Category Archives: 31 Days of Homemade Music

Wrapping Things Up (Day Thirty-One of Homemade Music)

Welcome to the very LAST day of 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Well, folks, here we are. The last day of this series. Thanks for sticking with me if you’ve been able to. I’ve really enjoyed the feedback from you all, as well as the awesome community I’ve gained from getting to know some other 31 Days writers. It’s been a major challenge writing about one main idea for every single day of a whole month, but also a great personal discipline for me.

This month, I’ve babbled on and on about why you should make music and how to get going. We’ve discussed why music is good for the mind and the soul, and how to listen to potentially unfamiliar music. We have visited starting points for playing with singing, percussion, music-reading, and piano. I’ve given you listening activities to do with your family and briefly introduced you to folk music and sacred music.


We all hear music every day- in the car, the store, on TV, or in the office. Most of us have heard at least some recordings of great music, and some of us have been lucky to attend live concerts. But my agenda this month was to help convince you that it is well worth it to participate in music making, and to give you some tools to that end.

I hope that you were able to try at least some of the ideas from this 31 Days series. If you haven’t yet, maybe at some point in the future it will provide you with an avenue for musical exploration. If not, that’s okay too- I just hope that at some point you decide to give music a try- without fear, reservation, or self-consciousness!

Can music really make a big difference in your life? Think about it. Can it broaden your mind and sphere of experience? Can it heighten the senses? Can it develop your personal tastes? Can it be a comfort or a joy? Can it move powerful men to a change of heart? Can it sweep huge crowds of people with dancing and singing? Can it change the hearts of a nation?

I would dare to say yes. Yes, it can.

Do you think so too? You’ll never know until you try. Happy music-making to you!

homemade music3

Resources for Church Music (Day Thirty of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

sacred collection

Yesterday I spent some time talking about some guiding principles for leading church music. Today, I want to give you some resources for continuing to do that. This isn’t an exhaustive list- it merely includes the books and websites I use most frequently. Depending upon your church setting and musical culture, some of these resources will work better for you than others. Feel free to pick and choose as you will.


Indelible Grace Hymn Book- Indelible Grace focuses on reviving the tradition of putting old hymn texts to new tunes. The hymnbook is rich with carefully selected hymns of generations past, put to appropriate and pleasing melodies with new arrangements. The website is one of the most complete and helpful resources I have found for it’s music. Each one of the hymns (from a large index, mind you) includes a lead sheet, guitar chords, a demo, a power point (for you screen-using churches) and the complete score. Many include a piano solo arrangement. And all for free- beat that.

Trinity Hymnal We have the “red cover edition” of the Trinity Hymnal, and use it frequently. There is very little of the useless stuff you find littered throughout so many hymnals. Expect well-written, meaty texts and appealing arrangements. They have different editions for different denominations (with theological differences and all), so you can search for one that best suits your church if you’d prefer.

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns This hymnal includes a lot of the classic, homey old tunes that we associate with the era of Fanny Crosby. You want Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Nothing But The Blood, and Trust and Obey? This is the hymnal for you.

If your church prefers more contemporary music, almost all of those songs can be found on sites like Sheetmusicplus.com or Musicnotes.com. Or, if you like to live on the edge, you can just Google it and follow someone else’s lead sheet slapped up a free guitar tab site. Just be aware that these sites are scattered with glaring chord errors, and you may have to do some corrective work to the available music.

If you sing special music, offertory music, or communion music, you may want to look for some befitting solos. You can try The Sacred Collection: Low Voice or High Voice for a wide selection of sacred music across a variety of genres. I have also used some of Mark Hayes’ arrangements for voice in solo music: 10 Hymns & Gospel Songs for Solo Voice or 7 Psalms and Spiritual Songs are good for starters. If you enjoy singing spirituals, try some of Moses Hogan’s arrangements in books such as The Deep River Collection (I don’t have this book, but I do like Moses Hogan!). There are of course many more possibilities than this, but these are the books I have visited frequently for sacred solo arrangements.

What music does your church use? If you lead music frequently, what is your favorite resource for doing so?

