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Led Zepplin & Chopin

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Led Zeppelin were an English rock band active in the late 1960’s originally as the New Yardbirds in 1968, the band consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham.

They are widely considered to be one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in history.

After changing their name, they signed with Atlantic Records who allowed artistic freedom. Led Zeppelin disliked releasing their songs as singles; they viewed their albums as indivisible and complete listening experiences. Due to the heavy, guitar-driven blues rock sound of their first two albums, Led Zeppelin are frequently recognised as the progenitors of heavy metal andvhard rock.

However, the band’s individualistic style drew from a wide variety of influences, including folk music, which they incorporated into their next two albums. Their untitled fourth album, which features the track “Stairway to Heaven”, is among the most popular and influential works in rock music, and it cemented the status of the group as “superstars”.

Led Zeppelin disbanded following Bonham’s unexpected death in 1980.

Immigrant Song


Madonna & Mozart

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Madonna Louise Ciccone(yes that is her real name) has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is the world’s best-selling female recording artist in history. She is known for continuously reinventing both her music and her image. Madonna’s voice isn’t virtuoso, her contribution to music has relied on working with what she has and creating incredible hooks for her songs, and using music as a medium for an artistic statement.

Material Girl


Abba & The Entertainer

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Abba was a Swedish pop disco group formed in Stockholm in 1972. From 1972-1982 they topped the charts, and skyrocketeed to fame when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They’ve sold over 370 million records, still sell a million a year and Madonna begged them to let her sample gimme gimme gimme for Madonnas song ‘Hung Up’.

They have an interesting harmonic approach, orchestral arrangements and 4 part harmony. They experienced another revival in 1999 with the Musical Mamma Mia! which is based around the songs of Abba and was made into a Movie starring Meryl Streep

Our classical selection is a rag by Scott Joplin, ‘The Entertainer’. Written in 1902 it returned to fame as the theme for the 1973 oscar winning film ‘The Sting’.

A rag was a form of dance that was popular around 1911 when instead of going to a dance club with a sound system, folks would gather around the piano and dance. A happy playful melody, one of the songs most people want to learn on the piano.

Take A Chance On Me


Michael Jackson & Bach

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Michael Jackson (1958-2009) was an American recording artist & entertainer referred to as the ‘King Of Pop’. Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World records. His contributions to music, dance & fashion made him a global figure for over four decades. He is the youngest of 7.

Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, Off the Wall, Bad, Dangerous, HIStory also rank among the world’s best-selling. He has won 13 Grammy’s & 26 American Music awards, more than any other artist. 13 number-one singles in the US. He also was one the world’s most prominent humanitarians donating more than $300 million to charity.

This week’s selections are off of ‘Off The Wall’ & ‘Thriller’. Produced by Quincy Jones. Songwriters for ‘Off The Wall’ include Rod Temperton, Stevie Wonder & Paul McCartney. Thriller has a duet with McCartney and on Beat It we have a guitar solo performed by Eddie Van Halen.

Don’t Stop til you get Enough


Elvis & The Sugarplum Fairy

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Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-1977) was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is commonly known as ‘Elvis’ and ‘The King’. He began his career in Memphis, TN working with Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Presley was the most important popularizer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat fusion of country & R&B.

Presley’s first single ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ released in January 1956, was a number-one hit. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender.

These selections are from Elvis’s ‘early’ years.

Our classical selection of the week comes from the Ballet ‘The Nutcracker’. The score is written by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky and the story is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story ‘The Nutcracker & The Mouse King’. Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute suite that Tchaikovsky wrote was. The Nutcracker experienced a revival in the late 1960’s when the New York City Ballet began performing it annualy around Christmas time. The tradition has since spread all over the U.S. and to this day around the holidays in every major city ‘The Nutcracker’ is performed.

The Dance of The Sugarplum Fairy comes from the opening of the second act where Clara & the prince have travelled in a boat pulled by dolophins to the beautiful ‘Land Of Sweets’. It is a celebration of sweets from around the world, chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, tea from China, Candy Canes from china & Kolaches from West.

Heartbreak Hotel


The Beatles & Fur Elise

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The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. The band consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Rooted in 1950s rock and roll, the group later utilised many genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements, in innovative ways.

The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with sales of over one billion units estimated by EMI Records. They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. They were collectively included in Time magazine’s compilation of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people.

Below are some of their best selections from their early years.

Saw her standing there


How To Make Practice Fun!

| Practice

How to make practice fun!

What is practice? Can you define it?
I can!

Practice is the repeated performance of an exercise for the purpose of acquiring a skill or proficiency of that exercise!
or… Doing something over and over to be able to do that thing better.

What about a lesson? Can you define that?

A lesson is a period of time where learning is intended to occur involving one or more students being led by an instructor.

Both lessons and practice are incredibly more enjoyable with the addition of fun! For students, parents and teachers all together!

Here are some ideas for you to make your students practice & lesson time more fun.

Keep in mind that not all of the ways to improve practice and lessons are found at the piano bench or in the students practice room!

In fact the best thing that you can do for a students education is at your fingertips. Use You Tube, iTunes or Spotify to introduce your student to what you consider the musical greats. Tell them their names, share the music that you love with them. Let them see, hear and feel the music that has moved you. It will only be natural for them to want to play it after that.

Here is the list we’ve come up with.

encourage creativity
variation – have them play songs, exercises….but just a little bit differently
play with their eyes closed
play slow, medium, fast
play soft, loud
memorize everything!
make up words to a melody without words
sing along with the melody
family recital(play for the family)
make up a song
timed note reading race(keep track and time)
introduce your child to music you like
explore new music
listen to the top songs on and find out whats new that they like
make and keep a list of songs that they know
make and keep a list of music they like!
compliment & show approval when they play
use suggestion instead of command ex. ‘I would love it if you played Fur Elise for me, it makes me so happy to hear you play that song’
only play songs that they like!
make it a game, keep score, points, everyone likes to win
reward them
take them to concerts
take them to musicals
watch musical movies(check my blog for the movie list)
discover what songs in video games they like – Super Mario Bros.
Discover what songs in movies they like
sing to your kids(even if you think you aren’t a good singer)
have them listen to a bird whistle and try to figure it out
play outside
sugar them up before they practice(with candy)
funny word associations –
bounce and play
dance and play
wiggle head and play
beatbox and play
Play one chord in a pretty arpeggio form!
play an instrument with them
clap your hands along with them
watch them practice – keep them company
help them practice
learn a song with them
do something in the room while they practice(keep them company)

If you are struggling with your student ‘practicing’ at home, don’t panic, be patient. Pick a couple of these ideas to try out(don’t do them all at once) and be positive with them. Listening to music and discovering new music is much more important than practicing scales, exercises and songs that they know.

Because it gives them a target!

I promise you if you are positive and patient with your student and make practice fun for them soon your home will be filled with more music than you ever imagined.

Have Fun!

-David Hall