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acoustic guitar Archives - Vinnie Classroom

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.

 

tommy emmanuel finger injury

Musicians’ nightmare, finger injury!

By | Music Articles, News | No Comments

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!