Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!
Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!
Of the Father’s Love Begotten, Aurelius Prudentius
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Please note that I’ll be taking some time off to enjoy my days with family this week, but I’ll be back to it in the New Year! Have a blessed holiday week!
This week involved a lot of running and the return of Mommy & Me art class at a local studio. My kiddo loves these sessions and we enjoy having some time together working on a keepsake project. We also enjoyed an unusually warm week here, but now the temps have plummeted into official winter weather.
This weekend we are enjoying a relaxing weekend at my in-laws, so I’ll keep it short and sweet!
Pine Needle Survival Tea– Pine needle tea, anyone? I’ve never tried it before but it’s on my list of foraged foods to try. Perhaps it will become a new winter tradition!
31 Days of Handmade Christmas– A new friend I met via the 31 Days Challenge wrote a great series on homemade Christmas gifts. I liked the child’s wallet, bird’s nest necklace, and heat-safe table runner. Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?
Free Thanksgiving Printables, etc. – Free Homeschooling Deals has an entire Thanksgiving-themed collection of printables, unit studies, and activities for a variety of age groups. Helpful for preschool parents, homeschooling families, or parents who just want to give their kids some extracurricular activities (or some fun to keep them busy while you’re cooking the turkey!).
Signs of a Traumatic Birth- I really appreciated this post, and Rachel’s honesty in sharing her feelings. I’ll let the post speak for itself, but I do think that there are many women who feel hurt by their birth but for whatever reasons don’t feel that they can reasonably share. Just because a woman has a healthy baby doesn’t mean that a bad birth experience shouldn’t matter. Read on.
(An oldie but goodie photo of my two favorite guys.)
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.
I could go on for a long time giving you resources and mini-lessons, but the purpose of this series is to encourage anyone and everyone to participate in music making. Naturally, listening and creating are closely related in the musical realm. We talked a bit about listening to unfamiliar music earlier in the series, and now I want to return to and zero back in on the idea of actively listening.
The first piece of music that I will give you as a listening “assignment” is Peter and The Wolf. Written by Serge Prokofiev in 1936, it was meant to be a children’s introduction to the orchestra. A charming folk tale by the composer himself gets set to music, with each character being represented by a corresponding instrument and musical theme. Young Peter gets the violins playing a heroic and playful tune; Grandfather gets the cranky old, chiding bassoon; the wolf gets an ominous French Horn theme. You can visit Phil Tulga’s site to read the story and hear all of the themes separately. You can watch the whole performance (including narration) in its entirety here:
This music is delightful for young children, but it is also very pleasant for adults to listen to. (My son inspired me to link to this because he was so enthusiastic after hearing it on the radio in the car yesterday.) You will enjoy hearing the recurring themes of different characters pop up in different parts of the story, and will soon be able to pick out which theme is which rather quickly.
Little did you know, these recurring themes provide a wonderful foundation for active listening. Try listening to a completely different piece of music later on and see if you can pick out other musical themes- a melody that gets repeated throughout the piece, a rhythmic motive that keeps popping up, etc. Peter and the Wolf engages you with a story, but preps you for hearing other pieces more intentionally as well.
Suggested listening activities for children (and adults too!):
Identifying which theme fits which character
Listen for variations of the themes
Identifying instruments by sound
Finding ways to imitate the sounds of the themes with household instruments (i.e., whistling for the bird, paper-towel-roll-horns for the wolf, big booms for the hunters’ drums, etc.)
Creating a motion for each character that you do together whenever you hear the character’s theme (i.e., slinking cat, waddling duck, creeping wolf, marching Peter, etc.)
Act out the story as you listen, or create a puppet show doing the same.
Do you love Peter and the Wolf? Snag your own CD copy here, or watch an animated version without narration here (free if you have Amazon Prime). It should be noted that this version is darker than the typical pastoral cartoon version, and has a few moments that may be frightening for very young children. That being said, it is beautifully done and portrays wordless, yet powerful thematic elements for older viewers too. Happy listening!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!
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 moreposts in this series, click here.
Have you always enjoyed singing, but haven’t ever pursued it? Did you like trying a couple of the singing ideas in this series? Today I want to give you some ideas and resources to enable you to successfully pursue singing more.
