Aural Entasis - Simple Triple Time

Simple triple time (3 crotchet beats in a bar) is usually not played with strict regularity.

In this time signature, the second beat will come generally infinitesimally before the metronome.

The third beat ever so slightly behind it. This is called aural entasis.

Entasis is a technique where straight lines were imperceptibly bent into convex curves to make them appear even straighter and more perfectly proportioned. (The builders of the Parethenon used this technique).

We as musicians can give our music a speaking quality by applying this technique in any time signature but the waltz time affords us the best chance to grasp the essence of this idea. It is very important to remember that the three beats of a waltz are by nature unequal.

There is a reason why each beat in a measure of waltz time is unique and dissimilar.

There must always be a slight pause between beat two and three., because the dancers need a moment of suspension to help them slide through beat three, then swoop still further on down through beat one and on up to the next moment of poise.

The worst thing you can do is to play all three beats equally spaced out. The listener will not be able to hear properly. Both the player and the listener must be able to feel the sense of dancers lifting and whirling around the floor. Beat three must always lead into and through beat one.

Try this exercise:
Try pushing someone, literally placing your hands on their shoulders or back or chest and giving them a gentle push but firm shove on each downbeat (downbeat is the first beat of the bar). This is the movement the music is generating.
Now play, lending this feeling of push to each downbeat. This can be done in any time signature, not only in waltz time. You will notice that the feeling of push can be drastically improved through a slight waiting before each beat. This is what makes it a push rather than a hit- there is a sense of control in it.

Beat three must be delayed to help you move into beat one, but beat one must be delayed in order that we feel that push! Yes, it is possible to achieve both!

The same push that you will sense is what the dancers actually feel. They feely buoyed by that impulse.

Do You Make Embarrassing Mistakes in English?

If you'd like your written and spoken communication as a music teacher to command instant respect and credibility (rather than ridicule and contempt)...

If you'd like your students and parents to stand up and listen when you talk (rather than ignore or even mock your ideas)...

If you'd like to be perceived as an intelligent and articulate teacher (rather than dull and slow on the uptake)...

Then this can help: CONFIDENT GRAMMAR

Allow me to explain:

Every time you speak to a student, parent or colleague

...every time you write an email to parents, student or associate...
...every time you write a report, assignment or presentation...
...every time you write written comments on your students work...

People use your language and grammar to instantly "tip them off" about how educated, competent, and successful you are.

Right or wrong, your students and parents will judge you based on your communication skills, even if you are competent and creative teacher.

Bad English grammar is like a beautiful piece of music played with wrong notes, timing and stylistically incorrect. The audience just won't hear the beauty of the piece because it's obscured by wrong notes and timing etc...

The sad part is that many people who would otherwise be successful are being held back by their bad grammar. And why? Most people subscribe to the myth that it's just too difficult to acquire the communication skills that they know deep down will bring them all they have ever dreamed of.

As music teachers, we need to acquire good English grammar and communication skills and it does not require arduous repetition of boring rules.

The Confident Grammar system I have found claims that you can have near-perfect English grammar quickly and easily by learning a few basic rules and learning how to avoid a handful of common mistakes! I have purchased the ebooks and audio and it is fantastic. I have now started to teach English to some of my private piano students as well with great success - the extra income is also nice. My teaching now consists of 80% piano and 20% English tutoring. It is so much fun! I digress...

Most mistakes in everyday language boil down to less than a dozen common errors in English grammar. With this method you will learn to recognize these quickly and easily - dramatically improving your communication almost instantly.

Confident Grammar System is an excellent product. Being able to use English correctly and confidently is important for me in my day-to-day life and business. I highly recommend this to other teachers or anyone wishing to improve their English.

CONFIDENT GRAMMAR comes with 2 E-Books and 8 tutorials all for under $10.00 US!! What a bargain.

Piano Is Fun


As a piano teacher I have long searched for a note learning software that will supplement my teaching on how to learn to recognize treble and bass clef notes on the piano. The only programs I found were boring drills where a note appears and one just clicks on the note name. They were dull and boring!!

