Christmas Music History: Bach’s Baroque Shepherds & Folk Tradition

Close your eyes and picture the Christmas nativity scene. Are there shepherds? What do they look like? What are they doing?

Since St. Francis presented the first recreation of Jesus’s birth in a cave in Greccio, Italy in 1223, countless renditions of the nativity scene have been drawn, carved and staged, and nearly all of these feature shepherds in the supporting cast, very often with flutes and horns in tow. The 1389 Trés Belles Heures de Notre-Dame, for instance, depicts a nativity scene with three shepherds, one with a primitive bagpipe and the other two with alpenhorns. Even St. Joseph himself carries an alpenhorn in the Bedford Hours (c. 1410-1430, France).

The musical shepherd’s lasting presence in the nativity scene is probably less a result of biblical influence — after all, the shepherds are mentioned only briefly in only one of the four Gospels (Luke), and nothing is said about their music — than of contemporaneous familiarity and local folk traditions. While shepherds mostly used horns in various occupational and communicative capacities, some also became quite skilled musicians. In addition to performing at weddings and other celebrations, small bands of shepherds would come down from the mountains at Christmastime to play carols for townspeople. Berlioz describes the pifferari, as they were known in Rome, and surmises that the tradition must have survived from antiquity:

“Equipped with bagpipes and pifferi (a kind of oboe), they come to perform devout concerts in front of images of the Madonna. They usually wear broad coats of brown cloth, and the same pointed hats worn by brigands; their appearance has a kind of wild mysticism which is full of originality….The bagpipe, supported by a large piffero which sounds the bass, plays a harmony of two or three notes, over which a medium length piffero performs the melody. Then on top of it all two small and very short pifferi, played by children of 12 to 15 years, rain down trills and cadences and bathe the rustic melody with a cascade of exotic ornaments. After cheerful and jolly tunes which are repeated at great length, a slow and solemn prayer, full of patriarchal warmth, brings the naive symphony to a worthy conclusion…”

Bach immortalizes this folk tradition in the opening “Sinfonia” of Part II of his 1734/35 Weihnachts-Oratorium (Christmas Oratorio). This serene tone painting is written in the form of a “concerto a due cori,” utilizing the lilting, dotted 12/8 rhythm of the pastoral Siciliana. Violins and flutes set the scene of a starry night in the hills around Bethlehem, while the shepherds and their flocks are depicted by a chorus of low-pitched Baroque oboes: two oboes d’amore pitched a minor third lower than the soprano oboe, and two oboes da caccia pitched a fifth lower.

Though the oboe d’amore, a slightly larger version of the modern oboe with a more tranquil sound, saw a minor resurgence in compositional interest in the early 20th century, the oboe da caccia fell so quickly and so greatly into disuse after the Baroque era that even modern musical scholars didn’t really know what the instrument looked or sounded like until 1973, when two original Baroque instruments were discovered in Scandinavian museums.

Seen in the photo here, the oboe da caccia (played here by Alan Paul of San Francisco) features a leather-covered, curved wooden body with a flaring brass bell at the end, combining the two specialties of famed Leipzig instrument maker Johann H. Eichentopf, who is credited with the instrument’s invention. It is believed that the brass bell, which makes the instrument sound like a hunting horn, inspired its name (literally “hunting oboe” in Italian). It was, however, never used to hunt, and unlike other wind and brass instruments, had no real folk, military or court predecessor.

Alan_Paul_Oboe_da_Caccia

The oboes da caccia crafted today are all copies of the two that survived from the 18th century, both made by Eichentopf, and its usage is limited almost entirely to the repertoire of the great Baroque composers of Leipzig, such as Bach and Telemann.

For a special treat, listen to Baroque oboist and oboe maker Sand Dalton play the instrument solo:

Singable Solutions for Advent & Christmas (from the Lorenz Corporation)

Crafted with smaller church choirs in mind, Singable Solutions titles are perfect for choirs that are short on time and short on singers.

Below you will find new, accessible music for Advent and Christmas worship. Engage your choir and congregation in the story of Christ’s birth with these fantastic selections!

Go_Tell_It_Where_I_Send_Thee_Cover

Go Tell It Where I Send Thee
Pepper Choplin, arrangement
(SAB or SATB with opt. Fiddle, Bass, and Guitar or Banjo)

Pepper Choplin cleverly weaves together Go Tell It on the Mountain and Children, Go Where I Send Thee in this energetic and fun-to-sing Christmas anthem. With flexible voicing options, it can be performed by choirs large and small.

 

Shepherd_Song_Cover

Shepherd Song
Molly James, music
Eileen Berry, words
(Unison or Two-part)

Molly Ijames combined her compositional gifts with Eileen Berry’s lyrics to create a tender and poignant Christmas anthem for unison or two-part choirs: Shepherds, go and spread the word telling far and near; sing aloud the song of hope all the world must hear…

 

Sing_This_Night_with_Joy!_Cover

Sing This Night with Joy!
Faye López, music
Patricia Mock & Faye López, words
(SATB or Two-part Mixed with opt. Cello and Handbells)

Patricia Mock and Faye López creatively tell the story of Bethlehem using the classic melody God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. The lively anthem can be performed with SATB or two-part choirs and has optional parts for cello and handbells.

 

Christ_Is_Born_Cover

Christ Is Born (Silent Night)
Tracey Craig McKibben, words & music
(SATB)

Combining original music and lyrics with the classic Silent Night, Tracey McKibben creates a heartwarming meditation on the birth of Christ. The simple beauty of this anthem makes it ideal for a Christmas Eve service.

 

Visit SingableSolutions.com to access FREE learning tracks for all of the new Singable Solutions titles from Lorenz!

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Behold, A Savior by Jay Rouse and Rose Aspinall

We are delighted to bring Behold, A Savior! to you—delighted. We are storytellers; Jay with his piano, Rose with her pen. Our hope is that what we set down on paper, be it words or musical notations, will have a life beyond our vision.

 

We always strive to be servants of the work. This creative act is our annunciation. In this way, we keep Jesus alive in our hearts. But once we send it out into the world, it’s yours. It no longer depends on our piano and pen. It depends on you. We give this to you with a prayer. May He be born in you. May you become ever more alive in Him. And then, tell the story, His story and your story. Tell it in your own way. Tell it again and again and again.

 

Creating a new work has its own journey. This one is no different. As we talked through our thoughts for Behold, A Savior!, our desire was to create a collection that would serve you in multiple ways. We wanted to provide fresh arrangements of your favorite Christmas songs, as well as give you some beautiful, new original songs.

 

We wanted a work that offered you the option of meaningful and accessible dramatic moments without making them intrinsic to its performance. We realized that this could be a bit of a challenge. We’re happy with what developed, and we hope you will be too. So, in that light…

 

Need music to carry you over the Advent season? You’ll find it in this work.

It’s the first Sunday of Advent and you need a moment for the Prophesy candle during the lighting of your Advent wreath. You can easily present “O Come, Emmanuel, Rejoice!” along with the short Zechariah monologue either as a dramatic reading or with an actor in costume. There are equally appropriate moments for the Bethlehem candle, the Shepherd candle, and the Angel candle too.

Maybe your time is limited and you only want to read the scripture that ties to the song. That’s there for you too. You choose.

 

Need a whole piece to present for a special event?

This collection covers the broad sweep of the Christmas story with all its glory, as well as its most tender and intimate moments. We have provided an optional opening and closing narration for your pastor or lay person that will create a space for an altar call if you should choose to offer one.

 

Do you have a few good actors that would love to present a short monologue?

Adding dramatic moments without committing to a full-fledged production is easy with this work and can add another layer to your production. Monologues can be presented in Reader’s Theatre fashion if you want to forego costumes and memorization.

No matter how you choose to present Behold, A Savior!, if Christ is glorified, we will have accomplished our goal.

-Jay Rouse and Rose Aspinall

 

Rouse Jay_300 cmykAbout Jay Rouse

Jay Rouse is one of the premier choral arrangers in Christian music. He has over three hundred and fifty compositions and arrangements published, including over thirty major sacred choral works and fifty best-selling a cappella arrangements. Rouse is a Dove Award winning producer and has logged many hours on the road traveling in the music ministry. He spent over ten years as musical director and accompanist for Sandi Patty. Rouse continues to make a major impact on music for the church musician across the nation.