Join aChorus– Consider searching your local newspapers and internet for community chorus groups. Many are free and require no audition. In this type of a group, you can start learning basic singing techniques, music-reading skills, and part-singing. You will have the chance to perform without the pressure of solo work. Plus, you will make new friends and perhaps find other avenues of vocal interest to pursue.
Sing in a Church- Many churches have choirs, bands, special music, or small ensembles that you can participate in. Plus, the audience is generally less critical than a paying concert-goer, so it’s not so nerve-wracking. You can gain experience and enjoy learning from others in a non-competitive setting.
Consider Private Lessons- If you find that you really love singing and want to take it to the next step, consider private lessons. A teacher can give you an experienced ear and advice for how to help you solve struggles you have while singing. This is something you most likely will not receive in a community or church choir.
But a word to the wise: take your time in choosing a teacher. Ideally, he or she should be able to help you blend and expand your range, enrich your voice quality, enhance your technical ability, and essentially teach him or herself out of a job over the course of a few years. If you are just going into your voice lesson and practicing songs without focusing on developing the voice you may be missing out. (And also, please don’t overpay. I’m constantly shocked by the sticker shock of music lessons!)
Books- Books can’t listen to how you sound and help you change it for the better. But books are necessary- after all, they contain the music! I’m including a list of some of my favorite vocal books that I use for teaching beginner- intermediate students.
Thirty Daily Exercises for Low Voice (or, for high voice)- (Concone) This book presents series of vocal exercises that begin slowly and become progressively more challenging throughout the book. They are meant to be sung on “ah,” though this can be changed as needed. Great for anyone, from beginners to experts. Everyone’s gotta practice the basics!
50 Lessons, Op. 9: Medium Voice– (Concone)- In the same vein as the Daily Exercise book, but instead of practicing your skills through scales and arpeggios, you practice them through singing beautifully arranged mini-songs. Again, meant to be sung on an open vowel or solfeggi (Think Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music).
The Choral Warm-Up Collection– Great for teachers and students alike. If you don’t know how to get your voice going each day, this book includes many, many warm-ups and exercises that can help. Each includes a short blurb about how the exercises should be practiced and how it can help. Very useful!
Bel Canto Principles and Practices– The practice of Bel Canto has totally undermined my previous understanding of the voice and revamped my teaching. I’ll have to write a huge post about it one day, but for now, this: Bel Canto is the old Italian school of singing, focusing on pure vowels, fluid movement throughout the voice, and perfect blending of high and low registers. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what Bel Canto is and isn’t, and this book really helps to clear it up. It’s also expensive though. Maybe your library has a copy!
The Singing Book (Second Edition)– This is a helpful book for new singers, including technical sections (addressed in modern singing methods, not Bel Canto, but it’s still helpful!) and many songs ranging from folk to Broadway to world music to classical. It’s a very nice selection. (Do not buy the ridiculously inflated books from this link. Buy the used copies!)
Pathways of Song, Vol 1: Low Voice (Pathways of Song Series)– The mission of the Pathways of Song Series is to collect music that is both simple and beautiful. Each song is worthy of being sung by the most highly acclaimed singers, but they are easy enough that new singers can use them as learning tools. My first voice lessons were largely out of the Pathways of Song books.
36 Solos for Young Singers– Have a 10 or 11 year old who loves to sing? Give this book a whirl. Tasteful, age-appropriate arrangements of simple melodies are included in this young singer’s repertoire.
Folk Songs for Solo Singers– Lovely arrangements of traditional songs in this series (check them all out!). Poor Wayfaring Stranger, The Water is Wide, Danny Boy, and all those tunes that are vaguely familiar in the back of your mind are brought to life in this series.
Oh goodness, there are too many to list… but these are for starters. If you have a specific song or genre that you want to pursue I’ll be happy to do some research for you and give you a recommendation for a book! The cost of sheet music can add up, so it’s good to try to purchase collections wisely.
Okay, singers, experienced and novice, what’s your favorite way to pursue more singing? Have a splendid day today. 🙂
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!
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 see other posts in this series, click here.
Amidst the gradual professionalization of music (i.e.. we don’t see the common man doing it much on his own anymore), we are gradually losing our musical literacy and along with it the ability to sing parts. In fact, if you haven’t sung in a choir or played in an ensemble of sorts, its not likely that you have much opportunity to read parts in music.
(An ensemble I sang with in college. We generally did between four and eight part singing.)
