Choosing Your Child’s Piano Teacher: Six Questions to Ask

Piano lessons are an investment of both money and time. Finding the right piano teacher for your child will help your investment lead to successful music education. Asking the following questions will help you choose the right teacher.

 

Is the teacher a member of local, state, or national music organizations?

Membership in music organizations signals that a teacher is interested in staying current with trends in music education. Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the National Federation of Music Clubs, along with the state and local affiliates of these organizations, are some of the well-known groups in which a piano teacher might hold membership. Journals and newsletters typically accompany membership and bring relevant information right to the teacher’s door. Membership also gives the teacher access to continuing education opportunities, including conventions and seminars on music performance and education.

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Skagit Impressions Five

“If I Could Go Anywhere” is a song I wrote back in the late 1990’s. Here is a new recording of the piece paired with photos of Skagit County, WA photographer Gary Brown. Part of our interdisciplinary collaboration of Pacific Northwest farmland photography with my original music for the “Gary Brown and Conrad Askland Project.”

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Six Reasons Why Children Taking Piano Classes Do Better at School

Learning to play the piano is not just about learning a new musical instrument. Playing keyboard instruments improves personality and makes people healthier and happier. Children taking piano classes benefit more because it gives them an edge at an early age. Playing the piano makes children smarter, improves their learning abilities and makes them better students.

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Johann Sebastian Bach: Baroque Superstar

(Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750)

J.S. Bach’s dad was a musician. J.S.’s uncle was a musician. All four of J.S.’s brothers were musicians and composers. In fact, pretty much everybody in the Bach family were musicians and had been since great-great-great grandpa John Hans Bach, originally a baker, had a mid-life crisis and discovered that he was meant to be a piper instead.

By 1685, when Johann Sebastian Bach was born, the Bachs were the German Baroque equivalent of our modern day musical Jackson family. The Bachs were well-known, highly connected, and prosperous. They served as musicians to Dukes, were musical directors at important churches, and were directors of renowned choirs. Even the ladies of the family got in on the act. J.S.’s second wife was a popular singer.

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6 Tips for Adult Music Beginners

If you are thinking of learning a musical instrument as an adult, you might be wondering if you can do it. Maybe learning a musical instrument has been a lifelong dream, or perhaps you have been inspired to learn along with your kids.  

Whatever your reasons, you can succeed at your chosen instrument if you are willing to commit to what it takes. Try these handy tips to help you stay focused and make your dream a reality.

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How to Tune a Musical Instrument

Unless you are completely tone deaf, it is often not difficult to tell when a musical instrument is out of tune. This is because the pitch sounds wrong — it’s either too high or too low. To the trained ear, the instrument will sound a bit flat or sharp. For this reason, musical instruments need to be tuned before they are played, particularly if several instruments are being played together. If you are just beginning to learn how to play an instrument, this might seem like a complicated task, but it is really quite easy once you know how.

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Skagit Impressions Three – Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One

Skagit Impressions Three from the Gary Brown and Conrad Askland project. Farmland photos of Skagit County, WA by Gary Brown with music by Conrad Askland.

This third impression includes my composition “Adaptive Layer Battle Theme One.” This is a five layer composition for use in video game adaptive scoring. Each of the five layers are complete unto themselves, but also layer to create different levels of tension. In a gaming environment these different layers would be triggered in and out by player actions and states of being.

For the Skagit Impressions Three video, each layer builds sequentially. Starting with layer one – then layer one plus layer two – then layer one two and three and so on until all five layers are playing together.

In the video below, I show how this same music might be used in a gaming environment. The layers are used for the different states and actions of a character in the video game Uncharted 3.

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Where None Would Go – Gettysburg Memorial Song

“Where None Would Go” (Gettysburg Memorial Song) is a piece I wrote to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. This song released July 4, 2016. Words and Music by Conrad Askland. Vocalist: Leisha Skinner. To a variation of the melody “Shenandoah”.

I was inspired to write this song after spending many hours of discussion on the Civil War with my friend, Joe Bowen. He is a scholar of American History where he studied the Civil War at Harvard College. He will setup battle tactics and battle strategies on tables using napkins, playing cards, cups – whatever is around – to really immerse me in details of the Civil War. The conversations usually start with prose, then get into historical details and facts of the battles and politics of the time, then end with philosophical musings, anecdotes and quotes from soldier’s letters.

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Thoughts on Gerd Leonhard and “Music as Water”

music-as-water

In Gerd Leonhard’s book “Music 2.0 – Essays by Gerd Leonhard” he mentions the concept of “Music Like Water” and writes: “Music is no longer a product but a service….for the future, think of a ‘record label’ as a ‘music utility company’.”

I have seen this gradual shift over the years and his words seem to have become prophetically true. We are so incredibly immersed in music now. It has become normal to dial up any song at the drop of a hat and to have access to more music that a single person put even physically listen to in a single lifetime.

With the seemingly infinite access to music has also appeared a reduced interest or need in user ownership. Gerd Leonhard also says “Access to Music Will Replace Ownership.” Also a trend that has become true.

I am old enough to remember cassette tapes and how naughty we were to record to tape directly from the radio. But we had our physical collection and were proud that we “owned” the music. Somehow making our custom mixtape brought us into the creative sphere of the songwriter or composer. We could play the music which was really a customized performance brought about by our uncanny ability to find the perfect mix of songs and segue them together as never before. Our Radio Shack tape recorders transformed us into analog rocket scientists.


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