Showing posts with label Keyboard Instruments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keyboard Instruments. Show all posts

Monday, April 30, 2018

History and Role of the piano in the Modern World

The modern piano developed its form from two keyboard instruments, the clavichord and the harpsichord, which originated from early in music history. These keyboard instruments operate on the principle of direct connection between the applied force or pressure of the player on the keys, and the volume of sound. Meaning, the harder the pressure or force the player applies on the keys, the louder the sound of the instrument, the lighter the touch, the softer the sound.

Earlier musicians, however, encountered a problem with the clavichord and harpsichord: the sound was relatively diminutive as compared to how they would have wanted it to be, considering the fact that keyboard instruments were often played in large rooms (chambers), cathedrals and churches.

Around the year 1700, Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) created the new keyboard instrument and coined its name from the fact that it could both play "piano" (soft) and "forte" (loud), addressing the problem of the old keyboard instruments. Thus, the pianoforte, or what we call shortly now as the piano.

Aside from the direct connection between the fingers on the keys and the sound, the piano also has two different pedals which are the “sustain” or damper pedal and the “soft” pedal. The sustain pedal allows the pianist to hold the tone or sound even after releasing the key. The soft pedal veils or muffles the sound. There is also a third pedal called the “sostenuto” pedal. However, not all pianos have this.

Other kinds of keyboard instruments include the pipe organ which was most prominent from 1600-1750 when it was commonly used for church music and considered then as the "king of instruments". The accordion is also another kind of keyboard instrument, as well as the modern organ and electric keyboard.

The role of the piano in the modern world is very versatile. The piano can cover a wide range of musical types from classical to pop to jazz. It can cater to a wide variety of audiences from music connoisseurs in concerts or artists in theatres, to children and pupils in pre-schools. Very noticeably too, piano students can very well play other instruments as well, even without its formal training.

The piano is also a very relevant tool in the culture of society. Since the turn of the 20th century, many households have been able to acquire their very own piano. From this assessment, we can infer that modern society believes in the benefits of studying music and piano in particular.

In almost every gathering (social, religious and even political), one cannot undermine the important role of music. It expresses ideals. It bonds the youth. It provides for a positive, productive & creative channeling for this generation's aggression and collective angst.

The importance of music on the development of a person, and eventually, of society cannot be understated. Perhaps its time to rethink how this important element of cultural and social development in our society has been treated.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

3 Steps to PLAYING Comfortably for a Crowd

Batsheva Dance Company theater crowd in Tel Av...
Batsheva Dance Company theatre crowd in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most people are not comfortable performing in front people. When I say of performing, such as an instrument, or singing, or acting, I mean more than just knowing how to do well at your chosen craft, I mean doing it well and in front of people. It’s the “in front of people” part that gets us every time. How many of us sing like a bird in the shower but then when people are watching we can’t carry a note. Here are three steps to start you on the road to comfort (never complete) when called on to shine.

1. Don’t neglect to practice. Whether you sing or play an instrument practice is a key to being relaxed. The more familiar you are with what you are performing, the less anxiety you will have about messing up.

2. Don’t back up. Piano teaches pass this on all the time. If you mess up in the middle, or any place in your piece, don’t back up and repeat the offending passage. Keep going. Chances are your audience didn’t even notice.

3. Try not to be critical of your technical skill. Focus more on your overall performance. How does it sound as a whole? If you’re a pianist and you worry during your piece about your fingering then you’re ignoring the song and how it sounds. Worry about technicalities when you practice. Which should be often.

With time playing in front of and for other people will come much easier. You'll be a natural. So use every opportunity to show your stuff!

Friday, April 13, 2018

7 Tips for Effective MUSICAL PRACTICE

English: A piano player who lives only for it....
A piano player who lives only for it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The quality of your practice is much more important than the quantity. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is only true if the practice itself is perfect. Here are 7 tips to help make your practice more effective and efficient. 

Practice motions slowly 

The muscular memory of our bodies allows us to physically carry out patterns of motion with little or no conscious involvement. Examples of muscular memory include walking, riding a bicycle, typing, and of course playing a musical instrument. 

In order to develop this memory, the muscles require training in the form of repeated conscious guidance from the mind. First, the mind must learn the pattern. Then the mind must "teach" the pattern to the muscles. 

The mind initially must control all the motions of the muscles. The more controlled and precise the motions, the more quickly the muscles will develop muscle memory. 

Slow practice also allows the mind to teach "antagonistic muscles" to relax. Antagonistic muscles are those that move in opposite directions. By relaxing antagonistic muscles you can reduce tension and facilitate faster and easier performance and avoid potential injury. 

Practice in small cells 

A "practice cell" is simply a finite series of motions. Musical cells can correspond to anything from a few notes to an entire work. When practicing, it is important to practice small cells of just a few notes. Practicing small cells limits the amount of information the muscles have to learn at one time. It also facilitates the mind's focus and concentration. 

