Why Clap Rhythms?

Have you ever been asked to clap the rhythms you find in your music? It might seem like a strange thing to do (especially when considering that your goal is to get better at your chosen instrument) but it’s a common recommendation you’ll find in the musical world. As it happens, clapping your rhythms is one of the most beneficial things you can do when first learning a piece of music. Let’s look at some key points addressing why it’s worth it to clap your rhythms. It’s Great for Learning Rhythms Starting right at the heart of the matter: clapping … Read more

How to Count 8th Notes and 16th Notes

Music needs different kinds of note values to have different kinds of rhythms. Combining a variety of different note values provides a wealth of options for different rhythms, and knowing how to count these different note values is an essential skill for musicians hoping to improve their rhythmic understanding.  Larger note values (such as whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes) can be quite simple to count, while smaller note values (such as 8th notes and 16th notes) can be more challenging, and require a bit more experience. In this article we’ll give you a short and clear method for … Read more

The Difference Between Dots in Music

Musical language possesses a variety of different dots that work in a variety of different ways. Some dots are related to the specific lengths of notes values, while others have to do with how notes are articulated. Knowing the distinction between the function and appearance of different dots is a common source of confusion. In this article we’ll briefly introduce and explain the different kinds of dots you might encounter in music.  Staccato Dots and Augmentation Dots Above you see two notes with two different kinds of dots attached to them: one is a staccato dot, and the other is … Read more

Why Use a Metronome?

A metronome is a device that emits regular clicks or beeps in a constant beat (or pulse). The clicks of a metronome are measured in “beats-per-minute,” meaning that the speed of the metronome is set by choosing how many beats (or clicks) should happen within a minute. For example, you might set a metronome to 90 beats-per-minute (or 90bpm), and that’s how many clicks the metronome would emit within a minute. More beats-per-minute equals a faster click speed, while less equals a slower click. You are probably already familiar with one speed – 60bpm means 60 clicks per minute, one … Read more

Common Piano Chords and How to Use Them

The piano is a harmony instrument. Unlike solo line instruments such as horns or the voice, the piano can play multiple notes at once to create harmonies.  Probably the easiest way to create good-sounding harmonies on the piano is to play chords, which are special combinations of notes played at the same time. Chords are used in everything from classical music to rock music, and often create the harmonic groundwork over which the melody happens.  Using the piano to play chords is a very natural and common way to use the instrument, but it can be daunting to try and … Read more

How to Choose a Weekly Practice Plan

So you’ve started your piano education – Congratulations! You’ve embarked on a lifelong journey brimming with enrichment and accomplishment. To learn an instrument is not only to reap the joy of playing music, but to learn about yourself and develop your core learning abilities.  Now that you’re committed to the path of learning an instrument, it’s time to pick the route you’ll take to make your musical goals achievable: it’s time to make a practice plan. Practicing is how you get better at music. Period. If you do not practice, you cannot improve, and the best way to improve through … Read more

What are Dynamics in Music?

In music (or, more precisely, in music notation), we use a variety of symbols and written instructions to tell us how a piece of music should sound.  We use notes to tell us about pitches and how long they should be. We use slurs, staccato dots, and accents to tell us about how we should articulate the notes. We use tempo markings to tell us how fast the piece should be.  We also use special symbols to tell us how loud or soft the music should be, and these are what we call dynamics.  Dynamics (or dynamics markings) are volume … Read more

Common Tempo Markings

We consider a number of elements when learning a piece of music. We think about how loud the piece should be, how to count the beats, and how we should articulate the notes. We also consider how fast the piece should be, because speed is one of the most important factors determining the character of a piece of music.  In the world of Western classical, jazz, and pop music, we refer to the speed of a piece as the tempo, and we have a variety of different terms we use to communicate what the tempo should be. Some of these … Read more

What is 6/8 Time Signature?

As far as music time signatures go, you’ve probably seen a lot of 4/4, and a lot of 3/4, but have you ever seen a 6/8 time signature? 6/8 is a compound time signature that conveys a feeling of two, but has 6 beats per measure. Want to know how it works? Keep reading to find out. Review: What’s a time signature again? Remember that a time signature is a way of organizing the beats (or, the “pulse”) in music. Time signatures break down musical beats so that they can more easily be counted using measures.  Time signatures are typically … Read more

What are Piano Scales?

Practicing scales is one of the most commonly encountered topics when exploring ways to learn the piano.  There are good reasons for this; practicing scales not only teaches you how to navigate the keyboard, but also teaches you about some of the key, foundational elements of musical thinking. The notes within scales are used in composition to determine how the melody and harmony work together. Knowing more about scales and the notes they contain will make it easier to understand how music works, and easier to learn pieces. However, before you can achieve that level of understanding, you need to … Read more