Monday, June 29, 2015

The Specifications for Monaural Earphones

5:00:00 PM
Headphones and earphones come in many shapes and sizes.

It is important to buy a set of monaural earphones that are comfortable and fit properly. With monaural earphone units, it is possible to achieve good sound quality, but they must fit properly to achieve this. Loose fitting monaural earphones will diminish the overall quality of the sound. Look for monaural earphones that come with multiple fitting options, or have cushioned moldings that will adjust to your ears. Monaural earphones have two designs: single cup that attaches to one ear and two cups that attach to both.
Sound Quality

Technical specifications can help you rule out lower quality monaural earphones, but it is still much more important to listen. Low-quality earphones will have a poor frequency response, low impedance, and poorly constructed drivers. No set of monaural earphones will sound the same to everyone. While the specifications are interesting and can help give you a general overview, there is no substitute for trying the monaural earphones on and listening to the quality of the sound.

When evaluating monaural earphones keep in mind that there is a break-in period. In general, you should be listening for the following: Is the sound clear? Do you hear any distortion? Listen to the bass sound. You want monaural earphones that are not fuzzy or muddled. The highs and lows shouldn't become tinny or thin. There should be an even tone throughout the highs and lows.

Frequency Response

This is the sound spectrum or range of frequencies that the device can produce. Practically speaking, humans have the ability to hear between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz. At the lower levels, the sound is felt more than it is heard. This specification isn't all that important in monaural earphones, it becomes more important with loudspeakers. For the most part, you can ignore this specification.


With monaural earphones, the only real drawback to having a low impedance is a shorter battery life on the device. The level of impedance is an indicator of how much power is required. A higher impedance will draw less power. With monaural earphones, this specification isn't as significant as other specifications. According to Raymond Yu of Gear Diary, anything up to "32 ohms" will not require auxiliary power. Anything higher and auxiliary power is required. The sound quality is more important than this specification.


Sensitivity is the loudness of the monaural earphones. When looking for monaural earphones you should look for a high number but don't get anything above 85 decibels if you value your hearing.


This is a complex subject, but the basic rule of thumb with all audio equipment is that the more drivers there are the better the sound will be. In monaural earphones that have multiple drivers, each driver is given its own domain of sound. In this way, you can have a driver for bass, mid-range, and treble. Of course, this will be expensive because it is hard to cram all those drivers into single monaural earphones. To be fair, it is possible to create high-quality single driver monaural earphones, but they are going to cost you.

One final note about drivers. There are basically two types - Dynamic and Armature. Dynamic drivers require a burn-in (playing) time before they are able to reach their peak state. Armature drivers are more stable and still improve with time, but do not require a break in period. Many users view the Armature drivers as better drivers since they are ready to use out of the box.

Noise Isolation

This is an important consideration. It basically just tells you how much outside noise is blocked. The higher the number the greater the amount of outside noise is cut. Practically, you can cut up to about 26 decibels of outside noise with monaural earphones. Noise cancellation is not the same thing as noise isolation. With noise isolation, you are just blocking sound. Noise cancellation, on the other hand, emits a tone to create a barrier of sound. Noise cancellation can distort the sound, so noise isolation is generally the preferred solution.

What Instruments Can Be Made at Home?

3:16:00 PM
Pots and pans make great percussion instruments. Making instruments at home is an activity that most people can do in their spare time. While you aren't going to be able to make a professional instrument out of materials you will find around the house, it is possible to create a small family orchestra for your own amusement and enjoyment. With a few basic materials, you can make an orchestra of homemade instruments.


Effective homemade string instruments are possible. Find a coat hanger that is made of wood. You may have to go out and buy one if you don't have one already. Get some thumb tacks and several pieces of string. Attach seven thumbtacks on both sides of the coat hanger from the outside edge working in toward the middle. Make sure to align the tacks evenly. Cut seven pieces of string and wrap the string around the thumb tacks. Tighten the string until it creates a resonant plucking sound. Do this for each set of thumbtacks and tighten or loosen the strings as necessary to achieve your desired pitches.


Woodwind instruments require a little more preparation and skill, but it is still possible to create a basic woodwind instrument at home with the proper tools. Woodwind instruments operate by elongating and shortening the length of the instrument. The holes in a woodwind instrument act to extend and shorten the length of the instrument. By finding a wooden tube, you can simply cut holes in the tube spaced equally apart. Covering the holes with your fingers will allow you to create different pitches.


Drums are the easiest instruments to make since they are anything you hit or strike with a mallet. Look for an old bucket, cover the bucket with three layers of wax paper and attach the paper with string or twine. Find a wooden stick to use for a mallet. It is possible to make several different sized drums using this method that will all produce different pitches. For lower pitched drums use large buckets, for higher pitched drums use smaller buckets.


Chimes are easy instruments to make at home. Go to a home store and look for various sizes of metal tubes. Drill holes in the tops of the tube and attach the tubes to a wooden plank by pulling a string through the holes and attaching them to the plank. Chimes used in orchestras create special effects. You can play your chimes with paintbrushes, wooden spoons or even metal rods.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

List of Bugle Calls

5:00:00 PM
The bugle has been used throughout history to send signals to troops.

Throughout history, bugles have signaled to troops across a large distance to perform specific functions. With its penetrating sound, piercing range, and sturdy construction, the bugle served to unite troops, wake them, provide reminders, signal rest, and honor fallen soldiers. Today, there are varieties of calls that buglers must know and memorize.


Before bugles came on the scene, drums were used to signal commands.

Wars fought with soldiers in close file did not require bugles. Soldiers listened to drummers for cues on how to proceed in battle. As British armies started to expand their pursuits to different territories and fought wars with lighter units that spread out, new strategies designated commands to soldiers. The bugle gradually replaced the drum for keeping troops aware of unit commands. The bugle was a better choice for battle due to its low weight and compact design in relation to the drum.

Warning Calls

Several bugle melodies are still in use today. Warning calls warn troops that a command is pending. These calls are useful to get the attention of the troops so that the commander does not have to scream over a disorganized unit. Different warning calls will inform the troops what type of command is coming. Warning calls typically include "First Call", "Drill Call", "Guard Mounting" and "Attention". Alarm Calls Unlike a warning call, alarm calls indicate a need for immediate action by the soldiers. There are two main types of calls in this type of bugle call. The "Fire Call" indicates there is a fire. Similar to the drills that many experiences when going to school, it may also indicate a fire drill. The other type of alarm call used in the military is a "Call-to-arms." This call informs the soldiers that they must immediately return to their posts and prepare for battle.

Service Calls

Service calls indicate that a military service is being offered.

Service calls require the least immediacy on the part of the soldier. These calls denote a particular military service offering. These calls could be used to indicate anything from a religious service to a meal. There are fifteen total service calls including the easily recognized and most somber of the calls, "Taps". "Taps" notifies the troops about lights out for the night and is used in military funerals to honor fallen soldiers.

Formation Calls

"Formation Calls" provide notice to soldiers that they should prepare to line up in a designated formation. The type of call required is dependent upon the particular formation. There are three main calls, "Adjutants Call", "Assembly" and "First Sergeant's Call."

Ceremonial Calls

Ceremonial calls are usually played by a military band.

Ceremonial calls introduce a leader and play at official military events. A bugle cannot play many of the ceremonial calls because the bugle is only able to operate on overtones of the fundamental note of the bugle. Since ceremonial calls are normally not battle oriented, it is not necessary to have calls specific to the bugle. However, some calls which can be played on the bugle are the "General's March", "Flag Officer's March", "To the Color", and "Sound Off".

Saturday, June 27, 2015

List of Choir Objectives

5:00:00 PM
Singing in a choir is a big responsibility with important objectives. Singing in a choir is a tough responsibility with many objectives to maintain and observe. Choir singers have unusual restraints placed on their personal lives since the decisions made outside the choir directly affect the overall choir sound. Learning about these objectives ahead of time helps the director to organize rehearsals, and students to know what is expected.


The choir’s main objective is to perform concerts for audiences. Concerts should seek to entertain and inform the audience. Program notes included with each concert should explain to the audience what each piece in the concert is, the composer that wrote the piece, the date of composition and some background information about the choir. For a more complete and entertaining program, the choir should include additional historical information about the music performed. All choirs must fulfill this objective. Without concerts, the performers never get the chance to sing publicly and develop performance skills.


Members of a choir, especially college and high school choirs need to learn the most famous pieces in the literature. Choirs in college should perform classics such as Handel's "Messiah," Mozart's "Requiem" and, at least, one piece by Bach; these are considered standard works. Each of these works stretches the choir's ability to perform as a cohesive ensemble. School choirs also typically rehearse student works at least once per year. Learning the repertoire is an objective of all serious choirs.


Choirs must not overlook the objective of developing musicianship. The goal of the choir and the director is to provide guidance on how to interpret, maintain consistency with syllables and improve the singer's vocal sound. Musicianship training involves learning to read complex rhythms, singing music at sight and blending with the rest of the choir. All of these objectives can be developed and maintained with proper direction from the conductor.


Choir requires each member to have a high level of professionalism. Missing rehearsals, arriving late, missing music and being generally unprepared for rehearsals is not acceptable in a choir. The director of the choir needs to explain what is expected of the students and how to deal with emergencies. Many choirs even make the overall health of the student a requirement; abusing the voice, drinking alcohol, smoking and not getting enough sleep affects the overall sound of a choir.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Guitar: Maple Vs. Rosewood Fingerboards

5:00:00 PM
Fingerboards are also called fretboards.

