Music’s Intellect: Math

Math, science, history, reading, language. Five skills learned in school that researchers and musicians argue are tied to music, especially to those who learn music. A previous post, “The importance of music in schools,” quickly goes into these aspects and how they can benefit those five areas of learning. However, this post, as well as future posts titled “Music’s Intellect” will dive into how I think each of these skills learned, ties into music and goes beyond. So, how does music tie into math?

Rhythm is the division of short and long sounds or silences. Much like fractions, you have a whole and can break it down into smaller or “shorter” sizes that can still equal the whole. Like a dollar, a whole note (a type of rhythm) is equal to four quarter notes. They equal the same length, but one is one long sound and the other is four shorter sounds. Those that are familiar with music can think of a variety of rhythm combinations that create unique songs.

Another mathematical aspect in music is Tempo (the measurement of time). Some songs are fast and some are slow, all of which is measured by beats per minute. You could have 60 beats per minute, just like 60 seconds, or 120 beats per minute which is much faster.

So math is the technicality of how music is measured. However, it also can create expression as well. One song, played at two different speeds can change the whole feeling of the music. Also, slowing down the speed in certain sections of a lyrical song can tug at your heartstrings, but doing the same thing in a song that is supposed to sound like a racing train, ends up loosing its feeling. Rhythm usually does not change, because the combination of short and long sounds/silences make a song unique to other songs, but the interpretation of the tempo or speed can make a piece of music unique to the performer.

All in all, music is an intellectual pleasure that ties math into technicality and expression. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give a like and leave your thoughts or ideas of future content in the comments section below.


6 Facts about The Three Stooges Theme Song

Many middle age and older folk grew up watching The Three Stooges, and can still recite the theme song that has been engraved into their noggins. But, how much do they actually know about the song. Here are facts about The Three Stooges theme song.

1. More than one theme song

The Three Stooges actually had two theme songs, one was “Three Blind Mice” and the other was “Listen to the Mocking Bird.”

2. Who wrote “Listen to the Mocking Bird”

In 1855, African-American Richard Milburn wrote the music; while Septimus Winner under the name “Alice Hawthorne” wrote the lyrics. Winner’s sheet music arrangement never credited Milburn.

3. How was the song used in The Three Stooges

Its verse was rendered in a comical feel as the theme song for early short films by the three stooges (1935-38). The comical feel was established through instrumental music an chirping birds.

4. Another Famous Work

Up until now, you’ve probably never hear of Septimus Winner, but he also wrote the famous song “Oh Where, Ohe Where Has My Little Dog Gone.”

5. “Three Blind Mice”

This English nursery rhyme and musical round has been around since 1609. There does not seem to be a lyricist nor composer credited; but a number of composers have been credited for variations of the song, including Schumann, Holbrooke, and Haydn.

6. “Three Blind Mice” in The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges used a jazz interpretation of the song as their theme song for most of their comedic short films after 1938.

So there you have it. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give a like and share your ideas about future content in the comments section below.

Should you use LANDR’s article to write your music bio?

When I was browsing the internet for articles to review, I came across Leticia Trandafir’s “How to Write an Effective Music Bio: The Musicians Guide” and thought this could benefit many musicians. I believe that every musician should have a bio ready for any event or fan to read, and Trandafir’s article serves as a great guide. Though, I would not follow everything to a t. Here are the beneficial and unfavorable things I found while reading.

1. The Specifics

Sometimes it is extremely difficult for people, especially musicians to write about themselves. This article not only gives the tip to jot down basic info and milestones, but there is also explicit prompts to help guide your thoughts. It also gives some specific structural tips, like writing in the third person, make it neutral/factual, and read it for flow. It’s a little strange to me, but people tend to think you are more professional if your bio sounds like someone else wrote it.

2. The Structure

I also approve on how specific the article gets on structuring your bio. In the past, I have been told that your bio should be about one page long. Sure, that sets a framework, but if you have a bio on a website, then you’re dealing with pages that can go on forever or different sized screens. This article not only specifies how long the bio should be, but also how long it should be in comparison to where you put it. The three types of bios are basically: a one-liner for social media, a 1-paragraph promotional version (150-200 words), and a 3-paragraph full bio (max 300-400 words). The only things that I do not agree on is updating your bio once a month, and your third paragraph being entirely what you are currently working on. If you want to give an update once a month, start a blog or newsletter; a bio should be set in stone, unless you’ve made a new milestone.

3. Inspiration and Tips from Experts

Many good articles give examples of what they’re writing about to help inspire you. Trandafir’s is no different. She gives several links to artist bios. What makes her article really stand out is the tips given by several people who have read hundreds of artist bios. They are worth the read and can help you better understand what to do.

