Most Entertaining Summer News
 

Summer Music News

News over the last few weeks.
If you are interested in returning to lessons or finding out more about our workshops and tutors, please feel free to give us a call or email. You don’t have to commit to anything.  We also offer gift vouchers for lessons if you are looking for something to give a friend or family member.

Exam success

Results from this Summer’s practical exams are trickling through and already are looking overall fantastic, with merits and distinction passes. Well done to all our students and tutors for all their hard work and preparation.  We’re aware that some are working towards advanced grades in both theory and practical which are to be sat in Autumn.  Keep up the good practice!

Musical Showcase Soiree

Last week a small group of our tutors took part in the first musical soiree at Virgin Money’s Lounge in Edinburgh.  It was an opportunity to meet with some of their members and also for some of our students to come and listen to our professionals perform over a glass of wine and canapes.  We will be hosting similar soirees in the Autumn and we hope to be able to invite you then.

Rehearsal Q&A with Wynton Marsalis 

We were excited to have an amazing and unique opportunity to hear one of the world’s greatest big bands rehearse before their concert at the Usher Hall – The Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra, with their trumpeter and director, Wynton Marsalis.  There was even a surprise guest appearance of the Scottish violin virtuoso, Nicola Benedetti. (See attached photo) Following the rehearsal, our students were able to have a Q&A session with the drummer and pianist of the orchestra. 

Making-Music Workshops

Our after school clubs at various primary schools across Edinburgh worked hard again this last term. We would like to welcome our new workshop leader, Johannes.  Johannes is a very talented multi-instrumentalist, who plays piano, double bass and accordion. He worked with students at Craiglockhart Primary on world cup themed samba parade.  Thanks to the parents who were able to come and watch them in action in the final session before the end of term.

Edinburgh Youth Music Festival

Most Entertaining were proud to be one of the sponsors and supporters of the first ever Edinburgh Youth Music Festival this year. The festival provided the opportunity for young people across Edinburgh to take part in performing and free workshops delivered by professionals. http://edinburghyouthmusicfestival.org/links/
Music Apps

We are all, as musicians and educators, trying to embrace technology positively and work out it’s place in music.  Some of our students and tutors have introduced us to apps and devices to help them in their practice.  Please see the links below and check them out if you’re not already!

Future concerts

We encourage all our students to perform and as regularly as possible, even if it’s just to mum and dad in the living room – it all helps.  We are constantly seeking opportunities for our students to perform and will be showcasing our all student concert this December.  In the meantime, we are working with the National Museum of Scotland to do a student showcase there in the coming year. 
All Stars

Congratulations to our mixed instrumental group, the All Stars, led by our tutor, Robert, with their debut recording or their EP.  Recorded by Edinburgh Recording Company.  Please get in touch if you wish to hear it and be part of the group.

Feedback and getting back in touch

Please feel free to let us know if you don’t wish to receive our news emails or if you wish to find out what we’re doing feel free to ‘LIKE’ our facebook page and get our latest updates.

In the meantime, we hope you have a great Summer.  
To chat or discuss your interest in lessons – piano, trumpet, guitar or violin, feel free to give us a call on 0131 477 7821.

ME BLAST OF BRASS WORKSHOP 2014
 

Blast of Brass!

Title: Blast of Brass!

Leader: Finlay Hetherington

Date: Friday 11th July

Venue: South Bridge Resource Centre, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. EH1 1LT

Length: 1 hour

Cost: FREE

Age Range: 10-18

Requirements: Bring along your own instrument if you have one (instruments can be provided)

Musical Experience Required: Some musical experience preferred but not essential. Absolute beginners welcome along to the first session!

Skills Level: First session suitable for beginners. Second session aimed at intermediate players.

Description: Finlay Hetherington from ‘Most Entertaining’ invites you to try out the trumpet and other brass instruments in these hour long workshops designed for beginner and intermediate students!

The first session – ‘Beginners’ Brass Bonanza’ : An introduction to playing a brass instrument. Learning the basics, from breathing and buzzing exercises to playing the first 5 notes, with an opportunity to perform as an ensemble, again, led by our workshop leader. (Ages 10 – 15)

The second session – ‘Carnival Brass’ : Learning to play in an ensemble, listening and following directions.  Tips in leading a group and learning 2-3 carnival pieces for brass, inspired by themes of The World Cup. (Ages 13 – 18)

Feel free to bring along your own brass instrument or let us know and we can provide you with an instrument for the workshop.

