* You are viewing the archive for January, 2019

Piano Practice Tips: How To Get Better

Even with everyday lessons and hands-on training, it can take years to learn how to play it correctly. 

Playing the piano is an admirable skill to possess. Most adults are thankful for their pushy mother or father compelling them to suffer through those repetitive, weekday afternoon lessons.

Although, it could be said that the parents might actually have been the ones to suffer, listening to all of those vexatious misplayed notes!

In this article, we aim to present several tips on how to get better at the piano. So if you are one of the talented assemblages of musicians who endured all those hours of practice, or you are just starting out and are curious to learn how to get better at the piano, please – read on.

Make It A Habit To Practice Daily

Sometimes finding time to practice the piano can be arduous. If you have a full-time job, a family or are currently a student at a university, squeezing in an hour or so a day may seem unattainable. However, it is not impossible!

One way to work that time in is to get out of bed an hour earlier each morning. Take this pleasantly quiet time in your day to sit at your favorite pianoforte and bang out some tunes.

Mornings are the best time to practice as your body is rested and your mind is fresh, allowing for
better retention of new information.

Optionally, if you are a night owl, staying up late to hone your technique would be your best bet, this way you can mentally prepare yourself throughout the day, plan which pieces you want to work on and manage your evening routine to ensure that there is time to finesse your craft.

Train Yourself On Difficult As Well As Easy Pieces


You probably have a set of songs in your repertoire that you have learned throughout the years.

Be sure to play these routinely to sharpen your technique. Play them over and over, to challenge yourself on these first play the piece slowly, then play it fast.

When learning how to get better at piano, repeatedly playing the most difficult compositions you know will benefit you by boosting your confidence.

Don’t Limit The Types Of Music You Play


Knowing a variety of musical genres not only makes your playing the piano more interesting, but it also makes it more fun.

Try out some Jazz pieces, attempt some Herbie Hancock, take a stab at some Harry Connick Jr, or work on learning some rock and roll, a la Jerry Lee Lewis and “Great Balls of Fire!”

Another fun style is Christmas Music; this can make you a huge hit at Christmas Parties! This brings us to the next tip on how to get better at playing the piano.

Play In Front Of An Audience

If you have never played the piano in front of anyone besides your mother or your dog, then this tip is just what you need. Playing in front of family, friends as well as strangers is one of the best methods in how to get better at piano.

Select a few easy pieces as well as some of those difficult ones you have been practicing. Put together a grouping of songs that make you comfortable.

Start out playing at the next family gathering, anniversaries, birthday parties or even that Sunday afternoon informal get-together.

Then it is time to venture out into the public. Inquire at your local mall, or other public venues, make sure they have a piano, and it might be best to go practice on it at least once before your show, this will ensure that the instrument is tuned properly and that you are comfortable with it.

This is not going to be as intimidating as a paid gig and will help to build your determination to move on to the next step. After these two steps, it is time to get serious! Seek out opportunities to play at weddings, funerals, parties, and recitals. Rehearsing for and playing at these opportunities will raise your piano playing abilities to new heights.

Record Yourself Playing The Piano


This is hands down the best way to measure your improvement. Set a video camera on a tripod and aim it at yourself. Be sure you get your entire body in the shot; you want to see your movements, your style.

Are you hunching your shoulders or sitting up straight? Are you making a straining face or do you look relaxed? These are things to study in the video.

Make audio-only recording as well. This way you can listen to the number without being distracted by watching yourself. Listen for the cadence, does it sound on a beat? Close your eyes and imagine that it is not you playing, it will be easier to review that way.

You do not have to show these to anyone else; these can be for your eyes only, for your critique only.

Watch and study other piano players, both professional and amateur, see how you compare.

Notice their unique styles, note how their personalities shine through so you not only hear the music, but you experience it with the musician as well.

Be Demanding Of Yourself


If you really want to know how to get better at piano, then you absolutely must not go easy on yourself. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. If you are having a hard time on one particular piece, don’t allow yourself to give up!

