Question #2 in the most-often asked category.. What is a good age for me, my son or my daughter to start taking voice lessons? Well we polled our illustrious vocal instructors at the Real School of Music, both in Andover and Burlington to see what they think and the answers were illuminating to say the least.
Most all our vocal instructors have students that range in age from really young children to teen agers, young adults, parents, grandparents and even retirees so we knew their responses would be enlightening. The vast majority of vocal teachers stated that they were pretty comfortable teaching kids as young as 5 or 6 years old privately but that "it really depends entirely on the child" as to when the best time to start private lessons might be. Some children are amazingly focused and able to grasp the most complex musical concepts and stay focused at a very early age while others will do better in group classes. Just check out our Yamaha Music Classes sometime and you'll see this to be a fact. Yes, children as young as 3 or 4 can not only understand solfege but also sing on-pitch and accompany themselves on piano.
There is also the opionion that for millenia, singing was something humans would do every day, whether it be while working, walking, doing chores, playing, celebrating or mourning. Singing is an intrinsic part of the human experience to a point that babies can also be taught to hold pitch and sing along... So maybe, just maybe, any age is an appropriate age to start taking vocal lessons...
"Children learn to talk by experimenting and listening; they can learn to make music by experimenting and listening--unless we stop them! Place children in surroundings that are full of "invitations to learn," provide them with encouraging and sympathetic attitudes from adults, as well as knowledge, and amazing things can happen--especially to the sensory perceptions that are central to the arts...do we have the courage to embark with them on what are frequently unknown seas?" --Emma D. Sheehy
"This always seems to be a tricky question. Some educators will say that children should not start training the voice until puberty. This is false. If this was the case, there would be no children's choirs or vocal music in elementary schools. Basic singing fundamentals and aural training through singing can start at elementary age. However, students should not focus too much on classical singing and range extension until puberty to avoid overuse and strain while the vocal tract is still in a crucial stage of development. As an elementary school music teacher, I have found that children as young as age 5 can learn how to sing using a good tone and with accurate pitch. If a student shows interest and can keep focus without getting too distracted for 30 minutes, they should do well in a private lesson setting. In my opinion, group music instruction is more developmentally appropriate for students under the age of 7." - Nichole Polizzi, Vocal Instructor
"I think it's important that the student has already been introduced to learning in a school environment where certain ideas and structure are starting to be put into place. Kindergarden and 1st grade are a good starting point. The child is learning how to process information in a new and more organized fashion. The voice will continue to change for many years to come, but being able to teach a student certain fundamentals and mechanics at a young age is an integral part of someone learning to sing." - James Towlson, Vocal Instructor
"Like the rest of the body, the voice as an instrument doesn't begin to fully develop until around puberty. The student must have a reasonable understanding of his or her anatomy in order to work with it. Since the voice cannot be seen, most teachers use metaphors and allegories to evoke proper technique. Students of a young age are limited in their knowledge and capabilities, making it difficult for them to grasp the abstract concepts utilized in vocal instruction. So, the depth of such instruction becomes limited. There's only so much you can do with an instrument that isn't fully developed. For very young singers, group singing situations (like youth choirs) are ideal, both because of the limited pressure on the individual to perform and because of the repertoire available (there is little that is appropriate in content and range for young soloists, but a wealth of it for youth choirs). If you do choose to place your young singer in private lessons, be realistic about your expectations. Know that a great deal of the lesson time will be spent on learning about music and how to hear it rather than on direct vocal instruction. By creating this foundation (either in a choir or private instruction), your young singer will have tremendous success when it comes time to wok on vocal technique later on." - Zoe Knight, Vocal Instructor
"It depends on the individual of course, but the earlier the better. Children absorb VERY quickly the younger they are, and from my experience, their instrument develops at a much faster pace as they become older from starting very young. However, it also depends on the student's attention span and comfort level. Sometimes, their attention is not always there or energy so it can be tricky. That is why it is based on the individual. I always say try it, and see if it's a good fit." - Leanne Greenman, Vocal Instructor
"Voice is our most natural instrument so it makes sense to start a child in voice lessons earlier than on another instrument." - Chris McKenney, Guitar Instructor, Faculty Leadership Team
"I personally feel that, in many cases, children younger than 10 are not mature enough to absorb what is taught in private voice lessons and to execute what is required in order to progress." - Sharon DiFronzo, Vocal Instructor
"Honestly, the age varies depending on the student. Some kids can start at age 4 because they are focused and already have some natural ability. Others need to wait until they can develop more focus and possibly learn to play an instrument first." - Lydia Harrell, Vocal Instructor
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We polled our faculty on one of the most common questions we hear from parents starting their children on music lessons as well as adults starting music lessons for the first time... On what instrument should I start taking private music lessons?
