'Once Upon My Cheek'

'Flight of the Bumblebee'

End of Year Dances

Image of tree and keyboardImage licensed by Shutterstock


OFF THE PAGE‚Ä®

Compositions by Elizabeth Alexander

for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Flute and Piano

Off the Page” is a collection of songs allowing young players to read and improvise in different styles: from Blues to Funk, a Gypsy piece, a Japanese Zen piece and more. This music has been pedagogically tested by young musicians around the world, so musicians begin modulating while improvising, using aural cues. While the first songs can be enjoyed by young players and master musicians alike,  the collection culminates in a beautiful Jazz tune, with the ii/V/I chord progression, in A major, C major, and  Eb major.

Off the Page Includes:

Sheet music for your instrument. with bowings, fingerings, and  breathmarks from master teachers  

Practice strategies for each song, For example: "what to listen for" "what you will see on the page", and more

Listening tracks for each song played by master musicians specializing in each style

Practicing tracks so you can play each song, putting yourself inside the band

 

Using Off the Page

You can start by enjoying the song on the listening track as it is played by world class musicians

Next, You can play the “head”: the written melody on your sheet music.

Next, using the practicing track, you can play that song, placing yourself inside this fabulous“band”.

You will hear aural cues so you can navigate through that song, keeping your place.  You will hear when it is time to take an improvised solo, when the chord progression ends, and more.

Using the ideas which are provided with each song, and the scale at the bottom of each page, you get to fill in that part of the song with your own creation.

 

 Off the Page: Table of Contents

1. Wiggy Dog Boy Blues
This song uses the B blues scale, which can be enjoyed by beginning players and master musicians.  
The blues are some of the most important music for us all to play.
2. Cracker Jack
This song is in C major, which has no sharps, no flats, and is all the white notes on the piano. 
Start improvising with two or three notes from the scale. 
Let your rhythms be “jagged” like the Crackerjack tune is. Always steal ideas from people you hear, wherever you are!
3. Vermicelli
This is a Bossa Nova in D minor, with B-flat in the key signature. 
You can improvise in the rhythm of the melody, imitating the rhythms using notes you choose.
Later you can continue to get inspiration from other Bossa Nova musicians you hear around you.
4. Play/Ground
This is a funk tune, with B-flat in the key signature. 
While Vermicelli is in D minor, this tune uses the G blues scale.
When you are ready, add in the blue notes.
In Medieval music, the “ground bass” used to repeat over and over through the course of a piece. 
This tune contains a repeated bass line for you to play.
5. Felicia 

This ballad uses the D minor scale, and the Bb major scale.
As you play, the drums and bass in the band will support your playing as you modulate between the two keys.
6. Train of Thought
This delicate and exquisite song alternates between two Dorian scales.
7. Inner Hallways
This Zen-inspired tune uses a beautiful Japanese Pentatonic scale.
8. Maybe this is all a dream....
This song is in 7/8, a beautiful rhythmic pattern used in Ukranian, Bulgarian and Gypsy music arranged in a 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3 pattern: 
Just like if you were to say “Maybe this is All a Dream”!
It uses a Gypsy scale, incorporating both sharps and flats.
9.  A Riff in the Family
This song features the famous ii-V-I chord progression, found throughout Jazz and other musical styles.  
Here we will begin in A major, modulating to C major and Eb major.
Students around the world have tried this. After working with each of the practice tracks, one at a time, they say “Oh! I CAN do this!”
Your unique artistry develops as you simply make choices.  Your choices are perfect, and unlike anyone else's choices.
The title of the song is a hint of where you can go with your improvisation.
Listen to some of the Jazz greats as they play over the ii-V-I chord progression.
Really, the sky is the limit with your musicianship and your creativity.


Purchasing Off the Page: 
$20 for digital download and mp3's
$30 for hard copies of sheet music and CD
 

To view, listen to, and purchase all available Off the Page music, click here.

Or, click on your instrument below to see what your "Off the Page" sheet music would look like! 
violin
viola
cello
bass
flute
piano

here:
https://www.seafarerpress.com/works/off-the-page-score-mp3


thank you for your interest in "off the Page"

You can email me at 

serasmolen@gmail.com

Choose your instrument:  Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Flute, Piano, and more

 

You will receive:

The Listening tracks: audio files of world class musicians playing a concert version of all 9 songs

The Practice tracks: Audio files you can use to play each song "with the bands"

The sheet music for your instrument with bowings, fingerings, etc.

