Friday, October 4, 2013

Spring Bees: A Puppet Show With Vivaldi

Our Green semester students are learning the intricacies of Spring by Vivaldi through playtime with our "Spring Bees" puppet show.  Now they want to know more about Vivaldi and more about bees!

A Few Notes About Vivaldi

Who was born in Venice in 1678 on the same day as an earthquake, had red hair, suffered from asthma, and wrote 500 baroque concerti?  It was Antonio Vivaldi, of course.
Vivaldi's father taught him to play violin and they performed together. (Do you look forward to playing piano duets with your student?)  He was ordained a priest and nicknamed "The Red Priest" for his red hair, but left the ministry and spent most of his life composing and teaching music.  His "Four Seasons" is a very popular piece, and you're sure to enjoy this artistic rendition with some cool sand animation.

All About Bees

Several bees are cast in our Spring Bees puppet show, each doing its part to help make the hive successful.  Bee society is a fascinating subject, and we'd love to tell you more about each of the players in the show.
Here's a site with lots of photos of real bees at work!
  • The QUEEN is the mother of all the bees and can lay 1,500 eggs in one day.  She is the largest of all the bees.  She will fight any other queens she meets and can live 5-9 years.  You can hear her worry about her hive in this music!
  • The BABY bee is not really much of a baby- more of a young adult.  Bees have 4 stages of development: egg, larvae, pupa and adult.  A pupa becomes an adult during metamorphosis.  Young bees do the household chores: making wax into comb, sealing cracks with wax, and feeding the larvae.  Do the youngsters in your home do the chores?
  • The WORKERS are all females.  Honeybees are covered with fine, branched hairs that collect pollen when they crawl around the flower.  A bee gathers it from the hairs and carries it in pollen baskets on her legs.  She has a special tongue to suck up nectar and water.  Bees need water, too!
  • GUARD BEES are workers with the specific job of keeping an eye out for mammals or even ROBBER BEES from other bee colonies.  They all want the food inside the hive!
  • BEES STING only if they feel the hive is threatened.  If a honeybee stings a mammal, the barb in its stinger will stick in the thick skin and the bee will die.  However, the bee can sting other insects multiple times without harming itself.  Some species, like Bumblebees, have smooth stingers and can sting multiple times.
  • The COLONY works together like a single animal- if one part is threatened, the whole hive reacts.  In this music, you can hear how the music becomes minor when the whole hive is worried about attack.

Working in Concert

Who else besides bees are highly organized with specific roles?  Orchestras and bands! When you hear the music of the whole hive buzzing together, imagine you are conducting a bee orchestra.

The conductor helps all the musicians work together to express the dynamics of the music (volume and stylistic expression.)  Without a conductor, the musicians might play the correct notes, but some might be playing forte (loudly) when they should be playing piano (softly).  Even worse, some might play too fast or too slow and the group wouldn't stay together.  To help your child get an idea of the fun and power of conducing, enjoy this video of Mickey Mouse and his band.

As I sign off, here's a table of a few more terms your young composer might want to use as he conducts his beehive puppets this week, AND he may end up using them in his piano composition in Orange semester!

pianissimo (pp) superlative of piano- very softly
mezzo piano (mp) moderately softly
fortissimo (ff) superlative of forte- very loudly
fortississimo (fff) as loudly as possible
mezzo forte (mf) moderately loudly
forte-piano (fp) loudly followed immediately by softly
forzando (fz) >  or ^ : indicate a single tone or chord is to be accented
crescendo gradually become louder
decrescendo gradually become softer
crescendo poco a poco becoming louder little by little
crescendo subito becoming louder immediately
crescendo al fortissimo becoming gradually louder until f has been reached
crescendo ed animando gradually louder and faste 
con amore (with tenderness) con bravura (with boldness) con energia (with energy)
con espressione espressivo(with expression)
 con fuoco (with fire) con passione (with passion) con grazia (with grace)
con maesta maestoso(majestically)
scherzando schcrzoso(jokingly)
sotto voce (with subdued voice)

Have fun with your bees and Vivaldi!
- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher

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