Effect Classical Music on Babies

There have been several studies that have been conducted to see if classical music has an effect on infants. While you make your babies listen to music, ensure though that you control the volume levels of the music. Several parents also choose to sing to their kids which can often help kids understand and recognize their parent’s voice and also help develop their language skills

Music can be an extremely powerful stimulant. It can completely sway our emotions. A soft, gentle song can make you hum in delight, a song about overcoming difficulties can make you optimistic and give you the strength to carry on, a soothing sound can help you sleep, and an energetic orchestra can make you feel excited.
Several studies have been carried out that illustrate the effect that music can have on our mind. Some of these studies have predominantly focused on how music can affect the minds of babies. It is believed that music can actually affect the way our mind functions, especially during our developmental years.

Classical Music and Its Effect on Infants

Whether classical music has an effect on babies is widely disputed, but this effect has been widely christened the Mozart effect. While it may or may not be agreed that it makes someone smarter, it is believed that music can have an influence on one’s mood and language skills.

The importance of music is a matter that has been studied widely, and its effect on one’s mood and minds has been widely accepted. This effect is not restricted only to infants but can also be seen in adults.

According to scientists, listening to classical music during your infancy will not make you smarter, but it does have an effect on the passages that are built in the brain to facilitate the functioning of neurons. It is a well-known fact that with age the number of neurons that we use depletes, and exposing babies to stimuli like classical music can improve the functioning of neurons, which results in ready acceptance of knowledge and talent.

Have you ever been shocked at news reports of child prodigies who can play symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven at the age of three? Well, chances are that these kids were exposed to classical music as infants. Not only do they remember these pieces of music, but they also retain the ability to process and remember any other information they were exposed to while listening to classical music.

Studies have also shown that classical music can actually improve your spatial abilities and aid your language learning skills. Research has shown that babies who were exposed to classical music tend to have much higher spatial IQs compared to babies who were not made to listen to classical music.

When exposed to classical music, babies’ ability to understand language and learn was much better, as listening to classical music helped them understand and differentiate between complex sounds.

As with adults, the mood of a baby can also be greatly affected by the music that is playing in the background. Classical music can have a huge effect on a baby’s health. It has been observed that listening to classical music can help calm the mind of an infant and also alleviate pain, especially in babies who are born premature.

If you are a new parent who wants to ensure that your baby benefits a lot, then you can introduce your child to classical music at an early age by playing music for them. The Mozart effect that has been discussed in this article is an observation that is still highly debated. While definitely not harmful for your child, it should be seen as a learning aid and nothing more than that.

Tips Buying Your First Guitar

I don’t know about others, but I chose to take a few guitar lessons first before I went ahead and bought my first guitar. I would use one of my teacher’s guitars during the lessons and practice on my friend’s guitar at home. This way, I was able to bid some time and save up for my own guitar, if ever I decided to get one. However, a lot of people I know first bought their guitars and then enrolled for guitar lessons or taught themselves through books and online research.

One of the foremost things that you must consider before buying a guitar is to ask yourself the reason for wanting to do so. Is playing the guitar a desire you have harbored for a really long time or is it just a passing phase? Depending on your love for music and the instrument, you will have to decide whether the guitar is the best choice for you or not. If you feel that you might get bored of it or find it too difficult to learn, I suggest that you wait until you’re ready to get your very own guitar. The reason being, the guitar requires a certain level of maintenance and looking after, and constant practice in order to ensure that the instrument stays in optimal form, does not warp, or lose the vitality of its strings. This Buzzle article discusses some of the fundamental things you must consider before buying your first guitar.

Which Guitar Would You Prefer – Electric or Acoustic

The acoustic guitar with metal strings or the classical guitar with nylon strings is often preferred by beginners, because it is portable, does not require amps and cables, and can be played unplugged. The basics of guitar are often taught on the acoustic guitar, so if you plan on joining a guitar class, buying your own acoustic guitar is the wise thing to do. Not only would you get the chance to practice on your own guitar, you will get to take it home and practice some more. The longer you play on one guitar, the more familiar you become with it, and thus, you will be more comfortable playing it often. On the other hand, starting with the semi-acoustic or electric guitar can help you learn about using guitar pedals, pickups, vibrato arms, and other guitar components with greater ease. The only downside of starting lessons with an electric guitar is that it does not sound good without being plugged and that can take a lot away for those trying to learn the notes by ear.

Which Genre Do You Plan on Playing?

Depending on the genre of music, you will need to decide whether your needs will be met by an acoustic or electric guitar. If you wish to start with basic major and minor chords, and blues scale, an acoustic guitar would be ideal. Another way to decide upon the type of guitar you want is to go for the guitar that your favorite artist uses often. Acoustic ‘Dreadnought’ and classical guitars are great for playing country music, folk songs, bluegrass, and pop tunes. However, if your goal is to play guitar with heavy distortions and solos, an electric guitar will suit your needs better.

Consider Testing Some Guitars First

It is always better to visit some of the local guitar stores near your locality and check out their collection. This way, you will get the opportunity to try out various types of guitars, select the one that sounds the best, and is the easiest for you to play. Since guitars come in various cuts, designs, and sizes, the owner of the store will be able to show you guitars that are well-suited for beginners. Make a note of the guitar models you liked a lot, their prices, and do the same for every store you visit.

