Very often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey. We invite you to journey with us... Sign up to connect with Rhythm MP or follow us on

Getting Started On Music Part 2

1. How do you begin finding a suitable music teacher?

There are two ways you can go about to find a suitable music teacher.
Firstly, there are many music schools that you can visit to inquire about their various programs. Take your time to understand these programs to make a comparison of which would suit your child. At the same time, many of these programs are also available on the internet, with a lot of information for you to understand what they have to offer. I would suggest going to the internet to do this.

The other choice would be to find a private music teacher, if that is what you prefer. Perhaps you may know of, heard of or got a recommendation from a friend of a very popular teacher whom you can approach to inquire about his or her program. Take your time and talk to the teacher to find out more before you make your choice. Once you are convinced, you have found a music teacher for your child.

2. What should you be looking for in a program?

To know music is to be able to play music. So I would be looking for a good balance in the various areas of my music program. I would enjoy a program that includes many styles of repertoire from classical to contemporary.

Technical studies are involved when one plays scales, arpeggios and broken chords. Some teachers may also include other additional technical studies as well.

Aural studies are essential to develop rhythmic feel, listening skills and pitch.

Theory is always inclusive and is based on an examination syllabus, which is totally fine.

3. Are annual music exams compulsory?

Music examinations can be taken whenever a student feels there is a need for him or her to know the level that they are at. I would recommend that the early years of music learning be spent on exploring and listening to a lot of music instead.

Getting Started On Music Part 1

1. What is the recommended age to start a child on a musical instrument?

Generally, the ideal age is 7 years old to get started on a musical instrument. Because at that age, the 7 year old child is considered more physically built to be able to handle an instrument, like the piano, for example. At the same time, they are already attending school, which makes them quite ready to be able to take up music seriously.

2. Can a child begin music lessons at an even younger age?

Yes, there are special programs for children younger than 7 years old. These programs are usually conducted in a group lesson to help develop their musical interest. This is the first step leading towards developing their musical minds and preparation to begin on a musical instrument later.

3. What do young children learn in these programs?

Quiet many things, actually. These programs are a lot of fun for young children, and they have a few things in common. For example, there is singing to develop their hearing and musical pitch. There is dancing and body movement to help develop rhythmic feel. And usually this activity would include also playing some percussion instruments. There are also music games that develop their memory skills and reasoning skills, and many other elements.

4. Which musical instrument should my child begin with?

The piano is the most popular instrument to start with and for good reasons. Once you begin piano lessons, you will also begin learning the basic rudiments of theory, which will allow you to read, write and play in both, the treble and bass clef. Very importantly, you will also begin learning early harmony which leads to chord appreciation. This is especially important if you wish to move on to an orchestral instrument in the later part.

5. Are there other instruments suitable to begin with?

Yes! The violin is another very popular choice. It comes in various sizes to suit a young child all the way to an adult. Blowing instruments however, will require an older child with a better built to be able to play it.

A New Journey Each Step Of The Way

Arriving back in Malaysia, I began work by gigging and doing musical arrangements in Kuala Lumpur for some months.

Then I got a job offer from Rhythm MP as their Chief Editor and it was a new arena to step into where I get to produce music publications and reach out to many music teachers, students and musicians.

I still have an on-going mission to create more awareness and appreciation for music to encourage everyone to learn some music. Though my passion is in jazz, I advocate for the learning of all genres of music so that music student can find his/her niche. Meanwhile, performing with my jazz ensemble is a way to bring jazz appreciation to the public.

My musical journey has taken me places and brought much cheer to my life. I am still on my journey and it is a long road that never ends. Honestly, I do not know what I would be doing today if I did not do music. Though I was undecided at first, I am glad that I gave myself time to find my niche and decide what I will be most happy doing.

I have found my niche. I have found what I will be happy doing for the rest of my life. I can only hope that I will stay relevant in the music world and keep on developing my art.

