Category Archives: Music

Steps Musical Instruments for Children

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As a result of these wide ranging benefits, it’s no surprise that many parents are keen to encourage their children to start learning a musical instrument at a young age. On the face of it, this is a great idea but it can sometimes result in some challenges finding suitable instruments, especially with younger children. Woodwind & brass instrument, by their very nature, usually require the player to hold the weight of the instrument. For younger players with smaller hands, this can prove difficult. It is important that children are not pushed to start learning too young, as this can not only put them off playing but can cause, in the worst cases, issues with posture as well as muscular and skeletal problems.

Some instrument manufacturers have addressed this challenge by designing specially designed models with children and younger players in mind. These may feature reduced keywork, curved headjoints or lightweight materials to make them easier to play and hold. For types of instrument where this is not possible, there are a number of other tips and tricks that you can employ.

How young is too young?
Unfortunately the answer to this question is like many others… it depends! As children grow and develop at different ages and speeds, it is difficult to provide an accurate answer. With many woodwind & brass instruments, learning to play is more reliant on physical strength, arm length and hand size. As a very rough guide some players on the lighter instruments (flute, cornet etc) can start around age 7 whereas it is recommended that for larger instruments such as the saxophone, that pupils wait until age 10.

Waiting for adult teeth
An important consideration when deciding when it is best for children to start learning a woodwind or brass musical instrument is whether they have their adult set of teeth. Your embouchure is vital in playing your instrument at its full range with a full, clear tone. This relies not only on your facial muscles but also the structure of your mouth which is significantly affected by your teeth. Developing your embouchure is a very personal journey which requires careful practice. A constantly changing mouth shape can hinder this process. It should be noted that there are still several schools of thought on this matter. It is usually best to query this matter directly with your selected tutor.

Plastic fantastic
In recent years, plastic instruments have improved dramatically. Now, no longer seen simply as toys, some models can deliver sound that is close to being comparable to brass models. Plastic models are now available for trumpet, cornet, clarinet, flute & saxophone making weight less of an issue for younger players. These instruments are lightweight, affordable and more durable.

Things About Guitar Accessories

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Most guitarists have their own personal collection of gizmos and gadgets to help play and maintain their equipment. The most popular accessories are there to help perform better, change strings quickly, or make it possible to sound unique. Here are a few of the most popular guitar accessories to invest in:

Strings

One of the major accessories is the guitar strings. In the process of looking at the strings, there are a few points that needed to be considered. This relates to the gauge or thickness and the material they are made out of. For the acoustic guitar, the preferred choice includes the strings that are wound with phosphor bronze (mellow and warm sound) or 80/20 bronze (brighter sounding).

String cutter

The string cutter and winder are useful tools for those that needing to change the guitar strings. The guitar string is often longer than needed and cutting the excess means there is less left hanging around the tuning pegs.

Tuners

A crucial step to complete before playing the guitar is to tune the musical instrument. This is possible by using one of the many tuners. One of the most precise options is to use the electronic tuning device. A clip-on tuner is very easy to use and simply mounts to the headstock of the acoustic or electric guitar. They are designed to detect the frequency of vibrations and ignore any background noise to make a really useful and accurate tool.

Humidifier

A purpose made guitar humidifier is a practical piece of equipment for the owner of an acoustic guitar. This type of guitar is made using multiple pieces of thin wood which in very dry conditions can start to crack or warp. But, with the proper humidity range maintained in the storage area of the guitars, there is less need to worry about this type of damage. Also, the need to use a humidifier isn’t so necessary for those that use an electric guitar.

Stand

A solid and reliable guitar stand is a must-have piece of equipment to use when the musical instrument is not in use. There is the option to place the guitar against a wall or left in its carrying case, but the most practical and hassle-free choice is to use a proper stand for the particular type of guitar. A stable stand means there is less chance of a guitar falling over and getting damaged.

