Play With the Playlist!
How far have you gotten? And where did you begin?
Did you go looking through that stack of music books on top of the piano to find Beethoven’s “Minuet in G” or Für Elise? Did you consider playing through Schumann’s “Träumerei” from Kinderszenen or “The Happy Farmer” from his Album for the Young. Maybe you even attempted Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3 or Debussy’s “Clair de lune” from the Suite bergamasque. I’m guessing that some of you have ventured well beyond piano miniatures to sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven.
Yes, I’m aware that there are those of you who are at or just beyond a beginning level. So did you go back to those early lesson books to get reacquainted with the instrument? Some of those beginners’ collections have simplified versions of pieces that you may encounter later. At that point you might decide it’s time to learn the real thing. But in the meantime, enjoy the simple stuff. At the very least, you may have just sat at the piano for the first time in a long time and enjoyed the sounds you made, whether you played actual pieces or not.
These have been good months for making music. I often hear people say that they just aren’t able to spend much time with their instruments. Hopefully, you’ve been able to rediscover the joy of playing.
I always enjoy walking in the vicinity of open windows while somebody is practicing. And it’s not just pianos. I’ve heard guitars, violins, cellos, flutes, recorders, clarinets, trombones, saxophones, organs, ukuleles, drums and steel drums.
Do I think about that when I’m hosting Classic Mornings? I certainly do. I think about it especially when I include some of the pieces I mentioned above. Over the years, listeners have called to get information about a wide variety of pieces with the intention of learning them and not just acquiring a recording.
It’s interesting how many pieces in instructional music books may not have been recorded. So consider it a sort of exclusive repertoire that only those who play instruments can enjoy.
Some people are intimidated by the recorded performances of something they’re attempting to learn. It might even discourage them from spending any more time with a particular work. But others are inspired by hearing it played by “the best of the best.” It makes them realize that there’s so much in a piece of music that one can aspire to.
When you get over the fact that you may not have what it takes to be a concert performer, you can begin to get excited about the fact that you can have fun playing music at your own pace and in your own way, adding your own personal touch to any piece you play. You discover that you actually can participate in those famous works that you were a part of as a listener for so long. You might even get to a point where you’d prefer to play them yourself rather than hear even “the best of the best” perform them.
Speaking of playing, I’ve had thoughts over the past few months about a game you might play with the online listing of all the pieces you hear each day on Classic Mornings. I often mention that the playlist includes composers, titles, performers, CD information “and all those spellings of all those names that sometimes go by quickly.”
You might consider having two teams, each selecting a different day’s playlist. You can decide whether you want to spell out a name or a word and have the other team attempt to pronounce it. Or you can say a name and have the other team attempt to spell it. Either way, I’m guessing it’ll bring loads of amusement, particularly if those playing are not so familiar with classical music composers and terms. It might be just the thing to help you to get to know a name or two. And you might be surprised at how easy it is to stump those who have a background in classical music.
Whether or not you decide to play your instruments or play with the playlist, please do tune in to enjoy the musical selections that performers have recorded for your listening enjoyment and that make it to the playlist. Join us for Classic Mornings, Monday through Friday from 9-noon on FM 90.9 or online at will.illinois.edu.