Week 13-16

Week 16:

Greetings to my SRC friends- both Piano Class members and all SRC participants!  Hope this finds you well. After taking a slight detour last week, let’s resume our survey of other instruments within the broad category of Keyboard Instruments. This week, let’s turn our attention to an instrument often associated with summertime and summer carnivals…..the calliope!The calliope, like the claviola, melodica and pipe organ we have been studying recently, falls within the classification of an Aerophone instrument.  While we may look at this instrument classification system in depth at a later time, for now the basic working definition of an Aerophones Instrument is “any class of musical instrument in which a vibrating mass of air produces the initial sound, without the use of strings and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound.”  But let’s take a closer look at the Calliope!  The calliope, also known as the ‘steam organ’, is “a musical instrument that produces sound by sending a gas, originally steam, or, more recently compressed air, through large whistles- originally locomotive whistles.”  The Calliope can be a very loud instrument, often heard for miles around!  During the steam age, the calliope was particularly found on riverboats and in traveling circuses.  The Calliope can be played by a player at a keyboard or mechanically, similarly to a music box or a player piano.  Most calliopes disappeared by mid 20th Century, along with the dying out of the steam age, and a limited number of calliopes have survived in any kind of a ‘playable sense’.  Definitely worth learning about though and an important instrument within our history!For more information, please see:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calliope_(music)

Let’s take a listen to a few clips I was able to find.  This clip allows you to really see the person playing the keyboard itself:  Steam Calliope:  https://youtu.be/Cd8UvrTowVk.   This clip features a calliope that was made in Newark, NJ (wow) in 1920 for traveling circuses and uses compressed air instead of steam:  https://youtu.be/aYAsVvmU6gk.  Now for a quick look at some SteamBoat Calliopes: 1.  This is a calliope on board the Delta Queen riverboat from 2006:  https://youtu.be/SFgqDSBba1g  while this clip, #2. From the steamboat American Queen located in Minnesota from 2016:  https://youtu.be/hzqXRyH-8Ec.  Hope you enjoyed learning about the calliope- an instrument that is linked to summertime nostalgic fun!

***BONUS VIDEO***:  And now for your weekly dose of Hank Shapiro, his virtual gig from June 13th:  https://youtu.be/o9uTXlH6Gjg


 Week 15:

A very warm hello to my Piano Class friends, as well as any and all SRC participants.  This week we take a break from our study of instruments in the broad category of Keyboard Instruments, so that I can bring your attention to a pianist who passed away recently that I would like to honor and pay tribute to.  Lyle Mays was a contemporary jazz pianist and composer who was perhaps best known for being a core and founding member of the contemporary/fusion/world jazz group- Pat Metheny Group.  Lyle Mays passed away this February, “after a long illness”, but I only recently learned of his death.  It is important for me personally to bring his genius to the light and share his music with you since, while I actually didn’t until recently know of  his name, the Pat Metheny group makes up a HUGE and significant part of my ‘musical memories’ growing up as my dad loved(s) the Pat Metheny Group!      While you can learn more about the life of Lyle Mays here ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyle_Mays ) and also learn more about the eleven Grammy award winning Pat Metheny Group here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Metheny_Group ), I would like this week to simply share with you some highlights about the life of the brilliant jazz pianist, Lyle Mays.  First let’s begin by listening in as this man pays tribute to Lyle Mays:  https://youtu.be/xSTBml_oiec.    Lyle Mays was a phenomenal jazz pianist and genius in his collaborating and composing skills that we can see on display during his time in the Pat Metheny Group.  I’d like to share with you a few videos that showcase Lyle Mays skill.  1.  “Ozark”- what a song!  This song always blew me away in terms of his skill, yes, but more so the exuberance and joy that can be heard ‘inside’ the pianist’s skill  (Lyle Mays) : Here is an old clip-not the greatest quality, but a good example.  Ozark:  https://youtu.be/eIzNXWy8o1o.   2.  “Better Days Ahead”. – here is a live concert from 1989 of the Pat Metheny Group -with Lyle Mays’ piano solo coming in about a minute into the song :  https://youtu.be/sig07wUNeLo.   3.  “Proof- a song that is key in highlighting his amazing SKILL LEVEL when it come to jazz piano:  https://youtu.be/G33YapudU9E.  4. “Letter from Home”- we end with a song that shows his collaborating skill in a song that more highlights jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, but I share this last song with you because of its sheet beauty- what a melody!  Enjoy this last song !  https://youtu.be/eGGqEivPIKs.   Hope you enjoyed learning about jazz pianist Lyle Mays as we honored his life and music together.  

