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Mathematics Of Music – Vi Hart’s Wonderful Video

November 18th, 2012 · Comments Off on Mathematics Of Music – Vi Hart’s Wonderful Video

As this amazing video by Vi Hart shows, the ear and brain are amazing instruments. When singing a note or playing the guitar, there is much more happening than one might expect. This video moves quite fast, but hopefully it will inspire us to listen to the deeper world of sound that we are surrounded by.

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Bernie Krause – The Great Animal Orchestra

July 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on Bernie Krause – The Great Animal Orchestra

Bernie Krause is a fascinating figure: He replaced Pete Seeger in The Weevers,  became an avante-garde composer, and now records natural soundscapes with the idea that one can use this to understand the change and/or health of a habitat.  His recent book, “The Great Animal Orchestra:Finding the Origins of Music In The World’s Wild Places”, makes the case that natural soundscapes are the original inspiration for music and dance.  Watch this interesting video lecture below and listen to trees and anemones sing!

Dr. Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra from California Academy of Sciences and California Academy of Sciences on FORA.tv

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How to play a major scale anywhere on the guitar in a 10 minute lesson!

July 9th, 2012 · Comments Off on How to play a major scale anywhere on the guitar in a 10 minute lesson!

Major scales are the building blocks of almost all music including melodies and chords. Today we are going to learn how to play a major scale up one string of the guitar which is the best way to see it visually and often useful in real life improvising and arranging.

1)Tetrachord – A tetrachord is a fancy word for a group of 4 notes. Lets play whats called a major tetrachord.

-Play an F note on the 6th string with your first finger (1st fret)
-Slide the first finger on the 6th string to a G note (3rd fret)
-with your 3rd finger play a A note (5th fret)
-with your pinky play a Bb (6th fret)
-now go back down the same way you came up

Practice this a few time until you can play it with the correct fingers as well as see the whole thing visually. Notice the spaces in between notes and listen to the do, re, mi fa , fa mi re do sound, Congrats, you just played your first tetrachord

#2

Now we will play the same tetrachord starting on the 8th fret

Now place your 1st finger on the 8th fret,
-slide the first finger to the 10th fret
-with the 3rd finger play the 12th fret
-with the pinky, play the 13t fret
-go down the same way you came up

Practice this just like the first tetra-chord until you feel comfortable with it.

#3 Putting it all together:

Now start on the 1st fret and connect the above two tetrachords:

-Play an F note on the 6th string with your first finger (1st fret)
-Slide the first finger on the 6th string to a G note (3rd fret)
-with your 3rd finger play a A note (5th fret)
-with your pinky play a Bb (6th fret)
-Now place your 1st finger on the 8th fret,
-slide the first finger to the 10th fret
-with the 3rd finger play the 12th fret
-with the pinky, play the 13t fret
-go down the same way you came up

 

Congrats you played an F major scale. You can start this on any note on the guitar (presuming you have enough horizontal space). This way of playing scales is used by all the great players. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please fill out our registration page to be connected with a guitar teacher in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens.

 

 

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Voice Lesson #1 – Massage Points

June 7th, 2012 · Comments Off on Voice Lesson #1 – Massage Points

This is our first lesson in a series of voice warmups. Just like a basketball player needs to stretch and shoot some light layups before they go out and play a game, so does a singer need to warm up before you begin to sing. This is an important step so that you do not damage your voice.

This first lesson is to help relax all the muscles involved in singing. This will not only help you sing more relaxed and therefore sound better but will also help keep your vocal chords hydrated.

  • Stand up with good posture (take off glasses if you wear them)
  • sing the notes “do re mi fa sol fa mi re do” in 8th notes with the word “Hay”
  • Remember do not sing loudly yet, this is only a warmup
  • As you sing softly, massage your face including around the eyes, jaw hinge and forehead. Feel how each of these spots are used in singing and try to relax them as much as possible.
  • As you keep singing, grab your chin and pull your mouth open. Again try to relax the jaw as much as possible. You will sound a little funny doing this as you keep singing with your jaw pulled open.
  • Next massage the root of your tongue from side to side (no dont put your fingers into your mouth), This area is located on your neck right below your jaw but above the bump known as the the Adams Apple which is the cartilage surrounding the larynx. Do not touch that or the larynx, but the soft part above it which is the root of your tongue.
  • Next give your neck and shoulders a good massage.
  • Next message your scalp.

Do this 2 or 3 time while singing the whole time in a very soft tone. With each new massage point, feel how this point is used in singin and relax it as much as possible.

