Summer has arrived in New England. Although we have had a couple of isolated warm days, something about the sudden jump to 90 degrees by Thursday from 45 degrees on Monday got people pulling out summer clothes and air conditioners. We are only a week away from the Memorial Day weekend which actually marks the beginning of summer in this area of the country much more so than June 21st (Summer Solstice-the first day of summer/longest day of the year).
And so it is on that note that today’s featured selection came to mind: George Gershwin’s Summertime. The school year is now winding down; the students of the Ed Mascari Piano Studios are preparing to perform in our Natick Studio Recital, Hudson Studio Recital and Adult Student Recital. People are also making their summer plans.
Many normal activities are put on hold during the summer months. That means that you finally have the window of opportunity for doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
And what do you suppose most of our Adult Piano Students have told me at one time or another? You guessed it! The reason that they are having some much enjoyment learning to play the music they love is because they finally did something they’d always wanted to do: learn to play the piano or get back to playing the piano after many years.
For many, this happened because they took advantage of our unique Flexible Schedule Summer Lesson Program. You can too. More about that later. For now, let’s take a look at one of George Gershwin’s most well known compositions.
Continue reading Summertime – and the Music is Easy….
As time has gone on, my blog “series” featuring composer Victor Young has continued to expand. In past years, I had selected one composer, looked at many of his songs, explored some biographical information and then created a series of posts with accompanying recordings meant to be enjoyable and educational.
Somehow, when it came to the masterful songwriter Victor Young, this never happened. For some reason, it didn’t seem like there would be enough compositions to create a series. Boy was I wrong. Fortunately, both the Always Learning and Revisiting My Favorite Tunes blogs allowed the music of Victor Young to surface a little at a time.
As my knowledge of this composer’s body of work has increased, so has my admiration for it. Ironically, in addition to When I Fall in Love, today’s featured selection, Stella By Starlight, was the standard with which I was most familiar.
Back in 1988 when I had first begun my graduate studies at New England Conservatory of Music, my composition teacher and mentor, William Thomas McKinley, recommended that I start listening to pianist Keith Jarrett. As a result, I went out right away and bought the Keith Jarrett Trio’s 1985 recording called Standards Live. (It was the cassette tape version of the album to play in my car).
Continue reading Stella By Starlight
Victor Young’s Versatile Vehicle for Variation
I must confess to you that I had absolutely no recollection of arranging, playing, recording and writing about the Rodgers and Hart beautiful standard called You Are Too Beautiful exactly five and a half years ago today. That said, I refuse to accept the fact that my slip of memory is a “senior moment”. After all, my long-time adult piano students often marvel at how well I remember situations and people in their lives that they’ve mentioned at a lesson several years before.
So let me tell you why I became excited about playing You Are Too Beautiful for today’s post.
Continue reading You Are Too Beautiful
Revisiting the Rodgers and Hart Classic
As I was writing my article featuring George Gershwin’s But Not for Me a couple of weeks ago, I found myself anxious to explore the possibility of doing a swing arrangement of this wonderful standard as soon as I could. There were so many terrific swing style tracks on my Spotify playlist that listening to them created the impetus for me to give it a whirl.
There was also another reason behind doing this. It’s something that I often demonstrate for my adolescent and adult piano students. When playing songs found in fake book, the pianist has the flexibility to create a variety of accompaniment styles of the same tune. More about that in a minute.
Years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning Boston composer John Harbison made a rather astute observation. He said that when it comes to the standards from the Great American Songbook, the song is the song i.e. each tune is recognizable in whatever style it is plays. On the other hand, today’s popular songs are the “record” i.e. the recorded performance of a song that is heard on a CD, mp3, LP or any other digital music file. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Continue reading But Not For Me Part 2
Swing is the Thing When It Comes to Gershwin