The music store I teach out of recently began a new partnership with a local piano store. This has many, many benefits. But by far my favorite is the beautiful, new, and shiny Yamaha they put in my studio. It is much more elegant, has great touch and tone, and is all around an exceptional instrument to be playing on (especially compared to what we had before!). The first week of lessons on this new beauty were rather amusing to me. I didn’t tell anyone it was coming, as I was looking forward to seeing my student’s reactions.
Some were underwhelming, some overwhelming, and a bit of everything in between. But one thing that stuck out to me was how many of the younger kids pointed out the key hole in the lid. My life is still very attached to keys. My car, front door, and safe are all old enough that they don’t have fancy keyless locks. But I began to realize that a lot of these kids don’t see keys or keyholes very often. Their houses have codes or garage door openers; their cars have keys that need only to be close to the vehicle to unlock.
And when thinking through this, it hit me. Time is a very fluid thing. We often don’t think about what occurred in generations past, or how we have gotten to where we are today. When I was born, computers were just making their debut into people’s homes. My school aged students today don’t know life without handheld phones with more power than the large screens of the past.
To take this a step further, we live in a society that generally does not see the means to many given ends.
The phones in our pocket were in the past on the wall – and connected to party lines.
The shirt I’m wearing came from somewhere. But besides purchasing it at the store, I have no real idea where the materials came from or how it was created.
I purchase a can of black beans by going to the grocery store. But how did the beans get into the can and then into the store?
And the list goes on.
We enjoy the fruits of the labor, without having any tangible part in the labor process.
And why should we care? Because chances are your students do not know the history behind the piano, how long it has existed, and whose genius not only thought up the idea of the piano, but did the work to make it happen! There may even be a chance that you don’t know either!
And that’s where this month’s book recommendation comes in 🙂
In The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano, the reader is taken on Cristofori’s adventure from living and creating in Padua, Italy to joining the court of Prince Ferdinand de Medici in Florence.
Cristofori is considered to be a master in his craft of restoring and building clavichords and harpsichords. But as with all great inventors, the status quo of achievement is not good enough for him …
“Neither instrument can start sotto voce like the whispered gossip of neighbors and build to an angry argument. No one can play a pounding march, then drop down to a lovely lullaby. There’s no way to surprise listeners with a few feathery or furious notes.”
And thus begins the story of how Cristofori invented the piano.
This charming kid’s book is well researched, and will have both you and your students learning about how the piano was invented and taken to the next level!
Elizabeth Rusch tells the story in reference to dynamic terms (forte, piano, crescendo, etc), and ends the book with extra factual information about the piano today, how it compares to Cristofori’s original invention, and listening recommendations to encourage exploration of the piano’s many different sounds.
You can purchase the book here.
This book is a gem!
For Teachers –
Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson has been a delight to have on my nightstand recently. The idea that there is evil in this world, and we as musicians, artists, creators, etc, can use our music (and other creative endeavors) to usher light into dark places is the central theme of this book.
Peterson is himself an artist and creative: he has several recorded (and successful) albums, a fantasy book series called the Wingfeather Saga, and runs a nonprofit creative space in Tennessee called The Rabbit Room.
Peterson’s reasons for wanting to “adorn the dark” are because he serves a creator and creative God who is light in this dark world. But creatives of all walks can step away from this book encouraged as they seek community, seek a true calling, and seek to understand how we move our creative minds into action 🙂
The laid-back and personal style of Peterson’s work will encourage your creative mind to rest in a world where the creative mind is often pushed to work and work and work harder.
You can purchase it on Amazon here.