sarah gellerAs in her concert programming, Sarah combines the traditional and the innovative in her workshops and residencies. Participants will listen intently and quietly at times, and then the room will reverberate with their excited voices as they become poets, composers or movement artists.

The two sample workshops described below can be expanded and adapted as follows:

  • for mixed-age or age-specific groups
  • for music students, general classrooms or community groups
  • integrated into the core curriculum
  • expanded to multiple sessions over several days
  • presented in conjunction with a school or public performance or without a related performance

Sample Workshops and Residencies

I. Souvenirs: Music, Poetry and Drawing
one hour
for ages 3 years and up and adults
(mixed-age or age-specific groups)

Enhanced listening skills
Understanding of a composer’s creative process
Introduction to a poetic form used by poet William Carlos Williams

Repertoire for workshop
Paul Schoenfield Four Souvenirs (selections)
Lili Boulanger Nocturne
Piazzolla Selections

Schoenfield captured his memories in his compositions by combining a variety of styles and traditions: jazz, classical, klezmer and popular song, often with a wild or unique twist and wit. Schoenfield’s Four Souvenirs highlight four different traditions in four short dance movements.

Lili Boulanger’s music reflects the influence of jazz composer Herbie Hancock, who often visited Lili and her sister, composer Nadia Boulanger. Nadia, in turn, was of great inspiration to Piazzolla during his composition studies with her. She encouraged him to pursue the Argentine tango as a source for his own music. Piazzolla fused jazz, tango and classical music to create his own style that portrayed sharply contrasting moods and helped to revitalize the tango.

Delicate, passionate, driving, soothing, energetic: a variety of characters and moods are infused throughout all the selections showcased in this workshop.

Beats jump
How does the music make you feel?
Colors flash
What colors and shapes does the music make you see?
Words pop
What words come to your mind?

Participants of any age, whether 3 or 93, will release their creative energy as they create a brushstroke poem together. They will use made-up or real words to express their own memories and recollections, as well as their impressions of the sounds heard in Four Souvenirs. For the more mature students, we will also incorporate such literary techniques as onomatopoeia and alliteration.

And it wouldn’t be complete without a souvenir. Each participant will draw (shapes, sketches, squiggles) while listening some more to other selections. The drawing will be a memento to share with friends and family.

Extended residency option: Add rhythm and sound activity, “Rat-a-tat-tat: Shoes and Steps.­”

II. Musical Messages: Collaborative Composing, Drawing and Movement
one hour
for grades 3 and up and adults
(mixed-age or age-specific groups)

Enhanced listening skills
Understanding of the collaborative creative process
Understanding of how music can be a communication tool
Experience with musical terms like articulation, melodic line, rondo form

Repertoire for workshop
Brahms Scherzo in c minor, WoO2
R. Schumann Intermezzo
Joachim Romance in C Major and/or C. Schumann Romances

Frei aber einsam ~ Free but lonely: Composer and violinist Joseph Joachim’s personal motto, “Frei aber einsam,” evolved from the three notes, F-A-E, that were the basis, and ultimately the title, of the collaborative work by Robert Schumann, Albert Dietrich and Johannes Brahms. Joachim was presented with this work upon his arrival in Dusseldorf and asked to identify the composer of each of the four movements. At the conclusion of his first reading, with Clara Schumann at the piano, Joachim found this an easy task.

The relationships among Robert Schumann, Brahms, Dietrich, Schumann’s wife, Clara, and Joachim ran deep. For example, Robert served as a mentor to Joachim, and Robert and Clara had a longstanding practice of composing musical messages to each other.

Short ~ Long

Slurred ~ Jagged

Abrupt ~ Fluid

Linear ~ Leaps

Inspired by listening to Sarah's performance of a series of three contrasting passages from the repertoire above, each workshop participant will create a small sketch reflecting one of the passages. Sarah will lay out the contour of randomly-selected participant sketches on a musical staff. Once she has identified the notes, she will perform the sketches as notated on the staff. And thus, collaborative musical messages are born.

Using the note names (letters A - G) gathered from the staff, as dictated by the sketches, participants will write their own “motto.” Share it ~ shout, whisper, sing.

With any unused, remaining sketches, participants will divide into groups of three. Each group will choreograph a freeze-frame that portrays three sketches, with each sketch reflecting one of the musical passages. Like the musical identification exercise that Joachim did with his colleagues, participants viewing the freeze-frames will try to identify their own sketch.



Sarah E Geller
suggested programs