Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Musical Tests at 8notes.com

Want to test your knowledge of notes, intervals, keys, and triads? Check out the musical tests at www.8notes.com. (Note: Only the "musical tests" work; the "musical games" part of the site is currently offline as of the date of this post.) There are also some ear training tests as well (the program will play intervals, scales, and chords and then you try to identify them by ear).

These are great for any age group, but some of the ear training tests can be quite difficult (especially challenging is the scale ear trainer -- trying to identify the different scalar modes by ear was hard even for me!). One good thing is you can change the settings on each game to make them easier or harder. Younger kids with less than 2 years of piano lesson experience will probably have the best luck with the notes and interval tests. The other tests require a bit more advanced musical knowledge.

8notes.com is also a neat site to surf for free sheet music and even online lessons.

PARENTS: I had the best luck using the Internet Explorer browser, equipped with the Flash plug-in.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

About This Blog

Welcome to Joshua Nemith’s Cincinnati Pianist Blog! This site is dedicated to all things musical; it deals primarily with piano-related topics but branches out to cover other aspects of the social phenomenon that is music. Because of the blog’s versatile nature, it also functions as my professional/personal website (you can find my bio, resumé, any upcoming performances, etc., in addition to the core post material).

I am a classical pianist and educator by trade, so much of what I post relates to music education, piano pedagogy, resources for teachers and students, announcements of performances, and so on. Since I live in the Cincinnati, Ohio metro area, another purpose of this blog is to support through advocacy any relevant events in the local musical arts scene whenever I can. I also provide schedules and other resources for my private students here.

I am personally convinced that the network of online music bloggers, all interconnected through RSS subscription services, favorite site lists (blogrolls), and intra-post hyperlinks, constitute a major positive force for the nurturing of this living, constantly evolving art form known as concert music. Therefore, the tone of my writing here is intended to promote a healthily realistic yet constructive and inclusive point of view. Another intention is to foster the growth of an online community of musically-interested individuals and groups, which, in my opinion, is one of the measures of a successful music blog.

My suggestion to newcomers is to check out the recent posts first, get an idea of the content that interests you, and then make use of my blog category list (located in the sidebar to the right) to find other posts/articles on similar topics. You can also use the in-site Google search engine (located at the bottom of the page) to find specific content in a more efficient manner.

I encourage people to contact me, either using the comment feature on individual posts or through my email address located in my sidebar. If you do not know how to use the comment feature, click here for a brief tutorial. Part of the attraction of the blog phenomemon is its incredible community-building capability, so feel free to plunge into the discussion! (Please keep comments family-friendly.)

I hope you enjoy your visit here and that you get something out of the material. If you do, please consider subscribing (it’s totally free).

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Children's Music Games by Morton Subotnick

Here's some great online fun for youngsters:

Children's Music Games by Morton Subotnick

These musical games are perfect for any children (suitable for all ages) and they all work online for free. Parents: You might want to check the system requirements to make sure these will work on your computer. If you really like these, cd-roms are offered on the website.

There is a "musical sketch pad" and "rhythm band" for experimenting with composition, and there are other neat puzzles and games too. 

I had the most fun playing around with the sketch pads. You can simply "draw" shapes and hear them played back, so no knowledge of musical notation is required. You can also transform your compositions: reverse them, turn them upside down, stretch them, make variations, etc. It's really lots of fun!

Morton Subotnick is a contemporary composer who specializes in computer and electronic music.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New World Symphony in the NY Times

There is an article about the New World Symphony (an orchestral training academy located in Miami Beach) in the Feb 18 edition of the New York Times. I held a piano fellowship at this institution for 2 years from 2000-02 and learned a great deal about professional performance in orchestral and chamber music situations. For anyone who has an interest in how accomplished, young classical musicians train and prepare for orchestral performance careers, read this article. You also get some interesting tidbits on music from the group's music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, with whom I worked in many capacities as a pianist there.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Experimenting with YouTube Embedding

In future posts I'd like to embed video content (where appropriate) to make this blog more interactive. So this post is my first try at embedding video from YouTube.

You should see a video screen below; it's a performance of Robert Schumann's incredibly difficult Toccata by the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter. Press play to see the video.