Push through it until you have it down. If you have to practice that one selection only for the entire hour, then do it. Be deliberate in your studies; you want to become seasoned in your craft. This requires real dedication and just plain old gumption. Once you feel confident in a new song, play it at a faster tempo.

If you do not already have one, get yourself a metronome. Set it just a little faster, then a little faster until you are proficient and comfortable. As well, set the metronome to a slower pace, this may prove to be even more difficult than the fast rate.

Keep Your Eye On Your Objective


Sometimes, putting the time into a hobby can easily be pushed aside. If you have had a long day, if other plans interfere, or if you just have a case of the “I don’t wanna”s, remind yourself that what you really want is to get better at the piano. That what you desire is to have that sense of self-satisfaction at performing at a higher level.

Set Goals, And Keep Them


Is there a certain reason that you wish to improve your skills on the piano? Maybe you have been asked to play at your cousin’s wedding next year. Maybe you just want to enhance your already decent musical abilities.
Regardless, pick some milestones. Do you want to be able to play Beethoven in a year or “Heart and Soul” in a month?

Write down your selected milestones. For instance: Thirty days from today I want to be able to play Für Elise without errors. Ninety days from now I want to be able to play The Marriage of Figaro effortlessly. Etc.

Consider setting smaller goals in between such as – I will practice at least six days per week this week, or even – I will practice for one hour today. Make the goals attainable but substantial enough to affect your progress positively.

Recognize That It Is A Process

You did not learn to play the piano overnight, nor will you get better at it overnight. Maintain your enthusiasm, and at the same time, be pragmatic. Understand that you will not become Liberace in a month.

You will become better and better each time you practice. If you get to a plateau and feel like you are not able to get past it, simply take a day off. Review your methods and make sure you are keeping your objective in view.

Most of all, make sure you are having fun! If an activity is no longer fun, it becomes work, and you do not want to turn your fun pastime into a work situation!

The main thing to do is practice, practice, practice. Stay positive, even if there are failures or mistakes along the way. Stay focused even if you don’t meet your goals; if you continue to practice consistently, you will get there.

Remember your childhood lessons and how hard you worked back then and be at least as vigilant now.

In Conclusion

Playing the piano should be fun and exciting. The skill of a master pianist is one of the most beautiful and encouraging sounds in music.

With practice, and these tips, you, too, can be proficient and excel at piano playing. Just stick with it.

Coolest Guitars You Have Ever Seen

guitar

We’ve all seen custom guitars, but we usually think of a custom guitar as having custom pickups or something similar. Guitarists often commission unique guitars to add to their stage presence, or just wow the crowd.

Technology, specifically 3D printing, opened doors to a wide range of customizations for guitars, and some of the coolest guitars ever built.

This list ranks among the toughest list we’ve put together. There are far more cool guitars than we have room to list.

So, we had to choose a balanced mix of cool guitars ranging from the classics to more outrageous models. We think you’ll enjoy the list. Maybe it will inspire you to create your own custom guitar design.

We scoured the internet and decades worth of custom guitar images to find the coolest guitars for you.

We focused on genuinely unique guitars or guitars that made an impact on the music scene. To make our list, a guitar must be playable.

If it’s not playable, then it’s just art and not really a guitar. All the guitars on this list began as a custom guitar, but some are being mass produced today. If you appreciate guitar music, guitars, and art, you’re going to enjoy this list.

Millennium Falcon Guitar

We think Han Solo would be proud of this guitar. It fits the bill as one of the coolest guitars we’ve seen.

Initially, this guitar featured vintage Star Wars toys as the main body. Several Star Wars themed custom guitars exist, but this one is one of the few that sounds good. If nothing else, you will stand out on stage playing one of these guitars.

It comes in a bass guitar version as well, and you can order a case for it that’s custom built for the guitar.

The guitars initially sold for $600 to $800 on Etsy, but you can find one on eBay for around $100 now.

They come complete with everything you expect a guitar to have, plus some cool LEDs that run off a battery pack. This guitar is a must have if you love guitars and Star Wars.