The type of wood used for a fingerboard affects the tone quality of the guitar. Wood choice largely depend on the personal preference of the guitarist. Guitarists choose woods based on appearance, texture, resilience and sound. Fingerboards have a lesser impact on the sound than the main body. This makes the choice of which wood to use mainly an aesthetic choice. Choose a fingerboard based on how comfortable it is to play. Guitarists may prefer the stickier texture of maple or the slick texture of rosewood.


Fingerboard woods create specific timbres, the sound quality of an instrument. Clean sounds are characterized by tones that eliminate a lot of distortion and extra frequencies. Penetrating sounds have the ability to cut through the ensemble. Bright sounds are light and airy while dark sounds are thick and dense. Maple fingerboards have a narrow and focused sound with good penetration. Rosewood fingerboards reduce brightness. Unwanted, extraneous frequencies are absorbed, resulting in a focused sound. Rosewood provides a warm and soft sound, and less brilliance than maple.


Maple fingerboards have a lightly tanned color that must be cleaned regularly, to prevent the oils from your hands showing on the wood. Variations of maple include flamed, quilted, birds-eye and hard maple. Each variation describes a particular pattern that naturally appears in the wood. Birds-eye maple has small, oval-shaped grooves. Flamed maple has wavy lines. Quilted maple has ripples in the wood. Hard maple is flat and smooth. Rosewood maple has a rich, red color and comes in both Indian and Brazilian styles. Indian rosewood consists of dark striations throughout. Brazilian rosewood consists of smooth and even swirls in the wood.


Maple and rosewood fingerboards are both hard woods that create a strong fingerboard. This strength makes these woods capable of easily withstanding the tension of the strings. Maple is a medium hardwood with evenly spaced pores. Maple from the Eastern United States has a harder texture than maple from the Western United States. Rosewood is harder than maple and, as it is derived from tropical trees, has a very dense, thick texture. Rosewood is very stable and resists deterioration well. Both kinds of wood are resilient and provide the guitarist with years of use.


The texture is an important consideration when choosing a fingerboard wood. Maple requires a finish to protect the wood from deterioration. Glossy finishes have a sticky feel that gives the fingerboard a less virtuoso feel since the fingers don't glide smoothly. Satin finishes are possible with maple, and help to maintain an even and smooth feel. Rosewood does not require a finish, which makes the wood supple to the touch and smoother.


Ebony is another option to consider if you want a dark fingerboard with a clean, penetrating and bright sound. The added advantage of ebony is that, aesthetically, it is a dark wood suitable for a completely black guitar. Ebony provides a clean attack that is even brighter than maple. The wood feels very slick and enables the guitarist to quickly move across the fingerboard. The slickness comes from the fact that ebony is a small, grained wood with smaller pores than maple or rosewood.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Melodic Percussion Instruments

5:00:00 PM
Melodic percussion instruments are large instruments suitable for orchestra use.

Melodic percussion instruments add color to the orchestra, provide support for melodic lines and create vibrant aural effects within the music. Composers have used percussion instruments for centuries to enhance chords and create a variety of timbres within the orchestra. Whether you are a casual listener, professional musician or seasoned composer, knowing the types of melodic percussion instruments will enhance your musical experience.


The xylophone was the first mallet percussion instrument introduced to the orchestra.

The xylophone is a mallet percussion instrument with hard wooden slats organized in the same way as a piano. The black keys on the piano correspond to the top row on the xylophone, and the white keys correspond to the white row of piano keys. While registers vary, the xylophone has a minimum range of three octaves starting on middle C. More expensive xylophones have an extended low F below middle C, and some are capable of going to a C the octave below middle C. A xylophone’s sound decays quickly and requires a rolling technique to sound continuous.


Marimbas have a softer feel suitable for casual music.

The marimba is the younger relative of the xylophone. It works and functions in the same way. The marimba is made of rosewood, which creates a soft, mellow sound. Larger than the xylophone, it can descend to a low A on the first staff of the bass clef. The upper range is the same as the xylophone three octaves above middle C. In the higher register, a marimba sounds similar to a xylophone, but the lower register provides a deep rich bass sound used frequently in jazz and blues music.


The glockenspiel has keys set up in the same manner as those of the xylophone and the marimba. The oldest mallet percussion instrument, it has two rows of steel bars. You can find several types of mallets for the glockenspiel, including soft, hard and even brass mallets. Each mallet creates a different timbre and unique texture within the orchestra. Glockenspiels have the ability to pierce through an entire orchestra.


The vibraphone is another instrument with a design similar to that of the keyboard. This instrument has the capability to create tremolos because of a series of fans operated electronically below the bars. The most common professional vibraphones have a range from F below middle C to F one octave above the staff. A rare type of vibraphone has a range three octaves above middle C, but most orchestras do not have this instrument.


Chimes are a set of chromatically tuned tubular bells that hang from a rack. Percussionists use two sets of mallets to strike them. The range is limited to an octave and a half starting at middle C. The highest pitch is an F on the top line in the treble clef, although some sets have two additional tubes that extend the range chromatically to a G.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Modern Cello Techniques

5:00:00 PM
The cello is capable of extended techniques to create novel effects.

Having a solid understanding of modern cello techniques can make the difference between a good performer and an exceptional performer. The modern cello has developed into a substantial instrument capable of several modern cello techniques. Using the bow in non-traditional ways, cellists use different parts of the bow to create effects and manipulate the strings in non-standard ways. Modern composers use extensive techniques and utilize the instrument for passionate solo performances, dramatic effects and harmonic techniques to enhance the music. Virtuosos like Yo-Yo Ma have brought further attention to the cello and its advanced techniques.

Col Legno

Col legno is Italian for “with the wood.” It is a technique that emits a wooden crackling sound from the cello. The cellist performs this technique by bowing the strings with the back, wooden side of the bow instead of using the hairs. Composers will write “col legno” at the point that this technique should occur within the music. This technique commonly appears in film scores to create a spooky, eerie effect.


Vibrato appears in many cello pieces. However, in modern works, it may create special effects. The typical cello vibrato is quick and has a thin texture. In modern cello works, it is sometimes required that the cellist create a wide and expansive vibrato that is similar to a tremolo on a single note. This technique creates a striking, sometimes humorous and obscured pitch.


Harmonics create thin, pale and ghostly pitches played in the high register of the cello. By dividing the string with a finger, the cellist can shorten and double the intensity of the vibrating string. This creates pitches that are proportional to the strings division. Dividing the string in half will create a pitch an octave higher while dividing the string into thirds will create a pitch a fifth and an octave higher. There are several ways to divide the string to create numerous harmonics.

Multiple Stops

The cello is capable of playing double, triple and quadruple stops. Double stops will allow two pitches to sound simultaneously, provided the pitches are on adjacent strings. Triple and Quadruple stops require that the cellist divide the chord into two groups since the nature of the cello bow will only let the cellist play two strings at a time. Earlier cello bows curved, allowing the cellist to play complete chords; however, these bows made it difficult to play fast passages, so the bow design changed to an inverted bow.

What Is a Spruce Top on a Guitar?

3:22:00 PM
Guitar tops can be made from several types of wood. Having an understanding of what a spruce top on a guitar means allows you to evaluate different guitar models expertly. The type of spruce used will affect the overall tone production and you should be aware of these effects on tone before making a decision. The richness of tone and physical characteristics of the instrument are greatly affected by your choice of materials. Understanding these differences will make your buying experience less stressful.

Spruce Top

Most guitars tops are made of spruce, which provides an ideal balance between the flexibility and strength of the wood and the overall weight. Using a wood that has too much mass will put unnecessary strain on the musician who has to hold the guitar during a performance. Also, using materials that are weak would require the performer to be more careful not to break the instrument. The top must be strong since the strings create tension that pulls upon the wood. Using a weaker wood results in premature breakage.

Wood Types

The type of wood used affects the tone production of the instrument. The two most common types of wood are spruce and cedar. Spruce produces more volume and better defined high notes with a bass that is clear, but not booming. Cedar produces a more mellow sound in comparison and has more effective low, bass tones. You should not select a wood based on the appearance of the guitar. Each spruce instrument will have a slightly different sound, due to the nature of the wood. The different grain widths, the degree of flexibility and the overall thickness of the wood contributes to the sound.

Grain Type

The size of the grain on the spruce guitar top also affects the instrument resonance. The size of the grain can be determined simply by looking at the spacing between the grains on the guitar. A narrow grain will produce more powerful high tones and subtle low tones. A medium wood grain delivers a fairly balanced tone with highs and lows both compromising a small amount of power, in exchange for an even tone production. A wide grain creates resonant bass notes.

Sitka and Red Spruce

Sitka and red spruce each lends themselves to different characteristics and tones. Sitka spruce is more commonly used for guitar tops and has a penetrating tone that is effective and clear, but is also thin and lacking in density. In contrast, the red spruce has a denser and richer tone color, but it also adds physical weight to the instrument. Red spruce tops provide a more consistent, balanced tone throughout the register and dynamic range of the instrument.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Music Composition Teaching Methods

5:00:00 PM
Music composition teaching methods are not standardized and depend on the instructor.

