Archive for the 'General' Category

10 Interesting Facts About Johannes Brahms

by Jacy Burroughs


1. Johannes Brahms was born on May 7, 1833. His father was a town musician who played a variety of instruments, mostly horn and double bass.

2. Brahms began playing piano at the age of 7. By the time he was a teenager, he was helping the family financially by performing in inns, brothels, taverns and along the city docks. Brahms is also believed to have begun composing early in his life, but destroyed his early compositions. He did not become famous as a composer until April and May of 1853, when he was on a concert tour as accompanist to the Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi.

3. In 1853, Brahms met Robert Schumann. Schumann was so impressed with Brahms’ compositions that he wrote an article in his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, praising the young composer’s genius and heralding him as the one who could overthrow the New German School of Liszt and Wagner.

Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts About Johannes Brahms’

Playing in a Pit Orchestra: Anecdotes and Advice from a Percussionist

by Ryan Blauvelt

Places. Lights up. Downbeat. It’s the order of things for playing in a pit orchestra for musical theater productions.  The culmination of many hours of rehearsals, score study, listening sessions, and custom edits in order to bring together cast, crew, and of course musicians for a couple weeks of “showtime!”

It’s spring and that means musical theatre productions.  Playing musicals is something I’m pretty good at, especially when it comes to last minute notice.  I’ve been hooked on playing musicals ever since getting picked to play drum set in my high school’s first musical production, “Guys and Dolls”. It was a lot of pressure being in the driver’s seat for a music ensemble. Also, being depended on by actors and actresses for steady tempos, sharp hits, and joke reinforcement adds another layer of complexity.  But I loved the thrill of learning so much music very quickly and making quick changes to fine-tune my contribution to a well-performed show. Continue reading ‘Playing in a Pit Orchestra: Anecdotes and Advice from a Percussionist’

10 Interesting Facts about Dave Brubeck

by Jacy Burroughs

Dave Brubeck in 1954

Dave Brubeck in 1954

In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, I decided to write a post about one of the jazz greats. I am not a jazz musician and unfortunately, my classical music education barely scraped the surface of jazz. However, the question of “Who to write about?” was an easy choice, because I share an alma mater with the legendary Dave Brubeck. We both went to University of the Pacific, formerly College of the Pacific. I even had the chance to meet him my freshman year, well, more like run into him…literally. I was coming out of a class and there he was, right in front of me. Dave Brubeck. I must have looked shocked and embarrassed and he just smiled and asked, “How are you?” I will never forget that smile. He must have been 86 then. Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts about Dave Brubeck’

10 Interesting Facts About Johann Sebastian Bach

by Jacy Burroughs


1. Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany in the province of Thuringia. His father, Johann Ambrosius, was a town musician. During this period, music was a trade just like metalwork or shoe making. And for the Bachs, music was the family business, stretching back several generations. Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts About Johann Sebastian Bach’

How to Read a Fake Book

Originally posted on Take Note:

By Kevin Harper

History of Fake Books and Lead Sheets

Imagine this: you’re a famous jazz player; you’re busy on the road going from gig to gig. One day you come up with a great tune and want to write it down and orchestrate it for your ensemble, but orchestration takes a long time. So instead, you write down the melody and then write out the general chords and any potential rhythms. When you read it during the gig (for the first time no doubt!) you and your bandmates have a general outline of what needs to happen – everything else is improvised. Because improvisations are different everytime, writing down the “correct” way of playing any tune in the old days was impossible.

As jazz grew in popularity, everyone wanted to hear all the popular songs, but the problem was that many of these tunes were hard to find or…

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Publishing Models for the Independent Composer

New Music GatheringOn January 15, 2015 during the New Music Gathering at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Sheet Music Plus CEO Jenny Silva gave a presentation on publishing models for the independent composer.  Her presentation, available as a PDF by clicking on the link below, discusses the various methods through which composers may publish their music and the advantages and disadvantages to each.  It is a must read for any composer, new or seasoned, wishing to gain more exposure for his/her work.

New Music Gathering_v2

10 Interesting Facts About Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

by Jacy Burroughs

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791)


1. Mozart was baptized as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. (Imagine trying to learn to write that name!) His first two names, Johannes Chrysostomus, represent his saint’s name, following the tradition of the Catholic Church. This saint’s name was in all likelihood chosen because Mozart’s birthday, January 27th, was the feast day of Saint John Chrysostom. Wolfgangus, or Wolfgang in German, means Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts About Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’

Top 5 New Cantatas for Lent and Easter

1. The Easter Story by Thomas Fettke & Thomas Grassi
Performance Time: 35 minutes


The Easter Story combines a profound narrative by Ken Bible with musical selections from Tom Fettke and Thomas Grassi. Fettke and Grassi have drawn upon several folk music sources, including hymns from The Sacred Harp and The Columbian Harmony, and spirituals, carols and songs from English, Irish and Hebrew traditions. The narrative is steeped in scripture, helping to relive the events in Jerusalem leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This cantata recommends using two narrators, but can be performed with one. It is beautiful whether accompanied by piano or orchestra. Continue reading ‘Top 5 New Cantatas for Lent and Easter’

Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas for Musicians

1. Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Pack – $49.99

Ukulele_starter_packThis great gift idea is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to play an instrument but doesn’t know how to get started. It comes with everything needed to start jamming away immediately, including the most important part – the instrument!  Ukuleles are fun and easy to play, and this pack comes with a high-quality Firebrand wood ukulele complete with carrying case and extra set of strings. Also included is Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele Course (book, CD & DVD), the bestselling instructional series for beginners of all ages. The course covers everything from basic fundamentals (such as how to hold the instrument) to songs in various musical styles – you can be your own teacher and learn at your own pace.

E-Commerce Content Manager and Violinist
Continue reading ‘Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas for Musicians’

Where did Christmas Carols come from?

by Jacy Burroughs


Today, we primarily associate the word “carol” with Christmas. However, the tradition of singing carols did not begin with Christianity, but actually with the pagan practices of celebrating the seasons. Songs were written and performed for each of the four seasons. However, only the tradition of singing during the winter has survived, not as a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, but as a Christian celebration of Christmas. Continue reading ‘Where did Christmas Carols come from?’

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Thought-provoking articles by musicians for musicians, music lovers or those that want to learn more about it!

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