A Need To Perform

Music is to be performed!

I am quite sure we all can agree that to perform music is the only way to know and be good in music, particularly, for the young music student. Though we can acknowledge this fact, much still needs to be done so that musical performances will be a frequent and regular happening in and around your area.

A musical performance need not necessarily be a major event like the annual concerts that many music centers organize for at the end of each year. It can be done on a small scale that can occur with more regularity. In fact, it has been done! So, let’s take a cue from our Chinese counterparts and follow their fine example.

Those who have been following our articles may remember our report regarding a visit to Xiamen, China by piano teachers from here. Xiamen was little known until we reported that Xiamen apparently produces many fine pianists. One major contributory factor that nurtured the immense talent is through the community holding regular music performances every week. It seems that individual households take turns to organize and host piano performances during weekends. Neighbors and friends are the audience who come for some music appreciation and to give encouragement to the performers.

Obviously, one can arrive at the conclusion that growing and developing under such suitable conditions can only make the performer better in many ways. Besides promoting music and providing a platform where young pianists can hone their skills and musical thought, it also promotes great neighborliness and communal integration.

While trying our best to encourage and impress upon every music student and teacher to look for opportunities to perform music whenever possible, we do not hear of much regular performances. Perhaps, the virtues of performing regularly are not fully realized and often get overlooked.

Let’s take a look at the virtues of performing music:
· It makes you think about how you are going to present and perform your music.
· Makes you a critic of your own performance to be more sensitive to the nuances in your performance.
· You practice more to ‘stay in shape’.
· You feel a desire to explore more music and it widens your repertoire.

Now, let’s consider how the audience should react:
· Be appreciative and not overly critical of the young performers. The young performers need time to mature musically.
· Even if the performance is not up to your standards, applaud to give encouragement. The next time you hear them again, they would have improved.

In short, we are trying to encourage everyone learning or teaching music to put his or her art into practice. This was the reason Rhythm MP organized a series of Piano Festival’s over some years in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and we are still encouraging students to perform through some of our music education support programs that we conduct.

Preparations for performing:
· Select the musical work/s that you would enjoy performing to an audience.
· Think about how you wish to perform your music and explore your ideas.
· Put in a lot of practice time to be able to perform well.

Dressing has become a bane for many people. People in general, are ‘dressing down’ these days. This is rather unfortunate because I can recall during my young years when my family was very particular about how I dress and how I carry myself publicly. I was taught to take pride in dressing suitably for an event and to take into consideration where it will be hosted, and I still do. For example, I would dress casually for a dinner at a friend’s home but I would dress smartly if the dinner was held at a restaurant, hotel, etc. Likewise, I attend weddings wearing a suit or at the very least, a coat.

Personally, I find it quite distasteful when I see people dressing inappropriately for a function. At the very least, we surely do have some common sense to dress proper when the occasion calls for it.

In the music world, dressing well for a performance is part of the grooming process that music accords an individual. I have frequently come across students who are dressed inappropriately to perform. For those who make an effort to dress well for a performance, I commend you well.

However, dressing ‘proper’ for a performance does have some problems too. These problems have to do with our understanding of what dressing proper means. Some girls tend to wear tight fitting clothes and high heels to perform, which is not recommended. Tight clothes restrict movement, especially of the arms when performing on the piano. High heels arch your feet and you find it rather awkward to work/control the pedals on the piano. For the boys, please do not wear t-shirts, shorts and slippers on stage to perform. This is very unsightly.

I cannot understand why dressing well is considered a chore, a hassle and/or an inconvenience. Some even complain that it takes too much of an effort to dress up. I am sure all you readers find these so-called ‘reasons’ unacceptable as they also breach social etiquette. Dressing appropriately should be something that we do naturally. We ought to be moving forward while retaining the good values instilled in us, rather than to denigrate ourselves for lack of effort to dress proper.

Dress Code: Dressing well for your performance.

