“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

Whether or not Beethoven ever said these words, they’re the perfect sentiment for our studio’s third-ever virtual recital.

As this project has come together, I’ve been struck by the passion that each and every student has demonstrated in their reflections on the music they’ve created this semester.

This learning process can only come full circle when we share our music with you. So, without further ado, please enjoy our selections!

Sophie, piano, age 6: Mozart’s Musical Patterns

“My song is about patterns. When I played it, I made sure to have a good rhythm. When we recorded it, I had fun. You do the same pattern over again and then you do a different pattern. I like piano because you get to play music. My advice for someone who wants to learn piano is, take it slow so that you play it better.”

(Faber My First Piano Adventure, Book B: pp. 24-25)

Clio, piano, age 7: Playroom Surprise

“I really like the sound of bells, so I use them a lot in my recordings. It takes a lot of time to practice. I figure out one part and then the next part, and then I put the parts together. To me, this song sounds like ballerinas dancing.”

(Alfred’s Music for Little Mozarts, Book 3: p. 6)

Harlow, piano, age 7: Clara’s Etudes

“To learn this song, I looked the notes. There are 18 of them, and the first and third lines repeat. It reminds me of sheet music when I hear it, because it sounds very musical. Also, it has Clara Schumann-Cat and she’s a cat.”

(Alfred’s Music for Little Mozarts, Book 2: p. 39)

Axel, piano, age 8: Off the Beat

“I started piano when I was 4. I like piano because it sounds cool. In this song, your left hand plays the beat and your right hand plays off the beat. When we recorded it, we added drums and changed the voices to make it sound different.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano Method: Level Two, pp. 26-27)

Lucas, piano, age 8: Tambourine Party

“I like this song. It has lots of repeats, which made it tricky. Also it has 3 beats but most of my songs before were 4 beats and so I kept adding a beat. I succeeded because I kept practicing. I like piano because it sounds good. If people want to learn to play piano, I think they should get the same book I use because it works for me.”

(Faber My First Piano Adventure, Book B: pp. 42-43)

Will, piano, age 8: Cinderella’s Waltz

“This song was hard at first, but then I got the hang of it. Probably the ending notes were the hardest part, because you have to leap from middle C to the C above it. We also watched videos of people waltzing in Vienna for New Year’s Eve to learn more about what a waltz is. It looked like it was a really long time ago, but actually it was just ten years ago.”

(Faber My First Piano Adventure, Book C: pp. 26-27)

Eleanor, piano, age 9: Fairy Flight

“Music makes me feel alive. When I have a bad day and I play music, I don’t feel sad anymore. Sometimes I lose touch with my inner cat, but when I listen to music, it makes me feel like a kitty again. When I learned Fairy Flight it was hard to put all the notes together, instead of playing it piece-by-piece. So I practiced, and finally I got it. Also, Owen the cat is adorable.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano (part of the Plus collection))

Josephine, piano, age 9: Hot Chocolate, Whipped-Cream Day

“When I play piano, I like seeing what different sounds I can create. Sometimes I freestyle to see what song I could make. This is in 3/4, which I used to think was hard but now I’m a lot better at it. This song also has notes that are 6 beats long, because it has ties that connect the notes together. Like if you had two notes that were 3 beats each, now it would be 6 beats long.”

(Faber My First Piano Adventure, Book B: pp. 74-75)

Macie, piano, age 9: Tucker’s Secret Life

“I like the way this song sounds. It has a good beat to it. It kind of sounds like a Halloween song. I like recording because you get to hear how you sound. One piece of advice I would have for people who want to play piano is to know how the note names repeat over and over. I know where middle C is and then I put my fingers down and that helps me remember the notes.”

(Faber My First Piano Adventure, Book B: pp. 28-29)

Moses, piano, age 9: Swan Lake

“This is my favorite song from my recordings this semester. I like how on the synthesizer we could experiment with the different sounds and I got to choose my favorite one. That’s not something you can do on an everyday, regular piano. The result is, I feel like the notes are peaceful. They really catch your attention. It’s not in a rush, it’s just calm and slow, like something you would use to make you fall asleep. It’s breathtaking. It’s just beautiful. I love it.”

