Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Musical Home: P is for Piano

From http://www.examiner.com/x-1510-Seattle-Music--Parenting-Examiner~y2008m11d11-The-Musical-Home-P-is-for-Piano-Part-One-What-AGE-should-my-child-be-when-they-start-piano

The Musical Home: P is for Piano, Part One: What AGE should my child be when they start piano?

by Linda Sebenius, Seattle Music & Parenting Examiner

Year after year, THIS is the number one question I hear from parents. There are so many answers! I usually offer the response that the age of seven is a good age to start, typically. That’s the short and easy answer, so for those that want the short/easy, no need to read any further! (Just in case you’re still reading, in the following paragraphs, I’ll share why this is typical, and when to do what is not typical.)

But, let’s talk about the goal here first. The hope is that taking piano lessons will be a successful experience your child will launch from and explore music for a lifetime. So, OK.  the goal is to have a successful experience. What in the heck does that mean?!!! My theory is if you are enjoying learning, you‘ll want to learn more. If you aren’t enjoying learning, then you’ll want to stay as far away as possible. It’s the old go towards pleasure and away from pain ever-so-human thing we ALL do. So I would say the goal is for your child to enjoy learning piano. The best way to ensure this is to really know what your child enjoys.

So let’s start with what is typical.

By age seven, most children are enjoying reading symbols on a page, and in music they will be reading left to right. The ability to track symbols will help them be successful at reading piano music too.

By age seven, most children are able to sit and focus (sit being the key word!) for longer periods of time, say…20 – 30 minutes at a time. If your child struggles at sitting still, piano lessons my not be so enjoyable for them.

By age seven, most children have a great degree of fine motor skills, and have integrated the left and right hemispheres of their brain, thus they are able to use both hands fairly equally at the piano.

Here’s when I recommend doing what is not typical.

If your child is 3 or 4 and is beggggggging to play piano, then by all means find a teacher that specializes in very young beginners. The Suzuki method starts children on piano when they are very young, although reading music comes later.

If your child is 5 or 6 and is already reading, sitting and focusing for long periods, and finds the piano interesting, taking piano lessons (again with a teacher that specializes in very young beginners) would be a great supplement to their learning world.

There are many reasons you may want to have your child in piano. Maybe you always wish YOU had had lessons, maybe they come from a long line of musical geniuses, or maybe you believe they are the first family musical genius! Whatever the reason, piano is a great way to begin or continue your child’s musical life. Having private lessons with just the teacher at the right time will meet the goal: Enjoy learning piano!

If you have questions about piano lessons, feel free to contact me at Linda@musicshinemedia.com

Coming soon: P is for Piano Part two: What kind of Piano should we have for our child?

Other articles of interest:




Sunday, November 9, 2008

After 40 years, teacher still has passion for piano

From http://www.leadertelegram.com/story-features.asp?id=BI8AP0I5GF7

By Chuck Rupnow
Leader-Telegram staff

PLUM CITY - Piano teacher Luella Dettling looked into the eyes of her student and asked: "Remember what flat tires do?"

Adam Heath, 9, a fourth-grader at Ave Maria Academy in Plum City replied: "They go down."

"That's it. Now tackle it. Tackle it," Dettling said, smiling at the boy as he worked his way through a new song.

The scene - Dettling taking notes and giving positive advice while sitting next to a student on a piano bench - has not changed in more than 40 years.

Dettling, 80, has given private lessons at her home in rural Maiden Rock and other locations for decades, while also playing organ and piano at churches for Sunday services, weddings and funeral services. Overall, she's been playing piano about 73 years.

"I enjoy it. I enjoy music and it's a joy just to be able to play, so I do as much as I can," Dettling said. "I said to one lady that if I didn't have my music, I'm not sure if I'd be good for anything.

"I don't know how long I'll be able to continue. Only the Lord knows," she added in her humble tone. "The Lord gives us each something. We all need something that gives us that extra little joy."

Dettling gives lessons at the school once a week, otherwise giving them at her home.

She's given lessons to two generations of some families.

Dettling isn't sure exactly when she started giving lessons, saying it was in the 1960s.

"I had played for a program in the local school and a lady came up to me and asked if I would teach her daughter. I said, 'Oh, I don't know about that.' I hadn't done that. I just said I would try, and I kept going."

Dettling started playing piano around age 7, receiving lessons at her Stockholm area farm from her mother, Esther Larson. Larson had attended MacPhail Center for Music, a Minneapolis music conservatory founded in 1907 by William MacPhail.

"She did a lot of playing, so I would watch her and listen to her," Dettling said of her mother. "It just evolved because there was always music at our house. We didn't have television. We played games or sang around the piano - kind of a different era than we have now."

Larson also taught Dettling's brothers, Lowell Larson, 83, of La Crosse, and Burton Larson, 77, of Ellsworth, to play piano.

"She got them going too, but I guess it was harder for them because they were outside more with the farming chores," Dettling said.

Dettling started playing for weddings when she was 17, using a pump organ on several occasions. "I just about wore myself out doing that," she said.

She has played for scores of weddings and funerals over the years and has programs from the events to prove it.

She drew praise as an accompanist from singer Kelly Johnson of rural Pepin.

"She's very good, and she just is always available," said Johnson, whose three children have taken piano lessons from Dettling. "She's so flexible; she'll play anything, try anything. Usually, when she's playing for me she's not done that song before, but she's game to try it."

Dettling plays Sundays at two Maiden Rock area churches, 8:15 a.m. at Maiden Rock Methodist church and again at 10:30 a.m. at Lund Mission Covenant Church.

"She plays pretty much every Sunday and also for any special occasion; anything that we need her for," said Lund Mission Pastor Greg Satterberg. "She is a very good pianist and organist, a very gifted person who has been willing to adjust her schedule to help out whenever needed."

Dettling started teaching at the school about 19 years ago. She now has about six individual students and teaches a music theory class.

"The kids just love her," said Mary E. Wieser, full-time volunteer at preschool through fourth-grade Ave Maria school. "She's very supportive of the school and a part of the family here."

On one recent morning, Dettling sat patiently on the bench with Brendan Swancutt, 11, a home-schooled student from Plum City who takes piano lessons at Ave Maria. "You know this, you know it. You can do it, you can do it. Do what it says and tell me what you are doing," she told him encouragingly.

"I am just amazed at times how the children catch on. It really is quite a thrill at times when they get it. I just plain enjoy it.

"With playing piano it's something that can go on a lifetime and you can also give service to others," she said. "Playing is such a joy, and to see the younger ones learning, well, that's a joy too."

Rupnow can be reached at 830-5831, 800-236-7077 or chuck.rupnow@ecpc.com.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The black keys


From http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/oct/12/lesson2-black-keys

Now we're going to start venturing off the white notes of the keyboard


Now things begin to get a little bit more complicated.


Using the pedals

Most pianos have two pedals and some have three. Electronic keyboards may also have pedals or attachments.

The right pedal

This is the sustaining pedal (sometimes wrongly called the loud pedal). If you hold this down with your right foot it allows the notes to continue to sound until you raise the pedal. This is because the pedal raises the dampers off the strings which allows them to continue resonating after you have struck the note.

The left pedal

This is the soft pedal which makes the sound more muted. On an upright piano it does this by moving the hammers nearer the strings so they strike less powerfully. On a grand piano this pedal moves the whole keyboard sideways, leaving one string in each set of three unstruck.

The middle pedal

Some grand pianos have this third pedal. This is known as the sostenuto pedal and it allows you to hold the sound of a note above all of the others. Play the note while simultaneously holding down the pedal. Let go and that note will be sustained; if you keep the pedal down and play other notes, they will not be sustained. Some modern pianos have a middle pedal which is just a practice pedal, however.

Tips for getting started

Most beginners overdo the sustaining pedal. Use your ears- wait until you hear a chord sound, then apply the pedal (never pedal right on the beat- delay it slightly). You will need to release the pedal when the harmony (chord) changes. Try pushing your piano stool out slightly before playing a piece using pedal.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Marian McPartland: The Grand Lady Of Jazz Piano

From http://www.content4reprint.com/music/marian-mcpartland-the-grand-lady-of-jazz-piano.htm

A born child prodigy, Marian Portland started playing the piano at the age of three. She is formally trained in both the violin and the piano. Her real name is Margaret Marian Turner. A student of classical music, she got her music education at the Guildhall School of Music in London but her heart was not in studying classical music. She fell in love with the jazz masters including Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams and the likes. Her family opposed her tendency towards jazz music and tried to keep her grounded at Guildhall.