· Dressing well is a sign of self-respect.
· It is also a sign of respect for your audience as you are dressing for them as well.
· You become conscious and aware of your outlook to be as presentable as possible in public.
· It also helps you develop the correct demeanor to have dignity and gain respect for your impeccability.

Here are some fine examples of students who dress well at our events.

Stage & Performing Protocol

Now that we have dealt with the attire for performing on stage, another important factor to consider is what I call ‘stage protocol’. It simply implies the proper manner to present oneself to acknowledge the audience. It is also a gesture of respect between the performer and audience.

Many performers feel self-conscious and almost embarrassed to bow to the audience properly. It could be anything from shyness to stage fright that particularly affects the young performers. This problem can be easily eradicated by having the student perform regularly to an audience to build his/her self-esteem.

So, what is the proper manner to bow to the audience for the pianist? Here are a few simple steps to follow:
· Walk properly on stage towards the piano. Do not stroll leisurely or rush towards the piano.
· Depending on which side of the piano you are, stand with a good posture and place your left or right hand on the piano to signify that the piano is your principle instrument.
· Look out to the audience with a smile and bow.
· Although ladies curtsy in most other circumstances, a bow is standard for female performers on stage.
· Most importantly, do not rush through the entire process before performing.
· After completing your performance, step to the side of the piano, place your hand on the piano and take a bow before leaving the stage.

The photo below is of a piano teacher bowing to the audience before and after performing for them.

What do we notice from the photo?
· Dressed very appropriately.
· Pleasant look on her face and smiling to the audience to signify that she enjoyed performing for them, and hope that they enjoyed her performance too.
· Good body posture.
· Hand on the piano.
· Feet together. It is acceptable for one foot to be slightly in front of the other, especially for the ladies. Never stand with feet apart as it will look and feel awkward to bow this way.

It is always relevant to train young kids stage protocol as early as possible. When done often, they will not feel shy or inhibited to bow on stage.

Off To A Whole New World

While awaiting my application reply, I indulged more into jazz and looked for any opportunity to perform. Finally, when the college’s reply came and I was accepted, I was thrilled to the core and immediately called home to inform my family. They rejoiced in the news and I only had a few months before leaving for Boston.

Meanwhile, my motivation and enthusiasm got more intense. Soon, I will be off to a whole new world, a different land, a different culture, where everything would be different, but I was brave enough to just head out and fend for myself.

A new chapter was beginning for me. Everything I learned, experienced and gained during my college years were invaluable. The friends I made there, the impressionable faculty members (who always kept me in awe with their knowledge and skills), the college itself and all the people I met during my years there were instrumental in my development.

It was after college, when I had some anxiety about where I will head off to next to start my life in the working world. I was contemplating on a few places to go but I finally came home. My dad called me when I was in San Francisco (after college) and suggested coming back to see if I can use my knowledge and skills to back home.

It took a while for me to decide coming home but I finally agreed to give it a try. I flew home with a heavy heart having made great friends there at college and at work.

Reflections of the Music Jamboree '09

Every year, the Music Jamboree is an event I look forward to with anticipation. This is where the opportunity to know more about music education programs from around the region and how they are conducted presents itself. I am always enthused to know more about the trends in music education around the region and the world over.

As in previous years, I find the participants this year equally enthusiastic and brimming with ideas to share. There were some returning participants whose testimonies offer valuable understanding in conducting the program. Obviously, these participants are more ‘mature’ with the program after having put it into practice for the past year.

The main core of the music jamboree is to learn, explore and apply various ways to encourage learning music among the young beginners. This calls for loads of creativity and the participants were surely not short of it.

After the first two days of studying and exploring various elements to teach music and make it interesting to the young beginners, the hands-on session with students at the school proves most crucial. It is a test of the abilities of the participants to run the program effectively in a group class instead of the ‘one-to-one’ concept that is the norm.