(Melody by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), arranged by Daniel McFarlane in SuperSonics Piano Method: Level Two, p. 18)

Colin, piano, age 10: Ghosts and Ghouls

“This song sounds really funky. We used the ‘jitter strings’ voice in GarageBand to make it sound awesome. It was supposed to sound spooky, but we transformed it into something different. I think it’s fun to play piano and learn all these different songs. When I first saw this song, I thought, it’s a lot longer than my other ones. But I played fine, and I really liked playing it.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano Method: Level One, pp. 120-121)

Linnea, piano, age 10: Allegro

“When we recorded this song, we made it sound like a vibraphone. We watched some videos of people playing mallet instruments and I liked the sound. It was a hard song to learn because my hands were doing different things. I practiced with one hand at a time and then, once my hands could play by themselves, I put them together. At first it didn’t work like I wanted it to because the timing was tricky and I forgot the notes. But then, I kept practicing and it started coming together.”

(Composition by James Hook (1746-1826), arranged in Faber Piano Adventures: Level 3A, pp. 58-59)

Lydia, piano, age 10: Pixie Dust

“I chose this song because it has a nice ring to it. My advice to people who want to play piano is, know how to sightread, because it’s helpful if you can. While I practiced this one, I thought about fairies and pixie dust. Also, I like to play with the synthesizer buttons. We added a drummer to this one and it made the song sound cooler.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano Method: Book One, p. 118)

Mac, piano, age 10: Build it Up

“I started piano three months ago. It’s very cool because I like the sound of it. There are so many keys and it’s hard to get the notes in the right order. Sometimes you have to tap two at the same time. Or, sometimes the notes are far apart. I listen very carefully to my teacher to make sure that I get everything she has to say so I know how to do the song right.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano Method: Level One, p. 40)

Jenna, flute, age 11: George Brabazon

“This song is very cheerful. It’s kind of like a peaceful cheerfulness that’s almost like a lullaby. There’s this quote that says, “When life gives you troubles, make bubbles.” That’s kind of what this song is, except in a musical form. So, when I worked on making the pickups light and the downbeats heavy, I thought about a spirit that lifts you up. I hope this song makes you feel cheerful when you listen to it, too.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Irish tune by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738))

Bridget, flute, age 12: Fireflies

“I started playing flute in band a year ago and this is my first year taking lessons. I’ve worked a lot on my embouchure specifically and also knowing which note is which. In Fireflies I really focused on the rhythm and also getting a good sound on the low E. I really like how solid the sound of the low notes can be on the flute.”

(Traditional children’s song arranged in the Suzuki Flute School: Volume 1, p. 12)

Drew, flute, age 12: Cradle Song

“I tried out oboe for a year but I like the sound of the flute better, so I just switched back to flute. When we played this song, we talked about making it sound smooth, which is hard because there are a lot of different jumps between notes. I kept practicing that part and in the end I was pretty happy with it.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Scottish song found in a manuscript published by James Scott Skinner in 1890)

Madeline, piano, age 12: Spiders

“It took a bit to get the left hand right because now that I also play clarinet I spend more time reading treble clef than bass clef. My advice for people who want to learn piano is, know how to read both clefs equally. We organized the song into four parts using animal stickers that I named. I would play each part over and over until I got it right constantly. When we recorded this song, we used four different synthesizer voices to make it sound creepy. I like piano because it’s fun and it gets your brain moving.”

(Daniel McFarlane, SuperSonics Piano Method: Book One, pp. 12-13)

Mia, flute, age 12: Bransle de la Torche

“This type of music was something I had never played before. It’s fun to play on the flute because of the way the notes fit together. I played both the melody and the harmony in this recording, so I had to understand the way it worked.”

(Original arrangement of a melody from Michael Praetorius’s Terpsichore, published in 1612)

Sam, piano, age 12: New Day Dawning

“This melody is symbolic of the beautiful sun rising on our planet. Even though miserable humans stay in bed and complain about the temperature, the sun is still there. “I’m inevitable,” says the sun as it quotes Thanos from the Avengers. Likewise, loved ones in my family record my piano music and say it’s amazing, but I don’t always see the beauty in it because I’ve been playing the same song so long. I also write music, and this semester I wrote a composition for oboe and piano that I submitted to a local young composers’ competition.”

