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Classical Piano

video call music lessons

Video Conferencing for Music Lessons | Does it actually work?

By | Acoustic Guitar, Classical Piano, Drum, Electric Guitar, Music Articles, News, Piano, Pop Piano, Ukulele | No Comments

Video Conferencing for Music Lessons Experience!

While we are no strangers with conducting our music lessons via video conferencing for our students. some as far as Shanghai. The new measures from the Ministry of Health have effectively forced all our students to have their lessons over video calls! But does this mean the end of the music education industry? Probably not!

video conferencing music lessonsMusic Lessons | The COVID 19 style

Ideally, music lessons should be done in a conducive room with proper instruments and equipment. The acoustics of the room should also be treated properly with professional-grade acoustic treatment walls to remove unwanted reverb and echo. The lighting of the room must be at the right lux level. These are now considered luxuries.

With the current COVID-19 situation, we converted all our music lessons to video conferencing! Though easier said than done, we really wanted the best for our students! Rooms have to be rearranged, workstation setup to match the requirement of video calling and endless troubleshooting. At the end of the day, the smile on our student’s face is what that matters.

With that, we bravely embraced our first day of full-on online lessons today!

video call music lessons

Video-calling problems we faced and how we solve them

We would be lying if we were to say that it went smooth sailing. With all the issues, we had to put all our brains together! Sometimes to the extent of researching through the entire ocean of articles online. So if you are a music teacher, perhaps we might be able to offer some tips!

Audio Troubleshooting

  1. Make sure students always uncheck the “automatically adjust microphone volume” function.
  2. If you are using the laptop’s mic, keep a distance from your device.

Even with the automatic volume adjuster unchecked, a spike in volume will still cause the app to compress the audio hard. As we would have guessed, apps like this are created with speaking in mind. When a loud volume is detected, the app will push it down to prevent the other users from blowing their speakers. We had no issues with Ukulele and Piano but all the trouble with Drumset.

To combat the issue of feeding the drum’s signal in without having a problem, we mic-ed the entire drumset! Signals are sent into a USB audio interface that is then connected to the computer. The microphone source will be the USB device. This allows us to tweak the input volume accordingly. Things will definitely be easier if you have a digital drumset with a USB connection.

Our guitar rooms are also rigged with a USB mixer. As such, we line our electric guitar directly into the mixer with IR technology. We line our acoustic guitar and ukulele into a DI box and speak through a condenser microphone.

Video Troubleshooting

  1. Daylight from windows will help with illuminating the video
  2. Using a decent stand to help with adjusting the camera angle

piano room lightingMost of us hardly use the camera on our laptop, some don’t even know it exists! Some of us live in a dimly lit room and that is bad for video conferencing. So the first requirement is for the student to be able to have decent lighting in their room. While this isn’t an issue with most instruments, this is a common problem with Piano students.

The user back face the room’s light source with the piano to the wall. This results in the shadow of the student to cast on their hands.

Thankfully, solving this is easy! All you need is to place a small table lamp on your piano! This is especially cool on rainy nights when the table lamp is all you turn on to practice your piano with.

 

The camera angle for chatting with your friends or for a business meeting is very different from teaching and learning musical instruments. The laptop-camera was not designed for music lessons in mind. As a teacher, we want to view the students’ playing from a high to low angle. Think of how teachers usually sit next to the student in the room. So the same height and angle are important. As for demonstrating, various instruments require different angles. Piano prefers a top-down angle, guitar prefers a slanted front angle and drum prefers an over the shoulder angle. So the most basic requirement for video music lessons is perhaps a good stand to hold your device. Watch the video posted by Vinnie demonstrating to his students to get a better understanding!

 

Conclusion

Our first day of video conferencing music lessons went fairly smoothly! Classes went on as scheduled without much hiccups. Students were happy and satisfied with the lessons. It gave us the confidence to proceed with more of such lessons! With more fine-tuning, we will be able to provide lessons with even better quality and efficiency!

