Archive for the 'General' Category

Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas for Musicians

1. Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Pack – $49.99

Ukulele_starter_packThis great gift idea is perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to play an instrument but doesn’t know how to get started. It comes with everything needed to start jamming away immediately, including the most important part – the instrument!  Ukuleles are fun and easy to play, and this pack comes with a high-quality Firebrand wood ukulele complete with carrying case and extra set of strings. Also included is Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele Course (book, CD & DVD), the bestselling instructional series for beginners of all ages. The course covers everything from basic fundamentals (such as how to hold the instrument) to songs in various musical styles – you can be your own teacher and learn at your own pace.

Homer
E-Commerce Content Manager and Violinist
Continue reading ‘Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas for Musicians’

Where did Christmas Carols come from?

by Jacy Burroughs

Carol_Book

Today, we primarily associate the word “carol” with Christmas. However, the tradition of singing carols did not begin with Christianity, but actually with the pagan practices of celebrating the seasons. Songs were written and performed for each of the four seasons. However, only the tradition of singing during the winter has survived, not as a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, but as a Christian celebration of Christmas. Continue reading ‘Where did Christmas Carols come from?’

Ten Great New Music Titles to Celebrate the Holidays

Our holiday new releases spice up traditional favorites with unique arrangements. Featuring everything from choir to instrumental to band and easy to advanced piano, there is something for nearly everyone!

1. Sing-A-Long: Best of Christmas
Voice and Piano

Featuring 20 Christmas tunes, Sing-A-Long: Best of Christmas comes with a piano part and eight pull-out lyric sheets. This unique collection includes Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” which until recently, couldn’t be printed in any collections other than the songbook for the musical, due to copyright constraints. This Christmas collection is essential for caroling or sing-a-longs by the fire.

19980559 Continue reading ‘Ten Great New Music Titles to Celebrate the Holidays’

Classical Music Program for Halloween

by Jacy Burroughs

There are a plethora of classical pieces appropriate for Halloween. The best known are arguably Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. Here are my suggestions for a slightly less typical, yet spooky program. They are also great pieces to listen to and get you in the mood for a night of tricks and treats!

1. Isle of the Dead, 29, Sergei Rachmaninoff – 1908

Rachmaninoff was inspired to compose Isle of the Dead after he saw a black-and-white reproduction of Arnold Böcklin’s painting by the same name in Paris in 1907. The image is of a boat bearing a coffin to a fortress on a mysterious island. Rachmaninoff’s musical interpretation begins with the sound of oars in the water, represented by an irregular 5/8 meter. The urgency of the music increases as the boat approaches the island. Then, the Dies irae – the Gregorian Chant from the Mass for the Dead – takes over. Briefly, there is a struggle with music that sounds full of life, but the Dies irae theme is stronger. At the end, the piece comes full circle, returning to the relentless sound of rowing oars.

Continue reading ‘Classical Music Program for Halloween’

What is an Urtext Edition?

by Kevin Harper

We’ve all seen the term “Urtext Edition” when shopping for sheet music. But what does that mean? How is it different from other sheet music? Let’s begin with the definition of “Urtext”.

Germans famously love to combine separate words into one long word. In this case, we have the German words Ur and Text. The oldest city in the world was the city of Ur in modern-day Iraq. This word became part of the German language, meaning original, ancient, or great. For example, Great-grandfather in German is Urgrossvater. In the case of the popular German beer Pilsner Urquell, Urquell means “old source” or “old recipe.” (Quell means source.) Germans use Ur to describe something that is not only very old, but also respected and distinguished.

The meaning of Text in German is easy to figure out. It is a cognate of our English word, which means they have the same definition.

So we’ve established what the word Urtext means, but what in the world does it have to do with music? Publishers use the term to refer to old editions of music, particularly those that have the music written in the hand of the composer, or with annotations and guidelines in the composer’s own words. Continue reading ‘What is an Urtext Edition?’

Transcribing Your Songs

While most classical and jazz works are written down before they are performed, songs in other genres are often worked out through a series of improvisations in which each instrument develops their own part. Because of this, it can be difficult for the songwriter to go back and write out the song later on. This process is called transcribing; the finished product is called a transcription.

WHY TRANSCRIBE?

Why would songwriters want to write out their own songs once they’re finished? There are many great reasons, including:

  • Memory guide. When you’ve got lots of music memorized and under your fingertips, it’s easy to get mixed up and forget the details of every song. Transcribing gives you a quick reference point if you’re drawing a blank before a gig or recording session.
  • New band members. Does your band personnel change frequently? Are you a solo artist who hires musicians on a per-gig basis? You could waste valuable rehearsal or studio time teaching new players your songs, OR you could have transcriptions in hand for them to read from—better yet, email PDFs ahead of time so they come in prepared and ready to play!
  • Auxiliary instruments. Haven’t you always really imagined that synth patch as a bunch of trumpets? Or the guitar line to be a violin section? Musicians from the classical and jazz worlds are used to reading their parts and would rather not have you teach them by rote while the clock is running. So, if you have a group of trumpet players ready to play that synth part, you need to have their music clearly notated.
  • Pass it around. The best flattery a songwriter can receive is another musician wanting to play their music. Your music will get played more often, in farther locales, and with greater accuracy, if you take the time to transcribe and notate it. Services like Digital Print Publishing provide a forum for musicians around the world to easily share PDF transcriptions of their songs—and earn money doing it!

