Do you want to finally learn that favorite piece or regain your skills? Does a family member dream of learning a new pastime? Just wanting a creative space to escape to during the week? Whatever your reason, PMT can assist you during the instrument selection process!
Difference in electronic keyboards and an acoustic piano
A quality electronic keyboard or a used acoustic piano are both options for beginner/intermediate musicians! Here are some pros and cons.
If money and space are not issues, purchasing a new or used acoustic piano is the recommended option! An acoustic piano provides the opportunity to create more colors and nuanced sounds, and the learner will be more likely to explore healthy use of the arms and body to create that preferred sound. Also, the mere presence and visual spectacle of the instrument motivates the learner as an invitation to walk up to, sit down and explore!
Considering a keyboard? Read on! The keys on electronic keyboards are typically easier to depress. Therefore, starting on a keyboard can be helpful for an adult who has tension issues or for the young beginner with smaller hands. This lighter “weight” of the keys can be helpful for the learner who is working to avoid pushing the keys in an attempt to make sound. All pianists should aim to develop a technique that is free from tension and, instead, utilize arm weight for ease of playing. Please note: acoustic pianos can also have lighter “weight” of the keys, but it is a more common feature found on electronic keyboards.
Another highlight of an electronic keyboard is that it takes the least amount of space in your home since there is no cabinet or height restriction. An average length for an acoustic - upright piano - is around 59 inches and depth of 20 inches. The average length of an 88-key keyboard is 52 inches and depth of 13 inches. Please note: ask for measurements of the instrument prior to purchase to guarantee size. The full 88-key electronic keyboard is recommended since the learner will have optimal creative exploration and development of expansive technique. If space and money is truly a restriction from owning a keyboard, a 66-key keyboard is an option!
Keep in mind, the electronic keyboard should have a pedal, bench for sitting, and stand to hold the instrument (sometimes sold separately) and also have "weighted" action (so that it will feel like an acoustic piano). Additional advantages are the following: you do not have to tune a keyboard and it can be moved easily for portability/room set up. Acoustic pianos are typically tuned twice a year at seasonal changes due to humidity. Lastly, some learners find keyboards to be a motivational practice tool since recording features are built into the keyboard. The learner can provide self-feedback on one's practicing or performance recordings.
A starter, acoustic piano is typically in the $500-1000 range, which is comparable to a starter electronic keyboard and its accessories listed above. Once learners develop in their studies, they will want to invest in a higher quality, acoustic piano to foster their technique and, most importantly, to receive a more beautiful sound as a result of their actions. People may have luck searching for used pianos via Facebook MarketPlace or local Craig's List ads. Also, Marshall Piano Company in Rock Hill, SC is a local option for piano inventory (they deliver too!).
If a person is deaf or has an hearing impairment then an acoustic piano is recommended because of the authentic harmonics present in the sound and the ability to feel the authentic sound vibrations.
After purchasing your electronic keyboard or piano, ensure the bench height is ideal for the player and that a foot stool is available for people whose feet do not reach the ground.
Enjoy tickling those ivories or jamming out an oldie!
Written by Gretchen Benner
Have you noticed how music can "help you keep control" amidst a time warp?
As we prepare for 2021, I am making time to review new recipes and priorities that I wrangled with since spring 2020. I am also reminded how important it is to adapt my stress management strategies. Part of my routine is running several times a week. Though I begin my route with prayer, the playlist that I stream has evolved greatly these past few months. Similarly the music that I listen to when doing dishes and preparing meals has changed. At times I needed solely instrumental music or a cappella arrangements.
Music was woven throughout my day to help create balance and stability amidst a stressfully fluid season. There is research that correlates to the benefits of music incorporated into one's routines & habits.
Dr. Kimberly Sena Moore, MT-BC shared a blog post to Psychology Today early into the pandemic with dozens of ways that a person could use music to help their daily lives during social distancing. Check it out here. The infographic "My COVID-19 Daily Routine" created by graduate students at Temple University help to highlight ways that music can be purposefully useful during your time at home.
As 2020 winds down, what are your care based intentions entering 2021? Perhaps the arts will play a new or evolved role in your daily schedule. Interested in exploring music genres & artists? Here are some resources to help:
Share how this post resonates with you or share playlist favorites that motivate you to make the most out of each day!
Our studio offered a hybrid recital amidst COVID19. While there was extra preparation, it was a safe & successful event. Here are the top four take aways:
In the future we'll incorporate creative clothes pins that students can decorate ahead of time or receive as performance gifts to secure their sheet music since it was breezy!
Team members on staff at PMT use various materials to support learners of all abilities.
The following linked resources are helpful during music therapy treatment and music lessons...
Miriam Tart, MMT, MT-BC recently arranged songbooks with color coding on the treble clef staff. Check out those digital resources available for purchase at $12/volume. They're categorized by genres of 1980's Decade, 1990's Decade, Rap, Rock, Religious, Pop and Country and include simplified rhythmic notation. They pair perfectly for desk bells and hand bells. Note that Boomwhackers include altered colors for G & A pitches.
