Coins, Coins, Coins

Travel Coins

As you may know, I have been collecting coins during the trip. I have African coins, European coins, Asian coins, and Latin American coins. I’m pretty sure my collection is worth at least $5. I enjoy collecting coins. They are like souvenirs to me. I do have some special souvenir coins that are simply priceless. My favorite coin is an old Bolivian coin. It’s massive, and still squeaky clean. It’s also very shiny. It has a great, big 5 in the middle. It was made in 1899. When we were in Bolivia, a nice man named Jorge gave it to me. I also have a golden one from the Acropolis, and a silver medallion from Italy. I love coins. Coins, coins, coins.

Story of La Traviata Music Project

La Traviata

I was assigned a music project. I had to pick an opera to tell the story about. I picked La Traviata out of a short selection because it had nice arias that I liked. I picked to do a computer programming presentation because I like computer programming and I am good at it.

Click here to see my La Traviata Animation.


Project Research:

  _Step 1: LISTEN: Choose an Opera Aria to listen to many times. Write down the elements while you are listening. If you are not sure about the details of your piece you may find it online or ask Mrs. Mom for help. Listen to the music several times so you become familiar with the different sections. Listen deeply and with a musical mind.


Aria/Opera chosen: Brindisi in the opera La Traviata

1. Tempo: Vivace


Other things to consider or ponder:

_What inspired the composer to write this piece?

_Did_ _s_/_he_ _h_a_v_e_ _a_ _s_t_o_r_y_ _i_n_ _m_i_n_d_?_ _

_H_o_w_ _d_o_e_s_ _t_h_i_s_ _m_u_s_i_c_ _m_a_k_e_ _y_o_u_ _f_e_e_l_?_ _

_W_h_a_t_ _d_o_e_s_ _t_h_i_s_ _m_u_s_i_c_ _m_a_k_e_ _y_o_u_ _t_h_i_n_k_ _o_f_?_ _


Critical Thinking in Music (CTM) strategies Make a “mind movie” while you listen.

_W_h_a_t_ _i_s_ _g_o_i_n_g_ _o_n_ _i_n_ _t_h_e_ _m_u_s_i_c_?_ _

_What do you hear that makes you say that?

_W_h_a_t_ _m_o_r_e_ _c_a_n_ _y_o_u_ _f_i_n_d_?_ _


2. Dynamics: Always changing, ranging from mezzopiano to fortissimo
3. Tonality (major, minor, or something else?): major
4. Meter/Time Signature: 3/4
5. timbre/instrumentation (full orchestra, string quartet, concerto, solo, duet, chorus, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, adult, child, families of instruments…): full orchestra duet, chorus
6. Form (5th grade only): ABA
7. My reflections on this music:

It makes me want to sway. It makes me thing of the ocean for some really really strange reason. Maybe because the volume rises up and down like the waves in the ocean.

S_t_e_p_ _2_:_ _A_b_o_u_t_ _t_h_e_ _C_o_m_p_o_s_e_r_ _
Cite your sources and Fill in the Facts

Third Graders: 3 or more sources, Fourth Graders: 4 or more sources, Fifth Graders: 5 or more sources Use,, links from, an encyclopedia, Nettrekker, Google, Bing, yahooligans, Squidoo, previous ASO Study Guides, Media Center sources, and other (books, biographies, magazine articles…) to find sources for your research. Don’t use “internet”, Wikipedia,, Mrs. Mom, youtube, etc. At least one non-internet resource is preferred. Ask Mrs. Mom if you need help!

Required Facts
Nationality: Italy
Dates—birth and death dates: October 9th, 1813 – January 27, 1901
Era (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or 20th century/Modern)   Romantic
Important works—specific pieces for which s/he is known besides this piece: Aida, Oberto, Un giorno di regno, Nabucco, I Lombardi, Rigoletto, II trovatore, Don Carlos, Requiem.
What types of music did s/he compose besides operas (symphonies, ballet music…)? Requiem

Other important/interesting facts

-Did you know that two of Verdi’s operas, Rigoletto and Aida are constantly among the most performed operas in the entire world, and both are performed 300 – 400 times a year worldwide.

-Legend has it that when Verdi was finishing up his opera ‘Il Trovatore’, a famous critic stopped by. Verdi sat at the piano and played a few excerpts for him.

“What do you think?” Verdi asked.

“That’s terrible,” the critic replied

“Well, what about this?” Verdi asked as he played another fragment.

“Rubbish” came the response.

“And this?” At which point Verdi played the now-famous “Di quella pira”

“Absolutely horrible!” said the great critic as he covered his ears.

Verdi jumped up from the piano and thanked the critic, saying ,”I’ve been writing an opera for the people of Italy not for purists like you. If you hate it, that means the whole world will whistle and play it all over Italy!”

Verdi was right! *

*Craciun, L. (October 10, 2014). 10 Most Interesting Facts About Giuseppe Verdi

[Blog Post]. Retrieved from

– He liked Shakespeare (a very famous English playwright). The operas Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff are all based on Shakespeare plays.

