Posts Tagged 'music education'



More Teaching Resources – Interview With Michelle Sisler (Keys to Imagination)

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Michelle Sisler

Michelle Sisler

Music lessons should never be a dull or boring experience. There are many great method books and resources that teachers can use to make music lessons fun, interesting and engaging for students of all ages. We were on the lookout for some of these resources while at the Music Teacher’s National Association Convention in Anaheim, California.  Some great resources that stood out were teaching aids and games from Keys to Imagination. Michelle Sisler was running the Keys to Imagination booth right next to ours at the show!

Michelle’s uses of technology and creative teaching materials have gained her national recognition and a Continue reading ‘More Teaching Resources – Interview With Michelle Sisler (Keys to Imagination)’

Tips for Teaching Rhythmic Fundamentals to Music Students

By Carolyn Walter

I can scarcely think of anything more fundamental to musicianship than rhythm. With few exceptions, I find that a solid rhythmic foundation is truly the root of a good performance.  A piece played with otherwise flawless accuracy sounds sloppy or even falls completely apart without proper rhythmic control; never mind if the notes were pitch perfect, the dynamics were  masterful and the ornamentation was authentic. I feel this is true regardless of ensemble size, style or instrumentation.  A choir/orchestra with 100+ members needs to hold together with precision, as does a small ensemble with just a handful.  Even an unaccompanied soloist playing in a very free, rubato style must have a strong sense of pulse to deliver her musical message most effectively.

Like so many things in music, the basics of solid time and rhythmic notation and accurate interpretation can be explained in a few hours . . and perfected over the course of one’s entire life.   While the elementary process of counting correctly can be summarized in just a couple of pages in a basic theory or method book like the following:

Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory Standard of Excellence Edly's Music Theory for Practical People

I find that Continue reading ‘Tips for Teaching Rhythmic Fundamentals to Music Students’

Ukulele – “The Jumping Flea”

By Brendan Lai-Tong

There is something about playing the ukulele that is innately fun and rewarding. If you didn’t already know, the sweet sound of this four stringed instrument has been around since the 1800s and originated in Hawaii. It is said that Portuguese immigrants who came to Hawaii brought an instrument with them known as the caviquinho. Much like the ukulele, it is a small and four stringed instrument. When the Hawaiians saw how rapidly and nimbly the strings of the caviquinho could be played, they gave it the nickname “ukulele“, which roughly translates to “jumping flea“. Eventually, this instrument evolved into what we know as the ukulele.

Lately there has been a huge resugence in the popularity of the ukulele.  The instrument is fun, portable and easy to dive into. It’s not hard to see why everyone wants to jump on board, especially considering how easy it looks when in the hands of a skilled professional like Jake Shimabukoro! Check out Jake’s amazing performance of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody  below to see him in action:

Continue reading ‘Ukulele – “The Jumping Flea”’

Artist Interview – Donn Bradley (Audition Tips for Singers)

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Donn Bradley

Donn Bradley

As many of you already know, the audition process for obtaining singing roles in opera, musicals and other shows can be quite challenging. Just like singing, auditioning is a skill, and it can take a few tries to get a grasp of how the process works.

Today we will be sharing singing and audition advice from Lyric Baritone and Character Tenor – Donn Bradley. Donn is a native of Santa Cruz, CA, and current resident of wherever the work is, USA. Donn is a versatile singer, with solid technique in Opera, Musical Theater, and several popular styles.

He has performed five major roles with Townsend Opera, and narrated five major works for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra including Façade by William Walton, and performed as Bass soloist for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with VITA Academy in Sacramento (2008).

Previous major Opera/Operetta roles include: Ko-Ko in The Mikado (2012), Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance (2011), Njegus in The Merry Widow (2010), Monostatos in The Magic Flute (2009), Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore (2009), Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus (2001), Papageno in The Magic Flute (1998), The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance (1998), and Louis in The Wandering Scholar (1997).

Hi Donn, thanks for taking the time to interview with us.

What inspired you to start a career in music?

I have been able to sing my whole life, though my Continue reading ‘Artist Interview – Donn Bradley (Audition Tips for Singers)’

10 Interesting Facts About Flute

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Flute

When many people think of flutes, they think of a transverse flute, which is typically used in bands and orchestras. The flute has been a part of history for thousands of years and has evolved over that time into the instrument that is often seen today. Here are ten facts you may not have known about the flute:

  1. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist, a flutist, or, less commonly, a fluter.
  2. There are many different sizes of flutes within the flute family: piccolo, alto, tenor, bass and contrabass flute.
  3. Standard concert flute is Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts About Flute’

Music in Community – Paul Herrera

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Hi Sheet Music Plus Fans, welcome back to our Music in Community Series. As many of you already know, budgets for school music programs are very tight. As a result, music directors need to find creative ways to raise funds to provide their students with the musical education that they deserve.

