Posts Tagged 'music education'

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’

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 Fun Facts About the Saxophone

By Carolyn Walter

A relatively new-kid-on-the block as instruments go, the saxophone was invented less than 200 years ago! Here is a short sampling of facts about this versatile instrument:

1. While typically constructed of brass, the saxophone is actually a member of the woodwind family.  The sax earns this classification because of the way sound is produced: a player’s embouchure creates an airtight seal over the mouthpiece, vibrating a single reed in the manner of a clarinet.  Brass instruments, by contrast, are played by buzzing one’s lips on the rim of the mouthpiece.

2.  Despite the previous statement that saxes are usually made of brass, there are exceptions. Continue reading ’10 Fun Facts About the Saxophone’

Musical Characteristics and Performance Practice of the Classical Period

By Jacy Burroughs

The Classical period of music had its advent in Italian music of the early eighteenth century and extended into the early nineteenth century. Some musicologists mark the end of the Classical period around 1815, at the end of Beethoven’s compositional middle period. However, the Classical period truly overlaps with both the Baroque and Romantic periods. Characteristics of and performance considerations for Classical period music are outlined below.

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Ten Interesting Cello Facts

By Jacy Burroughs

Cello_front_side

1. Cello comes from the Italian term violoncello, which actually means “little violone.” (No, I didn’t spell violin wrong.) The violone is the lowest-pitched instrument in the viol family, a group of stringed instruments that were used primarily before the eighteenth century. During the twentieth century, it became customary to abbreviate violoncello as “cello.”

2. The cello is actually part of the violin family, which came into prominent use in the eighteenth century. There are several differences between instruments in the viol family and violin family. Continue reading ‘Ten Interesting Cello Facts’

10 Need-to-Know Facts About the Clarinet

By Carolyn Walter

1. The clarinet has unique acoustics.

Among the canon of typical modern orchestral woodwinds, clarinets are the only reed instruments with cylindrical bores; meaning that the empty space inside the instrument remains the same diameter through the whole length of the tube.  Related reed instruments including saxophones, oboes, English horns and bassoons are all conical-bored; they are  narrow at the top end, widening out to a much larger bell opening.  The sound of a conical instrument, like a sax or bassoon is composed, of both odd and even harmonics, which is why normal fingerings overblow one octave higher for these instruments. As the clarinet is basically a cylindrical pipe closed on only one end (the mouthpiece as it is being played), the wavelength produced changes, and the even-numbered harmonics will not be present in the sound.  This means that lowest notes on your clarinet will overblow at the twelfth – a low E becomes a middle-register B natural when the register key is applied, etc.

2. Each register of the clarinet’s range has its own name.

Continue reading ’10 Need-to-Know Facts About the Clarinet’

A Brief Guide to Baroque Performance Practice

By Jacy Burroughs

The Baroque period is defined as the advent of opera to the death of Bach, which was roughly 1600-1750. Each period of classical music is characterized by its own styles, techniques, and musical characteristics. While most people do not have the option to play on historically accurate instruments, it is still important to work toward historically informed performance by studying the musical style of that time. Several important characteristics of Baroque music are outlined below.

Continue reading ‘A Brief Guide to Baroque Performance Practice’


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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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