What I really needed was a program that would:
· Introduce the notes gradually
· Teach both the note names and where to find the notes on the piano keyboard
· Clearly explain the difference between the Treble and Bass clef notes
· Allow me to select which notes to practice
· Use bright and colorful animation
· Be fun

Finally, all my searching efforts paid off and I found what I was looking for.
The software program is called, “Piano Is Fun.”

Piano Is Fun is a software program that helps students learn to recognize treble and bass clef notes on the piano. It makes learning to read music easy and enjoyable. The features of the software program include:

· Fun characters: Piano Is Fun "stars" a cast of eight friendly and positive characters. These characters take it in turns to present the lessons

· 20 Step-by-step lessons: The 20 step-by-step lessons introduce students to the notes and keyboard positions of the piano gradually so that they never feel intimidated or overwhelmed. Students will eventually learn to recognize treble and bass clef notes on the piano successfully. PIANO IS FUN PURCHASE INFO.

· Interactive exercises: Students learn to recognize treble and bass clef notes on the piano through interactive exercises and games that ensure that they develop true note recognition skills instead of memorizing silly rhymes.

· Practice Games that teach. The worst thing about most tutorial programs is that they don't teach students anything! Instead, they just test what students already know using repetitive drills. Each lesson of Piano Is Fun includes a Practice Game which shows students the answers when the note reaches the halfway point. This allows students to learn the note names and keyboard positions from scratch - At their own pace. Without getting frustrated.

· Helps develop a musical ear: Each time a student correctly identifies a note name or locates the correct key on the piano, they hear the actual sound of the note through the computer. This helps them to develop their sense of pitch.

· Collectable rewards to provide motivation: When they complete a lesson, students receive a special reward on their personal progress page. These rewards allow you to monitor their progress and also act as form of motivation. (It's incredible to see how motivated students become when it comes to collecting their rewards!)

· The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medallion Challenges: these bring everything together on the Grand Staff. The challenges include the note names and keyboard positions of the Bass and Treble clefs. This helps students make the jump to reading music in the real world.

· Printable Certificates When a student completes a medallion challenge, they are rewarded with a triumphant fanfare and are presented with a Certificate of Achievement. These certificates are a valuable form of positive reinforcement (And look great in a black frame next to their piano!) PIANO IS FUN PURCHASE INFO.

· Custom Lessons: If a student is having problems with particular notes, Piano Is Fun allows you to create a customized lesson to address their specific problem. Just go to the 'Custom Lesson' screen and select any number of notes from the treble and bass clefs and Piano Is Fun will then create a custom lesson to help.

· Keep track of up to 50 students: Piano Is Fun tracks the progress of up to 50 individual students. You can check a student's progress page at any time to find out how they are going. This allows you to quickly determine which students are struggling so that you can take the appropriate action.

· As a bonus gift for purchasing Piano Is Fun, you'll also receive 16 fun musical puzzles.

Boot Camp

Boot camp is a practice technique where you'll take passages that have been giving you a hard time, and go and give them a hard time.

This means you must stop all other practice temporarily, while you focus all your energies on this one problem. Throw at it every practice technique you know.

Some practice techniques you can try are:
1. With the metronome
2. Without the metronome
3. At half speed
4. At full speed
5. Seven times in a row with no mistakes
6. With the music
7. Without the music
8. With eyes closed
9. Recording the section
10. Write out the section
11. With dynamics
12 With accents on every 2nd note

Anyway, you get the idea. If you need more practice techniques, I suggest reading Practiceopedia by Phillip Johnston. It is a massive 376 page illustrated encyclopedia of practice techniques, trick, tips and traps that every music student should know.

Click on the title for more information on this book.

With all this attention, it's going to be almost impossible for the trouble section not to improve.

Once the section is behaving itself better, you can reintroduce it to the rest of the piece, and resume your regular practice.

Please note that Boot Camp practice technique is only designed to rectify lack of attention given to the problem section. It is not designed to fix deeper flaws.

Music Appreciation - Theme from Jaws by John Williams

This music is from the terrifying film Jaws. It is about a giant and ferocious shark. Each time the shark attacks its victims, low notes are heard which is enough to send shivers down our spines. This is because the composer has chosen the sound qualities cleverly.

