Mrs. O'Neill-Delano

Welcome Back

Good morning everyone. Welcome to our final music lesson for the year. (Wahoo!) Today I will focus on my all time favorite composer-Ludwig Van Beethoven. Back in the day, I played a lot of his piano music. Again I need you to look at the website https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=7. The parts I want you to look over are the opening page -then scroll down and click on each of the following sections; 1. About Ludwig Van Beethoven: 2. Beethoven the Pianist and 3. Beethoven's Symphonies. Take time to listen to each of the music samples. You will for sure recognize his 5th Symphony, the piano music, "Moonlight Sonata" 2nd movement and the very famous "Fur Elise" which Schroeder from the Peanut's gang loves to play for Lucy. When you are looking over the section on his Symphonies, you should recognize the final movement from his 9th Symphony. The chorale part is called "Ode to Joy". We hear this music in many tv commercials. Drag over to the 5:00 minute mark to hear this part. 

The section "Roll over Beethoven" shows how popular musicians inserted or borrowed melodies from Beethoven's music into their own songs. Check it out!

Beethoven had an extremly interesting life, full of tragedy. As a boy, he suffered abuse from the hands of his father who drove him to be just like the young prodigy, Mozart. His biggest tragedy however, was that he gradually lost his hearing. For a musician/composer this would be comparable to a soccer player losing his legs. What is most amazing about Beethoven though, is the fact that he continued to compose some of his greatest music-(his 9th symphony being one major piece of work) while completey deaf. This piece of music takes over 70 minutes to play! How did he do this? He followed the rules of music composition-much the same as we compose rhythms in music class-he composed music scores for every instrument in the orchestra-in addition to vocal parts. Still, I cannot conceive how he managed this because when I compose music-I always play the melody on the piano to make sure it sounds good-and that is only a vocal line! He did not have this advantage. Keep in mind-he wrote by candlelight-without the help of a computer-everything was written using manuscript (paper with the music staff) and no computer- or recording device to play back and listen to his work. Imagine what he could have achieved if modern day technology had been made available to him?! 

People thought Beethoven was a mad man, but really, he lived and breathed composing music-even if he was out for a walk-he was humming and conducting his music with gusto and great energy before returning home to write out the parts. He was a musical genius who always had his brain in music mode. Kind of like some of you Gamers I teach!! He probably did look a little scary!! Apparently, he didn't have very much luck with the ladies either!!  

We always finish the unit on Beethoven by watching a movie about his life. The link is below. Grade 7 have seen this before, but every time you watch it, you pick up something new. Some evening when you have time, have a look at "Mr. Beethoven Lives Upstairs". It follows the life of a little boy whose mother rents a room to the composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven. The film is really well done. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6skXE1qYxg8. I may post a few fun videos for you to watch towards the end of the week. Stay Tuned!! Have a "Fantabulous" summer everyone!

Posted: June 2, 2020

Good morning everyone. I hope you enjoyed a great weekend. We are now working from the school. I am very happy to be out of my basement and back in the music room. Last week we looked at the life and music of J.S. Bach. This week we are going to focus on W.A. Mozart, the man history refers to as the greatest composer of classical music. If you recall when we did The Prince and the Penguin-one of the characters at the ball was based on Mozart-Do you remember Wolfgang Amadeus Walrus? He was supposed to play at the ball but had cut his playing hand on a can of Tuna fish?! 

Look at the following website to learn about his life and music: https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=46. One thing you should notice right off the bat is the fact that he only lived to be 35 years old (1756-1791). In fact, history named him the greatest composer in history, because of the staggering amount of music he composed during his short life time. After you read the story of his life there are two music clips; the "Turkish Rondo" (which I'm sure you have all heard on tv commercials) for piano and "Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman" (you will notice this is the main theme of Twinkle Twinkle with variations (different ways to play the melody) of this song. A lot of music you hear on tv commercials is borrowed from the music of these great composers who lived hundreds of years ago. I wonder in 300 years will students be studying the music of our time?

