Hi there,
Today I thought I would share a few of my favorite recordings.

When we think of using recordings in a music class, perhaps thoughts of Bach and Beethoven come to mind. Not that Bach and Beethoven are bad, they are in fact quite amazing composers and certainly hold a firm place in history with their impact on music and the world today. However, for kids today we need to think about relevance as they see it not as we see it. For example, few students will appreciate Beethoven if he means nothing to them and they can’t connect in some way to his work. To help students build bridges from the music they listen to today to music written in the 1600’s, 1700’s etc, the key is to be inclusive of what students DO listen to today and gradually back up through time, touching on the historical influences along the way that generated what students now listen to themselves. In other words, try working in reverse instead of starting at the beginning as we often do when talking about history.  And by the way, the students can discover the historical path themselves and connect to it in their own way!

To help students with this, it is important to have students sharing recordings of their music and talking about it. In addition to that I’d like to see us expand our ideas of what music is, how it can be created, and what it’s purpose is; the same questions in fact that Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven surely asked as they each discovered their own unique ideas. You won’t have a difficult time coming up with a list of the top 10 pop singles out there to incorporate into your classes, but you might struggle to know what types of recordings exist that can help bridge other genres of music to what kids listen to today.

Below are a few recordings that will surprise you, will amaze you, and will make you laugh! It is my hope that these recordings will not only help to make connections and build relevance between current pop music and history, but I hope they will also open our minds to questioning what is music and how can it be created? I hope these recordings inspire your students to think of the unimaginable, to explore & invent new sounds, and to create music in ways that have yet to be discovered! Enjoy!

1.  An absolute must listen to! The Mnozil Brass were recently in Saskatoon and are endlessly talented. This clip shows how music isn’t just about what you hear, rather it is visual too when musicians are actors and entertainers. This clip also shows how music can have a specific purpose and can evoke specific emotions. Try describing this recording in words to someone and see if you can garner the same response as the live audience did; its likely not possible. You don’t have to be a fan of brass instruments either to get a kick out this performance. Just think of all the exploring and creativity that went into this performance, that is what we want our kids to see.

2.  Now this next clip is indeed a Mozart piece, but have a listen to it and see if you can figure out the bridge that exists from this historical piece of music to another piece of music that is a part of Canadian history and is relevant to all of us almost daily.  You will be surprised at what you hear and it will likely inspire you go digging around on wikipedia to learn more, or at least I hope so…ok that’s all the teaser I’m going to give you on that…here it is.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38SifUUyUaY

3.  Here’s a recording of a piece of music that was created to sound not like music, but rather like a rainstorm.  In fact, it doesn’t just sound “like” a rainstorm, if you were to close your eyes you would likely think you were in fact in the middle of a real rainstorm.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=29qaNOMOoOs

4.  Here’s a piece of music that probably no one goes home and listens to on their iPods, but it raises that question again about what is music?  This piece is also a significantly historical piece in 20th century music.  This piece teaches a point, a perspective.  This is John Cage’s piece called 4’33” (4 minutes, 33 seconds).  It is a piece of music that does not contain a single written note or sound in it, it is complete silence).  The idea was that the music created was whatever sounds took place over that time, and therefore the piece is different for every performance.  This piece also explores the value of silence in music and the effect that silence has on music.  It is printed and copyrighted by the way and scored for solo piano.  It contains 3 movements! 🙂  www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN2zcLBr_VM

5.  This next one is another new favorite.  Similar creative geniuses as the Mnozil Brass emerge here with the compositions of Five Piano Guys.  This clip features a pop song that your students will recognize and connect with and shows how to create music in a completely unique way that uses a piano in a way it was never intended for (in fact Beethoven would roll over in his grave, or perhaps he would love it?). Important to note about this amazing group is that only 2 out of the 5 members consider themselves to be musicians!  If you like this clip, check out their work with Star Wars, it is equally impressive.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVqTwnAuHws

6. Last one for today…Have you ever thought what movies would sound like without the soundtracks that go with them?  The movie would be pretty boring really!  That’s because the music helps tell the story and adds the emotion that makes the film come alive which draws you into temporarily believing that what you see on the screen is real!  Lord of the Rings was quite popular not long ago and had a wonderful sound track written for it.  My students did not originally know that the movies were based on books that had been written long beforehand.  Likewise, they also didn’t know that a symphony telling the story of the books had also been composed long before the movies existed.  The entire symphony is called Symphony No. 1 and was written by Johan DeMeij, and I prefer it to the movie soundtrack.  Each movement represents either a major character(s) or a major event in the story, and I think DeMeij’s version speaks to more detail in the characters than the movie music does.  In fact I think you could listen to each movement and pick out several of the characters just by hearing the music and without knowing it’s particular title.  See if you can tell which LOR character this particular movement No. 3 depicts without looking at the youtube screen to tell you the answer!  www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjKgj2AuQSE

How does music do this?  How does music become a movie character?  How does music paint a picture?  How does music create a storm?  How does music tell a joke?  Incorporating recordings such as those above can get students asking those questions and connecting to a broadened scope of music genres.  More importantly asking those questions should be used to lead students to create music of their own that challenges the notions of what music is!

As always let me know if something grabs you and I will connect you with more!

Have a great week!



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