2014 Spring Student Recital

It’s that time of the year again!  The 2014 Spring student recital is quickly approaching, and I’m very excited that Yamaha Piano Distributors has allowed us to use their recital facility this year.

This upcoming recital will be a combined program featuring my piano and cello students.  Everyone has been practicing very hard, and we’re all looking forward to an afternoon of wonderful music!  This event is open to all family members, friends and supporters.  Seating is limited.

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Date:         Sunday, March 16, 2014

Location Yamaha Piano Distributors
                  1736 Cobb Pkwy SE
                  Marietta Ga 30060

Time       2:30 pm

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**Light refreshments will be served.

Recital Rules:

  • Please do not allow young children to run around the adjoining sales floor or to play on any of the pianos without supervision.
  • Please do not rest cello cases or personal belongings on or against any of the pianos.
  • Cellists will need to bring rock stops.  The recital stage is hardwood, and we don’t want to poke any holes in the floor.
  • All food items are restricted to the recital area.  Please do not take open food or drinks near the pianos or cellos.
  • Relax and enjoy the performance!!

 

Sponsored by Audrey Williams Music.  Photo credit: PianoDistributors.com

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Enhancing The MIDI Piano Sound

In Logic Pro, you can either create a real audio track or a software instrument track.  Sometimes, I prefer recording my piano tunes by connecting my Casio digital piano to my computer with a USB cable and using it as a MIDI controller.  I’m able to achieve clarity of sound without having to spend the extra time figuring out optimum microphone placement for an acoustic piano.  I wouldn’t use this method to record a Chopin etude, but it works fine for composing at home.

Recording into Logic Pro through USB doesn’t record any actual audio.  Digital signals are converted into MIDI notes and events that are interpreted by the settings of the software instrument that you select in Logic.  I’ve found that certain nuances of sound, style and phrasing are lost in the digital translation which is why I tweak the settings in order to try and create a more natural sound.  The recordings below show how the sound of a software instrument can be enhanced to sound more like a real acoustic performance.

Song Before Enhancements:


      OverTheRainbow - Audrey Williams

Everyone has their personal taste when it comes to what they feel sounds good.  Below is what I don’t like about the ‘before’ file:

-Some of the note placements are slightly off and sound stilted

-Some notes sound brash and tinny

-A few of the pedal events didn’t translate properly

-The overall resonance and volume levels are low

Song After Enhancements:


      After - OverTheRainbow - Audrey Williams

There’s always something that could be done differently or much better than what I’ve done here.  Below are the fixes that I experimented with to change the sound for the purposes of this brief demonstration:

-Quantized the software instrument track to eighth notes (1/8 note setting)

-Modified the preset software instrument channel EQ settings

  • Cut 1 – 2 kHz to reduce tinny sound
  • Cut 300 Hz to reduce muddiness
  • Boosted 5 kHz to increase presence
  • Boosted 100 Hz to round out the bottom end

-Converted the instrument track to an audio track so that I could use the ‘Normalize’ function to increase the volume.

-Added a multipressor with the ‘Final Pop Compressor’ pre-configured setting

-Added a Linear phase EQ and reduced 20Hz, boosted 2 kHz, boosted 10 kHz

-Added an Adaptive Limiter using the default setting

 

 

 


Suzuki Method For Piano

The basic premise of the Suzuki method is to teach young children how to play an instrument in the same way that they learn to speak their native language.  I’m a traditional piano teacher for the most part, but I do use the Suzuki method occasionally.  The Suzuki piano books are great for choosing recital pieces and finding longer songs that allow students to practice new techniques.  With this method of teaching and learning, students will start playing standard piano repertoire much faster than the traditional way of teaching piano.
Below are some of the major components of teaching and learning Suzuki style:
  1. Parents are encouraged to sit in on the lessons and take notes so that they can assist their child with practicing at home in between lessons.  This is very beneficial for the younger children who aren’t able to read well enough to understand teacher notes written in their lesson notebooks.  Sometimes parents feel overwhelmed with the additional responsibility of being their child’s at home music coach since they also have to learn the lessons well enough to assist in the learning process.
  2. Students are welcomed to start as early as possible – even as young as 3 years old.  This is why parent participation is necessary.
  3. Teachers will move the students along in small steps at their own pace.  The Suzuki piano repertoire sequence should be followed chronologically from book 1 to book 7.  Each song is a building block for the next song and should be mastered thoroughly.  Going through this process gives the students confidence as they start to work on progressively harder pieces and creates excitement for learning.  The Suzuki books contain arrangements from prominent composers which are included in the standard cannon of piano repertoire.  It’s a big plus for students to get this exposure sooner rather than later.
  4. Parents are requested to create a home environment that is conducive to music immersion.  Students should listen to and play along with the recordings of their assigned piano music on a daily basis.  Outside recordings should also be introduced at home to assist with the student’s artistic development.
  5. In order to help keep students motivated and enthusiastic about learning music, parents and teachers should provide positive reinforcement by praising the student whenever an accomplishment is made….no matter how small.
As a teacher, I find that I have to do more outside preparation work when I teach using the Suzuki method since the repertoire books don’t explain underlying theory concepts such as time signatures, key signatures, dynamic markings or style markings.  I have also discovered that the younger children can grasp the concept of reading the lines and spaces on the staff starting from book 1 as long as the information is presented in a fun and interesting way.