Musicnotes.com Blog http://blog.musicnotes.com The official blog of Musicnotes.com Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:11:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Melodic Spooks and Spells: Solo Piano Halloween Sheet Music http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/14/halloween-sheet-music/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/14/halloween-sheet-music/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:30:55 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8169 The cobwebs are all up, the jack-lanterns are lit and the spooky snacks are all set out for your guests… but still, the atmosphere for your Halloween party isn’t quite right. Yes, you’re missing the mood music – and, of course, there’s no better music than live music. The problem is, with the guests on their way, you don’t have time to figure out what to play … While Musicnotes has a great selection of Halloween Sheet Music for all instruments, in a social setting your best instrument will be the piano – so we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spooky piano solos, perfect for your
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The cobwebs are all up, the jack-lanterns are lit and the spooky snacks are all set out for your guests… but still, the atmosphere for your Halloween party isn’t quite right. Yes, you’re missing the mood music – and, of course, there’s no better music than live music. The problem is, with the guests on their way, you don’t have time to figure out what to play …

While Musicnotes has a great selection of Halloween Sheet Music for all instruments, in a social setting your best instrument will be the piano – so we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spooky piano solos, perfect for your Halloween party.

Classic Scary Themes

While not quite at the level of Christmas, the Halloween holiday does have its share of classic themes that have become associated with the season. If you’re looking for something to play that sets a frightening mood, but is also recognizable by your guests, try a few of these:

  • The Great Pumpkin Waltz: From the animated classic, ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ this jazzy halloween classic written by Vince Guaraldi is a staple of any social Halloween gathering.
  • Tubular Bells: For decades, The Exorcist has terrified moviegoers – meaning just about anyone who’s ever wanted to be in for a scare has heard this theme – and likely associates it with pure terror and dread.
  • ‘Halloween’ (Main Theme): John Carpenter’s main theme from the movie that started the “slasher film” genre. Simple to play, yet still scary as heck.
  • Funeral March of a Marionette: For those who remember it, this piece by Guonod may be best remembered as the theme from ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ – but even if you never saw the show, you likely know the theme. A little bouncy, but still creepy in a “there’s a clown hiding in your closet” kind of way.
  • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor: The quintessential classical theme for Halloween, this piece by Bach is only advised for those who are up for a serious challenge. But if you can play it, it’s the perfect showcase piece for any Halloween.

Fun Halloween Pieces

If you’d prefer to keep your Halloween party a little more light-hearted, or if it’s a party where you expect more children than adults, you may want to sway your selections toward the fun side of Halloween with these fun Halloween piano solos:

  • This Is Halloween: From Disney’s Halloween family favorite, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – instantly recognizable by people of all ages (and you might get a few people singing along as well).
  • The Addams Family Theme: Your guests will snap along to this classic, which has graced television, movies and even Broadway!
  • Monster Mash: Costumed or not, guests are guaranteed to get up and dance when you start playing this Halloween bash classic.
  • Witch Doctor: Looking for a fun intermediate-level piece? The Witch Doctor has the cure for your creepy sheet music needs.
  • Purple People Eater: A #1 hit in 1958, the Purple People Eater is the perfect uptempo addition to any fun or frightful festivities.
  • The Simpsons Halloween Special Theme: The Simpsons unique take on their own theme, reimagined for their Halloween specials.
  • Ghost Story: This spooky original by composer Kim Williams is just simply a fun little piece to play – plus it’s easily accessible for pianists of all ages!
  • The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Halloween Version): Musicnotes’s own “spookified” arrangement of this children’s classic takes the theme you know so well, and gives it a unique Halloween twist.

Spooky Thematic Mood Music
If you’re looking to simply set a spooky mood, we have several selections that can work well for the occasion. While they may not be instantly recognizable, these are perfect for setting the stage for your Halloween fun and frights.

  • Invaders of the Night: A jaunty little piece, easy enough for beginners but still complex enough to have some fun. A great selection for a more “fun” type of Halloween party.
  • Will O’ The Wisp: A bit more classical and airy in its theme, still with mysterious undertones – perfect for a more airy, yet nefarious, feel to your party.
  • Danse Macabre: A classical favorite for Halloween composed by Camille Saint-Saëns, requiring a bit more skill to perform, yet still not too difficult for most pianists. An absolute must-have for any gothic-themed party.
  • The Fog: This often-overlooked theme from John Carpenter’s (of ‘Halloween’ fame) 1979 movie of the same name may not be instantly recognizable, but its ominous tone is perfectly suited to just about anyone looking to set a scary mood (without being too obvious and cliche).
  • In the House – In a Heartbeat: Another ominous sounding soundtrack piece, this time from the Danny Boyle’s zombie classic ’28 Days Later’ is also often-overlooked, but remains one of our favorite for setting the mood on a dark and stormy night.
  • Helen’s Theme: This main theme from the movie ‘The Candyman’ is beautiful, yet still somehow frightening. But what else would you expect from a horror movie theme composed by Philip Glass?