 

 

Rose-Aspinall 300dpi CMYKAbout Rose Aspinall:

Rose M. Aspinall is a writer living in small town, USA, Alexandria, Indiana, better known as the home of Bill and Gloria Gaither. At the end of 1983, she and her husband and children moved from Ohio to join the Gaither organization. She has now been part of the music industry for more than three decades. Twenty of those years she headed up the print-on-demand division of PraiseGathering Music Group.
Moving over to the creative side of the business in 2009, she now works as a freelance writer, lending her talents as a lyricist for top industry arrangers and publishing companies while continuing to serve as writer and associate producer for original PraiseGathering publications. She is also responsible for all dramatic scripts, producing and editing blog content, social media, and copy.
Active both on and off the stage in local community and church theater productions, Rose is an accomplished actress and gifted communicator. She often brings her written scripts to life on the conference stage. Her deep interest in the arts as it relates to the church is abundantly evident in her writing. Her great passion is redemption and restoration through storytelling.

She and her husband, Mark, are the parents of two grown daughters and the grandparents of six!

New School Year, New Warm-Ups

Do your warm-ups need a tune-up? Are you looking for effective warm-ups that still leave you with plenty of rehearsal time? Would you like to strengthen your choir’s ability to sight-read while also warming their voices up in preparation for singing? Two birds with one stone, anyone? If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, Russell Robinson’s Quick-Start Choral Warm-Ups is for you! This practical resource has been getting a lot of attention from directors nationwide, and we don’t think it will take you long to see why.

 

To see this resource in action, check-out the video below!

 

Quick-Start Choral Warm-Ups:

  • Provides an easy and efficient way to begin each rehearsal.
  • Consists of twenty sequences, each consisting of four components (Warming Down, Warming Up, Diction, and Chordal) that prepare the voice and the mind for producing a beautiful choral sound. These sequences can be sung in order, one per day (Day 1, No1; Day 2, No. 2, etc.), or the director can choose to sing them out of order. They are not sequenced in order of difficulty.
  • Includes a Director Edition and Singer Editions. The Director Edition contains all of the vocal parts and piano accompaniments, in addition to a detailed introduction and User’s Guide. The Singer Edition, which includes the vocal parts, is octavo size, designed to fit comfortably in choral folders all year long. An Accompaniment CD is also available.

For more on Quick-Start Choral Warm-Ups or to purchase, click here

 

For additional music and resources from Heritage Music Press, click here

 

 

Dr. Russell L. Robinson, Emeritus Professor of Music Education at the University of Florida, has made over 300 appearances as a conductor, speaker, consultant and presenter at festivals, workshops, honor choirs, all-state choirs and state, regional, national and international conferences in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, and Australia as well as conducting venues, which include: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the White House, and Washington’s National Cathedral. Dr. Robinson was the 2016 inductee into the Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA) Hall of Fame, and is a past President of FMEA, Associate Dean of the UF College of the Arts, National Collegiate Chair and Choral Adviser for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Dr. Robinson is a published author, composer and arranger with over 350 publications in print, including choral compositions, arrangements, articles, books, and instructional DVD’s.

 

Here’s a banner that could be used for the email:

 

G. Henle’s Debussy Urtext Editions from an experienced duo

Claude Debussy

Ernst-Günter Heinemann – the Debussy Editor at G. Henle Verlag

Ernst-Günter Heinemann

 

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy, French music’s great innovator celebrated worldwide. Whoever deals with our Debussy editions inevitably comes across the name Ernst-Günter Heinemann, editor at Henle from 1978 to 2010 and still closely associated today with the publishing house.

 

 

Piano Works I-III

He is the editor of Debussy’s complete Piano Works published by Henle and available since 2011 in a three-volume collected edition (paper covers HN 1192, 1194, 1196, linen covers HN 1193, 1195, 1197); he has also edited a large part of Debussy’s chamber music – altogether a real Herculean task!

Continue reading ‘G. Henle’s Debussy Urtext Editions from an experienced duo’

Composer Spotlight: Interview with Ola Gjeilo

Biography

Composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he currently resides.

Ola’s recordings include the Decca Classics albums Ola Gjeilo (2016) and Winter Songs (2017), featuring Tenebrae, Voces8, and the Choir of Royal Holloway. His choral and piano works are published by Walton Music and include titles such as the Sunrise Mass, Northern Lights, Ubi Caritas, Tundra, and Ave Generosa. His wind band works are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

For more information, please visit olagjeilo.com or find Ola on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When did you start composing?

I started playing piano and improvising when I was about five years old. As a child, I had a pretty good ear and was fairly quickly able to hear which notes worked together and which ones didn’t. I didn’t read music until later on because I just wanted to do keep improvising and creating things. I never had a moment in which I decided to become a composer though; it was something I had been so passionate about from a young age, and I never thought of doing anything else. Continue reading ‘Composer Spotlight: Interview with Ola Gjeilo’

15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano (via Elissa Milne)

 

via 15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano

Is All Music Equal? (via Laura Lamere and Henry Hoagland)

The music scene at Wesleyan University has been the subject of books and countless news articles, all while capturing the attention of young artists and musicians around the country. And why not? Recent graduates, including Santigold, Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez of Das Racist, Dylan Rau and Ted Feldman of Bear Hands, as well as […]

via Is All Music Equal? — Laura Lamere

Top 10 Facts About Tchaikovsky

To celebrate Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 178th birthday today, May 7th, we have re-shared a Top 10 Facts Article from 2015, written by SMP about Russian classical composer Tchaikovsky!

via 10 Facts You Should Know About Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Q&A: Everything is better with music — (via Oxford University Press)

Vanessa Reilly is a teacher, OUP author and teacher trainer. In this post, she answers some of the questions from her recent ‘Everything is better with music’ webinar. 1,248 more words

via Q&A: Everything is better with music — Oxford University Press

Music and Sports: Why Do Both? (via Alfred Music)

Commentary by Austin Hennen Vigil

Music and sports go hand-in-hand better than you might think.

Many experts in the music and sports fields believe that with the amount of time and dedication it takes to master one of these disciplines, it is impossible to truly master two of them. They are too distinct from one another, they argue, and no one has enough free time to tackle both. But what about Micheline Ostermeyer, the French Olympic gold medalist in the shot put and professional concert pianist? Ostermeyer is an example of an individual who has mastered both an instrument and a sport. She says that the skills it takes to master the shot put also helped her develop mastery of the piano. Though they couldn’t seem more different, the practice of music and sports can actually benefit one another, and getting better in one skill makes it easier to master the other.
Having played organized sports from kindergarten through college, and playing both saxophone and guitar since the age of 9, I can confidently say that sports helped my musical ability and music helped my athletic ability. The creativity, improvisation, timing, attention to detail, execution, and self-discipline I developed when playing music benefited me on the sports field. And the skills I learned while playing sports—dealing with stress and anxiety, developing motivation that fuels improvement, going the extra mile despite fatigue, focus, teamwork, leadership, and confidence—helped me during practice and performances on my saxophone and guitar.

For more information on the benefits of participating in both music and sports, read the original blog post written by Liz Hinley on the Alfred Music blog.

Mozart’s C Minor Mass K. 427 – A New Edition

Guest post by Dr. Uwe Wolf

The problems posed for anyone who wants to publish a performable version of the C Minor Mass are not new. Various solutions have been adopted, some more successful and some less. Nevertheless, we have taken up this composition once again, viewing it from the perspectives of both practicing musicians and scholars, out of a certain dissatisfaction with previous attempts and the conviction that many of the attempted solutions no longer correspond with current practice. In our edition we have attempted to produce a performing version while maintaining the greatest respect for available material and without obscuring Mozart’s musical manuscript with our own contributions. This has turned out to be no easy task. We have spent a great deal of time pondering and discussing alongside a great deal of experimentation which has been a richly rewarding experience for us all.

Continue reading ‘Mozart’s C Minor Mass K. 427 – A New Edition’

John Cage’s In a Landscape and more than a score…

By Jacy Burroughs

John Cage’s In a Landscape from more than the score… series

When I learned about John Cage for the first time as an undergraduate music major, I was only instructed in his most avant-garde concepts: the infamous 4’33”, his prepared piano pieces, and his chance compositions, some of which he composed using the I Ching (an ancient Chinese divination text, also known as the Book of Changes.) I recently heard a recording of Adam Tendler performing Cage’s piano solo In a Landscape. If I had not read on the score that the music was by Cage, I would not have believed it. It was so beautiful, and honestly, that’s not an adjective I would associate with Cage’s music.

