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The guitar and piano are instruments that are found all over the world and compared to other instruments, they are easily accessible. It is not uncommon to hear of a significant percentage of any given population that had an opportunity to learn either of these instruments, even if they did not master them. There is an interesting perspective on these two instruments that will give you insight in learning the guitar. The following account by Christopher Scapelliti gleans on the observations made by a well-known guitarist: Piano Basics and Guitar Learning The basics of the piano-learning rules will go a long way in helping you to learn the guitar more efficiently. This advice is given by Eric Johnson who is skilled in both the piano and the guitar: Speaking recently with Total Guitar, Johnson said that learning the basics of piano playing is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded guitarist. In particular, he says, the instrument’s layout can give players a valuable perspective on music. Via Guitar World He clarifies that you need not master the piano, but a good understanding of how things work will give you the advantage when learning the guitar. The piano gives a comprehensive understanding of the entire music learning spectrum. “I think understanding the piano really helps,” he explains. “And you don’t have to become a great pianist, that’s not really important. A lot of people play just enough piano to write a song or figure out chord changes. Via Guitar World The Piano Layout The way the piano is structured gives one a bird’s eye view of all the notes and keys in a continuum. This is very different from the guitar, which doesn’t have such an arrangement. When one is able to catch this arrangement and how it works, the knowledge will greatly assist in learning the guitar, and other instruments too. “When you look at a piano, you can see every note. All 88 keys—the whole spectrum. It’s like laying out a long piece of paper that has all the architectural plans for a building. It’s a great center-point and home base to look at and study music. Via Guitar World Every piano player can tell the keys and the notes since they are arranged in a standard manner, as described by Peter the post below: If you look at a piano keyboard, look at the patterns of black and white keys. You see groups of two black keys and groups of three black keys. Right now, just look at a group of two black keys. The white key to the left of that first black key is a C. C is really the starting point of piano, as the other white keys follow in sequence: C D E F G A B C D …and so on. Via Seymour Duncan Reading Music The language used in piano learning is standard notation, and the best part is that it’s much easier to read than guitar. This is explained as follows: The […]

Take a bow! That’s right; the ability to play the violin is a journey from hearing the instructor asking the student to take the bow of a violin into the hands to taking a bow to the audience after a brilliant performance. When a child does it, though, the awe has no bounds. The benefits of a child learning to play the violin are numerous. Missed or wrong notes can pierce any listener’s ears harshly, much like the screams of pain and discomfort of the child can pierce his/her parents’ ears. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate this and ensure that your child will be on the path of dreams without the screams. Here are the tweaks that can help with it: Straighten Things Up with Them Just a mention of the time a child has to spend on learning to play the violin can make them slouch with exasperation. That shouldn’t stop them, though, as a slouching position can hurt them in the long run. Whether you’re standing or sitting, keeping a straight back is imperative to avoiding back problems in the future. Leaning either to the back or front or the sides can put a lot of stress on the spine resulting in the poor development of it. Playing in front of a mirror will help with self-correction. Running Free Playtime shouldn’t be restricted to playing the violin for any child. Perhaps the most important part of childhood is playing games outside. It’s the best way for them to learn things and build the physique they require to play the violin as well. Violin playing gets easier as muscles develop, and what better way to do that than to allow some trips to the playground. Playing also brings down any pain that might already be affecting them. Take that Breath Away It might seem unrelated, but the right breathing techniques will ease and relax your child before, during and after play. That cute face of a child biting the lips and staring at something as if spears are coming out of their eyes is not a good sign while they are playing the violin. It only helps to hold tension and add more stress to their fragile arms and shoulders. Make them breathe every now and then. If that doesn’t work, there’s always candy to make them smile. Don’t Eat it Whole Kids will do something they are passionate about for a very long time. While that quality will work wonders while practicing violin, it could turn them into mannequins for good. Taking breaks while playing is of utmost importance, especially to children. One can’t expect them to be all grown up the very next day after they are born; one shouldn’t expect them to become maestros either the very next day. Their fledgling fingers and muscles need time to recuperate after all that they go through during practice. Choose the Right Accessory for the Right Story Only the right teddy and the right bedtime story can put […]

