The Origins of Solfeggio and the Importance of Musical Language.

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Studying music can be such a rewarding activity! It’s so much more than just a science. Although it’s true that there is a whole host of theoretical knowledge behind it, there is also art and feeling.

In addition, because there are so many different specialised aspects that professionals can work with, it can offer endless opportunities to give us satisfaction and enrichen our lives.

To understand everything related to this beautiful activity, we need to absorb the rules that govern it and to truly do that, we have to understand solfeggio.

Generally speaking, solfeggio is a musical training system aimed at teaching intonation with our voice or with an instrument. However, the same word is often used to refer to all music theory.

 

In general, solfeggio has two main objectives:

  • Firstly: to train the student to read any score of music faster.
  • Secondly: to help the student memorise the names, positions, and duration of all musical notes.

The development of these skills is not straightforward and can take any student several years of exhaustive practice to master.

 

However, it is worth taking the time to absorb and digest this knowledge.

What are the origins of solfeggio?

The musical writing system as we know it today has evolved dramatically.

The first signs of musical transcription date from almost the same time that writing appeared as a means of storing information.

Given it’s such an old activity, it’s hardly surprising that it has experienced so many changes.

Over time these gradual changes have created a consistent methodology, which now provides a structured and coherent way to represent any melody, which can be played by anyone who understands it.

What benefits does solfeggio bring to learning music?

It has already been said that solfeggio can become complicated and, on certain occasions, even tedious to grasp.

This raises the question of whether we can do without it. Truthfully, the answer is yes, we can.

However, doing without it, would mean sacrificing a huge number of musical benefits that this methodology provides us: if we know how to apply the theory thoroughly.

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The most important benefits that solfeggio brings are:

1.      Solfeggio allows you to read scores. This opens the door for us to be able to reproduce any melody that has been written using this notation. This means that in the case of a deceased composer, or the composer being unavailable to consult, anybody could easily reproduce a piece of work.

2.     It makes composing music easier. Knowing solfeggio is a great tool for those who enjoy composing. Not only because it serves to guide the composer in his melody, but also because it makes it easier to remember. Just take a look at sheet music.

3.     It expands musical knowledge, allowing us to understand, in a more visual way, the behavior of elements such as chords, intervals and scales.

As we can see, the benefits make this cognitive effort totally and completely worth learning.

Why is it important to learn musical language?

Before being able to answer this question, it is necessary to make it clear that musical language goes beyond solfeggio.

Musical language is made up of all the graphic tools necessary to compose a musical work.

Solfeggio, on the other hand, only focuses on the basic positions of the notes of a melody.

Bearing this in mind, it is now easier to focus on the importance of musical language.

 

To start with, we can say that music is a very effective means of communication.

It conveys not only messages, but also thoughts and feelings.

In addition, expressing ourselves through it, helps maintain our emotional balance.

As far as human development is concerned, musical language has been shown to activate important parts of the brain.

This is extremely important for children, because at an early age the cognitive abilities of a human being can be further enhanced.

This is reflected in the fact that it is acquired more naturally when we are young.

 

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Despite all this, it is a mistake to think that if we are adults, we will not achieve our goals.

Although not at the same rate as children, studies have shown that even in mature stages, we can fully develop our musical potential.

We just may need more discipline and patience.

In short, music is a science and an art that is worth studying.

It doesn’t matter what age we are, as long as we do it with discipline, dedication and, above all, passion.

The Structure And Parts Of A Piano

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A piano is one of the most traditional musical instruments and has been regarded as having one of the most complete sounds of any instrument since as early as 1720.

 

In every country of the world, buying a piano is considered a symbol of class and elegance.

 

Before purchasing a piano it is advisable to learn a little more about this fantastic instrument.

What Are Its Main Components?

The classical grand piano has many parts; hammers, strings, and separate tools that fulfill a specific function and are very different from the other pieces. Mainly, it has a percussion mechanism, consisting of strings, pedals, soundboard and most importantly the keyboard.

The Percussion Mechanism

This is the part of the instrument that has the most parts. It is made up of a set of levers and systems that allow the player to control the details of the final sound such as timing, frequency and intensity.

Strings

Traditionally made of steel, there are 224 strings that create sound when struck by the hammers which move once the keys have been pressed. The strings are under tension and they have different thicknesses and lengths which create higher and lower sounds.

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Pedals

The pedals are located in the lower part of the casing. They are used to lengthen or shorten a performed note. Depending on the type of piano there can be three pedals which each have different functions; the sustain pedal which causes a note to be sustained for longer is always present. The remaining ones are the pitch pedal and the soft or una corda pedal.

Casing Or Body

This has three sub-parts; the sound board located below the strings; the frame, made of steel, which supports the strings at the ends; and the upper board or lid, which can be opened or closed to allow the volume to be regulated during performances.  This body of space is, where the strings resonate and the sound is amplified.

Keyboard

There are 88 keys, 52 white and 36 black. This part forms the link between the musician and their instrument. Each key produces a different sound and can be played as a group or independently. When the musician presses the keys, they activate the percussion mechanism, the hammer striking the string, which produces the notes that the audience hears.

Instrument Maintenance

Every musical instrument requires regular maintenance. In the case of pianos there are three important aspects to focus on: the keyboard, tuning and finishes.

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Keyboard

By always ensuring the players hands are clean and grease free before playing, the keyboard will stay cleaner and in a better state for longer. From time to time it is a good idea to clean the keys using a soft cloth that can contain detergent or neutral soap.It is not recommended to use alcohol to clean the keys since this can cause cracks and damage to the surface. Dust can be one of the enemies, so using a handheld vacuum on the keys at least once every three months, depending on exposure, is beneficial.

Tuning

The tension of the strings ranges from 75 to 90 kg, which means they are constantly under high pressure. This pressure can cause the strings to expand, which in turn causes the piano to become out of tune. This frequently happens when the piano is not used regularly and so can be avoided by daily playing. Regardless of use, a piano should be tuned twice a year and unlike a violin or guitar, which are also stringed, always tuned by an expert. Tuning a piano is an incredibly difficult skill to learn and so should be left to a professional piano tuner to maintain the instrument as new.

The Finishes

The finishes are the decorative parts of the instrument. They are usually made of wood, which can be damaged if exposed to water. Using a soft cloth, lightly sprayed with neutral disinfectant, is the best method to clean the casing. Some can be maintained with polish or wax, to retain a high shine.

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If in doubt, any maintenance should be carried out by an expert following the instructions issued by the seller.

Dust can also contribute to instrument damage, so it is recommended to follow the instructions that came with the keyboard.

Buying A Piano

Learning to play a musical instrument requires skill, discipline and passion, so the earlier a child can start playing the better. For an adolescent or child, it is an opportunity to expand their knowledge and create future possibilities in the world of music.

Buying a piano is an investment that will undoubtedly provide manymoments of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Music – A Universal Language.

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Music plays an important role in all cultures and societies on planet Earth. Without a doubt, musical language has no boundaries and everybody is capable of understanding and feeling it.

There have been many research projects that have studied the origins and influence of music, but at Harvard they have gone a step further trying to demonstrate that music really is the universal language of humanity.


For more than five years, a multidisciplinary team of scientists, psychologists, linguists, anthropologists and political scientists have searched for and compiled musical pieces from all corners of the globe.

The aim has been to create a database called The Music Lab, where you can find some 5,000 interpretations and descriptions of songs and pieces of music from around the world.

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The main conclusion, that has been drawn from the findings, is that music has played an important role in society in a very similar way in all cultures, throughout their respective histories.

There are common themes of music running throughout different cultures such as those related to child care, health, dance, love, sadness, battles and rituals.

Whilst analysing musical pieces, scientists have realized that music which has a common message or idea, shares very similar musical characteristics regardless of its origin.

” In music theory, tonality is often assumed to be an invention of Western music, but our data raises the controversial possibility that it may be a universal characteristic of music,” explains Samuel Mehr, the scientist who initiated the study.

” This idea raises pressing questions about the structure that underlies music everywhere, and how our minds are wired to make music.”

Music is a language and it transmits messages. Certain people, who are more sensitive to music, can interpret such messages and are more aware of how it can enrich our lives. However this sensitivity and emotional connection to music is present in all of us.

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Have you ever wondered why certain melodies arouse such intense emotions?

Each note and movement composed and written represents an action. This urge to generate an abstract idea which, often unconsciously, evokes and creates a vivid image in our minds.