Link the end of one cell to the beginning of the next 

To help the muscles develop a sense of continuum throughout the piece of music, the last motion in a cell should be the first motion of the following cell. 

Practice each cell in bursts 

Once the muscles have learned a pattern, they will be capable of executing it without conscious control. Initiate the pattern through a conscious command and allow the muscles to execute it in a burst. 

Don't practice mistakes 

For every repetition required to learn a pattern of motion, it takes 7 times the number of repetitions to change the pattern. If in the course of your practice you make an error, stop. Review in your mind the pattern. And further, reduce the speed of your motions. 

Pause between repetitions 

When dealing with repetitive activities, the mind is better able to focus when the repetitions are broken up by short pauses. After two or three repetitions, pause for about 30 seconds to regain focus. 

Take frequent breaks and don't "over-practice" 

B.F. Skinner and other experts have found that the mind's ability to learn drops significantly after prolonged intense concentration. Research shows that studying too long (i.e. more than four hours) can deplete chemicals in the brain necessary for learning. Therefore, it is best to take frequent breaks (a 5-minute break about every 20-25 minutes) and practice no more than 4 hours consecutively. 

By applying these techniques, you can dramatically improve the quality of your practice. You'll be able to use your time more efficiently and increase the effectiveness of your practice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Before Fingering, Learn the Notes on the PIANO First

position of C on a keyboard
The position of C on a keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once you have recognized your future in front of the piano, it can be a start. Eventually, it becomes more easy and fun. You can play almost all of the songs written in songbooks fluently. You can even write your own composition.

Now that you have established that energy in you, there’s still something that lacks. Why, do you think it’s enough to have the spirit without even knowing the chords? If you have mastered and identified the basic and major chords, things would be more favorable.

Alright, here are some bits on learning the notes on the piano. After these simple steps, you’ll have a brief background on fingering.

Lesson # 1

There are 88 keys comprising of 12 notes (white and black keys included). These basic notes are the seven basic letters namely A-note, B-note, C-note, D-note, E-note, F-note and the G-note. The first key colored in white is the C-note. You have to remember that the C-note is always the key that is connected in front of two black keys. While the F-note is the key that stands in front of three black keys compacted together. From the first C-note to the next C-note is called Octave.

Lesson # 2

Black notes represent sharps and flats. But they are used in a different way that would depend on which side you’re going to start. A (#) that symbolizes a sharp is the black key right after the white key. While a (b) is known as the flat. You can recognize this by spotting the first black note indicated on the keyboard. With these definitions, you can conclude that a Db is also a C#. Easy, right? No need to fuss about it. Familiarize these notes and master it.

Lesson # 3

The lesson doesn’t stop there. You have to realize that the C key right in the middle of the keyboard is also known as the middle C. You can easily spot this because it’s usually right below the piano’s name. The middle C can function as a wall that separates the right to the left. This means that those situated at the right part of the middle C is for the right hand and fingers to play. That goes with the left hand and keys.

Down with the fingering techniques. Once you have memorized and familiarized yourself with the notes, it’s time to let your fingers do want they meant to do. Teach those fingers to act the way a pianist should.

Fingering is simple for as long as you make all those fingers work. After learning the notes, stare at your keyboard and put the necessary fingers on the important keys. To do this task, find the middle C. This would be your basis to find all other keys like D, E, F, and so on. Remember, major keys are the white keys.

You’ll notice that the piano’s keyboard is number from 1-5. This will enable you to trace where to put your fingers. 1 is equivalent to the thumb. 2 is your index finger. 3 is for the middle finger. 4 is the ring finger. Lastly, 5 is the pinkie. As starters, you must put your thumb corresponding to the C-note. Locating the other keys would be easier if you first find the middle C.

Run your fingers through these notes. Make sure that every key corresponds to a different finger. Try it in a slow then a moderate aiming for a faster pace.

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.

Friday, November 24, 2017

GRAND PIANO - Music-Instruments of the World

Grand Piano - Music-Instruments of the World

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The History of the PIANO

Photo  by ercwttmn 
Many people do not realize that the PIANO is a stringed instrument. Because the strings are hidden away inside of the piano, and out of sight, it is not generally realized that strings are used to create the sounds of the piano. Because of its stringed quality, the forerunners to the piano include such instruments as the dulcimer (which was played by hitting stretched strings of different lengths with a hammer). But all of it began in the annals of prehistory when humans noticed that a stretched animal-gut string created different sounds depending on length and tautness.

Keyed instruments that resembled some sort of a keyboard first appeared in the middle of the 12th Century. It was called the monochord. Eventually, enough keyed strings developed into the clavichord. This instrument was unique, in that having keyed strings better facilitated the ability to strike more than one string at a time. This meant that it was possible to produce two sounds, or notes, at once. It until a couple of centuries later, in the 14th Century, that metal wires was used in place of strings for many instruments, including the keyboard instruments.

The harpsichord came into being before the piano did (sometime in the 14th Century). It was based more on the old instrument called the psaltery. A psaltery was a simple instrument where the strings were placed in a box and then plucked with the finger, or with an instrument called plectra. When the keys of a harpsichord were struck, plectra pulled on the sting, plucking it. However, the harpsichord was incapable of creating changes in volume.

It is unclear exactly when a truly hammered keyboard instrument appeared. There are letters indicating that an instrument that could play both loud and soft was available in 1598, but historians are unsure as to whether this was a hammered piano or a cleverly rigged harpsichord. In any case, most historians agree that what can actually be called the "pianoforte" did not make an appearance until 1709. This instrument was capable of a wide range of artistic expression.

The name piano is a derivative of the term pianoforte. "Piano" is a term that means "soft," and "forte" is one that means "loud" or "strong." The name given the piano originally is quite descriptive. It basically means "soft-loud" and describes the feat of being able to play a keyboard instrument with varying degrees of volume. Originally, there was little interest in the pianoforte. However, as an article written about the new keyboard invention was translated into different languages made its way across the European continent, makers of clavichords and harpsichords began also to make pianos.

As the piano evolved, it began to take different forms, including upright grand (1739), upright (1800), and different styles of grands and uprights, including those that expanded to include more octaves. While the keyboard arrangement has not changed much since the 14th Century, keyboard instruments have expanded to include more than one sounding board and several octaves.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Well-Tempered Clavier by J S BACH

Well-Tempered Clavier MuseScore edition
Photo  by MuseScore 
The Well-Tempered Clavier is generally referred to as the pianists' "Old Testament of Western music", also in Barenboim's fingers, it definitely has an "Old World" condition to it. Seen in its entirety, the performance brings to mind Edwin Fischer's recording from the thirties: great pianism, frequently elegant playing, notably by means of the liberal use of the pedals.

This is, needless to say, planets independent of the incisive, razor-sharp resolution that Glenn Gould, as well as Mehmet Okonsar, brought to these works. As opposed to concentrating on offering the spectacular complexity as well as the polyphonic aspect of those compositions, Barenboim is without a doubt more happy putting together an abundant harmonic texture to each piece, magnificently experienced on a contemporary Steinway.

I'm a tremendous fan of Bach. He was simply a fabulous genius and far in advance of his time period and the Well-Tempered Clavier is just mind-blowing. As a recreational piano player, I discover his music a genuine treasure. The complexity and beauty of his music continue to be so incredibly inspiring.

There are considerable records to support Bach's claim that he employed the Well-Tempered Clavier as part of his lessons, nevertheless, the work accomplishes so many purposes that it must be an easy task to overlook its part as a teaching tool. Obviously, the most crucial feature of the Well-Tempered Clavier is that its full of sublime music from cover to cover.

The fact that it illustrates Werckmeister's "well-tuned" technique pertaining to keyboard instruments seems incidental to us all right now, however, it was outstanding in Bach's day. We still wonder at the genius which expended each prelude and fugue using a unique musical style, drawing on a multitude of compositional processes to shed light on his students. The idea sounds dry, having a piece in every key in ascending arrangement from C major, however, the result could not end up being closer to excellence.

Fugues are usually said to be in a number of voices or parts (the term voices may be used whether or not the fugue has not been written with regard to singers), which is, self-sufficient melodic lines. Fugues are generally in from three to five parts, however, eight and even ten parts are achievable in large choral or orchestral fugues. Fugues in fewer than 3 parts tend to be rare since with 2 parts the actual subject is only able to jump back and forth between the upper and lower part. The best-known illustration of a two-voice work is certainly the E minor fugue out of Book 1.

These forty-eight preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys have got very little related to public virtuosos, stages or even audiences. Like a lot of Bach's work -- especially the music written, or at least put together when it comes to the ending of his existence -- the ''Well-Tempered'' makes statements, advances concepts, draws together bodies of expertise. Moreover, its lessons happen to be learned, and its particular messages attained, in the home.

The Bach preludes and fugues are actually, to utilize Schumann's well-known explanation, the keyboard player's "everyday bread." All musicians exercise however rarely perform them. Wrapping one's ears and fingers around these pieces amount to both an undergraduate and a postgraduate training: what things to make visible, what you should render as background, how to make the load of the finger interact to the control from the ear and so forth.

My commitment to the original issue of Gould's performance of the Well-Tempered Clavier was sizable however by the time Okonsar's recording emerged it had wanted to some degree.

There was (and still is) no doubt Gould's awesome proficiency to managing, varying as well as diverse touch in clarifying textures through 'orchestration', however Okonsar's reading of the work and the eschewing all forms of obvious pianism remained (and remains) a new testimony to his faithfulness to representing this kind of music, as he observed it, devoid of seeking back to the harpsichord or forward to the nineteenth-century piano.

As numerous reviewers at that time excited, Gould's was an impressive success, yet the cautiously calculated however communicative as well as packed with feelings playing of Okonsar, along with some idiosyncrasies added up to an analytical as well as a human performance of it.

