Wednesday, 19 September 2018

7 Easy Piano Songs to Play

Learning to play a musical instrument produces mental and physical benefits. The piano in particular not only improves memory but can also boost linguistic skills. Moreover, it reduces stress and anxiety. You're never too old or too young to learn how to play the piano. However, the beginning stage of the process can be quite intimidating, especially if your goal is to master Mozart or Beethoven. If you have just started your piano journey and feel like you are struggling with motivation, learn how to play some popular songs! These are not boring pieces, but rather popular pop songs and beautiful classics that can be easily learned and played in no time. If you're interested in learning what these easy piano songs are, follow along! They will provide a solid foundation for more complicated, technical pieces and keep you motivated to learn more.


Easy Piano Songs You Can Learn This Week

Before you can start playing the piano, it's important to learn the basics. This includes the proper piano posture and hand positions. You will also want to know all the basics when it comes to piano notes. Attending a music school is an important process of learning to play an instrument and read sheet music. It's a must if you're serious about your new hobby.


1. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor




If you're looking for easy piano songs that have topped the charts this year, look no further. Meghan Trainor's hit "All About That Bass" is a perfect beginner's song. Surprisingly, it's very easy to play on the piano. There are only four chords in the song, which are played for two bars, and the entire progression is eight bars. This progression is repeated throughout the song, so if you can master it, you've learned an entire song! If you want to push yourself a bit more, learn the bassline with your left hand and teach yourself the melody on the right. Here is a play-along tutorial that may be helpful! 

2. Someone Like You - Adele


This is the perfect song for anyone who loves to sing. You are bound to impress anyone if you can sing and play this song at the same time. Playing an instrument and singing at the same time can be hard, but practice makes perfect! This chart topper was a massive hit in countries all around the world. You can play it by playing four repeated chords: A, E, F#min, and D throughout the song. There are numerous play-along tutorials online if you're stuck or need extra help.


3. Clocks - Coldplay


Although this song might seem complicated, it's just a repetition of the signature arpeggio pattern, a bridge, and a verse. It is a very recognizable song from 2002 with which you're bound to impress other people. If you're interested in learning how to play it, check out this popular tutorial! It is explained well and will help you learn the basics of the song.


4. Ave Maria - Schubert


This is more of a classic song, rather than a popular pop song. However, if you're looking for a more sophisticated piece among a list of easy piano songs, this beautiful piece will do the trick. It's ideal for a winter party or a wedding, so give it a try! This is a must for all piano beginners. Learning it is not a complicated process, especially when following this handy online piano lesson.


5. Fur Elise - Beethoven


Beethoven was a master of music, and although his pieces may seem intimidating, some of them are remarkably easy to learn. This is the perfect piece for someone who is lacking motivation and needs a little extra boost of confidence. Here is a very helpful tutorial on how to master this beautiful classic. If you practice, you'll learn in no time.


6. The Swan Lake Theme - Tchaikovsky


Tchaikovsky is an intimidating but brilliant artist. Yet again, some of his most popular songs are actually easy piano songs. This is the romantic anthem everyone knows, and it has a surprisingly easy rhythm. Learn how to play it now!


7. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson


This is another song that may seem hard to play, but it's not terribly complicated. It can be a challenge if your hand movements are not quite as fast as you'd like them to be, or if you're still having trouble with independent hand movements. However, this is the perfect challenge for someone who has already mastered other easy piano songs. Also, it's incredibly fun! If you're interested in learning how to play this one, check out this play along.


Moving Forward

Now that you've mastered these songs, you are officially an easy piano songs expert! However, learning songs using play-alongs will not get you too far if you're serious about learning this instrument. It can be detrimental to learn an instrument improperly by yourself and carry out those mistakes as you move forward. That is why it's always recommended to learn from an expert. Learning from a professional will make your technique impeccable. It's also a great way to make sure your form is perfect and your potential is explored to the maximum. While attending music school, you could learn how to read sheet music and eventually, how to play the hardest songs on the piano.