Ibanez Iceman

Until he started endorsing his guitar design, Paul Stanley of KISS used the Iceman often on stage. Its shape caught the eye of Paul Gilbert who flipped the Iceman’s design upside down to create his Ibanez Fireman. Both designs hold your eye when you first see them, but the original Iceman is both elegant and unique.

Several versions of the original design made their way to the stage in the hands of quite a few guitar players. Daron Malakian, Jay Yuenger, Sam Totman, and Fredrik Thorndendal all used some version of the original Iceman design on stage during their careers. The guitar made appearances on dozens of albums and in hundreds of songs. So, not only is it cool looking, but it sounds pretty good too.

Bill Bailey’s Six Neck Guitar

Bailey is an English comedian and musician. His six-neck guitar is by far one of the coolest guitars ever created. At first glance, the guitar looks like a gimmick or at best a severe case of someone just trying to prove they could build it. To make our list of coolest guitars, a guitar must be playable, and Bailey plays this guitar from the top neck to the bottom one.

The guitar looks unwieldy and cumbersome, so Bailey uses a stool during his act to support the heavy six-neck guitar. In the video clips we found of his act, Bailey only uses the top three necks of the guitar, but in interviews with various news sources and magazines he claims he uses all six of them. The bottom two require some skills we have a hard time picturing, but we believe it’s possible to use them.

Gibson Custom Jimi Hendrix Flying V

Hendrix’s Flying V is one of the most iconic guitars in music history. The Flying V is not rare or unique onits own, but in the hands of a master like Hendrix, it turned into something more than a guitar. Hendrix owned and used several Gibson Flying Vs during his career, but his 1967 Flying V is often considered his favorite, even though he gave it away eventually.

Hendrix played the guitar left-handed, but his 1967 Flying V was a right-handed model. He did most of the customizations himself including the final paint job. He gave away his 1967 Flying V and started using a custom left handed Flying V sometime in 1969 or 1970.

Reports on the exact dates are conflicting depending on which version of music history you read.

Whichever version of history you subscribe to, we can all agree Hendrix’s original Flying V and the changes he inspired Gibson to make in subsequent models make the Flying V one of the coolest guitar models.

Gibson Custom Don Felder & Hotel California &  EDS-1275

The song, Hotel California, by the Eagles, still holds a position on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time. Some of the song’s success is directly related to the concert performances of the song and the haunting solos Don Felder performed on his Gibson EDS-1275 coupled with Joe Walsh’s contribution which amounted to a dual solo.

Gibson produced a limited number of custom EDS-1275s as a response to the success and power of their product in the hands on a guitar legend like Felder. Felder heavily customized his original EDS-1275, and Gibson added his customizations to the limited-edition series they produced in the late 1960s.

About 110 EDS-1275 guitars were made initially, but more were manufactured to meet market demand. Felder signed fifty of the custom models that adopted his customizations.

Gene Simmons’ Axe Bass Guitar

When you consider the armor, costumes, and makeup employed by KISS in concert, it’s not much of a reach to imagine Simmons commissioning a custom bass guitar that looks like an actual battle ax.

Simmons used this design on stage and later adopted the bass guitar’s design as part of his personal line of guitars.

You can own one of Simmons custom bass guitars, but you’ll pay between six and nine thousand dollars for it. You can take it to another level and let Simmons play your new guitar on stage for an additional fee, and he’ll bring it to you backstage after the show and sign it. A guitar that looks like a battle ax was played on stage by Gene Simmons and is autographed by the artist qualifies as an epically cool guitar.

Draco the Dragon Guitar

Initially, this guitar was just a concept and was not playable. Luckily, because our list requires the guitar to be playable, the original 3D printed fake guitar got a makeover and moved into the ranks of an actual musical instrument. It’s hard to say how many of these exist today, but we know the original and a handful of copies made their way to collectors since the origin of the guitar in 2008.

Carp ‘n Cod

The coolness of this particular guitar is directly based on your idea of cool. It’s handmade, but playable and sounds pretty good in spite of its odd design. The designer and builder of this fish guitar has been building guitars for over two decades and produced quite a few unique guitar designs. Whether you appreciate the hand carved look or not, this guitar deserves its spot on our list of cool guitars.

