YMP Student Leader on her First Music Arrangement: "How Far I'll Go"

Interview by Katherine Mumm, student volunteer

Dephny Duan, a cellist from CMC’s Young Musicians Program, took it upon herself to bring some popular kid’s music into the YMP’s repertoire with her arrangement of the hit “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Dephny, with the support of YMP Director Alex Keitel, arranged the song for two violins, viola, cello and guitar. A YMP ensemble that included Dephny performed the arrangement at the Richmond Branch Library in March to the delight of children who attended the performance. The performance was followed by an instrument petting zoo and an information session presented by the YMP program.

Katherine: What inspired you to arrange a song from Moana? Was there anything in particular about the movie that stood out for you as inspiration for an arrangement?

Dephny: We (YMP leadership team) were planning out our repertoire for the Richmond Branch Library performance, and we wanted to incorporate a piece that younger children [could enjoy]. We thought that performing, “How Far I’ll Go,” would be perfect. The song was about freedom and and discovering oneself. Although the words weren’t sung during our performance, the power of the song was definitely felt while playing. The song starts out with a calm mood and grows with power and passion till the climatic end.

Katherine: What was most difficult and most exciting about the process of arranging a piece?

Dephny: One of the more difficult parts about arranging the piece was transposing the three voice parts into two violins, a viola part AND adding a guitar part. I have never played the guitar, but with some help from my cello teacher and flexibility of the guitar player, I was able to simply write in the chords….

By far, the most challenging part of arranging the piece, was learning how to use the program to arrange the piece. I’ve never arranged a piece before let alone write up music digitally. I learned that using apps like MuseScore definitely makes arranging and composing a lot easier and smoother.

The most exciting part was hearing how the piece sounded with real live instruments!

Katherine: How long have you played your instrument, and what has your experience been as a musician while growing up?

Dephny: I’ve been playing the cello for around four years now. I was first introduced to the piano at a young age. I discovered the cello in middle school. I slowly drifted from the piano and fell in love with the deep and powerful voice of the cello.

I have and will always love music for its never-ending game. Whether it’s a piece with challenging rhythms, tempo, or fingerings; the thrill of learning and perfecting a piece is the best feeling and has stuck with me all these years.


Baroque Demo Blog Post

By Elise Ho

Music that sweeps you up in its intensity is what characterizes baroque music and remains its legacy to this day, centuries after its genesis in the 17th century. For many modern enthusiasts of baroque music, what draws us to listen and admire this music are the emotions that are evoked by the interaction of juxtaposed voices. Each instrument sings a tune beautiful in its own right, but when interwoven with others, creates a diversely textured landscape of sound. In addition to the dramatic intermingling of voices within music, the baroque period is known for the distinctive styles of composers based in different countries. The national style of Italian composers, such as Vivaldi and Corelli, is known for the dramatic play of volume, where dynamics would rise to crescendos, then suddenly drop to a whisper. It was likewise known for the virtuosic cadenzas that highlighted the ability of a soloist to express intense emotions through complex musical passages. In France, composers were civil workers under the king, who provided them with financial backing to write music for the royal court. Consequently, French music during the Baroque era was imbued with a high-class feeling expressed in light, airy dance numbers. (Side note: dancing to music was a skill of great importance at the time. It was believed that people of agile footing also possessed an agile mind, so if a noble were to see you dominating the dance floor, you could potentially find yourself given a job as a high-ranking official. Next time you jam out to Dancing Queen, know that with your moves, you possibly could have been a queen.) German composers had a meticulous approach; composers such as Handel and Bach are known for their well-structured pieces and complex counterpoints. However, these are just general characteristics observed to recur throughout each country’s most well-known composer’s works, and are not by any means a definitive statement on what to expect from baroque styles of each nation. In fact, as composers traversed Europe during that time period, listening to the styles unique to regions foreign to their ears, they began to appreciate varying approaches to musical expression and even incorporated newfound techniques within their own compositions. The history of baroque music is reflected in its sound: a collaboration of unique voices to create music that lives on to be enjoyed in our modern day and beyond.

Special thanks to Kat Mumm for editing and proofreading!

YMP Richmond Branch Library Performance and Instrument Petting Zoo

March 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm

By Hannah Hanif

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Although I did not exactly lose myself, I found myself in the impact I had on many during the YMP student leadership performance at the Richmond Branch Library in San Francisco.

The YMP student leadership group introduced ourselves and our instruments, and then we began to play. We performed many repertoires, from the famous Pachelbel’s Canon to the recent song “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, which was arranged by a member of the group! There were a fair amount of people attending the event; including two to six-year-old children along with their parents. It was great to see the engagement of the children and parents to the music we played.

Not only did we engage the audience, but after the performance, we were asked numerous questions by parents about our musical journeys. Seeing the interest of the parents made me feel very special. Parents asked what programs I accomplished to get to where I am today and asked for advice on what their kids can do to start their musical journeys. Once the performance and Q&A session were a hit, we moved on to the instrument petting zoo.

An instrument petting zoo is an opportunity for anyone; children or adults to try an instrument like the violin, viola, cello, or guitar with assistance of a student. Being a violinist, it was great and inspiring to see how many people; young and old were interested in all the instruments, especially the violin. It was great to see how one can get addicted to an instrument. The petting zoo made me realize why I still play the violin, even after eight years of learning. Music always finds a way for one to connect to others and their passions.

The library visit was a great experience. It was not only a way to reach out to the community about our program, but to find out how powerful music is. I am looking forward to more performances and petting zoo sessions, where children, their parents, and many others have an opportunity to engage with music.