Easy Access to Music: Record Players and B.B. King

My B.B. King Records in my ClassroomI took some of my 4-year-old guitar students to the Resource Center at the Old Town School of Folk Music today to play some of my B.B. King records. For one of them it was a first time using a record player.

We had so much fun and it strengthen my idea that playing records was an important early musical experience for me. It was delightful to see my students marvel at the record jackets and see how carefully these “wild little boys” could set the record on the player and then put the records away at the end.

My earliest musical memory was my Fischer-Price record player. My favorite records were Winnie the Pooh and Pete’s Dragon. I also had the single to Man Eater by Hall & Oats. Looking back, I think it was incredible that my folks bought me my own record player and that I had easy access to music whenever I wanted it from such an early age. I believe that the “easy access to music” idea is something that I have carried into my adult life.

Lincoln’s Birthday 2015 – “Old Abe Lincoln Came out of the Wilderness”

We celebrated the birthday of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, in my Kids’ Guitar Level 2 class at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

The Old Town School of Folk Music is on LINCOLN Ave.  The School is located in the LINCOLN Square neighborhood of Chicago, IL.  Illinois is also known as the “Land of LINCOLN”.

I learned this song from the collection Soldier Songs and Home-Front Ballads of the Civil War, compiled and edited by Irwin Silber.  The song is to the tune of The Old Grey Mare.

Here is a .pdf with the lyrics, the chords in the key of D and the melody and a note map to play it on guitar.  We hope you enjoy it!

Old Abe Lincoln Chart

Old Abe Lincoln came out of the wilderness

Out of the wilderness, out of the wilderness

Old Abe Lincoln came out of the wilderness

many long years ago.

Many long years ago.

Many long years ago.

Old Abe Lincoln came out of the wilderness,

many long years ago.

Additional Verses

Old Jeff Davis tore down the government .  . . etc.

Old Abe Lincoln built up a better one . . . etc.


Frosty Weather Guitar Lesson

There is a big snow storm rolling through Chicago today.  Some appointments got canceled and I found myself with some time around the apartment.  I thought I would take the opportunity share this great little tune from Ireland called Frosty Weather.

The lyrics are

Frosty weather, snowy weather.

When the wind blows we all go together. 

Download a lyric sheet and guitar note map for Frosty Weather.    And watch this quick lesson to hear how to play the song.

Hope you enjoy it!

Quaerendo Invenietis (“By seeking, you will discover.”) – New Year’s Resolution for 2015

FullSizeRender“Quaerendo invenietis” (“By seeking, you will discover.”) – J.S. Bach’s label of one of the canon’s of his Musical Offering.

My 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to more fully understand the music and the musician,  Johann Sebastian Bach.

I’ve been a musician for a long time and his name creeps up everywhere.  Other musicians and historians are always saying things like, “Obviously Bach is the greatest composer ever,” “Bach is my hero,” “Bach was the true genius of improvisation,” and “there is no more beautiful piece of music than [insert piece composed by Bach here].”

I hear people say things like that and I just kind of nod my head.  I understand the words that they are saying, I just don’t know why, and for that reason I can’t simply agree.  I do know that I enjoy his music, but the statements that folks make are so grandiose, as compared to any other composers musicians, people seem to think that Bach was the best.

My goal for 2015 is to know why.  I’ve never studied his compositions.  I’ve rarely listened to his music (at least as compared to artists).  I don’t know anything about his biography.  I couldn’t compare his music to that of his contemporaries and I couldn’t compare his music to more modern composers.  By the end of 2015 I want to have changed that.

This photo depicts some of the tools, recordings and books I will be using to start my journey of discovery.

  • Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music
  • Suzuki Violin Piano Accompaniment
  • Alfred’s Basic Adult All-in-One Course (as I am an adult beginner pianist)
  • What to Listen for in Music – Aaron Copland
  • J.S. Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier – performed by Bernard Roberts
  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter
  • My 10 Year Anniversary Metronome from the Old Town School of Folk Music
  • My Casio keyboard

Benefit for the Young Stracke All-Stars Featuring Mark Dvorak

YSAS_Benefit full pageSunday, September 14

Drinks and hors d’oeuvres at 4:30.

Music at 5:30

Join “Chicago’s Troubadour” Mark Dvorak in a featured small-venue performance for the benefit of the Young Stracke All-Stars; youth musicians celebrating the legacy of music and education pioneer, Win Stracke.

The Young Stracke All-Stars hope that you will help us continue to build bridges between generations of folk musicians by attending this concert, featuring the band’s friend and mentor, Mark Dvorak. The $75 cost covers the evening’s entertainment and beverages and hor d’oeuvres.

As a way to deepen the roots between generations, this concert will take place at the home of Jane Bradbury, daughter of Win Stracke.

Contact Jason McInnes to reserve your seat. 773-369-8268 or jason@jasonmcinnesmusic.com. Space is limited. The address will be given upon RSVP.

This fall, the Young Stracke All-Stars will be entering the studio to record their debut album. The album will be a celebration of folk music from around the world, a culmination of six years of work by the band, and a homage to Win Stracke, the band’s namesake.

This is a step that we believe will launch us into the next phase of the group as we inspire youth musicians and their families, influence how people think about youth-created music, and leave a legacy of our music and the communal and historical-based ideals of the Young Stracke All-Stars.

To make the album a reality, the we need your support to cover production and post-production costs.

Young Stracke All-Stars is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service
organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Young Stracke All-Stars must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

If you can’t make it to the show, but are interested in making a contribution, please visit our page hosted by Fractured Atlas.