Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Piano Tips - 5 Common Practice mistakes and How to Correct them

Keyboard Tip #2

Mistake 1: Not actually practicing

Both kids and adults lead busy lives, and consequently it’s easy to make the mistake of not prioritizing piano practice, or making it a secondary priority relative to other tasks / activitiies. We all go through periods where we struggle to find time to practice, but once you being to really enjoy playing, practice time becomes something to look forward to. Try to allocate a certain time (or times) each day when practice is part of your routine (much like brushing your teeth).

Mistake 2: Setting keyboard up in a location that is ‘out of sight’ (and therefore ‘out of mind’)

Setting the keyboard up in a back room you rarely go into, or worse, putting the keyboard away in a cupboard with the intention of getting around to practice one day soon is not the way to encourage the habit of practice in your home.
Instead, set the keyboard up in a prominent position such as the living room or dining room, where it is easily accessible and where the mere sight of it will serve as a reminder to do your practice.

Mistake 3: Practicing for long sessions

Much like pruning hedges, little and often is the key. Even professional musicians who practice 6-8 hours per day do not remain at the piano / keyboard for more than 40 minutes in any one sitting. They take regular breaks and come back to different aspects of their practice for each relatively short session.
For most piano students, a reasonable amount of practice is around 30 minutes per day, and for adults, doing this in one sitting may work. For some students, especially kids, 1-2 short sessions of 10-15 minutes per day is usually much more effective.
Whatever your circumstances, the rough guide is to only practice (in any one sitting) for as long as you can before you start to become mentally tired.

Mistake 4: Practicing what you already know

It may be fun to play through songs or chords you are already familiar with, but what are you really learning?  Many students get excited with they feel like they have just made some progress  in their piano practice, and so they continue to play what they just learned rather than make the effort to learn something new and uncertain.  This is often followed by boredom and discouragement.  Make it your goal to try something new during each practice session to keep things interesting.

Mistake 5: Failing to revise pieces to maintain a repertoire

Having made the above point that just playing through material you already know and can play easily can be a ‘cop-out’ that is not really piano practice, the opposite is just as common for some students. It may surprise you to know that many students, once they have learned a piece, are disinclined to  ever play / practice it again, instead preferring to always push ahead to the next new piece. 
This addiction to completing lessons / levels is, for some students, part of the appeal of Musiah’s online piano lessons. But it can lead to a scenario where students are unable to play anything for family / friends / visitors because the student has not yet finished the piece they are currently learning, and they have forgotten much of the pieces they have learned recently because they have not made a point of going over them occasionally to maintain a repertoire of say 5 songs they can play upon demand.
So there is a balance to be reached here. At least once a week, allocate some time for ‘refreshing’ your memory by revising some of the pieces you have already learned – not so you can get out of practicing / learning something new, but for the specific purpose of maintaining a repertoire that will enable you to share what you have learned with others.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Drum Tips #2

 Proper Posture For Drummers – How To Sit 

The drummer’s posture can make the difference between sounding good or bad. 

There are four basic things a drummer needs: proper sitting posture, proper kit set up, proper drum tuning, and have correct stick grip - it all matters!

Not only will you perform better, you will feel like you have more energy, as well as more freedom to the kit. It will open up new doors you thought you never had, allowing you to move around the kit a lot easier, and with more ease. In addition, you will find after a gig, you will feel a million times better, as opposed to being achy, sore, and extra tired! So what is the proper posture for a drummer then?

Sit Up Straight

It may seem all very basic, but it is important to know! Basically, you have to sit up straight. Slouching on the drum throne is the worst thing a drummer can do. Look at your back when you play, is it straight up? You may notice you have a slouch, or curve in your back. Playing like this for extended periods of time will cause harm and a lot of unwanted stress on your lower back. Try sitting straight up on you drum stool for a show, and you will notice the difference right away. Now it may be hard to get this at first, naturally you will want to slouch, however try to counter that. Force yourself to sit with better posture, eventually it will come as second nature. If you look at any professional drummer, you will notice how they are all sitting up right, and not slouching.

Sit At The Right Height 

Correct posture does not only mean sitting up, there is much more. For example, how high do you set your drum stool? This is very important, as it is connected to how much endurance and strength you have on your foot pedals. Every drummer is a different size, so I can’t give you a certain number of inches; however, I can guide you in the right direction. Generally, you are going to want to have enough room to make a powerful kick, keeping in mind comfort and immovability. Adjust your drum stool so that with your feet on the pedals, your knees make and angle of 90-110 degrees. Another way to look at it is this: make sure your thighs are sloped downwards towards the floor a little – not too much though! Having too much a slope will give you a lack of power. If they are angled the other way, you will have to use a lot more energy to kick your bass drum!

Relax Your Arms

Now that we have your upper and lower body correct, let’s figure out your arms and hands. Basically, you want to relax! If you find yourself struggling to keep your arms up, let them down a bit. You want to make sure your arms and hands are as comfortable as possible. So no more struggling with your elbows, trying to get them to stay up. As for your hands, same idea. Make them as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Make sure you maintain the proper stick grip! Never sacrifice stick grip for comfort!

Follow these basic guidelines next time you sit at your drum kit and you will be surprised on how much you improve. Not only will you feel better while you play the drums, but also when you get off the drums as well! These are all very much common sense; however there are still drummers that ignore these simple rules. This is one of the things that separates the professionals from the garage drummers!

- Source, Rock Drumming Underground