– He is a national hero in Italy! This is partly due to his Va, Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) which became a song to help bring Italy together at the time it was written.

– His funeral was attended by more people than any other event in the entire history of Italy!

– Verdi is buried with his second wife in a house he founded for retired musicians.

 S_t_e_p_ _3_:_ _A_b_o_u_t_ _t_h_e_ _Opera
Cite your sources and Fill in the Facts

Third Graders: 3 or more sources, Fourth Graders: 4 or more sources, Fifth Graders: 5 or more sources Use,, links from, an encyclopedia, Nettrekker, Google, Bing, yahooligans, Squidoo, previous ASO Study Guides, Media Center sources, and other (books, biographies, magazine articles…) to find sources for your research. Don’t use “internet”, Wikipedia,, “my mom”, youtube, etc. At least one non-internet resource is preferred. Ask Mr. Jackson if you need help!

What is Opera (definition)?
1. Nationality (what language is it in): Italian 4. What type of Opera is it: Buffa
2. Date composed: 1853

Date Premiered: March 6, 1853

5. What type of singers are featured in this opera: Every kind of singer.
5a. Write the definition of these types.
3. Era (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, or 20th century/Modern): Romantic 6. What is the form (structure) of Opera: ABA form
Opera Definitions:

Opera: Form of theatrical music performance in which the story is told entirely through instruments and singing.

Aria: Lyrical style of singing in an opera.

Tenor: Male lead in an opera

Soprano: Highest role in the Fach system; usually cast as the leading female role.

Fach System: General association of specific roles with a vocal range to help with casting or writing the piece.


Types of Opera (name and define):

Opera Seria: ‘Serious Opera’ is an opera with a cane and an emphasis on very ornamented arias rather than a plot line.

Opera Buffa: This comedic opera style evolved from the funny scenes of Opera Seria. People wanted more, so it became its own genre. This style of opera is mainly about everyday people in everyday situations, often comedic situations.


Write a summary of the overall story, include: Main Characters, Where does it take place, When does it take place, What is the plot (main problem/resolution of the story).

La traviata is a tragic love story that takes place in and around Paris, sometime near 1850.

Violleta, a French courtesan with tuberculosis, goes to a friend’s party, and meets Alfredo Germont, who would later be the love of her life. They’re forced to part by Alfredo’s father, but reunite as Violleta dies.


Write a summary of what is going on in this particular aria:

Brindisi is a lively drinking song about celebrating the happiness of love.


Interesting facts about THIS OPERA:

‘La traviata’ means ‘The Fallen Woman’. Brindisi is one of the most famous opera melodies of all time. La Traviata is based on the successful French Novel ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ written by Alexandre Dumas. La traviata’s subject and setting were novel for opera in the middle of the 19th century. The scale is intimate and bourgeois, not heroic or noble. The opera features some of the most challenging and revered music in the entire soprano repertoire; the aria “Sempre libera” at the end of Act I is especially well known.




Very Venetian Venice


“I can’t believe he didn’t even charge us,” my mom said.
The conductor of the train had just come by. He had revealed that we had gotten on the wrong train. We were surprised by his kindness to not charge us. We still had to get off on the next stop, though. When we got on the train we were supposed to get on in the first place, we realized that it was much slower than the train we had accidentally got on. We reached Venice and got off, I was so impressed and amazed. “Awesome,” I thought, “This is really, really cool.” We got to our apartment and hung out there for the rest of the day.

Jewish Ghetto
Jewish Ghetto
Holiday Celebration in The Jewish Ghetto
Holiday Celebration in The Jewish Ghetto

The next day we walked around and explored the city. We found the Jewish ghetto. It was the only place in Venice Jews could live in the 16th – 18th centuries. There were only a few bridges, and these bridges used to be guarded. Talk about strict! Tiny, too! It was so small. It was just one plaza with buildings all around it. This plaza wasn’t as big as Saint Mark’s Square. It was about 3/4 the size of Saint Mark’s Square. Not only that, but the day we went was also a Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah. We saw them sing and dance. They were really partying!

Opera Balleto
Opera Balleto

We got back to our apartment and a few hours later saw Opera Balleto performance, which is a performance of arias and short ballets from various operas by various composers. The players wore masks and the singers wore wigs. Sometimes they sung such high pitches that I covered my ears!

The next day we went to Island of Murano. There we saw a glass-making demonstration. The company had one of their best glass-makers make a small vase and a little horse. The horse took about two minutes to make. The vase took much more time to make. When the vase was done, another glass maker threw in some paper. The paper caught fire and burned to ashes!

Next we took a vaporetto to the Island of Burano. A vaporetto is water bus and is one of the major forms of transportation in Venice.  Burano is known for its colorful houses and its lace. We saw a lot of lace there. I wasn’t particularly interested. We walked around Burano, and mom popped into a lot of lace shops. We tried to find a place to eat lunch, but we were unsuccessful. We ended up skipping lunch and going back to the main island for an early dinner.  We ate at Osteria Mascaron. We picked it because Anthony Bourdain ate there, too. I had cuttlefish with black sauce. It was surprisingly really, really good.

