Music/Language Analogies: The Poor Ones First

Learning to read is a naturally developed process in music and in language.

The Ways Children Learn Music

Why am I taking your time to show you analogies that don’t work?  To get your minds into the swing of thinking about music in the same way you think about language.

—Leonard Bernstein, The Unanswered Question, pp. 60-61.

So far, I’ve written two posts about music/language analogies.  They were mostly general and introductory.  Now that I’ve set the stage, I’m ready—almost—to examine a few analogies in detail.  Keep in mind that there are two kinds of music/language analogies:  1) those that go nowhere; and 2) those that hold together just long enough to spur our thinking about music pedagogy.  Is it worth our time to delve into poor analogies?  Yes, because, as Bernstein reminds us, even poor analogies can get our minds going.

In this post, I’ll discuss two of those poor music/language analogies—notes and letters, patterns and words—just to gently put them to bed; and in the next…

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15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano

Elissa Milne

This list was first published in It Takes Two Generations at the end of 2013. 

If you’re a parent who has no background in playing a musical instrument it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of things the piano teacher accidentally takes for granted along the way. Don’t be overly worried about this – the teacher won’t have enough time in each lesson to fill in all the gaps and still keep your child engaged and enthused about their learning, but as time passes you’ll become expert at supporting your child’s musical education.

Here are the absolute basics that you need to know to be able to support your family’s journey into profound musicianship:

1. You simply cannot miss lessons. Unless you’ve just had a car accident, your child has a communicable disease, or your grandmother’s funeral couldn’t be scheduled any other day. Your child having extra homework that…

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Hypnosis And Performance Anxiety

Performing before an audience is often a stressful situation for a students. Practicing the performance in the mind with a positive outcome will ease this stressful situation.

Vocal Odyssey


For performers some nervousness is an occupational hazard – it’s just part of the job and to a certain extent it’s a case of “if you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen.”  For an exciting performance some nervousness is beneficial if it is transformed into energy and excitement, but if it gets out of control it can totally sabotage a performance no matter how talented or well-prepared the singer is.  Conditioning the mind and nervous system is a very important job for any performer (and not just musicians and singers).

Performers need to understand the two systems within the autonomic nervous system of the body – the sympathetic nervous system (the fear, fight or flight mechanism for survival) and the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response).  Both are appropriate in different situations but the trouble with the modern Western lifestyle is that many of us get stuck…

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Technology Thursday: What you need to know about microphones – part 3

Great thoughts for singers to think of when preparing for concerts!

Matthew Edwards

SennMicrophonePart one and part two of this series covered the basic types of microphones singers will encounter and how those microphones respond to the amplitude of the voice. This final post of the series discusses how microphones respond to the frequencies of the voice.
Frequency Response

Frequency response is a term used to define how accurately a microphone captures the audio spectrum of the acoustic signal. A “flat response” microphone captures the acoustic output with little to no alteration of the audio spectrum. Microphones that are not designated as “flat” have some type of attenuation or boost across one or more bands of frequencies within the audio spectrum.

When using a microphone with a polar pattern other than omnidirectional (a pattern that responds to sound equally from all directions), the user may encounter frequency response fluctuations in addition to amplitude fluctuations. Cardioid microphones in particular are known for their tendency to…

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