Music Music Music

French Horn Learn More

French Horn Learn More

The Structure of the Horn
Learn the parts of the horn

F/B♭ full-double horn

F/B♭ full-double horn

The Structure of the Horn
Slightly different from other brass instruments

Compared with the simple animal-horn instruments of the past, the modern horn is highly complex instrument with coiled tubing. Let's take a look at the structure and how that structure affects the timbre.
Though the soft timbre characteristic of the horn allows it to blend well with strings and woodwinds, it is also capable of bold, dynamic tones when playing with other horns and brass instruments. This wide tonal range makes it an appealing instrument for composers, which is why the horn is one of those instruments that seems to be everywhere, even in orchestral music. Let's listen to some exemplary pieces.
The first is an example of the horn's dulcet tones from Brahm's Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, and the other is a powerful performance from Wagner's Tannhäuser.

Soft

Powerful

Can you hear the difference? In both cases, the horn impressively expands to fill the space.

The bell of the natural horn was said to face backwards so that the horn could be carried on the shoulder. The bell of today's horn also faces towards the rear of the player. How does this backward-facing bell affect the tone?
Indoors, the horn's tone reflects off of the wall at the back of the stage before arriving at the audience. Thus, the quality of the tone will be affected by the materials used to make that wall.

Generally, the reason why people say that the tone of the horn is soft is because it loses its edge when it reflects off of the wall, but when the listener faces the bell directly, it has that boisterous tone characteristic of brass instruments. Let's take a listen. When heard from behind the player, the tone has quite an impact.

The tone is soft when heard from in front of the player.

The tone is more boisterous when the listener is facing the bell.

With most brass instruments, the levers or pistons are operated with the right hand. With the horn, however, the player puts the right hand into the bell, and so the levers are operated with the index, middle, and ring fingers of the left hand. The instrument is supported with the little finger of the left hand and the thumb of the right hand inside the bell. Some weight is also placed on the skin between the thumb and index finger on the left hand. Because of the weight of the instrument, people who practice a lot sometimes get what are called horn calluses.
The weight of the instrument will depend on the thickness of the metal that forms the tube, but generally speaking, a single will weigh 2kg; a semi-double, 2.3kg; a full-double, 2.5kg; and a triple, 2.8kg. An increase of only 0.1kg will put a crushing weight on the little finger of the left hand.

 

Care and Maintenance of a Horn
How to take care of a horn

The horn is made up of a tube the size of a ballpoint pen that gets gradually larger, and if you do not keep your mouth clean, a catastrophe is just waiting to happen. One day, you will think that something is not quite right, that it is too hard to play, so you remove the slide and blow into the mouth piece. Surprise! Some mysterious matter will come flying out. It's slime!
Because you did not brush your teeth before playing, the bits and chunks of food stuck to your teeth collected inside the horn and rotted. Playing while you eat is also an outrageous mistake. Even if you clean up before you play, the instrument requires regular maintenance. Read the owner's manual carefully, and take good care of your instrument.

Hold the horn by the thicker outer tube, not by the center part. The center part has moveable slides, and they may bend under pressure and become non-functional.

It is dangerous to leave a horn on a chair. The bell protrudes and sticks out beyond the chair, so it would be very easy for someone to accidentally run into it and knock it on the floor, denting the tubing. In that case, the only person to blame is the one who left the horn in an unstable place to begin with.
A horn should be placed in a wide, flat area that can contain its entire bulk. Whether the valves are facing upward or downward, make sure that the instrument is balanced and stable. Never ever stand a horn on its bell, like a tuba. It is very unstable in this state and will fall over.

The twisted bell stem of a horn.

The twisted bell stem of a horn.

What is the average lifespan of a brass instrument? In school brass bands, where the instruments are passed on from upper classmen to lower classmen, some instruments last more than ten years. Many of the instruments used by Austria's Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra are several decades old. The Vienna Philharmonic values tradition, and they have preserved their traditional timbre. The fact is, however, that even strong metal will wear out over time, and the levers and other places that come into contact with the hands will develop holes. When that happens, they fix it with a patch and play it with respect. The lifespan of an instrument is determined by how it is handled.

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Trombone Learn More

Trombone Learn More

The Structure of the Trombone
Learn the parts of the trombone

A tenorbass trombone is shown in the diagram.

* A tenorbass trombone is shown in the diagram.