This workshop is sponsored by Most Entertaining Ltd.

If you wish to sign up for this workshop, please go on to the Edinburgh Youth Music Festival website.  See link below.  If you cannot make these workshops but would like to take lessons in trumpet, trombone, or tuba, please get in touch on 0131 477 7821.

http://edinburghyouthmusicfestival.org/blast-of-brass/

 

Science Shows How Piano Players’ Brains Are Actually Different From Everybody Elses’

According to music journalist, Jordan Taylor-Sloan …

‘[Learning the] piano is the ultimate instrument in terms of skill and demand: Two hands have to play together simultaneously while navigating 88 keys. They can play up to 10 notes at a time. To manage all those options, pianists have to develop a totally unique brain capacity — one that has been revealed by science.

Because both hands are required to be equally active for pianists’ to master their instrument, they have to overcome something innate to almost every person: right or left-handedness.

In most people, the depth of the brain’s central sulcus is either deeper on the right or on the left side, which then determines which hand is dominant. But when scientists scanned the brains of pianists, they found something different: Pianists had a demonstrably more symmetrical central sulcus than everyone else — though they were born right or left-handed, their brains barely registered it. Because the pianists still had a dominant hand, researchers speculated that their equal depth was not natural, but resulted because pianists are able to strengthen their weaker side to more closely match their dominant side. Rachmaninoff would be proud:

Piano lessons are sort of like braces. For a few years, everyone’s parents paid a lot of money so their children could contort their bodies (fingers; teeth) and lie about doing something daily that, really, they never did (scales; rubber bands). Both were formative experiences.

But while everyone grows out of braces, some people never recover from childhood piano lessons. This is, in part, because true pianists’ brains are actually different from those of everyone else. In this series, we’ve already written about what makes guitarists’ and drummers’ brains unique, but playing keys is an entirely different beast. Drums are functionally pitchless and achordal, so pitch selection and chord voicings aren’t part of the equation. Guitar only allows for six notes at once and heavily favors left-hand dexterity.

But piano is the ultimate instrument in terms of skill and demand: Two hands have to play together simultaneously while navigating 88 keys. They can play up to 10 notes at a time. To manage all those options, pianists have to develop a totally unique brain capacity — one that has been revealed by science.

Because both hands are required to be equally active for pianists’ to master their instrument, they have to overcome something innate to almost every person: right or left-handedness.

In most people, the depth of the brain’s central sulcus is either deeper on the right or on the left side, which then determines which hand is dominant. But when scientists scanned the brains of pianists, they found something different: Pianists had a demonstrably more symmetrical central sulcus than everyone else — though they were born right or left-handed, their brains barely registered it. Because the pianists still had a dominant hand, researchers speculated that their equal depth was not natural, but resulted because pianists are able to strengthen their weaker side to more closely match their dominant side. Rachmaninoff would be proud:

Already, then, pianists are able to make their brains into better-rounded machines. But it turns out the heavy-tax of piano playing makes their minds efficient in every way. A study by Dr. Ana Pinho (whose name kind of explains her research focus) showed that when jazz pianists play, their brains have an extremely efficient connection between the different parts of the frontal lobe compared to non-musicians. That’s a big deal — the frontal lobe is responsible for integrating a ton of information into decision making. It plays a major role in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. Pianists, then, tend to integrate all of the brain’s information into more efficient decision making processes. Because of this high speed connection, they can breeze through slower, methodical thinking and tap into quicker and more spontaneous creativity.

Most shockingly, though, Pinho also found that when experienced pianists play, they literally switch off the part of the brain associated with providing stereotypical responses, ensuring that they play with their own unique voice and not the voices of others. Basically, it’s the opposite of Guitar Center riffage — true innovation like Oscar Peterson:

But piano is a taxing and complex instrument for the whole brain. Real pianists are marked by brains that efficiently conserve energy by allocating resources more effectively than anyone else. Dr. Timo Kringsscanned pianists’ brains as they soloed and found that they pump less blood than average people in the brain region associated with fine motor skills. Less blood flow means less energy is needed to concentrate. Though that’s likely true of anyone who’s mastered a nimble task, it only compounds the efficiency pianists’ brains develop through mutating the central sulcus and altering their frontal lobe’s function. In pianists, the change in blood flow frees them to concentrate on other things that are totally unique to pianists — like their own unique form of communication.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s one of the coolest things about being a pianist. When pianists improvise, the language portion of their brain remains active — like any musician, playing music is fundamentally an act of communication. But the big difference for pianists is that their communication is about syntax, not words. Dr. Charles Limb’s study showed that when pianists solo, their brains respond as if they were responding in a conversation, but they pay attention to phrasing and “grammatical” structure instead of specific words and phrases.

