Wacky Wednesday # 9 – Black History & the Oscars

Happy Leap Day  —-  February is Black History Month and this year, 2012, it gets an extra day.

On Sunday, during the 84th Academy Awards, Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress from her portrayal of the sassy maid Minny in “The Help“.  In doing so she became only the 14th black actor/actress to be honored with an Oscar.   There have been 4 black men awarded an Oscar for Best Actor,  1 black woman awarded the Oscar for Best Actress, 4 black men awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and 5 black women awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  You can view all their names, along with the year and movie here.

It is interesting to note that this latest Oscar awarded to a black woman has certain parallels with the first Oscar awarded to a black actor/actress.  The year was 1940 and Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Oscar.  It was also an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and her role was also that of a maid – Mammy in  “Gone With the Wind.”


Music Monday # 9 – Oscar Winning Best Original Songs

I thought I would use this Music Monday post to talk about  the Oscar Award winning songs of the 21st century, but when I looked up the winners of the past 10 years there was only one where I could hear the tune in my head as I read the title, “Jai Ho” from  Slumdog Millionaire – 2008.  But I would not say that “Jai Ho” is really hum-able.   Whether this means the other winners weren’t memorable, or just that I am old & musically out of touch I will let you decide.  (If you are fond of any songs that have won the Oscar Award for Best Song since 2000 I would love it if you posted a comment.)

So I am going back to the 20th century Best Song winners and list the year & title of the ones where the tune jumps into my brain immediately.  I found so many in the 1930s, 40s, & 50s that I have decided to stop with the year of my birth – 1959.

1935 “Lullaby of Broadway”

1936 “The Way You Look Tonight”

1938 “Thanks for the Memory”

1939 “Over the Rainbow”

                1940 When You Wish upon a Star”

                1941 “The Last Time I Saw Paris”

                1942 “White Christmas”

1943 “You’ll Never Know”

                1944 “Swinging on a Star”

1946 “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”

                1947 “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”

1948 “Buttons and Bows”

                1949 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

1950 “Mona Lisa”

                1951  “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”

1954 “Three Coins in the Fountain”

                1955 “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”

1956 “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Qué Será, Será)”

                1957 “All the Way”

                1959 “High Hopes”

There were only 6 award winning songs between 1934 – 1959 where I read the title and did not have the tune pop into my head.   I made the title-tune association with 6 songs from the 1960s,  7 from the 1970s,  7 from the 1980s, and 7 from the 1990s.

If you want to see the titles of all the Academy Award winning Best Original Songs click here.

Once Again A New Look

I have changed my background and header once again.  This time it is to honor my two new cat companions Thunder and Lightening.  They were pictured on the website of a local humane society.  My husband and I went to meet them on Tuesday.  We ended up bringing them home.  They are adjusting well to being members of our household.  There is a lot of love and affection being passed back & forth between the felines and humans here.


Thoughtful Thursday # 8 – Role Models

Who are your role models?

The music teachers I have encountered, beginning in elementary school, have influenced my life in a number of ways.  Most have been positive role models professionally and personally.  But negative role models can also have their place in shaping your path.

At elementary school a “Mrs. C” came and conducted a music class in our combined grade classrooms.  I enjoyed them.  I can not remember if it was once a week or perhaps just twice a month.  We sang, we learned letter names of the staff, and then there was some dancing.  Most kids like the dancing.  I think I felt pretty lukewarm about the dancing, especially by 4th or 5th grade.  Sometime during 5th grade my aunt arranged for me to start piano lessons with “Mrs. C” at her home.  I was excited but I think “Mrs. C” may have found me a less than quick study.  Or it may just have been that “Mrs. C” was widowed and starting to date her late-husband’s brother.  I know my lessons got canceled by “Mrs. C” quite often.  Because she was  charging only a  $1 a lesson (this would be around 1970?) my aunt did not feel she could complain or think of sending me to another teacher.

In 7th grade I was bused to a 7-12 school in another town.  The music teacher there was fresh out of college, really accomplished & a product of NYC society.  I just wanted to be her – “Miss B”.   On the piano lesson front “Mrs. C” remarried and moved away.  I was able to take lessons from another older woman.  She was very different from “Mrs. C”.  She was “Miss M”.  She had gone to Julliard during the war years (WWII) when they took a lot of women because the men were in the military.  I did not want to be “Miss M” but she gave me a solid foundation and I respected her for it.  She was hard working and a model that a single woman could support herself running her own music studio.

Another young woman who has a school music teacher rented an apartment from a relative of mine during my H.S. years and she also fit into that “I want to be her” slot.  She was never my teacher but I saw her as a role model and she was nice enough to let an admiring young teen like me ‘hang out’ with her sometimes.

It was during my H.S. years, after “Miss B” had left for grad school that I met the person who just might be the most responsible for my becoming a music teacher.  “Mr. L”   was a competent musician, and certainly sure of himself.  But he wasn’t “Miss B” and after his first or second year his sense of responsibility just wasn’t what it should have been.  I was too naive to see that his problem wasn’t just shiftlessness but alcoholism too.  I became certain that I could at least be more on the ball as a teacher than he was.  Hence my stating that the negative role models can be just has important as the good ones.

My instructors & professors of music during college were mainly great role models.  Once again I had one not so good one.  He caused me a lot of tears & anxiety.  I, along with a number of classmates were asked to right letters about him,  but I am going to spare both you & myself going into that long saga.  My private piano instructor during college was the consummate role model.   She did a lot to make me as good a teacher as I became.  Her role modeling, however,  went well beyond musicianship & teaching skills.  She was (and still is) a model for being a fine, considerate, well-mannered human being.

Some of this is a rehash of a posting from 2011 so forgive if you are thinking you have heard a good chunk of it before. Your memory is correct.

Wacky Wendesday # 8 – National Margarita Day

February 22 is National Margarita Day. It is believed that the original Margarita was invented by Dallas socialite Margarita Sames at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948.  For more info on the history of the margarita & recipes click here.

Now I am not  keen on alcohol so when you mention National Margarita Day what leaps into my head is not having a cocktail but singing this Jimmy Buffett song.

Music Monday # 8 – Czerny

February 20, 1791 was the birth date of Carl Czerny, an Austrian pianist, teacher and composer.  He is remembered, perhaps less than fondly, by many piano students for his numerous piano etudes.  Czerny had the great distinction of being selected to play the public premiere of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Yet Czerny did feel confident as a performer and would focus on teaching.  He taught in the homes of the Viennese nobility, conducting up to 12 lessons daily.

At the age of 9 Franz Liszt, who would become out of the flashiest piano virtuosos of all time, began his piano studies with Czerny.  , Czerny insisted that Liszt play only scales and exercises during Liszt’s first months as his student, to build up his technique.  Because Czerny was among the first composers to focus on the etude form, Liszt would dedicate his 12 Transcendental Etudes to his teacher, Czerny.