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Church Music for Newbies (Day Twenty-Nine of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

If you are remotely musically inclined and a churchgoer, chances are at some point you either have been or will be asked to participate in music in some way. Depending on the type of church you attend, you may be able to join a choir or a “praise band,” or be asked to lead music in some capacity (cantoring or leading congregational hymns). Or, perhaps you will be asked to perform “special music,” which is basically a solo in church for you non-Christianese speakers.

Large organ in catholic cathedral(Photo Credit)

If you’re new at participating in church music, it can be kind of intimidating at first. So whether you’re just starting or just open to rethinking how you do church music, here are a few ideas for you.


1) Keep it meaningful. Text first. Always look at the words of a song before you choose it for church music. Is it God-glorifying? Is it well-written? Are there any wonky lyrics that you’re not sure you should attribute to God or the church? Is it clear? Picking well written words helps the congregation to stay with you mentally and in spirit.

2) Keep it simple. Now is not the time to try to show off. Ideally, you want to be leading others in worship- and being purposefully cocky or overly impressive is a surefire way to distract from that purpose. If you’re doing a solo, you will have a little leeway for performing with your own interpretation, but if you are leading the congregation in song, you will want to keep it simple and singable so that everyone can join in easily. (As you gain skill and experience, of course you can do more difficult repertoire- but that’s because you will be able to do it better, so it won’t be a distraction then!)

3) Keep it tasteful. During church is not the time to try to convince everyone that they should become reggae-lovers, or that hard metal can be Christian. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these beliefs, it is, once again, terribly distracting to use church as a venue to push your own musical preferences. (Believe me, I’ve walked these roads, and it all just gets muddied and confusing.) Better to keep it LESS stylized than more, or to go with a musical style that is generally accepted to be common among your congregation. Church worship should not be a divisive event. Keeping the music tasteful will help your congregation focus where they need to focus.

4) Keep it beautiful.  Pick songs that you can do well so that you can do them beautifully. Again, this will help you can focus on the worship rather than your performance. The more comfortable you are with the song, the more pleasing it will be for everyone.

5) Keep it cool. If you mess up or if the music is received poorly, don’t fret. Keep your focus on the worship and you won’t mind so much if it wasn’t perfect.

Have you noticed a trend here? The idea is to always keep your focus on the worship. Unfortunately, this is not always kept at the forefront when selecting church music. A lot of times we are more concerned about ourselves- about how we will be perceived, how we will sound, whether or not the sound system worked, or if we like a song well enough- than we are about the whole point of doing church music: to offer a sacrifice of praise.

Note: I do think there is a place for high art in church music. There is not much more lovely than hearing professional musicians performing difficult repertoire very well. While “low art” highlights our commonality and encourages everyone to join in, high art lifts the mind and draws a parallel to the complexities and richness of the things of God. However, each has their downsides: If we sing all low music, we forget God’s greatness. If we perform all high music, we become disconnected. I personally think that a balance between the two is the most appropriate way to go.

Come back tomorrow for some helpful church music resources. What do you most appreciate in your church music?

(Whew- 31 Days is almost over! Are you still with me?)

Resources for Folk Music (Day 28 of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Over the past several days of this series, I have tried to introduce you to a variety of folk genres so that you can begin learning some of the songs yourself. Today, I will share with you several of my favorite folk song resources so you can continue learning on your own. (I’ve also tried to keep the resource list very inexpensive!)


Something to sing about!: The personal choices of America’s folk singers
A really awesome collection of folk singers’ favorite song choices all in one book, published 1968. Before each artist’s selection, a brief biography and information on the song is included. This book has a great variety, and a steal at $3 for a hardcover copy.

Folk Songs for Solo Singers Several volumes house many tastefully arranged folk songs for the beginning voice student. While these books are meant more for performance than for community singing, they are still a unique resource. They join together the worlds of the folk song devotee and the aspiring vocalist.

The Fireside Book Of children’s Songs– A fabulous collection of children’s songs, such I was trying to link to in yesterday’s post. These are the enduring types of children’s songs with great melodies and tasteful arrangements that are appealing to both child and adult. The hardcover edition has a yellow cover, and J is often asking to sing songs from “The Yellow Book.” There are also other “fireside book” collections, and if they are anything like the children’s collection, I will be looking to gather them up as well.