So pianists’ brains actually are different. They are masters of creative, purposeful and efficient communication because of the very instrument that they play. They are the naturally efficient multi-taskers of the musical world, because when you’re a player like Yuja Wang, there is zero room for doubt and hesitation.’

Thanks to Music Mic for this very interesting article on the piano and piano-players’ brains and to Jordan Taylor-Sloan for writing it.  If you would like to take piano lessons and develop your brain, please feel free to get in touch with Most Entertaining to find out about our lesson options.

World Class Jazz Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis

Last Friday at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, Most Entertaining trumpet students had the opportunity to hear and meet with some of the finest living jazz musicians from the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra, with their trumpeter and director, Wynton Marsalis.  

There was even a surprise guest appearance of the Scottish violin virtuoso, Nicola Benedetti.  It was fascinating to watch Wynton direct Nicola on some of the jazz nuances in his violin piece.  Not only did this inspire us as musicians, but demonstrated that no matter your level of artistry, you can still learn and be open to lessons from others.

Following the rehearsal, which were kindly invited to observe, our students were able to have a Q&A session with the drummer and pianist of the orchestra, who explained that they were in charge in keeping the melody and rhythm together within the orchestra.

That evening, a busy Usher Hall, were able to enjoy and be, quite literally, blown away by the musicianship and virtuosity of the Lincoln Centre band, who performed a selection of arrangements of the best Blue Note Records.  A very memorable performance that was topped by a very generous and breath taking encore given by Wynton and his rhythm section.

 

Happy New Year 2014

Hope you have all had a great Christmas and New Year.

Many of you have started back lessons already, but if you have not had chance yet, please drop me us an email or call the office and we will be happy to arrange this.

Our aim at Most Entertaining is to offer tailored music learning. We encourage all students to make the most of the instrumental variety we offer. Perhaps you fancy a few singing lessons or need help with Grade 5 Theory, for example.

Simply contact our office by phone or email for a chat.

For-the-new-year
 

New Year, New Term

The dawn of a new year brings in fresh promises and attempts to renew vows of previous years, often with trips to bright flashy gyms that in turn assure they’ll make you a new person, or, instead you’ll decide to banish certain foods from daily diets – both pledges that have been driven by guilt in the annual over indulgence of Christmas.

If this sounds like you, how about riding a new wave and take a new direction that doesn’t involve unrealistic food and fitness measures?   Last term Most Entertaining launched a new ensemble ‘modestly’ called Most Entertaining’s All Stars.  The idea of the group is to provide an opportunity for amateur musicians, who play all instrument types, to meet weekly and exercise their musicianship, led by professional coach Robert Briggs.  Briggs puts the group through its paces with songwriting, improvisation, arranging and practical musicianship.  Music tackled is as diverse as Muse to Metallica.  The group continues this term and seeks new members eager to strike a chord or belt a tune with others. Full details to find out more and to book are posted below.  Here is what one member said of last term’s sessions.
‘…You’ve (RB) taken us from a vagabond bunch of directionless strangers into a band and we have loved every week and really appreciate what you have done for us.’

At the end of last term Most Entertaining also launched an Instrumental Bursary – the aim of which is to support young people who wish to learn an instrument, but don’t have the funds to do so.  We would like to thank all the local businesses who helped kick start our fund by donating very generous prizes for our raffle – drawn at our Christmas Concert in Stockbridge.   We will continue to update everyone on the development and plans for the instrumental bursary.

All our students who took ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall grades last term passed – a number with good merits and distinctions. Congratulations to both students and teachers for all their hard work.  Best of luck to everyone who is set to do similar exams in Spring.

Most Entertaining would like to welcome all its new students who have either recently begun lessons or are about to and look forward to meeting them at our future concerts.

In the meantime, Happy New Year on behalf of everyone at Most Entertaining – have a great term!

Most Entertaining All Star Ensemble sign up contact: Robert Briggs – thecyclingmusician@gmail.com or call the office on 0131 477 7821 to book a place or find out more information. 

