If you are looking for the best music advice in town, Pats Music Store has the Blog you simply must read. Learn what our music aficionados have to say about some of the Musical Instruments in store. Experts from our Piano Shop and our Guitar Shop, frequent these pages with invaluable insights into choosing the right instruments.
If you are looking to buy Piano music or perhaps change the tone of your Electric Guitar, watch this forum to get some great ideas, straight from the Music Shop.
Once you have decided to play the guitar the more difficult decision is often which type of guitar to buy. In this Guitar Blog we will look at some of the pros and cons to help you make the best choice for you.
The Nylon String Classical Guitar is one of the most popular choices for a beginners guitar. The most significant
advantage is that nylon strings are soft and require less tension to reach correct tuning. Consequently this means the strength needed to play is reduced and to softer nature of the material causes less pain for the player. This is especially important for children, who need more time to develop strength and are more easily deterred by pain when playing.
The neck on a classical guitar is also wider than a steel string guitar. While this can be a concern for people with
smaller hands, the advantage is that a little more space between strings makes it easier to place your fingers on one string without obstructing another string. This can be helpful when you are learning to play chords.
In addition, a drawback with nylon strings is that they are much more sensitive to heat. This causes the guitar to lose its tuning faster that steel strings. Fortunately, these days we have electronic tuners and smart phone apps that help you get your guitar back in tune quickly and easily.
The Steel String Acoustic Guitar rose to prominence early in the 20th century and in Australia is certainly still the
most popular style of guitar. The steel strings offer a brighter and louder sound than nylon. Therefore as steel strings need approximately double the tension to tune, the construction of steel string guitars differs greatly from nylon string guitars. This makes both styles of guitar unsuitable for switching strings.
Nylon String Classical guitars are generally available in four sizes. A full size classical guitar is considered to be 4/4, with sizes ¾, ½ and ¼ getting smaller by increment.
A general sizing guide for children would be:
¼ size – 3 to 5 years
½ size – 5 to 8 years
¾ size – 8 to 12 years
4/4 size 12 years and up
This is just a general guide. To make sure you purchase the correct size guitar for a child it is recommended you take the child to a music store to find the most suitable size.
Steel String Guitars also come in four basic sizes. Only, it is a little more complicated.
00 or Parlour size – The smallest steel string model, comfortable for smaller players. Smaller body results in lower volume and less bass frequencies.
000 or Grand Auditorium size – A little wider and deeper body size than the 00 gives the guitar a better high to low frequency balance and improved projection.
Dreadnought – As the name suggests, provides pronounced low frequencies and powerful projection. This is the most popular size of steel string guitar. The larger size can be a drawback for smaller players.
Jumbo – Similar in shape to the 000 only larger than the Dreadnought. It has a deep bass frequency and projection that you can feel in your chest as you play. As with the Dreadnought, the larger size can be uncomfortable for smaller players.
Once you have an idea of the type of beginners guitar you want you still need to find the right brand and price.
Here at Pats Music we have a range of instrument for the beginner through to the pro.
Our Guitar Shop sells Nylon String Classical Guitars from Valencia, Yamaha, Katoh, Ibanez & Alhambra.
The prices range from $75 for a ¼ size Valencia through to $1399 for Alhambra 4P professional guitar.
In our Steel String Acoustic range we have guitars from Yamaha, Fender, Sigma, Ibanez, Martin & Maton.
Entry level Steel String guitars start at $100 and can range up to $3500.
For more Guitar advice, why not stop by Pats Music Guitar Shop and talk to one of our in-house pro guitarists.
When you begin looking for a Piano for sale, a common question to ask is “what sort of piano should I buy?” There are many different takes on what may be the ideal piano for your needs. However there are a few simple things to bear in mind.
There are many brands of acoustic pianos on the Market. For example, many of the best brands are made in Europe, often with price points into the tens of thousands of dollars. These pianos have very individual touches and tones and are the choice of some of the world’s best pianists. However, many people are purchasing a piano for their children to begin the journey of playing piano. With this in mind other options may be both affordable and in many cases more suitable for home use. At Pat’s Music we are strong advocates of Yamaha musical instruments for a number of reasons.
When you buy a Yamaha Piano, you inherit part of a company that have been building quality musical instruments in Japan for approximately 130 years. Yamaha pianos are the choice of top schools, concert halls, and professional players world wide. Did you know that the AMEB (Australian Music Examination Board) use the Yamaha YUS1 Piano in their examination rooms? Monash University have Yamaha YUS1PE pianos in nearly all of their practice rooms? Furthermore, both Sydney Opera House and Monash University have the $30,0000 Yamaha CFX Concert Grand piano in their Performance halls?
It is for this reason we recommend Yamaha pianos for home use. If your child is studying for an examination on a Yamaha piano, shouldn’t you have the closest thing at home to what the exam board uses? In addition to Yamaha Pianos, there are many alternative Piano brands on the market. It is always preferable that an acoustic piano, have the touch and sound as close the examination piano as possible.
When you buy an Upright Piano it is important to purchase something that is of professional height. At 121cm tall, the Pianos height gives a deep enough tone in the bass notes to play with expression. Size matters to achieve a full, rich sound from an Upright Piano. If the piano is going into a living area or large space 131cm is the ideal height, as the strings are longer, therefore more volume and depth to fill the space.
New Japanese made Yamaha professional pianos include a 10 year warranty and they are available at Pat’s Music starting from around $13000.
We understand that this may be beyond the budget of many people purchasing their first piano for a young child. Therefore in many cases a secondhand piano may be a suitable option. All of the pre-owned pianos at Pat’s Music are always sourced from Japan and are graded in an A+ condition. This means that even pianos that are 40 years old are still in excellent condition, of a professional standard and are purchasable for a fraction of the price of a brand new one.