An example of this is the role that music plays in movie soundtracks.

Although it can seem that we do not pay much attention to the sound that accompanies the scenes, it subconsciously reaches us and tells us a lot about what is actually happening.

Major productions are often noted for their soundtracks and their compositions are capable of raising emotions, helping the viewer to interpret each of the moments of the film more intensely, and helping us relate to the characters or mood of the film.

We are often able to recreate scenes and images from films at a later stage, unaccompanied by any imagery, simply by listening, thanks in a large part to the richness of musical language.

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When composing, the piano is often the instrument used most frequently thanks to its relative simplicity, visuality and beautiful sound.

Its rhythm can help us write pieces of different degrees of difficulty depending on our abilities.

History shows us that learning an instrument is a great way of exploring and developing the richness and depth of our artistic possibilities.

Sharing emotions, messages and feelings through music is a skill that helps us live in a more beautiful and intense way.

What is the best age to start learning music?

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Music is one of the most popular fine arts in all societies of the world.

It surrounds us all, affecting and influencing us in many aspects of our daily lives.

 

Learning this discipline not only gives us access to a higher cultural level, but also helps develop our brain capabilities.

In addition to these two benefits, many people work professionally in the music industry which can often be extremely lucrative.

 

For all these reasons, it is of the utmost importance to promote musical education in children.

Why should you musically educate your child?

Although not a universal rule, a child who receives musical education tends to develop more fully than one who does not have that opportunity.

In addition to this, the following are benefits that your child could acquire with this training:

  1. Their creativity and imagination will increase.
  2. Their vocabulary becomes richer and broader.
  3. They become more independent, and they can assess themselves more objectively.
  4. Their socio-emotional skills are enhanced.
  5. Their retention skills and ability to analyse abstract situations is improved.

As we can see, the advantages and benefits are many.

It is worth looking at how children acquire musical knowledge.

Musical intelligence in children

The brain of a healthy child is an incredible knowledge-absorbing sponge.

Each day in a child’s life offers different immense learning opportunities.

This accumulation of learning would be difficult for an adult to acquire with the same speed that an infant does.

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Musically speaking, children are often more receptive than adults. This is because their sensory organs are fully activated, which is not always the case in adults.

Below we can explore many examples of how a child can naturally better assimilate musical knowledge.

  • Identification of melodies.  Children, being children, do not need many explanations to understand the difference between a major or a minor key. It is enough to expose them to these and they will be able to identify them by association. An adult, on the other hand, requires detailed explanations and examples that could slow down their learning process.
  • Metric acquisition.  The metric is associated with motor development. An adult, in general, already has fully developed motor skills. Therefore, the need to learn new skills often complicates their learning and motivation. This does not happen in children, as their motor skills are developing and can be shaped to their requirements.
  • Musical memory. This ability, as it involves remembering things, is likely to develop more readily in children than in adults. This happens because adults tend to forget information more easily than children.

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What is the perfect age to learn this discipline?

So far, we haven’t looked at music education for adults. This is not as simple a task as it seems.

Although adults possess a great deal of knowledge that can help them achieve their goals, it is surprisingly not always helpful when learning new musical skills.

First of all, it must be taken into account that studying a musical instrument requires an extremely high level of commitment.This amount of discipline can be acquired more easily by children, since they are in the formative stage. This is an advantage they have over adults who may find it harder to become disciplined.

Knowing that learning is usually a simpler and more natural process in children, let’s look at which age would be optimal to start this process.

In general, we can consider the following stages:

  • Musical initiation stage.Although it can develop at any time in childhood, it is recommended that children aged between 4 or 5 begin to identify sounds and how to combine them to form melodies.
  • Best stage to start learning instruments. This should be between the ages of 6 and 7. During this time, the child can be exposed and try simple, easy to play instruments so they can become familiar with the basics of how musical notes are produced.
  • Learning specific instruments. This period can begin at age 8 and continue through adolescence.

During this time, the child is able to understand all the elements that make up music.

How music is composed and also interpreted and they will develop the techniques and skills necessary to play their chosen instrument. They could even explore and try other instruments to complement their education.

Music education is of paramount importance to our children. Not only will they be able to participate and enjoy a beautiful and fulfilling activity, but it will help them define themselves as individuals.