 

 

 

ME Christmas Concert 2012 copy
 

NEW Instrumental Bursary

Most Entertaining will host their Christmas Show this Sunday 16th December, with events beginning at the Stockbridge Market.  Carols will be heard from 3.30pm around the market’s Christmas tree, accompanied by Most Entertaining’s brass group.
As part of our Christmas show, Most Entertaining has joined forces with the amazing Edinburgh Military Wives Choir, who will be performing at the market as well as at the concert. The concert itself starts at 4pm sharp in Saint Stevens Centre, Stockbridge. The choir are fast becoming very sought after in Edinburgh and are also performing at the castle during the festive period. This is a fabulous opportunity to see the choir live this Christmas.  During the show their will be a raffle with amazing prizes, donating by generous local businesses, to help raise money for our Instrumental Bursary.

Most Entertaining’s NEW Instrumental Bursary will use the money raised from the raffle to kick start the fundraising to buy instruments new and 2nd hand for disadvantaged children wishing to learn to play music.  Our fundraising will continue throughout the year at future concerts.  In addition to this, we will set up an accessible online donation link to our website for those who wish to make a pledge this way.  All donations welcome!

One of the other aims of Most Entertaining is to provide musicians with opportunities to perform in small groups and learn other skills such as improvisation. This term, a new exciting band has formed and this concert marks its first professional performance. The group have learnt about many aspects of music, in particular arranging and composition and have then put these ideas into practice when learning new material. The repertoire is varied, ranging from Herbie Hancock all the way through to Coldplay. Original music will also be heard – listen out for the partially hidden Christmas musical quotes.

As ever, a vast array of solo students will be heard at this event across a wide range of instruments. These performances will be themed, so watch out for props and fancy dress! These items promise to be fun, entertaining and possibly a little but eccentric! Students have been practising very hard for this event to ensure a high standard is reached, and are looking forward to performing.

This show promises to be a unique Christmas event with a diverse programme with something for everyone to enjoy.

Details for the concert are:
Date: 16th December 2012
Time: 3.30pm at Stockbridge Market leading to St. Stephen’s Church for the concert (4pm)
Venue: Stockbridge Market – St. Stevens Church
Cost: £10 which includes a complimentary glass of mulled wine
Refreshments will also be available including mince pies

Military Wives Choir
 

Taking Stock of Festivals

The Edinburgh Festival is now over for another year and no doubt locals are glad to have regained their city back.  However, in terms of festivals, Edinburgh doesn’t like to rest for long.  This coming week, Stockbridge will host their own small festival – ‘StockFest’, which will showcase many artists, businesses and organisations, from across Edinburgh.

Most Entertaining are looking forward to StockFest, as we are staging our first Autumn student concert.  This is an opportunity for our students of all ages, learning a variety of instruments, to demonstrate their talents amongst friends, family and hopefully inspire other people to pick up and learn an instrument.

To precede our afternoon concert, we would like to encourage people of all ages, with or without any musical background, to join in our ‘Come and Play’ session from 2-3pm.  This hour aims to be fun and allows those interested in learning an instrument to give it a try with one of our professional musicians. We will have instruments from the brass, string, woodwind and percussion family, and also include a selection of band instruments.

To conclude our concert, we are excited to have The Edinburgh Garrison Military Wives Choir sing their debut.  There will a raffle with fantastic prizes to raise money for the choir and their great cause.

Please let your friends and family know about StockFest and our Concert.

Venue: St Stephen’s Centre, St. Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AB

Date and Time(s): Sunday 16th September, 2-3pm (Come and Play) and 3pm – 4.15pm (Concert)

Cost: £10 adults, £6 concessions (FREE to all performers)

Please buy tickets at the door : ) Keep up to date at: - http://www.facebook.com/mostentertaining