The response was almost unanimous. Out of all the different instruments we teach; voice, guitar, bass, drums, piano, saxophone, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, upright bass, trombone, ukulele, banjo and percussion there was one clear stand out... Piano!
Yes, piano... Despite the horrors some of us faced eons ago from nuns rapping our knuckles with rulers for bad technique or wrong notes, the vote was near unanimous... Piano is the number one instrument for beginner music lessons with the ukulele coming in a distant second. There were so many reasons stated that it's hard to argue against piano lessons being the most beneficial. In my own studies, I have uncovered evidence that studying piano actually physically builds pathways in the human brain and makes you smarter. The combination of reading two different clefs (bass and treble) and coordinating both hands to your eyes and ears to perform a piece of music involving rhythm, harmony and melody is a challenge to even the smartest student and has benefits that are almost immeasurable. I do feel the need to iterate that really the best instrument for any one person is the one that most excites the student. In this article, we're speaking about the specific properties in the instrument that can make one more beneficial than another. It should be stated that this doesn't mean every child should be forced to learn piano their whole childhood. In my life as a father, I've personally seen my son through a number of instruments as his tastes changed. These include include flute, guitar and saxophone, however he started with two years of piano lessons with our own Jim Zaroulis, Lead Piano Instructor, Andover Real School and that really gave him a solid foundation to start his musical journey.
Here are the responses from the Real School of Music Faculty and Staff to the question of which is the best instrument for beginning music lesson... In no particular order...
"Piano is accessible at any age, any level, and any style. I use piano to accompany my students and teach music theory and ear training. I wish I played more!!" - Heather DeLong: Lead String Instructor, Yamaha Music Coordinator, Assistant Manager, Andover Real School
"Notes are laid out logically making them easier to understand. The student can cover both accompaniment and melody as well as combine the two. Piano is also good for composers and the motor skill required is easier than guitar for young children." Erik Ringstad - Guitar Instructor, Director or Curriculum
"I don't think any instrument is 'better' than others for a beginning student unless age is a factor. If the student is particularly young, I would recommend piano or drums...If the student is 'concrete-operational' (7-11yo) and up, I'd recommend the instrument that they express interest in....I probably wouldn't wish the trombone on anyone :)" Gavin McCarthy: Manager, Burlington Real School
"Several points: you can start very young, when physical limitations won't hold you back as much as on most others, such as horns; you get some harmony exposure and aren't just playing one note at a time; it's a very "graphical" instrument and easy to understand- it's ideal for interval training; keyboard skills can take you to many other instruments- mallets, organ, all synths. " Mike Abbott: COO, The Real School of Music
"I have encountered very,very few people who cannot play a few chords, and therefore a song on a ukulele in a matter of minutes. They're cheap, physically easy to play, supported by many websites and Youtube tutorials, fun, non-intimidating, quiet, small, you can take them anywhere. They're actually quite popular now... I've done group lessons with nervous people who have never touched an instrument before and had them playing a Beatles song together in less than 45 minutes. The same results on a guitar would take weeks." Steve Levy: Guitar & Ukulele Instructor, Burlington Real School
"Logical note layout, minimal coordination, stays in tune." Dave Hinckley: Lead Guitar Instructor, Burlington
"I would say piano or keyboard depending on age. It's accessible to all ages, more visual than other instruments, and is the basis for what they'll learn later if they switch." Tom Byrne - CEO, The Real School of Music
"Piano is easiest on little fingers and harmony is a lot more visible than on a stringed instrument." Chris McKenney: Guitar Instructor, Burlington Real School
"The piano is linear and repeats patterns. I find that it's easy for students to see this sequence (2 black keys, 3 black keys, 2 black, 3 black etc.) and see the repetition in note names. Guitars and other stringed instrument tuned to 4ths or 5th become much more complicated when attempting to explain diatonic scales and see the structure of how they are built. On a piano all the student needs to do is memorize the simple patter of whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. Which I make into a beat for mnemonic memorization." James Towlson: Guitar Instructor, Burlington Real School
"Piano because it is easy to finger and visually concise." Charlie Hunt: Guitar Instructor, Andover Real School
