompanied by The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields which was filmed at The National Botanical Garden of Wales. While listening to "Spring" we tried to hear the instruments imitate bird songs, gentle breezes, a thunderstorm. While listening to "Summer" we tried to hear the calls of a cuckoo, turtledove, a finch, and a north wind blowing in another storm.
Here are the links below so you and your family can watch and listen to Vivaldi's, "The Four Seasons" as performed at The National Botanical Garden of Wales by The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with violinist, Julia Fischer. The scenery accompanying Vivaldi's music helps to portray the elements of nature characteristic of each season. Happy listening! :)
Summer - www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhkoUQ7HdIQ (listen for instruments imitating the heat of the day, cuckoo, turtledove, and finch calls, the north wind, a storm, an angry swarm of hornets)
Our students really enjoyed listening to the ragtime music of African American composer Scott Joplin in February! We learned how ragtime music combined rhythms brought to this country by slaves and musical forms brought to the U.S. from Europe. Many believe ragtime music helped to jump start the American jazz age.
Joplin's exact birth date and birthplace are not known, but many feel he was born in late 1867 or early 1868 probably in northeast Texas. Scott Joplin's father was a former slave and his mother cleaned houses. Joplin was allowed to use the piano in one of these homes and taught himself to play the piano. He was later able to take lessons and his mother saved up enough money to buy him a piano. Joplin did attend High School and College, unlike many African American children in the 1800's, and studied many styles of music including African American spirituals and ballads. Even though Joplin composed a variety of musical styles (marches, waltzes, an opera), he was best known for his "rags".
Joplin composed over 40 piano "rags" in his lifetime and became known as the " King of Ragtime". Our students enjoyed listening to some of his most memorable ones. We watched a video with pictures of Scott Joplin and his published "rags" for piano while listening to "The Entertainer". We even viewed a fun clip from Sesame Street with the Muppets playing "The Entertainer" accompanying Phillis Diller on the saxophone! We listened to "Magnetic Rag" while watching a video clip of a lego train. And finally, we watched a piano animation of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" while following a music listening map to learn about musical form. Why not pull up a Scott Joplin "rag" on YouTube or iTunes and just see how long it takes before you are smiling and tapping your toes! :)
January 27, 1756 is the birthday of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart
was one of the greatest composers of the Classical period and is still loved today! In fact, in honor of the 250th Anniversary of Mozart's birthday, during the year 2006 there were Birthday celebrations around the world and concerts where Mozart's music alone was performed.
Mozart was a child prodigy and played the harpsichord at 4, composed music at 5, went on long tours through Europe with his Father at a very young age, and composed his first opera at 11. Even though he only lived to be 35 he composed over 600 musical masterpieces in his lifetime, even composing for Benjamin Franklin's glass armonica!
Students watched a short biography on Mozart's life and then listened to "Adagio for Glass Armonica". Many students were able to distinguish between the timbre of the cello, violin, flute, oboe and glass armonica while listening to this! We also enjoyed hearing a short excerpt of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute" while singing some fun lyrics from "The Spelling Fly". Another favorite Mozart piece was "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" performed by a string quartet from Poland called "The Moz'ART Group" who first performed it as Mozart intended but then followed it with a "country" rendition!
And finally, students were able to take a "virtual" field trip where they saw a clavichord, harpsichord, a piano as Mozart and Beethoven would have played and composed for (with only 58 keys), and a modern day concert grand piano (with 88 keys). Our "tour guide" not only explained how the instruments produced the sound and how they were constructed, but also played each of them so we could hear the difference too!
During the month of December our music students celebrated the birthday (12/16/1770) of German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. Not only was Beethoven an amazing composer, but he was also considered the greatest pianist of his time! Our students recognized and enjoyed listening to several of Beethoven's piano pieces - "Fur Elise" and "Moonlight Sonata".
Students also enjoyed listening to Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony during a clip of "Fantasia 2000" and later during an animated version with lyrics by Richard Perlmutter titled "Beethoven's Wig". As silly as the lyrics were, I'm certain your child will remember the opening musical theme of the Fifth Symphony for the rest of their life! :)
Beethoven started to lose his hearing in his late 20's and was completely deaf for the final 10 years of his life. In spite of that, he continued composing some of his greatest works including the Ninth Symphony. While watching and listening to excerpts of the Ninth Symphony, excitement grew as students began to recognize Beethoven's melody "Ode to Joy" within the final movement. We continued to enjoy Beethoven's melody "Ode to Joy" while singing the lyrics of Henry van Dyke's great hymn, "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee". We were reminded that even though we don't know if Beethoven was a Christian, his music was and still is being used to give glory to God!
