Sunday, November 16, 2014

Piano Performances

Over the weekend, Hannah, Michael and I recorded our recently learned piano pieces. 

I played Sonata no 6 by Mozart and Album Leaf by Grieg. Mozart was an Austrian composer, and is considered to be the most creative composers of all times. Together with Haydn, he was the leading composer of the classical style of the late 1700's. Mozart started playing at age 4, composing at age 5, and at age 6 he played for the Austrian empress at her court in Vienna! Leopold, Wolfgang's father, took Wolfgang on concert tours through much of Europe, and Wolfgang gave many public performances in front of a large crowd. He also met many famous musicians, and played the organ in many churches. The piece I played was a fast, rowdy piece with numerous sudden changes in dynamics (e.g. louds and quiets). I had to play with strong fingers throughout the piece, as it had many fast notes. I worked very hard to learn the piece by memory, and to play the rhythm evenly. 

The second piece I played was Album Leaf by Grieg. Grieg was a very famous Norwegian composer that composed music for the piano, chorus and orchestra, and numbers for small instrumental groups during the Romantic period. Most of his music was written in the style of Norwegian folk songs and folk dances. Griegs most famous music includes Album Leaf, the song that I recorded, and Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, a song that I am learning to play now. Album Leaf is a very repetitive song, and at the beginning, it has a steady beat in the left hand, and a melody in the right hand. In the middle, however, it changes up, as the right hand has a steady beat, while the left hand has the melody. The hand with the melody needs to play louder than the hand with the rhythm. which was a bit challenging at first. I hope you enjoy listening to these pieces. 


This week my mom recorded me playing two pieces, Sonatina 3 by Clementi and Sweet Dreams by Tchaikovsky.  Clementi started playing in a church at the age of 9 and when he was 14 he was invited to England to study music. Clementi composed during the classical period and was considered the best pianist of his time. He composed over 100 Sonatas! He died at age 80 in the English countryside. The sonata is very fast, and I had to have strong fingers to play this piece. It also had many dynamics, such as louds and quiets. The second piece I learned was Sweet Dreams by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer in the Romantic period, and his pieces had a lot of melody and emotion. He was known for composing many symphonies, operas, and concertos. Sweet Dreams is part of his Children Album, and it is dedicated to his favorite nephew, Vladimir Davydov. This piece was very slow, and is played with the pedal. I hope you enjoy listening to me play!     


I recently recorded a piece called Clowns by Kabalevsky. Kabalevsky was a Russian composer that created music for young people, like me.  He wrote pieces for the orchestra, operas, and many instruments. He also composed pieces for children’s choruses. Dmitry Kabalevsky was born in St. Petersberg on December 30th 1904 and died on February 10th, 1987. One of the most important things that he did was try to teach children to like music. He wrote pieces that children would like and set up music programs in schools. The song I played is a fast piece that  has many staccatos. It took a lot of time and practice to learn it because  it was very fast.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A day at the Dead Sea

Our former neighbors and best friends.
 During our trip to Israel, we visited numerous friends and family members. One of the days, we went to visit family that live in Beer Sheva.This city is considered the capital of the Negev, which is the desert in southern Israel. The family gave us a warm welcome with a large lunch and dinner. We also visited friends that live near Tel-Aviv, which is the second most populous city in Israel. They had two girls close to our age, and we taught them a few popular American games such as Uno. We also painted, and played other entertaining card games. Finally, most of the time we spent, was with our former neighbors who moved to Israel five years ago. Together we spent time at the beach, played tag, and just reunited together. They taught us many Israeli games and Hebrew words and phrases. We were really happy to see them again, and hope that we will see them again soon.

