Friday, March 23, 2018


Marching band parading in the streets of Vienn...
A marching band parading in the streets of Vienna, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marching bands have been around for hundreds of years, and in the UK they were usually connected to the Military. Troops would be led into battle by drummers, buglers or pipers, and these instruments were used to give signals for retreating, etc. Indeed, even during WWII platoons of fighting troops were led off the landing craft and up the beaches of France by a piper. Military bands still have an important role in today's armed forces, but mainly for ceremonial purposes, as often seen on Beating Retreat, Trooping the Colour or the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Various styles of marching bands are now in existence. In the UK we tend to have traditional marching bands, consisting of snare drums (with either bottom snares or both top and bottom snares such as the Premier 1049-S), bass drum, tenor drums, cymbals and then tuned instruments such as bell lyres, bugles, valve trumpets and other brass and woodwind. Such bands are often used by organizations including the scouts, air training corps, sea cadet corps etc and are a familiar sight at parades and festivals in British towns.

Another big part of marching music comes from Pipebands, which of course originated in Scotland but are now popular all over the world with many top bands coming from Canada and the USA. Whilst the melodies are played by bagpipes, the drum corps has a very important role to play, often with 6 or more snare drummers playing extremely complex rudimental phrases on High Tension snare drums (such as the Pearl FFXP or Premier HTS800). These drums have kevlar drumheads tuned up to an incredibly high pitch, so the drums have to be extremely strong to withstand the huge forces put upon them.These drums also have snare wires under both the top and bottom heads, giving a very crisp and clean tone which will pick up even the softest of grace notes. A bass drum of around 28" is used to keep the pulse of the band, whilst tenor drums add intricate mid-range tones, often using 3 or more tenor drums of different sizes and pitches. Some tenor players such as Tyler Fry have taken tenor drumming to a whole new level.

A huge growth area in the world marching scene comes from the American style Drum Corps or showbands.The drum corps usually have not only snare drums and a selection of various sized bass drums, but also multi - tenors/quads, cymbals, and a pit at the front featuring a range of tuned percussion such as marimbas, xylophones, bells etc. The rest of the band is made up of brass players. These bands tend to play some extremely complex musical arrangements and are a big part of the music education system in the USA.

Marching snare drums have changed dramatically over the last 100 years or so, from crude drums with rope tuned calf heads to today's high tension models made from the finest birch, maple, or even carbon fiber, with kevlar or mylar drumheads and hardware manufactured from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum.

The British Military Bands of HM Forces still have huge popularity both at home and abroad. Tourists in London will often see the bearskins and red tunics of the bands of the Guards divisions on duty around Buckingham Palace, whilst the Drummers of the Royal Marines continue to wow audiences worldwide with their incredible skills and drumming displays. The musicians of Her Majestys bands tend to be extremely talented and versatile players capable of performing many different styles of music... indeed as an example, a member of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force may find themselves performing with a full military band one day, a fanfare team the next day, and swinging with the RAF Squadronaires dance band in the evening! Despite their musical skills, however, these men and women are soldiers first and undergo the same military training as everyone else.

For drummers looking to start playing with a marching band, there are a few avenues... Youths can apply to their local Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Boys brigade or Sea Cadet band who will provide an instrument and tuition, with the possibility of performing too many varied audiences. For adults, most towns have either a pipe band or drum corps, and they will always welcome new members. Most Bands have a website, and these can be found under headings such as British Youth Band Association (BYBA) and Traditional Youth Marching Band Association (TYMBA) or for pipe bands the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).

Thursday, March 22, 2018

COUNTRY GUITAR Lesson, Blues Guitar Riffs, Metal guitar and the BEATLES Effect

English: Photograph of The Beatles as they arr...
Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in New York City in 1964  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Country Guitar Lesson, Blues Guitar Riff´s, Metal Guitar and the Beatles effect; what has the Beatles got to do with it? I hear you say.

Well firstly the Beatles incorporated and used all the different styles in their music, and in their songs, but not only that, they also changed what was acceptable in music and what was not acceptable.

Paul McCartney´s father was a concert pianist, and when Paul was sat at the piano composing a song, his father would come into the room and say to him “Paul, you can’t do that, it´s against the rules of music”, and Paul would say in return “well I don´t care it sounds good to me”, so he did it anyway.

A lot of what the Beatles did at the time was considered unacceptable by the musical academic´s, but it was obviously acceptable to the record-buying public. It was not unusual for the Beatles to have more than one record in the top ten in England at the time, and not only that but they often occupied number 1 and number 2 positions as well.

