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Music Instruction Q&A


Music Instruction Q&A

Music Instruction Q&A

Piano Lessons with Howard Richman (lessons)

        How much do you charge?
        $50/half hour, $65/45 min., $80/hr

        Do you do lessons by phone or by video tape?
        Yes. I prefer to speak on the phone with you live.

        If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, then please contact us.

Super Sight-Reading Secrets (book)

        Can I improve my finger technique from this book?
        There may be an indirect benefit to your finger technique from improving your sight-reading, but this book is strictly a method to help you improve your sight-reading.

        I’m already a good sight-reader. What can this book do for me?
        There may be elements that you can still improve. For example, can you find every note on the piano without looking at your hands? Can you transpose at sight? The drills in this book will help you reach your goals.

        I already have a piano teacher. Will this system be in conflict?
        Many piano teachers feel that they already have the sight-reading issue covered and therefore may feel threatened by this approach. If this is the case, and you still want to benefit by it, the book is self-explanatory that you could do the exercises on your own. It will only complement any system that you may be getting from your teacher and it will definitely not be in conflict.

        Please tell me a reference for “beginning method book, early Bach or similar” from page 22 of Super Sight-Reading Secrets.
        “Method” book refers to the type of books that kids learn on. For adults, I’ve found that any of the “
        5 finger” books published by Hal Leonard are ideal, because there is only one note at a time in either hand and you can usually find a book that has songs that you have heard (which makes it more enjoyable). If you can’t find one of these types of books, try the Schaum “A book” or the Michael Aaron “grade 1.”

        In KO drill #1, do you play the Db/Eb group, then move up to the Gb/Ab/Bb group, or do you play the Db/Eb group, then jump up an octave to the next Db/Eb group?
        With hands together, you move your hands adjacently from each black group to the next: 2 blacks -3 blacks - 2 blacks, etc, up and then down the whole piano keyboard, without looking.

        Will this help to sight-read on other instruments other than piano?
        Although the program is intended for keyboard players, the principles are easily adaptable to all other instruments.

        Will this help with sight-singing?
        In order to sight-sing you will need to (1) recognize the name of the notes printed on the score and (2) know how those notes sound in relation to one another in your head (ear-training). This book will help you with the first part but not the second.

        What about reading rhythms?
        Super Sight-Reading Secrets provides a basic introduction to reading rhythms. If you want more advance rhythm work, it is recommended that you practice with a
        drummer’s manual to practice the greatest variety of rhythms.

        There are many different versions of the Bach Chorals. Which one is the right one?
        Since Bach Chorales are actually 4-part harmonizations of Lutheran hymns, they are often found as choral music (with four separate staves.) This would be wrong for our needs. What we need is for the soprano and alto voices to be compressed into the treble staff and the tenor and bass voices to be compressed into the bass staff, so it looks like piano music, with two voices per staff.
        Kalmus and Schirmer both put out keyboard versions of the Bach Chorals. The Kalmus is larger and easier to read, so it is the preferred choice. The exact title is 371 FOUR-PART CHORALES, (Vol 1 or Vol 2), published by Kalmus, distributed by Warner Brothers Publications.

        I’m now up to VP#5, using the Bach Chorales. How are you supposed to play those occasional big intervals in the left hand?
        Don’t forget that these are “chorales” which means they were composed for singers, not pianists! (organists/harpsichordists). Throughout the Bach Chorlals you will find a large space between the Bass and Tenor voice. In VP6, you will be using two hands simultaneously so you can grab the tenor (upper bass clef) voice with the right hand and play three notes with the right hand and one note with the left hand. However, in VP5, when you are doing hands separately, you do what pianists do when they have an interval they cannot reach: they “break” it. This means that you play the two notes in rapid succession as if the lower of the two notes were a “grace note” to the upper. In other words, you jump.

        If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, then please contact us.

