THE BALANCE SYMPHONY, CONDUCTED BY EVERYONE. BRAVO!!!
David chose his favorite balance music, which can be purchased on iTunes for about $1 per piece, and he provides a dialog to share his passion about the music and movement. Étude is a French word meaning “study,” and in this article, David teaches us the background story about the music. Read these sections to your participants, so they expand their knowledge and can feel the music more fully.
Be sure to choose the balance challenge progressions that fit your participants’ needs.
Set 1: Static Balance (Seated or Standing) With Johannes Brahms
Hungarian Dance No. 3 (2:19)
Pattern: 2/4. Start with very small motion, then at about the middle of the work, the music gets faster and louder that cues us to create larger arm motion. It then returns to a quieter smaller pattern.
Hungarian Dance No. 6 (3:27)
Pattern: 2/4. This piece changes tempos. It starts slowly and then changes to a brighter tempo, cueing us to make larger conducting movements and motions.
Étude: Brahms took folk music he had heard while traveling through Hungary and then adapted it, originally for the piano, for four hands. He eventually orchestrated the pieces with wonderful color that told the stories of the spirit of peasants dancing, with both joy and sorrow, but always full of emotion. That is why these pieces are so flexible in tempo, as we also should be in life.
You can take your symphony to the pool and use a Thera-Band as your baton in shallow or deep water.
Set 2: Dynamic Balance Waltzes
Voices of Spring Waltz by Johann Strauss Jr. (5:54)
Pattern: 3/4, but conducted in a large oval pattern (called waltz pattern 1) as though you were drawing a narrow oval circle. Be very flexible with the motions, swaying at the same time from side to side and then reach out from side to side and then forward.
Étude: Johann Strauss Jr. (1825–1899), known as the Waltz King, lived almost75 years. During his long wonderful life, he composed many waltzes, polkas, marches, and operettas. His music made people want to dance, laugh, and enjoy the moment. Americans loved his music, and in 1872, he was in Boston for the Peace Jubilee!
Waltz From Masquerade Suite by Aram Khachaturian (4:08)
Pattern: 3/4 waltz pattern 1. Use the same pattern as described for the previous piece.
Étude: Listen for the conversations between sections of the orchestra while you are moving in an up and down motion in a narrow elliptical motion. The speed of the waltz, in most cases, makes it necessary to conduct in this one motion, although you count 1-2-3 in every up and down motion. Listen as the lower strings take over the melody, then in the second section, listen to the two melodies playing at the same time. Listen as though you are looking at a large canvas. See the colors with a lot going on at once. Take it all in and try not to focus on only the melody. Khachaturian (1903–1978) was born of Armenian parents but lived in Russia all his life.
Set 3: Duet of Dynamic and Static Balance
Die Fledermaus Overture by Johann Strauss Jr. (7:38)
Pattern: The 3/4 waltz pattern will change as tempos change during the piece. Begin with a 2/4 pattern. You’ll hear many tempo changes with rests and hold periods in-between. Combine static holds with dynamic rocking with freeze frame holds. The music continues through different melodies in 2/4, until you’ll hear the famous waltz 3/4 time conducted in the oval pattern once again. A beautiful slower section, still using the 3/4 pattern, follows this section. Listen to the oboe solo. All the melodies then repeat.
Étude: This famous overture to a fun opera really tests a conductor’s skill to capture the nuances. There are so many different tempi, including one of the most famous waltzes in opera literature. The piece is traditionally performed on New Year’s Eve because the story takes place on that special night. One of the nonsinging parts is that of the “Jailer.” Many famous comics have performed the part including Danny Kay and Dom DeLuise.
Il Viaggio A Reims (The Voyage to Reims) by Gioacchino Rossini (7:43)
Pattern: This begins in stately 4/4 and then goes into a 3/4. Move slowly through the beautiful oboe solo and move into the 3/4, which sounds more agitated. Hold for the short silence (fermata) and then move into a 2/4 delightful melody that is playful. Building the famous Rossini crescendos with larger movements and continue with a wonderful melody played by two clarinets with the full orchestra. Then just listen to another fantastic crescendo with a melody that keeps repeating in a very bouncy way. Think of dum-didily-dum-dum-dum de dum. This repeats and gets louder and is a signature of Rossini. Have fun!
Étude: Rossini (1792–1868) was nicknamed Signor Crescendo. Crescendo is a musical term that describes soft music slowly getting louder and louder, and Rossini became known for it. Within 13 years, he wrote 30 operas, 39 in all. He retired at a very young age, preferring to eat and sleep most of the time. Toward the end of his life, he did write a few more pieces.
Set 4: Dynamic Travel With Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Fandango Asturiano, the last section of Capricco Espagno (3:37)
Pattern: Waltz pattern 1 (3/4)
This wonderful piece captures the colors of Spain. It’s fun because the music goes from full orchestra to solo instruments. Participants can look, gesture, march, or move in the direction designatedto be the sections for flute, clarinet, harp, or violin. Near the very end, the work goes into 2/4. Listen for the change as it gets faster. It’s impossible to continue in the pattern you are using in one, so go to 2/4 instead.
Étude: Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) was in the Russian Navy and traveled the world. He visited Spain and was captivated by the sounds and colors of that romantic country that inspired his compositions.
In deep water, David conducts participants as they round up balloons representing various sections of the orchestra. If you have the wind section balloon, when the flutes play, you conduct with raised arms, challenging core stabilization to maintain vertical balance over hips and your head above water!
Photo and video credit: Susan Dworkin, New York, NY, and Mary E. Sanders, Reno, NV. Balance model Sally Higgins is a gerontology student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who hopes to somedaybecome a physician. Sally’s a swimmer and a musician. She’s played percussionand piano in the Carson City Symphony. For Sally, music is a fun mental exercise.
1. Scott S. Sensational activities that improve balance. FUNCTIONAL U, 6
(3), International Council on Active Aging; 2008.
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