Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
- In May, I set up my own website to promote my teaching and help make communication with students and parents easier. Soon after that, I set up this blog for another means of cataloguing my thoughts and ideas.
- In October, my wife and I bought a house in Castro Valley. This has brought great joy and learning for me/us, as well as challenges. We're finally beginning to feel settled.
- This year my colleague Jason and I jointly organized an inaugural summer recital for our students, with great success. We plan to continue presenting two yearly recitals going forward -- one in early December, and one at the end of the school year in June.
- I began teaching the art of music composition to a select group of students. This has been a lot of fun for me, and I hope those students were enriched as well.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This is fascinating viewing for anyone with an interest in pianos and piano playing. I have already recommended this film to many people, and all who have since viewed it have thanked me.
"As a piano technician I appreciate this documentary for what it really is: An extended promotional piece for Steinway. And with the exception of the dramatic opening scene where a team of big burly men use all their strength to force layers of lamination around a mold to form the piano's rim, that’s pretty much all it is. Steinway, Yamaha, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Bluthner, any piano manufacturer that has a high end, hand built line is going to have a devoted team of craftspeople that have spent years, if not decades, honing their skills. Steinway is no different, they are just better at self promotion and branding, hence this “documentary”. When push comes to shove, if you are in the market for a high end hand built piano forget about the name on the fallboard and buy the one that gives you the sound you want and provides the touch that works for you while falling within your budget. Unless you have an ego that demands that your friends see you with a Steinway, NO other parameters matter."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Susan Clark is a flute teacher and the newly inaugurated MTAC President. Her July 6, 2009 acceptance speech is published in the Fall 2009 issue of the MTAC publication "The California Music Teacher". It contains many passages that I find inspiring. Here are some excerpts:
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
-- Monday, September 7 is Labor Day holiday. I will not be teaching that day.
-- I am performing in the orchestra pit for the Douglas Morrison Theatre production "Sullivan & Gilbert". The performances run from September 25 through October 11.
Also, there are dress rehearsals every evening the week of September 21, leading up to opening night. As a result of my involvement in these rehearsals, I will be ending my teaching early - at 6:30pm - on the evenings of 9/21, 9/22, and 9/24.
This is post #50 on my blog. Hooray for productivity!
Here’s a note about some of the things that will be happening in my teaching studio from Fall 2009 through Spring 2010.
1) Music history -- listening and quizzes
I am preparing a program of study that will take interested students through the different periods of music history, teaching them about the famous composers and music from each period. The months of September and October will be spent learning about the Baroque Period (1600-1750). The following two months will focus on the Classical Period (1750-1825), and so on.
Listening examples will be available from September 1st via links on the front page of my website -- www.micekmusic.com -- along with composer biographies and other helpful material. At the end of October, I will present a listening test to participating students.
(*If you prefer not to download the audio online, you can purchase a compilation CD of all the listening examples from me for $10)
2) July 2009 Recital DVDs
Copies of the July 2009 Piano/Guitar Recital DVD are available for a fee of $5. You can watch a promo clip of the recital on my website.
3) December 2009 Recital
There will be another joint piano and guitar recital in December. We are leaning toward Sunday, December 13th as the date, but we haven’t reserved the CSUEB recital hall yet, so this may change. I will keep you posted.
4) Certificate of Merit program -- Spring 2010
I will be presenting the Certificate of Merit program again in Spring 2010. This is for students & parents who wish to mark the student’s progress with yearly performance and music theory evaluations. Participation is encouraged. There is a minimal fee. If the student fulfills all the required elements for their level, they receive a certificate acknowledging their accomplishment.
More information can be found at www.mtac.org
5) Composing Scenarios -- a composition exercises workbook
In recent months, I have been working on developing a workbook for students interested in composing their own music. The title of this series is “Composing Scenarios”. The first book is still a rough draft at this point, but I am willing to share the material with motivated students who would like to help me develop the book and also develop their abilities as young composers.
