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SG United

SG United Instagram Filter | Let’s show how united we are!

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SG United Instagram Filter

We created some Instagram filter (s) to show our support to the SG United spirit! By now, most of us are probably used to the WFH and HBL lifestyle. The amount of time we saved on travelling also means that we gained time for other things! Some use this to bond with their family better and some take physical health more seriously. For Vinnie, apart from teaching and practicing his guitar, he took the chance to pick up a new skill. Making Instagram Filters!

SG United Instagram Filter

SG United Face Mask

The idea behind creating this filter is to get people to spread the important message of wearing a mask. So while we ask you to wear a mask when you are out doing essential work, we encourage you to continue to spread the message through social media too. To date, we still see endless reports of people disobeying the Circuit Breaker rules. Citizens are not taking the CB seriously enough. This means the effort of those who obey the rules will go to waste. So let’s continue to share the important message in our fight against this pandemic.

How to use the filter?

Unfortunately for Facebook users, these filters are currently only available on Instagram. If you have an Instagram account, click on the link below to access them. Alternatively, you can search for Vinnie Classroom on Instagram and look for the filter in our profile.

SG United Instagram Filter

SG United Instagram Filter

Stay Home Instagram Filter

Stay Home Instagram Filter

Click here if you wish to find out more about SG United!

covid 19 on air

We shared how the COVID-19 has affected us on radio | Didn’t went well…

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We shared how the COVID-19 has affected us on air

We went onto the radio to share how the COVID-19 has affected music schools in Singapore. Although we are supposed to be in a technological advance phase of human history, we are still not savvy enough! The live video call was hit hard by audio issues, viewers could not hear from our side. We tried all settings and nothing works. In the end, we had to ignore the video function and go old school.

covid 19 on radio

We shared about our challenges

We talked about how we tackled the restrictions due to the COVID-19 situation. Basically, our business is now fully dependent on the power of video conferencing. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps out there to help us out! Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger!

What are the basic requirements for Home-Based Learning?

home-based learning singaporefull home-based learning

Home-based learning isn’t as daunting as many would have thought. All you need are a reliable internet connection, a device that allows video calling and a room without your little brother disturbing you. If the piano sits in the living room of the household, family members will simply have to find a place to “hide” while the music lesson is taking place. However, with the new WFH and HBL going at full force, we are certain that families out there are readjusting their furniture to meet the new work and school requirements.

Here’s the radio interview!

Conclusion on the COVID-19 sharing session on radio

Firstly, a big THANK YOU to Kenneth Jianwen, Nana and Love 97.2fm for this opportunity to share our thoughts on the current situation! Though the session was short but it gave us an opportunity to share with everyone that music schools like us in Singapore are ready to provide the best music education for your child! Covid-19 or not.

While our *Free Trial Lesson is usually conducted in our centre, we now do it over a webcam! The experience you get will be beyond your expectations! If you are not sure, you can drop us a text on facebook messenger too!

SYF 2020 cancelled

Singapore Youth Festival 2020 Cancelled | A tribute to our students!

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Singapore Youth Festival 2020 Cancelled

The Singapore Youth Festival 2020 is cancelled and it caused waves of sadness. Students put in endless hours of dedicated hard work to improve their skills. Some soldiers on with practices despite blisters or abrasion, others sacrificed their little free time for the team. It was a mammoth task, to begin with. Going from zero to hero in just 4 months time means every practice session must be as intensive as it can get. So one can imagine the level of disappointment when the students learn about the news. They were ready to take on the stage but it was not meant to be.

Singapore Youth Festival 2020 Cancellled

Photos of the students during their practice session

Leadership, teamwork, and creativity

Developing qualities like leadership, teamwork, and creativity is a real challenge for our academic driven education industry. Only through activities can we discover and mold the next generation of leaders. Allowing them to work together to understand the true meaning of being in a team. Giving them the tool and instrument to create something completely new. CCA, or Co-Curricular Activities, is the backbone of creating the next generation of amazing citizens. There is no argument that every child in Singapore must participate in a CCA and why it is good for their development. In fact, it is compulsory from a certain grade onwards to take part in a CCA. The importance of such activities goes beyond the classroom.

