Archives for 23 Nov,2008

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Audacity is a software package used for digital audio editing. It works in Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and other operating systems. It is also absolutely free, which is fantastic for musicians or students on ANY budget.

I originally encouraged students to download this program so they can write and record their original songs and create band demos. Several students are also considering careers in live sound and recording, so for them this is an easy, inexpensive springboard into computer based recording. Audacity has been used by my students for multi-track recording, converting cassettes to CD or MP3, and for creating small, portable recording systems for live recording.

Screen shot of a demo a student is recording.

An unintended benefit is that Audacity has also been evolving into a valuable practice and self improvement tool for the students of my studio.

There are three easy ways to use Audacity to enhance your practice time:

1) Recording practices

2) Slowing down the tempo of a song without changing pitch

3) Looping difficult sections for focused practice


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I decided to do a book review this time, because I realize that as music teachers, we are contstantly looking for interesting content to teach our students. I have been using Pro Vocal Jazz Standards for Female Singers for a few years now and I wanted to recommend it to the MTH community.

Pro Vocal Jazz Standards for Female Singers features 8 Jazz Standards including Bye Bye Blackbird (Carmen McRae) – Come Rain or Come Shine (Judy Garland) – Fever (Peggy Lee) – The Girl from Ipanema (Astrud Gilberto) – Lullaby of Birdland (Ella Fitzgerald) – My Funny Valentine (Sarah Vaughan) – Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time) (Lena Horne) – Tenderly (Rosemary Clooney).   The arrangements are easy to follow and are in keys that are friendly to most beginner voices. The melodies are also very impressive to those students that say they “don’t like Jazz”. I had a few of those and as soon as I used some of the songs from this book, they realized that they had been wrong all along.

The book also comes with a CD of back up tracks as well as demo tracks. This CD is very different from regular Karaoke CDs because the music is recorded by a real professional Jazz band.  The recording makes it feel like you are singing with a real band.

I haven’t tried any other Pro Vocal, but I’m interested in recommendations from the MTH community. If you have tried any other Pro Vocal books, please post and let us know if it’s worth our time and money.

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Recitals are a great opportunity for both the students and the teacher to exhibit the progress made throughout the year.  Parents play a big part as well, and should be shown their role as the supportive team behind their kids.  Many wonderful teachers have given suggestions for the information below.  This list of etiquette rules is not exhaustive and is not mandatory.  However, it has been a tool (though some things are changed from the way my studio handles it) helpful and strategic to avoid any confusion or chaos.  🙂  Important issues to address are noise control, dress code, staying the duration of the recital or not, being prompt, applause for all students, and materials to bring (refreshments, music, etc).  I hope this will be a blessing and resource to all of you and that your recitals this Christmas season will be special beyond compare.  Have a wonderful week!

Recital Etiquette:
1.    Please plan on staying for the entire recital. It is rude to stay only for your child’s performance. If you absolutely must leave during the recital, please wait for the applause and then move as quickly and as quietly as possible. It is expected that those families that need to leave early will give notice of such prior to the day of the recital.

2.    The recital will begin promptly at 3 p.m. Please make the necessary arrangements to be at least 10-15 minutes early. Please allow your child and self ample time. Rushing in just before the recital will not be conducive to a relaxed, comfortable performance. Plan extra time.

3.    Please refrain from any talk, whisper, or chatter during the performances. Students please set a good example by demonstrating appropriate audience behavior. (This, of course, goes for parents too!)

4.    Be sure ALL mobile/cell phones, pagers, beepers, digital watches, and the like are OFF. It is distracting to both the performer and the listener.

5.    Please leave electronic games/portable electronic devices (CD players, walkmans, game boy, etc.) at home. Attention should be on the listening of the people performing.

6.    Videotaping is fine provided it is not noisy. If you do choose to videotape, please be sure you are not obstructing anyone’s view. Consider arriving early for better placement of your camera. I would prefer flash photography be delayed until after the performance as the flash and advancing film noise can be quite distracting.  The studio makes a DVD of the entire performance for $6.00.  Please let me know in advance if you would like a copy.

7.    Give enthusiastic and encouraging applause to ALL of the students! They have worked hard all year!

Students and Parents:
**Please wear dress clothes.
Jeans, open toe shoes, etc. are not acceptable attire for a recital. Parents, you don’t have to be dressed fancy, but you should be dressed up and look neat.
**Suggested attire: Boys: suit and dress shoes or button-down shirt with dress pants and dress shoes. Khaki pants and knit shirts are NOT dress attire. Girls: Either a dress or blouse and skirt/dress pants. DO wear proper hosiery! Please choose your footwear carefully; those fashionable thickly heeled and soled shoes may be cute and stylish but may not be conducive to proper pedal technique. DO practice your recital piece(s) in the shoes you intend to wear the day of the recital. Please note: students who are not dressed appropriately for the recital will NOT be permitted to perform. No exceptions.
**All students are required/highly encouraged to have their recital repertoire memorized. For those students who do not have pieces memorized, please remember to bring your materials.
**Students may sit with families until it is their turn to play. Order of recital will be given in advance of the recital day.
**You may invite anyone; there is no limit on seating.
**Seating is available on first come, first serve basis. The studio is not responsible for where people choose to sit.

Please let me know if you have anything to add to this list… it is ever being fine-tuned, edited, and added-to.  🙂

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