Silence also contributes to the frightening mood in this piece. The silences or rests build tension and makes one expect a disaster to happen. This music is sounds organized with silence.

When listening to this piece, you can hear the lurking presence of the shark suggested by two low short “growly” notes of different pitch followed by silence.

The mood is uneasy and threatening which grows in tension as more and more notes are added. After the last silence, the two notes are played repeatedly one after the other which raises the tension as the shark gets closer and closer.

You know the worst has happened when we hear the loud, sharp and biting sound of the tuba. The music builds up dramatically to create the feeling of sudden panic. The volume increases, the pitch rises;, the timbre becomes brighter and more and more instruments are added.

Soon after the short notes change to sustained low notes over a very high melody. The brass notes add to the dramatic mood and one can feel the emotional distress of the victim.

The short, repeated notes return but with the woodwinds playing the melody. The music builds up again for another attack. This is followed by a tuba melody and eventually the volume fades away as the shark swims away.

(Click on the title to hear the music. Page will re-direct to YouTube).

Music Appreciation - Fantasia on Greensleeves by Vaughan Williams

Each country of the world has many traditional songs and dances that have been handed down from generation to generation. This type of music is called folk music.

One thing most common with most folk music is that we don’t know who wrote them and they were passed down to us by word of mouth.

Folk music has the following characteristics:
1. They are simple to sing and easy to remember.
2. Most folk songs evolve and change over time.
3. Folk songs were often used for important functions such as ceremonies.
4. Folk songs are simple to perform.
5. Folk songs tell stories, describe events, celebrate different times of the year etc…

Folk songs are grouped according to subject matter or location:
1. Rural folk songs – songs about country life
2. Urban folk songs – songs about city life
3. Regional folk songs – songs about a particular part of a country
4. Sea Shanties – songs of sailors and the sea
5. Carols – Christmas songs
6. Spirituals – religious songs

See if you can think of folk songs according to the following subject matter:

1. Rural
2. Sea Shanties
3. Carols

MUSIC APPRECIATION – Fantasia on Greensleeves by Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in 1872 and died in 1958. He was an English composer who had great interest in English folk music.

Fantasia on Greensleeves was written I 1929. Fantasia is a piece of music which appeals to the imagination, making us think of other worlds and other times.

In this piece the composer means to take us back to the peaceful English countryside of centuries past.

The old-English atmosphere of the music is achieved not only by the use of ancient folk melodies, but also by the particular instruments used. The composer does not use brass and percussion instruments as this would spoil the peaceful mood.

The flutes give a dreamy “rustic” effect like shepherds piping in the fields and the harp gives a light, floating feeling.

(Click on the title to hear the music)

Music Appreciation - In the Hall of the Mountain King by Greig

In the Hall of the Mountain King

This piece of music is from the Peer Gynt Suite written by the Norwegian composer Edvard Greig. He was born in 1843 and died in 1907.

A suite is a large instrumental work made up of several pieces of music grouped together.

The play tells the story of a vain and rather untruthful young man, Peer Gynt, who lives life for fun. He goes in search of his fortune and in doing so enjoys many wild adventures involving him in several lucky escapes. In this section of the suite, Peer wanders high into the mountains of Norway. There he discovers the cave that is home of the Mountain King, the king of the trolls.

Trolls are ugly creatures in Scandinavian folklore who live in mountain caves.

Peer pretends to be a prince, and the king’s daughter, who is very ugly, falls in love with him. She dances for him, and when he laughs at her dance and refuses to marry her, the trolls become angry. Peer has to run for his life, perused by the trolls who yell, “Slay him! Slay him!” He escapes from the cave just as it collapses on the pursuing trolls.

Listen to the music and listen to how the composer depicts the following ideas:
1. The chase
2. An ever increasing number of trolls
3. The collapse of the cave.

The opening melody in this piece is repeated all the way through the music. Notice that this repetition is not boring because the composer varies certain aspects of the music including pitch,
volume, timbre, texture and tempo.

(Click on the title to hear the music)