Students deserve a pad on their back

As mentioned in the SYF website, the decision to cancel this year’s SYF Art Presentation is not easy. However, in view of the evolving COVID-19 situation, we agree this painful decision is best for everyone. Nonetheless, we feel students all over Singapore who worked really hard for this year’s SYF deserves a pad on their back. All of them are a champion to us! We hope they will be able to pick themselves up quickly and proceed to soldier on like they always do!

 

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

COVID 19 STATEMENT

26 March 2020 | Covid-19 Vinnie Classroom Update

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Vinnie Classroom Singapore26 March 2020

Dear Students/Parents,

On Tuesday, when new measures were introduced to curb the coronavirus outbreak, we were hesitant to adopt them and were even hoping we could somehow be excluded from them.

But the Covid-19 update yesterday was unsettling. Compared to Tuesday’s update, the number of local cases doubled from 17 to 35, of which 8 were unlinked, and 14 cases were linked to PCF Sparkletots at Fengshan. This is, by no means, indicative of any upward trend, but a reminder that we cannot afford to take chances anymore. Vinnie Classroom has precautionary measures in place, but the latest cluster reminded us that no set of measures will make us an impenetrable fortress.

It is not our intention to spread panic, but it is a fact that about 400 infected patients have now come under the care of our healthcare workers, who still have to attend to their regular load of patients. We do not wish to contribute to the burden, so the next best thing that we can do is to keep our physical social interaction to a minimum.

Therefore, in the interest of our students and the community,

  • We will suspend all lessons from 27 March to 15 April.
    To facilitate this, we will bring forward the course holidays in Term 2.
    Please refer to the updated course calendar for Term 2.
  • From 16 April to 30 April, only online lessons will take place.
    To facilitate continual learning, we will conduct online lessons via Zoom, and technical guidance will be provided.
    Tentatively, from 1 May onwards, we may or may not resume normal lessons within the premises of Vinnie Classroom, depending on the situation.

The Covid-19 situation changes every day. We acknowledge that what we have is not a perfect response and will present different challenges to different students. We will fine-tune them accordingly. Over the next few days, we will get in touch with every parent or student individually to provide more details and guidance on the setup requirements.

In this trying period, very few aspects of our lives are shown mercy. While we hope that you will understand our difficulties, we urge you to be open about any difficulties you may be facing as well, so that we can work towards a sustainable solution together.

Stay home. Stay strong. Stay optimistic. Stay united.

Yours sincerely
Vinnie Classroom

COVID 19 STATEMENT

20200325 Covid-19 Vinnie Classroom Statement

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Vinnie Classroom Singapore25 March 2020

Dear Students/Parents,

As many of you may have read yesterday, the Covid-19 multi-ministry taskforce introduced additional precautionary measures to be implemented from this Thursday, 2359hrs onwards. Of them, one was that center-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended. Another restricted certain gatherings to a limit of 10 people.

At this moment, we are unsure whether we will be required to suspend all our lessons as well. 95% of our lessons are held one-to-one. During our peak hour on Saturday, we are able to keep below the limit of 10 people within our premise. We have proper hygiene practices in place, disinfecting common surfaces at least twice a day, temperature-taking, compulsory handwashing, etc.

The teachers had a meeting last night to discuss contingency plans and we are in close contact with industry partners and sharing information. We have reached out to the Ministry of Health, and once we receive a confirmed directive, we will update you right away.

Some of you have expressed that it is ok for your child to continue to come to our school for lessons. Vinnie and I are extremely heartened to have your continued support during this tough period. We foresee tougher times ahead, but because of you, we are able to keep our spirits up and continue to have faith in the work we do.

