Keeping Up With Piano Practice Over The Holiday Season

Keeping Up With Piano Practice Over The Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … 

It’s also one of the busiest times of the year. 

If you’re having trouble finding the time to fit everything in between parties and activities and dinners, don’t let piano practice be the one activity that takes the hit. It’s easy to push piano practice aside, figuring it can wait until the new year when things return to normal. 

And while kids need a break from the same old routine, stepping away from the piano means a lot of the work they’ve done up until this point will be forgotten and disappear. 

Instead of taking a breather from playing the piano, change up the routine over the holidays instead. You can change the way your child practices the piano by doing these four things instead. 

Encourage mini recitals and sing-a-longs

Have you ever noticed you do more singing around the holidays? That’s because the most well-loved songs come out and become a part of our daily lives. Have your child work up a selection of music appropriate for their skill level. Then have them either play it in mini recital format, or create a family sing-a-long. Either way, it’s a great way to have your child show off their skills. 

Surprise your piano teacher

While you might want to give your piano teacher a special gift for the holidays, what they’d like even more is if you surprise them with a new song on the day of the first lesson after the holidays. Work ahead in your practice book, or find sheet music of a song you love. 

Download a new app

When was the last time you looked in the app store for piano apps? You might be surprised at the number of new apps that have been added. Help your child select a new app – find a game that helps them practice, or an app that lets them create their own music. You’re sure to find something that keeps their creative juices flowing. 

Go shopping for new music together

It’s easy to stick with the piano lesson books assigned by your piano teacher. But when was the last time you browsed through the available sheet music at your favorite music store? Let your child select a few songs appropriate for their skill level, and let them work on something new during the holidays. 

How Playing Piano Can Create Mindfulness

How Playing Piano Can Create Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the process of becoming fully aware of the present moment. It’s about becoming fully aware of thoughts, feelings, and actions, and using them to stay calm and focused on where you are. 

While how well mindfulness impacts a person’s health is still out for question, studies show that it does have impact with everything from anxiety and depression, to post traumatic stress disorder. 

When people think mindfulness, they usually think of meditation. But increasing evidence suggests that playing the piano can have a similar effect. Playing the piano offers proven benefits that more people are paying attention to – both physical, mental, social, and emotional impact. 

Physically, when you play the piano, it can have therapeutic results. While you play, anxiety, heart rate, blood pressure, and even immune responses decrease right along with it. 

Mentally, playing the piano may increase your thinking ability. A study conducted by one researcher showed that when kids were active in different after school activities, those who were given piano lessons saw the largest increase in IQ

Socially, piano gives you more focus and perseverance. Playing the piano takes time and effort. It’s not something you’ll accomplish in a matter of weeks; it’s a lifetime endeavor. It takes practice and patience, and makes you a better team player. 

Emotionally, playing the piano increases your listening skills. When you play, you listen for distinct differences in tone, speed, even quality of the music. This transfers over to both voice and body language of the people around you. Piano players make better listeners at reading different situations.

Want to give your child mindfulness early in life? Maybe it’s time to have them start playing the piano.  

Why You Should Consider A Silent Piano

Why You Should Consider A Silent Piano

Playing the piano in a busy household can sometimes be a problem. More people quit the piano because – “I don’t have time to play.”

It’s not necessarily they are too busy and are never home to sit down in play. Instead, it comes down to having the time to practice when no one else is around. 

Practicing the piano isn’t like turning up your audio equipment and listening to some music. 

Practice is choppy – you play slowly trying to master the tune. 

Practice is repetitious – you might practice the same line over and over again. 

Practice is boring – from the outside, it can be quite tedious listening to someone practice. Scales, short stanzas, and simple tunes aren’t always exciting for people listening. 

Especially if those family members have an agenda of their own. 

Ever had each of your kids trying to do something at the same time? One can’t concentrate on getting homework done while the other is practicing. 

That’s why digital pianos are popular. You can plug in headphones and only the person wearing them will hear. 