 

The Structure of the Trombone
The trombone: The instrument that extends and retracts

One interesting thing about trombones is how they extend and contract. But what allows these instruments to do so? Put a trombone to your lips and just look straight ahead for your answer: you'll see two parallel tubes right in front of your face. These two tubes (the outer slide and inner slide) form what is called the slide.
Trombones are played by holding the instrument to your lips with your left hand, gripping the brace right in front of your left hand with your right hand, and sliding the slide back and forth. It is therefore extremely important that a trombone's slide moves smoothly.

A trombone is held with the left hand and played with the right hand

A trombone is held with the left hand and played with the right hand

If you slide the slide out too much it will detach from the instrument. The outer slide and inner slide are just inserted into the instrument; there is nothing holding them in place. Therefore, if you aren't careful and let go of it, the outer slide could fall to the ground under its own weight. The slide is designed like this for a reason: the player needs to be able to slide it back and forth very smoothly to play the instrument.

Just keep this in mind, and be careful not to let the slide drop to the ground!

Just keep this in mind, and be careful not to let the slide drop to the ground!

The slide on a trombone enables the player to change his or her pitch in a truly smooth and "stepless" fashion.
For example, in the piano there is a very clear delineation between C, D, and F. Although any given black key and its neighboring white key have a half-tone difference, a trombone is capable of producing quarter-tones (one half a half-tone) and even eighth-tones (one half of a quarter-tone).

Example of sliding the slide back and forth to vary the pitch

Thanks to its slide, the trombone can produce a very unique vibrato. By finely adjusting the pitch, the player can make the sound appear to "flutter." Vibrato produced from the action of the slide is one of the most recognizable characteristics of the trombone.

Example of vibrato

 

The Structure of the Trombone
[Experiment]I can only extend my right arm so far!

Each trombone has a maximum slide position it can be played at. For a tenor trombone this is around 60 cm. This is right around the maximum distance that the average Japanese adult male can extend his arm.
However, what if your arms are simply not long enough? One clever way of overcoming this is to attach a string to the slide, allowing you to reach the farthest slide position.
The reason you extend your arm, in the end, is to extend the length of the tube. Trombone manufacturers then came up with an idea. Why not attach another piece of tubing somewhere on the instrument? Doing so would allow the player's breath to pass through this new piece only when needed.
This additional tubing also plays a role in extending the bass range of the trombone. For tenor trombones, this extends the range from B♭ (their fundamental pitch) to A, G, and F. The additional tubing is thus called an "F attachment." A valve must also be installed to use this additional tubing.
This has made it possible for even smaller people to play the trombone.

The coil-like tubing on the inside is the F attachment.The round silver object is the valve.

The coil-like tubing on the inside is the F attachment.The round silver object is the valve.

The valve makes it easier to play low notes without having to extend your arm as much, and can even be switched out to change the sound completely.
There are even bass trombones with two valves. Turning on and off the two valves gives a total of four combinations, for four different sounds.
Trombone valves were first invented in the 19th century. Until then, it was extremely difficult to play continuously from, say, B♭ to C. Valves now make this easy.

Example of a bass trombone with two valves being played

 

The Structure of the Trombone
How to play the scale

Trombones work by using the slide to change the length of the tubing, which controls the pitch of the sound. The slide has seven positions, counted in order from the 1st position (toward you) to the 7th position (fully extended). However, there are no position markers on the tubing. Trombone players learn the positions by feel. Although guitars have positions (frets) on their necks, trombones are more like violins, which do not. Trombones are therefore not so unique in terms of position markers (or lack thereof).

Just because there are seven slide positions doesn't mean that trombones can only play seven sounds. A trombone can produce several sounds from a single position.
Let's listen to what kinds of sounds can be produced from the 1st position.

Examples of sounds produced from the 1st position

The sounds produced at each position, from 1st to 7th, are shown below, expressed as notes:

Sounds at each position

Sounds at each position

A trombone player varies the sound produced at a single position by changing how he or she blows into the instrument. Trombones do not have finger holes, so a trombone player changes the sound with his or her mouth rather than his or her fingers. The more a trombone player tightens his or her lips, the higher the pitch produced.
Notes are played on a trombone through a combination of the slide position and the way the player blows into the instrument.

 

The Structure of the Trombone
Try out a mouthpiece!

