2019-2020 Studio Calendar
Sunday, August 11, 2019 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
Digital or Acoustic? What piano do I buy and how do I know what's a good deal?
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
I often get asked, "should I buy digital or acoustic (aka a 'real piano')?" As I am currently going through the process of selecting a new acoustic piano myself, I feel the pain of trying to select THE ONE from THE MANY, MANY options!! It can be overwhelming! And it's possible to make a horrible mistake if you purchase or get a 'free' piano from an individual without a technician advising you on the condition of that particular piano (been there, done that!). Ultimately, it comes down to sound (does is SOUND good??) and feel (can you really express yourself on that piano?).
If you don't know what you want a piano to sound or feel like, I'd like to share a website and some articles that I've found to be invaluable in giving what seems to be relatively unbiased information on all those options, to help you make a decision that is right for you and your family: https://www.pianobuyer.com.
If you're trying to decide between acoustic or digital: https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/acoustic-or-digital-whats-best-for-me/
If you've decided on acoustic:https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/piano-buying-basics-introduction/
If you've decided on digital:https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/how-to-buy-a-digital-piano/
Pricing Guide:Pricing Guide
A plug for acoustic: "The advantages of the acoustic piano start with the fact that it’s the “real thing,” inherently capable of nuances that are difficult for the digital piano to emulate. The experience of playing an acoustic piano — the harmonics, the vibrations, the touch, the visual appeal, the interaction with the room, the connection with tradition — is so complex that digitals cannot reproduce it all. And, provided that it’s a decent instrument and properly maintained, the acoustic will continue to serve you or a subsequent owner for several generations, after which it might be rebuilt and continue to make music." -taken from this article: Acoustic or Digital?
A note on if you've decided you absolutely must go digital: Please ensure any practice instrument has the following:
- weighted keys - there needs to be some resistance to the key so fingers develop the strength needed to play expressively on various instruments. Think of the difference between typing on a computer keyboard versus an old manual typewriter.
- touch sensitivity - the ability to press a key softly to get a soft sound, then press it harder to get a louder sound. Without the ability to create variations in tone, the pianist will be playing 'monotone.' Boring, and not musical at all!
- 88 keys - a full size keyboard is essential
- a pedal - make sure any keyboard in use has a pedal attachment
Good luck in your piano purchasing journey. Persevere to find the one that makes you happy that you'll enjoy having in your home for years to come. It's worth the investment of your time and money!
Saturday, August 11, 2018 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
Hello Music Room families! As many of you know, I constantly bemoan the fact that there's so MUCH I want to do with the kids that 30 minutes a week just doesn't allow, composing being one of those things.
I'm delighted to announce that this year, included in your tuition, is an invitation to a Composer's Club, a monthly event on a Friday night at my home for teens and more advanced students. We'll be exploring lots of composition concepts and putting them into practice. Here's a taste of what we'll be exploring (translated to piano, of course!)
Want to be a better sight reader?
Monday, August 7, 2017 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
Sight Reading Tips
- Set and feel a steady pulse at an appropriate tempo. Musical pulse is like a heart-beat pulse: it might change speed, but it (hopefully) never stops! Same goes for sight reading…
- Get a feel for the rhythm and hum through the melody to get a sense of how it should sound in your head.
- Check the key. Think of the piece in terms of chords – think Circle of 5ths (and the chords surrounding the current key on the Circle – the song will contain some or all of these chords)
- Work out the highest and lowest notes and, if possible, place hands in a suitable position, including fingers over sharps and flats. Work out if the hands need to change to a different position and how to get there.
- Learn the first and last two bars of any sight reading piece perfectly. This ensures a strong start and finish.
- Decide from the beginning which hand is more important to the feel of the piece and therefore which hand must keep playing even if they can’t play both together in the middle of the piece.
- Look for intervals, chord shapes, broken chords, arpeggios, scale passages, sequences, etc. that are easy to play and will help keep the sense of pulse steady.
Courtesy of Tim Topham
3 Ring Binder Dividers
Thursday, August 3, 2017 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
When students come to lessons in September, please send 3 ring binders with at least 6 tab dividers, already labeled with:
- Music in Progress
- Completed Music
Video - quartet from Jam session 11/11
Friday, November 18, 2016 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
Here's a video of a quartet from the Jam Session on November 11. My favorite part is that it included a brand spanking new 5 year old piano student and a veteran 6 year student - having fun making music together!! That's what music is all about. Enjoy!
Fall lesson notes
Monday, August 1, 2016 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
Hello, everyone! I realized you all are probably thinking of back to school shopping, so I wanted to add a couple things to your list:
- a composition notebook for weekly notes
- a small (1/2") 3 ring binder
I'll have your students' piano books here and will send an invoice after our first lesson, payable with your October payment. Returning families know this, but for the new student families, the website will automatically send the invoice for the upcoming month's lessons on the first of the month. You can either pay via the Paypal link in the invoice or send a check in with your student. If you ever have a question, don't hesitate to let me know. The software and I occasionally don't quite get along, so if you ever aren't sure about something, ask!
Don't forget to schedule your student(s) for the group classes in August. **If they are not registered, I will assume they aren't coming and will not be prepared for them.** www.theMusicRoom.us. Just go to the calendar for the date(s) you want and add them to the class. If you have any trouble, let me know. If I don't see you at a group class in August, I'll see you the week of 9/6 for your first lesson. Check the calendar for your child's assigned timeslot and let me know if you have any concerns about the time ASAP. Thanks!
P.S. Anyone need a desk? The white Ikea desk that was in the studio is looking for a new home in order to have more room in the studio. :)
See you soon!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by Sharon Hale | Uncategorized
I'm happy to share that I've found a location for our spring recital!
- Where - Manassas Church of the Nazarene, 8220 Spruce Street, Manassas
- When - Saturday, 6/11, 1:30 pm
- What - an opportunity for each student to share a couple of their favorite pieces with friends and family, followed by a light cookies & juice reception
For now, please mark your calendars, and keep an eye out for more details to follow!
First Jam Session a Success!
Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by Sharon Hale | group lesson
Thank you to all who participated in The Music Room's first Jam Session! What fun we had!
We started the evening playing a couple of games (did the kids realize they were learning while playing??) - Rhythm Cups and Music Bingo. Then we shared some amazing cupcakes provided by piano mom Asi Vellekat (the woman is a secret baker!!). Next we spent some time taking turns trying to play simple songs by ear with another student accompanying with easy chord patterns. Finally, we had a free for all where each student took a turn playing a favorite piece, including a duet or two. Ben added to the fun by bringing his Ableton Push and putting down a little rhythm to go along with some of the songs.
My favorite part of the night? When kids were packing up to go and a student said, "This was fun. When can we do it again?"
Easy answer. April 25! Kids 11 and under from 7-8, 12 and older 8-9. I must have an RSVP (you can register directly on the website), though, because I learned from experience that 5-6 is about the max that will work in my small studio until I get the basement set up, so it will be first come, first served. There is no charge for this event....this is the FUN of music!