3D Printed Stradivarius Violin

Many useful items can be made via 3D printing but a violin? Check out this video of a 3D printed violin!

The design of this violin is based on an original Stradivarius violin, named “Sunrise”, made in 1677 by Antonio Stradivari in Cremona, Italy. The 3D printed violin was printed in parts with wood filament via a Reprap FDM 3D printer made specifically for this purpose. More than 40 parts were assembled in the traditional violin luthier way, called “Systema Cremonese”. Printing and assembly of this violin took around 9 months to complete.

Music technology teacher and researcher, Harris Matzaridis, created the copy during a research project lasting for over 2 years. Read more…

 

Who needs a page turner?

If you are an instrumentalist, you probably won’t have much difficulty with page turns. After all, it’s quite easy to add an extra page to the music on your stand so you have three pages visible.

However, for a pianist, this is a different story altogether. There are ways of coping with this. This one below is NOT one I would recommend!

This pianist obviously had not thought about this kind of accident!  So what can a pianist do to eliminate performance hiccups?

Here are some suggestions if you want to turn pages yourself:

  • Photocopy the next page or enough of the page so you can turn at a convenient point, eg when one hand has a long note or some rests. DO NOT tape all your pages together as the pianist in the video did!
  • Turn early, playing the last few bars of the page from memory
  • Turn early, and mark a spot over the page where the bars you need are repeated. Play enough to get you to the top of the page after the turn.
  • Bend back the corner of the page so you can grab it quickly and easily
  • Decide which hand is more important and leave a few notes out from the other hand while you turn. In many Baroque or Classical pieces you can get away with just playing the left hand bass notes while you turn the page.

Do I need a page turner?

Having a page turner can definitely make playing easier if you need to get to the next page and there is no sensible place to turn. Also, if you think you might pull the music off the piano stand as you turn (some books do not sit well on the piano) then yes, by all means find someone to turn your pages. However, some pianists prefer to turn their own pages because it’s what they get used to when they are practising.

In the end it’s really up to you. Here are a couple of tips to help your page turner:

  • Make sure your page turner knows what your signal is to turn the page. Most pianists nod when they want the page turned. You don’t have to look at your page turner when you do this.
  • Be sure to let your page turner know how close and where to stand. You don’t want them cramping your playing if you have a lot of bass notes at the turn They should always stand on the stage side of your piano stool, never on the audience side. If the piece is slow or long they might like to sit on a chair until the line before the turn.

Happy performing!

Practice Sight Reading and Sight Singing Exercises Online

If you are like many students, one of the things you may find difficult is practising your sight reading. Most teachers will include sight reading in regular lessons but if your sight reading is in need of help, one lesson per week is not enough. If you want your sight reading to improve, daily practice is the key.

Enter Sight Reading Factory, the online practical solution! With this website you can practise your sight reading (and sight singing) every day, with unlimited sight reading exercises. The music generated is real music that makes sense, not like some sight reading exercise that you may be used to!

sight reading factory screenshotThe beauty of this site is that you can make all the adjustments you need to suit your practice. You can select the type of instrument, or voice or even an ensemble or concert band. Then you can choose multiple levels of difficulty by selecting different time signatures and key signatures and general level. A lower level with a difficult key signature (eg Level 1, in A# minor) can be selected also, which is quite a valuable option.

Obviously, this site works best with something portable like an iPad or tablet which you can place on your music stand or piano music stand. However, if you are singing only, a computer or laptop will be just as useful. And you can also print out your sight reading exercise(s) if you do not have access to a laptop or tablet.

Pricing

The cost is quite reasonable, at $29.99 USD per year ($33.50 AUD at the current exchange rate). Teachers can sign up and include discount student accounts in their total cost ($10 USD each, just over $11 AUD). Click here for more information.

Why not check out the demo here and see what you think! 

Combining technology and voice: a virtual choir

 How can we incorporate technology in creating a choir? Ask composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre. Eric’s journey into creating a virtual choir began when a fan of his music uploaded a recording of herself singing Sleep. Eric then asked others to send him videos of themselves singing the same composition. These were put together by Eric‘s friend, Scott Haines. Eric was so impressed with the result he decided to do another video, this time with himself conducting. This became the first virtual choir, which performed Lux Aurumque, with 185 singers from 12 countries. From there he moved to Virtual Choir 2, with 2052 singers from 58 countries, performing Sleep and followed later with Virtual Choir 3, with 3746 singers from 73 countries, performing Water Night. Read more about the choir history here.

Eric has refined the process to create each choir. Individual singers record their own voice, singing the part of their choice, and then upload their video to the Eric’s website. Detailed instructions are provided to ensure the resulting videos can be synced with others.  The videos are put together, resulting in a beautiful choir with an amazing sound!

Eric recently presented a TED Talk, with an onstage choir which was later joined by a virtual choir. The choir was slightly different in that it was in real time! Below is a short documentary of the production of the TED Talk.

Want to see more? Click here for Eric’s full TED Talk. For more information and links check out Eric’s website.  Eric is currently preparing Virtual Choir 4 which will feature as part of the Coronation Festival’s Gala performances in the gardens of Buckingham Palace next month (July, 2013).

What is the best way to practise?

ImageThis is a question I am often asked by students. Sometimes they are referring to a particular section of music, sometimes they are simply asking a general question and at other times it’s because they are not practising at all and want to know how to get started.

The quick answer to this question is to practise in a way which suits your personality. We are all different. We act, sleep, speak, learn, and, of course, practise differently to others. Some of us are alert at night (night owls) and some early in the day (early birds). So if the night owls are convinced the best time to practise is in the morning, they are not going to be making the best use of their time because that is not the time when they are most alert. Similarly, the early birds are not going to be doing too well late at night.

Some of us like to practise in large chunks, others like to take more bite-size pieces and come back often. Some like to practise the same pieces or techniques until they are satisfied, whereas others like variety.

So what is the best method for you? Pianist, examiner, lecturer and adjudicator, Chris Foley, has written an ebook entitiled, 31 Days to Better Practicing. Chris talks about many aspects of practice, how to develop them and incorporate them into your own routine. He covers things like goal setting, practice methods (i.e. slow practice, silent practice etc), memorisation, getting into the details, organisation of practice time, sight reading and much more.

Sounds awesome, right? Click here and you can read it right now or download it for later!