Voice Lessons with Aurora Miller (lessons)

        Could you teach me how to sing?
        Very few of us know what our potential is unless we forge ahead and open ourselves up to unfamiliar things and learn to master what is new. The struggle to do so has its rewards and gratification. Once we are unafraid and really delve into something we’ve never done before, we then have what it takes to move ahead.

        I’m concerned about damaging my voice. How do you prevent damage?
        First of all, using one’s voice for singing should be a comfortable & enjoyable experience. If your voice becomes sore then it’s an indication that you are singing incorrectly. Vocalizing the proper way, accompanied by proper breathing, on a regular basis, not only warms the voice but it strengthens it. To prevent the vocal chords from abuse I make sure my students understand the concept of breathing correctly before singing. The tone must come from the stomach not the chest. Vocalize as if the sound has to pass through an invisible channel to come out without using the throat at all.

        Can you recommend a voice teacher in my city?
        The following two links keep a database of excellent music teachers organized by city:
        MusicStaff, Vocal Instructors Directory.

        If you have additional questions about singing, please contact Aurora Miller directly.

Secrets of Singing on Pitch (ebook)

        I’m really bad! Can your ebook help me?
        Actually this ebook is intended for people who cannot sing on key. You will definitely see improvement.

        What does “singing flat mean?
        The notes of a song are measured by frequency. In music, these frequencies are called “pitch.” This actually is a vibration which can be measured on an oscilloscope. So, a note low in pitch will vibrate slower and a note high in pitch will vibrate faster. For example, a note low on the piano will vibrate at 30 cycles per second. that is why it sounds low. A note high on the piano could vibrate at 1200 cycles per second. (These are approximations.) There are 88 notes on the piano, each with their own pitch and each vibrating at a specific frequency. The most famous note is “A 440.” This is the note above middle C on the piano and this is the one that an orchestra will tune to in order that everyone will play at the same frequency. When a singer is singing “flat” it means that instead of singing the A at 440, they may be singing it at 428 or something close, but not exactly high enough. this is called “singing flat.” occasionaly there are people who “sing sharp” which means that they are singing off the correct note, but HIGHER than the correct note. This is quite rare. Usually, when someone is “off key” it is because they are singing FLAT, which means that they are singing slightly UNDER the correct pitch.

        Don’t you have to be born with good pitch?
        Where there’s a will, there’s a way! In most cases, when a person intentionally strives to gain a particular skill, they will eventually do it with a greater mastery than the person for whom it is natural. This, of course, is true of singing on pitch.

        How long does the process take?
        It’s better to not put deadlines on something like this. What’s happening is that specific drills which are done in a conscious manner are grooming the subconsious, automatic response. If you place a time limit on this process, you will fail. Please be patient and do the drills regularly and you will definitely reach your goal, when only you are ready.

        “Tone Deaf” means you are physically impaired, thus I am confused by the misuse of the statement.
        You may be correct regarding the literal use of the term “tone deafness,” but its use in this case is referring to the commonly-understood meaning: unable to sing on pitch. Other phrases have developed over the years to imply the same thing and are equally inaccurate, such as “tin ear.” A person’s ear is not actually made of tin, but it’s just an expression.

        I need help downloading this product. How can I get it to work?
        here for more info.

        If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, then please contact us.

How to Tell the Key in Music by Ear or by Sight (ebook)

        Can’t I get this information in any theory book or class?
        Some of the information presented in our ebook you can get in most theory books or theory classes. However, the practical tips and tricks on how to know what key you are in by ear is really not available through normal sources like that. You often have to “know” somebody to teach you these techniques.

        Why would I ever need to know this?
        Overall, understanding keys and key signatures give you a certain awareness of music that can enhance your knowledge, understanding and performance. For example, knowing that the key is ‘Bb’ can affect the way you might sing the note ‘F.’

        I need help downloading this product. How can I get it to work?
        here for more info.

        If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, then please contact us.


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