Here is my first real news item! I have just been to the first school assembly of the year. So Happy New Year everybody!

This morning the school had a theme of ‘Special People’ for their assembly. So I chose music from perhaps the most special composer of all—Mozart!. I played the famous Rondo alla Turka (this isn’t me, but it’s a bit like me because it’s not always perfect!):

‘Rondo Alla Turka’ from Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11

One of the reasons Mozart was so special is that he was already famous when he was the age of a primary school child today! When he was just six, Mozart was performing music to kings and queens all over Europe! And he was writing his own music too!! I think that’s amazing.

But I didn’t talk about that today. Today’s talk was about how special live music is. Over the next few weeks I’m going to talk about the difference between CDs and live music. I’m also going to explain why live music is so much better than a CD.

First things first. I had a CD player set up with a CD in it of some piano music. I then asked a child from year 6 to push the play button. We listened to a short bit, and then I asked the child to turn the CD off.

‘How was that?’ I asked. ‘Was that difficult to do?’ ‘Was it difficult to play the CD?’ The answer, of course, was no. Pushing the play button was very simple.

But then I told them what they were listening to. They were listening to someone who had been playing the piano for over fifty years! In the few seconds the CD was on, the children were listening to over fifty years of music making and experience. This was someone’s life’s work. I don’t know about you, but that is very special to me!

Music making takes a lot of work. It takes practice. It doesn’t just happen at the push of a button. Unfortunately people who are used to CDs often don’t value this. They think pushing a button is all there really is to music.

To explain this, I chose another year 6 child to read out the following tongue twister:

Denise sees the fleece,
Denise sees the fleas.
At least Denise could sneeze
and feed and freeze the fleas.

He did very well—much better than I expected. But he still stumbled over the last line.

I then tried him on this very short one:

Willy’s real rear wheel.
&#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160&#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160 &#160(By David Bowser in Harrisburg, PA)

He read it perfectly!

But neither were easy. To read these tongue twisters well takes practice. This child could read very well (I had just heard him earlier in the assembly, and that’s why I chose him!). He could read each of these words on their own without any problem. However putting them together was a bit tricky. It doesn’t just happen at ‘the push of a button’.

And making music is the same. Musicians can play notes, and many can read music—just like the year 6 boy could say and read words. However, when a musician plays a whole piece of music, it’s a bit like a tongue twister (or a ‘finger twister!’). It’s a bit tricky getting out all the right notes at the right time. To play it well takes practice.

As another example, I got the whole school to try this finger exercise:

A finger exercise that takes a bit of practice!

The kids had fun with this! I didn’t give them long, but I don’t think anyone got it. It’s tricky. It takes practice.

Playing an instrument is just like that. It’s tricky. It takes practice. When you hear a musician performing live, this is something quite special. Even if you hear them for only a few minutes, it has normally taken them hours and hours of practice to be able to play the music. Performing music takes a huge amount of work.

So next time you hear a musician playing live for you, do listen! They have worked very hard to bring that music to you.

See you next week!

Video credits:
  1. Rondo Alla Turca – Mozart Sonata in A Major. The 3rd movement of the famous Piano Sonata in A Major by Mozart.
  2. A finger exercise!. A finger exercise to demonstrate how playing an instrument needs practice. This is my own video.