Two Students Recieve 1st Place Honors - Little Mozarts

Two Students Recieve 1st Place Honors - Little Mozarts

Congratulations to Helena Brain and Tuyen Nguyen on their recent First Place Honors in the Crescendo International Little Mozart Competition! 

Because of this honor they both will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York on Saturday, May 5, 2018. 


Tuyen Nguyen


Helena Brain

Composer Spotlight - Buxtehude

Composer Spotlight - Buxtehude


Dietrich Buxtehude


With all of the snow on the ground it’s hard to think of the autumn. But here we are, it’s autumn, in northern Germany. It’s 1705 and a young Johann Sebastian Bach has set out (many say by foot) on a nearly 250 mile journey to hear the composer, Buxtehude, in a series of concerts that were being held during the season of Advent, Abendmusik. So you’re probably wondering why a young teenager like Bach was willing to travel that far by foot to visit this composer who was at the end of his career?

St. Mary's Church of Lübeck, was the last church where Dietrich Buxtehude had been positioned as cappelmeister, and the location where Bach was headed. This was the last stop for a long career in the music of the Lutheran church in the area.

Buxtehude was born in 1637 in Helsingborg, Skåne. His first organ appointment was in his hometown. His father, Johannes,  was the organist St. Olaf's church in Helsingør where Dietrich would eventually take over in 1660. In 1668, he moved to Lübeck to join the blossoming music scene there. In Lübeck, he married, and had seven daughters by his wife Anna Margarethe who was the daughter of Franz Tunder the previous organist. Many of those children did not survive into adulthood. Though his legacy stood with Abendmusik, which stayed a tradition until 1810.

Many of Buxtehude’s compositions only survive due to the work of his student’s transcriptions many of which did not stand the test of time. Of the 275 pieces that are catalogued and available, there are over 100 pieces of vocal music, and the second largest group is keyboard music. Many of these pieces have been regarded as major influences of composers like Bach, Brahms, and Handel.

Enjoy this segment from his Pasacaglia in d minor.

Passacaglia d-moll / D minor BuxWV 161 composed by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) performed by Rainer Oster, Arp-Schnitger-Organ St. Jacobi, Hamburg (Germany) Dietrich Buxtehude 

Changing Teachers

Changing Teachers

In the last few weeks we’ve had the departure of some of our teachers to head into new and exciting opportunities (myself included, but, I’ll be blogging her for as long as life permits). This has brought up some interesting points about teachers, their perspective, and what it’s like to change to a new teacher. 

First, try not to take a teacher leaving us as something personal. Trust me, they love working with you, your son, or daughter. Many of the teachers I’ve spoken with talk about passing on their craft of music to the next generation as one of the most important things they can do outside of performing.  Teachers are ultimately people, with their own ambitions, needs, and skills. That said, there could be many reasons a teacher would be leaving you: new opportunity, family needs, health concerns, etc. 

Second, when preparing for a new teacher make sure your outgoing teacher gives you some idea where you are. Throughout the learning process, (and each teacher approaches this differently) there are clear areas of repertoire, technique, and applied theory knowledge that you should make sure that your outgoing teacher can communicate to the new teacher. 

Third, see this as an opportunity! Like I said earlier in this post, teachers have particular skills and some are better at things than others. I only realized that lesson when I had switched teachers for the first time, that my outgoing teacher at the time didn’t actually know everything. She was very good, but, was a specialist in only certain things. My teachers since have helped me to work on all of those aspects of being a musician. Over time, I realize that I am a product of all my teachers and they are a product of theirs. That’s something that keeps the craft of music alive. We’re all part of a legacy of all the great musicians that have come before us. We light the candles of each of our students in the hopes that they will pass that light on to others. 

Lastly, if your teacher isn’t working out (which can be for a variety of reasons), please let us know at Stage Music Center. We’re always looking for good feedback, and to make sure our students and teachers are happy.


Math + Music

Math + Music

Music and math have been always connected through a variety of means. Numbers, patterns, and scales have a fundamental connection to how music has evolved. It all began in Ancient Greece with a man called Pythagoras.

Pythagoras was a pretty famous philosopher who lived in the 5th century BCE. In reference to music, he made a pretty startling discovery which directly impacted the growth of the tonal system that we still use today in western music. He figured out that if you stretch a string to certain length you get a frequency of vibration. If you change that by a certain ratio you get another pitch.  Below is an estimation of those ratios based on a major scale from Pythagoras.

Many of these intervallic relationships have stood to be largely true with some minor variation as we can measure things with more accuracy. Not bad for a bunch of people who did not have the technological advances we have today.

 Intervals are the spaces between pitches. They are related to each other by a ratio. 

Intervals are the spaces between pitches. They are related to each other by a ratio. 

You’ll be able to see this connection to math and music come to life as we team up with our neighbors the RSM Winchester for a Math and Music Treasure Hunt! This Saturday March 10th, we will be opening our doors on 50 Cross Street in Winchester from 3:30-5:30. Join us for games, prizes and fun!

 Join us on March 10th!

Join us on March 10th!

Composer Spotlight - William Grant Still

Composer Spotlight - William Grant Still

When you think of the Harlem Renaissance, who do you think of first? Langston Hughes? Zora Neal Hurston? Duke Ellington? I’d like you to add another name to your list - William Grant Still.In celebration of Black History Month, this composer spotlight goes to this prolific American composer. 

He began his musical life on the violin and soon picked up at least one instrument from each of the families of the orchestra. After his high school graduation in Little Rock, Arkansas, his mother, who wanted him to go to medical school, nudged him towards studying science. So he did at Wilberforce University. After his baccalaureate studies he was offered scholarship to attend Oberlin Conservatory. Notably he studied with the classicist Chadwick (one of the Boston Six) and the “father of electronic music” Edgard Varese. 


For a career Still’s experiences were far and wide. Arranging for the band of W.C. Handy, arranger for NBC Broadcasts, the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra, the first African American composer to have an opera performed by a major company, and the first African American composer to have an opera performed on national television. Lastly, his first Symphony is regarded as being one of the most performed American symphonies before the 1950s. Check out this excerpt below!

Composer Spotlight - Maurice Durufle

Composers are the breath that give life to the instruments we study. They harness a creative idea, develop it, and hopefully it gets performed for a large appreciative audience. The audience part is,  in many cases, the part that doesn’t happen often. The average listener of most musical genres might be able to name a dozen composers or songwriters. In the case of classical music, it might be less. At least the “three B’s and the H*” are names that we all know. 

Those of us who study classical music closely know that’s just the water’s edge. There is much more to the sea. So, today I start shedding some light lesser known composers, learn a little about them and share some beautiful music. 

The first, Maurice Durufle (11 January 1902 – 16 June 1986), was a french composer and organist. His formative studies were as a chorister at the cathedral in Rouen, followed by years of private instruction on piano and organ, and with admission and completion of his formal studies at the Paris Conservatory. There he studied with another notable French composer Paul Dukas who was known mostly for his piece The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which was immortalized in a Disney animation years later. 

As a composer, under Dukas’ tutelage Durufle was no slouch. However, he was severely self-critical and did not publish much of his work. His organ music is still performed to this day as well as some of his best vocal works. Below is one of his most known choral pieces. Enjoy!

*Depends on who you talk to  but, usually it’s: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Handel (or Haydn)