I was sure there are others who share similar misconceptions about Cage’s music with me, so when I had the opportunity to meet Adam Tendler, I jumped at the chance.  Adam Tendler works closely with the John Cage Trust and has performed Cage’s music internationally. He has also recorded video masterclasses and performances of Cage’s music for Tido Music, a groundbreaking web resource and iPad app. The videos were produced by Edition Peters, John Cage’s sole publisher, and are housed in the app’s Piano Masterworks collection.

And now Peters has just released a new sheet music print series, more than the score…, which can be used alongside the video masterclasses and digital editions in Tido Music. The series includes In a Landscape, presented by Tendler. As a leading interpreter of Cage’s works, I knew Adam would have encountered the whole spectrum of opinions of Cage. Here is an excerpt of my interview with him.

Continue reading ‘John Cage’s In a Landscape and more than a score…’

Top 10 Facts About Claude Debussy

Written by: Austin Hennen Vigil

Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris

Claude Debussy was a famous French composer that was born on August 22nd, 1862, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. The town is located near Paris and he was the oldest of five children.

He was a prominent musician who was known as the founder of Impressionist music and was one of the most influential/highly regarded composers in the world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. March 25, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of his death, so in his honor here are 10 facts about the legendary French composer of which you may not have been aware:

Continue reading ‘Top 10 Facts About Claude Debussy’

UNFINISHED: Tradition and Completion of Mozart’s C Minor Mass

Guest post by Uwe Wolf, Chief Editor of Carus-Verlag

 

What an amazing story! Mozart makes a vow to compose a mass after the successful birth of his first-born child. The performance is planned on the occasion of his first journey with his wife to Salzburg so he can introduce her to his family – both personally and musically, for Constanze is to sing one of the demanding soprano parts. But the baby, left behind with a wet-nurse in Vienna, then dies, and Mozart stops work on the composition – precisely at the Et incarnatus est, one of his most beautiful and heartfelt movements, dealing with the subject of the incarnation, i.e. birth. Too much of a coincidence? Probably. Continue reading ‘UNFINISHED: Tradition and Completion of Mozart’s C Minor Mass’

Gustav Mahler: The Conductors’ Interviews

Gustav Mahler was considered one of the greatest opera conductors of his time; he could even be called the first intercontinental star conductor. But that was not the case with his music; until the 1960s, his compositions were only performed by specialists, the pieces nowhere near belonging to the standard repertoire.

Today, however, performances of Mahler’s music rival those of Beethoven’s in frequency, thus counting Mahler among the most successful symphonists. What happened to cause that change? Continue reading ‘Gustav Mahler: The Conductors’ Interviews’

New Complete 23-Volume Bach Vocal Edition from Carus Verlag

Bach vocal reaches its finale

Carus sets new standards in Bach editions

During the Reformation Jubilee Year, Carus-Verlag Stuttgart in co-operation with the Bach-Archiv Leipzig have completed their ambitious editorial project “Bach vocal” – the Stuttgart Bach Edition now contains Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete sacred vocal oeuvre. From now on, the choral and orchestral material of all the motets, masses, passions, oratorios, as well as more than 200 cantatas by the famous kantor of St. Thomas’s Church – all at the current state of research – is available from Carus. Here, Carus has set a new standard since within the realm of sacred vocal music, many works were last edited 50 or more years ago, and most of them did not include performance material.

Conductors, singers and instrumentalists were obliged to fall back on material from the 19th century which does not do justice to present-day standards with respect to historically informed performance practice. Many of the alterations in the music text which are based on most recent findings are indeed audible; they have been recorded on CD by the leading Bach interpreters of our era, for example, Frieder Bernius, Hans-Christoph Rademann and Masaaki Suzuki.

Continue reading ‘New Complete 23-Volume Bach Vocal Edition from Carus Verlag’

Piano Methods Correlation Chart

The Faber Piano Adventures Correlation Chart is a helpful resource for piano teachers because it shows what topics are addressed at each Piano Adventures level and how that corresponds to books in other piano methods series. For example, if you have a student who you just finished the Bastien Piano Basics primer book, you would start her with Piano Adventures 1B.

Piano Methods Represented in Chart:

To save a copy of this chart for your future use click here: Faber Piano Adventures Correlation Chart

Shop piano methods on Sheet Music Plus

 

Sacred Spotlight: Good Marshmallows

Guest post by Mark Cabaniss

Years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a week-long choral arranging workshop led by legendary choral composer/arranger Alice Parker, held at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.  That week spent with Ms. Parker had a tremendous impact on not only my own choral composing and arranging, but my eventual role as a publisher as well.  Of the many wise and invaluable things she said to the class, one of several that resonated with me was when she said “There are good marshmallows and bad marshmallows.” Continue reading ‘Sacred Spotlight: Good Marshmallows’

Fun Facts about Handbells

by Helena Taylor

  • People who play handbells are known as ‘Ringers’. Not ding-a-lings. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it still not funny years… (decades) later.
  • PT Barnum (Yes, ‘A handbell ringer is born every minute’ PT Barnum) is credited for bringing the English handbell to the USA in the 1840s.
  • There is a difference between English handbells and American handbells. In the United Kingdom, English handbells have leather clapper heads and handles, while American handbells use plastic and rubber clappers and handles. However, in the USA, they’re all known as English handbells even though they’re produced in Pennsylvania. (There’s also a big competition between the two main American manufacturers of English handbells. Take it from me, never try to mix the two brands in the same ensemble. Ringers will notice and you will be called a ding-a-ling.)
  • English handbells are chromatically tuned brass bells, traditionally held by leather handles.

Continue reading ‘Fun Facts about Handbells’

Deciphering Beethoven’s Handwriting

Guest post by Bärenreiter editor Jonathan Del Mar on working with Beethoven’s autographs

Page from the Bärenreiter facsimile edition of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

“Beethoven had such appallingly messy handwriting, didn’t he – I don’t know how anyone can read it!” How many times have I heard that accusation directed against one of the greatest composers who ever lived? True, many great works have been created despite truly terrible handwriting; Tippett, for example, when asked: “Michael, should this be an F or a G here?”, would characteristically respond, “Oh, I don’t know, love, do whichever you think best.” I would say the all-time worst handwriting was Janáček’s; but perhaps Janáček scholars would defend their icon just as I do Beethoven.

Because, you see, Beethoven was actually incredibly accurate, methodical, and scrupulous. Continue reading ‘Deciphering Beethoven’s Handwriting’

Music Career Options: What’s Right for You?

Guest post by Kate Samano, Content Editor from University of Florida School of Music

After identifying and distinguishing the different types of music degrees, it is important to take a look at the various career options that music degrees can offer. Each type of music degree offers a graduate a different set of skills, so it is important to determine which degrees and careers correspond with each other.

Associate of Arts in Music

Apprentice Instrument Repair

Many holders of an associate’s degree in music begin their careers as an apprentice in instrument repair and restoration. This is an entry level position that typically works with more experienced repair and restoration technicians in an instrument shop. Their typical day-to-day tasks include repairing and refurbishing instruments, ordering parts, and fielding customer questions and phone calls. Once an apprentice has gained experience, they can move up to a full time specialist or open their own repair shop.

Music Venue Manager

An interesting career with an associate’s in music is becoming a music venue manager. This job is responsible for managing a venue or a group of venues. These managers handle the daily operations of the venue. Their daily tasks might include booking music acts, checking music and bar equipment, managing the needs of performers, and scheduling staff members.

Music Promoter

Music promoters work for both music venues and the musicians themselves. Their goal is to promote the artist or venue in order to generate revenue. Their duties include selling concert tickets, recordings, and merchandise. Another big part of their job is to help manage live music events. Having a background in marketing can be a plus in this role.

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Music Therapist

One of the most rewarding career choices for holders of the Bachelor of Arts in Music is a music therapist. A music therapist uses musical exercises to work with a variety of individuals in a rehabilitating setting. These individuals usually work in mental health centers, hospitals, retirement homes, or rehabilitation centers. Their responsibilities usually consist of working in a team to assess a patient’s mental or physical condition and developing a therapeutic treatment plan. Continue reading ‘Music Career Options: What’s Right for You?’

The Excitement of Editing Debussy’s Works: Interview with Bärenreiter Editor Douglas Woodfull-Harris

Douglas Woodfull-Harris has been working at Bärenreiter as an editor for orchestral and chamber music for more than 25 years and has overseen the production of countless editions. In 2018 we will commemorate Claude Debussy’s death 100 years ago. Among the editions which Woodfull-Harris has personally edited are Debussy’s La Mer, Afternoon of a Faun, his Cello Sonata and String Quartet, Images for piano, Syrinx for Flute, and most recently the Rhapsodie Première for Orchestra with Solo Clarinet (coming in December 2017).