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Radiohead live at The Prudential Center

June 4th, 2012 · Comments Off on Radiohead live at The Prudential Center

What a concert!  All abord as I jump on the train leaving Penn Station at about 7:04pm Friday June 1st 2012.  Two stops ahead and I find myself in Newark, NJ.  It’s been quite some years since I’ve seen a concert to this magnitude.  The stadium was at first quite sparse through the Caribou set, but the minute Radiohead plays their first note is the minute the stadium is packed shoulder to shoulder.  Even the seats were numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4, yet if you look closely there are 8 people in that space.

It’s no wonder Radiohead has such a big and loyal fan base.  The first song answered that question for me as they riffed a bit on an ostinato pattern until Thom Yorke starts with a verse.  Lot’s of space between the phrases and a great way to ignite the fire.

The set continued at a perfect pace and by the end of the concert, 2 plus hours of Radiohead later, I was left wanting more!  There’s a first time for everything and sometimes you hope it’s the last.  This certainly is not one of those cases.  Radiohead has my loyal fanship and I’ll be joining them at the next NYC concert (granted I can get tickets!).
Thanks Radiohead!!!
Randy

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Babies Benefit From Music Lessons Before Walking and Talking

May 29th, 2012 · Comments Off on Babies Benefit From Music Lessons Before Walking and Talking

Being a new parent, it seems like there is an unlimited choice of classes for babies who can’t even walk or talk yet. From infant yoga to art, I can’t help but feel a bit silly paying $20 for  and hour to make my baby more flexible when she can already put both of her feet behind her head.  But everyone else is doing it, so if there are benefits, I don’t want to be the one who didn’t do it because “If it wasn’t around when I was a kid, then you don’t need it”.

Probably the area where there are the most class choice is in music. From Baby Einstein to Music for Aardvarks, Mommy and Me, Music Together etc….there is no lack of choice! Even as a professional musician and teacher I can’t help to wonder if the money will be better spent saving for college or some regular music lessons when the child is older.

After a couple sessions with my baby, I definitely saw something that I did not see while just playing music at home. I felt more connected to her and I feel like she truly had a fun time and was interested in rhythm. She was even trying to tap the beat and she is only 8 months old! So by intuition I felt this class was doing something good.

Just this month, McMaster University released a study that shows that these music classes have benefit to babies.

” “Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parents showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music,” says Trainor, one of the graduate student who conducted the study,.

“Babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye.  Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.” according to the University press release at http://www.mcmaster.ca/opr/html/opr/media/main/NewsReleases/Babiesbrainsbenefitfrommusiclessonsresearchersfind.htm

This is more than enough to make me feel comfortable in my decisions. Hopefully this will translate when she begins private instrument lesson with Teacher Tone in a few years. Now off to those baby Yoga lessons!

 

 

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Guitar Practice Warmups – #2 Chromatic Scale

May 25th, 2012 · Comments Off on Guitar Practice Warmups – #2 Chromatic Scale

Last week I talked about the chromatic scale being played across the 6 strings. This week I want to talk more about that and some ways to practice it. Do this:
-Lay all you fingers across the 6the string
-One Finger per fret (so 1st finger on 1st fret, 2nd finger on second fret etc)
-Now lift your hand off of the guitar a half inch but keep each finger over the fret so that if it went straight down, it would hit the fret in the right place to play the note.

Not so easy is it!

Now try to play the chromatic scale up and down yet keep each finger hovering above the fret so that every finger is always in control. This is difficult but it brings a whole new awareness to playing guitar. One suggestion is to actually look at the fingers that are not playing and see what they are doing. Are they flying more than 1/2 inch away from guitar? Are they coming in to add some “assistance” to the finger you are fretting?

Be patient and good luck!

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Jim Campilongo at The Living Room – NYC Guitarists

May 22nd, 2012 · Comments Off on Jim Campilongo at The Living Room – NYC Guitarists

On May 11th we made a post on venues in New York City. We didn’t talk much about specific musicians but will review some of them over the next few weeks. My first addition to the list is Jim Campilongo and his trio with STEPHAN CRUMP on upright bass and TONY MASON drums. They play at the Living Room every Monday night at 10PM with a $8 cover charge as of 5/21/12.
The night began listing to a CD mix created by Jim featuring music of guitarist such as Jimmy Bryant, Jerry Byrd, Loyd Green, Chet Atkins amongst many others. This gave the audience a good intro to his sound which is seems to be heavily influenced by these kind of swing country artists as well as jazz guitarist like Van Eps and blues/rock guitarist like Jimmie Hendrix and Clapton.
The band started playing and the eyes and ears were immediately drawn to Jim’s guitar playing. He carries the air of confidence that only someone who deserves to have it can have. The first thing that stands out about Jim’s playing is that he uses no guitar pedals. He uses a healthy amount of reverb from his Fender Princeton amp and perhaps some tremolo. With only only the use of the volume, tone and pickup controls, he managed to get more variety of tones that many guitarists I have heard with 15 pedals on their board.
After a half hour of zoning in on Jim’s guitar work I was finally able to concentrate on what the other members were doing. I realized that I could have spent the whole show listening to bassist Stephan Crump who received hearty ovations after some of the most creative bass solos I have heard in a long time. Drummer Tony Mason is equally great; he can lays a solid beat down and can play funk and swing that makes you want to dance.
Actually, about midway through the set there were 10 people dancing, which is not normal for any NYC venue let alone the Living Room. Also a man and his friend sitting next to me who I believe was actor Jude Law were literally pulling their hair out in excitement.
Needless to say, any serious electric guitarist, drummer or bass player should see Jim and band play!

