Monday, October 31, 2016

How to Make a Halloween Song

8:00:00 AM
Halloween music should be creepy and in a depressed key. There are some simple ways to achieve this if you have basic knowledge of music and talent for creating melody. If you have no experience writing music, you will want to study music theory first or try creating a song based on a pre-existing melody. For instance, you could use the famous song "Are You Sleeping" and simply change the lyrics so that it reflects a macabre theme.

Step 1 Start by creating the lyrics for your song. Aim for four sentences of approximately four to eight words. Writing about bats, ghosts, vampires and ghoulish creatures is a good place to start. If you have trouble coming up with lyrics, take an already existing set of lyrics and just change key words to something that fits with a Halloween theme.

Step 2 Notate a melody in a minor key that fits with your lyrics. If you don't know how to notate your melodies, then use a tape recorder to record yourself singing the lyrics. Play the recording, think about parts needing improvement and edit as necessary. Continue singing the lyrics with the melody until you are happy with the results. When you settle upon a melody, memorize it. Alternatively, if you used a pre-existing set of lyrics from Step 1, you always can just sing the song to the already existing melody. Some good melodies to use are "Ring Around the Rosie," a song already entrenched in macabre themes, or "We Three Kings," which already is in a harmonic minor key.

Step 3 Record your Halloween song. If you have any friends that are musicians, ask them to help you with your song. When recording your song, look for a quiet area in which you will not be disturbed. Use a cardoid microphone, since those will make your voice sound warm. Experiment with the correct distance to hold the microphone at to get the best sound.

Step 4 Download and install a free audio editor like Audacity. Import your song by dragging the audio file into the program. In the "Effect" menu, use the "Reduce Noise," "Normalize" and "Compressor" options to finalize and master your song.

Study music theory if you are serious about learning to write music. Lyrics don't have to fit a rhyming scheme, but they should lend themselves to creating suitable melodies. You can give your song away for free on social media sites or keep it within your close network of friends and family. If you have borrowed from copyrighted material for your song, make sure you have permission or do not plan to financially benefit.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Difference Between a Treble Clef and an Alto Clef

8:00:00 AM
Treble and alto are terms used to describe pitch levels and clefs. The treble clef places notes that are in the highest part of the register. The alto clef places notes that fall below the general treble clef range. Alto clef usually only appears in viola music while the treble clef hosts a variety of instruments from flutes to trumpets. Treble and alto may also refer to a specific voice type.

Treble Clef

The treble clef appears in high woodwinds, brass and vocal parts. An interesting characteristic of the treble clef is the curved loop that wraps around the G line. The treble clef loop always wraps around the second line in modern music; however, it is theoretically possible to move the position of the loop and change the names of the pitches in the treble clef. For this reason, the treble clef received the name the G clef since it indicates where G is above middle C.

Alto Clef

The alto clef looks like a backwards bracket. The middle of the bracket falls on middle C. In a true alto clef, middle C appears on the middle line. If the bracket moves so that the middle of the bracket falls on any line other than the middle line, it is technically a C clef. There are several types of C clefs, including tenor, soprano, mezzo and a general C clef that may be positioned anywhere on the staff.

Treble Clef

The word treble by itself may refer to several aspects of a composition or piece of music. It can refer to the highest pitched instruments or vocal part in a composition, the range of a child’s voice or even the highest frequencies on your stereo equalizer. The one thing that the varying definitions of treble have in common is that it refers to something that is high-pitched. Sopranos and young boys voices often sing in the treble range.

Alto Clef

The word alto itself may refer to an alto voice in a choir. It may also refer to the range that a particular instrument plays in relation to other instruments of the same family. For instance, the viola often gains the distinction of the alto of the string family since it plays in the middle to upper middle part of the range. Most commonly, alto will refer to a singer who has a range of approximately A below middle C to the E on the top space of the treble clef.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Didgeridoo Art Projects

8:00:00 AM
Didgeridoo art projects should serve to bring out your creative side. There are several options for creating art with your didgeridoo. You can paint, etch, burn or draw directly onto the surface of the instrument. You may also want to adorn the instrument with feathers or beads to create additional ornamentations on the instrument.


