Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Music Theory Games

A new link has been added to the "Sites You Might be Interested In" list on the right- Theory Games! The lady who wrote the page managed to make everything sound really boring, but some of the games are actually quite fun. Check it out, and let me know which ones you like!

Friday, December 17, 2010


I know many of you have questions and concerns about your grades. 

As a general rule, first timester I grade the chorus as a group, on your ability to come together as a community and create music. (In 2nd and 3rd trimester I do give weight to performance, but not 1st trimester.) As a group, this chorus is not there yet- the grade that the vast majority of you received was a B+. I gave slightly higher grades to students who noticeably put in extra effort, and slightly lower grades to students who noticeably put in less.

If you received a B, you have been a frequent source of distraction in your section or frequently tardy.  As soon as you becomes the singer and leader I know each of you can be, your grade will reflect that.

If you received and A- or higher, thank you for going above and beyond. You have stood out because of your commitment to chorus.

If you received a B+, you're doing just fine. Don't freak out. I still think you're great. But I bet if you think about our rehearsals so far, you'll agree that we haven't quite  made it to the top of our game.

There are 75 people in chorus. If we aren't performing at an A level, then most people- not 2 or 3 or 5- most people aren't yet stepping up quite enough just yet. But it's just first trimester. We haven't even hda a concert yet. There's still time. So let's step it up!

(Today, many of you did- rehearsal was great! When most rehearsals are like today's, we will be an A choir.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


A very merry time was had last Saturday, as Boston tried (and failed) to break the World Record for most people caroling at one time. The crowd was buoyed by freeeeeeeee hot chocolate, a brass band on a trolley (protesting the replacement of the live orchestra for the Rockettes with a recording, support live music, folks!) and the lively antics of Pops conductor Keith Lockhart.

(Side note: when I went to music camp for the first time in 35 BC, there was a girl in my cabin from Masachusetts (exotic! I thought) who put a poster up next to her bed of Keith Lockhart, because she loooooved him. I found this a bit mysterious at the time, but find it way more perplexing that today, approximately 1,000,000 years later, women of all ages evidently still swoon for Mr. Lockhart, because he is dreamy.) 

Anyway, nobody in the crowd of 3000-plus people was more dashing than our crew. Here's proof!

The banner was made by Ms. Dailey-Smith, back when she was a music teacher. Snazzy, eh?
Oh, and I got into the BU newspaper- article here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BSO Family Concerts

Going to the BSO is generally quite costly, but the Feb. 16-18 concerts are only $10! More info here:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Gifts

The best presents are homemade, I think. The knitted socks, the handcrafted jelly, the Joseph cast list... but, if you must have store-bought, I like a thoughtful gift. This charming video does a fine job satirizing the video of Dynamite I posted a few weeks ago, AND is delightfully timely.

Also, the Maccabeats? Good name.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Julia A's mom made a CD of her original music. The CD stars MANY chorus parents, and the video stars many chorus students! How many Bigelow singers do you recognize?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This. Is. Awesome.

I've seen several 1-man a capella covers, and they are cool. but this one breaks it down at the end to show you each individual part. Whether for one person or a whole group, this is how a capella covers are written- by breaking a song into its elements. Rad.

And here's why you join choir: So that someday, when you're on TV, you're ready:

p.s. yep, that's how you look when you sing. Adorable, no? That's why I'm smiling at you while conducting.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Welcome Back, 8th Graders!

We missed you. By we, I mean Ms. Tan and the 7h graders. I did not miss you, since I was there. Anyway. Never mind. Look! A video! Pretend it's not a commercial, and everyone will enjoy this nice a cappella flashmob.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Audition for the musical/Apply for Tech Crew!

There's an info session on Monday, Nov. 22 from 3-4:15 where we will answer ALL your burning questions, probably twice.
Meanwhile, download the appropriate packet for the basic info here.

Note that there is one packet for actors, who need to read carefully through it to prepare for their AUDITION. Meanwhile, there's a separate packet for tech crew, who don't have to audition, but do have to write an APPLICATION. Pit band has no packet at all- just talk to Mr. Livingston.

Go go go Joseph!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

7th/8th- Stones Taught Me to Fly

Dear students,
I left yesterday's class feeling dissatisfied. Yesterday was such an important class, and not only did I not know exactly what to say, but it was hard to think of what to say to all 75 of you at once, to meet each of you where you were, and where I was. So I fear I wound up giving something of a Bland Teacher Talk, which is disappointing, because choir is where I feel like we can be most real together.