Normally we ask you to sign for our free trial lesson, we now ask all those who are interested to join us for the music lesson experience of 2020!

piano lesson video call

Pianists and their Beloved Pianos

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Glenn Gould and his Steinway CD 318

In this article, we share the story of Glenn Gould and his piano – his search for the perfect piano, the ups and downs, and the tragedy that shook his world.

Glenn Gould’s Steinway Model CD 318, in his apartment in Toronto

When pianists love their pianos to pieces (literally)!

The music scene mourns the loss of a rare, one-of-a-kind piano, owned by Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt. The F278 Fazioli grand piano is the only one in the world fitted with four pedals. And has been used for numerous recitals and recordings since 2003.

Then last week, piano movers dropped the piano. The cast-iron frame was broken, amongst other parts of the piano. Alas, it was not salvageable and consigned to “piano heaven”.

There are times when piano movers drop pianos. And there are times when pianos fall off the stage. When the piano in question has practically become an extension of the artist over the years, it is a tragedy and the loss is immeasurable.

The Tragedy That Befell Glenn Gould’s Piano – the Steinway CD 318

Another case in point: back in 1971, movers dropped Glenn Gould’s piano en route from Cleveland, Ohio to Toronto. As a result, the famous Steinway grand, known as CD 318, had its cast-iron plate cracked in four places, soundboard broken, hinges bent and more.

Gould, best known for his interpretations of Bach’s keyboard works, did not outwardly express his devastation. But despite his determined pursuit for the truth behind the damage, his findings were insufficient to pinpoint the blame on any party.

A Pianist’s Search for the Perfect Piano

Before CD 318, the piano genius spent years, trawling continents in search of the perfect piano. His search took him from the Steinway CD 174 (on which the 1955 Goldberg Variations were recorded) to the small Chickering grand piano which Gould based his ideal piano on. Incidentally, the Steinway CD 174 was also damaged beyond repair en route to New York, returning from a concert in Cleveland.

Glenn Gould, known for playing the piano at an unusually low height

The Beloved Steinway Model CD 318 Piano

Then in 1960, Gould was reunited with a certain Steinway concert grand. He first played it in 1946, when he was performing with the Toronto Symphony as a thirteen-year-old! He rediscovered the old piano, tired, rejected, and forgotten, in the backstage of Eaton’s Auditorium.

Gould loved the piano’s extreme responsiveness. In his own words, it had “the most translucent sound of any piano I ever played”. He continued to use it for almost all his recordings. And it traveled with him wherever he performed.

The Broken Piano

After the fateful accident in 1971, Gould spent the next decade fruitlessly attempting to restore it to its former glory. His trusty piano tuner, the gifted, almost-blind Verne Edquist helped him.

Sadly, the piano was never the same again. The cast-iron plate was replaced, and the piano’s action had also lost the feather-light touch that Gould loved it for. He never really gave up on the piano. But in 1981, he reluctantly re-recorded the Goldberg Variations on a Yamaha C9 grand piano.

Tragically, Gould died a year later, having suffered a stroke that caused massive damage to his brain. He was buried in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with the first few bars of the Goldberg Variations carved into his tombstone. A fitting tribute to a true piano maestro!

Glenn Gould’s tombstone, with the Goldberg Variations inscription

Glenn Gould’s Legendary Piano Lives On

Today, the Steinway CD 318 is on permanent display in Ontario’s National Arts Center. Together with it is the famous pygmy chair that accompanied the piano legend, Glenn Gould, for most of his life.

Invention No. 5 in E-flat Major, BVW 776, as recorded on the CD 318 (1964)

Has this article inspired you? To become a pianist and grow as familiar with your beloved piano as these famous pianists? We can help you start your journey! Just check out our website for more details on piano lessons!

Looking for Music Lessons in Singapore? (Part 3)

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Looking for Music Lessons in Singapore?