So, if you are wanting some tips on how to write your music bio, or you are just intrigued, than go to LANDR and read the article yourself. I may have to rework my own bio.

February Briefing

Well, the polls are in. What you see in the upper left hand corner of the website, is essentially the logo that was voted on. Though logos may change, this one will serve me for the time being.

On some other news, Ah Tempo Flutes has started rehearsing again. Conducting for the Christmas gig was such a success, that the group has asked me to conduct again. We are aiming for a performance in March, where I will conduct four movements of Holst’s “The Planets.” Keep updated for future announcements.

Finally, I look forward to some of your ideas. I blog my opinions on music topics, reviews on artists or music items, facts, and informational things that may be useful to those in the music world. So, feel free to send your ideas either through my contact page or by leaving your thoughts in the comments. Thank you.

Practice Smart, Not Hard

There is a saying I’ve heard among musicians, “you only need to practice as many days as you eat.” While this is a good guide to live by, it misses two very important things. One, how long should I practice? And two, how should I practice? As a youth, I would play through my songs and pieces at speed anywhere between fifteen minutes and six hours a day (the latter was high school). But, there is a difference between playing through and methodically practicing, in other words, if you practice efficiently you can accomplish more in less time than just playing through several times. You’ll need your instrument, music, a metronome, and self-discipline. Here are the steps I take:

1. Start Slow

You are probably familiar with the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” The same couldn’t be more true when learning a new piece of music. Start as slow as you need to go to play the pitches and rhythms accurately. If you have a certain passage giving you more trouble than the rest of the piece, work out that passage, then slowly add the rest of the piece. If you are unsure of a passage or having too much difficulty figuring it out on your own, do not be afraid to ask for help.

2. Aim for Accuracy

Staying at a slow pace, you should work to play the whole piece accurately (pitches, rhythms, dynamics, etc.). It can be grueling, but I say you should be able to play the piece five times IN A ROW without making mistakes. Once you are able to do that, than you can go on to the next step.

3. Steadily Increase Tempo

Once you can play accurately those five times in a row, than you can increase the tempo or speed by two or three bpm’s (beats per minute). Once you’ve done this, then aim for the goal in step two of playing five times in a row accurately. After you’ve done that, increase the tempo again by 2 or 3 bpm’s. Keep repeating this process until you’ve reach the recommended performance tempo.

That’s basically it. It might seem like a painfully slow process, but once you get through the first step, the rest usually comes pretty quick. Not only do you learn the piece more quickly, you also learn it more accurately because you’re not retraining your brain to unlearn your mistakes.

As a bonus, here are a few other ideas you can incorporate with your first step:

Sight-read the first time. Not only does it work on your ability to read on the spot without stopping or starting over, it also helps you discover the passages you have the most trouble with.

Mark your part. If you have made the same mistake more than once, than make some sort of mark that you can easily read while playing (i.e. mark a natural next to that note you keep playing flat).

Work from the end to the beginning. Most people remember the beginning and end of a piece, but sometimes you practice the beginning so much, that it is flawless and the rest of the piece is jumbled. With this exercise, you start with the last measure, add the previous measure and play them both accurately together, and keep repeating the process until you get to the first measure.

That’s all I have. If you liked this post, be sure to give a like and share with others. If you liked a certain idea or have one of your own, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Why Isn’t Band Highly Regarded

It has been a sort of pet peeve to see orchestras highly regarded around the world, while concert band is ignored. Is it because of it’s history, diversity, or some unknown reason? Looking at the U.S. alone, many major cities have orchestras that are paid professionally (New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, etc.). However, when trying to think of concert bands who are paid, the only thought that comes to mind are military bands. Why is this? There is plenty of band repertoire that is not march or military oriented. Let’s explore some opinions as to why band is essentially swept under the rug.

As far as I understand, concert band, the way we know it, is a relatively new concept. Orchestras have been around for at least four hundred years. Band on the other hand may have only been around for a little over one hundred years. Orchestras have been around much longer and have seen many evolutions to its composition of instruments, band not so much. The first 20th-century band piece was Gustav Holst’s First Suite for Band. Maybe this is where concert band gets its march reputation.

Band may also be viewed as amateur. After all, it was not long after band music started emerging that it would be introduced into public schools. In the U.S. bands are usually the music program funded first, likely because of its diversity to play not only concert music, but also marching bands. I think it is because marching bands are viewed as being very “American,” but also because they are also often associated with sports, which are highly funded here in the states. Also, many professional orchestras today have band instruments included, so maybe concert bands are viewed as the leftover players who did not make the cut, and are therefore amateurs. This really irritates me though, as there are far more string players per orchestra than winds. There could be fifty violins and three flutes or two clarinets. I understand that there is a balance to orchestra sound, but it is unfair to disregard everyone else and assume they’re amateurs.

Finally, maybe its the diversity of band instruments as well. They have been used in folk music, jazz bands, rock bands, and pretty much any kind of music you can think of. Maybe concert band is to close to symphony orchestra to some listeners and their use in other genres is different. Maybe their diversity in these many genres is why they are regarded as amateur. It is difficult to say.

So concert band may not be as regarded because of its history, its education purposes, its diversity, or maybe it just has not got its footing yet in the professional world. After all, there are professional concert bands out there. Maybe, we just need to wait and see.

If you liked this post, be sure to give a like and share with others. If you have your own theories, leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you.

10 Facts About Mozart

Most people are at least familiar with the name Mozart and his music. However, some might not be aware of some facts about his life or music. So, here are ten facts you may not know about Mozart.

1. The first instrument he learned

By age three, Mozart was imitating the clavier playing of his talented older sister Maria Anna. The clavier is an old-fashioned stringed instrument that also had a keyboard. He would soon after learn the violin and harpsichord.

2. First tour

At the age of six, Mozart went on tour around Europe traveling by stagecoach. He played for royalty, for the well-known musicians of the day, as well as bars. Being well traveled at such a young age also helped him to learn to speak fifteen languages.

3. First compositions

Although he first started composing at the age of four, he began composing symphonies at age eight, and composing his first opera by age eleven.

4. His first proposal

Marriage came at an earlier age during Mozarts time, but he gave his first proposal to Marie Antoinette, future queen of France, at the age of seven.

5. Mozarts Marriage

After being madly in love with Aloysia Weber and being rejected by her, Mozart would go on to marry Constanze Weber, Aloysia’s sister. He called her “little mouse” and they had six children together, two of which lived to adulthood.

6. Superstitions and death

Mozart was a very superstitious man, which might explain his reaction to the mysterious stranger who came to his house one night and commissioned Mozart to write a requiem. Thinking it was for his own death, Mozart worked feverishly. Some people speculate that this is what drove him to die at the age of thirty-five of kidney failure and malnutrition. However, Mozart spent most of his life in poor health.

7. Fame, but not fortune

Mozart was very famous during his time, but aristocrats would often pay him with trinkets such as watches and snuff boxes, rather than with the money he needed. At the peak of his career, Mozart earned as much money in one concert as his father earned in a year. However, Mozart seemed to spend money faster than he earned it, for he died with very little possessions (six coats, three silver spoons, 346 books, his walnut piano, and his pool table).

8. A shared theme

There are striking similarities between Mozart’s opening theme to “Bastien and Bastienne” and Beethoven’s opening theme for is Symphony No. 3 “Eroica.” Some might argue that is is the same theme. However, it is doubtful that Beethoven was familiar with Mozart’s then unpublished piece. A likely explanation of the similarities is that both composers took the theme from another unknown source.

9. Mozart’s name

Most people know this famous composer by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. However, his full name is “Joannes Crysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.” His baptismal names, Joannes Crysostomus, were often not used but sometimes parenthesized either with these names or their German equivalents (Johann
Crysostom). Theophilus is a Greek name meaning “lover of God” or “loved by God;” Amadeus is the Latin form, which Mozart preferred to use.

10. His music today

It is amazing, yet not surprising that More recordings of Mozart’s music are bought today than recordings of any other composer’s work. Because he was prolific with his writing, to play all of Mozart’s music in a row would take about 202 hours.

Thanks for reading about the famous Mozart. If you liked what you read, be sure to give a like and leave a comment below. You may also be interested in reading about Mozart through “Lives of the Musicians” by Kathleen Krull or Wikipedia, or play a little trivia on Useful Trivia.

January Announcements

Here’s to the first post of the new year, those that celebrate the new year on January 1st that is. I am very excited to see how this year unfolds. So, I will first review what happened last month, and then go into changes that you will likely see this month.

December’s Performance with Ah Tempo Flutes was a lot of fun. It was great to not only get to play some Christmas music, but also to conduct some of the pieces. You can check out some photos on my Instagram page.

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Ah Tempo flutes with Santa.

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Some of you are aware that I tried to make a holiday music video. Little did I realize, I missed a few very important steps along the way. However, this is all new to me, and it is only human to make some mistakes along the way. For that is how we learn and grow. However, that does not mean I have given up on making videos. I plan to get out at least one this year, if not three. So keep an eye out for future announcements.

