• Student Login

  • Posts found under: Interesting

    Learn More About The Pedals On The Piano

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

    A common question from our beginning piano students has nothing to do with the black and white keys but what’s at the bottom of the piano – the foot pedals.

    You’ve seen these pedals, sometimes there are three but often they are only two. These pedals are an important tool of piano players as it gives them greater control of their sound and better convey the emotions of the composition.

     

    Right or damper pedal. The most often popular pedal, it is used to help a note last longer (or sustain) after the key has been pressed. It creates a wonderful echo, almost gloomy, effect. To listen to an example of a damper pedal, check out the last note in The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” In musical notation, the damper pedal is referred to as “Ped.

     

    Left or una corda pedal. This pedal creates a quiet, softer sound without affecting the tone. This effect is achieved by reducing the number of strings the hammer on a piano strikes. Typically, a hammer will strike three strings when a key is pressed but only one string will be struck when the una corda pedal is being used. In musical notation, the left pedal is used when una corda is written and released when the words tre corde appear.

     

    Middle or sostenuto pedal. This is the pedal that is most often missing in upright pianos and in pedal attachments for digital pianos. In a grand piano, the middle pedal will act as a damper pedal for only the note or notes you are playing when you press down on it. Other keys on the piano will play with their usual short, staccato sound. If an upright piano has a middle pedal it is most often used to mute the overall sound of the piano. It’s often referred to as a practice pedal so students can play without disturbing others in the room.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

     

    Read more...

    What Does A Conductor Do?

    We were watching an LA Philharmonic performance thanks to this blog post when a young child came up to us and asked about Gustavo Dudamel.

    To an adult, Dudamel is an internationally known conductor, known for his charismatic personality on stage. Yet, to a young child, he was this man who was moving his arms wildly and wore unique expressions on his face. What was he doing, the child asked, and why wasn’t he playing an instrument?

    So, what exactly does a conductor do? We’re sure that young children aren’t the only ones who have pondered this. Here are some thoughts with the help of a wonderful BBC article.

     

    1. Research: Oftentimes, a conductor’s most difficult task occurs before he or she steps on stage. There is the monumental job of selecting a composition, deciding on the musical interpretation and researching the composer.

    “Conductors may look like they have an easier ride, not having to master any fiendish passages of finger-work like the violinists, say, or risk the exposure and split notes of the wind and brass players,” writes the BBC. “But ‘conducting is more difficult than playing a single instrument,’ claims [composer-conductor Pierre] Boulez. ‘You have to know the culture, to know the score, and to project what you want to hear.’”

     

    2. Beat time: At the most fundamental level, a conductor sets the tempo and ensures other musicians play as a cohesive unit. This is especially true during rehearsals when the orchestra is becoming familiar with the piece and less so on the night of the performance. The conductor also plays an important role in introducing new and important elements to the musical composition with the use of a baton or, simply, his or her hands. For a conductor’s perspective of beat time, watch this New York Times video.

     

    3. Act as a Visual Representation of the Music: The BBC writes: “Concertgoers may have their ears trained on the orchestra, but our eyes are invariably drawn to the podium. We too want to be steered, to be able to align the way the music sounds with the conductor is doing. He or she is a vital visual connection: the bridge between our eyes and the sense of what is happening in the music.”

    Perhaps that is why we as an audience are drawn to conductors with personalities. We love to watch their face light up when music becomes intense are watch them delicately move their hands during a quiet passage.

     

    4. Compose: Nearly every great composer – from Beethoven to Mahler to Copland – were also conductors. More recently, Dudamel wrote the score for the movie “Liberator.”

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

     

     

    Read more...

    Telling the Story of the Human Race Through Music

    If alien life forms ever discovered human existence, how would you describe our life to them?

    Interestingly enough, scientists pondered this question in the 1970s and we love that they thought music was an important aspect of human life.

    NASA scientists created the Golden Record, a time capsule of sorts, which is a 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph disk strapped aboard Voyager I and II that is traveling in the outer edges of the solar system as we write this post (In fact, the probes have surpassed the distance of Pluto). The phonograph includes 115 images and sounds of nature and life on Earth photos as well as greetings in 50 different languages.

    However, the part we’re most interested in is the music. Scientists, led by famed astronomer Carl Sagan, filled the Golden Record with 90 minutes worth of music. Given the the decade, we are not surprised that it leans heavily toward Western music, especially European classical music such as Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” There’s also a nod to American including Louis Armstrong’s “Melancholy Blues,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Navajo night chants as well as music from Bulgaria, Peru and India. You can read the full list here.

    The Voyager missions are expected to end 2025 and no one yet knows if they will be replaced. Still, we like to think that scientists will create another time capsule for outer space as there are so many new songs and sights from plant Earth since the project was completed  in 1977. What songs would you add to the song selection? We think the next version should include more world music and we would like to hear more contemporary music. Would adding Outkast’s “Hey ya” and Paharrell’s “Happy” sound tless historical? We want alien life forms to think we’re a happy race, don’t we? What songs would you pick to describe humans?