Looking for music lessons in Singapore? Read on and find out more in this 3rd and final installment in our series.

Should you choose a ‘music school near me’ ?

It is tempting to opt for convenience when it comes to taking music lessons. However,  this may not be the wisest choice to make. A good music school must have an environment that is conducive to learning. Choose a music school with dedicated studios that are well-maintained and equipped with quality instruments. Some schools may also hold recitals which go a step further by allowing students to integrate performing and all its benefits as part of their learning experience.

VCR 3 Final shot          electric guitar lesson singapore

Should you sign into a music school for children only?

Your child actually benefits if he learns at a music school that is open to both adults/teenagers and children. They grow by getting to experience and interact with peers and older students who are at different levels. What’s more, there is the benefit of being exposed to a variety of musical instruments. With only 30 minutes to one hour of lesson time per week, a music school environment produces better results as the focus at that time is on learning music.

Look out for credible partnerships

Aside from certification, a school that works with multiple other organisations makes it more trustworthy as it has achieved a level of success at an organisational level. When a music academy partners with other schools, it shows that it has proven itself as an academy that is able to provide an all-rounded music education.

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Posted by Vinnie Classroom on Wednesday, 4 May 2016

What should you look out for before signing up?

Do the owners of the school know about music? Have they taught or performed professionally? Do they have the credentials required to appropriately address the needs of students? It is important that the school you choose has the right values to nurture and develop that passion for music.

Not all students fit the same mould. A fixed curriculum or program may restrict learning and exploration of a student’s potential. Check if the school has one-on-one sessions that can be tailored to the student’s musical background and interests. The school should also use recognised teaching materials and exam syllabi or have developed their own syllabus that is student-centered and adaptable to individual needs.

 

Looking for Music Lessons in Singapore? (Part 1)

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Looking for Music Lessons in Singapore?

Many music schools

So you’ve decided to take up music lessons. Now you need to decide which music instrument you want to master. These include piano, keyboard, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele or drums, just to name a few. After that, there are many avenues for learning music in Singapore. The proliferation of music schools just means that your choice becomes more difficult because too many options can sometimes lead to confusion! There are also many different music genres and styles: classical music, traditional folk, pop, rock, country, jazz, and blues. The list goes on. Most schools offer classical music training but some focus on more contemporary Pop and Rock music. Whatever you choose, remember to learn at your own pace, at your own convenience and timing to get the most out of the experience.

Should lessons be exam-based?

Singapore is all about qualifications. However, should music lessons revolve around prepping students for exams only? While this may be the case for some music schools, there are others that cater to a more well-rounded student. Afterall, there is certainly more to learning music than exams. Some schools organise ensembles or recitals where students learn how to perform in front of a ‘live’ audience. They also get to experience working as part of a band. Another possible avenue of creativity is having students learn how to perform in recordings for Youtube videos that will be eventually uploaded onto the internet. All these add variety and a different learning experience for students!

Music Lessons for MEP or DSA

The Music Elective Programme (MEP) is offered by the Ministry of Education to provide students with an aptitude for music to pursue a deeper study in music listening and music making. Music lessons at a good music school can boost and equip young musicians with musical knowledge to support performance and any other musical endeavours they may embark on even after leaving school. Students aiming to qualify under the Direct Schools Admission (DSA) programme can also bolster their music repertoire. This is especially so if they are exposed live performances offered at some music schools, apart from the usual examination-based syllabus.

Whatever your reasons for pursuing a music education, rest assured that there are good schools out there who can partner you in your search for quality and provide many opportunities to improve your playing standards. Look out for Part 2 of our post on Music Schools in Singapore. Coming to you soon!

 

 

Anzca Piano Syllabus Q&A Session 2019

ANZCA Syllabus (Piano) Q&A (17 October 2019)

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ANZCA Syllabus (Piano)

Question and Answer Session (17 October 2019)

ANZCA syllabus piano examination Singapore

Anzca Piano QnA Session 2017.

 

2017 was an exciting year for us, as we formally adopted the ANZCA syllabus as our main offering for piano students. This brought us more in line with our teaching aim, which is to provide an all-inclusive music education that grooms students to be versatile musicians who are able to put their skills to practical use in various settings.

In July that year, ANZCA’s international representative, Ms Audrey Chin, visited our music school to give our teachers an introductory talk to enable us to maximize the contents and requirements of the ANZCA syllabus.

 

ANZCA Syllabus Piano Audrey Chin

Audrey demonstrating the songs from the syllabus effortlessly

Teachers, students and parents has been praising the syllabus for its varied repertoire and flexible choices! Especially for those moving away from a more traditional approach to learning the piano.

Vinnie Classroom is no stranger to ANZCA Piano Syllabus

ANZCA PIano Examiner Maureen Grieve

ANZCA Piano Examiner Maureen Grieve when she was here to conduct the piano examination in 2018.


ANZCA Piano Examiner MISA YAMAMOTO

ANZCA Examiner Misa Yamamoto was here in Vinnie Classroom to conduct the piano examination 2019.

Vinnie Classroom had the honor to conduct 2 rounds of ANZCA Piano Examination back in 2018 and 2019. We had received positive feedback about our location and facilities. Because we understand how it can be stressful to perform at a new venue, therefore we provide our candidates with a warm-up room. As a result, private piano examiners were very delighted! They now have a couple more minutes to prepare their students before entering the examination room. Certainly a bonus for everyone participating.

ANZCA Piano in Singapore

This year, we are very happy to receive Audrey once more. Vinnie Classroom will be hosting a Q&A session as a step-up, for fellow teachers of the ANZCA community in Singapore. The event will take place on 17 October 2019, from 9.30am to 12.00pm, and it is free.

Seats are limited to 20, so do visit our Facebook event page to RSVP quickly.

Tips for learning piano as an adult

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Do you think learning to play piano as an adult is mission impossible? Have you ever watched someone playing the piano and wished you had the same ability? There’s no reason why an adult can’t start to learn to play the piano. Sure, you may have responsibilities and a full schedule, or maybe you feel you don’t have the right skills needed, like having a good ear, or a good sense of rhythm. Fortunately, these can be overcome because playing the piano requires no special talents.

Many of the skills you feel you may be lacking in can be acquired. Even learning how to read sheet music can be quickly achieved with the help of a good teacher. If learning the piano is on your bucket list, keep the following in mind.

Patience is a Virtue

Learning the piano can be a rather slow, sometimes frustrating process. Just remember that day in and day out persistence is how people can learn and master an instrument. Be patient with yourself and understand the process of learning to play.

Prioritise and Practice

Consistent practice and a commitment to learning and sticking with it will help you improve. Try to set aside a regular practice session every day. Remember that “you get out of it what you put into it” ! Set an alarm on your phone so that piano practice doesn’t get overlooked or ignored.

Learn from a Good Teacher

The best way to learn and progress on the piano is to work with a teacher. Not every piano teacher is experienced with adult students, so do your research and find a teacher that is a good match for you. A teacher will be able to keep you on track as you learn new skills, answer questions, and provide feedback on your playing.

Focus on Yourself

Everyone has different abilities and skills when it comes to learning the piano. So it’s best not to add stress to yourself by comparing with others. Stay focused on how you are improving and the fulfillment you are receiving. The truth is that everyone works hard to learn the piano, even accomplished pianists need to devote long hours to practicing and improving.

Relish the Non-Musical Benefits

You’ll find that many other aspects of your life will improve when you start learning the piano. Some non-musical benefits of playing the piano:
- Keeps your mind sharp
- Relaxes you
- Allows you to express yourself and be creative
- Creates discipline and structure in your life
- Gives you a social connection to other pianists and musicians
- Is fun and can lift your mood

Enjoy It!