But there is another way. The silent piano is still an acoustic piano, but it has the possibility of muting the sound enough where only the person wearing headphones can here. 

That’s perfect for homework sessions, or if you feel like practicing in the middle of the night. 

You can usually pick out silent pianos in two ways if you visit a showroom floor. 

Look for the acoustic piano with a headphone lying nearby. 

Look for the acoustic piano with a console attached underneath the keyboard either on the right or left hand side. It will give you access to plugin a headphone jack with an audio-out option. 

This is made possible by having the console producing sound digitally when the silent piano mode is used. Because the samples are produced using a high-quality acoustic piano, it will sound similar to when you play without the silent mode. Signals are used to go between the two units, so as you touch the keys on the keyboard, it calculates what sound to produce in silent mode. 

These units also allow you to record your performance, which can be a great way of critiquing your practice sessions from time to time. 

Is a silent piano the right choice for you? 

Finding The Perfect Place For My Piano

Finding The Perfect Place For My Piano

“Just stick it in the corner.” 

“Put it against the wall.”

If you’ve had a piano delivered to your home, you might have uttered a phrase similar to the ones above. But are they the best choices? Where is the perfect place to put a piano? Does it make a difference?

While it may sound like sound vibrates throughout a piano, in truth, it’s created by the soundboard. The soundboard is a large piece of wood that amplifies the vibration of the strings. 

If you were to pluck a string, it wouldn’t create much sound. You wouldn’t get the rich tonal quality you expect every time you strike a key on your piano. That’s why the soundboard is in place.  

Depending on what type of piano you’re playing determines where the soundboard is placed. On an upright, the soundboard sits right in front of you as you play the piano. All sound vibrates back at you. For an upright, the soundboard is lying flat. The sound vibrates up towards the lid before bouncing back out into the environment. 

The upright pushes sound back towards the player, while the grand pushes sound out towards the audience. That’s one of the primary reasons you see grands used in concert settings. 

If you place an upright along the wall, the sound will be flattened by the wall, and bounce back through, possibly into the music rack. That further muffles the sound, making it softer, more closed. 

If you place a grand in the corner, an open lid will bounce sound up, out from the lid, into the wall, and project the sound out into the room. Think of it as a projection system, one that can add greater concentration of sound throughout the room. 

This doesn’t mean a corner is the best choice for piano placement. What it does showcase is placement matters. Be conscious of where you place your piano depending on the results you hope to achieve. 

Walls make a difference. Be conscious of how close you put either uprights or grands in your home. It can significantly impact sound quality. 

Be careful if you have drapes or rugs nearby as they can further deaden sound. 

If you have further questions on creating the perfect music room, just ask. We’re here to help with all of your piano needs. 

The Science Behind Learning The Piano

The Science Behind Learning The Piano

Why do you play the piano? Ask dozens of students and they’ll all give you different reasons. For fun. For enjoyment. For skill. Possibly even for a career. 

What’s more, learning the piano can ensure a lifelong skill. Unlike sports or other activities, piano is something you can enjoy and take part in for the rest of your life. And there’s further reason to so. According to many studies, there are many benefits of learning to play the piano

It increases brain processing

As we age, the ability to process usually slows down. Some studies show that if you continue to be active in playing the piano, the process doesn’t occur as fast. Playing the piano can also help slow memory loss, giving you the ability to continue to work through complex problems much longer in life. 

It helps with comprehension

Have you heard that musicians are better at math? There’s scientific evidence proving it. If you’ve heard of “The Mozart Effect”, it showed that even listening to Mozart for ten minutes before performing specific tasks can increase a wide variety of skills, including comprehension. A great reason to put classical music on while you study or attempt to solve problems. 

It helps with coordination

If you’ve ever sat down at the piano for even a moment, you know it takes a lot of concentration to put every action together. Both hands touch different notes, while your eyes focus on reading sheet music. That means every time you sit down you’re working at controlling both hand and eye coordination. 

Learning the piano no matter what your age can give you a lifetime of enjoyment. It’s something you can play, listen to, and enjoy for many years to come. 

