Home > The West Music Blog
West Music Blog

Blogs by Patrick Downing

This St. Patrick's Day Discover Yamaha Hybrid Pianos
By Patrick Downing
3/7/2017 8:46:00 AM  

Have you ever played an acoustic concert grand piano with no strings? Or perhaps you've played a digital piano with a full acoustic piano action? Chances are, neither of these things have ever happened to you, but Yamaha has the perfect instruments for those who crave the realism of an acoustic piano, along with the benefits of a digital.

The Yamaha AvantGrand and Hybrid pianos offer the perfect balance of playing both an acoustic grand piano and a digital piano. These pianos are the only non-acoustic instruments in the world that employ real acoustic actions. These specially-designed piano actions allow for a more responsive playing experience than that of a digital piano, and replicate the touch and feel of an acoustic piano without the cost or maintenance of tuning, regulations, and voicing.

Join us for Musical Mornings on St. Patrick's Day, Friday March 17th, at 9am at West Music Quad Cities in Moline. West Music's Certified Piano Consultant Patrick Downing will lead a presentation all about the incredible technology and features of the Yamaha Hybrid pianos. See how these instruments truly are everything you need from a digital, and everything you want from an acoustic!

Who? Piano players and enthusiasts
 Yamaha Hybrid Pianos Presentation 
When? St. Patrick's Day Morning - Friday, March 17th at 9am
Where? West Music Quad Cities
Why? This is your chance to experience Yamaha Hybrid pianos! Discover the perfect balance of acoustic and digital performance.

Yamaha Hybrid Piano

Tags: N/A
Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Quad Cities
Bookmark and Share
The Origin of “Chopsticks”
By Patrick Downing
2/24/2011 8:46:00 AM  

chopsticks on pianoTo many, it was the first song that they ever learned to play on the piano. To some, it is the most annoying tune imaginable (after “Heart and Soul”, which I believe is more annoying...) that is constantly played (and pounded) on pianos in schools and churches everywhere. You may remember Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia playing it with their feet on the “Big Piano” at FAO Schwarz in the 1988 film, Big. One thing is certain; the infamous tune “Chopsticks” has been played by pianists at all levels all over the world! However, who wrote this extremely familiar melody, and when?

The original name of “Chopsticks” is “The Celebrated Chop Waltz”, and it was written in 1877 by Euphemia Allen, who published the tune under the pseudonym, Arthur de Lulli. Allen, who was the sister of a music publisher, supposedly was only sixteen years old when she composed the piece! Along with the main theme, Allen included arrangements for piano solo and duet. Many people believe the piece was inspired by actual chopsticks (the Chinese eating utensils), which led to playing the piece with just the forefingers only. However, on page 3 of the piece, Allen left these instructions: "This part (primo part of the duet) must be played with both hands turned sideways, the little fingers lowest, so that the movements of the hands imitate the chopping from which this waltz gets its name." Therefore, and contrary to popular belief, the piece was not named after the eating utensils!

Chopsticks Waltz Cover

Soon after the piece was published, a group of composers collaboratively wrote a collection of four-hand piano variations on Allen’s theme titled Paraphrases in 1878-1879. The composers were Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anatoly Lyadov, and Nikolai Shcherbachov. In 1880, the collection was expanded and included variations by Franz Liszt.

Since it was written, the “Chopsticks” theme has been the basis of numerous arrangements and variations all over the globe. British pianist Billy Mayerl performed and recorded a complicated arrangement of the theme in 1927 subtitled “a syncopated impression”. In the highly praised 1946 film, The Best Years of Our Lives, the famous songwriter Hoagy Carmichael performs a duet of “Chopsticks” with Harold Russell, a World War II Navy veteran who lost both of his hands in combat and won an Academy Award for his performance in the film. Mr. Russell's prosthetic hooks that served as his hands did not deter him from delivering a fantastic rendition of the familiar tune!

Today, many composers, arrangers, piano teachers, and music educators are still writing variations and arrangements on the infamous theme, including Robert D. Vandall, David Carr Glover, Nancy and Randall Faber, and Margo Guryan. Many of these arrangements (notably Margo Guryan’s The Chopsticks Variations) are available for purchase at West Music. “Chopsticks” will undoubtedly remain an extremely popular piano piece for many years to come!

Tags: Chopsticks, Euphemia Allen, Arthur de Lulli, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Anatoly Lyadov, Nikolai Scherbachov, Music History, Song History, Billy Mayerl
Categories: Music, Books & Resources
Bookmark and Share
Band & Orchestra (98)
Classroom Furniture & Equipment (11)
Company Culture (70)
Conservatory (356)
Contests (14)
Drums & Percussion (27)
Extraordinary Associate of the Month (53)
Guitars & Folk (36)
Kids & Movement (25)
Live Sound, Recording & Software (6)
Mariachi (11)
Music Advocacy (57)
Music, Books & Resources (59)
Music Education (103)
Music Therapy (56)
Orff (15)
Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards (23)
Press Releases (19)
Recorders (16)
West Music Cedar Falls (74)
West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion (113)
West Music Coralville (153)
West Music Decorah (5)
West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery (59)
West Music Dubuque (1)
West Music Quad Cities (79)
Recent Posts
The Basics of Rhythm
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Cedar Falls March 2018 Musician of the Month: Bo Wayson
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Coralville March 2018 Musician of the Month: Prabhas Gupta
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Coralville Teacher Feature: Chuck Michaelson
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Cedar Falls February 2018 Musician of the Month: AJ Fitzgerald
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 4 of 6
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Extraordinary Associate of the Month: Patrick Downing
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Be the Ultimate Band or Orchestra Parent in 5 Easy Steps!
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Cedar Rapids January 2018 Musician of the Month: Skylar Dudley
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Cedar Rapids Teacher Feature: Ian Draves
  Comments: 0
  Rating: 0 / 0
Request a catalog to be delivered to your door
McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams