Ralph Vaughan Williams

Music Notes

Music, music, music.  And only music, music, music.

Longing for L-O-N-G classical music pieces:

Music to lull someone to sleep – 

Someone in the family has been waking in the middle of the night (I might be glaring at my son right now) and the only way to get said person back to sleep is to sit with him in his darkened room and listen to two or three calming, lengthy (this is key, short ‘n’ choppy does not do the trick) classical music pieces.  Each one needs to whisper, “you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy”:

  • 14+ minutes:  Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”
  • 12+ minutes”  Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 9” (“From the New World”), movement II
  • 12+ minutes:  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F major”, movement I
  • 12+ minutes:  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F major”, movement II
  • 9+ minutes:  Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major”, movement II (the Andantino)
  • 9+ minutes:  Schumann’s “Symphony No. 3 in E flat” (“The Rhenish”), movement I
  • 9+ minutes:  Josef Strauss’s “Music of the Spheres”
  • 8+ minutes:  Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”, movement I (“The Sea and Sinbad”)
  • 6+ minutes:  William Grant Still’s “Song of the Riverman” from “The American Scene – The Southwest”
  • 5+ minutes:  John Williams’ “Approaching the Summit”, from the movie, “Seven Years in Tibet”

Music to draw out the evening – 

Sometimes we speed through stories and studies and it is still quite early in the evening.  We have time for longer classical music selections than usual, and we pick livelier than the “lulling to sleep” pieces:

  • 12+ minutes:  Mendelssohn’s “Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
  • 11+ minutes:  Smetana’s “The Moldau” 
  • 10+ minutes:  Dukas’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” 
  • 9+ minutes:  von Suppe’s “Poet and Peasant Overture”
  • 9+ minutes:  Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from his opera, “La Gioconda”
  • 9+ minutes:  Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides Overture”

April looks back at March:

Music for St. Patrick’s Day –

We compared two interpretations of the jig,  “The Irish Washerwoman”, inspired by the 17th century English Folk tune, “The Dargason” (Anglo-Saxon word for fairy)(not a river as I first assumed)(but seriously, doesn’t “The Dargason” sound like a river name?) –

– Gustav Holst’s “Fantasia on the Dargason”, composed in 1911 for his “Second Suite for Military Band”.  An excellent VIRTUAL performance by the Sacramento State Symphonic Wind Ensemble from October 2020. 

– Leroy Anderson’s “The Irish Washerwoman” from movement one of his “Irish Suite”, first performed in 1947.  Rollicking (we expect no less from Leroy Anderson) –

Music Madness –

We created our own March Madness Classical Music Brackets and pitted our favorite pieces by British composers (Handel, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Binge, Sullivan, Clarke, and Alwyn) against each other.  After 9 grueling rounds, the top thrilling three:  

“The Wild Bears”, by Sir Edward Elgar from “The Wand of Youth”, suite II (1908).  No question about this, “The Wild Bears” is my son’s favorite classical music piece.  It has everything – scampering, tiptoeing, abrupt twists and turns, superb use of every instrument in the orchestra, and a smashing conclusion – all packed into 2+ minutes:

“Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”, by George Frederich Handel from his oratorio, “Solomon” (1749).  Don’t miss this short video if you want to see your first THEORBO (a ridiculously large lute-type instrument):

“Sailing By”, by Ronald Binge (1963).  This is the BBC4 Shipping Forecast theme, and we love it.  Comfort listening:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

Shout outs!

megaphone    megaphone   megaphone

If you are part of an autism family, may I share two fave resources?