Want to find out more about this pianist? Check out the entry for Richter at Wikipedia.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Student Etiquette

Here are some things every piano student should know when it comes to lesson/performance etiquette. Most of you will probably realize you already know these things, but sometimes it is good to be reminded once again. As new situations come up (new ones always do!) I'll add more to the list.

At The Lesson

1) Show up on time with all of your materials. Smile and greet your teacher pleasantly when you come in.
2) NEVER bring food into a lesson (unless it's for me).
3) NEVER chew gum at a lesson. If I make you count out loud, you might just choke. Not good.
4) Be prepared. If you had a bad week of missed practice, admit this to your teacher up front.

5) TRIM and FILE your fingernails regularly. You CANNOT play the piano properly with long fingernails. Sorry, teenage girls: this is a sacrifice you have to be willing to make.
6) Do not play/goof off while your teacher is talking to you. Sit still and listen carefully. You might learn something that will help improve your music-making.
7) Sometimes you will become frustrated with yourself. Try to maintain your composure because losing your temper will not help your music-making. Take deep breaths and relax.
8) Your attitude at your lesson should be positive; you should be open-minded and willing to listen to constructive criticism. Be mentally prepared to concentrate for the full length of the lesson. I have to do this, so I think you should also.
9) ASK QUESTIONS. Show an interest in what you are doing. At least try to stump your teacher once in a while!
10) Enjoy and appreciate your time at the lesson. It is a great privilege to take private lessons for artistic training. Many people do not have the resources to do this. You are one of the lucky ones -- don't forget that.

At a Performance/Recital that includes You

1) Come to your performance location EARLY.
2) Warm-up and play through your repertoire before you get to the recital.
3) Dress to impress. No sneakers, jeans, shorts, or stained shirts. Avoid t-shirts. Suits are not necessary. "Sunday best" will do the trick.
4) Play your piece(s) with conviction and artistry. Strive to do your best.
5) If you have a memory slip, move on ahead and don't worry about it.
6) If you have a memory slip, move on ahead and don't worry about it.
7) If you have a memory slip, move on ahead and don't worry about it.
8) Re-read numbers 5-7 again.
9) ALWAYS BOW after a performance. If your audience is clapping to thank you for your performance, you must thank them back by bowing. That is the gesture our culture has agreed on for this kind of ritual and it looks dumb and uncouth to not bow after you perform. Smile at your audience before and after your bow.
10) If people compliment you after your performance, thank them and tell them you appreciate their comments. There is no need to tell them what you did wrong or that you thought it "stank", even if you had 24 memory slips and 85 wrong notes.

At a Performance/Recital for which you are in the Audience

1) Be on time for the performance. If you are late, wait until a silent break on stage before finding your seat. NEVER walk into a stage performance while music is being played live.
2) Dress appropriately for more formal events (e.g., orchestra concerts).
3) Do not eat/sleep/talk during performances.
4) Be attentive and involved with what's happening on stage. In other words, don't go to a performance and read your Harry Potter book the whole time.

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Upcoming Performances

I will be posting my own upcoming performances as well as interesting performances of note happening in the Cincinnati area. Clicking on one of the labels at the right called "Upcoming Performances" will bring up posts pertaining to these events. One is dedicated to my own performances and the other is going to be dedicated to events with performers other than myself. Because I am a classical musician by trade, classical performances will be mostly what I'll bring to the blog. But I'll try to also include some interesting things outside of the classical world as well. After all, the music world is a BIG place with lots of good things happening these days. Of course, I don't have the time to post every single concert (or even every single great concert) that happens here, but I'll strive to post at least one a week from now on.

For my students (well, sure, and anybody else for that matter): REMEMBER that part of being a good musician is to sit in an audience and take in performances; it's an important aspect of your musical education that can often be overlooked. The more you see and the more you experience, the more complete you will be as an artistically active person.

If anybody has any suggestions for something coming up performance-wise that they would like me to post here, please let me know. Input is always welcome!

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Music Stores

Local sheet music stores:


Online sheet music stores:

Sheet Music Plus. (My favorite site; huge selection and low prices.)

Burt & Company Discount Music Supply
Hutchins and Rea (very good for standard classical repertoire)

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Weekly Schedule at Slater Academy

I'll be posting weekly schedules under this label each week for my students. (I'll only use my students' first names for privacy concerns.) Check here to find my availability for make-up lessons as well.

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