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Getting Over the Hump with Midweek Music

Brit Herring singing Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.

At NLS, we have an unoccupied cubicle with an electric piano and a small couch in the corridor leading to the music section. Shortly after the completion of the building renovations early this year, a sign saying “Piano Lounge” appeared on the outside wall of this cubicle. Now and then, people would stop in to sneak a few notes: we would hear some random notes played quickly accompanied by a subdued chuckle and quick getaway steps. At other times, we would hear a portion of a jazz piece, usually followed by someone exclaiming from a nearby cubicle, “Wow, who was that?”  It seemed increasingly evident that an open electric keyboard in an empty cubicle was calling out to passersby with a strong and irresistible pull like the Sirens from The Odyssey. Hearing even a few live musical notes in the unlikely setting of an office brought excitement and pleasure to many.

Juliette Appold, the Head of the Music Section, whose office happens to be next to the piano lounge, suggested that it might be nice to have occasional lunch time music in the piano lounge. After checking with her supervisors, she surveyed NLS staff and was pleasantly surprised to learn that many people were interested in playing as well as listening to live music being performed.

In March, the Music Section premiered our first Lunch Music with a pianist from the Quality Assurance (QA) Section playing light classical music. Since then, we’ve had trombone music, Bob Dylan songs, bossa nova and tunes from The Sound of Music, which quickly turned into a singalong.  The Bards of Taylor Street (composed of staff from Engineering and QA who are Music Section patrons) sang about Taylor Street (where NLS is located) Blues and the NLS Budget Analyst presented his original compositions while expertly accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar.

The Bards of Taylor Street: Linda Bobo, Lloyd Rasmussen and Debbie Brown.

We have enthusiastic music lovers who grab a chair and wait for the music to start, some who stop for a few minutes on the way to lunch, and some who prefer to stay in their cubicles and listen. Regardless, this is a great opportunity for people to connect with each other: through conversations about the music being performed, standing side by side and nodding their heads to the beat, or laughing together at the humorous lyrics, all enjoying the communal experience.

The Lunch Music program takes place on some Wednesdays, also known as hump day, when it’s said that people’s energy levels start dropping. The program is typically only about 20 minutes long but it’s time filled with camaraderie, fun, appreciation, and even beauty. What a wonderful way to get over the hump and inject some energy into the office mid-week. Try this at your office: satisfaction guaranteed.

 

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: E (Part 2 – Eyck, Jacob van)

This week we’ll break with our series a bit to discuss the life of a blind musician from outside of the United States. Had someone mentioned a composer named van Eyck to me when I was a child, I might have guessed that he was born before or during World War II. When I heard […]

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We’re happy to learn that our patrons are increasingly using BARD to download music materials. Let’s take a look at some new additions to BARD:   Audio Materials Classic Harmonica Blues by Smithsonian Folkways (DBM03629) Cowboy Songs by Smithsonian Folkways. (DBM03627) Flirting with Disaster. For guitar. Performed and taught by Bill Brown. (DBM03887) The Hammer […]

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Continuing our series of American composers from A to Z, we come to the letter E. Personally, I can think of no better example than Duke Ellington. I consider him to be one of the first great quintessential “American” composers of his time, who wrote music in a true American idiom, rather than copying Western […]

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This is a very special year for Broadway and classical music fans and those of us at the Library of Congress;  we’re marking the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. For a man who was born in 1918, his music still has fans snapping their fingers (x…x…x is a symbol in print music notation in West […]

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This is the second half of a two-part post on Nashville’s musical history and related books in the NLS Music Collection. Read the first part here: Athens of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 1. Nashville’s most famous music venue, the Ryman Auditorium, was completed in 1892 and was originally a church called the Union […]

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Here in the Music Section of the National Library Service we are counting down the days until the National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals begins next month in Music City, Nashville, Tennessee! As I mentioned in my last article, I’ve been taking the opportunity to learn about the musical history of […]

Digitizing Braille Music 2018

This is our fourth blog on the digitization of braille music. So, what is new with this project? First, we are boosting our production by outsourcing the proofreading of scores scanned using Optical Braille Recognition (OBR). Our braille music specialist Gilbert Busch continues to review all the scans completed on DotScan so we can provide […]

Bernstein at 100

When I was in grade school, our chorus teacher let us hear a record called What Is Jazz (DBM00704), where tone color, blue notes, syncopation, and other aspects of jazz were described by a man named Leonard Bernstein (I assumed that he was a jazz piano player). By sixth grade I was listening to classical music […]