When I was in band, the band parents organized several fundraising opportunities in order to raise the funding necessary to support the program. Bake sales, holiday gift wrapping drives, candy and even cheesecake sales were part of our regular yearly schedules. If there was an opportunity to raise funds, our band was on top of it.

If you didn’t already know, Sheet Music Plus has a great way for organizations to raise funds called Fundraising Plus. Organizations will receive a personalized URL to share that directs to our homepage. Any purchases that are made after clicking through this link will accrue 8% cash back. This is a great way to quickly raise funds for your educational endeavors. Find out more here.

Paul Herrera

Paul Herrera

Today, we’re featuring Paul Herrera, director of Continue reading ‘Music in Community – Paul Herrera’

10 Tips for Improving Sight Reading

By Stephie Stewart

How many times have you seen someone sit down and play music you know they’ve never seen before and play it beautifully? Doesn’t it make you wish you could do that too? Well, the good news is that you can, but it might take a little bit of work. The truth is, most people aren’t naturally great sight-readers. They work at it and they practice it. Sight-reading is more often a learned skill than a natural talent.

“All right,” you say, “so how do I learn to sight read?” A good place to start, would be to start working out of sight-reading method books such as the Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests series, Improve Your Sight-Reading! Series, and Creative Jazz Sight Reading.

Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests

Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests

Improve Your Sight-Reading!

Improve Your Sight-Reading!

Creative Jazz Sight Reading

Creative Jazz Sight Reading

That being said, method books aren’t always for everyone, especially if you aren’t starting at the very beginning of the process. Here are a few tips for anyone who wants to improve their sight-reading, regardless of playing level or experience.

1. Just do it!

As cliché as it might sound, the best thing you can do to improve your sight-reading is to practice sight-reading. Make it part of your regular practice schedule. Find some music that is a few levels below your current level, and just play through it. (Big anthologies are great for sight-reading – there’s a ton of music of varying levels in a single book.) Don’t worry about making it perfect – just concentrate on getting through it. Don’t allow yourself the luxury of working out the hard parts. Do start out a little under tempo if playing up to tempo seems too daunting. As you get more comfortable, slowly increase the level of difficulty of the music and the tempo.

2. Look before you leap

Before you actually begin to play, take a minute to look at what’s coming at you. Look at Continue reading ’10 Tips for Improving Sight Reading’

Music in Community – Bea Ward

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Welcome back to our Music in Community series! For those of you who have just tuned in, this series focuses on the great things people are doing for their community through music. You can check out the other stories in the Music in Community series from teachers and musicians around the world here. Today we are featuring the Inwood Kids Community Orchestra (IKCO). The orchestra is based in New York and was started two years ago by Bea Ward. The ensemble provides playing opportunities for children in Manhattan.  Bea founded the orchestra to provide playing opportunities for her daughter and it has since successfully grown to include more children from the community. Many school and community groups require dues to be paid, making it difficult for some to join. The great thing about the IKCO is that they are FREE to join!   Bea’s story is quite similar to our first first Music in Community feature with Candace Love. You can read Bea’s story below:

My name is Bea Ward & I organized a free orchestra for kids in upper Manhattan. We are Inwood Kids Community Orchestra. I, personally can’t play any instruments or read music, but I am an incredible music appreciator & pretty good at organizing.

Inwood Kids Community Orchestra

Inwood Kids Community Orchestra

Continue reading ‘Music in Community – Bea Ward’

10 Interesting Facts About Trombone

By Zachariah Friesen

Here are 10 interesting facts about trombone that you may not have known. Allow me to indulge you:

1. The trombone is derived from an instrument called a sackbut.

Yes, you read that correctly, sackbut. The name sackbut is derived from the Middle French words saquer and bouter literally means “pull, push”. This is a very fitting name for the instrument since it was the first instrument to have a movable slide. This is unique to the instrument. The sackbut was mainly used in sacred and court music settings during the 1600s. Interestingly, the trombone has changed very little since its precursor, the sackbut. Many other instruments have been improved with major revisions to their original design. Apparently, trombone was the closest to perfection!

2. The trombone is said to be the “Voice of God”.

Some say that Beethoven and other composers described the Continue reading ’10 Interesting Facts About Trombone’

Artist Interview – Phyllis Thomas – Interactive Now! series

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Phyllis Thomas

Phyllis Thomas

Today we had the opportunity to interview Phyllis Thomas, co-author of the Interactive Now! series published by Heritage Music Press.

Phyllis, born and raised in Colorado, has had an extensive career in music as a performer and music educator. She graduated with a M.M. degree from the University of North Texas with a major in vocal performance. Phyllis has sung in productions with the Dallas Opera, Fort Worth Opera and other regional opera companies. Her years of experience as an elementary music teacher in Texas is what eventually led her to co-author the Interactive Now! series with Debbie Anderson, music teacher friend and colleague.

Each volume of the Interactive Now! series, previously known as SMARTBoardNow, is Continue reading ‘Artist Interview – Phyllis Thomas – Interactive Now! series’


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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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