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Guitar Practice Warmups – #1 Chromatic Scale

May 15th, 2012 · Comments Off on Guitar Practice Warmups – #1 Chromatic Scale

Most of my guitar students have about an hour a day to practice. So all students of course want to know what is the best way to spend this time.

I like to compare it to sports; if you want to be a good basketball player, you don’t just run out on the court and start playing a game. You need to do some stretching and maybe shoot a few layups to get your body warmed up and your head in the game. Every student should be doing similar things before every practice session. Throughout this week, I am going to discuss some of the most common  warmup exercises and how to do them.

Chromatic Scale

What a pretty name for a scale! It has always made me think of colors which I now know makes sense because it actually comes from the Greek word “chroma” which mean color, according to Wiki.  Basically the chromatic scale means that you play every single note in order from lowest to chosen highest note. Lets first try it on one string so that you can better understand…..

One String Chromatic:

  • Play the low E string on the guitar.
  • With your first finger on left hand, play the first fret.
  • Then slide it up to the 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th etc all the way to the 12th fret.

You just played a one octave chromatic scale starting and ending on E. You played the notes, E-F-F#-G-G#-A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E .  12 Notes….there are 12 notes that make an octave.

So now we are going to do these same notes across all the strings and in one position (a position means your first finger stays over one fret without shifting your whole hand up).

Here is a video of it:

Chromatic Scale Full

  1. play the open E string and play each upper fret with a new finger until you get to the 4th finger on the 4th fret. So 1st fret 1st finger, 2nd fret second finger, 3rd fret third finger and 4th fret fourth finger.
  2. Now play the open A string and do the same thing.
  3. Repeat for the D and G string
  4. Now on the B string we are gong to do one thing different. Do not play the open B string. This is because you already played this note with your 4th finger on the G string.
  5. Once you are finished playing 4th finger on the B string, Play the open and and go up each finger until you play the 4th fret on the 4th finger on the high E (1st string). This is a G# note.
  6. Now reverse each finger the same way you came up until you are back on the low E string.

Here’s the video:

Tomorrow I will talk more about this scale and how to get the most out of practicing it!

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M. Ward at Webster Hall – Concert Review

May 14th, 2012 · Comments Off on M. Ward at Webster Hall – Concert Review

The night started at Webster Hall Studio walking into a basement from the 80’s.  The band was rocking out with a bit of glam and a lot of new wave.
A few songs were enough to fill the pallet.  When I entered Webster Hall, the feel was much different, not to mention little room to breath.  But that’s all the best for M. Ward and his success’s.

Coming into the show after a bit of an obsession with “Hold Time”, I was very interested in the sonic landscape of the evening.  M. Ward has such a specific sound on record and I was ever so curious to see and hear how this would be pulled off live.  Well, it wasn’t much of a deal at all.  Plug a guitar in and sing.  That worked for some of the songs and the others, with a full band backing him, were equally as simple and good.

There was veterans and youth up on stage and it was so nice to see the glowing mixture.  Who is this guy M. Ward?  I can barely see him as his guitar tech hands him his 10th guitar of the evening.  The little man puts out a big sound!  His voice sounds like he’s been smoking since he came out of the womb.  And I mean that with no disrespect.  It’s purely unique and engaging and it feels as if he puts every last bit of his energy into each note.  Everything feels with passion and grace.

Midway through the set, M Ward is playing solo guitar, and what a delight that was!  A nice flavor full open tuning and some excellent right hand technique, mixed with the compositional strengths of M. Ward was super sweet!  We were all captivated.  This element of sounding amazing with or without a band gives this one of a kind songwriter the strength to woo over his audience.  We are all his friend.  He doesn’t speak much, but he says a lot!

The end of the show closed with a few guest artists and two encours and then a departure.

Thank you M Ward for your wonderful songs!

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