June 7, 2013 at 8:16 PMAs many of you know, I went to New York last week to attend a big gathering of violinists, where I attended many master classes and pedagogy classes. In one class, violinist and wonderful teacher Brian Lewis advised us to have our students write up short histories of the pieces they are playing. Knowing these histories connects them better with the music they are playing, and it also informs them about how to play it. And this is not just for students who are playing a Brahms Sonata or the Tchaikovsky Concerto, this goes for very young students. For example, did you know that "Witches Dance" really came from "Le Streghe," a very virtuoso piece by Paganini?
Also, violinists who are no longer officially "students" should still keep studying, seeking to know more about the pieces they play. It makes the whole endeavor much more fun! Do you know the history of your current piece?
But, at the same time, I was trying to learn "Skye Boat Song" from this Scottish fiddling book I'd gotten. And guess what "Skye Boat Song" was written about that very same battle! And I was living in Honolulu at the time. I thought, if both these tunes are being learnt at the same time out in the middle of the Pacific, maybe the House of Hanover didn't win as decisively as they thought since the music is still alive and still makes its way around the world here in the 21st century.
I was not a Suzuki kid but I learned the "Judas Maccabaeus" tune early on. It was in an old German book of Christmastime tunes under the name "Tochter Zion," which just comes from the first line of lyrics, "Tochter Zion, freue dich! Jauchze, laut, Jerusalem!"
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