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February 2016

A monthly newsletter to inform

and entertain our friends



 Are You Ready for the Stage?


Our Recitals and music contests are coming up, and our students are excited! When you are studying an instrument, it’s very important to have positive performance experiences. You’ll have fun and be motivated to work toward your next performance!


Here are some tips to help you as you prepare!


•Choose your piece early, so you have plenty of time to be familiar with it. Make sure it’s one you enjoy! 

•Give yourself extra time to practice during the first few weeks you’re working on your piece. That way, you don’t have to panic as the recital date nears!

•Practice mentally. Think through your song when you are on your lunch break or on the bus, and target the problem spots.

•Focus on rough spots: WHY are they hard?  Create solutions! 

•Choose several go-to spots in your piece and practice starting from them in case you lose your place or make a mistake.

•Keep on playing if you make a mistake in practice! Finish the song, THEN go back and fix the problem area.

•Memorize your song, even if you plan to perform with the book.

•Play for your family and friends, so you’re used to an audience. Ask them for feedback so you keep improving!


How to Improve Music Memorization Skills


Memorizing music can be a daunting task for musicians of all stripes.  Unfortunately for many of us, repetition alone is not enough.  Simply playing a piece of music from a score over and over again only teaches you to play the piece extremely well. . .but with the aid of the written page.  The key to “getting off of the page” is identifying what kind of musical learner you are, and which strategies will be most effective for you as an individual.


#1 Prepare the piece for memorization
For technically challenging works, memorization will be much more difficult if you don’t have a firm grasp of the most difficult sections beforehand.  In a similar fashion, you should have a clear picture in mind of how you would like to articulate and phrase each section before committing it to memory.

#2 Break the music down into manageable pieces
Even if you have to go one-note-at-a-time, progress is progress!

#3 Analyze the piece’s underlying form
The first step to breaking down all of the information in a song into manageable pieces is understanding its form.  Is the piece through-composed, with no information repeating itself?  Is there a discernible first section, followed by a contrasting section, and then an eventual return to the initial idea, perhaps with some variations? This is a good step to organizing and internalizing a piece of music.

#4 Identify smaller, recurring patterns in the music
Such as arpeggiated chords, passages resembling scales or other familiar musical fragments.  These can be quickly ingrained in one’s muscle memory and easily recalled.

#5 Learn by ear
Some people find music much easier to retain once they work it out by ear.  If you are brand new to a song, and it is one you would find reasonably simple to read on the page, you might consider simply skipping the reading step altogether, and simply working the tune out from a recording, if one is available.  

#6 Start and stop in different places throughout the piece
This is essential to prevent the need to start all the way back at the beginning if you get flustered during a performance!  As mentioned before, knowing the “big picture,” musically speaking, is crucial for the sake of flexibility

#7 Distract yourself
Practice other things or take a short break, then go back to memorization.  This will get you accustomed to the recall process more quickly.  Work those neurons!

#8 Play along with recordings
Playing along with some sort of accompaniment is not only fun, it inspires confidence and helps simulate the performance experience.  Don’t have an orchestra, accompanist or rhythm section awaiting your every command? Check out some great play along titles in more genres than you can shake a baton at!

#9 Record a rehearsal
No play alongs available for ensemble you are auditioning for?  Create your own play-along by recording a rehearsal and documenting the energy of your fellow musicians’ performance.

#10 Memorize often
As is the case with most musicians, practice makes perfect! If memorizing music becomes a regular process as opposed once-in-a-career ordeal, your memory will only get stronger.  Through experience, you can learn which tools will work most effectively for your particular artistry. (Courtesy of Sheet Music Plus)





Over 100 recital videos are now on YouTube! Visit "Sweet Sounds for You" to see you and your friends performing at past recitals!


Recital videos are also available on facebook!

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:



March 5, 2016

Duet Recital


May 14, 2016

IMA Contest Prep &

General Recital


Illinois Music Association

Contest May 21 & 22, 2016


August 21, 2016 

Summer Recital 


October 15, 2016

Halloween Recital 




 Leap Year Explained


Leap years synchronize the calendar year with the solar year


Why do we need leap year?

The Gregorian calendar, which now serves as the standard calendar for civil use throughout the world, has both common years and leap years. A common year has 365 days and a leap year 366 days, with the extra, or intercalary, day designated as February 29. A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun, which is about 365¼ days.

The length of the solar year, however, is slightly less than 365¼ days—by about 11 minutes. To compensate for this discrepancy, the leap year is omitted three times every four hundred years.

In other words, a century year cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. Thus 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years.

What are your chances of being born on leap day?

About 1 in 1,500.

When is the birthday party?

If you are born on a Leap Year, do you get your driver's license on February 28th or March 1st? It is an ambiguous question that is decided by each state. Most states, however, consider March 1st the official day. For instance, the Michigan Vehicle Code states that people born on February 29th "are deemed to have been born on March 1st."

How many people were born on leap day?

There are about 187,000 people in the US and 4 million people in the world who were born on Leap Day.

The rules for determining a leap year

Most years that can be divided evenly by 4 are leap years. 

Exception: Century years are NOT leap years UNLESS they can be evenly divided by 400.

When did leap year originate?

The Gregorian calendar is closely based on the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. The Julian calendar featured a 12-month, 365-day year, with an intercalary day inserted every fourth year at the end of February to make an average year of 365.25 days. But because the length of the solar year is actually 365.242216 days, the Julian year was too long by .0078 days (11 minutes 14 seconds).

This may not seem like a lot, but over the course of centuries it added up, until in the 16th century, the vernal equinox was falling around March 11 instead of March 21. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the calendar by moving the date ahead by 11 days and by instituting the exception to the rule for leap years. This new rule, whereby a century year is a leap year only if divisible by 400, is the sole feature that distinguishes the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar.

Following the Gregorian reform, the average length of the year was 365.2425 days, an even closer approximation to the solar year. At this rate, it will take more than 3,000 years for the Gregorian calendar to gain one extra day in error. (Courtesy of infoplease)


The Telharmonium


Thaddeus Cahill invented the instrument he called the Telharmonium in 1897. The huge instrument produced music electronically by turning different-sized tone wheels with electric generators (dynamos). The tones generated were sent down telephone lines. The tone wheels could be adjusted to sound like different musical instruments, so the player at the keyboard could imitate an entire orchestra. The Teharmonium took up a lot of room: the first version weighed over 200 tons and required twelve train cars to move it! But the Telharmonium didn’t have to be moved often; concerts were arranged to be heard over telephones. There were only three Telharmoniums ever built before it was eclipsed by other, less expensive instruments. Unfortunately, no recording of the Telharmonium exists. (Courtesy of Mental Floss)

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