The study of music composition is a venerable tradition that goes back to Ancient Greece. Through diligent study, the elements of music instruct students through sound pedagogical approaches. Whether the goal is to teach popular or classical music, there is a rich tradition and resources available to assist composers that seek to enrich student composers' lives through composition. While each teacher is different, there are components to a sound teaching method that should be included in every course of study.


Counterpoint is a method of teaching composition first codified by Johann Fux in his treatise "Gradus Ad Parnassum" in 1725. This text served as the first written and authoritative guide to teaching composers to write music. To this day, composers around the world still use his text to learn how to write multiple independent lines that create harmonic progressions. This 16th-century book is essential for any composer that wishes to teach students.

Music Theory

Music theory pedagogy is different for composers and musicians. Musicians need to understand theory in a very authoritative way that will allow them to look at works previously composed and understand the mechanics of the music for performance reasons. Composers must study music theory in a more practical way that drills exercises in the same way as a musician practices technique. It isn't enough for a composer to know the major and minor scales, he must immediately know them. It isn't enough for a composer to understand chord progressions, he must understand how they work so that he can create new ones. The method of teaching theory to composers is to provide them with daily exercises in an integrated and controlled manner so that they slowly and firmly develop their understanding of music.

Form and Analysis

If a composer could read a score and learn about music by studying the masters of composition, there would be no need for classes. Unfortunately, only the very talented are able to study a score and take the necessary information from it. For this reason, mentors must instruct their students in the study of form and analysis. The methods involved in teaching form should include how music develops between sections, how modulations occur, the registral range of the instruments, and a systematic study of the individual parts of a music composition. Teachers must be able to take a composition, break it down into the smallest possible parts, and show how those parts build to a larger composition.


Composition technique involves the teaching of advanced theoretical concepts and tools that construct a composition. The techniques and tools include serialism, minimalism, motivic development, phrase structure, registral space and even complex methods of writing rhythms. This subject area is vast and it will rely on the instructor’s knowledge of technique and the student’s experience. Technique is anything that applies to a composition to improve and enhance a musical work.

What Is Ternary Form in Music?

3:26:00 PM
Loosely defined, a ternary form has three sections that serve to form the overall structure of the piece. A few types of ternary form exist to help further distinguish one type of ternary from the next. The clarification between different types of ternary form has to do with the way in which sections repeat and the manner in which the music moves through different keys.

Simple Ternary

Simple ternary form consists of three sections that do not necessarily link together through chord progressions. Each section may be a completely different idea. This type of ternary form usually follows the pattern: A B A, where each letter represents a different section and musical idea. Simple ternary has a tendency to be very simple and easy to follow due to the limited changing nature of the thematic material. Music needs a certain amount of repetition to create musical connections, and simple ternary makes this possible. Some popular songs consist of simple ternary constructions, such as "Some Day My Prince Will Come."

Compound Ternary

Compound ternary form also consists of a large three-part structure. The difference comes with the presentation of each section to the audience. Compound ternary consists of three sections, each with a simple ternary form or binary form within the section. Binary forms have only two parts, instead of three. For example, the first section of a compound ternary form with an internal ternary form would have an A B A first section; the second section would be C D C and then a return to the original A-B-A section. If the internal structure were binary, then the form would be A-B, followed by C-D, and then a return to A-B.

Expanded Ternary Form

An expanded ternary form occurs when any section repeats. This form does not include any new material; rather, it simply repeats a previous section. Sonata form uses expanded ternary form to repeat the opening section of the sonata. The A section, usually a binary form, repeats to help establish the tonic of the key. Composers in the classical period would do this to establish the thematic and harmonic implications of the opening section. Most commonly, a repeat sign appears at the end of the A section, instructing the performer to return to the beginning and play the section again.

Other Uses

Ternary form also occurs often in dances, such as waltzes and polkas. The marches of John Philip Sousa almost exclusively contain ternary form structures. Baroque arias often will present an idea, drift off into a new B section and then return to the original theme. The scherzo that appears in many symphonies uses a ternary form, as well as the third movement of most classical symphonies, string ensemble works, and sonatas. All of these forms have a basic three-part construction that uses ternary form.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Music Games for the Developmentally Delayed

5:00:00 PM
Music provides developmentally delayed children several benefits.

Music therapists have found that music can help the developmentally delayed child improve his achievement in several basic areas. Using music therapy resources, games and activities help increase attention, productivity, arithmetic scores, coordination, self-control and speech development. Even rudimentary music activities can greatly enhance a student's life and ability to develop complex mental functions. Music teachers specializing in music therapy use several activities from keeping a basic pulse to learning the basics of music and develop crucial life skills.

Pitch Discrimination

Using an instrument, or the voice, children can learn to identify and reproduce musical sounds. The first step in working with a developmentally delayed child involves teaching them the difference between high pitches and low pitches. You can provide several instruments for the student to categorize by pitch. Play a musical example of a flute and then an example of a tuba. Ask the child whether the flute sounds higher or lower than the tuba.

Rhythmic Imitation

Provide the child with a hand drum and teach them how to beat a steady pulse. Have her follow your actions, and go slowly. Tell her the object of this game is to beat the drum in a steady motion and avoid speeding up or slowing down. Begin the game by tapping with the child and then let her see how long she can keep the beat steady on their own. As the child improves, make the game more complicated by playing simple rhythms and ask the child to imitate the rhythm with her own instrument.

Vocal Skills

Teach the child to sing simple songs such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Once the child has mastered the ability to sing songs, sing a note, then a series of random notes, and ask the child to sing the pitches back. Singing pitches randomly and matching isolated pitches will be harder for the child than singing songs. Instruct the child in how to breathe in by taking in a full breath and learning to control their airflow by breathing out slowly and timing it over several seconds.

Auditory Memory

Sing a melody to the child and then sing the melody again, but change one pitch. Make the melodies simple at first. Start with two notes and then add three, four and five notes as the child develops. Each melody should be identical except for a single pitch. The goal of this game is for the child to identify the pitch that differs from the original version. As the child improves, change additional pitches and increase the length of the melodies.


Music Therapy Association of British Columbia: Developmental Delay []

"Journal of Music Therapy"; Humphrey; 1980

Teacher Vision: Special Needs – Teacher Resources []

The Difference Between a Flugelhorn & a French Horn

2:44:00 PM
The French horn has a brassier sound than a flugelhorn. The main visual difference between a flugelhorn and a French horn is the rounder shape of the latter instrument. A flugelhorn looks like a large trumpet; the french horn does not. Sound-wise, however, the two instruments do share some similarities. It takes some extra study to figure out the differences.


The flugelhorn has the range of a typical trumpet, sounding from G# below middle C to three octaves above middle C. While the range seems impressive, only the most talented and skilled performers have the ability to play higher than two octaves above middle C. In contrast, the French horn can play the low B sounding pitch below the bass clef to a concert A above the treble clef staff. Concert pitch is the sound heard when an instrumentalist plays a written note. The written note differs from the actual sounding pitch of the flugelhorn and French horn.


The differences in timbre between the two instruments are subtle. The French horn has a brassier sound capable of penetrating an entire orchestra. The French horn may also increase the roughness of the sound by placing the hand further inside the bell. The flugelhorn, in contrast, emits a mellow sound that does not have the ability to penetrate an entire orchestra. When composers write solos for the flugelhorn, the rest of the ensemble must play at a lower dynamic level.


The French horn can be played in the key of F or the key of Bb. The choice of which side of the horn to use lies in the hands of the performer and depends on the desired sound. The horn player may play in F for a softer sound while the B-flat side of the horn will create a brassier sound. The transition between the two sides requires the performer to hold the trigger. The flugelhorn only plays in B-flat.


A composer must write the horn part a perfect fifth higher than the pitch desired. This peculiarity applies to all transposing instruments. The flugelhorn also transposes but it doesn’t have as far to go. The flugelhorn parts only need to be written a major second higher than the sounding pitch as the instrument’s foundation is tuned to Bb.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Music Producing Tools

5:00:00 PM
Music production requires expert knowledge of electronic music.

Professional recording companies edit, manipulate, reassemble and restore audio require music production tools. The basic tools required of any music producer can be expensive to acquire. Many of the programs cost between $500 to $1500 dollars at the time of publication. Samplers can be even more expensive and cost thousands of dollars. Any music production company that wants to create high-quality content must invest in these tools to be successful.


Music producers must have a computer to coordinate all of their samplers and audio programs used in editing. There is a big debate over whether a Macintosh or Windows PC is the best option for music production. Most universities use Macintosh computers, including The University of Washington, University of Arizona and Michigan State University. The decision to choose one platform over the other is largely the preference of the individual. If you are used to using a Windows PC you may be more apt to stick with Windows. There are high-quality programs for both options.

Mastering Tools

A music producer must have access to a high-quality mastering tool. "Peak" for Macintosh and Steinberg's "WaveLab" for both platforms are both good options. Often the main audio editing and sequencing program will have options for mastering included, but it is best to have a standalone program where the sole purpose is to edit files. These programs are usually less faulty and capable of advanced mastering.

