Fri 2013 July 26 – PEDx3 Sessions
Session #1 – Opening Recital; then “Pirates and the Importance of ‘Lisztening,'” by Jarrod Radnich.
Mr. Radnich began by performing a few of his arrangements and compositions, including the Harry Potter “Hedwig’s Theme,” a beautiful new Christmas arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” his signature arrangement of the “Pirates at the Caribbean” theme (of course!), and “Don’t Stop Believin'”. Mr Radnich is obviously a very talented composer/arranger – his music is so pianistic, yet orchestral.
Then, Mr. Radnich began his presentation. Mr. Radnich’s philosophy is that students can play difficult repertoire if they are inspired. He showed a video example from a young boy on YouTube who hated piano practice and then became greatly inspired by Mr. Radnich’s YouTube video of “Pirates.” Next, he showed a series of similar videos by other students who became similarly inspired and motivated.
As a child, Mr. Radnich wanted arrangements that showed off his skills and was fun to play. He could not find such music, so he made his own arrangements. That is how everything began.
What is Lisztening?
1. Creating good arrangements of popular music.
2. Use social constructs to popularize the piano and its performers.
Liszt created an enthusiastic audience. He made music accessible and enjoyable for a wider audience. Liszt took the popular tunes of the day and made them into virtuosic piano arrangements. Liszt actually popularized the piano this way.
What is generally missing in most arrangements today of pop music? Many arrangements today take things out just “to make it easy,” but it cause the music to sound incomplete. Mr. Radnich said he composes for the piano like it is an orchestra instead of like a piano.
Mr. Radnich uses a YouTube channel and Facebook page to promote his work and further his philosophy. (Liszt would kill for this stuff!) He has also begun something called PianoTube Live. This allows you to take a YouTube video and have it played on any piano with a PianoDisc player installed. He started a YouTube competition. He even has created arrangements for Miss America competitions.
What a wonderful mission Mr. Radnich is on! If you haven’t seen his “Pirates” video on YouTube, be sure to check it out.
Session #2 – “Take a Stand and El Sistema: Toward a Pedagogy of Social Change,” by Karen Zorn.
Ms. Zorn is President of a music conservatory, the Longy School of Music, which has somewhat recently joined by with Bard College. Before first accepting the position at Longy, Ms. Zorn felt some hesitance about whether she could get behind the whole conservatory model. However, then she read Longy’s mission statement about preparing musicians to make a difference in the world. She thought, now that is a an idea I can get behind: musicians as agents of change.
Even if you graduate from Julliard, you have less than a 1% change of getting a job as a concert pianist. Classical music has become such an elite study. If you view musicians as agents of change, then the world does not get smaller anymore.
Music schools are changing, and Ms. Zorn has observed that students have changed. There is a renewed sense of giving back in this society. Incoming college students are based on not only academic achievement but also on volunteerism.
El Sistema was founded in Venezuela more than 30 years ago. Today, thousands of students participate. Some students become music educators, but that is not the goal. True music and art is able to change lives and society.
El Sistema is a philosophy (not a method, no formula).
1. Social change through the pursuit of musical excellent – one is not prioritized at the expense of the other.
2. The Ensemble. Within the first week of study, beginners are out into the orchestra ensemble immediately. Advanced players are playing the fll version, other play simplified version. They are all part of a whole, each with different role.
3. The Intensity. They meet 3-4 hours a day and progress quickly, which is motivating. Our problem in America is partly that music meets so infrequently in school so they make so little progress and become bored.
4. Mentoring. Everyone is a mentor. Once you have mastered something, you are expected to help someone else. The teacher is close in age of the student, and the student is also a teacher.
5. Accessibility. The program is free or nearly free. The programs are funded by the government and money is also raised in the US. Research shows that those who attend concerts are those who have studied music as a child. To increase the base of those who appreciate music, we must involve the young.
Every child is an asset – an important belief.
Longy (now part of Bard) created a program to train college majors to begin El Sistema programs. Ms. Zorn knew they needed musicians who can teach in groups, solo, and be flexible. They formed an M.A. in Teaching of Music – peace core of types for musicians.
They partnered with the LA Philharmonic and created Take A Stand organization to support the growth of El Sestema. Together, they hope to change the face of music education and grow El Sistema in the US and internationally. They offer teacher training and a symposium.
The model for the college program is teach as researcher, not a teacher of methods. No waiting for the practical at the end. Students take just as many Ed classes as performance and theory classes. The student is molded into a mentor and a researcher – teaching always changes because students change.
How do you translate Venezuela’s El Sistema to the US? One example is the program in Delano, California. They latched on to the popularity of mariachi music.