Spending time with friends in Beer Sheva

Playing Uno

My dad, sister, and I floating in the Dead Sea
Another place we went to in Israel was the Dead Sea.  It was a 3 hour drive from where we were staying in Netanya. While driving we saw numerous wild camels roaming the Negev desert. When we finally arrived at the Dead Sea, it was over a hundred degrees! Since it was so hot, we decided to get a day pass at a hotel to hide from the heat.  The hotel had a swimming pool, spa's, and the Dead Sea was just across the street. The swimming pool was very refreshing, as it was blazing hot outside. We would go to the Dead Sea, and float for a while, and then once our body was overheated, we would run back to the pool, shower off the salt, and then jump in the pool. The Dead Sea is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean! Not only is it salty, but it is also very oily, and before we were allowed to go into the pool, we had to shower. The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water, and since it contains so much salt, it makes you float. Since there is so much salt, no animals can live there, which is why it is called the Dead Sea. What was really amazing was that there was so much salt, that salt crystals developed on the sand.  The downside, is that the salt also stings all of our cuts and bruises. However, after a while, the body gets used to it, and it no longer stings. We had to wear shoes when we went in because the sea floor bed was rocky and hurt our feet. If one of our shoes floated off, that was not a problem, because it would just float up, and we would find it right away.

Taken from the car as we where driving to the Dead Sea
At about 6 o'clock, we started our drive back to Netanya. About one hour into our drive, our front left tire popped, and completely disintegrated. We quickly pulled over to the side of the road to examine the damage. We could feel the hot air on our faces as the cars and trucks zoomed by. We were in the middle of the desert, with no gas station or people in sight. We were very lucky that we had a spare tire, and a very handy dad that new how to change a tire. While my dad was putting in a new tire, we took out a blanket, and waited away from the freeway near a field. Soon we were on our way, and glad to have arrived home safely.

Refreshing Pool

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Spending time in Haifa

Baha'i Garden

After spending 3 adventurous days in Rome, we flew to Israel. Israel was founded in 1948 as a homeland for the Jews. The capital is Jerusalem, however most people live in or around Tel Aviv.  We stayed about 1 hour north of Tel Aviv in the city of Netanya.  We lived in a big condo with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and it even had a piano. One of the bedrooms was specially designed as a a safe room that can be used in case of rocket attacks. During our trip everything was calm and peaceful.   Miriam, Hannah, and I all shared a room, and we had dance parties every night. Our flight to Israel got delayed, and by the time we arrived at our condo,  we were so tired that we just fell asleep. The next day, we had a lot planned, as we were going to drive to Haifa, a city in northern Israel.  We went with a private tour guide, who told us about the the history and showed us beautiful sights.

View from above the Bahá’í Gardens

Beautiful Golden Dome
Haifa is a major port city that lies on and around Mount Carmel in northern Israel. It borders the Bay of Haifa at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Many religious landmarks are in the Haifa area, including the Baha'i Garden, Elijah's cave, The Stella Maris Church on Mount Carmel, the ruins of Caeseria, and Rothschild burial site.  After driving for an 1 hour, we arrived in Haifa, at the top of the Baha'i Garden, overlooking beautiful buildings, a large sea, and a gold dome that stood out to us the most. Bahai is monotheistic religion founded in 1860 in Persia. Today there are about 5 million Bahai's, and most dream about coming to visit the temple. The Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa extend all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The garden starts very high up, and we had to walk down 700 steps to the bottom. At each level, there were a variety of things such as flower beds, hedges, sculptures, and views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. After walking down all those steps we were exhausted, however we continued on. Our tour guide led us into a beautiful golden dome.  Before we went inside, we had to take our shoes off and we weren't allowed to talk while inside. Inside this dome, there were numerous lit candles.  

At the bottom 

Elijah's cave
Our next stop was Elijah's cave. Elijah hid in this cave at Mt. Carmel  in the 9th century BCE while hiding from King Ahad and his Persian wife Jezebel.  In this cave it was pitch black, and there wasn't much inside. Eliah lived, hid and studied in this cave, and he was never found by the king, who was going to kill him. After exploring the cave we moved on. We drove to the Stella Maris Church, where we hiked down to the sea. There were beautiful views of the sea along the way. When we reached the bottom, we got to take cable cars back up. A cable car is a vehicle that hangs in the air from a cable, and it pulls it up and down mountains. It was a really fun ride, and it saved us from having to walk all the way back up! 

Honorary chair to Elijah

Cable car

After the ride, we stopped by for a quick lunch break before we moved on to our next destination, the ruins of Caeseria. Caeseria was built by Herod the great at around the time of  25-13 BCE. Caeseria was built right on the beach, and there were numerous mammoth-sized rocks that we climbed. In a big sandy area, thousands of slaves and animals fought for their lives, to entertain an audience of people.  They also had chariot races, and many other races as well.