Wrapping Up

Learning how to play the piano can positively impact your stress levels and your happiness. Your mental capabilities and social skills will improve too. Making the leap from easy piano songs to more intricate pieces will enhance the benefits. If you're currently in the Toronto area and looking to improve your musical instrument abilities, contact us! We have numerous locations throughout the city and would be more than happy to help you master the piano.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

7 Tips for Reading Piano Notes

Did you know the piano is actually a percussion instrument? Many people think it belongs to the string family, but because it actually produces sound by hammers hitting strings (the hammers are controlled by the keys), it's part of the percussion family. It's important to remember this when reading piano notes because they tell you not only the pitch of the note, but also its rhythm. To learn how to read and play the pitch and rhythm of piano notes, try out the seven tips below.


#1: Labeling Piano Notes

One way to learn how to read piano notes is to label the treble and bass clefs. By labeling the spaces and the lines -- and using mnemonic devices to remember them--you can begin memorizing which notes fit where. For the treble clef, begin by labeling the spaces "F-A-C-E" from the bottom to the top. "Face" is the mnemonic device for the notes that fill the spaces in the treble clef. Label the lines "E-G-B-D-F" from the bottom of the top of the treble clef. The mnemonic device for these notes is "every good boy deserves fudge." Look at the piece of music you want to play and label the notes in the treble clef. Note that this isn't a good long-term practice, because you want to train your eye to read the notes and not the labels. But when you're new to reading piano notes, labeling them can help. Next, you'll work with the bass clef. Label the spaces "A-C-E-G-B" and think about the mnemonic device, "all cows eat grass"Â --then just add a B at the end. Next, label the lines "G-B-D-F-A." You can remember these with "good boys deserve fudge always." Again, label the notes in the piece you want to learn.


#2: Reading Piano Notes by Labeling Fingers

If mnemonic devices don't work for you, or if you want to augment the note-labeling practice, you can label fingers. Start with the thumb of each hand and label one through five. You can find a hand diagram or trace your hand onto a piece of paper so you don't actually have to write on your fingers. Middle-C, which occupies the middle space of the treble clef, will be the number one. Label two through five for the notes above and below. It's best to pick a beginner piece that only includes five notes in each direction of the staff. Place your thumbs on the middle C of the keyboard and play the tune according to the numbers.


#3: Flipping Your Music

Did you know people didn't start thinking about polyphonic music until the eighth or ninth century? Polyphonic music is when there are two or more lines of music with independent melodies. Polyphony is why reading piano notes can seem confusing at first--because your left and right hands feel like they're playing two different songs. But, if you flip your music clockwise, it might help you to identify the chord units stretched out (arpeggiated) across the bass and treble clefs. Then you'll be reading your music vertically, or polyphonically.


#4: Sight Reading Piano Notes

Sight reading a piece of music is one of the best ways to acquaint yourself not only with the note pitches, but also with the rhythm. Follow these steps to successfully sight-read a piece of music:
  1. Begin by practicing time signatures. For example, a time signature of 4/4 means there are four beats to every measure, and each beat is worth a quarter note.
  2. Next, look at the key signature. If there are sharps, move a half-step above the last sharp to get the key signature. If there are flats, the second-to-last flat is the name of the key signature (excepting the key of F Major/D minor, which only has one flat--a B-flat).
  3. Practice scales in the piece forward and backward.
  4. Tap out the rhythm of the piece with a metronome.
  5. Look through the sheet music and note any areas where you're changing keys, slowing down, playing quietly (piano), repeating measures, etc.
  6. Sing the piece to yourself before you even touch the keys.
Now you're ready to try to play through the music.


#5: Hunt for Patterns

Music isn't written haphazardly, but rather in patterns. Chords, arpeggios, harmonic structures, and scale runs are just some of the common patterns in music. By learning to recognize these, you don't even have to read every single note. For example, if you have a scale run starting on a low E in the treble clef that goes up to a middle E and back down, you don't need to read every note in between to play every note in between.


#6: Train Your Ear

It may not seem like training your ear to hear notes will help you to read piano notes, but in music, auditory and visual cues must work together. A great way to get started training your ear is to find a piece of music that you have the sheet music to and a way to listen. Search the internet for piano performances of the sheet music you have, then follow these steps:
  1. Listen to the piece without looking at your sheet music once through.
  2. Listen to the piece again, this time following along on the sheet music.
  3. Listen a third time, and mark the sheet music where you have difficulty following along.
  4. Listen to the areas of difficulty until it's easy to follow.
  5. Listen, look at your sheet music, and try to play along on your piano.
Training your ear takes a lot of repetition, but for auditory learners, it can be the most effective way to learn to read piano notes.