Rusty Cooley 7 String Wraith

Several things make this guitar cool starting with its name, Wraith. It looks pretty cool too and has a seventh string. Everything about this guitar is bigger from its long scale to its pickups. Playing a seven- string guitar is not a cool experience until you get some experience under your belt, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about buying one of these.

B.C. Rich Warlock

B.C. Rich owes some of its popularity among heavy metal guitar players to the Warlock guitar model.

They produce some very cool guitars with great sound, but the Warlock is one of their best and coolest products. B.C. Rich guitars found their way into the collections of several famous rockers like Craig Goldy, Chuck Shuldiner, and Blackie Lawless to name a few.

Ogre Guitars Transwing Flying X


Everything Ogre makes is cool, but their Transwing Flying X is our favorite. It looks like something out of a futuristic movie involving cyborgs or homicidal robots. Despite its design, it produced great sound and made its way to the stage on a few occasions. It’s a little heavy for a guitar which probably keeps it off the stage and grounded to the studio.

We’ve covered the guitars we think are pretty cool. Thanks to the creativeness of musicians, guitar builders, and curious artists, the last few decades produced some great sounding and incredible looking guitars. Whether you’re a guitar player, a fan, or just appreciate exciting art, these guitars rank among the coolest guitars ever manufactured.

Richest Guitarists Alive Today

acoustic

Most of you know who the lead singer of your favorite band is and the lead guitar player. Lead singers get a lot of attention and are often viewed as the most important member. Vocals are essential, but if your bass player or drummer can’t keep time, your band won’t get far in the long run. All the musicians are crucial to the success of the group.

The guitar players, especially the lead one, is arguably more important as the lead singer or any other member of the band. They are responsible for many of the reasons we enjoy listening to a group. They get to do the cool solos that send fans into a frenzy and often take over the stage to perform their songs. In most bands that employ guitars, the lead guitar player and singer share the glory.

To expand on our notion that guitar players deserve the same fanfare as anyone else in the band if not more, we compiled a list of the richest guitar players alive today. We only included guitar players with a net worth higher than $100 million. If we added every millionaire guitar player, our list would turn into a book.

Angus Young: $140 Million


Angus Young and his brother, Malcolm Young, co-founded the group AC/DC in 1973. Angus endured a lot of criticism in the early years of his career for his costume and sound. Young wears a schoolboy uniform on stage which adds to his unique style and stage presence. His music is heavily influenced by many great blues guitarist, but Young adds power chords to the mix to create his unique sound.

Arguably, the sound Young brings to the music of AC/DC is more recognizable to a broader audience than other bands that share similar fame. Other than his schoolboy uniform and heavy bluesy riffs, Young is probably equally famous for his stage antics including his signature duck walk. Fans go wild when they see Young hop across the stage like the late Chuck Berry. Young’s net worth is $140 million.

Kirk Hammett: $200 Million

Hammett is known for his curly hair, heavy guitar solos, and his ESP guitars. He was credited with three top 100 guitar solos in the 1998 issue of Guitar Legends. Very few guitarists earn the honor of two songs on the top 100 list much less three songs. Hammett is genuinely one of the greatest guitarist alive today which explains why his net worth is around $200 million.

James Hetfield: $300 Million

Hetfield is the lead vocals and a guitarist for Metallica. Like Kirk Hammett, Hetfield is credited with popularizing thrash metal. Hetfield’s gritty voice and heavy right hand add a lot to the signature sound Metallica cultivated over its lifetime. Bands like Megadeath, Anthrax, Metallica, and Slayer led the way for thrash metal, and remain some of the greatest thrash metal bands to date.

Hetfield is known for his signature “yeah” which is adds to the live and recorded versions of many of Metallica’s songs. Hetfield’s “yeah” is possibly as much a part of Metallica’s sound as the music itself. His thick, gritty baritone voice adds to the unique sound Metallica has cultivated over their long career. He’s reportedly worth $300 million, and he has his own line of ESP guitars like his bandmate.