Music has a powerful effect on the human body and many times it seems like the response is involuntary. You may not even know the song or the lyrics, but immediately you recognize the sound, you find your foot tapping to the beat. It is not something you actually plan to do. Interestingly, even if the song is not on your playlist or even among your favorite genres, the effect is the same. It actually takes a lot of conscious effort to avoid swinging to the beat especially when you realize that the lyrics are abusive or inappropriate. This has sparked interest among scientists and lots of researches have been done to find out more about music and the brain. The following insights from a post by Natalie Angier will help you understand a little on how your brain works: Music in everyday life Studies have shown that there is evidence of the existence of music way before civilization began and therefore it has been part of human life for a long time now. Every culture ever studied has been found to make music, and among the oldest artistic objects known are slender flutes carved from mammoth bone some 43,000 years ago — 24,000 years before the cave paintings of Lascaux. Via New York Times Even today, music seems to be part of all our daily activities in ceremonies, including both formal and informal set-ups, and even in the mundane tasks of life. Even in the business world, music has become an essential component of advertising. Why? A Part of the Brain There is a part of the brain that is responsible for detecting and interpreting sounds. It is connected to the auditory nerve in the ears and enables you to distinguish what you hear. This piece of knowledge, however, is actually quite old. On the other hand, with the interest in discovering why there seems to be a universal response to music, scientists went on a quest as described below: Yet for years, scientists failed to find any clear evidence of a music-specific domain through conventional brain-scanning technology, and the quest to understand the neural basis of a quintessential human passion foundered. Via New York Times Image Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures A New Discovery Curiosity continued to push scientists to find out if there is a music-specific part of the brain and continual research prevailed over the years. The following recent discovery brings a new understanding to how the brain works in response to music: Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a radical new approach to brain imaging that reveals what past studies had missed. By mathematically analyzing scans of the auditory cortex and grouping clusters of brain cells with similar activation patterns, the scientists have identified neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music — any music. It may be Bach, bluegrass, hip-hop, big band, sitar or Julie Andrews. A listener may relish the sampled genre or revile it. No […]

There are so many genres of music out there – it’s actually very difficult, if not downright impossible, to be acquainted with all of them. The interesting thing with music is that it affects you whether you know a song or not. As such, you can use any type of music in whichever way you see fit. The human brain is affected in different ways when different types of music are played. Knowing this can help you have an easier time going about your daily tasks. Whether you need to work or unwind, your choice of music can help you do what you need to do effectively. Work Music Work music, or songs that will boost your productivity, actually exist, and thankfully so. You can switch them on while at work or when preparing for an interview. If you need to study, for instance, there’s some music that will help you do just that. On the other hand, if your work doesn’t involve reading, then jams can boost your creativity. The following post describes this in more detail: 6 Types of Music for Maximum Productivity, According to Science If you haven’t explored the mood-shifting playlists on Spotify or Apple Music yet, you’re way behind the curve. Music can be instrumental (pun intended) in helping you maintain focus, dig into your work, and get things done. But only if it’s the right type of music. For example, a 2010 study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology states, “Absorbing and remembering new information is best done with the music off.” However, it went on to explain, “when a well-practiced expert needs to achieve the relaxed focus necessary to execute a job he’s done many times before, music can improve performance.” Via Inc From the post above, you can invest in the different types of music to make your work a lot more enjoyable. Any-time Music If you are looking for music that will work for you in whatever situation that you are in, then you are lost for choice as well. Classical music is one genre you want to befriend. This can be used in the house, when relaxing, during your family time… etc. The following post gives a small collection of some of the classical music you can use any time: BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR ALL MOODS Whether working away and wanting some background music, or sitting down after a hard day, classical music can be a wonderful accompaniment. Through studies on the brain, it has been shown to lift your mood, acting as a natural mood enhancer (better than Prozac surely). Any article giving ‘the best’ of anything is, by its very nature, going to be highly subjective, but here are some of the greatest pieces of classical music, that, no matter what mood you are in, will inspire the soul and make you feel much better. Via Trazee Travel With classical music, the list is exceedingly long. The ones in the post above are just a sample of what you can […]

The piano is neither an easy instrument nor a difficult one; you just need to be familiar with the chords and basic playing technicalities. With consistent practice, patience and support from the peers and mentors, one can easily learn how to play. Discussed below are the top 10 tips and tricks for piano beginners: Ear training Ear training or to listen to other professional pianists at work is among the best ways to improve your technique. Playing by ear also helps you improvise and hence is an excellent technique for budding musicians to learn from the masters being inspired by their style and hand movements A flexible approach Most amateur pianists apply too much pressure while practicing this produces a loud unpleasant sound and also can cause cramps. Don’t hit the keys, let your hands glide over them softly, smoothly. A relaxed hand is more flexible and easy to control, i.e. you can reach the far away keys faster. Maintain a proper rhythm Rhythm and tempo are among the basic elements of any music piece, you cannot screw it up. Practice the rhythm of the song even if you’re not sure of the chords and notes involved. Maintaining a steady rhythm can also cover up a few fumbles and errors. Finger movement, hand position It is always better to start playing with the right hand first and then moving on to the other. Separate hand movements are easier to grasp, you can gradually move on to using both the hands. Most teachers use the conventional technique of separate hand practice. Once you’ve perfected that try to use both hands, this improves coordination and enhances the playing efficiency. Memorize your music Memorizing the notes and chord structure is not an easy job, but it can sure simplify your playing. Divide the music piece into sections and try learning them, try playing the piece before you go to bed. This helps you retain the music better as it would be the last thing on your mind before you sleep. Focus on accuracy and not speed Speed playing is something that comes with a lot of practice, for now, concentrate on hitting the right keys rather than hitting them fast. As an amateur try focusing on efficiency and accuracy, speed will come with time. Play sections separately As a beginner, it is difficult to keep up with the variations in chord structure of a musical piece, try dividing the music into different sections. For instance, practice piano notes starting with quarter notes gradually moving on to eighths and then sixteenths. When you play a section try maintaining a sense of continuity by including the ending notes of the previous section in your present one. Sight reading music technique The sight reading technique is a smart way to understand your music better. Amateurs get to develop their proprioception skills, i.e. awareness of the body in space. Most musicians get so lost in the notes so much that they lose their grip on reality. Sight […]

What is enough? How you define ‘enough’ is a matter of personal preference. That which you consider enough for you might be too long (or too brief) for someone else. Then, people differ in terms of how quickly they grasp new facts, instructions, knowledge, and training; what you might be able to grasp in a 30-minute lesson could take half or double the time for your neighbor. That said, there is something suitably challenging yet sufficiently convenient with 30 minutes sessions, which is why they’ve become the popular choice of musical knowledge delivery for many maestros. Efficacy, Cost, and Convenience Invariably, 30-minute lessons in the piano will give you sufficient value for your money. Not only are these short sessions affordable for many people; teachers also can afford to teach more students and keep their pricing reasonably low. On the other hand, research and studies carried out at several elite universities across the world have repeatedly demonstrated that most people can concentrate only for brief spells, which can be as short as ten to fifteen minutes. Add to that another five minutes to warm up and ten more minutes to revise previous lessons and clarify any doubts, and you have your perfect piano lesson duration. Individual versus Group Lessons You may think that attending longer piano lessons will help you scale up faster, as you will end up playing for more time. But, since pianos are big and costly instruments, most studios have only one or two of them. As such, you will have to wait for your turn to play, thus effectively reducing your playing time to a ten or fifteen-minute stretch. So while you can attend music theory classes in a group, 30-minute sessions are bound to help young techniques, songs, weak areas, etc.  Plus, just remember that music theory is integral to excelling at any musical instrument. Learning to read sheet music, understanding the compositions and playing them exactly as they are meant to are crucial to piano lessons. Actually Playing the Piano How much time you actually spend playing the piano during a lesson, speaks a lot about its usefulness. For example: if you are attending piano lessons in a group where you get to spend, say, just ten minutes actually playing the instrument, then it will be better if you sign up for an individual class of 30 minutes a week where you get to play on the instrument for the full 30 minutes. Because it is only by actually playing the piano that you can pick up new pieces. Importance of Individual Practice Practice is the key to excelling at the piano. No matter how many hours of classes you take, it will amount to nothing if you do not practice what you learned. Almost all teachers will assign you homework – whether that is practicing finger movements or brushing up on a new piece taught in class; it is paramount you practice diligently. If you do not do this you will have little […]