Paul and John were real innovators of music; they used unusual key changes together with unusual chords and complex chord changes, as well as total shifts in tempo, and sometimes two songs were mixed together, for example, “A Day In The Life” was two totally different songs, one written by Paul and the other one written by John, but it worked, it has to be heard to be believed.

In the song Hello Goodbye, the ending was achieved by playing the song backward which again works. They introduced guitar feedback although it was by total accident, as George Harrison had left his guitar leaning against his amplifier whilst recording I Feel Fine, they left it on the record as they felt it was unusual and they liked the effect it had. Also in I Feel Fine was a great guitar riff that George played throughout the song which was again unusual.

Although Paul and John overshadowed George and Ringo, this was not intentional; in fact George was a good songwriter in his own right, just think of songs like Something (in the way she moves) and Here Comes The Sun, and quite a few other songs including While My Guitar Gently Weeps, on which he had his friend Eric Clapton play lead guitar.

George Harrison was also a perfectionist; he would practice his guitar parts until his fingers bled on occasions. It was also George Harrison that inspired me and many others to learn guitar, and play it in his style of using mainly bar chords.

The Beatles also inspired many other bands and musicians around the world, even T.V. shows were inspired by the Beatles, think of the Monkeys who show ran for quite some time. The Beatles were also the first ever British artists to make it big in America, and no other British artist has topped that to this day.

Yes, the Beatles were controversial at the time, particularly when John Lennon commented that they were better known than Jesus Christ, which was wildly misinterpreted, and it led to people burning their Beatles records and memorabilia in the streets.

In my opinion, the Beatles were a landmark in music, they changed what was acceptable and what was not, and they changed the way that country guitar lessons are now being taught as well as blues guitar riffs, and they led the way forward in metal guitar music.

No other band or artist has been able to influence music, to the degree that the Beatles had, in particular, guitar music, and in the way, that guitar playing is being taught now. So hopefully you can see what I mean by the Beatles effect!

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, and indeed you may even want to comment on it, as I know that some people may feel strongly about the Beatles both, in a good way and sometimes in a not so good way; however I will welcome all comments, and also say that the things written here are only my opinion.

Keep on playing,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

MUSICAL TOYS For Pure Fun And Learning

English: A boy with a toy trumpet in front of ...

A boy with a toy trumpet in front of a street band (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Toys are a kid's friend, in so many ways. Apart from the fun and amusement it offers, they hold a special place in every child's memory about their childhood. From dolls to Robots, the variety of toys now available is rapidly increasing. The variety of toys and playthings are now limited only by the creativity of manufacturers and the demand of the consumers.

Musical toys have become popular for its known contribution to the child's social and personal development. Music has its impact on a child even during the infancy stage. Musical toys are a common sight at playschools, learning centers, schools, and homes too. Since at early age sound plays an important role to teach young kids motor skills, alphabets, numbers and other basic concepts, various toys like musical books and Rhymes DVD etc are used. Some of the common musical toys for toddlers include - drum sets, a toy piano, sing-along song CDs, toy trumpet, mini guitar, handbells, Xylophones and interactive musical alphabets and number games.

Toys like vehicles and musical instruments find there a way in children's collection throughout their childhood. From being a toddler to a teenager, one can find all kinds of musical toys and gadgets in a typical toy collection of any child. One of the characteristics of the musical toys that have made them popular with parents as well is that any given musical toy can be used for fun and amusement and can be used for adapted play and be learning too. Even a simple Rhythm set can be used to teach different concepts like numbers, colors, and shapes by assigning a different sound to a different number, color or a shape. A lot of creative adaptations are possible with musical toys and they are best options to help children learn with fun and in an informal way.

Elementary education has found a friend in musical toys. If you are a parent or involved in early childhood education you would know what we are talking about here. Music knows no boundaries and it easily transcends every age and culture too. Creative musical books are considered as multi-purpose learning teaching musical resource for the entire early education environment. A lot of music books come with split activities to suit different ages including songs and activities for younger babies, older babies, and toddlers. A little beyond elementary education musical instrument toys for children beyond 3 are an excellent source to teach children reading, writing and math. With the advent of teaching-learning software for various subjects like language, math, and science, the difficult concepts are broken down into easily understandable interactive units.

Musical toys have gradually found its way into sophisticated computer games and specific skill learning software where the audio-visual features employ concepts like artificial intelligence. The bottom line is music is something that is relevant for all ages and is widely appreciated by children of all ages. Hence they have gained popularity among parents and other stakeholders in the field of training and education.

    Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, stuffed animals, and dolls.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Understanding Tone Production on the FLUTE in Easy Words

Photo  by angelaathomas 
The flute is one of the most difficult instruments on which to produce a good tone. This is because the flute is the only instrument that relies solely on the performer's ability to direct his or her air column accurately and simultaneously continue to create space in his or her body for the sound to resonate. 