Of course there are many, many more great themes for Halloween piano sheet music – but we hope our guide of some of our favorites helps you out. Is there any particular piece you love to play each Halloween?  If so, tell us in the comments – we’d love to hear what music you use to set a spooky mood.

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Photo via creative commons: https://flic.kr/p/my4iKg

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Can You Match New Hit Songs with Their Lyrics? http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/07/hit-songs-lyrics/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/07/hit-songs-lyrics/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 21:22:02 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8152 Did you know we add new sheet music to Musicnotes.com nearly every single day? In fact, about 400 new arrangements appear on our website weekly. That’s a whole lot of hit songs to keep up with. We thought it’d be fun to see how many recent hit songs you can identify with a little lyrical quiz. All 10 of the titles below have been added to site (amongst many, many more) in the past week or so. See if you can match up the lyric with the correct song title below, and be sure to check out all the newest additions to our massive sheet music catalogue.

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Did you know we add new sheet music to Musicnotes.com nearly every single day? In fact, about 400 new arrangements appear on our website weekly. That’s a whole lot of hit songs to keep up with.

We thought it’d be fun to see how many recent hit songs you can identify with a little lyrical quiz. All 10 of the titles below have been added to site (amongst many, many more) in the past week or so. See if you can match up the lyric with the correct song title below, and be sure to check out all the newest additions to our massive sheet music catalogue.

See how many of these lyrics you can match to their correct song. Just choose the title of the song you think each lyric belongs to, and find out how many of these recently added sheet music hits you know!

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Learn About and Learn How to Play Fun Oktoberfest Music! http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/03/oktoberfest-music/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/10/03/oktoberfest-music/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 16:47:02 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8126 Each year in Munich, Germany, more than 6 million people gather to eat, drink and socialize celebrating all things Bavarian, as millions more gather for their own ‘Oktoberfest’ celebrations around the world. While the beer, brezen and würstl are consumed, revelers enjoy an array of traditional German tunes, often singing and dancing along. Here at Musicnotes headquarters, we like to celebrate Oktoberfest Gemütlichkeit by playing a wide array of German sheet music! Since the festival runs from mid-September through the first weekend of October, we wanted to be sure to get our oompah fix in with the Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs to play at your very own celebration. Traditional German
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Each year in Munich, Germany, more than 6 million people gather to eat, drink and socialize celebrating all things Bavarian, as millions more gather for their own ‘Oktoberfest’ celebrations around the world. While the beer, brezen and würstl are consumed, revelers enjoy an array of traditional German tunes, often singing and dancing along.

Here at Musicnotes headquarters, we like to celebrate Oktoberfest Gemütlichkeit by playing a wide array of German sheet music! Since the festival runs from mid-September through the first weekend of October, we wanted to be sure to get our oompah fix in with the Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs to play at your very own celebration.

Traditional German oompah music is loved for its often lively, dance-inducing tempo. The oompah is very similar to a Czech or Polish polka, except that rather than accordion, the oompah relies on brass instruments. Often a tuba plays the tonic and 5th on the first and third beats, creating the “oom.” Then, a higher-pitched instrument will come in for the second and fourth beats as the “pah.” If the oompah is in triple time, we relay it as “oom-pah-pah.” Oompah and polka are commonly used interchangeably in the US, and American Oktoberfest music celebrations frequently include German-influenced polka. In fact, you’ll see a couple on our list below!

1. Ein Prosit Der Gemutlichkeit

THE song of Oktoberfest, “Ein Prosit” is guaranteed to get the crowd in a good and festive mood. The song’s lyrics translate to “A toast to friendship and good times,” then at fest the band leader counts down to “g’stuffa” (big drink), and ends with the iconic call “zicke zacke zicke zacke” and crowd’s response “hoi, hoi, hoi,” signifying fun times are being had by all. (See a video of “Ein Prosit” being performed at Oktoberfest here.)

2. In Heaven There Is No Beer

As you probably have guessed, this song is an ode to the official drink of Oktoberfest. In German the title translates to “Im Himmel gibt’s kein Bier.” The song was written for the soundtrack to the 1956 German film “Die Fischerin vom Bodensee,” and has been a favorite at beer halls, and generally anywhere imbibing is going on, ever since. (Hear polka band The Emeralds version of “In Heaven There Is No Beer” here.)

3. Oom-Pah-Pah

A spirited number from Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical ‘Oliver!’, the lyrics of “Oom-Pah-Pah” are meant to be left open to interpretation. Although not a German tune, this song makes a fun and festive addition to Oktoberfest festivities! (See the Kilkenny Musical Society perform “Oom-Pah-Pah” here.)

4. Pizzicato Polka

Johann Strauss wrote his “Pizzicato Polka” in 1892 for a performance conducted by his brother Edward in Hamburg. Known as the “Waltz King,” Johann composed more than 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and operettas during his illustrious career. (See the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform “Pizzicato Polka” here.)

