What is a good way to start the youngest kids at the piano? Do you use the standard music-reading based methods? Or do you try piano by numbers or letters? There are even methods that use colors and animals, but these really have little relevance to your child’s eventual musical education.
Reading music methods have a tremendously high failure rate due to the fact that reading music is extremely difficult for most kids, who find it tedious.
Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” was one of the biggest hits of 1977. It was spearheaded by an irresistible piano riff composed and played by Peter Wood and included a fabulous mid-song instrumental consisting of successive portions of orchestral strings, acoustic guitar played by Peter White, electric lead guitar played by Tim Renwick and finally a searing saxophone played by Phil Kenzie. Clocking in at 6:40 a single version had to be created that truncated the introduction and instrumentals down to 4:38.
The unusual lyrics portray a fellow visiting a faraway exotic country who runs into an enchanting, sultry young woman. She inexplicably links arms with him without even allowing him the opportunity to question her motives or the reason for her desires. Her appearance and fragrance are intoxicating. He follows her until he’s completely lost in a foreign land. She steers him toward a clandestine romantic encounter. Waking up the next day he realizes his fellow tourists have left without him, tour bus and all. That plus a lost ticket means a stay far longer than he anticipated.
As the punk movement of the 70s gave way to the 80s, new-wave and singers lumped into that category (Sting and Bono, to name two) began to find legendary status along side power pop vocalists and even the beginnings of what we would call alternative music and the singers who pioneered that genre.
With new wave coming hot on the heels of late-70s punk, acts like The Police, The Cars and U2 found happy homes on alternative radio stations like LA’s KROQ before making their way into mainstream radio and arenas worldwide. Sting’s upper-register story-telling was as unmistakable as the face of The Police as Ric Ocasik’s (sp?) vocals were in the new-wave pop of The Cars. Irish singer, Paul Hewson became Bono and U2 went from having a cult following to being one of the most influential bands of all time, with more vocal greatness than nearly any five bands combined. While short-lived acts like David Byrne’s talking heads fizzled early into the decade, the impact of his vocals on hits like ‘Burning Down the House’ still fuel a certain segment of classic rock radio playlists.
On any given day, at any given time, classic rock radio is spinning some of the finest vocalists to ever come down the line. While there were (and are) a great many singers who found there way onto the airwaves, there are comparatively few supersingers who not only make hits in their heyday, but manage to command respect years later, having advanced the state-of-the-art in recorded vocal performances.
While the last article covered the likes of Boston’s Brad Delp and Toto’s Joseph Williams, we now find our way to Peter Cetera’s (a supersinger in his own right) replacement in Chicago, Jason Scheff. Stepping into some of the biggest shoes of the 80s (and having to cover Cetera’s 70s hits as well), Scheff had an unenviable task at hand in 1985 after Cetera went on to pursue a solo career. While Toto had also courted Scheff for vocal duties, Chicago was absolutely desperate to get the San Diego singer, as his ability to cover Cetera’s unique vocal style was readily apparent. What was wholly unexpected was for him to create phenomenal vocals that were all his own (to say nothing of his incredible chops on the bass guitar). Having come from a musical family (Scheff’s father was actually Elvis’ bassist), there could likely have been no better choice for Chicago than Jason Scheff.