The actual doubts began to find their way in, and retrospectively, with Prelude I of Book 1: the varying articulation of the last few notes of each group speaks of Gould as well as Okonsar, but what does it say of Bach? Echo answered as it did to other, subsequent concerns.

The actual harpsichord cannot provide more weight to any one line, nor is there any proof that players of Bach's period employed severe variations of articulation pertaining to such a function, notably in the ready-balanced texture and consistency of a fugue; such 'painting by way of numbers' is an anachronistic imposition.

Amongst the currently available piano versions of the 48 Schiff's on Decca remains, in my opinion, the most effective and the freest from excess; its pluses and minuses were broadly mentioned. Keith Jarrett's recording (ECM/New Note) is all that particular may well reasonably desire. That both occupy simply three discs may encourage a few readers to purchase Gould's and/or Okonsar's sets, both amaze as well as irritates by turns, and also over which controversy will certainly likely carry on for a long period in the future.

    Although I am a literary person and a novel editor classical music is always there when I work for publishers. As a side effect, I started to provide some reviews and articles on a couple of classical music papers as well. My favorite Bach interpreters are Glenn Gould and Mehmet Okonsar.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

HARPSICHORD - Music-Instruments of the World


Monday, July 24, 2017

The Pucky Sounds of the Classical HARPSICHORD

The harpsichord is related to the organ and the piano, to mention a couple that has been created with the same idea of the harpsichord. The harpsichord was developed around the same time that the clavichord came around, which was sometime during the 16th century. It is a stringed instrument that is played by pressing the keys. When each key is pressed, it strikes the string and this is what causes the string to vibrate in order to make a sound.

Harpsichord, angle view
Harpsichord- Photo   by     Princess Ruto
For a while, the harpsichord was a popular instrument that was often used during the baroque music period. Its popularity may have been maintained had it not been for the creation of the piano. Once the piano was created, popularity fell from the harpsichord as the piano became the preferred instrument.
The harpsichords design is not too different from that of the piano, probably because the basic design of the piano originated from the harpsichord. The sounds produced from the strings of the harpsichord alone are not very loud. In order to enhance the sound, each string is set over a bridge that allowed the string to vibrate freely. The harpsichord also resembles the piano in appearance when one takes the time to compare the two.

With such similarities, one might wonder why most would abandon the harpsichord for the piano when the piano was invented. It could have been that the piano was more efficient and more versatile than the harpsichord, though the harpsichord is still played today in modern music. While it may never again be anywhere near as popular as it once was, the harpsichord appears to still have a place in music and it might never be obsolete. While it shares similarities with the piano, it is still its own unique instrument that offers its own unique sound.

While most will favor the piano over the harpsichord, there are some who play the harpsichord because they like the sound. It is not an overly complicated instrument to learn how to play. Someone who has interest in learning how to play it and finds a good teacher will have little trouble. The sheet music is also fairly basic and few will have much difficulty in gaining good control of the instrument. Someone who is familiar with playing the piano will have even less difficulty because the basics are more or less the same.

Finding a harpsichord to play might not be as easy as finding a piano, but they are still being constructed. Finding a used one might the best idea for someone who is new to playing the instrument because a new one can be quite expensive. Finding a teacher who can teach the harpsichord may also prove easier than one would think. Again, the basics of playing the harpsichord are not too different from the basics of playing the piano. They are related instruments and share many similarities that make it possible for one to have little trouble in playing both. The harpsichord is certainly an instrument that is worth the effort for anyone interested enough to give it a try.

    By Victor Epand
    Victor Epand is an expert consultant for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments.
    Article Source: EzineArtilces

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Keyboard Technique - Playing BAROQUE PIANO Compositions

Baroque music is formed in large part from contrapuntal textures (having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together). Written for the harpsichord, these textures aren't as well suited to the modern piano's thicker tone and rich, low harmonies. So, special care has to be taken when you interpret Baroque period music on the piano.

An upright pedal piano by Challen
An upright pedal piano by Challen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In contrapuntal music, the individual parts are of equal importance, even though their inter-relationship is continually shifting. To reproduce this type of texture well, you need to train your mind, ears and fingers to follow the course of individual contrapuntal lines, as well as their combined texture, so the pianist presents a picture of an ever-changing whole.

Pianist H. Ferguson gives this analogy: You can think of the music as a kind of conversation, in which the voice shifts continually from person to person, as each person makes a contribution without unduly raising his tone. The dynamic range shouldn't be too great (a true fortissimo is rare, since several people shouting different things at the same time will never make themselves understood); and touch and tone should be lighter than in homophonic music typical of the later 19th century.

A semi-legato is more usual than a legatissimo, especially if the notes are quick-moving, since it promotes clarity. It also allows freer play for the subtle kaleidoscopic changes of thought and mood particularly characteristic of Bach. The sustaining pedal should be used sparingly; it should never be allowed to obscure the line, or produce the kind of impressionistic haze that is only heard in modern music such as Debussy.