There is so much that a passionate person can do! All the inventions that have been made in the world have a person behind them who was unrelenting in his or her desire to make a difference. It is no different in the world of music. Despite the fact that learning an instrument has its own challenges and discouragements, there are some who have beaten all odds to become inspirations for others. Norman Malone A Sad Beginning Norman Malone was not born with any health challenges.  In fact, he had a very promising piano future by age 5. It is when he was 10 years old that tragedy struck. Their father attacked him and his two smaller brothers in their home using a hammer on their heads and then committed suicide. This left them partially paralyzed on their right sides, but alive. Relentless Malone, still passionate about his desire to play the piano, kept looking for opportunities to continue learning with his left hand only amidst discouragement. Or so everyone told him. But Malone refused to accept that verdict, spending years trying to find someone who would teach him to play the instrument with one hand — someone, anyone who knew there was a vast repertoire of piano music written for left hand alone. Via Chicago Tribune Persistence That Wore Out Resistance He continued on his journey and his passion caught the attention of the public. His age didn’t limit him and slowly but surely, within a year, things changed, after over half a century of continuous practice and determination. Malone’s story of tragedy, trauma and aspiration became the subject of several Tribune stories starting last year, and that’s when the pianist began receiving invitations to give concerts. Malone accepted several of them, in effect launching his concert career more than 70 years after he originally had hoped. Via Chicago Tribune A Grand Opportunity Eventually, he got the opportunity to perform with an orchestra and since his story had become well known, it was a major event. He had worked on this left-hand piano piece and it was finally time to showcase his efforts. Yet there he was on Sunday afternoon, seated at the 9-foot Steinway grand in the theater of Kingswood Oxford School, looking sharp in his newly bought tuxedo. The 60-plus musicians of the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra awaited conductor Richard Chiarappa’s downbeat, a packed house eager to hear Malone’s rather belated orchestral debut. Via Chicago Tribune As every good conductor does, Malone got the chance to practice and polish up on his skills before the event and the butterflies weren’t absent in his stomach. However, he gathered himself and got ready for the opportunity he had been waiting for. When he was done, the applause said it all. He had accomplished his dreams, against all odds. When the orchestra re-entered the fray in the climactic last bars, Malone and his orchestral colleagues were in sync as never before, ending the piece with an exclamatory fortissimo that inspired […]

The look, feel, and functioning of digital pianos have been radically transformed with the use of cutting edge technology by the leading brands. As a result, piano beginners in the present times encounter a massive dilemma regarding their choice of instrument for learning. Since each individual has a set of unique requirements, it is strongly recommended to examine the pros and cons of both the alternatives in detail, before arriving at a decision. Why are the aspiring pianists so positively inclined towards e-pianos? Even though it is quite impossible to recreate the tone and feel of a traditional upright piano with the fullest accuracy, there is no denying the fact that the digital versions are associated with a greater degree of convenience in practical life, apart from an array of fabulous advantages, for making your music lessons a lot more exciting! Here is a list of awesome features, which have contributed to the steadily soaring demand for digital pianos over the years: Overcoming the issue of space crunch Being remarkably larger in size, the spatial demands of acoustic pianos are often difficult to meet. You would also be required to shield these pianos from fluctuations in temperature since its tuning might get affected by alterations in the levels of humidity within the room. The lightweight and compact nature of digital pianos makes it an ideal choice for homes where less space is available. Plus, there is no need to worry about temperature changes. Portability One of the biggest advantages of e-pianos is that you can easily relocate these instruments from one place to another without confronting any major challenges. Since acoustic pianos are extremely heavy, maneuvering is out of the question, unless you hire professional help. Affordability and easy maintenance Being reasonably priced, digital pianos cater to all kinds of budget, and hardly involve any costs of maintenance. Unlike acoustic pianos, these instruments do not require tuning from time to time and save you a great deal of money and efforts. Versatility With a digital piano, you are not just limited to a sound of a particular sort. A number of models allow you to experiment with a captivating variety of sounds, including those of different kinds of pianos, as well as other instruments, such as guitar, flute, and percussion. You can try layering a couple of these, in order to create unique auditory effects while playing!   Headphone output An e-piano gives you the liberty to engage in musical sessions at any time of the day, without affecting the tranquility of your surroundings. All you need to do is plug in the headphones, for enjoying complete privacy during your practice. Highly advanced technological applications E-pianos provide you with the opportunity of recording and storing tracks on your P.C. or any other device, with the help of inbuilt sequencers. You can also connect your instrument to your iPhone or iPad for honing your skills or boosting practice with numerous interesting apps. By incorporating MIDI technology, these pianos end up adding […]

