Tag Archives: music

Kevin Olson comes to Kentucky!

Join Dr. Olson in a teacher training session. Get the results that you and your students want!

During the summer months, we at Gist have the pleasure of welcoming teachers into our store for various workshops on teaching and music. On August 2nd and 3rd, we are excited to welcome Dr. Kevin Olson, from the FJH Music Company to our Lexington and Louisville locations.

An active teacher, pianist, composer, and clinician, Dr. Olson maintains a large piano studio and is on the piano faculty at Utah State University and directs the Utah State Youth Conservatory for pre-college students. Throughout his career, he has written more than 100 books and solos for piano students. All of these works have been inspired to meet the needs of his own students.

During the workshop, Dr. Olson makes “it a priority that my workshops are fun, educational, and I hope that teachers will leave energized with new and creative ideas and materials for their studios.”
Throughout the workshop, Dr. Olson will focus on a variety of topics and introduce a variety teaching techniques, books, and songs.


Some of the topics to be covered include –
– The needs of the beginning student, from children through adults.
– Introducing the brand new series, co-authored by Dr. Olson and his wife, Piano Made Fun for the Young, which integrates singing and movement while introducing the piano.
– Demonstrating some teaching approaches from the Succeeding at the Piano series by Helen Marlais, and introducing Grade 3 of this series.
– The Perfect Start, which supplements the students’ piano studies “by reinforcing note reading in a clear, systematic, slower-paced way.”
– Making students solid sight readers. Dr. Olson will introduce the newest addition to The Sight Reading & Rhythm Every Day series, Starter Book A.
– Improvisation and composition skills. “We’ll discuss the process of motivation in the piano studio, and how finding the right piece can keep a student’ interest high, while not sacrificing lasting artistic development.”

Join Dr. Olson this August, in Kentucky!
Gist Piano Center – Lexington, August 2, 2012 at 9:30am
Gist Piano Center – Louisville, August 3, 2012 at 9:30am

Dr. Olson’s workshop are free and each attendee will receive free music from FJH music, special in-store discounts, and a light lunch so they can spend time asking questions and getting to know Dr. Olson. To RSVP, visit www.gistpianocenter.com/clinics.


What is Audio?

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.


What is MIDI?

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!


Print Music 101

So one of the first things I’d like to get to write about is the difference between “sheet” music and “print” music.  I have heard it time and again over the 13 years I have been in the business.  When I say “print” you say “sheet”, when I say “sheet” you says “books”.  No, I get it.  So here it is – the honest answer to an age old question…

What’s the difference???

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