Adventures in Teaching: Halloween

Libby Larsen, composer

This year for Halloween I decided that since I was teaching all afternoon, and students would likely come to lessons in their costumes, I would dress up, too. I hemmed and hawed about what to be, but anything too elaborate like a character from an opera seemed too difficult to maintain while teaching. I settled on composer Libby Larsen because I love her music and I look a bit like her if I change the part in my hair.

I thought Larsen would be a great choice, since most young musicians think of composers as old (or dead) European men like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. She certainly goes against that type as a living American woman. Larsen has an excellent section for kids on her website. She includes a letter to students, an interview, and a section on composing music. From the interview:

What advice would you give to a person who wants to compose for a living?

Listen to all kinds of music, as much as you can get your hands on. Make friends with creative and artistic people. Learn to read and notate music very, very well. Listen some more. Work at your music every day. Study the music of other composers. Write everything down. Talk to musicians and music teachers as much as you can. Perform: sing, play instruments, make up your own instruments, and of course, dance!

Read the rest at Libby Larsen's For Kids page.

Adventures in Teaching: Women in Music

Wilhelmine von Brandenburg-Bayreuth

Last week, a young pianist was working on a piece by J.S. Bach. I mentioned that his family was full of musicians, his father was one and so were many of his children. She made the point that it was his sons, since women weren't allowed to have jobs, they "just cooked and cleaned." While this is partially true, I told her that women have been well respected as excellent composers and performers as long as we have been making music.

So, in honor of that student, here is part of a list of women in music from Oxford Music. I'm listing a few from those that lived around the time of Bach, but go see the list for important women in music from the year 810 to 2000.

1736 - Julie Pinel publishes a collection of French airs.

1740 - Wilhelmina, Princess of Prussia sees her opera Argenore performed at the court opera in Bayreuth.

1740 - Elisabeth de Haulteterre publishes her Primier livre de sonates for violin and continuo.

There are many more at the link. Timelines in music history: Women in music in Oxford Music Online.