She went against her family's wishes and joined a group - Billy Mayerl's Claviers- a four piano vaudeville ensemble. A majority of the gigs that the group had were performances for the Allied Troops who were fighting in World War II in Europe. On tour while playing in Belgium, she met her future husband and cornetist from Chicago Jimmy McPartland in 1944. They got married a while later at a military base in Germany. They played at their own wedding.

The couple moved to Jimmy's native country and settled down in Chicago after the war was over. They later shifted residence to Manhattan where they stayed in the same building that the Nordstorn Sisters were staying. She formed a trio there. Marian got a gig at the New York jazz club The Hickory House. For eight years from 1952 to 1960, they were resident group there. During her stint there, she caught the eye of the celebrity audience and all the stars of the time from Broadway and Hollywood would drop in to see her perform. Her regular audience consisted of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Steve Allen and Oscar Peterson.

Her stint at The Hickory House though was not creatively satisfying for her as she would have liked. In between and after sets, she would quickly move to the nearby clubs where jazz would be played and studied Duke, Basie, Monk, Bud Powell and Dave Brubeck's music. She said to a query regarding this habit of hers saying "My goal was to hear everything, and play a lot of musicians' tunes."

The following years saw Marian records for various record labels. She started her own record label in 1969. The future years also saw her associated with the Concord Jazz label. She launched a radio show in 1964 on WBAI-FM which consisted of guest interviews and recordings. This led to another radio show of hers - Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on National Public Radio which is still running. It holds the record for being the longest running cultural show on National Public Radio. Some of the programs were released on CD which had her and other guest pianists playing released by Concord Records.

A few artist"s who she has had on her show include Ray Charles, Bill Evans, violinist Stephane Grapelli, Warren Vache and Joe Wilder. Marian is still active despite turning 91. She had a grand birthday bash with a whole of jazz musicians at the Dixxy's Club-Cola Club. She was joined by guest artists in addition to her own band members - trumpet player Jeremy Pelt, Gary Mazzaroppi and Glenn Davis.

She was known to be excellent at adapting to the stylings of her guests on the show. That apart, she did also record a lot of her own compositions. Her well known songs include Twilight World, There Will Be Other Times, Ambiance and In The days Of Our Love. She claims that she cannot read music though she received formal training in music when she was young. She is proficient at transposing a tune to any key and playing it well. Her last known composition is Portrait of Rachel Carson in honor of environmentalist Rachel Carson on her centennial birth anniversary.

She had knack for remembering a plethora of jazz tunes and play them on the spot. She could also handle almost any other concoction of jazz that she heard or that the person playing with her would be playing. Marian won her first Grammy ever in 2004. She was honored with the Trustees Lifetime Achievement citing her legacy as an educator, writer and radio host. Despite the onslaught of the years, she is as alive as ever performing, playing radio host and composing. She along with Dave Brubeck and Billy Taylor were the first recipients of the annual Jazz Achievement Awards courtesy the no. 1 jazz radio station in the United States. Berklee School of Music inferred upon her an Honorary Doctorate in 2005.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Interesting Facts About the Piano and Piano Music


from http://www.symbianize.com/showthread.php?t=78637

Interesting Facts About the Piano and Piano Music
especially if you're doing piano research

Did you know that:
Christie's Auction House recently sold a Victorian Steinway grand piano for $1.2 MILLION DOLLARS! The piano was sold to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

What famous piano company was Engelhard Steinweg the founder of?

Maybe this will help. In 1850 he Americanized his name to Henry E. Steinway!
1997 was the 200th Anniversary of his famous Steinway Pianos!

That the piano is known as "The King of Instruments"? The piano earned this title for a number of reasons including it's tonal range ( the piano covers the full spectrum of any instrument in the orchestra from below the lowest note of the double bassoon to above the top note of the piccolo), it's ability to produce melody and accompaniment at the same time (try that on a flute) and it's broad dynamic range. It is also the largest musical instrument (excluding the pipe organ), most versatile and one of the most interesting.

That the average medium size piano has about 230 strings, each string having about 165 pounds of tension, with the combined pull of all strings equaling approximately eighteen tons !

The total string tension in a concert grand is close to Thirty Tons!
That a boxed model D Steinway Grand Piano weighs 1400 Pounds !
That six Steinways are now in the Smithsonian collection.

The working section of the piano is called the action. There are about 7500 parts here, all playing a role in sending the hammers against the strings when keys are struck.

A new piano should be tuned four times the first year, with the change of seasons, and at least twice a year after that.

There are over 10 MILLION pianos in American homes, businesses, and institutions.

The first practical piano with an escapement mechanism for the hammers and capable of being played softly and loudly was built in 1700 by an Italian, Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731).

The Smithsonian in Washington, DC is celebrating the 300th anniversary of the piano with a wonderful exhibit that runs through March 2001. For more information.

Cristofori made few pianos, his attention was to the building of harpsichords.
The name piano is an abbreviation of Cristofori's original name for the instrument: piano et forte or soft and loud.

Spinet pianos were made by Samuel Blythe as early as 1789 at Salem, Mass.
The term Grand was first used in 1777.

Abraham Lincoln used Chickering Grand #5070 while at the White House.
During 1869 the US produced 25,000 pianos valued at $7,000,000, during 1910 production was 350,000 pianos valued at $100,000,000 !

The term "Tickle the Ivories" refers to playing the ivory keys of the piano, however, ivory has not been used to make piano keys since about the 1950's (they are plastic, sometimes referred to as "Ivorine").

That there are currently over 50 Brand Names of pianos?

During the past 100 years there have been approximately 5000 Brands of pianos placed on the market. Most are still on display in homes or elsewhere.
Pianos are made of thousands of pieces of wood glued together to form various parts of the playing mechanism as well as the cabinet. Felt, buckskin, paper, steel, iron, copper, and other materials are also used.

Independent studies show that children who learn piano tend to do better in school. This is attributed to the discipline, eye-hand coordination, social skills building, learning a new language (music) and the pleasure derived from making your own music.

It should also be noted here that anyone considering a career in any facet of music should consider studying the piano . Many music schools require at least one semester of piano, regardless of your major.

Over the years there have been many attempts at "improving" the piano. One such experiment was to replace some of the wooden action parts with plastic. It didn't work, they cracked with age. (If you own one of these pianos, you might want to check out Piano Tuners to get it repaired or even Piano Dealers to replace it). There were many other ideas that tried and failed including the Jensen piano which had 2 keyboards, a vertical grand, one that had a keyboard that was more like a typewriter and many others.

"You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish"

Answer: Sure you can, you just adjust it's scales!

Presidential Pianos
1st President - George Washington - Longman & Broderip Harpsichord; Schoen & Vinsen Pianoforte
2nd President - John Adams - Currier & Co.
3rd President - Thomas Jefferson - Astor Pianoforte
4th President - James Madison - Square Grand (name destroyed by fire)
5th President - James Monroe - Astor Piano
6th President - John Quincy Adams - Currier & Co.
7th President - Andrew Jackson - T. Gilbert & Co. Square Piano
8th President - Martin Van Buren - Hallet & Cumston Square Piano
9th President - William Henry Harrison - Haines Brothers
10th President - John Tyler - Thomas Tomkinson Upright Piano
11th President - James Knox Polk - Astor & Harwood Square Piano
12th President - Zachary Taylor - name unknown
13th President - Millard Fillmore - name unknown
14th President - Franklin Pierce - Chickering Square Piano
15th President - James Buchanan - Chickering Grand Piano
16th President - Abraham Lincoln - Chickering Square Piano & Chickering Upright
17th President - Andrew Johnson - Steinway & Sons Square Piano
18th President - Ulysses S. Grant - Melodeon
19th President - Rutherford B. Hayes - Bradbury Upright & Harpsichord (name destroyed by fire)
20th President - James A. Garfield - Hallet & Davis Upright
21st President - Chester A. Arthur - Piano cannot be located.
22nd President - Grover Cleveland - Combination Piano & Harpsichord (name destroyed by fire)
23rd President - Benjamin Harrison - J. & C. Fischer Upright Piano, Haines Brothers Square
24th President - Grover Cleveland - (same as above)
25th President - William McKinley - A. H. Gale Co. Square Piano
26th President - Theodore Roosevelt - Chickering Upright, Steinway Grand Piano
27th President - William Howard Taft - Baldwin Grand Piano
28th President - Woodrow Wilson - Ernst Rosenkranst Square Piano, Knabe Grand
29th President - Warren G. Harding - A. B. Chase Electric Player Piano
30th President - Calvin Coolidge - Sohmer Upright Piano
31st President - Herbert Hoover - Knabe Grand & A. B. Chase Grand
32nd President - Franklin D. Roosevelt - Hardman Grand
33rd President - Harry S. Truman - Steinway Grand, Baldwin Grand & Steinway Upright
34th President - Dwight D. Eisenhower - Hallet & Cumston Upright
35th President - John F. Kennedy - Ivers & Pond Grand Piano
36th President - Lyndon B. Johnson - Style L. Steinway, Knabe Console
37th President - Richard M. Nixon - Geo. P. Bent Upright, Baldwin Vertical
38th President - Gerald Ford - No personal piano
39th President - James (Jimmy) Carter - Ludden & Bates
40th President - Ronald Reagan - Steinway Grand
41st President - George Bush - Did not own personal piano.
42nd President - William (Bill) Clinton - Baldwin Grand in the Governor's Mansion.

