November 20, 2021

Hello Students and Parents,

Happy Thanksgiving week! A few things to remember going into this week –

~ There will be no lessons this Wednesday, November 24th.

~ Our Practice-a-Thon continues (this is the last full week!) through the end of November. I know the holidays can be busy, so remember that short practices snuck in between events can do wonders over not touching the keys at all! It can also be a great opportunity to play for family members who wouldn’t otherwise get to hear you play 🙂 Instructions for finishing the event and collecting your sponsor’s money will be sent out along with invoices next weekend.

~ In the meantime, Skyline’s Music Against Hunger event is drawing near! I’ve attached the performer handout at the bottom of this page. Please make sure to check it out and sign up for a time slot behind the counter (or let me know that you want to record a video).

~ Christmas Break will begin December 20th. Lessons will resume January 3rd 🙂 Lots to do before then, and everyone deserves a break with the hard work you’ve been putting in!

~ Our wonderful piano tuner, Mark Steiger, has not only brought the piano up to proper tuning, but has now fixed the sticky keys as well. He made a special, last minute trip to ensure that the instrument is in as good of shape as possible for us to work with. I am grateful! Please remember – if your piano hasn’t been tuned in awhile (e.g. at least this year), it is time. We have several cards for piano tuners now at the store, and I highly recommend Mark now that I’ve had a chance to work with him 🙂

Now for this month’s Book Recommendation …

In this colorful and captivating book, This Magical, Musical Night boasts a Disney-esque look and feel as two kids are experiencing a concert hall for the very first time. “Who bursts in with velvet tones? The brass! What class! Oh, bright trombones … “ With each visually and aurally appealing page, the reader can experience a new way to think of the different instrument classes through rhyming and intriguing descriptions. Students of all ages will enjoy this colorful book, and it is a delightful way to introduce new instruments and sounds to your children to make their orchestra experience an unforgettable one! You can purchase the book at Skyline or here.

For teenage/adult students –

Chasing Chopin is not your typical biography. By the end, I didn’t necessarily have the feeling that I intimately knew Frederic Chopin. It doesn’t discuss his childhood, and it hardly mentions his own piano studies (it does mention they are slim, he is mostly self-taught). I do, however, feel as though I have a deeper understanding of the politics, history, social, and personal factors surrounding Chopin’s music. 

LaFarge is thorough in her research, and in a surprise twist traces Chopin’s life through the lens of Opus 35 – better known as his Funeral March. In her own words, the “book arose from a humble desire to restore the full narrative of Chopin’s funeral march and in the process tell a larger story about music: how it comes into the world, and how it pulls us, generation after generation, along with it.” 

LaFarge goes into deep discussions on Poland and nationalism, the importance of understanding the different period instrument pianos of Chopin’s day, Chopin’s teaching and performing philosophy and how it was received by the public, and his relationships with other famous creatives, including the infamous writer George Sands. The book contains many rabbit trails, and at times I wondered what I was learning about Chopin among the vast information LaFarge gives to the reader. But each time the details circled back to Chopin, and I found myself captivated by the history and breadth of what goes into the making of a historically famous man. 

One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is a complimentary website. LaFarge begins her book reciting the old cliche, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Because music is such an abstract art form, LaFarge saw the necessity to create a web page that looks like a book. Again, she has done extraordinary research, organizing the website by chapters in the book. You will find recordings of Chopin’s work – both modern day and recordings on period instruments (Chopin was extremely particular about the brand of piano he used). She has also included several recordings of more modern pieces influenced by Chopin’s Funeral March including Cole Porter, Erik Satie, and Louis Armstrong. She adds pictures of the major places in Chopin’s life along with extra research links for those curious enough to do further research on some of the outlying influences in Chopin’s life. 

Overall, Chasing Chopin is a very unique read, and gives a different and more inspiring view of Chopin than much of the literature available today. It will be well worth your time! You can order the book at Skyline or here

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving,

~McKenzie