GETTING STARTED

So, how do you transcribe your songs? There are many helpful resources, both electronic and interpersonal, but the best place to start is with your own ears and a piece of paper. Continue reading ‘Transcribing Your Songs’

Top selling Digital Print Publisher Miranda Wong gives insight into her success.

Composer, arranger and pianist Miranda Wong

Composer, arranger and pianist Miranda Wong

Miranda Wong is a wedding pianist and pop piano teacher in Hong Kong.  She composes and arranges over hundreds of pieces for piano.  She mainly writes music for weddings and Christmas and easy arrangements for children and jazz exercises.  Her original wedding music and arrangements of classical music are widely used in wedding ceremonies in many countries, especially her Romantic Wedding MarchRomantic Amazing Grace, and Traditional Canon in D.

Ms. Wong recently released her first piano book and album called “True Love” for simple piano music.

Miranda Wong is a top-selling self-publisher through Digital Print Publishing, a program that allows composers and arrangers the opportunity to upload their music for free to www.sheetmusicplus.com and earn royalties.  Composers world-wide have achieved success with this program.  Ms. Wong, a resident of Hong Kong, has had her music played at weddings all over the world.  In the following interview, she gives insight into arranging and Digital Print Publishing. Continue reading ‘Top selling Digital Print Publisher Miranda Wong gives insight into her success.’

10 Tips to Motivate Your Child to Practice

Sheet Music Plus:

It’s back to school time, which means school band and orchestras are starting up again, as are private lessons after the summer holidays. It’s important to make sure your child establishes a regular practice routine early in the school year.

Originally posted on Take Note:

By Jenny Silva

We’re sure that everyone with children knows how challenging it is to motivate a child to practice. Every day there are activities that are vying for your child’s attention. Consistent and smart practice is essential to growing as a musician. The sooner your child can start to develop a regular practice regimen, the more apt they will be to succeed in their musical endeavors. Here are 10 tips to help motivate your child to practice:

1) Make practicing part of the routine – same time every day.  Ideally, it should be before the fun stuff – TV time or computer games. Play with what time of day works best for you. My kids are morning kids, and so morning practice works well for us.

2) Set realistic expectations for

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Why Supporting Local Music Matters

Not only is it back to school season, it’s also the time of year when local symphonies and bands, both professional and community, begin their new seasons. Orchestras and bands exist in all 50 states and nearly every community. The Performing Arts Alliance estimates that there are approximately 1800 orchestras alone in the United States, including professional, paid orchestras, volunteer orchestras, collegiate orchestras, and youth orchestras. Do you have an orchestra or band in your community? If you don’t know, it is very likely that there is at least one in your town or county. During the 2014-2015 performance season, we challenge you to go to at least one concert of a local community group, and here’s why:

Community music groups are great for local economies. How many times have you and your friends or family gone out for dinner before or after a sports game or important school function? Musical performances encourage spending at local restaurants, parking facilities, shops and more.

Music organizations create jobs – and not just for the musicians. Depending on the size of the group, it may have an executive director, a marketing team, a personnel manager and music librarian, just to name a few. Even small community groups will require stage crew at venues, box office attendants, and ushers to distribute programs.

Orchestras and bands play an important role in music education and community engagement. Musicians from these groups will often visit local schools and provide educational assemblies, instrument petting zoos, and even coachings on their instruments to students in the music program. Some groups give free performances or open rehearsals in senior living centers, or free, family friendly concerts in local parks. Even the country’s most esteemed musical organizations perform special concerts for children and families. For example, the San Francisco Symphony recently performed live music from several Pixar movies with clips and memorable scenes playing in the background.

To reach a wider audience, orchestras and bands have expanded their musical selections beyond the traditional repertoire. Not everyone finds the standard Bach, Beethoven or Brahms appealing, and there is a lot of great music for orchestra and band from the movies and even video games. So, if you aren’t a particular fan of classical music, look up your local group’s programming for the season and select a concert to attend that will interest you.

This only scratches the surface of the many reasons it is important and FUN to support local music. If we are preaching to the choir and you already do support local music, share this with your friends! Invite them to a concert. Ask them to attend one of your performances. Attend a concert with them – make it an event and go out to dinner before or dessert after. We want everyone to attend one local music concert this season! Lastly, please chime in with reasons why and how you support music in your community.

Top Piano Methods

There are so many different piano methods that as a new student or piano teacher starting out, it can be hard to know which to choose.  We shed some light by providing a summary of each of our top ten selling piano method series.

1. Basic Piano Adventures

Basic_Piano_Adventures

Husband and wife team Randall and Nancy Faber have combined forces to develop piano methods and supplemental materials popular for all ages. Basic Piano Adventures progresses gradually and logically through middle C and multi-key approaches. One of the hallmarks of Piano Adventures is that students begin learning a limited set of notes in the middle C position, but play these notes with varied fingerings. This prevents students from associating a particular note with a particular finger. In addition to the Lesson book, each level includes Theory, Performance, Technique & Artistry, Popular Repertoire and Christmas books. The Piano Adventures series also includes My First Piano Adventures, Accelerated Piano Adventures and Adult Piano Adventures. To learn more, watch our interview with Randall Faber.

Continue reading ‘Top Piano Methods’


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Thought-provoking articles by musicians for musicians, music lovers or those that want to learn more about it!

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