Mr J.’s Stravinskian Serenade (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D) (Recorder Music)

Mr J.’s Stravinskian Serenade – Teaching Notes

This is the only one of these pieces whose title did not entirely originate from me, but was suggested by a group of students. Having been studying the Russian ballets of Stravinsky, in particular Petroushka, some students in my extracurricular recorder club at The Alice Smith School were practicing running up the scale notes with which they were familiar –
E, F#, G, A,
B, C, D
– when the idea of adding the wiggle at the top occurred to me, and the main phrase was pretty well invented there and then on the hoof: quite literally. We played scale, wiggle (STAMP), wiggle (STAMP), wiggle (STAMP) close.
We must have created quite a scene playing and dancing! One of the children suggested it sounded like Stravinsky and we all looked like Petroushka. I attempted to explain additive rhythms and chromaticism to the group, but sensing them ‘tuning out’ I agreed that there was something Stravinskian about it, and I would turn the idea into a Stravinskian Serenade in time for the next session. Which I did.

Although not fundamentally Stravinskian, I did include the single 2/4 bar in the middle that we discussed in terms of the fours all around, and showed them how the percussive, punctuating chord was voiced towards the two extremes of the keyboard, and is not an easily codifiable harmony, but, rather, a compound of different, interesting intervals. We also noted the different ostinati, and listened out for various ostinati in Stravinsky’s ballets.

To show them that Stravinsky, himself, was concerned with communicating to listeners of their age and experience, I played some of his simple piano pieces, Les Cinq Droigts, and showed how in some piano duets from the same period he had almost created a model for what I was doing with them, one of the piano parts in each duet being of an elementary standard, for the student, the other being far more complex, for the teacher.

Stravinskian Serenade