Ruins of Caeseria

Our last stop that day was Rothschild's burial site. Rothchild specifically said in his will that he wished to be buried in Israel. He was a very rich man, and he donated a lot of money to help build Israel when it was first founded. Now they have a park with gardens dedicated to him. The gardens had all types of beautiful flowers, and many interesting trees. While spending time in the park, we saw a few couples taking their wedding photos. A walk in the garden is definitely a great way to end a long and exhausting day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Vatican City in Rome

Recently, we flew to Rome. It was a 12 hour flight to get there, and we were kept busy playing cards, doing homework, watching movies and reading books. Finally, the city appeared. We stayed near the Vatican City in a small two bedroom apartment, with a tiny counter, which was supposed to be a kitchen, which separated the children's bedroom, from my parent's bedroom. We were in Rome for 3 days. On the first full day we went to the Vatican.The Vatican City is actually its own country. It is the smallest country in the world and is ruled by the pope. 

Inside the Vatican Museum
When we arrived at the Vatican, we saw a very long line of people waiting to go inside the museum. Luckily, we bought passes ahead of our trip, and we were able to bypass the long line and go inside.The Vatican Museum has many rooms filled with the works of many artists such as  Leonardo da Vinci, Rapael, and Michelangelo. Some of Michelangelo's greatest paintings fill the ceilings and walls of the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is a chapel filled with Michelangelo's paintings. He painted huge and beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings that told biblical stories of Moses and Christ. Can you imagine having to paint upside down high above the ground! One of his most famous paintings that we saw was God giving life to Adam. When we finished touring the Sistine Chapel, we got some delicious gelato.

Dark clouds loom above St Peter's square
Adjacent to the museum is a beautiful piazza, or square, called St Peter's Square. The square is right in front of Saint Peters Basilica, and the Vatican Palace. In the middle of the piazza is a tall granite obelisk that was brought from Egypt in the year 37, and placed in the piazza in the 1500s. The first time we tried to see St Peter's Basilica, there were thousands of people crowded around the square all waiting for the pope to come out and greet the people.  The next day, there was a  a snaking line around the whole piazza filled with people waiting to see the basilica. It wasn't until the third day that we got lucky. The weather was miserable with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, but perfect for visiting the basilica.  Right when we stepped foot into the church, we were awestruck. The basilica's chapels were so tall and huge that we felt like tiny ants compared to them. This church is about 700 feet long and 450 feet wide and world's largest Christian church. Saint Peters Basilica was built to look like a cross. It is said that it contains the burial site of the first pope, Saint Peter.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

 Rome is filled with many beautiful churches. During the three days we were in Rome, it rained quite a bit and the churches provided a nice place to hide from the rain. In fact, there are more than 900 churches in Rome. Many contain gorgeous sculptures and paintings on the walls and ceilings. There are often people praying and lighting candles. We even saw some choirs practicing in the church. The acoustics was really great.  
waiting for the rain to clear

We were really surprised at the summer weather we experience in Rome. Every time we saw the lightning, we started to count until we heard the thunder. and at one time, the lightening was less than a mile away. While taking a picture with my sister in the rain, we felt lightning right above our heads, and nearly got struck by lightning! We knew that it was time to get to somewhere safe and warm until the rain stopped.

 Finally it was only drizzling, and we set out exploring. We walked through narrow roads where cars could barely fit through. The cars in Rome are especially small and look almost like toy cars. The water in Rome was cold, refreshing and delicious. Many piazzas had interesting fountains with fresh water. Here is one coming out of a lion's statue.

After dinner, we went to the Tiber River, a beautiful river with many large bridges crossing it. On the bridges,  were huge statues, and beautiful views of the city lights. We enjoyed strolling along the river, relaxing and watching people paint and sell their wares. It was a fantastic way to end our long and exhausting day.

To learn more about our trip to Rome, please visit my sister, Miriam's post.

Have you ever been to Rome?
Have you ever seen any Michelangelo's paintings? 


Monday, May 26, 2014

School Talent Show

Recently, I performed in a Talent Show at my school. Every year, a few parents are in charge of putting together a Talent Show where fourth and fifth graders get to perform anything they like. After many rehearsals and hard work, many parents come to watch the performance. I performed Czardas by Monte on the Violin.  We had many rehearsals that took place after school, and all the performing students worked very hard at perfecting their dances, songs, and various instrument pieces. 

