Archives for 2019

You are browsing the site archives by date.

There are many new young musicians this time of year, probably because their parents got their children a new guitar, they are filled with excitement and wish to be the best right away, if you know someone, or have children that are desperate to be profesional musicians this tips are for you.

Fingers on Strings

It may be a siple thing, but in the beginning, no one can press a string fully without feeling a little bit of pain, this is normal due to the lack of exercise of the fingers, flexibility and endurance. With time the skin on the tips of the fingers become harder, and pressing strings becomes much easier, to practice this, the best thing to do is to start with one string at a time, just getting the feel of it and play whatever comes to mind.

Scales

After some time of getting used to what it feels to have a guitar and playing it, comes something that is not only useful for beginners, it will be useful for the rest of a musician’s life.

Scales are in many ways, part of the bases of music, but it’s important to remember that these tips are about training before music school, so the idea is not to go too deep with music theory, the idea is to find some easy scales to practice such as.

Covers, Interpretations and Inspirations

If a young kid wants to learn how to play guitar, it’s obvious there must be an inspiration, someone that he or she looks up to, and this part is very important, because in art, everything begins with a little imitation.

Learning songs from big artists and trying to get around the difficulties of the performance should be one of the steps towards becoming a musician, not just because it helps you learn how to play, but it also carves your musical map, this is, the influences that will come later in early compositions.

However, learning how to play songs doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is fully learning how to play guitar. One of the biggest issues with children learning an instrument is that they get caught up in learning how to perform and play other people’s music, sometimes because they chose to do so, sometimes because of their parents, or going to early to a music school. The most important thing for children that are interested in music is having fun, this will make them build a connection with the instrument and will make them feel more confortable.

Commitment or Fun?

Guitar

Everyone knows that as a kid, there is no real goal or strong commitments, there is just a big playground and some rules to learn how to live, but many times different disciplines and activities enter the playground as something new and exciting that only lasts for a while. This happens with lots of things, and there are in fact many guitars around the world collecting dust in a bedroom because of this, which is not bad, everyone needs to try different things.

Parents get their children musical instruments in Christmas, mostly guitars, and there is a lot of excitement but sometimes makes them fall in love with music, others it doesn’t work. If it does, the best thing a parent can do is encourage it, because there are many benefits for a very young kid to start playing guitar such as discipline, concentration and even meeting new friends.

If there is love for music, then eventually a music school or a music teacher could be of help, but not before there is a connection with the instrument.

Read More

Being a virtuoso has a lot to do with something that is near magical, sometimes some techniques and compositions come from a place that can hardly be copied, that’s why is so easy to know when someone is being replaced in a band, someone that really made it shine, and the new person filling the spot feels like an imitation.

There are two interesting subjects that can arise when bringing up the subject of virtuosism, first there is the virtuoso as a composer and original perfomer and then there is the question of, is another virtuoso good enough to satisfy the hearing of a person that enjoyed the orginal composer?

Of course there is also another imporant part of this virtuoso dilemma that should be taken into account, which is the question of, is there virtuosism in performance only, or is it present in composition as well?

Virtuoso Performance

When it comes to performance, it’s just about playing, a musician can be a virtuoso without having the need for composing. Technique alone can make someone a virtuoso.

In concerts, the virtuoso approaches each performance, each interpretation as a unique occasion – something I feel is increasingly hard for performers when high-quality recordings are so readily available, benchmarks by which pianistic prowess is measured and which lead audiences to expect a certain manner of playing in live concerts. The virtuoso appreciates that there is no one “perfect” rendition of a Beethoven Concerto or Chopin Étude; that one should never aspire to have the “last word” on any work. It is for this reason that many of us seek out the same virtuoso performers in the same repertoire, either on disc or in concert, to hear how their view of certain works changes and develops over time. Yet for some musicians the constant revisiting of certain works (the Beethoven piano sonatas, for example), or playing them on different instruments (fortepiano, for example) suggests an overly reverential or literal attitude to the composer’s “intentions” as they perceive them, and a wish/need to make a final statement on this music and set it in stone. Such performances, for me at least, may come across not as virtuosic but rather as academic, mannered or overly precious.