"Although I'm a voice instructor, and do incorporate piano basics into my voice lessons, I think it would be very beneficial for a student to learn piano as part of their first musical experience. The piano is, in my opinion, easier to understand and maneuver around, especially for smaller hands. This understanding could then be applied to any other instrument, including voice, in part because of the ear training elements." Vykki Vox: Lead Vocal Instructor, Faculty Leader, Burlington Real School
"The piano keyboard is visually and tangibly the instrument most directly related to the way we learn and read music. It is great for developing in both hands the fine motor skills needed for every other instrument. Also, because it does not require the breath as part of its energy source, a beginning student can develop an accurate sense of pitch by singing along with whatever he or she plays, making it easier to sing accurately independently of the piano later on. " Zoe Knight: Vocal Instructor, Andover Real School
"It covers the full orchestral spectrum. It has a very defined visual element. It is a great starting point for melodic,harmonic and rhythmic learning, that is helpful moving forward in the education of all other instruments." Eric Goldberg - Piano Instructor, Burlington Real School
"1st choice is piano as it is fundamental for learning harmony etc... 2nd choice is drums for developing and understanding rhythm... 3rd choice is trumpet; it can become a useful plant holder later in life :)... 4th choice is upright bass; you never know when you'll have to abandon ship... 5th choice ukulele; no self respecting musician would admit to playing a uke. You'll get all the gigs" Joe Cincotta: Drum Instructor, Andover Real School
"Piano because if you can play the piano, you can read either clef, you get exposed to harmony, melody and rhythm and anyone at any age can press a piano key." Andrew Clark: Managing Partner, Lead Wind Instructor, Andover Real School
"Piano is in my opinion one of the easiest instrument which can give you instant gratification and can keep students interested for many years. It is also one of the most diverse instruments. You learn how to play melodies, chords, bass lines, harmonies for pretty much every style. You learn how to read rhythms, treble clef, bass clef, chord symbols, etc. Not to mention the coordination you acquire using all fingers on both hands. All of this gives you a solid foundation which can fairly easily translate to any new instrument." Bill Doss: Director, RealSchool Live and Co-Director, RealJams Academy, Saxophone, Flute and Piano Instructor, Burlington Real School
"Piano is best for young kids, because kids need more motor development before playing other instruments. (strings work for really young kids, too.) Piano teaches both clefs, is a visual for music theory fundamentals and I find that my brass students progress faster if they have a piano foundation." Sue Antolini: Director, Real School 4 Home School, Brass and Piano Instructor, Burlington Real School
Aside from the piano-specific reasons that music lessons are beneficial, there are also other lessons-for-life that music instruction provides; there's the self-discipline required to become skilled at an instrument... to quote one of our Real School Instructors and Managing Partner at our Andover location, Andrew Clark "You can cram knowledge but you can't cram skill." There is also the immediate sense of accomplishment from effort that music provides as well as a sense of community from performing with others. Music instruction has so many benefits that it's really the subject of another post so stay-tuned...
Mik Mersha, The Real School of Music
The Real School of Music is proud to announce that our very-own Greg Duncan (Real School Burlington Faculty) has recently been selected for Juilliard's prestigious Artist Diploma Program in Jazz Studies.
The performance-based post-graduate program required a rigourous audition process for candidates with masters degrees in music performance or equivalent experience. The audition process began with an initial prescreening where Greg had to submit an essay and audio recording of his original compositions with transcripts. The 2nd round was a lab audition with 16 other hopefuls where Greg had to perform a number of pieces including his original compositions and an ear training test.
After an intense 2nd round, Greg was selected to be a finalist with 4 other hopefuls for the live audition. In the final round live audition each candidate was required to perform with a high-level New York Jazz Band playing up a number of pieces in up to 8 categories in front of the majority of Juilliard faculty. Greg was chosen from these four to be a part of the Artist Diploma Program Quintet. Over the next two years Greg will be studying privately at Juilliard with Rodney Jones (who has perfomed with Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horne and Chico Hamilton to name a few) and will be traveling the world representing Juilliard with the Quintet, all tuition-free.