1) One Stop Autism-Info Shopping –  Guess what happens if you “like” Autism Society San Diego on your FaceBook page?  You stay on top of the latest trends and breakthroughs:  

legal – medical – behavioral – educational – therapeutic – employment – advocacy

Really, you name it; this hip group misses NOTHING.  On top of that, “likers” are treated to stories of personal triumphs (our hearts soar), and inspired by the many ASSD sponsored activities (weekend family camps – gym night – sensory friendly movies).  This is a forward moving,  assertive group with a very public presence in the community.  San Diego kids on the spectrum and their families are lucky to have such powerful support.  The San Diego Autism Society:  A+ on every level. 

ampersand

2) Dr. Amy Yasko: so smart, so kind – My son follows the autism protocol of brilliant researcher, Dr. Amy Yasko.  (My son’s local doctor described Dr. Yasko’s work as being “the Cadillac of Autism Protocols”.  Whoa.)  When anybody asks me about her, the first words out of my mouth are, “she’s SO smart and she’s SO kind”.  But see for yourself:  dramyyasko.com – lots of free videos of her lectures:  you will see how smart she is, you will see how kind she is.  Supported by an astonishing intellect and impressive resume, Dr. Amy is able to clearly explain the most ridiculously complex systems and processes to the likes of me (and apparently thousand of other parents – great parent chat room at www.ch3nutrigenomics.com) (and that is indeed a “3” in the middle of that web address).  And her sincere empathy for the plight of families with an autism child?  It helps.  Really, we love Dr. Amy Yasko.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled STORIES AND STUDIES review:

From our nightly story problem collection – I am still laughing over this:  somebody recently wrote that distance from the earth to the sun is exactly the length of 8 CVS receipts – this led to a story problem:

From the purchasing office at Le Fictitious Local Diner – If the typical length of a local diner receipt is 2 feet (what with all the diner coupons attached), and there are approximately 100 receipts printed out daily, and a paper roll of receipt paper is 230 feet in length, how many rolls does the diner need to purchase per month (assuming a 30 day month)?  (answers at bottom of post)

  1. 17 rolls     B.  27 rolls     C.  37 rolls     D.  47 rolls

If each roll costs $2, how much should the diner budget for receipt paper per month?

  1. $24     B.  $34     C.  $44     D.  $54

war book

Reading for fun – we are revisiting all of our Tom Gates books (author L. Pichon), currently reading book 2, “Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff)”.  Tom Gates makes me laugh every single night;  I love his favorite rock band, “Dude 3”, I love his sullen sister, Delia, I love the way Tom’s dad tries to avoid his pompous uncle.  My son loves Tom’s doodles (vocab) and luckily, Tom is a chronic doodler.  We both enjoy trading Tom’s UK words and expressions for American counterparts (biscuits/cookies, jumper/sweater, that sort of thing).  Every page is entertaining and so worth a second read through.

Reading for our heart “The War that Saved My Life”, a 2016 Newberry Honor Book, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  We look forward to opening this book every night.  The overriding theme focuses on children who were evacuated (vocab) from London during World War II, but cleverly balanced intertwining themes (horses/air fields/special needs/friendship) make this book difficult to stop reading every night.  Excellent discussion provoker.

Our Classical Music Choices – inspired by the UK locale of our two fiction books, we listened to the work of iconic British countryside composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams:

ralph vaughan williams stamp

  • “The Lark Ascending”, composed in 1914 for piano and violin, scored for orchestra in 1920. This well loved piece keeps placing #1 year after year in the Classical FM website Hall of Fame competition.  It is a bit lengthy (16 minutes or so), but it is original, soothing, hopeful and puts the solo violinist (in this case, virtuoso Hilary Hahn) to the test (Ms. Hahn delivers!):

  • “Sea Songs”, composed in 1923, Vaughan Williams seamlessly combined three sea shanties in a four minute jaunty piece (which appears to have been performed, recorded, and uploaded onto YouTube by more college orchestras than any other composition). The seemingly irresistible “Sea Songs” also reappears as movement II of Vaughan Williams’ “English Folk Song Suite”.  We’ve selected a performance by the Wheaton College Symphonic Band, expertly led by honors conductor, Elizabeth Barrett:

  • “English Folk Song Suite”, also written in 1923.  We listened to movement III, a spritely march, “Folk Songs from Somerset” (and sort of interesting:  repeated throughout the piece, my son and I can hear the first line of “The 12 Days of Christmas”).  A simply outstanding performance by a local Texas MIDDLE SCHOOL (!).  We are VERY impressed:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
 – Jane BH
Story problem answers:  B.  27 rolls,  D.  $54

A Little Night Music

piano and moon

Question 1:  If my son and I spend 15 minutes every night listening to classical music, how many hours of listening will we have stacked up over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

Question 2:  If we average 3 pieces per evening, how many compositions will we have listened to over the course of a year? (answer at bottom of post)

I have been thinking it would be helpful to have a tab on title-block that would take us to a page where our music themes were listed.  So, OMGosh this has taken forever to assemble (and only includes music I have blogged about since July, 2014), but VOILA!  This post is now tabbed on title-block as “Our Music Themes“.

