Music and Your Baby

GO WITH GAMES!

To have the most rewards from playing with Music and the baby, follow these simple ideas:

o Young children tune in to the sounds of music;

o Their body movements also manifest happiness through music spontaneity;

o The baby may acquire musical concepts by playing with sounds, singing, moving, and listening;

o Experiencing music is a chance a baby has at pre-verbal learning;

o The baby should be encouraged to use his body as a musical instrument for physical experience;

o The child learns music by personal experience and discovery. It’s necessary to promote positive effective growth, using success as a motivating factor;

o Knowing by perception of oral images and movement is the basis of music expression;

o The baby is only able to find the meaning of music when he acts on a piece of music;

o The discovery of her own movements and environment enables the baby to form concepts and function to order his inner musical world;

o The baby shows s/he has musical concept without verbalizing it when s/he displays consistent response to a certain class of stimuli;

When choosing locomotion, you can experiment with walking, running, jumping, hopping, lunging, galloping, and skipping. The movements to the music can reflect energy, speed, and dimension, level in space, flow, and direction.

When choosing to use the voice, you can play low, high, somewhere in between. The voice can be loud, soft, somewhere in between. Playing with the sounds, one can stop immediately, last a long time, keep sounding, and get louder or softer. In order to make melodies, your voice can go up or down with different shapes, in steps with wider spaces, by sliding. It can be jerky, you can sing words, hum, whistle, go tra-la-la, go oo-oo-oo, or sound sad and lonely. You can do what you want with your voice, and the baby will profit from your actions.

You can use the drum, the rhythm sticks, the tambourine, the triangle, the melody bells, the piano, and the guitar to stimulate your baby in order to have precocious experience with music.

Improvise, choose a song and sing it with the baby, and play music games with the baby (examples: Statues, marching, ‘Contrary Mary’, ‘Follow the Leader’, ‘either-or’, play what I play, etc.).

No matter how simple or complex the activity, play with music with your baby. S/he will love it and you will both have fun and benefit from it!

Why Play the Piano the Pentatonic Way?

The prefix “penta-” means five and “tonic” in the musical sense means the first note in a scale. So the definition of the word “pentatonic” is a musical scale made up of five notes.

Learning to play the piano the pentatonic way –

Involves only the playing of five different notes. As it happens, those five notes correspond exactly to the five black keys on a piano.

Uses many recognizable and favorite melodies. Many folk songs, hymns, and even rock and classical songs are based on the pentatonic scale.

Allows a beginner to develop technical skills first. Because only five notes are involved the beginner can concentrate on hand position and moving the fingers efficiently while learning songs before starting the process of note and music reading.

Encourages the use of both hands in a melody and accompaniment relationship. Because technical and listening skills are developed first, playing with both hands from the beginning is promoted.

Creativity and exploration of the keyboard within the relationship of the five notes in melody and accompaniment patterns is encouraged. Since the beginner is not bogged down with learning the concepts and skills of note reading and the language of music, inventiveness and originality are hallmarks of the method.

Is immediately satisfying. The novice pianist starts playing melodies with accompaniments very quickly. For most any adult learner being able to play more than simple nursery rhyme melodies one finger at a time is important. Those students using the pentatonic method play well-known melodies with interesting accompaniments from the first lessons.

Develops the ear. As the learner becomes more proficient with playing the pentatonic melodies, they “hear” more and more creative ways to enhance those melodies with unique accompaniment patterns.

Sounds great from the beginning. Because the pentatonic method uses only five notes and those five notes sound pleasing to the human ear when played in any combination with each other, the student produces pleasant music from the onset of their study.

Allows the person who wants to make music quickly. Because note reading is not necessary in the early stages of the pentatonic method, music making comes quickly.

Can be practiced away from the piano or keyboard instrument. The pentatonic method encourages the student to “play” their music in other environments from the table or desktop to the steering wheel. Developing facile technical skills is stressed from the beginning.

Encourages further exploration of the world of music. Learning to play the piano using the pentatonic method is a gratifying pleasant experience. Because of that fact, those students who start their study of the piano or find themselves relearning the piano with the pentatonic method move more easily into the realm of music reading and notation.

Why learn to play the piano the pentatonic way? Why not?

Peace and Guitarmony – The Harder You Try, the Worse You Play

In all the competition, auditioning, profile creating and internet marketing, many musicians have forgotten why they made music in the first place. Think about the first musician to ever play music. What do you think his goals were? He wasn’t playing to an audience or thinking about the demographic he’s trying to reach. He wasn’t working on his abs or making sure his biceps poked through his shirt at just the right place. He was playing music out of a desire to make music.

