"Music on the Brain" Piano Studio in northeast Overland Park, Johnson County, KS offers piano and voice lessons for adults and children as young as 4 years old (10+ for voice students) from all parts of the Kansas City metro.  Weekly individual lessons are enhanced with small group lessons every 6 to 8 weeks, providing a fun environment in which to perform for each other and learn more about music and the piano.  Click here to learn more!

Now accepting new piano and voice students for the 2018-2019 studio year. Contact the studio for more details.

February's Composer of the Month: Frederick Chopin

Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Sarah Folkerts | Composer of the Month

A special release this month:  Friends of the studio can see everything usually restricted to the students' web portal!

Frederick Chopin (pronounced SHOW--pan,) a very famous Polish composer, was born in Poland in 1810, during the Romantic period.  (Remember:  the Romantic period was at its peak in Europe from around 1800 until 1850.)  

The Romantic period (also called "Romanticism") is a style of art, literature and music which said that feelings, imagination, nature, and old folk traditions (such as legends and fairy tales) were important. In part, it was a reaction to the idea that the rich people should not hold all the power.  A very new idea was taking hold:  that all people can reason and think for themselves, and should not automatically believe what an authority says. Another important idea was that a society is best when everyone works together to create it. Even people with very little power or money should have the same rights as the rich and powerful to help create the society they live in. The rich people should not have special rights or privileges any more.  This was the time when Americans decided they wanted to break away from England and form their own country, where all people would be treated equally.  These ideas showed themselves most strongly in music, art, and literature.  Music had strong emotion and imagination, instead of sticking to the "rules" of the Classical period which came before it.

Chopin felt these emotions especially strongly, and it shows in his music.  His music was almost entirely written for the piano, which has a range of sounds from very loud to very soft, high to low, long to short.

Playlist  (Parents of younger students:  you can decide how much of each video your child should watch, depending on age.)

#1  A nocturne (pronounced KNOCK--turn) is a "night song," or a piece of music meant to be played in the evening.  It is usually kindof dreamy, making you think of night.  Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes in his life, in groups of 2 or 3s.  This one (opus 9, number 2) is written in E-flat major, played by Polish pianist Arthur Rubinstein, who is widely considered to be the best performer of Chopin's music.  What kinds of things does this music make you think of?  Write it on your practice sheet!

#2  A scherzo (pronounced SKAIRT--zo) has a few different meanings, but in Chopin's music, usually means a fast-moving humorous composition.  As you watch Rubinstein play this scherzo (opus 31,) I want you to make the video fill the entire screen so you can really watch Rubinstein's technique.  Watch how his fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows all work together as one--he doesn't use his hands here, maybe the wrists in this part of the music over here, etc.  He is very relaxed, letting the movement run all the way through his arms to the very tips of his fingers.  He sits up nice and straight, and his shoulders aren't really involved at all-- he keeps his whole body relaxed.  For you older students, can you identify any techniques you have learned, such as "wrist liftoffs," "rocking motion," or "wrist rotation"?  Write a little of what you observe on your practice sheet!