Saxophones and clarinets utilize a small part called a reed that vibrates and produces noise. Trombones do not. Since they do not use reeds, when playing a trombone a player causes his or her lips to vibrate-basically acting as the instrument's reed. What this means is that the mouthpiece does not contain any vibrating parts.

Cross-sectional diagram of the mouthpiece

Cross-sectional diagram of the mouthpiece

Lip size and shape vary from person to person. Furthermore, the shape of the mouthpiece can alter how the instrument sounds. A mouthpiece with a deep cup will provide a large and full sound, while a thin mouthpiece will provide a forceful and bright sound. Manufacturers therefore build a large variety of mouthpieces with slight differences in the diameter or the volume of the cup so that players can choose the sound they want for their instrument.

A set of mouthpieces of varying sizes

A set of mouthpieces of varying sizes

First, imagine the feeling of holding a single piece of paper between your lips. You wouldn't need to use much strength. Lightly press the mouthpiece to your lips, so that 2/3rds of it is above your lips, and 1/3rd of it is below your lips. Then try making some noise.
If you loosen your lips and open them, you won't make any noise at all. Keep your lips somewhat tense and then vibrate them.

Position of mouthpiece and lips

Position of mouthpiece and lips

Were you able to make any noise? Once you are able to do this, next try it with the mouthpiece attached to a trombone. Having practiced like this, you're sure to make some beautiful sounds!

Install the mouthpiece to a trombone

Install the mouthpiece to a trombone

 

How to Play the Trombone
How to play the trombone

Take a deep breath, lightly close your lips, and then blow.
* Be careful not to puff out your cheeks or change the shape of your lips.

Example of how to blow

Press the mouthpiece to the middle of your lips, take a deep breath, and blow it out. It's enough if your lips vibrate and you hear a blowing sound.

Example of how to blow into a mouthpiece

After confirming that the slide lock is locked, join the bell tube and slide, and then insert the mouthpiece as you gently twist it.

Detaching the bell tube and slide

Support the trombone firmly with your left hand, relax your shoulders, and hold the trombone with a relaxed right hand.

Holding the trombone
 
 
From the point of view of the player

From the point of view of the player

 
From the side

From the side

 
Right hand grip

Right hand grip

When playing a trombone you can change the sound it produces just by how your lips vibrate when blowing-no fingers required. To produce low notes, vibrate your lips slowly; the higher the note you want to play, the quicker you will need to vibrate your lips. When you are blowing be sure not to press the mouthpiece firmly to your lips.

Blowing Pitch Lip vibration Watch the video
Toh Low Blowing (Toh)
Tay Middle Blowing (Tay)
Tee High Blowing (Tee)

Once you are able to blow properly (toe, too, tee), try using positioning and tonguing to produce sound.
Also, once you can play the scale, try playing to sheet music.

Example of practicing positioning and tonguing

Example of practicing positioning and tonguing

Example of practicing positioning and tonguing

When the Saints Go Marching In

"When the Saints Go Marching In"

Example of how to blow into a mouthpiece

There are two main ways to create vibrato when playing a brass instrument: with breath control (as with a flute) or lip area control. Trombones add a third method: using the slide. Knowing when to make use of these three methods can really increase your range of expression.

There is a pipe called the "mouthpipe" located inside the pipe on the side the mouthpiece is attached. When cleaning the inside of the instrument it is important to be aware of this. There are some players who just clean it with a swab. It is very important to hold the end of the cleaning rod that is wrapped in gauze with your hand.
* A mouthpiece brush can be useful when cleaning the mouthpiece.

1. Use a piece of gauze to wipe away the slide cream.
Use a piece of gauze to wipe away the slide cream.
2. Use the cleaning rod to clean the inside of the pipe.
Cleaning with a cleaning rod -1
Cleaning with a cleaning rod -2
Cleaning with a cleaning rod -3
Cleaning with a cleaning rod -4
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Trumpet Introduction

Trumpet Introduction

Trumpet

The trumpet is characterized by its striking, triumphal sound and by the fact that it boasts the highest register of all the brass instruments. It does splendid work, single-handedly giving expression to heroism and jubilation.

Trumpet

The trumpeter produces sound from the trumpet by buzzing his lips. That said, it is in fact the metallic mouthpiece that produces the sound. 

 

The trumpet or cornet is the smallest and highest member of the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by buzzing the lips into a mouthpiece.  

The trumpet is stored in the case in just two pieces, the body and the mouthpiece.