Sunrise at St. Mark's
Sunrise at St. Mark’s

We woke up early the next day. We walked around Saint Mark’s Square and took some pictures. We almost had mass in Saint Mark’s Cathedral, but when we checked inside it was really noisy from all the renovation. It was too noisy for mass. We went back to our apartment. Later we took another walk around the city. We rode a traghetto, which a gondola that takes you across canals, across the grand canal. We had a very awesome time in Venice. It is very – how do you describe it – Venetian. #PureUniqueness



Bergamo and Verona

Under Juliet's Balcony
Under Juliet’s Balcony
Bergamo - Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Bergamo – Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Bergamo Cathedral
Bergamo Cathedral

I got out of the car. My family and I saw a great big church. We went inside and saw arches, columns and vaults inside. I could tell this was Romanesque. It was very big. Very, very big. By the time we got out, we went into another church. This one was Baroque. It was made out of white marble. It had lots of pictures about stories from the bible. They used these pictures to learn bible stories, since most people at that time were illiterate. We headed out, and we started walking around. We saw a lot in the narrow alleyways. We saw a Pinocchio thing and some old buildings. When we got back, we saw a guy playing “Hotel California” by the Eagles on his guitar. His version didn’t have words. As we got on the road to Verona again, I asked Dad to put that song on the radio. I didn’t think I’d ever request that!


The next day, we woke up early to see Verona. We had already returned our rental car. We got out and starting walking around again. We climbed a hill and looked at the view. There was a castle on top of the hill, but we didn’t see it. When we got back down, we saw a big Romanesque church. This one was not half as big as the one in Bergamo. After that we found a nice café to eat “breakfast” in. The reason we couldn’t find a good place to have a decent breakfast in was because Italians don’t really have breakfast ( you may already know that ). Then we walked around and found Piazza delle Erba. There we found a small art gallery and people could bring their dogs inside! Dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Italy.

Verona Pano

Then we walked to the arena, but on the way we had a chocolate break. The arena almost looked like a small version of the Colosseum in Rome, but they use it as a theater! Isn’t that cool?!? I love it when people do something like that. After that, we went to Juliet’s balcony. It was built in the 20th century totally as a tourist attractions. It was overcrowded with many, many, many young couples. It was not even worth going there. After that we had another chocolate break. This time it had fruit, too. Finally we went to Giardino Giusti. My favorite part was the hedge maze. I also liked the turtles. There were at least 10 of them in one fountain! Too bad they weren’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

To Bellagio and Beyond!

Bellagio, Italy

One day we went hiking in the forest in San Bartolomeo, which is a tiny village in Northern Italy. We collected lots of chestnuts! Our inspiration for this was that we saw a man collecting chestnuts. We filled our pockets with them, and we ended up having eight pockets full of chestnuts. They were really tricky to get because they came in pods that were super spiky. We found lots of big ones, even two huge chestnuts. We had a great time. We ended up giving them to our friends at our AirBnB Apartment. I didn’t know that hiking could be so fun!

The next day we went to Bellagio and it was so amazing. I thought I was in Disney Animation Studios. It is just so beautiful. You have the lake, then the mountains in the background. The water is so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom. We walked among the many narrow alleyways cutting through the town. At one time we stumbled upon a café and I had a glass of hot cocoa. My parents had some coffee. Then we kept walking among the narrow alleyways. At one point we explored some gardens. After that I had some gelato. Yum yum!

As I told you, we stayed in a AirBnB Apartment. The owners of the AirBnB apartment had two kids: a 3-year-old named Jimmy and a 10-year-old named Jessie. I enjoyed playing board games with them. We played “Crazy Monopoly”, which is just like regular Monopoly, but you make up the numbers and whatever’s on the Community Chest and Chance cards. That was very fun. I also played “Guess the Code” with Jessie. Once she even guessed my code in one try!

James, Jimmy, Jessie
Me with Jimmy and Jessie

“This church is round. Are you kidding me?” I asked.
Columns circled the inside of the building. They supported small arches that held up the building. Each level up they got smaller and smaller. It was all made of stone. I was told that the church had been built from 1150 – 1180 A.D. This was during the Romanesque period. Next we saw a complex of three churches that were built into one. The first part of the church was a Renaissance building that was built in the 1500s A.D. Its arches were much bigger than the ones inside the round church. Through a doorway we found a 9th century church. This place was more like the round church. It was rectangular, though, and had thicker columns that were the shape of the building itself. The next level contained a 7th century crypt that was much smaller and more closed than any other building we had seen. We exited and next we saw a church that was built in the 1100s A.D. Inside were many frescos that were used to teach bible stories, because reading and writing was too rare. The pews had been replaced by pop-up chairs for cleaning. A whale bone was on one of the arches. During the building of the church, workers found it in the ground.
As we left, we were given rosaries, medallions, and bracelets. We got back in the car and drove to our AirBnB apartment.

I said, ” The medallion actually warms me up. ”