The other wind instruments have mouthpieces or reeds to guide their air, and the string family has a bow and resonating box built into the instrument that assists tone production. Understanding 3 basic principles will help beginning and intermediate flute players to both improve their tone on the instrument and make the good tone a consistent part of their playing.

The first principle of good tone is to get as much of your bottom lip on the lip plate as possible. Draw the corners of your lips forward so that they are hugging the lip plate. Do NOT pull them back in a smiling position. Bringing the corners of your lips forward creates more space in your mouth, therefore contributing to the size of your "resonating box". As a flute player, your resonating box consists of the sinus cavity, the space in your mouth and throat, and the chest cavity. This simple act also allows you to engage all of the muscles around your mouth area, which will give you more strength and flexibility when you attempt to change octave.

The second principle of good tone is to understand register production. The flute is capable of playing comfortably in 3 registers - low, middle, and high. It is the direction of your air column (the stream of air you are blowing over the tone hole) that will produce the register you are seeking to play. This should be the primary way you change your register. If you blow your air down, or more directly into the tone hole, you will produce the low register. 

The middle register is produced by blowing your air straight out across the tone hole (a parallel line from the hole you are making with your lips), and the high register is produced by directing your air column up like you are trying to blow a bee off of your nose. Other factors will contribute to the production of the different registers, but they should not be your primary focus because you will find that they all have their primary functions. For example, if you increase the size of the hole you are making with your lips, you will find the low register, but you will have also affected the color and pitch of your tone.

The third principle of good tone is to play with good, relaxed posture. Remember, the flute requires the performer's body to be its resonating box. Therefore, a flutist must sit up straight in his or her chair, or stand tall, when playing. Also, the flute requires the left arm of the player to reach across his or her body. A flutist must always remember to keep his or her shoulders square so that this arm does not decrease the size of the box around the lungs. The performer should attempt to play with as little tension in his or her muscles as possible so that tightened muscles do not inhibit the ability of the body to vibrate.

Of course, all of these techniques take practice and time to master, but with careful attention, determination, and practice, every flutist can play with the beautiful tone he or she desires.

Monday, March 19, 2018

AEROSMITH Just Keeps On Rockin'

Aerosmith at their Guitar Hero Press Release
Photo  by ChrisGampat 
For over three decades, Aerosmith has been one of rock's most revered and popular bands, crafting classic songs full of raw guitar runs and intensely energetic vocals. The band first reached fame in the 1970's with a string of hits including "Dream On," "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way." During this period, Aerosmith's music defied easy categorization, falling somewhere between hard rock/blues and early punk, with occasional power ballads here and there. The band enjoyed major popularity throughout the 1970's, but a split from 1979-84, and the serious substance abuse and drug addictions that contributed to their decline, would nearly relegate them to the annals of history. However, in 1984, Aerosmith was born again. They went on to enjoy the resurgence in popularity that has made them one of the top-selling and most popular rock bands in the world today.

Throughout their rough and rocky history, Aerosmith defied failure and even defied mediocrity in a fast-paced rock-and-roll world abundant in tragedy and also-rans. Aerosmith signed with Columbia in 1972 and debuted their first album simply titled Aerosmith, which included a hit single, "Dream On". After constant touring, the band released Get Your Wings in 1974, which did quite well on the charts, but it was Toys in the Attic in 1975 that established Aerosmith as international superstars. Originally pegged as Rolling Stones clones, Toys in the Attic showed that Aerosmith was a unique and original talent in their own right. Part heavy metal, part glam rock, and part punk, Toys in the Attic was an immense success, starting with the single "Sweet Emotion", then a successful re-release of "Dream On", and a new song from the album, "Walk This Way". Both of the band's previous albums re-charted as a result. Aerosmith's next album, Rocks, went platinum swiftly and featured two hits, "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child".

Their next album, Draw the Line, was not nearly as successful, though the title track proved to be a minor hit. While continuing to tour and record into the late 1970's, Aerosmith acted in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, covering the Beatles hit "Come Together." As their popularity waned and drug abuse began affecting their output, Joe Perry left the band in 1979 during the recording of their sixth studio album Night in the Ruts and formed The Joe Perry Project. Perry's role in Aerosmith was initially taken by longtime friend and songwriter Richie Supa and then later by guitarist Jimmy Crespo who recorded the remainder of the album.

Aerosmith released its mammoth-selling Greatest Hits album in 1980, and in 1981 the band suffered another loss with the departure of Brad Whitford. Rick Dufay replaced Whitford and the band recorded their seventh album, Rock in a Hard Place. The album was considered a relative failure. The tour that followed this release is notable for Steven Tyler's collapse onstage during a 1983 performance.

