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#1798895 - 12/01/11 01:25 PM Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Be sure to read Burce Berr's excellent column in this month's American Music Teacher (from MTNA).

This would be a great activity for your group lessons once students master I-IV-V chords, major and minor, around the circle of 5ths.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
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#1799128 - 12/01/11 09:40 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Stanny Offline
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I thought that was a good article! I do this sort of thing with other melodies (and some of the method books have exercises in it too) but I agree, this would be fun for a group class.


~Stanny~

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Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA
#1799440 - 12/02/11 01:09 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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I'm surprised no one asked. This is a how to tutorial for teachers on bringing improv and ear training into the studio and student's horizons by using happy birthday as a basis.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1799629 - 12/02/11 07:29 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Thanks for the suggestion. I read the article. I am really impressed with Bruce's ideas, but made painfully aware of my own shortcomings in ability to harmonize "Happy Birthday". Ugh! I'm working on it though. If I can get it figured out, then I'd like to teach it since it does seem like a lot of fun.

(I probably should stop admitting what I don't know.)

#1799656 - 12/02/11 08:07 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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OK. Wrote down the melody in key of C. Then had to do the very basics. Wrote out I, IV, V and V7 chord notes. Came up with this harmonization:

I V7 IV I
I V7 I I

It seems to work. Any corrections are welcome.

Last edited by Ann in Kentucky; 12/02/11 08:10 PM.
#1800510 - 12/04/11 06:09 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Now I've re-read the article. And see that the IV chord occurs only once (at the point the birthday person's name is inserted).

This sounds better:
I V7 V7 I
I IV I I

#1801045 - 12/05/11 08:43 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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So, I spent way too much time today looking for my magazine! I'll read the article when I find it. Hopefully before next week's group lessons. Today I encouraged a student to try a bit of playing by ear and harmonizing on Joy to the World - just because you planted that seed. Thanks!


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Member MTNA, NHMTA
#1801143 - 12/06/11 12:57 AM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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CA
Happy Birthday works better in F Major, imo. Now you can transpose!


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1801268 - 12/06/11 10:32 AM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Thanks for the tip Minniemay! I've done basics with harmonization (and transposing), but was surprised to see how tricky it is to harmonize Happy B-day.

#1801278 - 12/06/11 10:55 AM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Minniemay Offline
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That's because the melody doesn't start on the tonic and you have several downbeats that are suspensions on the harmony. HB is a required piece in our piano proficiency exams for music majors, so I teach it all the time!


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
#1801435 - 12/06/11 03:02 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Suspensions on the harmony is a new concept for me. Very interesting! When I saw the downbeat didn't sound so good with a chord I would have expected to work, I looked to the next 2 notes in the meausure for harmony ideas. But I didn't know WHY it wasn't working with the downbeat.

The article tells us that HB starts on sol. So that helps a lot.

#1801529 - 12/06/11 05:40 PM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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PianoStudent88 Online content
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For those playing along at home without the magazine, can you summarize the article? (Now, how can I wangle an MTNA membership...)


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#1801897 - 12/07/11 09:42 AM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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OK. I'll give it a whirl.

Happy Mirth Day:
Bruce Berr sees that incoming music majors know little about harmony.

A university asks prospective students to play HB by ear.

Bruce decides to teach kids in his studio to figure out and play HB by ear.

Melodically it starts on sol.

Rhythmically it starts on an upbeat.

Upbeats aren's usually harmonized.

Metric placement of syllables is related to their pronunciation: Happy BIRTHday to you has a downbeat on BIRTH.

The pitch of the first downbeat is not contained in a tonic chord--need to recognize non-chord tones.

Expanding melodic range can create a climax (use of octave).

IV chord is used only once and it spotlights the person's name.

The gesture of ritard-fermata-a tempo surrounds the person's name.

Bruce challenges kids with the 3rd phrase with a name like "Great uncle Alexander Wilkerson".

Bruce illustrates use of parallel minor for say grandparents who don't like getting a year older.

Last edited by Ann in Kentucky; 12/07/11 09:43 AM. Reason: spelling
#1801913 - 12/07/11 10:07 AM Re: Happy Mirth Day by Bruce Berr [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Thank you, Ann!


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