Music has been an integral part of the Christmas celebration since the earliest years of the celebration. From traditional sacred music to up-tempo tunes, the songs of Christmas are a major part of the holiday.
But how much do you know about the origin stories of your favorite Christmas carols. Here is the story behind some of the most popular and well known Christmas carols of all time.
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“Lost Boys” from PAN the musical at the Historic Lincoln Theater, September 2013. Book, music and lyrics by Conrad Askland based on “Peter and Wendy” by JM Barrie.
I wrote “PAN the musical” for META Performing Arts, a youth theater non-profit group in Mount Vernon, WA. PAN is a new version of the Peter Pan story that combined audience interaction, songs for children and some high brow musical theater as well. One critic said it was the perfect show for children AND adults to enjoy together.
PAN the musical website at: http://www.PanMusical.com
Continue reading “Lost Boys – PAN the musical”
“Juliet’s Death” from Romeo and Juliet the musical by Conrad Askland to words by William Shakespeare. Katherine Fisher as Juliet. Filmed February 2015 at the Historic Lincoln Theater. Visit the RJ musical website at http://www.RJmusical.com
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“Lindsey Bird” is a piece I wrote for my friend Lindsey Bowen. When I am back home between gigs, we spend many hours by the fire at night talking about art, theater, dreams and life. This song is an expression of what it feels like to me during those talks, as if I were watching our conversations from above.
Continue reading “Skagit Impressions Seven – Lindsey Bird”
“We all benefit when an INFP personality type goes ‘Sir Lancelot’ on the world.”
Somehow in my graduate studies on Arts Leadership, I ended up taking a personality test. With both the paid personality text on http://www.myersbriggs.org/ and the free personality test at https://www.16personalities.com – I ended up with the INFP personality type.
I’m not much for online tests, but I was really blown away by how accurately these tests described my cognitive and social function. There is the old story about the college psychology professor who hands every person in class their weekly horoscope and asks students to raise their hands if the horoscope is accurate. Usually a large percentage of the class raises their hands, only to find out that they all have the exact same horoscope. In other words, we read so much in to descriptions that seem to match us.
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I composed this piece as part of a music production course for my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with Berklee College of Music. While taking classes I was on tour as music director with the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai and was fortunate enough to have our violin player from the show, David Piché, record the violin tracks while in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Continue reading “Skagit Impressions Six – Skagit Violin Dance”
Piano lessons are an investment of both money and time. Finding the right piano teacher for your child will help your investment lead to successful music education. Asking the following questions will help you choose the right teacher.
Is the teacher a member of local, state, or national music organizations?
Membership in music organizations signals that a teacher is interested in staying current with trends in music education. Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the National Federation of Music Clubs, along with the state and local affiliates of these organizations, are some of the well-known groups in which a piano teacher might hold membership. Journals and newsletters typically accompany membership and bring relevant information right to the teacher’s door. Membership also gives the teacher access to continuing education opportunities, including conventions and seminars on music performance and education.
Continue reading “Choosing Your Child’s Piano Teacher: Six Questions to Ask”
“If I Could Go Anywhere” is a song I wrote back in the late 1990’s. Here is a new recording of the piece paired with photos of Skagit County, WA photographer Gary Brown. Part of our interdisciplinary collaboration of Pacific Northwest farmland photography with my original music for the “Gary Brown and Conrad Askland Project.”
Continue reading “Skagit Impressions Five”
Learning to play the piano is not just about learning a new musical instrument. Playing keyboard instruments improves personality and makes people healthier and happier. Children taking piano classes benefit more because it gives them an edge at an early age. Playing the piano makes children smarter, improves their learning abilities and makes them better students.
Continue reading “Six Reasons Why Children Taking Piano Classes Do Better at School”
If you yearn for a creative outlet, starting a YouTube channel can be a great idea. The YouTube market is full of talented, personable people creating quality videos, however, so getting noticed on a brand new channel can be tough. If you want to succeed in your niche, here are seven big mistakes to avoid.
