Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Joy Of PIANO Improvisation

Jesus "Chuchito" Valdes - Detroit Jazz Festival 2009
Photo  by Brian Callahan ( 
If you have never experienced the fun and joy of improvising on the piano, then you are missing out on a great experience. Imagine an artist who does not know how to draw or paint without tracing or copying another’s work.

That is unheard of. Yet, many piano players lack the ability to improvise on the piano! This is caused by years of rigid piano lesson/structure and a lack of proper guidance.

Many piano players rely on sheet music to be able to play, which would be like an artist only copying another’s artwork and never creating something unique. Improvisation is a fun process. It enables the pianist to bring out the latent potential of creativity and expression inside them.

One thing that will help any piano player to improve on the art of improvisation is to allow unstructured creative time during one's piano practice hours.

Time to just sit down and make up music on the piano is crucial. No agenda, no structure, no goals to accomplish. This process is extremely important in the world of piano playing.

In order to allow the inner expression to come out, one needs to let it reveal itself. A good example of this is how young children play the piano. If you can observe a child learning the piano do so. Very often, young children are able to reach a creative and fun play "scheme" without any guidance at all. Similarly, any piano player should allow 15-30 minutes of "free play" without worrying about hitting the wrong notes.

Traditional piano lessons emphasize the ability to read notes. Reading ability is no doubt one of the most important skills any piano player can possess. This emphasis, however, has created some "lopsided" players who can only play piano by reading. Eventually, this type of player will lose their interest and passion for music.

Many young children drop out of piano lessons as a result of struggling with music reading. Children who are younger than 5 or 6 are discouraged from traditional piano lessons due to the fact that they cannot yet read musical notes properly.

Music is commonly referred to as a "language." There are many ways of learning a language. Young children master the language skill by frequently talking and interacting with their peers and caretakers as well as imitating other people. The ability to read comes a little later in their life. A similar approach needs to be taken to foster the love of piano music among young children. Sometimes by just allowing young children to make up music on the piano without placing emphasis on playing the correct notes can be just as important.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Its all about MUSIC

"Music is either good or bad, and it's got to be learned. You got to have balance." 
Louis Armstrong

Music Instruments Music instruments are used to generate music and is being controlled by a musician so as to get desired sound effects. The origin of music instruments is as old as music itself when traditional musical instruments were used. These instruments are categorized as aerophones (brasses and woodwind), chordophones (strings), idiophones and membranophones.

Stringed instruments such as violin, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, harp, banjo, cello etc produce sound when a string is plucked. Brasses and woodwind produce sound when air enters and vibrates the instrument. Flute, saxophone, piccolo, mouth organ, bassoon are a few examples of wind instruments. Other musical instruments comprise of electronic and keyboard instruments.

Music Instrument stores You can get any of the musical instruments through directly from the craftsman who has designed it or dealers and other superstores. You can get any type of the musical instrument you want as per the brand, price or model. These superstores also provide DJ equipment, live recording instruments and many other accessories such as guitar amps, microphone accessories, racks and strap locks etc. There are many discount musical instrument shops that provide music instruments at much-discounted rates and offers.

Music Instrument Dealers Dealers are the people who act as a middleman in between the manufacturer and customers. They could be wholesalers, retailers and sometimes even the manufacturers themselves. They sell different musical instruments as well as parts and accessories associated with different musical instruments. Many of them have even launched their websites and are selling their products through the internet. They also offer services such as repairs, shipping of the product and free services. A dealer also helps you in understanding the features of any of the music instrument and guides you through the use of different music players.

Monday, December 11, 2017

BALLROOM DANCING - Discover the Various Types of Ballroom DANCE MUSIC

Big Bay Ballroom - Harbor Hop
Photo  by Port of San Diego 
Ballroom dance music is as varied and eclectic as the dancing can be itself. Depending upon the types of steps that a dancer is performing, the tunes can be really fast and peppy or slow and melodious. Throughout the course of history, the tunes have been meant to be enjoyed whether the listener is dancing with them or not. Ballroom dance music can be listened to for dancing, as well as for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Slow and fluid music is the choice for dances such as the Waltz or the Viennese Waltz. These tunes are melodious and traditional, with most being classical compositions that were written for Royal entertainment several centuries ago. Composers such as Lanner, Strauss, and Shubert were the original composers of music for the Waltz, which was started in Vienna by the Court of the Hapsburgs. With the creation of the American Waltz in the 1800's, other composers were let into the close Waltz circle. Popular artists such as Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, and even Stevie Wonder are now contributing to the types of tunes that are classified as ballroom dance music.

There are also the types produced exclusively for dances such as the Tango. This type of dancing was long thought to have originated in Argentina, but was actually started in either Spain or Morocco and brought to the Americas by explorers and settlers. In the United States, the Tango was influenced by African American and Creole elements and made popular in the early 1900's by Rudolph Valentino's movies.