Claude Debussy, c. 1908

Douglas Woodfull-Harris

Why Debussy? What made you turn to his works?

Douglas Woodfull-Harris (DWH): From conversations with musicians I knew that the existing editions had problems such as discrepancies between score and parts of orchestral works. Orchestras had their correction lists and made do with what they had but scholarly-critical editions were badly needed. Also, I simply enjoy the music.

The first work by Debussy which you edited was his cello sonata. How did you proceed?

DWH: Of course, I gathered together all relevant sources as I always do. During this process I investigated a private collection in Winterthur (Switzerland) which nobody appears to have looked into, and there I found sketches to the Cello Sonata.

Now, the final note in measure 18 of the 2nd movement is the lowest note on the cello, a C. In the autograph score, the first edition, and all other published editions a “circle” or “zero” appears above the note (*see example below). This circle today is understood to indicate that the note should be played as an open string. I asked myself why an experienced composer like Debussy would mark a note in such a way that can only be played as the open C string. It simply didn’t make sense to me. The marking seemed redundant. But is it possible Debussy meant something else? Continue reading ‘The Excitement of Editing Debussy’s Works: Interview with Bärenreiter Editor Douglas Woodfull-Harris’

Music Degree Options: What’s Right For You?

Guest post by Kate Samano, Content Editor from University of Florida School of Music

For students interested in pursuing a career in music, there can be some confusion about which degree is right for them. Many degrees sound the same but can be very different from each other. It’s important to understand these differences – arts or fine arts, music or music education – before making the decision to pursue a particular path. Continue reading ‘Music Degree Options: What’s Right For You?’

Celebrating 150 Years of Edition Peters Green

Originally posted on www.editionpeters.com.

Hidden behind the iconic green covers of Edition Peters lies a story that is fascinating, complex, at times heartbreakingly tragic, but overwhelmingly inspirational. This year Edition Peters proudly celebrates 150 years of the green cover series and here is a short version of our story.

Continue reading ‘Celebrating 150 Years of Edition Peters Green’

How to Get Testimonials from Your Music Students

Guest blog post by Doug Hanvey, author of Piano Lab Blog

Testimonials and Online Reviews = A “Real Reason to Believe”

In these days of overhyped marketing of nearly every product and service – and yes, that sometimes includes music lessons! – it is more important than ever to communicate why your prospective students should have what marketing experts call a “real reason to believe” in you and your studio.

The best way to communicate a “real reason to believe” is via testimonials from current or former students/parents.

Of course, testimonials now include online Google reviews, Yelp reviews, etc. Testimonials and online reviews are effective because they are based on the actual experience of a student/parent. They are thus more believable to prospective students/parents than anything you personally say about yourself and your teaching. Continue reading ‘How to Get Testimonials from Your Music Students’

The Magic of Music: 8 Musical Phenomena Explained

Beethoven said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” He was right! Music awakens the senses and makes thoughts and feelings come alive. It unites cultures, countries, and individuals. Music is timeless and borderless. There is a mystery associated with it, though.

Even the great composers of old did not understand why songs get stuck in our head. Most people today do not know why we get chills when listening to music; and more importantly, why on earth do we love listening to sad songs? Scientists have come up with a few theories as to why these phenomena happen. The infographic from TakeLessons below discusses the answers to these questions and more.

 

 

 

 

Play It Again: A New Piano Book Aimed at Returning Players

Did you used to play the piano? Would you like to play again? Aimed at returning players who have spent some time away from the keyboard, Play It Again: Piano by Melanie Spanswick gives you the confidence to revisit this fulfilling pastime and go beyond what you previously thought you could achieve. This book is designed to get your fingers speeding comfortably across the keys once again.

Continue reading ‘Play It Again: A New Piano Book Aimed at Returning Players’

Frédéric Chopin and the Chopin National Edition

Who is Frédéric Chopin?

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish French composer and pianist of the Romantic period, who was best known for his solo pieces for piano and his piano concerti. Although he wrote little else but piano works, he ranks as one of music’s greatest tone poets. It was clear that his love for music developed from a very young age. Young Chopin studied piano with Wojciech Zywny and gave his first concert when he was 8, and rather quickly outdistanced his teachers. By the age of 16, he had composed several piano pieces in different styles, and his parents enrolled him in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music.  Chopin only gave 30 public performances in 30 years of concertizing. While seriously ill with tuberculosis, he managed to complete the 24 Preludes, Op.28. He has composed 20 nocturnes, 25 preludes, 17 waltzes, 15 polonaises, 58 mazurkas and 27 etudes.

What is the Chopin National Edition?

Continue reading ‘Frédéric Chopin and the Chopin National Edition’

Forge Your Educational Path to Success as a Music Teacher: Licenses, Degrees and More

Guest post by Audrey Allen, Assistant Content Editor from University of Florida.

Becoming a Licensed Music Teacher

Skilled musicians who want to share their passion for music often find teaching to be a rewarding career path. Some of these musicians offer private lessons in their own studio or teach at a private music school, and may have no formal academic training. You can expand your opportunities for a successful teaching career vastly, however, through formal education.

Continue reading ‘Forge Your Educational Path to Success as a Music Teacher: Licenses, Degrees and More’

Resources for Conductors from Meredith Music

Meredith Music Publications, an award-winning publisher of percussion performance music and method books, was established in 1979. Their conducting resources provides a wide variety of titles ranging from beginner to professional levels. For conductors interested in improving their skills and exploring their knowledge, these publications provide an excellent resource.

The Interpretive Wind Band Conductor  

By John Knight

The Interpretive Wind Band Conductor will help conductors make the creative leap from simply reading notes to insightful musical interpretation. In addition to a long list of topics on conducting and interpretation, it includes in-depth analysis of six masterworks for band, and provides solutions for conducting irregular and non-metrical problems inherent in contemporary music.

“Thank you for your brilliant interpretive analysis of my ‘La Fiesta Mexicana.’ It is obvious that you have studied the score very closely and know the music even better than I do! Great advice and insights for the conductor to know for the execution and interpretation of my music.”

H. Owen Reed, composer

Continue reading ‘Resources for Conductors from Meredith Music’

10 Things You Should Know About the Guzheng

If you’re wondering what this harp-table looking instrument is, you’re in the right place. The Guzheng, also known as the Chinese zither, is a wood plucking instrument that can have 21 or more strings.

 

1. Guzheng players wear fake nails.

No, not the ones you can get from the nail salon. These fake nails are actually called finger picks and they’re usually made out of turtle shell. Guzheng players use a cloth tape that was made to tape the picks on the top of their right hand fingers. Not all of them, only the first four. As one increases in level, they would also wear the finger picks on their left hand too. These not only protect your fingers from blistering, but also make sure that the sound comes out bright and not muffled when the string is plucked. Continue reading ’10 Things You Should Know About the Guzheng’

Series Spotlight: Teaching Music through Performance

Teaching Music through Performance is a best-selling series of books and CDs that are theoretical, practical, and analytical. Written, researched, and compiled by scholars with a wealth of teaching and conducting experience, this series enables conductors,  educators, and students to move beyond the printed page toward full musical awareness. Sheet Music Plus had the opportunity to learn from the publisher what inspired the creation of the series.

1. When was the Teaching Music through Performance series developed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first edition of Volume 1 was for band and was released at the Midwest Clinic in 1997. This year, 2017 is the 20th anniversary of the series.  The Teaching Music through Performance series now includes 26 volumes, 16 for band, three for jazz, three for orchestra, and four for choir. In addition, each volume has accompanying CDs.

Continue reading ‘Series Spotlight: Teaching Music through Performance’

New Piano Method Books from Stephen Chatman: Mix & Match

Originally posted on In Tune: ECS Publishing Group Blog and News.

Galaxy Music recently welcomed the new Mix and Match performance method series from dynamic duo, Stephen Chatman and Tara Wohlberg. The series is designed as a rare, innovative mix-and-match complement to any standard piano method book. We sat down with composer Stephen Chatman to learn more about the vision behind Mix and Match.