One thing I have noticed with a lot of successful entrepreneurs is that they have a logo. Some are homemade, some are professionally done, and some change over time. I have put up a poll with a few ideas. It would help me greatly to get your opinions. Just be aware, that they are very rough sketches.

Since I’m trying to keep my business name the same across all platforms, and allowing room for my website to grow, I may be switching programs and hosts. This means that I may end up with a new URL as well. Though I will keep this website up as well for some time, be on the lookout for announcements.

Finally, I look forward to some of your ideas. I blog my opinions on music topics, reviews on artists or music items, facts, or informational things that may be useful to those in the music world. So, feel free to send your ideas either through my contact page or by leaving your thoughts in the comments. Thank you.

Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter Review

Yes, this song has been out for over a year now, but Lindsey Stirling release a YouTube video a few weeks ago. This post will go over my review of the video and song.

Starting with the video, I thought that it was brilliantly done. The song itself has a jazzy vibe to it, and what better way to feature that then to showcase a ’50’s style movie set. In 50’s films, they did a lot of set changes on one stage, much like what we saw in this video. Another feature that emphasizes this jazzy tune, is the swing dancing done throughout the video. Swing dancing and big bands were a very big thing back then. This video reminded me of films like “Singin’ in the Rain,” which I love with the choreography, sets, and one take shots.

Looking at the song itself, I throughly enjoy it. Lindsey did a great job of creating a tune that features a jazz style while still having that faint hint of today’s pop culture; much like “La La Land.” It was kind of surprising how well the trombone feature worked with the violin, as you don’t hear the two together often, but it sounded nice. I also thought Stirling’s lyrics were cleverly thought out making the song relatable to almost everyone. It makes for a fun, catchy, and humorous song. The one negative thing I have to say about the whole thing is how little the violin is featured. For anyone who does not know Lindsey Stirling, she got her claim to fame as a dancing violinist, which was inpiring to many young instrumentalists, like me. So for the violin being mostly undertones in the song and featured for maybe forty seconds of the over three-minute video, may be a little discouraging to those who not only play an instrument, but hope for others to be inspired to play an instrument.

Aside from the one bit of criticism, this video is well worth watching. You can watch here. Feel free to leave your likes and thoughts below.

Concert Etiquette: The Performer

A previous post written addressed how the audience should behave during a concert. This one will dive into how the performer or musician should behave when they show respect for the audience.

1. Arrive On Time!

There is a saying that was ingrained into me by music teachers, “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” As a musician, you want to arrive early enough so that you’re dressed, warmed up, set up, and ready to go with at least ten minutes to spare. That way you can take a moment to breathe and start the performance on time. We don’t want to keep the audience waiting.

2. Dress Appropriately

Unless you perform in a rock band, you almost never would dress in something like jeans and a t-shirt. You want to dress professionally. If you are a solo performer, you are the limelight and have more flexibility for a dress code. This could be a colored dress or suit, or exposing your arms and legs. Just make sure that your skirt is not so short that the people in the front row can not see up it. If you’re in an ensemble, particularly a classical ensemble, everyone usually wears black. You also want to make sure that your legs are fully covered, as well as your shoulders. This creates uniformity within the group.

3. Address the Audience

When people applaud, they are essentially thanking your for performing for them or acknowledging how much they enjoyed your performance. So, you should acknowledge back. Some people wave to their audience, some people open their arms to address the audiences importance. But the one gesture that works for any group, and pretty much the only accepted move for classical performers is the bow. We’re not talking about the head bob or the awkward bow where you’re still keeping eye contact with the audience. We are talking about the bow where you take a second to bend almost perpendicular to stare at the floor, then come back up. This not only addresses the audience, but tends to put everyone at ease. One side note, is if the audience is not clapping, don’t bother bowing, it just makes things uncomfortable.

4. Acknowledge the Accompanist

If there is someone performing with you, whether it’s another ensemble member or someone backing you up on your solo performance. This could be a simple hand gesture towards them and then bowing together. They likely worked just as hard as you did, so give them some recognition.

5. Enjoy the Show

I still get nervous when I perform, but if you are dreading your performance, the audience will feel that, which in turn makes you more nervous and starts causing unnecessary mistakes. You likely worked hard on your music, so go out there and have fun making music. Before your last piece, be sure to thank the audience for their time and then end with a big finale.

To summarize a performers etiquettecy, they should be professional, be timely, acknowledge everyone there, and have fun. If you liked these tips, feel free to give a like and leave your comments below.