Music Through The Day Another collection of simple folk songs and children’s songs. We don’t use this one quite as much, but it’s still got a wide array of music to choose from. It’s nice to find slightly different versions of the same songs across different books.


The Story That Crow Told Me A collection of rare and colorful recordings from the early 20th century of children’s folk songs. Now, be warned that not all of these are kid’s songs that would be acceptable today- things used to be a little rougher around the edges, you know- but they are fabulous and old timey and lots of fun to listen to. There is a second volume as well, though we only have the first.

Try looking at some of the links from my previous posts and use Youtube or Pandora to hear more from some of the same artists. Try looking up some big names for starters- Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez,  Smothers Brothers, or Woodie Guthry for starters. Try listening to multiple versions of the same song.

Look up some chords to a song or snag a book, learn the melodies, try some harmonies, and get singing/playing! There’s something wonderful about singing with the voices of many years past, isn’t there? 😉

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Children’s Folk Songs (Day Twenty-Seven of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Children’s folk songs have perhaps been among the most enduring cultural songs. Who hasn’t heard Skip to My Lou or Hush Little Baby, for example? Today, I wanted to share some delightful (and perhaps less well-known) children’s songs that deserve our attention.

In my prep time, however, I was slightly disturbed by the lack of reliable chord sources for these songs. Most links that I found had either poorly written tab, over-popularized and stylized remake versions, or incorrect notation. And so I must apologize. I don’t want to lead you astray with these sites, so I simply didn’t include them. We have our own children’s music books at home, but I was hoping to be able to pass on a free resource to those who don’t.


Also, I must apologize for the cheesy and obnoxious kids’ animation videos. I don’t usually go for these types of videos. I prefer to keep to tasteful or simple videos for the sake of developing a more beautiful sense of aesthetics in my kids. However, I was having a difficult time finding videos that were not either shallow animations or overly-stylized band versions of these traditional songs.

And-last apology, I promise!- there are so many good kid’s songs to sing, but I only have posted three here because of the ridiculous amount of time I took searching for accurate chords and decent videos of other songs that didn’t make it to this post. Tomorrow I will be sure to post further resources for folk and children’s music so you can find where to go from here!

Regardless, I still think these are worthwhile, so I will include whatever elements I can find for helping you learn the songs. Even the videos and lyrics, for example, will be enough to get you singing these with your kids. (I think I see a need here to record some of these songs!)

First up, Old Molly Hare– Here’s a kid’s video version- again, not my favorite style, but very easy to learn the tune and words from. If you want to hear an old-timey version from the early 1900s, try this one instead. Click here for yet another different version with chords.

Here’s one called Little Nut Tree, a traditional English nursery rhyme. It’s a pretty little tune with humorous text. You can find additional lyrics here.

How about Go Tell Aunt Rhody?  (Or, alternatively, The Old Grey Goose.) The name of the Aunt varies by the region the sung is sung. You can watch a short video tutorial here that includes chords and lyrics. Here’s a version by the Weavers:

The fun part about these songs is that even if you’re not really musically inclined, you can still sing-chant them together with your kids. It doesn’t need to be perfect to enjoy it! What’s your little one’s favorite tune?

Spirituals (Day Twenty-Six of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Let’s check out another common folk genre- the Spiritual. From work songs to freedom songs to praise songs, African American heritage has passed on a broad repertoire of beautiful music. Now spirituals are spread and sung by many people groups in America, particularly in choral music.

Follow the Drinking Gourd. A familiar spiritual that was actually a map for slaves trying to escape to the north. The drinking gourd was code for the big dipper, and many of the song’s lyrics give instructions for navigating the Underground Railroad.  You can click here for detailed information on each of the song’s lyrics. You can find the chords for the song here.


Swing Low Sweet Chariot- An enlivening acapella version of a well-known spiritual, sung by the Plantation Singers. This song speaks longingly of the day when the Lord will “swing low” in his chariot to take his people home to glory, safe at last from sin and sorrow. Of course, it could also be metaphorical- referring to the day of salvation, or even to freedom from slavery. I posted this song on my Facebook page a few days ago, but I liked it so much I just have to put it on the blog too. For some more information and the chords, click here.