Are you ready to learn the piano? Get started by finding the perfect piano for your home. Stop by today and see our full selection of acoustic and digital pianos. There’s a perfect one waiting for you. 

Want To Install a Player System On Your Piano?

Want To Install a Player System On Your Piano?

For many piano players, playing the piano is only part of what they enjoy; the other is listening to a favorite composition or piece of music. And while you can always pop a CD into your music system, or tune into your favorite channel on Spotify, why not restore your piano to include a player system? 

Installing a player system on your piano can give your piano new life. It can put your piano on display, and keep it active and healthy while you enjoy the music you’ve grown to love. 

The first step is to evaluate player systems. Each system comes with its own array of add-on components and abilities. They can range in price and offer a variety of functionalities, depending on your ultimate desire. 

They can include things like:

  • Large music libraries
  • Recording features
  • Playlist functionality
  • iPad interfaces
  • Ability to incorporate other instruments into the mix

If you want to install a player system on your piano, the best way to approach it is during the restoration process. That way, it’s fully integrated with new parts and new systems, and will be an investment you grow to love for years to come. 

Are you ready to update your piano with a player system? 

Use One Of These Metronome Apps For Better Piano Playing

Use One Of These Metronome Apps For Better Piano Playing

Playing the piano today means striking a balance between old technology and digital helpers. Even if you prefer an acoustic piano passed down from your parents or grandparents, you can’t deny using apps to make the playing and learning process a little easier. 

For many piano players, using a metronome is a part of regular practice. It can be an essential process for learning new music. But how do you know what’s the best metronome app to purchase? You don’t know how good it is until after you make the purchase and download it to your digital device. Check out these metronome apps, available on both IoS and Android. 

Metronome+ 

Metronome Plus is a musician’s toolkit available to IoS users. It offers free solutions with more detailed tools available through in-app purchases. The metronome mode is sleek and simple, with customization available to suit your needs. You’ll also find things like a recorder to record and share your practice session, auto loop functions to adjust the tempo over time, and a setlist to record your favorite settings. 

MetroTimer

MetroTimer is available for both IoS and Android devices. It offers a timer feature below the metronome that helps you pace your practice sessions. While the free version is basic, upgrade and you can access things like custom time signatures, accents and subdivisions, interactive beat editor, and a preset list. 

Metronome

Metronome by Gismart offers a basic free version with upgrades that give you a more intuitive interface. This app offers digital and classic experiences, letting you control the interface. You can also practice your rhythm and timing using a Bird Beat game that helps with memorization and rhythm patterns. 

Pulse

Pulse is a simple, straightforward app that has a sleek design. All of the options you’ll need – subdivisions, time signatures, etc – are available in the settings menu, and it’s one of the few that memorizes your current settings and uses them the next time it’s opened. 

Tempo

Tempo is an iOS app available in both free and paid format. The free version is simple with all the basics you’ll need to get started – 8 time signatures, 6 rhythm patterns, 2 color themes, and an Italian tempo marking option. For even more, upgrade from Tempo Light to the full app.

Do you use a metronome app not mentioned here?

Why Every Note On Your Piano Uses Multiple Strings

Why Every Note On Your Piano Uses Multiple Strings

f you’ve ever looked inside your acoustic piano, you’ve noticed a plethora of strings attached to tiny hammers that move every time you press down on a key. 

While it might seem like a piano would have one string attached to every note, that isn’t the case. Depending on the key you strike, the note will be produced with one, two, or even three strings. 

The higher notes on the piano will use three strings to produce a sound. 

The lower notes will use two strings. 

The lowest notes will have a single string. Why Every Note On Your Piano Uses Multiple Strings

What’s more, if you use the damper pedal to create a quieter sound, the strings are impacted by the action as well. When you press the damper pedal, the action is shifted inside the piano so that the hammer strikes fewer strings – it moves down to one or two. 