The trumpet is a very versatile and widely used instrument. Trumpets are always needed in bands, symphony orchestras, jazz groups and small instrumental groups. It is very common for the trumpet to perform a large number of solos and melodic lines in all of these groups. The trumpet also works well as a solo instrument.

 

The origins of the Trumpet
The birth of the trumpet

The origins of the trumpet can be traced back several thousand years. However, since the primitive trumpets were rudimentary wind instruments that the player sounded simply by moving his lips, they cannot clearly be distinguished from the forerunners of the horn, on which sound is produced in the same way.
Trumpets of old were made out of various materials, including wood, bamboo, bark, clay, human bone, and metal. Found on every continent, they are thought to have been used in religious ceremonies and sorcery.

Ancient trumpet made of clay, found in Peru.

Ancient trumpet made of clay, found in Peru.

In the ancient Greek and Roman eras, trumpets were used for marching in wartime, for which they were admirably suited. Subsequently, almost all European royalty had trumpet bands that played military music.
It was in the seventeenth century that the trumpet came to be used purely in musical ensembles. At that time, however, this was still the so-called natural trumpet, which can only produce natural harmonics, so the trumpet was not yet a fully functional instrument.

A trumpet depicted in the Triumphal Arch of Titus. Jerusalem, second century

A trumpet depicted in the Triumphal Arch of Titus. Jerusalem, second century

 

The origins of the Trumpet
The invention of the valve

Early trumpets had a very simple shape, with just a flared bell at the end. The trumpeter could produce a number of different notes by varying his lip movement and the speed of his breath. These notes are known as harmonics and are written on a score as follows:

An early trumpet

An early trumpet

An example of harmonics on the trumpet

An example of harmonics on the trumpet

Melodies were played on early trumpets using the run of high-harmonic notes, as shown on the right of the score above. When a trumpeter needed to play songs in different keys, such as C major and G major, he would keep a C major trumpet and a G major trumpet to hand. Looking after all these instruments and carrying them around was very troublesome, however. Accordingly, in around 1810 the valve was invented as a means for easily changing the length of the tube.

A chromatic scale is a scale in which one octave is divided into 12 semitones.

A chromatic scale is a scale in which one octave is divided into 12 semitones.

A valve is a device that changes the path taken by the trumpeter's breath. A second tube was added in the middle of the instrument's tube and a valve was attached at the point where they joined. The valve controlled which tube the trumpeter's breath would pass through. It was now easy to change the length of the tube, enabling chromatic scales to be played on the trumpet.

 

The origins of the Trumpe
The relatives of the trumpet

Cornet and flugelhorn

The cornet and the flugelhorn are also relatives of the trumpet. Compared to the trumpet and the cornet, however, both of which have tubes that are almost cylindrical along their entire length, the flugelhorn has a pronounced conical shape. Since a conical tube produces a mellower sound than a cylindrical tube, the instrument creates a completely different impression. Try comparing the different instruments by listening to the sounds that they produce.

Instrument Appearance Listen to a sample
Trumpet Trumpet
Cornet Cornet
Flugelhorn Flugelhorn
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Violin Learn More

The parts of the violin

 

The Structure of the Violin
The structure of the strings

From high to low, the strings on the violin are E, A, D, and G. They are made from a variety of materials including catgut (sheep intestine), nylon, and steel.

Violin string

The neck is carved from a single piece of wood, and the part at the end that appears to wind in on itself is called the "scroll." The strings are attached to the tuning pegs, which are fitted inside narrowly carved holes, and held in place by friction.

Only the high E string has an adjuster so that it can be easily tuned, while the others rely on the tuning pegs for tuning, which might take some getting used to.
Recently, some violins come with four adjusters built into the tailpiece, so this is another option to consider.

The tuning pegs

The tuning pegs

Violin string

The four strings are attached to the four tuning pegs

Violin neck

The neck is carved from a single piece of wood, excluding the tuning pegs

 

The Structure of the Violin
The structure of the bow

The bow hair is made of a hank of horsehair. A single violin bow will use between 160 and 180 individual hairs. These hairs are all attached next to each to form a ribbon. Unusually thick hairs and kinked hairs are removed so that only straight hairs are used.

Bow hair made of horsehair

Bow hair made of horsehair

Bow stick

The stick is made out of hardwood

Rosin is applied to the bow hair before being used. Rosin is the hardened sap of the pine tree and comes in yellow or black cakes, which produce a white powder when rubbed. Rosin powder is sticky, which helps the bow rub the strings. Let's listen to the sound produced by a bow with rosin, and one without.