We wish Greg the best of luck in his new adventure, moving to New York City and getting the opportunity to perform with some of the most accomplished musicians in the world.
From Juilliard Website...
The Artist Diploma in Jazz Studies is a pre-professional performance-based jazz education program for a few highly gifted and experienced performers at the post-graduate level.
In general, successful applicants to the Artist Diploma have already obtained their undergraduate degrees; a Master’s or its equivalent in professional experience is strongly preferred.
Students participate in a two-year customized and tuition-free curriculum that focuses on public performance for a small ensemble of Artist Diploma students.
In addition to school year performances at Juilliard, the Artist Diploma Ensemble is required to participate in outside performances and educational outreach. A performance based program, the curriculum for the Artist Diploma is by advisement.
ANDOVER, MA – MARCH 18, 2013
The Real School of Music LLC, an entirely new concept in music schools, has announced the grand opening of its newest educational facility located at 3 Dundee Park Drive in Andover, MA. Ribbon cutting is scheduled for Friday, April 5th at 4pm, with grand opening celebrations continuing throughout the weekend. The public is invited to drop by for a tour of this 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art music facility, which features over a dozen private lesson studios, soundproof ensemble rooms and rehearsal spaces, a recording studio, group lessons facilities, and even a 100+ seat live music venue.
The company expanded operations in early 2012 by merging with Bradford School of Music of North Andover, MA. Beginning in early April, the entire Bradford operation -- hundreds of students, dozens of faculty -- will be relocated to Real School’s new Andover facility.
“We expect Real School Andover to outpace our growth in Burlington,” said Real School’s founder and CEO, Thomas Byrne. The company’s flagship location opened in late 2008, and now delivers over a thousand lessons each week, with hundreds of students of all ages, including adults, playing in their own bands.
“We rarely find a musician who aspires to play alone,” explains Byrne. “The whole point of music is that it’s communal, it’s social, it’s meant to be shared. The larger our community becomes, the more diverse the opportunities our students have to meet and collaborate with other musicians; to play and create music.”
Real School offers private and group instrument and voice lessons year round in a variety of musical styles, including contemporary, classical, and traditional. Students can enroll at any time during the year, and all new students are eligible for a free trial lesson.
Real School’s month-long grand opening celebration kicks-off the weekend of April 6th with a variety of concerts, clinics, and special guest appearances.
Saturday, April 6th:
- 9a-3:00p: Open for Lessons
- 12p-3:45p: The Real School Experience - Ongoing performances by students and ensembles. Los Sugar Kings (a multicultural Latin band from the Boston area, including our own Mik Mersha) will be recording songs for their new LP in the onsite recording studio.
- 4p-6:00p: Songwriting Clinic hosted by Robin Lane (legendary founder of Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, and founder of Songbird Sings, a public charity that helps transform women silenced by domestic violence to find their voice again through songwriting).
- 7p-8:30p: Special Musical Guest Performance by Robin Lane. Suggested donation of $10 cash at door, with 100% of proceeds going directly to Songbird Sings.
Sunday, April 7th:
- 9a-11:00a: Offsite Community Event - Run for the Troops 5K - Real School’s youth ensemble, 100 Decibelz, will perform for participants in this 5k run.
- 1p-2:00p: Various Student Performances
- 1:30p-2p: Special Musical Guests The Cranks (currently on televisions America's Next Great Family Band, and featuring Real School student, Alex Markoski)
- 2p-4:00p: Special Musical Guest:2012 American Idol Top-10 Finalist, Erika Van Pelt - An interactive conversation and performance with Erika about her experience on American Idol, and the American Idol national tour. Erika will be accompanied by her band The Sultans of Swing, (featuring Real School instructor, Lou Ulrich, on bass).
In addition to its educational offerings, Real School is also a retailer of musical instruments and accessories, representing world-class brands like Yamaha, D’Addario and ProMark, filling a much-needed void in the greater Andover area.
The company’s summer program, called RealJams Academy, is planned for this summer in Andover. RealJams provides an immersive summer camp-like experience in songwriting, performance, digital recording, and musical theatre. Space is limited, so families interested in participating should contact the school at email@example.com.