5. Hey! Baby!

Now a popular part of many German Oktoberfest gatherings, Austrian DJ Ötzi’s cover of Bruce Channel’s 1962 hit is frequently accompanied by the entire crowd singing along. (Listen to Bruce Channel’s original recording of “Hey! Baby!” here.)

6. 99 Luftballons

Also scoring a spot on our “Top 10 One-Hit Wonders” list, Nena’s “99 Luftballons” was the highest charting non-English song in the US in 1983. Here in America we still love our Nena, using the song in a plethora of television shows and movies. (See Nena’s “99 Luftballons” music video here.)

7. Beer Barrel Polka

A Czech polka written by Jaromír Vejvoda in 1927 (with English lyrics later added by Lew Brown), this song is sometimes referred to by its  “roll out the barrel” verse rather than its official title. Liberace’s frantically paced piano cover became one of the showman’s signature songs, and here in the home of Musicnotes headquarters (Madison, Wisconsin), we play and sing the song frequently at university sporting events. (See Liberace perform his “Beer Barrel Polka” here.)

8. Take Me Home, Country Roads

We’re not exactly sure how John Denver’s eponymous “Take Me Home, Country Roads” became a German Oktoberfest essential. Perhaps its the song’s essence of nostalgia and camaraderie, maybe it’s because John Denver was of German decent (actually born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.), or maybe the song is just fun to sing and sway to after a few foamy steins. One thing is for certain, you’ll be hard-pressed to not hear this song during Munich’s annual party, and the crowd WILL be singing and swaying along. (Listen to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” here.)

9. Stolen Dance

For our last two Oktoberfest tunes, we thought we’d feature recent German additions to our ever-expanding Musicnotes sheet music catalog. “Stolen Dance” by German duo Milky Chance has topped popular music charts around the world, and it just happens to be a really fun song to boot. (See the official “Stolen Dance” music video here.)

10. Auf uns

German singer-songwriter Andreas Bourani’s second album dropped this spring, and its lead single “Auf uns” was one of our most-requested German songs this year. (See the official “Auf uns” video here.)

We have so much more German sheet music to explore at Musicnotes.com, including traditional, folk, holiday and modern songs. Do you have a favorite Oktoberfest song or memory? Please share in the comments section below!

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Begin Putting the ‘Pro’ in Musical Improvisation http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/30/musical-improvisation/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/30/musical-improvisation/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:12:00 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8100 Perhaps the ultimate display of personal musicianship and expression, improvisation is a fantastic component to any developing musician’s study. Learning to play spontaneously isn’t easy, and it’s certainly a skill built on trial and error. However, there are a few things beginners can do to aid in their mastery of musical improvisation. First, you might be thinking, “I’m not a jazz guy, what do I need to practice improvisation for?”From Bach to Beethoven, improvisation has a storied history in classical music, allowing composers to show off their skills and attract attention and admirers. A recent study has even suggested that musicians who train in improvisation are able to unlock their
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Perhaps the ultimate display of personal musicianship and expression, improvisation is a fantastic component to any developing musician’s study. Learning to play spontaneously isn’t easy, and it’s certainly a skill built on trial and error. However, there are a few things beginners can do to aid in their mastery of musical improvisation.

First, you might be thinking, “I’m not a jazz guy, what do I need to practice improvisation for?”From Bach to Beethoven, improvisation has a storied history in classical music, allowing composers to show off their skills and attract attention and admirers. A recent study has even suggested that musicians who train in improvisation are able to unlock their innermost creativity. When we improvise, the more analytical, self-monitoring parts of our brain deactivate, allowing the creative, spontaneous areas to light up with activity. This means that improvisation actually exercises new areas of the brain, how cool is that?

We’ve pulled a few of our top tips to release  each of our inner improvisational abilities. Warm up, pick a theme, ready, set, improvise!

1. Know Your Fundamentals

Before you even begin trying your hands at musical improvisation, it’s infinitely helpful to have a working knowledge of music theory. Your keys, scales, chords and time signatures are the tools of your improvisation toolbox, without which it’ll be pretty difficult, if not impossible, to create the sound you want. Know your scales forward and backward, major and minor, blues, pentatonic. You’ll start to recognize what notes complement which keys.

A good go-to piano exercise is to play chords with your left hand, while using your right hand to create a simple melody using those same chord tones. Likewise, you can expand into scale tones matching the key you’re playing in. Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s a great help to ‘think’ a little more when improvising, so that later on your built-up intuition can take over!

2. Train Your Ear

Hand-in-hand with your music theory knowledge is being able to instantly recognize essential elements of melody and harmony in real time. We really like the ear training exercises at musictheory.net.

If you’re already able to play by ear, you’re one step ahead of the game! Practice playing along with recordings of your favorite songs, then, once you have that down, try playing the melody by memory alone. Next, start experimenting with the melody. Don’t worry about changing the piece beyond recognition, but rather add slight alterations here and there, working toward a sound you like. Or, start off playing a piece of sheet music, then gradually stray from the melody and make up your own. In addition to the notes, test variations in phrasing, rhythm and dynamics.

A really fun activity to help improve your musical improvisation is to listen to as many great improvisers as you can! Download albums by Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Grateful Dead… and the countless other infamous improvisors throughout history.

3. Don’t Fret Over Mistakes

One of the very most important, and sometimes most difficult, parts of learning how to improvise is learning how to let go of the need for perfection. If you hit an unforgiving note, just play on! Remember that even your musical idols were once novices, and that each of us has to start somewhere.

Experimenting without self-judgement is how we break out of our comfort zones and learn new skills. Have fun, laugh and leave criticism at the door when you sit down to practice your improvisation.

4. Record Yourself

Just as with any practice session, reviewing what you’ve just played can provide worlds of helpful insight. Often what you hear while playing is slightly different that what your audience might hear, so listening to a recording of your improv practice can either encourage you to continue as you are, or persuade you to make a few tweaks.

Make note of what worked or didn’t work, don’t get discouraged by mistakes, but think of how much more aware you’ll be the next time. Also keenly notice which phrases/passages/patterns seem to really work, continue honing them, memorize and add them to your improvising toolbox.

5. Be Aware

Once the big day comes and you’re improvising with other musicians in a band or playing in front of a live audience, be sure to engage with your surroundings! Make visual contact with your bandmates, keep an eye on the audience, and really be present in that moment.

Play with emotion and passion, and tell a story that transcends words alone. One of the very coolest things about improvisation is that your message is completely up to YOU.

Do you have additional tips to help novice improvisers? Are there any particular tools you’ve found especially helpful in honing your improvisational skills? Share your insights and expertise in the comments section below!

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Quotables for Pianists: 12 of Our Favorite Piano Quotes http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/23/piano-quotes/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/23/piano-quotes/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:56:33 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8077 Did you know that September has been named Piano Month by The National Piano Foundation? Just in time to celebrate, we’ve gathered some of our favorite piano quotes paying tribute to one of our very favorite instruments. We hope you enjoy this collection of piano quotations, and please add your own treasured odes to the piano in the comments section at the end! 1. “It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.” -Dave Brubeck (Download Dave Brubeck sheet music) 2. “Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” -Tom Lehrer (Download Tom Lehrer sheet music) 3. “When I had nothing
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Did you know that September has been named Piano Month by The National Piano Foundation? Just in time to celebrate, we’ve gathered some of our favorite piano quotes paying tribute to one of our very favorite instruments. We hope you enjoy this collection of piano quotations, and please add your own treasured odes to the piano in the comments section at the end!

1.

Quote1

“It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.” -Dave Brubeck

(Download Dave Brubeck sheet music)

2.

Quote2

“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” -Tom Lehrer

(Download Tom Lehrer sheet music)

3.

Quote3

“When I had nothing else, I had my mother and the piano. And you know what? They were all I needed.” -Alicia Keys

(Download Alicia Keys sheet music)

4.

Quote4

“These fingers of mine, they got brains in ‘em. You don’t tell them what to do – they do it.” -Jerry Lee Lewis

(Download Jerry Lee Lewis sheet music)

5.

Quote5

“I’m able to sometimes express things even more articulately on the piano than I am with singing.” -Harry Connick Jr.

(Download Harry Connick Jr. sheet music)

6.

Quote6

“I believe in using the entire piano as a single instrument capable of expressing every possible musical idea.” -Oscar Peterson

(Download Oscar Peterson sheet music)

7.

Quote7

“Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano.” -Frederic Chopin

(Download Frederic Chopin sheet music)

8.

Quote8

“What has keys but can’t listen to the beauty it unlocks? A piano.” -Jarod Kintz

9.

Quote9

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” -Thelonious Monk

(Download Thelonious Monk sheet music)

10.

Quote10

“(The piano is) able to communicate the subtlest universal truths by means of wood, metal and vibrating air.” -Kenneth Miller

11.

Quote11(2)

 

“The important thing is to feel your music, really feel it and believe it.” -Ray Charles

(Download Ray Charles sheet music)

12.

Quote12

“Life is like a piano; the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.” -Author unknown

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Make Practice Time Rewarding and Fun with These 5 Simple Practice Tips! http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/18/good-practice-habits/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/18/good-practice-habits/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:38:02 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8058 With the new school year now fully underway, many households are getting into their groove and finding the right routine. In any musical household, one very important (yet sometimes overlooked) factor of a successful school year schedule is practice time. Following school, homework, extra-curricular activities and sleep, musical practice may occasionally get pushed to the wayside or left until the last minute, which, as we know, doesn’t really help budding musicians expand their skills and reach their goals. We’ve narrowed down five simple tips for encouraging good practice habits that children can carry on throughout their musical careers. When practice is rewarding and ‘fun,’ youngsters will look forward to that
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With the new school year now fully underway, many households are getting into their groove and finding the right routine. In any musical household, one very important (yet sometimes overlooked) factor of a successful school year schedule is practice time. Following school, homework, extra-curricular activities and sleep, musical practice may occasionally get pushed to the wayside or left until the last minute, which, as we know, doesn’t really help budding musicians expand their skills and reach their goals.

We’ve narrowed down five simple tips for encouraging good practice habits that children can carry on throughout their musical careers. When practice is rewarding and ‘fun,’ youngsters will look forward to that time spent learning their instrument, and your job as their musical mentor, supporter and cheerleader becomes all the easier!

1. Keep a consistent practice time.

Unlike other after-school or extra-curricular activities, your child is responsible for his or her own music practice routine. There’s not a coach or teacher sitting down with them every day making sure they’re practicing. This is a great lesson in responsibility, and there certainly are little ways you can help guide them into good habits.

If your child is in private music lessons, a teacher will most likely be happy to provide you a practice schedule based on the student’s age and ability. Ensuring they get that practice in is up to the student, though! One easy, yet essential, tip to implement is keeping a consistent time to practice. Tailor that non-negotiable practice time to your child, for example, if they wake bright eyed and ready to go, set practice in the mornings. Likewise, if your child is most alert and focused right after dinner, incorporate practice into your nightly routine. Just be sure that he or she is able to fully focus at that time and that the family (yourself included) will be able to commit daily.

If circumstances arise making practice difficult during your normal time once in a while, still try to have your budding musician sit down for at least 5 minutes to concentrate on his or her music. Consistency is everything, and your child will begin to recognize practice as an important segment of their day.

2. Set and write down measurable, attainable goals.

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous practice tip. We like to measure the appropriate duration of each practice in goals, not minutes. Have your child write down his/her specific goals for each practice session, and allow him or her to cross off those goals once accomplished. Be sure each goal is measurable, for example instead of saying “I want to memorize ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,'” the goal might be “I want to play through ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,” without looking at the keyboard.” (Click here to download a FREE Beginner Notes arrangement of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”)

Also, don’t set too simple of goals, but be sure to set attainable goals. Some goals may span multiple sessions, and that’s absolutely fine. But, more than a week, and the musician-in-the-making will likely get discouraged. Be sure the goals they’re setting for themselves are realistic.

Your child is sure to beam with pride after completing their daily to-dos, and that extra confidence will make him or her excited to show those new skills off to siblings or friends.

3. Make it a family/friendly affair.

A really simple way to get a child excited about his or her music is for you to show your own excitement. Sit down for at least part of practice time, have your child explain to you what their goals are and how they’re going to work to accomplish them, while you provide enthusiastic encouragement. Hold mini ‘recitals’ at your house, when your child can invite his/her siblings or a couple of friends to hear a new piece or skill learned. This will additionally encourage your mini-musician to become familiar with performing in front of others.

4. Make practice “fun.”

“Fun” is in quotations purposefully. Practice is work, and should be recognized as such. In order for your child to successfully continue their musicianship, it’s essential for him or her to understand that not every practice will necessarily be “fun,” nor should it be.

However, practice should always be engaging and, thus, entertaining. Progress will be your child’s greatest motivator, and crossing off those goals is a fantastic discernible indicator of how far their hard work has gotten them!

It doesn’t hurt to throw in a bit of good, old-fashioned “fun” every now and again either. After their scales and exercises are done for the day, let you child spend time making up a song or his/her own or sing silly lyrics along with a piece they’re working on. Have them play really slowly, then see how fast they can play. Again, your  excitement will translate into their own excitement.

5. Use rewards when appropriate.

Your encouragement and their own sense of accomplishment will serve as excellent motivating factors in establishing great practice habits, but a reward every now and again sure doesn’t hurt. If your little Liszt just completed one of those week-long type goals and you’re especially impressed by the dedication they’ve shown, celebrate their accomplishment with a special treat.

A few reward ideas ranging in scale include taking your child to a concert featuring the instrument they’re learning, showing them a particularly inspiring YouTube video of a musical master or offering them a new sheet music piece of their choice. We have today’s most popular pop, movie, Broadway and holiday  titles for every skill level. Whether they’re just starting out with Beginner Notes or have graduated to Easy Piano arrangements, you’re most likely to find the exact piece that they’ve been excited to learn.

Do you have additional encouragement tips for your fellow music mentors? How have you and your child overcome any practice “slumps”? Share your expertise and experience with us in the comments below!

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News: “Let It Go” Sheet Music Smashes Sales Milestone in Record Time http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/12/let-it-go-sheet-music-sales/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/12/let-it-go-sheet-music-sales/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:51:12 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8044 MADISON, WI – September 12, 2014 – ‘Frozen’ sheet music has shone hot atop our Musicnotes Top Downloads list since its early 2014 debut, but even the most seasoned of sheet music forecasters couldn’t predict that the Disney film’s breakout anthem, “Let It Go,” would hit the 100,000 sale milestone at such a scorching fast pace. “Let It Go,” penned by acclaimed husband-and-wife songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, joins the company of just three other songs ever to reach Musicnotes’ prodigious 100,000 download milestone. Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” and “Hallelujah,” written by Leonard Cohen, each have been purchased and downloaded more than
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MADISON, WI – September 12, 2014 –

‘Frozen’ sheet music has shone hot atop our Musicnotes Top Downloads list since its early 2014 debut, but even the most seasoned of sheet music forecasters couldn’t predict that the Disney film’s breakout anthem, “Let It Go,” would hit the 100,000 sale milestone at such a scorching fast pace.

