Category Archives: always learning

If I Were a Bell
Ringing this Wonderful Standard for the First Time

Despite my blog category Always Learning indicating that each tune in the series was new to me, it has really been about playing standards that I had perhaps only tried out, or pieces that I played in my early teens.

Not so with today’s featured selection, If I Were a Bell. This is a tune that I actually never played. It is certainly not because I didn’t like it. Rather it has to do with some of the compositional “irregularities” that I found difficult to negotiate. Mainly this involved a 3 measure section that moves to the key of A Major. It’s not that A is so difficult, but rather it has to do with making the music flow. In addition, there is an eight note opening motive designed to imitate bells (chimes) that most musicians play. Figuring out how to treat this took lots of experimentation.

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Ringing this Wonderful Standard for the First Time

Laura, The Tune that Inspired
My Career as a Professional Musician

When I was in high school, the piano was still my second instrument. The accordion (which was gradually being replaced by portable organs for playing gigs) was still my main instrument. However, despite the fact that I always considered my piano practice as being extra, it was quickly becoming my primary vehicle for musical expression. It did take several more years, however, until it became my exclusive keyboard instrument.

In fact, it was quite a journey to go from the accordion to the two manual Farfisa portable organ, to the Hammond B-3 organ, to the Fender Rhodes electric piano and Mini Moog synthesizers to finally the day when the piano took its rightful role as my primary instrument.

What happened in my life is so beautifully expressed by T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

This was not as strange a journey as you might think at first. Because I began playing gigs with bands in high school, I always had to have a keyboard that would be reliable (most places either didn’t have pianos or they were out of tune). In addition, my keyboard needed to be amplified to match the volume of the guitar, bass guitar and drums. There were also many other reasons for the 10 years that I focused on playing the Hammond B-3 organ, but we’ll save that for another time.

Needless to say, the decision for choosing one’s particular profession often involves a variety of reasons. There is no exception this in my case of course. However, two of the high school students who sang in both our Glee Club and our school musicals just happened to be named Laura. Although they were both involved in these musical activities, their personalities and appearances were different. One was Irish with red hair and fair skin while the other was Italian with brown hair and a darker complexion.

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My Career as a Professional Musician

Alone Together – From Dave McKenna to
New England Conservatory to Jessica Williams

One of the wonderful things about playing the piano is that you can make music when you are by yourself. In fact, that’s why many of our adult piano students chose to learn to play the piano rather than returning to their original instruments e.g. violin, clarinet, trumpet, etc.

Band and orchestral instruments are almost always played in an ensemble. As a result, when adults feel drawn to return to taking music lessons, they often choose piano lessons. The reason is obvious: they want to be able to enjoy learning to play the music they love in their own homes by themselves.

So in a sense, the title of today’s featured selection is apropos. Often when you play the piano you are alone. Yet at the same time you are playing each piece completely as if you were together with others in an ensemble.

This scenario really rang true for me this summer. Between the fact I was not playing in church on Sunday mornings during July, had a lighter piano teaching schedule since many of students were on vacation and because my jazz trio is no longer performing, I found myself alone together with my music at the piano.

Continue reading Alone Together – From Dave McKenna to
New England Conservatory to Jessica Williams

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.

Continue reading Summertime – and the Music is Easy….