And now for a lesson in humanity and the power of music…
by Jim Zaroulis: Lead Piano Instructor, Real School - Andover
As a professional musician for most of my life, I could neither list nor even remember all of the specific and memorable experiences I've encountered. Whether it's the first time I received thunderous applause (that never gets old), sharing the stage with highly revered artists of note, getting that first huge tip in the jar, hearing your jingle on the radio, etc..they are all but blurred yet significant memories. Watching the recent Grammy Awards show and seeing the joy on the faces of the young and upcoming artists who just a few years ago were virtually unknown made me think about what THEIR most memorable experiences will be in the years to come. I do not have a Grammy, nor do I anticipate receiving one anytime soon (but one can still dream), but there is one memorable gig I played many years ago that I feel would garner more excitement and hoopla in winning any prestigious award.
The date was September 17th 2001. I remember this date extremely well because it was exactly 6 days after another date that anyone reading this remembers all too well. While our country was still in limbo and we were still trying to absorb the unfathomable tragedy which was September 11th, I received a phone call from a local entertainment agent that morning asking if I was free to play a 2 hour cocktail set at a hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire. 9 out of 9 times I would have answered with "I'll be there, thanks!", but because of what we were all going through, and my uncertainty of how there could be some sort of social event happening ANYWHERE, I coyly asked what type of event this was. After a brief pause and what sounded like a sigh, the agent, almost reluctantly, answered that an investment firm that was headquartered in one of the World Trade Center towers has relocated some of their employees to the local New Hampshire branch and are staying in this particular hotel temporarily. I think most people in my place may have been noncommittal, however as a professional, I felt it was my duty to take the gig. The events of that dreadful day was still fresh in my mind, and like everyone else in the country, I was dealing with unavoidable sadness….and knowing full well that the dynamic of this room I was about to play in was going to trump my sadness ten-fold. "Two hours..easy" I thought to myself. "In and out…a real smash and grab job!". I've forgotten about more 1 or 2 hour solo piano jobs than I can remember, so I didn't need any preparation or even any thought about it…except to make sure my suit was ironed.
I arrived at the hotel a few minutes later than my usual 20 minute personal call time. I knew there would be a piano on the premises and I had played this venue many times before. I walked into a function room that was a lot smaller than a typical hotel's grand ballroom, maybe one - third the size. We've all heard the expression that the tension was so think you could cut it with a knife; I'd like to expand on that and mention that the sadness looming in this room almost sealed the door shut with concrete. It was then that it hit me. There were between 25 - 30 people here who either made it out of the towers alive, or happened to take the day off from work. 25-30 people who saw their co-workers and friends perish in the most unimaginable way. 25-30 people being whisked away from their homes and families because their place of work is now a pile of rubble. As I made my way to the ebony upright piano in the corner, I made it a point not to make any eye contact with anyone; not because I'm aloof and insensitive, but in the same way we tend to cower when we are in the presence or near the presence of famous people. Almost bashful.
It may sound strange to you, but these 25-30 people were a representation, a LIVE representation of what was happening in Manhattan in the past 6 days. What could they be thinking? What have they seen? What is this young kid in a suit that looks like he ironed it himself doing here? Now my conscience is in overdrive. "Am I supposed to entertain these people?" I was only playing the piano, not singing, but I was actually worried that there could be certain songs I played that could upset them. How would I know if "As time goes by" was one of their co-workers wedding songs? Is it "too soon" or tongue - in - cheek to play "What a wonderful World?". Looking around the room I noticed that everyone was sitting at tables. Some tables had the maximum 10 people, some had less, and some just had one person. It was quiet, but not because they were talking quietly….they just weren't talking. There was a light hors d'oeuvres table, and a mobile bar, however no one made a beeline for the crackers and cheese, and I don't think I saw more than 3 people with anything stronger than a beer in front of them. You think this job is easy don't you?
To make a long story short, I did my job and played for two hours. Happy to say that nothing I played was detrimental to the event or the overtone of the room. I kept it mellow, I kept it soft, I kept it professional. As I closed the dust cover, and made my way for the door I was approached by three people. In all honestly, I wasn't even sure anyone knew or cared that I was even there, and it didn't bother me one bit. I wasn't expecting the "thunderous applause" and "huge tip" mentioned in my opening paragraph. But these three people, obviously noticing that I was trying to make my way out the door as casually and as quickly as I could, made it a point to stop me. "We just wanted to say thank you. We're not sure if you knew what this was all about,. (I politely interjected and told them that I did know)..but you really helped us forget about what we are going through right now, even if was just a few hours, so thank you again.". My working musician brethren will attest that we are always met with "thank you" after any and all performances no matter what the proportion, and it is always a welcomed gesture, but I will never experience or forget the volume that this "thank you" spoke to me that evening. I offer this experience to my colleagues and students. We as musicians possess a gift, and it is more powerful than any precious gem or piece of paper with dead president printed on them. Embrace it, strengthen it any chance you get, and use it to it's fullest potential. If I could see those 25-30 people again, I would say "No…Thank You!",…for I learned a priceless lesson that night.