The last one I’ll share with you today is Roll, Jordan, Roll. If you haven’t noticed yet, crossing the River Jordan has become a great symbol of crossing over to heaven to Christians of many heritages. This song portrays that hope beautifully. Grab the chords here.

(This video clip is from the movie 12 Years a Slave, based on the autobiograpy by Solmon Northup. While a very powerful and moving film chock full of traditional music, it deals poignantly with the cruel realities of American slavery and is definitely not for every viewer.)

Spirituals are wonderful for practicing acapella singing, part singing, call and response, percussion, or just regular old strumming with a guitar. Which song will you try next?

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Songs for Social Change (Day Twenty-Five of Homegrown Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here

Another sub-genre of folk music are those songs which advocate for social justice and cultural change. There are countless songs that protest war and promote peace, or cry for the rights of the abused and downtrodden. Music has at many times been a voice for the weak and a powerful catalyst for societal shifts. Whether or not you agree with the position of any given song, you can certainly appreciate the historical context and effects of each. Let’s have a listen, shall we?

First up, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya. Though the origins of this song are somewhat debated, it likely dates to 1867, and has had many remakes (even by punk rock band Dropkick Murphys) throughout the years. It is sung to the same tune as “The Ants Go Marching One by One.” It has become an anti-war song that has been applied to various times. You can get the words and chords here to give it a go at home. (Hope you enjoy the old video recording.)


Next, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, first featured on a Coke commercial, became an iconic peace-promoting (and tree-hugging) sing along song, sung in this video by the New Seekers in 1972. I first heard this sung by an 8 year old girl playing the ukelele, and I have to say she got me teary with her clear voice singing such big ideas at such a young age. Get the chords and words here.

Finally, how about Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill, a song lamenting the poor working conditions and unfair rules placed upon those workers constructing new railways in the mid-19th century. These men “worked all day for the sugar in their tay (tea),” and sometimes suffered terrible accidents while drilling and blasting holes in rocks. While it is a work song, it certainly also highlights the injustice of the harsh working conditions. Here are the chords and words for this one.

Do you have a favorite song that calls for some improvement to society, life, or culture? Share it below!

Story Folk Songs (Day Twenty-Four of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Yesterday we had a brief introduction to folk music. The thing is that “folk” is a very broad category that encompasses many styles. Today, I want to share with you a few of my favorite folk songs that tell a story. There are a gazillion and one to list, but I’ll start with three.

For each song, I’ll share the lyrics, a video, and a link to the chords so you can give these a whirl yourself. Don’t play an instrument? No problem. Try singing them, improvising harmony along with the video, or writing your own additional verses. Feel free to vary the melody or change the strum patterns. (If you listen to 10 different artists play these songs, you will hear 10 different versions.) That’s the beauty of a folk song- you can make it your own.


Ready or not, here we go!

Bird’s Courting Song– A beautiful little song in which several birds (and a bat) disclose in clever verse how they came to own the characteristics that mark them. And should it surprise us that they all came through love gained or lost?

Lyrics:

Hi! says the blackbird, sitting on a chair,
Once I courted a lady fair;
She proved fickle and turned her back,
And ever since then I’m dressed in black.

Hi! says the blue-jay as she flew,
If I was a young man I’d have two;
If one proved fickle and chanced for to go,
I’d have a new string to my bow.

Hi! says the little leather winged bat,
I will tell you the reason that,
The reason that I fly in the night
Is because I lost my heart’s delight.

Hi! says the little mourning dove,
I’ll tell you how to gain her love;
Court her night and court her day,
Never give her time to say “0 nay.”

Hi! said the woodpecker sitting on a fence,
Once I courted a handsome wench;
She proved fickle and from me fled,
And ever since then my head’s been red.

Get the chords for Bird’s Courting Song here.

I Ride an Old Paint- This is an old western song that outlines a sorrowful cowboy’s tale, but highlights the comfort and familiarity of riding his horse throughout life’s many troubles.