*Bonus Video:  As always, here is another Hank Shapiro live ‘virtual gig’ from June 6th:  https://youtu.be/0zzVwl-9z20


Week 14:

Greetings SRC friends!  I hope this finds you doing well!In continuing our look at other instruments that fall into the category of ‘Keyboard Instruments’, we move on to another instrument that is similar to the melodica- the Claviola.  Unlike the melodica, the Claviola is worn like an accordian and doesn’t have near the appeal or popularity that the melodica enjoys.  In fact, the Claviola isn’t even being produced anymore- the Claviola was only produced for only a matter of mere months back in the mid 1990s before being discontinued!  (Resource for slightly more information:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claviola  )Let’s take a brief look into this ‘unpopular’, but still very interesting little instrument!Here is a brief introductory video that really breaks down the basics of the Claviola : https://youtu.be/js6HCpgGKfMAfter watching the above introductory video about the Claviola, please enjoy a couple songs played on the Claviola.1.  Claviola & Piano- Theme from 2001 film “Spirited Away”:  https://youtu.be/MK81b0cRkCk

  1. Claviola- the catchy, often covered, 1938 French song “Boum!”:  https://youtu.be/UHgJorHNDz4


BONUS VIDEO:  As always, please enjoy another ‘virtual gig’ from Hank Shapiro- from his May 30th live streamhttps://youtu.be/3NEV7xnORY0


Week 13:

A warm greeting to all of my SRC friends and participants.  I hope this finds you well!  This week, in our studies of other instruments that fall into the broad category of “Keyboard Instruments”, we move on to take a look at what can be quite an amusing little keyboard instrument – the Melodica.  (SIDENOTE:  It is my hope that at this point you are realizing just how varied and vast the world of “Keyboard Instruments can be!).  The Melodica ” has a musical keyboard on top, and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece that fits into a hole in the side of the instrument. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. The keyboard usually covers two or three octaves. Melodicas are small, light, and portable. They are popular in music education, especially in Asia.”( For more information, see:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodica ).  Here is a short educational video that will introduce you to the basics of the Melodica from a man who has used this instrument in an album of his.  He does a good job of showing you the basics on both WHAT it is and HOW to play it.  Here is his video here:  https://youtu.be/UzrCgO-hM9M.    Interesting, right?   And now for a little section I’d like to call “Fun with Melodicas”.  Remember how I called it an “amusing little instrument” above?  This may be primarily because of the Musical Comedy group “The Melodica Men”.  Their videos began ‘going viral’ about 4 years ago and their hysterical little arrangements of well known songs played on melodicas began showing up everywhere online – from Facebook to Youtube!  They even made it on “America’s Got Talent”!  While you can check out their entire Youtube channel, here are a few of my favorites.

William Tell Overture-  The Melodica Men:  https://youtu.be/zSLEZU3o9jI
The Flight of the Bumblebee- The Melodica Men:  https://youtu.be/a_XgIi-PN3I
1812 Overture- The Melodica Men: https://youtu.be/S3L_jYY2KC8
STAR WARS MEDLEY- The Melodica Men:  https://youtu.be/6jZMwDiSQio

BONUS VIDEO: And now for your weekly Henry Shapiro virtual gig, this link is from May 23:  https://youtu.be/-rrFqKwtCrQ.


Beer-Making – June 6, 13, 20, 27

Beer-Making Workshop Catherine Segal, Senior Resource Center Board Member and beer aficionado, led us in a beer-making workshop last month! The class started with mashing, separating, boiling, stirring, and fermenting. Everyone was very busy planning the different...

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