Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff: Biography Review

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

 

Title:  Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff
Author:  Opal Wheeler
Pages:  167
Reading Level:  Child – Young Adult
Audience:  Music Students, Music Teachers, Families
Stars:  ★★★★★

 

If I had to pick one work to describe this book, it would be adorable.  I love it!

First of all, it’s a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life.  Second of all, it’s just plain charming.  The book starts with the lad Robert and the many adventures he had with his faithful kitten, Ziff, at his heels.  The story continues through his musical career and into his happy life as a husband and father.  His family life – both as a boy and as a married man – was delightful, and this book highlights the sweetness of those relationships beautifully.

The illustrations are darling.  The biographies from Opal Wheeler’s Great Musicians Series are illustrated by various artists, but this one is my favorite.   They are black and white, but they’re very tastefully done – simple, sweet, and charming.  The work of this particular illustrator reminds me of old-fashioned Christmas Card artwork.  Love it.

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

And then there is the wonderful sheet music scattered throughout the book. Schumann wrote piles of music for his little ones, and thousands of boys and girls around the world have benefited from them.  Many of his pieces from Album for the Young are included, as well as snippets from his Sonata in G and others.

Even if no one in your house can play the music yet, try following along as you listen to recordings of the pieces. It’s a great way to acquaint yourself with the composer’s style and learn to recognize his compositions.

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

The writing style is interesting, quick-paced, and in story format, with a pleasant level of maturity.  It’s a great resource for little readers and would also be a fun family read aloud.

You can take advantage of the study guide (separate purchase) for the book, if you’d like to incorporate discussion points and quizzes into your group reading time.

 

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog.  www.sfzMusicBlog.com  #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

 

Critiques & Cautions 

There are no inappropriate details in the book, but here are a few FYI cautions for parents to be aware of:

– Robert lies to a piano salesman in order to gain access to his pianos for a practice session.  It’s not portrayed as wrong – only as a little joke  p. 46
– Robert says that his music cannot be bound by rules.  p. 72
– Robert says that the fairies have blessed his little baby…  Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous. p. 92

 

schumann.2In Summary  

This little biography is a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life and is definitely worth adding to your music library.

Music Teachers & Parents, it’s a great resource to spice up your student’s music history studies and would make great reading assignment for a composer of the month project!

You can buy it from Amazon HERE.

LIKE The Music Blog on Facebook for more reviews, tips, & music freebies! 

New Shipment of Books!

 

I just got a new shipment of music books in the mail!  I’m super excited to get to reading and reviewing this stack of books for The Music Blog.

Here are the titles…  Have you read any of these?  Thoughts?

 

New Shipment of Music Books | The Music Blog

 

For Teachers

The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook 450 textbook-size pages full of tips for establishing a professional private studio.  The subtitle is “Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Teaching Studio”, and it looks like it’s going to live up to that claim.  Looking forward to going through this one!

That’s a Good Question: How to Teach by Asking Questions.   I’ve found that asking questions is one of the most productive ways to help my students take more initiative in evaluating their music.  I was excited to find a book that develops this idea.

For Students / Musicians

The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self.  This one was recommended to my by a fellow music teacher and friend [who also happens to be my sister-in-law].  Looks absolutely fantastic.  Thanks, Lily!

Piano Playing with Piano Questions Answered.  Written by renowned concert pianist, Josef Hofmann.  The first half of the book discusses technique and style. The last half is a lengthy Q&A section on all things piano.  There should be some great insight here.

Singing & Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today.  There are a lot of opinions out there about music in the Church.  This author seems to address the topic without sinking to emotional, ad hominem arguments.  I hope it’s as good as it looks!

For Children

The Story of the Incredible Orchestra.  I’ve been looking for a good book for children on the orchestra, and it looks like I may have found it!  Recommended to me by a friend and fellow music teacher – thanks, Hannah!

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff.  From the Great Musicians Series by Opal Wheeler.

Ludwig Beethoven & the Chiming Tower Bells.  Also from the Great Musicians Series.

Meet the Great Composers: Book 1.  An anthology of mini-bios and musical activities about the great composers.  Fun!

Famous Composers & Their Music: Book 2.  Another anthology of mini-bios and musical activities about the great composers.  More fun.  ;)

Great Composers Coloring Book 

I’m going to go get busy reading.

Have any other great books you think I should get that aren’t already here or on the Music Resources pages?  Please tell me!  I love recommendations.  :)

 

 

Sharps, Flats, & Naturals: 3 Free Printable Worksheets

 

Hi friends!  Here is the last set of worksheets for the “week of free downloads”!   I intended to share these worksheets on Saturday, but I was sick and unable to post them.  Better late than never, though!

