Guitar Video Series 3: Sergio and Odair Assad

While music browsing for my cooking time on the NPR Music App, a picture of the Assad brothers’ picture caught my eye. It isn’t everyday that one comes across a classical guitar duo.

The title of the post on NPR was “Assad Brothers Bring Brazil To Savannah”. NPR posted almost an hour of their concert from the Savannah Music Festival. As I listened to the Brazilian guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad, I was struck by their luscious lyrical melodic lines and robust musicality. Listen to the Parts I & II here.

I thought their personal introduction to their repertoire is just lovely. Artists connecting with their audience this way makes a concert experience more enjoyable because it clears sometimes seriously-stifling, too-formal, classical-concert-air.

The concert program includes music from their homeland, Spain and Argentina. There’s an interesting story behind their last piece, Tahhiyya li Ossoulina. While researching for their ancestry, they found out that they were 25% Lebanese. Celebrating their newly found heritage, Sergio wrote this original piece. It’s a piece that displays beautiful combination of Middle Eastern modes and Brazilian dance styles.

Whatever the repertoire, this musical-duo makes you come and enjoy the music- even making you want to get up and dance!

Since this series is a video series (I could not find NPR’s video of this), but found this YouTube video that has pretty good audio. Here’s Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Suite. Share with me if you have more info on these phenomenal musicians or your favorite recording by them.

Happy listening!

Guitar Video Series 2: Young Guitarists

Just like how I am (joyfully!) learning and being inspired by my peers, my students told me that they also like it when I share some videos of developing young musicians.

I would like to feature two young guitarists today.

Meet Sungha Jung.

First time I watched Sungha on YouTube, he played an arrangement of the Mission Impossible theme. My eyes were glued to the screen watching his small hands rocking the tune in fingerstyle on his huge acoustic guitar. Here is ‘Tears in Heaven’ arranged by Masa Sumide:

This almost-14-year-old South Korean young man has a lot going for him. He has solid technique and is pretty musical (this rendition of Eric Clapton’s song, in my opinion, is one of the most musical pieces he’s recorded). He is somewhat known as a child prodigy or even as “Korean August Rush”. He started playing the guitar at the age of 9 because he thought it would be fun to play like his dad who played the guitar as a hobby. He learned mostly by ear, and was self-taught. At the age of 12, he is sponsored by Lakewood. Interesting that as young as he is, he said in an interview, that he would rather be known as a guitarist than a guitar prodigy. I hope Sungha will keep working on phrasing and pacing of the arrangements he plays – he has a lot of potential! Check out his website. Here is a link to one of his latest original composition, Tree in the Water, which he dedicated his sister.

And now, meet Kimani Griffin. He’s performing part of Sérgio Assad’s “Aquarelle”:

I came across this young guitarist on a great music educational program, From the Top (I will blog about this amazing organization soon. Bug me if you don’t see a post on it soon!!!). Kimani is from North Carolina. As you heard, he is a musical guitarist (can’t believe that I can only find a short clip on YT! Here is the entire musical segment here). What’s interesting about Kimani (other than his name) is that he is a competitive speed skater. How competitive? Olympic-qualifying-competitive. I love it that Kimani’s love for the sport and music is equally passionate and important. Although he is soft-spoken, his musical expression speaks volumes. I tried to find out if he qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but no success. I hope he will continue to work on his musical endeavors. Wouldn’t it be a treat to see him perform live on a major music hall?

Let me know how you are inspiring your students with videos of young musicians!

Beginning a Guitar Video Series

One of the most great things about my PLN on Twitter is that I get to meet wonderfully passionate educators and musicians. Recently, I received this tweet from Samuel Wright:

I love Rodrigo y Gabriela. They are a dynamic duo from Mexico City (if you’ve never heard about them or their music, it’s a MUST!). So his tweet immediately got my attention.

It is the content and what followed after his tweet that I want to write about. Samuel is from Australia. He teaches similar age students there. And the only way I have the privilege of knowing him is because of my network. He and I had short conversations about teaching on MusicPLN forum (you can read about it this post); I have been learning a lot from his blog, Wright-Stuff Music. Because he knew that I also teach class guitar, he shared his post on Rodrigo y Gabriela. I love that I learn with my network and that I can share new classroom ideas or even think about what I do in class every day. Thinking and carrying out actions are good.

So Samuel’s blog posts on Guitar Video Series have inspired me to start my own here. I also use a lot of YouTube videos in the classroom. It’s simply amazing what one can find on YT: videos which are eye-opening and educationally good. I usually save great videos that I will use in the classroom as “Favorites” and use them to begin discussion on performance,  technique, or give opportunities for my students to take in great music visually (bringing in the concert to them). This reminds me that I should read Jim Frankel’s book (another PLN member), YouTube in Music Education to get even more ideas to best use YT videos in class.

So here is the beginning of my guitar series.

Guitarists Cecilia Siqueira and Fernando Lima of Duo Siqueira Lima performing a Brazilian song,  Tico-Tico (extraordinary guitar four-hand):

They were the artists-in-residence at The University of Florida’s BRAZILIAN MUSIC INSTITUTE (BMI) in 2009. I believe this video was recorded then and you can read about more about the institute here. I love their musicality, skillfulness, and their sense of humor as they beautifully collaborate.

It might be interesting to compare another four-hand piece like this one for what the students can hear in timbre, tone, difficulty of piece, and style. Jerry’s Breakdown composed by Jerry Reed, played by Antoine Dufour and Tommy Gauthier:

What great ideas are you gathering from your PLN?