Continue reading ‘New Piano Method Books from Stephen Chatman: Mix & Match’

The Elder Statesman of the Cello World

Director Ty Kim and Cellist Lynn Harrell

Lynn Harrell – A Cellist’s Life is an extraordinary documentary feature film that chronicles the 60-year journey in music of renowned classical cellist Lynn Harrell who has performed around the world as a soloist with every major symphony orchestra. We learn about Lynn’s devastating childhood when he lost both parents (one to cancer, the other in a fatal car crash) to establishing a career as a virtuoso cellist collaborating with the most legendary musicians in history spanning multiple generations. The film includes fresh interviews with iconic musicians of the day such as the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Oscar-winning composers John Williams and André Previn. Lynn Harrell, a multiple Grammy-award winner, shares his personal revelations about universal themes such as overcoming tragedy, finding a higher purpose in art, what it means to grow old, and the power of music to change lives. His story will captivate and inspire.

Continue reading ‘The Elder Statesman of the Cello World’

Method Spotlight: Piano Junior

Request your free copy today!

From Hans-Günter Heumann and Schott Music comes a new piano method, Piano Junior. In this creative and interactive piano course, children will join PJ the robot and Mozart the dog in discovering how much fun playing the piano can be! The online resources, including audio and video recordings and interactive extras, bring the method to life for today’s tech savvy kids. Discover more about this method’s approach in our interview with the author, below, and request your free copy today!* Continue reading ‘Method Spotlight: Piano Junior’

ABRSM Exams: Inspiring Musical Achievement

ABRSM’s graded music exams are recognised and respected around the world.  Find out more about what’s involved and how these assessments can support your music teaching or learning.

ABRSM’s mission is to inspire musical achievement and our graded music exams are a big part of that. These world-leading assessments have the authority of four Royal Schools of Music in the UK, and have been supporting and motivating students around the world since 1889.

Our graded music exams are available at eight levels – Grades 1 to 8 – for a wide range of classical instruments and for singers. You can also do exams in Jazz, Music Theory and Practical Musicianship.  Students of any age can take these exams and you can start with any grade or skip grades if you want to.

What happens in an ABRSM exam? Continue reading ‘ABRSM Exams: Inspiring Musical Achievement’

Trinity College London: Excellence in Music Assessment

Trinity College London provides recognised and respected qualifications across a unique spectrum of communicative skills- from music, drama and arts activities to English language-at all levels. Trinity has been providing assessments around the world since 1877 and in the USA, Trinity College examinations have been taking place since the 1930s helping to support learners to develop their skills and achieve their goals.

Every year Trinity College London supports the music education of thousands of students across the world with assessments across a wide compass including popular, jazz, contemporary and classical music. As an international exam board with a rich heritage of academic rigour and a positive, supportive approach to assessment, we aim to take a lead role in reflecting and contributing to the evolution of music education. Continue reading ‘Trinity College London: Excellence in Music Assessment’

“At the Piano” – lends colour to the Henle catalogue!

At the Piano” is a new series perfect for piano students and those returning to the piano from renowned Urtext sheet music publisher, G. Henle. Each volume in “At the Piano” features original pieces by one composer, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and many more! The works in each volume are organized in progressive order of difficulty and contain fingerings and practical tips on technique and interpretation. Click the link below for more information on this exciting new series!

Source: “At the Piano” – lends colour to the Henle catalogue!

Shop At the Piano on Sheet Music Plus

 

Publisher Spotlight: Walton

Walton Music serves the choral community by publishing works by noted composers such as Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo, and promoting both new compositions and the preservation of classics such as Vivaldi’s Gloria. Editions in the Walton catalog number in the thousands. Susan LaBarr, Editor of Walton Music, gave Sheet Music Plus insight into what makes their catalog so special and what’s new and exciting in 2017.

Continue reading ‘Publisher Spotlight: Walton’

Series Spotlight: Jazz Piano Solos

The Jazz Piano Solos Series has proven wildly popular among pianists. Each volume features a collection of 20-24 exciting new piano solo arrangements with chord symbols of the songs, which helped define a particular jazz style. The difficulty of the arrangements varies somewhat, and though they can be quite challenging at times, they are always eminently playable. Pianists possessing an intermediate ability or better will find the majority of the selections well within their reach. For the more challenging arrangements a little extra practice may be needed, but it’s time well spent. The series, which is published by Hal Leonard, currently has 47 volumes, including jazzy arrangements of Disney tunes, pop standards and Gospel music, with more in production!

We asked Jeff Schroedl, Hal Leonard’s Executive Vice President, about the inspiration behind the series: Continue reading ‘Series Spotlight: Jazz Piano Solos’

Publisher Spotlight: G. Schirmer

If you’re a classically trained musician, you know the G. Schirmer publications.  Even if that name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, you would recognize the iconic yellow cover with the green border and type. That’s because they have been used by teachers and students for decades. So what makes the G. Schirmer editions so timeless? Sheet Music Plus interviewed Rick Walters, Vice President of Classical and Vocal Publications at the Hal Leonard Corporation to find out. Continue reading ‘Publisher Spotlight: G. Schirmer’

Method Spotlight: Bastien New Traditions

From the family that wrote the ever popular Bastien Piano Basics method comes a new, all-in-one series designed for today’s students. Sheet Music Plus had the opportunity to interview Lisa Bastien to find out what makes Bastien New Traditions so unique!

1. What was the inspiration behind the Bastien family developing a new method?

We were inspired to develop Bastien New Traditions by our students and their needs in today’s world. My mom (Jane), Lori and I are first and foremost full time passionate piano teachers. It became clear to us that the learning environment has changed and that a different approach to teaching piano was needed to effectively engage today’s students.

2. What makes this method unique from other methods? 

Bastien New Traditions is different in a number of ways that make it a captivating and dynamic way to teach.  It’s an ALL IN ONE Piano Course that takes the solid, time tested 50+ years of Bastien pedagogy and presents it in a fresh, modern way. Here are some of the unique features that teachers, students and parents are enjoying:

  • All In One: From the very beginning, Bastien New Traditions was designed and developed as an All In One method. Each book includes lesson, technic, theory and performance pages that are fully integrated for a streamlined, comprehensive, easy-to-use approach.
  • Teacher’s Choice: We give the teacher two options to start new students: Primer A is entirely pre-reading, while Primer B begins immediately with notation. This gives the teacher the flexibility to choose how to begin depending on the child’s age and ability.
  • IPS Technology: IPS (Interactive Practice Studio) is a free practice app that students love and can’t wait to use! It can be downloaded onto any device with the purchase of a book. It acts as a practice partner or musical metronome, provides beautiful accompaniments for the pieces, allows the students to record themselves, provides answers to the theory exercises and so much more!
  • Captivating music and accompaniments: Bastien New Traditions features outstanding solo pieces and duet accompaniments, an excellent variety of different musical styles and an abundance of familiar melodies to inspire students.
  • Integrated Pages: The integrated pages capture multiple musical elements all in one place.  For instance, when each note is introduced, the student writes the note on the staff, recognizes the note and then plays and hears the note — all on the same page. The multi-sensory aspect of Bastien New Traditions is extremely effective in helping students to learn, make connections and commit concepts to memory.
  • Short Theory Exercises: We have included short theory exercises on many of the pages that can be completed during the lesson. Theory is an important part of every lesson and the student sees how it relates to the music.
  • Inviting Pages: The pages are beautifully organized and clutter-free, with stunning watercolor illustrations.

3. What age range is this method designed for? 

The flexibility in the method means it can work for all students ages 5 and up. If I get a younger student, I always start with Primer A because it is an entire book of pre-reading. If I get an older student who seems ready to begin right away on the staff, I begin with Primer B.

4. Was this method tested on beginners before publication?

Yes! We have successfully taught and tested Bastien New Traditions over the past few years, and we are now thrilled to share this new method with you!

Shop the whole Bastien New Traditions series at Sheet Music Plus.

Publisher Spotlight: Schott Music

Founded by Bernhard Schott in Mainz in 1770, the Schott Music group today ranks among the leading music and media publishers in the world with branches in major international markets in 10 countries. Among the companies of the Schott group are not only traditional publishing houses, but also two internationally renowned record labels, Wergo and Intuition, distributing contemporary, jazz and world music on CD. Continue reading ‘Publisher Spotlight: Schott Music’

Publisher Spotlight: Boosey & Hawkes

Boosey & Hawkes is the largest specialist classical music publishing company in the world, with offices in New York, London and Berlin. Their impressive catalog contains some of the most popular composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Learn what else makes Boosey & Hawkes unique from other publishers in our interview below.

Q: When was Boosey & Hawkes founded?