On Valentine's Day 1984, Perry and Whitford went to see Aerosmith play. They officially rejoined the ranks of Aerosmith once more in April of that year. Steven Tyler recalls, "You should have felt the buzz the moment all five of us got together in the same room for the first time again. We all started laughing - it was like the five years had never passed. We knew we'd made the right move."

Aerosmith embarked on a lucrative reunion tour entitled "Back in the Saddle", which produced the live album Classics Live II. Their problems were still not behind them when the group signed with Geffen Records and began working on a comeback.

1985 saw the release of Done with Mirrors, their first studio album since the highly publicized reunion. It fared relatively well commercially, but it did not produce a hit single or generate much hope for their comeback. By the time the record was released, Tyler and Perry had exited drug rehabilitation. The group appeared on Run D.M.C.'s incredibly successful cover of "Walk This Way", blending rock and roll and hip-hop and successfully beginning Aerosmith's comeback. The group's next release was Permanent Vacation (1987), which included the hits "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Rag Doll", and "Angel". Their next album, Pump, was received even better; Pump featured four Top Ten singles: "Janie's Got a Gun", "What It Takes", "Love in an Elevator", and "The Other Side". Aerosmith was definitely in the midst of a major resurgence.

Despite significant shifts in mainstream music at the beginning of the 1990's, the band's 1993 follow-up to Pump, Get a Grip, was just as successful commercially. Though many critics were unimpressed by the focus on power-ballads in promoting the album, three songs ("Cryin' ", "Crazy" and "Amazing") proved to be huge successes on radio and MTV.  The music videos featured then fresh up-and-coming actress Alicia Silverstone; her provocative performances earned her the title of "the Aerosmith chick" for half a decade. Steven Tyler's daughter, Liv Tyler, was also featured in the "Crazy" video. Aerosmith signed with Columbia Records again in the early 1990's, but they had to complete two contractual albums for Geffen before recording for the new label.

The next album, Nine Lives, was plagued with personal problems, including the firing of manager Tim Collins. Reviews were generally mixed, and Nine Lives initially fell on charts, although it had a long chart life and sold double platinum in the US alone. It was followed by a series of late '90's releases, mostly earlier material that was live or retrospective. The albums sold relatively well, but also marked the second decline in popularity and critical respect for the band.

Aerosmith's biggest hit of the '90's, and its only #1 single to date was the love theme from the film Armageddon, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". This song was conceived by Joe Perry and Diane Warren, although Warren alone received songwriting credit. Steven Tyler's daughter Liv was featured in the movie. In 1999, they were in the Disney-MGM Studios ride (and later in the Walt Disney Studios Park ride), Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.  Aerosmith provided the soundtrack and theme for the ride, which is based on their recording session and following the concert.

The band started its next decade with the release in 2001 of Just Push Play, which charted well. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Later that year, the band appeared as part of the United We Stand concert in Washington D.C. for 9/11 victims and their families. Stubbornly, the band flew back to Indianapolis for a show the same night, refusing to interrupt their Just Push Play tour schedule.

In 2002, Aerosmith released the 2-disc compilation O Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits and embarked on the Girls of Summer tour with opening acts Kid Rock and Run-DMC. In 2003, Aerosmith co-headlined with Kiss on the Rocksimus Maximus tour. Their long-promised blues album, Honkin' on Bobo, was released in 2004. The Album continues to be a success, helping to inspire the resurgence of blues and roots music across the US and Europe. A live DVD, You Gotta Move, followed it in December 2004. The band also lent its well-known "Dream On" to an advertising campaign for Buick in 2004, targeting their audience, which is now composed largely of people who were teenagers when the song first charted.

In 2005, guitarist Joe Perry released his eponymous solo album. Many claims that it is in many ways truer to the Aerosmith of the '70's than any of their recent output. This is mostly due to its raw energy and lack of song doctoring. In October 2005, Aerosmith released a CD/DVD named Rockin' the Joint. The band hit the road for the Rockin' The Joint tour on October 30th with Lenny Kravitz and is still touring.

They expect to be on the road until some time around Spring 2006. Rumor has it that they will begin work on a new album at that time. It was announced in January that the band will embark on a 5-week tour with Cheap Trick in the spring. Rumors of a tour started a week before the announcement when Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander joined the band onstage for "Come Together" during a concert in Tampa, Florida. Early reports also indicate that the band plans to resume touring in the fall of 2006, most likely in support of the new album. According to insiders, an upcoming tour may see them alongside Motley Crue.

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