Audio Sequencing

Audio sequencers in professional music production studios edit, manipulate, cut and rearrange recorded musical works. These programs are used in the beginning stages and offer tools for compressing audio, normalizing audio levels, removing excess noise and fine-tuning the final product. Digital Performer and Logic Studio are programs that exist for Macintosh systems; while Sonar and Cubase are two of the top programs for PC users. Cubase also comes in a version for Macintosh systems.


Music producers must have access to a large sample library. A sample library is a collection of sounds sampled from live instruments. For instance, a good sample library will record each note that a violin is capable of playing. They will record these pitches in various ways and then create programming that allows an audio sequencer to play back these notes depending on what the producer wants. In this way, it is possible to play back an entire work on a computer using live sounds. It is then the producer’s job to edit and manipulate the audio to sound realistic and convincing.

The Difference Between Men's & Women's Vocal Ranges

2:50:00 PM
Men's and women's vocal ranges have different roles and classifications, depending on the range of the singer. Women tend to have more penetrating voices since they sing at a higher pitch level. Men's voices provide excellent foundations and bass and balance well with female voices. The differences in both sexes have been exploited by composers to create effects and delineate the difference in characters to the audience.

Highest Register

There are two different names for the highest register in men's and women's voices. When men sing in their highest range they are using falsetto. Women, on the other hand, are using their whistle registry. The concept behind using these registers is the same. Both sexes have to close off the vocal cords to create faster vibrations along the edges of the vocal cords. These faster vibrations result in a higher register. However, some of the richness of the tone gets lost due to the restrictions placed on the vocal cords.


The main vocal classifications are the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. There are additional sub-classifications that appear in opera music, but each voice type can be classified into these broad vocal ranges. The female voices are soprano and alto while the male voices are tenor and bass. The soprano and tenor have equivalent ranges with soprano playing from C below the staff to C above the staff and the tenor singing an octave lower. The alto and bass both have their own registers, but the alto is considered the bass of the female voice family.


In opera, female voices are often used to play the role of young boys. These singers are called mezzo-sopranos. Since they have a deeper range, but still maintain a higher register typical of youth, these female singers often find themselves dressing up as boys. One example of this is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." The boy, Cherubino, is performed by a woman in this opera. The main character roles are often given to the highest female and male parts.


Male vocal ranges are deeper than women's ranges. This results in a darker, thicker timbre. As the voice gets lower in the range of perceivable musical pitches it becomes, even more, important to have proper diction. Diction is the manner in which words are pronounced. If words are not articulated clearly, then the audience will not be able to hear what is being said. While this is still an issue for women's voices, men have to be extra careful to sing clearly since their registers are so low.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Music Theory Exercises for Kids

5:00:00 PM
Music theory games may involve groups of students or individuals.

Teaching music theory to children requires patience, the ability to engage the child and a safe atmosphere. Children that learn music theory early will find that other abstract concepts such as math and reading will also come more easily to them. The best music theory exercises are simple, teach a specific concept and allow the child to experiment with several different outcomes.

Treble Clef

Teach the child the names of the notes in the treble clef and explain that this clef plays high-pitched notes. Tell them that when they look between the lines they will see their “FACE.” Then explain that the four spaces spell the word “face” from bottom to top. Then teach them the names of the lines (EGBDF) by helping them create an acronym for each line. A commonly used one is “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Let them get creative and try to come up with their own acronyms.

Bass Clef

Explain to the child that the bass clef is where all of the low notes lie. Ask them to identify several low instruments, such as the tuba and the cello, and then teach them about the clef. Using the same technique for treble clef, have them come up with their own acronyms for the lines and the spaces. When they have finished, draw a music staff on the board consisting of five lines and four spaces between the lines. Draw six to eight notes on the board and ask them to identify each pitch using their acronyms.

Rhythm Imitation

Play a simple rhythm for the child and ask them to repeat it. This works best if you can give them a small drum, or a rhythm stick to play the rhythm on. Gradually increase the complexity of the rhythm until the child makes a mistake. Practice this exercise daily to improve the child’s sense of rhythm. With time, they will gradually increase their memory and ability to play complex rhythms.

Musical Form

Play a simple song such as “Row Your Boat” or “Old MacDonald” to the child. Ask them to listen for the parts of the song that repeat. If they hear a section that repeats, they should raise their hand quickly to signify the beginning of the new section. Children that have trouble with this exercise should have extra guidance to help them learn to do this properly. Stop the recording after each phrase so that they can learn to identify each phrase in the piece. In time, they will begin to learn to identify sections and phrases.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Musical Instruments That Make Animal Sounds

5:00:00 PM
Common orchestra instruments are capable of animal sounds.

Instruments throughout history have replicated and imitated animals. From Beethoven to Bernstein, composers have sought new and interesting uses for traditional orchestra instruments. The temptation to recreate nature through musical sounds comes in both literal and abstract ways. Learn about instruments and animal sounds they make so that next time you hear one, you will be able to identify what instrument is making the sound.

Lion's Roar

As its name suggests the lion's roar makes a sound very similar to a lion roaring. Taking a bass drum and puncturing a hole in the head of the drum accomplishes this. A rope extends and pulls through the drum creating a sound that is very similar to a lion roaring. This instrument is so accurate it is often used in film scores and to indicate the roar of a lion in orchestral scores.


The trombone is capable of imitating the sound of many animals. The glissando technique involves sliding between two pitches without clearly defining the intermediary pitches. Trombone players can effectively mimic the sound of an elephant trumpeting calls. It is also possible to create a low growling sound through a mix of flutter-tongue techniques and multi-phonics. Flutter-tongue is a technique that involves rolling the tongue while playing. Growling or speaking through the instrument can produce multiphonics.


The trumpet can create the sound of a horse neighing. To do this, the trumpet must use half-valves and rise up and down through the pitch spectrum. This requires a bit of creativity on the part of the trumpet player and some practice to get the technique just right. This technique rarely occurs except for in film and television to create on-the-spot special-effect sounds. It is especially useful for trumpet players who wish to play in a comedy club that requires active participation from the music ensemble.

Piccolo and Flute

The piccolo is capable of creating birdsong and chirping effects. Messiaen is known for his use of birdsong in his compositions and he used the piccolo and flute to recreate bird calls in the orchestral fabric. The high-pitched nature of the piccolo lends itself particularly well to the creation of bird-calls. In Messiaen's opera "St. Francis," he makes extensive use of bird-calls to honor St. Francis' love of birds. Peter and the Wolf The most commonly used instrument to imitate the sound of a duck is the oboe. In "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev, each instrument used represents a different character in the story. The duck is performed by the oboe. The bird is depicted by a flute. The cat is a clarinet and the French horn is the wolf.

The Difference in Trumpet Mouthpiece Sizes

2:55:00 PM
Trumpet mouthpieces fit into the lead pipe of the horn. Choosing a trumpet mouthpiece that works with your body type and current ability is a crucial process. If you haven't been playing for very long, you should choose a mouthpiece that reflects your young and less developed face muscles. For those who have been playing for several years, it is possible to narrow down the mouthpiece to a specific permanent mouthpiece. As you age, your needs will change as well. Don't be afraid to change your mouthpiece as you go through your career.


The cup is the rounded portion on the inside of the trumpet mouthpiece. Cup sizes are described through a vague system of very deep to shallow. The deeper the mouthpiece, the further the cup slants inward and usually, deep cup sizes are very large. A shallow cup will be smaller and closer to the lip area. A shallow cup has more resistance than a deep cup. Resistance means that the trumpet player must use a faster, quicker airflow to produce a sound. A deep cup requires more airflow, but the trade-off is that there is less resistance.


The diameter of the trumpet mouthpiece refers to the distance from one edge of the rim, directly across the mouthpiece to the other edge. Diameter helps tailor a mouthpiece toward people that have a weaker embouchure. The embouchure consists of the muscles of the lips and mouth and how they are tensed when playing. A larger diameter will make it more difficult to play the mouthpiece, but it will also provide a better, richer sound for those with the necessary strength. Diameters typically range from 15 to 17 mm.

Rim Shape

The rim shape provides relief for long periods of playing, but a thicker rim will reduce the ability to play extremely high notes and stay flexible. Thinner rims are designed for players that have extreme control over their mouthpiece. If you use a thin-rimmed mouthpiece, you must avoid the temptation to press the trumpet into your face. If you don't have the strength to play on a thin rimmed mouthpiece using only your embouchure, consider using a thicker rim.


When selecting a mouthpiece, try several different models and thicknesses. If you have thicker lips, you consider a mouthpiece that has a wider diameter and thicker rim. This will help to stabilize the vibrations in your lips. For those with weak or delicate lips, opt for a mouthpiece that is somewhere in between on all specifications. A medium sized rim, a medium sized cup and a diameter of approximately 15 mm.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Musical Instruments You Can Make From Things at Home

5:00:00 PM
Old pots and pans can make great rhythm instruments.

Making musical instruments at home is a great activity for parents to complete with children. Teaching them about acoustics and helping them create their own musical instruments can be a memorable and exciting experience for kids. Before starting, explain that sound relies on vibrations, and vibrations are caused when something moves back and forth very quickly. Explain that it isn't always possible to see the object move and that vibrations are often very quick.


If you have some old pans lying around it is possible to make drums using the pans and a pair of wooden spoons. Attach two or three layers of wax paper over the top by tying a string around the pot and use the wooden spoons as drumsticks. The layers of wax paper should help prevent drumming straight through. You can hold the spoons by the rounded part and use the tips to tap out rhythms.