Jonas Chickering was the first exporter of American made pianos. First shipment to India 1844.

Yamaha, established in 1887 was the first piano manufacturer in Japan.

That pianos were the first meaningful brand names, the first Status Symbol, and the first major items sold on an installment basis, which was the cornerstone of several major banking institutions of today.

A grand piano action is faster than a vertical (spinet, console, upright) because it has a repetition lever. This allows the pianist to repeat the note when it is only half way up. A vertical action requires letting the key all the way up to reset the hammer action.

Piano Sizes
Concert Grand - 8' 11" and larger
Half Concert Grand - 7'4"
Parlour Grand 6'8"
Drawing Room Grand - 6'4"
Professional Grand - 6'
Living Room Grand - 5'10"
Baby Grand - 5'8"
Upright - 51" and up
Vertical - 36" - 51"
Studio - 44" or taller
Console to 42"
Spinet - 36" to 38"

The worlds largest piano is a Challen Concert Grand. This piano is 11 feet long, has a total string tension of over 30 tons and weighs more than a ton !!
The term A-440 concert pitch refers to A above middle C vibrating at 440 cycles per second.

The first note (on a standard 88 note keyboard) is A .

The exact middle of the keyboard is not middle C, it is actually the space between E and F above "middle" C.

The last note of the keyboard is C.

The Bösendorfer Imperial concert grand piano is 9' 6" long and has 9 extra keys stretching to a growling C below bottom C ! (The Imperial grand sold for $55,000 in 1980!) The 9' and 7' 4" grands have four extra bass keys, the lowest of which is F below bottom C.

Comma (or coma) -- A minute interval or difference in the pitches of the same musical tone occasioned by different systems of tuning. The comma of Didymus is an interval such as that between two enharmonically equivalent notes like B-sharp and C-natural, an amount of 24 cents. (cents are 1/100th of a semitone) The syntonic comma is the interval between a just major third (5:4) and a Pythagorean third (81:84). The comma of Pythagoras (known also as the ditonic comma) is the difference between a cycle of just fifths and seven perfect octaves. In equal temperament tuning this comma is absorbed by the diminishing of each successive fifth in the cycle by the amount of 1/12th of the comma.

Paul Janko, Austria, constructed a keyboard of six tiers, one above the other -- runs and arpeggios made less difficult than on regular piano keyboard.
Zumpe created the square piano in England in 1760.

Beethoven's Studio Piano is in the National Museum, Vienna, Austria.

The first patent issued to H. Steinway, New York, was May 5, 1857.

G. Hoffman built a symmetrically rounded piano in 1804.

M. Welte and Son of Freiburg, Germany and Ludwig Hupfeld introduced the reproducing pianos about 1904.

Sebastian Erard made the first French Square piano in 1777 and the first grand in 1796.

John Broadwood enlarged the strings in the square piano, used two thick strings instead of three thinner ones and moved the wrest plank from the right side to the bottom of the case in 1788.

Johann Christian Schleip built many vertical pianos known as the "Giraffe Piano".

Johann Behrent built the first piano in America at Philadelphia in 1775 under the name "Piano Forte".

Mangeot of Paris built a piano with reversible keyboards in 1876.

Sebastian Erard built a piano and organ combined for Marie Antoinette.

Piano Row was located on 14th Street, New York. This was the headquarters of such fine pianos as Steinway, Steck, Behning, Bradbury, Sohmer and many others.

Nickelodeon is a general term used to describe various electrical coin operated pianos.

The first census giving figures for instrument makers was in 1860 which was 223 - about 110 were piano manufacturers.

About 1870 Daniel F. Beatty advertised rosewood square grands for $255.
Piano player was developed 1863 with push up cabinet, with wooden felt covered fingers that depressed keys. R.W. Pain was probably the first to build a pneumatic self playing piano, a 39 note self contained player for Needham & Sons in 1880.

J.C. Stoddard, Worcester, Massachusetts, invented the Calliope in 1855.
A drop of 1/2 step in pitch can equal a change of 3000 to 5000 Pounds of tension! (Now you know why it is important to keep your piano tuned).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Find Tons of Free Piano Music Online


Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-articles/find-tons-of-free-piano-music-online-510570.html

Sheet music can be expensive to purchase on a regular basis. If you want to expand your piano music library without spending a lot of money, download free sheet music from the Internet. A simple Internet search for “free sheet music,” “free piano music” and “piano music online” opens up many avenues for you to explore. Consider even more variations and your website possibilities will overflow.

Many sites offer total access to their piano music library. Others permit limited access to free sheet music. If you desire their full complement of music, you may have to sign up for a membership and pay a fee. However, even limited access to their free resources may give you the music you require.

The best sheet music sites allow you to refine your search for piano tunes. Many have detailed search functions that let you search by artist, genre or period. You can specify Baroque or Impressionist classical music and find what you need quicker. You can perform a search that narrows things down even more, for example, indicating you want “Jazz Christmas Tunes.” You can be as specific as you need to be on a quality piano music website.

When searching for free piano music, you will find music directories that list other sites that can offer piano music. These directories are a valuable resource. With these sites you obtain links to a host of other sites containing a wide variety of music. A good piano music site often has little extras. Some supply the sheet music in a PDF format for download.

Many sites supply free piano music and have accompanying audio files that allow you to listen to songs as you print them. Some incorporate free music lessons and piano tutorials in a digital feed format. You can find lots of free piano music online by joining a music forum. Here you can chat with other musicians and share information about where to find the piano music you need. You will find that others often know about less popular websites that have great databases of free sheet music. You cannot efficiently search every website in cyberspace yourself; why not get help from those who already know where the good ones are?

Another great source for free piano music is university or college online libraries. You can find specific music to download on many of these sites. Many of these also provide links to even more sites that have free sheet music downloads. A university site is a wonderful resource for older collections of piano music as well.

One caveat is to be sure the sites are truly free sites. Don’t be lured into giving out your credit card number as a one-time administration fee or anything like that. While you may access a lot of music, you did pay. You may find you will pay even more if you do not read the fine print and have authorized monthly payments on your card for a membership to a site.
A savvy searcher can find tons of free piano music online. Free piano music from reputable websites can provide you with an endless stream of music for your enjoyment.

About the Author:
Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at “Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!”

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Play From A Fake Book

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peter_Edvinsson http://EzineArticles.com/?Piano-Lesson—How-To-Play-From-A-Fake-Book&id=947350

Piano Lesson - How To Play From A Fake Book
By Peter Edvinsson

A fake book can be a source of many inspiring piano exercises. It contains a lot of melodies written in a concise format that includes only the melody and chord names. Let us take a look at how you can use these melodies to become a better pianist!

First of all we will take a look at how melodies are notated in a fake book. Usually you will find the melody of a song in sheet music notation together with chord suggestions above the notes. This economical way of notating makes it possible to fill a fake book with a lot of melodies.

The advantage of this way of notating melodies is that you can have a fake book as a reference book with a lot of melodies at your disposal.