So, when you interpret Baroque music during piano instruction, try to avoid the thickness of sound that is characteristic of the piano, yet was foreign to the harpsichord. This is especially important with close-position chords in the bass. These sound clear and transparent on the early instrument, but on the thicker-toned piano of today they should be played carefully to avoid a muddy sound. One solution is to lighten the middle notes of the chord, so they are less prominent than the octave played by the fifth finger and thumb. Sometimes it helps to break the chord slightly and play it as a quick arpeggio.

Occasionally in Baroque music there are passages that would have been comparatively easy with the light and shallow touch of earlier instruments, but now are extremely difficult, or impossible, with the deeper and heavier key-action of today. For instance, the repeated triplet octaves in the right hand part of Schubert's song 'Der Erlkonig' were originally not terribly hard to play, but for the modern pianist they have become a virtuoso athletic feat.

In playing fugal music, then, you might find the following points helpful:
  • Characterize all parts of fugue with carefully defined articulation.
  • Make sure that the articulation for the main part is contrasted with that required by the counterpoint, and by parts 2 and 3 if the fugue happens to be double or triple. This ensures that each part remains distinct when several occur together.
  • Characterize the episodes of the fugue in the same sort of way.
  • Keep the texture as light as possible, particularly the top and bottom lines.
  • Don't feel that the part must always stand out as though it were played on a solo blaring horn. The other parts are equally important.
  • If you do want to bring out a particular part, stress it only very slightly. Its characterization, coupled with the generally light texture, will do the rest.
  • A moving part will always stand out more clearly than a static one; if an even balance is required, the part that moves most needs the least stress.
  • Always aim for clarity.

    By Barbara A. Ehrlich
    Barbara Ehrlich is a private piano teacher based in Bedminster, NJ with a roster of current young piano students that includes a broad array of student ages, cultures and backgrounds. New Jersey Piano Lessons works closely with parents to oversee and coordinate music activities in a variety of areas, including piano lessons, technique, theory, ear training, and sight-reading.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS - Organs, Harpsichords, Pianos, Keyboards & Synthesizers

Even non-musicians are familiar with keyboard instruments. Few people reach adulthood without having had at least one opportunity to bang on a keyboard of some type. However, many people (including musicians) aren't aware of the history behind keyboard instruments. Their evolution is both fascinating and surprising.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Giovanni Battista Boni, Cortona, 1619 - clavecin. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people mistakenly believe that the harpsichord was the earliest keyboard instrument. Harpsichords were undoubtedly a precursor to the piano. However, the pipe organ actually predates the harpsichord by some 1100 years. In fact, the pipe organ was the only keyboard instrument until the invention of the clavichord and the harpsichord.

The earliest pipe organs were massive structures. Upon their emergence, few companies actually made pipe organs. Even fewer people were trained to install and repair them. Their size and complexity made them difficult to work with, although the sound they produced was magnificent. Pipe organs often contained multiple keyboards to operate the many pipes and produce the rich sounds that the instrument is associated with. Naturally, this was not the type of instrument that the average person played at home. Most pipe organs were located in churches and concert halls.

Eventually, more compact versions were invented. Pipe organs evolved into regular organs, which most people of today are familiar with. They were more easily afforded by smaller parishes and even private owners. They were also much more compact and easier to repair.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Various keyboard instruments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clavichord entered the scene in the early 15th century. It first emerged as a "practice instrument." Since not all musicians could afford or had easy access to an organ, the clavichord became a convenient alternative. It provided organists a means for practicing at home without having to go to a church or other location to find an organ. Clavichords were smaller than today's piano and may be compared to today's smaller keyboard synthesizers, minus the need for electricity.

It was likely very shortly after that the harpsichord was invented. The harpsichord more closely resembled today's piano. This may be part of the reason that people believe the harpsichord was the first keyboard instrument. Modern pianos are based on a very similar design to its predecessors. Harpsichords, however, were much smaller (though larger than the clavichord). The harpsichord had many variations that operated on the same basic musical principles. Some of these include the virginal, the spinet and the clavicytherium.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, Hamburg, 1734 - clavecin.
 (Photo credit: 
Like music trends always do, the harpsichord fell out of fashion upon the advent of the piano. The piano, though usually a bit larger, produced a cleaner sound. Harpsichords became all but obsolete within just a few decades. Ironically, harpsichords have come back into fashion in recent years because of their unique and distinctive sound. They are often heard as part of the backup for many contemporary songs, though relatively few people actually own a genuine harpsichord.

The piano is by far the most common keyboard instrument today. They are found in nearly every school and church in North America, as well as in millions of private homes. Most every music student has at least some piano training. They are one of the easiest instruments to learn to play and provide a good musical basis for learning other instruments.