Violin

Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1

With rosin

Without rosin

 

The Structure of the Violin
How sound is produced

Vibrations from the strings are transmitted to the top plate and bottom plate through the bridge, and this reverberates within the hollow body, producing the rich, brilliant tone characteristic of the violin.
A bowed string vibrates and moves in a circular motion that produces the fundamental tone, while the vibration produces overtones like a rippling wave. This complex movement of the string is transmitted to the body by the bridge. The bridge transmits this vibration to the top plate of the violin through two fundamental movements; one in which it pushes down on the top plate alternately one foot at a time, and the other in which both feet push down on the top plate simultaneously.

The bridge transmits the vibrations of the strings

The bridge transmits the vibrations of the strings

There is another small yet important part: the sound post. The sound post is a post sandwiched between the top plate and the bottom plate underneath the bridge, and it transmits the vibrations from the top plate to the bottom plate. It also serves to preserve the shape of the body.
If you look inside a violin, you can see the bass bar running up the left hand side as you face the instrument. The piece sitting under the bridge on the right-hand side is the sound post.

The position of the bass bar and the sound post

The position of the bass bar and the sound post

 

 

How to Play the Violin
The basic position

The instrument is trapped between the chin and the shoulder to stabilize it. The chinrest was developed in the nineteenth century to support the instrument, and this played a major role in improving playing techniques. Initially, the violin appears to have been held against the chest or the shoulder.

The bow is normally held in the right hand. It is pinched between the fingers and should not be squeezed too tightly. The way the bow is moved, calling "bowing," determines the length, volume, tone, and other characteristics of the note.

The neck is held lightly around the thick of the thumb and the base of the index finger. The strings are pressed down by the other four fingers. Unlike the guitar, the violin does not have any frets, so if the angle at which the finger meets the string is even slightly off, the finger will slip.

 

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Clarinet Learn More

Clarinet Learn More

ORIGINS OF CLARINET from Wikipaedia

While the similarity in sound between the earliest clarinets and the trumpet may hold a clue to its name, other factors may have been involved. During the Late Baroque era, composers such as Bach and Handel were making new demands on the skills of their trumpeters, who were often required to play difficult melodic passages in the high, or as it came to be called, clarion register. Since the trumpets of this time had no valves or pistons, melodic passages would often require the use of the highest part of the trumpet's range, where the harmonics were close enough together to produce scales of adjacent notes as opposed to the gapped scales or arpeggios of the lower register. The trumpet parts that required this specialty were known by the term clarino and this in turn came to apply to the musicians themselves. It is probable that the term clarinet may stem from the diminutive version of the 'clarion' or 'clarino' and it has been suggested that clarino players may have helped themselves out by playing particularly difficult passages on these newly developed "mock trumpets".[1]

Johann Christoph Denner is generally believed to have invented the clarinet in Germany around the year 1700 by adding a register key to the earlier chalumeau, usually in the key of C. Over time, additional keywork and airtight pads were added to improve the tone and playability.[2]

The clarinet has proved to be an exceptionally flexible instrument, used in the classical repertoire as in concert bandsmilitary bandsmarching bandsklezmerjazz, and other styles.

Professional clarinets are

most commonly made from wood, African hardwood or grenadilla and student clarinets from plastic resin.

 

How to make a sound 

To make the perfect embouchure for the best clarinet sound, place your bottom lip against your teeth so your chin is flat. Place your clarinet's mouthpiece on your bottom lip, rest your teeth on top of the mouthpiece, and then close your lips to keep the air in.

How to play a clarinet

× Do not hold the clarinet by the areas marked with an X shown here when putting it together.
Apply cork grease to the cork portions of the clarinet before putting it together.
Put the reed on the mouthpiece, and line up the ligatures properly before tightening them.

Assembly

Relax your shoulders and round your fingers to hold the clarinet naturally.

 
How to hold a clarinet From the front

From the front

 
How to hold a clarinet Angle seen from the side

Angle seen from the side

Follow these steps for using the mouthpiece:

  1. Cover your bottom teeth with your bottom lip gently.
  2. Set the reed on your bottom lip.
  3. Place your top teeth firmly on the mouthpiece.
  4. Close your mouth as if you are smiling.