If you don’t know what I mean by “reading parts,” I am referring to practice of two or more musical participants each reading and performing a separate line in the written music. Maybe you’ve heard of the four choral voice parts- soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Those are all separate parts. Likewise, each member of an instrumental ensemble has his own part to play in the music.
Don’t know how to read music? That’s okay, you can still learn a part by ear with some help from a friend who can. And the exciting thing is that the more you try to sing in parts with the music in front of you, the better you will learn to read the music. And the more you read the music, the easier it becomes to sing in parts. It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?
There are so many things I love about singing in parts with others:
It’s communal. You have to work as an individual but still work alongside other people. You have to really be part of a team when singing parts.
It takes your focus outside yourself. It lifts your thoughts upward and outward as you enjoy making music as a group.
It’s good brain work. You’ve got to think your own part enough that you don’t stray from it, while listening to the other parts enough that you work in harmony with them.
Let’s have a mini- part singing lesson, shall we? I found this guy online recording and putting up parts from a long list of hymns. Check out the site for more examples if you like trying this one. (Though please ignore his advice to “belt it out as loud as you can” on the harmony singing pages- that’s bad for the voice, not to mention poor musicianship. I do, however admire his enthusiasm and appreciate the resource he’s making available. No offense, Mr. Hugo.)
We’re going to have a listen to Hugo’s recording of America the Beautiful, since it’s a pretty familiar song for most of us. If you’re completely new to this, here’s a starting guide.
High female voices should take the soprano part, low female voices should take the alto, high male voices should take the tenor, and low male voices should try the bass. Of course, there is some overlap, and ultimately (if you’re just starting) you should try the part that feels most comfortable to you.
Sing your part alone over and over, til you feel very comfortable with it. Try singing it back without the video a few times to make sure you really have it. (If you’re doing the alto, tenor, or bass and you are very new to singing harmony, it’s gonna sound weird at first. That’s normal. When you put it all together it will sound beautiful!) Once you feel very solid on your part, try singing it along with the video that has ALL the parts. Try to stick to the part you learned and not allow the other voices to trip you up.
The other important thing is to look at the music while you try this. You can do it by ear, but you will learn to read and harmonize much better over time if you follow along with the notes. Ready to give it a shot?
Here’s the soprano part:
Here’s the alto part:
Here’s the tenor part:
Here’s the bass part:
And here’s all the parts together:
Different from formal part singing but also beneficial is harmonizing by ear. This is when a person comes up with the harmony on the spot without any music to read. It is itself a form of improvisation and composition. Many folks who enjoy singing but can’t read music will enjoy making up a harmony and singing along with a group.
Want to do more part singing? Grab some friends and try singing through some of these videos together. Look for a community or church choir to join. (There are many that require no auditions and welcome new learners!) Make it a family activity if you have some older kids. It can be quite a bit of fun to do together!
Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade Music! This month we are exploring how and why everyone can benefit from music making. To see more posts in this series, click here.
Yesterday I gave you a representative list of historical pieces of music from Ancient times up through the Renaissance to listen to and enjoy. Today, we will listen from the Baroque Period through the Twentieth Century. I have been using my seventh edition copy of A History of Western Music to help me create this list. It is a brilliant and fascinating history for anyone studying music, or for anyone wanting to see how music related to world events and politics of the past.
Today, I will be giving you more playlists to listen to than I did yesterday. This is simply because more people have created “Best of” lists (a.k.a. Best of Beethoven, Best of Bach) out of “modern” music than from ancient music. I have yet to see a “Best of Perotin” playlist. Anyone up for the task? 😉
Remember, the purpose of this list is not to create an exhaustive (or exhausting) listening assignment. Rather, it’s to give you a place to start listening to great music of the past and create a context for your own musical experience. You can also use these lists as resources for your own edification as you listen to and create your own music.
Here we go!
Baroque Period (1600-1750)
L’Orfeo (By Claudio Monteverdi, 1567-1643. Monteverdi’s music evolved from late Renaissance into a new style that later came to be part of the Baroque period. He wrote only vocal and dramatic works, including the some of the first operas.)
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643, helped to raise instrumental music up to the same level as vocal music.)
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687, born Italian but lived in France. He created French opera, French overture, and helped to form the orchestra.)
