Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recitals Celebrate Christmas Season

MUSICAL GREETING -- A Beautiful Mind created the MCWL holiday graphic with a Clay Aiken photo taken by fivegoldens during a Joyful Noise concert.

Merry Christmas With Love

Student Recitals Greet Holidays

Holiday student recitals have become a giant "Merry Christmas With Love" greeting card, celebrating the season and honoring the parents who make music lessons possible throughout the year.

From scheduling and supporting to coaching, encouraging, and cajoling, parents play vital roles in the music lesson cycle. This week's performers represent young musicians from my home studio and Wesleyan Christian Academy's program.

In this blog's intermission, Clay Aiken sings holiday greetings in a montage of "Merry Christmas with Love," title track of his 2004 holiday album. The platinum MCWL was recognized by Billboard as the Best Selling Christmas Album of 2004 and the Best Selling Christian Album of 2005.

Pianists Play to Packed House

In Wednesday's holiday recital, piano students played to a living room packed with a friendly audience of 21 receptive parents, siblings, and friends.

All available seats -- sofa, chairs, bass stool, floor pillows -- were crowded into the modest "concert hall" for the occasion. Appropriately, an old stool once belonging to our family's musical matriarch was even called into service.

The program consisted of a variety of holiday songs mixed with piano literature, a show tune ("Beauty and the Beast"), and an original composition by Caleb, sixth grade student, entitled "Arabian Knight."

Perhaps the most excited performer was Chase, who has studied less than a month at the academy. He and his five guests arrived early, so I asked if he would like to practice our duet selections and try out the grand piano.

As he approached the bench, I noticed his arms were visibly shaking. Touching his wrists, I asked if he was nervous; but he shook his head, "No, just cold!" Sure enough, the minute we started playing he was cool, calm, and collected. No doubt, one or more of his guests captured his piano debut on camera.

Musicians Boost Holiday Repertoire

Since we have devoted much of December to Christmas music, most students have acquired an extensive repertoire of carols and holiday tunes to share with their families during the school break.

The afternoon's final performer was Emily, a high school senior who was 10 minutes late due to extra heavy traffic. Almost everyone hung around to hear her play a Rocherolle arrangement of "What Child Is This?" and the exposition of Mozart's Sonata in F, K. 332.

Imagine the expression on this student's face as she stepped into a room filled with a wall-to-wall audience quietly waiting. Calmly, Emily put down an armful of literature books, reversed the order of her pieces, and warmed up with the slower, softer carol. Later at her piano lesson, senior cool evaporated and she exclaimed to the teacher, "Now that was pressure!!!"

This teacher is always pleased when musicality shines through. Despite some nerves, dynamic differences, shadings, and echoes were present. High fives to Jeremy, Noah, Chase, Christian, Jessicca, Joseph, Caleb, and Emily for the gifts they shared with their families and each other.

Merry Christmas with Love - Montage by iloveclay101

Clay Aiken's Merry Christmas with Love CD was released by RCA Records on Nov. 16, 2004. The album was re-released on Aug. 18, 2009 on the Sony label and is available through Amazon and other online sites.

Featuring videos by Hippoga, SecretlyLovesClay, Scarlett, and Clack Unlimited from the 2004-06 Joyful Noise tours and television appearances, the Merry Christmas With Love montage by iloveclay101 can also be viewed at YouTube.

Written by Greg Wayne Davis and Bill Smiley, the MCWL was first recorded by Sandi Patti for a 1983 Christmas album.

Merry Christmas With Love

She leaned with her head on the window
Watching evergreen bend in the snow
Remembering Christmas the way it had been
So many seasons ago.

When children would reach for their stockings
And open the presents they found
The lights on the tree would shine bright in their eyes
Reflecting the love all around.

This year there's no one to open the gifts
No reason for trimming the tree
And just as a tear made it's way to the floor
She heard voices outside start to sing.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love.

Carolers sang as she opened the door
Faces of friends in the crowd
And all of the shadows of lonely reminders
Driven away by the sound.

Now the heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with a song
As she clung to their hands like a child in the night
She found her self singing along.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love!

Below are clickables of MCWL graphics by AmazingCA, photos by Riversend, 1; A Beautiful Mind, photo by fivegoldens, 2; and Ambassador of Love, photo by toni7babe, 3.

Strings Share Holiday Sounds

Thursday's program starred a trio of sixth grade violinists, one who started just last summer. Video for a grandmother unable to attend commenced at the downbeat. Although smaller in numbers, Thursday's audience still created plenty of applause.

For this session, students usually rehearse for 30 minutes and perform during the second half of the class. Sharing harmony lines and solo sections, the trio played nine carols, opening with "Adeste Fidelis" and ending with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Suzuki, Handel, and Lully were also represented as each programmed a piece from her fall literature studies.