The drawback is that you do not have a written out arrangement of the song for piano. You have to figure out how to play the song by yourself. Actually this can be an advantage that will help you develop as a pianist letting you interpret the song’s performance as you feel is appropriate.

One little melody in a fake book can give you many exercises in different areas of your piano playing  and help you in your development as a musician. Here are a few examples:

1. Learn to play chords together with a melody. For example, play chords with your left hand and melody with your right hand, play bass notes with your left hand and combine melody and chord notes with your right hand, play various combinations of bass notes, chord notes and melody notes with both hands.

2. Learn to find the right chords to use when playing a melody. In a fake book you will find chord suggestions that can easily be supplemented with more chords making the voicings and chord progressions more exciting.

3. Learn to improvise by using the melody as a starting point. This is often called melodic improvisation. You can also use the chords or the fitting scales as a foundation for your improvisation. This is called chordal improvisation and scale improvisation.

4. Learn to play the songs in the piano fake book in different keys thus developing your ability to play by ear and understand the piano keyboard by transposing songs you have learned.

Actually you can use a song in a fake book as the basis for your development as a pianist if your goal is to be a good piano player in the area of improvised piano music. Let us take an example from a fake book. You have a song of your choice in front of you with melody, chord suggestions and nothing more. What can you do to use this song as a starting point for a piano practice session?

We suppose that the song starts with the chord C-major and then in the next bar you will find the chord F-major. Here are some suggestions on what to practice drawn from these two bars of music.

1. Work on chord voicings. Practice playing C-major triads with your left hand in the three inversions. That means that you play the chord C-major with the three notes involved, C, E and G, in three combinations, that is, CEG, EGC or GCE. Do the same with the chord F-major. Practice also to move from C to F in various combinations.

2. Work on playing the melody in different ways. Single right hand notes, playing right hand octaves, playing the melody with your left hand and chords with your right hand and more.

3. Work on adding more chords. For example, taking the C-chord to F could go via Gm7 and C7 thus creating the following chord sequence, C, Gm7, C7, F. Much can be done to spice the song by adding more chords to the ones in the fake book.

4. Add notes to the chords you use in your song. A C-major chord can easily be substituted with a Cmaj7 chord or a Cmaj9 and you can find more interesting chords if you focus on one chord at a time. Of course you can work on playing these new chords in different combinations and inversions too.

5. Use the song as a foundation for improvisation. Learn a melody passage by heart. Play this passage over and over again with small changes in the melody thus practicing melodic improvisation. Or use the chords. The chord C-major suggests two major scales to use when improvising. You can use a C-major scale or a C-major pentatonic scale for example.

To sum up you can use one single song in a fake book as the basis for piano exercises in many areas of your development as a pianist and at the same time you build up a repertoire with popular melodies for your own benefit and the enjoyment of other people.

Peter Edvinsson is a pianist, composer and music teacher. He invites you to download your   free piano sheet music at http://www.capotastomusic.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Learn to Play Fur Elise


From http://ezinearticles.com/?Piano-Tabs---Learn-to-Play-Fur-Elise&id=1232366

In this piano lesson you will learn to read easy keyboard tablature. Piano tab notation is easy to read even if you do not know how to read sheet music. You will also learn to play an easy piano version of Fur Elise by Beethoven.

To know how to read and play piano sheet music is a great asset. It is worth developing this skill as you have a nearly unlimited amount of piano sheet music titles to play.

When you try to learn piano sheet music I suggest that you take time to learn just a few notes at a time. Learn the placement of the notes on the sheet music staff and also where to play them on your piano.

Meanwhile you can learn to read the easier piano tab notation.

Piano tabs or keyboard tablature is an easy way to learn melodies and other types of piano music. We will use a common way to describe how you are to play the keys on your piano.

Sheet music notation shows the notes to play but not how to play them on your instrument. Tablature on the other hand shows the keys to play on your piano.

To read the piano tabs you have to learn the note names of the white keys on your piano. First we will take a look at the note c at the middle of the piano keyboard. It is called middle c or sometimes c4.

The black keys on the keyboard are organized in groups consisting of two or three black keys. Middle c is immediately to the left of two black keys at the middle of the keyboard.

As we mentioned before middle c is sometimes called c4 as it is in the fourth octave of a piano or a grand. Octave means eight and you have played eight notes if you start with c and play the white keys until you come to the next c.

The following notes to the right of c is d e f g a b and then you have the next c. This c is subsequently called c5 as it is in the fifth octave of a piano. On a smaller type of keyboard with fewer keys you will still use c4 to show middle c.

The c note to the left of middle c is called c3. All notes to the left of two black keys are c notes in different octaves.

The easy piano tabs we will use to play Fur Elise has the following rules:

1. The white keys are indicated with lowercase letters. An example: c d e f g a b

2. The black keys are shown by uppercase letters. For example, A D-major chord is written d F a. The uppercase letter F shows that the note is the black key to the right of f.

3. The octave to play is showed with a number after the letter. The note c4 means, play middle c. The following notes will not have a number until it is time to change octave. Here is a C-major arpeggio: c4 e g c5

It is time to play the first notes of Fur Elise. It is written as an easy melody for your right hand:

e5 D e D e b4 d5 c a4 c e a b e G b c5

e4 e5 D e D e b4 d5 c a4 c e a b e c5 b4 a

I suggest that you memorize the melody one line at a time. Now we will come to a new part of the melody. If it had been a pop song it would be called the bridge:

b c5 d e g4 f5 e d f4 e5 d c e4 d5 c b4

We finish by playing the first part again:

e5 D e D e b4 d5 c a4 c e a b e G b c5

e4 e5 D e D e b4 d5 c a4 c e a b e c5 b4 a

This is a simplified version of the first part of Fur Elise with an easy form of the most common piano tabs on the Internet. You can learn more about piano tab notation on Wikipedia. Search for keyboard tablature. These piano tabs are an introduction to the little more advanced tablature system on the Internet.

Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your piano tabs and free piano sheet music at http://www.capotastomusic.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peter_Edvinsson

Monday, September 22, 2008

K213: Glass Piano by Schimmel

K213: Glass Piano by Schimmel:
"Schimmel has created perhaps the world’s first glass piano. Named K213 for the moment, this shimmering glass piece is definitely not made to be handled by children, bulls and the extremely clumsy. As fragile as this creation might be, the piano is not merely a replica of a grand piano but is an actual working piano and produces beautiful music, when played by the right fingers, and has great sound quality. The K213 obviously deserves a place in the home of a great pianist and its keys deserve to be caressed by only the most talented of hands. It would be difficult to let your eyes linger on this piece, the K213 costs $124,780."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Learn to Play Happy Birthday to You

Piano Tabs - Learn to Play Happy Birthday to You
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Peter_Edvinsson]Peter Edvinsson

Piano tab notation will help you learn melodies without knowing sheet music. In this piano lesson you will learn to read easy piano tabs. You will also learn to play Happy Birthday To You!

If you do not know how to read piano sheet music I suggest that you try to learn it. If you start with very easy melodies with just a few notes you will not get too frustrated. Learn the names of the keys of your piano. Also, learn the names of the notes as they appear on an easy music sheet, focusing on just a few at a time.

To read sheet music well you have to have the patience and devote time to practicing. This practice time will pay off as you will have an immense amount of sheet music waiting to be played. Until you have mastered the art of playing sheet music you can use piano tabs to help you play melodies.

With the help of piano tablature you can easily learn melodies, chords and other music on your piano. Tabs cannot replace sheet music but you can notate much musical information even with this type of notation.

What is piano tablature?

Piano tab notation is an established system for reading and writing music. Actually there are several systems, some with numbers and others with letters but we will use a simplified form of the most common system on the net.

Sheet music notation shows the actual notes to play but not how to play them on your piano. This task you have to perform yourself. Piano tablature on the other hand is a way of showing which keys to play on your piano. When you have learned the system you will find it easy to play melodies. But, first you have to learn the note names.

The note names

We will use the note names on the piano as the basis for the notation. You will have to learn the names of the notes on the white keys of your piano. The first note we will learn is the middle c. It is easy to understand that the middle c is at the middle of the piano but exactly where?

You have probably noticed that the black keys on your piano or keyboard are organized in groups. You will find groups with two and with three black keys all over the keyboard.