     

    Read more...

    Trombone and Oven Door Make a Great Viral Video

    The latest video to go viral has us smiling and wishing we could hang out with this musical family.

    The video features a father playing a trombone and a young son accompanying him by providing backup thanks to an oven door and the cutest head bob we’ve seen in years. They’re playing the dance song “Freaks” by Timmy Trumpet and Savage.  Never heard of the song or the musicians? Neither did we until we did some Internet research and discovered that Timmy Trumpet is an Australian musician specializing in dance music and Savage is an MC from New Zealand. The song is good too and we think the father does a very good rendition of this song. You can listen to a sample here via SoundCloud.

    The father and son titled their video “When Mama Isn’t Home” and we just love how the family bonds through music. No television. No video games. It is just about having fun and being with our loved ones. We also noticed that the daughter is a talented singer. We love it!

    And the whole oven banging thing, we’re sure mom will understand!

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

    Read more...

    3 Reasons Non-Singers Should Take Voice Lessons

    Think singing lessons are only for the young or those who have dreams of stardom? Think again! Our wonderful vocal students at The Music Junction run the gamut of ages and interests because they know the benefits of voice lessons extend beyond the microphone.

     

    Here are a few examples of how voice lessons can enhance your life:

    1. Public Speaking – Singers who take lessons from a professional instructor learn proper posture as well as breathing techniques that enable them project to their voice and present themselves with confidence. These skills not only benefit singers and actors but a wide variety of careers. If you talk a lot in your job — such as a doctor, teacher, or yoga instructor — you could benefit from strengthening your vocal folds. Or, if your career ambitions include being a manager or executive who leads meetings and inspires workers, you may also benefit from singing lessons.

     

    2. Lower Stress – As strange as it may sound, singing has a calming effect that has been scientifically proven to be equal to practicing yoga.

     A team of researchers led by Dr. Bjron Vickhoff of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden led the study and explained why:

     “Song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these. It gives you pretty much the same effect as yoga breathing. It helps you relax, and there are indications that it does provide a heart benefit.”

     There’s even a subset of yoga that incorporates singing into the yoga moves, which is a hard for us to imagine but we’d love to try it one day.

     

    3. Confidence – Tired of avoiding karaoke night or confining your singing to the shower or the car? At The Music Junction, we are firm believers that anyone can sing. It just takes time, practice and the willingness to break out of your comfort zone. Imagine how differently you’ll think of yourself after conquering this fear.

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

     

    Read more...

    4 Of Our Favorite Ted-Ed Videos

    Regular visitors to this blog know that we love Ted-Ed videos. Not only are they informative but they are brief — no more than 5 minutes long — and animated, which makes learning easy.

     We’ve collected some of our favorite Ted-Ed music education videos to share with you. Just think, in less than a half hour you could gain a better understanding of music. It’s that simple.

     

    1. How To Read Music – Tim Hansen

      

    The video provides essential information for beginning students that addresses beats, notes and rhythm. Although we wish the narrator’s word usage was better suited for our youngest musicians, this video is an excellent complement to your Music Junction lessons.

     

     2. Why we love repetition in music – Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

    Any student toying with the idea of composing an original tune would benefit from this video. A good chorus repeated again and again and again makes people more apt to like a song thanks to a concept known as the “exposure effect”  Also, the more one listens to a song, the more he or she can dissect and focus on different aspects of the music.

     

    3. A Different Way To Visualize Rhythm – John Varney

    This video is better suited for intermediate music students who already have a grasp of different types of beats. Instead of showing rhythm on a music bar, the educator visualizes rhythm on a wheel that emphasizes main beats, secondary beats and off beats.

     

     4. BeatBoxing 101 – Mike Chervony, Ms. Chervony, James Kim, Kaila Mullady, Chesney Snow


    While we’re not sure if this video will make you a better music student, we guarantee you will have a lot of fun watching it! The instructors made beatboxing so accessible that we were performing right along with them and showing friends our new talent.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

    Read more...

    A New Movie Shows How We Use Music To Deal With Grief

    A new film that explores the role music plays in dealing with grief, gives us a reason to visit the movie theater this weekend.

    “Rudderless” is the directorial debut of William H. Macy (of “Fargo” and, most recently, “Shameless”) and tells the story of a father named Sam who loses his son in a tragic school shooting. The father quits his executive job in an attempt to forget his past, moves and becomes a house painter who drinks too much. Two years after his son’s death, Sam’s ex-wife delivers a box with their son’s personal belongings, which includes CDs of original music. Over time, Sam learns to play the guitar in order to perform his son’s music. Sam soon finds himself performing his son’s music at an open mic and creates an unlikely band with other male musicians who are closer in age to his deceased son than to himself.

    Although the reviews we’ve read have been good and bad, we like the important role music  plays in the movie. The songs — and their lyrics — are an important part of the movie and some critics have referred to “Rudderless” as a musical. All of the songs are original indie-style music created by Simon Steadman and Charlton Pettus and we’ve included one track in this post.

