Archive for the 'Learn to Play' Category

Frank Sikora’s Jazz Harmony: The Best-Selling Practical Approach to Jazz Now Available in English

“There is no truth in theory – only in music!”

Frank Sikora

That’s Frank Sikora‘s creed.

Frank Sikora is also in charge of the theory department and the Master’s program in Jazz Composition & Arrangement at the University of the Arts Bern and is the author of a best-selling and widely acclaimed jazz theory book, Neue Jazz-Harmonielehre, that is now available in English: Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach.

While this coincidence might seem puzzling or even contradictory at first, it is exactly what lends Sikora’s approach the nuance and balance to successfully bridge the gap between theory and practice. In Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach, Sikora sets out to mold musicians who can adapt to anything, regardless of how novel and unexpected it may be. To achieve this, he establishes a close relationship between theory, the ear and our instrument, forging a dialogue between theory and spontaneity that helps musicians connect with music both intuitively and analytically.

Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach is divided into three sections: Think, Listen and Play. Contrary to our natural instincts to first listen, then play and finally think, Sikora turns this order around to cultivate a knowledge of theory as a way to work past what’s ingrained and instinctive and open a playground of new possibilities. The skilled musician can then begin applying this newfound knowledge to their exploration of the sounds around them and also incorporate this new toolset into their practice until it has become part of their subconscious, intuitive vocabulary.

Ultimately a practical aid rather than a textbook, Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach draws from the jazz canon to demonstrate theoretical principles and gives practical lessons on both listening and playing. In addition to a wealth of examples, exercises and assignments, there are downloadable MP3 play-along tracks and additional materials and solutions available online.

For more visibility into Sikora’s landmark text, click on the cover image below to browse through sample pages containing the table of contents and the introduction, titled “Why yet another Harmony Book?” in which Sikora himself explains his approach in detail:

How to Play the Electric Guitar: Songs, Techniques, Effects, and other Beginner Fundamentals

Guest post by JBostian

Music making is more accessible than it has ever been. In fact, there has been a significant rise in searches for music creation software and instrument sales in the last couple of months.

Anyone from beginners to virtuosos can now make a record of their own from the comfort of their homes. Now, what if you don’t know how to play an instrument? As we’ve already tackled in our article on learning how to play guitar, you can learn how to play all on your own through diligent practice.

If you’ve already read that article and are looking to add a little more oomph to your guitar playing, then you may want to consider the electric guitar. To help you out, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to play this instrument. Read on if you want to learn more about the basics, effects pedals, and easy songs you can start playing!

Continue reading ‘How to Play the Electric Guitar: Songs, Techniques, Effects, and other Beginner Fundamentals’

Top 10 Facts About Drums

Written by Austin Hennen Vigil

The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments and is considered the most important component of the rhythm section of a band; essentially, it is the backbone. Dozens of different types of drums in many shapes and sizes exist today.

Drums are the world’s oldest musical instrument, and while the technology in drums has improved over centuries, the basic design of the drum has virtually remained the same for thousands of years. Here are ten facts about the drums you may not be aware of:  Continue reading ‘Top 10 Facts About Drums’

Top 10 Facts About the Guitar

By Austin Hennen Vigil

The guitar is the world’s second most popular musical instrument, after the piano, and has evolved tremendously over centuries.
The word “guitar” was adopted into English from the Spanish word “guitarra” in the 1600s. Guitars are used in many different genres of music such as: rock, metal, punk, pop, folk, country, traditional, regional, and the blues. Here are some facts about the guitar that you may not know:
Continue reading ‘Top 10 Facts About the Guitar’

Fun Facts about Handbells

by Helena Taylor

  • People who play handbells are known as ‘Ringers’. Not ding-a-lings. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it still not funny years… (decades) later.
  • PT Barnum (Yes, ‘A handbell ringer is born every minute’ PT Barnum) is credited for bringing the English handbell to the USA in the 1840s.
  • There is a difference between English handbells and American handbells. In the United Kingdom, English handbells have leather clapper heads and handles, while American handbells use plastic and rubber clappers and handles. However, in the USA, they’re all known as English handbells even though they’re produced in Pennsylvania. (There’s also a big competition between the two main American manufacturers of English handbells. Take it from me, never try to mix the two brands in the same ensemble. Ringers will notice and you will be called a ding-a-ling.)
  • English handbells are chromatically tuned brass bells, traditionally held by leather handles.

Continue reading ‘Fun Facts about Handbells’

10 Things You Should Know About the Guzheng

If you’re wondering what this harp-table looking instrument is, you’re in the right place. The Guzheng, also known as the Chinese zither, is a wood plucking instrument that can have 21 or more strings.

 

1. Guzheng players wear fake nails.

No, not the ones you can get from the nail salon. These fake nails are actually called finger picks and they’re usually made out of turtle shell. Guzheng players use a cloth tape that was made to tape the picks on the top of their right hand fingers. Not all of them, only the first four. As one increases in level, they would also wear the finger picks on their left hand too. These not only protect your fingers from blistering, but also make sure that the sound comes out bright and not muffled when the string is plucked. Continue reading ’10 Things You Should Know About the Guzheng’

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

Continue reading ‘Organ Fun Facts’

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’

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’


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