Popular Tango artists include Gotan Project, Carlos Di Sarli Strictly Tango, and Victor Hugo Morales. When people are just starting to learn the steps of Tango, a slower tempo in ballroom dance music is definitely recommended. Once they get the steps down, then they can pick the speed up a bit and even add a flourish or dip to make it a little more interesting if they like.

Quick and sultry Latin dancing also requires another form. The Salsa, Rhumba, and even the ChaCha require a totally different beat, rhythm, and speed all together. For example, some Latin styles are danced on the upbeat of the tune, while others are danced strictly on the downbeat. Each Latin style is considered unique and usually requires its own style and tempo to be danced to properly.

Latin dancing is extremely hot right now which means that songs are widely available to choose from. Most are only offered in Spanish; however, artists such as Lou Bega sing popular top forty songs in English. No matter what your choice in ballroom dance music, there are several tunes to choose from for every style of dancing.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

DRUM Tips - Dealing with BASS DRUM "Creep"

A Yamaha bass drum pedal on a Tama drum set.
A Yamaha bass drum pedal on a Tama drum set. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bass drum creep does NOT refer to the scary guy with the bass drum, it's the term used to describe the frustrating situation when your kick drum starts sliding further and further away from you with each stroke of your bass drum pedal.

Setting up your kit on a good thick rug or a carpet that the spikes at the end of your bass drum legs can sink their teeth into will generally help keep bass drum creep at bay. (If your bass drum legs don't have spikes, replace them with ones that do. Any decent drum shop will carry replacement bass drum legs at a reasonable price.)

Make sure your carpet is large enough to fit your whole kit, including your throne. The weight of your body on the throne will help keep the bass drum from sliding away with the whole carpet.
Adjust the bass drum legs so that the front of the drum is an inch or two off the ground and the drum is resting at a slight angle. This shifts more of the weight of the drums onto the legs themselves and helps the spikes dig in more effectively, which should put an end to most bass drum creep problems.

Sometimes, especially for those of us kicking the drum pretty hard in loud situations, setting up on a carpet is just not enough!

Here is an additional little trick that will END bass drum creep problems.

Take a three foot long 2"x4" piece of wood. I have some nice fabric glued around it to make it look pretty, provide some protection to the drums, and prevent splinters. Now mark your carpet where you want the front of your bass drum to sit. Drill three quarter inch diameter holes through the wood - one hole in the middle and one near each end.

Using some nice, big, 2 inch washers and 1/4 inch thick bolts - actually bolt the wood to your carpet at the front edge of your bass drum. Make sure to put the flattest part of the bolt on the underside of the carpet so that your carpet still lays pretty flat.  I also like to put a layer or two of gaffer's tape over the end of the bolt so that it does not scratch up any nice wooden floors that happen to be underneath the carpet.

Now when you set up just slide the front of the bass drum right up against the piece of wood you have bolted to the carpet, and it will not slide any further!

It works best if you get the wood wide enough that the legs themselves actually bump up against the wood block although it will work fine with the rim of the drum against the wood block - just be sure to cover the wood with foam or thick fabric to prevent the wood from damaging the rim and lugs of your drum!

Let me know how well it works for you.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The SITAR - 3 Things To Know Before Buying

Photo by aplumb
If you have ever heard of the song "paint it black" by the Rolling Stones or listened to some songs by the Beatles, you probably are familiar with that funny sounding guitar in the background called a Sitar.

This exotic instrument consists of 18 to 23 strings. There are usually 6-7 main strings on top and 11 or more on the bottom call sympathetic strings. These are meant to be used as a drone to give the instrument more musical depth.

The sitar is made of a large neck and a gored for the base. It is mostly played in a traditional sitting position and played with a metal pick, which is called a mizrab.

If you are serious about buying, please keep in mind these three tips.

Tip One.

Make sure you are familiar with where the actual sitar came from. It's very important to track where it was made. Wherever you buy the sitar, do some research on the Internet as to where it was made. The majority of sitars are mass-produced in Northern India and sell for around $200 to $500, these tend to be fake. If you're a lefty, like me, almost all the sitars out there on the Internet or major music stores are fake. I have had my fair share of fake sitars and that's why I am writing this article.

Tip two

Find out how long its been sitting out. Sitars don't do well with humidity or the cold. They are ideal at around 60-80 degrees. Always keep them away from windows or fireplaces/heaters. To test this, play the instrument and listen to hear it go out of tune. If it keeps going out of tune you might have a warped sitar.

Tip Three.

Always check for loose parts. A well-made sitar that's not a decoration piece tends always painted to perfection and the tuners work. If the tuners don't stay in place, chances are you are getting ripped off. Most of the, general music store have no clue where they come from and order them from a catalog to give the store variety. They should always come in a case and have extra strings and picks. Make sure to purchase sitar grade strings, as they are different lengths and gauges.

I highly recommend doing some concrete research before flaunting your credit card around and impulsively buying one of these cool instruments. Always play before you pay!