The reviews and analysis after each day’s hands-on sessions were particularly crucial in identifying problems and addressing them immediately. The effectiveness can be clearly seen and felt the next day during the continuing hands-on session.

Some of the teachers were discovering their potential to teach young beginners while some others with experience were developing their skills further. Whichever the case, I felt every participant had equal opportunity to gain and develop ideas and skills that will only serve to enhance them in their chosen profession.

I hope all the participants gained more insight into teaching young beginners and that they had an enjoyable stay in Penang. Until the next time we meet, I wish all the participants a musically successful and productive year ahead.

Music Jamboree 2009

This year’s jamboree teachers came from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Except for a few returning teachers, the rest were first-timers at the event. The clinicians were Mr. Wilson Quah, Mr. Seng Tak Pin and Ms. Lucy L.

As always, the 4-day jamboree was held during the school term break and began on the 25 August 2009 where the teachers studied and explored innovative approaches to teaching music to young beginners in a group class.

After two days of studying and preparing, all the teachers were brought to a school over the remaining next two days where close to 300 young students were eagerly awaiting their first experience in music learning and music making. The teachers quickly set about to take charge of their respective classes and begin the program.

The program at the school finished by midday and then it was back to the jamboree venue for reviews, discussions, etc about that morning’s activities and to prepare for the next day’s activities.

The results of the jamboree program with students concluded with performances by all the teachers and students on the final day of the jamboree. The performances reflected the various activities that were carried out at the school that included lyric writing and singing, music and movement, and percussion ensemble performances.

A visit to the Music Department of the School of Arts at USM (University Sains Malaysia) was also organized for to promote one of the country’s top tertiary institutions. Two faculty members of the USM music department, namely Cik Fatin and Dr. Jason Tye graciously conducted a presentation during the visit. While Cik Fatin’s presentation focused on promoting USM’s music programs and their illustrious faculty members, Dr. Jason’s talk was on a presentation he recently did in Italy about the comparisons of music education in this part of the world as compared to others.

Again for this year, the jamboree and all the teachers were put up at a hotel downtown in the UNESCO listed historical enclave where we hope the teachers can get better acquainted with Penang by exploring the surrounding area.

My Mission

Leaving for Singapore, I had only one mission that is to discover if music is my real true vocation. I really needed to know if I had the ‘calling’ to do well in music. Up until then, I only had a hunch that music is something I could excel in but I needed to be more self-assured. I felt that by being part of a music community with high caliber musicians would I find my answer.

Seeking out and getting to know the musicians there, jamming with them and having them as personal friends did have a big impact on my musical development. I was finally able to find like-minded musicians who shared the same passion in music to ‘talk-shop’ with. By being around them, my overall musical experiences accelerated even more and I felt musically lifted to a different level. Some of these friends are icons of jazz music in the region.

The musical inspiration that I felt drove me to explore more music and to practice at the piano as much as possible. There was much to study and I was fortunate to receive help from my musician friends. I attended the jazz jams every Sunday without fail to listen to and jam with those great musicians. All the wonderful things I was experiencing affirmed my decision to study jazz.

Finally, the day came when I called home to announce that I have made up my mind to study jazz at Berklee. My dad asked me two simple questions: Do you have what it takes to study jazz and do you think you are good enough to get into Berklee?

Well, I do not know but I must believe in myself that I have what it takes to enroll at such a prestigious institution. So, I set about applying to study at Berklee and waited anxiously for the reply. Anxiety did hit me, as I got quite worried that if I get rejected, I do not have Plan B at all. My mind was only set on jazz at Berklee.

Getting To Know Myself

While working as a music teacher, I always yearn to further my musical knowledge and skills. For those reasons, I took a one-month sabbatical and left for Singapore where the Southeast Asian agent of the music school that I worked for was located. I went there to learn from their Chief Instructor. Shortly after my return, I received a call offering me a job with the agent’s school in Singapore and was given a week to consider. I was thrilled to receive the offer and called them within a couple of days to accept the offer.