(This is merely a listing; to read a few short lines of information about each composition and find links to youtube videos of said compositions,  click on the links.)

Music Themes – Post Titles

Art set to music:  Checkered House, by Grandma Moses – from “Good Books, Bad Books

  • Over the River and Through the Wood – Lydia Maria Child
  • Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
  • Carol of the Animals – Robert Davis

Art set to music:  Pirate Chief, by Howard Pyle – from “Fly By

  • The Maid of Amsterdam – traditional sea chanty
  • Overture to The Flying Dutchman – Wagner
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Art set to music:  The Clipper Ship, by Currier and Ives – from “Garden Par-tay

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Over the Waves – Juventino Rosas

Art set to music:  The Fall of the Cowboy, by Remington – from “Answers for Everything

  • Thanksgiving – George Winston
  • Hoedown – Aaron Copland
  • Back Home Again – John Denver

Back to School – from “If it’s August

  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Entry of the Gladiators – Julius Fucik
  • Song of the Volga Boatmen – traditional

Barbershop Quartetsfrom “The Cliffs Notes Version

  • Sincere – Meredith Willson
  • Mr. Sandman – Pat Ballard

Benjamin Franklin in France – from “It’s a Date!

  • Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio – Mozart
  • The Coffee Cantata – JS Bach
  • Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor (Farewell Symphony) – Haydn

Black History Month Selections – from “Conversation Circle”

  • Maple Leaf Rag – Scott Joplin
  • The American Scene: The Southwest – William Grant Still
  • Don’t Get Around Much Anymore – Duke Ellington

Blue Days – from “Something Blue

  • Blue Skies – Irving Berlin
  • Blue Tango – Leroy Anderson
  • The Blue Danube Waltz – Strauss

Blue Moon Tunes – from “Second Time Around”

  • Moonlight Serenade – Glenn Miller
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy

Brazil, thinking about – from “Tick, Tick, Tick

  • exploring “The Little Train of Caipira” – Heitor Villa-Lobos

The Cambrian Explosion – from “In Which We Learn about the Cambrian Explosion

  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett
  • Polka Dots and Moonbeams – Van Heusen/Burke
  • 1812 Overture – Tchaikovsky

Chicken Coop Melodies – from “Farm Fresh

  • Symphony No. 83 in G minor (The Hen) – Haydn
  • The Hen – Respighi
  • Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little – Meredith Willson
  • Chicken Reel – Joseph M. Daly/Leroy Anderson

Classical Broadway – from “Desperately Seeking Ganesha

  • Rosemary – Frank Loesser
  • Piano Concerto in A minor – Edvard Grieg
  • Baby Face – Akst/Davis
  • Hallelujah Chorus – Handel
  • Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina – Rice/Weber
  • Violin Concerto in D minor – Brahms

Cuckoo for Music – from “Things that go Bump in the Night

  • Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major (The Cuckoo and the Hen) – Handel
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi

Dealer’s Choice (my son selects 3 from a list of 10) – from “Starry Eyed

  • The William Tell Overture – Rossini
  • The Cuckoo – Respighi
  • Mambo – Leonard Bernstein

Dental Procedures, music for – from “Messenger Service

  • Symphony No. 6 in F major (The Pastoral) – Beethoven
  • The Barcarolle – Jacques Offenbach
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana

The Doldrums – from “Going Nowhere Fast

  • Sea Songs – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • We Sail the Ocean Blue – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Sailing By – Ronald Binge

Duets! – from “Sap Happy

  • The Flower Duet – Leo Delibes
  • Si Fino All’ore Estreme – Bellini
  • People Will Say We’re in Love – Rogers and Hammerstein

