music

In my October blog the basic “rules” of phrasing were listed that most elementary and intermediate students could be taught to incorporate into their playing.

As a musician matures and repertoire advances, applying these basic rules will not guarantee a musical performance. Along with intuitive musicality, there are additional fundamentals that can inspire a creative performance. As I mentioned, the content and inspiration of these blogs is a modification of an article written by Marvin Blickenstaff, a well-known pedagogue. Blickenstaff defines artistic phrasing as:

  • exceeding the correct notes
  • music flows forward
  • expression is tangible
  • naturalness to the shaping
  • timing between sections

A closer look into the structure of each phrase and a carefully determined plan are  rudimentary to providing a performance that reflects the list above. [···]

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I wrote a post a while back about teaching the extremely young student. One of the comments I recently received asked about finding repertoire, and it inspired this post!

So, here are the books that I use most (and comments on what I feel are successful/not successful about them), in order of preference.  I’ve found that most young students don’t particularly connect with classical music, but often, when I start with these and a secure singing technique, I’m able to guide them into the Classical repertoire as they mature.

Disclosure: I am using here mostly links to www.SheetMusicPlus.com.  I am beginning to write for their blog (this post will be re-posted there).  I use these links instead of www.amazon.com links, where you can generally find these books at considerably lower prices, because they are sheet music specialists who will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.  Also, their song listings are complete for every book and very detailed, including visual samples of what the music inside the book looks like, so you can judge whether the book is what you’re looking for.  Their customer service is wonderful – they get back to you quickly in response to questions.  They also have an “Easy Rebates” program for teachers, schools and libraries that gives an 8% rebate on purchases you make, as well as any referrals you make (none of the links in this are rebate links for me).  They support and care about the private studio teacher, which is why I’m recommending them over low prices. [···]

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Copyright.  Why should we bother??  As a private teacher, I have often said to myself, “It’s such a pain to have students purchase music, when I could just copy one piece out of this book.”  Another excuse that I have used is, “Well, this student will only be singing one song out of this book.  Why should I have them go to the expense of purchasing the entire collection?”

This past summer, I was the recipient of the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Independent Teacher Fellowship.  This gave me the opportunity to attend the National Conference this past July in Salt Lake City.  One of the things that really struck me was that original music was used by all of the pianists during the conference.  I also had the joy of attending a “Publisher Showcase” during every lunch period.

These Publisher Showcases were opportunities for me to really appreciate all the work that publishers put into preparing new editions of music for those of us who teach.  Hal Leonard has some amazing new editions of Leonard Bernstein songs (Bernstein Theatre Songs in High, Low & Duets/Ensembles books and Bernstein Art Songs and Arias in High & Medium/Low keys) as well as a new complete edition of 65 Songs of Samuel Barber (in High and Medium/Low keys).  The work and attention to detail evident in these new editions of composers we know and love was evident.  Previously unpublished songs are included in each of these new editions.  I was also introduced to the new Schirmer editions of the standard Italian Art Songs and Arias.  The 28 Italian Songs and Arias now includes (in 5 keys, and for only $10/book without the recording) IPA & historical background of each song, in addition to a few songs that are unfamiliar from the traditional “yellow book” Schirmer edition. [···]

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