I'm not sure if the television network will allow me to tell this story when I receive MY Grammy Award….but one can still dream!
How to Play in a Band: by Tim Rowell
Before you start playing be familiar with the hierarchy of good band manners.
First, tune your instrument. Everybody's uncomfortable when something sounds sour and is out of tune.
Second, play in rhythm. Connect with the bass player and the drummer. When in doubt, pause and listen for the next down beat. Play as little as possible. I'm not sure of the author of this quote but it's made a lot of sense through the years "It's not what you play, it's what you don't play". The less you play, the easier it is to play on the beat.
Third, play the right chords. Do your homework and be prepared. Learn the chord chart and song form before you come to rehearsal.
Fourth, learn the notes of the melody. They'll come in handy at a bunch of different times and on different levels.
After you start playing follow these rules as a band when possible:
First, start together and end together. Beginnings and endings frame the song you present on stage. It's the first and last thing that the audience hears and remembers. If these are tight, other "discrepencies" will be forgiven.
Next, when someone starts singing, play softer so that the singing is featured. Create a sonic support/safety net for them. The vocalist is is the most exposed member of the band so it is your job to make them sound good. In general, build volume in the chorus.
Lastly songs are cycles of repeating musical ideas. Try to add something different each time you play through a verse or chorus or bridge. Something simple like an extra note, a different voicing or a rhythm motif will add interest to the performance.
Be kind to your band members, support them musically and make sure everyone gets a chance to shine. Playing music can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Make it fun for your bandmates and they just might return the favor.
by James Towlson
When you're learning songwriting and song structure, it helps to refer to some of the master songwriters and Paul Simon certainly falls into that category. In this exercise we will be analyzing his song, "Can't Run but" from the album "The Rhythm of the Saints".
"Can't Run but" is a fantastic example of a songwriting and song structure where changing sections or parts (i.e. verse and chorus), using dynamics (louder/quieter) and instrumentation (adding or subtracting an instrument) is used rather than new chords to make up the song structure. This song predominantly uses one chord the entire time, but there are certainly differences between one section and another. He repeats the lyric phrase of "I can't run but I can walk much faster than this, I can not run but...". This section would be called the chorus. The other section of the song contains the lyric component that drives the story he's singing about.
The instrumentation is quite lush. Lets keep in mind Paul Simon went to South Africa to find musicians and it is not easy to figure out exactly what instruments were used in this recording. For the sake of argument we've got a couple different types of mallet instruments (marimba and another type of wood mallet instrument). These instruments make up a bulk of what we hear for the entire song. The next predominant instrument would be the percussion (shakers, hand drums, various afro cuban percussion instruments) and drums. Coming into the song during the second chorus is a guitar, which plays single note phrase that is added for additional texture. In the second verse a real drum set is used extremely sparingly. Essentially only used for the bass drum and the snare drum to reinforce the backbeat or pulse of the song.
"Can't Run, but" is a beautiful arrangement full of fantastic sounds and great melodies. See if you can hear the differences...
"Can't Run, but" -Music and lyrics by Paul Simon
- Intro (instrumental)
- Chorus 1 ("Can't run but...")
- Vs 1 ("A cooling system...")
- Chorus 2 ("Can't run but...") - Guitar is added for additional texture
- Intro ("Ooo wee...")
- Vs 2 ("I had a dream...") - Kick and snare drum added for backbeat/pulse
- Chorus 2 ("Can't run but...")
- Vs 2 ("A winding river...") - Drums get louder adding to the back beat
- Chorus 3 ("Can't run but...")
- Intro ("Ooo wee...") -Instruments start to soften
- Outro (similar to the intro) - Song fades out
A little more about Paul Simon
To quote Wiki...