Boosey & Hawkes was formed in 1930 when two long established London companies joined forces rather than continuing to compete. Boosey & Company had been founded in the 1760s when John Boosey opened a music lending library, expanding with pioneering inexpensive editions of the classics and acquiring the rights to works by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi. Its rival, Hawkes & Son, was set up by William Henry Hawkes in 1865, concentrating on band and orchestral music publishing and the manufacture of instruments. The company directors at the time of the merger, Leslie Boosey and Ralph Hawkes, soon established Boosey & Hawkes on the international publishing scene, signing composers including Continue reading ‘Publisher Spotlight: Boosey & Hawkes’

Method Spotlight: Basics in Rhythm

It goes without saying that rhythm training is essential to all musicians, yet it can still be a struggle for some students. Garwood Whaley, President and Founder of Meredith Music Publishing, developed a method to solve all your rhythm woes. Sheet Music Plus had the opportunity to interview Garwood Whaley, creator of the Basics in Rhythm method, and find out what makes it so successful! Continue reading ‘Method Spotlight: Basics in Rhythm’

Sheet Music from 2017 Grammy Winners

Adele

Adele was the big winner at the 59th Grammy Awards, taking home five Grammys. Her album, 25, won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. She won Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Hello”. Continue reading ‘Sheet Music from 2017 Grammy Winners’

Publisher Spotlight: Hope Publishing

Contributed by Steve Shorney, Vice President – Hope Publishing

Hope is proud to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year!  We were founded in 1892 in Chicago, Illinois.  The company was formed in an effort to provide songbooks for hymn singing at Methodist evangelical meetings. The founders of the company christened the name Hope Publishing Company from their motto, “all we have is hope” which defined their feelings when starting the fledgling business. The Shorney family has been running Hope Publishing from its beginning and the current owners, John, Scott and Steve Shorney, are the fourth generation of family management.

Hymns and hymnals are still an important part of Hope’s product mix but in the sixties we aggressively branched out into other products to serve the church market.  Now a large part of our publishing is committed to choral, handbell, piano, organ and instrumental products.  We remain committed to the sacred market. Continue reading ‘Publisher Spotlight: Hope Publishing’

New Lent and Easter Cantatas and Anthems for 2017

Discover new and poignant choral cantatas and anthems appropriate for the Lent and Easter seasons from Beckenhorst Press, Brookfield Press, Hope, Lorenz, Shawnee Press and SoundForth.

Cantatas

Come to the Cross and Remember by Pepper Choplin

Iconic imagery of the Easter story is paired with a beautiful melodic figure that weaves throughout the entire work to help present and guide the audience through this work. The music by Pepper Choplin, accompanied by Michael Lawrence’s stunning orchestration, powerfully represents the high and low moments of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Additional choruses and hymns illumine the journey, including the haunting “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” the spine-tingling “Judas,” the mournful “Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs,” the transportive “You Will Be with Me in Paradise,” and the majestically triumphant “Every Knee Should Bow.”

Psalm 23: A Journey with the Shepherd by Pepper Choplin

“Psalm 23 holds a special place in the lives of believers.  We often read or say it from memory at significant services and times of challenge.  Through this cantata, I wanted choir and audience to truly experience this most beloved psalm:

to feel the peace of the still waters,

to be comforted through shadow of death,

to express gratitude for the bountiful table of blessings

and to celebrate the mercy which follows through all the days of our lives.

The music is dramatic with an artistic flair, but written with the church and community choir in mind.”

Pepper Choplin

Sacred Places: Pilgrimage of Promise by Joseph Martin

“I have always been inspired by the early American folk hymn tradition. I grew up in North Carolina where these time-honored texts and tunes are very much a part of the church music experience. In SACRED PLACES I have tried to capture some of that rustic spirit and tell the timeless story of Christ’s ministry and passion. The focus of the cantata is on the places where Jesus performed some of his important miracles and where he experienced other significant moments in his final days. The River Jordan, The Wedding at Cana, The Pool of Bethesda, The holy city of Jerusalem, the upper room, the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary and the Garden of Resurrection.

The narration is based on scripture and helps move the work forward. Two endings are provided, one intended for use during Holy Week and a more joyful triumphant conclusion for churches performing the work after Easter. The orchestrations by Brant Adams are filled with an abundance of creativity and provide a colorful soundtrack for the work. With SACRED PLACES I have tried to create something interesting, yet approachable, so that choirs of any size and level of accomplishment can embrace the work with confidence.”

Joseph Martin

Lamentations of the Lamb by John Purifoy

“Pamela Stewart’s poignant and insightful lyrics made composing ‘Lamentations of the Lamb’ a true journey experiencing Christ’s final week of betrayal, suffering and sacrifice for us as believers.  It is always our hope as writers and composers that these emotions resonate in the music for both singers, instrumentalists and worshipers alike.  The blending of Old Testament prophecy, historical hymn texts and newly written lyrics also made setting the music an artistic reward.”

John Purifoy

 

Hope in the Shadows by Joel Raney and Lloyd Larson

Retracing Christ’s final days and journey to the cross, this new musical for Lent and Holy Week includes a mixture of traditional and contemporary hymns and songs set in a variety of styles. Arranged for SATB choir with narrator(s), and options to include soloists and congregation, plus a 5-piece instrumental ensemble, scored by Ed Hogan, this 38-minute program focuses on our Savior’s sacrifice and the hope in the shadows to which we cling.

 

 

 

Anthems

Christ Is Risen, Alleluia! by Jay Althouse

This exuberant Easter anthem opens with a joyous, hymn-like melody, harmonized in a straightforward manner. This leads to a statement of the majestic hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” in a comfortable key, making it ideal for having the congregation join in. Returning to the original melody for a powerful conclusion makes this an accessible, uplifting musical presentation for Easter Sunday.

 

 

 

I Am Bound for the Promised Land! by Craig Courtney

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A march-like ritornello begins Craig Courtney’s new arrangement of I Am Bound for the Promised Land and, although that motive can be heard throughout the piece, he counters that with contrast and variety in the 4-hand accompaniment and a variety of articulation in the voices. Snare drum, triangle and cymbals add to the dramatic effect.

 

 

 

 

I’ll Fly Away by Craig Courtney

Craig Courtney’s arrangement of I’ll Fly Away begins as a seemingly traditional treatment of the Brumley gospel tune but, as the piece goes on, it veers into different territory. Chock full of text painting, polyphony and a tipping of the hat to Gershwin, it becomes a journey of joy. The 4-hand accompaniment is creatively sophisticated. This would be the perfect choice for a choir festival or as a final piece in a concert that will “bring the house down”.

 

 

 

Anthems of Love by Dan Forrest

Anthems of Love is Dan Forrest’s setting of an ethereal Susan Boersma text based on Zephaniah 3:17, where God sings over His children with joy. The music portrays the idea of “celestial music” surrounding our praise, as God Himself joins in our songs of praise to Him. The combination of text and music is strikingly beautiful.

 

 

 

 

A Mighty Fortress by Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest’s new setting of A Mighty Fortress is just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation being celebrated around the world in 2017. His setting opens with a evocation of the blows of Luther’s hammer, and then works its way through music history, while not becoming overly difficult. It has numerous instrumental accompaniment options available, for maximum flexibility.

 

 

 

Pie Jesu by Joseph Martin

Joseph Martin beautifully set this Latin text with an optional English translation along with an original melody that is nothing short of breath-taking. Equally functional as it is beautiful, this anthem is equally applicable in a worship service or concert setting. The optional violin part provides another layer of musical tenderness that will live with the choir and audience well after the performance ends.

 

 

 

How Can It Be? by Jay Rouse

Jay Rouse’s arrangement of this 2015 Contemporary Christian song of the year is an authentic and powerful choral representation of this stirring worship song. With an expressive solo and driving instrumental accompaniment, this anthem provides a compelling opportunity for congregation participation.

 

 

 

 

Agnus Dei with How Great Thou Art by Michael W. Smith & Stuart K. Hine

This Michael W. Smith “classic” is ideal for any worship occasion and especially communion services reflecting on Jesus, the Lamb of God. The inclusion of a portion of “How Great Thou Art” expands and reinforces this anthem of praise to the Lord God Almighty.

 

 

 

 

 

Come People of the Risen King with Rejoice, the Lord Is King by Stuart Townend, Keith & Kristyn Getty

This dynamic hymn setting calls for the church of Christ, both young and old, to rejoice in the risen King. A verse of the Charles Wesley hymn “Rejoice, the Lord Is King!” is seamlessly woven into the fabric and heightens the impact of this celebration of Christ our Lord and King.

