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'/cache/'; $file_prefix = 'wp-cache-'; $ossdlcdn = 0; // Array of files that have 'wp-' but should still be cached $cache_acceptable_files = array( 'wp-comments-popup.php', 'wp-links-opml.php', 'wp-locations.php' ); $cache_rejected_uri = array('wp-.*\\.php', 'index\\.php'); $cache_rejected_user_agent = array ( 0 => 'bot', 1 => 'ia_archive', 2 => 'slurp', 3 => 'crawl', 4 => 'spider', 5 => 'Yandex' ); $cache_rebuild_files = 1; //Added by WP-Cache Manager // Disable the file locking system. // If you are experiencing problems with clearing or creating cache files // uncommenting this may help. $wp_cache_mutex_disabled = 1; //Added by WP-Cache Manager // Just modify it if you have conflicts with semaphores $sem_id = 1864867920; //Added by WP-Cache Manager if ( '/' != substr($cache_path, -1)) { $cache_path .= '/'; } $wp_cache_mobile = 0; $wp_cache_mobile_whitelist = 'Stand Alone/QNws'; $wp_cache_mobile_browsers = '2.0 MMP, 240x320, 400X240, AvantGo, BlackBerry, Blazer, Cellphone, Danger, DoCoMo, Elaine/3.0, EudoraWeb, Googlebot-Mobile, hiptop, IEMobile, KYOCERA/WX310K, LG/U990, MIDP-2., MMEF20, MOT-V, NetFront, Newt, Nintendo Wii, Nitro, Nokia, Opera Mini, Palm, PlayStation Portable, portalmmm, Proxinet, ProxiNet, SHARP-TQ-GX10, SHG-i900, Small, SonyEricsson, Symbian OS, SymbianOS, TS21i-10, UP.Browser, UP.Link, webOS, Windows CE, WinWAP, YahooSeeker/M1A1-R2D2, iPhone, iPod, Android, BlackBerry9530, LG-TU915 Obigo, LGE VX, webOS, Nokia5800'; //Added by WP-Cache Manager // change to relocate the supercache plugins directory $wp_supercache_cache_list = 0; //Added by WP-Cache Manager $wp_cache_debug_to_file = 0; $wp_super_cache_debug = 0; $wp_cache_debug_level = 5; $wp_cache_debug_ip = ''; $wp_cache_debug_log = ''; $wp_cache_debug_email = ''; Thoughts and Tips on Piano Teaching: Tom Rule, musician

Using your computer to make music

I had a composer friend who is trying to setup his computer to do notation. We talked a bit about whether to also include audio recording [which I recommended]. I thought I would post and edited version of what I emailed him.


First decision: Do you get a box that does just MIDI, or both MIDI and audio?

  • MIDI will allow the computer to memorize what notes are played on the keyboard, and then the computer can play the keyboards [i.e. mimic exactly what you played].
  • If you get a box that will do both MIDI & audio then you can ALSO record the audio [the computer can be a big tape recorder]

Here is an article on connecting the keyboard and the computer if you get just the MIDI box. It also has links to Amazon for midi interfaces:

http://www.musicrepo.com/how-to-connect-midi-keyboard-to-computer/

Midi + Audio boxes range from $100 to $3000.

In general the more $ you spend the better the quality – but fortunately for your wallet you are not trying to create a professional recording studio at your house! The inexpensive ones will do just fine.

The big thing decision is how many audio tracks do you want to record at the same time? Some boxes will only do one, some 2, some 4, or 8 or 16 or 24.

Note that you can playback multiple tracks at the same time with all of them – the limitation is how many audio tracks you can RECORD at the same time.

 

Here’s a list of several audio+MIDI interfaces:

http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/computer-audio/audio_interfaces/

 

Personally, I prefer the PreSonus interfaces – they come with recording software that is excellent {Studio One “Artist”}. I actually use the “Producer” version in my studio to record albums. You can think of Studio One as Garageband on steroids.

 

The only other thing you’d need to record audio would be  a Microphone and Mic cable – if you wanted to record your bass or Marina’s violin – and/or some 1/4″ cables to connect your keyboard to the interface box.

Oh – and you’ll need to hook some speakers up somewhere – or you can use headphones.

 

THIRD:

Notation Software

Since you already have Finale, you have the software in place. The idea of just playing something on the keyboard and the software magically creating the notation is a nice dream, but the reality is much more complicated. That is primarily because Notation is complicated!

Finale DOES have the ability to record the MIDI data from the keyboard a few ways.

  • The first method gives you a metronome – you play the part, and it transcribes the music. How well it works depends on how accurately you play.
  • The second method lets you play the whole part. Finale records what you played. Then you go back and mark where the barlines and beats are – THEN Finale creates the notation.
  • The 3rd method – what I use most of the time – is a bit more manual. You plunk the key on the Karma, then a number on hte computer keypad to tell Finale what the note value is [5 = quarter note, 6 = half note, etc]

There is a free piece of software that does notation as well – Musescore. It doesn’t do as much a Finale does, though.

 

Audio Software

If you get the Presonus audio/interface interface, it will come with a copy of Studio One Artist. You can use that for any audio recording.

They also have a free version of Studio One available – it doesn’t do as much as the Artist version, but works quite well and has unlimited tracks. It also records and plays back MIDI data – so you can

  • play something on the keyboard,
  • have the software memorize [record] the midi notes
  • Then you go in a edit the midi note – delete extra notes, move them around, change pitches, add notes, etc.
  • When it is perfect, you hit the play button. Computer “plays” the keyboard, keyboard makes the sound, and computer records the resulting [perfect] audio

 

Music Tech and Piano – some quick notes

Music Technology:

Basically divides into a few categories:
1. Student skill development [Alfred Music theory series, several iPad music “games” like NoteWorks, for ex.]
2. Recording,
A. audio
B. video
C. MIDI
3, Playback/Distribution – how will the student hear it/view it? Email the file? Make a CD/DVD?


With any technology, DO NOT start with “how do you get it to work”, also known as “What buttons do I push?”
Start with these two questions:

  1. What would I like tech to do for me?
  2. What capabilities does this tech have? [Sometimes I’ll make a quick list of things a gizmo will do on a card – NOT how to do them, just what it will do. That will remind me later when I’m trying to figure out how to get something done.]

For example:

I might think “I’d like to be able to video record my student playing in a lesson.
Then I remember that my smartphone will record videos.
ONLY then do I try to figure out what buttons to push to make that happen.

If it doesn’t work – since I know the gizmo has the capability, then the problem is that I’m not pushing the correct buttons.

[Practice is just as important in using technology to teach as it is in piano!]

So after a few uses in lessons, I might decide I’d like to get better quality. That might be because the video is shaky – wonder if I could put my smartphone on a tripod, or a music stand in a custom smartphone stand, or duct tape it to the ceiling……..
Or if I’d like better audio, maybe there is a different microphone I could plug into the phone.

  • Start small and simple.
  • Play with it [a.k.a. “research”].
  • Practice with it so that you don’t have to think about how to work it – that way the lesson flow isn’t interrupted.

 

Small portable recorders are nice and can be simple or complicated – the advantage is you can see everything right then. Getting the files out of the unit, though, usually involves connecting it to a laptop/desktop computer. Examples from Zoom, Tascam, Roland, Korg

bit.ly/mtna-tech <– portable recorders on Amazon

Smartphones are handy, portable, and you may already have one. There are many apps available – some free – that are more useful than the built-in apps that come with the phone. If the file is small enough you might be able to email the audio file to your student or their parents.

A laptop/desktop setup can be very powerful – but is probably too cumbersome and overblown for a music lesson. You don’t have much time in a lesson as it is!


I like taking the “this is an experiment and it might blow up” approach. When I’m trying something, I’ll tell the student, “Let’s try this and see if it works.” I’ll often video the student while playing, trying to catch a mechanical problem – but if they know I’m recording, many times the problem disappears, because they are more conscious of what they are doing.


I sometimes use an iPad for quick audio [Voice Record Pro 7 – it’s free] or video recording. I also have a vintage 1997 Mac in the room that I use for MIDI work – I’ll use it to record the student, and then the computer tell the keyboard what notes to play when……. so the student can hear exactly what they played on the same instrument they played it on.

You do NOT need the “latest greatest thingy” to do something cool and useful. Most of my students are fairly impressed that I’m using a computer older than they are……. [No, it won’t get online. I could do it, but it would be too much trouble!]

A Yamaha Disklavier is basically an acoustic piano with MIDI. [That’s a very simplistic explanation, by the way.]