Vittorio Monte was an Italian Composer born on January 6, 1868, and died on June 20th, 1922. He was a violinist and a conductor, and wrote many pieces for the violin. One of his most famous pieces was Czardas, which was the piece I played for this Talent Show. This piece is very slow in the beginning, however in the middle and end, it speeds up and ends in a dramatic way. It took me a long time to learn to play this piece fast.

I hope you enjoy my performance.

Have you ever performed at a big event?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Piano Pieces

This past month, I have been working on a piece from the Theme from Piano Quintet in A major by Franz Schubert. Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer in the early romantic period, and in short lifespan, he wrote about 600 pieces on the piano, and almost completed 10 symphonies. He was born on January 31, 1797, and died on November 19, 1828. Even though he lived only 31 years, he still managed to succeed in composing music for many instruments.

  • The piece that I played was a very slow and had a lot of emotion. This was the first piece that I actually was able to reach a full octave. An octave, is a cord with 8 notes. My hand has now just grown big enough to reach this chord. Now, I have many more pieces to choose from as most composers use octaves in their pieces.  I hope you enjoyed the piece that I played!

    My sister, Hannah, did a guest post about the pieces she learned this month.

    I have been practicing hard on my four pieces this past month. They were all songs by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky wrote 24 short songs for children, and he dedicated his songs to his seven year old nephew. I am also seven years old, and I played some of his pieces. I really enjoy playing his pieces. If you want to learn more about Tchaikovsky, please visit my older sister, Miriam's blog.

    First, I played Old French Song. Old French Song is a type of song that is slow. I like hearing the loud and quiet. Next, I played Wooden Soldier March. It sounds like there is a march. It was important to play it evenly. There are some parts that are slow and some parts that fast. I like this song because some of it is loud and some of it is quiet. Then, I played the Morning Prayer Song. The Morning Prayer Song is also slow. This song is supposed to be played with the pedal. I can't really reach the pedal so you can see me all the way at the edge of the seat trying to reach the pedal. I like this song because it is very calm. However the end is a little loud and that is my favorite part of the song. Last, I played Polka. Polka is a fast song. I like the melody of the piece. My favorite part of the piece is the beginning of the song. I like the melody of the right hand and the left hand. Polka is a kind of dance. I really liked playing this song. I hope enjoyed listening

    Which piece did you enjoy best?

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Outdoor Ed

    Last week, I went to a sleep away camp with all of the fifth grade classes.  The camp was called Outdoor Ed, and we learned about many different plants and animals.  During the five day trip, we saw many animals such as mule deer, red tailed hawks, and many ground squirrels.  We were divided into different trail groups, and we had a naturalist named Catherine that explained to us about the plants and animals that we spotted.  We also had a counselor who was a senior in high school. She took care of us when Catherine wasn't with us, such as at night, and during our meals. On the first day, I dressed in a skirt and a t-shirt with no sweater.  I almost froze that day because as soon as the wind picked up, the temperature dropped.  I learned my lesson to always dress in layers!

    In front of the dorms

    One of my favorite day during camp was when we did the all day, 7 hour hike.  We were the only group that saw a family of mule-deer. We also saw a dead bobcat along the way, which really grossed us out, but we didn't let that ruin our day.

    A family of Mule-Deer

    Dead bobcat

    View from the 7-hr hike

    Chumash lesson
    On a different day, we had a lesson on the Chumash Indian tribe. During the lesson,  we learned how to make necklaces out of abalone shells, tried to make fire without matches, saw different animal furs, and built a shelter from sticks. I was very surprised at how hard it is to start a fire by spinning a stick. We all tried and tried as a group, but we only got a little bit of smoke.  We also saw animal furs from a coyote, skunk, rabbit and dear.  The coyote skull was really cool, as it was large, and fierce-looking. I thought the best part of the whole Chumash lesson was building the shelters. We had to learn to build a small shelter with materials that we could gather in nature.  I was in charge of gathering the sticks, and everyone else was in charge of building the shelter. When we finished, we made a big tent, that all 4 of us could go into!I had an amazing time at Ourdoor Ed, and I will always remember my experience.

    Have you ever been to a sleep away camp? 
    Did you enjoy it?