If you take a look at the two black keys at the middle of your piano you will find middle c immediately to the left of these black keys. This middle c is sometimes called c4. The number 4 shows that it is the c in the fourth octave.

What is an octave?

Octave means eight and if you play the note c and the following notes until you come to the next c you have played eight notes. This c note is to the left of the next two black keys one octave higher.

The notes after middle c are d e f g a b and then comes c again. When you play these notes from c to the next c you have played a c-major scale. The next c is sometimes called c5 as it is in the next octave which is the fifth octave of a piano keyboard. The c in the octave to the left of middle c is called c3.

Now we will take a closer look at the piano tablature we will use in the song Happy Birthday To You.

The rules

In this article we will use a simplified version of the piano tabs you will find on the Internet. Here are the rules:

1. Lowercase letters show the white keys. That is, c d e f g a b.

2. Uppercase letters show the black keys. The note C means that you shall play the black key to the right of c. This note is written as c# in traditional sheet music language.

3. A number after a note name shows in which octave to play the note. The note c4 means middle c. The following notes to play will not have a number until you change octave.

Happy Birthday To You

Now it is time for you to read the piano tabs to Happy Birthday To You! I will write down the lyrics, one line at a time with the corresponding piano tabs below. It is written in the key of F-major.

The chords to play if someone wants to accompany you are written in brackets before the appropriate syllable. If you already know how to play chords with your left hand you can try to play them yourself as you play the melody with your right hand.

Happy (F)Birthday to (C7)you, happy birthday to (F)you

c4 c d c f e c c d c g f

The number 4 after the first c shows that you are to play the notes in the fourth octave until you find a new octave indication.

Happy (F)birthday, dear (Bb)”Liza”

c c c5 a4 f e d

(Bb)Happy (F)birthday (C7)to (F)you

A A a f g f

Remember, uppercase A is the black note to the right of a.

Remember, the note A is the black key to the right of a.

I suggest that you memorize the melody one line at a time so you do not have to rely on the tab notation. These piano tabs are an introduction to the little more advanced tablature system on the Internet.

Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your [http://www.capotastomusic.com/piano.htm]free piano sheet music and piano tabs at http://www.capotastomusic.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peter_Edvinsson http://EzineArticles.com/?Piano-Tabs—Learn-to-Play-Happy-Birthday-to-You&id=1228131

Great article about barbershop harmony

Great article about barbershop harmony

I attest, this article in the Saturday Evening Post completely captures the joy of barbershop harmony.

Great personal connection for me, too. In Wisconsin a few years ago I was coached by Todd Wilson, father of Taylor, and several times I've seen Rick Spencer perform - he's from my district of the barbershop harmony society.

(btw, a confession - my kid sister Amy sings in a much more competitive chorus in Sweet Adelines (Pride of Baltimore) than my chorus! And on their annual show this weekend, the featured quartet is Old School, which debuted at this year's international competition and placed fifth in the world - after being penalized for blowing a major note in one song. Some serious good songitude there.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Last of Steinway piano-making family dies


from http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ic7RP-ILbAP7FtwDPtGZeMLqxK6g

NEW YORK (AFP) — Henry Ziegler Steinway, the last member of the family to have had a role in running the legendary piano-making business, has died, reports said Friday. He was 93.

His daughter, Susan Steinway, told The New York Times that he had passed away Thursday at his home in New York.

Henry Ziegler Steinway was the great-grandson of Heinrich Engelhard Steinway who emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1850 and founded the firm Steinway & Sons in 1853.

The company went on to make the family a fortune as it introduced innovative techniques to the instrument which were swiftly adopted by piano-makers worldwide.

By the beginning of the 20th century the New York-based company had produced some 6,500 pianos, mostly grand pianos, which were 80 percent handmade, and were highly praised by such composers as Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt.

But the company suffered when the Great Depression hit in 1929, and again after World War II because of its German origins. And it hit further obstacles with competition from Japanese giants such as Yamaha.

Henry Ziegler Steinway joined the family business in 1937 after studying at Harvard. He became chairman of the company in 1955, but was forced to sell the company to the television channel CBS in 1972 for 23 million dollars.

He remained as a consultant though, even after retiring and after the company later changed hands again in 1985, and 1995.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Opera for Piano

From http://newsblaze.com/story/20080915083504tsop.nb/topstory.html

DANIEL ABRAMS, who has been hailed throughout Europe and the Americas (Alan Rich wrote of his Town Hall debut in 1957: he must henceforth be taken into account when lists of pianists most likely to succeed are being compiled) will be presenting a concert of music from his "Opera For Piano" series in New York City on Wednesday, Oct. 15th.

Included will be the American premier of his Musical Portraits from Wagner's 'Ring' (a 45-minute work). He feels that in his lifetime of music making, this is his most important contribution to music, and that "Opera For Piano" (please see Abrams' statement below) will be a great addition to the performing pianist's repertoire. Marta Argerich recently heard some of Abrams' music performed in Europe and requested its inclusion in her Lugano Piano Festival.

To give you some idea of Abrams' rare abilities as a musician and pianist, the following is from a review he received from "The NY Herald Tribune" when he presented the complete cycle of Mozart piano sonatas at the Kaufman Y:

Mr. Abrams, as has been noted before, is born to the piano; he cannot help but make beautiful sounds and he brings to whatever he tackles not only musicianship, technique and interpretative prowess, but a very special kind of intellectual radiance that quite sets him apart. In short, the five sonatas heard contained a veritable galaxy of refinements - indeed, the sort of refinements that seem slowly to be creeping out of contemporary piano playing.

The concert, at the Mannes College of Music, 150 West 85th St (between Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues) is on Wednesday, October 15th at 8 pm. There is no charge and seating begins at 7:30 pm.

It promises to be a glorious evening of music making and the re-discovery of a truly great pianist!

More about Abrams: www.Daniel-Abrams.com

The following is by Daniel Abrams about "Opera For Piano":

All the music in the series "Opera For Piano" was written because I love opera and wanted to play some of this wonderful music on the piano. It is written in the styles of the various composers to preserve the passions and styles of the operas, perhaps as if the music had been written for the piano, but not as virtuoso pieces as was Liszt's goal.

In the first three works - variations on arias - the story is not of paramount importance. However, in the "Portraits on Wagner's 'Ring,'" because Wagner used musical motifs for each character and dramatic "happening," some knowledge of the storyline of this nearly sixteen hour series of four operas is certainly helpful, but not essential in listening to the music on its own.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Music should be a part of every child's life

Music should be a part of every child's life:
"The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Sunday, September 14, 2008

Re: Playing's the thing, Sept. 3.

As the director of Ottawa's Yamaha Music School, I congratulate Grania Litwin for her article as it makes parents aware of the importance of music education in children's lives.

I do disagree with the statement that 'whatever instrument the child chooses isn't important.' I find this very misleading for parents who are deciding whether to register their children in music lessons.

When someone depresses a piano key, it produces a pleasant sound that is in tune and at pitch. The reward is instantaneous. An immediate sense of accomplishment is evident. None of these characteristics are present in the instruments stated in this article. For other instruments, first you must learn to create the sound, and only then can you begin to make music.

Piano is the most visual instrument: the concepts of pitch and reading are much easier to convey to a music student on a piano.

It is also the best instrument on which to learn harmony, and one on which a musician can play both melody and harmony at the same time. There is by far more music written for piano than any other instrument.

A parent should be made aware of the advantages and disadvantages when choosing an instrument for their child. A student who is entering university for a music degree in any instrument other than piano still has to show proficiency in piano at quite a high level. Learning to play the piano gives a tremendous advantage to play any other instrument.

It is my strong belief that music should be a part of every child's life. The piano is the king of all instruments."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Piano Playing Tips - How To Make The Most Of Your Practice Time


From http://www.content4reprint.com/music/piano-playing-tips-how-to-make-the-most-of-your-practice-time.htm

One of the most important piano playing tips is to set aside separate times for piano practice and piano performance. Both practice and performance time are used to improve piano playing, but in different ways.

At least ninety percent of playing time should be practice time. This is time to thoughtfully and carefully learn. Every practice session should have a goal, such as learning specific sections of a piece, notes, memory, or just building familiarity. All of this practice playing should be done with a slow comfortable tempo that makes the piece easy to play. The aim of practice time is to learn to play as accurately as possible.