10 Fun Facts about Beethoven

by Jacy Burroughs

beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is arguably one of the most well-known composers of all time. From his deafness and notoriously angry look to the movie dog who got his name from howling at the famous first four notes of the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven is still recognizable in today’s culture. His music and life are incredibly complex and this post barely brushes the surface, but hopefully you will learn something new and interesting.

1. No one knows for sure Beethoven’s date of birth. He was baptized on December 17, 1770. In that era and region where Beethoven was born, it was the tradition of the Catholic Church to baptize the day after birth. Therefore, most scholars accept December 16 as Beethoven’s birthday.

2. Beethoven’s father wanted to pass his son off as a child prodigy so he lied about young Beethoven’s age at his first public performance. For a good portion of Beethoven’s life, he believed he was born in 1772 instead of 1770. Continue reading ’10 Fun Facts about Beethoven’

Challenges when editing orchestral parts and why we recommend Bärenreiter performance material

First of all, Bärenreiter Urtext orchestral parts provide you with a musical text that you can trust. Bärenreiter editors invest sometimes years in locating all relevant sources, in comparing them, in determining the interrelation between them, and in arriving at a musical text that is as close as possible to the composer’s intentions.

In Bärenreiter performance material there are no discrepancies between scores and parts meaning the musical text of the parts is identical with the musical text of the conductor’s full score. You think, this is a matter of course? Reality however shows that in fact scores and parts very often differ in older performance material. Why is this the case?

Claude Debussy completed the orchestration of his Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (BA 8841) in the autumn of 1894. The premiere took place in December of that year, however, the full score and printed orchestral parts were not issued until July 1895. To have orchestral parts available for the premiere, handwritten parts were made based on the autograph score. The conductor used uncorrected proof pages. Many small but also some larger changes in the parts were required during rehearsals, and not all of them were then integrated into the score proofs used by the conductor.

A fine example of this quandary can be found in the original printed bassoon part. In bars  62-63 the 2nd bassoon is called on to double the 1st bassoon – there are even two staves in the part! Cleary, at the premiere the 1st player was not fully capable of playing the line so the 2nd bassoon was called on to reinforce his playing. These handwritten parts (not the score!) were then used to produce the original printed parts with the result that both bassoons were now sanctioned to play and remained thus until recently!  But Debussy’s autograph and all the score proofs corrected by the composer clearly call for a solo bassoon, no doubling up here.

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Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, excerpt from Barenreiter full score (BA 8841), bassoon line, bars 59-64

We also know Debussy did not look at or correct orchestral parts – that was the job of someone else. So the score and parts were at odds with each other. Standard literature is riddled with similar problems. In Bärenreiter editions score and parts are reconciled.

Many composers revised their works in the course of their lives. Sometimes they did this in an effort to improve a work. But sometimes they simply adapted a work to a specific performance situation. Haydn for example originally composed his Stabat Mater (BA 4642) for a smaller ensemble with three wind instruments. More than 20 years later he revisited the work and adapted it to a more contemporary, larger instrumentation including trombones. Bärenreiter provides orchestral material to both versions.    

We cannot simply assume that later versions are generally superior to earlier versions. Rather, sometimes different versions in their own right exist. In these cases Bärenreiter publishes them separately in score and parts. Another example is Mendelssohn’s  Concert Overture The Hebrides (BA 9053). The composer created many different versions of one and the same work. With Bärenreiter orchestral material you can play them all.

A clear layout on the page, cues, rehearsal letters, and good page turns are essential prerequisites for a smooth rehearsal process. Bärenreiter makes every effort to provide all of this. Orchestral parts are engraved with performers in mind. Page turns dictate the general layout; the music cannot be too compressed so that there is no room for bowing and fingering. But there are some works that simply don’t have places where you can turn pages. How does Bärenreiter solve this problem?

Take the 1st violin part in the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (BA 9009-74), a ripping Molto vivace: In bar 388, where the 1st repeat begins, you notice a three-bar Grand Pause at which you could turn the page. But think about it: If all the 1st violins turned here, there would be a very unattractive paper noise – not to mention the visual disturbance with one player at each desk leaning forward to turn. So, Bärenreiter lets you repeat the passage, and when you get to bar 360 the second time around, you are informed to turn already right there at the 6 bars of rest (other players are playing here, covering you). When you have turned the page, you find bars 366-388 printed here again at the top of the new page.

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Beethoven, Symphony No. 9, excerpt from Barenreiter Violin I part (BA 9009-74), page 9, bars 346ff.

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Beethoven, Symphony No. 9, excerpt from Barenreiter Violin I part (BA 9009-74), page 10, bars 366ff.

Orchestral string players know that divisi passages can be a problem; sometimes it is hard to know who plays what. A good example is the 1st violin part of Debussy’s Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra (BA 7897-74), bars 118-123; Bärenreiter here presents the divisi clearly with a separate stave for all three parts.  

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Ravel, Première Rhapsodie for Orchestra with Solo Clarinet in B-flat, excerpt from Barenreiter Violin I part (BA 7897-74), bars 118ff.

When players have to repeat the same note patterns over and over again, Bärenreiter provides repetition numbers. This happens in the double bass part of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 (BA 9002-85), bars 119-130. These numbers make it a lot easier for the player to keep track of note repetitions.  

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Beethoven, Symphony No. 2, excerpt from Barenreiter Double Bass part (BA 9002-85), bars 117ff.

Bärenreiter orchestral parts are in a large 25.5cm x 32.5cm format which helps transparency and makes them easier to read.

And lastly, Bärenreiter uses high-quality paper which has a slight yellow tinge so that it does not glare under lights and is easier on the eyes. Also, the paper is thick enough that reverse pages do not shine through.

In summary, Bärenreiter orchestral parts have been thought-through, tweaked, and are good-to-go for any musical interpretation, be it one with historically informed performance practice or a 21st century one.

Bärenreiter cares about content and presentation.

 

 

Bring the Ring!

By Sondra Tucker

I am not by any means a master gardener.  But every spring, I get excited when my local nursery begins to display their colorful annuals and perennials for sale. I shop for old favorites like geraniums and sweet-smelling marigolds, and add new varieties that are different and beautiful.  I fill my car with what I hope will be hardy plants that will grow and blossom, making my yard more beautiful, and I carefully plant, fertilize and water them throughout the summer.

Handbell choirs can be like that, too.  Each new season brings an opportunity to greet old friends and integrate new ringers into your ministry.  Providing the right mix of instruction, inspiration, and music can make your handbell ministry flourish and become an integral part of your church’s music ministry, both within your congregation and out in the community.

What are some essential steps to grow a handbell ministry?

  1. Honor the time and gifts of your volunteers in music ministry by being prepared, punctual, enthusiastic, and on task as their director. Create a rehearsal plan and know what you want to accomplish for each piece you rehearse.  Communicate your goals clearly to the ensemble.  Expect regular attendance, punctuality, attention, and willingness to work on details from each of your ringers. Walk that tightrope between worship needs and ringer availability to schedule ringing in worship.  Since it is so difficult to rehearse with missing personnel, I highly recommend maintaining a sub list, so that occasional absences are less of a problem.
  2. Meet your ringers where they are, not where you want them to be. This means selecting music that is within your ensemble’s ability to prepare and ring successfully. Music that is too easy can be boring.  Music that is too difficult can be frustrating. Just as important is allowing enough rehearsal time to adequately prepare the music you have selected.  Within the range of music in your folder, make sure to provide a variety of styles, with enough ease for working on nuance or specialized techniques, and enough challenges to provide opportunities for growth.
  3. Find plentiful opportunities in worship for ringers to be successful and which complement and enhance the worship service. Since for most groups, handbells have to be moved and set up within the worship space each time they ring in church, it makes sense to play more than just a prelude or offertory.  Resources abound for processionals, peals, and accompaniments to enhance the entire service.
  4. Find opportunities for children and youth to use handbells, both in worship and in Sunday school. Music for children is usually graded Level 1, and is for two or three octaves of handbells.  Remember: a C4 in the hands of a 9 year old is proportionally the same as a C3 to an adult!
  5. Provide good music –
    • which is at an appropriate difficulty level
    •  which is written for the size bell choir you have (2 octaves to 6 or more octaves).
      • Most published music is written in 2-3 octave or 3-5+ octave versions. It takes 7 people to ring two octaves, 11 to ring 3 octaves, 12 to ring 4 octaves, and 13 to ring 5 octaves, although experienced ensembles can sometimes get by with fewer folks.
    • which is well crafted and interesting, with creative and emotional impact. I am quite proud of our Alfred Handbell catalog, which contains music written by leading composers and arrangers in our art form, and which ranges from very easy to quite difficult, and for all sizes of ensembles.
    • which fits the worship style of your congregation. Our reproducible handbell collection Bells & Chimes for Special Times provides wonderful music for each season of the church year.
    • which combines music for bells and choir, and bells with other instruments.
      • Many possibilities abound! For example, Joe Martin and Tina English’s Ring the Christmas Bells  is written for SATB with a part for 2 octave handbells.
      • Many of our handbell anthems contain parts for other instruments. One example is All Praise and Glory which is a majestic upper level handbell anthem with an optional part for organ.
  6. Offer opportunities to grow skills. Attend your local or area festivals, director’s seminars, and national events. Handbell Musicians of America is an active organization, and provides a national event each year (the next one will be in July 2019 in St. Louis!), opportunities for advanced ringers to come together, and events in each of 12 regional areas. Find them at http://www.handbellmusicians.org and join!  HMA offers affordable Ringer Memberships as well! Watch fabulous groups from around the world on YouTube. Support your local community handbell ensemble, and attend live concerts whenever possible.
  7. Remember that musical ministries in the church exist to support the worship of the larger congregation, but also exist as small groups, and the bonds between members of a bell choir can become precious and long-lasting. Empower everyone in your group to minister to one another.

