Shopping for the student in your life? Just in time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, here are my top picks:
Zin Zin Zin is an award-winning picture book that introduces the instruments of the orchestra.
This book is based on the true store of world class artist, Joshua Bell playing for tips in the subway. Another book about Joshua Bell is The Dance of the Violin also by author Kathy Stinson. Want more Joshua Bell? Here is his recording of the Mozart A Major Violin Concerto which is Suzuki Violin Book 9. On this recording you’ll also find more Mozart, Mendelssohn and Bruch Violin Concertos.
These are some of the best music posters I’ve seen. I’m trying to find room in my studio for this one. I know you’ll love Violin Fingering Chart and this one.
On the practical side invest in a sturdy music stand in a fun color. Or a colorful folding stand for music on the go.
I found some fun t-shirts for string players. I love the retro cool graphics. This one is good too. Be sure to click through for all the color options.
For the crafty kid pick up these scratch art music ornaments.
And finally for the violist in your life, here are some gifts just for them: an alto clef poster, viola t-shirts, case tags and music bags (these items can be printed your selection of products) and finally, one of the only places I’ve ever seen alto clef jewelry. Click through all their jewelry offerings. They also have a great selection of jewelry for violinists as well.
Happy Shopping! Be sure to let me know what you bought in the comments below.
Last week I attended an inspiring clinic presented by Mark Harris, Saxophonist and Visiting Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Metro State College of Denver. The clinic was entitled "Sowing Seeds of Expression-Using (Non-Jazz) Improvisation to Develop Musicality." This concept was geared towards wind and brass instruments--there was even a quartet of young trumpet and woodwind players on hand to demonstrate. Though the principles we learned could apply to all instruments. He started the class with an important point: we teach elementary instrumental music by showing kids where their fingers go and how to produce a sound. And we can all agree that these are necessary skills. But when do we talk about using our ears?
This session was so exciting to me! Mr. Harris led the quartet through several demonstration exercises all based on listening. I want to emphasize that these were young players--early middle school-aged. The quartet was able demonstrate and discuss tone color, articulation, pitch and dynamics. What's more, they were tuned in to each other--each student took a turn leading a short musical phrase and the group followed with surprisingly accurate ensemble. (Many of you reading will understand how challenging it is to get musicians of any age to play together).
My favorite demonstration was "playing a musical scale." Mark started by reading the first sentence of "the Gettysburg Address" in a bland and boring monotone. They he read it again with feeling. He explained the difference between playing a major scale routinely or playing it musically. Each student had chance to play a musical scale. I'm laughing now thinking about the amazing things I heard. Each scale was unique and each scale was musical. The trumpet player experimented with dynamics, rhythm and smooth articulations. One of the saxophone players used punchy articulations, rhythm and rests, the space between the notes, to draw us in to his musical scale.
I left eager to try this with all my string students--from private students to the beginning orchestra class. Mr. Harris shared enough ideas to keep me cooking for a long time. To think that students so early in their training could make this leap across space and time. To go from wielding a clumsy tool to commanding sound, now that is truly astonishing. It's what all musicians strive for. The instrument is merely a mouthpiece that conveys the music we want to express. The sophisticated sounds and expression he coaxed from the group was amazing. And he did it by using what they already knew--language. This musicality didn't come from a method book; it came from inside.