Walking around Toronto this week, I see gardens that are overflowing with an abundance of lush iris blossoms. It puts me in mind of Bob Becker who has raised irises in his garden for years. He has planted a number of Zwilich commission called “Rituals”?) At the end of next month, Bob travels to Delaware for his annual Ragtime Institute. If you can’t get to Delaware, you should know that Bob offers a hands-on course called “Ragtime Xylophone Intensive”.
In a series of three 2-hour sessions (minimum), Bob looks at the performance concepts for classic solo xylophone repertoire of the early and mid 1900s. As well as gaining a basic understanding of the repertoire, Bob helps his students develop a feeling for the style of the period. Interestingly he also looks at approaches to improvisation by looking at the performance styles of Green, Herman and others. The hands-on part is the very practical job of developing two-mallet facility, and the ability to create spontaneous variations on standard chord progressions, another approach to improvisational styles. Bob makes use of his extensive collection of period recordings, published compositions and the lesson books of George Hamilton Green and others. He also has a great selection of standard popular songs of the 1920s. Participants should know the fundamentals of music theory and be familiar with basic chords and scales in all keys. And if you are not an accomplished improviser, that’s okay. Maybe you will be, by the end of this course!
And check out Schreiners Iris Gardens‘ Collectors Catalogue for truly glorious tall bearded iris with names like “I’ve Got Rhythm”, “Musician”, “Jazz Solo”, “Stage Lights”, and “World Premiere”!