The Cross-Eyed Pianist

Composition

virtuoso

The concept of virtusism is generally more tied to the performance itself, and by 19th century standards which is when this notion came to be, it referred mostly to a masculine artist that was able to perform complex pieces of music with fast and precise playing.

While this may be true, what about the composition itself? Well in the 19th century the virtuoso was the composer many times, but there were cases in which the composer would rather someone else play it. How is it that something can be thought but not performed as the composer intended it to be played?

What do we actually mean by compositional virtuosity? – A compositional sense of technical virtuosic display or mastery in the context of that art or practice in a similar or parallel sense to that of the performer. As a composer, I am not trying to steal limelight from the performer, but I am aware that the composer as an artist also must possess appropriate technique, stamina, technical agility etc. in order to be a master of their art. This is better perceived in the finished artefact (either score or performance) rather than in the process (in as much as one can separate the process from the finished result of course).

This was presented by Peter Fribbins at the Virtuosity and Performance Mastery symposium.

So in a way one must be a virtuoso in both categories in order to be able to compose something that only a virtuoso can play. However there is another factor that can’t really be measured by how polished the technique is or how fast the musician can be, sometimes it’s something else.

There is the example of one of the two greatest pianists/composers of all time Chopin and Lizst who actually shared quite a lot during their prime. Chopin said: ” I would love myself to acquire from him[Liszt]  the manner in which he plays my etudes.”

Why Lizst, shouldn’t Chopin be better at his own composition? Or is he a better composer by aknowledging the fact that someone else is better suited for the performance, not because of virtusism but Lizst personality and approach to music.

So yes virtusism is present in composition but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also present in performance. While there are no concrete answers, thinking about this may be useful when teaching or as something to just reflect upon.

Read More

When everyone thinks of Christmas, there is a song that always starts in their heads, a song that has been adapted worldwide and has become part of the Christmas spirit, this is “Jingle Bells”.

It’s interesting to think that this composition has been able to stay alive for so many years, every year it comes as if it’s tradition in the whole world to sing or listen to this song, but as many stories, few people know the story of this important piece of music, and what better opportunity to learn about its origin than a few days before Christmas.

James L. Pierpont

Christmas

Pierpont, the composer, was born in 1822, and his composition was released in 1857, however it wasn’t called “Jingle Bells” it was “One Horse Open Sleigh” but it was later changed to it’s current name due to it being a bit more family friendly.

Pierpont was a man of the Confederacy, at the time the civil war was very much alive in America. While his father and brother were fiercely against slavery, Pierpont became a supporter of the Confederacy.

When his brother was forced to close his church and return to the North in 1859 due to his abolitionist preaching, Pierpont remained in Savannah. When war broke out, he enlisted with the 1st Georgia Cavalry and served as a company clerk. His father, meanwhile, served on the Union side as chaplain of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry. During the Civil War, Pierpont wrote Confederate anthems including “Strike for the South,” “We Conquer, or Die!” and “Our Battle Flag!” The songwriter remained in Georgia after the war and lived out his final years in Florida before his death in 1893

History.com

This song was also not supposed to be a Christmas song, in fact, the lyrics never mention the word “Christmas”. It was originally intended as a song for Thanksgiving but it made it’s way into Christmas when it was included in the first Christmas record in 1889.

Lyrics (A Christmas Song?)

[Verse 1]
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 2]
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 3]
A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 4]
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

Jingle Bells Throughout The Years

While Piermont dedicated most of his life to the church and his family, his efforts as a musician have brought joy to people around the world during Christmas holidays, even though its melody changed a little bit from the original, and many versions have been made by many artists, the core of the song is still the same.

Original

Modern (Sinatra)

Bobby Helms

Many more versions exists out there, and even though the original intention was not to invoke the Christmas spirit, today, no song is more popular for this time of year than “Jingle Bells”.

Read More