Ultimately, these skills will help them gain a deeper and more analytical appreciation of the world around them.

What benefits can music bring to our lives?

Music has been a part of our human existence since time began.

The results of thousands of world wide scientific studies have increased our understanding of the benefits we can gain by listening and practicing music.

Regardless of our age or previous knowledge, it can help us in many ways.

Learning to play an instrument is certainly challenging, however at the same time, it is a fun activity and one which benefits us physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is a well-known fact that playing music brings happiness and a sense of well-being, but there are many other lesser known benefits that can be gained from this ancient art.

 

Let’s start by looking  at how it can help our little ones.

 

The perfect connection between music and children.

Children who have a strong connection with music will develop the following abilities faster:

Memory and Concentration

By practicing music children strengthen their powers to remember and reproduce musical sequences.

 

It is a fun activity that also reinforces concentration and memory.

 

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Creativity

Several studies indicate that the practice and recognition of rhythmic and melodic patterns activates and therefore improves performance in the region of the brain linked to creativity and imagination.

 

This practice stimulates the creation of new ideas and mental processes.

Improve communication

Singing and repeating melodies and musical pieces enhances both spoken language and body language.

Music helps children develop language earlier and more effectively, as well as acquiring listening tools to achieve better forms of communication.

Intellectual development

Music perfectly complements the academic education of children.

It strengthens a better development and connection between both sides of the brain, by combining a creative and artistic activity with the effort of memorizing scores and keeping rhythm.

Sociability

For younger students, music classes are the ideal time to interact with other children and adults.

An environment of creativity and freedom is generated that fosters greater opportunities for social integration.

Discipline

Learning music takes a lot of practice and repetition.

It begins with simple exercises that are gradually built up eventually culminating in an interpretation of a complete piece. The student benefits from a routine that helps them strengthen their will and discipline.

Security and Increased Self-esteem

Musical learning promotes greater self-esteem in an organic and entertaining way.

By being part of a group that is capable of generating coordinated and harmonic sounds, both collectively and individually, a child’s emotional security and confidence are fundamentally strengthened.

It is a very enriching extracurricular activity for discipline, memory, confidence, creativity, intellectual development and sociability.

Most importantly of all, learning to play an instrument during the formative stages of childhood is fun and creates a sense of intrinsic well-being.

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Benefits of Music for Adults

We can also benefit from musical art, as shown below.

Reduce anxiety

It has been shown that both listening to music and practicing it help to control the hormones related to stress and improve our mood.

The anxiety levels of everyday life are reduced.

Protect Against Premature Ageing of the Brain

According to several reports, practicing a musical instrument or singing helps reduce the effects of cognitive decline that are associated with aging, such as processing speed and memory loss.

In addition, it promotes a positive attitude that ultimately leads to greater happiness.

Boost Memory

When we make or listen to melodies, several areas in our brain are activated at the same time, which helps us to process information better.

Studies have confirmed that our ability to remember facts and both our short- and long-term memories are improved.

Reduce Pain

Music, when used in conjunction with certain therapies, can increase the release of endorphins, a hormone that acts in our body as a natural pain reliever.

This helps some pain become less acute and bearable.

Neurological Disorders

Songs and musical tones can be described as exercise for the brain.

Practicing this art increases neural communication, elasticity and flexibility. In addition, it helps and provides benefits in the prevention or treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even Autism.

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As we have seen, the potential benefits to our lives are extensive. Even though playing a musical instrument can seem difficult, demanding or very complicated at first,

it is important to remember the main benefit that music brings to people of any age: Happiness.

Music has the potential to make us feel good about ourselves, our surroundings and others. Learning music can be a truly life enhancing experience. It can provide us with a source of encouragement that will help us fill our lives with joy and personal growth.

 

The most difficult thing is making the decision to learn!

 

Cheerful Melodies!

Buying a piano: tips and advice.

Recommendations when buying a piano. Remember that you don’t have to buy a piano to start teaching.

Pianos are durable instruments that will be with us for many years, so they are a medium and long term investment. We must make this investment with total decision, even more if we are talking about buying a piano for our son or daughter. The best thing would be to be sure that the children progress in the classes, enjoy playing the piano and will want to do it permanently in time.