One way to decorate a didgeridoo for an art project is through the use of paints. Choose a theme, animal or object and first sketch the image on the didgeridoo using a pencil. Once you are satisfied with the sketch, choose colors that work well on the didgeridoo. You can use oil paints to help create a luster and shine. For added definition, use a dark, preferably black color to outline the outside of your image. This helps to define the image and make it viewable over a larger distance.


Burned-in images are a great way to create images with an authentic look. Sketch your image onto the didgeridoo with a pencil so that you can erase mistakes if necessary. When you are satisfied that the sketch looks right, use a wood burning pen to trace the sketch. This will make it possible for you to create an authentic burned-in look on your didgeridoo. Take your time selecting and sketching your image. Once you have started burning, you can't correct mistakes.


Sand down the outside of the didgeridoo to make sure you have a smooth surface to work with. Using markers, begin drawing directly on the didgeridoo. If you are unsure of your abilities, start with a sketch and then color in the lines when it is finished. Drawing has the advantage of being very detailed and is a simple way to add interest to your didgeridoo. Avoid using pencil for the final drawing since pencil can rub off fairly easily.


You may wish to create an etch in the side of your didgeridoo. If you have several varieties of chisels and experience using them, you can etch designs into the side of your instrument. You have to be extremely careful to avoid cutting through the the hollow interior. However, once you have drawn the sketch of your etchings, the chiseling process will go much more smoothly. Sketch images of objects, or simply etch angular blocks and crevices into your didgeridoo.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Electric String Instruments

8:00:00 AM
Electric string instruments use electrical signals and amplifiers to increase an instrument's volume and modify its sound. Composers from all genres of music have used electric instruments in their compositions. While electric instruments more commonly appear in rock and popular music the classical composer George Crumb wrote a composition for electric strings entitled “Black Angels.” Electric string instruments are not the same as semi-acoustic instruments that use a mixture of sound boxes and electric amplification to create sound.

Acoustic Instruments

Acoustic instruments use a chamber to resonate and amplify sound. They may be miked to make them act like electric instruments; however, a true electric string instrument is designed to function only with an amplifier. Without the amplifier, acoustic instruments still amplify their own sound. The electric guitar has metal strings and amplifiers while the acoustic guitar uses synthetic fibers as strings.

Magnetic Pickups

Electric string instruments have magnetic pickups that convert the string vibrations into electrical signals that travel through an amplifier. The advantage of electrical amplification means real-time performance effects, such as digital samplers and reverb that alter the instrument's timbre, can be applied.

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar makes no sound without an amplifier. Magnetic pickups detect the string vibrations, sending it to the amplifier which translates them to sound. Electric guitar is the most popular electric string instrument, and there are several types of electric guitars that have as few as one string and as many as 12. Double-neck guitars also exist that convert the guitar into a regular guitar and a bass guitar.

Electric Orchestral Strings

Electric violins, violas, cellos and basses function in the same way as an electric guitar. This is different from an acoustic violin that uses a microphone to amplify the sound. The electric string instrument lacks a sound-post or chamber to amplify the vibrations produced. The electric string instrument does not resonate due to the solid body. The advantage of these instruments is the ability to use a bow and play acoustic techniques, including pizzicato and multiple stops, with the ability to digitally manipulate timbre and apply electronic effects.

Electric Mandolin

An electric mandolin comes in several varieties. There are semi-acoustic electric mandolins that have a sound box plus electronic sound amplification. There are also fully electric mandolins that have a solid construction and use only electric amplification. The semi-acoustic is technically not an electric mandolin. This is true of all semi-acoustic instruments.

Steel Guitar

This type of electric guitar lays out flat on a table and the player uses a pedal and levers operated by his foot and knee to further manipulate the instrument's sound. The player uses a metal bar that he moves up and down to shorten and lengthen the strings creating higher and lower pitches. Like all guitars, it is capable of chords and plucked by a pick or the fingers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Early Childhood Music Jobs

8:00:00 AM
With an educational background in early childhood music education, wide varieties of jobs become available to you. Most early childhood education degrees permit you to teach children up to third grade. Each state is different, so make sure to check with your state's teaching requirements for teaching to be sure.


