Category Archives: Music

Collecting Bach Links

We're in the mood for a bit o' Bach. Taking a nod from Ambleside, we listened to his Magnificat in D
this morning—to the first movement, that is. Somewhere around the
second aria, Rilla decided her mission in life was to plant both feet
flat on Beanie's face. For some reason, Beanie found it difficult to
listen to music that way. Rookie.

Anyway, I'm rounding up my links for easy access during, let's say,
Rilla's naptime. If you've got any great Bach links, books, CDs, etc,
you'd like to share, please fire away. 🙂

Magnificat in D on YouTube (Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra) (One of many, many recordings there.)

Wikipedia page on Bach's Magnificat

Wikipedia page on the Magnificat itself. (Includes Greek, Latin, and several English translations.)

Mr. Bach Comes to Call (Classical Kids CD)

Have any of you read this book: Sebastian Bach, the Boy from Thuringia? Do we desperately need to read it? Because I'm trying this crazy, crazy thing where I (gulp) don't buy any more books for a while.
::::shudder:::: Sorry, I felt faint for a minute there. Good thing I'm
sitting down, anchored by a great big lump of snoozing baby.

(Deep breath) Okay then. Moving on. Beanie has just begun reading Genevieve Foster's George Washington's World, and in a nice bit of dovetailing, we learned that George was born in 1732 and Bach wrote his Magnificat in 1730.

Here, for good measure, is the Douay-Rheims translation of the
Magnificat, Mary's great outpouring of joy from the Gospel of Luke:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

From the Drafts File

I have over 200 incomplete posts in my drafts folder. Yikes. And
that's just here, at the WordPress site, where I've been for less than
a year. Lord knows how many drafts are sitting over at Typepad. I dare
not look.

In an effort to clear this cache out a bit, here's a look at some
things I was going to write about but didn't get around to finishing.


Swell Stocking-Stuffer for Your Music-Loving Hubby

Or for any lover of contemporary music, really. Doesn't have to be
your husband. Your sister, your teenager. It's just that Scott's the
music buff in my life, so I relate all things musical to him.

And also, these are his books I'm recommending. Not his as in he
wrote them. His as in he keeps leaving them all over the house. Some
are from the library and some he picked up with the one measly Amazon
gift certificate I shared with him after spending all the rest on
crafty books for my own self. Um, I mean on inspiring and creatively
enriching resources for my darling children. Yeah, that's the ticket
(she says, hastily shoving her hot-off-the-presses copy of Stitched in Time behind her back).

Anyway, these music books. They're a series of little bitty paperback books called 33 1/3.
As in: thirty-three and a third. Like, you know, those round black
things they used to scratch music out of back in olden times. Each
volume is a kind of extended essay on a single record album. I think. I
mean, it's not like I've actually read any of them. But I listened ever
so intently when Scott raved about the awesomeness of the concept. One
book: one album: one deep exploration of musical themes and lyrical
themes and the life-affirming statements of painful, screeching guitar
solos and all that stuff people like Scott think about when they do
this thing that is so unfathomable to me where they just sit and listen to music.
I don't do that. Music is for singing, or for cleaning to, or for
entertaining children in the car, or for getting teary-eyed over when
it's your daughter practicing on the piano she got from the Make-a-Wish

Obviously, I wandered from the point. The point was: Scott loves this series of books and I thought someone on your Christmas list might, too.


The next draft was begun in mid-November. I'm not sure why I didn't post it, or what else I might have been going to say.

What We're Up To These Days

Let's see. You already know we're reading zillions of picture books
for the Cybils. I think I'm up to 76 books read so far, with another
five in my TBR pile and several more waiting for me at the library.
Saturday is Scott's library-run day (honestly, I don't even try any
more, not with the action-packed Wonderboy/Rilla combo), so I'll most
likely curl up for another reading marathon tomorrow afternoon.

