Just over a year ago, I moved to Louisville from Davenport, Iowa. In that relatively short time, I have had the wonderful opportunity to explore some of this city’s amazing culture and – I can tell you honestly – nothing has done more to captivate my imagination than the Louisville MegaCavern. If you haven’t had a chance to take the historic tour (offered January through October), I highly recommend it. They lead you around in relative comfort as they explain the geology, the history and the development of this incredible man-made cave. Beware, however, you will see some incredible things than you never believed could exist under The Watterson – underground lakes, garbage-eating worms and a 1950s fallout shelter to name a few.
…but during the Holidays, the Louisville MegaCavern transforms into one of the most incredible Christmas-light displays in the World.
Lights Under Louisville is a 30 – 40 minute ride through some of the 17 miles of underground passageways that wind beneath Gist, the Louisville Zoo and Interstate 264. The best part? You drive your own car through it. My friends and I drove through it several times last year (I recommend you avoid the insane weekend crowds and go on a weeknight) and I can tell you from experience – it was amazing.
You’ll roll your windows down and enjoy holiday tunes as you snake through the darkness in a comfortable, year-round 58-degree climate. You can even bring your low-light camera and take some of the magic home with you.
Grab your family, pile in the car and head down there this year. Admission ranges from $25 for a small car to $75 for a full bus, but you can pickup a $5 discount coupon from 5/3 Bank or Wendys. …and look for the Gist Piano Center sign. We’re proud to support our friends at The Louisville MegaCavern for “Lights Under Louisville.”
Audio files are exactly what you think they might be: a collection of sounds. For example, if you purchase a CD at a local retail store and put that CD in your computer or car stereo, the CD player you are using will produce sound. The files on that CD are audio files.
Audio and mp3
Uncompressed audio files are stored on CDs using a file format called “.wav” or “dot wave” and they are literally changing the musical landscape today. Roland Digital Pianos can read these files, giving students a chance to play along with a full band accompaniment. Not only is this much more fun than practicing alone, it also enhances listening skills, promotes even and regular tempo, and dramatically reduces the time it takes for you to learn a song. Playing along with audio files can be a great reward piece for teachers. “Practice hard and, when this song is ready, we’ll play it with a full band…” (Roland Digital Pianos can also speed up, slow down or change the pitch of audio files – in case you’re playing with someone or you’re not ready to play it at full speed.)
Mp3 files, however, are compressed versions of audio files. Most commonly associated with mp3 players (like the iPod), these files contain sound, but take up much less space than their “.wav” brothers. Some models of Roland Digital Pianos also work with these files via a special “iPod” or “mp3” port. Hook your iPod up and play with a full band. You can still change both tempo and pitch with these files on your Roland. The only thing you can’t do is save these files to a CD and play them in your car (unless your car stereo reads mp3s – and some do.)
Whichever file format you choose, make sure you find some fun play-a-long music to play. All of the major lessons series (Alfred, Faber, Hal-Leonard, Bastien, etc.) have companion audio files that you can purchase to play along with. Why not give it a try? Your playing skills will benefit tremendously from it… and you’ll probably have a ton of fun.
Ask Heather for advice on the best audio files for you.
Just like people, computers are capable of speaking to each other in different languages. MIDI (short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is one of those languages. …and, like all languages, MIDI has a number of different variations.
MIDI Isn’t Audio
In short, MIDI is “word processing” for music. Consider the following analogy: You live across town, but you want to say “Hello” to me. So, using our common language, you type “Hello” in an email and send it to me. I open my email and hold my ear up to it. It doesn’t make any sound. …but if I read it, interpret our common language and say “Hello,” I can hear what you wrote! MIDI works the same way. The first MIDI device is you. The second is me. The MIDI file is the email. It doesn’t contain sound (just like the email didn’t), but it does contain the necessary instructions for me to make a sound. My voice and yours won’t sound exactly the same, but it will be very close – and I can choose to speed up, slow down or raise/lower the pitch of my voice.
What MIDI Does
In short, MIDI allows certain electronic devices to communicate with each other. Here are a few of the benefits:
- It helps your computer play music
- It allows performers to use one instrument to control a whole bunch of other instruments
- It lets musicians create fantastic layered musical textures
- It gives players the freedom to edit music and print out the results
- It gives players the freedom to mute some parts and play along with others
Commonly used in video games, computer programs and digital music instruments, MIDI is a powerful and flexible language that helps musicians create, edit and enjoy music. You’ve probably been using MIDI for years without knowing it. Now, you can harness the power of MIDI to make your piano lessons even more fun.
For more information on MIDI files, Ask Heather!