Learning the piano as an adult is a very worthwhile and attainable goal. Don’t let it become a source of stress or frustration, instead just enjoy the process and have fun making music and learning a new skill!

how to create a prodigy

How to cultivate a child prodigy!

By | Acoustic Guitar, Classical Piano, Drum, Electric Guitar, Music Articles, Music Instruments, Pop Piano, Ukulele | One Comment

Is your child a Mozart in the making? How does one identify a child prodigy? At some point in parenthood, we all wish that our kid will one day become a child prodigy. But what is a prodigy? Is it possible to cultivate a child prodigy or does it take certain prerequisites? In this article, we discuss how to discover the prodigy in your child and how you can help your child become one.

Step 1: Start early!

LIKE FROM 9 MONTHS OLD!

Recent research show that the golden window for music education starts as early as 9 months old and can significantly enhance a child’s neural response to both speech and music. While music lessons for babies are readily available, bringing an infant for music lessons may seem like a far-fetched idea to some. So here are some ways you can provide your child with music education from the comforts of your own home:

Play soothing and easy-to-listen to music to your child regularly. While listening to the music,

  • Tap to the beat on their hand (or buttocks if you wish).
  • Gently move their arms and sway to the rhythm.
  • Do the good ol’ peek-a-boo but in sync with the beat.
  • Dance rhythmically in their view as a form of entertainment for them.
  • Hold their hands and assist them in playing simple rhythms on any percussion.
  • Let them watch you play a music instrument.
  • Sing the pitch C when you teach the alphabet C.

The ideas are endless! Simply run a search on Google and see them flood in!


Step 2: Create a musical environment at home!

Studies have shown that children who learn music from young age also show signs of excellence in other aspects of their development. Playing music is like doing a workout for your brain. As we play music, our brain forms signal paths in our nerve system to perform the complex task of playing a piece of music.

Let us illustrate this remarkable process with a step-by-step example:

*Ryan plays the C major scale with 4 correct notes and 4 wrong notes* 
Ryan's brain records 8 notes played  
*Teacher points the wrong notes out to Ryan* 
Ryan's brain updates and replaces the wrong note 
*Ryan attempts playing the C major scale again but with 2 wrong notes. Teacher corrects Ryan.* 
Ryan's brain updates and replaces the wrong note  
*Ryan attempts playing the C major scale once more, and this time he played every note correctly* 
*Teacher notes that Ryan has now corrected his neural connections and encourages Ryan to continue practicing to strengthen neural plasticity*
This is an ideal situation where the student learns quickly under a teacher's guidance, usually possible with children who have been exposed to music from as early as 9 months old (as described at Stage 1 of our article). What has happened seems straightforward – the student is able to play correctly soon after the teacher points out the mistakes. However, the underlying process is more complicated than that; it involves the child's cognitive ability to read the music score, converting that information into fine motor skills, receiving feedback from the various sensories (eg. sight, sound and touch) before forming a neural path and then into the memory storage. There are multi-level neural processes that happen simultaneously even though the student only has to play one note at a time, and they take place at various speeds, depending on the child’s brain development (remember the golden window for music education?). Some children are able to acquire new skills after just one lesson while others may some take months. However, it is almost certain that as long as the brain gets its required amount of training, the neural paths will always be able to form to achieve the desired outcome.

 

In early childhood education, play is crucial. Unstructured play, especially, enhances the child’s brain development and nurtures their creativity when they form their own play rules and come up with solutions to problems.

In early childhood stages, children spend most of their time at home when not in school. By creating a musical environment at home, parents set the stage for creative learning with games like guessing the note, drawing a picture based on what a song makes them feel, pretending to be a rockstar at home, call-and-echo games and creating a dance to a song. The ideas are endless, but it must be noted that it is important parents set aside some time to engage their children.

