Friday, January 11, 2013

Composer Profile: A Music Project For Grades 4-8

A project that involves the student in reading, researching, organizing information, and sharing the final product with the rest of the class. Works best if done in a group of 2-3 students.

Can be used with any composer of any musical era. 
I have used this successfully with students in grades 4-8. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Music Of The World: A Multi-Cultural Music Project

A project that enables students to research and categorize information about different cultures. The following four topics are researched:

• Brief History
• People & Places
• Customs & Traditions
• Music

Using print sources and also internet sources, the students locate information on the subject, classify it, put it together in a presentation form, and then share it with the rest of the class.

I have used this project successfully with students in grades 4-8.

Click Here For An Instant Download Of This Project

Band & Recording Artist Profile

Creative, Student-Led Project On Bands And Recording Artists. 

Students will be engaged in the following activities:

     • research (hard-copy materials and/or internet)
     • organizing research material into different categories
     • preparing finished product (different formats)
     • presenting finished project to class

A fresh, creative way to engage your students in discovering, organizing and sharing information about their favorite bands and recording artists. The project can be completed as individual work or as group work (2-3 students per group).

The finished product/presentation will include verbal, visual and auditory elements.

I have used this very successfully with students in grades 5-8. The students love this work because they get to talk about bands/artists they love. Also, there is a great sense of ownership associated with completing this project, since the students get to select their own band/artist.

The document is a four-page PDF file: title page, teacher guide, student guide, project chart. The student guide and the chart should be copied back-to-back and handed out to the students.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)

In today's guitar scene, the music of Carulli often goes unnoticed, and even purposely ignored sometimes. With so many available resources online and offline, with so many offers for all musical tastes of each guitarist, some of the music which was once highly regarded, has gradually been moved to the back shelf, while some have placed it in the recycling bin…

It is true that even in Carulli's day there were some guitarists that looked down upon his music. Fernando Sor, a guitarist/composer of the same period, was such an example, and some of his writings indirectly attack the simplicity found in Carulli's and Carcassi's works. This, however, has happened to virtually every composer that ever lived: there have always been critics that surrounded all composers, no matter when they lived and what type of music they wrote. 

The fact that Carulli was very much involved with teaching, and unlike today, there was a great need for creating new didactic materials for the instrument, was clearly part of the motivation for him to write music the way he did. In fact, some of his publishers were known to complain that the music was too complicated - too hard for an amateur to play. 

All criticism aside, it is clear that Carulli's guitar music presents players of his day and ours with great material for learning, developing technique and public performance. His method alone (Opus 27) is a great example. Many self-taught guitarists of the past generation have used this material to learn how to play: it is a great way to study the instrument in an organized, progressive manner. 

There are many great features of the work, but I will mention only two in this article: First, there is a great amount of repertoire for the player, collected in one book. Instead of having to go from publication to publication, the student has easy access to hundreds of pieces, at different playing levels, all in the same publication. Second, the work is very progressive in nature: note reading, techniques, repertoire, position playing, are all presented in a progressive, logical order. 

There are plenty of guitar students today who can make their way through Bach's Boure, but could not read an easy scale in the third position on the instrument. Completing a method like Carulli's presents the student with lots of repertoire, but also with a more complete, a more thorough understanding of how the instrument works. 

Unfortunately, Carulli's reputation for writing 'easy music' is often caused by the fact that many players only look at that: his easy music. When we look at Carulli's entire output, we discover a great variety of works, written for different levels of playing. A great example is his Opus 320, which is a collection of "Six Andantes", dedicated to Matteo Carcassi, one of his contemporaries. While the set is not extremely difficult to play, it clearly could not be classified as 'easy' music. 

So whether you are looking for sight-reading material, some new technical exercises, a fresh look at your fingerboard, or perhaps a new encore piece for your next performance, consider the music of Carruli. There's a little bit for everybody in there!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Guitar Arrangement: "Nu Te-ndoi Ci Crede" N. Moldoveanu, T. Dorz - Florentin Tise, Classical Guitar

"Nu Te-ndoi Ci Crede"

Lyrics: Traian Dorz
Music: Nicolae Moldoveanu

Traian Dorz was a lyricist and Nicolae Moldoveanu was a sacred composer, both from Romania, both from the underground church. They were both persecuted for their Christian faith. Many of their works were written while being persecuted. 

This song was written around the year 1964. The message of the song is one of hope and faith, in the midst of trials. Here is a partial translation of the text:

"Do not doubt, but believe that after every cloud
There's a sun, even more sweet, even more bright
It is not the cloud which lasts, but the sun will win
And he remains in the end"

Much like the words of apostle Paul in the book of Philippians, the song is a great testimony of enduring faith in the face of trials and persecution. 

The guitar arrangement is my own. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Greensleeves - What Child Is This - Florentin Tise


This piece was written in the Renaissance by an anonymous author and it was called Greensleeves. It is a secular love song. Later, the text was adapted and transformed into a sacred song for Christmas. Here is one of my own arrangements of the piece. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

George Frederick Handel: The Messiah

 Messiah is one of the most celebrated sacred works of the last three centuries. Written by George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), it has been performed by ensembles of different formats, with the Hallelujah chorus being the most famous chorus of all time.

Written in 1741, it took Handel only 24 days to complete the entire oratorio. The libretto (text) was created by Charles Jennens and it was inspired by the King James version of the Bible. The entire work focuses on Christ's work in his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, with a great emphasis on Old Testament prophecies regarding Christ, and their fulfillment.

The musical score is immense and has proven to be not only great performance material, but alos great material for serious music study. At the end of the manuscript, Handel wrote the letters "SDG" which stand for "Soli Deo Gloria" ("To God Alone The Glory"). This is an inscription also used by the great J.S. Bach in his own manuscripts. It should be noted that the original score was much smaller than many versions we hear performed today. Later composers wanted to give the work a bigger sound, and many added instruments to the orchestration. Lately, there have been some acclaimed ensembles that returned to the original score, which is much smaller than what we are used to hear. Just as an example, the original arrangement called for thirty-two chorus members: sixteen men and sixteen boys, plus the four solos. Not the big sound we are used to hearing during the holidays on TV and Radio!

The first performance was give in Dublin and it raised a considerable amount of revenue, and Handel donated all of it to three charities:

  • prisoner's debt relief
  • local Mercer hospital
  • local charitable infirmary
Besides helping the Mercer hospital and the local infirmary, Handel's contribution freed 142 indebted prisoners.

There were seven hundred people in the audience at the first performance on April 13. In order to allow as many people in the audience as possible, it is said that all men were asked to remove their swords, and all the ladies were asked not to wear hoops in their dresses... The local press praised the performance using these approximate words: "Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight in afforded to the admiring and crouded Audience" (Luckett, pp. 127-28).

A local clergyman, Rev. Delaney, was supposedly so overcome by the performance of "He Was Despised" (an alot solo) that he jumped to his feet and shouted: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!" (Hogwood, pp. 22-25).

Below is a drawing of the Great Music Hall in Dublin, where the Messiah was first performed. 

Many performances followed in the years and decades to follow, and especially after Handel's death, music performance venues always gathered large audiences eager to hear the Messiah. Today, the Hallelujah chorus and most of the oratorio Messiah is celebrated and performed around the world.