Yours sincerely

Vinnie & Zee

Rockschool Examination Singapore

Rockschool Examination Singapore | In-depth sharing of the experience

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Rockschool Examination Singapore

Vinnie Classroom just concluded our day as the Official Examination Centre for Rockschool Singapore! We were truly honored to host the exams even though it is just a 1-day event for us, Thank you, Fergal Hughes, for being our wonderful examiner. And thank you Joan, RSEC representative, for being so helpful in facilitating the examinations!

Rockschool is a UK-based music examination board that covers graded examinations for ukulele, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboard, piano, vocals, music production, and music theory. They also offer diploma examinations for music and performance arts.

All these examinations provide students with a good avenue to gain acknowledgment in their music journey. Rockschool conducts examinations in 40 countries around the world. Ofqual regulates their certifications are regulated and are recognized worldwide.

Rockschool Examination Singapore

Scroll Down For Video!

How COVID-19 made the Rockschool Examination different

One-to-one examinations were conducted for all Rockschool exams. The examiner sat 2-3 meters away from candidates and do not get close to them at any point in the exam. The schedule of the day required candidates to come just 30 minutes before their slot. We did not allow candidates to loiter before and after their allocated timing. After registering with the friendly Rockschool representative, the candidates were led to a warm-up room one at a time. Hand sanitization, hand washing, no handshaking, temperature-taking, face mask, wipe downs, minimal conversations and social distancing were all observed. It is safe to say we did our best to practice all good hygiene habits for the safety of everyone involved.

Want to find out more, chat with us now!

How parents can help children prepare for exams

Look out for our upcoming article on “How Parents Can Help Their Kids At Home“.

In the meantime, parents just need to remember to be genuinely encouraging. Be there for your children if they get frustrated from practicing, or even unmotivated to continue. Do not put undue stress on them by demanding they score a distinction, but rather remind them that it is most important that they try their best. The journey ahead is long; as long as they keep going with all they have, success will come to them.

father and son practicing guitar together

Father practicing with son at home

Video log of our exciting day as the Rockschool Examination Centre!

Want to take the leap of faith in joining us? Sign up for our *FREE TRIAL LESSON HERE!

Tommy Emmanuel Baritone Guitar

Tommy Emmanuel Timberland | New Song on a Baritone Guitar!

By | Acoustic Guitar, News | No Comments

Tommy Emmanuel: Timberland | Beautifully Baritone

Tommy Emmanuel just released a new song titled Timberland and it is not played on his trusty Maton! Took us by surprise because we are all so familiar with Tommy on his Maton EBG808TE! Instead, we see a new guitar in the video. The guitar in question is the Karol Baritone Guitar. The stunning and beautiful gloss finish was the first tell-tale sign that it wasn’t a Maton. Then came the low and haunting notes that a regular acoustic could not produce with such tightness in its tone.

Tommy Emmanuel Karol Baritone Guitar

What is a Baritone Guitar?

A regular acoustic guitar has a scale length of around 24.9 to 25.4 inches. A baritone acoustic guitar has a scale length of 27 to 30.5 inches! 

The extended scale length does not mean you get more frets to play, instead, it provides a very different feel in string tension. If you have a 3/4-sized guitar, you will probably find it easier to bend a string than a full-sized guitar. This is because a shorter scale allows the strings to tune up to pitch easier. Thus you can imagine the effect of string tension on the baritone guitar. Then again, that is provided you tune a baritone to standard tuning. I can only imagine the possibility of breaking the strings or the guitar in the process. Then again, the Niibori Alto guitar is tuned a fifth up from standard (B E A D F# B). The crucial thing to note here is the right match of strings gauge.

Baritone guitars are typically tuned to A D G C E A (fifth lower) or B E A D F♯ B (fourth lower). They are usually fitted with .011 or .012 strings. The tension on these guitars is usually really tight and stiff. Not really ideal for string bending. As for this song, Tommy has it tuned to a fourth lower. 

Tommy Emmanuel Baritone Guitar

Does this mean there is no way of learning this song if you don’t have a Baritone Guitar?