If you “plant” your handbell ministry in the right soil, with the tender care and encouragement, you will reap the rewards of a vibrant musical garden. Enjoy!

 

1437683702Sondra Tucker, BSE, MMus is Handbell Editor for Alfred Handbell, a division of Jubilate Music Group. She is a retired Organist/Choirmaster and Chair of Area 6 of Handbell Musicians of America, and teaches composition at the Master Series of classes sponsored by the Guild. She is in demand as a conductor and clinician for denominational and Guild events. Sondra is an accomplished organist and flutist, and her published works include music for choir, organ, and instrumental ensembles in addition to handbells. She lives in Memphis with her husband, and has two children and two granddaughters.

Christmas Presence by Pepper Choplin

Thank you for listening to my new cantata. I devote so many hours to projects like this, but it’s all worth it to know that you are singing and sharing my music with your people.

We’ve all experienced someone’s presence. We’ve all felt their absence. Being present is very powerful. Being absent is just as powerful.

Christmas Presence explores this power as it impacts this season. Here is how each piece contributes to the message:

  • “The World Awaits Your Coming” — As the people of the earth feel the power of hate and war, we long for the Lord to live among us and bring a new Kingdom of peace and love. Here, we sing of the expectation and joy of the Lord’s presence.
  • “We Are Here, God is Here” — We experience the miracle of worship as we become aware of “God With Us.” The piece is meant to express a sense of power and mystery.
  • “Tiny Miracle” — Everyone gets excited about welcoming a new baby into the world. With energy and delight, we celebrate the coming of the holy Child.
  • “Angels Came to Earth One Night” — In the peacefulness of the fields, the shepherds are suddenly visited by a heavenly presence. Imagine their new sense of hope as the angels come to them. The music suggests the comfort and the celebration of the angels’ message.
  • “Call of the Magi” — The Magi could have seen the star and simply recorded the event. Instead, they made a difficult journey to simply BE in the presence of the newborn King. Here, I borrowed a tune usually meant for the angels to help us follow the Magi to the holy Child.
  • “Still They Are Here” — Presence and absence are felt most powerfully when we think of our loved ones. I wanted to help you acknowledge and minister to hearts who need comfort during the season. Later in the piece, the text says, “When we share with others all the love they showed us, still they are here.”
  • “Hope, Love, and Joy to the World (Be a Christmas Presence)” — My wife Heather said, “Yes, this is all great, but then we need to become the Christmas presence in the world. We need to BE the presence of hope, love, and joy where they are absent.” I used a lesser-known traditional tune to send our people forth with a fresh desire to share the presence of the Lord.
  • “Go Tell It Where I Send Thee” — And then comes a final “sending out” song. You may choose to sing it after your benediction. Question: “Where shall I send thee?” Answer: “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere!”

 

by Pepper Choplin

Choplin Pepper_CMYK 300dpi

About Pepper Choplin

Pepper Chopin currently has over two hundred anthems in addition to seven choral musicals. His musical experiences range from church musician to theme park entertainer. He has performed musical styles from rock to classical to bluegrass. Pepper leads events throughout the country as composer, clinician, conductor and entertainer. Audiences respond with laughter and with tears as he conducts and sings his unique mix of inspirational and humorous music in churches and conferences.

New Resource for Choir Rehearsals: carus plus put to the test

A choir is a collective of different types of singers who approach rehearsals in very different ways: one can sing perfectly by sight, whilst another is always reliant on his or her neighbor. Some prepare for rehearsals at home, but most of the singers hope to get some direction from the conductor and practice their parts during rehearsals. Bringing together and shaping voices which have more-or-less secure intonation into a unified sound is a task which requires a lot of time and effort on the part of all involved.

In order to make this task easier, in recent years Carus has considerably expanded its range of new, motivating practice aids. Under the keyword “carus plus” practice aids are now available to suit the different needs of singers for over 70 works from the international standard repertoire – from Bach’s St Matthew Passion to many masses by Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert, and to Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël.

 

carus music, The Choir app

7331000u “How can we exploit the possibilities offered by new media to support individual practice for choral singers?”, asked Johannes Graulich, managing director of Carus-Verlag, and himself an active choral singer. As a response to this, carus music, the choir app was created in 2015, and has since gone on to become established as a helpful practice aid for thousands of choral singers. What is special about this app is not only the combination of music with an excellent recording, but in particular the so-called “coach”. If you select the coach mode, your own voice is reinforced by the piano as part of the overall sound, and through this it can be heard better as if you are in a rehearsal situation. As well as this, with the coach it is also possible to play pieces back at a slower tempo for practice purposes. “The app helps choral singers to learn the notes quicker so that I have more time for my interpretation”, is how conductor Klaus Brecht sums up practicing with the digital coach. He added, “when it comes to repeating passages, it is more patient than me; each singer can decide how he or she wants to use it.” Lots of singers in Brecht’s chamber choir Tritonus confirm that preparation for choir rehearsals is definitely more fun with carus music: “It was really fun to have the opportunity to practice the piece with the full sound at home”, one of the singers enthused. And one advantage which should not be underestimated – the choral singers, whose daily life is not exclusively devoted to singing, valued the straightforwardness of the app: “When you’ve got some free time you can have a quick listen, and you’ve got the music right there.” Those choral singers who learn their parts mainly by listening see the coach as an invaluable support.

Choral director Klaus Brecht regards the fact that first-class ensembles such as the Stuttgart Kammerchor can be heard on the app as a huge advantage: “Intonation is a strong reason to practice with the app, because you’re always practicing with a choir which has excellent intonation. And the difference between practicing with the piano is the fact that the singer is always surrounded by a very good choral sound, which hopefully soon filters down to him or her.” For choral singers a similar motivating argument: “I found my first listening to the piece super, because the recording is lovely and I always had the overall sound right there,” enthused one singer.

Here you could find all works with carus plus.

 

Carus Choir Coach – practice aids on CD

cover-medium_large_fileEncouraged by the enthusiastic reception of the choir app, Carus-Verlag gave further thought to the idea of the individual practicing: so that those who do not have smart phones or tablets can benefit from the coach, this is now also on offer in the form of practice CDs in the “Carus Choir Coach” series.

 

Vocal scores XL

cover-medium_large_file-1And we have responded to a frequently-heard wish from choral singers regarded printed music scores: for many works Carus also offers vocal scores in large print – the Vocal scores XL series – enabling, for example, singers with less than perfect eyesight to enjoy more relaxed reading.

Klaus Brecht’s chamber choir is convinced by the carus plus range without exception: “we’ve definitely saved two to three rehearsals with what everyone has done at home”, was one soprano’s opinion of practising with the app. And there was unanimity amongst the singers in the chamber choir, especially about the fun and motivation factor of carus music, the choir app, as one alto confirmed: “It’s really been fun to practise, because you can always hear this wonderful choir. And so I’ve certainly practised more than normal.”

What more could a conductor ask for?

 

 


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