Did you hear our Third, Fourth, and Fifth graders singing Christmas carols and playing carols on their recorders here at RCS in December? Our students visited our RCS hallways, offices, and the cafeteria to sing and play Christmas carols, filling our school with the joyous sounds of Christmas! What a great way to celebrate Jesus Birthday!
All Third, Fourth, and Fifth grade students learn to play their own Yamaha Soprano Recorder during Music class here at RCS. Students will have the opportunity to read and play more than one octave of notes in the treble clef on their recorders. This will enable them to play many familiar songs in their Recorder Method Book as well as songs from their song sheets like God is So Good, Amazing Grace, God Bless America, O Come All Ye Faithful, and many folk songs. Students will continue to learn and apply music reading skills while developing good recorder technique. As an added benefit, all the music reading skills our students develop are easily transferable when they desire to begin piano or other instrument lessons!
I'm so very proud of our students and their hard work and commitment to home practice as well. Please keep up the good work students! Students who complete their "achievement level songs" will be invited to perform for several Elementary Chapels, Grandparents Day on Thursday morning, March 28, 2013, and for our RCS Spring Concert on Thursday, May 9, 2013, at 7:00 p.m.
Each Fall, all Third, Fourth and Fifth grade RCS students have the opportunity to learn to read notes in the treble and bass clefs while ringing handbells. Students not only learn how to correctly produce a sound, but also how to sustain the pitch while reading and ringing different note values. Students love learning to play chordal accompaniments on the handbells to familiar songs. They also enjoy learning new music where they are required to play the melody and the harmony. It is always a great opportunity for our students to become better music readers! The music reading skills they acquire can easily be transferred to another instrument when they are ready!
Our Music students enjoyed celebrating the birthday of American composer John Philip Sousa during the month of November. John Philip Sousa was born on November 6, 1854 in Washington, DC. Sousa is probably best known for his American military and patriotic marches and was considered the "March King" , composing 136 marches during his lifetime. Sousa also directed the U.S. Marine Band for 12 years and in 1974 the historic band hall at Marine Barracks was rededicated as "John Philip Sousa Band Hall". The bell from the SS John Philip Sousa, a World War II Liberty Ship, is on display there as well.
Students enjoyed watching and listening to our United States Marine Band perform Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever",which was declared to be our National March in 1987 by Congress and is performed each year on July 4th.
John Philip Sousa also composed the official march of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis", which is Latin for "always faithful". Students enjoyed seeing a video clip of the U.S. Marine Band perform "Semper Fidelis" during the annual John Philip Sousa Birthday Ceremony, which is held at his grave site in the Congressional Cemetery each year on November 6th.
Students also enjoyed learning about a new instrument that Sousa invented, the sousaphone, a large brass instrument played similar to the tuba, but with a flared bell that faces forward and tubing that wraps around the players body enabling them to march more easily with it.
Sousa's music stirs patriotism in all of us and makes us proud to call the United States of America our home! And may God bless America!
In October our music students enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate French composer, Camille Saint-Saens birthday. Saint-Saens (pronounced san-sawns) was born in Paris, France on Oct. 9, 1835. He was somewhat of a child prodigy and quite gifted in music, math, language, geology, and many other areas. It was disappointing to learn that Saint-Saens was an atheist, even though God had given him all of his talents.
Students enjoyed listening to many of the 14 movements from his much-loved "Carnival of the Animals" throughout the month. Students were fascinated to learn about one of Benjamin Franklin's favorite inventions, the glass armonica while watching "Great Inventions" on the History Channel and then listened for it in Saint-Saens "Aquarium". Other favorite movements we watched and listened to from "Carnival of the Animals" were the "Introduction and Royal March of the Lion" on
www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y-KBlDFZOo&feature=related and the "Finale" on www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-rgaic9UMM&feature=related We also watched and listened to "The Elephant", "Kangaroos", "Aviary" (Birds), "Fossils", and "Hens and Roosters" on two additional sites with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and their orchestra friends on www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzdr0UsJj4U and an animated paper origami version with the London Symphony onwww.youtube.com/watch?v=ygGVR1Fs64s&feature=related
We concluded our "celebration" by watching a video clip from "How It's Made" on the Science channel explaining how piano rolls are made for player pianos. We followed it by watching and listening to Saint-Saens piano improvisation of his opera "Samson et Dalila" which was recorded on a piano roll when he was 80 years old.
Because so many students enjoyed "Carnival of the Animals" and continued requesting many of the movements throughout the month, I included the links above for your families enjoyment! .....happy listening :)