Differences Between Old And New Music

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Music entertains, educates and informs. While it has been around for a long time music has gone through a number of changes that range from the instruments used to the style of composition. To help you out, here are some of the ways in which music has evolved over the years:

Use of instruments

Old music was sung using real instruments. The instruments used included: cello, viola, tuba, French horn, bassoon, trombone, trumpet and many others. Even when recording, the musicians had to play the real instruments. Due to this, the old musicians had to first learn to play the instruments then record the music. This is no longer the case with the modern music. Modern music heavily relies on computer programs. Using the programs you can enter the sound of any music instrument without having the instrument at your disposal or even knowing how to play it. This has given rise to millions of music superstars who even don’t know the most basic music instruments.

Genre

Most of the old musicians stuck with a given music genre. When you were asked to group the different musicians in specific categories depending on their music genres, you could easily do it. This is no longer the case. Genres in modern music are blurred as musicians fit different genres. Currently, it’s not uncommon to find a musician singing hip-hop and at the same time engaging in R&B. Some musicians have even won awards in music categories that aren’t known for. For example, Nelly, who is known for R&B has won a country music award. Due to the limited confinement of the different music genres, the music world has become confused and it’s almost impossible to tell the specific genre that a given musician engages in.

Music and class

While some few old songs used to be offensive and the stage shows sometimes got raucous, things have gone worse. Currently, especially in the Hip-Hop world, the music has become too offensive. If you have attended hip-hop shows you must have noticed that most of the rappers openly insult their audiences and use a lot of offensive words. When it comes to R&B, the music has moved from the good old positive and empowering music to provocative and sometimes offensive music. In summary, we can say that the modern music has lost class. The unfortunate thing is that the audience seems to love it.

Method of creation

Since the old songs heavily relied on melody, the composers took time creating their music. Some of the composers have reported taking years to come up with one of their songs. This is because they composed their music while imagining how their music would sound. This isn’t the case with modern music. Nowadays, the musicians can compose a song in as little as a few hours and the song become an instant hit. This is because all they need is a computer program to create a rhythm that the audience will love.

Conclusion

While we can conclusively say that old songs are much of a better quality than the new songs, there are some songs that are bad whether old or new. It’s up to you to choose the ones that are pleasing to your ears.

How To Understand Guitar Chord Chart

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Do you find it difficult to get the precise finger placement on your fret board? Are you new to the world of guitar playing? If so, you might need to study up on the guitar chord chart. The guitar chord chart helps you identify specific chords that you’ll need to know once you start building your own songs or simply playing the tunes of your favorite jazz hits. You can’t get around the chord chart if you want to be a successful guitar player in any music genre.

Another key benefit of learning the guitar chord chart, is it prevents you from having to learn music theory or reading music to get the gist of the notes that need to be played.

But what exactly is a chord chart, and how can you use it to further your musical growth?

What is a Guitar Chord Chart?

For starters, there are various types of charts out there. Some target beginners while others are used by advanced players to further their musical repertoire. Chords chart show you precisely where to put your fingers, what to expect of the note being played, and how to blend your chords for better sounding music.

Some charts are designed to show you how to play ‘open’ notes while others cover ‘closed’ note chords. More commonly, however, chart for guitar chords are separated by major and minor notes. These notes provide the basic foundation you’ll need to excel at your guitar playing.

Using a Guitar Chord Chart

As with all things instrumental, you want to practice using your chart for chords as much as you can. While practicing basic chords, make sure you play each individual note so you can hear them all individually. You’ll also want to practice switching back and forth between chords to learn how to keep a steady beat. Focus on cleaning up your strumming to guarantee you get the most out of every chord you play.

Charts help you identify the sounds you should be making with your guitar. They also give you a more comprehensive look at how the chords play an important role in transforming the sounds you’re playing. For example, as you learn some of the major chords you’ll begin to see how they fit more up-tempo music like rock, while minor chords are better suited for jazz and blues.

Where to Start

You want to start playing basic guitar chords such as C, C7, D, Dm, D7, E, Em, E7, F, G, G7, A, Am, A7, and B7. Once you memorize these basic guitar chords you can move up to include more complex chords, but don’t skip this step! It will become the foundation of your skills.