I tried to cut back on out-of-the-house activities this fall, but
bit by bit the schedule filled up again. We've got a pretty good rhythm
going, though. Jane is taking ballet, Jane and Beanie are in a
children's choir that practices once a week, and Jane, Beanie, and Rose
are all in a very nice little drawing class they begged and begged to
squeeze in, and I'm glad I succumbed to their cajoling. Our
sewing/laundry room walls are filling up with some truly gorgeous art
in chalk pastels. I hope I'll be up to maintaining the art class
dropoff/pickup schedule after the baby comes in January, but it does
leave me with an awkwardly sized window of time to fill with my little
ones. Sometimes I do a grocery run during the window, but if I don't
get the coveted fire-truck cart that seats two children, I'm sunk. This
week I took a less productive but infinitely more pleasant approach and
simply buckled them into the Awesome! New! Double! Stroller!! (thank
you, Mr. Wonderful, you know who you are) and went for a, you guessed
it, stroll. Did a little window shopping on a quiet street full of
craft stores and antique shops. Bought each of us a teeny tiny bag of
teeny tiny sandwich cookies. It was lovely. And when I picked up the
girls they were full of chatter and excitement because two of them are
about to graduate from chalks to watercolors, and one of them (Beanie,
let's brag on the seven-year-old) had just completed a picture which
was chosen to go in the 'gallery,' aka the studio window that fronts a
busy street. Miss Bean was positively glowing. When her grandparents
come for a visit next week, they will have to drive by and admire the

Wonderboy has speech therapy twice a week and PT twice a month. PT
is a bit of a hike (up a busy highway to the Children's Hospital) but
it coincides with choir, and the other moms have been wonderful about
keeping an eye on the girls for me (mainly Rilla) while the boy and I
slip out for his session. This was supposed to be a three-month burst
of PT to help him past a growth spurt (bone grows faster than muscle,
so whenever he hits a spurt, his already short and tight muscles get
even shorter and tighter), but the therapist would like to extend it
for a while. She's doing some pretty intensive deep-tissue massage and
stretching with him. We're giving it another few weeks before we make
the call.

So all of that, plus my OB appts (which, gulp, just hit the
every-two-weeks mark this week, which means we are really very close to
the end of this pregnancy, which is sort of mindboggling because it
feels like it's only been a few months so far), makes for a pretty busy
schedule. Much busier than in our mellower Virginia days. But then, my
girls are getting big. Their interests are tumbling out of our home,
which is right and proper.


Oh, look, the next draft isn't really a draft—it's just an
unpublished baby ticker. I think I've stuck it at the bottom of a few
other posts.

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

Wow, I REALLY need to find that box of baby clothes I know I saved when we moved from Virginia.


One of the drafts is called "Peace Comes Dropping Slow." That's
all there is, just the title. I vaguely remember meaning to describe
some particularly chaotic and noisy scene that had just taken place,
making a mockery of the Yeats quote at the top of this blog. Of course,
every single day provides, oh, dozens of such moments. "Peace" as
applied to this house refers more to a state of mind than any kind of
sensory description, you understand.


Whoops, the 7:00 bird just cooed.
The "big noisy peace" (as Sandra Dodd calls it) will commence any
minute now. Actually I can't believe it hasn't begun already—kids are
sleeping late this morning. But I should go. I didn't make it very far
through the big pile o' drafts, did I?

I’m Singing the Praises…

…of Mama Squirrel. Look what’s playing in the Treehouse: a music study on pianist Glenn Gould, with emphasis on his Bach performances.

I showed the post to Scott and asked if he thought we should tag along, so to speak.

"Oh, absolutely!" he replied without missing a beat. (A beat, get it? I’m so very musical.) Scott’s the classical (and other kinds of) music buff of the family, and I usually look to him for suggestions on what pieces of music to play (over and over and over—that’s the sum total of our "music appreciation" method) for the children.

(No, wait, I guess there’s more to it than just listening to the music—we also listen hungrily to the interesting stories Scott tells about the composers and performers. All those evenings when I’m nose-deep in educational philosophy? He’s reading musicians’ biographies.)

"I’m kind of psyched to see some of those Gould performances myself," he added, still scanning Mama Squirrel’s list.

He says Gould is interesting to listen to, because he often hummed along—not in tune!—as he played. I’m intrigued. And also eager to hear all that Bach. I love Bach. Listening to Bach is like what St. Francis said about singing: It’s praying—twice.

