Archive for the 'Teacher Resources' Category

Sheet Music Plus Interviews Morty Manus, co-author of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library

by Jacy Burroughs

Piano teachers, have you ever wondered about the creative process that goes into developing a piano method? In September 2015, I had the privilege of interviewing Morty Manus, former president of Alfred Music Publishing and co-author of the popular piano method series Alfred’s Basic Piano Library. He and his wife, Iris, shared with me the story of how the popular piano method series Alfred’s Basic Piano Library was born.

I was deeply saddened to hear of Morty’s passing early in 2016. He was so charming and full of life just a few short months earlier. How lucky I was to have participated in this interview and, with the support of Alfred Music’s fine recording studio staff, publish these videos in honor of him. The interview is separated into thirteen chapters, each of which is summarized below.

In memoriam: Morty Manus (1926-2016)

Continue reading ‘Sheet Music Plus Interviews Morty Manus, co-author of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library’

Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Notes

Sheet music, the written form of music notes, may appear very complex to the untrained eye. While reading music is like learning a whole new language, it is actually much less complicated than you may think. This article will discuss how to read music notes. A separate article will discuss how to read rhythms. Continue reading ‘Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Notes’

Learn How to Read Sheet Music: List of Basic Musical Symbols

Being sheet music enthusiasts, we wanted to provide some help to those music enthusiasts who are just learning how to play or have played by ear for years and would like to learn how to read sheet music notation. We’ve created this tutorial for you, starting with the basic listing of music symbols. Topics covered include the musical staff, clefs, position of notes on the staff, key signatures, time signatures, basic note lengths, and bar lines. A future article will include stylistic markings, like accents, dynamics and tempo markings. For a more in depth discussion on reading music notation, check out our blog “Learn How to Read Sheet Music: Notes”.

Continue reading ‘Learn How to Read Sheet Music: List of Basic Musical Symbols’

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’

How to Read a Fake Book

By Kevin Harper

History of Fake Books and Lead Sheets

Imagine this: you’re a famous jazz player; you’re busy on the road going from gig to gig. One day you come up with a great tune and want to write it down and orchestrate it for your ensemble, but orchestration takes a long time. So instead, you write down the melody and then write out the general chords and any potential rhythms. When you read it during the gig (for the first time no doubt!) you and your bandmates have a general outline of what needs to happen – everything else is improvised. Because improvisations are different everytime, writing down the “correct” way of playing any tune in the old days was impossible.

As jazz grew in popularity, everyone wanted to hear all the popular songs, but the problem was that many of these tunes were hard to find or unpublished. Eventually, lead sheets were circulated from band to band and that became the standard way of notating tunes.

The original fake book, known as The Real Book, contained illegally reproduced, copyrighted songs. It was meant to be used as a textbook of standard jazz tunes. The publishers wanted to pawn off the tunes in the book as “real” versions of the songs. However, legal battles ensued, so any other future books had to have a different name. Thus, the term fake book was born from The Real Book. It also has a double-meaning in that the performer is “faking” his way through the song because the arrangement is not the same as the original version.

Continue reading ‘How to Read a Fake Book’

Organ Fun Facts

By Jacy Burroughs

1. The concept of the organ dates back to an instrument called the hydraulis, invented in Ancient Greece in the 3rd Century BCE. A hydraulis was a mechanical instrument in which the wind pressure is regulated by water pressure. By the 7th Century AD, bellows replaced water pressure to supply the organ with wind.

Ancient Greek Hydraulis

Ancient Greek Hydraulis

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10 tips for staying in shape (on your instrument) over the summer

By Jacy Burroughs

 1. Practice in the morning. If you are on break from school, designate a time in the morning for practicing. That way, you can make sure you at least get some practicing in at the beginning of your day. We all know that if we wait to practice later in the day, we may end up making plans, going out, being too tired and making other excuses not to practice.

2. Set a goal. Whether you are a beginner, a high school student preparing for seating auditions or a college student getting ready for a fall recital, the list of goals you can set for yourself is endless! Maybe you want to get better at sight-reading, learn a new song, work through a particular etude book, memorize a piece – make a goal to achieve by the end of the summer. Set interim goals for yourself along the way so you can check in and make sure you’re on track. Continue reading ’10 tips for staying in shape (on your instrument) over the summer’

10 Outstanding Resources for Jazz Musicians

By Zachariah Friesen

Teachers, students, professionals and dreamers, welcome to the jazz reference mecca. This is comprised of some of the great literary resources, DVDs and method books for the aspiring jazz musician. Learn the keys of success from people who have success in the profession. With these must-have resources, you’ll be jamming, gigging and living the jazz life in no time.

1. How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker – To play jazz you must learn how to hear jazz. The great Jerry Coker beautifully explains how to train your ear and what to listen for in jazz music.

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

Continue reading ’10 Outstanding Resources for Jazz Musicians’

10 Must-Read Books to Help You Succeed in the Music Industry

By Zachariah Friesen

Whether you or one of your kids is embarking on a journey into the world of music, there is help to guide you along the way. These great resources will give you tips on how the music industry works, how you fit into it and how to survive. Intrigue, information and experience – the learning starts now!

1. The Music Lesson (A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music) By Victor Wooten

The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson

“…Every movement, phrase, and chord has its own meaning. All you have to do is find the song inside.”

Continue reading ’10 Must-Read Books to Help You Succeed in the Music Industry’

Introduction to the Classical Period

By Catherine Hua

Canaletto

Have you ever read a composer’s name on a music program and realized that you had no clue how to pronounce it, much less know what to expect for his or her music? (Mr. Dvořák, I’m talking about you.) While the pronunciation is simple to learn (it’s DVOR-zhahk by the way), it’s even easier to get a sense of a composer’s style, once you remember the period that he or she is from. If you need a refresher on the Baroque period, you can read more in our previous article here.

Introduction to the Classical Period

The end of the Baroque period took place as a Continue reading ‘Introduction to the Classical Period’


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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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