(Robert D. Vandall, Celebrated Lyrical Solos, pp. 4-5)

Sarah, flute, age 12: Little Drummer Boy

“I like Christmas music a lot, and I just really like this song. Lisa kept putting our Christmas songs in minor keys so they would sound sad, but I told her this was not good. This was my first time doing a recording, and it was cool how I could hear myself in the mic. I’m working on not being as puffy with my sound. My advice for someone who wants to play flute is: if you want to be good at it, listen to your teacher.”

(Original arrangement of a song by Katherine Kennicott Davis, written in 1941)

Audrey, flute, age 13: Sad Tune

“I started playing flute about two months ago. So far I like the sound and how the keys feel when you press on them. One thing that’s challenging is getting the right embouchure. You have to change the shape of your mouth and try out different things to see what works. This song has a weird rhythm but it’s fun to play. I hadn’t recorded anything before, but it’s cool to hear the song with the different instruments in the background.”

(Composition by Alan Ridout, published in Trevor Wye’s “Beginner’s Book for the Flute: Part One,” p. 11)

Avery, flute, age 13: Gaelic Melody

“It was tricky to get the rhythms for this song, so I listened to Alasdair Fraser’s recording on YouTube a bunch of times. It feels like it’s in between major and minor keys, which gives a feeling of awe, like you’re looking at mountains and feeling amazement. It reminds me of when we were on a trip in Colorado and we were going on hikes, surrounded by mountains. That was all you could see, and there was snow on some of them. But it still felt empty, like it was just our family in that place. That’s what this song reminds me of.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Scottish tune called “Ghoid Iad Mo Bhean Uam An Reir,” found in the Patrick McDonald collection published in 1784)

Jonathan, flute, age 14: Galley of Lorne

“This song focuses on the development of strong tone through basic and complex melodies. It reminds me of summers in Lorne, although I’m not sure if I’ve been there. I might have. Or maybe it reminds me of when the Duke of Argyll died. I hope that people think about boating in a horrible, rainy sea when they listen to my song.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Scottish tune)

Lily, flute, age 14: St. Patrick’s An Dro

“This song sounds different from a really fast, classical flute song. It’s slower and it sounds different. There was a tricky measure in the middle of the B part, so I worked through it step-by-step and took two notes a time. I’ve taken flute lessons since 5th grade and they’ve taught me not to try to learn everything at once, but to take things slower and in chunks. I thought it was really cool to record. I’ve recorded songs with voice but never before with an instrument. I like that there are so many types of flutes and that it’s such an old instrument that sounds really pretty.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Breton tune sometimes also known as “As Covas Do Rei Cintolo”)

Lindsay, flute, age 14: Carolan’s Draught

“In learning this song, I worked on adding in ornamentation while keeping the overall flow of the tune. I like how this song is light and flouncy. When people listen to this song, I want them to imagine sitting next to a fire while putting together a cat puzzle and drinking hot chocolate.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Irish tune by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738))

A’jah, flute, age 15: Burning of the Piper’s Hut

“To learn this tune, I just thought of my g minor scale. It wasn’t that hard to play because they were familiar notes. I looked closely at the rhythms, and on some of the parts I used dynamics. There were spots with high and low notes so I acted like I was yawning and that made my sound clearer. At first recording it was scary because I was trying hard not to mess up, but when I heard the backing it wasn’t as scary as I thought. So I just played my best.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional Scottish tune that dates to the mid-18th century. Although often played slowly, the same melody also appears in a 4-part tune known as “The Defaulter’s March” in The Glendaruel Collection of Bagpipe Music.)

Lilly, flute, age 16: Trauerwalzer

“Even though this melody is simple, it’s more complex than it seems. I really like playing it and doing a duet with myself, which you can’t really do live. Getting to hear myself play and playing with myself was an interesting experience. Plus, the meow at the end adds a little je-ne-sais-quoi.”

(Arranged from Franz Schubert’s Sechsunddreißbig Walzer, Nr. 2 (Op. 9, D 365))

Megan, flute, age 16: Bear Dance

“In this recording of Bear Dance we chose to incorporate a mood change by using a smoother rhythm in the second half of the song. I feel as though it added a dimension to the piece and contrasted with the bouncy nature of the first part. Also, this song was the first time I utilized drones in my arrangement.”

(Original arrangement of a traditional folk tune, possibly Flemish, but whose origins are debated. If you’d like to fall down this rabbit hole, see the comments here.)

Bonus Track