Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mandolin, Fiddle, BLUEGRASS Banjo, Clawhammer Banjo - Which One is Easier to Learn to Play

English: The Sparrow Quartet in performance. P...
The Sparrow Quartet in performance. The photo was taken May 24, 2008, at The Asheville Music Jamboree in Asheville, North Carolina, United States. Left to right: Béla Fleck (bluegrass banjo), Abigail Washburn (clawhammer banjo), Ben Sollee (cello), and Casey Driessen (5-string fiddle).
(Photo credit: 
If you're interested in learning to play bluegrass or old-time music, you have probably considered the mandolin, the bluegrass 5-string banjo, the open-back clawhammer banjo and the fiddle.

I would love to be able to play the fiddle, but the fiddle is a harder instrument to learn. To be able to join in and play in jam sessions in no time (well, maybe not in no time, but in a reasonable time) you will find the banjo, mandolin much faster to learn. The base fiddle or upright base is another choice to consider and it's easy to learn, but not nearly as much fun as playing the banjo or mandolin.

Between the mandolin, the clawhammer banjo, and bluegrass banjo, they are easiest to learn to play in the order given. That is, the mandolin is the easiest to learn, the clawhammer banjo is next and the bluegrass banjo (with the three-finger picking style) is the hardest of the three. But all three are much easier to learn to play than the fiddle.

The best way to start learning to play one of these instruments is to get your own instrument. You could rent one, but if you rent an instrument, you may find that you are not really committed to learning to play.

You need to start with a good instrument and some of the new low-priced instruments are not your best choice. The good news is that is fairly easy to find good quality used banjos and mandolins on eBay and other online sources. If you live in an area where bluegrass and old-time music is popular, you may be able to get a good deal by checking your local classified ads.

The best way to get a good deal is to be informed. Do your research -- read reviews and check prices and know what banjos and mandolins like what you're looking for are bringing. Check eBay's completed auctions to see what instruments are really selling for -- not just what people are asking for them.

If you have a friend who plays the kind of instrument you're interested in, he or she can be a great asset in helping you find just the right instrument for you. Ask them to look at any instrument you are considering.

By looking at the instrument, realize that looking at the pictures and descriptions on eBay can be as good as (and maybe even better) than actually holding an instrument because on eBay, the seller will point out all of the scratches and defects, whereas when someone hands you an instrument to look at, they are inclined to just hand it to you and comment about how pretty it is and how much they have enjoyed playing it.

The most important part is to do your research, check prices on used instruments and then get your first banjo or mandolin and start learning to play. The banjo or mandolin you choose will probably not be the one you will want to play after you have played for a while, so look to spend a little more than you may have originally thought you would pay. Stay within your budget, but get as good of an instrument as you can afford.

Later you can sell your instrument on eBay or elsewhere and probably get most (if not all) of your money back. In fact, every time I have sold a used instrument I have been able to sell it for more than I paid for it.

How long will it take you to be able to jam with your friends will depend on how much you practice. Practice 15 minutes a day and you will make a lot more progress than trying to play for several hours once a week.

It will take a lifetime to master the mandolin or the banjo, but that is the best part. In my opinion, the banjo and mandolin are two instruments you can learn to play in a reasonable amount of time and then continue learning for years to come.

    By Jerry Minchey
    Jerry Minchey is an engineer, author, researcher and a bit of a musician. He cuts through the hype and gets down to the bare facts to reveal secrets that are easy to understand using non-technical terms. He has written several books and produced DVDs as a result of his research.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, December 15, 2017

FIDDLE - Music-Instruments of the World

Fiddle - Music-Instruments of the World

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How to Play the HARP in All Styles of Music and Expand Your Musical Expertise

English: modern celtic harp Français : harpe c...
Modern Celtic Harp
 (Photo credit: 
There is a certain freedom in allowing oneself to delve into any kind of style of music regardless of your background and choice of instrument. One of my favorite instruments is the harp and its versatility. I play a Woldsong levered harp made by Paul Culotta (RIP, dear one) with 39 strings. It's made of Walnut wood with a Spruce soundboard.

The range of notes on my harp is from a G below great C to the C an octave above High C. This is a wonderful range for a Folk or Celtic Harp. Paul chose to use metal on the bottom 8 strings, which gives a rich, full sound to the bass.

When I say it is a levered harp, that means it has a lever per string close up to the bridge pin which, when engaged, will sharp the string a half step. Most folk or Celtic harps you see in the world have the flip-up lever. My harp has brass blade levers, as opposed to flip-up levers. These are rare levers, however, I prefer them because they are really fast and able to do an excellent pull-off or hammer-on as you would do on a guitar. I use these techniques primarily when I play blues and difficult classical pieces on my harp.

Blues harp, you say? Yes, the original in my opinion.

Have you ever heard a song and just wanted to play it and the sheet music is just not out there? Well, what I do is listen very carefully to the song and find the tonic or 'Do,' if you will. I work out the melody and find the chords to go underneath. If you can hear the distance between notes in the melody (the intervals and how they move), and do the same with the bass, you can usually fill in the rest fairly easily.

