How To Describe The Voice of Your Piano

How To Describe The Voice of Your Piano

Just like people, pianos have unique voices.

The grand piano in the lobby of a five-star hotel sounds a lot different than the piano that lived in the living room of your parents’ home. But what makes pianos sound different from one another?

A piano’s voice differs from whether it’s in tune. Tuning a piano involves adjusting the strings’ tension.

A piano’s unique voice comes from the sound that the hammers make when they hit the piano’s strings. The felt covering on these hammers can vary in hardness, density, surface area, and quality. All of these factors affect the sound of each note played, giving your piano its unique voice.

A piano’s tone can be shifted with a process called “piano voicing.” Experienced piano technicians usually do this in order to even out the tones of individual notes. Voicing the whole piano to make it have a different voice is possible, but it takes an experienced professional to do it well, and it takes a long time.

Want to describe your piano’s voice? Here are some words to do so.

Warm, Mellow

Warm-sounding pianos are well-balanced and appealing. Many technicians try to voice pianos to sound warm, as it works for most types of music. A warm sound is also generally appealing to listeners. 

Bright, Shrill

Bright voiced pianos have a higher sound, creating music that is lively, clear, and pleasant. This higher sound may sound shrill to some ears.

Dark

Pianos that are bass-heavy have a dark voice with a booming, rich sound. Too much bass can make a piano sound unbalanced, and this can sometimes be a sign of cheaply-made hammers.

Rich

Rich-sounding pianos have a lot of auditory interest. They have enhanced bass and treble tones, while still feeling balanced. A rich-sounding piano is more interesting to listen to, as it provides more complex tones.

Big, Powerful

Pianos with a “big” sound are usually found in concert halls and stages, where they can be heard and enjoyed by many. Pianos with a big voice have a lot of power and can easily fill a room.

Clear and Even

Clarity of piano sound generally comes from a well-made piano that’s been finely tuned. It’s hard to sustain perfect clarity and evenness in a piano, especially over time. New pianos are naturally more even, as the felt on the hammers has not been worn down yet.

So which sound is best?

A concert pianist may prefer a piano with a big, rich sound, while you might prefer the relaxing sound of a warm, mellow piano in your own home. While some pianos sound generally appealing to people, such as ones with a warm or rich sound, there is ultimately not a definitive “best sounding” piano out there. It’s all down to personal preference: beauty is in the ear of the listener!

Why Playing The Piano Can Bring Comfort

Why Playing The Piano Can Bring Comfort

Think back to your childhood. What songs take you back?

Or how about your high school prom? Is there music that quickly makes you reminisce about that time in your life? 

Or a song played at your wedding? A favorite band you have every song downloaded to your phone? 

Or even played an instrument from the time you were little, enjoying the process of creating music? 

There’s a reason for that. Music stimulates natural chemicals inside each of us. It triggers endorphins and impacts our mood. Ever been in a lousy mood, listened to a few of your favorite songs, and felt your feeling lift? That’s music in all its power. 

While we’ve long since realized music is perfect for relaxation, entertainment, and even distraction, we’re only just starting to realize its power for so much more. Music therapy is a growing modality that can help with all kinds of issues, including developmental, rehabilitative, preventative, wellness care, and mental healing. 

There are many ways to use music in therapy. For some, the mere act of listening can have amazing calming effects. 

Increasingly, we’re also finding being involved in music can take wellness to an entirely different level. The act of playing can stimulate many different triggers, help you find peace and wellness from within. 

Head to your favorite music site – Pandora, Spotify, or Sirius. Now look at playlists meant for calming or relaxing moments. Chances are you’ll find a variety of piano solos and acoustic numbers there to help you calm. 

Piano is soothing to the soul. Listening to it can bring a sense of well-being just by listening to it. Now get in the act, touch the keys, and play. It increases heightened awareness, and brings relaxation to an entirely different level. 

One study found in dementia, music can improve mood, behavior, and in some cases, cognitive function, which can persist for hours and days after the music stops.

Another found that Music Therapy has been proven to bring patients suffering from the effects of dementia to a better place emotionally and cognitively.

Some patients who have severe dementia may show little cognitive function in many areas of life, yet still have the ability to create music

No matter where you are today, if you’ve ever had a desire to start playing the piano, it can be one of the best decisions you’ll make for a more stress-free, happier life. 

20, 40, 60 – How Many Lessons To Master The Piano

20, 40, 60 – How Many Lessons To Master The Piano

Taking up a new hobby isn’t an easy task. We have a desire to start something new. We watch the greats of the world make it look easy. We have goals – we want to feel a sense of accomplishment. But is it doable? 

The shortest way to success is to follow in the footsteps of others. Teachers can cut the learning curve, but what are your expectations?

A common question people have about mastering the piano is: How long until I can play? How many lessons does it take to master the piano? 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer. 

