Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Les Miz x 4

Courtesy of Robin, this clip from the 25th anniversary concert for Les Miserables is both gorgeous and hilarious, due to some issues synchronizing sound and video.

Friday, March 25, 2011

And ANOTHER Concert

A busy weekend for concerts: Mr.Cohen's college graduation recital is this Sunday, at 4 PM at Slosberg Music Center. (415 South St in Waltham.) Free!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Concert Info

This saturday afternoon, March 26, from 1-4, will be the All State* Ensemble concert at Symphony Hall. The tickets are $21 and are good for all 4 ensembles (band, orchestra, jazz band, chorus) and while you can't buy tickets there, I reserved tickets in case anyone wants to go. I went to 10 minutes of the chorus rehearsal today and had my socks knocked off. If you want to go and your parents don't, I'm planning to go and I'd be happy to get you there and back.Just shoot me an email by, oh, noon on Saturday. I think you'd find it enjoyable and inspiring.

Saturday night, at 8 PM, the regional collegiate a capella semifinals are happening at MIT. Tickets are $20 for students.

Now you know!
Ms. A
* All State is like junior districts on steroids. First you audition for senior districts, and of course since those ensembles are all high schoolers, and are just as competitive as junior districts, they're great. The top half of students in each Senior District are invited to audition for All State, and half of those students get in. The students who get in show up Thursday morning, rehearse all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and get to stay at a hotel with everyone else in the ensembles. Then they get to perform at Symphony Hall. It's pretty cool.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's Most Amazing About This Video Is Not The Music

When I was in middle school, we did a lot of fundraisers, just like you guys do now. But although some of our fundraisers were for timely things, like Japan, a lot of them were to help Russian Jews. 10,000 Russian Jews left Russia every month when I was in middle school- many to come to the US, and quite a few even came to my school. While it was a big deal that they were even allowed to leave (which hadn't been true for the previous 100 years), they weren't leaving because they'd heard the US was a great vacation destination. They were leaving because it was really, really hard to be Jewish in Russia- discrimination was widespread and socially acceptable.

Which is why this video made me cry (EMBARASSING BUT TRUE.) Purim is kind of a stupid holiday- the Jewish equivalent of halloween, not a big deal. But that these students were able to make this video- that is a big deal. I'm always interested in music and its connections to social justice, and this is a wonderful example of music as an example OF justice. All those pennies and dollars my classmates and I collected- who knows what difference our money made. But SOMETHING made a difference. In the words of Dr. King, "The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice."

(Unless you speak Russian, watch with the captions on.)

Here in America, this video is unexciting, but even today in Russia, it was news, and got some anti-semitic (fancy word for anti-Jewish) responses. Said the director: “We didn’t mean to provoke anyone with our performance... We believe that singing and dancing are the universal languages that everyone can relate to regardless of nationality or religion. We hope that they help unite and bring people together.”


Thursday, March 17, 2011

All for the Best/Rhythm of Life

Note to self: Get Molly in on Ukulele, stat.

What's up with the picture? I have no idea.


I cut the first verse (unnecessary exposition) so our version starts at 1:05.

Actually, this montage is close to our version.

Why Are We Singing This?

Is a question I hear a lot. I know many of you are very curious, so let me explain how I pick music.

First, I pick the theme. I usually have a few songs in mind if I pick a theme- I don't decide "let's have a concert about the moon" unless I can think of a few songs about the moon to begin with, and am confident I can come up with 6 or 7 total for the concert.

Next, I find as many songs as I can that go with the theme. I usually ask you guys for ideas and suggestions to help in this process.

Then I think about each song. For any song,I ask myself:
1. Do I like this song?
2. Will my students like this song?
3. Will it be educational- that is, will we learn something new by singing it?
4. Have we sung this song or one by the same composer too recently? I like to mix it up and give you as wide a variety of music as possible.
5. Will it balance the other songs in the set? (4 very fast, upbeat songs, or 4 sad slow, songs, is boring for the audience.)
6. Does it balance the difficulty level of the set? (4 really hard songs, or 4 really easy songs, is frustrating for you, the choir.)

Things you think about when I hand you new music: Do I like this song?

If you've never heard the song before, chances are that your first answer will be "No, I don't like it."

But in my experience, once you know the song, most of you will like it. People like familiar things. That's why they play the same stuff over and over on the radio. Learning music is hard, knowing music is fun. But to know music... well, you get the picture, right?

As to what else we'll sing this semester, I don't tell you because I don't know. The faster we learn songs, the more we'll sing, but I don't want to say 'we'll learn these 6 songs' and then have you furious because we only get to 5 of them. Rest assured that I put great care into every song we sing- I obsess over it like a crazy person- and that I always have more songs selected than we get to. And that I'm always planning ahead. Emmie asked for a broadway theme her first semester as a 6th grader. It took 3 years, but I did indeed plan one.
Ms. A

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Pi Day!

Something tells me Julia F will think this isn't long enough...

Note well: Petsi's Pies in Cambridge has given no evidence either way that I can find online, but has in previous years offered a 10% discount for every 10 digits you can recite. 100 digits = free pie! Call ahead to check, but: free pi(e)!

Support Your Colleagues!

When I was 14, I met Kim on the band/chorus/orchestra trip to Washington, DC. From then on, I could pretty much guarantee that any concert I was in would have 3 people in attendance: my mom, my dad, and Kim.

16 years and 2000 miles from our high school later, she's still at it- last night Kim, her husband, and her in-laws all came to see Joseph. (They loved it!) They're regular attendees of Bigelow Chorus concerts and have seen every musical I've done yet.

I hope all of you are lucky enough to make a friend like Kim, but the point of today's entry is to encourage you to BE a friend like Kim. It's a win-win- you'll enjoy your friends' performance (even if you see a show or concert you don't love, it's always enjoyable to see someone you know perform) and they'll feel incredibly supported that you came to see them. I can say from personal experience how much it means to the person you support.

A big shout out to Teresa, Michael, Kyle, Nick, and Brian, among others, I'm sure, who I saw supporting their classmates at last night's show. Way to be great colleagues!

-Ms. A

(Random fact: Kim's parents are both in the Chicago Symphony. Her dad plays oboe and her mom plays flute. Kim and her sister, however, both play strings. Sound like anyone you know? Nah, I thought not.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mr. Sweeney just shared this with the staff. I felt you needed to know immediately.

This History Lovers' Youtube Channel. Parodies of pop songs, on the subject of historic events.

Whole channel here:

This plague is bubonic. Aw yeah.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Junior Districts Concert

Ever wonder what a really amazing chorus of middle school students might sound like? A chorus made up of incredibly motivated singers with tons of time to rehearse?

Then wonder no more- come hear the Junior District Choirs and be inspired! Abby, Jane and Sophie will be performing this Saturday at the junior district festival at Lincoln Sudbury High School. The treble choir concert (4-part girls) is at 3 and the mixed choir (4-part boys and girls) concert is at 4. Tickets are $10.

The Massachusetts Eastern District is a group of 30 towns, from Boston all the way out almost to Worcester, including Newton. All of these towns sent their best 7th, 8th and 9th grade singers to audition for the Junior District Choirs, and just auditioning is a lot of work and a big honor! A little less than half of the auditionees were accepted, including Sophie, Jane and Abby.

On Friday and Saturday morning the 3 of them get to go rehearse all day, and Saturday's the concert. Last year it was AWESOME- I highly recommend it. You can sit with me and make fun of the kids from other schools. Ha! JUST KIDDING WAYLAND KIDS- WE'D NEVER DO THAT. Anyway, if you love choir (and you know you do) it will be a good time.)