Eric Clapton: $300 Million

Clapton mastered blues guitar early in his career and many musicians at the time referred to him merely as “god.” He plays a Fender Stratocaster almost exclusively and uses a fingering style Zakk Wylde once referred to as “chicken picking” to produce some of the greatest blues and rock music ever performed. Clapton’s career influenced many of the great guitarists we enjoy today. His net worth is $300 million.

David Howell Evans (The Edge): $240 Million

Most people just refer to Evans as Edge. He’s the lead guitar player for the rock band U2. His sound is unique among guitar players and isn’t a sound many bands try to reproduce. Other bands that tried to capitalize on the U2 sound didn’t fare as well as U2, which also happens to be one of the most successful groups of all time from a business point of view.

Evans typically plays a Gibson Explorer plugged into a VOX amplifier. That guitar and amp combination helps heighten his signature sound. Instead of relying on complicated scales, Evans uses heavy reverb and hangs on a single note for longer than he should to produce U2’s famous sound. It was heralded by critics as a gimmick, but at a net worth of $240 million, we think it’s working pretty well.

Dave Grohl: $280 Million


Grohl was part of the grunge music movement during his time as the drummer for Nirvana. Grohl almost gave up music when his bandmate Curt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. After Cobain’s death, Grohl went through a period of depression and said music just made it worse. Fortunately, for Grohl and our ears, he won his battle with depression and formed the Foo Fighters.

The Foo Fighters debut album included several songs that initially started as potential Nirvana songs.

Nirvana rehearsed some of the songs until Kurt Cobain’s untimely death. Grohl and Cobain swapped roles for some of the songs with Cobain on drums and Grohl on guitar which may have acted as inspiration for Grohl in starting Foo Fighters. His net worth is $280 Million.

Keith Richards: $340 Million


Richards is a songwriter and lead guitar player for the band The Rolling Stones. Much of the band’s stage fame comes from the movements of their lead singer Mick Jagger, but their rock with a twist of blues sound is all Richards. Richards takes about sixty guitars on tour and is known for using a five-string guitar often. He prefers a Fender Telecaster or Gibson Les Paul but usually plays a Gibson ES-335.

Richards is a colorful character on stage and off stage. He wears flashy, brightly colored clothes and uses his stage presence to connect with the crowd more than his guitar skills.

When you combine his personality with his incredible guitar skills, it turns into a concert his fans never forget. Johnny Depp reportedly said he used Richards as inspiration for Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Richards was worth about $280 million a decade ago, but today his net worth is $340 million.

Bruce Springsteen: $460 Million

No list of guitar players, especially the richest guitarists list, is complete with including The Boss. We didn’t count them all, but Springsteen has won at least twenty Grammy’s, an Academy Award, and a few Golden Globes during his career. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His music and lyrics championed the everyday worker from the factory worker to the window washer.

He made it a point to write songs and music that appealed to the people he called the heart or spirit of America. Many of his songs found their lyrics in Springsteen’s childhood. He paid less than $200 for the guitar he plays on stage.

Jimmy Buffet: $600 Million


Buffet is possibly the most colorful person in music. His stage attire is colorful shirts with floral prints and beach shorts. Buffet began his music career in 1970, and he is one of the greatest musical success stories in history.

You probably have a favorite Jimmy Buffet song, but a song like Margaritaville, Come Monday, and Cheeseburger in Paradise are the ones that made him famous. Buffet’s sound is a mix of country and folk music with a little pop thrown in for good measure.

Buffet used the title of two of his songs, Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise, as the brand names for two restaurant chains. Buffet’s talents stretch well beyond music, and his love for the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the environment are evident in everything he’s done in the last few decades.

Also, he wrote several books including a few children’s books. Buffet’s net worth is over $600 million.

These guitar players are among the greatest and wealthiest guitar players alive today. No one is born a great musician, but natural talent and hard work pushed these guitarists to greatness. Whether you like their music or not, we can all agree they chose the right careers, plus they made our richest guitarists list.