Lyrics:

I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan
I’m goin’ to Montana to throw the hoolihan
They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw
Their tails are all matted, their backs are all raw

Ride around little dogies, ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are rarin’ to go

Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a son
One went to college, the other went wrong
His wife, she got killed in a poolroom fight
But still he’s a-singin’ from mornin’ till night

When I die, take my saddle from the wall
Place it on my old pony, lead him out of his stall
Tie my bones to my saddle and turn our faces to the West
And we’ll ride the prairie we love the best

Read Cowboy Poetry’s commentary on the song for more info on all the cowboy lingo in this song. Get the chords for Old Paint here.

The Lily of the West- A man meets lovely Flora and falls in love with her. Flora cheats and the singer is so enraged that he murders Flora’s lover. Ultimately the author serves time, but still he loves his Flora, the lily of the west. This is a classic murder folk song, of which there are many.

When first I came to Louisville, some pleasure there to find
A damsel there from Lexington was pleasing to my mind
Her rosy cheeks, her ruby lips, like arrows pierced my breast
And the name she bore was Flora, the lily of the west.

I courted lovely Flora some pleasure for to find
But she turned unto another man whose sore distressed my mind
She robbed me of my liberty, deprived me of my rest
Then go, my lovely Flora, the lily of the west.

Away down in yonder shady grove, a man of high degree
Conversin’ with my Flora there, it seemed so strange to me
And the answer that she gave to him it sore did me oppress
I was betrayed by Flora, the lily of the west.

I stepped up my rival, dagger in my hand
I seized him by the collar, and bodly made him stand
Seing mad by desperation I pierced him to the breast
All this for lovely Flora, the lily of the west.

I had to stand my trial, I had to make my plea
They placed me in the witness box and then commenced on me
Although she swore my life away, deprived me of my rest
Still I love my faithless Flora, the Lily of the west.

Grab the chords for Flora here.

If you enjoyed these songs, you can also have a listen to other story songs like Barbara Allen and Frankie and Johnny, for starters. For fun before you go, you can also check out our own “murder ballad” played with friends. I’ll also be posting more songs on my Facebook page. I just can’t decide which ones I want to share with you because I love so many! Looking forward to having you come back tomorrow.

 

 

Introduction to Folk Music (Day Twenty-Three of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Now that we’ve spent considerable time playing with music basics and incorporating some of that into listening to the classical genre, it’s time to examine some wonderful quality music at the other end of the spectrum: folk music.

roadsidejam(Hubby and J enjoying some roadside folk tunes on a cross-country road trip we took 2 years ago.)


When I’m not practicing my classical singing, I’m singing folk songs with my husband or my kids. We hum along, sing along, strum along. I can’t help it. I just love it, and I want to share some of it with you.

What is folk music? It can have several definitions and characteristics. Some people refer to the 20th century folk revival as a genre in and of itself. Others would say folk music is simply traditional music of a particular people group. Some call varying styles of world music “folk music.” Some focus on the idea that folk music encompasses those songs which have been passed on by oral tradition. All of these are true. But this is how I like to sum up the definition of folk music:

Folk music is created by the people for the people.

Folk music traditionally has been written by the common man, expressing common sorrows, common joys, and common hopes. People from a wide age and geographical range can resonate with the themes of the songs. Folk music may be particular to its culture of origin, but can speak to a wide audience of what it represents. So even if I know nothing of Romanian folk music, I can still enjoy and get the gist of a song by listening to it. Even though I have never been a slave, hearing a traditional spiritual can communicate to me some of the intense pain and sorrow of being in that position. But if I listen to American Appalachian folk music, I feel my heart strings pull and can’t help but hum along, since it’s close to my heritage and home.

Even popular folk music (Simon and Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, etc.) can evoke similar feelings of commonality and community, whether you are from the era and culture the songs were written in or not. That’s the beauty of a good folk song- it can stand the test of time and cross some cultural bounds.