“Let It Go,” penned by acclaimed husband-and-wife songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, joins the company of just three other songs ever to reach Musicnotes’ prodigious 100,000 download milestone. Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” and “Hallelujah,” written by Leonard Cohen, each have been purchased and downloaded more than 100,000 times since Musicnotes’ 1998 inception. However, none of the previous songs hit 100,000 downloads even close to as quickly as “Let It Go” has, a mere eight months after its Musicnotes.com sheet music release.

“Simply speaking, ‘Let It Go’ has sold as well as it has because it’s a remarkable piece,” said Musicnotes Chief Marketing Officer, Bill Aicher. “The song, like ‘Frozen’ itself, has its own engaging story of independence. Those lyrics, coupled with the emotionally-engaging musical themes, really inspired people,” Aicher said. He pointed to the movie’s enormous success and cross-generational appeal as other key elements of the sheet music’s unique success.

‘Frozen’ has grossed more than $1.2 Billion worldwide since its November 2013 release, according to Box Office Mojo, making it the highest-grossing animated film in history and the fifth-highest-grossing film of all-time. The movie’s climax power ballad has inspired legions of popular ‘Let It Go’ covers, from Alex Boyé and One Voice Children’s Choir to The Piano Guys and more.

In order to provide sheet music for all musicians seeking to play the song, we offer nearly 50 “Let It Go” arrangements for download at Musicnotes.com, including those for vocalists, instrumentalists, intermediate and beginning musicians. Sales calculations include downloads of all the various arrangements.

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Q&A with Composer, Innovator and Modern Musical Renaissance Man, Sleeping At Last http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/09/sleeping-at-last/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/09/sleeping-at-last/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:54:59 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8022 There’s a mantra commonly repeated in writing to “show, don’t tell.” Sleeping At Last creates music that doesn’t just tell us stories, he shows us the warmth and emotion behind them. His anthology-inclined discography is a study in musical storytelling concepts, from the 36-song year-long ‘Yearbook,’ to this year’s ‘Atlas: Year One,’ a compilation of pieces from his ‘Atlas’ series of EPs. Perhaps it is his propensity for narrative through music that’s made Sleeping At Last a favorite among TV and film producers. “Turning Page,” the absorbing declaration of love that appeared in ‘Twilight IV: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,’ is a perennial favorite of Musicnotes musicians, as is “Sun,”
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There’s a mantra commonly repeated in writing to “show, don’t tell.” Sleeping At Last creates music that doesn’t just tell us stories, he shows us the warmth and emotion behind them. His anthology-inclined discography is a study in musical storytelling concepts, from the 36-song year-long ‘Yearbook,’ to this year’s ‘Atlas: Year One,’ a compilation of pieces from his ‘Atlas’ series of EPs.

Perhaps it is his propensity for narrative through music that’s made Sleeping At Last a favorite among TV and film producers. “Turning Page,” the absorbing declaration of love that appeared in ‘Twilight IV: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,’ is a perennial favorite of Musicnotes musicians, as is “Sun,” which appeared in the trailer for ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’

The man behind the music (Chicago-based singer-songwriter, producer and composer Ryan O’Neal) graciously took time to share with us a bit about his songwriting process, how TV/movie placement works and his advice when it comes to writing music to be featured on-screen.

Listening to your music, and playing sheet music you’ve written, it’s clear that there is a genuine passion behind the notes. Where did your love of music stem from? Is there a clear moment when you decided you wanted to make music your life’s work?

S@L Thank you so much! My love for music began when I got my first guitar. I was 13 years old and my parents gave it to me as a Christmas gift. I taught myself how to play and eventually started writing my own songs. Sometime around 15 years old, I completely fell in love with the craft of songwriting. In listening to albums that I loved around that time, I started to understand and appreciate that a song, at its best, can be so much more than just a song. It can move people deeply and personally. It can even make the hair on your arms stand up. Once I realized that, music became so much more to me than just something fun to do, it became the thing I wanted to spend my life doing.

Similarly, your songs are loved for their emotive and thought-provoking nature. Where do you pull inspiration for your song writing?

S@L In general, I pull inspiration from all sorts of places; nature, travel, photography, movies, tv, books. But I like to think of my songs as my audio journal, so I pull a lot of inspiration from my own relationships and life experiences. That’s where most of it comes from. Lately I’ve been enjoying telling stories in my songs. Some true, some fiction. That’s been really fun and different for me to try my hand at.

Would you mind walking us through your songwriting process? Do you start with music and add lyrics, or do you know what you want to say ahead of the composition?

