Concert Chorus is going to be singing “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” for spring concert, despite the fact that the language arts department frowns on the grammar I don’t have a recording to play for you in class. I didn’t buy the accompaniment CD for this song, because the little band that accompanies us each year at spring concert plays it so well, the recorded accompaniment is kind of a disappointment. But I know that most of you like to hear the songs we’re singing, especially if it’s something you don’t know.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was originally recorded by the British rock band, The Hollies, in 1969. You might be interested to know that Elton John played piano on the recording. That was before he was famous on his own. But the link I have for you here is a recording that was done by the Justice Collective and released last year. The Justice Collective is a group of well-known musicians and celebrities who came together to record this song for a group of British charities related to the Hillsborough Disaster, when 96 people were killed and almost 800 injured in an accident at a soccer match. I think I like this recording as much as the original. I hope you enjoy it, too.
The Justice Collective, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
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As some of you know, I am a huge fan of Pinterest. I have a number of boards, and one of my favorites is titled “All Things Music.” Over the weekend, I found a great pin that I repinned there, but wanted to share with you. Since Concert Chorus is singing “A Tribute to Queen” for Spring Concert, my attention was caught by this pin: it’s a very artistic representation of the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I downloaded it, but it’s not very big. I’ll have to see if I can find it in a bigger version and fix this post. But, in the meantime, enjoy!
I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to be at the Equestrian Festival on Saturday night. OK, not really, because I was at Disney, as most of you know. Everyone has told me about the great job that you and Ms. Morton did of singing the national anthem. Ms. Prater sent me this picture, and I’m impressed by how
everyone has their mouths wide open!
While I was at Epcot, my husband and I went to hear the Voices of Liberty. If you haven’t heard them, it is definitely worth your while to go listen to them. They sing a cappella, in nine parts! Really! They are always wonderful, but this time was probably the best. They sing mostly patriotic and American folk songs. This time, they sang “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” a beautiful old song. It’s a special song for me, because, when I was in college, our choir director used it as a warm-up. They also sang “O, Susanna,” which is one of their signature songs that they do at almost every show. When they sing it, one of the men in the group sings the second verse as a solo, and gets down on one knee to sing to a lady in the front row of the audience. Can you guess who that was? Right: me! The amazing thing is, it was the fourth time in about 15 years that I’ve been “Susanna.” My husband and I were talking with the gentleman who sang to me after the show, and my husband mentioned that I teach middle school chorus. We started talking about staggered breathing, because he says it is the key to all their singing. So, next time you go to Disney, do yourself and your family a favor and go to the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot to hear the Voices of Liberty.
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We had fun in General Music today, learning about handbells and playing them a bit as we learned more about rhythm, and a bit about pitch and melody, too. We’ll try to get to the handbell room again soon.
In the meantime, I thought you might like to watch some videos of handbells. I talked about the Raleigh Ringers, who are probably the best handbell group around. There are several videos of them on Youtube, but my favorite is Flight of the Bumblebee. This is a classical piece of music, but if you watch the video, you’ll see that they have a lot of fun with it. You can also hear them performing one of everybody’s favorites, Don’t Stop Believin’, although this isn’t the greatest video.
Wellington Landings Ringers are on YouTube, too. We had a couple dads who uploaded videos that you might like: Just Dance, the Lady Gaga song, that we performed last year at Seminole Ridge High School, and a piece called Celebration, which we did last year at our winter concert. The video is pretty shaky, but the sound is good.
I hope you all continue to enjoy handbells, and will think about signing up for the class next year. We want to keep our program going, but we can’t if people don’t sign up.
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Thank you to our Wellington Landings Ringers for a great performance yesterday at our Super STARR assembly. We have gotten so many compliments from other teachers. I think that this was the first time Mr. Wilbur heard us play, because he told me that we sounded a lot better than he had expected! Even this morning, teachers have come up to me, asking me to pass along their compliments to you for a job well done.
So, we’re moving on. We’ll put Pirates away for a while, and look at some new music. And, next week, Ms. Morton will begin teaching your class.
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Welcome back! It will be a busy spring for everyone, but especially for Chorus. MPA will be in early March this year, so we don’t have any time to waste.
In the meantime, though, I thought you might enjoy a musical joke. And if you don’t get it, then we have some serious work to do!
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I’m not sure how many years I have played the crazy recording of “O Holy Night” in class before Winter Break. For the last two years, since I’ve been blogging here, I have made it available here, as well, for your listening “pleasure.” Two years ago, I got a comment from a students whose father could not stop laughing because he thought it was so funny!