Do a Thorough Guitar Search and Research

Once you have made a list of the guitars you like, begin searching for discounts on the same brand and model on the Internet. Many of the guitars sold in shops tend to be sold on discounted rates online. Read the reviews by others who purchased the guitars shortlisted by you, and decide if you really want to settle down for the guitar model or not. Reviews can tell a lot about the individual user’s experience with the guitar and pros and cons of having invested in the particular guitar model and brand.

Consider the Cost, and Plan Your Budget

For beginners, it is often advised to go in for cheaper guitars that sound good and serve the basic purpose of helping the user learn the instrument. It is also better to invest less initially so that in case you do not enjoy playing the guitar, you do not have to feel guilty about having dished out so much of money for nothing. On the other hand, you can always save and spend a little more so that you can go in for a good guitar, and treat it as a long-term investment. It all boils down to your needs, budget, and willingness to spend for a good instrument. Another alternative is to buy a used guitar from a friend or online, and save yourself the unnecessary expense. The biggest downside to buying secondhand guitars is that you will need to be extremely cautious that the seller does not try to pass off a damaged guitar to you.

Go in for a guitar that not only sounds good, but is also comfortable to hold and play. The strings must press down easily and not be too sharp or hard. Also, make sure that you don’t get talked into buying a guitar by a salesman and end up with a guitar that is not suitable for you. Moreover, once you get your first guitar, the next stop is to find a good guitar coach and put in plenty of hours of practice!

How to Buying an Acoustic Guitar

Nothing beats the sound of an acoustic guitar, also it is the guitar with which everybody starts their guitar lessons. Selecting a good guitar is very important, because it should give the right sound and feel right when you are holding it in your hands. Also, a good guitar will last for many years, when cared for properly. Here are some pointers that will help you in selecting the right acoustic guitar.

Shopping Tips

There are certain things that need to be kept in mind while purchasing an acoustic guitar. Here are some tips that will come handy when you go on that shopping trip.

  • If you are looking at majoring in music or if you believe that guitar playing could become a serious hobby, then go for the best-quality guitar that you can afford. If you are looking for a guitar that will last for a few years or can’t afford a high-quality guitar, then you can select a basic but decent quality inexpensive guitar.
  • Find out the stores in town which have a good collection of guitars and make a list. Look into as many stores as possible and as many guitars as possible. Hold the guitars and play them to check if they feel right.
  • Whenever you browse through the collection at these stores, it may be a good idea to go with a friend or a teacher who understand guitars well.
  • It is important that you check the workmanship of the guitar, regarding the seating and polish of the frets, the binding between the top and sides, and the finish. Budget guitars which cost less will be made of cheaper materials, have lesser quality of workmanship, and many finishing defects. However, the premium quality ones will have a perfect finish on all the components, and you can be assured that even the interior bracing will be properly glued and smoothly sanded.
  • When buying a guitar, keep in mind the sound the guitar makes, the right hold, and the workmanship; rather than fantasizing about a beautifully-colored guitar.
  • Check the prices online on different guitars and compare the store prices.
  • In case you are left-handed and the guitar which you like is made for people who are right-handed, you can ask the store people to fix it for you. Small children while learning to play guitar have some trouble with moving their fingers fast on the fingerboard, and hence, you can purchase a small-sized guitar for their convenience.

Try to go to the old shops in town, which have a good collection of musical instruments. People in these shops tend to have experience and buy their guitar from good suppliers and keep good brands. Apart from buying guitar from such places, you can also pick some good accessories and maybe bargain with the store manager to lower the prices. Mostly you will get the picks for playing guitar free, but in case you don’t select a normal hard pick to get started with your guitar lessons.

Acoustic Guitar for Beginners

The best acoustic guitar for beginners is the one which has a good quality tone, and is not highly priced. Such guitars can be of any make and model. Beginners are individuals who have just started with guitar lessons, and for learning the basics of music, they necessarily don’t need guitars which have the best sound and are highly priced. In the initial stage, they can buy inexpensive guitars which provide the perfect tone. Once they have considerable knowledge and understanding of playing the guitar, they can upgrade to ones which are meant for professional use.

If children are learning, then guitars with small fretboards are more suitable. As they grow, they can be provided with guitars with normal-sized fretboards. Buying an acoustic guitar for beginners can be a challenge as there are many low-priced ones available in music instrument stores. You just need to remember that the guitar should have an acceptable tone. However, beginner acoustic guitars manufactured by reputed companies like ‘Yamaha’ and ‘Fender’ have a very good tone which matches the tone quality of professional acoustic guitars. Below is the list of some of the top acoustic guitars which are suitable for beginners.

Most Popular Acoustic Guitars for Beginners

Yamaha FG700S
Yamaha has been in the music industry for years, and it knows exactly what guitar beginners prefer. As a result, it came up with the FG700S. As the Seagull S6, this guitar is also one of the best sounding instruments, but with a significantly lower price. Even at a price range of about $200, it just sounds as amazing as a professional acoustic guitar. It has die-cast tuners, and a rosewood fretboard and bridge.