In order to produce good sound, you should blow facing straight forward, without puffing your cheeks out.
Use only the thumb of your right hand to support the instrument, and hold the barrel with your left.
How much of the mouthpiece you put in your mouth and the angle at which you hold the clarinet are important points.
* If you don't put the mouthpiece in your mouth far enough, it will be hard to make any sound. If you put it in too far, the sound can get distorted.

A good angle for holding the clarinet

Too high

Too low

Once you have mastered holding the clarinet and producing sound, try playing with the fingerings shown below.
When you can play all the notes in this simple scale, try playing while you're looking at the score.

Fingering of the clarinet
Score for Frère Jacques

Score for Frère Jacques

Listen to Frère Jacques

There are many different ways to practice the glissando technique. We'll introduce just one of them here.

  1. Begin by playing a B♭, on the second line of the staff.
  2. Try loosening your mouth while playing this note to, and try to bring it down a major second interval to A♭.
  3. Keep your mouth just like it is and play a C (on the third space) and return your mouth to normal as you open up the keys by pulling your fingers off.

This method will allow you to play a glissando from C to B♭. Once you learn the basics of this practice routine, you'll be able to learn all kinds of other sounds, too.

Use a swab to wipe the moisture out of the inside of the clarinet.

 
Cleaning with a swab (bell side)

Cleaning with a swab (bell side)

 
Cleaning with a swab (mouthpiece side)

Cleaning with a swab (mouthpiece side)

If you don't use a patch (sometimes called a cushion), your teeth might sometimes slip where they contact the mouthpiece, it might be harder for your to keep your embouchure (the way you hold your mouth) stable, and your mouthpiece might even get scratched where your teeth touch it. A patch is a small piece of material like a sticker that you can put on your mouthpiece where your teeth touch it in order to avoid these problems. When putting one on, be careful that it doesn't hang over the edge of the mouthpiece.

 

 

 

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Alto Sax Learn More

The Structure of the Saxophone
Learn the names of the parts

The saxophone consists of four fundamental parts: the neck, the body, the U-shaped bow, and the round, flared bell. Along the length of the instrument, there are 25 tone holes.

Saxophone components

Apply cork grease to the joint of the neck before assembly. When assembling, please be careful not to put pressure on the neck or keys.

Assembling the instrument
The entire display

     

    The pads are made from circles of felt covered with sheep leather.

    Because a number of parts work together for a single function, a single saxophone comprises about 600 parts.

    Though there are 25 tone holes, a person has far fewer fingers, so keys and levers are provided to enable the player to close distant holes simultaneously with others.

    The round tone-hole covers are called pads. The largest pad on an alto saxophone is five centimeters in diameter. Of course, this large pad covers an equally large tone hole.

    The pads are made from circles of felt covered with sheep leather.

    The pads are made from circles of felt covered with sheep leather.

    Because a number of parts work together for a single function, a single saxophone comprises about 600 parts.

    Originally there were 14 members of the saxophone family. In fact, Adolphe Sax conceived of an orchestra consisting solely of saxophones, and so he made saxophones in a range of sizes.
    Yet today, there are only 6 types in widespread use. In pitch order from high to low, they are the sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.

    The saxophone family

    Why We Play Alto Sax versus other Saxes

    The alto saxophone is easier to play than the soprano saxophone and the bigger saxophones, and so it is a good choice for beginners.

    A simple comparison of the length of the soprano and alto saxophones shows that they are about the same, 70 centimeters long. However, the alto has a bend, so the alto saxophone is about 1.5 times longer overall than the soprano saxophone, and because of that it is heavier as well. When performing, most of the weight of the alto saxophone is supported by the strap, and from the point of view of maintenance as well, the alto saxophone is a good first choice.  The alto sax is sometimes too heavy for a younger 4th grader.  The Tenor and Bari are too heavy for almost all 4th-6th grade beginners.

     

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    Bass Learn More


    Welcome to one of the most exciting of human achievements - playing the double bass! This instrument combines brain power and athleticism to master the giant instrument of musical expression.


    The string bass comes in various sizes. The correct size for each student depends on the overall size of the student. Generally speaking, by the time students reach 8th or 9th grade, most will require a 3/4 size instrument which is also used by most adults.  Before that age, students may use an instrument more your size. 

