Guest post by Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield and Phyllis Alpert Lehrer, editors of Classics for the Developing Pianist and Study Guides for Preparation, Practice & Performance Books 1-5more “Great Editing: The Difference between Success & Frustration!”
Composer Michael John Trotta has prepared a cheat sheet full of vocal warm-ups to help you get your choir back in the swing of things and sounding better than ever.
Download Michael John Trotta’s Vocal Warm-Up Cheat Sheet here:more “Vocal Warm-Up Cheat Sheet: An Easy Way to Improve the Sound of Your Choir”
Guest post by Leo Nguyen, founder of Six String Tips
Playing guitar solos is one of the highest aspirations a guitar player can have. We’ve all heard amazing guitar solos that are so inspiring that they make us want to do whatever it takes to be able to play them, right?
You may be in a situation where you don’t know where to start or how to have a better understanding of how guitar solos work. Keep reading and you will find really cool concepts that will make a difference in how you approach them!
1. What are guitar solos anyway?
To begin with, we can say that guitar solos are instrumental parts, and as such they provide a great opportunity for the guitar to abandon the accompaniment role and be more of a leader.
Guitar solos fulfill a really important role in the song. (No… not to show off, man!) In any song with vocals, the song gets to certain points where a vocal break is needed, noot only from the singer/vocalist’s perspective (to rest), but also for the sake of song construction.
Imagine if you hear a song with no instrumental gaps: it would be terrible! But guitar solos can give those breaks, and keep the song interesting at the same time. That’s why we need to make sure they are well crafted.
There are a great number of different possibilities in solos, but something we know for sure is that guitar solos always need to be aligned with the style of the song.
What kinds of solos are there?
Melodies – Some solos are basically melodies: a melody already used in the song, or a new one, is presented in a highly expressive and embellished way.
Improvisation – There are cases where guitar solo sections are basically left to the interpretation of the player at a specific time. (This mostly happens in live situations.)more “How to Start to Learn Guitar Solos”
Ludwig van Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas are among the most famous works of chamber music history and represent, together with Mozart’s works for this instrument duo, the core of violin repertoire from the Viennese Classicist period.
Though composed in a short span in Beethoven’s creative life (nine of the ten were written between 1798 and 1803, with the final one appearing in 1812), these sonatas bear all the marks of Beethoven’s compositional innovation: the breaking of formal tradition, a vast emotional scope, skillful musical manipulation, and, of course, the trademark urgency and power.
The new Bärenreiter edition of the violin sonatas — or, as more appropriately titled by Beethoven himself, sonatas for the pianoforte and violin — offers a revolutionary editorial approach to the music that does more than simply hand down the text.
These new volumes, edited by historical performing practice expert Dr. Clive Brown, present an approach to performance that is quite different from what most of today’s musicians are accustomed to. This approach not only falls much more in line with what Beethoven would have expected, but also imbues the music with a renewed vigor and offers musicians an incredible array of opportunities for creativity.
Here violinist Viktoria Mullova and pianist Alasdair Beatson demonstrate some of their most illuminating discoveries from the “Spring” Sonata (Op. 24) and show us why they’re excited to work with these new editions:
The Editorial Approach
Dr. Brown’s new editions of the Beethoven violin sonatas combine a traditional scholarly Urtext approach with a wealth of information on historical performing practice informed by the thorough study of recordings and editions made by 19th-century musicians, many of whom had direct contact with Beethoven himself or with others that did.
These historical sources reveal a striking discrepancy between performance and notation. Composers in Beethoven’s era, including Beethoven himself, simply did not write down a large swath of the expressive gestures that they would have expected musicians to make, including rhythmic and tempo flexibility, piano arpeggiation and asynchrony, portamento, cadenzas, and ornamental, rather than continuous, vibrato effects.
By not including these details in the text, composers created a space bursting with potential for the creative performer to exploit in what could and, most importantly, would be wildly distinctive and thrillingly emotional performances. In many respects, it was a creative freedom much more akin to jazz than to today’s renditions of classical music.more “Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas: Setting the New Performance Standard”
Guest post by Michael Andros
I picked up the guitar at 14, played in a band for 14 years, then quit.
Years later I picked it up again and have been going strong ever since. But the road to guitar greatness is littered with those who gave up.
Hopefully, my experience helps you avoid becoming a casualty on the guitar “battlefield.”
Let’s look at a four-pronged strategy to defeat the biggest causes of quitting — pain, boredom, and discouragement. We will exploit “beginner’s blush,” focus on the mission, explode plateaus, and “learn how to learn.”
How to Exploit “Beginner’s Blush”
The idea here is to harness the almost irrational, dopamine-induced optimism to push through the painful process of earning your “guitar fingers.”more “First Rule of Guitar: Never Give Up”
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.more “Frank Sikora’s Jazz Harmony: The Best-Selling Practical Approach to Jazz Now Available in English”
Guest post by Curran Mahowald, a choral singer who participated in Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 in May 2020
In the spring of 2020, Eric Whitacre assembled his sixth global virtual choir to premiere his new piece, “Sing Gently.” Following a series of virtual rehearsals led by Whitacre himself, 17,572 singers from 129 countries submitted videos of themselves singing their individual lines.
From there, a team of film editors and audio engineers from 59 Productions and Floating Earth assembled the individual submissions into one final virtual performance:
Here is what it was like to contribute my voice to that video.more “A Four-Part Journey through Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir”
Guest post by Dan Leeman, a music educator and software consultant from Fargo, North Dakota. He taught middle school band and went on to found the Davies High School band program in 2011. Dan’s new site, notestem.com, combines his love of music, education, and technology. While the site is in its infancy, it will be home to music tools and resources that will be released in the coming months.
The impacts of Coronavirus and social distancing are being felt all around the world. Music teachers and students alike are wrestling with the effects on the music-making process, both logistically and emotionally.
One of the greatest opportunities during this phase of social distancing is to establish strong practice routines. Here are some tips to help make the most of your practice time. more “Tips on Practicing Music in the Time of COVID-19”
Nancy and Randall Faber are pleased to announce the release of their newest digital support tool, the Piano Adventure Sightreading Coach. This innovative technology provides immediate feedback and assessment, making it the perfect companion to the Piano Adventures Sightreading books.
The Sightreading Coach “listens” to the student play along with the score, and instantly grades rhythm and pitch by highlighting incorrect notes and rhythms. Students can practice the exercise as often as they wish, and upload their best performance to the teacher in between lessons. Teachers can monitor student progress without using valuable lesson time, making at-home practice more accurate and efficient.more “Sightreading. Solved.”
I am not by any means a master gardener. But every spring, I get excited when my local nursery begins to display their colorful annuals and perennials for sale. I shop for old favorites like geraniums and sweet-smelling marigolds, and add new varieties that are different and beautiful. I fill my car with what I hope will be hardy plants that will grow and blossom, making my yard more beautiful, and I carefully plant, fertilize and water them throughout the summer.
Handbell choirs can be like that, too. Each new season brings an opportunity to greet old friends and integrate new ringers into your ministry. Providing the right mix of instruction, inspiration, and music can make your handbell ministry flourish and become an integral part of your church’s music ministry, both within your congregation and out in the community.
What are some essential steps to grow a handbell ministry? more “Bring the Ring!”