Summertime – and the Music is Easy….

Summer has arrived in New England. Although we have had a couple of isolated warm days, something about the sudden jump to 90 degrees by Thursday from 45 degrees on Monday got people pulling out summer clothes and air conditioners. We are only a week away from the Memorial Day weekend which actually marks the beginning of summer in this area of the country much more so than June 21st (Summer Solstice-the first day of summer/longest day of the year).

And so it is on that note that today’s featured selection came to mind: George Gershwin’s Summertime. The school year is now winding down; the students of the Mascari Piano Studios are preparing to perform in our Natick Studio Recital, Hudson Studio Recital and Adult Student Recital. People are also making their summer plans.

Many normal activities are put on hold during the summer months. That means that you finally have the window of opportunity for doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

And what do you suppose most of our Adult Piano Students have told me at one time or another? You guessed it! The reason that they are having some much enjoyment learning to play the music they love is because they finally did something they’d always wanted to do: learn to play the piano or get back to playing the piano after many years.

For many, this happened because they took advantage of our unique Flexible Schedule Summer Lesson Program. You can too. More about that later. For now, let’s take a look at one of George Gershwin’s most well known compositions.

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The Things We Did Last Summer

When I was in grammar school (many years ago) it was customary for the teacher to ask us to write a composition called “How I spent My Summer Vacation”. With this in mind, it certainly seems appropriate that the last selection in my summer songs series of blog posts calls to mind the transition from summer to fall.

There are two particular renditions of The Things We Did Last Summer that have particular significance for me. The first one dates back to my high school days when if first heard this song on a record by jazz organist Richard “Groove” Holmes. This particular LP featured Groove’s million selling up tempo version of Misty (which I mentioned in my blog post featuring Misty).

One of the goals that Groove had was to differentiate himself from the majority of jazz organists who modeled their Hammond B-3 style and sound settings after the “Incredible” Jimmy Smith. On his beautiful ballad version of The Things We Did Last Summer Groove combined the organ stops in a way that created a colorful array of sounds that sent goose bumps down your spine.

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The Summer Knows (Theme from The Summer of ’42)

Is this piece in a major key or is it in a minor key?  This is a question that I will often ask my students. Whether the selection is a classical composition or a standard song, knowing the answer to this question can make a difference in how you approach a piece of music.Over the years, I’ve noticed that students who have taken traditional piano lessons have spent some time learning to play minor scales. These were organized in music books so that the relative minor scale would be placed near its relative major scale. Without delving too deeply into the subject of the types of minor scales, I just want to mention a couple of points about the relative minor key. Continue reading The Summer Knows (Theme from The Summer of ’42)

Summer Samba (So Nice)

After a rather rainy and cold month of July here in the Northeast, August arrived with sunny days, warmer temperatures and plenty of humidity. So returning to my summer series of blog posts after a six week break seems apropos. On the other hand, a local newspaper just contacted me about running a back-to-school ad. So I guess you might say that while we’re still having summer fun, it’s not too early to sign up for fall piano lessons.

I first heard today’s featured selection, Summer Samba (also known as So Nice because of the English words of the refrain) around the same time that the many Bossa Novas of Antonio Carlos Jobim had become extremely popular with American audiences. In addition to the renditions of the Girl from Ipanema, Meditation, Desafinado and other now-classic Bossa Novas played by such jazz musicians as Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck; several jazz organists have offered their own interpretations as well.

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