     

    The bass plays a very important role in providing solid lower register support for the stringed instruments occupying the front of the orchestra. However, there is one aspect in which the contrabass differs significantly from the violin, viola, cello, and other stringed instruments. The contrabass was originally a relative of the viola da gamba, a completely different kind of stringed instrument. Instruments in the viola da gamba family were often in use until the second half of the 18th century. They differ from instruments in the violin family in that fingerboards are fretted and their bows are held differently when playing. The "violone," the largest instrument in the viola da gamba family, was responsible for playing in the lower register. It is also the instrument that the contrabass ultimately developed from.

    A violone

    A violone

    The contrabass was originally a member of the viola da gamba family, so the number of strings varied from three to six even after the turn of the 19th century, and there were many varieties of these instruments of roughly the same size as a cello. Modern instruments tend to have four or five strings tuned in fourths. When playing the contrabass, either a French bow or a German bow is used. French bows resemble violin bows and are gripped similarly, while German bows (used in Germany and Austria) developed from viola da gamba bows and are held with an underhanded grip.

    German bow
    German bow
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    Create Creativity for Your Kid!

    Create Creativity for Your Kid!

    During these trying times, creativity is a spark and can fuel hours of at -home entertainment.  As many of us are forced onto screens for formerly fun, in-person times, to canceled social and even now family events, the lives of our children have transformed in a dramatic way.  We propose that music lessons can spur on health and a spark that will ignite your child's creativity.  To help you along that journey, we are offering you three free musical education sessions to go along with your new rent-to-own agreement.
     

    Explore the Journey

    Music is empowering for kids, and as they progress on their journey, it will support them to develop their musical creativity in earnest. Our sessions will show kids that music is something they’re invited to make their own. The music and the brain, music and health benefits have been brought forward many times (check out our blog!).   Today, we're talking about how music will allow them to creatively express themselves in ways that writing, drawing, or play can’t match. Being able to frequently enjoy creative expression is crucial for their well-being, especially when it comes to coping with disappointment, uncertainty, and loss. The musical and creative skills taught in music lessons can help kids emotionally thrive for the rest of their lives. 

    Learning the Structure of Music

    As a student progresses in learning the music fundamentals, which we teach throughout the instruction of the instrument, students will start to understand the way a song or piece is put together and the harmony and theory underlying it.  This supports creating their own music and easily learning the popular songs most students like. 

    Enjoy safe and sustainable fun

    From soccer to ballet, we’re seeing our kids’ social and creative outlets become severely limited. Luckily, safe music instruction is still happening during a time when kids need creative engagement more than ever. 

    While we hope we can have our lives back to a more open environment, we know that during this time, online musical education can be a safe and reliable part of the structure for health of our children. 

    MUSIC LESSONS AT WEST COLFAX ACADEMY AT GOLDEN MUSIC

    We are on a mission to share the magic of music with students of all ages, experience levels, and backgrounds. Our background-checked music teachers are here to help whether you’re looking for great lessons for your child or for yourself. We’re proud to help musicians thrive during this challenging time by providing remote instruction.

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    Flute Introduction

    How to Play the Flute
    Playing the Flute

    Take a deep breath, and breathe out while slightly smiling, making a "too" sound.
    * Make sure that the shape of your lips doesn't change as you breathe out.

    Lip shape while blowing out

    Watch this video to learn about the breath method and speed.

    Producing sound with the head joint

    The pitch you produce changes depending on the speed of your breath. Faster breath will produce a higher pitch, and slower breath will produce a lower pitch.

    Mouth opening Breath speed Pitch
    Wide Slow Low
    Normal Normal Medium
    Narrow Fast High

    Using the head joint, move your tongue as if saying "too-too" while blowing. You'll notice the "too-too" motion makes the sound much clearer than the "foo-foo" motion.
    * Pay close attention to motion of your tongue when blowing if you want to produce a good sound.

    Tonguing with the head joint

    If the flute is not put together properly, it may break, or become incapable of producing a good sound. Pay particular attention to where you hold the flute when putting it together.

    1. Hold the foot joint and the body joint as shown in the picture, and slide them together. Do not grip the keys while doing this.

      Inserting the foot joint into the body
    2. Hold the head joint and the body joint as shown in the picture, and slide them together. As before, do not grip the keys while doing this.

      Inserting the head joint into the body

    Paying close attention to the position of your thumb, make sure that the inside of the first joint of your left index finger is stays in contact with the flute, and hold the flute with your fingers in their respective positions.