I was prepared to leave home and head out into the world by myself. I had to do what was necessary for me to pursue this vocation that I have chosen. Very importantly, I was really enthused because Singapore was the nearest place where there was quite a healthy jazz scene going on. For me, it was the place to be.

While preparing to leave for Singapore, I was looking forward to working with others and being totally responsible for myself; to do my own laundry, clean my own place of dwelling, cook or find my own food, etc. To me, that was great training if I should go abroad for my studies though domestic chores are not entirely new to me.

In Singapore, my work keeps me in touch with the music scene and musicians. For the first time, I had access to frequent live concerts and that I do not back home. I quickly discovered various jazz venues to patronize, which I did every Sunday and whenever I can during the week. Soon, I got to know quite many jazz musicians there and some became great friends of mine.

Do I have what it takes to be a musician?

While I was waiting for my high school results, I worked part time as a piano and electronic organ demonstrator at a popular music school. This kind of work does not require training. Other than the piano, I just needed to familiarize myself with the features of the various models of electronic organs to do a demonstration. I was drawn to everything and anything that has to do with music.

Right after my results was announced, the ensuing decision by me to put tertiary education on hold was to give myself a bit of time to decide on my vocation. Coincidentally, the music school approached me with an offer to join their faculty and I immediately accepted. Furthermore, I will receive training to be certified as a music teacher.

It was at that time when I began considering a career in music though I was never quite serious about it before. Then, the question was, which specific area of music do I want to go into for a career? Do I want to be a performing musician, a composer, an arranger, a producer, an educator, etc? I was soul-searching again. However, I told myself that whatever it was in music that I will end up doing, it would specifically have to do with the jazz genre. I was into jazz big time by then and I listened to no other music except jazz. It was jazz 24-7 for me and I could not get enough of it.

Why jazz? It is everything that is happening in jazz, especially the complexities in the rhythm, groove, harmony, melody and improvisations that intrigued me. I can listen to jazz non-top and even listen to the same piece again and again, and always discover something interesting about it that I never realized before.

But I knew I could not further myself back home, as there was no one to teach me more about jazz music. I decided that I had to go away to experience more jazz to help me with my decision. Like a grand design, the path to a career in music seems to be mysteriously laid out for me.

Primary Chords

There are 3 major components to most music we hear today, which are:
  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Rhythm
While the melody of the song matters most, those who learn music must pay particular attention to the chords of a song. It would be great to be able to identify the chord sound and chord type upon hearing it. However, everyone mostly pays particular attention to the melody and not to the chords of a song.

What are chords?
Chords are the basic foundation of harmony that supports the melody. Using the ideal chords can sometimes vastly improve the sound of a piece of music sound when it is performed.

Why are chords necessary?

Without chords, music will be very bland and much less interesting. Chords enrich a tune and makes it much more enjoyable to listen to. Can we imagine listening to a piece of music totally void of chords?

How many types of chords are there?

There are 5 basic chord types namely; major chords, minor chords, dominant chords, augmented chords and diminished chords.

How do we begin to understand and appreciate chords?
The first step is to begin with the 3 primary chords of a major scale: I, IV & V.

Here is what you can do to help yourself get a head start.
- Acquire musicality by playing a lot of songs in any major key that uses the 3 primary chords.
- Listen carefully to understand and appreciate the connection between the moving melody notes and the primary chords used.

Here is an example that uses the 3 primary chords to the popular song 'When The Saints Go Marching In' from Piano Lesson Made Easy Level 1.

Version 1 is to apply the primary chords only where necessary.

Version 2 explores the use of the primary chords. Compare this with the above version and note the differences.

Here are two more examples to explore the use of primary chords. Follow these instructions:
- Work out the triads and inversions of the chords on your own or with your music teacher's help.
- Play the chords where indicated on the music scores below to get a listening comparison of how the chords work with the melody.

