Easy Single Reed Tips

Susan Loy-Milletics Single Reed Tips 0 Comments

  Clarinet and saxophone players know that reeds are expensive!  So, it makes sense to have an easy system for reed maintenance to increase the life of our reeds.  With my young students, I think it is important to keep these steps simple.  More experienced students will want to be involved with improving their reeds and may want to purchase reed tools such as a reed knife, reed clipper and so on.  But for younger students, as well as very busy adult students, I recommend a simple process. Here are some key points to keep in mind:   Don’t wait until you are out of reeds to buy new ones. When you are down to the last few playable reeds, it is time to get new ones!   Determine what strength reed works best with your particular mouthpiece and facing.  A very general recommendation is to use a medium strength reed with a medium facing.  Some reed makers, such as La Voz, specify reed strengths with wording, such as soft, medium, and hard.  Other manufacturers, such as Rico or Vandoren use a number system.  1 being the softest, or least resistant.  5 is the hardest or most resistant.  But alas, not …

Music Lessons

Private Music Lessons Are Better for Personal Growth

Susan Loy-Milletics Inspiration 0 Comments

Recently I came across two different articles about a guitar lesson subscription-based app created by the Fender Guitar Company.  First of all, I definitely support everyone, young and old, having access to music study.  But as I read these articles about the app Fender Play, I felt that Fender would be doing a better service to its customers by promoting private music lessons with live guitar instructors. The first article I read was on the Fast Company blog site and points out the financial motivation for Fender creating the lesson app.  Fender’s CEO Andy Mooney claims that 45% of their guitars are sold to absolute beginners, 90% of whom stop playing within one year.  But if that 45% continue to play, they will need strings, straps and eventually, they will buy a better guitar.  If they really get into playing, they may buy a lot more guitars, because as guitar lovers know, G.A.S. (guitar acquisition syndrome) is a real thing. (There’s even a website to prove it as well as articles, such as this one from Guitar Player.) John Titlow’s article on Fast Company is well written, and he covers all the positive aspects of the app.  It’s pretty cheap …

Top Ten Reasons to Love Film Music

Susan Loy-Milletics Film and Television Music 0 Comments

I first discovered my love of film music when I realized the movies I loved all had interesting music.  I enjoy a good story for escape as much as anyone.  But when it’s accompanied by music the experience becomes more alive.  So before I add posts about the analytical and technical aspects of film music, I  want to share my top ten reasons for loving film music. 10. Shameless emotional connection. Music easily moves its listeners emotionally.   But when music connects to powerful imagery and stories its impact is sweeping.  The movie  Platoon (1986), directed by Oliver Stone, illustrates the violence and cruelty of the Vietnam War.   I openly wept in the theater, as did many others, when  Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings underscores the battle scene for Sgt. Elias’s death.    (In the linked clip the music starts at 1:30.)  The slow tempo and minor key of the music are conventionally connected to emotions of sadness.  But violent scenes paired with lush string music is startling and feels emotionally overwhelming. Other films use Barber’s work, too.  Prior to Platoon, David Lynch also chose to use Adagio for Strings in the last scene of  The Elephant Man. In great contrast to the above examples, the …

15 Ways to Make Ear Training Fun

Susan Loy-Milletics Musical Skills 0 Comments

  Training your ear to have good relative pitch is essential to basic musicianship.  A musician must have a good ear to play in tune with others, to play with correct intonation and to create music, whether by improvisation or composition.  As with practice, to achieve a good ear, you have to work at it every day.  But for some people, ear training drills are not enjoyable and thus, are avoided.  But it doesn’t have to be boring, there are many ways to make ear training fun. Let go of fears and make ear training fun! I find instrumental students are often embarrassed to play by ear or sing because they are afraid to play wrong notes.  Or they are afraid their voice is terrible.  Maybe you feel the same way – I know I did for a long time.  To get past the fear, it’s simply a matter of bypassing the ego, by making ear training fun.  And, the best way to move from frustrating to the fun is to have a playful attitude and be willing to try different approaches or games. Tips to make ear training fun and increase your creativity! 1. Listen to a favorite song or …

Five Ways to Engage Your Music Appreciation Class

Susan Loy-Milletics Inspiration 0 Comments

Is listening to music enough to engage students in your Music Appreciation class? Most likely, no.  If you have a class full of musicians that may be a different answer.  But in a class full of students with little practical music experience, listening to music may not capture their interest.  I think one answer lies in giving your class some basic, yet direct experience with making music. Anyone teaching general music or music appreciation will agree that the primary goal is to teach students how to effectively listen to music, to enrich their experience.  Another goal is for them to learn how a musician thinks. The college where I teach recently changed their curriculum design. The title of Music Appreciation was changed to Listening to Music.   But I would argue that even for the seasoned musician, listening to music is a relatively passive activity.  I believe that students learn better if they can experience music directly.  That is challenging in the classroom, particularly if your resources are limited. Why are students tuning out? Experienced musicians may relish the chance to just sit and listen to a great work of music.  And I observe many students wearing ear buds, listening to …