Tag Archives: music

Fran Lebowitz on Music

“There are two kinds of music—good music and bad music. Good music is music that I want to hear. Bad music is music I don’t want to hear.”

Fran Lebowitz

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Abstruse (adj), Recondite (adj)

Good morning!

While I’m not sure it is necessarily a word high schoolers ought to know (although every time I qualify a blog post with those words, I find myself wondering if there is any word a high schooler doesn’t need to know), here nonetheless is a context clues worksheet on the adjective abstruse. It means, simply, “difficult to comprehend.”

If that doesn’t quite cover conceptually what you mean students to understand, then perhaps this worksheet on the adjective recondite will supply the needed depth of understanding. It means “hidden from sight, concealed,” “difficult or impossible for one of ordinary understanding or knowledge to comprehend,” and “of, relating to or dealing with something little known or obscure.”

Incidentally, I have always been impressed by the fact, and have tried to impress students with it as well, that the great rapper Guru (who died in 2010, I was sad to learn while writing this post_ managed to work recondite into his song “Jazz Thing” in reference to the late, great Thelonious Monk.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Black Sabbath

In the early- to mid-1970s, they were all the rage among certain of my peers, but I mostly listened to Bob Dylan in those days. If you have students who are fans of heavy metal music, then this reading on Black Sabbath and the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it will be, I expect, of high interest to those students. After all, Ozzy Osbourne still occupies a relatively prominent place in the culture.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Comtu Trio at the Rockingham Meeting House, August 18, 2019

Elsewhere on this blog I have written about my good friend Walter Wallace, who serves as a docent at the Rockingham Meeting House in Rockingham, Vermont. Walter has arranged a series of concerts in the Meeting House. This Sunday, August 18th, the Comtu trio will perform a program of early American music arranged for trio, as well as selections from the classical repertoire, e.g. Vivaldi and Telemann.

The meeting house per se is worth a visit, and its warm, resonant acoustics make this event well worth attending. On this occasion, Karen Engdahl, the pianist of the Comtu Trio (and proprietor of the Springfield Piano Studio), will perform on the Meeting House’s Estey Reed Organ, manufactured in nearby Brattleboro.

If you happen to be in the Connecticut River Valley–or anywhere else in Vermont, for that matter, since everyplace here is near everything else–take Exit 6 off I-91 and travel west by northwest on State Route 103 for two miles toward Chester. The Meeting House is on Meeting House Road, and is clearly marked on 103 in both directions.

Noel Coward on an Earlier Post

“Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.”

Noel Coward

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

New Kids on the Block

They were huge in 1990 when I first began working with adolescents. Now I wonder if anyone remembers them. I know the Wahlbergs  (Donnie was a member of New Kids on the Block and his brother Mark enjoyed a solo career as a rapper with the group “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch; both are now actors) have parlied their success in the entertainment business into a reality show and, of all things, a burger joint franchise called Wahlburgers.

I usually don’t mention such things on this blog, but I find the fact that Mark Wahlberg became a rapper ironic indeed, given his history of racist violence. He also appears to have confused the action-star roles he plays with reality when he made these idiotic comments about the flights that were used as terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in the United States.

In any case, here is a reading on the New Kids on the Block and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet if you have students who can’t live without this knowledge of this product of the publicity-industrial complex–a brilliant locution for which I thank the peerless journalist Ron Rosenbaum.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

West Side Story

“A much-performed American musical by Leonard Bernstein (1918-90), with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930). It was first staged in 1957. The story is an updated version of Romeo and Juliet set in New York’s West Side dockland area, with the Montagues and the Capulets being replaced by rival teenage gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. The rivalry erupts into violence as a result of the love between Tony, one of the Jets, and Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks. The 1961 film version won an Oscar for best picture.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.