The lifespan of most pianos can be 60-80 years, however like a car, you may need to relpace parts from time to time. Buy purchasing an A grade piano from Pat’s music we will include a 10 year warranty on most used Japanese Yamaha Pianos.
Sometimes purchasing a 131cm older professional piano can give better results for learning than a brand new small 109cm student piano for a similar price, as the tone is more often significantly better.
For some people starting out there could be constraints on the budget to under $1500. In this case we will always recommend an electronic instrument over an acoustic piano. New acoustic pianos (as in student models) have a starting price of around $4000. Problem is, you will be buying something small that you will need to upgrade down the track. For under $1500 you can purchase a fully weighted 88 note Yamaha Digital Piano. Consequently, such a Piano Keyboard, will never need tuning and can be moved by two people easily around the house. This sort of instrument will be much more consistent and reliable than any used piano under $3000. Therefore, when the time comes that your child needs an advanced piano, you will be more comfortable investing $5000 or more in a professional used or even upgrading to a new Yamaha Professional piano.
Finally, to discuss the purchase of Pianos, or even buy Piano Music, why not stop in and say hello. Our friendly staff are knowledgable and will make you feel quite at home in our Piano Shop.
Written By Adam Goodwin, Piano Department / Store Manager Pats Music
The Piano is arguably the most influential instrument in the evolution of modern western music. It has also been described as one of the easiest instruments to learn, but the hardest to master. The Piano is unique in that it is a stringed instrument, a percussion instrument and also keyboard instrument.
The beginnings of the Piano can be traced back all the way to 900AD to an instrument called the Hammered Dulcimer or Hackbrett. The Hackbrett is a triangular shaped wooden instrument with a series of strings stretched across 2 bridges. The Hackbret either sits on the lap or in front of the player and is played by striking the strings with little spoon shaped hammers. In Europe and the UK the Hackbrett was tuned to the western chromatic scale with the stings arranged in the circle of fifths. But this instrument was commonly used all over Asia, India and the Middle-East where different tunings were likely used.
The word ‘claviature’ is said to mean ‘a keyboard or fingering system’. In around the 1400’s, the Hackbrett had evolved to include a keyboards which made playing much easier. They keys were arranged in a way that maps out the western chromatic scale with black and white notes. From here on we saw the emergence of the clavichord, clavecina, spinet, virginal and gravicembalo.
In the 1500’s the Harpsichord became
a prominent member of the stringed keyboard instrument family. The harpsichord
also has strings, starched over a bridge. The Harpsichord was made for volume so
is far larger than any of its relatives. It has a lid that sits up to allow for
sound projection and the stings are plucked by a rotating mechanism rather than
struck with hammers.
The popularity of the harpsichord inspired many composers to write for keyboard instruments. Though beautifully loud, the harpsichord was not able to convey dynamics. Meaning it could not be played both loudly and softly. Harpsichord music was composed specifically with this in mind. Composers used denser passages of notes to convey loudness and more sparsely placed notes to convey softness.
The first Pianoforte was made in Italy by a Harpsichord maker Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori. The words 'Piano' means soft and the word ‘Forte’ means loud. This new instrument had the ability to be played both softly and loudly hence being named the ‘softloud’. Crisofori had created a hammer mechanism that fit the larger size of the Harpsichord and there the Piano was born. Composers like Beethoven had a large influence on the development of the Pianoforte in Vienna in the 1800’s.
Europe led the Piano manufacture boom in the 1900’s in countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy and Vienna. Pianos were also made in England, America and Australia. Today, the majority of pianos are made in Japan, and China with a few still made in Europe and the USA.
Over the years many amendments were made to the Piano by Piano makers all over the world. This included the development of the upright piano, the steel or iron frame, under dampers, practice pedals or levers, player pianos or pianolas. Today the traditional Piano has moved gracefully into the digital age with the invention of the hybrid piano. A full acoustic piano that uses laser-sensors, robotics and digital technology to enable the Piano be connected to the internet and played from anywhere in the world.
The story of the development of the piano is really a story of mankind's ability to collaborate to make wonderful things limited only by our imaginations.
Make a plan:
A good teacher will set an appropriate amount of homework. Look ahead at what homework is set for the week and plan what task will be completed by when. It helps to write the date on the page or line of music that will be worked on. You may also use a practice diary.
The idea of practice is for our hands to learn the music along with our brains. Muscle memory takes repetition, how many repetitions may vary. When learning a new piece play one bar at a time and repeat it again and again till the hand remembers it. Then move on to the next bar. Then play two bars together, then a line, then a page. Do this with each hands separately first; then repeat the process with hands together.
Always use a metronome, either a mechanical or digital metronome will work as long as it can be heard over the piano. When learning a new passage, set the metronome to a slow speed, slow enough to play the passage without any mistakes. Play the passage at this speed a few times using correct fingering and technique. Next, increase the speed a little bit. Play the passage at the new speed until there are no mistakes. Repeat this process increasing the speed a little at a time until the passage can be played to tempo.
4. Keep going:
Once we’ve memorized the piece with our fingers play it from top to bottom at speed without stopping. If we make a mistakes keep going. If we stop when we make a mistake we will be practicing the act of stopping rather than keeping going. When we get to the end of the piece we can go back to the area we made the mistake and practice that more; then begin the piece from the top.
When we are tired our brains take in less information. Therefore practicing when we are tired is less effective than when we are alert. If we’ve been practicing for a while or a tired we are better off having a 20 minute power nap and continuing our practice when we are refreshed.
Article by Kate Finkelstein-Piano teacher and Piano consultant at Pat’s Music
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