Looking for some ideas on how to help your child succeed in music? Learning anything always has its ups and downs, and we all know that parents’ support can be the make-or-break element for a child’s learning. In an earlier post we offered 9 tips on supporting your budding musician — in this post we’ll offer some fun, stimulating activities that you can do with your children to invigorate their learning.
A Continuum – History in the Making
No matter what instrument your child is studying, you’re bound to learn something interesting about it if you look. Delve into its history together to learn some surprising facts — there are so many fun facts on the internet about instruments!
Did you know, for example, that the piano evolved from a harpsichord because the musician wanted more powerful sound so his playing wouldn’t be lost in an orchestra? True. Italy’s Bartolomeo Cristofori replaced the plucking mechanism from a harpsichord with hammers around 1700 and BAM — suddenly, everyone could hear Bartolomeo!
Did you know that although the first guitar was created about 8 centuries ago, it wasn’t until about 80 years ago that the electric guitar was created? Can you guess why it was created? Right, more powerful sound.
Did you know that drumming burns more calories than cycling, weight lifting, or hiking? (That might be because you use all four limbs when drumming …)
Or how about this? Playing the violin burns approximately 170 calories per hour. That means that for every hour of practice, students can reward themselves with two tablespoons of peanut butter!
Learn About Other Music Genres
If your musician loves Rock guitar, consider taking a few steps back in time to the Blues, the music that inspired Rock. Your child might be surprised to learn the rich history of Rock … it’s a great way to help children get rooted in the tradition of their instrument and “their music.”
The Blues – America’s Musical Tradition
The American Blues is the first musical genre created in our country, and were created as a response to the hardships of slavery. Working out in the fields one slave would sing out a call – an expression of the suffering they were all experiencing – and others would respond. This call and response was a most basic expression of pain, and this communication helped the people survive.
Although most of the difficulties of life today can’t compare with slavery, almost everyone would agree that life has its challenges. That’s why the Blues is still going strong today – it touches a deep place that’s common to us all.
Although the Blues’ musical form has evolved over the centuries, the basic premise is the same today as it was in the days of American slavery:
… by reaching deep inside yourself to express life’s difficulties, you rise above them. When you play or sing the Blues you can help others transcend as well. https://merge-education.com/the-arts-for-youth-trauma/
Is Your Musician Hooked on the Blues?
If your musicians are hooked by the Blues, they may know there’s no “one style” of Blues. Over time, as the Blues began to develop into an art form, it took on the unique styles of the localities and musicians who played them.
It’s said that you need to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand them – and to really know the Blues, you need to dig deep. Whether you’re a guitarist, pianist, fiddler, or vocalist, you can begin to understand the Blues by listening to and learning about various Blues styles.
Music lessons here at TMSA will help you step into them – as will learning about the musicians who helped form them. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular Blues styles.
The Texas Blues – Lemon Henry Jefferson and Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker
T-Bone Walker (1910 –1975) was born in Linden, Texas. His parents were both musicians, and he learned the Blues guitar basics from their friend Lemon Henry “Blind Lemon” Jefferson. Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the most popular Blues singers of the 1920s and has been called the Father of the Texas Blues.
T-Bone Walker began his career at age 12 as a professional performer on the Dallas Blues circuit. Starting with the Texas Blues, he went on to pioneer the jump Blues and electric Blues sound. You may have heard one of his most popular songs — Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday’s Just as Bad).
Here’s The Allman Brothers performance of Call it Stormy Monday. Give it a listen – you get the pure meaning of the Blues here! https://youtu.be/Bqa1s4jhkQ8
Why Music is Always Evolving
Your budding musician might be interested in learning why musical styles from earlier days can be so different from those now. This can be a great way to understand the history of any culture. Simply put, music reflects the tenor of the current culture.
As example, we offer two versions of the same song. First, here’s an early Blues played and sung by Blind Lemon Jefferson, who wrote and sings Match Box Blues. There’s no doubt, his deep Blues express a much slower, simpler time than we have today. https://youtu.be/JXC1jjRCXtg
“Sometimes I wonder, will a matchbox hold my clothes?
You know, I haven’t got so many, but I got so far to go.”
Fast forward, and here’s the same tune played today, expressing quite a different culture. This is Stevie Ray Vaughn & Albert King singing Match Box Blues. Deep Blues for sure, but oh how different! https://youtu.be/oj6S7j5E-8I
Boogie Woogie Blues
The Boogie Woogie Blues also originated in Texas early in the 20th century. Some say that Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the first creators of Boogie Woogie Blues because when he played Match Box Blues, he referred to the guitar bass figure he used as “Booga Rooga”.
There’s nothing calm and relaxed about boogie woogie, no matter what era it’s played! Here’s Nico Brina playing boogie woogie Blues piano: https://youtu.be/EeT9MmTLHGc
The Delta Blues originated in the Mississippi Delta, which includes Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It’s known for its slide guitar. Vocal styles range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery, so it’s a great style to learn.
Bonnie Raitt (1949) and Susan Tedeschi (1970) are contemporary women Blues artists who were influenced by Delta Blues. Here’s a great example of the Delta Blues by Bonnie Raitt: https://youtu.be/3zzMDR5vWZ8
Some people tell me, the Blues ain’t bad …
You know they’re the worst old feelin’ anyone ever had.
While some people stereotype the Blues as music for those who are less educated, Bonnie Raitt is one of the many musicians who proves that to be false. An American Blues singer, guitarist, songwriter, and activist, Bonnie attended both Radcliffe and Harvard. Here’s a recording of her favorite song “I Aint’ Going to Let You Break My Heart Again”. https://youtu.be/-lFWdZBBbwo
Ready to take guitar lessons or singing lessons on the Delta Blues?
New Orleans Blues
Staying deep in the South, let’s go to New Orleans to wrap this up.
New Orleans Blues was influenced by jazz and Caribbean music. It is primarily driven by piano and saxophone and incorporates the guitar as well. Major figures in the genre include Professor Longhair (1918-1980).
Here’s a New Orleans Blues playlist to immerse yourself– https://youtu.be/DHE7I1MWbrc. Listen for a few minutes and you’ll know why New Orleans calls itself The Big Easy.
Ready for the wrap?
Why the Blues Prevail
Life can be challenging. No matter what age you are and no matter where you live or what your circumstance, life can bring us all down. What’s a great way to beat our Blues? With the Blues!
People take the Blues on in various ways. Listening to Blind Lemon Jefferson you can feel the grinding drudgery of poverty with no way out, yet the very expression of it seems to bring a sense of acceptance and almost contentment with the way things are.
On the other hand, the very same Match Box Blues sung by Stevie Ray Vaughn & Albert King express the angst felt in having to struggle with poverty in an era of affluence.
The New Orleans Blues are almost at the opposite end of the spectrum. This music suggests that even though life can be a challenge, you can play music that uplifts your soul. You don’t have to take it lying down — you can invite the beauty in!
Blues Piano Lessons, Blues Guitar, or Blues Singing Lessons Anyone?
In the end, all Blues have one aim: to help the musician and listeners rise above the Blues to the happiness in life. No matter how you like your Blues, Rock, or Classical expression of life, our talented teachers here at The Music Studio Atlanta can expertly guide you towards your goal. Contact us for more information!