If parents are equipped with basic music knowledge and are able to engage their children in musical activities right at home, it could be a very rewarding bonding experience that is efficient at the same time. Imagine saving thousands of dollars a year on music education!

This is testing the limits of Dylan’s ears. Dylan has been exposed, from 5 months prenatal,
to the same high information music education system now available in the baby brain training app found at nuryl.com
social outreach program singapore

5 Reasons why you should send your kids for lessons this 2016!

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1) COGNITIVE TRAINING

 

As from the Wikipedia source:

The term brain fitness reflects a hypothesis that cognitive abilities can be maintained or improved by exercising the brain, in analogy to the way physical fitness is improved by exercising the body.

In order for us to be smarter, we need to exercise our brain. This can be achieved through music playing. It is a common sight to see top students doing well in music. It is an equally-common misconception that these students are able to play a musical instrument well because of their ability to study well. Actually, this could work both ways.

There are indeed many ways and methods to do cognitive training but what else can be more fun and enjoyable than picking up a music instrument?
Watch former U.S. President Bill Clinton on the saxophone!


 

2) CREATIVE THINKING

In music, there is never a one-way path or model answer. Music is an art form and because of that, there are always multiple ways to solve a problem using different approaches! This improves how a child would tackle daily problems – they would be able to come up with various ways to complete a certain task better! Creative thinking is also something that is fundamentally-lacking in most people born and raised in Singapore. Most of us are “model answer” and “10-year series” students. But in life, there is hardly a model answer to things.

Watch our how our lessons are conducted!


3) TEAMWORK AND SOCIAL SKILL

In a musical band, there is no place for anyone to stand in a corner and simply ‘play along’. There is a high need to interact with the other musicians. The next time you see a ‘getai’ performance, take a walk to the back of the stage area where the band is. You’ll be surprised they are able to communicate to each other without the need to talk. The common words used in the music industry to describe this would be “tight” or “solid”. This refers to the band being able to play as one. Try clapping 10 claps with someone next to you now and try doing that with a group of 5 or more. You will realize it gets more difficult as the number of members increases. This is when teamwork comes into play. Behind glamorous stage performances, band members often have to go through multiple conflicts and conflict resolutions. They will learn to exhibit a high level of teamwork as they grow as a band. They will learn how to be more sociable, which in turn increases their EQ level.

Watch the Vinnie Classroom Band perform Mr Big – Nothing But Love! See how important teamwork is in a band!


4) LEADERSHIP SKILL

Needless to say, in order to get a group of people working together, there must be a leader. I’m sure you’ve been into this awful situation where you meet up with a group of friends but have no idea where to head after dinner! This doesn’t mean that everyone will need to fight to be the leader of the band. There’s always the possibility of taking turns to have a say in a band and that’s what playing in a band is about. Students lack sufficient opportunities to develop their leadership skills in a typical classroom environment. Or even, should they join any CCA, they’ll need to be the the selected few in order to have any say. On the contrary, in a typical 4-piece band for instance, your child is responsible for 25% of the overall decision making.


5) GAIN CONFIDENCE AND BE HUMBLE AT THE SAME TIME

There are only a few types of activities that will help your child gain confidence and be humble at the same time, and they are usually extreme sports and the less extreme music. A budding musician will learn that there are many others who can play as well or even better than them. This keeps them checked and forces them to stay humble. They gain confidence by gaining valuable experience from performing their music. Be it on camera or in a live performance setting, their confidence levels increase as they perform.

Watch a performance from our first recital last year!


CONCLUSION:

Here at Vinnie Classroom, we want to empower the next generation through music. We believe music education is the key to bringing out the potential in everyone, young or old. Music lessons can be a great alternative to boring tuition which often comes at a hefty price. If your child has never learned any musical instrument, why not give it a try? If they took lessons but stopped, find out why and encourage them to pick it up again. If you are the child, show this article to your parents and start your musical journey! ☺

Find out what we have to offer here!