Orff-Schulwerk is a system of teaching children about music that uses dance, music, rhythm and instruments to engage the child. Composer Carl Orff developed the initial program to improve the quality of music education. Orff requires special training and courses in addition to a degree in early childhood music education. The training will qualify you to teach children from birth through middle school. The techniques learned find their basis in things that children love to do including singing, clapping and keeping rhythm.

Private Instructor

Private instruction doesn’t require a degree from a university, but having that education does lend you extra credibility. Private instructors may teach any age child in a variety of disciplines. Many teachers specialize in piano, music theory or a specific woodwind, brass or stringed instrument. If you have the ability to play an instrument, then it is possible to develop a lucrative career as a private instructor. Instructors typically put on recitals and teach one-on-one with students. With early childhood music, the parents often sit in on the lessons.

Group Classes

Group classes at community centers, in your own home or in local schools provide another avenue for early childhood music specialists to consider. When schools have to cut budgets, music is often the first course downsized. However, parents still understand the important of music training and often will enroll their students in an after-school program. Schools generally will work with independent music teachers to bring an extra level of education to their school. Contact schools in your area to see if any will work with you to teach after school classes.


With a degree in early childhood music, you may teach pre-school and elementary school students. There are several options for teaching including charter schools, private schools and public schools. Public schools generally have resources that are more reliable, while charter schools have limited funding based on fundraisers, student enrollment and government aid. Private schools have the most potential for finances since they generally rely on corporate sponsors. Contact your local school district to determine if any schools in your area are hiring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Differences Between the Bass Clef and the C Clef

8:00:00 AM
Nickel horns have an additional element that brass horns do not have. This additional element changes the sound and malleability of the horn. There is great debate over which alloy is better for the construction of horns. The majority of horns are made from brass, but that doesn't mean there isn't a place in music for nickel horns. Nickel horns have a very specific tone that has its uses in specific types of music.

Brass Horn Elements

Brass consists of a combination of copper and zinc. Depending on the type of brass, there will be different proportions. In yellow brass, there is a combination of 70 percent copper and 30 percent zinc. While in gold brass, which is less common, there is 85 percent copper and 15 percent zinc. The difference in properties affects both the color and the sound that the instrument will produce.

Brass Horn Acoustics

Horns made from the more common yellow brass will provide a sound that is strong, penetrating and rich. This type of brass is preferable in orchestras where the horn section must be powerful and capable of cutting through the entire ensemble. Gold brass produces a metal that is almost red in color. Gold brass is less commonly used and produces sound suitable to lyrical solo playing. The gold brass emits a sound that is warm, soft and is less brilliant than yellow brass.

Nickel Horn Elements

Nickel horns differ from brass horns in the construction of the alloy that is used to make these horns. In a nickel horn, a small portion of nickel is added to the brass mixture to create a different texture that is harder to manipulate. This makes it more difficult to create and repair nickel horns since the materials are less pliable and not easy to work with. The nickel horn consists of 65 percent copper, 20 percent nickel and 15 percent zinc.

Nickel Horn Acoustics

Nickel horns are rarely used since they don't produce the typical horn sound that we are accustomed to hearing. They have a very loud and expansive sound that is more fitting to a marching band than an orchestra. The sound also has very few layers to it and emits a strong tone with a limited amount of external artifacts. This creates a clear tone that is more typical of a trumpet than a horn.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Lip Sync

8:00:00 AM
Knowing how to lip sync will make it possible to prerecord your concert and not have to worry about making mistakes in a live performance. It isn't too hard to learn to lip sync, but there are some special considerations and techniques that can make this a more enjoyable experience for you. Generally, professionals will avoid lip syncing, but sometimes, especially with complex electronic music, lip syncing should be considered as a viable option.

Breathe properly as if you were actually going to sing, from the diaphragm and out through the mouth. One of the biggest issues with those who lip sync is that they do not breathe correctly. Because they aren't actually singing they think this practice works. However, the audience will pick up on your lack of breathing and it will make the performance less believable.

Play a recording of the song you will lip sync too. Write down the lyrics and memorize those before doing anything else. You can memorize lyrics by writing the lyrics out several times, taking the information into smaller sections or by reciting the lyrics from a sheet and removing one word at a time.