(Scott just looked over my shoulder and told me—wait, say it again, honey, I’m taking dictation—that when Gould played Bach he didn’t use the sustain pedal, so it sounded very dry and crisp, like the harpsichord. And also! Rumor has it that his mother introduced him to the composers in chronological order, so he became intimately acquainted first with the Baroque, and then the Classical, and then the Romantic, and then the Modern composers, as opposed to the scattershot method most of us in this century are used to where we probably heard Mozart before Bach, or Tchaikovsky before—oh shoot, that’s as far as I can remember, and Scott just left for Mass. Ah well. You get his drift. See what I mean? Fascinating!)

So there’s that plan. Gould and Bach. :::rubs hands together briskly::: Gosh, thanks, Mama Squirrel!

(Another terrific resource for classical music studies is Helen over at Castle of the Immaculate. We rode the wave of her Elgar study last year. Oh! I still get goosebumps at the thought of that cello concerto played by Jacqueline du Pre!)

Note-Reading and Ear-Training Games Online

This morning, after drilling Rose on musical notes for quite a while (her piano teacher asked her to bone up a bit), I went hunting for some games online that would help with note recognition. Here’s what I have found so far:—Has a simple but good note recognition game. Choose treble or bass clef, and beginner or advanced. You try to read and click on the names of as many notes as possible in the time frame. Rose played for about twenty minutes and drastically improved her score.

There is also an ear-training game in which a short series of notes is played and you click on the piano keys for the appropriate intervals. Pretty cool.

The site also has other musical games and quizzes.
has several games to download, but (alas) none for my Mac—yet.

Music Notes has lots of quizzes on music history, as well as an ear-training game.

In the Novel Games "Musical Notes" game, notes on the treble clef scroll across the screen, and you must click the correct piano key to make them disappear. A variation on the old shoot-the-ducks arcade game. Doesn’t seem to cover more than the basic treble clef notes, though (or maybe I just didn’t play it long enough).

I am really bummed that there is no Mac version of this free Tetris-style note recognition game. If you try it, let me know how it is.

I’d love to hear of other good note-fluency games you’ve discovered!

If You’re Looking for a Composer to Study This Month…

Castle of the Immaculate is sharing some good stuff on Elgar. I looooove the Elgar cello concerto. We’ll be jumping right on this bandwagon, with gratitude for the links and information. Always nice when another mom does my homework for me. Thanks, Helen.

Another wonderful music resource: Ambleside’s composer study page.

Charlotte Mason on music appreciation:

With Musical Appreciation the case is different; and we cannot do better than quote from an address made by Mrs. Howard Glover at the Ambleside Conference of the Parents’ Union, 1922:––

"Musical Appreciation––which is so much before the eye at the present moment––originated in the P.N.E.U. about twenty-five years ago. At that time I was playing to my little child much of the best music in which I was interested, and Miss Mason happened to hear of what I was doing. She realised that music might give great joy and interest to the life of all, and she felt that just as children in the P.U.S. were given the greatest literature and art, so they should have the greatest music as well. She asked me to write an article In the Review on the result of my observations, and to make a programme of music each term which might be played to the children. From that day to this, at the beginning of every term a programme has appeared; thus began a movement which was to spread far and wide.

"Musical Appreciation, of course, has nothing to do with playing the piano. It used to be thought that ‘learning music’ must mean this, and it was supposed that children who had no talent for playing were unmusical and would not like concerts. But Musical Appreciation had no more to do with playing an instrument than acting had to do with an appreciation of Shakespeare, or painting with enjoyment of pictures. I think that all children should take Musical Appreciation and not only the musical ones, for it has been proved that only three per cent of children are what is called ‘tone-deaf’; and if they are taken at an early age it is astonishing how children who appear to be without ear, develop it and are able to enjoy listening to music with understanding."
(Vol 6 pg 218)

Melissa Wiley on music appreciation (LOL): Easiest thing in the world. Pick a piece of music and play it often. Tell your kids what it’s called, and drop in some interesting biographical information over dinner or while doing dishes. Pick out some good rousing housecleaning music (Beethoven and Tschaikovsky work for me; so does Aretha Franklin) and some lively breakfast music. Mellow and soothing is perhaps better for dinnertime. But really, just loving the music yourself and playing it often, naming it, discussing the composer and the instruments: it’s easy and pleasant to encourage a taste for fine music. In our house, that ranges from Celtic tunes to the Beatles, Shostakovich (Daddy’s favorite) to Springsteen.