Music consists of a number of sounds harmoniously synchronized to produce a melody. One of the often underemphasized sounds in music is bass. Even though it is not played on its own, a bass instrument is fundamental to any musical performance. Try listening to music without bass and one with it and you’ll notice the difference. For more clarity, if you have a sound system, you will notice that the music is complete when the bass is enhanced and sounds hollow without it. Why is this so? Research has been carried out to find out what role bass plays in music and how it should be appreciated. The following insights from Josh Jones give a clear understanding of what bass is all about: The Human Perception of Sound Studies show that there is a range of frequencies within which human beings discern sounds. Below this range, we are not able to clearly distinguish the sounds produced. The only way we are able to discern them is through our other senses – not by hearing. Another interesting fact about low pitched sounds is that even deaf people can discern them. This is because they aren’t perceived through the ears. At the lower range of hearing, it’s said humans can hear sound down to about 20 Hz, beneath which we encounter a murky sonic realm called “infrasound,” the world of elephant and mole hearing. But while we may not hear those lowest frequencies, we feel them in our bodies, as we do many sounds in the lower frequency ranges—those that tend to disappear when pumped through tinny earbuds or shopping mall speakers. Via Open Culture An Overview Of Bass Sounds Interestingly, even though bass is not usually given much attention (probably because whether you give it attention or not, it is critical for your music), it is universally considered vital in any musical composition. It is true that it doesn’t feature as much as other instruments like the guitar or piano in the melody of a given song, but its sounds give the music its bedrock. The sounds of a drum are low frequency and together with the bass instruments, are used sparingly in most songs, with reason. Studies show that the human brain detects low frequency sounds faster compared with high-frequency sounds. Here’s how: Trainor and her colleagues have recently published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggesting that perceptions of time are much more acute at lower registers, while our ability to distinguish changes in pitch gets much better in the upper ranges, which is why, writes Nature, “saxophonists and lead guitarists often have solos at a squealing register,” and why bassists tend to play fewer notes. Via Open Culture Why Bass Is Essential From the findings mentioned in the excerpt above, it’s clear that without the bass components of a song, it is likely that it will not follow a time structure. Can you imagine a song being performed out of time? The rhythms will […]

When most people decide to learn the piano, the first thing they do is to hire a teacher. But there are a number of reasons why learning on your own might be a good thing. There is a lot of information that can help you with this on the Internet for one. It certainly is possible for you to learn the piano on your own, but you need to have a proper plan. Why? It’s challenging; that’s why. There will be times when you feel irritated and want to quit. But, if you are serious, you want to make sure the experience is productive and enjoyable. Here, we are going to take a look at the tools you need and explore some tactics to help you develop your piano skills. If you would like to make progress, you need to understand the various challenges and how to deal with them. Above everything else, you need to be realistic. It is a long journey for a beginner to become a pro. To avoid any frustration, you need to know how you are going to progress. If your main goal is to play your favorite sonata, what are the skills you need to reach this elevated plateau? Music theory Most methods would begin with you learning about notes, how they look, how they correspond to each key. While there are many excellent musicians who don’t know how to read music, being able to translate notes can make it easier for you to learn new pieces. This is also the foundation for music theory. It’s all about patterns You will have to learn the basic patterns before anything else. Find a splendid system which takes you through each pattern. The first two patterns you should learn are the scale and arpeggio. This may be a little tedious for you to practice. But its importance shouldn’t be undermined and not neglected. The patterns are everywhere. The better you are at them, the easier it will be for you to master music. Smaller sections You may be used to hearing music from the beginning to the end, but playing a piece repeatedly from the beginning to the end isn’t the best way of mastering it. Isolate the notes you have the most trouble with and practice them repeatedly. Practice using your hands separately can be a salient way to practice as well. Each keystroke needs to become second nature for you. The music you enjoy Technical skills are essential undoubtedly, but you should never lose sight of the music you want to play. Find easy arrangements with pieces you enjoy. This may still be challenging for you, but you should only be concerned with the melody in the beginning. Try listening to astounding performances of the songs you are trying to learn. You might find it easier to play a song after hearing someone else play it. Have fun Technically skills are certainly paramount, but playing the music you love is more critical. Don’t forget […]