recommended by Dan C., Orchestra Music Specialist
Visit Asia, Central and South America without leaving the orchestra room!
Kon’nichiwa by Keiko Yamada, Grade 0.5
“Kon’nichiwa” is the Japanese word that loosely translates to hello. It is a Japanese word that many students will be familiar with. It was chosen for this piece in particular, because it is an introductory level piece for very young students who are just learning to play their instruments, and because it is a friendly hello to the performers and audiences. The piece is based on the pentatonic scale and uses limited eighth-note rhythms. A happy main theme is contrasted by the more legato and lyrical second theme that should be lush and full sounding. It is very tuneful, with pleasant harmonies and it keeps everyone busy, which is ideal for beginners. You can adjust the tempo to whatever you think will work best for your students. If you are smiling when you play this piece, then you are doing it right. Have fun!
Ninja by Richard Meyer, Grade 1
There’s a ninja on the loose and he’s sneaking through the orchestra. But not for long! Your students will love making up storylines for what happens next in this colorful Asian-flavored piece that uses only the notes of the D Major scale. There are plenty of great teaching opportunities here for your first-year students, including pizzicato, accents, crescendos, and melody/accompaniment balance. Fun for everyone!
Takeda No Komoriuta by Keiko Yamada, Grade 2
This popular and beautiful Japanese folk song is a lullaby, but rather than it being a quiet, gentle song to put a child to sleep, it is sung by the girl Takeda to soothe herself through a difficult situation. The goal of the composer was to bring out its pensive nature and to offer the haunting E minor pentatonic tune in a variety of presentations. Although slow, there is lots of movement in everyone’s part. The violas state the melody at the beginning over drones in the lower strings, with pizzicato in the upper strings emulating a Japanese stringed instrument known as the koto. This is followed by a lush and lyrical statement with thick harmonies while the first violins carry the tune. The cellos then add arpeggiated chords along with a harmonized version of the melody in the second violins. The cellos are then given the melody with a new harmonic presentation by the other strings in parallel motion. This all builds to the climatic statement of the song one last time that leads to a dramatic pause on an extended chord, which then subdues to a short coda to complete the work. Expressive and gorgeous.
C Here by Seth Gamba, Grade 2
Based on the Brazilian baiao rhythm, this work serves to reinforce the difference between the high two and low two fingering patterns (the first on the D string and the second on the A string). It is a fun-filled educational experience for students.
Uno, Dos, Bass! by Richard Meyer, Grade 2
It’s a fiesta for your basses in this colorful section feature that your students will love putting together. Carefully written to make your bass section sound their best, this piece written by Richard Meyer starts with “Chiapanecas” (the famous Mexican “Clapping Song”) and segues into a clever 2/4 version of “Cielito Lindo.” The two songs are then heard simultaneously, bringing this “mini concerto” to a rousing conclusion. ¡Olé!
About the Author:
Dan C. has worked at Stanton’s since 1979, primarily with orchestra music and print promotions. A “working” musician, he’s a classical cellist, a rock & jazz bassist and a folk & country guitarist/singer. His free time is spent with family or reading, gardening, cycling and working puzzles. His series of musical puzzles (RP3 Rebus Puzzle Picture People) can be found on the Stanton’s Facebook page each Sunday. He also has a reputation as a pretty good joke teller. Seriously.