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Exciting modern music just for you!

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Discover exciting modern music right here!

Classical music may not be everyone’s cup of tea! We live in a time where we have access to so many different types of music. The genres are ever-expanding. So finding an alternative to classical is a breeze! In fact, there’s an exciting modern music syllabus available to help stimulate your creative juices! 

exciting musicWelcome to the ANZCA Modern Pianoforte Syllabus! It is available throughout Australia, New Zealand and South-east Asia. This is a great alternative to conventional classical piano lessons! Not least because it covers a wide array of genres which include jazz, blues, pop and rock, ragtime and more.

Watch these videos of our ANZCA students! We’re so proud of their efforts!

 

ANZCA is well-known for it’s ever evolving, innovative and flexible system that focuses on versatility in music education. The syllabus lists are carefully compiled. And of course pays great attention to setting interesting and musical pieces. This is especially so at the junior levels. Kids nowadays naturally like the music that they hear around them, on Spotify, on the TV, and on-line. As it’s the music of their culture, what they enjoy with friends, it can be fun to learn to play these popular songs. This is just the beginning and they will eventually develop a taste for a variety of music! All in all,  it is a well-rounded music education that encompasses the sounds of the present and the past too!

So what are you waiting for? Find out more about the ANZCA syllabus and visit our website or contact us today!

Spotlight : Encore for our piano students (Part 1)

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Let’s hear from our piano students!

We’re turning the spotlight on our piano students so let’s hear an encore for them! Applaud them as they play their practised pieces before the camera. Aside from the fun we had filming them, they also feel satisfied their hard work counts for something! Our video clips feature students – Kye Hsin and Yao Li. They are of different ages but are taking the Encore! on Keys syllabus. Whatever your age group, music will always be at your fingertips! Look out for our next post for more Encore videos of our students!

 

What’s Encore! On Keys? It is an award-winning programme from Australia with a progressive curriculum that incorporates multiple learning layers. Music theory is also taught. And what’s more, no musical background is required!

Spotlight: Our piano students doing Encore on Keys

There are 3 different Beginner courses (depending on age) and 1 Advancing course. These are suitable for a variety of age groups and learning styles. The course involves playing with a backing track for every song to simulate ensemble playing.

The genre of songs comprises a broad range of modern music styles that include rock, baroque, classical, jazz, blues and reggae. Find out more from our website or sign up for our free* trial lesson!

We hope you’ll enjoy the video clips!

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.

 

TO PUSH OR NOT TO PUSH?

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Do we push our children or not, to learn a musical instrument? Even if you didn’t know before, you will – after reading this – value the cognitive benefits learning an instrument can give children. And help them later on as adults too. Based on our experience at Vinnie Classroom, we firmly believe that having a healthy passion, like a musical instrument, can also help keep kids on the straight and narrow.

To force or not to force?

We’ve never heard an adult say “I’m so glad my parents let me quit piano lessons.” Instead, nearly every adult that was once taking piano lessons says: “I wish my parents made me keep up with piano lessons and not give up so early.”

Based on studies (read below), it can only be beneficial to direct our children to take lessons of some instrument. Possibly even one of their choosing. And can’t we also tell our kids – much like we do with studying – that they must practice an instrument? And do this without bringing out the Tiger-parent in us?

Help your child get curious about music so that he or she can develop a desire to engage with music. Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music, attend concerts and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you. So a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents getting involved with music themselves.

Sometimes lack of enthusiasm may be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments. This also means you may need to be flexible. While it may be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with your child to find one he or she enjoys and is motivated to practice.

Evidence-Based Benefits of Learning an Instrument (And Learning It Early)

It increases brain matter

A Harvard neurologist in a 2003 study found that adult professional musicians have a higher level of gray matter volume in the motor, auditory, and visual-spatial regions of their brain than non-musicians. A later study showed that positive structural brain changes take place in young children – average age of 6.3 years – after only 15 months of musical training.

It helps stave off the effect of aging on the brain

A 2011 study demonstrated that having learned an instrument can slow the aging process on your brain. In the study, researchers divided 70 older adults – ages 60 to 83 – into three groups. Those who had studied an instrument for more than ten years, those who had played for one to nine years, and those who had never learned an instrument.

Each group was then given a battery of neuropsychological tests. The group that had played an instrument for the longest scored the highest. In these areas: nonverbal memory recall, visuomotor speed and sequencing, and cognitive flexibility.

The same researcher in a 2012 study confirmed the findings of the previous study. It also suggested that learning an instrument before the age of nine and studying that instrument for at least ten years results in the greatest benefits. Those who met these criteria in the study outperformed non-musicians. In these areas: verbal working memory, verbal memory, verbal fluency, visuospatial, and planning functions.

So, let your child learn an instrument, especially early in life, and stick with it. You won’t regret it because this has positive, long-lasting effects on your child’s brain!

Ukulele for the Young and Young-at-Heart

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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!

fingerstyle guitar singapore

Fingerstyle Guitar

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Fingerstyle Guitar, more than a guitar!

fingerstyle guitar singapore

Our student Kryan performing his fingerstyle guitar song during our recital.

What is Fingerstyle Guitar?