These three theory worksheets are focused on strengthening the student’s ability to recognize and write out sharps, flats, & naturals.  You can print them out and use them during lessons, or give them to your students for extra practice at home!  Complete descriptions and download directions are below.

I’ll continue to post free printables every other Friday here on The Music Blog, so be sure to check back January 31st and every other Friday after that for more free theory worksheets and more!

Enjoy!

 

WORKSHEET 1:  IDENTIFYING ACCIDENTALS

This worksheet gives students practice in identifying notes with sharps, flats, and natural signs.  

 Identifying Sharps, Flats, & Naturals | Free Printable Theory Worksheets on The Music Blog

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”450px” border_width=”1px” ]

WORKSHEET 2:  ADDING ACCIDENTALS

This worksheet gives students practice in writing accidentals by adding assigned sharps, flats, and naturals to the given notes.

Adding Sharps, Flats, & Naturals | Free Printable Theory Worksheets on The Music Blog

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”450px” border_width=”1px” ]

WORKSHEET 3:   WRITING NOTES WITH ACCIDENTALS

This worksheet gives students practice writing notes with accidentals.  Exercises include writing sharps, flats, & naturals in the treble and bass clefs.

 Writing Notes with Sharps, Flats, & Naturals | Free Printable Theory Worksheet on The Music Blog

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”450px” border_width=”1px” ]

Please PRINT them, USE them, & SHARE them freely with your friends!

[box style=”white” ]Download Directions:  Click “DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET” link.  When file loads, press ctrl+s [PC] or command+s [Mac] to save file to your computer.  Press ctrl+p [PC] or command+p [Mac] to print. [/box]

 

LIKE The Music Blog on Facebook to get updates on new music freebies!

Advice to Young Musicians: Book Review & Free eBook

Advice to Young Musicians  |  Review & Free eBook  on  The Music Blog

 

Title:            Advice to Young Musicians
Author:        Robert Schumann
Pages:         48
Reading Level: Young Adult – Adult
Audience:   Students, Teachers, Families
Stars:           ★★★

 

Robert Schumann’s collection of piano compositions, Album for the Young, is well-loved, and thousands of young musicians have played his charming pieces.  But not very many know that he wrote a tiny book of words, too, called Advice to Young Musicians.

Advice to Young Musicians is a classic wit-and-wisdom-style book.  It’s not written in chapters, or even paragraphs, but in sixty-eight short music “proverbs” containing what Robert Schumann considered to be the most important advice he could give to a young musician.

Like most wit-and-wisdom books, some of the proverbs are better than others, and not every proverb is profound.  But the book is enjoyable, and much of the advice is profitable for musicians on a variety of levels.

Here is a sample of the content ~

 

52.  Do not judge of a composition on a first hearing; what pleases you in the first moment is not always the best.

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”300px” border_width=”1px” ]

 

31.  If all would play first violin, we could get no orchestra together.  Respect each musician, therefore, in his place.

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”300px” border_width=”1px” ]

 

11.  You must not only be able to play your little pieces with the fingers; you must be able to hum them over without a piano.  Sharpen your imagination so that you may fix in your mind not only the melody of a composition, but also the harmony belonging to it.

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”300px” border_width=”1px” ]

 

22.  You should neither play poor compositions, nor even listen to them, if you are not obliged to.

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”300px” border_width=”1px” ]

 

39.  The study of the history of music, supported by the actual hearing of the master compositions of the different epochs, is the shortest way to cure you of self-esteem and vanity.

 

It’s a short little book – one you can read cover-to-cover in about 15 minutes.

To get the most out of it, though, reading it all at once isn’t the best plan.  Instead, pick one good quote at a time and make it your musical motto for the day – or the week! This way you’ll be able to focus on internalizing and applying the very best pieces of advice, instead of just reading straight through all of them at once.

[box style=”white” ]

NOTE:  Advice to Young Musicians is a book for “young musicians”, not “young children”.  It is written in older English, so some of the language can be a bit challenging for our modern phrasing and vocabulary.  This isn’t a criticism of the book, just a clarification.

If you would like your young child to benefit from the book, try reading it aloud to them in small portions, offering explanations and application along the way.[/box]

It’s always fun to add a book by one of the great composers to your music library.  You can get your own copy of Advice to Young Musicians from Amazon HERE, or if you like, you can READ THE BOOK FOR FREE here!




2 Free Theory Printables: Time Values & Note/Rest Identification

 

Here are 2 NEW printables for you to use with your students during the lessons or with your children at home!  

Download directions are at the bottom of the page.  Enjoy!

 

WORKSHEET 1:   NOTE & REST KINDS

This worksheet requires students to circle individual notes & rests that are mixed into a variety of others.  One line each is devoted to quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes, whole notes, quarter rests, half rests, and whole rests.  