#7: Train Your Hands

Muscle memory can help you read piano notes by allowing you to focus on the sheet music without worrying about where to place or how to move your fingers. Playing scales and arpeggios over and over again is the best (albeit somewhat boring) way to train your muscle memory in your hands.


Finishing Touches

Learning to read piano notes involves learning pitch, rhythm, dynamics, music theory, and so much more. Give yourself the time you need to learn these wonderful skills, and if you have any questions, drop us a line. You can also subscirbe to our newsletter.

How to Read Piano Sheet Music

If you're reading this, you've probably got more than a passing interest in tickling the ivories. Many people are put off though by the thought of learning how to read piano sheet music. Do not despair! It's easier than it looks. Follow our step by step guide, put in some practice and soon the notes will come to you as easily as, well, reading this article!

Key Words To Know

Take a few moments to become familiar with these few keywords:


Clef

This is the symbol that you see at the end of the line. There are two different clefs in piano music - the treble and the bass.


Stave

These are the 5 lines that the notes are written either on, between or below.


Treble Clef

Also known as the 'G' clef (more on that later), in piano music, this is usually played by the right hand and forms the 'top line' of the music.


Bass Clef

Also known as the 'F' clef (more on that later), the notes on this stave are usually played by the left hand and form the 'bottom line' of the music.


Ledger Lines

These are small lines used to show the position of individual notes. The lines and spaces of the stave are limited in the range of notes they can show. These lines indicate other notes.


The Starting Point - Treble Clef

Let's focus first on the treble clef (the one that looks a little like a dollar sign). We can call this the 'top line'. This will usually show you the notes from middle C upwards. We mentioned earlier it's also called the 'G Clef'. This is because the main curl of the symbol wraps around the 'G' line - fixing its position. Many find learning a mnemonic helps them to learn the names of the lines and spaces.


Lines

The one shown below is a traditional mnemonic, starting from the bottom line up: First line - E - Every Second line G - Good Third line B - Boy Fourth line D - Deserves Fifth line - F - Favor Some prefer a chant as a memory aid. Try out: EGBDF - These are the notes of the Treble Clef.


Spaces

The spaces of the treble clef spell out the word FACE, starting from the first space and going up. We also use the space below the bottom line for the note D, and above the top line for the G. Remember the notes go in alphabetical order, line/space, and line/space at all times.


Outside the Stave

As we can only write a limited number of notes on the 5 lines and 4 spaces of the stave, we're going to have to use some extra lines to show notes outside of this. Let's start with the note we all start with - middle C. Slap bang in the middle of your piano keyboard, it's also right in between the top and bottom lines of the piano sheet music. This should be the first note you learn when learning how to read piano sheet music. It has its own little ledger line and sits below the bottom (E) line of the treble stave. Please note - ledger lines are much shorter than lines of the regular stave and are only used for one note. You can also use ledger lines to write notes below middle C, and above top F (the 'Fun' line). But let's stick to cracking the basics for now.


Moving On - The Bass Clef

You've started doing battle with the treble stave and now its time to drop down a line, and pay attention to the bass stave. Working from bottom to top again, we'll use another mnemonic to help you: 1st line - G - Good 2nd line - B - Boys 3rd line - D - Deserve 4th line - F - Favor 5th line - A - Always It's important again to learn middle C. This time it's on its own ledger line above the stave. This is the same note as the middle C that sits on a ledger line below the Treble stave. We mentioned earlier it's also called the 'F Clef'. This is because the symbol starts on the 'F' line - fixing its position.


Spaces

The spaces of the bass clef sadly do not helpfully spell a word. We use another mnemonic for them. Again, starting from the bottom space and going up: 1st space - A - All 2nd space - C - Cows 3rd space - E - Eat 4th space - G - Grass The space below the bottom line is for the note F and above the top line for the note B.


