Music Boy

One of the gifts of the Grammar School is music. And Nathaniel has been reaping the rewards of the music program of late. In April, music boy joined a group of 5th and 6th-grade Grammar School classmates in an evening chorus performance by five schools in the beautiful auditorium at the Putney School. If your computer is game, you can watch the kids doing a Scat Round and singing “The Rose.” You can also listen to the whole  Connecticut River Children’s Chorus singing “In This World Together.” We also received word in May that Nathaniel had been selected as a winner of the Vermont MIDI Project. He has been a participant the past few years, collaborating with friends, but this is the first time his composition has been recognized with the award. The Vermont MIDI Project supports musical composition in  the schools by matching individuals and small groups with professional composer mentors. The professional composers critique compositions in-progress and make suggestions about possible changes and improvements. The feedback is pretty cool. Here is an example, from a composer named Eric,

Dear Nathaniel,

Thanks for posting the first revision of your piece. You’ve worked to make what was a strong beginning into a very effective melodic line. This has a strong sense of key, the melody holds together well in terms of shape and momentum and there’s rhythmic and range variety. This is very successful. I like it a lot. I have three suggestions. The first is that with only a week to go and such successful work that you consider keeping this a piece for solo violin. It’s effective as it is and if you can spend your time on things like enhancing the range a bit, adding dynamics and articulations, even lengthening it if you wish (though I don’t consider that necessary), you will really have yourself a gem of a piece. You’re certainly welcome to add another part, but in this case I don’t think that it’s needed or that there’s much time to work it in. Give this some thought. My second suggestion is that you eliminate two bars, 17 and 18. Your first half ends so successfully in bar 16 and the second half starts so well in bar 19 that the two bars in question don’t really add anything to the piece. If anything, they take away from the form and sense of the music, so I’d ask you to think about just getting rid of them. Finally, I’d suggest you think about spreading some of the piece out a bit in terms of range. What would it be like, for instance, if you started the second half (at bar 19) up an octave? If you had the violin up an octave for 19-26 and then played 27-30 where it is, then went up an octave for 31-34 it would be even more conversational and a real violinist would make it come to life beautifully. Try this out and see what you think. The violin can be very expressive up high. Nathaniel, there’s not a lot of time before the deadline but I don’t consider that you have a lot left to do. This piece is so effective as a solo that I think all you need to do is consider my suggestions and add things like dynamics and articulations in addition to the other revisions. If you can do this I think your piece will be just about complete. I look forward to seeing your next revision. Best wishes, Erik

Music Boy ended up working hard that week, and ended up with a solo for violin entitled “Memories.


Nathaniel’s Mom, and his sister, drove up to Derby Line, Vermont,  for the award presentation at the Haskell Opera House. Nathaniel, one of a group of this year’s Opus 18 competition winners, had his piece played by a violinist live for the audience. More recently, I received an e-mail from Sandi MacLeod, Ed. D., at the Vermont MIDI Project. She reported that Nathaniel’s piece had been performed by Willie Docto, the violinist for the Opus concert: at a concert hosted by the Montgomery Historical Society and at a house concert/brunch in Waterbury Center.

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