Piano

The size, location and type of piano or keyboard you have at home are important factors for the piano student. Whereas a keyboard is fairly portable and can be put in a bedroom, a piano is a piece of furniture. Size and location are essential to family ‘harmony’. A piano in the same room as the television may create conflicts, conversely, a keyboard in a bedroom may make the student feel isolated. The family habits and student personality should be taken into account for this decision.

Piano/keyboard players should be sure to have the music at eye level, and the bench or chair is at the appropriate level to allow arms to be at a 90 degree angle when sitting tall, with relaxed shoulders. . Students learn how to sit at the instrument properly for the best fluidity and also to avoid maladies such as Tennis elbow or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Acoustic pianos come in essentially three styles: Grand/Baby grand, Spinet, and Upright. They will require yearly tunings and occasional maintenance. Generally speaking, the bigger the harp, the louder the sound.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grands range in size from 4’-5’11” (Baby) through 6’-9’5”(Grand).



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uprights can fit against a wall and can be rather tall.



 

 

 

 

 

Spinets can fit against a wall and are typically shorter.

When purchasing a piano, take into account the manufacturer, the cabinet condition, the action, the tone, etc. Also, find out how the piano has been stored. A piano exposed to dampness (such as in a basement) or extreme dryness (near a woodstove, for example) may have serious, irrepairable problems that may not be noticed until the instrument is moved. Unlike a car, a piano is better off having been played, rather than a ‘low mileage’ model.

Keyboards

Keyboards come in various sizes according to the number of keys. The different voices and rhythm options are fun but not essential.

Essential:

  • Full size keys: each key being the same width (3/4”) as an acoustic piano.
  • A minimum of 56 keys.
  • Touch sensitive: pressing the key lightly will produce a softer sound, pressing firmly a louder sound.
  • Built-in speakers or use of a bass amplifier and cord
  • A stand for the music
  • A stand for the keyboard, adjustable and/or
  • A bench or chair that puts the student at the correct height: without raising the shoulders, the arms should be at a right angle when hands are placed on the keys.
  • AC adapter (power supply)
  • Electricity (you can still play an acoustic piano during power outages!) or battery back up
  • Sustain pedal or an output for one. The pedal can be purchased later as long as there is an output that says ‘sustain’, not just ‘pedal’.

Desirable:

  • All of the above
  • Weighted action
  • 88 keys
  • Midi or USB interface to connect to a computer

Woodwinds

FLUTE/PICCOLO

The Flute is a C instrument that reads treble clef. The fingering of the notes is very similar to that of the recorder. The tone is produced by blowing over the hole of the mouthpiece, much like blowing across a bottle top.

CLARINET

The Clarinet is a Bb instrument that reads treble clef. Related clarinets are the baritone and bass. The sound is produced by a reed vibrating against the mouthpiece. The student should have plenty of reeds of the right thickness for their ability. Cork grease is necessary to put the instrument together without compromising the cork.

SAXOPHONE

The Alto Saxophone is an Eb instrument that reads treble clef. Related saxophones are the soprano, tenor and baritone. The sound is produced by a reed vibrating against the mouthpiece. The student should have plenty of reeds of the right thickness for their ability. Cork grease is necessary to put the instrument together without compromising the cork.

OBOE/BASSOON

The Oboe and Bassoon are double reed instruments. The sound is produced by the reeds vibrating against each other. They are both C instruments: the oboe reads treble clef and the bassoon reads bass clef. They also require cork grease.

Brass

TRUMPET/CORNET

The Trumpet/Cornet is a Bb instrument that reads treble clef. Related trumpets are piccolo and flugelhorn. Valve oil is necessary to lubricate and keep the valves moving smoothly.

TROMBONE

The Trombone is a C instrument that reads bass clef. Different pitches are produced by moving the slide. Slide oil is necessary to lubricate the slide.

FRENCH HORN

The French Horm/Mellophone is a F instrument. Unlike other brass instruments, the French Horn has keys instead of valves.

BARITONE HORN/TUBA

The Baritone Horn/Tuba/Euphonium/Sousaphone are the baritone and bass voices of the brass family.

Strings

The string family is the basis for the orchestra. Generally speaking they are just different sizes of the same instrument! They all have 4 strings and are usually bowed. They have different voices, of course. The violin is the soprano voice; usually playing the melody and reads treble clef. The viola is the alto voice and reads alto clef; usually playing the harmony or a counter melody. The cello reads tenor clef and sometimes plays melody. The bass violin reads bass clef and usually plays the lowest notes of the chords. Rosin is required for the bow, as is a soft cloth to wipe the rosin dust off the instrument after playing.

Violin

The Violin has 4 strings and is the soprano voice of the orchestra. It reads treble clef. The sound is produced by drawing a rosined bow over the strings.

Viola

The Viola has 4 strings and is the alto voice of the orchestra. It reads alto clef. The sound is produced by drawing a rosined bow over the strings.

Cello

The Cello has 4 strings and is the tenor voice of the orchestra. It reads bass and tenor clef. The sound is produced by drawing a rosined bow over the strings. Cellists play in a seated position.

Bass Violin

The Bass Violin has 4 strings and is the bass voice of the orchestra. It reads bass clef. The sound is produced by drawing a rosined bow over the strings. The bass is played standing or seated on a tall stool.

Guitar

The guitar is one of the most versatile instruments. It can be used for classical music, folk, rock, church, etc. Students can learn note reading on the treble clef; folk style, which is a chord based approach, or a combination of both. Learning is the same for acoustic or electric, nylon string or steel string. Younger children will likely need a half or three-quarter size guitar to start out. Nylon strings are easier on the fingers for beginners, but steel strings have a fuller sound. If using an electric guitar, students will also need an amplifier and cord. (Just bring the cord to the lesson, we have amps.)

The Guitar has 6 strings and reads treble clef. Different styles include classical, folk, steel string, and electric. The sound is produced by plucking, picking, or strumming the strings.

Bass Guitar

The Bass Guitar has the same 4 strings as the bass violin. As it is usually electric, a bass amplifier is necessary.

Ukulele

The ukulele became popular in the USA in the 1920?s. Small and portable, the chords are easy to learn and fun to play and sing along. Right now, the ukulele is the fastest growing instrument in terms of sales! Although they all have four strings, there are different sizes and tunings. From smallest to largest, they are the soprano, the concert, the tenor and the baritone. We have group ukulele classes scheduled which are fun and inspiring!

Cases

All instruments need to have a form fitting case to protect them from weather and accidents. Instruments should never be left in a hot or cold car for any length of time. They should be kept away from heat or air-conditioning vents when not in use. Some wooden instruments may need a humidifier when stored. These can be purchased at The Music Box along with any other accessories.

Percussion

Snare Drum


Bells / Xylophone


Vibraphone


Drum Set


Voice

The voice comes in four basic ranges. From high to low, they are: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass. Singers learn to produce a natural tone by using proper posture, breath control and support. Reading music and ear-training are important skills for all singers.


For All Musicians

Proper posture is essential for every musical instrument and for proper singing. Breath control and support are dependent on good posture. Care should be taken that the student have a good music stand ($15-$60) that adjusts to the correct height for when the student is sitting or standing. Students learn how to hold the instrument properly for the best tone and also to avoid maladies such as tennis elbow or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Posture and positioning need to be consistently reinforced at home.