Free Printable Theory Worksheet NOTES & RESTS | The Music Blog

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

[hr color=”GRAY” width=”450px” border_width=”1px” ]

WORKSHEET 2:  TIME VALUES

In this worksheet gives students practice in identifying the time values of basic notes and rests.  Drills include quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes, whole notes, quarter rests, half rests, and whole rests.  

Free Printable Theory Worksheet Time Values  |  The Music Blog

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

Please PRINT them, USE them, & SHARE them freely with your friends!

[box style=”white” ]Download Directions:  Click “DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET” link.  When file loads, press ctrl+s [PC] or command+s [Mac] to save file to your computer.  Press ctrl+p [PC] or command+p [Mac] to print. [/box]

[box style=”light-gray” ]Like Lacie Bowman Music on Facebook
to get our NEW music freebies as soon as they’re published! [/box]

Music At Your Fingertips: Review

 

IMG_7875

Title:         Music At Your Fingertips
Author:     Ruth Slenczynska
Pages:      162
Reading Level:  Adult
Audience:     Students & Teachers
Star Rating:  ★★★★★

 

I appreciate so much about the advice in this book, but I think it all boils down to these three things:  It’s experienced, practical, and to-the-point.

Ruth_Slenczynska_PianistExperienced

Ruth Slenczynska has spent the greater portion of her life at the piano.  She started studying at age three, made her debut performance in Berlin at age six, and performed in Paris with a full orchestra by age 11.  She spent her following years performing around the world and studying with renowned musicians, including the iconic pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff.  So when she writes about the piano, she isn’t writing dreamed-up ideas of an experienced-pianist wannabe.  She is a real expert, and her writing shows it.  She talks about tried-and-true exercises, and techniques that helped her to develop her strengths and master her weaknesses at the piano, and they work!

 

Practical

So practical.  The subtitle of the book is “Advice for the Artist and Amateur on Playing the Piano”, and it’s true.  Ruth Slenczynska is a concert artist, but these sixteen chapters are full of discussions that are every bit as valuable for student musicians as for world-touring professionals – principles and tips for practice, musicianship, memorization, developing finger control, preparing for performances, listening, teaching, mastering technique, selecting repertoire, and quite a bit more.

Consider this paragraph on mastering difficult passages:

[quote]There is no passage so difficult that it would not be possible to find a metronome speed slow enough to play it comfortably.  Technical problems are controlled by the mind.  We must train the mind before we train our hands… which we achieve by working at a slow tempo.  Forcing speed too soon is like forcing a child to walk before he is ready.  You make no progress, and you can jeopardize the equilibrium and control you may have acquired.  [/quote]

And these rules on developing a defined, expressive melody:

[quote]A melody without direction becomes purposeless.  Here are three basic rules:

  1. Concentrate for the full length of the musical line, with out interruption.
  2. Determine the mood to be expressed and make every detail point toward it.
  3. Find the focal point or climax of a phrase or section in order to give direction to your musical thought.[/quote]

And this tip on working towards a performance tempo:

[quote]…Always aim at a faster tempo than [you] will need.  In performance it should never be necessary to use your ability to the limits; there should always be a margin of reserve. [/quote]

This is advice that you can read, take to the piano, and immediately apply.  I love books like that.  And while it’s true that her instruction is addressed to pianists, the majority of the principles can be easily and effectively applied to other instruments as well.

 

To-The-Point

The author doesn’t waste time or space.  Most of the chapters are 8-12 pages – the perfect bite-size bits to chew on. No worrying about getting bogged down in the middle of a forty-page chapter!  The chapters are relatively disconnected from one another in subject, but each one addresses its topic with competence and perception.  She is concise, and her comprehensive approach to the piano is genuinely fun to experience.

[box style=”white” ]Important Note…  Most of the chapters address a broader arena than the title implies.  The chapters on building and preparing a solo concert program (#8-9), for instance, teach good methods for preparing for a performance of any kind, and the chapter on teaching at the college level (#15) gives teaching tips that are useful for much more than just the college classroom.  So spend a little time in each of the chapters, even if the title seems like it won’t apply to you.[/box]

 

In SummaryRuth_Slenczynska_Autograph

If you are a musician focused on improving your technique, you’ll enjoy the book.  It’s full of principles that will guide your progress and challenge you musically and physically!  You’ll also enjoy the new drills and historic trivia you learn along the way.

If you’re a music teacher, I encourage you to read the book!  Most of the principles for students apply to teaching students as well, and I gleaned so much from this book as a teacher.  It is, hands-down, the number one resource that has affected the way I teach.

Music at Your Fingertips is certainly not a glamorous book.  The cover design is outdated, the layout is basic, and the pictures are black and white and a little bit fuzzy.  But the content is exceptional!

 

You can see a preview / purchase the book  from Amazon HERE.  Have fun!