Getting to Grips with How to Read Piano Sheet Music

OK, you know the names of the lines and the spaces - what next? First, take a piece of piano sheet music you'd like to learn. You may find a piano method book helpful for this. With a pencil, label the lines and the spaces at the beginning of each line. Now go through the piece and start reading. Work a line at a time. Using the two mnemonics, try to work out on your own first what each note is and write the name next to it. At the end of each line, check the labels you wrote at the start and see if you're right. Now carefully pick out the notes on the keyboard. Just at first you might find labeling the piano keys helpful too. Now, either rub off your notations or use a clean copy of the sheet music. Carefully try to reinforce what you've learned by picking out the piece again on the piano.


Conclusion: How to Read Piano Sheet Music

We have seen that the key to learning how to read piano sheet music is memory aids. It takes just a few minutes to commit them to memory and they will serve you well as your brain makes the connections between the keys and the notes on the stave. Your next lesson should be to learn the various notes placed on and in the lines and spaces you've just learned and how they relate to each other. There's no need to go it alone. Speed up your progress and have fun with our piano lessons. Check out the great range of options we have by clicking here.


Piano Finger Exercises for All Beginners

Pianists make it look so easy, right? You see their fingers moving swiftly along the keys, performing a Chopin composition with ease. Well, playing the piano isn't easy. Rather, professionals have great technique. And this technique comes from the very beginning -- when you're first learning how to play the piano. When you first enter piano lessons, your teacher will help you with your finger techniques. But truly getting the hang of the fingering relies on you disciplining yourself when learning how to play the piano. Still stuck? The following finger exercises and techniques will improve your piano playing. Study these piano finger exercises for beginners and learn how to play the piano correctly.

5-Note Pentascales


This exercise actually teaches you two important lessons: Knowing the sound of each key (which is also very important) and exercising your finger muscles. There's a reason why this lesson is taught during piano finger exercises for beginners. Pianists control tempo, sound dynamics, etc. with their fingers. They're not using their arms or their shoulders -- the power is coming from their fingertips. But fun fact: A lot of people don't have strong muscles in their fingertips. So this exercise is like strength training your fingers. You're becoming accustomed to using your fingertips to play the keys with strength, not your whole arms.

The Exercise


Take your right-hand thumb. Place it on Middle C (or C in 4th octave). Take your index finger, place it right next to C on D. Place the rest of your fingers on your right hand along the corresponding keys. Middle finger on E, ring finger on F, and pinky on G. Starting with C (or your thumb) touch each note. But, do so with the finger that's on the note. You play D with your index finger, play E with your middle finger, etc. After you're done with your right hand, practice with your left; start with C of the 2nd octave and move up that scale. But your thumb won't be on C2 -- your pinky will.

Ascending and Descending Pentascales


Piano finger exercises for beginners, such as this one, strengthen your left and right hand simultaneously. Touch C4 with your right thumb and touch C2 with your left pinky at the same time. Do the same with the next note -- touch D4 with your index finger and D2 with your ring finger. Go up and down the scale (also known as 'ascending' and 'descending) until you get the hang of it. When you play the piano, you play with two hands. This exercise helps improve your coordination and becoming accustomed to playing with two hands at the same time.

Play Triads


This is also known as 'play in thirds.' You're skipping a note with each finger. In this exercise, you're only playing C, E, and G (the C major triad). However, all five fingers will be on the note. Piano finger exercises for beginners, like this one, is conditioning your brain to play different notes, not in ascending or descending order. Start this with your right hand, to make it easy. Once you get the hang of your right hand, play triads with only your left. You can even switch to two hands if you're comfortable.

Firm Finger Position


For this exercise, your fingers won't be on the keys. This exercise is to get you accustomed to the playing position. You can do this exercise anywhere. This exercise makes you become used to the hand and finger position. Remember this position to avoid injury and long-term issues such as arthritis and carpal tunnel. Your fingers will be worked to become firmer -- unnecessary weight or stress won't be added to your arms.

The Exercise


Hold your hands out straight. Don't straighten out your fingers, keep them relaxed. Bend your fingers at the first knuckle, or the knuckle closest to your fingers. When you go to your keys, hold your hand in this position. Hover your hand over the keys, and then let your hand fall on them. At this beginning point, you don't have to lay your fingers on specific keys or play anything. This position makes your fingers firm while giving enough flexibility to allow movement.