We each have a role in making music a center of education in the US.
Session #3 – “The Gift of Music: Piano at a Women’s Correctional Institution,” by Anna Hamilton.
Ms. Hamilton lives and teaches in South Carolina. At University of South Carolina, she did research about the outreach programs for disadvantaged populations by community music schools. She showed us her data about the percentage of schools that offered either performances or education at senior centers, hospitals, libraries, assists living facilities, etc. The lowest percentage was for adult and juvenile correctional institutions; in fact, the number of schools offering music education to adult or juvenile correctional institutions was zero. Ms. Hamilton stated that she decided that if there were no teachers going there, she would go there.
So, she applied to start a music program in a women’s correctional institution. This took time, and she underwent a variety of agreements and volunteer guidelines. The prison has strict procedures and requirements.
Ms. Hamilton was successful in getting her program approved. She goes to the prison once a week and offers four private lessons. She described the nitty gritty and challenges of teaching in this prison.
Her students gain an appreciation of beauty, an out-let for self expression, discipline, organization, recognition of process and pattern, historical perspective, self-esteem, pride, sense of hope, and community.
Ms. Hamilton held a recital for her students a few months ago. The guards, wardens, and other prisoners attended. Many were moved greatly by the music and effort they heard. It was a great success.
Resourcefulness is a must. The women help each with questions and practice mentally. They discuss effective practice techniques in order to that the women can make the most of their highly limited practice time.
This program is greatly benefitting the women in the institution as well as the their families and communities. It was really inspiring to hear about how Ms. Hamilton is making such a big difference in the lives of the community within that correctional institution!
Session #4: “Leather Hammers, Low Inharmonicity, Damper Lifts, and Keys Dips: Clues for Interpreting 18th- and 19th- Century Music,” by Ratko Delorko.
Mr. Delorko teaches at the Frankfurt Music University. He collects period instruments.
Who invented the piano? Cristofori. There is some debate, but Mr. Delorko stated that it was probably invented in 1698, since it mentioned in 1700 in the Medici Inventory. Cristofori’s innovation was the hammer pushing principle allowing soft and loud sounds, inspired by the dulcimer.
1722 brought the una corda shift, which works by pushing a knob.
1787 brought the square piano. It has leather hammers. Small key dip results in a limited dynamic range. Finger height depends on the key dip. The hammers are small and the hammer shanks can snap easily. There is no escapement action.
How can we copy this sounds on the modern grand? Mr. Delorko demonstrated it for us on the piano onstage. One must create the illusion of small hammers, play non-legato, and use a limited dynamic range.
In 1825-6, Babcock patented the iron frame for the square piano. In 1890, the square piano production ceased. The upright was better.
Manufacturers began adding knee levers of various types, for various effects. The precursor of the damper pedal was intended for long periods of use rather than frequent use.
At this time, the keys on the fortepiano had to be released before the notes could be played again. This meant the trills were not played that quickly. Other characteristics: late tone production (delay) and low Inharmonicity (non-desired overtones).
Mr. Delorko demonstrated the Mozart variations on a period instrument (via video) and then on the modern piano (live). He demonstrated it played properly at allegro (happy) and then demonstrated it played too fast, as it often is.
Manufacturers started adding pedals – sometimes 6 or 7 different types.
In 1826, felt covered hammers were patented.
Session #5: “Making It Up As We Go Along: A Classical Pianist on the Spot,” by Richard Grayson.
There is a great tradition of improvisation around the world over history. Many of the great composers were great improvisers.
As a child, Mr. Grayson played by ear frequently and never lost the bug. Parents and teachers sometimes frown, and students sometimes let it go. Some students perhaps end up embracing jazz music later. Classical musicians usually nip it in the bud, unfortunately.
However, improvisation is making a comeback. Many universities have jazz programs which has helped legitimize improvisation and put improvisors in community with classical musicians. What do jazz musicians have that classical musicians don’t have? They smile when they play and really seem to be enjoying themselves. 😉 We must have that in our history at some point, too.
Mr. Grayson’s teacher growing up encouraged his inclinations for composition and also helped increased his harmonic sense and language. He was instructed to buy the Bach Chorales and play those. They contain the most beautiful harmonies and non-chord tones embedded into tight counterpoint. He also learned how to realize figured bass, filling in the figured bass into 4-part harmony with good voicing leading.
Mr. Grayson then played a few video examples of some great improvisers:
(1) Robert Levin improvising a cadenza for a Mozart Concerto.
(2) Gabriela Montero improvising on Brahms theme in the style of Bach.
(3) Victor Borge improvising with a violinist
After this session, Mr. Grayson gave a noontime recital improvising on themes suggested by the audience.