The first forms of music were used for communication with the spiritual world and for worship. Drums were beaten by the Shamans in West Africa to communicate with the spiritual world, playing power songs to summon the spirit allies. Hypnotic grooves were played on the drums during “possession trances” during which the spirit would ride the rhythm into the body of the entranced. During the slave trade, these “possession trances” came to America and became the roots of Rock and Roll and Jazz. Most of the great composers, Bach included, wrote music for the church and dedicated a large portion of the works to God.

Language in the forms of poetry and prose are just rhythm without pitch. Speaking has a rhythm to it. Poetry spoken without the right rhythm is dry and lacks the intended meaning. When we are born, we move our arms and legs to show our natural rhythm to those around us. Music is sound and sound is vibration. Matter is made of vibrations so music is all around us. So, why all this nervousness over little communication? That’s my question and I ask if of myself as well.

Musicians are often afraid to commit to what is coming from their instrument. This is the breakdown between the musician and his instrument. We want to be ready to bail out at the first sign of trouble. We try to build an escape hatch into the situation. It’s not easy but we need to commit to it. There is no escape hatch. We don’t perform in anticipation of success, instead we go and try to minimize the damage, prepare ourselves emotionally for failure. It’s really the whole experience and I speak of a “jury” type performance in particular. Like the ones we have to do in music school. The harder you try, the worse you play.

When we are calm and in our practice space we are free to make mistakes, try it again and take a mulligan if we miss it. Music performance happens in real time. It’s not like a painting or a blog that is done when it’s done and is there to be viewed by whoever at whatever time. That is what is exciting about a live performance. It’s now. We have to try to find a way to make the circumstances inherent in these situations work for us. It could be in the planning. If we practice with the performance in mind, we can overcome the fear by addressing it before hand. It sounds like a bumper sticker but a person who is not afraid to fail can be free to succeed. We often go into these situations with our self worth on the line. The opinion of the “jury”. The grade we may or may not receive, how will we tell the story if we fail and how will we minimize the humiliation of the incident. All concerns in an audition or exam. Is it possible to remove our self worth from the equation? What if we don’t care? How can you not care? Good questions to ask yourself.

Music is an expression of the human condition. It can express the entire range of human emotions. It can create joy and ecstacy for a performer and for his audience. One way to get back to the joy is to take on an instrument that you have never played. For my job as a band teacher, I had to learn several instruments, the Alto Saxophone being my favorite. I am not really that good on the sax, but I like to play, I look forward to it. I learn it as I teach it and it creates a rapport of togetherness with my students. They know that we are both in the same struggle and they like that. I also play the piano. Piano was my first instrument, but I stopped playing due to my obsession with the guitar. Relearning the piano has given me a lot of pleasure and I have actually gotten my chops back. I play professionally with cover bands in my area. These new instruments have helped me get back in touch with my need to make music and have also helped me to keep that childlike, beginners wonder.

I guess what I am really saying is what John and Paul said back in the 60s.

“Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged.”

We play music because we have something abstract to communicate. We want to share the human condition and allow others to experience it through us. Music is natural. Music and rhythm are all around us all day long. Walking is music, talking is music, breathing is music, our heart beating is music.

Carrie Underwood Shows Growth in the Songs of “Play On”

For a few years now, Carrie Underwood has been an established star in the world of country music. But, with her newest release “Play On,” Underwood seems to be further expanding her horizons as an essential artist.

“Play On” is an interesting blend of subtle and soft classic country songs with edgier tracks and some social commentary mixed in. The quality of the tracks seems to start off slow. For the first few tracks, I was not hearing anything overly impressive. However, with each passing song, the musical value of the album seemed to grow exponentially.

Throughout the album, Underwood interweaves works featuring her full range of vocal talent (i.e. “Mama’s Song” and “Temporary Home”) with songs that focus more on showcasing her fun and exuberant side (i.e. “Quitter” and “Songs Like This”).

Probably among the best songs on “Play On” are the tracks “Undo It,” “Unapologize,” Temporary Home” and “Change.” The least impressive are probably “Cowboy Casanova,” “Quitter,” and What Can I Say.”

All in all though, “Play On” is a good listen and should surely keep Miss Underwood moving along the path of stardom.

Here’s how I rate each of the tracks on a 1-5 scale:

1. Cowboy Casanova – 2.5-5
2. Quitter – 3-5
3. Mama’s Song – 3.5-5
4. Change – 4.5-5
5. Undo It – 4.5-5
6. Someday When I Stop Loving You – 3.5-5
7. Songs Like This – 3.5 – 5
8. Temporary Home – 4-5
9. This Time – 3.5-5
10. Look at Me – 3.5-5
11. Unapologize – 4-5
12. What Can I Say – 3.5-5
13. Play On – 4-5

Overall rating – 4-5 and recommended to any die hard or casual country music fan.