Of course, with an electronics-loving society came the natural evolution of the piano to a plug-in version. These are commonly referred to as synthesizers. Aside from the obvious difference from the piano in the requirement of electricity, synthesizers are capable of mimicking many different instruments. Even the most rudimentary of synthesizers usually have several different instrument modes. The more complex the machine, the more sounds it is able to reproduce. More expensive models are extremely complex and technical. Their technology is of such quality that it can be difficult to distinguish their sound from the actual instrument they are mimicking.

New advances in technology, especially in computers, are being made every year. How this will affect the further evolution of keyboard instruments remains to be seen. It appears, though, that the good old fashioned piano is here to stay for awhile.

    Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions! []
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Monday, December 26, 2016

How to Play PIANO TABS - An Easy to Use Technique to Quickly Get Better at Playing Piano Tabs

Learning how to play piano tabs is great for beginner piano players who don't know how to read sheet music. These tabs will give you the ability to read music without having to look at or use a manuscript paper.

To learn how to play piano tabs you can do so by playing a song with a traditional piano tab line. One such song is the "mary had a little lamb" song, as it has one of the most basic tab line for the piano.

Get the tab line from this song and practice playing the song. To start playing the song you should begin on the fourth octave of the piano.

The fourth octave of the keyboard is what the number 4 represents in the beginning line of this song. The numbers are instructing what octave to play in the beginning with the lowest "c" on your keyboard.

Now the next step is to count the beats in each measure. The dash marks in the tab represent a half step. You should begin at the "c" which is at the first line. Now you must count each note and dash mark. Take the note of the horizontal lines and these lines separate each measure.

When you count the dashes and letters you will notice that the line above has four counts for every measure. Read the notes in the piano tab as the notes you'll play. Every lower case letter in a tab represents the exact note.

Every upper case letter you see in the tabs of the piano represent a sharp note. Practicing the tab line in this basic song is an easy and effective technique to learn how to play piano tabs.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

PLAY PIANO in a Flash – Is it Possible?

Is it really possible to learn to play piano in a flash? That would be impossible because according to some expert pianists, it took them years to learn their lessons and play effectively. However, there is one way to improve your learning process in a flash.

You might be wondering how, right? Well, it is really simple. You have to take note of your posture. This is very important when playing the piano. Try to observe pianists; they have great postures and they seem to play with ease at all times. Without proper posture, you will not learn the basic playing techniques and even if you do, you can’t play the instrument comfortably.

Piano, keys
Piano, keys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some say that it is easier to teach children when it comes to posture but even if you’re an adult, you can still improve your posture. If you can do this, you can play comfortably and with flexibility.

1. Try to imagine yourself sitting and you’re about to play the piano. See yourself as a giraffe; feeling as if your neck and head can reach the ceiling.

2. The next thing that you have to do is to stretch your arms. Try to imagine that the arms are the wings of an angel. Stretch your arms to the sides until your elbows are horizontally pointed.

3. Now, focus your attention to your hands. Look at your fingers. Move them just like the legs of a spider. Walk each of your fingers to the piano keys.

4. You have to sit on the bench with ease and confidence. Try to think that you’re the best pianist there is and that you know all your pieces well.

5. When sitting on the bench, your elbows should be located right in front of the stomach. Stretch your arms until your fingers touch the piano keys. Never scoot forward. Sit as if you’re glued to the bench.

Did you notice anything on the five posture pointers mentioned? Which word is used many times? The word ‘imagine’ is used most of the time. This is very effective especially if you’re still a child but it can also work for adults. Try using your imagination. This way, your body and mind will connect instantly and you can play naturally.

The next time you practice on your piano, try follow these pointers. Follow them one by one until you finally learn. These pointers are truly effective if you can follow properly. Even your piano teacher or instruction manuals will say the same thing. Here’s a question for you – have you ever seen a pianist who slouch? That would be quite funny and irritating, right?

Start by learning to have a good posture. This is one of the starting points to learn to play the piano in a flash. But all the other lessons should be taken one step at a time. You have to retain all the lessons. That is why you have to review your past lessons often to make sure that you still know them. You can’t simply forget past lessons because you will need them in the future lessons that you’re going to have.

The truth is, you can’t play piano in a flash. But with a little improvement in terms of your posture, you can go a long way. Take note of your posture now and check if you have a good one.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Have A Better Understanding Of PIANO MUSIC Theory

Having a solid understanding of piano music theory is something that will put you above the rest as you learn to play the piano. Musicians who can recognize chord patterns, note values, rhythmic structures, and scales are immediately more successful when it comes to learning new music easily and playing along with other musicians. This is because theory is the backbone of all music, and being able to understand these basic concepts is vital to learning and mastering all styles of playing.

A piano
A piano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are simply interested in gaining a new skill and enriching your artistic capabilities, learning to play the piano can be one of the most calming and satisfying things you do in your life. Music is a great way to escape from stressful things that are one your mind and focus on something that you really want to do. Finding the right musical instrument to play is a great way to try something new and experience music from a different perspective. Try out a few lessons and soon you’ll be hooked on the beautiful sounds you make while sitting in front of the piano.

