Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Unanswered questions in Gone with the Wind’s main title

If asked to recall a melody from Gone with the Wind, what might come to mind? For many, it’s the same four notes: a valiant leap followed by a gracious descent. This is the beginning of the Tara theme, named by composer Max Steiner for the plantation home of Scarlett O’Hara, whose impassioned misunderstandings of people and place propel the story.

Read More

The origins of performance anxiety

Noted psychologist and educator Erik Erikson has written about human development from a biological, psychological, and social perspective encompassing the entire life cycle. His famous chart “The Eight Stages of Man” is in his book Childhood and Society (1950). I have found his ideas particularly helpful to understanding the importance of development in musicians, particularly so since children begin to study musical instruments at very young ages.

Read More

J. S. Bach and the celebration of the Reformation

The figure most closely identified with the Protestant Reformation is, of course, Martin Luther. But after him probably comes Johann Sebastian Bach, who spent much of his musical career in the service of Luther’s church. As the world marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October 2017, we can remember that Bach and his contemporaries also took careful note of Reformation anniversaries, commemorating them in liturgy and music.

Read More

Stage fright and mental ghosts: managing stage fright as a growth process

William: I played in a violin recital a couple of weeks ago. I had played the music many times before but in that concert I really messed up my finger work passages – one in particular – and then I started feeling that my memorization was shaky. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to finish. I cannot figure this out. I feel haunted that it is going to happen again and again.

JJN: This sounds terribly upsetting – both your concerns about your playing and your worries about trying to figure it out on your own and not being able to do that. Has this kind of thing happened before? Do you typically try to figure things out on your own?

Read More

10 questions with composer Sarah Quartel

Sarah Quartel is a Canadian composer, conductor, and educator known for her fresh and exciting approach to choral music. Her music is performed by children and adults around the world, and celebrates the musical potential of all learners by providing singers access to high quality and engaging repertoire. We spoke with Sarah about why she composes, how she approaches writing, and the pieces that mean the most to her.

Read More

10 facts about cymbals

Cymbals are a highly versatile instrument of ancient origin. In the West, they have been used not only in orchestral music, but also in jazz and popular music. From being played very quietly to making a striking splash in the orchestra, composers and musicians have found the instrument to be widely adaptable.

Read More

Revisiting Broadway’s forgotten genius

Born into poverty in Richmond, Virginia, John Latouche (1914-1956) even as a youth established himself as both a rascal and a genius. After dropping out of Columbia his sophomore year (but not before scandalizing the university with his risqué lyrics to the school’s 1935 Varsity Show, Flair-Flair: The Idol of Paree), he won a coterie of devoted admirers among New York’s artistic elite for his witty and suggestive cabaret songs.

Read More

Wielding wellness with music

The intersection between music and health occurs on a continuum of care ranging from the personal use of music to “feel better”, to professional music therapy work. While music therapists may work more often in the professional end of the continuum, our experiences and knowledge as clinicians and scholars provide us a unique perspective on […]

Read More

Composer David Bednall in 23 questions- part 1

David Bednall is Organist of the University of Bristol, Sub Organist at Bristol Cathedral and conducts the Bristol University Singers. He has a busy career as a composer also, and has published many works. In this occasional series we ask Oxford composers questions based around their musical likes, influences, and challenges. We spoke with David about his composing habits, and his most difficult work to write.

Read More

The 21st Century Music Curriculum- Why Guitar?

In her keynote speech at Vision 2020: The Housewright Symposium on the Future of Music Education held at Florida State University in 1999, composer Libby Larson shared the story of her daughter’s experience playing saxophone in middle school band.

Read More

An insight into choral singing in the UK [infographic]

Some say it is the effect of Gareth Malone’s TV programme The Choir, others claim that it is a result of research pointing to the many health benefits to singing in a choir; whatever the cause, it is undeniable that choral singing in the UK has seen something of a renaissance in recent years. Explore this infographic to find out more about the state of choral singing in the UK.

Read More

Reflections on music’s life lessons

I find myself reflecting upon my own experiences in music as a student, a piano teacher, a performer, a psychologist and a psychoanalyst. How did I get from “then” to “now”? Who assisted me along my winding journey? Do you ever wonder these things about yourself?

Read More

Five things you didn’t know about “Over the Rainbow”

“Over the Rainbow,” with music by Harold Arlen and E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, is one of the most beloved songs of all time, especially as sung by Judy Garland in her role as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.  The song itself is familiar all over the world. But some things […]

Read More