Einstein and his Violin – from “Brainiac

  • Violin Serenade No. 6 – Mozart
  • Violin Serenade No. 13 (Eine Kleine Machtmusik) – Mozart
  • Violin Sonata No. 26 in B-flat major – Mozart

Exotic Lands – from “That’s Gotta Hurt

  • Scheherazade – Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Overture to Abduction fro the Seraglio – Mozart
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel

Fanfare for the Water Bear – from “A Fanfare for the Water Bear

  • Water Music – Handel
  • The Aquarium – Saint-Saens
  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar

Franz Schubert Night – from “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?”

  • Serenade – Schubert
  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • March Militaire – Schubert

French Composers – from “A Test of Faith

  • The Infernal Galop (The Can-Can) – Jacques Offenbach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • March of the Toreadors – Bizet

The French Horn – from “Working for Peanuts

  • Water Music – Handel
  • Venus – Gustav Holst
  • Pavane for a Dead Princess – Maurice Ravel

Fun Music Only – from “Inventors Invent

  • Dance of the Hours – Amilcare Ponchielli
  • Chicken Reel – Leroy Anderson
  • The Pink Panther – Henry Mancini

Good Shepherd – from “The Rattlesnake Sermon

  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd – Handel
  • Tender Shepherd – Charlap/Leigh

Groundhog Day – from “Rodent Rage

  • Winter – Vivaldi
  • Waltz of the Snowflakes – Tchaikovsky
  • Symphony No. 6 in F major – Beethoven
  • Put on a Happy Face – Strouse/Adams

Halloween, scary music for – from “Back in the Saddle Again

  • Dance Macabre – Saint-Saens
  • Mars – Gustav Holst
  • Masquerade – Khachaturian

Harp Music of the Angels – from “Sunday School

  • Harp Concerto in B-flat major – Handel
  • Harp Concerto in A major – Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf
  • Concerto for Flut and Harp – Mozart

The Hungarian March, 3 Ways – from “Travelogue

  • Hungarian March – Berlioz
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 – Liszt
  • Hungarian Dance No. 19 – Brahms

Hymns: three from one – from “Riveting

  • Ave Maria – Jacques Arcadelt
  • Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony) – Saint-Saens
  • Finlandia Hymn – Sibelius

Inventions for Inventions – from “Lights! Camera! Edison!

  • Invention No. 6 in E major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 8 in F major – JS Bach
  • Invention No. 13 in A minor – JS Bach

London Busses – from “Late Bloomer

  • Jupiter – Gustav Holst
  • Pomp and Circumstance – Elgar
  • Fantasia on Greensleeves – Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan

March Madness – from “Ranch Report

  • Colonel Bogey March – Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

March’s Marches – from “Wordery

  • The Redetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • March of the Siamese Children – Richard Rogers
  • The Washington Post March – John Philip Sousa

Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream – from “Flying, Farming, and Felix

  • Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • The Wedding March – Mendelssohn

Michelangelo’s Rome – from “One Sculptor, One Scoundrel

  • The Pines of Rome – Respighi
  • Palladio for String Orchestra – Karl Jenkins
  • Symphony No. 4 in A major (The Italian) – Mendelssohn

Minor Key Music – from “Miners and Minors

  • The Hebrides Overture – Mendelssohn
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
  • Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

Minuet in G to the Power of 3 – from “Hendecasyllable

  • Minuet in G – Mozart
  • Minuet in G – Beethoven
  • Minuet in G – JS Bach

Mount Vesuvius – from “Mounting Interest

  • Funiculi Funicular – Luigi Denza
  • Aus Italien – Richard Strauss
  • Neapolitan Song – Rimsky-Korsakov

Music to Soothe – from “Music to Soothe

  • Mass in D minor, motet – Anton Bruchner
  • Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach
  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Brackett

Negro Spirituals – from “Heavenly

  • Down by the Riverside – traditional
  • Wade in the Water – traditional
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – traditional

Nocturnes – from “Zootique

  • Nocturne No. 2 – Chopin
  • Nocturne No. 3 – Liszt
  • Harlem Nocturne – Earl Hagen

The Oboe – from “Music Mechanics

  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – Handel
  • Swan Lake, final scene – Tchaikovsky
  • Le Tombeau de Couperin – Ravel

Overtures – from “Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps on Tickin‘”

  • Overture from H.M.S. Pinafore – Gilbert and Sullivan
  • Overture from Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn
  • Overture from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

Paris Tribute – from “A Ghost by any other Name

  • The Swan – Saint-Saens
  • Carillon – Bizet
  • La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf

Pizzicato! – from “The Price is Wrong

  • Divertissement: Pizzicati – Leo Delibes
  • Symphony 4 in F minor – Tchaikovsky
  • Anitra’s Dance – Edvard Grieg

The Presidents’ Music – from “The Liberace Instigation

  • classical pieces composed during each administration

The Recorder – from “Well Played

  • Sopranino Recorder Concerto in C major – Vivaldi
  • Ode to Joy – Beethoven
  • Greensleeves – traditional

The Sad Song Scale – from “Two Different Worlds

  • Symphony No. 3 in F major – Brahms
  • What’ll I Do? – Irving Berlin
  • Serenade – Schubert

Saint Patrick’s Day – from “The Business of March

  • Toora Loora Looral – James Royce Shannon
  • The Irish Washerwoman – traditional/Leroy Anderson
  • Danny Boy – Frederic Weatherly

Shrill Thrills! (the piccolo) – from “Jams and Jellyfish

  • Chinese Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky
  • Triton Fountain in the Morning – Respighi
  • Stars and Stripes Forever – Sousa

Strauss Family, the splendidly gifted – from “780 Pairs of Saddle Shoes

  • Radetzky March – Johann Strauss, senior
  • Feuerfest Polka – Joseph Strauss
  • Thunder and Lightning Polka – Johann Strauss, junior

String Quartets – from “We the People

  • String Quartet in B-flat major (La Chasse) – Haydn
  • String Quartet No. 2 in D major – Borodin
  • Cantina Band (performed as a string quartet) – John Williams

Summertime – from “Barely Scraping By

  • Summer – Vivaldi
  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Summertime – George and Ira Gershwin
  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry

Sunday Night Music – from “How We Write

  • How Great Thou Art – Carl Gustav Boberg
  • Turn! Turn! Turn! – Pete Seeger/Book of Ecclesiastes
  • Let us Cheer the Weary Traveler – Nathaniel Dett

Surprise Endings – from “Bringing Handwriting up to Scratch

  • The Wild Bears – Sir Edward Elgar
  • The Moldau – Bedrich Smetana
  • The Imperial March – John Williams

Tambourines! – from “Peace, Love, and Tambourines

  • Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
  • Tarantella – Rossini/Respighi
  • Russian Dance (Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky

Tea Time – from “Textbooks – if we ruled the world

  • Tea for Two – Youmans and Caesar
  • Tea for Two (Tahiti Trot) – Shostakovich
  • Tea for Two – Art Tatum

Things in the Sky – from “Snakes and Pirates

  • Fireflies – Amy Beach
  • Clair de Lune – Debussy
  • Mercury – Gustav Holst

The Timpani – from “One Thing Leads to Another

  • Dance of the Seven Veils – Richard Strauss
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Richard Strauss
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Suite – Klaus Badelt

Trains – from “Posting about Posters

  • The Little Train of Caipira – Heitor Villa-Lobos
  • The Steam Engine – Patrick Doyle
  • Take the A Train – Duke Ellington

Tribute: music for a beloved grandfather – from “Imagine That

  • Fight for California – McCoy/Fitch
  • The Army Song – Sousa/Arberg
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar

The Vatican, background music for – from “Holy Zucchetto

  • Gregorian Chants – traditional
  • Gloria in Excelsis Deo – Vivaldi
  • Locus Iste – Bruchner

Virtuoso Night: Stanley Drucker – from “Affordable Housing Forever

  • Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor – Brahms
  • Appalachian Spring – Aaron Copland
  • Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin

Virtuoso Night: Sir James Galway – from “Thousands and Thousands

  • Concerto for Flute and Harp – Mozart
  • I Saw Three Ships – traditional
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov

Virtuoso Night: Wynton Marsalis – from “Novel Ideas

  • Concerto in E-flat major for Trumpet – Haydn
  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Prince of Denmark March (Trumpet Voluntary) – Jeremiah Clark

Virtuoso Night: Itzhak Perlman – from “Insert Clever Title Here

  • Humoresque – Dvorak
  • Out of Africa, title music – John Barry
  • Violin Concerto in E minor – Mendelssohn

Waltzing with Tchaikovsky – from “Case in Point: Ibn Battuta

  • Serenade for Strings – Tchaikovsky
  • Swan Lake Waltz, Act II – Tchaikovsky
  • Eugene Onegin, Polonaise – Tchaikovsky

Wistfulness – from “Finish the Poem

  • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, love theme – Tchaikovsky
  • Ashokan Farewell – Jay Ungar
  • What’ll I Do – Irving Berlin

Worker Bees, a soundtrack for – from “Bee Plus!”

  • Moto Perpetuo – Paganini
  • The Pizzicato – Leo Delibes
  • Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov

 

Welcome to the best part of my night!
– Jane BH
(answer 1:  91+ hours)
(answer 2:  1,095 pieces of music)

Going Nowhere Fast

Last week I replaced my 2009 laptop (and really, it was the oldest and slowest thing in the Apple store that day) and I have apparently entered glitch city.  We’ll just see how this post progresses. (*&#$$%!!*)

doldrums

Going Nowhere Fast – our science concept of the week: THE DOLDRUMS.  We located these “no wind” areas on our globe, and imagined being stuck in a sailboat for weeks, praying for any sort of breeze.  We also learned the colloquial (vocab) meaning of “the doldrums”.

Switcheroo – My son and I took a hard look at the books we were reading for pleasure and we didn’t like what we saw: books that were were taking way too long to get to the plot.  We decided to bail, and try some new books. We are pretty happy with our new choices (both about boys going to school in Great Britain):

ribblestrop

    – “Ribblestrop”, by Andy Mulligan.  So far we find this book to be quite imaginative, humorous AND it moves right along.  We like it!
     – “The Brilliant World of Tom Gates”, by L. Pichon. Presented as if written by a chronic doodler, this is fun to read (along the lines of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) and fun to look at.

Catherine the Great – of the “A Wicked History” series IS great! (Every book we have read in this series has our full attention – so well organized, well written, with a wealth of very interesting information. “Wicked History” books so trump traditional text books.)  But back to Catherine – hey, she had her good points (like being insistent about bringing Russia up to modern scientific standards) and she had her bad points (she was the classic power-hungry politician), and she really did have to depose her husband.  He was just awful for Russia.  This is good reading!

french snail

Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – To bring attention to new French items on the menu (French Toast, French Fries with Béarnaise Sauce (vocab concept), and French Onion Soup), the diner is sponsoring an “Escargot (vocab) Race”.  The race track will be set up on a card table and the winning snail will have to travel 5 inches from start to the finish line.  Anyone showing up will be given a complimentary beret (vocab), and those showing up with a snail are automatically entered in the race which is sure to be a white-knuckler. First prize is a $50 diner gift certificate.  If 60 people show up and each beret costs $3, how much will the diner spend on berets? If two-thirds of the people that show up pay $5 for a cup of onion soup, how much will the diner gross from the soup sales? How much will the diner net, after the cost of the berets and the first prize certificate are deducted?

ranking

Order! Order! – My son is learning how to rank things, like “which composer lived first”, or “which state did we live in first, second, third, fourth, and fifth”…I would like my son to be able to rank preferences  (“which food do you like the best, next best, next best, worst”, “which color should we paint your room: first choice, second choice, third choice”). This is not the first time we have worked on ranking, but we are having a bit more success this go around. Yay!

doldrums map

Music for the Doldrums – maritime music that could move us out of the doldrums:
     – “Sea Songs”, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1923, fully orchestrated in 1942.  This is an invigorating 4-minute arrangement of 3 British sea songs:

     – “We Sail the Ocean Blue”, from “H.M.S. Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan (1878).  This jaunty (vocab) (a LOT of Gilbert and Sullivan music can be described as “jaunty”) (but we like “jaunty”) video is adorable:

     – “Sailing By”, composed by Ronald Binge in 1963, this is the music that is broadcast by BBC Radio before the shipping reports.  It is a most relaxing slow waltz and could prove helpful for lowering the blood pressure of those who have hit the high anxiety level while stuck in the doldrums.

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH

Having a Dickens of a Time

Dickens quote

Achievement!  Last night we finished the original version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Due to the centuries-old language and phrasing, it was certainly the most difficult book I have ever read out loud. However, the story is well crafted and it was easy to review each previous night’s reading…in only six chapters, the penurious, mean spirited Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed into a grateful, generous soul who would claim, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”  Of course, my son had to endure my weeping at the end of the story.  SORRY.  We concluded by comparing the spiritual journeys of Dickens’ Scrooge and Seuss’s Grinch.

plum pudding

Holiday Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the chefs at the diner, inspired by Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” decided to add the classic British dessert, PLUM PUDDING, onto their December menu. HOWEVER, when they read through the recipe and were overwhelmed with the list of ingredients they decided to order a plum pudding from Harrods in London and sell raffle tickets for it. If a plum pudding costs £30  (and a pound is currently worth $1.50), how much will the festive dessert cost Le Fictitious Local Diner?  If the diner sells 150 tickets for $5 each, will they cover the cost of a plum pudding? How many more puddings could be purchased with the collected raffle ticket money? (Assuming, probably incorrectly, that shipping was included in the £30)?

carolers two

Last night’s music theme – we listened to traditional English Christmas carols that Charles Dickens would have been familiar with:

  • “The Holly and the Ivy”.  An old, old carol (mention of the title is found in an essay written in 1823), so beautifully performed by a British boys choir.

  • “Fantasia on Greensleeves”, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Vaughan Williams’ dreamy composition was based upon a ballad from the 16th century.  In 1865, William Chatterton Dix penned the lyrics, “What Child is This?” to be sung to the Greensleeves melody.  The good news is that Dickens had five Christmas seasons to enjoy this carol before passing away in 1870.  The bummer is that he missed Vaughan Williams’ effort, as the Fantasia was not composed until 1934.

  • “The Wassail Song” – first we discussed the concept of wassailing (sort of a British Christmas version of trick-or-treating).  Then we found out that there are two carols (we love both) that are often referred to as “The Wassail Song”, so to clarify:
    • “Here We Come A-Wassailing” – composed in 1850, author unknown.  This high-energy video is brimming with Christmas cheer, and the sound is EXCELLENT.

    • “Wassail! Wassail! All Over the Town” – also known as “The Gloucestershire Wassail”, believed to date back to the Middle Ages.  Oh boy!  We found a troop of choristers singing this wassail song in YE OLDE ENGLISH costume.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH 

Garden Par-tay

  cicadas on leaf

Cicadas Party – Every summer, it gets really loud in our backyard garden.  It sounds like a golf course sprinkler system going full blast, but it isn’t that, it is the CICADAS!  Last night my son and I did a mini-study of Cicadas.  We learned that cicadas sing their song during the hottest part of the day; we learned that the males make all the noise; we learned that people actually eat these insects (deep fried or stir fried) (gag).  We watched this well filmed video of a male cicada making his rattling noise (7 out of 10 on the repulsive scale).  In truth, my son wasn’t terribly interested; I sort of had to force him to watch this…good thing the video only lasts a minute:

Vocabulary update – two items:

First, I went through the list of vocabulary words we have accumulated over the past year (see “The Wordery” in menu area) and selected 15 words.  I presented the list as a quiz with multiple-choice options.  Happy report: 100% correct!  So pleased with my son’s vocabulary retention.

Second, our Rasputin and Einstein books and our current novel (“Surviving the Applewhites”) have presented us with more unfamiliar words and concepts: crude, dynasty, fasting, heir, hemophilia, icons, monarchy, stage mothers, Swiss neutrality, recluse, and thesis.

plums

The Farmer Brown story problem – Farmer Brown is going to be on local TV, showing everyone how to make his grandmother’s prize-winning Damson plum jam!  After the demonstration, he is going to give everyone in the audience (3 girl scout troops), a pint sized jar of the jam.  There are 16 girls in each troop.  If Farmer Brown’s recipe makes 2 quarts of jam, how many times will he need to multiply the recipe?  Farmer Brown does NOT want to disappoint the girl scouts.

ship

Our music theme from last night was inspired by “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”, printed by Currier & Ives in 1852. A few years back, my son and I did a study on American illustrators, and we both loved learning about the firm of Currier & Ives (Currier, the accomplished lithographer and Ives, the finance brains…the selling pitch was, “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints”).  When we finished our study, my son picked out “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud” as a poster to put up on his wall.

Music to accompany “The Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud”:

  • “Sea Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, composed in 1923.  This is a 4 minute march bringing together 3 British sea songs. This video clip shows the Houston Youth Orchestra from two years ago.  Exceptionally well done for a youth orchestra.

  • “Overture to HMS Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan, from their very popular comic opera, which premiered in 1871.  Jaunty!

  • “Over the Waves” by Juventino Rosas.  We often get this piece confused with “The Skater’s Waltz”, and guess what? The Skater’s Waltz (by Emile Waldeufel) was written in 1882 and “Over the Waves” was written in 1888.  (Perhaps another story for another time.)  ANYWAY,  take a look at this video!  The composition is played with surprising delicacy by the intimidating looking Central Military Band of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

Late Bloomer!

From our Nobel Prize unit:  An inspiration for those of us who cling to the hope that if all else fails, we might at least achieve the status of “late bloomer”!  In 2007, the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences went to ninety year old (yes 90!) Leonid Hurwicz, (“commanding intellect, humble soul”)!  YAY LH!  A quick trip over to Wikipedia told us that Professor Hurwicz passed on in 2008.  So, the award came just in the nick of time, because we learned that Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously. (new vocab word!)

leonid h

– A young Leonid Hurwicz –

Novels: we finished “Zen and the Art of Faking It”, by Jordan Sonnenblick. Good story, believable characters, reasonable predicaments. We continued to read “Under the Egg” and we just started “The Absolute Value of Mike”. Interesting coincidence: “Under the Egg” has a teen-aged daughter living with her academically-absorbed flaky mother. “The Absolute Value of Mike” has a teen-aged son living with his academically-absorbed flaky father.

Our Explorer Unit:  As a youth did you hesitate before you talked about Austria or Australia in hopes that you would remark upon the right country? Hey! Either I zoned out during my formative years, or the textbooks were so hideously pitiful, but I only found out last night that there is an actual connection between the words “Austria” and “Australia”.  In case you had the same sorry textbook, here is the deal:  AUSTRALIA was named (in 1606, by sea captain Pedro de Quiros) in honor of the Archduke of AUSTRIA. When one of us learns, we all learn.

Roman Numeral Review: We have been over Roman numerals before, but it is time for a slow, in-depth review. Our goal is to be able to read the Roman numeral copyrighted dates included with the end credits of movies.

Le Fictitious Local Diner Story Problem: Last night’s story problem was all about the quarters collected in the tabletop jukeboxes at the diner. We converted the quarters into dollars, figured the average amount collected in each jukebox, and calculated the total dollars collected annually.

red bus

A Classic Plays Classical: The red double-decker buses in London play classical music (all British composers) through their sound system!

  • Jupiter, from “The Planets”, by Gustav Holst (Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity – you can hear sort of an instrumental Santa Claus “ho, ho, ho” throughout this piece.)
  • Pomp and Circumstance, by Sir Edward Elgar (Elgar was a big fan of the new-fangled concept of recording music, so it is possible to download music with Elgar speaking and then conducting. So great!)
  • Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Ralph Vaughan Williams (soothing and beautiful, included in many orchestral Christmas albums)
  • Overture to H.M.S. Pinafore, by Sir Arthur Sullivan (jaunty and fabulous)

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH