What are these kids playing?

(Mar 3, 2019)

Some talented young orchestral players…

These are four kids from YOLA, the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, and they are playing for kids in an elementary school. But what are they playing?

Well, it turns out they are playing a string quartet from a famous song I used in a spotlight from a couple months ago.

(Dec 22, 2018)

Eleanor Rigby, popular for 52 years

  • Eleanor Rigby, a song by the Beatles, was released in 1966, and I first heard it in my first year of college. It was written primarily by Paul McCartney, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. I was blown away by the originality.
  • Eleanor Rigby broke sharply with popular music conventions, both musically and lyrically. (This is a common theme, typical of the greatest music ever written for hundreds of years.)
  • Eleanor Rigby employs a classical string ensemble with 8 studio musicians, comprising four violins, two violas, and two cellos. The score was composed by producer George Martin.
  • The players kept moving away from the microphones until Martin ordered them to “Stop moving the chairs!”.

If I had asked anyone reading here when this string music in the top video was written, how many of would have guessed that it was written for a pop tune, written by a rock band, only 52 years ago?

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12 thoughts on “What are these kids playing?

  1. I can hear the strings in “Eleanor Rigby”. Having people be able to recognize a song from a section …. well I think it means that that section has an important role in the piece.

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    1. It’s hugely important for musicians to be able to take things apart in their minds. Non musicians just get a general impression. We have to be able to isolate instruments, themes, ideas. It’s like the difference between casually reading a book and learning how to write one.

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  2. When I heard these guys/girls play I thought wow have I heard this before then as I scroll down I’m thinking yes the Beatles who are they again? Then just as they say “look at all these lonely people” I’m just thinking of my friends but still a nice song and along with the other comments its kinda sounds sad.

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    1. When you deal with sadness, there are many things you can do. One is to sink into the sadness, which usually is not a good idea. But you can also think about what you want to do about it. I guess one thing we can all do is listen better, not to music (although that is a good thing), but to what people are saying around us, or pay attention more. We can do something to help people be less lonely, or we can ignore them and pretend everything is just fine.

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    1. “Ah, look at all the lonely people…”

      I heard this when it was first played on the radio. I was in college, and I knew I had never heard anything like this from a “rock” group.

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  3. The kids that Dudamel works with are so amazing. The kids in my HS never played pieces like this and they certainly didn’t sound like these musicians.

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    1. As you know I spent many years teaching brass, and I can tell you for a fact that some performances I heard of top high school wind ensembles in Central and Northern Florida were on the same level. There are high school players every year who play at an astounding level. The difference is that a “band” is really a symphony orchestra without strings.

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