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August 2015

A monthly newsletter to inform

and entertain our friends

How to Choose the Right Musical Instrument?

Learning to play a musical instrument as a child can be beneficial in so many ways. Those who have a particular talent for music often begin to play at a very young age, either because they are especially inspired by a specific instrument or due to the influence of family members. 

The majority of children are likely to come to music somewhat later, and may need some help in deciding what musical instrument to choose. There are several important things to keep in mind before your child makes up their mind about which musical path to pursue. 

Dr. Robert Cutietta points out in an article on the subject that while it is certainly a good thing to encourage children to take up an instrument at a very young age, there are special considerations to weigh up if your child is under six. The main one is ensuring that an appropriate instrument is selected which the child will be physically able to play. At this young age, this generally rules out wind instruments, since they require more strength to play and hold.

Instead, he recommends either piano or violin. Violins are easy to obtain in smaller sizes that would suit a child in this age group. The piano provides the child with the chance to play the melody and harmony at the same time, which is greatly beneficial for coordination as well as musical understanding. 

Even if it eventually turns out that they decide to abandon the violin or piano at a later date, Cutietta believes there is still a benefit to taking either instrument first. The piano allows an individual to familiarize themselves with a "visual representation of music that is essential to understanding music theory," while the violin introduces the skill of bowing with the right hand, a technique required for other instruments. 

It's tempting to focus all your thoughts on the instrument itself and the music it will make, but this fails to take in to account the importance of planning for practice. Doing so will help determine whether it is realistic for your child to find time in their schedule to take up an instrument. On top of the lessons, there will need to be enough time for practicing for around 30 minutes most days so that they get the most out of learning. When planning a practice schedule, it would also be valuable to think about the techniques you could use to motivate your child to practice. Schwartz suggests agreeing to buy a new music book or some other useful item at the end of the month if they practice five days a week. (Courtesy of CMUSE)






Tips for Improving Hand Coordination & Muscle Memory

If you took piano lessons as a child, you may remember your teacher reminding you to learn the "three Cs"-concentration, coordination, and confidence. Of these, coordination is perhaps the trickiest skill to learn.

Many instruments-especially keyboards, guitar, and drums-require both hands (and sometimes feet) to work sometimes in tandem, sometimes against each other. This can be a problem for beginners who may be very "one-handed." When a beginner watches an experienced musician do the equivalent of patting the head and rubbing the belly at the same time, it can be off-putting. You may have heard a friend who thinks he or she is unmusical say, "I'll never get my hands to do that!" 

But all musicians know that the beginning stages of playing piano, guitar, and other instruments have a lot to do with developing hand coordination and muscle memory. That's because coordination is a learned skill, and not something musicians are born with. In other words, practice improves coordination, which is exactly why you should listen to these tips for improving hand coordination.

1. One at a Time

When learning a new piece, it's a good idea to learn the left hand (or weaker hand) part first. If you're new to playing a musical instrument, you'll find that the weaker hand needs more time to get oriented than your stronger hand.

2. Point, Counterpoint

Whether you play piano, guitar, or violin, you should learn to coordinate your hands to play different rhythms. One simple way to get started is to have the left hand tap out quarter notes and the right hand tap out eighth notes, then vice versa. Keyboard methods sometimes emphasize counterpoint or contrapuntal exercises (where the hands play different melodies) as the best way to develop coordination.

3. Quite Quiet

You can practice coordination exercises silently. Keyboard fingering exercises can be practiced on a table, and guitarists can strengthen their fretting hand by going over chord changes without strumming or picking. Exercises such as these help develop muscle memory. Do them while multitasking, when talking on the phone, or while watching a TV.

4. Be Strong

Physically strengthening your weaker hand is one facet of improving coordination. Guitarists often build up their fretting hands by habitually squeezing a tennis ball for a few minutes each day. More high tech hand and finger strengtheners include products such as GripMaster, Power Putty, and FingerWeights.

5. Choices, Choices

Should left hand guitarists fret with the right hand? It's a personal choice, although both hands, especially if you are a finger picker, need to learn intricate movements, and some lefties like to fret with their stronger hand. Plus, if a left-handed guitarist learns to fret with the left hand, he or she will have a greater choice of instruments, will be able to share instruments with right-handers, and will be able to read guitar tabs without having to switch finger positions.

6. Keep Warm

Scales and rudiments are essential to improving coordination and should be played at the beginning of every practice session as warm-up exercises. In order to avoid boredom, learn different scales and rudiments and switch between them. Along with scales, practicing arpeggios can help familiarize the sounds of different chords in different keys.

7. Take it Slower

Whether you practice coordination with scales, rudiments, arpeggios, or similar exercises, the trick is to take it slowly and deliberately at first so that your hands are learning correct technique, playing cleanly, and not picking up bad habits. At this stage, it's fine to look at your weaker hand. When you are confident that you have the correct technique, then you can try the exercises without looking at your hands and at a faster tempo.