Recording your students – some thoughts

There was a posting on a LinkedIn group  about how to go about recording your students. Although the post was primarily about what gear to use, it sparked some thoughts about it. Here is what I shared with the group:


Remember that quality is a relative term here [I’ve spent significant time in recording studios]. If you are trying to capture an “album quality” piano sound, that’s one thing [and it would be overkill for this purpose, not to mention way too expensive!].

But getting a “good enough to hear what the student is actually doing” recording is fairly inexpensive these days – I’m actually recording parts of an album using an old iPod Nano + the Blue Mikey. It won’t be “national label” quality, but will certainly be good enough for my purposes.  http://www.nimbitmusic.com/TomRule –> the album Preludes: Short, Improvised, and Live has several examples.

Once you have your gizmo in hand, I suggest experimenting with placement outside of the lesson first – a difference of 3 inches can make a world of difference in the sound. Develop several “standard” locations to place the mic – one for loud pieces, one where you really want to hear the hammers strike the strings, one for concentrating on the LH/lower strings, etc.

Another thing to work out – if the student [or parent/grandparent!] wants a copy, what’s the process for getting it to them? That will change depending on the gizmo and your equipment. I’ve recorded my students at times, burned it to CD, and the student gave it to their parents for Christmas. That was a big hit – but I did NOT have dozens to do!

2014 Maerz Competition news

Auditions for the Morning Music Club Joseph Maerz Award

Video audition must be received by Friday, February 21, 2014.

See the links at the bottom of this post for the documents needed. 

The Morning Music Club of Macon sponsors this award annually. The purpose of this $2,000 scholarship award is to encourage and reward achievement and excellence in musical performance. The Maerz Award was started in 1969 and is named for Professor Joseph Maerz, a member of the Wesleyan College faculty who was widely known as a teacher, music critic, and performer.

Below you will find an intent to audition form, application form, application guidelines, and rules governing this competition.

Please share this with prospective high school senior contestants and music teachers.

The intent to audition form and entry fee must be postmarked by Saturday, January 25, 2014.

 

• MMC APPLICATION & GUIDELINES 2014

MMC INTENT TO AUDITION 2014

MMC RULES 2014

Teaching……

I swore I’d never teach.

Really!

After earning my undergrad degree [in Piano Performance] I was so burned out I swore I’d never teach. I couldn’t see myself teaching in ANY capacity whatsoever. Ever.

This is exactly why I say the I am living proof God has a sense of humor.

At this stage of life I have taught at the collegiate level piano, music technology, music theory, sightsinging, music appreciation, and directed choirs and show choirs – as well as intro to computers. At the middle school and high school level I’ve taught keyboarding, web design and computer applications.

I currently teach at a college PLUS a local music store…..and have several computer clients that I am constantly teaching.

Yup, here I am – living proof God has a sense of humor!

What’s a lesson like?

I had one teacher in Grad school who would sit back and just listen to my playing. He’d sip on his coffee, make few comments, and then I’d play the next piece. This went on for 2 semesters, which is why I switched teachers in mid-degree. it caused quite a stir.

I switched because his teaching style did NOT mesh with my learning style – I MUCH prefer a conversational hands-on approach- and that is exactly how I teach.

For me a piano lesson is more of a “rehearsal” – the student and I will work through the issues with the piece they are trying to learn. During that conversation we’ll discuss the music theory aspects of the piece – form, chords, melodic phrase construction, for example – as well as technical issues (fingering…) and musicical aspects (articulations, phrase shaping).

I ask a lot of questions – intending for the student to discover the answer (I really like those “Oh, Yeah” moments when the light bulb goes off). It could be something as significant as noticing that the composer re-used melodic material later in the piece to as simple as starting on the correct note.

That’s what I think a lesson should be like. Your opinion?

Free sheet music? Is there a catch? Is this for real?

Yes, there IS a free lunch, but there IS a catch!

I’ve been astounded by the amount of free sheet music available – it’s also called “open source” music. Heavens, I’ve even posgted some pieces for free over at www.MacMusicGuy.com.  So what are the advantages/disadvantages and parameters?

I am NOT referring to the legitimate and semi-legitimate websites out there that are offering a few pieces of sheet music, but the bulk of the site is devoted to selling sheet music. While a valid selling strategy, those sites are not the scope of this article.

There is an amazing amount of LEGAL sheet music available for download at sites that are dedicated to making the music available. These free sites seem to divide up into a few categories:

  1. Music that composers put out there for free
  2. Scans of public domain publications. In the US this is anything printed before 1923.
  3. Public domain music that someone has taken the time to typeset.
  4. Free samples that publishers put out.

 Let’s ignore #4 for this article. For the other three, what are the advantages / disadvantages?

#1 – Music that composers put online for free

Some of this music can be pretty good, while some is dreadful. You can find music for just about any combination of instruments, and by composers of all sorts of skill levels.

It is a bit gratifying to see people creating music and put it “out there” who have never composed before. You’ll see that situation quite a bit on the MuseScore website.

#2 – Scans of public domain publications.

This has been done by quite a few libraries, especially the US Library of Congress.  An advantage here is, again, breadth – you can find music by composers that Grove’s Dictionary barely mentions. Often, however, the scans are of music that is not quite clean (some of the scans look like the sheet music was 200 years old or more) – so that can reduce legibility if you are trying to play from a printout.

More often, though, the difficulty lies in decoding the old-style printing. Much of today’s printed music is FAR easier to read, a result of decades of effort in the printing industry.

#3 – Public domain music that someone has taken the time to typeset. 

 Again, an amazing breadth of material is available. Most of the scores I have seen have been of decent quality, but are variations in notation usability – i.e. some of the scores are easier to read because the submitter followed standard notation practices when setting the piece. All in all, though, this category is where I start when looking for a piece.

So what advantage is there in BUYING music now?
There are some SERIOUS advantages to buying sheet music produced using the traditional publication route. First is quality – the paper used, the printing, the ease of reading are all going to be superior to what you are likely to print on your inkjet or laser printer.

The editing – assuming it’s a quality edition – will also make it easier to play the music. Things like Finger numbers on piano music often gets left out of the public domain music because it is a royal pain to put in (though MUCH easier than it used to be!)

Then there’s the issue of supporting the music industry – especially your local music store. Let’s face it – the music industry is basically a “Mom & Pop” operation. There’s not a whole lot of depth – i.e. money in the bank!


Where is this stuff located?
Here are several sites I’ve been using:

Happy hunting!

Teaching Piano with a Nintendo DSi?

Yup – that little game system can indeed be a useful tool when teaching piano. It has several advantages – it’s cheap, relatively speaking, is easy to use, and the “wow” factor is pretty high (thereby making YOU more interesting to your students, which is a great motivator).


More details in the coming weeks!


Class is in Session: The Music Biz

From an origianl  post by Brian Corber  on Linkedin. Brian is a Music Lawyer, and has graciously granted permission for me to re-publish this. Check out his website – as he says, ” The music business is tough. Talent isn’t enough. You need a smart lawyer on your side.”



CLASS IS IN SESSION: THIS IS WHAT YOU DIDN’T LEARN BY BUYING GUITAR HERO OR GOING TO BERKLEE:

1. MUSICIANS ARE NOT HIGHER UP ON THE EVOLUTIONARY SCALE. THEY DON’T
WALK ON WATER AND ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANYTHING MORE THAN ANY OTHER
HUMAN.

2. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY COMES ALONG TO MAKE ANY MONEY AT ALL FROM YOUR
MUSIC, YOU’D BETTER GRAB IT BECAUSE THEY DON’T DESCEND FROM HEAVEN.
JUST BECAUSE YOU CREATED A MUSIC FILE, JUST BECAUSE MAYBE YOU REGISTERED
ITS COPYRIGHT, JUST BECAUSE MAYBE YOU REGISTERED IT WITH ASCAP, BMI OR
SESAC DOESN’T GUARANTEE THAT MONEY WILL DROP FROM HEAVEN ONTO YOU.

3. JUST BECAUSE YOU CREATE MUSIC DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE IN THE MUSIC
BUSINESS. AND NOT EVERY NOISE YOU CREATE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED MUSIC. A
LOT OF IT IS NOISE POLLUTION.

SO, IF SOMEONE POSTS A MESSAGE SAYING: WE WILL LICENSE YOUR MUSIC, WE
WILL BUY IT, WE WILL USE IT AND YOU WILL MAKE MONEY FROM OUR EFFORTS, A
SMART PERSON WOULD GRAB THAT OPPORTUNITY FAST.