Henry Purcell (1659-1695, a great English composer who wrote for the courts and the church.)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741, an Italian composer who wrote music for children in the orphanage where he was violin master. You will recognize the familiar melody in “The Four Seasons,” the first example in the selected medley.)
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943 a Russian pianist whose pieces always seem to speak drama and passion.)
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971, a Russian composer. The link is the infamous and energetic Rite of Spring, which was so poorly received at its premiere that it provoked a riot. This video talks about the piece and why it was so infuriating.)
Charles Ives (1874-1954, an American composer whose work was not recognized until much later in his career.)
Bela Bartok (1881-1945, a virtuoso pianist & ethnomusicologist from Hungary with a passion for folk music.)
George Gershwin (1898-1937, The American composer responsible for Rhapsody in Blue and a plethora of popular movie songs that we love to sing along with.)
Aaron Copeland (1900-1990, an American composer with a lot of “Appalachia” feel.)
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976, an English composer who enjoyed writing music for amateurs and children. We will revisit him later in our 31 Days Series.)
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990, American, composer of the popular musical West Side Story.)
And that brings us pretty close to the present day. But even in this long list (or at least it felt long to me putting it together!), we have barely scratched the surface of all the great music we could listen to. I’ve skipped a lot of composers that I would love to add to this list. And keep in mind- this is only western art music. I haven’t even glanced at music from other parts of the world, folk traditions, pop music, etc.
It’s impossible to touch everything (especially not in two days), but it IS possible to start somewhere. And that’s just what we’re doing.
Happy listening folks. Come back tomorrow for some tips for listening to music as a family and get ready to start creating some music yourself! 🙂
This post contains affiliate links. If you make any purchase through the links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!
Welcome to 31 Days of Homemade music! If you want to find more posts in this series, click here. This post contains an affiliate link. This means that if you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!
I’ve spent a whole week giving a defense for how anyone can benefit from studying and making music. There is much more that could be said, and many who have gone before me who have said it much better. But, for better or worse, it is now time to get listening and start enjoying the actual music.
Today we are going to go for a little jaunt through music history from ancient music up through the Renaissance. Tomorrow I will be back to complete the list from the Baroque Period through the Twentieth Century. Below are listed the musical eras and corresponding major composers/compositions. I used my college copy of A History of Western Music (They since have made newer editions) to help majorly refresh my memory and create this list.
How should you use this list? Merely as a starting point. It’s meant to be a resource for you to return to when you are looking to listen to something new. It is certainly not complete- it is simply meant to be representative of different eras throughout history. If you don’t know what a word means, don’t fret! I’ve included links so you can look up the terminology at your leisure. However, a thorough understanding of motet vs. organum is certainly not necessary to enjoy the pieces featured in this list. Right now the most important thing is to listen, not to memorize technical terms.
Additionally, this list will help you to start forming an idea of how music has sounded throughout the ages. You will find that each era has similar strains throughout, with differences from composer to composer and genre to genre. But again- today, just listen. After Part 2 we will talk more about ways to actively listen.
Robin et de Marion (Written by the trouvere Adam de la Halle, c. 1240-1288, from the musical play of Robin and Marion. A dance song.)
Non sofre Santa Maria (A lively- and somewhat humorous, I must add- song that depicts a stolen cut of meat miraculously caused to jump about by the virgin Mary. From c. 1270-1290, possibly by King Alfonso el Sabio.)
Ein feste Burg (By Martin Luther, 1483- 1546, the famous German reformer. This song today is still sung in many churches as “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”)
Sing joyfully unto God (By William Byrd, c. 1540- 1623, an English composer who wrote for the Catholic church, Anglican church, secular music, and instrumental music.)
Pope Marcellus Mass (By Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina, 1525- 1594, an extremely important composer from Rome. He was most well known for his masses and motets, though he did write some secular madrigals.)
Oy comamos y bebamos (By Juan del Encina, 1468-1529, a Spanish playwright. This song is a villancico- a Spanish secular polyphonic song.)
Sonate e Canzoni (By Giovanni Gabrielli, 1555-1612, part of the rise of instrumental music in the Renaissance.)
I hope you get a chance to listen to at least a few of these! It will be an exercise in perspective, appreciation, and variety. Come back tomorrow for musical examples from the Baroque Period to the present day.
The past couple of weeks have been nuts with preserving the end of the season’s harvest. I’m beginning to feel really DONE with canning/preserving. Tired of it. No more, please.