Over Legato


Become accustomed to playing each note legato, or hold the note until your play the play the next note (legato means 'connected' or 'smooth'). Start playing C with your right thumb. Hold down C, and let go the second you hold D with your index finger. Do this exercise and ascend the scale. You practice a legato, you develop the feel of your fingers on the keys. This helps to control your fingers and the sound your fingers make the keys produce. This exercise sounds easy, but it's actually very difficult. The next note plays, not even a split second after the first one ends. So you have to pay close attention and control your fingers. There's no actual count when you first play this exercise. But once you get the hang of it, start to hold each note for a certain count. Start with four counts (whole note) and decrease to two counts (half note), etc.

Play a Whole Octave


Play a whole octave. It sounds easy, but the fingering isn't. When you play the piano, you're not playing ascending and descending scales. You're playing all sorts of notes. Therefore, your hand will be moving all over the place. This exercise teaches you how to be accurate -- and having speed -- for when you're preparing a leap in an octave or moving to another scale.

The Exercise


If you're playing C major in 4th octave, start with your thumb on C4. Play each subsequent note with the corresponding finger as discussed. You have five fingers but there are seven notes. What do you do? Play C with your thumb, D with your index finger, E with your middle finger, but F with your thumb. The minute your index finger touches D, lift your thumb and begin tilting your hand to the right. This will prepare you to hit your thumb on F in perfect timing. Do the same with the rest of the scale -- after your thumb hits F, your index finger will hit G, and you'll prepare your thumb to hit B.


Improve Your Playing with Piano Finger Exercises for Beginners


When pianists play, they look relaxed and serene. But their fingers are moving a million miles a minute. One of the first steps in becoming an amazing pianist is learning the correct fingering techniques. These won't come easy at first; as you practice, these fingering techniques will become natural. Once you get down fingering techniques, you'll understand the craft of professional piano playing. If you're looking for piano lessons, we can help you.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

10 Best Female Karaoke Songs for Groups

The key to a great karaoke session is to have a playlist up your sleeve before the evening starts. The Japanese knew what they were doing when they invented the wonder that is karaoke. A get-together with your girls involving food, drinks, singing and a few dance moves if it tickles your fancy - what's not to love? Whether you've got a great voice and are itching to get hold of that microphone, or you feel like you could do with a couple of lessons before you get up there, we've got the songs for you. Let's dive right into the 10 best female karaoke songs to make your next girls night a jammin' success.


1. Respect - Aretha Franklin



Genre: R&B

Multiple Voices: Yes

Aretha's classic hit was released all the way back in 1967 and still gets on the radio today. It shot to number 1 back then and is now rated number 5 in the top 500 greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. With sassy confidence ringing in every note, this tune's a great one to belt out as the opener to your evening.


2. Oops, I Did It Again - Brittney Spears



Genre: Pop

Multiple Voices: Yes

Oops, I Did It Again is one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 4 million copies sold, so it's the perfect song to sing along to with the girls. With the planet Mars, astronauts, red catsuits, and the Titanic all featuring in some way, shape or form, it'll be sure to get you in the party mood.


3. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor



Genre: Dance (Disco)

Multiple Voices: No

This was Gloria Gaynor's only number 1 hit, but what a hit it was. Originally released as a B-side, it was soon being played by disco DJs and created quite a storm. Charting in the top 100 every decade since it was released back in 1979, I Will Survive joins Respect in the top 500 songs of all time, featuring at number 492.


4. Valerie - Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson



Genre: Indie

Multiple Voices: No

A cover of the less popular Liverpudlian Zutons original, this upbeat track is a favorite. Featuring in Canadian Idol, Glee, and The X Factor USA, Valerie has a rich vocal quality that bounces energy around a room. You and the girls will find yourself wanting to dance to this top tune, and it's one to sing out with some passion.


5. Wannabe - Spice Girls



Genre: Pop

Multiple Voices: Oh, yes.