4. NOT EVERYONE WHO SEEKS TO MAKE MONEY FROM USE OF YOUR MUSIC IS EVIL.
YOU CAN TELL BY READING THE CONTRACT. IF YOU CAN’T TELL FROM DOING
THAT, HIRE A LAWYER AND HE OR SHE WILL TELL YOU.

5. THIS IS THE BUSINESS YOU’VE CHOSEN. IT’S NOT A CAKEWALK, IT’S NOT
ROMPER ROOM. IT IS A ROUGH COMPETITIVE BUSINESS AND MORE COMPLEX THAN
FIGURING OUT HOW TO ORGANIZE THE CORN ON YOUR PLATE. IT IS A WORLD WIDE
BUSINESS, IN MANY COUNTRIES, AND NOT ALWAYS ALIKE IN EACH OF THOSE
COUNTRIES. YES, THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE SEEKING TO STEAL YOUR STUFF,
AND A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE YOUR FELLOW MUSICIANS.

6. RECENTLY MUSIC DISH REPORTED ON A SMALL SURVEY THAT INDICATED THAT THE
VAST MAJORITY OF MUSICIANS AREN’T MAKING ENOUGH MONEY FOR THE SIMPLE
NECESSITIES OF LIFE LET ALONE A MANSION AND A MERCEDES.

SO, REALLY. GET OVER YOURSELVES AND SMARTEN UP. BEING IGNORANT AND
OBLIVIOUS TO THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BUSINESS WILL DEFEAT YOU IN THE SHORT
AND LONG RUN.

7. AND JUST BECAUSE ANOTHER MUSICIAN TOLD YOU SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN IT’S
TRUE. THEY PROBABLY HEARD IT FROM YET ANOTHER MUSICIAN WHO HEARD IT
FROM ANOTHER MUSICIAN WHO HEARD IT FROM YET ANOTHER MUSICIAN. THIS IS
HOW RUMORS ABOUT THINGS LIKE THE POOR MAN’S COPYRIGHT GET AROUND.

8. SMARTEN UP PEOPLE. ONLY THOSE WHO LEARN ACTUALLY LEARN HOW MUCH MORE
THERE IS TO LEARN. THOSE WHO THINK THEY KNOW EVERYTHING DON’T EVEN KNOW
HOW MUCH THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW.

0. AND STOP DRINKING THE ASCAP COOL-AID. AND THE BMI COOL-AID. AND THE SESAC COOL-AID. AND THE RIAA COOL-AID.

10. STROKING YOUR EGO WON’T HELP YOU BUY GROCERIES FOR YOUR FAMILY. YOUR
LANDLORD WON’T ACCEPT “I GOT 10,000 HITS ON MY MYSPACE PAGE” IN PAYMENT
OF THE RENT.

AND ATTACKING THE MESSENGER WON’T CHANGE THE MESSAGE. IF YOU WANT TO BE A MUSIC BUSINESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO.

Keyboards vs. Pianos – the difference?

What’s the Difference – from teaching, learning, and Musician’s perspective? Some semi-random thoughts.

  1. There’s nothing like playing a well-maintained concert grand. NOTHING.
  2. But few people have access to a concert grand, much less a well-maintained one.
  3. The new Roland V-Piano is supposed to come close, though. At roughly $6,000 it’s a lot cheaper than a quality grand, but you’re going to have to invest in some amps and speakers.
  4. Keyboards/Synths give me capabilities that a piano doesn’t – different sounds, etc.
  5. I play a Piano and a Keyboard differently – even when the keyboard has a great action (like my Roland RD-700 sx).
  6. I’d suggest learning the Piano, and integrating the “keyboard” part of it as a part of the process. To play keys you need to learn how to work your buttons, how to change what you play depending on the sound you’re using, and how to improvise a part while looking at a chord chart.
  7. Best way to learn how to change your touch? CLASSICAL PIANO music! (especially Classical, Baroque, and Romantic eras).
  8. To Comp (i.e. accompany) you need to know your chords and scales. Those are the tools that let you combine bits and pieces into something interesting that fits the song.
  9. This is true regardless of the style – rock, jazz, pop, urban, country, world…….
  10. You still have to practice – every day is best.