So here's what's true: what happened this week is upsetting, for me and for you, and I don't have any answers. What we do have is each other. (Gah. cliche, but true.) So if you want to come hang out, or talk about it, or talk about something else, I'm here.

In the meantime, here are some songs I've been listening to, some hopeful, some sad, that speak to me right now. Feel free to share what you're listening to in the comments.

If I'd gone all Mr. Schuester and had a song to break into, it'd have been this. I, too, wonder, what's going on?

From the musical Next to Normal:

This is the supremely dorky Greg Greenway. I love him. The song starts at 1:30.

And the classic Beatles song, In My Life:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thoughts on the Uses of Music, Part the First in A Continuing Series

Before I was a music teacher, I worked in Washington, DC, changing government policies. I loved singing, but it didn't seem very useful. Feeding people who are hungry, making sure we don't destroy the planet- that was useful. Music was fun- but I couldn't see how anyone other than the very wealthy could justify spending much time on it.

Then Sept. 11 happened. The whole country was on red alert- especially Washington, DC and especially Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where I worked. Going to work seemed awfully scary.

When I was too scared to get up and go to work, I turned to music and poetry. And they gave me enough of a grip to get up and head in.

That was when I first decided art might be useful.

Recently, my uncle died unexpectedly. The only time the whole week I was home that I felt even a little bit ok was during the funeral, when my cousin and I sang. (She sang the tune of Adonai Roi, The Lord is my shepherd, and I wrote a harmony part that morning to go with it. Video of a choral version of the song below.) I was reminded again how very useful music can be.

Why do you think music is useful?

Friday, November 5, 2010

7th/8th El Grillo Quartets

As discussed today, Parts C and D of El Grillo will be sung by quartets- 4 people, each singing a different part (soprano, alto, tenor, or bass.) You can audition with 3 other people as a quartet, or by yourself, it doesn't matter. Quartets can have 7th and 8th graders mixed, and boys and girls mixed. Only boys can audition on the bass part. Boys and girls can audition on the soprano, alto and tenor parts. You can hear Ms. Tan sing the parts here.

Auditions will be after school on Friday, November 19. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

7th/8th Grade Chorus Reminders

1. Junior District forms are due Friday.
2. PLEASE practice your music for a few minutes EVERY DAY. This is not optional. Your singing through your music for 3 minutes makes a HUGE difference.
3. Come see your colleagues/friends/section leaders in Romeo and Juliet, Thursday and Friday at 7:30.

See you Friday!


Here are 2 different versions of Oye! They are both very good; but they're also different.

First, the Young People's Chorus of New York City, a diverse group of 7th-12th graders.

Next, a Belgian choir, all girls, I think high school age. Remember- both English and Spanish are foreign languages for this group!

What is similar? What is different? What do you like about each version?

El Grillo - Josquin de Prez

This quartet is outstanding, in addition to possessing the superpower of being able to speak faster than humanly possible. Seriously, how do they say those words so fast?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rehearsal today (7/8)

Was GREAT! Great job everyone, and a special hat tip to section leaders, on some VERY productive sectionals. I (and Ms. Tan) were quite impressed! Thursday- new music!
You guys rock.
Ms. A

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spring Concert

Our theme for the spring concert will be "Broadway." I have a few ideas about what we can sing, but am open to more. Be advised that songs from shows Bigelow has done the last few years (Music Man, Guys and Dolls, Peter Pan) or that we will do in the future (Joseph) are right out. We'll probably also try to steer clear of shows Bigelow did a while ago and might do again, like Into the Woods, Seussical, and the Wizard of Oz. Other than that, so long as it's appropriate for school (I'm pretty sure that rule eliminates EVERYTHING from Avenue Q) it's fair game. Post a comment if you have a suggestion!

Oye Pronunciation

Listen to Peter pronounce those tongue-twisting Spanish words! Go to th chorus website (link to the right) then click on 6th grade mp3s.

J'entends Pronunciation

Listen to Jane speak those tricky French words! Go to the chorus website (link to the right) and then to 7th/8th grade mp3s.

J'entends le Moulin - Full version

Here is a nice rendition of J'entends- bear in mind it includes verses D-G, which I cut, because 12 verses is WAY too many.

This is a Test

This is a test to see what the blog will look like. WOOOHOO!