S@L Every song comes about somewhat differently… but I’ve learned a few practices and routines and that at least keep me busy until a decent idea appears. I do a lot of collecting. Every day I collect words and musical ideas… for words, I have an app on my phone called Day One, and it gives me a daily reminder to write a journal entry. Throughout my day I’ll write down a few words that sound interesting to me, or a string of words, or some random idea I have… it’s all very disconnected, but the idea of collecting all of these little half-thoughts ends up being very helpful to me down the road.

Musically, I do the same thing – I use the voice recorder app on my phone and make a habit of sitting down at the piano or with my guitar several times throughout a day and just play around. I’ll record whatever sounds decent and forget about it. When I set out to write a song, I’ll dig through the random recordings and journal entries I’ve made and just see what stands out. Most of it is no good, but usually there’s something that sparks an idea, or fits together in an interesting way. So that’s sort of how I approach songwriting. Do little bits of it every day to find a spark, and once I find one, put in the hours of hard work to turn it into something.

You’ve had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with so many other amazing artists. Is there anyone you were especially inspired by?

S@L Getting to work with Van Dyke Parks was a dream come true! His musicality and songwriting is on a level so far beyond anyone else I know, it’s staggering! So to get to work with him was truly a treat! Working with Billy Corgan early on in my career was also a huge inspiration and dream come true.

Even before “Turning Page” was featured in ‘Twilight’ and “Sun” appeared in the trailer for ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ you had songs on popular TV shows including ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Bones.’ How did that television soundtrack relationship come about? Is TV different than film placement?

S@L The folks on the music team at Grey’s Anatomy have been an incredible support over the years! They first placed a song of mine in an episode in 2006 and have since been kind enough to let more and more of my songs be a part. Eventually that lead to other shows being interested in my songs as well, which lead to the films I had the privilege of having music in too.

The Film and TV placement world are very similar to one another… The only notable differences are that TV has a much quicker timeline than a film. A song could air on a TV show with only a week or two of notice, where as a placement in film could take over a year in some occasions. But overall, very similar experiences. I grew up absolutely in love with movies and TV, and I still am, so the privilege of getting to make music for these amazing projects has been such a treat for me!

Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part 1 soundtrack Sleeping At Last Atlas: Space I Atlas: Darkness by Sleeping At Last

When you compose/write for a show or film, is your process different than when you work on personal projects? Do you know what the mood or scene that you’re writing for is, or do you write the song first and someone else determines where it’ll be used?

S@L When I’m invited to write a song for a specific scene or project, I’ll get an email with some general notes on the mood, or some musical references. From there, it’s just a matter of researching the project and knowing more about the story and trying to get into the headspace of what kind of song it should be. Ideally, I’ll get to see the footage of the scene I’m writing music for, and in that case it’s just a matter of playing around until something musically makes sense of the visuals, but in my experiences – it’s not that common to get to see the scene I’m writing a song for.

When I’m hired to write the entire score of a TV show or film, as the composer, then I always get to see the entire thing and write to the footage, but writing a song or two for a project tends to be more about a general mood and lyric direction, than specific footage. But for general song placements, a TV show or film will typically choose a song you’ve already written and released and you’ll receive a request to use it and cross your fingers that it’ll make it into the project!

Would you have any advice for musicians wanting to get a song placed on television or in movies? Do you see any benefits or drawbacks to focusing on placement?

S@L Write and record as much music as you can! I say that for a few reasons…

1: It’ll make you a better writer.

2: Having new music consistently available in this very cluttered digital age of music will only increase your chances of having it heard by more people, including by folks looking for music for TV and film.

3: Because if music is your passion, making more of it will only make you happy. Focusing on business opportunities will do the opposite. It will drive you nuts and you will lose the authenticity in your music by trying to chase after success.

Your moniker is so very unique. Would you mind sharing with us where the name Sleeping At Last originated?

S@L Many years ago I was in a book store with a friend and I picked up a book of poetry. I jokingly told my friend that whatever page I turn to next would be my new band name. I flipped the page and there was a poem called “Sleeping At Last” right under my fingertip. I actually liked that a lot and felt that it fit, so I went with it!

Finally, what’s up next for Sleeping At Last? (We’re patiently anticipating Atlas: Year Two.) Any little tidbits you can share or ideas of what we can expect?

S@L Thank you so much! This Fall will be a very busy season for me… My wife and I are expecting our first child, a little girl! I’m SO very excited to get to be a dad! Around the same time, I’ll be announcing a brand-new business that I started and am super excited about! And of course, I’ll begin Atlas: Year Two, which will be a series of new music, about 2 dozen songs, all revolving around the theme of Life. I’ve also got my fingers crossed for a few TV and film projects I’m hoping to be a part of too!

We’d like to thank Sleeping At Last for his time and for sharing such valuable insights! Be sure to check out his website, and see all downloadable Sleeping At Last sheet music here!