8. Click it

A metronome is a handy tool for coordination exercises. Drummers often use a metronome (or click track) when playing rudiments to keep their strokes steady, but it's a good idea for all musicians to use a metronome for control when playing scales and other exercises.

9. Take it real Slow

One technique to improve keyboard hand coordination is to increase fine motor awareness in your fingers. Do this by pressing keys very slowly without looking at your fingers. Place your hand in the "ready position" and very slowly play the scales and make yourself aware of how each key feels to the touch as it is pressed and raised.

10. Break Out

Here's a tip for keyboard hand coordination that can be adapted for other instruments. When learning a new piece on keyboard, try playing the right hand melody with the left hand. By breaking out of the usual left hand pattern (such as chord vamping), you will increase your left hand awareness, mobility, and creativity. (Courtesy of Making Music)         


We are pleased to send you this monthly issue of our newsletter. It is our way of saying that you are important to us and we truly value your business. Enjoy!
Coming Attractions:




August 21, 2015

Summer Concert Prairie Center for the Arts


October 17,2015

Halloween Recitals


December 12, 2015

Holiday Recitals


December 13, 2015

Holiday Recitals 






Incredible Effects Music Has on Your Brain


Music has been an integral part of culture for centuries. Classical music has been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects on people, from putting people in a calmer and more relaxed state, reducing stress, and even improve intelligence. It is no wonder that appreciation for the genre is perpetuated over time, even if some of its effects have been exaggerated. Science has proven however, that classical music does actually have effects on the human brain in a variety of wonderful ways. So turn up that Mozart and read on:

1. It helps lower your anxiety and pain levels.

A lot of things make people anxious throughout the day. One example would be surgeries, where people are unsure of what is coming and become restless. Even after the surgery, traditional pharmaceutical pain-killers can only do so much. One study shows that playing Bach to patients made them more relaxed and helped decrease pain levels.

2. It can help you avoid blood pressure medications. 

By lowering your stress and calming you down, classical music has the ability to lower your blood pressure. A comparison was done between patients who didn't listen to classical music, those who listened to other forms of music, and those who did listen to classical music. The results showed that those who listened to classical music had lower systolic blood pressure levels of a noticeable amount.

3. Kiss insomnia goodbye.

Studies have shown that classical music helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The tonal patterns and rhythms put people into a more meditative mode, allowing them to fall asleep.

4. It alters your brainwaves.

Even without paying attention to the music itself, brainwaves altered themselves in children, increasing coherence between different parts of the cerebral cortex. These children also experienced a more relaxed state.

5. It cultivates your child's brain development.

While it doesn't guarantee your child will be the next Einstein or Tesla, studies have shown that teaching a child an instrument will help them surpass their peers on tests. It has also been shown to help children cultivate self-control as well as verbal and spatial skills.

6. Its superpower is reducing crime.

Classical music isn't a superhero, but it does have the ability to reduce crime in cities. Some cities around the world have started playing classical music in high traffic areas, to ensure the most people hear it. It isn't clear exactly why or how it affects the brain, but crime rates substantially were lowered, especially in areas like the rail systems, creating a cost-effective way of lowering crime rates.

7. It can soothe the savage beast.

Classical music is some of the most calming music you could ever find. Studies show it reduces stress, anxiety, and fights depression by making the brain release dopamine. This may not work on people who absolutely hate classical music, but it will help most people relax.

8. It can help your baby grow faster.

One study showed that classical music helped premature babies grow faster, allowing them a better chance at survival. Researchers don't know exactly why this happens, but they theorize that the music boosts their immune system and suppresses things like stress that would otherwise inhibit growth. Either way, this method has helped parents bring home their pre-term babies sooner. Definitely a benefit.




If you are performing at the August 21st recital at the Prairie Arts Center, please visit the front desk to purchase tickets and a DVD of the event!



PIANO FUN AND GAMES will include learning the music alphabet, learning note names on the staff, ear training and rhythm, solo and ensemble playing, flash card drills and of course music games! An excellent preparation for private lessons!  Ages 5 and 6   Tuesday    3:00 - 3:45     Sept 15 to December 15      No class Nov. 24th 13 week session - $195.00 Lesson materials to be purchased at first class approximately $16.00. 

BEGINNING VIOLIN CLASS - This class is designed for children who want to play the violin. The format includes an introduction to the instrument, playing posture, the treble clef, notes, rhythms, and playing simple tunes. Student must bring their violin to every class. Ages 5 to 7.  Monday 6:00-6:45 September 14 - December 7. 13 weeks- $195.00. Lesson materials to be purchased at the first class approximately $20.00. 




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