Woodblocks commonly used in orchestras and bands help keep and accent main beats in a song. You can easily create woodblocks with materials lying around the house. Look for two pieces of wood of approximately the same size and shape. You can also use wooden utensils or dowels if you have those lying around the house. Hold them using a cupped hand and a loose grip. If you hold the woodblocks too firmly, they will not resonate. Experiment with different ways of holding the woodblocks to get the best sound.

Water Glasses

Line up eight identical glasses on a counter or table. Pour a half inch of water into the first glass then add a half inch of water for each additional glass so that the second glass has 1 inch of water and the third has 1.5 inches. Find a wooden stick or use a spoon to hit the side of each glass. Each glass will have a specific pitch that you can use to create music.


Plastic Easter eggs left over from Easter can make great shakers. Shakers add texture and rhythm to the music. Fill the eggs with rice, rocks or beads and then tape them together to ensure they don't open during use. Create two shakers so that you have one for each hand. In conjunction with the other instruments created you will soon have enough instruments for a full homemade orchestra.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Musical Note Ideas for Preschoolers

5:00:00 PM
Teach preschoolers musical notes with games.

Teaching preschool children the names of the musical notes in a creative and educational way requires preparation and knowledge of the notes on the musical staff. With preschoolers, you have to keep them engaged in the activity to prevent them from losing interest. Music provides the type of engagement that preschoolers respond well to.


Supply the preschooler with construction paper and stencils of rhythmic musical notes, such as quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes and whole notes. Have her trace the outline of the notes on the paper. Let the preschooler color the insides of the notes and detail the music note however she wishes. When she is finished with her craft, ask her to get up in front of the class and discuss what note value she chose, and what the colors and images she chose for the design meant to her.

Treble Clef Spaces

Show the child a picture of the treble clef staff and tell him, "when you look between the lines, you see your FACE" while pointing to each space. Explain that each letter of the word face indicates a space on the treble clef staff from bottom to top. Once the class has memorized the phrase, give them each a sheet of paper with the treble clef on it and ask them to draw one note in each space. After they have drawn the notes, ask them to write in the letter name that corresponds to each note.

Bass Clef Lines

Create a felt board with a music staff and a bass clef at the beginning of the staff. Cut out several felt circles small enough to fit between the lines of the staff. The felt will stick to the board without the need for adhesive. After explaining that the lines of the staff use the phrase, "Good Boys Do Fine Always" ask a child to identify G on the staff and place a felt note in the correct position. This activity can also be completed with the treble clef lines.

Bass Clef Spaces

Show children how to identify the names of the bass clef spaces by first teaching them the names of the spaces from top to bottom -- G, E, C and A. "All Cows Eat Grass" is commonly used phrase for the spaces. Let the children create their own phrases and have them draw a picture to represent each space. Then, when they are finished, let them share the pictures with the class. For instance, the G-space might be a picture of a giant monster, or a green apple. Key Concepts treble clef lines treble clef spaces bass clef lines teaching preschool music

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Musical Science Projects for 7th Graders

5:00:00 PM
Ask the science teacher for help in formulating your experiment.

Music science projects for seventh-grade students should test your ability to follow a scientific process and use the scientific method. The outcome of your project will not be as important as your ability to follow your teachers' suggestions and test your hypothesis to determine if it is true.

Music and Plant Growth

The effect of music on plant growth is a fun experiment with a little time and proper preparation. The experiment should ideally last for one month. You will need to control all variables of light, watering, type of plant and any special fertilization used. Buy a light that is made for plants so that you can isolate the plants in separate areas. You should have at least two plants; play music continuously to the first plant and leave the other plant as a control without music. You can also experiment with different types of music, as well as different types and sizes of plants.

Music and Heart Rate

Select different types of music and several participants. Have someone that is capable of taking a pulse monitor the heart rate of a participant at a resting pace, then again while listening to different types of music. Test to see if specific types of music will affect people in different ways. Make sure to take good notes and have more than one participant to get a good survey.

Music and Concentration

Have participants read a passage and then answer questions based on that passage. Choose questions from a standardized book where all of the reading comprehension is at the same level. Try to choose people of the same basic educational level. For each participant, have them read five passages while listening to music and five without listening to music. See if there is any difference in comprehension between reading completed while listening to music and reading completed while not listening to music.

Music and Running

Ask a group of runners to participate in a study. On the first day, have them race and record their fastest times running a mile. Take the set of runners that had similar times and ask them to come back the next day for a study. Try to get a group of at least five to ten runners so that there will be enough data to work with. Let half of the runners run without music and half of them run with music. Time them and let them run a mile. See if there is a significant difference between those that ran with music and those that ran without. To control the experiment, make sure to have each student listen to the same type of music. You can also try varying the music on different days to see if the type of music has an effect on the runners.

The Effect of Reed Strength on Clarinet Sound

2:57:00 PM
The clarinet reed has an effect on the clarinetists playing experience. When discussing the strength of a reed, the clarinetist should concentrate on the sound produced and the degree of ease with which a reed responds. A clarinetist that uses a strong reed naturally can produce the same sound as a clarinetist that uses a weaker reed. There shouldn't be any competition to see who can play on the strongest reed. Find the reed that fits you comfortably and provides the best sound. Over time, you will find that your reed strength often changes.


There are several types of reed strengths ranging from one to five in increments of 0.5. You can use the reed strength as a starting point if you know what strength you normally play, but keep in mind that the actual strength varies between brands. The type of reed you must use depends on your ability, experience, and embouchure. The stronger reeds generally vibrate less and require an experienced player with a strong embouchure to play well. This does not mean that all professionals should play on a level 5 reed.


Stronger reeds produce weaker sounds with some players while producing a full sound for others. In this sense, it isn't the reed that determines the sound, but the individual characteristics of the performer. Clarinetists that play a reed which may be too strong for them will find that they have to bite down on the mouthpiece. In this sense, the strength of the reed can affect the sound since a strong reed can produce a stilted, thin sound if the clarinetist has to bite down too hard on the mouthpiece.


Tone production depends more on the actual player than the reed. However, depending on the characteristics of a player, there are some noticeable differences in tone and timbre when using a weak reed as opposed to a strong reed. Relatively speaking, a person who plays on a strong reed when he should play on a weak reed will get a harsh sound and may have trouble producing a sound at all. Conversely, clarinetists that play on reeds that are too weak for them will produce a dull, whispering sound prone to squeaking.


To play quick passages on the clarinet, the reed must respond appropriately. If the reed does not vibrate easily, then it will be difficult for the player to quickly change pitches, especially when moving over the break or when slurring from high to low pitches. Clarinets have a point in the range known as the break; this occurs when changing hand position with all of the keys down, to all of the keys open. The drastic change in resistance can create intonation problems. A clarinetist that uses an inappropriately weighted reed will have more difficulty with the break.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mutes for Brass Instruments

5:00:00 PM
Brass mutes are shaped to fit inside the bell.

One common misconception about brass mutes is that they only serve to make the instrument softer. While the dynamic level can be reduced significantly, the type of mute employed can also change the timbre. One famous example of an entire section using mutes for a dramatic effect is Vaughan Williams' "Symphony No. 6," starting in measure 39. In this example, the horns, trombones, and trumpets are all using straight mutes to create a metallic and subtle textural change.

Straight Mute

When a mute is called for in an orchestral score and there is no additional information about the type of mute to use, brass players will use a straight mute. The straight mute received its name from the fact that it is a simple mute that comes straight out of the horn. This mute softens the instrument and can be made of fiberboard or metal. Depending on the material used, the sound will change from cutting to soft.

Cup Mute

Cup mutes are named because of their cup-like shape. They are rarely used in orchestral music and can most often be found in jazz pieces. The cup mute has the ability to create a pale whispering quality in the music. Cup mutes can be held with one hand while supporting the instrument with the other. This allows the instrumentalist to adjust the mute in and out to varying degrees. The variations allow for a range of sounds, from a dark to lighter timbre.

Harmon Mute

The Harmon mute is also commonly referred to as a wa-wa mute. The mute is separated into two separate parts. One part inserts inside the mute and can be pulled in and out to create a variety of textures. The internal part, called the stem, can also be completely removed for additional effects. In orchestras, the Harmon mute is rarely used, but it is commonly found in film and TV when a comical effect is called for.

Bucket Mute

The bucket mute is a large mute that is able to block most of the sound the instrument produces. When used, the tone of the instrument becomes extremely soft and mellow. This is a commonly used mute in orchestral music and can be used effectively with double-reed and single-reed woodwinds. Key Concepts brass mutes trumpet mutes horn mutes trombone mutes tuba mutes

The Elements of the Tragedy Genre

3:00:00 PM
Theatre historically consisted of two styles -- comedy and tragedy. The elements of tragedy stem from Greek tragedy. In Greek tragedy there are several components that make up the dramatic work. Singers and actors combine with dance and theatrics to create a complete dramatic work that combine the arts. Historically, audience members would surround the stage and sit on pillows to watch the tragedy unfold.