What’s the difference between folk and pop? Folk music generally has easy, singable, memorable melodies; pop music melodies are ofen either dull or unsingable. Folk music is driven by ideas; pop music is often driven by drivel and a good beat. Folk usually is communicative to a wide range of people; pop usually speaks to the people who enjoy the particular genre the most. Folk songs are passed on from person to person and everyone forms their own versions (including melody variations, new verses, etc.); pop is reserved for the original singer and people are restricted to making covers. Folk is community-oriented and made for everyone to join in; pop is exclusive to the people who can perform it.

Okay, okay, maybe I’m making generalizations. Or just being too hard on pop music. I should lighten up, I know. (And I do enjoy some pop music! Honest!) In truth, there will always be some crossover between the two genres, and that’s okay. Not all pop is bad, by any means, and not all folk is golden. But if you’ve never joined in singing traditional folk music, now is the time to join in and help keep it alive. It’s worth your time!

Listening Activities: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Day Twenty-Two of Homemade Music)

Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from being an active participant in music making. To read more posts in this series, click here.

Today, we will be having a listen to Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, written in 1946. The title of the piece suggests that it is music meant for children, but in reality anyone who is unfamiliar with the orchestra can benefit from it.

This piece has an impressive subtitle: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell. What this means is that Britten took a short section of melody (the theme) from a work by English Baroque composer Henry Purcell (remember him from our Listening Through History post?), changed it up in several ways (that’s a variation) and composed a fugue on that melody. But Britten himself didn’t concern himself too much with the “Variation and Fugue” title- he referred to the composition simply as “Young Person’s Guide,” so I believe we should follow suit.


Here’s the piece itself. Have a listen- you’ll hear that main theme right away:

Did you hear the theme, and did you hear it being repeated? Britten uses that theme as a tool to introduce his listeners to the four main families of the orchestra, then to individual instruments. If you don’t know already, the four instrumental families are as follows:

  1. Woodwinds (clarinet, flute, saxophone, oboe, bassoon, etc.)- an instrument played using a reed.
  2. Brass (trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn, etc.)- an instrument played by buzzing one’s lips onto a mouthpiece.
  3. Strings (violin, viola, cello, bass, etc.)- anything that sounds by drawing a bow across or plucking strings.
  4. Percussion (drums, xylophone, piano, etc.)- anything that must be struck to produce a sound.

Now, listen to the Young Person’s Guide again, and listen for the introduction of families and individual instruments as described below:

“In the introduction, the theme is initially played by the entire orchestra, then by each major family of instruments of the orchestra: first the woodwinds, then the brass, then the strings, and finally by the percussion. Each variation then features a particular instrument in depth, in the same family order, and generally moving through each family from high to low. So, for example, the first variation features the piccolo and flutes; each member of the woodwind family then gets a variation, ending with the bassoon; and so on, through the strings, brass, and finally the percussion.

After the whole orchestra has been effectively taken to pieces in this way, it is reassembled using an original fugue which starts with the piccolo, followed by all the woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion in turn. Once everyone has entered, the brass are re-introduced (with a strike on the gong) with Purcell’s original melody.” (Thanks Wikipedia, for saving me the trouble!)

If you like to have a visual of the orchestra lay-out, Miriam-Webster has provided this helpful map:orchestra

Here’s some suggested listening activities for you:

  • Pick out the main theme by ear on your instrument of choice. This may take some time, but have patience- it’ll be fun once you finish!
  • Sing along with the main theme whenever you hear it.
  • Identify when the theme changes. Discuss how it changed- did it go higher? Lower? Get more complicated? Simplified?
  • Play a game of “name that instrument.” See which of you in your family can pick out individual instruments. Make a guess if you don’t know, or use the video and above picture map as a cheat sheet.
  • Try sketching or painting as you listen to this. What does the theme sound like to you? What type of imagery comes to mind as you listen? If the music had colors, which colors would it have? What type of movement does the piece have? Try to convey these ideas and characteristics in your artwork. (This can be a great exercise for any piece of music.)

If you want to have your own copy, you can download an mp3 file of it here for $ 0.89. Woot!

Over the past few days, we have visited three major pieces frequently used in children’s music education, all written within 65 years of each other. Often found together in musical collections, they offer much to the young child or to the inexperienced listener in the way of introduction to high art and music making.  What’s your favorite of the three?