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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

guitar size for children

Guitar Sizes for Children

By | Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Music Instruments, Ukulele | No Comments

Children’s Guitar: How to Choose the Right Size?

While there are violins as small as 1/16, guitar sizes for children seem to be rather limited. Why is that so? And how can you buy a guitar that is the correct size for your child?

guitar size for children

Amazing Children on Full Size Guitars

Before jumping to the conclusion that guitars should naturally follow the size of the child, we should keep in mind the possibility of using full size guitars. The internet is full of videos of young children performing technical guitar wizardry with pin-point precision on the full size guitars. Below are some examples!

Li-sa-X

Li-sa-X is a rather well-known name today in the guitar industry. When she first uploaded her videos, everyone was shocked. Debates raged over whether such children are actually considered musicians or if they are purely memorizing what they are supposed to do. What’s more, the most talk centred on how she is able to play difficult songs on a full size guitar despite her small build. In case you are wondering, this 7-year old is playing a diploma-level piece of music written by Paul Gilbert.

Yo Yo

Yngwie Malmsteen’s Far Beyond the Sun and John Petrucci’s Musicman guitar. These are not things commonly associated with a 9-year old girl. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Yo Yo is from China, where Western music influence is not just limited but restricted. A typical 9-years old girl from China would have no clue as to who Yngwie Malmsteen or John Petrucci are, and probably also struggle to pronounce the names! Yet here she is, shredding through a song that most accomplished guitarists would have difficulty with! Yes, and she is using a full size guitar!

Famous Video of North Korean Children Playing Guitar

This play-list would not be complete without this video. While many consider this “freaky”, we can only say that the North Koreans have managed to unlock the potential in young children. How they are able to train these tiny children to play these very technical pieces on full size classical guitars is beyond most of us! Now, if you are unaware, the classical guitar has a wider fretboard than the electric or acoustic guitar. This means those tiny fingers would need to stretch even further! Surely defying the ideal “guitar sizes for children”. Without the means of electrical amplification and with only a dynamic microphone in front of them, these children would need to play really forcefully to get the volume you hear in this video! Perhaps it is time to buy their guitar instructionals!

But is it wrong if I want to get a small guitar?

No, not at all! There are those who feel a smaller size guitar will help develop their techniques better. Feng E started off with the ukulele and has been uploading more guitar videos lately. The other camp’s ideology is to track the progress of the child’s ability with the right sized instrument. The ukulele happens to be an easy string instrument to begin on and it has definitely helped Feng E to be really good with his fingers. This little boy has been on big-time TV programs and has shared the stage with giants such as Tommy Emmanuel!

Must I start with the Ukulele then?

No. Sungha Jung, with over 6 million subscribers on YouTube, posted this first video 13 years ago. He went the opposite way as compared to Feng E, venturing into the ukulele at a later stage. The point here is, there is no one confirmed way to help bring the best out of your child.

Conclusion

We suggest all young children start with the ukulele before proceeding to the guitar. This way, if the child fails to develop an interest in the string business, the monetary loss will not be as heavy. If the child does move on to the guitar, buy a guitar based on his ability instead of his size. While there are good sounding 3/4 guitars out there, most are not comparable to the full size version. If you have more questions, you may leave a comment below or check out your local guitar shop! Guitar sizes for children is afterall, a highly debatable topic.

 

Vinnie Classroom 2019

Vinnie Classroom X Guitar Emerge @ Esplanade

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Esplanade was lit as Vinnie Classroom and Guitar Emerge put up a fantastic show!

After months of intensive practice and rehearsals, the students of Vinnie Classroom and Guitar Emerge finally took to the stage at the Esplanade on Sunday. It was fantastic to be able to reach out to the general public, coming from all corners of Singapore.

The music exchange between the two schools was a precious opportunity for us to learn from one another. Standards were raised, and our top-performing students had a good taste of what it is really like to helm a show. They were taken out of the comfort zone of preparing one or two songs at our annual recitals. For instance,  one student was learning as many as SIX SONGS in less than 3 months!

Here’s the day in photos:

Vinnie Classroom Guitar Emerge

Vinnie Classroom X Guitar Emerge

Setup, Soundcheck, Showtime, Teardown – The Esplanade Life

For most, we take it for granted that the stage is always ready for a show. But as musicians, our students are involved in the show from setup to teardown, so they know from first-hand experience how much work is really needed before the show starts.

Set 1 – Guitar Emerge

Students of Guitar Emerge opened the show that day with a repertoire of familiar favorites that got the crowd going:

  1. Love Story – Taylor Swift
  2. Crazy Little Thing – Queen
  3. Material Girl – Madonna
  4. Someone Like You – Adele
  5. Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s
  6. Dance On/Apache

Read more about their set on their blog!

Set 2 – Vinnie Classroom

Next, it was our students’ turn to charm the crowd with classics old and new!

  1. I Feel Good – James Brown
  2. Lemon Tree – Fool’s Garden
  3. Imagine – John Lennon
  4. Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
  5. Swan Song – Dua Lipa
  6. September – Earth, Wind & Fire

Set 3 – Vinnie Classroom & Guitar Emerge

After that, the combined band comprising of students from Vinnie Classroom and Guitar Emerge played 2 medleys of songs by iconic bands ABBA and Queen, and more. The show ended on a high and positive note of the 1980s hit single “We Are The World” (USA for Africa, with Michael Jackson).

In line with the Esplanade’s theme for December, “Come Together”, the combined performances were delivered by children as young as 8 years old (apparently the youngest to take on an Esplanade stage) to seniors from the Merdeka Generation!

  1. Abba Medley
  2. Queen Medley
  3. Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  4. Hotel California – Eagles
  5. We Are The World – Michael Jackson

We are processing the video at the moment. If you like to watch it as soon as it is out, please remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our newsletter!

Music brings us places. Music brought us together.

Thank you Esplanade, for bringing Vinnie Classroom and Guitar Emerge together, for putting our students on a bigger stage, and for giving them the opportunity to unite Singaporeans through music!

music school singapore

Ukulele for the Young and Young-at-Heart

By | Music Articles, Newsletter, Student's Videos, Ukulele, Uncategorized | No Comments

Ukulele for the Young and Young-at-Heart

Popular with the Young and Old

Why do we recommend Ukulele lessons for the young and the young-at-heart? That’s because the ukulele is arguably the easiest instrument to pick up! Some of us have had a chance to play the ukulele. Some have even strummed it randomly without any attempt at making it musical. After all, it does look like a miniature toy guitar!

In truth, the ukulele is really a fun little instrument! And very friendly on the fingers with its nice soft nylon strings. Plus it’s light and easy to carry around! And there’s no pressure on you to do anything fancy or complicated on it. In fact, when you show off what you can actually do on the ukulele, you will surprise and impress many with this unassuming yet awesome instrument!

Custom-tailored Ukulele Lessons

We can get you started quickly with song-based, custom-tailored lessons designed specifically for ukulele. Learn how to coordinate rhythm and melody as you sing along to the chords you’re playing. In addition to a variety of techniques, you will learn to read notes and chords which will allow you to play and sing along to fingerstyle, single-line melodies.

There are actually a lot of skills that transfer easily from the guitar so if you’ve been playing the six-string guitar for a while, you’ll probably find the four-stringed ukulele pretty easy! Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we will teaching it! We have also conducted workshops for corporate organisations and schools. From traditional Hawaii music to modern and beautiful fingerstyle arrangements, the ukulele offers a wide range of music to suit everyone!

Contact us for a free Trial Lesson today!

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.

May the fourth be with you! #guitar #guitarensemble #singapore #vinnieclassroom #upperthomson #acoustic #acousticguitar #starwars #imperialmarch #starwarsmaintheme #nlps #eatsleepguitar #sgguitar #sgmusic #sgmusiclesson #maytheforcebewithyou #maythefourthbewithyou #maytheforkbewithyou #maythefoxbewithyou #maythefrostingbewithyou #maythefrothbewithyou #maythefrogbewithyou #maythefoodbewithyou #maythefunkbewithyou

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)

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

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!

 

 

learn the ukulele

Ukulele And You

By | Music Instruments, Newsletter, Ukulele | No Comments

Have you always thought the ukulele was for children? Watch the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain play Lady Gaga's Born This Way, live At Sydney Opera House. Ukeleles whether small or large, can play intricate melodies, simple tunes, or complex chords and surprise you with the sound. You'll never look at ukes in the same way after this!

This Is the Ukulele

Thinking of learning to play the ukulele? You might like to know some interesting facts about it first! 'Ukulele' translates as 'jumping flea', likely after the movement of the player's fingers. It originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument. Since those early days, it has steadily gained great popularity worldwide.

The ukulele is a fun instrument. Some may call the ukulele a toy but it really isn’t a toy at all. It’s a true instrument that you can do wonderful things with. Are you inspired to learn to play the ukulele? You will need to practice to master it, but even when you only know the basics it is already so much fun!

Say what?

For the record, Hawaiian’s say “oo-koo-leh-leh.” So, since the ukulele originated in Hawaii, it makes sense that they get first dibs on how to say it.

If you pronounce ‘ukulele as “you-ka-lay-lee” that's no surprise as this is the most widely used pronunciation outside of Hawaii. Call it what you will but appreciate this four-stringed instrument for what it is and remember its roots!

Fun Facts

The first pineapple ukulele was created by Kamaka, a Hawaiian maker of ukuleles. The idea behind the design was to produce a small ukulele with a fuller and warmer sound. Most pineapple ukuleles have a somewhat flat bottom to them.

Jason Mraz’s 2008 single “I’m Yours” is the best-selling ukulele song of all time.

VCR4

By | Acoustic Guitar, Drum, Electric Guitar, Events, Pop Piano, Ukulele | One Comment
VCR4

A Solid 'One-Night Only' Performance!

VCR4, held on 29 June 2019, comprised lively pop hits from different genres.

Our playlist was an eclectic mix of familiar favourites like Bohemian Rhapsody, Perfect and Rosanna to Chinese, Japanese and K-pop tracks and even a jazzed-up version of Chopsticks and an original teacher-composed Cabbage song!

Click on the link to see more photos of our students lighting up the stage!

See More Photos
Anyone Can Do It

We were simply born to make music

Are you feeling inspired? Do you want the experience of playing in a real band in front of a live audience?

Just sign up at Vinnie Classroom and you can be part of a band and join in the fun at our next recital!
2020 promises to be a year of great musical expectations!

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
Vinnie Classroom Recital 3

VCR3

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VCR3

Music of the Eras

Our students and teachers put up a fantastic 16-band performance during our 3rd annual recital!

Held at the Gateway Theatre Black Box, VCR3 tracked the different music genres through a timeline that started from the 1940s all the way through to the 21st century! Educational as well as inspirational!

Thank you to all our students and parents... for all the kind words of encouragement, and for giving us the opportunity to showcase what the teachers and students of Vinnie Classroom can achieve together!