Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2013

The Lighter Side: Appreciating Ylvis, Monty Python for a new age

Many of you are familiar with the Norwegian group, Ylvis' mega-hit, "The Fox," but most non-Norwegians don't realize that the song is a work of comedy. In fact, EVERYTHING these brothers do is an act of comedy.

Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker grew up admiring the comedy of Monty Python. Now they have their own talk/variety show on Scandinavian television. I would like to go on record as saying that their show rivals The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, Ellen, and The Graham Norton Show.

These men are an "undiscovered paradise" of comedy, so empty your bladder, sit back, and enjoy the laughs as I introduce you to Ylvis. (Press the CC button for English subtitles)

Sometimes they make fun of movies or television shows.

Here's one of a series of sketches they did called, "Intelevator." All the segments of Intelevator are hysterical!

Here's one called, "Voice controlled ATM"

Here's a similar prank pulled by Graham Norton…

He's Gone Away

I first sang this song as part of UMaine's women's chorus. I sung in the group while teaching at the University. It was a great pleasure. I remember wondering what the words meant. Nobody seemed to know. Since then I've tried to research the song, but its origins are very nebulous.

The song is very "sticky". It has flown through history picking up elements through the centuries, stopping the accumulation sometime around the American Civil War.

This rendition from the late 40s/early 1950s is a popular rendition of the ballad.

Here are elements of the song that are from various centuries.

16th-17th centuries and before

He's gone away for to stay a little while,
but he's comin' back if he goes 10,000 miles
O who will tie my shoes?
And who will glove my hand?
And who will kiss my ruby lips when he is gone?
Look away, look away over yandro.

The term 10,000 miles stands for an impossibly spanned distance in thousands of folk songs from the British Isles. Here is …

Denise Bacon

A grand dame of music has left us. Denise Bacon died this week. She was a pioneer of Kodaly concept in the USA. I only met her once, but it was quite a day. I spent a year teaching with Ingrid Kainen in central Massachusetts, and we became friends. Ingrid invited me to her home for lunch and a session in "Denny's basement" copying songs and swapping stories.

I remember walking down the stairs into the library with its floor to ceiling shelves of meticulously cataloged materials. Her library had that wonderful, dusty smell of Patelsons Music Store in New York. I smelled it a few years later when Gunther Schuller gave me an afternoon of his time and I went to his home.

It's been ten years since my encounter with Denise Bacon, and I remember more of how it felt than what happened. I would appreciate your comments and remembrances. She's one of those people I wish I had met again.

This is the email I received announcing Denny's passing. I reprint it here with p…

Inspiring Videos, New Finds

Let's all play our DRUM

This is a great exercise(click that link for PDF) for developing musical radar. Combine this with the dance/movement activities of Parts on the Floor and you've got the beginnings of a group dynamic of music making that really cooks!

This is another for helping to build group radar and following the conductor. The conductor NEED NOT BE YOU. In fact, if we are truly wanting our kids to be independent learners, it shouldn't be us (as much as possible)

Imagine how you could use this in a pantomime montage as part of a play. Maybe showing a dream? A wish? A fable's action? A magic spell? It's a great bridge in any action.

My Mr. Berv

The First Lesson
I had taken the audition on a lark, but made the top orchestra in Juilliard Pre-College. Now, just a few months shy of my sixteenth birthday, I took the elevator (the one my friend, Kristen would ride later that semester with Mikhail Baryshnikov “He was sweaty and ahhhhh”) to the fifth floor to find Mr. Berv’s studio.  The door dinged as it opened. Some cellists were eager to get on. I stepped out. There was a scrum of violinists and mothers outside Miss Delay’s studio (though I didn’t yet know who she was.) I walked down the halls of golden carpet. I remember the carpet. It was nice, nicer than what we had at home, even nicer than the fancy carpet at the Bellevue Stratford, where I’d stayed in the past year on a youth orchestra tour. The carpet muffled sound, setting a hushed soundscape with an underlying, excited buzz of young adrenaline. I checked my schedule and matched the door number. I knocked. Mr. Berv opened the door, his happy blue eyes smiling. “Hello, Suzanne…