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eNotes #011
April 01, 2008

eNotes - Tuesday, April 1st


Happy April! Finally it's here and it's actually a balmy day in the Northeast. Today's issue is a little lesson on composing music.


Some of you may know that I write music for The Children's Chorus that I conduct. Something about these kids motivates me to write. They are 70 strong (Kindergarten through 5th grade). It's not just that they are cute. It's the purity of their voices. Hearing a child or group of children sing about traveling to Australia, or the mysterious feeling of walking through the woods on a cloudy spring day. . . it just moves me. Maybe it's their energy and imagination that inspires me so.

But back to composing? Have you ever thought about trying it? "Composition is frozen improvisation". I love that. Just sit at the piano and tinker around with chords. The last song I wrote had the same chord progression as "Message in a Bottle" by Sting. I discovered this later but I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence. That chord progression was lodged in my brain somewhere!

When I write music, I start with a chord progression that I come up with just by sitting at the piano and playing. From that chord progression, I will just sing different riffs while I play. I am not listening or judging or deciding anything. Just purely having fun and improvising freely on the chords with my voice. Eventually, a "hook" comes out of it. I will start repeating a melody that grabs me and I'll just keep playing with it and playing with it. The more I play with it, the more ideas I come up with. That gives me the central hook of the song. It's only afterwards that I write the lyrics.

Young at Heart Chorus

If you haven't read the Boston Globe today, you are really missing something. There is an article about a chorus from Northampton, MA that is receiving world-wide attention. You must be over 73 years old to join it and the music is mostly rock and roll. The name of the chorus is Young@Heart and I've tried to send you a link to their video. Hope it works. To read the article in the Globe today, just go to and click on Today's Globe. Scroll down and you will see the Young at Heart's article

Upcoming Classes

There are four classes coming up, two are this weekend at the Learning Connection in Providence, RI. April 5, Saturday. One is "Shower Singing in Public" and the other is "Instant Piano for Hopelessly Busy People" (that doesn't describe you, now does it?). They are both going to be fun classes and I believe there are a few openings in each class. You can even bring your keyboard to the "Instant Piano" class and I'll teach you some accompaniment patterns straight out of my "Playing with Style" book! Here is a link to The Learning Connection.
The Learning Connection
The other two classes are at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. If you've taken the Piano class and want to learn to sing to accompany yourself, this is a terrific beginners class. If you have taken the Shower class already and want to learn the basics of chords and accompaniment, I will show you just what you need to know (and nothing more)! Here's the link
The Cambridge Center for Adult Education
Well, that's it for today, folks. As usual, any questions, comments or feedback about eNotes is most welcomed. Suggestions for classes, topics for eNotes, comments about other cool things happenning in the music world you want to tell me about, are all great!

Have a super day and keep playing and singing.

Your's truly, Debbie

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