According to Aristotle, tragedy is the “imitation of an action” in line with “the law of probability or necessity.” He further indicates that a tragedy acts out a situation rather than through narration. In a comedy, everything works out, and contrary to the term, the action does not have to be humorous to qualify as comedy. A tragedy involves the destruction of a powerful figure who is essentially a good man whom the audience empathizes with who makes a decision, usually involving hubris, that leads to his downfall.


The prologue of the tragedy sets the stage for the entire play. This aspect of the tragedy does not contain any singing. Rather, it is a monologue (meaning it is spoken by just one character). The setting of the mood for the play and some foreshadowing and history appear in the prologue. Generally, this is not a very long portion of the tragedy.


The parados is a segue between the prologue and the first episode. It consists of the chorus singing in a marching rhythm and actors transitioning from the side of the stage to join with the orchestra. The orchestra in Greek tragedy does not have the same meaning as it has today. In ancient Greece an orchestra was a circular area where the actors performed the play. After the chorus and actors have entered the stage or arena, they were situated on either side, the right and the left, of the orchestra, in between the audience and the stage.

Episodes and Stasimons

The episode occurs after the parados. This section of the tragedy contains another monologue or dialogue between actors. Occasionally, songs are interspersed throughout the episodes. After the episode, there is a brief stasimon in which the chorus sings a song continuously to completion without any speaking. The chorus also dances during the stasimon. A tragedy consists of a first, second and third set of episodes and stasimons before finally ending with the exodus.


The exodus is similar to an episode as it contains a combination of song, monologues, or dialogues. However, the exodus finalizes the play and resolves the tragedy that has occurred. Literally translated as "exit scene," the exodus always concludes the tragedy. Some tragedies will end with a moral message while others may give a summary or glimpse of the future ramifications of the events that took place in the play.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How to Interpret Mozart

5:00:00 PM
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 27, 1756, to December 5, 1791.

Born in the middle of the Classical period, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the greatest composers of that time. Through his father’s tutelage, he quickly became one of the most famous child prodigies in Europe. His musical mind absorbed what was occurring around him and quickly made sense of it. Joseph Haydn is responsible for starting the Classical period of music, but Mozart is credited for both refining and defining it.

Choose an autograph score to analyze. Editors often will create different versions than the original music manuscript. This practice of "simplifying" the music tends to add confusion for the performer.

Pay attention to the way in which slurs appear in the score. Historically, slurs indicate that the notes under the slur use a legato style. When the slur breaks, use a stronger articulation to create emphasis on non-slurred notes. Slurs indicate phrases. If there are a series of short slurs and strings will play the part, interpret the slurs as bowing marks. If there is an extended slur, play legato and with a complete phrase.

Identify the places in the music where dynamics change. In Classical music, there often will be piano sections and forte sections. It is rare to find Classical music that has mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte sections. Dynamics indicate not only a change in volume but a change of section and mood.

Discern whether any articulations appear in the score. If the notes are staccato, play them with a round and full sound and with separation between the notes. If there is a tenuto mark, play the notes heavily, as if pushed into the ground. If there is an accent, play the pitch forcefully but with restraint.

Avoid exaggerating anything in Mozart's music, which aimed for balance, clarity, and evenness. Do not overemphasize any single note. Look at each note in relation to the entire piece. For example, if the piece is energetic, then even the softer sections should maintain the same level of energy.

The Glissando Technique for Brass, Strings, Woodwind, Piano, Percussion, and Voice

3:02:00 PM
Glissandos appear commonly in string music. The glissando technique provides a way to quickly move between two pitches and brush over all of the pitches in between. The technique varies depending on the instrument due to differing mechanical capabilities. Strings, brass, woodwinds, voice, piano and even percussion instruments can all create a glissando between pitches.
The actual technique consists of sliding through the pitches between two notes, quickly moving up or down a scale. The glissando appears in the score as a wavy line between two notes with the text "gliss." above the line.


String glissando provides one of the most effective methods of glissando since you can easily slide your finger along the string. This enables the violinist to play all the chromatic notes between two pitches as well as the microtones. Microtones are the pitches between the standard chromatic pitches on a keyboard. On a string instrument, playing an ascending glissando comes easier than playing a descending glissando. A true glissando uses only one string to create the blurring of notes. However, a string player may also start sliding on one string and then switch to another string midway. Switching strings provide a way to play complex glissandos.


Brass instruments have a tougher time with a glissando. However, there are a few ways to create a glissando on a brass instrument. The most common technique involves wiggling the valves while forcing the pitch upwards through a tightening of the lips. Loosening the lips will provide the opposite effect. Trumpet players can also quickly finger a chromatic scale between two pitches. The chromatic scale provides a cleaner glissando, but some trumpet players view it as too technical and less musical. The trombone has the most effective glissando since the slide can be used to play all of the pitches.

Woodwinds and Piano

On a woodwind instrument, the glissando must be played by quickly running through a chromatic scale. The woodwind player doesn't have the same capabilities as a brass player to use lip tension when creating a glissando. He must finger every single note. The piano works in the same way. In order to play a glissando on the piano, the pianist must roll his finger across all of the white keys on the piano. Black keys are not used in a piano glissando.


Percussion instruments have various ways to create a glissando that is dependent upon the type of instrument employed. The barred instruments, such as xylophone, marimba, and vibraphone, all use the same technique of rolling the mallet across the bars to create a glissando. On a drum, to lower the pitch, the drummer must start by pushing in on the drum and releasing as he strikes the drumhead. To raise the pitch, the drummer strikes and then presses down on the drumhead.


The voice functions differently than all of the other instruments. Since a vocalist has complete control of her voice, she has the ability to play all of the microtones between two pitches. This makes it possible to create a true glissando with the voice. However, this technique rarely occurs in vocal music. Even though the technique can be completed by a trained vocalist, it doesn't have the same effect as when played on an instrument. Vocal music tends to be more stepwise so slurring between two notes doesn't have a lot of practical value.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How to Keep Relaxed Arms at the Piano

5:00:00 PM
The Proper piano technique will improve your playing.

Having the right posture while playing the piano will make your approach to playing much more healthful and efficient. Excessive arm tension affects your ability to play without restriction. Tension can cause pain and make it difficult to approach long, extended works. Learn to approach the piano more relaxed, and loosen your limbs to increase your enjoyment and performance.

  1. Use an adjustable seat and ensure that your feet touch the floor.
  2. Sit on the edge of the piano bench and avoid taking up more than half the bench. The majority of your weight should be forward and directed toward your feet.
  3. Place your knees just below the piano keyboard. Your thighs should never sit under the keyboard as this will create tension in your arms.
  4. Stretch your arms before playing by placing one arm behind the neck and straight into the air. Grab the straight arm with your free hand to make a T-shape with your arms.
  5. Position your elbow closer to the instrument than your shoulder. The elbows should be about 3/4 of an inch in front of your shoulders.
  6. Align your forearms so that they are parallel with the floor. This may mean you have to further adjust the piano bench.
  7. Straighten your back to ensure that you don't put any stress on the middle of your back.

The Highest Sounding Brass Instruments

3:06:00 PM
Horns can be considered a low, middle or high brass instrument. The trumpet has the highest register in the brass family, but it is not the only brass instrument that can hit a high note. Certainly, it is the most common high brass instrument, but the cornet and french horn can hit high octaves as well. For this reason, any brass instrument that plays in the treble clef and is capable of playing, at least, an E5, which is the E on the top space of the treble clef staff, is considered a high brass instrument.


The trumpet transposes down a major second from its written part. This makes it an instrument in Bb, since all transpositions use the note “C” as the basis for transposition. The trumpet has a cylindrical bore that provides a majestic, brassy timbre suitable for triumphant and joyous music. The trumpet has the ability to extend up to three octaves above middle C.


The cornet does not transpose like the trumpet and, as a result, falls into the category of a non-transposing instrument. The highest pitch that the cornet plays is three octaves above middle C at C7. The extreme range above C6 is reserved for occasional use by professional players and presents difficulty in maintaining the pitch for long periods. The conical bore of the cornet creates a softer, more mellow tone that the trumpet lacks. Conical bore instruments have a gentle taper from the front to end of the lead pipe.

French horn

French horn transpositions make the instrument sound a perfect fifth, which is about half an octave lower than written. This puts the instrument in the key of F. The highest note on the French horn is the E6 or two-and-a-half octaves above middle C. The French horn is a conical bore instrument similar to the cornet that produces a mellow tone.

Soprano Trombone

The soprano trombone is a rare instrument that mainly finds use in trombone choirs and special solo works. Soprano trombones fall into the category of non-transposing instruments. The highest pitch a soprano trombone is capable of playing is C6, which is two octaves above middle C. Typically, most composers won’t write higher than Bb5. Soprano trombones play music written in the treble clef, unlike their relatives, the tenor and bass trombone, that play in the bass clef.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why Shouldn't People Pirate Music?

5:00:00 PM
Pirating music is illegal and has a definite impact on artists.

The debate about downloading music illegally is fierce and highly vocal. Supporters of illegal downloads say that the music industry has enough money, and a digital download doesn't cost anything to reproduce. Others believe that it is stealing from the artists, who should be paid for their creations. In either case, the economic, ethical and artistic ramifications of downloading music illegally are widely documented.

