Why is a Piano Called a Piano?
Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Trevor Eisenman | Word History
The piano is said to be the most well-known and recognized instrument in the United States. But do you know why it is called a piano?
Most any musician will be able to tell you “piano” means soft in Italian. Well, ask any piano mover about pianos, and they will tell you a piano is anything but soft! They are big, heavy and made out of all kinds of wood - not Egyptian cotton. So why isn’t it called an “enormo-chord” or a “colossal-keyboard”?
Turns out, “piano” is the super-shortened name. The full name was pretty long: gravicembalo col piano e forte, or "harpsichord with soft and loud" ( this was back in the 1700’s), so “pianoforte” became the short name. In Italian, pianoforte translates literally to “soft-loud.” Eventually, as the piano evolved, the last half of the name was dropped off, but the instrument was still able to be loud and soft depending on the touch of the musician. This very practical name helped set apart the instrument from its ancestor, the harpsichord.
The harpsichord looks much like a piano, but the strings are plucked by a mechanism attached to the keys. So although the harpsichord look similar, the harpsichord is kind of like a table-top guitar and the piano is more like a percussion instrument. But due to this plucking action, the harpsichord was unable to play loudly or softly - it just had a consistent loudness. Not very dynamic! The pianoforte was able to be soft AND loud, which set it apart from earlier instruments.
Piano is an excellent foundational instrument for any musician, young or old! We have students as young as 3 or 4 who start with piano. Because the piano doesn’t require a lot of strength (unlike wind instruments such as trumpet or saxophone), and playing in tune doesn’t require extra skill (such as violins do), anyone can learn to play a song quickly. So it’s more fun! Learning music theory on a piano can usually be translated to another instrument so the investment of time is well worth it.
To register for a free introductory piano lesson, click HERE.
Interested in another instrument or singing? We have experienced teachers for all instruments and ages. Flexible scheduling for lessons in our La Crescenta studios or choose the convenience of in-home lessons.
Preparing Youth for College & Beyond With Music
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by Trevor Eisenman | Orchestra & Ensembles
The future success of one's children is a primary goal of many a parent. Preparing them for a successful life in a stressful, demanding world starts early! What else is education for but to prepare future generations to succeed?
But often, education does not prepare our children to succeed. The US public educational system, according to some disillusioned parents, leans towards rote memorization to pass otherwise useless tests. Administrators have even been caught falsifying test scores and graduation rates to qualify for government funding.
Instead of producing well-rounded individuals able to compete AND work with others in a team environment, many public schools have an environment more suited for drone workers than responsible citizens able to resolve problems around them. Businesses and communities must then take on the burden of re-educating students to accomplish tasks in the real world. In some cases, parents have even started new private schools as an alternative for the decaying public sector schools.
Of course, there are redeeming factors present in the current educational system. Many schools feature excellent teachers who work through and past broken bureaucratic systems to achieve little miracles. Sports programs tend to be popular (and thus well funded) and continue imbue our youth with invaluable attributes, laying a foundation for future success.
Music Programs: The Alternative Team-Building Sport
Music programs offer similar benefits to sports programs, perhaps even more so. Consider the benefits of music as a "team sport" in the form of an orchestra or ensemble group, from getting accepted into college more easily to essential skills for work:
Teamwork & Communication
Playing an instrument as an individual artist is rewarding for both artist and audience. Duets and other performance groups heighten those rewards to a whole new level. Orchestra and ensemble playing cultivates teamwork skills of remarkable precision. The players must communicate perfectly with each other, with the leader of their section and with the Conductor; all while delivering a message to impact the receiver on an emotional and even spiritual level.
Music influences and changes people. Likewise successful people influence and change people. Musicians Teamwork and communication paired together are an invaluable pair of skills.
Patience & Tolerance
Striving to be the best performer (or individual) you can be takes patience. Striving to be the best orchestra or ensemble you can be takes even more patience! Just like any sport, sometimes players will be warming their seats instead of playing, while the Conductor irons out another section's part to get the overall desired result. Students develop a patience and tolerance for other players, in order to receive the same patience and tolerance when their turn with the Conductor begins.
Music is a combination of sound, emotions and math. Learning rhythm teaches a practical use of fractions. Playing music together demands a precise understanding of the relationships and patterns that make up music. In the middle of all this precision is the creative and artistic process, steeped in improvisation (for example, a solo). Playing a musical instrument also requires care, maintenance and sometimes a little bit of ingenious on-the-fly repair. On top of it all is the overriding classic directive: "The show must go on!" Such an attitude demands the ability to solve problems - fast.
