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.

Learn To Play Guitar – Learn To Play Your Guitar Music In Time

To be on the right place at the right time is quite nice. It is called timing. In your guitar playing you will find that timing is crucial. This means to play your notes at the right time so that the result will be music.

To learn to play guitar notes at the right time is not the same thing as playing mathematically perfect. You cannot learn to play music by only using a metronome for example.

You have to listen to music and play together with other people and learn to react rytmically upon other peoples playing.

Anyway, in music there are usually a pulse that you can feel more or less and your ability to feel the pulse in the music will help you contribute with your musical and rytmic playing to the end result.

How can you learn to feel the pulse in the music? I will give you seven suggestions that might help you develop your timing when you play guitar and increase your ability to feel the pulse:

1. Dance to the music. If you can learn to feel the pulse with your whole body it will help you play musically. In this case it doesn’t matter how your dancing is performed.

Listen to music on your stereo and move to the music. The important thing is to develop the feeling that you are floating or surfing with the music without any effort on your part.

2. Learn to play drums. I think it would be a good thing if all musicians as part of their musical development on their particular instrument learned to play drums.

The ability to create rhythms and patterns when playing drums will help you a lot when you try to learn to play guitar in time and in a musical way.

Actually you don’t need drums, you might as well play rhythms on your laps with your hands. Try to play eights for example on your laps by alternating between your right and left hands and by accentuating different eight notes as you play.

What you can play with your hands on your laps or on a table or something else requires another article I guess.

3. Buy a metronome. A metronome will give you a 100% even pulse and can help you play in different tempos. It will help you play in slow tempos and help you keep a steady tempo.

How to use a metronome to your andvantage you can learn in other learn to play guitar articles.

4. Practice strumming patterns on your guitar. The act of strumming chords on the guitar resembles drum playing and will increase your overall ability to use a pick.

For example, playing eights with up and down strokes on a barré chord and playing around with the rhythm by releasing the left hand pressure on some notes thereby damping them and also accentuating some notes with the up or downstrokes with your pick can create interesting rhythmic patterns.

5. Play with other people. As I said before the art of timing when you learn to play guitar doesn’t mean the same thing as playing mathematically perfect even if it is sometimes necessary to do that in some music.

When I produce my own music on my preferred recording software I have realized that the bass part for example can be edited to play on exact beats.

When I have quantisized the bass part 100% it usually means that the whole production loses tension so to speak. I can see that I many times play a little ahead of the beat and other times a little laid back and this is done intentionally to create energy in the music.

When you learn to play guitar it is very important to learn to feel the pulse in the music. I hope my tips can help you be on time!