When performing a piece for an audience or as practice performance, musicians should play to the best of their ability but without stopping to correct errors. It is important to perform pieces often to see how well they go! After a performance, use practice time to go over the sections that need improvement.

Here are some piano playing tips to use in structured piano practice time:
Before starting to play, do several minutes of full arm, shoulder, hand and finger stretches.

Move each arm in big circles, starting from the shoulders. Bend over from the waist and stretch arms to the floor. Shake out the hands, and massage each finger. Do any stretches that feel good! Playing will improve as tension is let go.

Always play as accurately as possible during practice time.

Slow the tempo down to obtain note accuracy. Analyze what is needed for better accuracy. Do short sections need to be repeated, or played one hand at a time?

Stand up and stretch the arms, shoulders and hands every 5-10 minutes between playing sessions.

Unmusical playing is created by discomfort sitting at the piano. Stretching and shaking out at regular intervals during practice sessions will help to break out of habitual posture problems.

Do not use the damper pedal during practice sessions.

If used incorrectly, the damper pedal will cover up both good and bad playing. Habitual use of the damper pedal ruins music. If a piece is practiced at first without the damper pedal, the arms and hands will discover the coordination needed to shape musical lines. The pedal should be added once a piece is very familiar.

Do not reach for notes with the fingers.

Use the arm to move the hand over top of the keys. This can be difficult if the arms are being held rigidly. Use lots of stretching exercises between playing to discover how arm and shoulder tension can be released. Feel the full weight of the arm transferring through the hands and fingers into the keys.

Use the metronome almost always during practice time.

Using the metronome during piano practice is one of the most important piano playing tips a player can use to improve music making. It is important to set the metronome to a comfortable tempo, so that there is not a frantic, panicked feeling in the music. When sections of a piece need to be repeated, the metronome can be used to count rests between repeats. As a piece is learned and can be played through accurately, the metronome should be set at an easy tempo to repeat, settle in and relax.

Following these piano playing tips and separating structured piano practice time and performance time will greatly improve a player's skills.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Meet Charles Kester, Piano Entertainer

By Rick Runion
The Ledger

Published: Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 10:55 p.m.

Charles Kester, 73, has been playing piano since he was 8 years old and stills plays every day for his own enjoyment.


CHARLES KESTER has been playing the piano since he was 8. Now he's 73.

" I love music, that's all there is to it"

Kester, who was born in Yeddo Indiana in 1935, is the subject of this month's "Ageless Aging" series. Through this special project, Ledger videographer Rick Runion provides a look at older adults who have gifts and dreams they refuse to give up.

Kester has been married to Linda for 54 years and has two children, son Larry Kester of Lake Wales and daughter Jane Stringfellow of Winter Haven.

Kester worked for the railroad for 43 years and starting as a telegraph operator.

The Kesters started spending the winters in Polk County in the 1990s and moved here full-time in 2002.

Kester doesn't read music but plays by ear. He has his own system of writing cords symbols, which helps him remember the key of the music he plays.

In the 1950s, Kester and his fellow musicians in Indiana began playing nursing homes and found out senior adults liked the same music he liked and says he is "not much up on the new music". Some 50 years later Kester is still playing senior facilities and does not charge for his performances.

"My pay is they come up afterward, or you can go and shake their hand and (they) tell you they enjoyed it. That to me is the reason I do it".

He passes out song books and calls his act "Sing along with Charlie".

His audiences sing along with the songs of the 1930s and 1940s.

"They call out numbers and away we go".

He says that even Alzheimer patients remember words to songs when they can't remember a lot of things: "That's one of the good things".

Kesters even throws in jokes, "so it's more of a show than it is straight music all the way.

"If you can make them smile or sing along with you, that's what I was meant to do, I really feel that."

This story appeared in print on page D1. http://www.theledger.com/article/20080906/NEWS/809070301/1057/YOURTOWN12&title=Meet_Charles_Kester__Piano_Entertainer

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pleasant little piano piece may be Beethoven's last work

Joyce Morgan
September 5, 2008

beethoven IS THIS Beethoven's last work for piano? The Sydney musicologist Peter McCallum believes it is.

The 32 bars of handwritten musical notation caught his eye when he was studying the composer's last sketchbook in Berlin a couple of years ago. But it has required some detective work to determine what the great composer - whose handwriting was famously chaotic - intended.

"I didn't know it was a piano piece until I actually sat down and tried to write it out," says McCallum. "Beethoven almost never used clefs or key signatures so you have to think about it … but once you do crack the code it's clear."

McCallum, who is associate professor in musicology at the University of Sydney and the Herald's classical music critic, believes the piece was written about October 1826, just a few months before the composer died in March 1827.

"Beethoven always jotted down ideas, it was almost compulsive," he says. "The amount of paper he covered in the last three years of his life was quite amazing. There are a lot of little ideas that crop up that don't go anywhere. But this was more than a little idea. It actually has a right hand and a left hand and it's got phrasing marks and staccato marks in a few places. So it's quite clear it was a complete piece."

Now the pianist Stephanie McCallum has used her husband's transcription to make the first recording of the piece. Bagatelle in F minor is just 54 seconds long and is the final piece on her CD Fur Elise, Bagatelles For Piano By Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Although most of Beethoven's sketchbooks have been studied in detail, the final sketchbook - housed in Berlin's State Library - has attracted little attention.

Although his later works are often seen as spiritual, the fragment has a different quality, says Peter McCallum. "It's slightly melancholy. But it's a pleasant little thing and it's quite easy to play. What I like about it is that a child could enjoy playing it. We could give Fur Elise a rest for a while."

From: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/09/04/1220121428067.html

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two of a Kind

From http://www.morrissuntribune.com/articles/index.cfm?id=14722&section=homepage&freebie_check&CFID=79125600&CFTOKEN=95501180&jsessionid=8830b87b61206a524946

By Katie Erdman
Hancock Record

Adair Horgen (left) and Della Conroy share a love of piano duets and they’ll play plenty during their “Adair, Della and Friends” show Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Morris Area Concert Hall.

Adair Horgen (left) and Della Conroy share a love of piano duets and they’ll play plenty during their “Adair, Della and Friends” show Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Morris Area Concert Hall.

Born into a musical family, Adair Horgen has lived and breathed music all her life. For nearly 85 years, she has practiced, performed, composed, played and enjoyed music, especially piano music.

Adair took her first music lessons at age 7, but by then she had already been enjoying experimenting with her mother and father in their music. Her mother played the piano and her father the fiddle and later in life, the cello. It was easy for her to take to the music that was so much a part of her life.

Practicing the piano was often her first priority, never a chore. She would even use practice time to get out of other chores, like doing dishes. Her dedication led to a successful life filled with the joy of music.

After living and working in California most of her life, Adair and her husband moved to Morris 10 years ago to be near their daughter who was teaching at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

That move was one that would bring the beauty and joy of her music to this area, and to sharing her talents through an annual program called “Adair, Della and Friends.”

The fourth annual event, featuring the talents of Horgen, Della Conroy and other musical guests, is 7 p.m., Sept. 4, at the Morris Area Concert Hall.

Shortly after moving to Minnesota, Adair met Conroy and the two immediately struck up a friendship based on their mutual love of music.

While in California, Adair had started performing with another pianist in two-piano duets. She missed those times and asked Della if she would be willing to try it.

The Adair and Della combo was born. Since that time, the two have entertained many with the unique musical experience.

Playing a two-piano -- or, at times, two people at one piano -- duet is not an easy task. Before they even begin practice sessions, Adair spends hours re-composing the music to accommodate four hands. It is a precise process, not only to make it work technically but also harmoniously.

Della has never regretted joining Adair in her musical ventures. She was also raised in a musical family, agreeing with Adair that she often skipped out of chores just so she could practice.

However, Della’s devotion to her musical career was one of not only pleasure but necessity.

Her family owned a restaurant in Alberta and she learned to play an accordion her father purchased when she was in the third grade. She liked to entertain their customers occasionally in the restaurant.

Her 9th grade band director inspired her further pursuits in music. He encouraged her to learn piano. When he and his wife, who was the church organist, moved away, Della was quickly initiated as the church organist. Before she knew it, she was playing at three church services every Sunday and cleaning one of the churches. At $4 for each of the jobs, she was earning $16 each weekend.