There are two parts to this question?

  • What do you mean by mastering the piano?
  • How do you define a lesson?

What do you mean by mastering the piano?

When people decide to take up the piano, they have different goals in mind. Some have a song they really want to play. Others want to join a band and make it their career. 

What’s your goal? How do you see yourself in the future? How far do you want to take playing the piano? 

The more complex your skills, the longer it will take. You can achieve different levels with realistic goals in mind. 

How do you define a lesson?

Along with different goals and desires comes the ability to work towards your goals. How would you define your approach? 

Does a lesson to you mean a 30-minute, once-per-week session with an instructor? Or do you look at lessons as working with workbooks, playing along with apps and videos, and even working in group format online? 

Do you count the practice it takes to achieve your weekly goals? Do you have the time to dedicate yourself to many different playing levels throughout the week? 

The difference can change both your expectations and your outcomes. 

How much playing is needed to master the piano? 

The number of hours of instruction varies depending on who you are. We all have our own approaches, our own desires, and our own sense of accomplishment. The important thing is sticking to your plan and getting to a level that makes you happy. 

This is all about enjoyment. Playing the piano is about improving each day, and loving what you do. 

Summertime Piano Practice Tips

Summertime Piano Practice Tips

It’s summertime! Time to slow down and enjoy a few weeks of lazy days and summertime play. 

But before you put your books on the shelf and close the lid to your piano until cooler days, think again. 

There are ways to incorporate the things you love into your daily routines without it feeling like a chore. Your child doesn’t have to leave all of their hobbies behind, waiting for the school bells to ring again. In fact, it’s better if they keep practicing, and don’t let their newly acquired skills disappear. 

What can you do to encourage piano playing without it feeling like they’re back in school? Consider these piano practice tips to avoid the summertime blues.

Change when you practice

During the school year, you build piano practice into your daily routine. Maybe before your child catches the bus for school. Or immediately upon arriving home from school. Because summertime changes that routine, make your piano practicing routine different too. How about after their favorite morning TV show? Or in the heat of the day when it’s time to cool down from being outside? Selecting a new time can bring freshness to the routine, and make your child a more willing participant. 

Select new music

What music does your child like to listen to? Do they have a favorite musician? You can find sheet music at all kinds of playing levels. If you haven’t searched online for sheet music, try SheetMusicPlus or MusicNotes. You’ll find thousands of arrangements, something perfect for every level of piano player in your home. Push aside more traditional routines, and let your child have fun with how they learn. 

Incorporate piano into vacation plans

Have you found a way to bring piano into your vacation plans? Concerts in the park take place all across the world, and offer a fun way to bring music into your life. Check in with your local symphony; they often bring a traveling orchestra into the community. Bringing your child can open up opportunity. They may see their new hobby in a different light. Depending on where you travel, you may be able to see some of the biggest musicians in the world. Be sure to point out the instruments being played, and talk about their impact on the song. It’s a great way for kids to see what’s possible if they keep pursuing music. 

Summertime is here. But that doesn’t mean you have to push all of your hobbies aside until the days grow cooler. Keep playing the piano, and enjoying all the benefits it brings. With these piano practicing tips, you’ll give your summertime plans a slightly different vibe, one your whole family may enjoy.

A Guide To Using Pedals While Playing The Piano

A Guide To Using Pedals While Playing The Piano

When you’re just getting started with playing the piano, it’s only natural to look for shortcuts to buying equipment and learning to play. 

The piano can be an intimidating instrument when you first look at it. Eighty-eight keys stretched across the keyboard with white and black keys – how will you ever be able to coordinate your hands together to create music? 

And when you look down at the pedals – is it possible to coordinate everything together? 

It’s easy to tell yourself you only want to start simply. Do you really need pedals? And what about all of those keys? Won’t a simple keyboard do?

What pedals do

As you’re first starting to play the piano, you won’t use the pedals. Most teachers pay more attention to hand placement, and coordinating the hands together to play music. Pedals come later as you start to get more comfortable making music. 

Yet it’s still a good idea to have them in place and learn what they do. 

Most pedal setups come with three pedals. 

You’ll find the damper pedal on the right. It’s the most common pedal, and is often referred to as the sustain pedal. When you press it down, it lifts the damper from the strings and lets the notes ring out for longer. It creates a longer, more resonant tone. 

The middle pedal is the Sostenuto pedal. It holds the notes pressed as you press down on this pedal. Any notes you play after won’t carry past the initial play. 

The left pedal is the Una Corda pedal, also known as the soft pedal. When you press a key, it triggers a hammer hitting three strings. If you press a key using the Una Corda pedal, it only hits one, softening the sound. 

Do you need pedals?

Pedals may not be a priority for beginners, but they are a part of the learning process. If you keep playing and want to improve your musicality, pedals will eventually be a part of the process. 

Most pianists start with the sustain pedal. For many musicians, it’s the only pedal they will ever use. 

Pedals are often part of classical music. If you hope to dive deep and wide in discovering music to play, you’ll find yourself experimenting with each of the pedals over time. 

Many pop musicians don’t rely on the pedals at all. They create tonal quality in other ways. 

Are pedals important for learning to play the piano? Only you can decide. 

But for a richer, more well-rounded playing experience, pedals may be just what you need to create music.

The Benefits of Teaching Your Kids to Love Music

The Benefits of Teaching Your Kids to Love Music

Music has a big impact on each of our lives. Think back over time – chances are you can associate music with different points in your life. 

  • The first song you remember on the radio
  • The first song you danced to
  • The song you fell in love to
  • The song that pulled you out of a slump

Throughout history, music has been an important part of the human experience. It’s a language that holds us together as a culture. 

For kids, it does even more. 

Teaching kids to love music benefits them in many ways:

  • Playing an instrument significantly increases higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12
  • Improves SAT scores
  • Increases both attendance rates and graduation rates throughout school
  • Lowers current and lifetime substance abuse
  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Shows as higher creativity throughout life

The benefits are many. 

Want to give your child the gift of making music?

Participate

The first step is making it a big part of your lives. Make it something you do together as a family. Introduce music in different ways – place a piano in your living space, listen to music together, or sing together in the car. Kids learn best when it’s a family affair. No need to worry if you sing slightly off-key. 

Expand

The good news is music is a huge part of our culture, and there are many ways to participate. You’ll find free concerts in your local park in the summer. Or go big and attend a show by your favorite musician. Move across genres, too – when was the last time you heard your local symphony? Check out a musical at your local theater. You may just find you fall in love with a music type you’ve never considered before. 

Together

The wonderful thing about music is that you can participate no matter your age. Sing together. Take piano lessons together. Attend concerts and musicals together. As a family, it gives you something to talk about. It brings you closer because of the way you learn and grow together. 

Chances are you remember music from your life, from when you were a small child to today. It’s impacted you in a big way. 

With all the benefits music can bring, why not expand music in your lives together, to give your child a huge leap of knowledge that will help them throughout their lives. 

Change It Up This Summer With These Fun Piano Practicing Tips

Change It Up This Summer With These Fun Piano Practicing Tips

The different seasons give us a break from the normal routine. What sounds fun and exciting in the heart of the winter can feel repetitive and boring as we enter the warmest months of the year. 

That’s why some parents find it difficult to keep their kids practicing the piano all summer long. They get a break from school, so why not from the piano too?

Studies show that taking a break can set back their learning skills enough they might choose not to continue at all. 

Studies also show that by changing the routine, you can give your kids renewed interest in a skill that will last a lifetime. 

Teachers have a host of ideas for keeping your kids motivated and playing all through the summer months. But you can approach them and find options that you know will work for you. 

Maybe your child would benefit from playing with a group? Do they have a friend who loves playing the violin? Or is taking up playing the flute in school? How can you incorporate practice time together? 

Maybe your child needs a change in what they are playing. The school year is all about following a natural rhythm to learn music and comprehension. But the summer is for fun. What kind of music would they like to play?

  • Movie or television themes
  • Broadway show pieces
  • A classic rock song
  • Modern day pop music
  • A favorite country song
  • A jazz piece with a funky beat

You might be surprised at what your child takes an interest in when you introduce them to different options. 

Want to go even deeper? Explore music summer camps. Ask your piano teacher for guidance, or do a search using Google. You might be surprised at the music camps in your local area. For older kids, you might even explore weeklong camps in other parts of the world. They can grow immensely from discovering how music impacts our world. 

And it keeps their love of playing the piano alive and well. 

What activities have you found work well to keep your kids practicing the piano all year long? 

Should You Take a Summer Break From Piano?

Should You Take a Summer Break From Piano?

June is a time for winding down lessons and practice and getting ready for vacations and relaxation. It’s a time for kids to take a break from busy lifestyles, and change up their daily activities. 

But as they step away from the school halls, does that mean taking a summer break from piano is a good thing too?

Summer camps and outside activities may take center stage. But does that mean you should put piano lessons on hiatus? 

There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t. Piano playing isn’t the same as taking tests and studying hard. Piano is a lifelong activity that has many benefits to your lifestyle. 

Certain skills should never be put on hold. That’s why teachers provide reading lists for the summer. It’s a way to keep comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and critical thinking active every single week of the year. 

The same applies to an instrument. If you stop playing the piano, a child can quickly lose interest. Too long of a break can break motivation and reduce skills enough, making starting up again less enjoyable. 

That’s why a change in the summer routine may be a better approach. 