Practicing ideas for each song, including "What to listen for" and "What to look for on the music"

 

Reviews:  

"'Off the Page' is a unique and much needed collection for a new era of education. It crosses the bridge between classical traditions and multiple styles, giving students the opportunity for self expression through improvisation, all while developing skills they will need in a new age of musicianship! Thoughtfully created and carefully tested, it will stand the test of time!"

Alice Kanack-Composer and Author Creative Ability Development series
Director of the Kanack School of Musical Artistry, Rochester NY

"What a pleasure to be a part of “Off the Page”, an innovative and intuitive approach to learning music! With her experience working with musicians at all levels – young children, collegiate music majors, adult learners, and professionals seeking to unlock new expressive creative paths – Sera has given us all an opportunity to learn in our most natural way, the way we learned language: by rote, by ear, through imitation in a fun, groove oriented social-music atmosphere of jamming with friends and family."

Nicholas Walker, DMA,
Associate Professor of Music,
ISB President/Artistic Director  
Ithaca College, School of Music 

"Off the Page is an excellent method for helping young students learn to improvise across many styles, modalities, and meters.  All students should have the opportunity to improvise, and this method provides clear strategies, examples, and exciting play-a-long tracks that will work for students of every instrument."  

Matthew Clauhs, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music Education
Ithaca College School of Music 


"Off the Page invites cellists to step easily into new musical experiences feeling comfortable and having fun. The tunes are interesting and memorable, and the instructions for diving into play with them are clear and straightforward.  Even if you think you don’t know what you’re doing as an improvisor in these styles you will quickly find yourself playing along and catching on. Teachers will discover in Off the Page a musically renewing resource for themselves that students will relish. The musical reward is immediate. This is a fresh breeze in instructional material, an exciting contribution toward today's renaissance in classical music pedagogy." 

- Lisa Liske-Doorandish: Adjunct Faculty, Hollins University and Roanoke College

"I am very excited about “Off the Page”, and I am looking forward to using it with my flute and recorder students. It is a wonderfully well thought out collection. The variety of styles, the combination of playing by ear and reading music, and opportunities to  modulate into different keys give me as a teacher many opportunities to introduce improvisation into lessons at many different levels. And its fun! When I first starting playing with the backing tracks, I found it hard to stop, I was enjoying myself so much!”

Kathleen Schoen-Performer, teacher, teacher trainer Edomonton, Alberta, Canada

"Sera's workshop at the New Directions Cello Festival was the perfect experience for players of different levels.  Using varied popular musical styles, familiar and natural patterns create the foundation for making something new.  Also, it was seriously fun! I recommend Off the Page to all musicians interested in improvisation and harmony.

Elizabeth Simkin
Associate Professor of Cello
Ithaca College School of Music

 “I really enjoy the variety of styles, the pieces, the excellent recordings and arrangements on Off the Page. This work provides a great treasure trove of opportunities to learn about many approaches to improvisation.” 

Chris White, Founder and Director of the New Directions Cello Festival and author of the “Jazz Cello” book and CD method.
 

"I highly recommend this work. For those who are eager to learn to improvise, this method is very approachable and provides everything that you need to make improvising part of your regular practice. This fills a much needed void in the literature for teachers wanting to include improvising in their students' training."

-Laura Campbell, Colgate University, Wells College flute and ensembles

 

"The "Off the Page" collection is the essential step to get students comfortable improvising in non-classical styles of music. All the tracks are accessible to classically-trained students, while pushing them gently out of their comfort zone into engaging musical worlds. Each track comes pre-recorded and with a given "chart" or musical score, so students become adept at connecting their eyes, ears and inner ears, to come up with original improvisations. I wholeheartedly recommend this ingenious collection!"

Laura Nerenberg
Multi-genre violinist, Suzuki violin teacher, teacher or Creative Ability Development

 

Off the Page

Acknowledgements:

World class artists, musicians and teaching specialists have contributed to this collection:

 

Art:  

Our beautiful logo was created by Helena Cooper: https://helenacooperart.com

Pedagogical Consultants:

Our thanks to experienced teachers who integrate classical study with improvisation for excellent fingerings, bowings and breath marks in the music for beginning and intermediate students on each of these instruments.

