Learn to play Bach in six weeks

Learn to play Bach in six weeks

The start of the year is a great time to take on a new challenge. The pianist James Rhodes tells Clemency Burton-Hill how anyone can learn to play Bach in six weeks.

Is it ever too late to learn a musical instrument? According to the leading British concert pianist James Rhodes, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’ – and he has just written the book to prove it. The delightfully straight-talking How To Play the Piano is an elegant little volume that promises – with just 45 minutes’ practice a day, six days a week, for six weeks – to enable anyone with access to a keyboard to play one of JS Bach’s most beloved works, the Prelude no 1 in C major from Book One of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Continue reading

Practicing a breach of the peace

Practicing a breach of the peace

One of my violin students, who lives in an apartment complex, has been confiding with me about her difficulties practicing due to an overbearing downstairs neighbor named Earle. She’s a beginning adult player, an engineer who lives with her husband, 3 year old child, and a small dog, and like most of us she struggles to find time to devote to her hobbies and pastimes.  She usually takes out the fiddle on her lunch breaks, and spends most of her lunchtime working on her lessons during the week. Continue reading

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele

Animaniacs Theme arranged for easy Ukulele


This month, with Netflix releasing the great 90’s animated classic Animaniacs, i’ve had a number of students acquire an interest in the show. Some adults, waxing nostalgic remembering watching the series when it first aired, as well as many younger students watching it for the first time, frequently accompanied by those self-same sentimental grown-ups!

The theme was composed by the great Richard Stone , an American composer who was instrumental (hah) in the revival of animation in the 1990s, composing music and songs for The Simpsons with Danny Elfman, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania, The Plucky Duck Show, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Histeria, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, and Freakazoid.

Richard Stone also composed for various feature films and television series including the Bruce Campbell western Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, Pumpkinhead, North Shore, and the miniseries In a Child’s Name. Stone worked on John Hughes films including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles (both scored by Ira Newborn). Stone also composed the music for the William Shatner series, “Rescue 911”. Stone also scored the PBS Documentary “Medal of Honor” along with Mark Watters. He later wrote compositions for various films including, Summers heat, Never on Tuesday, Tripwire, Vietnam Texas, and Victim of love.

Stone has won several Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for Animaniacs and Histeria, as well as Outstanding Original Song, shared with lyricist, writer, creator and senior producer Tom Ruegger, for the main titles of Animaniacs and Freakazoid. Stone shared many of his music direction/composing awards with his team of composers, who included Steve Bernstein, Carl Johnson, Julie Bernstein, Gordon Goodwin and Tim Kelly.

According to Animaniacs writer/producer Paul Rugg, crew members fondly referred to Richard as “The Great Stonini,” a sort of musical magician whose compositions and orchestrations often raised the quality of the cartoons to unexpected musical and artistic heights.

I’ve transcribed a simplified version of the Animaniacs theme for one of my young ukulele students, so I thought i’d share for educational purposes. Of course, i’m not the copyright holder, yadda yadda yadda. Enjoy, and HELLO NURSE!
Animaniacs Theme Ukulele

Free Online Course on Medieval Music Begins today

Free Online Course on Medieval Music Begins today

The University of Basel and Future Learn have teamed up to offer a seven week free online course that will teach the history of musical notation in the Middle Ages, and show you how to decode medieval music manuscripts.

The course, From Ink to Sound: Decoding Musical Manuscripts, is being taught by Matteo Nanni and Angelika Moths, and will take about 3 hours per week. The only requirement is that you should know how to read modern musical notation. Continue reading