I’ve got about 50 jars of tomato-something-or-others (whole tomatoes, salsa, sauce), many more of a variety of jams and fruit spreads, countless bags of frozen zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, beets and I can’t remember what else. I’ve pressure canned soups, vegetable sauce, and roasted red peppers. I still have to do the rest of my peppers, my winter squash, my herbs, our black walnuts, some leftover tomatoes and apples… Sick. of. preserving.
What’s more, when I’m preserving, housework goes by the wayside. Remember that clean home challenge? That was great for about 2 weeks until I got into the thick of this… look at what food preservation does to my house:
(Just keeping it real, folks.)
But lest I be tempted to complain, let me put some things into perspective…
Look. This is a LOT of food.
Yes, it was a lot of work too, but it will provide sustenance at a very low price tag for our family for months to come.
Let me remind myself that come wintertime, I will be SO happy to have garden-fresh tomatoes to put into my stews and delectable fruit spreads for my yogurt and toast. I will be thrilled to pop open a can of cubed pumpkin for pie, or to toss frozen greens into my casserole.
And I will be so thankful for the savings on our grocery bill. All of this food will essentially cut out the need to buy canned or frozen goods for the year. It’s a bounty of organic food at my fingertips for the cost of a few packs of seeds and a little labor, compared to paying double or triple the price of conventional grocery food. This is a huge. (What other way besides gardening and preserving can you get well-sourced, local, pesticide-free, nourishing food for pennies on the dollar?)
Not to mention that the house can be put back in order, especially when you enlist the help of your industrious hubby. I will not die if I live in a huge mess for a few days.
Next time I’m feeling like I need a round of canning recovery therapy, would somebody slap me upside the head and show me again how blessed I am? Maybe the thing I am supposed to glean most from all this preservation is not the food, but the thankfulness.
I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful. Let me never forget how good it is to work and take joy in it. Thank you, God, for the harvest.
Got any stray zucchinis left? We had one gigantic straggler from the garden that we’ve been trying to use up. I mean huge. The length of my forearm and hand, probably 6″ in diameter at its widest point, thick-skinned and beginning to hollow in the middle. Whoops. Left that one on the vine too long.
So, we’ve been throwing zucchini in our oatmeal, our breads, our eggs, and dinners. This is the recipe I came up with last night:
(In a Tupperware to go to lunch with the hubby, no less.)
Herbed Alfredo Pasta with Zucchini
16 oz pasta
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup zucchini, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
dash crushed red pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup parmesan
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1/8 cup fresh chopped basil
1) Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions.
2) In the meantime, heat oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add zucchini, garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to pan. Cook 3-4 minutes.
3) Add flour to skillet, stir to coat ingredients. Quickly add the milk. Bring to a simmer & stir frequently to avoid burning. When slightly thickened & bubbly, add Parmesan cheese. Once its melted and heated through, add fresh herbs.
This week, we took our kiddos to the county fair for Labor Day and tried canning pear mincemeat. My daughter is on sleep strike as she cuts a new tooth, so it makes catching significant Z’s a real challenge. If you see any funny typos now you know why…
And now for this week’s pickins’:
Tips for Working with Sourdough– Some great hints from the Nourished Kitchen for those of us playing with sourdough on a frequent basis. Starters can be temperamental things, so it’s nice to have a little insight into how how to coax them to cooperate.
An Unplanned Cesarean– From the Eliott Homestead. This mama has an amazing story- Let’s just say this so I don’t ruin it for you entirely- two uteruses, three babies, 2 cesareans and a VBAC, and a wonderful, God-glorifying attitude.
Chicken Care Guide– From Fresh Eggs Daily. We really, really are hoping to get chickens in the near future. If you know us, this has been a dream for over a year now, and it’s just been tricky to get around to actually building a coop and obtaining the birds. We are closer now than ever before with the parts from a free coop now in our yard (though they need repair and re-thinking) and rough plans made for re-construction. One day, my friends, one day. Until then, I can study up with this wonderful collection of chicken care posts.
Songs of Travel– One of my favorite song cycles, written by Raulph Vaughan Williams, sung by Bryn Terfel. If you don’t know what a song cycle is, it’s meant to be listened to all together. It tells a story. So enjoy the whole playlist in order and in its entirety.