You're halfway into your musical adventure, now, and what better song to pick than one with 5 different vocalists, all harmonizing together? Wannabe was the Spice Girls' debut single, and it propelled them into the limelight with its staggeringly popular response. With 5 different girls and 5 distinct voices, Wannabe is perfect to sing out with your friends for a bit of nostalgia.


6. Someone Like You - Adele



Genre: Soul

Multiple Voices: No

Featuring the soulful, inimitable vocal style that is Adele, this haunting yet beloved track is definitely one of the best female karaoke songs ever. Rather than confining this beauty to just being sung in the shower (because admit it - we've all done it), Someone Like You is one to sing on an evening out. With its 'one that got away' theme, it's a song that's easy to relate to, so there'll be some heartfelt crooning going on, no doubt about it.


7. I Try - Macy Gray



Genre: Soul

Multiple Voices: Yes

With so many songs featuring such a varied vocal range, it can be hard to find a tune for ladies with a lower vocal range. Well, I Try is especially great for you. Macy Gray's gravelly voice is just beautiful in this song about love and attachment and, again, is totally relatable-to. I Try is one of the best female karaoke songs to shout out as you head towards the end of your evening.


8.Toxic - Brittney Spears



Genre: Pop

Multiple Voices: Yes

We couldn't help but use 2 of Britney's songs on our top 10 list of best female karaoke songs - Toxic is another hit! With cool elements of bhangra music, and an other-worldly feel to some of the musical riffs, Britney's toxic has a pacy rhythm that gets you up and moving. Again, in typical Brittney style, the video throws an airplane, an air stewardess, and a Ducati into the mix... Who can say no?


9. Mamma Mia - Abba



Genre: Pop

Multiple Voices: Yes

How could you have a night of girly karaoke and not rock out this beauty while you're at it? An interesting fact about the title 'Mamma Mia' is that it's the Italian equivalent of the exclamation '(oh) my!' in English. That's why, throughout the song, you'll hear the girls sing, 'my, my', as a translation from the Italian. Since its release in 1975, we've been singing along to it as one of the best female karaoke songs of all time. And with the release of Mamma Mia the movie, Meryl Streep's had us joining in the song from our couches. So give this classic the treatment it deserves, and belt it into a microphone for the full Abba effect.



10. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston



Genre: Soul

Multiple Voices: No

It's not a surprise that we chose this Whitney Houston cover of the Dolly Parton original, to end your night. This heartbreaking song starts off slow and steady with a powerful message and grows louder and more impassioned with every note. Follow along with Whitney and do this song some justice by singing it loud and proud. It's not an easy one to sing, with the complex trills the artist seemed to carry off effortlessly. But don't let that hold you back; I Will Always Love You is one to smash out together at the end of your evening, bringing it to a close with the song's fitting crescendo.


Bottom Line on the 10 Best Female Karaoke Songs

With so many songs to choose from, it was hard coming up with just 10. But with their upbeat tunes, great harmonizing, or soulful themes, our selection is sure to give you a fun-filled evening full of musical highs. Whether you're a soprano desperate to ring out the high notes, or a contralto with a lower range looking for an outlet, these 10 songs will get you singing your hearts out the whole night though. Loved what you read? Check out how you can transform yourself into a unique and dynamic singer.  

What's Your Vocal Range? 10 Tips to Find and Improve It

One of the defining features of a good musician is their vocal range. Axl Rose, Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury, and Mariah Carey are all famous figures for their range. But what is it, and how do you find yours? Here's our look at how to find and improve your own range. Follow these tips, and you'll be ready to step inside the recording studio in no time.

1. Know Each Vocal Range

Before you explore your own range, you need to know the options for range. There are seven ranges for the human voice, and yours will fall somewhere within these categories.

Soprano

Soprano is the highest range for women. It refers to the range between B3 and C6. While the range is most known for its role in choral music, there are famous pop music sopranos. The most notable is probably Julie Andrews.

Mezzo-Soprano

The mezzo-soprano voice is the most common female singing voice. If you're a mezzo-soprano, your vocal range likely rests between G3 and A5. Because this vocal type is so common, there are plenty of examples of mezzo-sopranos in pop music. Beyonce is probably the most notable.

