Fascinating Rohan (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D) (Recorder Music)
Fascinating Rohan – Teaching Notes
I can understand how, on first acquaintance, the piano part of this piece may appear extravagantly expansive and virtuosic as an accompaniment to a group of elementary recorder players, but that is to miss the point. It’s extravagance and boldness is a primary purpose of this piece.
In the context of these young musicians development this is the equivalent of a grand symphony. The first performance of this took place at Links School, Tooting, London, by a group of seven and eight year olds, accompanied by myself, and the excitement in the atmosphere was tangible for all involved: the kids felt as if they were members of a symphony orchestra, I was anxious that I may have overstretched my meagre pianistic skills, and the audience was overwhelmed by the scope and passion of the music and performance. This is not what most parents expect when they are invited to a primary school music concert!
I remember using the virtuosity as a starting point to explore recordings of the piano concerto repertoire: Schumann, Grieg, Tschaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
The reverberations from this spilling out into their compositional efforts, as my class and I combined to create a Piano Concerto modeled on a book called What On Earth Was That by Paul Geraghty, which we recorded on paper using a combination of traditional notation for the soloist (me) and graphic notation for the orchestra (them).
This creative burst of energy, and the realisation that it was not always necessary to be musically literate in order to capture your intentions also led to a further exciting experiment as we passed our score and parts (a collection of pictorial cue cards) to another teacher and her class and were later invited to listen to them perform their interpretation of our composition.
Remember to link your students’ recorder playing endeavours with all the other aspects of your curriculum and everyone will get so much more out of the experience.
Picture of fascinated Rohan:
Why Fascinating Rohan?
On 28th March 1994, when he was five months old, my son, Rohan, was in a very fractious mood and I needed to find a way to distract him. He was already magnetically drawn to music and fascinated by his own and other people’s hands; so I sat at the keyboard and allowed him to explore what few notes he could reach. He began to hold down a cluster starting on the ‘d’ above middle ‘c’ and I began to improvise, using only the white notes so that the resonances would be sustained and encouraged in this cluster of Rohan’s. Within seconds these improvisations had begun to form themselves into the subject matter of this piece so that, by the time I handed Rohan over to my wife the piece was largely composed and simply needed writing down. Therefore what had begun as an activity whose purpose was to fascinate Rohan became the composition, Fascinating Rohan.
Patrick Jonathan, April 1994