Umi’s Lullaby – one piece, hundreds of ways

Sonny Chua

In Issue 5 of The Piano Teacher magazine we published Sony Chua’s ‘musical smile’, Umi’s Lullaby. We invited teachers and students from around the world to perform, arrange, record and learn Umi’s Lullaby during the week of September 1st.

Here are just some of the wonderfully creative ways teachers used Umi’s Lullaby to celebrate the piano and talk to the media and their community about piano teaching:

  • Brisbane teacher Angela Turner arranged Umi’s Lullaby as a trio and it was performed by three sisters at the Australian Piano Duo Festival.

  • Composer Christopher Norton arranged and recorded a performance of the piece in 5/4 time.
  • Ballarat teacher Bron Solowski ran a festival and awarded certificates to each of his students and community members who played Umi’s Lullaby during the week.
  • Mount Tambourine teacher Margaret Buck arranged three variations of Umi’s Lullaby and went on to record and upload performances of her students playing Umi’s Lullaby.

  • US Composer Jeremy Siskind recorded himself playing Umi’s Lullaby in the style of Debussy and Bill Evans.

  • Melbourne teacher Katrina Wilson created a Piano Orchestra event at Prestige Pianos, in Preston.

Katrina writes:

‘We had chaotic kind of fun at the Piano Orchestra event. A total of 14 players turned up at Prestige Pianos, and together we created a version of Umi’s Lullaby on 9 pianos. It was a fun challenge bringing it together and not quite knowing who was going to turn up or what was going to happen until the day. Among those performing were veteran teachers and performers, adult students, young learners and volunteers who have never had lessons but were willing to give it a go. We had some lovely duets and trios from parents, their children and younger siblings. There was a combination of those who could read music and those who couldn’t. Everyone had a part to play. I had a number of aims when arranging the piece. I wanted families to experience practising together at home. It was a way for parents and siblings to experience what it is like to prepare a piece for performance and the types of preparation one needs to go through. This will help to support the student in their future musical endeavours. I also wanted a performance outlet for my adult students to be able to participate in without feeling like they were participating in a ‘kid’s only’ event. I wanted it to be public but not pressured so that I could use the event to promote musical participation in a way that onlookers would see that learning the piano is not exclusive and high pressured. In the weeks leading up to the Piano Orchestra performance, all my students and their parents were excited with anticipation knowing that we were taking part in an international event. It was also very exciting knowing that the composer was watching and interested to find out what we would do with his piece.’

 

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