A comprehensive guitar chords chart will help you build the skills you need to become an excellent player. Make sure the one you use as a reference has the key chords needed to develop your talent down the line. Beginner charts of guitar chord are an excellent place to start. Learn where to put your fingers and explore how each sound is created with your strumming. The result is a life-long love affair with playing guitar.

Learning Jazz Guitar Scales

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What’s the Best Way to Learn Jazz Guitar Scales?

Every new musician wants to find the easiest path towards becoming a pro. Like anything in life, however, there are certain steps that must be taken to master the process of playing guitar.

To help you learn scales accurately and with precision, here’s a step-by-step approach any newbie can take.

Step 1. Figure out the notes.
For example, let’s start with a minor scale which has a pattern of A-B-C-D-E-F-G. Experiment with this pattern as much as you’d like. Build up using the notes from each pattern each day you practice to explore how it works. You could do this on the E string starting with the lowest note in the scale. Play that outline up and down your fretboard several times to completely memorize it. Once you have it memorized, the next step is to start improvising for at a minimum of 10-15 minutes, using just the notes from that outline. Do your best to always improvise the pattern in a higher octave beginning at the 12th fret.

Step 2. Build on the previous scale.
The next session you tackle should begin with improvisation from the previous pattern. Starting with the second note, perhaps G after E. Then you would create an outline that has the same format as the previous step only building on it.

Step 3. Rehearse and repeat.
Next, you’d want to do improvisation from the previous day’s note, building on the note the same way you did previously. Always play what you’ve learned in the previous session so as to not forget it. The goal is to memorize and improve. Continue to create the new pattern the same way you did before, building up the fretboard.

Step 4. Memorize and play.
Next, you’ll want to begin improvising to use all the patterns you’ve learned simultaneously. Feel free to adjust the patterns at will. Practice this until you can find any note no matter the scale position and without thinking of the outline. The goal is to master playing these different note structures and to play them without worrying about not being able to remember their location.

Once you have successfully mastered using all these patterns at will, you can safely assume you’ve learned the guitar scales you need to know.

Commonly Used Scales

Learning and understanding the most important notes and patterns in Jazz is critical to becoming a master at playing the jazz guitar. Here are the most commonly used and important to memorize patterns in jazz theory.

• The Minor Pentatonic
• The Blues
• The Natural Minor and Aeolian Mode
• The Major
• The Dorian Mode
• The Mixolydian Mode

Once you understand these patterns and how they function in relation to some of your favorite songs, you can begin to improvise and explore your own talent a bit more.

Putting It into Practice

Clearly, when you start to tackle jazz theory and how to learn scales, you’re up against somewhat complex structures that you may not fully understand. After you’ve practiced scale positioning, how ascending and descending works, and memorized the most common structures, you’re ready to start putting it all to practice.

Practicing these guitar scales is the key to making jazz music your life. Anything worth attaining requires hours upon hours of practice. Ingraining what you’ve learned into your muscles and brain takes extreme effort, but once you have it, you can’t ever lose it! Understanding and recognizing the sounds these notes make is equally important and valuable for you to cultivate your talent.

Once you move past this point, your next focus should be experimentation. Experimenting with every note and pattern on the fretboard is a critical element in becoming a musician. Use sounds and notes that resonate with you and sound like something you’d like to listen to. Once you do this, the next step is to scale over backing tracks-a key element in becoming a pro! As you begin to practice this process, your music and movements will become automatic. Search the internet to find the best backing tracks.

The Importance of Theory

Learning how to form chords from a scale that can be put together and used in the same key is an important part of becoming an expert in playing jazz music. Forming chords from complex patterns may not sound easy, but it is possible. In combination with learning how to form the modes, you also need to know what the modes of each major scale are. Intervals are also important to understand in theory, so be sure you explore all of these elements thoroughly to grasp the essence of the process.

To learn scales, you need patience and an understanding of the elements we’ve outlined in this article. Guitar scales are a basic building block of both jazz theory and experimentation. When coupled with hours of practice, anyone can use this information to become a pro musician.

Perfect Music for Your Wedding

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To help alleviate the headaches, here are 3 tips to consider as the big day approaches:

Tip #1: Pick music that you LOVE!

