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. more “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

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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. more “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. more “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.

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Ten Facts You Should Know About the (French) Horn

By Jacy Burroughs

1.  Why is it called the French horn? There is some confusion over the correct name of this instrument.   Most non-English speaking countries do not use the nationalistic adjective. Even in France it is simply called cor.  In 1971, the International Horn Society recommended that “horn” be the recognized name for the instrument in the English language. Unfortunately, this hasn’t caught on, especially in the United States. From my experience as a horn player, the instrument is referred to as the French horn throughout primary and secondary education. It was not until college that I learned “horn” was the more accepted term among professionals. The “French” adjective is very misleading because the instrument isn’t even French, which leads me to my second fact.

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Singing With Clarity

 By Judy Pringle

Consonants

You and your choir have worked tirelessly on uniform vowel formation, well-tuned singing, focusing the tone, singing correct notes, beautiful phrase lines.  You’re feeling good.  But step back and give a listen and you’ll often find there isn’t a consonant to be heard.   It is our task as singers to articulate so the listeners can share in the delicious words and message.

We want clear, well-defined consonants in our singing and it’s a challenge to achieve.  When our listeners know the text as in a well-known hymn or carol, we are understood because the context is known.  This is far from the case when the text is unknown.

The topic of consonants is far-reaching, but here are a few tips I use in rehearsing in the English language with my volunteer choir.

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Learning to Play Guitar

By Ryan Jobes

Learning to play guitar can be quite the undertaking, but luckily here at Sheet Music Plus we have some books that can get you pointed in the right direction. Though many guitar players start by attempting self-taught method, beginners can get much faster and quality results by relying on the experience of others. Whether you want to play, rock, classical, or jazz there are a few essential things your going to need to get started.

First of all you are going to need a guitar:

366px-GuitareClassique5

Make sure that you choose a guitar that is appropriate for the style of music that you want to learn to play. Hendrix is not going to have the same punch on a nylon string classical guitar, as it will on an electric. Spend some time doing some research before making a purchase.

Make sure that more “Learning to Play Guitar”

10 Interesting Facts About the Violin

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Sheet Music Plus Violin

Here are some interesting facts about the violin that you may not have known:

  1. The modern violin has been around for roughly 500 years. It was said to have been designed in the 1500’s by Andrea Amati.
  2. Playing the violin burns approximately 170 calories per hour. Forget about your workout and start practicing harder!
  3. Violins are typically comprised more “10 Interesting Facts About the Violin”

Sing Better as You Age

By Judy Pringle

Sing Better As You Age
Sing Better As You Age

A music retailer is asked every day for assistance with repertoire.  It can be both challenging and amusing.  For example:  I need a thrilling SATB anthem for Easter Sunday with brass accompaniment, and the sopranos can’t sing above an ‘e.’ Can you make a suggestion? 

We smile at this request, but it can be a reality for a choral director.  Those of us who conduct adult church and community choirs deal with the aging voice constantly.  It is a fact that with age, our singing mechanism does not improve.  Yet, it is my experience that senior singers are some of the most devoted choristers, and the joy of singing is integral to their lives.

If we, as directors, wish to optimize this lifelong joy for our choristers, and ensure that the aging singer is a benefit to the ensemble, we need to offer tools that will optimize the singing voice as the body naturally and inevitably ages. more “Sing Better as You Age”