Samuel_Coleridge-Taylor, Tiny Village Music
Ukulele Performance

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

In honor of Black History Month, Ross’ weekly ukulele video series (follow Tiny Village Music or Ross Malcolm Boyd on Facebook to keep up with these) features Ross’ arrangements of musical selections by black composers.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a British composer, born in London on August 15, 1875. His father was a physician from Sierra Leone who, unable to pursue a career in Britain presumably due to racial prejudice, returned to West Africa, leaving behind his wife and son.

As a child, Samuel played the violin and sang with the choir of a church in Croydon. He was admitted to the Royal College of Music in 1890. A professor at the college, in teaching Coleridge-Taylor the music of Brahms, suggested that it would be impossible to write a quintet for clarinet and strings without being influenced by Brahms’s composition for that combination of instruments. Coleridge-Taylor took the assertion as a challenge and produced a work that received the respect of his professor and later audiences.

By 1896 he was teaching, conducting, and judging music festivals in addition to composing. His work was very well regarded, the most successful of which was The Hiawatha Trilogy (based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra: Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast (1898), The Death of Minnehaha (1899), and Hiawatha’s Departure (1900). Europe wasn’t the only place Coleridge-Taylor found success. He was welcomed during his tours of the US between 1904 and 1910. American musicians dubbed him the “Black Mahler.” He was invited to the White House to visit President Theodore Roosevelt.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, only 37 years old, died of pneumonia on September 1, 1912. He was survived by his wife, Jessie Walmisley, his son, Hiawatha, and his daughter, Gwendolyn, known as Avril.

Hear Ross’ ukulele arrangement of a selection from Coleridge-Taylor here.

#ukulele #ukulelesunday #blackcomposers#blackhistorymonth #samuelcoleridgetaylor#willowsong

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Finding the Time to Practice

It’s a busy world we live in, isn’t it? So many of us run from one activity to the next, whether it’s work or school, sports, music lessons, an art class or a night visiting friends. In the midst of our busy lives, it can be tough to carve out time to practice. Here are a few reasons to make the time for it this month.

Practice Makes Perfect

Well, that’s the saying, right? The reality is that perfection might sound nice, but even concert pianists will tell you they never have a perfect performance! Nevertheless, the more we practice, the more we can reliably perform our song well. With each repetition, we’re more likely to play the notes and get our rhythms correct. That frees us up to think about our interpretation, our phrasing, our dynamics…you know, the fun stuff!

Practice Makes You Less Nervous

Believe it or not, the more you practice, the easier it is to get up in front of someone else and perform. That’s because the more you can reliably play a piece for yourself, the more likely you will be to reproduce it when you’ve got performance jitters. Will an audience make you play it worse? There’s a good chance of that. But as you perform more often (i.e. as you practice performing), you can work on channeling the audience’s excitement, and your own excitement, into a stronger performance.

Practice Develops Discipline

Want to develop better habits? Whether you’d like to eat healthier, exercise daily or get enough sleep, all of these things are easier when we make our healthy choices into healthy habits. Likewise, if we teach ourselves to practice for five minutes every day, we develop the discipline required to commit to anything! This is a great lesson for children, but it’s a lesson we can use as adults too.

Why do you find the time to practice? If you don’t, did this give you any ideas on how to develop a practice habit?

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s that time of year! Music is in the air, holiday lights and candles are sparkling, and children and adults are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and more. Ross and I have been recording some new music for gifts this holiday season, and we’ll be sharing videos in the coming weeks with some holiday music for all of you too. We’ve also been excited to promote our Holiday Special for new students.

Our students enjoy this time of year too. Many of them enjoy working on new holiday selections during December. We recommend that when you purchase a holiday book, you go with one that’s a little bit easier than your regular lesson book or studies. That way, you can sightread it (play it accurately on the first or second try) or at least learn it very quickly. No one wants to be struggling to finish learning a holiday tune in February!

There’s such diverse holiday music, in every style you can imagine. We’re making a playlist and it’s got everything from Nat King Cole to Kelly Clarkson on it! What do you like to listen to during the holidays?

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Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting Tiny Village Music! We teach a variety of musical instruments, including voice, online, on your schedule and in a convenient location – your own home! Our teachers are professional musicians with extensive teaching experience. Owners Ross Malcolm Boyd and Jamie Feinberg also offer workshops & performances as they travel the country, with offerings in songwriting, musical theater, music technology and more. We specialize in creating custom lessons to fit your goals and interests.

We recently spent about six weeks in New Hampshire, where we taught a group ukulele class for older adults (for free, thanks to grant funding!) and offered performances for families, preschoolers, older adults and for general audiences. We plan to update our blog periodically with tips and information you might like to check out. Let us know what you’d like to see here, and we hope to hear from you soon!