Monthly Archives: October 2016

Halloween Month



This Halloween, students of EN Music Studio will be taking on the challenge of improvising creepy and spooky music. What musical tools are used? Let’s use an example to discuss.

Immediately, in the first 10 seconds, we hear an instrument playing in a minor mode, which lets the audience know that this is not a happy song. The constant background sets the atmosphere, while more complex rhythms layered on top add excitement and action. Notice too how the instruments switch between a higher octave to a lower octave. How does that make you feel? Not only does this effect add contrast, it also adds an element of wonder and surprise.

At the 1:40 mark, the music slows down and our ears automatically pick up this change of tempo. Slower tempos add more of an emotional edge, and may convey sadness, and loneliness. Here, a single haunting melody plays over a repeated minor accompaniment. The effect is undeniable; while it is not scary, our ears understand that something is brooding.

At 3:36, the music changes again. This particular tune uses tempo drastically to change the mood. The first half uses a quick adventurous tempo, and the second half slows down dramatically for a final statement. What does this make you think of? Does it tell you a story?

The notes I’ve mentioned are simply small parts of what makes music sound haunting or scary. As always, music is about the larger picture, and every little detail adds to the overall feeling.

Happy Halloween!


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Imaginative Play



What is Imaginative Play?

Imaginative play, or pretend play, involves the child role playing situations that they have seen before. By doing this, they experiment with behaviours, problem solving, and empathy. For example, a child might pretend play to be the parent of their teddy bear, and has to deal with topics like feeding the bear and cleaning the bear. There has been substantial evidence of increased intellectual and emotional development through this method of learning.

Can We Have Imaginative Play in Piano Lessons?

Andrea from Teach Piano Today has advocated for the use of imaginative play in piano lessons. By introducing music knowledge in themes that kids are familiar with, they are more comfortable in asking questions. Andrea also notes that there should be a balance between imaginative play lessons, or “traditional” piano lessons; instead of building a curriculum on pretend play, piano teachers can strive to incorporate this kind of play once in a while to add excitement and variety.

Bridging the Gap

Serious music education can be very daunting for young kids. Quarter notes? Half notes? Pivot? Allegro? All of this with the challenge of coordinating their fingers.  For students who are beginners, it may feel like every concept introduced is impossible to understand. This is where imaginative play comes into play (no pun intended). While children may not understand (yet) why a strong solid tone would build their technique, they absolutely do understand that if they will fall if they do not grip on to the monkey bars tightly. While children may not understand rhythm is the blueprint of music, they absolutely do understand when someone is talking too fast for them to understand.  By using imaginative play, we let the children know that same knowledge they are learning everywhere else is applicable to music, so it is not so scary!


Take Lessons with Eric Here