The next part of the website I want you to look at tells the story of Mozart's life and plays several examples of his most familiar music. https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=65. Again, you may recognize some of this music. Grade 7 will appreciate the Horn Concerto because they know how hard it is to get a nice sound on this instrument. The final piece is one of Mozart's greatest works, "The Requiem" ( a mass for the dead). Keep in mind, he not only wrote the orchestra parts for this, but the vocal/choral parts as well. Let me also remind you during Mozart's time- electricity had not been invented-he did not have a computer; he wrote by candle light and with an ink blot quill pen. The story goes that he wrote this while his own health was failing. Here is a small sample of the Requiem with the music score. You will see how busy the score looks with the vocal lines and the orchestra parts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTlTTKYHalg Just before he died, one of his students finished the final part of this music.

I also want you to read the section on his Operas (these are like super long plays where all of the dialogue is sung in addition to the songs you hear in the opera. An orchestra plays all of the music.)  https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=103. This gives a brief story of his operas and music samples. Again, you may recognize a few of these music clips. On this same page you will notice they give special mention to his opera "The Magic Flute". Read this and listen to the samples. https://www.classicsforkids.com/shows/shows.php?id=207.  This seems like a lot of work-but I only want you to "LISTEN" as the narrator tells the story and take notice of the names of each music sample as it plays. 

Mozart was a musical genius. Even though he may seem to you kids to be a "boring composer of classical music", you would be wrong. Mozart was a child prodigy, composing and playing music from the age of 4 years old. As are many child stars- he was in plain terms- a bit of a brat!!  When he grew into adulthood-he partied like a rock star while composing some of the greatest music of all time. He should have been a wealthy man-but he was broke at the time of his death and left nothing for his wife and children. Instead of being given a State funeral- following his death-he was buried in a common grave (for regular people-not aristocrats) on a stormy winter's day- with few people in attendance. A tragic end for a great composer. Spend some time looking over this material. He really had a fascinating life. Think about this question; Does his story sound familiar or comparable to modern day music stars? 

Good morning everyone. I hope you had a great weekend. The weather was fantastic and I have a sunburn to prove that! Grade 6 I hope you enjoyed the videos of  "Farkle McBride" and "George Meets the Orchestra". Grade 7M- if you want to review this material just click on my name and scroll back to all of the posts I've made starting at April 6th. You might enjoy revisiting some of the music videos we looked at in class. I know Luke especially will enjoy watching "Cutie Pie and the Other Guy" plus his all time favorite; Kenny G! 

Grade 6H and Grade 7M: Since we don't have any instruments at our disposal, I thought we would spend the last 2 weeks learning about a few of the great composers; Bach-Beethoven and Mozart. Grade 7 students have already studied Bach and I think a little on Beethoven?, but we can always review. On this website, I want you to click on the "Baroque" and read the definition. Music periods are divided in history to match the art and architectural style of the day. https://www.classicsforkids.com/composers/composer_profile.php?id=4  Once you've read the definition-go back and look at the story of Bach- 2 paragraphs. You can then scroll down to where you see "Shows about Bach" and play the audio. They tell the story of his life nicely and include the music pieces listed on the page. There is a short little quiz but you don't have to do this. I have 2 really fun tests to do on Bach. I think grade 7 did these last year? Gr. 7, you can review this material- but I know you are eager to get back learning the guitar-and we will in September. It is looking like some pretty hot weather coming our way tomorrow, so try to take a look at this tonight or Wednesday evening. Tomorrow will be too Hot for Bach!!  I couldn't resist- Sounds like a rap we could compose together! My creative wheels are already spinning!!   "The temperature is climbing- it's getting really hot- Supposed to do my homework-but it's too hot for Bach!!  

Posted: May 21, 2020

Hey, good-morning everyone. Looks like summer temperatures in store for us today- I hope everyone had a chance to look over the orchestra videos I assigned on Tuesday. I look at the orchestra much the same as creating a painting or a putting together all pieces of a puzzle; each part is necessary to the overall vision- but it is the final product that is the real joy. Here is a story about a boy, Farkle McBride. His parents want desperately for their son to learn to play an instrument. They provide him several different options, but Farkle just doesn't seem to have success with any of these instruments. We discover at the end of the story, as did little George (or HM!) that he doesn't want to focus on one specific instrument; he would instead prefer to  be the conductor of an orchestra. In a way being the conductor is a perfect role because you get to stand in front and appreciate the blending of sounds from each family of instruments.

