Ori, 9 year old drumming student at MTMS, picks Utheory as his music lab nearly every week. Jacob, the attendant, has gotten accustomed to this but still asks his normal question: What do you want to do today for music lab?

UTheory is one music lab station. It has a lot of lessons and skills all arranged in a dashboard to find them easily. Your lab attendant may send you an assignment, and it’s interesting.

Ori’s words: It’s got videos and it’s fun.

He practices clicking proper rhythms and learning through guided exercises. There are chords and intervals and ear-training lessons. His MTMS teacher also has noticed that he picks up information and can bring it back to his drum lessons. It’s a fascinating process and it really has been helping him build a solid foundation to his drumming.

Have you tried UTheory? What’s your experience been with it?

The Debate of Hanon Exercises

If you learn piano with us, you might be assigned some Hanon exercises. In my younger years with piano lessons, I didn’t get this far, but I might have appreciated the challenge associated with it. One of our teachers provided the pro and con versions of these exercises, and I’m sharing them for your benefit.

Pro-Hanon vs Anti-Hanon

I’ll quote MTMS piano teacher Elias Blake: I have used them in my own practice and have found improvement in my technique as a result. He is in favor of them because of this personal experience with the practice of Hanon exercises.

Both of these articles are intriguing, and they leave me wondering if I can get my hands on a copy to practice and see where it leads me. I’m fascinated by all kinds of exercises for hands and fingers as a yoga teacher- and I generally teach older individuals who want to keep using their hands like when they were younger. I tell them that unless they’ve practiced an instrument, it’s very unlikely all of their fingers want to move independently at first. Then we practice moving our hands.

Remember we are what we practice. If your teacher says the Hanon exercises might help, please try them out. If you’d rather find that piece of sheet music that calls to you and practice it until it shines – that might be the way to go and you should discuss it with your teacher. I know in my life cross-training is a wonderful thing, because I learn how to do the things I had done before differently and bringing that new perspective has helped me improve.

Have you done Hanon exercises? Share your experiences with us! If you’re curious about the book, you can find it here.

Get into the Swing of February!

This month we’re focusing on Swing Music. This form of jazz music was most popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Well-known swing artists include Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington. The name “swing” comes from the emphasis on the off-beat. Here are a couple of our favorites – feel free to comment with your own beloved swing songs.

January Composition Station

Are you familiar with Modern/Techno music? This month’s composition station challenges you to try to write an 8 measure Modern/Techno piece. Techno music is a subset of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and often uses common time between 120 and 150 beats per minute. As an added challenge, you can try to use three different chords in your song. You can also try instruments you aren’t familiar with. The most important thing is always to have fun with the music!

Here are a couple songs for inspiration: