Patrick has written much music for children. He has been a music teacher and music lecturer.
His work with children inspires him to create original works that the children can perform with enthusiasm.
His work with children also drives him to try and inspire children to compose music for themselves. He is passionately committed to show some of the tools and simplicity of composing music for playing. The children he has taught have benefited from seeing the mystique behind music open up before them, and I am sure has inspired some of them to continue an interest in music throughout their lives..
Piano Concerto with children in mind..
Music for the Descant Recorder
Having taught music in Primary Schools for a number of years, it is inevitable that Patrick has found himself teaching recorder ensembles of various abilities and at various stages of development. Early on in his teaching career, he became struck by the fact that there is an abundance of publications outlining technique for the beginner player, but that the music on offer is of, mostly, negligible interest.
Patrick set about developing a series of concert pieces for the beginner recorder player. Music in which the children might need to know only, say, three notes (BAG on the descant recorder), but these would be arranged into simple but attractive melodies, and accompanied by a more developed piano part that would enable the nascent performers to feel as though they were actually making music, rather than performing a series of abstract exercises.
Over the years that Patrick took recorder groups, both in London, England, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, her composed a series of progressively more taxing repertoire pieces that would interest and stretch young musicians during their first year to 18 months of learning this instrument.
As Patrick was overseeing the entire music curriculum, it seemed sensible to him to find a way of linking some of these pieces to other areas of musical studies, some highlighting formal principles, and some bearing some resemblance to the style of composers from different eras, and thus functioning as a natural door through which the children could enter and explore the sound world of the great composers.
Patrick Jonathan’s ‘Progressive Concert Pieces for elementary descant recorder and piano’ currently consists of the following:
1. Gift of the Gab (G-A-B)
2. Kiran’s Call (E-G-A-B-C)
3. Leela’s Song (G-A-B-C-D)
4. Three in G
(i) Mr J.’s Brahmsian Rhapsody (F#-G-A-B-C-D)
(ii) Mr J.’s Mini Musical Odyssey (E-G-A-B-C-D)
(iii) Mr J.’s Debussian Prelude (D-E-G-A-Bb-B-C-D)
5. Mr J.’s Stravinskian Serenade (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D)
6. Fascinating Rohan (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D)
Below are notes to assist in the teaching and performing of these pieces:
Gift of the Gab - Teaching Notes
What a good idea to start with an overture!
Explain to the student the purpose of an overture, introducing associated terms such as prelude and introduction, then listen to some examples.
Carmen by Bizet
William Tell by Rossini
The Magic Flute by Mozart
West Side Story by Bernstein
Get the students to clap the rhythm of the Overture along with you, then along with the piano accompaniment before playing the GAB motif on their recorders. If there are tuned and untuned percussion instruments available, use these in preparation and, if desired, as additional accompaniment.
In the overture there are two ideas for the recorder to play, and the form need not be fixed as written. Get the students used to responding to the word ‘change!’ when swapping from one idea to the other, and call this out as you take them on an extended, exhilarating improvisation around the material.
Let the students take turns directing the changes. This should raise issues of irregular phrases, and can lead to an exploration of four and eight bar phrases.
As an additional extension, you can divide the class into two groups to achieve an antiphonal effect by getting one side to lead and the other to echo or answer, then letting them swap roles so that the other group leads. This can be even more effective if the groups are divided along recorder/percussion lines.
Before learning the Barcarolle explain that this is derived from the song of the Venetian gondolier. Encourage the students to aspire to a song-like tone in their playing. This can be encouraged by some extravagant movement and mime!
Musical concepts to be discussed are fast and slow, as well as staccato and legato.
Kiran’s Call - Teaching Notes
Having become confident with their handling of the instrument, and attained some fluency using the basic three fingers of their left hand, it is time to challenge the students to start using their right hand, and to try to achieve a smooth transition from index to middle finger on their left. This piece grew out of an exercise that saw them simply running up and down the notes they were now familiar with.
Discuss the musical concept of the ostinato. Listen to some examples.
Berceuse by Chopin
Bolero by Ravel
Any ‘minimal’ piece by Glass, Nyman or Adams
Ought to be Starting Something by Michael Jackson
You might also like to get the students to look at paintings by Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh to discuss how the idea of taking an idea and viewing it in a number of different lights finds a similar form of expression in the visual arts.
Leela’s Song - Teaching Notes
This piece is exclusively for the left hand on the recorder, but the students will have to master the art of splitting the thumb hole to attain the high ‘d’. This is already a lot for them to think about!
As there are many sustained notes in the recorder part, discuss the concept of vibrato. Explore, listen to and discuss the difference between sustained notes with and without vibrato. If desired, this can lead on to a discussion and exploration of the concept of sound waves.
This piece is called a ‘song’, and encourage the students to sing the melody to ‘lah’ phrase by phrase before they play it on their instruments, and feel the effect of sustaining the notes on the bones, cartilage and flesh of their faces. Can they capture the intensity of this experience when they play their instruments?
Contrast the sound and effect of the melody when sung and picked out on the piano keyboard. When played with or without vibrato on the recorder, does the sound produced resemble one or the other of these effects?
On a structural level, show them how in the ‘B’ section the repeat manages to travel the same harmonic distance in half the time by halving the duration of the descending scale notes in the bass voice of the piano.
Three In G - Teaching Notes
The three pieces in this set are not intended to be accurate pastiches of the composers identified in the titles as much as pieces that are within the technical and expressive capabilities of the students that allow a window through which an exploration of the core 18th and 19th Century repertoire can be meaningfully embarked upon.
The Mini Musical Odyssey proceeds from monody, through variants that suggest Baroque (Bach, Handel), Classical (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) and the cusp of Romanticism (Schubert). In tandem with the Brahmsian melody this neatly encapsulates the Austro-German tradition that forms the bedrock of western classical music. The Debussian Prelude indicates the trend in the late 19th Century for much important music to come from beyond this narrow
Preludes and Fugues by J.S. Bach
Trio Sonatas by Handel
String Quartets by Haydn
Concerti by Mozart
Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven
Nacht und Traume by Schubert
Late piano music by Brahms
Preludes by Debussy
Each piece is structurally based around A and B sections which, when identified, will enable to
the students to help label the structures:
Brahmsian Melody ABA
Mini Musical Odyssey ABA1BA2
Debussian Prelude ABAB
Musical vocabulary and concepts to discuss include ternary, binary, rondo, variation and elaboration.
Brahmsian Melody ABA
Mr J.’s Stravinskian Serenade - Teaching Notes
This is the only one of these pieces whose title did not entirely originate from me, but was suggested by a group of students. Having been studying the Russian ballets of Stravinsky, in particular Petroushka, some students in my extracurricular recorder club at The Alice Smith School were practicing running up the scale notes with which they were familiar -
E, F#, G, A,
B, C, D
- when the idea of adding the wiggle at the top occurred to me, and the main phrase was pretty well invented there and then on the hoof: quite literally. We played scale, wiggle (STAMP), wiggle (STAMP), wiggle (STAMP) close.
We must have created quite a scene playing and dancing! One of the children suggested it sounded like Stravinsky and we all looked like Petroushka. I attempted to explain additive rhythms and chromaticism to the group, but sensing them ‘tuning out’ I agreed that there was something Stravinskian about it, and I would turn the idea into a Stravinskian Serenade in time for the next session. Which I did.
Although not fundamentally Stravinskian, I did include the single 2/4 bar in the middle that we discussed in terms of the fours all around, and showed them how the percussive, punctuating chord was voiced towards the two extremes of the keyboard, and is not an easily codifiable harmony, but, rather, a compound of different, interesting intervals. We also noted the different ostinati, and listened out for various ostinati in Stravinsky’s ballets.
To show them that Stravinsky, himself, was concerned with communicating to listeners of their age and experience, I played some of his simple piano pieces, Les Cinq Droigts, and showed how in some piano duets from the same period he had almost created a model for what I was doing with them, one of the piano parts in each duet being of an elementary standard, for the student, the other being far more complex, for the teacher.
Fascinating Rohan - Teaching Notes
I can understand how, on first acquaintance, the piano part of this piece may appear extravagantly expansive and virtuosic as an accompaniment to a group of elementary recorder players, but that is to miss the point. It’s extravagance and boldness is a primary purpose of this piece.
In the context of these young musicians development this is the equivalent of a grand symphony. The first performance of this took place at Links School, Tooting, London, by a group of seven and eight year olds, accompanied by myself, and the excitement in the atmosphere was tangible for all involved: the kids felt as if they were members of a symphony orchestra, I was anxious that I may have overstretched my meagre pianistic skills, and the audience was overwhelmed by the scope and passion of the music and performance. This is not what most parents expect when they are invited to a primary school music concert!
I remember using the virtuosity as a starting point to explore recordings of the piano concerto repertoire: Schumann, Grieg, Tschaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
The reverberations from this spilling out into their compositional efforts, as my class and I combined to create a Piano Concerto modeled on a book called What On Earth Was That by Paul Geraghty, which we recorded on paper using a combination of traditional notation for the soloist (me) and graphic notation for the orchestra (them).
This creative burst of energy, and the realisation that it was not always necessary to be musically literate in order to capture your intentions also led to a further exciting experiment as we passed our score and parts (a collection of pictorial cue cards) to another teacher and her class and were later invited to listen to them perform their interpretation of our composition.
Remember to link your students’ recorder playing endeavours with all the other aspects of your curriculum and everyone will get so much more out of the experience.
Picture of Fascinated Rohan
Why Fascinating Rohan?
On 28th March 1994, when he was five months old, my son,
Rohan, was in a very fractious mood and I needed to find a
way to distract him. He was already magnetically drawn to music
and fascinated by his own and other people’s hands; so I sat at
the keyboard and allowed him to explore what few notes he could
reach. He began to hold down a cluster starting on the ‘d’ above
middle ‘c’ and I began to improvise, using only the white notes so
that the resonances would be sustained and encouraged in this
cluster of Rohan’s. Within seconds these improvisations had
begun to form themselves into the subject matter of this piece so
that, by the time I handed Rohan over to my wife the piece was
largely composed and simply needed writing down. Therefore
what had begun as an activity whose purpose was to fascinate
Rohan became the composition, Fascinating Rohan.
Patrick Jonathan, April 1994