It is important to have discussions with your partner to decide upon pieces of music that you both LOVE to listen to. Regardless if you are into classic jazz, if you are into country, if you are into simple melodies, or if you are into heavy metal, pick pieces that show your personalities. Of course, for a wedding ceremony, consider picking pieces of music that fit the setting (church vs hall). At the end of the day, go with your gut instinct. If you are having trouble picking pieces, ask others for ideas.

Tip #2: Don’t worry about “being cliche”

As a professional musician, I cannot tell you the number of times I have been asked to perform the following pieces: Canon in D Major, Ave Maria, The Wedding March (Mendelssohn OR Wagner). I am not complaining in the least, believe me!

In many instances, the true classics are set-in-stone for a reason: they work! If you love the sounds of the scale passages of Canon in D or love the familiarity of The Wedding March, do not let this natural interest in these musical selections: at the end of the day, the musical selections that give you the most meaning and enjoyment will be the pieces of music you will remember for the rest of your married life! (especially if you have a videographer on-hand to capture the magic of the moment!)

Tip #3: If you are stuck, ASK FOR HELP!

Let’s face it, there are many decisions to be made during the planning stages of any wedding! Musical selections for the ceremony or reception might be at the bottom of the list.

During my performance career (of 15+ years), many newly-engaged couples have asked questions about the music that would suit their needs, especially for the wedding ceremony. In each case, I always provide a good “go-to” list with many of the most-popular pieces and YouTube clips. This always helps to narrow down the search for the perfect piece.

If you have a piece in mind for your wedding ceremony or reception, but you are unsure if the piece will work for a particular musical instrument combination, don’t be afraid to ask. Good wedding musicians will always answer with their honest opinion; in some cases, a compromise can be met to help create the perfect ambiance for the big day!

Ian Green, pianist, composer, teacher, musician, and owner of Music By Ian Green Inc. provides professional musical accompaniment to all events that call upon his services.

If it is a wedding reception, wedding ceremony, wedding rehearsal, or champagne reception, Ian has the skill and versatility to provide an enjoyable atmosphere to please all musical tastes.

All About Electric Guitars

Published / by mimin / 1 Comment on All About Electric Guitars

Les Paul. Fender. These are just two very famous brands of guitars, and you don’t have to be a musician to have heard of them, they just, by their name imply a quality product.

An electric guitar differs from an acoustic guitar because it uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. With an acoustic guitar, the musician plucks the strings and the air inside the body and outside in the world plus a wooden soundboard makes the notes shine. An electric one takes it one step further and uses a pickup, usually of the magnetic variety which in turn is plugged into an amplifier and then sent to a loudspeaker which makes the sound loud enough to be heard. An electric guitar on its own makes little noise which isn’t helpful when you are trying to make your music heard.

The amplified electric guitar was invented in 1931 and was instantly a big hit with jazz guitarists who could then, for the first time be heard in the large band ensembles of the age. Early pioneers of the sound included Les Paul, T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian and by the time the 1950’s and 1960’s came, this invention became the most important instrument in all popular music. Quick, name a band that doesn’t use an electric guitar. Hard, isn’t it?

Like with acoustic guitars, the electric variety varies greatly between brands and models; the shape of the body, the neck, the bridge and the pickups can all be different and thus produce different sounds and allow you to do different things with that sound. Not only does the fixed bridge allow the musician to bend notes up or down in pitch, but there are always new playing techniques coming out that allow a whole new sound from that same guitar. Things like hammering on, string bending, tapping or slide guitar playing are all used to change it up and add interest to the music.

Like with most things, the electric guitar comes in various models such as the typical six string, a seven string, a twelve string, hollow body and solid body varieties. Popular bands today will use two or more guitars as they grind out our favourite tunes which allows for more melody, chord sequences, rhythms and the like that set them apart.

The electric guitar, what would we ever do without it?

History About Acoustic Guitars

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You can play it with your finger or a pick. You can strum it quietly or you can amplify it for maximum sound. What is it? It’s the acoustic guitar, something that, in one form or another has been around for centuries. The main source of sound comes from the strings which vibrate at different frequencies depending on their length, tension and mass. You simply pick the strings to create different notes and tones and, when you put it all together, you are playing music.