As a youth, I performed several hundred times in school. Choir, drama club, community theater, Jazz Band - all of them demanded a stick-to-itness, riding over the inevitable small fails that threatened to derail a performance. We learned to ride over the bumps, keep going and get to the end in one piece. And we were the better for it, as individuals and as a team.
Depending on how one was raised, or educated for that matter, discipline could evoke thoughts of punishment for failing to obey rules or laws. But the root Latin word, disciplina, actually means instruction or knowledge. The idea of punishment didn't enter the picture until later. When we talk about discipline for musicians, it's more about cultivating a sense of persistence through practice, towards perfection.
Perhaps former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said it best:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Dependability & Accountability
Creating music as a group cultivates dependability. Attending weekly rehearsals, practicing enough to in order to keep up with the rest of the group and lending their creative shoulder to the wheel when performance night arrives all require timing and dependability far beyond depending on just oneself. Knowing that others depend on you to pull through can also be a powerful motivator. As a musician, if you fail to practice for a solo performance, it only affects one person. Orchestra and ensemble performing develops an advanced level of responsibility, tempered by the fun of music and sharpened by the thrill of a live performance.
Acceptance into College
Non-music majors may find their active participation in youth orchestras and/or ensembles gives their college application an edge over the competition. Why? Because colleges all have extra curricular activities that make the college more attractive to a wider range of potential students. Colleges need skilled musicians for these performing groups. In fact, when students audition for performance groups, they may catch the eye of the Music Director, who could put in a word with Admissions to ensure that student's application gets accepted.
Performing in a group of any kind also indicates the student has important interpersonal social skills and is well-rounded as a person. And they are more well-rounded! Emotionally, spiritually and creatively they are more attractive to a college than a student who "only" studied the sciences or computer programming.
We're Sorry, Your Music Program did not go Through...
Today's public school music programs are being cut to ease budgets. STEM schools may not feature any music program at all. Private schools may not be large enough to support a full youth orchestra simply for lack of students. Short of participating in a sports program, our young musicians may find themselves without a "sport" to develop the skills listed above. Again, employers and businesses will have to make up the deficit of creative experience and problem-solving skills to push our society forward in a progressive fashion. So what can be done?
Fun Music School & The New Foothills Youth Community Orchestra
Fun Music School is expanding their programs to include a Youth Orchestra, Jazz Band, Rock Band and other ensembles. Any youth may join and participate, which is why it's called a Community Orchestra. It's for the benefit of the whole community! We hope it will be come a point of pride for the Foothills area, as well as a stepping stone to success in life for each student who becomes part of the team. Click here to register for a future semester.
Interested in supporting the Foothills Youth Community Orchestra? We have an Adopt-a-Young-Musician sponsorship program! Adopting a student covers the cost of the orchestra semester tuition fees as well as one-on-one music lessons for the entire semester. The programs eases entry into the orchestra for parents and students who can't afford it, as long as they are able to cover the registration and instrument rental fees (if needed). For about $50 a week, you can help a student cultivate the skills needed to succeed in college, in business and in life.
Wishing you nourishment in music,
Vocal Power Workshop with Rhonda LaRoy
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by Trevor Eisenman | Voice
Voice Power Vocal Workshop
Rhonda LaRoy treated us with her vocal power at the Award Recital, and now she's offering her very special 2 day workshop on how to access your vocal power for singing and public speaking.
A singer, songwriter, dancer, choreographer, and producer, Rhonda started performing at the age of five, singing a cappella to an audience of 500 and a standing ovation. She has continued to perform, in Europe and the United States, amazing audiences with her vocal pyrotechnics. In Germany, she was offered her first major deal with Metronome Records, releasing the CD maxi-single, “Sunday Morning”. German radio announcers and newspapers said, “Sunday Morning,' by LaRoy, is a smash hit.” It sold out every week it was in the stores.
Rhonda has taught thousands of people the proper techniques of how to breathe and access your true power. The training is perfect for anyone who wishes to sing, wants to improve their vocal power or anyone involved in public speaking.
In order to schedule the class, the first step is to find out who's interested in this 2-day workshop. We would like to have the class during June 2018, so don't wait to let us know of your interest. Email funmusic4U@gmail.com today and save your spot!