Commercial Loss

Pirating music creates a commercial loss that makes it more difficult for music producers to fund projects that benefit fans. If profits are lost through illegal downloading of music, that is money that cannot be spent on concerts, tours, promotions and even the creation of music videos. Many people mistakenly think that they are just taking money from an already rich organization. According to Worldwide, "Ninety-five percent of the music downloaded via the Internet is pirated." This is a significant loss of income for the music industry, and it directly affects the production of new music.

Artist Impact

Artists are directly affected by music pirating. Artists spend their entire lives developing their musicianship and learning to perform for their fans. When music is pirated, they do not receive pay from the downloaded songs. This makes it more difficult to record, tour and finance new artists. According to the Institute for Policy Information, "The U.S. economy loses $12.5 billion in total output annually." This is money that can be used to promote new music and create opportunities for up-and-coming artists.

New Music Impact

In an interview for "The New York Times," Mr, Kennedy, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, stated that "In France, for example, the number of albums released by domestic artists has fallen by 60 percent." This dramatic drop is the result of unrestrained piracy. When consumers are able to get the music for free, they are less likely to spend money on an album. With physical sales of CDs also falling about 16 percent worldwide by 2010, the market is unable to make up the loss in CD sales with downloads of digital goods.

Long-Term Consequences

Downloading music without the consent of the artist is, pure and simple, unethical. It is stealing in every sense of the word. Great ideas have never been free. If an idea for a great invention is conceived, the innovator is paid for his ideas. Music is a creative endeavor that involves hard work and perseverance. David L. Lange of Duke University states that "Students love music. They love it to death. The problem is that they may be loving it to death in a literal sense -- as younger children sometimes love their Easter bunnies to death." While he doesn't offer solutions to the problem, he addresses the concern that the illegal downloading of music is having an impact on music sales. This, in turn, could create serious ramifications for the production of new music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Get Rid of the Time Signature at the End of a Bar in Finale

5:00:00 PM
Finale is a professional-level music notation program that lets musicians create a digital version of their handwritten score. The program creates computer-generated sheet music. Finale uses time signatures to determine the number of beats in a measure. This makes it easier for the musician to read the music by breaking up large musical sections into smaller units of time based on the time signature indicated. In some cases, when a composer wants to create a feeling of free time, or when a soloist plays a solo not conducive to a musical time signature, it becomes necessary to remove the time signature.

  1. Open Finale and click on the "Window" menu at the top of the screen. A drop-down menu will appear. Select the "Main Tool Palette" option to make the toolbar appear.
  2. Select the treble clef icon to make the "Staff" menu appear at the top of the screen. In the drop-down menu, select "Edit Staff Attributes."
  3. Find the option in the "Edit Staff Attributes" box that says, "Time Signatures." It is located under the "Items to Display" section of the screen. Uncheck the "Time Signatures" box. Click "OK" and the time signature will disappear.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Structure of a Grand Piano

7:36:00 AM
Piano keys are one of several smaller piano components.

The grand piano consists of six main parts that function together to create sound. Each part is expertly crafted and manufactured in a factory. The making of a grand piano is largely still a job that requires craftsmanship and skill. While machines are used in the process, each component is hand-inspected and guided to ensure a high-quality instrument.


The frame is made of iron and is cast out of a single sheet of metal. Since the frame has to support a large amount of tension on the strings, it is necessary to use iron to prevent the frame from breaking under the pressure. The frame sits on top of the soundboard and serves to hold the strings in place through tension nuts that the piano tuner can tighten or loosen to raise and lower the pitch.


The soundboard of the piano is made of spruce. Spruce is a soft wood that can be damaged easily if mishandled. The woods acts to capture the vibrations of the strings and aids in resonating the sound through the rest of the piano. Soft woods, such as spruce, create more dense frequencies and produce a richer tone than hardwoods. Hardwoods have more resonance and penetrate more effectively, but the soft wood of the piano helps to dampen the percussive sound of the hammers hitting the strings.


The lowest strings of the piano are the thickest and produce deep rich bass tones. As the strings go higher, the width of the string shrinks. This makes the top strings capable of greater penetration and the lowest strings capable of substantial resonance. The strings are made out of steel and come in groups of three per pitch. There is a total of 88 groups of strings to corresponding to the 88 keys of the standard piano.


The case on a grand piano is the wooden outside that wraps around the iron frame. The wood of a grand piano is shaped out of a single piece of wood that is formed by pressing it into a mold. The mold then sits in the manufacturing plant under controlled conditions in which moisture and temperature are closely monitored. When the case is ready, the soundboard and frame are lowered inside.


The action holds all of the hammers of the piano. The action is connected to the keyboard so that when a piano key is depressed, it activates a shank that is connected to a hammer with felt padding. The felt hammer then strikes the appropriate string, sending vibrations through the frame and soundboard. This creates the slightly percussive sound that we recognize as a piano.


There are three pedals on a grand piano. The far left pedal, called una corda, will soften the sound of the piano when depressed. The middle pedal, or sostenuto, when depressed will sustain only the notes that were depressed immediately before it was activated. The far right pedal is the damper pedal, and when depressed, it sustains all of the notes. The middle and right pedal are never used at the same time.

The Three Main Parts of the Flute

7:35:00 AM
The flute is a virtuosic instrument that flutists can play extremely fast.

The flute is one of the most versatile and virtuosic instruments in the orchestra. Flutists must familiarize themselves with the parts of the instrument and how those parts function in the overall structure of the instrument. Several smaller components compose the main three parts of the flute. Knowing their names and functions will enable the flutist to take better care of the instrument and talk competently about the flute's construction.

General Construction

The flute's three main parts can be taken apart. This capability has several benefits. Separating the parts makes it easier to clean the flute, provides the possibility of tuning the instrument, makes it more compact for travel and allows the flutist to incorporate advanced techniques such as blowing through the head joint alone.

Head Joint

The head joint of a flute has an embouchure plate that the flutist blows through to produce sound. By pushing the head joint farther into the body joint, or pulling it away from the body joint, the flutist can tune the flute either sharp or flat. The head joint slides into the body joint.

Body Joint

The body joint is the main part of the flute and houses the keys for the majority of the flutist's range. This part has several components including keypads for each of the keys and a tenon at the end the body joint that slides into the foot joint. The tenon is important since it adjusts the intonation of the flute.

Foot Joint

The foot joint is the third part of the flute. Professional flutes will have a foot joint that is capable of playing down to a B just below middle C. Student flutes usually have a foot joint that is capable of just going down to middle C. Various pieces require the use of the extended foot joint as they use a low B in the composition. "Chilled for Solo Flute" by Kevin Ure and "Density 21.5" by Edgar Varese both use a low B in the music.

The Two Major Types of Wind Instruments

7:34:00 AM
The orchestra encompasses 4 main sections and half of those are winds.

Wind instruments require air to create a vibration, which then sends the sound through the instrument. The two main types of wind instruments encompass a large, significant and colorful part of the orchestra. Learning about these instruments will make listening to music a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience by making it possible to talk specifically about music.

Types of Winds

Woodwind and brass instruments are the two main types of wind instruments in western music. These instruments create their sound by sending vibrations through the instrument propelled by sound. Each group of wind instruments has a different purpose and mechanical function. The method of sound production determines the instrument classification. Both groups of wind instruments use air, but materials create the vibrations specific to each group.


The woodwinds either are made of wood or produce their sound using a wooden reed. The reed vibrates as air passes over and through the instrument. The flute and piccolo are classified as woodwind instruments because they were traditionally made of wood. The saxophone also is a woodwind because of the wooden reed, even though most of the instrument is brass. Other woodwind instruments include oboes, English horn, bassoons, contra-bassoons, clarinets and bass clarinets.


The brass section uses a mouthpiece made out of metal, brass, silver or gold materials to produce sound. The instruments typically employ brass materials with different types of finish to affect the sound. Instruments in the brass family include the trumpet, cornet, trombone, horn, euphonium, baritone and tuba.

Wind Ensemble

The wind ensemble started as a military band, and built up progressively to the modern day wind ensemble used in colleges, universities, and military and professional organizations. Wind ensembles are a collection of brass and woodwind instruments in conjunction with a percussion section, which includes various types of drums. Some wind ensembles also will include cellos, basses and pianos in their orchestrations.

Theater Etiquette

7:33:00 AM
Knowing theater etiquette shows respect for all audience members.

Learning theater etiquette will enable you to avoid embarrassment. There are certain unspoken rules that apply to theatre attendance that only those that have been initiated into the process know. Avoid the risk of seeming boorish by learning about the proper way to manage your behavior in a performance to increase your level of enjoyment and participate as a courteous audience member.

Electronic Devices

Silencing all of your electronic devices is considered proper etiquette for attending a theatrical performance. To be safe, you should completely turn off all electronic devices. If you have a watch that beeps, leave it at home or silence it before entering the theater. Setting a device to vibrate should not be a substitute for shutting down a device. Vibrating devices still make noise and may come in contact with keys, change or other items in your pocket, making the device make unnecessary noise. Silencing a device does not necessarily mean that an alarm that bypasses the silencing system will not go off. Err on the side of caution with electronic devices.


Arrive at least 30 minutes before the performance and no later than 15 minutes before the start of a performance. Leaving during the performance is considered highly disrespectful. It is not the same as going to see a movie. Patrons pay high fees to enjoy the theater experience, and leaving in the middle of a performance should never be done except in an extreme emergency. Leaving in between acts is appropriate if there is enough time to get out of the theatre before the production resumes.