In the Middle Ages these instruments were called gitterns, and they looked like and were played like the lute, they even had the rounded back like a lute. As we got into the Renaissance era the size of these instruments got larger and the shape changed into something we would consider more modern guitar like. They originated in Spain and were called vihuelas. This name was a broad term given to many string instruments so in the 16th century they were divided into two categories: vihuela de arco which was like a modern day violin and vihuela de penola that was played either by hand or with a plectrum. If the instrument was played by hand, the term vihuela de mano was used and this is what became the modern day guitar as it used hand movements on the strings and had a sound hole in order to create the music.

While Spain is the birthplace and homeland of the guitar, the real production of them really ramped up in France. They were so popular that people started to produce copies of the famous models. Some even went to prison for stealing famous maker’s work. It was a father son duo named Robert and Claude Denis though who really increased the popularity of the instrument, as they produced hundreds of them during the period.

By the late 1700’s only a six course vihuela guitar was being made and sold in Spain. This became the standard guitar and had seventeen frets and six courses with the first two strings tuned in unison so that the G was actually two strings. This is when we finally see the shape and similarities to today’s instruments. Of course now we have single strings instead of pairs, and by the 19th century, the instrument had fully evolved, except for size, to be the six single stringed guitar that we know today.

The Myths About Achieving Musical Greatness

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Achieving musical greatness becomes impossible when you follow the (false) conventional wisdom that many musicians believe in. Avoid these 3 common myths to get on the right path towards becoming a great musician:

Myth #1. You Must Be Talented To Become A Great Musician

False: musical greatness is simply a byproduct of mastering musical skills and integrating them together. People who have natural talent were not born talented. They figured out on their own how to master the right skills to become good musicians.

Not having “natural talent” doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become great. Fact is, many of the greatest musicians began with no talent whatsoever. Everyone has the potential to learn the correct musical skills for achieving greatness by working with an excellent teacher.

Myth #2. Musical Greatness Is The Same As Originality

Greatness is simply the ability to express what you want to express accurately and effortlessly. Your expression does not have to be original. For example, a virtuoso pianist who only plays Classical music composed by other musicians. You can also be original without really expressing yourself (if you lack the skills needed to do so).

What matters most is that you have a strong desire to express something and are willing to learn how to clearly express it through music. Once both of these things are in place, you have everything you need to become great.

Myth #3. To Be Musically Great You Must Play Many Styles Well

You can express yourself very well in one style (that you love). Most of the greatest musicians in the world were specialists in a single style (or closely related styles). For example, two great musicians Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen never strayed too far from their respective genres. Musical greatness is about acquiring skills needed to express the sounds you hear in your head and mastering them. Don’t believe the false claim that you can only become great if you already have a lot of natural talent. This myth is destructive because it keeps you from even attempting to become better

Instead of making it a goal to become great in several musical styles, work together with an experienced teacher to learn things that help you become a better musician in ANY style. For example: music theory, aural skills, songwriting or live performance.

By avoiding these three myths you remove obstacles in the way of becoming a great musician.

How To Make Demo for Your Music Industry

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As a band or as a solo artist, eventually you have to start thinking about making a demo CD for A&R reps, producers, production companies, and record labels to help market, fund, and traffic your music.

Getting someone in the music industry to take the time to listen to your demo is not an easy task. Most demos are tossed in the garbage before they are even opened and if they are listened to, even if you only put three songs on the CD, most people in the music industry won’t even bother listening to the whole thing. Don’t take it personally; it’s the music industry.

But if you do have something special and you are ready to put together a demo CD in the attempt to get the attention of the music industry, there are some things you need to know to be successful in this venture.

Put Together a Couple of Great Tracks

First, you have to take some time and decide which songs are your best songs that will grab the attention of someone who might want to invest some time in you. Three to five songs are all you really need.

Special Track Structure for a Demo

To improve your chances of having more than one song listened to you should set your demo CD up like this: take 30 seconds of each song and put those clips as your first three to five tracks. Next, create another three to five tracks of the same songs at their original lengths and put them at the end of the CD. This will help when someone important listens to the CD, they will hear just a little preview of each song and they can quickly move on to the next one. When and if they do hear something they like they can go forward to the track that contains the whole length of the song for more.