Absolutely not! The song is written in standard tuning, just a fourth lower. This means you can still play the same song but at a higher pitch. Probably won’t bring the flavor and the intended meaning out nicely. Nonetheless, you will still be able to play it. Tommy has another song, Questions, mostly performed with a guitar tuned 1 whole step down. However, occasionally that same song will be performed in standard tuning. Was the essence of the song lost in the tuning? Weel, many of our students who learned this tune enjoys playing it on standard tuning!

Is Tommy Emmanuel new to the Baritone Guitar?

Our quick search on the mighty-web shows that Tommy was first introduced to the baritone back in 2009. The process of him falling in love with the baritone was all captured in a video. Then again, being the guitar man, he must have had experience with this unique version of the acoustic guitar before. It also took him a really long time before he finds the need to bring in a baritone to express himself. So no, Tommy is not new to the baritone guitar.

Tommy Emmanuel: Timberland

The video we have all been waiting for. Get ready for the emotional ride!

If you are inspired and want to learn the guitar, we are offering our *Free Trial Lesson! 

tommy emmanuel finger injury

Musicians’ nightmare, finger injury!

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Musicians share a common nightmare – finger injury!

Musicians around the world dread the nightmare of suffering from finger injury! This scary thought was made scarier recently when the god of the Acoustic Guitar Tommy Emmanuel posted a horrifying photo of his finger!

Posted by Tommy Emmanuel on Friday, 24 January 2020

Tommy Emmanuel, suffering from a terrible finger injury!

Unless you have been living under the rock, you would have read that our dearest guitar hero Tommy Emmanuel recently suffered a terrifying finger injury. It took us 5 days to compose ourselves enough to pen this article, reassured by the thought that Tommy is receiving proper care and recovering well.

“My playing life flashed before me this morning as I had a stupid fall and ended up on my back, with my finger dislocated sideways!” 

His finger was dislocated off the ring finger’s proximal interphalangeal joint and was left dangling sideways. The only way to fix this was to pull the dislocated finger outwards and relocate it back in place with a swift and decisive action. If the patient cannot endure the pain in the course of correcting the finger, local anesthesia is necessary. Gulp! Afterwards, the finger will swell and pain will follow because of damage done to the tissues.

Is this the end of Guitar playing for Tommy?

Tommy Emmanuel FB comment

Thankfully, our boom-chicking superhero shows no signs of slowing down! With his show dates packed to the brim for Scotland and England till early February and dates around the world till early June, we can only hope his fingers get adequate rest to prevent complications. Singapore has enjoyed his marvelous performances since 2010 but hardly enough to whet our appetites! So Tommy, if you are reading this, please get well soon and visit us again!

What are common types of finger injuries?

Unless you remain perfectly still every single moment of your life, your fingers are always at risk of getting injured! Here are some activities that are more prone to cause finger injuries. Should you refrain from these activities? Maybe, then again maybe not.

  • Rock Climbing – Requires immense gripping strength and often climbers suffer from inflammation of finger joints.
  • Basketball – Or any ball activities that use your hand. Basketballers frequently suffer from finger jam when the ball crashes into their fingers instead of their palm.
  • Volleyball – Commonly causes fractures because the fingers suffer a great amount of impact during the game.
  • Boxing – Fingers are placed under a high level of impact during a punch when done wrongly or without the correct gear. In this case, not only the opponent is feeling the pain.

Of course, the list can go on. What if you are not an active person, does that mean you are safe from finger injury? Well no… Tommy Emmanuel injured his in a fall. Jimmy Fallon suffered a different kind of finger injury, ring avulsion, also due to falling down. His ring caught his countertop when he was falling, in the process pulling his finger off. In most cases, the remedy for this kind of injury is to amputate that finger.

“Don’t Google it but ring avulsion is a real thing. So basically what it is is my ring got caught on the countertop as I was going down. And stuck there and pulled my finger off… … this happens a lot and the odds… usually they’re just cut your finger off.”