Avoid sifting through bags and making unnecessary noise during a performance. Babies and children must be left at home, unless you know they can remain still and silent through the entire production. Talking is not allowed, even whispering is a distraction to other members of the audience. Enjoy the show and keep your focus on the performers instead of your friends and family. Some theatrical presentations will engage the audience and expect them to respond. In these cases, it is okay to laugh and respond to the performers.

Pictures and Video

Taking pictures in a theatrical production should never occur, unless the host specifically allows photos. Cameras with flashes will distract the audience and the performers on stage. Taking pictures also goes against the agreement that you obligate yourself to when you purchase the tickets. Taking videos of the performance is also not be allowed. Video disrupts the experience for other audience members as a video camera often has light and creates obstructions for other patrons. There are also copyright issues with the taking of photos and videos.


One of the biggest mistakes made in a theatre performance is clapping before a thespian concludes their performance. Sometimes knowing when a performance has concluded can be difficult. When in doubt, respond with the audience. Appropriate times to clap are between acts or sets. You should also applaud at the end of a solo or when the performance has concluded. At the end of the show all of the participants will come on stage and take a bow. If the audience claps for an extended period of time, the performers provide an encore and come back to bow a second or even third time.

Things to Look for in a Trumpet

7:32:00 AM
Carefully evaluate your trumpet for signs of problems.

Evaluating a trumpet requires some proficiency with playing and a knowledge of what to look for under the hood to ensure proper maintenance and a long life. Take the time to carefully evaluate the instrument before making a purchase. Trumpets need to function properly and have no deteriorating mechanical defects.


The trumpet valves contain the heart of the instrument. If the valves appear to be in poor condition, you may as well stop looking at the trumpet. Corroded valves will stick and prevent you from playing the trumpet altogether. If the valves are covered in a blue corrosion, a music shop can buff them and return them to normal. However, if the corrosion has affected the metal and leached into the valve, then avoid the trumpet at all costs. To check the valves for corrosion, remove the valve caps by turning them counterclockwise. If the trumpet has springs in the valve casing, check to see that they are all approximately the same height.


Corrosion on the outside of the trumpet provides a sign that the metal in the trumpet has started to decay. If the corrosion has a red tint to it, then the horn likely has a degenerative condition called red rot. Red rot will continue to erode the metal as the metal loses an essential metal in the alloy called zinc. Stopping red rot from progressing will not be possible and eventually the horn will develop holes in the metal. The cost to re-brass the trumpet often proves to be impractical.

Slides and Tubing

Check the slides and tubing for any dents. Dents will change the timbre of the horn. Some dents prove to be worse than others. For instance, a dent close to the lead-pipe will drastically change the tone of the trumpet while a dent in the bell has no effect on the sound. Dents close to the bell or an opening in the trumpet such as the lead-pipe or near a tuning slide can be removed more easily than dents in a crook or curved portion of the trumpet.


Finally, pick the trumpet up and play it. Play a few major scales and trying slurring octaves to judge the response of the trumpet. If the trumpet has too much resistance there may be an issue with a clog in one of the tubes. Each performer will respond to a trumpet differently, so avoid basing your decision to select a trumpet on the experience of another performer. What works for you might be a complete disaster for another player.

Tips and Ideas for Song Writing

7:31:00 AM
Writing your own music requires advanced skill and technique.

Songwriting is a difficult profession that requires commitment and creativity. Often songwriters will experience writer's block and find it difficult to come up with new ideas. In these times, it is important to continue to expand your knowledge of music and push yourself to improve your technique. By continuing to work, even through the difficult times, songwriters can continue to develop their skills.


Know the audience that you will be writing for. Learn about their likes and dislikes and write music that will be relevant to them. Great songwriters know how to take universal ideas that apply to a large audience and put them into musical phrases, lyrics and songs. Talk with others who like your music, ask them what they like about it and put up surveys on your website. If you have a social media site ask your fans what they would like you to write about. Maybe even start a contest and offer an autographed album for the best idea.


Even if you are naturally talented, study every day. You always have more to learn in music; a solid foundation in music will help you to become a better songwriter. Take courses in music theory, form, analysis and writing. A songwriter has to be able to write the music and the lyrics for a song. It is important to be able to do this effectively and efficiently. Learning the basics of music will make the process of writing much easier.


Pay careful attention to your lyrics, or better yet, pay someone to write your lyrics. Some classical composers don't use their own lyrics. They will use lyrics from an established author with his permission. If the author has been deceased for more than 70 years, it is permissible in most cases to use his words in your own song. Make sure that the lyrics you choose are easy to understand and connect in a logical way to help the listener understand verbal and musical ideas. When writing lyrics, it is important to think about how the lyrics will be treated in relationship to the music. Obviously, lyrics that are morose and gloomy should be set to music in a minor key while happy and upbeat lyrics should be attached to a major key. Songwriters are in a position to carefully craft the music and lyrics so that they work together as a cohesive whole.

Daily Writing

One of the most important tips that any songwriter can receive is to simply write. Write every single day without a break. Daily writing helps to improve the quality of ideas and the ability of the songwriter. Even if you do not produce high-quality results, you can still improve your ability simply by attempting to write on a schedule. Many of the best songwriters will even go so far as to write at the same time each day.


Use existing art to help inspire you. Find some artwork you like and think about how to interpret the scene with music. Artists often rely on each other to develop skills and formulate new ideas. Songwriters are no different. Find a community of songwriters and composers so that you can trade ideas and help motivate each other to write.

Tips on an All-State Tryout on French Horn

7:28:00 AM
French horn players have specific requirements because of their extended range.

Auditioning for All-State Band or Orchestra is a stressful process that will help improve your musicianship and prepare for college and scholarship auditions in the future. The adjudicators are looking for specific elements that a qualified candidate will display. Knowing what these characteristics are will make you better prepared for your audition and enable a successful audition process.


The audition judge will likely first ask you to play two to four scales in your audition. You should be prepared to play all 12 major scales in at least two octaves. Check with the individual audition sheet requirement for your state. Each audition will have to tell you whether you need major and minor scales or just major scales. The audition sheet will also let you know how fast to play your scales. Generally, you want to aim to play your scales at 120 beats-per-minute in 16th notes. Use a metronome and slowly increase your speed at playing scales.

Audition Music

Each audition will provide you with audition excerpts ahead of time. You must learn to play these perfectly. Pay attention to all dynamics, tempos and articulations in the music. Get help from your school ensemble director and private tutor to ensure you know the proper way to interpret and play the music. Concentrate first on learning the rhythm of the music. Then practice playing the pitches; if you don't get the rhythm perfect, they will assume you are not able to read complex music.

Prepared Piece

The prepared piece will be of your own choosing. Don't make this decision on your own. Speak with your director or instructors to pick a piece that will best represent your abilities as a performer. Choose a piece that shows your range, your flexibility and your ability to interpret a large piece of music. The judge will likely stop you before you complete the piece. This does not mean that you have failed; they rarely let anyone complete an entire piece. This is the time to show your musicality.


Sight-reading is hard to prepare for. The best thing you can do is play as much new music as possible. Study rhythmic counting and practice your scales -- major and minor -- every day. When you begin the sight-reading session, take a few moments to look at the piece. Look at the key signature, and scan for any difficult rhythms. Especially on the French horn, the judges may let a wrong note slide -- but rhythm has to be accurate. If you make a mistake, do not stop and do not apologize. Keep playing, because they want to see that you can make a mistake and keep going.

Tips on Fingerless Whistles

7:26:00 AM
One method of whistling involves puckering your lips.Whistling without using your fingers can be difficult to learn but is certainly possible with the proper technique. Learning to whistle without your fingers is a skill that is useful even in the concert setting. Charles Ives, a famous classical composer from the 1900s, included fingerless whistling in his compositions. Fingerless whistling also comes in handy when you need to get the attention of a group and need to use your hands for other tasks.

Lip Position

The bottom lip should curve around the bottom teeth. Make sure that the bottom lip stretches tightly across the bottom teeth. It helps to create a grin and stretch the corner of your lips outwards towards your ears. The upper lip should be tight against the teeth and make contact with the bottom lip. This will help to create the lip vibrations necessary to whistle effectively.

Tongue Position

The tongue should be placed in the center of the mouth and connect barely with the front teeth. Think of the tongue as a ramp for the air to travel along. If the ramp is too wide, the air will not travel in a short and fast line. The goal is to focus your air directly over your bottom lip. Make sure the tongue doesn’t hit the bottom of the mouth, it should hover just slightly.


The airflow needs to be fast and narrowly focused on creating a proper whistle. To create proper airflow ensure that you are breathing and expelling the air with the diaphragm and not the chest. The chest is weaker than muscles in your diaphragm, so don’t create enough force to effectively whistle. When you blow, make sure you are tensing the muscles in your abdomen to help expel the air quickly.

Puckered Lip Whistle

It is also possible to create a whistle by puckering your lips. This is a less powerful type of whistle, but it makes it possible to whistle melodies. To do this, pucker your lips as if you were about to kiss someone. Curl your tongue back, out of the way, and then let out a consistent stream of air. This will help you to create a more delicate whistle with more control over the pitch.