6) Student Binders
I would like all of my students who have not already done so to organize a binder for ongoing use in our lessons. The binder should contain dividers labelled with these titles:
- Practice notes (fill this section with at least a dozen sheets of notebook paper)
- Miscellaneous (a place for any handouts from me, etc.)
- Polyphonic texture
- Use of ornamentation
- Compositions for dance forms (often a full dance suite)
- Limited use of dynamic and expression marks by composers
Toccata & Fugue in D Minor
Prelude & Fugue in C Major (from The Well-Tempered Clavier)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (from Cantata 147)
Suite for Cello Solo No. 1 in G
Johann Sebastian Bach was a Baroque composer, organist, singer and violinist. He was a master of counterpoint, and is particularly renowned for his church music, including the famous St. John Passion and Mass in B Minor. Bach's music was "rediscovered" in the 19th century care of the "Bach revival" promoted by Felix Mendelssohn. J.S. Bach is now universally acclaimed as the unequaled giant of Baroque music, and one of the greatest musicians to ever live.
Early Life of Johann Sebastian Bach
J.S. Bach, was born in Eisenach, Germany on 21 March 1685. Orphaned at age 10, he went to live with his older brother Johann Christoph who gave him musical instruction on the clavichord.
Bach came from a distinguished family of musicians and composers, dating as far back as the 16th century. In his own immediate family, only a few were not musicians.
He married twice and had over 20 children, although several died in infancy. After his first wife, Maria Barbara died, he re-married, to Anna M. Wulkens, a singer. Among his many children, the ones who gained musical acclaim were: Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel (C.P.E.), Johann Christoph Friederich Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (J.C.).
German Protestant Musician
Bach was a devoted German Protestant. All of his compositions were dedicated with the inscription: ‘To the Greater Glory of God’. His sacred music includes about 200 church cantatas, the Easter and Christmas oratorios, masses and magnificat, canons, chorales, and his two great passions, St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion. These last two represent the culmination of his work in church choral music.
J.S. Bach's orchestral music includes his 6 Brandenburg Concertos written in 1721. These comprise a group of six instrumental works dedicated to Christina Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. Additionally, he composed 4 instrumental suites.
His keyboard music for pianoforte and organ, fugues, and choral music are of equal importance in his canon. These include a collection of 48 preludes and fugues, compiles under the title "The Well-Tempered Clavier", and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor for Organ (the “haunted house” music made famous by the original Phantom of the Opera). Among his organ music some of the finest works are the chorale preludes.
J.S. Bach also wrote sonatas, partitas, chamber music and songs, and The Italian Concerto, a spectacular work for harpsichord, other concertos for keyboard and violin, and the collections of instrumental music from his final years at Leipzig.
Bach had eye surgery twice in 1749 and became totally blind for a period. Miraculously, his eyesight returned for a while but during this same period, he died of a brain hemorrhage. He died in Leipzig on July 28, 1750 at the age of 65.
Johann Sebastian Bach composed music for every genre of Baroque music except opera. His work has proved extremely influential on the composers who followed him. J.S. Bach may not have revolutionized musical forms, but he gave the musical world models to follow. His ceaseless creativity and tireless work ethic left a vast trove of music that is worthy of our continued appreciation.
J.S. Bach's Most Famous Works
- Toccata and Fugue in d Minor, for organ 1705
- Cantata No.208 'Where Sheep May Safely Graze' 1713
- Brandenburg Concertos 1721
- The Well-Tempered Clavier, first book 1722
- St. John Passion; Cantata No.147 (including 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring') 1723
- Easter Oratorio, 1725
- St. Matthew Passion, oratorio 1727
- Suite No.3 in D (including 'Air on the G string') 1729
- Magnificat in D major 1731
- Christmas Oratorio 1734
- Italian Concerto 1735
- The Goldberg Variations 1741-42
- The Well-Tempered Clavier, second book 1742
- Musical Offering for Flute and Violin with Continuo 1747
- Mass in B minor 1749