Category Archives: Music

Math, Music, & Memory

Some children struggle with math. Proposed solutions abound, such as limiting struggling students’ math adventures to cooking, measuring, calculating money, and other “real-life” pursuits. But if we assume such a pragmatic approach, what do our children miss? Is there more to math than “useful” application? In a classical education we view arithmetic and mathematics as […]

The Novel as Music

Drawing of a man in a hat. The Novel Is Music

Literature stands in intimate relationship with each of the arts, but its closest relationship is with music. The purest form of this relationship involves a composer’s timeless desire to take a poem, wrestle with it, and turn it into a song. Yet what about the novel? Can a complex narrative be transformed into music? The […]

Moonbeams and Music

Moonbeams and Music

“How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” This charming line from the song “Maria” in The Sound of Music reminds us that music cannot be held in the palm of one’s hand or measured by physical parameters. Like a moonbeam, music’s substance is intangible. Music springs to life from sound waves emanating from […]

Haydn’s Creation

Pizzicato? Yes, what better way could Haydn have chosen to “ignite the divine light bulb” in his oratorio The Creation than to send a quiver of sound into the air through the pluck of a string? The dominant composer of Viennese Classicism, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), knew well how to narrate a story in sound. […]

Narratives Through Music: Peter and the Wolf

Stories travel from a writer’s mind to the heart and imagination of a reader. In the Western tradition, the written or spoken word serves as the primary vehicle for conveying stories. Yet the visual and performing arts excel at telling stories too, and a combination of the two often makes a story more expressive and […]

Better Than Background

Better Than Background

I was recently asked this question at a conference: “What classical music do you recommend I play in the background for my kids?” Answering it is a bit of a delicate dance because I first need to say that any fruitful approach to classical music needs to place it in the foreground. Any serious art […]

When You Know the Notes to Sing

When You Know the Notes to Sing

When you know the notes to sing, You can sing most anything. Do you recall these lines from the song “Do-Re-Mi”? In the course of this beloved song from The Sound of Music, the von Trapp children are taught to sing. Of course, actual children could not spring from musical ineptitude to artistic mastery in […]

Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, & the Arts

Frederick the Great

The appellation “the Great” tends to be awarded to prominent figures who exhibit an extraordinary degree of military prowess or achieve outstanding success in political or intellectual endeavors. Indeed, two legendary eighteenth-century monarchs, Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine II of Russia, earned this appellation precisely for such reasons. But over time, the “greatness” of […]

Formal Structure in Music

Formal Structure

When discussing the fine arts, we explore structure through the concept of “form.” Sometimes it’s best to envision form as a physical design. Other times, we perceive an artistic form as a multi-part narrative shaping a creative work. And while someone might forge a completely new form, generally an artist works with forms that have […]

Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice

They all went after the farmer’s wife, Who cut off their tails with a carving knife … Not any more, it seems. Apparently, in today’s politically correct world, toddlers aren’t supposed to hear about tails being cut off with carving knives. (At least so it appears, based on a doctored rendition of “Three Blind Mice” […]

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