Arturo Riera

Arturo Riera

It’s always healthy to feel like there is some competition in every discipline, this includes music. These “competitions” however, are not exclusively with another person, it also involves ourselves and surpassing our past selves.

This kind of motivation is sometimes thought to be unhealthy or unnecessary, but the truth is that it can be fuel for motivation. The thing is not to make it something bigger than it really is, what this means is that if there is someone that you feel is better at singing than you, you shouldn’t try to imitate him and win at his own game, but rather find the best that your voice can be, in order to feel like you can be as good as any other singer.

With students this can be a delicate situation sometimes, because there is always an unbalanced pool of students that teachers have to deal with. This of course doesn’t happen in online lessons, unless there is some sort of interaction between the students of one teacher which could be a good a idea.

Online lessons sometimes lack this competition between students due to the nature of the class dynamic, and in order to see if it can be possible, let’s see the flaws and benefits of these competitions, and how it could be integrated into online music lessons.

Class Room Competition

There is always that one student that is extremely talented and focused, and there is always that one student that gets frustrated because he’s not as good as the other students.  One is proud and the other frustrated. These are two profiles that often arise in a classroom, but this is not all bad, while it may cause some trouble, in the end it works as some kind of filter, where the frustrated one can go two ways, one is getting bored, slowly losing interest because it’s too difficult or not worth their frustration, or it can become an obstacle to overcome, in this case, a competition against the one with the amazing talent, and against himself in a way that pushes him to be better. However as teachers, it must be reminded to students that self satisfaction is the most important thing when it comes to competition, nothing good comes from being better than someone else as a goal, competition is the means to achieving a personal goal.

Competition in Online Lessons

The whole idea of the internet is to stay connected, to be connected with other people even though a physical connection cannot be possible, that’s why online music lessons shouldn’t be isolated one on one classes, at least not always. It’s a good idea to establish a connection between students and let them know that they can share their ideas, help each other out in a way a teacher can’t and make bonds that sometimes will end up in competitive attitudes. Another very clear way to make this competition spirit arise is to start music contests involving prizes and recognition for their work.

There are many ways to start a competition, the teacher’s job in this case is to make them remember that a competition is not a bad thing if it can be channeled into energy to learn new things and practice.

Whether it’s online or in a class room, interaction with several students in a teacher’s plan is important to develop a fuller learning environment in which students can surpass their own expectations and feel like they are closer to their goals as a musician.

 

 

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There is an ongoing problem about the way we approach to tools or instruments today, which makes us focus more on how to use them rather than understanding how they work.

Some may say that it’s not necessary to know how an instrument works, or how it was made, however the same could be said about music in general. You could say someone is very good at playing, but doesn’t know a thing about scales, notes, and music reading. The point is that, this can stay this way  but there would be more control and freedom for creativity if there is also the knowledge to support the practice. The same goes to the instruments themselves, wouldn’t it be better if you knew how a guitar was made, or how the piano produces the sound it does, or knowing about the difference between one type of strings or another, it even goes as far as knowing about sound waves and materials.

How is sound produced?

There are a lot of vibrating causes, these include vocal cords and strings with tension, but to make vibration there must be a certain amount of tension in the vibrating body. These different vibrations can also be amplified in very different ways which involve different sizes of bodies, mics and more.

Sound can be quite malleable, and to understand its malleability it’s important to know at least a few of the sources.

Strings, percussion and wind

There are obvious differences between each of the instruments that can be found, but first, it’s important to make a first division in these three main categories: strings, percussion and wind.

Strings

These are instruments that sound due to the tension of strings mostly made of nylon and steel. As the vibration area becomes smaller the pitch gets higher, and more space means lower pitch.

This category is comprised of guitars, basses, violins, violas, cellos, harps, and many more.

Percussion

Percussion is all about “hitting” musical notes, this means that they are simple instruments which sound based on size and in many cases tension of leather.

These instruments range from barrels to drum sets.

Wind

These trigger sound with air, more specifically vibrating columns of air. These instruments are played by blowing which then makes the column of air vibrate, depending on its size the pitch is higher or lower, and it gets amplified by the tube.

Wind instruments are

Tuning an instrument

Tuning an instrument is an essential part of playing, not only is it necessary to maintain the right notes, but it gives more freedom as to the sound that we want to make. For example many guitarists use the drop d tuning, which is mainly used for power chords, hard rock, metal; it gives a heavier deep sound but also more possibilities with easy chords.

One of the most beautiful things for many before an orchestra is about to play is when everyone is tuning their instruments at the same time, for some it may be a disaster, but others hear many different sounds slowly falling into a place where great music can be achieved, it’s as if everyone in the room is synchronizing both in terms of sound and mind to deliver an experience.

Computer

Through experiencing music in the digital age, knowing how to manipulate sound to a certain degree it’s almost a requirement these days, and a computer is part of music composition as an instrument, it’s part of production, and a very integral part of the whole musical process. That’s why knowing at least how sound works digitally could help the overall knowledge in music.

There is just something important about getting to know a little bit more about the instruments we use, something beyond understanding how it works and fix it when it goes bad, it’s about getting the whole experience as a musician and learning every detail there is to learn.

 

 

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It’s common sense that music is something that is heard, listened, it goes through our ears, we are able to register sound and that way we can experience music, however there is a very important visual part of music, some are also a part of common sense or logic, others form part of aspects that aren’t very explored and could bring a lot to what music is to the world.

First of all, most people are generally more visually driven, this makes every experience begin with sight, and shortly after sounds. This is how classical music interpreters approach their art, they begin reading their sheets and then make the sounds through their instruments. Music academies are very visual in general due to the fact that there is so much emphasis on reading and writing music.

There is also a thing with beginners that is a very common and instinctively thing to do, which is looking exactly at what you’re doing, which is something that does not happen while singing, in singing you hear and you feel, playing and instrument, beginners see and hear, which is not a bad thing at all, it just happens. The thing is that as a beginner musician progresses, they no longer feel the need to watch every move every single time, while it works as support, it is no longer needed.

Visual Sounds

There is also a case that cannot be ignored, which is disabilities, this can change the way music is perceived as a whole, and if a person is deaf, you may think that, that person has no way to experience music but that is not true. A deaf person can still read and write music, and it’s not weird to feel music, when we go to a concert or we are in a party our body feels the vibrations of the rhythm, and this responds to another sense.

There is another way a deaf person can experience music, and while it’s not very common, it does happen, and this is to experience sounds, visually, this can be a bit strange to some but according to… amber Galloway Gallego this can be achieved.

She believes that music can still be expressed without actually hearing and criticizes many translators that just cue a sign that means “music” and just stand there while the sound of music is there, when you could actually do so much more.

This is not only a good effort to help disabled people experience music in a visual way, it is also a reminder of how complex and rich can music be.

While visual experiences can be a very good complement of the sounds themselves, such as going to a concert and seeing all the lights, fires, smoke, and breathtaking effects, music videos published along side the music to help tell a story, or even album covers; the visual part of music can also be the experience itself whether it is through music composition and reading or as a tool to interpret sounds and what the musician is trying to express.

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