Interview with a Student: Arianna

She is a pianist who has participated in many performance opportunities and ensemble classes in her time here. I asked her what some of her favorite memories are from over the years. “Definitely the great teachers I have had…

I recently sat down with Arianna, a student and lab attendant here at MTMS who began lessons in 2011 when she was just 7 years old. She is a pianist who has participated in many performance opportunities and ensemble classes in her time here. I asked her what some of her favorite memories are from over the years. “Definitely the great teachers I have had. They helped me with both the technique and artistry components of piano playing. I also had a lot of fun with my band, Gum!”

I remember Arianna telling me from the time she was 11 years old that she wanted to work here one day. It’s easy to see the love she has for music and learning. I asked her about the impact that this school has had on her. “I have learned a lot about music theory from the computer lab. Learning how chords work helps me understand harmonies when I’m playing in an ensemble. I have also learned over time in my lessons how to really play musically, not just how to play the notes.”

We hired Arianna as one of our computer lab attendants in December 2017. When I asked her about the opportunities MTMS has provided her with, she said that getting hired here was definitely the biggest. But she also told me that she really learned how to express herself here. Through all her recitals and performances over the years, we have watched Arianna grow as a musician. “Music has become a really big part of my life,” she said to me. “I think it really has shaped who I have become as a person.”

We want to hear from you too! Post a review on Google or our Facebook page to tell us what MTMS means to you.

Katie Ball, Lab Lead

On Confidence

I have the pleasure of hearing lots of talented young musicians every day. One of my greatest challenges is convincing them that their talents stand on their own unique merits. It’s good to respect and admire other musicians, but not at the expense of your own self esteem. Music is meant to be enjoyed, not judged. I can’t count the number of musicians I love to hear, and I don’t compare them or wish one had some particular skill that another has. I enjoy each for who they are, period.

Folks, if you enjoy listening to a musician and have the opportunity to tell them so, please do. It might be just the encouragement that person needs to get up and perform the next time.

Consonance and Dissonance in Music

Beware: Science and Math Ahead!


A Facebook friend posed the following question:

Here’s a bit of music theory to dabble with…

The fifth in a scale is called the “perfect fifth”. The ear loves it with a passion: So much so that it has a vile hatred of the diminished fifth, or tritone. The fifth is even called the “dominant”. Musical tuning and key signatures revolve around the fifth…literally. (circle of fifths)

But why is that? I wondered about the underlying math. The ear accepts an octave as the same note because it is double the frequency. A4 is 440 Hz. A5 is 880 Hz. A3 is 220 Hz. The chromatic scale has 12 progressive semitones (minor seconds), and the fifth happens to be 7 semitones above the tonic. (12 and 7 are Divine numbers.) What’s 7 the number of? Divine completeness. Six is the number of man. The tritone is only six semitones above the tonic.

Does your ear really understand that? It might. But what is the fifth in terms of actual frequency?

Well, a minor second is 2^(1/12) Hz above its tonic. So it stands that the fifth is 2^(7/12) Hz above. And that power is almost exactly 1.5. (It’s actually 1.49something). Incidentally, the tritone, being six semitones above tonic is exactly root two. That’s right, the square root of two times tonic. Since A major has 3 sharps (F, C, G), and the fifth is E natural, it stands to reason that E4 is just under 440 x 1.5 Hz, or almost 660 Hz. The ear likes that interval.

My answer follows:

You don’t ask simple questions, do you? First of all, consonance (the opposite of dissonance) is entirely subjective. Yes, we have centuries of study that show harmonics are pleasing to the ear of the average person, but that’s still only the average person’s opinion. Consider that different rules apply across the world; we are mostly familiar with Western music. Also, consonance would be boring without dissonance, which gives us the ability to color our music with emotion and expression.

Nonetheless, the perfect fifth is considered pleasing to the ear by general consensus. Mathematically, the perfect fifth has the simplest frequency ratio (see “pitch ratio“) except for the unison and octave intervals. If you would like to conjecture about the spiritual basis for the consonance of the perfect fifth, I certainly enjoyed reading your theories. I can only add that if you believe that God made all things beautiful and all things unpleasant, then it follows He is responsible for the design of audio frequencies and their relative consonance or dissonance. I find it entirely believable that He would have a sense of humor or at least irony about the whole thing.

In your question, you correctly stated that the pitch ratio of the perfect fifth is 1.5, but consider it this way instead: 3/2. The octave is 2/1.The perfect fourth is 4/3, also considered a highly consonant interval, and the major third is 5/4. The augmented fifth, according to this chart of pitch intervals, is 25/16.

When multiple audio frequencies are heard together, they do not remain independent. They interfere with one another. So the relative frequencies, and how simple or complex they are with respect to one another, will impact the resulting frequency that you hear. For the perfect fifth, independently, the fifth oscillates three times for every two oscillations of the root. This is why we consider pitch ratios in whole number fractions instead of decimals to evaluate their simplicity (where “simplicity” is an indicator of consonance.)

Pay for Music Lessons with Tax-Free Dollars

Did you know that you can use tax-free dollars to pay for music lessons?

The Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS) program allows you to set aside pre-tax salary dollars into an account. You can use the funds to pay for out-of-pocket health care and dependent care costs. According to the website, citizens participating in the program save an average of 30 percent on these expenses.

The FSAFEDS website ( can provide answers to your questions about how to enroll in the program and establish accounts. But here’s a fact you may not already know: you can use the funds in your Dependent Care (Day Care) Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) to pay for music lessons for children under the age of 13 or any dependent who is incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental handicap. The DCFSA can also be used to pay for other activities in lieu of day cares (e.g., swimming lessons, arts & crafts), summer day camps (but not overnight camps), and babysitters both in and out of the home.

Don’t forget the “Use or Lose” rule. All Federal Flexible Spending Accounts may only be used during the Benefit Period, and any funds not used to pay for eligible expenses will be forfeit after the Benefit Period, so plan your saving carefully.

Also be aware that the Dependent Care Tax Credit may be more beneficial to you than a DCFSA. Check out to determine which option is better for your tax situation. Either way, make sure that you are taking advantage of tax benefits related to dependent care if you qualify.

To submit music lessons at Michelle Tuesday Music School for DCFSA reimbursement, use our Federal Tax ID# 27-2942983.

Michelle Tuesday

12 Days of Christmas: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

This one is my gift to all of you. :-) The song was originally by sung Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louie”. Whenever I sing a Christmas set list, I close with this song, featuring simple solo vocals and acoustic guitar.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be far away

Here we are, as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bow
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now