Can playing an instrument wrongly injure the finger?

YES! There are many bad habits out there that cause long-term finger injuries. Most of them are silent killers. It means you are likely to be suffering from it by the time you read about your bad habits in this article!

weird fingers

We call them weird fingers in our teaching slide because we want students to be constantly reminding their friends and themselves that these fingers are weird on the guitar. Once students cultivate the habit of always curling fretting fingers, they will get a good tone and protect their fingers in the process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, musicians are at constant risk of losing their careers to finger injury, unless you are a singer. While there may be many amazing musicians out there with various types of body ‘deformities’, we certainly encourage everyone to take good care of themselves. This way, we can all enjoy playing an instrument for many years to come!

Stop Destroying Your Ears!

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You’re Destroying your Ears if you’re Doing This!

Stop exposing yourself to loud noises because you are surely destroying your ears! Many of us don’t realise the harm that can be caused by exposure to noises that are too loud, too close or last too long. Read on to find out how you may be destroying your ears unknowingly!

Sound is measured in units called decibels. The greater the decibels and the nearer you are to the sound, the shorter the time it takes to damage your ears! People who work around aircraft, shooting ranges, sirens, or loud military machinery and equipment are at risk. Even musicians in an orchestra or a band or staff at a nightclub may suffer hearing loss because of their work environment.

There’s more! Many recreational activities produce harmful noise as well! Going to rock concerts or sports events, using a personal listening device at high volume, riding a motorcycle, working with power tools, or going to a bar or nightclub are examples of possible noise hazardous activities.

Don’t Wait, Act Now!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to protect your ears! Hearing loss is fairly common in Singapore especially with our ageing population. But what’s alarming are signs of age-related hearing loss in young people. Once your hearing is damaged, it’s gone for good! As musicians, we need to be pro-active about hearing health. Let’s protect our ears and keep our hearing as sharp as possible.

1. Wear hearing protection

Whether you’re playing drums, rehearsing with other musicians, or at a concert, you should be wearing earplugs. Repeated exposure to loud noises can cause hearing loss. It’s not too late to protect your ears, so consider these options:

A.    Foam earplugs: They’re cheap, easy to find, disposable, one size fits most, and effective in most situations.

B.    Custom moulded earplugs:  Perfectly fitted to your ear canal, and you can choose the ones that only cut out high frequencies while still making it easy to hear everything else.

C.   Noise isolating headphones: If you don’t like plugs, you can get noise-reducing over-ear headphones.

2. Turn the volume down!

Be loud less often if possible. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. All because of the unsafe use of audio devices.

When you listen to music through headphones or earbuds, you can protect your ears by following the 60/60 rule. This means to listen at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.

Earbuds are especially dangerous, as they fit directly next to the eardrum. If possible, opt for over-the-ear headphones.

3. Give your ears a break

Your ears need time to recover if you are exposed to loud noises for a prolonged period of time, like at a concert or a bar. If you can, step outside for five minutes every so often in order to let them rest.

Research shows that your ears need an average of 16 hours of quiet to recover from one loud night out.

4. Don’t overdose!

Some medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, can increase the risk of hearing loss. Discuss medications with your doctor if you’re worried that they’ll impact your hearing ability and take them only as directed.

5. Keep active and exercise

It’s true, exercise is good for your ears. Engage in cardio exercises like walking, running, or cycling to get the blood pumping to all parts of your body, including the ears. This helps the ears’ internal parts stay healthy and working to their maximum potential.

6. Manage stress levels

Stress and anxiety have been linked to both temporary and permanent tinnitus (a phantom ringing in the ears). High levels of stress fill your body with adrenaline. It’s commonly thought that this pressure and stress can travel up into your inner ear and contribute to tinnitus symptoms. So chill out often and play your instruments to relieve stress!

7. Get checked

Having trouble hearing especially in group or noisy environments? Then it’s time to get your hearing screened. Take action early to protect your ears because untreated hearing loss detracts from quality of life and is also linked to other health concerns.