New Arrangements and a Musical Phone!

I’ve just posted three new arrangements to the Library section of my website for my students to download and play at their leisure: a beginning piano version of the first verse of “Firework” by Katy Perry, and beginner recorder versions of “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven and “Here Come the Bride.” I’m still not quite through all my current requests, so keep an eye out for at least one more addition in the coming weeks.

I’d also like to share with everyone the coolest phone I’ve ever seen:

Sadly, this phone was sold sometime ago on Etsy. It’s a shame–I could think of more than a few music teachers who would love to get their hands on this. Teachers like me!


Something New From Something Very Old

Drums have been around for as long as people have enjoyed hitting objects to make noise–so, in other words, for as long as people have been people. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped working out new ways to make new noises!

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Hang (or handpan, or spacedrum–there seems to be some debate about which name is best), which is a new type of drum barely fifteen years old. There aren’t many companies that make this new type of drum yet, and it seems they’re mostly in Europe. I’m hoping that will change, though, because boy oh boy do I want one!

Boomwhacker Bach

When I used to substitute teach for music classes, one of the kids’ favourite instruments (and, to be honest, mine too!) was the boomwhacker. Boomwhackers are a series of colourful plastic tubes of different lengths that are tuned to different notes; they produce sound by striking against the ground or each other. While most of the music the kids made was simple, it turns out that, with a little cooperation and a lot of coordination, significantly more complex performances are very much possible!

Imagine what those practice sessions must have looked like–bouncing, rolling boomwhackers everywhere!

3D Printed Violin by Monad Studio

A Violin Straight Out of Science Fiction

As much as the above picture looks like a still from an upcoming science fiction movie, this instrument is fact, not fiction! It’s actually the result of 3D printing, made by MONAD Studio for an installation earlier this month.

The 2-string piezoelectric violin was part of 3D Print Week NY, along with a 3D-printed cello and electric bass. Two more instruments, small and large didgeridoos, were also going to be a part of the collection (but the artists ran out of time to make them!).

When I first saw the picture of the violin, I tried to imagine what it might sound like. Later, I found this video of a duet between the violin and the cello and…well, my imagination wasn’t even close! Did anyone guess right?

To hear the electric guitar being played, check out this article by 3D

Anything Can Be An Instrument: Wine Glass Edition

Every since I was a kid, the idea that wine glasses can double as musical instruments has fascinated me. Whenever my family visited my grandparents in Newfoundland, I always wanted my grandparents to bring out the wine glasses so I could play with them, and luckily for me, they’ve always been super-generous when it comes to me and music. (Thanks, Grannie and Granddad!)

It was hard to get exact notes with ordinary wine glasses–mostly I experimented with how the sound changed when I drank (water!) from the glasses. But as it turns out, if I ever wanted to play the glass harp (as it’s called when people play music on multiple wine glasses), my life would be made a whole lot easier by this set of musical wine glasses.

Musical Wine Glass

One musical wine glass. What kind of scale is printed on the outside?

Musical Wine Glasses

Two musical wine glasses! What interval would you get if you played them both together?

Unfortunately, the set is currently sold out. In the meantime, though, why not take a listen to a perhaps familiar song played on the glass harp?

Maria Ramey playing a double contrabass flute

A Flute of Epic Proportions

Hearing about a really awesome upcoming flute concert via the Canadian Flute Association when I was looking after my studio’s Facebook page reminded me that today I wanted to share a bit about a very different sort of flute. The double contrabass flute (pictured above) is the most massive member of the flute family–it stands eight feet tall and uses just over eighteen feet of tubing! So much for flutes being portable!

Listen to the double contrabass flute (and the slightly smaller subcontrabass flute) being played in the video below.

Do you know the song she demonstrates on the double contrabass flute? Tell me the answer in the comments!

A Musical…Vegetable?

Anything can be a musical instrument if you use your imagination–that’s something I firmly believe. Even so, when I first heard of the carrot clarinet, I was more than a little surprised. And then I was outright astonished when I heard how good it sounded!

This is the making-of video–if you’re only interested in hearing how it sounds, skip to around the four minute mark and be prepared to marvel!

If you’d like to make your own, Linsey Pollak, the musician in the video, shows how. Note that you’ll need both an alto saxophone mouthpiece and a drill, so this will require both a trip to the music store and parental supervision for younger readers.