Browsing Tag

Popular Music


The Hottest Pop Sheet Music of 2012

December 31, 2012

The world of popular music comprises some pretty volatile terrain.  What seems fresh and exciting one moment is old news the next.  We hear stories from music directors and private teachers about how students are begging to perform the latest hit from Katy Perry one moment, and then something from One Direction the next.  Dare we ask how many requests you’ve gotten for Gangnam Style by now?  However, here’s some news that might surprise you – sheet music for the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and Vince Guaraldi is just as in demand as that of Lady Gaga and The Band Perry.  Don’t believe us?  Take a look at some of the top-selling sheets of 2012.

Adele, Billboard’s Artist of the Year for the second year in a row, resides high in the top rankings with the following:

However, we think you’ll agree, the rest of 2012’s top hits are quite diverse:

  • The Prayer – Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli – 5725015
  • A Thousand Years – Christina Perri –10304903
  • Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – Bing Crosby/David Bowie – 10190790
  • Blessings – Laura Story – 10290394
  • What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong – 4921375
  • Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts – 5990069
  • We Are Young – Fun. – 10309306
  • If I Die Young – The Band Perry – 10186774
  • Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen – 10054618
  • Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi – 5968910
  • The Edge of Glory – Lady Gaga – 10288478
  • I Can Only Imagine – MercyMe – 5980737
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band – 10001291
  • What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction – 10317015
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen – 6077515
  • God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton – 10294564
  • Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen – 4919759 and American Idol Katharine McPhee’s version – 10023749
  • Paradise – Coldplay – 10299117

Oh, and speaking of Gangnam Style – never fear, we’ve got you covered! – 10343323E, 10347638E, 10343492 (Marching band), 10343719 (Concert band)


Halloween Music For Your Phobias

October 30, 2012

Halloween is the time of year where many of our fears and phobias come to life.  Haunted houses, hay rides and corn mazes can be found in nearly every city.  Horror movies dominate network TV.  And let’s not forget to be very wary of the life-size butler holding a serving tray when you walk past him in the grocery store, as you know that at any moment you will be met with glowing red eyes and a good verbal accosting.  Of course, music plays a key role in enhancing the season, playing upon those fears and phobias that thrill and chill us.  So, we’ve decided to make a list of HALLOWEEN MUSIC that people with certain kinds of phobias may want to avoid… or not.  Explore at your own risk!  Muhahahahahaaaa!

Hemophobia – fear of blood.  We recommend avoiding Feed Me (Git It) from Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Horrors.  This is especially true if you also suffer from Botanophobia (fear of plants).

Arachnophobia – fear of spiders.  Robert Smith’s hushed vocals in The Cure’s Lullaby may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when he tells you that “The spider man is having you for dinner tonight.”  Eep!

Lilapsophobia – fear of tornadoes and hurricanes.  With its apocalyptic theme, CCR’s Bad Moon Rising does a fine job of bringing the terrors of natural disaster to life.

Lyssophobia – fear of going mad.  They’re Coming to Take Me Away from ’70s group Napoleon XIV may not be all that frightening in the traditional sense, however you would be hard-pressed to find a song that embodies a maniacal state as well as this one does. “Ha ha , ho ho, he he…”

Osmophobia – fear of smells or odors.  In addition to the “funk of forty thousand years” assailing your senses, we’re pretty sure that between the song itself and the amazing video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, you’re bound to encounter pretty much every phobia in existence.  I mean, there’s a very good chance that Vincent Priceophobia became a real condition immediately following its release!

Wiccaphobia – fear of witches and witchcraft.  Paul Dukas’ epic orchestral work The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was inspired by a poem of the same name by Johann Wolfgan v0n Goethe, published in 1797.  The poem was brought to life in Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia, but the concert piece itself had already been highly popular with classical audiences for quite some time.

Elurophobia – fear of cats.  When it comes to cats, no song does a better job of describing the baddest of the bad, the “monster of depravity,” like Macavity:  The Mystery Cat from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical… you guessed it… Cats!

Euphobia – fear of hearing good news.  If you suffer from this condition, then you may not be rejoicing with your “fellow Ozians” when they proclaim “Good news… the witch of the West is dead!” in the opening scene of Stephen Schwartz’ hit musical, Wicked.  But don’t worry, once you move past No One Mourns the Wicked, you will come to discover the bad news – she’s not actually dead.  Except that this bad news actually turns out to be good news because, in reality, the witch really isn’t bad.  Are you confused yet?

Nyctophobia – fear of the dark.  We don’t think there’s a better song to describe your phobia than Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark.  Perhaps, rather than avoiding, you should actually give it a listen.  It may very well be theraputic to know that you’re keeping (phobic) company with these pioneers of British metal.

Melophobia – fear or hatred of music.  Um… we really hate to be the bearers of bad news, but you’re reading the wrong blog.  Please, don’t panic.  Take a deep breath, calmly move your cursor toward the “X” at the top of your browser, and click.  If you experience any technical difficulties while performing this action, or find yourself traumatized from reading this blog, please don’t hesitate to contact our tech team at  We can help!

Uranophobia – fear of heaven.  While some may find solace in the idea of angels looking out for you every hour of every day, those who are afflicted with this particular phobia may not enjoy reciting the children’s song Angels Watching Over Me.  It just goes to show that music really is open to interpretation.

Samhainophobia – fear of Halloween.  Danny Elfman goes into great detail describing an entire town named after the holiday in This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Resident ghosts, ghouls, witches, vampires, corpses and clowns all make cameos in this song.  The good news?  We’re fairly certain that real estate is cheap.

Iatrophobia – fear of doctors.  The Witch Doctor by David Seville may seem like a fun, lighthearted, kooky little ditty.  But you just ask anyone who suffers from Iatro-wicca-phobia how THEY feel about it!

Cleisiophobia – fear of being locked in an enclosed place.  If Eminem’s lyrics for ’97 Bonnie and Clyde aren’t disturbing enough, check out Tori Amos’ cover and see how you feel about the song then.  Amos spins the perspective to that of the dead woman who is now riding in the locked trunk of her murderer/ex-husband’s car, listening to the conversation he is having with their young daughter.  Positively chilling.

If you’re interested in exploring even more phobias, then check out  If you now have an urge to add some creepy sheet music to your library, then look no further:  Happy Halloween to all you non-Samhainophobes!


The Ahn Trio: A Powerful Force in the Music World

February 8, 2011

A few months ago I came across a program on PBS called On Canvas: The Ahn Trio which presented a live performance from Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  Three young ladies, Angella, Lucia, and Maria, are sisters who were born in Seoul, Korea and eventually moved to the United States.  They had the good fortune of being classically trained at The Julliard School of Music in New York City.  Angella is the violinist, Maria is the cellist, and Lucia plays piano within the trio.

Growing up, they learned to play and appreciate the classical compositions of Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, and Smetana.  But the Ahn Trio have also been performing commissioned pieces by modern-day composers such as Pat Metheny, Michael Nyman, Kenji Bunch, and Paul Schoenfield, just to name a few.  These young ladies are not afraid to think outside the box regarding the music that they play, exploring various forms of artistic expression by combining performances filled with other types of performing and visual artists.  The Ahn sisters have collaborated with painters, dancers, pop singers, DJs, photographers, and other artistic groups, adding even more energy and excitement to their shows while still displaying their classical prowess.

They are also making their presence known on the record charts, too.  They’ve recorded CDs such as Paris Rio; Dvorak, Suk, Shostakovich:  Piano Trios;  Ahn-Plugged;  Groovebox and Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac. They’ve even recorded a European version of Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac made exclusively for iTunes.  This was number eight on the Billboard Classical chart for 26 weeks.  The trio has been touring for the last ten years and are already scheduled to perform in 2011 at high schools, universities, and concert halls within the United States and around the globe.

The Ahn sisters don’t just play concerts, they’ve also been performing and teaching at musical workshops and master classes nationally and internationally.  Their success just doesn’t seem to stop. Their talent, flair and style are recognized by magazines like Time, GQ, People and Vogue.  Photographers such as Walter Chin and Ellen von Unwerth  have captured their young faces  and popular retailers like Anne Klein, Gap and The Bodyshop have featured the Ahn Trio in ad campaigns.  These young ladies will definitely make your ears perk up and take notice of their musical talents when you listen to them play.  Then you’ll truly understand why the Ahn Trio is a powerful force in the music world.

Music Advocacy

The Soundtrack of our Lives

November 18, 2010

Recently, while watching an episode of Biography about the movie Jaws, my mind wandered back to the summer of my tenth year, to our family vacation in Florida and a visit to the theater where we saw, of all things, the movie Jaws.  Don’t ask me why, on a family vacation to the beach, we wanted to see a movie about a man-eating shark loose in the ocean ravaging innocent people, but that’s what we did.

The year was 1975.  No one had heard of Steven Spielberg yet, but everyone was talking about this movie.  The terror!  It all came down to one thing:  the soundtrack.  They played a short section of the film without the music, and then they played the same section again with the music added in.  What power those few notes held!  And I mean that literally, for John Williams chose to utilize only a few notes to instill terror and fear into those watching the film — and it worked, brilliantly!  Would this film have reached the same heights of success had it not been for those famous notes?

I began to think about how our each of our lives also has a soundtrack attached to it — much like a movie does.  From the nursery rhymes that our mothers sang to us when we were toddlers to the songs we were taught in Sunday School.  The songs we learned in elementary school or the one that we played for our first piano recital.  We remember our first dance or the music we listened to the first summer we drove our own car, and the tunes we listened to on the radio during our first date will always take us right back there!  Who can forget the music from our senior prom, the first dance at our wedding, or even a favorite Christmas carol that we never tire of hearing?

These are the sounds that are the soundtrack of our lives, for our lives are filled with music every day.  When you hear talk of cutting music programs from our schools and distributing those funds to other, “more important” programs, remind those people about the music that makes up the soundtrack of their lives.  We are not talking about simply a “subject,” but a real part of who we are.  We are exposed to music in some way almost every minute of the day through the internet, in advertising, on television, radio… it is everywhere.

Those who want to dismiss music from our schools might not be swayed by research demonstrating that children learn better when they are exposed to music, or that it makes us better, more rounded adults;  but maybe they can identify with something that tugs at a memory within them — something from their own soundtrack.  We all have one, it is the soundtrack of our lives.


The Great American Songbook

November 4, 2010
Michael Feinstein

Michael Feinstein

When I was in college, one of my music theory professors would begin each class by sitting at the piano and singing a standard – one of the great songs by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Jerome Kern, et al.  I developed a love of those tunes that has lasted ever since. Michael Feinstein is also passionate about these songs that make up the Great American Songbook.  Like my professor, he uses his performances as an opportunity to educate as well as entertain audiences.  He is raising awareness about this wonderful music among younger generations.

 The PBS documentary Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook  chronicles Mr. Feinstein’s efforts to preserve this music, which he refers to as a national treasure.  The documentary’s companion website, which features in-depth information and even provides free lesson plans for teachers, can be found at 

Mr. Feinstein is also the artistic director of the new Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, which will house the Michael Feinstein Foundation for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook.  Click here  for information about the foundation.

As educators and musicians, I hope we will all be inspired to share these celebrated songs and pass our love for them on to future generations.  Preserving America’s musical heritage while enjoying beautiful music – what could be better than that?

Click here  for more information about Michael Feinstein and the Great American Songbook.

Click here  for a list of Michael Feinstein’s songbooks.


The Universal Language

September 7, 2010

Aretha and CondoleezzaHenry Wadsworth Longfellow said “Music is the universal language of mankind.”  So many music lovers from around the globe have enjoyed listening to albums, cassettes, CDs and digital downloads that many artists travel to foreign lands in order to share music in person with their fans.  We’ve seen an explosion in technological innovations on the internet and YouTube that gives people instant access to artists from different backgrounds and cultures.

A great example of  the synergy of diverse styles happened right in my back yard,  here in America at a concert held at the Mann Music Center for the Performing Arts located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  That summer evening concert featured the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a classically trained pianist, both peforming along with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  This benefit concert was held to support the Mann Music Center’s Youth Education and Community Outreach Programs.

Both Ms. Franklin and Ms. Rice expressed their musical talents individually during the concert, and much to the audience’s delight, they combined forces as Condoleeza accompanied the Queen of Soul on her version of “I Say A Little Prayer.”   Just before the benefit concert came to a close,  Aretha Franklin belted out “Freeway of Love,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and believe it or not, Ms. Franklin performed Puccini’s operatic composition “Nessun Dorma,” creating an exciting and magical night for all who attended this wonderful musical event.

Aretha Franklin and Condoleeza Rice have obviously traveled through life on two very different paths, both professionally and musically, only to end up sharing a concert stage on a summer’s night.  I remain amazed how music truly does bring people together.

Click here to read more about the concert and the Mann Music Center.

Click here to view music by Aretha Franklin.


Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

August 19, 2010
Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

For anyone who lived through the turmoil of the 1970s, songs like Close To You, Superstar, and Rainy Days and Mondays are a part of your history. Some people openly enjoyed the music of the Carpenters, others called them “cheesy” and “bubblegum” — but secretly listened to and fell in love with the velvet voice of Karen Carpenter. The way she sang so effortlessly of life and love betrayed the fact that she was barely more than a teenager. She was my first crush, and I am not ashamed to say that I still love her and the music that so deeply touched my heart as a youngster.

A biography on the late Karen Carpenter was recently completed by my dear friend Randy Schmidt, a music educator in Texas. The title of the book was taken from a Rogers and Hart tune of the same name, an unreleased track that Karen Carpenter recorded for a television special in the late ’70s but wasn’t released until years after her death. The book is called Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter.

Little Girl Blue is an honest, intimate look into the tragic life and death of Karen Carpenter. She has been called simply “The Voice” and described as being “phonogenic”; and while there have been many documentaries produced about the music of Karen Carpenter, there has never been an honest, in-depth look at the life of Karen Carpenter. Now for the first time, we can see inside this beautiful woman, through the eyes of those closest to her. This book reveals many poignant details about her – about the performer, and about the little girl inside who so desperately wanted to be loved.

We all know the music; it is a tapestry of our childhood, our adolescence, our life. Most of us have heard the story, we know about her battle with anorexia nervosa. Now, we can learn about the person who gave us the beautiful music – the drummer who always thought of herself as an instrumentalist who happened to sing, rather then the tender vocalist she was. Karen Carpenter will go down in the annals of music history as one of the greatest vocalists of her generation and will join legends like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald as one of the greatest vocalists of any time. While it may sound cliché, when she died at the age of 32, she had “only just begun to live…”   It is an honor and a privilege for me to recommend this new biography to you.

Click here to get more information about the book.


Randy Schmidt is considered an expert on the music of the Carpenters and has served as creative consultant for several television documentaries on their lives and music, including the E! True Hollywood Story, A&E’s Biography, and VH1’s Behind the Music. He has also previously published a book entitled Yesterday Once More: Memories of the Carpenters and Their Music.