When I'm taking a song, for example, 'Wonderful World' and working it out on the harp, I use mainly octaves and 5ths on the bass lines with arpeggio chords, and embellish the melody with inversions on the right hand with rolled or block chords. Many times I will dampen the strings to create a stop-like feel for effect.

When I use the hammer-on or pull-off technique, I will pluck the strings of the harp with my right hand and turn the lever with my left hand, creating a semi-tone movement up and down. With blade levers, there is no stop sound--the lever being disengaged and making a loud click sound on the mechanism. Blade levers turn 45% towards the harpist and touch the string, tightening it just enough for a semi-tone ascension. There is no mechanism attached to the blade.

When you are working out a song, whatever the style, listen carefully to the rhythms, and figure out what works with your harp playing. In Reggae, you will use a lot of dampening stops with back-beat rhythms, and the same goes with blues and rock songs. In some songs, your bass lines will be more complex. In Celtic and Traditional music, you will use more of a light touch on the harp strings, perhaps with a bit more speed and lilt of rhythm. You will find more grace notes, trills, and rolling, continuous bass lines in the Celtic and Irish harp music.

In Classical music, you will challenge your scale skills and your modulation skills with a levered harp. I love playing Fur Elise on my Celtic harp and it's definitely not a harp song. I've worked out all of the sections very carefully. When using a levered harp, you have to choose the voicing of your chords with care because you are flipping your levers in order to modulate into the next key or passage.

I encourage you to expand your horizons of thought with the harp and how it can be played. If you play the harp, try something new! If you don't, try listening to eclectic versions of songs played on the harp. There is a lifetime of music from wonderful harpists out there. Go and enjoy yourself!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Joy Of PIANO Improvisation

Jesus "Chuchito" Valdes - Detroit Jazz Festival 2009
Photo  by Brian Callahan ( 
If you have never experienced the fun and joy of improvising on the piano, then you are missing out on a great experience. Imagine an artist who does not know how to draw or paint without tracing or copying another’s work.

That is unheard of. Yet, many piano players lack the ability to improvise on the piano! This is caused by years of rigid piano lesson/structure and a lack of proper guidance.

Many piano players rely on sheet music to be able to play, which would be like an artist only copying another’s artwork and never creating something unique. Improvisation is a fun process. It enables the pianist to bring out the latent potential of creativity and expression inside them.

One thing that will help any piano player to improve on the art of improvisation is to allow unstructured creative time during one's piano practice hours.

Time to just sit down and make up music on the piano is crucial. No agenda, no structure, no goals to accomplish. This process is extremely important in the world of piano playing.

In order to allow the inner expression to come out, one needs to let it reveal itself. A good example of this is how young children play the piano. If you can observe a child learning the piano do so. Very often, young children are able to reach a creative and fun play "scheme" without any guidance at all. Similarly, any piano player should allow 15-30 minutes of "free play" without worrying about hitting the wrong notes.

Traditional piano lessons emphasize the ability to read notes. Reading ability is no doubt one of the most important skills any piano player can possess. This emphasis, however, has created some "lopsided" players who can only play piano by reading. Eventually, this type of player will lose their interest and passion for music.

Many young children drop out of piano lessons as a result of struggling with music reading. Children who are younger than 5 or 6 are discouraged from traditional piano lessons due to the fact that they cannot yet read musical notes properly.

Music is commonly referred to as a "language." There are many ways of learning a language. Young children master the language skill by frequently talking and interacting with their peers and caretakers as well as imitating other people. The ability to read comes a little later in their life. A similar approach needs to be taken to foster the love of piano music among young children. Sometimes by just allowing young children to make up music on the piano without placing emphasis on playing the correct notes can be just as important.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Its all about MUSIC

"Music is either good or bad, and it's got to be learned. You got to have balance." 
Louis Armstrong

Music Instruments Music instruments are used to generate music and is being controlled by a musician so as to get desired sound effects. The origin of music instruments is as old as music itself when traditional musical instruments were used. These instruments are categorized as aerophones (brasses and woodwind), chordophones (strings), idiophones and membranophones.

Stringed instruments such as violin, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, harp, banjo, cello etc produce sound when a string is plucked. Brasses and woodwind produce sound when air enters and vibrates the instrument. Flute, saxophone, piccolo, mouth organ, bassoon are a few examples of wind instruments. Other musical instruments comprise of electronic and keyboard instruments.

Music Instrument stores You can get any of the musical instruments through directly from the craftsman who has designed it or dealers and other superstores. You can get any type of the musical instrument you want as per the brand, price or model. These superstores also provide DJ equipment, live recording instruments and many other accessories such as guitar amps, microphone accessories, racks and strap locks etc. There are many discount musical instrument shops that provide music instruments at much-discounted rates and offers.

Music Instrument Dealers Dealers are the people who act as a middleman in between the manufacturer and customers. They could be wholesalers, retailers and sometimes even the manufacturers themselves. They sell different musical instruments as well as parts and accessories associated with different musical instruments. Many of them have even launched their websites and are selling their products through the internet. They also offer services such as repairs, shipping of the product and free services. A dealer also helps you in understanding the features of any of the music instrument and guides you through the use of different music players.