Posts Tagged “listening”

I know that I’ve told you about the Tone Deaf on-line comic before, and the new posters in the Chorus Room are from this series.  The artist, John  Bogenschutz, is a former band director, so most of the strips are about band.   But occasionally, he does one for chorus.  If you follow this link , you’ll see a new one of these.  Eric Whitacre is a choral composer who writes beautiful, but very difficult and complex music.  His pieces aren’t anything we would ever consider in middle school.  I think that Mr. Chase has done one or two at Wellington High School, but Whitacre’s music is mostly college-level.  And there’s nothing ordinary about the parts.  You can listen to some samples of his music at Mr. Whitacre’s website. Anyway, I think the comic strip is pretty funny.  The music is not funny, but it is absolutely beautiful.  Listen to “Alleluia” if you get a chance.


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There is a recording online for the new song that we began in class today, A Little Bird.  The link will take you to to composer’s website, where you can listen to the song.  I don’t know what choir made the recording, but they sound a lot like us.  Listen carefully.  Can you understand all the words?  What do you think of the dynamics they used?  Do you think we can sing it better?

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Thanks to Kara F., one of the songs that Advanced Bells played at Winter Arts Festival can now be heard on the internet.  Kara’s dad recorded the concert, and Kara uploaded Celebration to youtube.  I can’t link to youtube, but you can see and hear our performance if you search “Celebration Handbells WLMS”.  And thanks to Katelan B. for teaching me Mr. Walsh’s trick of how to get onto youtube at school!

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Most of the music we are looking at right now are songs that we may sing for performance assessment in March.  In case you’re interested in listening to some of them, follow these links:

Simple Gifts–This is a song that we’ve started to work on in Beginning Chorus.  The link takes you to the JW Pepper online catalog (where I buy most of our music).  You will see where to click to listen on the left of the screen.

The River Sleeps Beneath the Sky–For Concert Chorus, this piece is based on a famous poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Like the example for Beginning Chorus above, this link takes you to the Pepper catalog.

Now I Walk in Beauty–This is a video, and I haven’t actually listened to it yet, since I found it on the computer in the chorus classroom, which has a blown-out sound card. 

Birdsong–I don’t actually have a link for this, because the school district doesn’t allow us to link to youtube.  If you Google “birdsong paul read”, you will come up with a youtube video of the University of Michigan’s Womens Chorale performing it.  I will also try to upload the All-State Chorus recording that I played in class.

As we look at other music, I’ll put links for those, too.

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As we talked about in class, Fanfare, one of the pieces we are playing in Beginning Bells, is based on the piece Great Gate of Kiev.  That is part of a larger piece by the Russian composer Modest Moussorgsky.  (You might find that spelled other ways.  When words and names are translated from Russian’s Cyrillic alphabet, they are often spelled in different ways.  Sometime I’ll tell you about my last name!)   Moussorgsky wrote the piece originally for piano, but his friend Rimsky-Korsakoff arranged it for orchestra.

If you follow this link, you can hear and see an orchestral performance of Great Gate of Kiev.  Listen and notice how Fanfare is based on this composition.  Happy listening!

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I know that some of you are interested in trying out for All-State Chorus when we come back to school.  If you want to get a head-start on things over the summer, here are some things you can do:

First, mark these dates:

  • Saturday, September 24:  musicianship testing, at Dreyfoos High School of the Arts
  • Monday, October 17th: audition for those people who pass the musicianship tests.  This will be after school, place to be determined.
  • If you pass the audition AND receive a place in the All-State Chorus, you will be going to Tampa for three days, January 12-14, 2012.

The test and audition are earlier than usual this year, so anyone interested in All-State will need to get a quick start.  You can help yourself get ready by using the following websites:  This is a fantastic website that will help you with lessons and practice exercises.  To prepare for the test, I would go through all the lessons under “the basics.”  Under “rhythm,” read simple and compound meter; under “scales and key signatures,” read major scale, key signatures, and key signature calculation.  Under “intervals,” read generic intervals.  For “chords,” just do introduction to chords.  The exercises to do are: note identification, key signature identification, generic interval identification, chord ear training, and interval ear training.  Any of the exercises can be customized, but it is especially important to do so with the ear training exercises.  With these, you will be listening to either a chord or interval, and identifying it by its sound.  For chord ear training, click customize, then use only major triad and minor triad.  Allow no changes during the exercise, and root position only.  As to how they are played, pick the pattern on the bottom left, which is the lowest note, then the middle, then the top, then all three together.  For interval ear training, customize to play major and perfect intervals only (you will see what I mean when you do this) and have them played low note-high note-both notes together (the fourth choice.)

At the Florida Vocal Association website, you will also find a lot of valuable information.  This link will take you to a page where you can find musicianship exams from past years, to see what the test looks like.  Especially important is the vocabulary study guide for 7/8.  There will be a lot of questions on musical terms and symbols, and this list is an important guide.  Finally, practice sight-singing examples and the actual sight-singing test from 2009-2010 will help you practice for the sight-singing portion of the text.

Finally, there is a listening portion of the musicianship test, as you will see if you look at past exams on the FVA website.  Through this website you can purchase a CD-ROM that offers practice in this aspect of the test.  However, the CD is expensive ($38 plus tax and shipping) and only works on IBM-compatible computers; in other words, it won’t work on a Mac, and is not something you can put in an audio CD player.

Because of the early test date, I’m probably going to have to register interested students by early September.  So if you are planning to try out, let me know as soon as you make your decision.

I hope you are all having a great summer!

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I expect that your family is similar to mine.  We have a number of holiday traditions, things that we do year after year.  For instance, in our family, we write clues on our gift tags, and the person receiving the gift has to try to guess what it is before opening it.  Sometimes this can be really funny.  One year, when my husband was trying to learn to speak Russian, he wrote all his clues in Russian.  Of course, nobody had any idea what they meant.  We couldn’t even pronounce them!

One class tradition we’ve had the past few years is to play this recording of O Holy Night.  Click below to hear it.   Before you listen, I want to state that I do not know who the singer is, but I can state with certainty that it is NOT one of my students!  I hope you and your family enjoy listening too this, and have a great winter break.

O Holy Night?

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Here is a link to hear “Wayfarin’ Stranger”.  The challenge with this song is to keep a smooth, steady melodic line while the piano plays a very rhythmic, jazzy accompaniment.

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Another song for which we do not have a recorded example is “Mending Song,” which Beginning Chorus will be performing at Winter Arts Festival.  On the website of Daniel Kallman, the composer of “Mending Song,” you can hear a performance of this song by the American Choral Directors Association honor choir for which it was written in 1996.  Click on the “listen” button to hear the song.

An honor choir is usually a large chorus made up of singers who have passed an audition.  How do you think our chorus does when we sing the song, compared to this group?

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