I am always quick to point out that the singer is NOT one of my students, and you all know that it isn’t me Actually, a former student did a bit of research and found out that the singer is actually a professional musician who did it as a joke. I think it must be harder to sing like this intentionally.
I hope you enjoy listening once again, and that you and your family have a great holiday.
O Holy Night?
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In Sleigh Ride, which Concert Chorus is singing in its Kravis Center performance, there is a reference to “picture print by Currier and Ives.” Nathaniel Currier and James Ives were master printers who had a very successful business making lithographic prints of artwork. The artwork was printed in black ink, and then workers would color in the prints. Their company was based in New York City, and produced its prints from 1834 to 1907. Neither Currier nor Ives was an artist, but printed works by many well-known artists.
For many years, Currier and Ives prints were popular on Christmas cards. I remember, when I was young, that there would be several cards with their prints among the Christmas cards that my family received. I’ve included a couple that you might enjoy. The second one is of skaters in Central Park in New York City.
Posted by: Mrs. Pernezny in Chorus, tags: solo
I tend to get very nervous when I choose a song that includes a solo. That’s because the part of my job that I like the least is choosing soloists. I think it goes back to the first year I was teaching, when a girl who wasn’t chosen as a soloist cried her eyes out in class for the next three days. I felt terrible, even though the girl who sang the solo was so much better. But every year, I still worry that people won’t understand why someone else got a solo and they didn’t.
Let me talk about the process of choosing a soloist.
- I try to listen to everyone who wants to audition. I usually do this in class, because, if you can’t sing in front of your classmates, you’re not going to be able to do it in front of an audience.
- I audition for each song. You may sound wonderful on one solo, where another song just doesn’t fit your voice. A perfect example of that is Concert Chorus’ song, “He Never Failed Me Yet.” Not everyone can sing in gospel style. You might not sound so great on that, but sing “Walking in the Air” perfectly!
- I give preference to eighth graders. I am very up-front about this. This is a policy was in place when I got to Landings, and I think it makes sense. However, there are times when a seventh grader does sound better on a song, and I assign the solo to them. But the eighth graders have put in their time, and I like to give them the chance to shine.
- Attitude counts as much as ability. I will give the solo to the person who works hard and gives 100% in every rehearsal, who is always paying attention, even if there is someone who sounds a bit better, but who doesn’t work as hard in class or who thinks of himself or herself before the group. If you come across as if you think you’re better than everybody else, that’s a huge turn-off to me.
I hope you understand the process I go through. What would you do if choosing soloists was your job?
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Since we have been discussing opera in general music this week, I thought I’d give you an opportunity to earn some extra credit with this unit. Below are links to several opera scenes. Watch one (or more), then write a one-paragraph summary, describing the scene, the music, and how music and drama work together. I’ve given you a brief description of the scene with each link. Each summary that you complete will be worth 5 extra credit points.
Barber of Seville–This is a different performance of the same scene we watched in class. This one has English sub-titles, so you can better understand the action. The character, Figaro, thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he?
Otello–This is a very powerful scene that occurs late in the opera. The woman, Desdemona, is married to Otello. His assistant hates Desdemona, and makes it look as if Desdemona is unfaithful to Otello. Otello is furious. He has told Desdemona to go to their room and wait for him there. If you write about this one, I’ll tell you how it ends!
Rigoletto–This is a rather complicated and tragic opera with a lot of great music. The character you see is the Duke, and the daughter of his court jester has fallen in love with him. Her father is trying to convince her that the Duke is not really a good person. He brings her to the inn, where they overhear the Duke singing this song.
Don Giovanni–This is the final scene of the opera, where a statue comes to dinner! I couldn’t find a video with subtitles, but see if you can figure this out.
Gianni Schicchi–This aria (song) is more famous than the opera itself. This is a short opera about a family that is fighting over the will of a rich dead uncle. One of the dead man’s nephews wants to marry Lauretta, the girl in this scene, but since her father is poor and it turns out that the old man left all his money to the church, his parents won’t let her marry her. Lauretta’s father, Gianni Schicchi (yes, I know it’s a weird name!), has just said that he doesn’t want anything to do with this family. The song that she is singing is asking her father to help her anyway. Again, if you write about this one, I’ll tell you how it comes out, because you would never, ever figure it out
This should keep you busy.
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