Using the 'Good Morning' song from Piano Lesson Made Easy Level 1, the first example uses only chord I & V. These two chords are the most basic to begin with.

The next example below adds the use of chord IV to the same song. Play this version below and compare with the one above and you will notice that the inclusion of chord IV makes the music sound better. So, the more chords you add, the better the music will become.

Let's apply C and G chord to the improvised melody of Mary Had A Little Lamb. In the video clip below, two young students play this together. One plays the chords in Alberti bass accompaniment, while the other plays the improvised melody.

Taken from YMSD Improvisation Workshop 3


Printable page instructions:
For Mozilla Firefox Web browser
1. Click on the image
2. Select Print Preview from the File menu
3. Click Page Setup
4. In the Format Orientation: click Portrait
5. In the Format Scale: click Shrink To Fit Page Width
6. In the Margins: set Top, Bottom, Left and Right to zero (0)
7. Click OK
8. Click Print, click OK


Making a choice! Decision time!

Growing up, never did I contemplate on being a musician for a career! In fact, it never occurred to me to ever consider being one. I never thought much about any career until I was nearing the end of high school. It was crunch time for me, as I have to seriously decide on my vocation.

I recalled that it was right after my high school exams (called MCE then) when my dad asked me what I wanted to do for a career and whether I would like to go abroad for further studies. I was unsure, so we took a family trip to Kuala Lumpur to visit some of the foreign embassies to inquire about tertiary education abroad. We explored and inquired about numerous vocations. However, my vibes told me nothing except that I am not quite ready to decide.

I did not have time on my side. I have only a few months to decide before my high school results were announced. I was under pressure to make a decision. Though my parents’ desire of me to study abroad, I cannot just go without due and proper consideration of what I want to study. I just wanted to be sure that what I chose is something that will hopefully make me happy for the rest of my life. Otherwise, it would be horrible!

Upon receiving my results proper, my parents asked the big question of whether I have made up my mind on which vocation, and where to go for my tertiary education. Guess their reaction when I said that I have not and that I need a bit more time? Of course, they got a bit annoyed and told me not to take too long to decide. They accepted my decision to hold off until I am more assured about what I want to be. I did not want to jump into anything without due consideration, only to regret my decision should I want out.

Meanwhile, I received a letter from my school stating that I have qualified and am eligible to continue with my ‘A’ level studies. So, that was what I did while contemplating my vocation.

Enjoying and Appreciating Music

Performing for an audience, irrespective of size, is of utmost importance. It is when as a performer; we begin to become very conscious of our performance, our demeanor, our appearance, etc.

Whenever we have visitors at home or when we visit family friends who happen to have a piano at home, I was requested on numerous occasions to play something on the piano to entertain everyone. I use to dread that at first and I wondered many times if any of them really enjoyed the music that I was performing. Since I couldn’t possibly get away from being asked to perform, I decided to put together a repertoire of songs to perform at any moment’s notice.

In hindsight, I am glad today that I was put through that because it built my confidence and made me loose my inhibitions to perform in front of an audience. I realized that I did not feel intimidated and my self-esteem was rising. So it had to be good for me. Besides that, I felt encouraged to practice harder and to learn more new songs. So, I began spending more time on the piano exploring music as my interest in music grew. I was beginning to enjoy music very much. With that, my appreciation grew.

However, music was still purely for sheer enjoyment. It was something I was getting enthusiastic about. The joy of music is starting to creep up on me. Music is something that will be good for my soul. That much, I could only figure out. Still, it was not that I was considering a career in music.
Not yet!

Musical Form & Structure

Composing music is a creative aspect that every music student should attempt at some time. A recent event organized by Rhythm MP in conjunction with the Eden Handicap Service Center's Charity Food Fair 2009 garnered a total of 87 entries comprising young music students up to age 12 to submit an 8-bar composition. There were a few gems among the entries but quite many fell short for different reasons. One of the most obvious was musical form. So, let’s deal with this simple issue first.