The story was written by the actor, Jonathan Lithgow. Your parents may remember him as the lead actor in a tv series "Third Rock from the Sun". You students, will recognize his voice as that of Lord Farquaad in the "SHREK" movie. Although I have this book in the music room, I prefer to show the video version of the book. You will hear the author, Jonathan Lithgow, narrate the story with an orchestra accompanying in the background. Having the orchestral accompaniment really adds the perfect touch to the story. I am confident you will recognize all of the instruments and enjoy the story of "The Remarkable Farkle McBride." Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM5pmq5nr1Q. Here is another version of the same story. I put it here just so you could see Jonathan Lithgow.  https://vimeo.com/44690670

Posted: May 19, 2020

Hi everyone. Hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend with your family and "bubble". We've finally reached the end of the orchestra family! Woo hoo! (although it will never really end! We will soon study the great composers and having knowledge of the orchestra is very important for understanding instruments available to these boys).

As promised, I want to share this video with you of a young boy who visits the orchestra. Yes, it is geared for children but I found the resemblance of little George to one of our classmates uncanny and wanted to you to take a look. Maybe this little lad is a long lost cousin to HM? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0Jc4sP0BEE. In the end, little George could not decide on one single instrument to play because he wanted to be the conductor. Reminds me of a story book I read in music class where the child came to the same conclusion. I will share that with you this week as well. The best review of the orchestra material for your age however remains to be the video of Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbVRn3q3fEw. Look over these two videos and hopefully you will be able to name the instruments with ease.

In addition to piano and guitar, I hope someday we will get some brass instruments at school and I can teach you to play the french horn, trumpet, trombone and baritone. Don't think we have room for a tuba!- although I'm sure a few of you have the lungs and chops to rock that instrument! Enjoy the videos and the rest of this beautiful day. 

Posted: May 15, 2020

Have a great long weekend everyone. I'm not posting any work until next week but thought you might get a kick out of this video. I'm still laughing as I'm watching some of these singers trying their hand at the National anthems prior to NHL hockey games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CZpXUTqVHM&t=30s Again-everything comes down to being prepared for your performance. Sometimes however, even though you are a professional singer (she is from Fredericton & is very well respected in the genre of opera & classical music) -the singing style just isn't right for the Gig! The video ends on a high note with an amazing vocalist who has the right kind of pipes for a hockey arena. Next week I will show you several videos that re-visit the orchestra. In particular, you will see a video featuring a boy who looks an awful lot like one of our classmates- who wears glasses- and loves video games! All will be revealed on Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Posted: May 11, 2020

Good morning. I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and were able to spend time honoring their mom or mother figure. I know I look forward to visting my mom when restrictions for travel between NB and PEI are lifted.  

We have 3 more instruments to look at in the keyboard family; the harspichord, pianoforte and grand piano. Again, refer to the following website to have a look at these instruments. https://www.classicsforkids.com/music/instruments.php?family=Keyboard. For some reason, they did not show a pianoforte. Perhaps because it is very similar in appearance to the modern day grand piano?

Harpsichord- This instrument was invented (16th century-1500's) prior to the pianoforte and has a very unique sound; largely due in part to the fact that the strings inside of the piano are plucked each time a key is pressed on the keyboard. We've heard a similar sound when learning about pizzicato in the string family. Take a look at this video and you will see the harpsichord in action.Warning: the presenter is a little boring but the visuals for the instrument are really good! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7jWYiQz1cA  