    Personally, we turn to music to lift our moods and deal with grief and it’s refreshing to see a movie that shows what many of us already do.

    What do you think? Will you see Rudderless?

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

     

     

    Read more...

    Love Music Like A Greek

     As music students and teachers, we love music. We really love music. We’ll sing in the shower and randomly tap our feet to the latest song we’re trying to master. Can there be anyone more musical than us?

    Well, yes.

    A TED-Ed video taught us a lot about music in Ancient Greece. According to educator Tim Hansen, the love of music may have been stronger thousands of years ago in a place known as the cradle of Western Civilization.

    The Ancient Greeks strongly valued creative expression and believed the source of creative inspiration derived from goddesses known as Muses.

    According to the video: “An educated, civilized person, was expected to be proficient of all aspects of creative thought inspired by the Muses, and the common medium through which these disciplines were taught, studied and disseminated was music.”

    As a result, music was an important component in the study of history, astronomy and poetry, even sports. Although it’s common today to hear music at a baseball game and music at spoken word events, more often that not, music is compartmentalized. We listen to the music for the love of music but don’t consider it essential to other fields of study. The video is a good reminder to break out of our silos and model our behavior like the Ancient Greeks.

    What type of music did Ancient Greek listen to as they were reciting poetry and studying history? Well, they played lyres, reed-pipes and percussion instruments and researchers believed their music sounded something like this.

    So, the next time you want to showcase your love of music think Greek!

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lesso

     

    Read more...

    Singing Ability Is Within Everyone’s Reach

    For every Carrie Underwood who shoots to fame after wowing audiences and judges on “American Idol” there is a William Hung who is laughed at on YouTube and is unfortunately associated with the worst the television show has to offer.

     For every “Glee” that celebrates music talent there is television sitcom “The Goldbergs” that laughs at the musical ambitions of a young, out-of-tune boy named Adam.

    If we were to believe Hollywood, singing ability is clearly divided into the haves and have nots. You either have the talent or you do not.

    We don’t know how this myth came into existence. No one would claim that the talents of a pianist, basketball player or accountant were based on innate talents. So, why do people who do not sing very well think taking lessons is a futile act?

    With some training anyone, including Hung and Adam (yes, we know he is a fictional character) could become great singers. A great example on the accessibility of musical talent can, ironically, be found among Hollywood’s top actresses. Although they did not grow up taking singing lessons, Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line” and Gywenth Paltrow in “Country Strong” impressed critics and moveigoers with their abilities.

    In an ABC news article, Roger Love, a veteran vocal coach in Hollywood, explained that people who love music and who like to sing — in the car, in the show and while walking — begun their music education years ago.

    “’Singing along to recorded vocal music is like having a mini-singing lesson,’ Love said. ‘I could tell from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Country Music Awards performance that she’s obviously a person who grew up exposed to music and enjoyed her own private time singing,’ he said. ‘I could hear from her pitch and rhythm that she has a history of putting her voice close enough to where it’s supposed to go.’ … If the actress has a considerable amount of non-professional singing time under her belt, Love said, it’s often just a matter of teaching her vocal and breathing techniques to go along with her natural talent.”

    At the Music Junction, we’re firm believers that the right instruction coupled with some hard work can make anyone a good singer. If you have every wanted to sing to your children, at church, or just feel comfortable belting out tunes in front of other people, we can help!

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

    Read more...

    Explaining Lost Love Through Optical Illusions

    They have sang their songs dancing on treadmills, while testing elaborate Rube Goldberg contraptions and off-roading in a car. Now, OK Go wants its latest video for the new song “The Writing’s on the Wall” to make you question reality.

    Equipped with only a handheld camera, the group, along with 50 video assistants, created 28 different optical illusions on its first video for the group’s new CD. The video appears to be shot in one continuous take and shows illusions that vary from gravity stunts to mirror tricks to having band members oddly mesh into their surroundings.  A behind-the-scenes video that shows how much work went into making the video is almost as entertaining the original.

    What we like most about this video is how well it pairs with the song. The song follows a relationship just before it ends and some of the lyrics are heartbreaking in their honesty and simplicity.

     

    The writing’s on the wall

    It seems like forever

    Since we had a good day

    The writing’s on the wall

     

    But I, just want to get you high tonight

    I, just want to see some pleasure in your eyes

    Some pleasure in your eyes

     

    The Wall Street Journal talked with band member Damian Kulash who also co-directed the video. The newspaper aptly explained how well the song and the video work together: “At the bridge, the words ‘I think I understand you, but I don’t’ appear, painted across small wooden crates. Even as the message of the song becomes clearer, the visual itself becomes more disorienting, as the camera fully rotates in front of the words. ‘That’s where the song comes out emotionally,’ said band member Damian Kulash who also co-directed the video. ‘The meaning emerges in a contained space before the camera, rather than in “this big open space we’ve been running around in.’”

    Have you seen the video? What do you think of it?

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

    Read more...
  • Recent Posts

  • Newsletter Sign Up

  • ©2014 The Music Junction. Web by Armeno