Look at the example below; notice that there are no musical phrases. The melody is moving continuously without any breaks. Musical phrases are like spoken sentences. We can’t speak continuously without pausing for breath. Likewise, musical lines are the same.

The simplest approach to understanding musical form is to limit each musical phrase to four bars only. The fourth bar should contain a note held for the entire duration of the bar (for now). Therefore, using the same musical example above, Bar 4 should look like this.

Notice that the rhythm of the notes in Bar 1 – 4 are exactly the same as Bar 5 - 8. Now, you have two musical phrases.

The next step is to consider how the melody sounds. After having composed the melody, it is always necessary to play the melody on your principle instrument (in this case, the piano) to know how it sounds. Decide if you like what you hear and if not, what would you change?

Play the example below on your piano and compare it with the original melody above. You will notice that more notes are used in the melody. There are no repeated notes to make the music monotonous. (Note: Suitable for students who have completed Piano Lesson Made Easy Level 3 and/or My Third Theory Book.)

Taking it another step further, make some alterations to the note values like shown below. This rhythm will make the melody sound more interesting. Play it on your piano to feel the difference.

Now that we have gone through some basic steps on how to improve a composition, it is your turn to try composing an interesting melody to the accompaniment. This 8-bar composition game taken from Because of Love (red book).


Be A Young Composer

Click on MPA composition 1 to view or print.


Printable page instructions:
For Mozilla Firefox Web browser
1. Click on the image
2. Select Print Preview from the File menu
3. Click Page Setup
4. In the Format Orientation: click Portrait
5. In the Format Scale: click Shrink To Fit Page Width
6. In the Margins: set Top, Bottom, Left and Right to zero (0)
7. Click OK
8. Click Print, click OK

Finding My Niche

By the time I was in my early teens, I have been exposed to quite many genres of music. I was enjoying everything I was listening to, be it classical, jazz, pop, rock, etc. as long as it was pleasing to my ears. So, I was listening to a lot of music and trying to digest it all.

I tried to make some sense of all the music I was listening to by attempting to analyze what I was hearing. I would hear a chord sound and go search for that sound on the piano. I would try my best to transcribe a melody and figure out the chords to a song that I particularly liked. Then I would play it on the piano imitating the groove of the music to the best of my ability.

It was at that time when I was beginning to be intrigued by jazz music. It was everything in jazz: the melody, the rhythm, the harmony and the synergy among the musicians in a jazz performance that captivated me. Jazz was so complex and intimidating for me that I desired to know more about it. It was from loads of listening to jazz and trying to figure out the complexities of that genre that got me hooked on jazz. The more I listened, the more it impressed upon me the virtuosity of the musicians and minds that these musicians possess to create such music. So, I decided I wanted to go the jazz way too. I wanted to have the musical and mental skills to be able to perform jazz.

While I was still in a classical music program, I embarked on a self-taught jazz program since there was no one who could teach me jazz. I was merely imitating what I could gather from the jazz recordings. As the saying goes: If at first when you do not succeed, imitate! It was from lots of listening and exploring jazz on the piano that got me deeper into jazz.

Card Games Made Easy

This card game is a great teaching and learning aid for music. Early music rudiments can be easily learned, remembered and applied instantly using these cards. Playable from 2 to 4 persons per group, it is a music game for the whole family and friends.
Follow these simple and effective steps to use the Card Games Made Easy Level 1A (or Card Game - A and Card Game - E):
The red colored cards represent note types and counts as shown below.

Separate the note types and counts into two separate sets of cards.

Place the cards face down separated from each other on the desk like shown below. Open a card from each set. If the note and counts match, keep the cards.

If the cards do not match, leave the opened cards on the table .
It is the turn of the next player and so on, until all the cards have been matched.
The person with the most cards shall be the winner.
The same rules apply to the blue set of cards. These cards matches the music notation with letter names as shown below.

Developing Good Rhythmic Skills
This activity helps in reading music (sight-reading) and developing rhythmic feel.
Separate the cards with note types (crotchets, minims, etc) in set 1B-1 (or Card Game - C) from the rest. From these cards, simply form one bar of rhythm that equals four counts/beats. Next, clap the rhythm in a moderate tempo. Once you can clap the rhythm steadily well, continue creating more one bar rhythms to develop your rhythmic skills.

After a while with this exercise, you need to raise the level and challenge yourself even more to be better. Following the same procedure, create a two bar rhythm to clap.

You can create up to four bars of rhythm to clap and it can be quite challenging to know how well you can do it without stopping or slowing down to read the notes. You can also use a different time signature with three beats in a bar instead of four.

Intervals & Solfège
Learning about intervals and developing good pitch with solfège singing is another feature of the Card Games. This activity covers a component in music theory (intervals) and a component in Aurals (pitch singing).
Using the card games from set 1B-2 (or Card Game - F), there are only five notes from Middle C to G to work on for the young beginner. Only the cards with the music notes will be used for this activity.
Pick any card to begin. Middle C was chosen for this example.

Next, chose any other of the remaining four notes and place it next to the Middle C note like shown below.

What is the interval between the two notes? Answer: Major 3rd.
Hit the Middle C note on your piano and try singing the pitch of the note that is a major 3rd away. Use the correct solfège syllable, which is DO for C note and MI for E note to sing the interval. Play the E note and check if your pitch is accurate. Carry on with this exercise and pair different notes with each other. The only interval to avoid is between E and F note, which creates a minor 2nd interval.

A Simple Approach To Composing
Let’s learn to create music, which means to compose music using these cards.
Here are just a few simple steps to follow to compose an 8-bar melody:
1. Take four pieces of blank A4 paper and cut them vertically into two halves and you will have eight strips of paper. Each piece when placed horizontally will represent one bar. Group the cards accordingly as shown in the photo below. Let’s begin creating a two bar melody.

2. Select the note types and place them on the strip of paper to complete a total of four counts. Do the same for all the eight bars. Below are examples of the first and second bar. Include the beats/counts above every note as shown.

3. Once completed, put all the eight bars together to clap the rhythm of the entire eight bars that you have created.

4. So far, you have to create a rhythmic line. Next, turn every note into a musical note using C, D, E, F or G, as shown below.

5. The two bar melody when written on music manuscript looks like this.

6. It is always recommended to perform the melody of the song on a piano or any digital keyboard to know how it sounds. It excites us to hear what we have created and it will motivate us further.
Having learned the steps to simple composition using the Card Games, the next step is to explore and create motifs that sound good. Every composition has to begin with a motif. A motif is a musical idea that can be two to four bars in length.
Following the procedures to begin composing using the card games, let’s begin creating a 2-bar motif in Common Time, which means there are four counts in a bar. So, two bars mean there are a total of eight counts/beats.
First, randomly create a rhythm to fit four counts in each of the two bars. Then, attach a note to the rhythm you have created, just like the example below.

You may not know how it sounds until you play it on the piano. Do that and decide if you like what you have just created. If not, the simplest way to create another motif would be just to move the notes around (like in the example below) and you can create many more motifs.

Play every motif you created on the piano and decide which ones are the best sounding. - Grand Piano Keyboard
Printable page instructions:
For Mozilla Firefox Web browser
1. Click on the image
2. Select Print Preview from the File menu
3. Click Page Setup
4. In the Format Orientation: click Portrait
5. In the Format Scale: click Shrink To Fit Page Width
6. In the Margins: set Top, Bottom, Left and Right to zero (0)
7. Click OK
8. Click Print, click OK


MPC-3002-1A Card Games Made Easy Level 1A
MPC-3002-1B Card Games Made Easy Level 1B