Sing the song properly, by actually singing the lyrics and the notes. Memorize what it feels like to actually sing the music. Make sure you stay in rhythm with the music. You have to prepare to lip sync as if you were preparing to actually sing.

Practice singing without actually sounding the words. You should breathe properly and expel air from your lungs and mouth. Form each word by saying the words under your breath or by simply making the motions you would make if you were actually singing. Since you have practiced singing this song, you should be able to do this well.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Differences Between French Horn and Trombone

8:00:00 AM
Trombones and French horns have several common elements. They are members of the brass family, use a mouthpiece to create sound and have a wide range of notes available to them. The differences make them suitable for different uses in an orchestra, band or solo venue.


The main mechanical differences involve the use of a slide versus valves. The French horn uses rotary valves to change pitches. When a valve is depressed, the airflow changes direction and travels through tubes. The length of the tube changes the pitch. In contrast, the trombone has a very simple slide system. Instead of tubes, the instrument lengthens and shortens through a series of seven different slide positions that correspond to the seven valve combinations.


Both instruments can descend to the low E below the staff. However, the French horn can go an extra octave and a fifth higher. This puts the French horn in the same range as the trombone and trumpet combined. This extensive range makes the French horn the uniting factor between the high brass and the low brass.


French horns have a clear, mellow and limber sound, while trombones are commonly metallic, brassy and forceful. The difference is not always easy to describe, but most people will immediately tell the difference between the two when they hear them. The French horn valves create a stronger, clearer and more precise sound than the trombone. The trombone is certainly capable of playing fast passages, but the slide use makes it more difficult.


Standard techniques on both instruments include tonguing, slurring, flutter tongue and glissandos. However, the French horn is capable of placing the hand in the bell to create sharp accents and stopped horn effects. The trombone has several mutes the French horn may not use, such as the plunger mute. The trombone’s slide also creates effective glissandos between notes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Getting a Good Deep Sound Tuning Your Drums

8:00:00 AM
There are several methods available to deepen the sounds of your drums. Tuning can certainly make your drums sound lower, but changing the drum heads may provide you with the deep, rich sound you are looking for. Drummers use a tuning key to loosen and tighten the tension in the drum heads. By doing this, they are able to achieve generally high or low sounds. While you can't tune a drum to a specific pitch, it is possible to get a general tuning of the drum by listening closely.


Preparing to tune your drum heads requires determining the precise sound you want to get out of your drums. If you only want to change the pitch of the drum to get a lower sound, you can simply apply proper tuning methods to lower the pitch of the drum. However, if you are looking for a lower and thicker sounding drum pitch, you will need to consider purchasing additional drum heads. Listen to recordings of drum players and find a sound you like. This will help you adjust the drum to your needs.

Figure Eight 

Tune the top and bottom heads by dividing the drum into eight equal parts as if you were preparing to slice a pizza. The drum will have eight tuning pegs located around the top, so this will not require much effort. Start with any peg and turn it a quarter of a turn with your tuning peg key. Then jump to the peg on the opposite side and do the same. Continue this process until the entire drum has been tuned to the general pitch you want. Tap in the center of the drum to determine the pitch.

Fine Tuning 

Tap near each peg on the drum and listen to the pitch. When tapping, use the area directly in front of the tuning peg. If both pitches match on opposite sides of the drum, move to the next peg to the right. If they don't match, continue to adjust the tuning until each side sounds the same. These minor adjustments will help to ensure the entire drum is tuned evenly and will help to give you an even and consistent sound across the drum. Make sure to do this with both the top and bottom heads.

Head Choice 

Rather than using a standard drum head, you can purchase oil filled drum heads. These drum heads install just like any other drum head, but they are filled with a small membrane of oil that slows the vibration, creating a more robust sound. You can choose from varying thicknesses of drum heads. You should choose a drum head based on how penetrating you want the drum to be and how deep you want the sound. The smaller drum heads will provide a thinner sound, while the thicker ones will provide a rich and full sound.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Games to Help Children Learn Musical Notes

8:00:00 AM
Children often learn best when education combines with entertainment. Several games involving music notes are available for children to play to increase their knowledge of music. Most gamed require two or more children. A few games require just one child. Learning music is great for teaching children to develop spatial reasoning.

Note Name Competition 

The note name competition is a game that involves two groups of students. Divide students into two groups; each group will select one student from each group to represent the team during each turn. The teacher will write the names of 12 pitches horizontally below the bottom of the musical staff. The students must not look while she is writing the pitches. When the students turn around, they have to write in the notes as quickly as possible. The first student that writes in all of the pitches correctly will win. The other student continues to write pitches until confirmed that the first student won.

Clef Games 

The clef game will initially teach the students the names of the notes on the staff. For the treble clef, have each student come up with an acronym for the names of the lines and spaces on the staff. One possible acronym is “Each Great Brain Dreams Fine.” Have the students come up with an acronym for both the bass and treble clef. The students may work in groups or by themselves. The group or individual with the most creative acronyms will win. To make this more entertaining, give the students construction paper, glue and markers to create presentations.


In Musical Bingo, the teacher creates enough cards for each student to have their own or share. Each card is a 4-by-4 matrix. The teacher must draw 16 pitches from the 18 available pitches between the bass and treble clef. Each box consists of a staff and a note. The children must place a token on a note whenever called. Four in a row wins and they should call out Bingo to have their answers checked. The teacher should call out pitches in this order: pitch name, clef type and line or space. For instance, “B is in the treble clef and on a line.”

Interval Game 

The interval game is for advanced students. Teach the students about the chromatic scale and instruct them on the difference between major, minor and perfect intervals. Do this by writing a complete chromatic scale on the board and then showing them the difference between a minor second and a major second. Continue to explain each interval. To play the game use two groups of students and ask them to name the note that is an interval above or below a note. For instance, give them the note A and ask for a perfect fifth above A. First student to get the answer right wins.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fun Activities to Do in a Marching Band Saxophone Sectional

8:00:00 AM
A marching band sectional rehearsal can be fun and still be productive. A section leader can play several games with his group to help improve issues specific to a saxophone player's technique. Any activity that is part of a saxophone sectional should be specific to the instrument and help improve the player's individual skill. Playing games unrelated to music should be avoided as they waste the band's time.

Scale Contests

Have someone act as the time keeper. Each player in the sectional has to play all of their major scales as quickly as possible without mistakes. The goal should be to play all 12 major scales in under 60 seconds by the end of the year. Sixty seconds might not be possible for a brass player, but it is definitely possible for a saxophone player. The winning saxophone player should receive some sort of award from the section leader. Work with your band director to see if it is possible to get a coupon or gift card for the player with the fastest scales in a month. This is a great productive exercise as it will increase the technique of every player in the group.

Breathing Games

Have every saxophone player stand up and play an Eb on the top space of the staff. Ask them to hold the Eb without taking a breath. When a player has to breathe they must sit down and wait for the contest to end. The last person standing will win the contest. As preparation for the contest, talk about proper breathing from the diaphragm and explain how proper breath control will enable players to get a more consistent and higher quality sound. This exercise will help players increase their lung capacity and it is always fun to see who is the last one standing. Sometimes, the smallest player can have the biggest lungs!

Memorization Contest

Make a copy of each saxophone player's music. With a highlighter block out a section of the music and then make a copy of that piece. Then, make another copy with even more of the music blocked out. Do this with two more copies until you have a total of 4 progressively fragmented pieces. The goal of this game is to help performers try and memorize their music. The final piece should have about 75 percent of the music blocked out. See how many players can play the entire piece from memory. If you find one of the copies is too difficult, then take a step back and let the players play a more complete version.

Accuracy Contest

Start with the entire saxophone section standing. Give them a piece that the group is having some trouble with. Have them start playing and instruct each player to sit down as soon as they make a mistake. The last one standing wins. The benefit of this game is that those that are having trouble playing a part get to listen to those that know how to play the part. This will help them figure out the rhythms of the piece and improve their ability to play. A follow-up to this exercise is to have all of the players clap the rhythm of the piece without playing it. Often, it is the rhythm and not the notes themselves that cause performers issues.