"Paul Simon is an American musician, songwriter and producer. Simon's fame, influence and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached No. 1 on the U.S. singles charts: "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The duo split up in 1970 at the height of their popularity, and Simon began a successful solo career as a guitarist and singer-songwriter, recording three highly acclaimed albums over the next five years. In 1986, he released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music. Simon also wrote and starred in the film One-Trick Pony (1980) and co-wrote the Broadway musical The Capeman (1998) with the poet Derek Walcott.
Simon has earned 12 Grammys for his solo and collaborative work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 was selected as one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World" by Time magazine. Among many other honors, Simon was the first recipient of the Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007. In 1986 Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees."
by Sue Antolini
As a music educator teaching music lessons daily, I am often how to select the best instrument for my child.
I always begin by congratulating the parent for the decision to provide their child with an opportunity to play a musical instrument, as it will benefit him or her for a lifetime. Your encouragement and involvement are vital to your child’s ability to succeed in music, as well as providing an instrument that is in proper working condition to make playing music as easy as possible.
The first thing to do is to talk to your school’s music educator and see if they have preferences regarding brands or models with reputations for good results and service. They can also provide the best rental and purchase resources, as well as recommending a reputable instrument repair technician. Technicians know the serviceability of various brands of instruments as well as the availability of repair parts, and can offer advice for a best value purchase or rental.
When it comes to musical instruments, quality does matter. All instruments are difficult to play in the beginning, and a quality instrument will help the student play to their potential. A poorly designed and constructed instrument can actually hinder progress and discourage practice, so it is important to provide your child with an instrument that plays well.
Other factors to consider when choosing a musical instrument are durability and reparability. Let’s get real; the instrument will be handled and played daily by a kid, traveling to school, lessons, and rehearsals with other kids, so it has to be built well enough to handle that kind of daily use. All instruments need maintenance and will require professional repair eventually. The best scenario is an instrument that can be repaired locally using commonly available repair techniques and replacement parts.
As for deciding to purchase or rent an instrument, it really depends on what instrument your child has chosen. Student model keyboards, guitars, and drums are affordably priced, requiring minimum maintenance and repair, so most families choose to purchase these instruments. Keyboard and drums are often shared by multiple family members, so that makes the purchase even more economical in the long run.
Wind and string instruments require a bit more consideration when choosing to rent or buy. These will suffer more wear and tear, and the quality and serviceability of student model instruments varies greatly. Instrument rental companies usually work with your child’s school, and offer flexibility, a low initial investment with a variety of payment options. Most rental programs offer maintenance plans, provide loaners during repairs, and offer insurance for damage and theft. Renting is the best option when it comes to strings, because they are more prone to damage, and students will need to move to a larger sized instrument as they grow. Renting also offers flexibility should your child want to try another instrument, such as moving from cello to stringed bass, or from flute to saxophone.
Once you have decided whether purchase or rental is best, your child will have a suitable instrument and be ready to experience the joy of making music.
by Jim Zaroulis
The "P" Word... No, it's not another reality show on Showtime. I'm talking about "practice". A word my teaching brethren instill to our students on a daily basis. A word that in extreme circumstances is the bane of their tutelage. Ironic, don't you think, (thank you Ms. Morrisette) that it begins with the same letter as "pejorative", and "pain". So how, as teachers, do we eradicate all the negative aspects of practicing? It's easy for us to say "I did it, and look at me now!", or "I had to do this, so you have to too." That can work, but I'm taking a different direction in this article. I'm standing up and saying "My name is Jim Zaroulis, and I LOVE to practice!"
We all had our moments when we were young, beginning students. We had to be told to take part in this regimented, usually timed, method of punishment. Sometimes, in desperate measures, it was met with bribery. When I think of how I could have been the best fighter pilot in the galaxy had I not been shunned from that extra hour of playing "Asteroids" from my Atari game system (now that I just dated myself) and forced to play my Clementi Sonatinas. If "Hide and Seek" was an Olympic Event, no one would know who Michael Phelps is today. One more round of hiding in a pile of leaves versus my major scales in contrary motion for 2 octaves? Is there even an argument here?
Yes, I HATED to practice. What was the point? It took away from the "fun" stuff. Now, before I'm labeled as some sort of Draconian from Squaresville, please understand that I am in no way condoning a "fun-less" lifestyle. I have students of all ages who participate in soccer, swimming, dance, martial arts, Girl/Boy scouts, and fencing (I kid you not, and I hear he's one of the best in the state). These fun activities are paramount in a young persons life. They all require their share of work (ahem...practice), and they have FUN doing it. So here is the $64,000.00 question...how do we make practicing FUN?