Change up the schedule. During the school year, it may make sense to practice when arriving home from school. During the summer, try a practice schedule in the early morning before the day’s activities set in. 

Use different music. Make it more enjoyable. Is there something your child has wanted to play? Your piano instructor may be filled with ideas for creating an environment filled with fun. You can also find a variety of ideas online to help change up the routine. 

Use this time to create an atmosphere of self-discipline and self-discovery. Music should bring enjoyment and relaxation into your life. Playing the piano is all about stress relief and enjoying the process. 

What can you do to encourage your child to build a stronger love for the process? What will have them enjoy the process of creating music rather than looking at it as a chore?  

Summer break is here. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to step away from the things that bring enjoyment. What works to keep your child active and interested in playing the piano?

3 Tips For Memorizing Piano Music

3 Tips For Memorizing Piano Music

Do you have a recital coming up soon? Many people aren’t as afraid of playing in front of people as they are of forgetting the music. 

Memorizing piano music isn’t something that comes easily to everyone. It can leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. What if you sit down at the piano and forget everything? What if you simply can’t remember the song?

Memorization techniques aren’t something you’re born with. Instead, memorization is a trained technique that anyone can learn. 

What kind of learner are you? 

Not everyone learns in the same manner. 

Visual learners learn best through sight. They like seeing and observing through pictures or demonstrations. 

Auditory learners learn best by listening. They want to hear what the music sounds like before they play it. 

Reading learners prefer the written word. They love to take and review their notes. 

Kinesthetic learners learn best through experience. They love to dig in and experience it all at a touch. 

One of these methods probably jumps out at you when looking at these four methods. Once you’re aware of how you learn, you can put your energy towards finding tools to help you use that method more effectively. 

Practice memorization using these three methods

Memorization requires three steps:

First, record the new memory in your mind using your preferred method. You might read through the music without playing, listen to someone else play it, or play it yourself. 

Next, work on retention. This is where practice comes into play. It requires you to play it enough to move it from short-term to long-term memory so you can recall it later. 

Finally, it requires using recall to ensure you can bring the information back out and put it into practice. 

Repetition

Recital dates are spaced months apart to give you time to work on memorization. When you work on a piece repeatedly for days on end, it stays in the front of your mind. Ensuring you can recall it requires moving it to long-term memory. You can do this through spatial repetition. 

This requires you to work on a piece, then set it aside and move on to something else. After a few days away, pick up the piece again and start working with it. Do this in your preferred learning style. 

You can also review your music at different times of the day. If you always play at 3pm, change it up and practice in the morning or before you go to bed. Adding a little newness to your routine can change how you absorb the music process. 

Memorizing piano music doesn’t have to be a complex process. The key is giving yourself the time to learn the piece, and recognize your best approach. 

Understanding Humidity and Your Piano

Understanding Humidity and Your Piano

Understanding how humidity affects your piano starts with understanding how humidity impacts wood. 

Wood products that are subjected to high amounts of humidity will be susceptible to expansion due to excess moisture in the air. As moisture penetrates the wood, it causes it to swell or expand. If they are exposed to an excessive amount of moisture for extended periods of time, they may not return to their original size. 

Your piano is made up of thousands of pieces crafted from wood, felt, wool, and metal. If any of these materials receive too much moisture, they will all change accordingly. But what happens if any of these parts do change?

Pitch and tone

The first part impacted on a piano will be the soundboard, the single largest structure of the piano. Think of this as the speaker of the piano, the part required for producing proper tone. It’s designed to have a slight curve. But if the curve changes due to humidity, it can have a profound impact on the tone. If humidity drops and the soundboard shrinks, it can flatten out the tone. If it absorbs too much humidity, it can swell and allow the pitch to go sharp. 

Action

There is a complex inner working of parts to have the keys connect with the strings to produce sound. This process is called the action. To ensure this process stays in good working condition requires regular adjustments called regulation. If humidity changes the structure of the piano, precision is lost in the action. If it’s not regulated regularly, it can change the action enough that replacement is the only way for correction. 

Keys

Each key is placed precisely into the keyboard to keep it working well. Humidity can change the space between the keys, causing them to become tight and not fit very well. If they stick and have trouble playing, it might be because of humidity. 

Noises

As humidity impacts wood furniture, it causes squeaks, rattles, and other noises as you open drawers, close doors, and move the item around. Pianos work similarly. As parts are impacted by moisture, they no longer work as designed. This can cause a host of noises that run counter to the music you’re producing. 

Corrosion

It’s not just the wood that will be impacted. The strings on your piano are responsible for producing the sound. With humidity changes, these metal strings can rust and corrode. That means they won’t move as designed, and won’t hold tuning. 

If humidity is a problem, and impacts the inside of your home regularly, there are ways to regulate humidity levels around your piano. 

Ask us how!