    Holding the flute

    When holding the flute up to play, your shoulders and elbows should be relaxed.

    Lifting the flute (from the front)
    Lifting the flute (from the back)
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    Flute Learn More

    Flute Learn More

    The birth of the flute

    Transverse flutes made out of animal bones were used in Europe in the Paleolithic era. These instruments can certainly be regarded as the ancestor of the flute. However, it was not until the sixteenth century during the Renaissance period that the prototype of the flute that plays such a prominent role in the modern orchestra first emerged and came into widespread use.
    The term "flute" was originally applied both to pipe instruments held sideways and pipe instruments held vertically. Thus, the vertically held recorder was also called a "flute." Indeed, up until around the middle of the eighteenth century (the era of Baroque music), the word "flute" was commonly used to describe the recorder. To distinguish the transverse flute from the recorder, it was referred to in Italian as the flauto traverso, in German as the Querflöte, and in French as the flûte traversière-all of which mean "sideways held flute."

    Baroque era recorder

     

    Various refinements have been added to the flute since the Renaissance period.
    Early flutes did not feature keys. Flutes in the Renaissance period were of extremely simple construction, consisting of a cylindrical body with an embouchure hole (mouthpiece) and seven finger holes. They could also only produce certain semitones.
    In the latter half of the seventeenth century, flutes with a conical body and a single key attached began to appear. With this mechanism, for the first time virtually all semitones could be played on the flute. Today this instrument is known as the "baroque flute."

    Baroque flute

    Theobald Boehm, the German wind instrument manufacturer, demonstrated a revolutionary new type of flute at the Paris Exhibition of 1847. This flute had a metal tube with numerous keys attached. With earlier flutes, it had been difficult to even get a note out of them, and the intervals between the notes had been variable. Boehm's instrument was a dramatic improvement, however, and overcame these shortcomings.  With his major refinements, Boehm essentially created the modern-day flute.

     

    It is not unusual for a performer who plays the flute to switch to the piccolo, alto flute, or bass flute.
    The piccolo is pitched an octave higher than the flute and produces a shrill, high-pitched sound. With a length of 30 cm, the piccolo resounds loudly in the performer's right ear when the instrument is played. The alto flute has a slightly gentler sound, while the bass flute boasts a total tube length of around 130 cm and is pitched an octave below the flute.
    Please listen as each of these four instruments is played in turn. The pieces played are Bach's Solo Partita No. 2 on the bass flute, Bach's Siciliano on the alto flute, Bizet's l'Arlésienne on the flute, and the second movement of Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto in C Major on the piccolo.

    Bass flute

    Bach, Partita in A Minor for Solo Flute - III Sarabande

    Alto flute

    Bach, Siciliano

    Flute

    Bizet, L'Arlesienne

    Piccolo

    Telemann "Fantasia No. 2 from 12 Fantasias"

    Table showing the respective range of each type of flute

    Table showing the respective range of each type of flute

     

    The flute-a beautiful nymph transformed?

    The flute has its origins in the reed pipe. This worked on the same principle as the grass whistles that we, as children, would make by snapping off a stalk of grass and then play by blowing into them. According to Greek mythology, the reed flute was first played by the satyr Pan. When Pan chased the beautiful nymph Syrinx (which means reed) and tried to embrace her, Syrinx, who did not like Pan, prayed to the river gods and was transformed into lovely reeds. It is said that Pan missed the transformed nymph and found comfort for the rest of his life by playing his reed pipes.
    Another Greek myth relates that the flute was invented by the goddess Athena. However, Athena said that when she played her flute with all her might, her face would contort and her beauty was marred, so in the end she threw away the flute which she had made. Which of these two myths makes you want to play the flute?
    (Reference material: Hayashi Akai "The Story of the Pipes," Ongakunotomosha 1987)

    Pan playing his reed pipes

    Pan playing his reed pipes

     

    Why does a flute have a lip plate attached?

    In fact, the lip plate was created so that a metal flute would have the same thickness as a wooden flute at this point. Theobald Boehm-the pioneer of the metal flute-proposed adding the lip plate in order to make the instrument easier to play.
    The lip plate is a curved, oval-shaped metal plate, which is connected to the body of the flute by a component underneath it known as a riser.

    The lip plate, with which the lips make contact

    The lip plate, with which the lips make contact

    Lip plate and riser (foreground) during assembly

    Lip plate and riser (foreground) during assembly

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