Head back in time; the piano was originally called piano-forte. Loosely translated, forte means strong, or loud. That’s because when striking the keys, you can produce a loud, full-bodied sound like no other instrument. The strings allow this transfer of energy to occur. 

If you had just one string attached to every key, the higher notes would produce a smaller sound. Those upper notes wouldn’t have the same high-quality tone and volume that you get from the lower notes. Multiple strings provide more tension. Multiple strings give you a more robust sound. 

Multiple strings also provide a tuner a greater chance of producing a quality sound. As a tuner is working to bring each note into tune, she can actually detune the string combinations to change the timbre. As she compares note to note, her goal is to produce a rich, warmer sound. 

The strings on your piano are vitally important to the sound of your piano. If they are out of tune, you’ll hear it every time you press down on a key. 

When was the last time you had your piano tuned?

The Correct Way To Sit – It Makes All The Difference In Playing The Piano

The Correct Way To Sit – It Makes All The Difference In Playing The Piano

Did you know there’s a proper way to sit? 

Sitting the wrong way can cause a variety of health problems, including heart disease, circulation disorders, strained neck, bad back, muscle degeneration … the list goes on and on. 

We’re just now starting to realize the impact sitting for long periods of time has on our physical body. But science is also discovering that it can impact other things too, such as your ability to play the piano. 

Slouching is bad. When you slouch at the piano, your shoulders are curved, your back is rounded, your head tilts down. It isn’t a pretty sight. The Correct Way To Sit - It Makes All The Difference In Playing The Piano

Now compare that to someone who sits up straight. They’re engaged. They are fun to watch. And they play better too. 

Remember the old adage: sit up straight? You may have heard that in school or even with your first piano instructors. Turns out that isn’t true. There’s more to it than sitting up straight. It’s about good posture first and foremost. 

If you “sit up straight”, you tend to puff out your chest, which also puts your back at risk. 

Instead, focus on sitting so your tailbone is properly aligned. Imagine a tail sweeping out and away from your body. Sit properly to ensure it’s comfortable. 

It’s not just about sitting. Your hand placement should also be placed in proper position. If they aren’t, your arms and hands will start to hurt, especially if you practice hours each day. This strain can lead to a variety of health problems. 

Good hand placement doesn’t just make you better at playing, it also impacts your tonal quality. The person who is hunched over can’t get the same power into the notes that someone sitting upright and fully extended. 

For proper hand placement, sit far enough away from the keyboard so the fingertips rest on the keys without effort. The feet should reach the pedals without stretching. Your fingers should naturally curve in toward your body, with your knuckles slightly curved away. The wrist should be relaxed. Your arm should never tense.

While this might feel unnatural at first, with practice, you’ll feel better, and play better too. 

How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

Have you ever heard a song that didn’t sound quite right? You couldn’t’ quite put your finger on it, but you knew something was wrong. 

The melody was off. Or maybe it was the harmony. 

Or maybe it was the rhythm. 

When comparing the three, rhythm is by far the one thing that can change the way you play than all the others. 

Why? Sit down and play music with no thought process about rhythm. Just pluck out the notes in a random order. 

Not much of a song, is it? How A Metronome Can Make You A Better Player

Rhythm controls tempo. It sets the speed. It also creates structure. 

Rhythm is the technical part of the song. Have you ever mentally walked through a song, practicing it in your mind before you sit down to play? The best piano players in the world do this continuously in their minds. They see themselves on stage. They hear their music in their minds. And what improves it all is to keep a regular beat. 

A metronome can help you keep that beat. 

Try an experiment. Set the metronome for your desired song. Before you sit down to play it, play it in your mind first, following the beat. See yourself playing it. Hear it in your mind. Hear the rhythm. Feel how you play it. 

Now sit down at the keyboard and play it for real. Do you notice it’s easier?

Also, try using a metronome when you’re first learning a song. Listen to the “tick tick” and adjust your playing to keep up with the beat. Play through difficult passages, playing again and again until you get it right. You can even use the visualization technique with the metronome keeping the beat. 

Do you notice a difference in your playing?