"I don't like to practice, I just like to play." The practice/play excuse. I think it's great knowing that the student is in fact at their instrument and playing. Whether they are trying to figure out the melody of their favorite song by plunking out keys as if it were a "Simon" game, or just seeing what happens when they play certain chords in succession, or playing the famous (or infamous) riff to "Heart and Soul" for the 75th time. They are working at it, and more times than none, they have a smile on their face... a look of amazement, conquer, victory, and satisfaction. The greatest joy I have as a teacher is spotting that initial joy of discovery and elation... and then show you what came come next! "Wow, you came up with such a cool song using just three chords? Look what you can do if add this 4th chord!" I may notice that they have come up with a very interesting melody, but can't quite execute it smoothly; so I'll show them a better fingering. Most of them are still young, not just in age, but in their music experience, so I would never begrudge their ideas or methods, nor would I say "This is how you SHOULD do it", but rather, 'How about if you tried it THIS way?". Our goal is to get them to play as much as they can and encourage them to be creative. Our students our seeking our help in order to develop their ideas, which in turn will energize them to practice. As teachers and professional musicians, we know what it takes to get "better" at our instrument, because we have to (should) do it all the time. When they make it to the next level, or "plateau" as I like to call them, students and parents will be pleasantly surprised and satisfied.
"I just want to play songs". Really? You mean when you're asked to entertain the family during the holidays no one asks you to play Hanon Exercise #5? When the 4th grade music teacher asks you to perform for your class you don't play your major chord inversions around the circle of 5ths? Maybe I sound sarcastic, (any of my students will probably agree with you), but I don't consider that a valid excuse for not practicing. What are "songs"? Melody complemented with harmony. I tell every student this: Music is a language. Language is a form of communication. How well we know a language is how well we communicate. You have to claim "ownership" of a language in order to use it properly. We don't just learn a few words and phrases and claim to speak a language fluently. So try to find a parallel between the two. For example, I equate playing scales to grammar (believe it or not I initially spelled "grammar" wrong). We all remember how mundane grammar class was, but aren't you happy that you know when to use "who" and "whom"? Or "good" and "well"? Our music heroes (singers or instrumentalists) are the ones who "speak" to us. We love the notes they play because we hear them clearly. We WANT to "speak" like them. Knowing how to get around your instrument should not be cumbersome or burdensome. To this day, I get the same sense of joy and refreshment out of spending 20 minutes on scales and technique exercises as I do playing a Beatles song or my favorite Oscar Peterson transcription. It gives the feeling of preparedness, confidence, and assertiveness.
Before you start thinking that this is a litany of excuses for not practicing... you're partly right. But I'm sure I would exceed the limited space I'm allowed here. This is just an idea of how students, (and parents), can look at "practicing" from a different point of view. Try to mentally substitute the word "practice" for "getting better". Whether it's 20 minutes a day, or 2 hours, you're "getting better" at your instrument. Isn't that why we take part in any activity that is fun? And if I got away from the word "fun", I apologize. As a pianist, I still find it fun, and I make it a point to "get better" everyday. My goal as a teacher is to show my students exactly how to do that.
And.... if can get my hands on a vintage Atari 2600 game console.....I will show you how to get better at "Asteroids" too.
by Tim Bongiovanni
Sometimes we need to get tracks out of Reaper and into another program for more recording, mixing, and general audio goodness. Here’s a quick tip on how to make that transition happen smoothly.
Since most productions these days are done with a click track, it can be useful to know how to export a midi file that will contain a tempo map. The first thing to do if you’re using Reaper, is create a midi item that contains only 8th notes on a single pitch for the entire song. Then, with the MIDI track selected, go to File - Export Project MIDI (fig. 1).
Make the following dialogue box look like this..
Notice that the box labeled “Embed tempo map” is checked. This will make sure that your tempo data is included when you export your midi track.
Make sure that you know where your file is being saved (you can change this location by clicking the browse button in this dialogue box.) Once the file is exported you can import it into your next DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice. Unfortunately, each different one has a different way of importing midi and tempo data (some more straightforward than others.) Be sure to consult your DAW’s help menu, reference guide, or other online tutorials to make the import go smoothly.