Professional Recording Possibility

MusicMatters is a site I came across when I was in the planning stages for the Music Matters Blog site.

MusicMatters offers a very unique service. They will send a recording engineer to your music event to either do an audio or video recording. They will then master these into either a CD or VHS format and provide them to all those who ordered one, either ahead of time, or on the day of the event.

The amazing thing about this, though, is that they offer this service for free! Even beyond that, they offer it as a fundraising opportunity for your school/organization/studio, etc. They require you to get a minimum of 100 pre-orders (they recommend that you sell the CDs for $12 and the videos for $15), but beyond that, there are no other “catches” that I can see. It sure seems like a great deal all around!

I’m eager to check into this as a possibility for a future recital. If anyone else checks into this first, be sure to let us know what you find out!

Quarter and Half Note Worksheet

Here’s a simple worksheet I put together this morning for a student who has a lesson this afternoon. It was a piece of cake to do this in Microsoft Word using tables and the new Bach Musicological Font I mentioned in this post.

Here’s another sample I typed up of just a glimpse of what you can do with this font. This opens up a whole new realm of being able to create worksheets in a Word document, even if you don’t have a notation program!

Bach Musicological Font

Check out theBach Musicological Font that I found thanks to the links page of the Music Teacher’s Resource Site.

The great thing about the Bach Musicological Font is that it is inserted right in line with the other text fonts you are using. Some of the other musical fonts I use, like Notes or Maestro, take up a lot of additional space and mess up the formatting of the document.

I highly recommend this helpful tool! I already tried it out and it works great! Just download and install it by following the detailed instructions from this previous post.

Treasures for Piano – Home Page

Check out this amazing site I came across the other day, thanks to a link on the Sites of Interest to Music Educators links section of the Piano Education Page.

This searchable database on the Treasures for Piano site includes over 350 sources in the bibliography, and 650 pieces are referenced by Composer, Title, Era, Level of Difficulty, Tempo, Meter, Key, Length, and Musical Characteristics.

I know I’ll be utilizing this database often as a handy reference to the many repertoire choices available!

Design Principle #4

This is a fun principle! Contrast. Contrast will add interest to your design and will grab the attention of the reader. This can be achieved through the use of contrasting fonts, colors, sizes, and more. Keep in mind that items on a page should either be the same or contrasting. They should not be similar. For example, if you’re using two different font styles, choose two that are completely contrasting, not two that look similar to each other.
Here’s a quick overview of different font styles:

serif – with “feet” – best for large bodies of text

sans serif – without “feet” – good for headlines or small bodies of text

script – should not be used for all caps

decorative – very fun and attention getting! Be sure that if you use a decorative font it supports the text and doesn’t distract from it.

As an aside, one of the best sites I’ve found for downloading fonts is Abstract Fonts.

Here are some quick step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing new fonts onto your computer:
I created a folder in My Documents called “Downloads.” Within this folder, I have separate folders for “Graphics” and “Fonts.” Any fonts I download from the Internet go into the “Fonts” folder.
1. Once you have located a font that you would like to download, click on the appropriate download button.
2. When given the option, navigate to and save the file in your ”Fonts” folder.
3. Once you have finished the download, open the folder to ensure that the font has downloaded properly.
4. Close the folder.
5. Go to your start menu and select CONTROL PANEL.
6. Double-click on the icon labeled FONTS.
7. Go to File and select INSTALL NEW FONTS.
8. In the folders window, select the folder to which you have downloaded your new fonts. All the downloaded fonts should appear in the list in the above window.
9. Select the fonts you want to install, or click “Select All” and click OK.

The new fonts will be installed and ready to use in all of your programs!

Design Principle #3

This is a very key principle in creating a cohesive design! Using repetition will create unity throughout your project. For example, notice on front page of the newsletter below how the same fonts are repeated for similar purposes. The font for each article title is the same as the font for the newsletter title. The text font is all the same. The layout utilizes the same look for each article heading – title, author, the line below.

Click here to view a sample of the assignment pages I made my students this year. I kept this principle in mind when designing these as well.

Design Principle #2

Design Principle #2 is Alignment. Basically, what I remember most about this is the necessity of thinking “outside the box.” Don’t just center-align something on the page because it’s easy. Experiment with a variety of text alignments. Don’t just randomly place text on a page. Be purposeful. Think through what should go where to achieve the best effect.
Check out the alignment on this Assignment Book cover:

The main text is centered to draw attention, but the text below is right-aligned to give a sense of movement, and to draw the reader to turn the page. Keep in mind that you need to be careful when using multiple alignments on a page. If it assists the reader in following the flow of the text, then go for it, but if it is distracting, then opt for the same alignment.
For example, if the lower text area was left aligned like this the flow/movement of the text would be unnatural:

Start looking at the alignment on other design products. I notice things from food boxes, to concert programs, to book jackets, etc. Find ones that you really like and then experiment with similar styles in your own designs. Stay tuned for Part 3 of Design Principles!

Midi to Wav Converter

Jennifer asked if I knew of any free midi to wav converters available for download. Unfortunately I don’t. It seems they all cost money! 🙂
Does anyone know of any such converters that are free? Please do let us know! Here’s a list of some other options I found:

Here’s one with a free trial version you can download – $29.95
I just downloaded this and tried it out, and it works great! Probably worth the $29.95. Not only does it convert to WAV, but also to MP3, OGG, and WMA. The trial will only allow 60 seconds of a midi file to be converted, but it’s worth checking out. Just be aware that the audio file will be limited to the quality of the sound card that is being used to play the midi file.
Here’s a link to the midi file I converted.
Here’s a link to the mp3 file that was converted from the midi file.
The midi file will play through the sound card on your computer, whereas the mp3 file will be playing the audio recorded from the sound card on my computer (which is not very good!).

Here’s another one with a free trial version you can download. – $24.95 – $18

All For – $29.95

Download – $25

Design Principle #1

Years ago, I attended a workshop on Design and learned some principles that have stuck with me through the years and been invaluable to me in determining how to design professional-looking materials for my studio. There are four basic design principles that I learned. I’ll devote a post to each one.

1. Proximity
Group related items together. As you look over a design, ask yourself how many times your eyes have to stop to absorb all the information. You should be able to quickly scan the information and have a clear idea of what is being presented. Keep in mind that your eyes tend to naturally follow a certain course as you look at a piece of paper. On a single page, your eye follows a “Z” pattern. On a double page, your eye follows a “V” pattern. These are illustrated in the following image:

I took this principle into consideration in the design of this brochure for one of our local associations. (Notice the placement of the photographs on the inside of the brochure.)

Sometimes it’s helpful to see a bad design so that the good design principle makes more sense. So, I decided to show you this flyer that I found that caught my eye because of how poorly it was designed. (I took out the business name.) You can see that the information does not flow clearly at all. It completely violates the principle of proximity (not to mention many others!). This is the type of flyer you could look at numerous times and still miss some of the information because it is so randomly placed on the page!

Avoid cluttering the space with too many different text areas or graphics. White space is a good thing and aids in a clear presentation. This can be applied to studio policy brochures, recital programs, business cards, etc. So, above all, remember that the information must flowly clearly to the reader.