Takamine G-340
This is one of the beginner’s model acoustic guitars manufactured by ‘Takamine’. Being a beginner’s model, it does not compromise on the tone quality. However, some do call it below-par as compared to other guitars manufactured by the company. With a good tone quality, it is not too hard on the pocket and is available at around $360.

Seagull S6 Series
These guitars are considered one of the best guitars for beginners. They have a very good sound tone, and excellent value. They have a solid cedar top, and the body is made up of mahogany wood. They also have rosewood fretboards which are easy on the fingers. They are priced around $400. However, the price may not suit most beginners.

Fender CD140S
This is one of Fender’s lower-priced acoustic guitars, which is targeted especially at beginners. It is well known for producing sharp and crystal clear tones, and is available for a very low price. As a result, it is the most preferable option for newbies. However, it is not a guitar that you will choose to keep forever, but it certainly provides what a beginner expects. It is available for around $300.

Epiphone DR-100
In its class, this guitar is considered as a best seller by ‘Gibson’, the parent company of ‘Epiphone’. It has a very good tone quality for its price. One thing which will certainly surprise you is the price which is just around $100. This guitar is highly recommended if you want an acoustic guitar which produces a good tone at a surprisingly low price.

Choosing Between Cheap and Expensive Guitars
This aspect can be quite confusing to most people. I believe buying a cheap guitar just because you’re learning is a slight misconception, but only according to the situation. Here are two general scenarios where you can decide which guitar to buy:

A parent buying a new guitar for their child
If the child is over-enthusiastic, buy a cheap one. If the child controls himself/herself with new things, buy a decently priced guitar that stays with the child for the next 2-3 years. This is because changing guitars in the middle of training can throw the ear off.

A Person with financial constraints
If there is any way you can save up money, do it. It will be worth the wait to buy a new guitar that stays with you for longer. If there isn’t a way to save up and you need a guitar urgently, then buy a cheap one. Don’t go for second-hand guitars. As a beginner, you won’t fully understand the problems that a second-hand guitar has, or how to set it up properly.

Listen to Classical Music

Classical music has been an integral part of our lives, directly or indirectly. We have been exposed to many classical music pieces used in commercials, as background music in movies, in cartoons and even in video games. Take an example, a classical piece called ‘O Fortuna’, has been used in various media forms. Also, music pieces by Beethoven and Mozart have been used in cartoons, for example, ‘Tom and Jerry’ and in sitcoms, for example, ‘South Park’ and ‘The Simpsons’. Ever since we entered school, Beethoven’s and Mozart’s music was recommended for listening to improve our memory and concentration power, and sometimes serving as a lullaby. I am sure that we all have heard some piece or notes of classical music, even if we didn’t know we were listening to it or even if we didn’t know who the artist was.

If your dilemma is, that you like listening to heavy metal, psychedelic rock, or pop music and you don’t really like listening to classical music, how will you ever develop a liking for it. Then, I am here to tell you how. You tried listening to classical music, but couldn’t hold on to it for long because it didn’t seem fun or intriguing enough, right? This feeling is normal. I went through the same before, and have now discovered my love and interest for it. I am going to explain, how you could listen to classical music and enjoy it, just the way I did.

How to Enjoy Listening to Classical Music

Don’t Listen to it While Working Out
Why most of us avoid listening to classical music is because, most of the time we listen to music, while performing some physical activity; such as, dancing, walking, jogging and working out in the gym. Classical music is definitely not the kind of music that will make you tap your feet or make you dance. So, you will have to hear it when you are not undergoing any sort of physical exertion.

Listen to it in the Dark
In contrast to the other popular music genres like pop and hip-hop which gets your adrenaline pumping, classical music is said to have a soporific, and a soothing effect. So, hear it when you are in a relaxed frame of mind and not in a commotion. You can listen to classical music either when you are going to sleep or even in the morning, if you rise early. Why?? That’s because when you are about to sleep or when you get up early, your mind is relatively free and less occupied. That is when classical music will suit your mood and your state of mind.

Listen to the Melody
If you are listening to classical music for the lyrics, then you are not going to listen to it for long. So, what you are supposed to hear in classical music is, its melody. Pay attention to how the music weaves and notes flow. Listen to the variations in rhythm and try identifying the different instruments played in the piece. This will keep you intrigued to the piece you are listening to.

The Music Takes Time to Seep in
It’s not a bad thing, if you don’t have a liking for classical music. But, if you think that you will be able to like it in one go, after reading this article, then that would be a pretty irrational expectation. When you start any sort of new activity, it will take some time for you to get accustomed to it. It’s similar to what happens when you listen to classical music at first. The best way is, when you are alone, working on something or reading a book, let it play in the background. Unconsciously and gradually, classical music will dwell into your mind.

Close your Eyes and Feel
The best way to understand classical music is by closing your eyes and imagining anything that first comes to your mind. You could imagine yourself performing any activity or, if you can’t imagine anything and you are blank, then just focus on the music and try to visualize how this music would have been created. Imagine an orchestra playing it and try to figure out all the musical instruments played in the piece.

Every Piece Has a Meaning
Every piece in classical music is meant for a reason. Each piece, though they may have less or no lyrics in them, has a story to narrate. Emotions like anger, love, pain, and beauty are all expressed in the form of variations in music. You will clearly understand it, after you have heard and understood a few pieces.

“Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.”

The above line is such a fantastic quote by Frank McKinney Hubbard about classical music. It totally describes how a person who is new to classical music will feel at first. It can feel like a minimalist music piece, but it’s more dynamic. Classical music has a broader variety of forms, rhythms and styles. The characteristics of classical music cannot be defined or restricted to a few set of points. Once you have developed an understanding of this music, you will soon be able to enjoy it, whenever you hear it.

While you are doing the above mentioned things, research a little bit about all the classical ‘master composers’ like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, Stravinsky, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy. Make a list of their best music pieces and listen to them.

Tips to Play Electric Guitar

Some people want to learn to play the guitar as a hobby, while others may take it to be a serious profession to enter the music industry. When it comes to learning to play this musical instrument, beginner guitar players should take in mind to start out with the acoustic guitar first. If you learn the acoustic guitar at the start of the skill, you will easily be able to grasp a majority of the techniques required to play the electric guitar. Guitar playing on the acoustic and electric is till an extent the same, with some exceptions associated with advanced techniques on the electric one. In the following, we are going to learn how to play the electric guitar step by step.

Chords and Notations
There are two types of chord holding methods on the fretboard viz. open chord and barre chord. Open chords relate to standard chords played typically on the acoustic guitar; mostly on first, second, and third frets. On the other hand, barre chords are those wherein you normally have to place the first finger of your fretting hand on all strings on a specific fret. Therefore, in such chords, there is no string left which does not get pressed on the fingerboard. These kinds of chords can be used anywhere on the fingerboard. Both open and barre chords can be used on acoustic as well as electric guitars. However, open chords are more specific to the acoustic guitar, whereas barre ones to the electric. Considering that you are familiar with reading guitar tabs, below are figures that depict the difference in an open and barre chord, just for your understanding.

Open and Barre Chords – Difference

Open ‘F’ Chord
e(1st) ———-1———-
B(2nd) ———-1———-
G(3rd) ———-2———-
D(4th) ———-3———-
A(5th) ———-3———-
E(6th) ———-X———-

Open ‘G’ Chord
e ————3—————
B ————0—————
G ————0—————
D ————0—————
A ————2—————
E ————3—————

Barre ‘F’ Chord
e(1st) ———-1———-
B(2nd) ———-1———-
G(3rd) ———-2———-
D(4th) ———-3———-
A(5th) ———-3———-
E(6th) ———-1———-

Barre ‘G’ Chord
e ————3—————
B ————3—————
G ————4—————
D ————5—————
A ————5—————
E ————3—————

Rhythms and Strumming Patterns
Though there is a similarity between strumming patterns of an acoustic and an electric guitar, there are some notable variations. Barre chords are generally played on the electric guitar for creating a punchy sound. Therefore, the rhythms should also be played accordingly. In order to get a punchy kind of strumming, you mostly need to strum the bass strings, with occasional strums on the lead ones. In addition, holding barre chords is also used to give breaks to the rhythm, which completely brings a drastic change in the primary strumming pattern. There is another good technique known as ‘muting’, wherein the player has to strum the strings with placing the edge of his palm on the strings just near where they are strummed. Muting can be done on the acoustic guitar, but is more effective on the electric guitar.

These are few of the basic techniques and tips on how to play electric guitar for beginners. Today, since music has become experimental, there are not many techniques that are totally generic. Musicians and guitarists experimenting with their instruments is the main reason why we can learn so many different techniques in the skill.

Effects of Music on the Mind

The study of how music affects the mind has been a subject of interest for many. The interconnection between music and the physical and mental health of human beings has been researched on since long. Research has concluded that music does have positive effects on our mind. It has the power of healing certain ailments. Indian classical music has been found to have the strongest healing powers. Music has a calming effect on the mind. It is known to speed the recovery of health ailments. It helps fight anxiety and has a soothing effect on the brain.

Effects of Music on the Mental State
Fights Depression
Feeling depressed, gloomy or inadequate? Soothing music can help you. Depression reduces brain activity and hampers the mind’s ability to plan and carry out tasks. Lack of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, results in a depressed state of mind. Soothing musical notes help increase the Serotonin levels of the brain, thus alleviating mental depression. Natural musical notes are known to make the mind alert.

Relieves Anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uncertainty that clouds your mind and the feeling is mostly about an upcoming event having an unknown outcome. The result is what you are afraid of or worried about. Increased anxiety levels and stress lead to sleeplessness. Prolonged periods of anxiety may even lead to anxiety disorders. But music can come to rescue. It calms the body nerves and soothes the mind. Flat musical notes induce sleep.

Improves Learning Abilities
Music affects the process of learning and thinking. Listening to quiet and soothing music while working helps you work faster and in a more efficient way. Music has the ability to make you positive and feel motivated. Research has shown that music brings about remarkable improvements in the academic skills of students, who are made to listen to certain kinds of music while studying or working in the lab. Listening to pleasant music, while doing a difficult task, can make it seem easier.

Boosts Confidence
Music has a positive effect on the interpersonal skills of an individual. Lack of confidence and very less or no desire to learn is most often the reason behind a failure. It’s not always inability. Students obtaining poor school grades do not necessarily lack intelligence. It’s their disinterest in the subjects or the lack of motivation that leads to poor academic performance. Music lessons during school can help the students fight their mental block. Music proves helpful in encouraging young children to venture new fields. It increases their capacity to believe in themselves, that is, in boosting confidence.

Effects of Music on the Brain

Increases Concentration Levels, Improves Memory
It is known that music helps increase your concentration levels. It helps improve memory. It has been found to increase memory levels of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Research has shown that the silence between two musical notes triggers brain cells which are responsible for the development of sharp memory. Flute music, and instruments like santoor and sarod are recommended for the enhancement of concentration and memory. Classical music improves the ability to recall what’s retained in the brain in the form of memory. Strong beats cause the brain waves to resonate in synch with the beat, thus leading to increased levels of concentration and increased mental alertness. This also trains the brain to change speeds of processing easily, as need be. Learning music helps increase self-discipline.

Increases Creativity and Problem-solving Skills
Music plays a vital role in enhancing creativity. Music has a positive impact on the right side of the brain. Music triggers brain centers which deal with the enhancement of creativity. Certain ragas are known to activate the chakras of our body, thus giving us an added advantage in other creative tasks. Music increases spatial and abstract reasoning skills. These are the skills required in tackling problems, solving puzzles and taking decisions. Listening to Mozart’s music is known to have a positive effect on the spatial-temporal reasoning, simply put, it makes you smarter.

Makes Learning Easier
Have you tried learning anything by combining it with music or rhythm? For example, counting with a certain repeating pattern, or learning the alphabet by giving it a tune. Or remember learning poetry by reciting it musically? Didn’t that help you learn things faster? Basically you can remember songs because they are musical compositions and not plain words lacking music or rhythm. This is what music does. It makes learning easier. Learning beat patterns (talas), helps improve math skills. The study of rhythm is known to help students learn math. Music stimulates the brain centers that deal with thinking, analyzing and planning, thus enhancing one’s organizational skills.

Speeds Healing
Music helps in the secretion of endorphins that help in speeding the process of healing. It acts as an effective distraction from pain and suffering. It not only diverts the mind from pain, but also helps bring about certain chemical changes in the brain that help speed the healing process. Music therapy is recommended for patients of high blood pressure, heart diseases and even cancer. Music is therapeutic in pain management. Listening to melodious, comforting music is sure to have a positive effect on the physical and mental well-being of patients. If not cure every ailment, music definitely creates hope in the minds of patients – a hope to recover. And when nothing else works, only hope does.

How does Music Affect your Mood?
Some look at music as a hobby; for some music is their passion, while some pursue music as their career. Music has a direct influence on your mood. Book stores, restaurants and shopping malls often keep some music playing in the background. The kind of music they choose to play depends on the kind of audiences they target. Music is found to enhance customer experience. Music in malls and restaurants peps up customers’ mood. People tend to spend more time in the mall or hotel that plays pleasant music. Music brightens up the atmosphere around you and cheers you up. Music can make you cry, music can make you smile; it has a direct impact on your mood. How music affects your mood also depends on what you associate that piece of music with. A tune or a particular song that is in some way related to your childhood can bring back memories. A song you associate something or someone in your life with, can remind you of that person or thing.

Classical Music

It’s the beautiful arrangement and harmony in the components of classic music that spellbound its listeners so much. The period between 1750 – 1830 is known as the Classical period, during which musicians and singers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven created a history in classical music. The popularity of classical music had a far flung effect and even common people developed an inclination for it. Singers and composers experimented with different styles and practiced use of different types of instruments for creating new genres.

Singing classical songs is truly difficult if you are not well versed with its elements, forms and characteristics. The approach and concept of people about classical music although differ a lot, yet there are some traits that are common in all. Classical music elements actually refer to the parts, sections and the components of the music that make it complete. Such elements form an integral part of different types of musical instruments, like violin, saxophone, piano, guitar, percussion, flute, etc. The essence of classical music lies in harmonizing the notes and chords to generate a tune where we can submerge ourselves completely. It’s because these elements are blended so well, classical music is capable of rejuvenating our mind and enlivening our spirits (this effect has been proved scientifically).

Elements of Classical Music
Melody

The lyrics are tuned in a particular fashion, through which we sing the song. A song is composed by arranging the notes in harmony. The tune formed as a result of combining the pitch and the rhythm is known as the melody. The melody of the song is responsible for making it pleasing to our senses.

Phrase

Basically there are two types of phrases, viz, complete and incomplete. The recurrent musical series are compiled into different phrases that completes the song. The first phrase is followed by the second (cadence), which finally closes the song.

Theme

Classical music is always based on a particular theme, that get exposed from the lyrics and the melody. A song without a theme is never complete. There might be variation in the themes, nevertheless, it forms the backbone of the song. The theme of the song is generated either spontaneously or by keeping the background into consideration.
Motif Motif is the shortest subsection of the melody or the theme. It’s a smallest idea or the smallest element of the song comprising three to four notes. Motifs are two types, viz, rhythmic motif and melodic motif. Listen to Beethoven’s 5th symphony du du du DUUUU to understand what exactly motif is.

Sonata

Sonata is composed of three main sections ‘an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation’. The ‘sonata-allegro’ became famous during the classical period, that lead to development of many forms of themes of classical music. Many modern classical singers consider sonata to be the ‘model for musical analysis’.

Measure

The time span (time signature) of the music within which the lyrics are composed harmoniously is known as the measure. It’s also known as the bar of the music notation. In short, it is the ‘beat per duration’. The entire duration of the music further depends on its lyrics and tune.

Timbre

It’s the quality of individual notes that helps in distinguishing one from another. The sound produced from the musical instrument depends upon the quality of the timbre used. Timbre is also connoted as tone color and tone quality, and due to this the notes produced have a differential effect.

Meter

The total number of syllables, lines, accents and rhythm in the music forms the meter. The technical terms used for defining a meter are measured rhythm, rhythmic shape and time. Meter results from arrangement of these elements. The melody of the song gets affected if the meter is not well measured.

Harmony

What makes a classical song so harmonious? It’s the harmony. The chords, pitches, tones and notes when blended perfectly creates the best type of music. Harmony adds texture and quality to classical music. It’s done by tuning the chord and adding the desired tension to it, so that the sound produced is soothing and melodious.

Coda

You can define coda as an extension of a cadence that paves the way for completing the music. It’s the concluding part of the music and is usually placed towards the end of the composition. Example, C Major Sonata in Mozart’s classical pieces.

Rhythm

The uniform motion that a music follows to progress is known as the rhythm of the music. The notes recur, new notes are generated and the music keeps flowing in a particular fashion, which is known as the rhythm. The rhythm of the music is also created by the beats.

These play a significant role in forming the structure and the tune of the song. If you are really fond of classical music, then I’m sure you will try to figure out these elements while listening to a classical song. Play the music and get completely absorbed in its melody.

Buying a Used Violin

There are so many types of violins you can buy today; you get the originals from as early as the 1600s to machine-made outfits for beginners. You get official hand-made replicas of the great Stradivarius violin to even knock-offs of these replicas! A skilled luthier will always be able to figure out the real from the fake, sometimes with even just photographs. But as a new, inexperienced buyer, you may be suckered by someone into buying a violin for thousands of dollars when it actually is worth about a few hundred. To avoid such instances, there are certain things that you can look for, to figure out if you’re being conned or not.

A Novice Buyer’s Guide to Used Violins

To keep things simple, I’ve divided the guide into sections depending on who is buying and where he/she is buying from.

Age and Seriousness of the Buyer
I am assuming that my readers belong within the ‘new-to-this’ to ‘moderately-experienced’ violin enthusiasts. Advanced players and collectors almost always have their own system of choosing a violin.

If you’re someone completely new to the violin, then buying one firstly depends on your age. It’s obvious that a 7-year-old will have a hard time playing an adult-sized violin. So here’s a list of the available sizes and the age they correspond to.

For a child of 3 years (or younger), the size is 1/32 (13 inches in length).
For a child of 3-4 years old, the size is 1/16 (14 inches in length).
For a child of 4-5 years old, the size is 1/10 (15 inches in length).
For a child of 5-6 years old, the size is 1/8 (16 1/2 inches in length).
For a child of 6-8 years old, the size is 1/4 (18 1/2 inches in length).
For a child of 8-10 years old, the size is 1/2 (20 inches in length).
For a child of 10-12 years old, the size is 3/4 (22 inches in length).
From 12 onwards, you can play the full-size violin, which is 4/4 (23 inches in length).

With this in mind, here’s a simple trick you can use to save a little money on the beginner level after 12 years of age. When you (or your child) start out, buy a low-priced outfit. As your skills develop, you will realize whether you want to pursue playing or not. If you do, spend a little to upgrade the bow and the strings. After that, see if you can find someone to help upgrade the setup. If you’ve bought the violin from a specialty store, they can do this for a price. This will help in developing a better sound on a cheap violin for low costs. All of this should be done only if you have problems buying a better violin (a moderate quality violin will cost no less than $250, used ones for no less than $100-$150).

The musician on an intermediate level of difficulty can sense if a violin is uncomfortable to play. In such cases, find a better make or see what you can do to change the feel to your liking.

Buying Online
Now that we’re clear on who’s buying, let’s have a look at all the places you can buy a used violin from. The first place that comes to mind to most buyers will be the Internet. Sites like eBay always have sellers that put their own used outfits for sale. The prices can be as low as $25-$50. There are even shops that sell online at discounted prices and sometimes offer free shipping. Now, since we’re talking about used violins, I suggest that you not buy yours online. More often than not, people end up regretting taking this choice. This is because even though the Internet may offer the widest range of instruments, the seller’s credibility is always low. You never know who the seller can be. As far as shops are concerned, only a small number will ever offer a trial period for online purchase. Trust a shop only if they do provide this service. When the violin arrives, it is advisable to let an experienced player handle it before playing it yourself. He can help ascertain the instrument’s quality and you can try it for comfort. Also check if the seller is willing to accept returns or trade the rejected violin for another of the same price (or higher).

Another problem with online purchase is if the violin has been made overseas. There’s no telling what might happen to the wood when the instrument is stored in a climate different from the place it was created. In this case, you have to spend extra to take care of your violin.

Buying From a Local Source
If you’re buying from a shop, the best thing you can do is to take some who knows about violins, with you (like your teacher or a professional violinist friend). If the store owner realizes that you have little or no idea of what to look for, he may try to sell you a really expensive outfit that you don’t really need, or overcharge for a cheaper one. This is always the case with used violins, it’s rather difficult for a novice (or even an intermediate player) to find any faults. Never buy one just because it’s the shiniest or because the seller is throwing some free stuff in.

You will come across traders that offer a trade-back policy with the violins they sell. You can buy a violin from them (both used and new) and return it at a later day. Find out the average return cost percentage that other traders offer. If the one you’re buying from is offering too low a return price, chances are the violin is faulty or of an inferior make.

Checking a Used Violin for Kinks

Here’s a list of things that you can look for when you’re looking a used violin.

  • The first thing you look for are cracks in the wood. A single, small crack can not only change the sound of a violin, but the crack will also get bigger with time, potentially ruining the instrument. Even repaired cracks or ones that have been polished over can be detrimental to the violin’s quality. This goes double for cracks on the back than any other place, because they are the worst.
  • Low quality wood means it’s not cured well. As time passes, a violin made out of this wood will start swelling in the side, or the ribs. This is because the wood eventually shrinks, but only the parts where there are long continuances. Which means the sides (the ribs) stay relatively firm, while the top and back plates (front and back side) of the violin begin to shrink. This gives the violin a bloated look. As a rule of thumb, make sure the sides have not swollen more than the outer edges.
  • Never buy a piece if it wasn’t already arranged with tuned strings. Violins, like any instrument, need some warming up. A good craftsman will know how to keep a violin in playable condition, rather than keep it boxed up.
  • Make sure the neck is perfectly straight.
  • Check the setup. The strings should be at the right height, so when you play, the strings won’t touch the fingerboard too much and make a buzzing sound. The bridge should be perfectly straight and at right angles to the front plate.
  • Look at how the fine tuners have been set. Too loose is bad, too tight is even worse, as they might dig into the wood beneath them.
  • The pegs should be made of either rosewood or ebony. Any other wood is just not dense enough to get a proper grip without letting the strings slip.

It also pays to take some time to learn about all the parts of a violin. Once you learn what things like ‘sound post’, ‘bass-bar’ and ‘tailpiece’ are and what they do inside a violin, it automatically becomes easier for you to see if they are set right or not. If they are not, check if it requires only a minor adjustment; in any other case look for another outfit.

Average Prices for Used Violins

The thing about violins is, judging them based purely on sound is not possible. That’s because sound is always subjective. So the appraisal is often based on other things like when and where they were made, who made them and whether the violin has undergone any repairs to date.

Simply put, expensive means better. The kind of wood used, even in machine-made violins, can be quite costly. Add to that a luthier’s work in case of a hand-made violin, and the price goes up by a lot. It usually takes at least 200-250 hours of hard work to produce a quality instrument and so the price is justified. If the work put in is real and credible, that is. That said, a used violin for a beginner should cost around (and more than) $200. Look at it this way, the cheaper an instrument you try to buy, the more you’re going to spend on repairs, upgrades and maintenance later on. So it is definitely advisable to go for a better quality and expensive violin; you save more in the long run. A good, quality used violin should cost at least $500.

As for authentic and old violins, it’s better to refer to good catalogs or an expert luthier that you can trust. These won’t cost any less than $4000, even the replicas.

All in all, a serious beginner should be willing to shell out about $400-$500 for a good, used violin. The price almost doubles for an intermediate player and double of that for an advanced player.

In the end, for any player, what matters is the sound of a violin and its ability to hold that sound for a long time. Buying an expensive instrument with quality wood almost always ensures good sound, but you can find a violin that suits your musical needs and still be priced within budget. The amazing thing about a used violin is that if the wood is in good condition, the varnish hardens over time, giving a better, resonant tone. Not only that, old violins always generate a good status and respect within musical circles. It all stems from the violin’s amazing history and buying one makes you a part of it.

Tips Buying a Used Electric Guitar

A wise step while looking for used electric guitars would be to collect as much information about the instrument as possible. This should include knowledge about the serial number of the instrument, in case you want some additional information about it from the manufacturer, the modifications done to it, like replacement of pick-ups, strings, change in paint and so on. Secondly, it is important for you to ask (if buying from a private seller) why he wants to sell his guitar and if he purchased it new or used.

Check the Condition of the Guitar

Body

There are three designs in the body of an electric guitar – solid body, semi-hollow body, and hollow body. Your selection of the body depends on your playing style. As a beginner, you do not have to bother too much about the body, and hence can begin by selecting a solid body. Once you are thorough with basic lessons and ready for advanced learning you can choose some other body for your guitar.

Neck Construction

The neck is the most important as well as the moat delicate part of an electric guitar. Firstly, you will have to check for any damage – like a crack along the neck or the area between the neck and the head. The point where the neck joins the body of the guitar is also important to check for cracks as it might result in the complete breaking of the guitar. Some scratches here and there on the surface or the finish of the instrument are not a major concern as they don’t affect the sound quality. But cracks that have gone deep into the structure will definitely amount to a bigger problem in the sound and you may have to replace the neck. Also, if the neck is a little warped or bowed do not include the instrument in your selection list.

Apart from the above concerns, you also need to check out the types of guitar necks and choose the appropriate one. Basically there are three ways in which the neck is connected to the body – set neck, bolt-on neck, and neck through the body. The first type of neck is glued to the body permanently. Gibson guitars are a perfect example of set neck guitars. These models are quite expensive as compared to others and are also difficult to repair. The second type, i.e., the bolt-on neck, is attached to the body with the help of bolts or screws starting from the back of the body and penetrating into the back of the neck. This neck attachment reduced the production cost of electric guitars and brought them in demand, since the bolts could be easily adjusted or even replaced. Fender guitars are seen with this method of neck attachment. The third type is neck through the body, wherein the neck is an integral part of the body constructed out of one single piece of wood or several pieces laminated together. The selection of an electric guitar also depends on the convenience of placing your fingers on it and moving from one fret to another. There are a few standard neck profiles from which you can select a suitable profile for yourself for ease in playing. These profiles are termed as C-shaped, U-shaped and V-shaped neck profiles. The shape of the letters roughly correspond to the shape of the profile.

Strings

There should not be any buzzing in the strings while playing the guitar – whether plugged or unplugged. The strings should also not go mute in between. The correct way to check the strings is to play the guitar before purchasing. It will help you identify any rattling or buzzing in the strings. If the guitar is used for a very long time you might notice rust on the strings and even slight breaking.

Bridges

A bridge is a part on the electric guitar that supports the strings, connects them to the body, and transfers the vibrations of the strings to the body to produce resonance and sustain. There are two basic types of bridges; stoptail or fixed bridges, and tremolo bridges. While fixed bridges are permanently attached to the body, tremolo ones are movable. With tremolo bridges you can bend all the strings at a time to attempt variations in notes, however, it can cause the guitar to go off-tune at times. Hence, many players prefer stoptail bridge which offers more controlled, in-tune and sustained notes. Consider all these factors and decide on which type of bridge your guitar should have.
Check the Sound Quality

Action

The word action here refers to the distance between the strings and the fret board. Ideally, the strings should be closer to the board, so that they can be pressed down easily to fret the notes, but not so close that they touch the board. If the strings are close enough to the board right from the head to the bridges, you can say that the guitar has a good or the correct action.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance between the bridge and the nut. The point between these two parts is where the string vibrates. Scale length is a vital component of an electric guitar or any fretted instrument for that matter, because it affects the tonal quality as well as playability of the instrument. The two very common types of scale lengths are Fender scale 25-1/2″ (longer scale that provides higher string tension and a trebly sound) and Gibson scale 24-3/4″ (shorter scale and easy to play, which provides lower string tension and produces a little thick and less trebly sound). There are other scale lengths as well, but these two are the most preferred ones.

Intonation

Intonation is the accuracy of the fretted notes produced from the strings. For setting the intonation of the guitar, bridge saddles (the points on the bridge supporting individual strings) are moved either closer or away from the fret board till the octave on the 12th fret and its harmonics are equal. If an electric guitar is off-tune or is set in an incorrect intonation, the chords played at the bottom of the neck sound correct but the same chords played higher on the fret board sound a little off-tune. Another important thing is to check if the guitar is able to hold the tune for a few hours once set, or if you have to keep setting it frequently. When checking this though, keep in mind that every musical instrument needs intonation setting done from time to time. Make use of digital tuners to check the intonation for an accurate result.

Pick-ups

Pick-ups are magnetic devices that sense the musical vibrations of the strings in an electric form and pass electronic signals to the amplifier as well as speakers. There are two types of pick-ups – magnetic and piezoelectric – and both produce different sounds. It is very important to check these pick-ups while buying the instrument because they are pretty expensive to replace. If you are buying an electric guitar for yourself, then it is quite easy to examine the pick-ups. However, if you are purchasing it for someone else you will either have to take the person along with you or should know exactly what style of playing he/she prefers. The number of pick-ups also vary according to the model of the instrument. For some models there are two pick-ups – one close to the neck that produces a thicker sound and the other close to the bridge to get a treble sound effect. Some electric guitars also have a third pick-up in the middle, which adds to the sound blending combination.

Where to Buy?

Retail music stores are the most approachable destinations for buying used things. The people working there are well acquainted with the ins and outs of musical instruments and are able to give right suggestions. If you have access to such a local store nearby, do make a visit. If not, get in touch with a private seller, provided you ask all the questions mentioned in the introductory paragraph. Do not hesitate to voice your queries regarding the instrument and satisfy yourself before making the purchase. After all, it’s a one-time purchase and, of course, an important one in your music career. Another important point to note is the amplifier used for the electric guitar. When you are testing the sound quality of the guitar, use a quality amplifier available in the shop or borrow one from your friend. If the amplifier is not good it definitely affects the sound quality of the guitar. Nowadays even the Internet has become a great source for buying used stuff. Craigslist, eBay and other such sources are good options to check out.

A used electric guitar is a good option against buying a new one, not only because it costs less, but also because as a beginner you don’t have to invest too much just for trying your hand at it. Furthermore, if you are amongst the few lucky buyers, you might get a piece that is rare or out of production. Lastly, take your friend or someone knowledgeable in this field along to make the best buy.