I actually found this next video interesting1  We are able to see the pianoforte (1700's) - which allowed the pianist to play softly (piano) or loud (forte). One of the models even has a built in drum! You'll have to watch and see! The video ends with a brief look at the modern day grand piano. Very similar to the first pianoforte, except with modern time came better design-better wood- materials for the keys etc. I did not even realize that it takes one year to build this instrument. A lot of care and detail go into building this instrument. I wonder how many homes can be built in one year?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMxqAKxWMYA. Many of you may have seen a grand piano in a hotel lobby. Next time; take a look (without touching) inside this instrument. You will see that it looks like a harp lying down. You should also see the hammers that strike the strings when the player presses on the piano key. This very same action also happens inside a baby grand piano (a slightly smaller sized grand piano) and an upright piano (body of piano is vertical). Maybe your grandparents or great grandparents had an upright piano in their home?. These pianos were built so people in apartments and smaller homes could enjoy the piano without taking up their entire living room! Here are  samples of these pianos: Grand pianos/Baby Grands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uGDgPgakWM. In this video, the pianist plays the same piece of music on three different sized grand pianos. Can you hear the difference in tone quality between these instruments? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3_j6KQRrEA  The last example is the upright piano. This is the same piano that I learned to play on when I was a child. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGOyzlbiO0. Bonus part to this instrument?  The bottom board comes out with the pull of a lever so the piano tuner can get at the bottom section of the instrument. I used to hide my Capt'n Crunch cereal in there so my brother wouldn't get at it! Forgot it was there until we found it about 20 years later when a technician was repairing the pedal! Breakfast anyone?! 

Posted: May 6, 2020

Good afternoon. I hope you enjoyed the video of musical mishaps. Let's get back to the keyboard family. I will refer you once again to the following website to look at the next instrument; the organ. Click on keyboards and scroll to the organ. https://www.classicsforkids.com/music/instruments.php?family=Keyboard. The organ looks really complex because it can have up to 4 keyboards-numerous stops (which change the sound) and foot pedals which provide the base note of the chord. An organist really has to be able to multi task! Playing the organ is kind of like driving a stick shift while having your right arm in a sling; tricky to shift the gears!!

Take a look at this video which shows the organist using the 4 keyboards. He is playing a well known piece of music by the great composer J.S Bach, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uXn6nDN7ck. The next piece of music, "Pachabel's Canon", shows the organist playing the foot pedals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukA2xvsA1qg. Again. a very well known piece of music we often hear on tv weddings.

Finally, everyone will recognize the Toccato and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach. We associate this piece of music with Halloween and horror films. It was not written by someone in Hollywood though; it was composed by J.S Bach in the 1700's. Not many artists can boast having their songs played for over 300 years! This is just a video of the opening section. This particular organ is not as powerful as some of the full pipe organs. You can look up another video on youtube to see the entire piece. It runs about 10 minutes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzWViu_hWN4. Enjoy.

Posted: May 4, 2020

I hope everyone had a good weekend. It was nice to see so many of your parents this morning at school picking up your locker contents. I will post a lesson tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, here is a little compilation of mishaps that sometimes happen when we are playing music. My personal favorite is #2. I've been there in my younger days!! The look on the face of the girl playing the bass drum is priceless. Honorable mention goes to the wedding organist. Maybe he/she should have practiced a little before the gig?!  The marching band playing for the Russian president? What can you say after hearing that? Maybe try tuning the band prior to the performance?! That is precisely why I spend so much time tuning guitars with gr. 7 and 8! Definitely worth the effort! Enjoy!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnh52MgLNw0

Posted: April 28, 2020

Here are videos demonstrating the first two keyboard instruments we are studying as part of our orchestra unit: the clavichord and the celesta. Have a look and a listen.

Clavichord- Super old instrument. Invented in the 1400's. It sounds like a string instrument. Can you figure out why? Here is a sample of this instrument:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RMqyJvLc2g. You may recognize this piece of music as "Greensleeves" or a popular Christmas carol "What Child is This"

Celesta- https://www.youtube.com/watch? The celesta was invented in the 1800's. This video is neat because you can see the hammer action when keys are being played. Here are two really famous pieces of music on celesta that you will recognize:This first one is from Tchaikovsky's ballet-The Nutracker; Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRUn7BntLok   The next one is from the Harry Potter movie; Hedwig's Theme? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3ipE2VhfY4

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