We hope these linked resource are useful for you and your loved ones making music and creating sound with colorful resources!
During this time of the year, many high school students in their senior year are working on a graduation project involving research.
As a team of board certified music therapists, we receive frequent questions from such students curious about our educational and professional training.
These questions may also come about from seeing our uniform that includes a musical note when we're running errands on a work day... from a nearby driver in the parking lot who views one of our car magnets on display during mobile based work days... or while we're setting up treatment materials for a session out in the community.
We also respond to these inquiries from individuals who are considering a career shift and converse about pursuing music therapy through an equivalency degree program. Music therapists are also ethically held to Principle #3: To Be Accountable... with inquiries from individuals who wish to learn more about the educational and clinical training that was part of the certification process to practice as a creative and expressive arts therapist.
Viewing PMT's web page titled "Contact" we link credible sources online to learn more about the clinical background of music therapists. Those web based resources are recommended prior to completing in-person or phone interviews with clinicians on staff.
Due to COVID19 there are more accessible outlets to hear from credentialed clinicians about their music therapy career course beyond our private practice. In a few weeks, the American Music Therapy Association National Conference will include their second annual panel of music therapy professionals that is viewable online! Find out more information through @AMTA2020 Facebook for the upcoming live streamed event - November 21, 2020.
Additionally, there are five colleges in the Carolinas that offer accredited programs for a bachelor's degree (and even a master's degree at one of them) in music therapy. Here is a list of the universities with links to learn more about some of their upcoming virtual seminars & opportunities to ask questions to the music therapy faculty as well as read about coursework:
Because of increased safety precautions, this an unique time for individuals to learn more from music therapy faculty, researchers and clinicians. Thanks for any help sharing these resources to promote a more diverse field of music therapists.
Posted by Gretchen Benner, LMSW, MT-BC
While listening to the soundtrack from Disney Pixar's Movie: Coco
For the last seven months, the private practice and teaching studio of Piedmont Music Therapy has utilized more methods of creativity and expression to adapt and modulate services during this pandemic. Check out a few modifications that were undertaken:
M Mitigate possible exposure or transmission by halting shared instruments in group settings and tweaking materials for interventions used with clients
O Offer virtual services, online trainings and learn-at-home instrument courses
D Dedicate our internal time for prioritized self-care activities and more continuing education opportunities
U Uplift! Practice safe socialization for uplifting health benefits
L Learn to use additional technology in order to pivot services virtually for consistent relationship with clients and students
A Appreciate resources from South Carolina's Small Business Development Center at Winthrop University and other community partnerships
T Trust the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Guidelines while our team of board certified Music Therapists and a collegiate music therapy intern amended work procedures and policies
E Enjoy the adjusted space, tempo & dynamics of this unusual time
How have you utilized creativity and more expression during 2020? Leave a comment below or share with a friend!
Written by Melissa Reinhardt, MSEd, MT-BC
Board Certified Music Therapist on staff at Piedmont Music Therapy, LLC
Do you have a song that takes you back to a specific place and time? And everytime you hear that song, do you have the same response? For me, that song is “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi circa 1986 - my junior year of high school. I have a specific memory of driving in my car around town listening to my cassette tape playing the stereo in my car as loud as it would go (even though the sound was so distorted!). It is summertime and I have the windows rolled down and the breeze is blowing in my hair while I sing at the top of my lungs. So what is it about certain songs that can prompt these memories?
Various researchers have studied this topic and there are several themes. Firstly, brain imaging studies show that when we listen to our favorite music, our brain becomes stimulated and “feel good” neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin are released. These chemical changes in the brain are neurologically connected to the musical stimulus and the more we like the song, the more chemicals are released and the better we feel. Secondly, during the ages of 12 and 22, our brains rapidly develop neurologically and it appears that music preferred during this time of our lives is the music that sticks with us forever. This music is also connected to strong emotions thanks to an influx of growth hormones produced during this time. Thirdly, according to Daniel Levitan, a neuroscientist and musician, music listened to during these ages of 12 to 22 is significantly impacted by our social circle and becomes connected to our personal identity.
If we consider the significance of how music can invoke such connections, we can also look at how this phenomenon can be used therapeutically. In using music as a memory or reminiscence tool, music therapists working with older adults can choose music based on the client’s young adult years. I have found that using music from around age 20 is a good place to start. Then, using a search engine to find popular songs from that year is my next step. For example, if I was working with an 80 year old, I would look for music from the 1960’s. Using the website www.billboard.com is a wonderful resource as searches can be conducted based on the year and the results include the most popular music during that time. Combining this knowledge with the client musical preferences (i.e. show tunes, gospel, etc.) can help narrow down the field of possibilities. As these songs are incorporated into the sessions either live or recorded, the therapist can observe the client for positive or negative responses. Positive responses would suggest the continued use of this song and incorporating similar music (such as tunes by the same musician or group) whereas a negative response such as crying might indicate a need for further exploration into past experiences.
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and enrichment plus continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas.