Music


Legendary soul and R&B singer/songwriter Ben E. King passed away yesterday on April 30, 2015 at the age of 76. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite recordings in his honor.

1. “Spanish Harlem”(1960)
King moved to Harlem, NYC when he was 9 years old.
 

 
 
2. “This Magic Moment” (1960)
King with The Drifters, singing the lead.
 

 
 
3 “I (Who Have Nothing)” (1963)
This song is based on an Italian song called “Uno Dei Tanti” (“One of Many”).  Although King was the first to record it, many others followed: Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Liza Minnelli, Neil Diamond, Donna Osmond, Gladys Knight and more!
 

 
 
4. “Stand by Me” (1961)
One of my favorite songs of all-time (first song I learned on the Double Bass!) and the song people most associate with King. He wrote it along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
 

 
 
5. “Save the Last Dance for Me”(1960) Another one of my favorites of Ben E. King with The Drifters.
 


American jazz singer and songwriter Billie Holiday was born April 7, 1915- 100 years ago today!  Her unique vocal style and personal story make her one of the most influential and captivating performers of the 20th century.  Celebrate “Lady Day” by watching and sharing these three spell-binding performances today!

“The Blues Are Brewin’” This performance with legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong is soothing and sultry. Perfect rainy day music!

 
“Strange Fruit”: This powerful song is unforgettable and this live performance is just as haunting.

 

“Fine and Mellow”: This classic 1957 performance features talented jazz musicians like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Gerry Mulligan alongside Lady Day.

 

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These activity sheets are perfect for beginning violinists! Use the guide to teach the basics of bowing (up vs. down bow) then practice on open strings with the sheet music.  Click on either image below to download the free, printable PDF:

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Édith Piaf, one of France’s most famous singers, was born on December 19, 1915.  We’re celebrating at TLB Music by singing her songs in our Friday morning French Sing-Along Playgroups (ages 6 months – 6 years)!  In her honor, watch this video of Édith singing her signature song, “La Vie en Rose”:

 

Photo by Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

This activity sheet is perfect for learning the C major scale on the piano or xylophone!  At TLB Music, we teach young children how to play a scale on the xylophone using a simple song like “Doe a Deer”.  I highly recommend this toddler-friendly xylophone by Hohner.  It is fantastic because you can first use the colors as your guide (a color-coded song book is included) and as the children get older, they can begin to read the notes marked on the bars.  After mastering the scale on the xylophone, our students graduate to playing it on their own keyboards!

Click here to get the free activity sheet:  The C Major Scale on the Piano and Xylophone

Related piano activity sheets:
Notes C, D, and E on the Piano and Keyboard
Identifying C, D, and E
One Two Sheet Music for Piano (using notes C, D, E, F, and G)
C Major Scale Activity for Kids
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 1)
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 2)


Today is two of my favorites musicians’ birthdays: both John Lennon and French composer Camille Saint-Saëns were both born on October 9! John in 1940 in Liverpool, England and Saint-Saëns in 1835, in Paris, France. In their honor, click on on the videos below to listen to John’s “Instant Karma” and Saint-Saëns’ “Aquarium” from “Carnival of the Animals”:

 

 

One of my favorite singers, the legendary Freddie Mercury was born on this day in in 1946!  He was best known as the incredible lead singer and lyricist for Queen and his unforgettably unique, powerful voice ranged over 4-octaves.  Today, in his honor, I’m sharing 3 amazing Queen performances:  ”Under Pressure” live at Wembley Stadium (1986), “Somebody to Love” live at Montreal (1981), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” live at Wembley Stadium” (1986).   Happy Birthday, Freddie!

 
Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday. In his honor, I’m sharing my favorite MJ song, “Man in the Mirror”, performed at the 1989 Grammy Awards. Please watch and share!

 
I’m going to make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right

As I turned up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their need?

A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya know?
‘Cause they got nowhere to go, that’s why I want you to know

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

I’ve been a victim of a selfish kinda love
It’s time that I realize
There are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be, really mean, pretending that they’re not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart
And a washed out dream
(Washed out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya see
‘Cause they got no place to be that’s why I’m starting with me

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

When deciding which portable bluetooth wireless speaker to purchase last week, I compared all the popular models available and narrowed down my options by reviews. These are my top 6! I ended up choosing the Ultimate Ears MINI BOOM speaker (#2) and it worked perfectly for my hiking trip. It took no time to connect to multiple users, it was lightweight and easy to carry in the mesh pocket of a backpack, it didn’t slip off the rocks when we stopped to rest and relax, and had an amazing, clear sound.  Next week, I’ll take my MINI BOOM to the beach!

 
1. Etekcity® RoverBeats Mini Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
Price: $24.99 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 7 hours
Bluetooth Wireless: 33 feet
Weight: 100 grams (.22 pound)
Pros: lightweight, non-skid bottom

2. Ultimate Ears MINI BOOM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
Price: $99.99 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 10 hours
Bluetooth Wireless: 50 feet
Weight: 8.2 ounces (.66 pound)
Pros: nice bass tones, stylish design, multiple colors

3. Omaker Outdoor Sport Rugged Square Design SplashProof & Shockproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Price: $69.99 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 8 hours
Bluetooth Wireless: 33 feet (recommended to stay within 16.5 feet)
Weight: 301 grams (.51 pound)
Pros: shockproof and splashproof!

4. Jawbone JAMBOX Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Price: $149.99 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 10 hours
Bluetooth Wireless: 50 feet
Weight: 12 ounces (.75 pound)
Pros: stylish design, multiple colors, great sound

5. Photive CYREN Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Price:  $119.95 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 10 hours
Bluetooth Wireless: 33 feet
Weight: 11 ounce (.69 pound)
Pros: stylish design, multiple colors

6. The OontZ Angle Ultra Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Price: $69.99 view price on Amazon
Battery Life: 10 hours (OontZ site says 12)
Bluetooth Wireless:  up to 30 feet
Weight: 9.1 ounces (.57 pound)
Pros: lightweight, slim design

Today is actress and singer Audra McDonald’s birthday!  In April, I had the pleasure of seeing Audra perform as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.   I was absolutely blown away by the way she transformed her voice to match Billie’s vocal style.  Every nuance was spot on.  Compare below!  The play is set in a run-down bar in Philadelphia in 1959, where Billie gave one of her last performances.  Throughout the play, Audra, as Billie, staggers around the stage, slurs her words, smokes cigarettes, and tells the intimate tales of her songs.  You can hear a pin drop as she gives an introduction to “Strange Fruit” and quietly begins to croon.  She recently won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her work in this must-see show.  This win also makes her the first person to win 6 Tony Awards for acting!  Happy Birthday, Audra!  New Yorkers- get your tickets to the show!

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Happy Birthday, Judy Garland! The American actress and singer was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Here are 5 extraordinary performances to celebrate and honor her special day.  Her rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is absolutely phenomenal and unforgettable!  It is particularly poignant because it was recorded just 3 weeks after JFK was assasinated and the performance was dedicated to him.  Watch, share, and visit www.biography.com to learn more about Judy.

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1. This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt (author) & R.G. Roth (illustrator)
ages 4-8 view on www.amazon.com

2. When Louis Armstrong Taught Me How to Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein
ages 5-9 view on www.amazon.com

3. Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford (author) & Sean Qualls (illustrator)
ages 5-9 view on www.amazon.com

4. Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler (author) & R. Gregory Christie (ilustrator)
ages 4-8 view on www.amazon.com

5. Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney (author) & Brian Pinkney (illustrator)
ages 5-9 view on www.amazon.com

6. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka (author & illustrator)
ages 4-8 view on www.amazon.com

7. Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits by Wynton Marsalis (author) & Paul Rogers (illustrator)
age 9-12 view on www.amazon.com

8. The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub (author) & Karen Hanke (illustrator)
ages 4 and up view on www.amazon.com

9. Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney
ages 5-9 view on www.amazon.com

10. Jazz by Walter Dean Myers (author) & Christopher Myers (illustrator)
ages 8 and up view on www.amazon.com

Happy Birthday, Johannes Brahms!   The composer and pianist was born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833- 181 years ago today!  In his honor, listen to his Waltz in A Flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15.  This is one of my favorite classical pieces of music- perfect for the end of a hectic day!
 

 

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On April 1, 1948, Jamaican singer and musician Jimmy Cliff was born.  In honor of his birthday, listen to his feel-good cover of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” from 1993.  Remember this version from the Cool Runnings‘ soundtrack?  Love it!  This is the perfect song for the first bright and sunny day of Spring in NYC.  Happy 66th Birthday, Jimmy!

 

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Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919- 95 years ago today! In his honor, I’m sharing one of my favorite Nat King Cole songs, “Orange Colored Sky”:

 

 

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