Alto/Contralto

The lowest of the female singing voices, the contralto range features women singing between E3 and F5, though women with the ability to reach lower notes are valued. Perhaps the most popular contralto today is Adele.

Countertenor

Countertenors are men with the highest voices. This is the highest vocal range: because of that, it's incredibly valued. A countertenor can hit a C6 without slipping into a falsetto. This voice type is hard to come by in non-classical music, though there are examples of countertenors performing in competitions.

Tenor

While the countertenor range is the highest that men can be in, most men with high ranges would be considered tenors. A tenor can sing anywhere between C3 and B4 in their natural voice. Freddie Mercury was a tenor commonly mistaken for a countertenor: the difference is that Mercury's high notes were within his falsetto.

Baritone

The baritone range is the most common among men. Most baritones can hit between a G2 and G4, though there is room on either end of this range. Perhaps the most famous singer with this vocal range was Elvis Presley.

Bass

The bass range is the lowest vocal range. Known for the low and vibrating sounds you would associate with the string instrument, this is an extremely valued range in choirs and quartets. In pop music, you know it from the deep voices of legends such as Leonard Cohen.

2. Know Your Registers

Just as there are different ranges, there are also different registers. Your register is where your voice goes as you sing. Some are comfortable, like the chest voice. Others are more strained, like the Falsetto. Having a firm understanding of register will help you find the natural range for your voice. You can test where each register is for you by following the next three tips.

3. Find Your Lowest Notes

If you want to find your vocal range, you'll need to find your lowest notes. Doing this is easy: just get a piano and start in the middle. Move toward lower notes and try to match them with your voice. When you can no longer comfortably match the piano, you've found your vocal basement.

4. And Your Highest Notes

Repeat the above process to find your highest notes. Once again, your goal should be to find the notes you can reach without entering a falsetto: the falsetto range is a totally separate set of notes than what would be considered within your normal range of voice.

5. Locate Your Chest Voice

Having found the notes you can comfortably hit, you should feasibly have a knowledge of what your chest voice is. Having this information is good, as it will allow you to know exactly which notes to hit on a regular basis.

6. Record Your Range

If you have this information and know how to read music, you should be able to record your range. Simply write down your lowest and highest notes, and you're good to go. And now that you have this information, the next step is improving your range. And now that you have this information, the next step is improving your range.

7. Know How To Slide Your Voice Up

Expanding your vocal range is something you will do in small pieces each day. One of the best ways to start is by sliding your voice up gradually. To do this, go through the process of finding your highest notes, but don't be afraid to comfortably reach a note outside of your comfort zone. The key is to do this without forcing yourself: if you can do that, you'll be able to expand your register upward over time. To do this, go through the process of finding your highest notes, but don't be afraid to comfortably reach a note outside of your comfort zone. The key is to do this without forcing yourself: if you can do that, you'll be able to expand your register upward over time.

8. Stop If You Feel Pain

You cannot force yourself while expanding your vocal range. Doing this will stop your range from growing and actually limit it: you'll have to worry about causing serious damage to your vocal chords, which could make it impossible to sing all together. This is why you need to stop immediately if you feel pain while testing out new notes. Even if it's a particularly high note that you could hit the day before: our voices are different on different days, and it's important to play it safe.

9. Take Deep Breaths Before Difficult Notes

If you're going for a particularly difficult note, treat it like blowing out a blast of wind. Breathe in as much as you can before attempting the note, and then push the air out with the note: if you do this, you'll be hitting those high notes in no time.

10. Work With A Professional

Working to expand your vocal range isn't easy. If you want to improve your range without risking damage or failing to reach your potential, you need to work with a voice coach. We offer voice lessons to singers interested in self-improvement. Our goal is to help you grow as a musician and as a person. If you're interested in expanding your range, contact us today!

The Fascinating History of the Modern Grand Piano

The grand piano has gone through many different stages before becoming the instrument we know and love today. How much do you know about the fascinating history of the piano? There are entire books worth of things you can learn about its history, but we've put together this essential guide to give you an overview how this instrument came to be. Whether you're a musician, an aspiring musician, or just a music lover, you'll love knowing the interesting story of how the piano as we know it came about. Read on to learn more!