Labeling Activity

Pass out a sheet with a picture of a saxophone and a line pointing to each part. Ask each player to complete the worksheet by filling in the parts of the saxophone. Once everyone is complete, go around the room and ask each player to identify a part and discuss its function. This exercise will ensure that all players know each part of their instrument.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

F Style Vs. A Style Mandolin

8:00:00 AM
For centuries, mandolins have appeared in small ensembles, folk singing and even within the troupes of troubadours of the Middle Ages. These poet-composers used lutes and mandolins and performed songs that dealt with themes of love and religion. A mandolin is a soprano lute -- the highest member of the lute family of string instruments. F-style and A-style mandolins are descendants of the original mandolin, which was an Italian instrument.


F-style and A-style mandolins came into existence in the early 1900s. The Gibson guitar company invented both styles. The F-style, or Florentine mandolin, was the first version to be created; the A-style came shortly thereafter, to accommodate different types of music. The mandolin has existed for centuries, but these new and novel types of violins are better suited to playing in ensembles and as solo instruments. Part of the string family of instruments, the newer F- and A-style mandolins are American inventions.


Players may stand to play F-style mandolins, with an added strap attached to the scroll and base of the instrument. However, they are most comfortable when seated, as the curvature of the instrument rests comfortably on the leg. F-style mandolins all have F-holes, similar to a violin. These holes affect the sound production and create resonance within the instrument. The F-style mandolin has a brighter sound than an A-style mandolin.


Most A-style mandolins have a round sound-hole instead of the F-hole found on the F-style mandolin. While the round sound-hole allows for more sustaining power, it does not have the volume and power of an F-hole -- although some A-style mandolins have the F-holes as well. These mandolins are typically less fancy than F-style mandolins, making them less expensive. In contrast to the F-style mandolin, the A-style mandolin is usually played when the musician is standing, as the instrument does not rest comfortably on the leg.

Musical Uses

F-style and A-style mandolins have different uses in music. Typically, an F-style mandolin player plays bluegrass music, a type of country music with American roots. It is similar to jazz music, in that the instrumentalist often plays solos and improvises on a chord progression. The A-style mandolin appears in Irish, folk and even classical music. The nature of the instrument lends itself to quick strumming and playing light, delicate melodies.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ethiopian Instruments: Guide to the Most Commonly Used Instruments

8:00:00 AM
Ethiopian instruments provide music for entertainment, spirituality, celebration and ceremonies. There are four main instruments used in Ethiopian music. Most of them allow the instrumentalist to sing and play at the same time. Much of Ethiopian music is secular music to entertain and relieve the tension of the participants.

Washint: Ethiopian Flute

This unique instrument is played mostly by peasants, shepherds and cow herders. Blowing through the end and using the finger holes to create individual tones sound the instrument. Made from bamboo, the instrument is extremely durable and resistant to inclement weather. In many performances, the flute is the only instrument used in conjunction with voice.

Masïnqo: One-String Violin

The masïnqo is a single string violin that is played with a curved bow. The right hand manipulates the string while the left hand holds the bow. This instrument creates its sound with a box at the base of the string that serves as a resonator. When the string is bowed, the vibrations from the string travel to the box and create the sound that is produced. The instrumentalist will often sing and play the instrument at the same time.

Kirar: Lyre

The kirar, also known as a krar, is commonly decorated with beads. It's a six-string lyre that is used in Ethiopian music. The six strings are plucked in the same manner as a harp would be with the left hand. The right hand and leg serve to support the instrument and provide balance. As the instrument plays, the instrumentalist will often sing folk melodies. This instrument functions by itself or in combination with other instruments and singers to provide enjoyment and entertainment. The instrument makes use of extreme ornamentation based on simple folk melodies.

Käbäro: Ethiopian Drum

The käbäro is an instrument used in Ethiopian drumming. Commonly used in ceremonies and celebrations, it is classified as a membranophone.


Membranophones receive their name for their membranes that stretch over each end of the drum. This particular drum consists of an animal hide stretched over a conical shaped drum. This instrument is a hand drum about the size of a bongo. Because of the nature of the instrument, the performer is able to sing and play at the same time. Drums are typically used to keep tempo, create the rhythm for dance, and provide a meditative outlet for performers.