Guitars-and-Stuff
 

New Most Entertaining Ensemble

Playing and performing on your instrument in groups is such an important way of progressing in music. All musicians know the benefit of ensemble work and I certainly try to encourage all of my pupils to try and perform with others. This ranges from simple piano duets in lessons, to encouraging brass students to join local bands or groups. You can learn so many new skills, both musical and social from working with others, and most importantly have a lot of fun doing so!
I have spent a long time over the summer thinking about how Most Entertaining can help encourage group work and decided to approach Will Pickvance, one of Most Entertaining’s company directors, about creating a flagship ensemble for Most Entertaining. Fortunately, he liked the idea -  a lot! So, here is the plan for the new ensemble, initially named as the ‘Most Entertaining Allstars’ – which is due to start in the middle of September 2012.
I plan to create a band which will initially cover and perform popular pop/rock/jazz classics from the 1960′s through to the present day. For example, songs could range from The Kinks, right through to Keane, Muse and possibly even Jessie J! I want everyone involved to have an input on how the arrangements of these songs will be formed, so composition and theory skills will also be developed. The sound I am aiming for will be fairly relaxed, easy to listen to. There will be plenty of opportunities for players to improvise and develop their knowledge of chord reading as well. Sheet music will also be used, so no need to panic if you have never read chords!
The band will have high standards, and its aim is to perform and entertain publicly, and earn a positive reputation in and around Edinburgh. However, my main goal is to provide an opportunity for musicians involved with Most Entertaining to develop and improve in a fun inspiring environment. After all, the company is called Most Entertaining!
I require and would like to encourage players of all styles and in the following instruments to apply;
Piano/Keyboards
Vocals
Trumpets/Cornets
Trombone
Saxophone
Guitars
Bass Guitar
Drum Kit
To find out more about this fantastic opportunity, please email or phone Most Entertaining’s  Director of Tuition,  Finlay Hetherington on 0131 477 7821 – finlay@mostentertaining.com
Dimebag Darrell #2
 

Playing Like Pantera Part II

Here are some key points to keep in mind when playing in the style of Pantera.

•    Guitar tunings. They generally vary from song to song, from Eb (all strings half step down) to as low as C# (all strings a step and a half down), including variations in between including drop D tunings. One interesting phenomena is that the band often tuned in between standard tone values. If you’re experiencing difficulties playing along with a Pantera record this could be the reason why. The way to deal with it in the digital age is to open the song with an audio file editor (Audacity is an excellent free one) and “detune” the song a few cents at a time until it’s down (or up) completely to the closest standard tuning.

•    Gear. Dimebag’s rig included his signature Dean Guitar models equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups and a locking Floyd Rose tremolo running through Randall amplification. There are different types of guitar effects and amplification you can use to get a similar sound, but the Floyd Rose is the only mandatory piece of equipment. If you’re playing Pantera your guitar will have to endure some abuse and needs to stay in tune.

•    Intervals. His signature style featured a heavy use of the tritone (flat five) interval. Also called the devil’s interval. In the middle ages it was generally avoided by musicians due to its “oppressive, evil and scary” sound. A good example of incorporating the tritone interval is the lick right before the first verse of “5 Minutes Alone” from “Far Beyond Driven”.

•    Dimebag also made popular the “power diads” (major third and minor third intervals) played as power chords. An example being the chorus of “This Love” from “Vulgar Display Of Power”.

•    Artificial harmonics. Dimebag Darrel was a master of making the guitar squeal, in his own words “harmonics and whammy bars go together if you ask me”. It’s a signature trick used to define his own sound. You can check out what he means in the last chorus of “Cemetery Gates” where his guitar “answers” to Phil Anselmo’s vocal lines with mind shattering pinch harmonic squeals.

•    “Reefer Madness” is the authority guitar method in the style of Pantera since it’s compiled from Dimebag’s own columns published in different guitar magazines during the years, along with interviews and inside info on his playing style, effects rig and musical background.

The band’s history is marked by dissension and controversy and, ironically, fell victim to the same alienation that brought together thousands of people in Pantera’s following. The end of Pantera allegedly was related to an increasingly more distant Phil Anselmo spending more and more time on side projects until Pantera was effectively “put on hold”. It was two years that the band was in an unofficial hiatus, the Abbot brothers claiming they’ve tried to get in touch with Anselmo on a regular basis, but he did not return their phone calls. It was for the first time in their lives that they were not playing music and it was taking a heavy toll on them. They could not wait any longer and had to move on, starting Damageplan with Patrick Lachman as a lead singer. That effectively led to the disbandment of Pantera and adversely in its aftermath to the gruesome actions of one severely disturbed Pantera fan.

Pantera was more than a metal band, it was a machine. It was the product of a group of people who played music for a living every day for as long as they could remember. Incidentally, one of them died while playing the instrument he loved so much. And while the tragedy of his loss is immense, there is some comfort in the thought that Darrel Abbot is alive in our hearts and minds and his playing will live forever on all of your favourite Pantera records.

Svilen demonstrating playing in the style of Pantera.

Please check out the link above of blog contributor Svilen Mikov’s own you tube recording of playing in the style of Pantera.  Enjoy : )