The Amazing History of the Grand Piano

1. Before Pianos

There is a long history of instruments that led up to the piano's development. Humans have been experimenting with the sounds of various instruments for thousands of years - even before recorded history began. In 14th century Europe, the first stringed instruments that recognizably came before the piano were developed. First was the dulcimer, which is a shallow box with wires stretched across it that were struck by wooden hammers to make a sound. Next came the clavichord, which came about in the same century as the dulcimer. After this, the stringed instruments that became the piano went through many different changes. There was the spinet, the clavecin, the virginal, the gravicembalo. Most of these instruments are things modern listeners have never heard of. But you might be familiar with the predecessor that came right before the piano: the harpsichord.

2. The First Pianos

In Padua, Italy in 1709, there lived a harpsichord maker named Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori. Harpsichords were limited in what they could do. They only had one volume, so songs could not be made louder or softer. This was very limited compared to the other instruments of the time, which allowed musicians to express with volume. The piano was invented because people wanted a harpsichord with volume that could be changed. A lot of the feeling in music comes from the volume of a certain segment. Loudness or softness and changes between the two can convey all kinds of different emotions. Cristofori first debuted his update to the harpsichord in 1709, naming it "gravicembalo col piano e forte." This basically translates to "keyboard instrument that's soft and loud." Of course, a name like that wasn't going to stick for long. It was soon shortened to "fortepiano," or sometimes, "pianoforte." Although the piano of today has a slightly different name, the instrument has not changed all that much from that very first one. Cristofori's 1709 invention no longer exists, but a piano of his from 1720 is now displayed at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is amazing to see how similar it is to pianos as we know them now.

3. The Grand Piano

Today, all kinds of artists use acoustic piano, and the king of all pianos is, of course, the grand. Although the design of a grand piano is very similar to the original 18th century piano, modern technology, and updated materials make today's instruments even more exquisite. Different woods can make pianos more durable and can make the sound more pleasant. Engineering knowledge allows people to design pianos that are strong and can maintain their rich, vibrant sound for many years. The keyboard action has gone through many updates, too. Keyboards today stay in tune longer and feel amazing to play. There are two sizes of grand piano: the concert grand and the baby grand. Concert grands are the instrument of choice of many composers, songwriters, conductors, and of course, performers. Baby grands are the more likely choice for a home piano and can sound beautiful and be amazing to play, just like a concert grand.

4. Piano Technology

Of course, piano development didn't stop with the acoustic grands that we all love to hear. Digital pianos offer a wide range of options. There are simple, low-functioning keyboards, but there are also completely amazing digital pianos that come close to replicating the sound and feel of an acoustic one. In fact, many companies selling digital pianos take the sounds for the digital directly from their best regular models. Digital pianos tend to have other sounds and functions programmed in, as well. Songs can be played in the style of many other instruments, some of which sound amazingly realistic. Connecting to a computer allows digital players to download and store music, record songs, and take piano lessons from home. There's no telling where the digital technology might take pianos in the future!

5. The Future of the Piano

In spite of the popularity of digital instruments today, the traditional grand piano will always have its place. There's just no replacing the true sound and feel of an acoustic piano, no matter how close digital models can come. Having both options available means there is something for every kind of musician. From upright pianos, which stood the grand piano on its side, to the popular digital relative that is the synthesizer, there have been many updates to pianos as we know them. But the truth is that the grand piano has stayed remarkably close to the very first piano in 1709. With hundreds of years of popularity behind it, these pianos are sure to be around for years to come.

Ready to Play?

The history of the piano is an inspiring story of creativity and invention. Learning the history of an instrument can be a great inspiration to start playing it yourself! The piano has maintained its popularity over the years in part because it's one of the easiest instruments to learn how to play. Other stringed instruments, like the guitar, require you to use your fingers to create the notes as you play. Pianos, however, have every note laid out in front of you. All you need to do is strike the keys in the correct order, and you have a song. This makes the piano a great instrument to learn, whether it's your very first one or you're looking to add to your musical repertoire. Ready to try the piano out? Take a look at the lessons we have to offer, and take your place in the storied history of this amazing instrument.

The post The Fascinating History of the Modern Grand Piano first appeared on Merriam Pianos