Della enjoyed earning the extra money from something that gave her pleasure. As a reward, she purchased a horse with her hard earned cash. After graduating from high school, Della went on to college in Morris and majored in music. She took additional music lessons and learned from some of the best -- Eleanor Gay and Kay Carlson.

Della has taken that knowledge and passed it on to her piano students while continuing to serve as a church organist, a labor of love for 43 years. She recently retired from the organist duties and concentrates more on playing for fun.

One of these fun events started a few years ago when Della and Adair joined their musical fingers at the piano keys in a concert held on the Fourth of July at Della’s home in Hancock.

For several years, people would pack the house after the annual July 4 parade to listen to their duets of patriotic music. The event soon grew in size and eventually the duo decided to carry it a step further with the “Adair, Della and Friends’ concerts.

All proceeds from the program go to help fund the Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance. The music featured this year will include timeless tunes such as “Moon River,” “Blue Moon,” “Mapleleaf Rag” and “The Beer Barrel Polka.”

Another highlight will be “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which features four pianists -- eight hands on the two pianos. For the song, Adair and Della will be joined by Julia Conroy and Kris Miller.

The program will also include several other friends, not only on piano but singers, dancers and instrumentalists. Adair and Della have never had a problem finding the talent or even encouraging people to join them. Many people who have seen past programs come up to them later and ask if they can join in the next one. Some say that they love to just sit and listen while others would rather participate.

Whether listening or participating, they encourage people to join them in the fun and entertainment on Sept. 4. Adair added that she is thinking of retiring soon, maybe doing just one more concert next year. Then she will be passing on the piano, so to speak, and joining those who come out of these concerts smiling, laughing and simply happy to have spent an evening filled with talent and inspiration.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Piano Maintenance Tips

From http://www.3x24.com/piano-maintenance-tips/801659

Piano Maintenance Tips

by Gray Rollins

Did you know that a piano can have up to 12,000 moving parts? It’s true. Not only that, but many of those parts are moving parts. And if you want your piano to stay in good working order, it needs a little bit of maintenance to stay its best.

During the first year of a piano’s life it’s suggested to have it serviced two to four times. Then talk to your piano technician to decide what frequency to continue service at. Usually twice a year after the first year is recommended, but sometimes once a year is enough. Servicing includes having the piano tuned, regulated as needed, voiced as needed, and eventually having worn parts repaired or replaced as needed.

A piano has over 200 strings and when the technician starts tuning a piano, it’s the strings he’s going to work on. The technician wants all the strings to have the correct pitch.

How does a piano go out of tune in the first place? The most common cause is humidity changes. It’s recommended that you don’t get your piano tuned right after the humidity has changed or the tune will only hold a couple months.

When a piano is regulated, that means that mechanical parts of the piano are being worked on. There are no hard and fast rules to how often a piano needs to be regulated as it depends largely on the climate its being kept in.

When it comes to voicing the piano, we’re talking about adjusting the pianos quality of sound or tone. The frequency that voicing needs to be done depends largely on how much you use your piano - 1 to 5 years tends to be the typical range.

You’ll also want to make sure you take good care of the exterior of the piano too. Neglecting the exterior of your piano can, believe it or not, affect the sound quality of your piano. Keeping it clean is a pretty simple job, but one thing to remember is that you don’t want to use furniture polish.

Your piano will also need to be reconditioned occasionally. Some parts will get worn out from use and will need to be replaced.

If your piano has deteriorated severely then reconditioning it won’t be enough. You’ll have to get the piano completely rebuilt which involves completely disassembling the piano. As you might imagine it’s very labor intensive and quite expensive, but in some cases it’s the only way to restore the original performance level of your piano.

Keep in mind that a piano is an investment, and that a well maintained piano can actually increase in value over its life.

About the Author:

Gray Rollins is a featured writer for PianosCentral - a site that helps people learn how to play the piano. Learn more about Rocket Piano review and the Pure Pitch Method at his site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beach Boy celebrates sea change with music

From http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2008/08/25/1A_BRIAN_WILSON.ART_ART_08-25-08_D1_DQB33NQ.html?sid=101

Beach Boy celebrates sea change with music

Monday,  August 25, 2008 3:12 AM

By Solvej Schou

Associated Press

<p>Brian Wilson</p>

Brian Wilson

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Brian Wilson sits on a plush couch in his living room, smiling nervously.

On the back porch at the home of the Beach Boys visionary, the 15 family pooches yip and scramble over one another.

Inside, photographs of his children with wife Melinda Ledbetter -- Daria, 11; Delanie, 10; and Dylan, 4 -- lace the walls.

The immaculate two-story, deep into a gated hillside community in Beverly Hills, has a swimming pool that overlooks the valley below -- as in a postcard.

"I'm happier now than I was a year ago," Wilson says. "I started exercising, and I started eating more of the right food, and I started feeling better. I just get up in the morning and say my prayers."

Tall and gangly in a pinstriped dress shirt, his graying hair swept back into waves, the wizardly songwriter behind 1960s hits such as Good Vibrations and California Girls stares with sharp blue eyes and frequently fidgets.

Much has changed for the historically reclusive southern California native, who speaks with a slight slur -- a result of one-time drug abuse and a medicated journey through mental illness.

The second-round father, 66, has two daughters from his first marriage -- Wendy, 38; and Carnie, 40 -- who hit the road as the Wilsons.

In the wake of the rock opera Smile in 2004 and a 2005 Christmas release, he has a new, ambitious solo album, That Lucky Old Sun, due next week.

He is touring behind the material, pushing through enduring stage fright.

"I think the new album is just as good as anything the Beach Boys ever recorded," Wilson said. "Playing these songs live, I feel proud."

Two years ago, he said, he recorded 18 songs, then last year chose 10 for Capitol Records/EMI.

He devised the album's lush orchestration and music, while 43-year-old band mate Scott Bennett scribed the lyrics, with colorful narrative interludes by Wilson's longtime collaborator, Van Dyke Parks.

The outcome blends up-tempo pop and piano-based ballads. The title track, a cover of Louis Armstrong's That Lucky Old Sun, flows into the bouncy anthem Morning Beat, setting the album's tone.

"Van Dyke Parks, Brian and Melinda thought this should be a love letter to Los Angeles," Bennett said. "At this point, Brian was 65 years old, and it just felt right to embrace his legend and be a bit nostalgic."

Songs such as Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl touch on Beach Boys melodies; Mexican Girl adds a dash of salsa flavor. Midnight's Another Day and Oxygen to the Brain reference Wilson's dark days in the 1970s and '80s, when he receded from the spotlight into isolation, drugs and weight gain.

Wilson calls Midnight's Another Day, which skirts on a solitary piano melody, his favorite song -- "kind of introspective, kind of how I feel around people."

The album's last song, Southern California, reminisces about co-founding the Beach Boys in 1961 with brothers Carl and Dennis (both deceased) and ends the album on an uplifting note as Wilson sings, "It's magical / Living your dream."

"Yes, Brian had a rough time of it, with his mental health, but I would kill to have the kind of catalog he does, and tour everywhere with his brothers like he did," said Bennett, who confirms that Wilson "is on a heavy dose of anti-depressants."

Regardless, Wilson has hit a creative stride in his life.

Inspiration emerges at night when he sits alone at his Yamaha synthesizer and grand piano in his music room, with purple curtains.

"When I go to the keyboard, I feel holy, like an angel over my head," he said. "I feel very holy."

Questions about the Beach Boys' status receive lukewarm responses.

Wilson, who also formed the band with cousin Mike Love and then-school friend Al Jardine, split with most of the group's surviving members years ago amid legal squabbles.

Love and later Beach Boys band mate Bruce Johnston tour as the Beach Boys Band; Jardine has his own Endless Summer Band.

Wilson underscores the subject's touchiness.

"We don't want any publicity about me getting back with the Beach Boys because I don't want to. They're not my group anymore."

Yet he clearly loves performing Beach Boys tunes as well as his own solo work, even with nightly stage fright, which he says he works through by getting neck and shoulder rubs and praying.

At a taping days later for Yahoo! Music's Live Sets, Wilson is joined onstage by his nine-piece band, including Bennett and members of the Wondermints, who have played with him for 10 years.

Asked during a question-and-answer session about his biggest regret, Wilson doesn't mince words.

"The drugs I took, which kind of messed up my mind -- the LSD, the marijuana, the cocaine."

Inspiration emerges at night when he sits alone at his Yamaha synthesizer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Age Should Your Child Start Piano Lessons?