Important: Make sure that you label the CD cases with the information that tells the person who will be listening to the CD that the track structure is set up in this special way to avoid confusions.

Also, make sure that all artist names or the band’s name are on the CD insert or cover along with each member of the band and their responsibilities.

Press Kit

The ideal of a press kit is to essentially tell whoever picks up your CD to listen to it, who you and or your band are, what your accomplishments are, where you have performed, and any proof of a local, Internet, national and international fan base that you have acquired throughout time under the bands or artist name.

You may also want to have some live performances recorded at a venue you frequent or in the studio where you record. Yes, it would make more of an impact to have a live performance at a venue, but you can still do some really cool stuff in a studio with a camera.

In this press kit you also want to include a bio – make sure to include what ambitions and intent you yourself or your band has along with any other info that can help you or your band standout.

Make Contact

Take some time and network with people who are involved in the music industry – ask questions and make connections. The idea here is to find places you can send your demo CD to that are worth your while. My first demo CD I sent out, I made the mistake of sending it out to every place that was or maybe wasn’t excepting demos, and to this day I wonder just how many demos I sent out that never made it out of the package before finding its way to the trash can. I’m going to assume out of probably 150 demos I sent out, only about 2 percent of them made it into a CD player, that’s a lot of wasted time.

The best way to avoid wasting your time sending out demos to places or to people who won’t listen to it is to make your music solicited. Sounds tough right? It’s not, a lot of bigger record companies do not accept non-solicited music, but all you have to do is talk to someone and get them to agree to listen to your music, and then you can send it to the address of which they give you and label it “Attention: corresponding name” and now you’re solicited. This will help you and the company or person you send it to. A three-minute phone call will give you an exact address to send your demo to so it won’t end up in the wrong hands and then tossed in the garbage.

Get Some Representation

Let’s say you have exhausted all of your connections and the Internet is a well ran dry of possibilities. You can always look to hire professionals to help you get your music in the hands of the right people. Yes, it can be expensive, yes it can seem like they’re doing nothing more than what you can do, but the difference is that they probably have connections that you would never be able to get your hands on, that’s their job. The question you have to ask yourself or your band is “will it be worth the money?”

There will be a risk, let’s face it, no one wants to think that they aren’t good enough and no one should have to. But in this case, if you or your band still needs more practice and more experience, you should wait on spending the money on professional help until you and or your band can utilize it in the most efficient way.

You have to look at like this, if you are paying someone to help you and they know that you’re not ready for this type of move yet, that person you are paying will not tell you because they want your money. Even worse, they will not give you or your band the time and the effort you are paying for, basically, because it won’t be in their best interest for their career to promote your music to other professionals when they know it’s not ready to be promoted.

But if you feel you are ready and you have an awesome press kit, bio and demo, and you’re ready for the big boys but your connection just aren’t powerful enough to get your music noticed, this could be money well spent.

Keep in Touch

Let’s say you have made some contacts and you have some people who are willing to give your music a listen. There is nothing wrong with a follow-up phone call. Let’s say you sent your music and the person or company has received it but has not taken the time to listen to it yet. This phone call could light the fire under someone to open the CD and give it some time, especially if you come off as someone who might just call ever week until someone does listen to it. You may also help yourself by calling if someone has listened to the CD and is on the fence about it. A phone call could show them the ambition that they want to see from an artist, and that might sway them in the right direction about what they want to do about the situation in general.

A Couple Last Things You Can Do

This is not a must, but it will help you look more professional: Get your music copyrighted. This won’t only make you look more professional but will also protect your music when you’re sending it out to different places.

You can also help yourself and your band by using art work in the form of a label or a symbol that can be associated with the band or you as an artist. Again, this is not a must, but anything that can help market your name is just one more thing to add to your press kit and can help your chances of success.

One last thing that should be noted is that this is a process, making it big overnight will be like hitting the lotto. So unless you’re feeling that lucky, get ready for the long hall.