Most of us were either really young or not even born when Chet Atkins took the world stage by storm. Unlike the superstars of today, there was no loud music or flashy colored lighting on stage. Instead, it was a small tv set-up with a small audience, some musicians and Chet right there in the middle. When Chet played his guitar, it felt like there were many more than those musicians on stage playing along with him. The secret was in Chet’s fingers. Even if those other musicians were removed, the music would still sound as full and as big! This was because Chet basically covered the Bass Guitar, Rhythm Guitar and Lead Guitar parts all at once! Occasionally, he would even cover the percussion section! This was the birth of fingerstyle guitar!

Fingerstyle Guitar’s unique techniques

The technique involves using each of the right (or left) hand fingers independently in order to play the multiple parts of a musical arrangement that would normally be played by several band members. Because bass, melody, and percussion can all be played simultaneously, fingerstyle tends to sound a little piano-like. It is the perfect style of music for playing without any other musicians. Fingerstyle guitar is one of the few musical techniques that’s actually fun to learn because it is so flowing and calming but at the same time so agressive and powerful. What’s more, the fingerpicking just seems to bring the best sound out of the acoustic guitar as an instrument.

Top 10 Fingerstyle Guitarist (Our list)

While this list is definitely not complete, we are certain that it is enough to give you a headstart to knowing more about this wonderful world of fingerstyle guitar! Share this list to your friends and soon we will see The Day Finger Pickers Took Over The World

Modern Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangements

While most fingerstyle music seems to have a layer of dust over them, modern guitarists have been churning out arrangements of modern music. Andrew Foy, as mentioned in our Top 10 Fingerstyle Guitarist list above, is notably the most hardworking in arranging modern pop songs into fingerstyle! Mike Dawes, another up and coming fingerstyle guitarist has a very unique method of merging percussive sound, harmonics and unusual harmonies, giving a modern and unique feel to fingerstyle guitar.

Of course, our very own Vinnie had a go recently in rearranging the Avengers’s theme song into a fingerstyle arrangement. There is no limit to what fingerstyle arrangements can be! They are destined to take over the world!

How to learn fingerstyle guitar?

Music arranged for fingerstyle playing can include chords, arpeggios, melodies with elements such as hammering on and pulling off with the fretting hand, using the body of the guitar percussively, and many other techniques.

There are a number of fingerstyle techniques. For beginners, fingerstyle guitar may feel a little strange and challenging since you’re plucking the strings directly with your digits. Thumbpicks are often seen on fingerstyle guitarist because of the need to emphasize the bass tone.  Thumbpicks aren’t absolutely necessary for you to play this way. In fact, you have also to make sure you can keep the finger picking pattern down and consistent.

For more on fingerstyle guitar, check out our guitar lessons or sign up for a free Trial Lesson. Give it a shot, you’re going to have a ton of fun! But if you are not convinced that a young kid will be able to learn equally well, then let 11-year old Dave show you how it is done!

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 2)

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Looking for Music Lessons in Singapore?

Our Views on Yamaha and Cristofori Music Schools

If you are looking for music lessons in Singapore, two names that pop up are Yamaha and Cristofori because they have centres dotted all around Singapore. They are well-known mostly for group music lessons that cater to younger children with the option for one-to-one lessons as they progress through the years.

We feel that personalised lessons tend to provide better attention to detail for each individual student. Therefore, it is important that the group is not so big that the teacher cannot focus on each student properly. In our humble opinion, music schools that offer one-to-one sessions are preferable. This is especially so for beginners who need to develop and train good techniques and habits.

The most crucial step you must take before signing up with a school is to audition the music teacher. This means you must know if the music teacher you or your child is taking lessons from is qualified. And we don’t mean just paper qualifications. When a music school has many branches, the quality of their music teachers could suffer. It’s important to check if music teachers are hired based not only on their certifications but also their years of experience and their attitude towards teaching.

Some music schools offer a Free Trial Lesson for all new sign-ups. Aside from being able to audition the teacher, you will also experience a lesson first-hand and have a clearer picture of how lessons are conducted.

Is it important to attend one of the Top 10 Music Schools in Singapore?

A top-listed music school may not necessarily improve your musical ability nor ensure you’ll learn any faster than a smaller, more dedicated music school. Every student is unique and has a different learning rate. In the same way, music schools are also varied and offer different advantages.

The list of top 10 schools you see is likely an inaccurate representation of the music school demographics in Singapore. There are many music schools in Singapore and it is unlikely that the selected top 10 schools on that internet list are compiled with a proper point scoring system or an objective assessment of each and every school. This creates a biased and skewed image of the music school scene. What’s more, the list you see might also be dated.

Just remember that big doesn’t necessarily mean best. Smaller music schools may be able to cater to your needs more personally and follow-up on your music education more efficiently.

What’s Music Education like in Singapore?

With the proliferation of music schools in Singapore, what should you look out for when signing up for music classes? Obviously, the teacher is very important. He or she needs to be qualified and experienced. It also helps if he/she can establish a good rapport with students. Aside from this, look for a school with a different approach from the others.

Some schools offer an approach that is performance-oriented. This means that while striving for good academic results is important, these schools place great value on gaining experience as performers. Students will learn more beyond the exam curriculum and understand the tough requirements needed to put up a good show. This ultimately trains and improves students who will grow as artists and overcome performance-related anxiety. You’ll see that attention to these small details plays a big part in ensuring a good music education.

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!

 

 

learn the ukulele

Ukulele And You

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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.