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(Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750)
J.S. Bach’s dad was a musician. J.S.’s uncle was a musician. All four of J.S.’s brothers were musicians and composers. In fact, pretty much everybody in the Bach family were musicians and had been since great-great-great grandpa John Hans Bach, originally a baker, had a mid-life crisis and discovered that he was meant to be a piper instead.
By 1685, when Johann Sebastian Bach was born, the Bachs were the German Baroque equivalent of our modern day musical Jackson family. The Bachs were well-known, highly connected, and prosperous. They served as musicians to Dukes, were musical directors at important churches, and were directors of renowned choirs. Even the ladies of the family got in on the act. J.S.’s second wife was a popular singer.
Continue reading “Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Superstar”
On my tour with the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai, one of our destinations is the Oslo Spektrum arean in Oslo, Norway. The end of August 2017 was able to spend a week with my cousin to trace our ancestry back to my great grandparents on the island of Ona, Norway. It was our “back to our roots” tour.
Continue reading “Ona, Norway Photos – Back to my Roots”
Here are some of my photos from the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. For my show reviews and thoughts go to:
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an annual theater destination with hundreds of different shows to attend from stand up comics, musical theater to the absurd and serious theater genres. This year was the 70th annual Fringe and it was awesome!
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“Tarragona” is a piano improvisation by Conrad Askland. Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.
In this video you can see the far stone wall behind the piano. That stone wall is part of a guard tower that is dated to be at least 800 years old. Used at one point as a guard tower and later as part of a winery.
I thought about the long history of this special place in Spain and let my fingers color the imagination of what I saw in my mind’s eye.
Musicians from the Cirque du Soleil Varekai band taken June 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania by Gabrielus Jauniskis.
From left to right: David Piché (violin), Conrad Askland (bandleader and keyboards), Mikey Hachey (bass), Isabelle Corradi (singer), Jamieson Lindenberg (singer), Damion Corideo (percussion), Jose Manuel Pizarro Carmona (winds) and Paul James Bannerman (drums).
It is an absolute pleasure to work with this group of musicians!
Continue reading “Varekai Band 2017”
I attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a 70 year old theater festival in Scotland, from August 14-23, 2017 and it was incredible. In all my travels this has got to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
In 9 days I attended 30 shows. Many more were booked but it was such an overload that I just had to take some time off here and there. My friends ask “Did you see the castles?” No. “Did you see the Military Tattoo?” No. I was here for shows.
My show thoughts and reviews are below. If interested in photos I took at the 70th annual fringe go here:
My Photos at 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Continue reading “My Edinburgh Fringe 2017 – Shows and Thoughts”
“Sunday Morning” from the Tarragona Piano Sessions by Conrad Askland. Session 3-2. Recorded July 31, 2017 at La Casamurada Recording Studio, Tarragona, Spain. Audio engineer: Jesus Rovira.
Live piano improvisations in the heat of summer. Gospel and Southern church piano style.
Solo piano improvisation on “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (public domain). Part of Conrad Askland’s Tarragona Piano Sessions recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain.
La Casamurada recording studio. Audio engineer: Jesus Rovira
“St Clair” is a piano piece for my friend Judy St Clair. Judy and her husband were mentors of mine when I was younger and they guided me through many adventures. Some were sweet and some were painful, but still they were all adventures.
While playing this piece, I was remembering the light and playful camaraderie we had during those times. Style might be called a new age piano improvisation.
Recorded July 31, 2017 in Tarragona, Spain. Part of my “Tarragona Piano Improvisation Sessions” – Audio engineer: Jesus Rovira
If you are thinking of learning a musical instrument as an adult, you might be wondering if you can do it. Maybe learning a musical instrument has been a lifelong dream, or perhaps you have been inspired to learn along with your kids.
Whatever your reasons, you can succeed at your chosen instrument if you are willing to commit to what it takes. Try these handy tips to help you stay focused and make your dream a reality.
Continue reading “6 Tips for Adult Music Beginners”