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Is Your State A Little Bit Country or A Little Bit Rock ‘N’ Roll? http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/05/sheet-music-genres-by-state/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/05/sheet-music-genres-by-state/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 20:20:50 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=8002 In a clash of the digital sheet music genres, it looks like country and rock ‘n’ roll are somewhat evenly matched, according to the shopping patterns of U.S. musicians.   Inspired by songwriter Marty Cooper’s classic tune “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll“® (as performed on ‘Donny & Marie’), our stat-savvy data team explored a year’s worth of U.S. sales data to determine where, geographically, country or rock sheet music proved to be most popular. Country sheet music was defined by any song with a ‘country’ tag on the website, while rock consisted of sub-genres ‘arena rock,’ ‘classic rock,’ ‘hard rock‘ and ‘rock & roll.’ Overall,
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In a clash of the digital sheet music genres, it looks like country and rock ‘n’ roll are somewhat evenly matched, according to the shopping patterns of U.S. musicians.

Country vs. Rock 'n' Roll Sheet Music Sales

 

Inspired by songwriter Marty Cooper’s classic tune “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll“® (as performed on ‘Donny & Marie’), our stat-savvy data team explored a year’s worth of U.S. sales data to determine where, geographically, country or rock sheet music proved to be most popular. Country sheet music was defined by any song with a ‘country’ tag on the website, while rock consisted of sub-genres ‘arena rock,’ ‘classic rock,’ ‘hard rock‘ and ‘rock & roll.’

Overall, Americans download more rock sheet music than country sheet music, although only by about 5%. And the two genres together make up a little over 10% of Musicnotes annual sales. But, when comparing individual country sheet music and rock sheet music sales stats by state, as a percentage of the state’s total digital sheet music downloads, 26 states (plus D.C.) more frequently purchased country sheet music and 24 states more frequently bought rock.

While country music is most likely to sit atop any given Southern or Midwestern music stand, musicians on the East and West Coasts prefer to rock the house. Those states represented by the lightest blue and green colors above just narrowly lean toward one genre over the other, with darker colored states strongly favoring their musical category.

Watch the Donny & Marie  Osmand YouTube video for a little bit more about “A Little Bit Country,  A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll.” And a special thanks to songwriter Marty Cooper for allowing us to use his song as inspiration and offer it on our site for your digital sheet music downloading pleasure! Download “A Little Bit Country – A Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll” here!

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Test Your Technique with Challenging Guitar Tab Selections! http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/02/challenging-guitar-tab/ http://blog.musicnotes.com/2014/09/02/challenging-guitar-tab/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:57:19 +0000 http://blog.musicnotes.com/?p=7993 Are you a guitarist looking to expand your playlist and/or skills? In need of a piece to impress at a school or band audition? Well, you’ve come to the right place! We love guitarists, and guitarists love Musicnotes for our selection, reliability and convenience. Our awesome customers frequently come to us for song suggestions. So, we decided to provide a fun mix of guitar tab challenges that make great pick-up-and-practice skill-builders. These aren’t songs you’ll most likely master quickly, but rather works you’ll develop over time. How difficult a piece is to play can depend on a variety of variables. Speed, length, mood and dexterous fingering may all be factors
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Are you a guitarist looking to expand your playlist and/or skills? In need of a piece to impress at a school or band audition? Well, you’ve come to the right place! We love guitarists, and guitarists love Musicnotes for our selection, reliability and convenience.

Our awesome customers frequently come to us for song suggestions. So, we decided to provide a fun mix of guitar tab challenges that make great pick-up-and-practice skill-builders. These aren’t songs you’ll most likely master quickly, but rather works you’ll develop over time.

How difficult a piece is to play can depend on a variety of variables. Speed, length, mood and dexterous fingering may all be factors affecting difficulty. The following are just a few of the songs that have tested our skill and/or patience recently.

Classical Gas” by Mason Williams

A standard for guitar students, “Classical Gas” features tempo and mood shifts, and is ideal for intermediate-level players. Familiarizing yourself with this solid solo is considered a rite of passage for many guitarists.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565” by J.S. Bach

Its blazing tempo alternating with delicate lyrical passages makes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue a technical challenge in control even for experienced guitarists.

The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

This frantically speedy piece has tested the dexterity and perseverance of many a guitarist. But, once mastered, it is oft-requested and impressive at social gatherings!

Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix

Fretting the bass notes with his thumb, Hendrix blends quartal and tertian harmonies with single-note runs to produce a distinctly unique sound on this renowned, and frequently covered, song.

Satch Boogie” by Joe Satriani

In addition to the unrelenting intensity of “Satch Boogie,” Satriani’s lightning-quick hammer-ons and pull-offs are certainly not easy to master. And the song’s tap-on middle section, played only on the fifth-string, is a perfect lesson in Satriani’s pitch-axis theory.

Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson

Employing advanced techniques like string skipping and hybrid picking, Eric Johnson’s epic guitar solo intro is widely considered one of the best. This massive work not only displays advanced technique, its non-stop notes offer nowhere to hide, meaning any mistake in fingering will be easily noticed.

It was a task narrowing down our selections, with so many songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and more discussed. What songs have you found particularly difficult to play and why? Any advise for your fellow guitarists in how to work on an especially hard-to-play piece? Share your insights in the comments below!

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