To me, a heartening note was the young ensemble playing together for the first time and sounding as if we had a week of intense rehearsals under our belts. Applause to Anna, Erica, and Ora, whose afternoon of joyful music set the tone for the season.

Students Lobby for Gift Bag Goodies

As an aside, the contents of the annual gift bags from the teacher apparently have attained levels of monumental importance. Students know that a new pencil for marking music is an automatic.

However, the past week's lessons yielded some intense lobbying in the stream of hints for such goodies as hot chocolate with marshmallows, candy canes, and pop corn.

The colorful bags decorating the grand piano earlier this week are now gone. Hopefully, their contents and the music learned for the Christmas season will be re-opened often in the coming days.

A Beautiful Mind surprised me with these Christmas designs of grandchildren Kai and Lia.

Have you performed in a holiday student recital, been the music teacher, the parent, or all of the above? Do share your experiences in a comment below.

Have a wonderful week, all. Merry Christmas With Love!


PaulaBear said...

Caro, your blog is always packed with lots of information, wonderful Clay Aiken videos and beautiful pictures of the grandkids! Oh what fun it is to visit here! Happy Holidays!!

musicfan said...

Amazing!! You always have so much great info to read and it is so much fun to read.

My mother was a music teacher who taught piano students in our home. I would always come home from school and hear the piano. I had strict rules to follow so I would not disturb....Mom had at least 50 students a week.

I also had music students, but because I taught music at school for so long, I needed the break when I got home.

Music has always been such an important part of my life. It is fun to hear about your music and students.

Thanks for the great blog!!

Anonymous said...

The pictures of your Grandkids are gorgeous. I love the Christmas blogs. I hope I can get one in on the OFC. I know it's slow right now, I haven't been there myself in almost a week, but it'll get better after the Holidays. (I hope). Once a new CD comes out, it'll be bustleing. See you there.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your blogs and this one is no exception they are wonderful !! Your gkids are beautiful. And happy recital went good. Have a Merry Christmas! Donna in Wi.

katy said...

Christmas music recitals bring memories of my piano teacher. Love the Clay Aiken videos.

SueReu said...

Sounds like everyone had grand success during the recitals!! Bravo to the musicians and to the parents who encourage and support.

I had never heard the song Merry Christmas With Love until I heard Clay Aiken sing it. It's a lovely song, filled with the true spirit of the season.

Beautiful blends (as always) and love the grand kids!!

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

Another awesome blog, you just never disappoint. I am so happy your recitals went well, as I'm sure you are and happy they are behind you.

The montage by "iloveclay101" is wonderful, I will never tire of listening to that voice or looking at montages.

Your grand children are beautiful and growing so fast.

Have a great weekend.


lulu said...

Caro, such a beautiful blog and I love the montages with Clay Aiken.

Anonymous said...

Your blog reminds me of those wonderful Christmas performances I use to try to record of my boys. They use to hide behind the other kids so I couldn't get them on camera. Oh how I miss those precious moments, how we laughed, they were so cute.

The very first Christmas song I ever heard Clay sing was Merry Christmas with Love. It is still one of my very favorites.

It looks like the grandchildren will be having a very blessed Christmas this year.

Wishing you and your family the very best Christmas.

tree ~ said...

Beautiful stories! Beautiful pictures!

ImGranny said...

Another great blog. I love Clay Aiken's rendition of "Merry Christmas With Love."

Your grandchildren are adorable!

barb 55 said...

Caro, I see you have more goodies here! You always do a wonderful job putting your entries together, including keeping us up-to-date with lots of info.

So happy to hear that the recitals were very successful.

Loved seeing the graphics of Kai and Lia once again. Too cute!

MCWL is one of my favorite holiday songs. Thanks for sharing iloveClay101's montage. She did a great job.

Love and hugs

Sandy said...

How beautiful the sound must have been that filled your home with the Recitals. Your students are very lucky to have you for a teacher!
My grandson just came by to nudge me off the computer and noticed the picture of Lia and said to me "that looks just like Alyssa". It was a beautiful picture in such a beautiful frame!
My time is up and the third period of hockey is about to start so will say goodnight and as always it's a pleasure to visit with you. I don't have any "musical" stories to share with you but I do have a very great story that I will share with you via e-mail!

Have a wonderful week!


MissSally said...

I can almost hear the music from your student recitals. I'll add my high fives to Jeremy, Noah, Chase, Christian, Jessicca, Joseph, Caleb, and Emily; and especially to their teacher, Ms B. Thank you for sharing these special moments.

Kai and Lia look like they're ready for Santa, I smile every time you feature them in your blog.

I must admit that my favorite part of this edition is, A Beautiful Mind's gifted artistry. I've missed seeing her extraordinary work.