Celebrating Chopin's Birthday
Frederic Chopin was born on March 1st, 1810 in Poland. He began learning the piano at the early age of 6, composed his first piece of music at age 7, and was performing in public by the time he was 8.
He studied at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music for 3 years before moving to Vienna for additional instruction. He continued to perform for private audiences and in the parlors of the wealthy when he moved to Paris in 1831. He was a modest teacher who was embarrassed about taking money for lessons, so it is said he used to turn away while the tuition was left on the mantle. He was a fan of Bach, and believed that his students should take particular care to study his works.
Chopin became known for the emotion and expression is his music, and he had composed over 140 pieces for the piano before his death at the age of 39.
What lessons can students learn from Chopin’s music today?
Chopin led a life filled with emotion, something that is reflected in his songs. Teaching students to play with feeling can be challenging, especially if it’s a classical song they’ve never heard before. To start I have them learn and play a song they are familiar with (some of the ones I use are Happy Birthday, Take Me Out To the Ball Game, Over the Rainbow, Ode to Joy).
Once they get the idea that you can use dynamics (playing loudly or softly) to create excitement or any other emotion it is easy to transfer that practice to classical music. I like to use the Chopin arrangements from Bastien’s Favorite Classic Melodies (Primer Level) to first introduce this famous composer. They are simple, easy to read, and they can be played as a duet, too!
Until next time! Also, please feel free to download our arrangements of some of Chopin's well known pieces (below).
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