Motivational Monday

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” - Plato

Functional Friday - "Strumming the Piano"

Welcome to Functional Friday (as opposed to dysfunctional - whole other story) where I share some ideas on how to enhance your day to day enjoyment playing the 88.

Why "Strumming the Piano"? When someone buys or is gifted a new guitar they look up a few chords, sit on the bed, and start strumming away eventually learning to accompany themselves on a few favourite tunes. Piano players not so much.

My goal with these Friday blogs is to give you the skills necessary to use functional harmony (oooh, big words. Not to worry, I got you) to decipher chords and develop your own piano accompaniment to songs you love. Thus, like the newbie guitarist you'll be strumming along in no time.

As always, please leave comments, ask questions and make suggestions as to what you want to see here. It's all about you guys.

Have a great weekend!

Gary

Harmony Explained

Here 23 year old musician Jacob Collier explains harmony at 5 different levels of difficulty.

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Busy year so far!

We've been busy playing in venues all around St. John's since January and have bookings right up until the end of August.

Highlights include a lovely evening at The Crow's Nest a naval officer's club in downtown St. John's established in 1942 at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic. It became a haven for battle weary seamen looking for respite from war and a decent pint. We love playing there and we're always well received.

Jazz East performed at the Ship Pub to a huge crowd on March 8 and we'll be playing again April 5 at the Pleasantville Legion, Branch 56 for the Judy Knee School of Dance.

Denise's work with the NSO has been ongoing with lots of great shows ahead. See our calendar.

We have also just played a wonderful evening for the folks at Exit Realty on the Rock. Every year they have an awards night with live music, dinner and a show. Thanks to Anne Squires for continuing to include us as their dinner music every year.

Exciting Year Ahead!

We've been busily preparing to record the new CD "Alone Together" and hope to have it ready for you all soon. In the meantime we've been preparing sheet music of all the tunes on "In A Heartbeat". Pdf's will be available soon from this site.

New shows are in the works for the summer and fall featuring lotsa new tunes and fresh arrangements and orchestrations of your favourites.

Keep an eye out for new dates on the calendar and we look forward to seeing you at our shows.

Gary and Denise

The Subjectivity of Kiwanis Festivals

Had an interesting experience watching some 11 year old piano students perform in the local Kiwanis Festival yesterday. The adjudicator was a well-respected Canadian composer and performer but her adjudications seemed odd to me.

 

Now I'm a performer of 35 years and have been teaching since 1980 so I know a thing or two about piano performance but couldn't for the life of me determine what this adjudicator's criteria were for assessing the 11 and under Baroque class.

 

Students were beginning their pieces in the wrong octave, missing endings, leaving out whole sections while others played with poise, excellent tone and hand position and solid memory work. Most of the beautiful playing went unnoticed while others were rewarded for being ill-prepared.

 

Back a step. All these young players performed well. Some exceptionally well, but I don't think it would take exceptional musical perception to tell which deserved the 1, 2, 3 placements. None of the students held to Baroque performance practices nor played with a great degree of sensitivity and expression. So what was the judging based on? Don't know and couldn't tell.

 

So I appeal to all those who place great weight on such festivals and have children spend countless hours in preparation, to take it all with a grain of salt. The objectivity of the adjudicators is no different from our own objectivity on topics of our own expertise. We are all subject to opinion. We are all affected by mood, room temperature and emotion so let's not get too knotted up over a single juror's opinion.

 

I have only performed once or twice in the Kiwanis Music Festival as a child and even then felt the futility of exposing oneself to criticism and judgment. I let it go and went on to enjoy making music as a lifelong career.

Crossin' the Tickle

Beautiful day out there today! Bright sun glinting blue off the blanket of white snow covering the city. Today we go to Bell Island to meet one of Denise's clients. We're not doing a show but perhaps we should. Haven't been over there since the 1980's. It'll be interesting to see what's changed and what's not.

Denise has never been so the whole experience is new and maybe even a bit exciting for her. Water is relatively calm but boy, that wind is cold.

Have you been to Bell Island? Perhaps you live there. We'd love to hear from you.

We have to head out now to catch the 11:40am ferry. I'll share pix later.

Meantime, have a look yourself -

http://www.bellisland.net/

Pre-order our New CD and get free rewards!

Kapipal

Romantic Music for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and we are really looking forward to it. Since our music is strongly influenced by our relationship and our nearly 15 years together married and performing there is a strong emotional aspect to both our composition and performance.

This year we are planning a new CD of piano and bass duets tentatively titled "Alone Together". We want to express ourselves as best we can through the simplicity of the piano/bass duo. More about that soon!

In the meantime, enjoy the music of "In A Heartbeat" available through this website, iTunes and Amazon. The perfect gift for the one you love.

Want to know more about "Alone Together"? Drop us a line.

Love:

Gary and Denise

House Concerts

Johnston and Lear are now booking House Concerts for the 2011/2012 season. For more information contact Gary Johnston at the Johnston and Lear website, Facebook or Twitter

New Website Up Today!

Thanks for visiting the new website. No doubt you have discovered some of the unique new features allowing you to enjoy more of our music. Please feel free to leave comments, join our e-mail list and perhaps even buy our CD "In A Heartbeat"

With Love,

Gary and Denise

New Website Online Soon!

Delighted to have a new website here on HostBaby!

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