Flute:  

Kathleen Schoen: Performer, teacher, teacher trainer, Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Matthew Clauhs,: Asst. Professor, Ithaca College School of Music
Laura Campbell: Wells College, Colgate University

Violin:

Laura Nerenberg: Jazz, Classical and Suzuki violinist, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Amy Merrill: Performer, studio musician, teacher: Olen, Belgium
Timothy Ball: Irish and American Fiddler; Kanack School of Music, Rochester, NY 

Viola:

Max Buckholtz, Ithaca, NY
Aara Edwards, Ithaca, NY

Cello:

Dr Sera J Smolen, Opus Ithaca School of Music
Chris White, Director, New Directions Cello Festival
Lisa Liske Doorandish, Roanoke College, Roanoke VA
Elizabeth Simkin, Ithaca College, Ithaca NY
Marei Seuthe, Koln, Germany

Bass:

Nicholas Walker, Ithaca College, Ithaca NY
Tracy Rowell, Oberlin College, Cleveland Institute, principle bass CityMusic, Cleveland, Ohio 

Piano:

Elizabeth Alexander, Composer
Jessica Caporizzo, Ithaca College, Opus Ithaca School of Music

  

Recording Artists:

1. Wiggy Dog Boy Blues (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Wiggy Dog Boy Band:  Hank Roberts Cello; Michael Stark, Rhodes B3 organ; Bill King, drums;
Soloists:  Violin, Eric Aceto; Cello, Sera Smolen; Piano, Molly MacMillan;
Flute, Matthew Clauhs;

2. Crackerjack (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano; Dave Davies, guitar, Doug Robinson, Bass; Michael Wellen, drums
Soloists:  Viola, Max Buckholtz; Bass, Nicholas Walker; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute, Matthew Clauhs

3. Vermicelli (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano; Dave Davies, guitar, Doug Robinson, Bass; Michael Wellen, drums
Soloists: Cello, Sera Smolen; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute, Matthew Clauhs;

4. Play/Ground (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Wiggy Dog Boy Band:  Hank Roberts Cello; Michael Stark, organ; Bill King, drums
Soloists: Violin, Eric Aceto; Cello, Malcolm Parson; Piano, Molly MacMillan;

5. Train of Thought (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano
Soloists:  Violin, Eric Aceto; Cello, Malcolm Parson; Bass, Nicholas Walker; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute, Matthew Clauhs;

6. Felicia (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano; Dave Davies, guitar, Doug Robinson, Bass; Michael Wellen, drums
Soloists:  Violin and Viola, Max Buckholtz; Bass, Nicholas Walker; flute, Matt Clauhs

7. Inner Hallways (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano; Manuel Quintana, percussion
Soloists: Violin, Max Buckholtz; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute, Matthew Clauhs;

8. Maybe this is all a dream….. (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

“Journey West”:  Max Buckholtz, violin; Dara Anissi, Oud; Nicolai Ruskin, percussion;
Soloists:   Violin, Max Buckholtz; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute, Matthew Clauhs;

9. A Riff in the Family (composed by Elizabeth Alexander)

Molly MacMillan, piano; Dave Davies, guitar, Doug Robinson, Bass; Michael Wellen, drums
Soloists:  Violin, Eric Aceto; Viola, Max Buckholtz, Cello, Malcolm Parson, Bass, Nicholas Walker; Piano, Molly MacMillan; Flute Matthew Clauhs;

Schools and Programs:

We would like to thank the programs and the students who have hosted us over the years.  Because of you, we know how the music in this collection works easily with players from around the US, Canada and Europe.  Young players have played and performed these songs successfully at workshops or institutes, studying them as little as one day or one week.  

The New Directions Cello Festival

Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute 

Alberta Summer Suzuki Institute

The Kanack School of Musical Artistry

Opus Ithaca School of Music

Hochschule für Musik, Koln, Germany

Community Cello Works, Blacksburg, VA

Potsdam University Music Department

 

Recording Engineers

2005 recordings at Masterview Studio, Ithaca NY (2, 3, 6, and 9)

2007, and 2016 recordings at Wilburland, Newfield NY  (1, 4, 5, 8)

2016,“Train of Thought”, Recorded by Larry Helmeczy at the home of Syau Cheng Lai, Ithaca NY

2016, Manuel Quintana recorded by Julie Last at Cold Brook Studio, Bearsville NY

2005-2018  Tracks 1,4,7 & 8 and additional instruments on other tracks recorded by Will Russell @Electric Wilburland, Newfield NY