Learning the piano while also taking piano music theory courses is a great way to incorporate theory while you are learning to play new songs. This way you can focus on the particular chords, notes, and scales that apply to individual songs. Understanding the mechanisms of each piece of music you play will become easier the more you practice and learn over time. Then you will be able to assess each song or piece of music before you try to play it because you will be able to understand the notes and rhythms within the music.

All it takes is a few music theory lessons and you will be well on your way to experiencing a difference in the way you learn and play the piano. You may also find that you are more confident when tackling new styles of playing or more difficult pieces once you have mastered basic theory concepts.

Above all, make sure that when you are learning online you move at your own pace. Once you have mastered one concept in music theory, then move on to the next. Piano music theory is essential to your growth as a musician, and it will help you succeed at playing anything you choose to tackle down the road.

At Hear and Play, we offer a variety of online courses designed to help you improve your piano playing skills including theory courses and programs that will help you learn how to play by ear. Contact us today at to learn more.

Friday, November 25, 2016


English: Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig v...
Photograph of bust statue of Ludwig van Beethoven by Hugo Hagen  

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many series, suites and cycles of pieces which can be considered "up there" in the pianist's standard repertoire: Bach's '48', Schubert's Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, Schuman's Carnaval and Kreisleriana, Chopin's Etudes and Preludes, Liszt's Années or the Transcendental Studies, but none can quite come close to Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas, usually referred to as the 'New Testament' of piano music (the WTC is the 'Old Testament'!). Perhaps the primary appeal of these pieces, aside from the sheer Herculean effort of learning and absorbing them, is that they offer both a far-reaching overview of Beethoven's musical style and a glimpse into the inner workings of his compositional life and personality. Urban legend has it that Beethoven was a rough, irascible, grumpy and unapproachable sod, but this does not tell us much about his music. Living with his music, spending time with it to understand what makes it special, allows a more honest, rounded view of him, and, perhaps of all his music, the piano sonatas offer a really candid autobiography.

As pianists, whether amateur or professional, advanced or intermediate, or even just beginning on the great journey of exploration, we have all come across Beethoven's piano music, and many of us have played at least one of his sonatas during our years of study. As an early student, a taster of a proper sonata in the form of one of his Sonatinas (something my father is grappling with at the moment - and refusing any helpful advice from me!). Later on, we might encounter one of the "easier" piano sonatas, such as the pair of two-movement sonatas that form the Opus 49 (nos. 19 and 20), which are roughly Grade 5-6 standard (but don't be fooled by the comparatively "easy" notes!). As part of my Grade 8 repertoire, I learnt the No. 5 (Opus 10, No. 1, in C minor), which prefigures the far more well-known and well-loved Pathétique in the flourish of its opening measures, the "beautiful melody" of its slow movement, and its febrile final movement. A quick glance through the Diploma repertoire lists for any of the exam boards (Trinity, ABRSM, RAM etc) and there is a generous handful of sonatas to choose from, from well-known to less popular, to suit each level of Diploma right up to Fellow.

It is generally accepted pianistic wisdom that Beethoven composed the piano sonatas during three distinct periods of his life, and as such, like the Duo Sonatas for Piano and 'Cello (read my earlier post here), offer a fascinating overview of his compositional development. Setting aside the three "Electoral" sonatas, which are not usually included in the traditional cycle of 32 (though Beethoven authority, Professor Barry Cooper, who has edited new the ABRSM edition of the sonatas, argues that there is a case for including the three sonatas that Beethoven wrote when he was 12 in a complete edition), the early sonatas are, like the early duo sonatas (for violin and for 'cello), virtuosic works, reminding us that Beethoven was a fine pianist. While the faster movements may nod back to his teacher, Haydn (though Beethoven would strenuously deny any influence!), it is the slow movements which demonstrate Beethoven's deep understanding of the capabilities of the piano, and its ability, through textures and colours, moods and contrasts, to transform into any instrument he wishes it to be. Some of the writing could be for string quartet (Op. 2 No. 2). In the early sonatas, Beethoven's mastery of the form is already clear, and many look forward to the greater, more complex, and more revolutionary sonatas of his 'middle' period. His distinctive musical personality is already stamped very firmly on these early works.

The sonatas from the middle period are some of the most famous:

The 'Tempest' and 'La Chasse' (Op. 30, Nos. 2 and 3). The first with its stormy, passionate opening movement, the second of the opus rollicking and somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

The 'Moonlight' (Op. 27, No. 2): the first piano sonata to open with a slow movement. Too often the subject of clichéd, lugubriously romantic renderings, this twilight first movement shimmers and shifts. An amazing gesture, created by a composer poised on the threshold of change.

The 'Waldstein' (Op. 53). Throbbing quavers signal the opening of one of the greatest of all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, while the final movement begins with a sweetly consoling melody which quickly transforms into daring octave scales in the left hand and a continuous trill in the right hand. This is Beethoven at his most heroic.

'Les Adieux' (Op. 81a). Suggested to be early 'programme' music in its telling of a story (Napoleon's attack on the city of Vienna which forced Beethoven's patron, Archduke Rudolph, to leave the city, though this remains the subject of some discussion still). It is true that Beethoven himself named the three movements "Lebewohl," "Abwesenheit," and "Wiedersehen". One of the most challenging sonatas because of its mature emotions and technical difficulties, it bridges the gap between Beethoven's middle and late periods.

Late period:
The 'Hammerklavier' (Op. 106), with its infamous and perilously daring grand leap of an octave and a half at the opening (which, of course, should be played with one hand!); its slow movement of infinite sadness and great suffering; its finale, a finger-twisting fugue, the cumulative effect of which is overwhelming: an expression of huge power and logic.

The Last Sonatas (Opp. 109, 110, 111). I have written about these sonatas previously. They are considered to be some of the most profoundly philosophical music, music which "puts us in touch with something we know about ourselves that we might otherwise struggle to find words to describe" (Paul Lewis), which speaks of shared values, and what it is to be a sentient, thinking human being. From the memorable, lyrical opening of the Op. 109 to the final fugue, that most life-affirming and solid of musical devices, of the Op 110, that peaen of praise, to the "ethereal halo" that is contained in some of the writing of the Arietta of the Op 111, the message and intent of this music is clear. And this is Beethoven's great skill throughout the entire cycle of his piano sonatas.

So, what is the perennial attraction of performing a Beethoven Sonata Cycle? Glance through concert programmes around the world and it is clear that these sonatas continue to fascinate performers and audiences alike, and no sooner has one series ended than another begins, or overlaps with another. Playing the Sonatas in a cycle is the pianistic equivalent of reading Shakespeare, Plato, or Dante, and for the performer, it offers the chance to get right to the heart of the music, peeling back the layers on a continuous journey of discovery, always finding something new behind the familiar. One does not have favourites; just as when one has children, one should never have favourites, though certain sonatas will have a special resonance. The sonatas are like a family, they all belong together - and they are needed, ready to be rediscovered by each new generation. You can play the sonatas for over a quarter of a century, half a century, and yet there are still many things in these wonderful works to be explored and understood, things which still have the power to surprise and fascinate.

Every pianist worth his or her salt knows that presenting a Beethoven sonata cycle represents a pinnacle in one's artistic career (ditto the five Piano Concertos) and an important stepping stone to other great cycles (Schubert's sonatas, for example, which are, perhaps, less satisfying to play than Beethoven's because of problems such as incomplete or different versions of the same work), but once a cycle is complete, one cannot truly say one has conquered the highest Himalayan peak. And that is what is so special about this music: you can never truly say you have "arrived" with it, while its endless scope continues to reward, inspire and fulfil.

I have never heard a complete Beethoven cycle performed by a single performer, but I have heard plenty of concerts which form part of the whole: in the 1980s, it was John Lill, now one of the "elder statesmen" of British pianism; before him, my parents would have heard Brendel and Barenboim. Following in their footsteps, I heard some of Barenboim's concerts when he played a complete cycle at the Festival Hall three year's ago. At the same time, Paul Lewis was just finishing his own cycle at the Wigmore Hall (and beyond). I heard him play Nos. 15-18, some of the early sonatas, and the Last Sonatas. Then there was Till Fellner, a young Austrian with a clean, fresh approach, whose cycle began in 2008. On LP, I had Lill's complete cycle, released the same year as I heard him at RFH. On CD I have Arrau, whose account is hard to match. But I also have recordings of favourites, such as the Opus 10's, played by Angela Hewitt, or the Opus 110 (my absolute favourite), played by Glenn Gould and Mitsuko Uchida (whose Mozart playing I adore).

In concert, the sonatas are presented in halls large and small, famous and lesser known. The size of the hall can affect one's appreciation and understanding of the works. For example, sometimes the earlier sonatas, which were written for the salon, can be lost in a venue as big as the Royal Festival Hall. One's connection to the music is also affected, of course, by the performer. Lill, I remember, brought an extraordinary closeness and intimacy, something I have never forgotten, a sense that it was an entirely shared experience; while with Barenboim it felt as if an invisible barrier had been erected between us, the audience, and him the performer (I suspect he neither intended nor engineered this; rather, the over-awed audience brought it upon themselves!).

Further reading
Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas - Robert Taub. "Offers the insights of a passionate musician who performs all 32 of Beethoven's well-loved piano sonatas in concert worldwide. This book presents his intimate understanding of these works with listeners and players alike." (Amazon)
The Beethoven Sonatas and the Creative Experience - Kenneth Drake. "Drake groups the Beethoven piano sonatas according to their musical qualities, rather than their chronology. He explores the interpretive implications of rhythm, dynamics, slurs, harmonic effects, and melodic development and identifies specific measures where Beethoven skillfully employs these compositional devices." (Amazon)

Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion - Charles Rosen. A very readable analysis of all 32 sonatas by respected pianist and writer.

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