From http://www.3x24.com/what-age-should-your-child-start-piano-lessons/80591

by Amy Nutt

There isn’t a parent who doesn’t want their child to be good at something and one of the more common aspirations is playing piano. There`s something about being able to dance your fingers across the ivory keys that appeals to both parents and children. The big question on every parent`s lips is “When should my child start piano?”

The younger, the better. We’ve all heard about the likes of Mozart and other child prodigies who began playing at very tender ages, 3 or 4. Getting a child into piano lessons that early means they will have the most time possible playing, even if they don`t end up being extremely gifted in the area of music.

Introducing Young Children to Piano

You can start peaking your little one`s interest in music right from the start. Listening to classical piano while in the womb and after birth will give your child an early appreciation for the piano. They will be far more interested in playing than if you simply ignore music all together and then abruptly introduce it as you want them to play.

If you’ve decided to start your very young child in piano, it is very important to find the right teacher. Toddlers can`t and shouldn’t be expected to, focus on one thing for a long period of time. That means lessons will certainly need to be cut into smaller, more manageable bites. Most 3-4 year olds do very well with 15 minute lessons.

You really can’t expect a 3 year old to learn the same way a teen or adult would, so having a piano teacher that understands the age group and knows how to communicate effectively with a small child is vital. Without this, you’ll find that children don’t learn well and will rapidly become frustrated with the instrument. The idea is to keep it fun and enjoyable, particularly at this young age.

With a good base to build on, small children will often go on to play piano for the rest of their lives and this gift of music is definitely something that they will treasure in years to come.

Older Children and the Piano

Of course, not everyone can start their toddler in piano lessons so early. In some cases, parents may not have even considered the possibility until their older child came out and asked for lessons. This is a common scenario, where the child is the one interested in playing.

First, you`ll want to ensure that this isn’t just a passing phase. Most parents do this by requiring their children to take a minimum of one year of piano lessons. This is more than enough time to get a good taste for the music lessons and after a year, a decision can be made, to continue on or to leave it.

Children who instigate the learning process tend to stick with it better than those who are forced into it at an early age, but they may be slower to pick up the concepts behind the music and it can be a bit of a struggle for older children to learn to read music in some cases. However, if the effort is made, it can be an excellent way to learn more about music and no one has ever done poorly because they learned to play the piano.

To make the piano lessons a success, be sure to have a way for your child to practice daily. It’s important they have this opportunity, no matter what their age. While younger is still better, that certainly doesn’t rule out older kids who are interested in learning.

About the Author:

Get quality music lessons Vaughn and piano lessons Vaughn at one of the most innovative and recognized music schools in North America.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brahms’ Lullaby Op.49 n.4

Brahms’ Lullaby Op.49 n.4:
Brahms al piano

Brahms at piano

Op 49, No. 4 Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht is a piano composition by the soloist Johannes Brahms who composed in 1868. It is said that Brahms composed this piece has to lift the daughter of Schumann, a young girl in the end of life that could not pià get up from bed. The girl appreciated very much the melody, like millions of children today. Who does not want to fall asleep so?

After publishing the simplified version, I propose another version, slightly more complex, but very, very simple! Play this song if you’re looking for a girl-friend, certainly falls at your feet, but to sleep!

This piece, dedicated to all those people who, like me, want to stay children maintaining the soul clean.

Download here

This version is an hard version, you can download it here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Onara: Piano beginner blog

Onara Piano beginner blog:

"Wow! Its been almost a year since my last update. I have been very busy (lazy) indeed. I managed to get back into piano for a while, although not continuing with the Alfred course, I managed to learn my first complete song (excluding the Alfred stuff). Proud yet ashamed of this achievement. I have had my piano for almost two years now but haven’t progressed as quickly as I would have liked. It was the same for guitar too.

I had decided to learn the theme song ‘Onara’ from the South Korean drama Dae Jang Geum which is about the life of the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea."

Read more here: Piano beginner blog

Friday, August 15, 2008

piano man: Value Music Before Theory and Gain a Piano Learning Excellence Experience

piano man: Value Music Before Theory and Gain a Piano Learning Excellence Experience:

"Music is a peaceful manner and a means to achieve self-expression. It is a universal language that geographical boundaries that cannot contain, and it is automatically understood and felt in specific ways for anybody that is around it. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on 'doing,' as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world."

Caring for the piano’s finish � The Piano Chronicles

Caring for the piano’s finish: The Piano Chronicles:

"See here for finish care guidelines from the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG).

Most pianos that are sold have cases finished either partially or completely in glossy black polyester finish. This is very similar to the finish that you find on cars. Although the high-gloss finish is very durable and relatively easy to keep clean it is still susceptible to being scratched, it takes fingerprints (but not as bad as a satin black poly), and does attract dust a little."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Old Picture of the Day: Piano Lessons

Old Picture of the Day: Piano Lessons: "Piano Lessons

This photograph was taken in 1899, and shows a young girl taking Piano Lessons"

More about this picture here:
Old Picture of the Day: Piano Lessons

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Decisions, decisions

Although this was not completely unexpected, I have been asked to be the interim assistant music director of my church.  Prior to being asked, I had always thought that I would turn this position down immediately but now I find myself thinking about it.  I have said that I would call in my decision on Monday so my weekend is cut out for me.

When I did the music camp that wiped me out, that was 15 hours a week plus a couple after-camp meetings.  Could I do that every week plus an additional 5 hours sometime during the week?

I already put in quite a few hours during the school year.  I currently usually play bells on Sundays (2) and I often sub in a youth group (1), have 2 bell rehearsals on Tuesday (2), have a rehearsal on Wednesday (1), children's handbells and play piano for another group on Thursdays (1.5).  That's 7.5 hours already and more than enough to add to the time that music camp was. 

Could I, with my nap schedule, pull all that off?

This is a temporary position.  When a new music director is hired, the current acting music director will resume her "real" job, which is the one I would be doing.  Hopefully, a new permanent director will be hired soon.

My ideal thing would be to say yes, get the prestige, such as it is, of having this job, then they hire someone who starts the beginning of September so I never have to actually do the work.

As a volunteer, I can always say no to coming in for an extra rehearsal.  As an "official person", I think I would have less leeway to do that.

I have worked with the acting music director for many years and we work well together.

Other than the schedule above, I can set my own hours.

This job involves emails, computer scheduling, other computer stuff, all of which I can do easily.  If there's any recruitment, I don't think I could do that.

The acting music director says that she will help me with repertoire since she is very aware what they have in the library and I don't.  I would hate to choose music only to find that that choir had just played the piece in the spring.

I need help deciding - what should I do?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Piano Puzzlers!


From http://jasonmorris.blogsome.com/2008/08/08/piano-puzzlers/

If you’re a music geek (like me), I have a program for you. Now, let me be clear, to fully qualify as a music geek…you must have a fond appreciation for classical music (no, Poison, Quiet Riot, and Zepplin do not count as classical music). So, if you’re a “music geek” without an appreciation for classical music…well, I hate to burst your bubble…but, you’re not truly a music geek. Instead, you’re a music appreciator, but not a geek. So, if you just listen to indie music and scowl at anything on a label larger than Matador…don’t bother following the link I’ll provide…the fun will be lost on you…And, you probably won’t have a chance.


Every Wednesday night, on my way home from WNL, I turn on my local NPR station to listen to Piano Puzzlers on Performance Today. It’s absolutely incredible. A pianist/composer (Bruce Adolphe) takes a familiar folk or pop tune and sets it inside a classical masterpiece (or in the style of a particular composer). Sometimes it’s easy…sometimes it’s ridiculously difficult. There are days when I say, “got it” on the first pass. Then there are days when I say, “what the heck?” And, more often than not, I’m able to get either the popular/folk tune or the composer.


This is sad to admit, but there are nights when I’ll slow down on the drive home or sit in the car in the driveway to finish an episode. In fact, I get a little worked up if someone stops me after WNL…as I might miss the beginning of Piano Puzzlers (it usually hits around 8:20pm on our local station).


Take a listen to some of the archives and see if you can figure it out! It’s really cool…but probably only appreciated by music geeks (the kind of people that listen to NPR for their musical programs and not just the snipets of cool indie rock between segments on All Things Considered…which is a great show too).


Play Piano Puzzlers HERE!