New Download For My Students: Katy Perry’s “Rise”

One of my students asked me if I could put together a version of Katy Perry’s “Rise” for her to play. I had a bit of spare time yesterday and today, so I arranged the opening of the song for beginner piano. Any students of my studio can download the arrangement from my website while logged in.



Music, Math, and Art

People often talk about the connections between music and math, and I occasionally give my older students an unpleasant surprise by suddenly diving into fractions to show how the beat in their pieces ought to be divided. But Marshall Lefferts of Cosmometry is taking a slightly different tack, by exploring the mathematical connections of such musical fundamentals as the scale, the Circle of Fifths, and tritones.


A visual representation of tritones in relation to the twelve tones of the most common Western scale.

Even if you aren’t mathematically minded, the matrices are certainly pretty to look at! Lefferts’ diagrams become even more artistic in his followup piece, Tri-Tone Duality of Music.


Triads and how they relate to one another.

Music is beautiful even when represented with mathematical diagrams! Is anyone surprised?

Michael Jackson Goes to Japan

Anyone who’s been following this blog for a while will probably have figured out by now that I love covers. I can’t get enough of hearing people’s interpretations of well-known songs. I love witnessing the hard work they put into their music, and the way they share a little of themselves with their listeners.

This week’s cover that I adore is an arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” led by professional musician Yoshimi Tsujimoto on the shakuhachi and backed by Yuko Watanabe and Erina Ito on the koto.

To learn more about all three musicians, check out this article. I hope they collaborate on other projects in the future!

Super Mario Strikes Again!

As a nearly lifelong fan of the Super Mario series (some of my earliest memories are of watching my cousins play Super Mario Bros. for the NES), I never get tired of listening to remixes of its main theme. The only thing better than finding a cool new remix, as far as I’m concerned, is finding a cool new remix and learning something in the process.

Recently, I discovered a video of a young woman in Taipei, Taiwan, playing her own version of the Super Mario Bros. Theme (and the Underground Theme), complete with sound effects. This time, however, instead of playing it on the violin, this performer plays it on the sheng. The sheng is a Chinese instrument that was first invented over three thousand years ago and remains popular in a slightly modernised form to this day. And apparently it’s perfectly suited to playing videogame music!

Happy New Year With the Wheel Of Musical Impressions!

Happy 2016, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday and are ready to meet the new year’s joys and challenges head-on!

First of all, I have a little site news: on Christmas Day, I became a kitty foster parent for the first time, and I’ve already had my first success story! I’ve added a section on my website where you can see who I’m hosting as well as read about the kitties who found their forever homes with loving families. I hope that if you’re in the Ottawa area and looking to add some warmth and fuzziness to your life that you’ll consider adopting one of the cats from J’s Animal Rescue!

Second, here I am with my first musical link of the new year! I first learned of Jimmy Fallon’s Wheel of Musical Impressions a little while ago. Guests on his show are randomly assigned a singer to imitate and a song to sing. Since singers work very hard to have their own, unique sound and tend to be well known for the music they specialise in, the results can be pretty funny!

Here’s a video of Ariana Grande guest starring on the show, including the amazing duet she and Jimmy Fallon sing at the end:

If you’d prefer to skip to a singer/song in particular, you can click the links below:

Britney Spears singing Mary Had a Little Lamb
Aaron Neville singing Cheerleader
Christina Aguilera singing The Wheels on the Bus
Sting singing I Can’t Feel My Face
Celine Dion (and Sting!) singing I Can’t Feel My Face

Major to Minor and Minor to Major

When composers write music, one of the most important decisions they need to make is which key to write in. As a general rule (although there are plenty of exceptions!), music written in a major key sounds happy and music written in a minor key sounds sad.

But what happens if you change the key of a well-known piece of music? Every once in a while, arrangers like to find out.

Below are two examples of music with key swaps. The first is a major song written in minor and the second is a minor song now written in major.

There are plenty more examples on Youtube, of popular songs and videogame music alike–even some Beethoven. Why not check a few of them out?