Fundamental aspects to take into account when buying a piano to have at home:

  • The current level and the medium and long term expectations of the pianist
  • The space available in the home and its acoustics
  • The budget you want to invest
  • The characteristics we would ask for instrument
  • The quality of the materials

In addition to these points that will condition the purchase of your instrument, we must distinguish the type of piano we want, pianos can be grouped into three categories:

  • Grand Piano
  • Upright Piano
  • Digital Piano

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Types of pianos

The most important thing to remember is that a piano, well known as “the king of instruments”, will accompany your child throughout his or her learning. And surely some time later, so you should feel comfortable with it.

If you want to buy a piano for your son or daughter, do not hesitate to contact us. Our specialized teachers will advise and guide you in the purchase of the most appropriate piano for your child.

However, if you do not have the security to make that investment, we offer the possibility to rent digital pianos or even rent to own.

In this way, the children can practise at home, apart from the private lessons, and you can check his intention to keep learning and playing, before you decide to buy a piano for your home.

The importance of Musical Language.

Music is an artistic expression, which, like any language, has rules that are vital to understand and compose music. When you want to learn in a formal way the techniques that accompany a good instrumental interpretation, it is essential to learn the Musical Language.

Musical language helps us to understand music, to read and interpret it, to write and create it, but above all, musical language helps us to transmit it faithfully through time and share it with everyone, expressing itself through the pentagram.

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The melody, the rhythm… key aspects

In musical language there is a melody, a rhythm and a pulse, which together create a musical composition or song.

The set of sounds that form a recognizable phrase for the listener is the melody, which is built with a certain sound organization or scale. It is part of every musical system, even the simplest, and is related, in its origin, to man’s own language.

The more you understand about what’s behind all those notes, or what makes a good melodic line, what the rules of harmony are, etc., the more confidently and securely you can play a piece.

We study the signs and terms with which music is represented visually, as a language with which a score of any musical style or origin can be interpreted.

This language allows composers to write down their musical ideas and feelings in the form of music. In addition, you can learn about the evolution of music and society through the musical notation of the scores.

The alphabet of music

Musical language is like the alphabet of music, everybody knows the notes Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, Sol, La and Si, and surely some figures such as half note, quarter note or eighth note will ring a bell. It is basic in the learning of the students since it is one of the main starting points for learning music.

Knowing the Pentagram.

The staff is formed by 5 horizontal lines, forming 4 spaces between them. The musical notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and the different musical signs can be placed either above the lines themselves or in or near the spaces.

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The function of the staff is to contain all symbols, notes, sounds and rests. Note that the lines and spaces define the pitch of the sounds, i.e. the tones.

At the beginning of the staff we find the clef. Thanks to it, we will know how to read a score. The most commonly used is the treble clef, which is placed on the second line, counting from the bottom. Precisely on this line the note G will be placed, and from there the other notes are placed.

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If the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B are put in the spaces or lines consecutively, when you reach B, the sequence starts again, depending on the range of the instrument.

The treble clef is widely used by guitarists, while in the case of pianists, the bass clef is the most used. In this case, its root starts on the fourth line from the bottom of the staff. The F note will always go in this line and the other notes in their musical order as usual.

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In addition to knowing each of the musical notes, it is necessary to know the rhythm of each of them. The rhythm will be given by the rounds, whites, crotchets, eighth notes

These figures are formed with a black or white dot and a stick called a stem. Let’s see the duration times according to their characteristics.

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Black: a time

White: two strokes

Eighth note: It lasts half the length of the quarter note. They can be drawn together for easy reading.

These three are the most common, but we can also find:

Round: four strokes (no stem)

Sixteenth note: Lasts half the length of an eighth note.

Fuse: It lasts half of the sixteenth note.

Semibreve: Lasts half the length of the fuse.

It should be noted that when drawing the stem, if the point is below the third line, the stem is drawn upwards. If, on the other hand, the point is above the third line, the stem is drawn downwards.

There are many elements that we can find in a staff. All of them are related to each other, in addition to the ones we have mentioned, there are the measures, rests, slurs, dotted notes…which we will come back to in another article. They all relate to each other to encode all the qualities of sound, the raw material of a musical work.

The most important thing is to do exercises of reading staves, to get the necessary fluency and to assimilate concepts.