Tony Trischka’s Essential Practice Techniques for Bluegrass Banjo

Lessons from a pro! Tony Trischka’s Essential Practice Techniques for Bluegrass Banjo is a great way for a beginning banjo player to pick up important tips on best practices, but it can also be useful for the intermediate player seeking to brush up on key skills. Either way, foundational technique is the focus. Topics covered…

Understanding Musical Keys: Identifying and Using

Identifying Keys There are two ways to identify a key: Look at the key signature. Analyze the chords of the song. If you happen to be playing from music written in standard notation, such as a songbook or hymnal, the easiest way to identify the key is to look at the key signature—the number of…

Understanding Musical Keys: Characteristics

Early on in your musical practice, you will be introduced to the concept of musical keys. Keys are important to understand because every key has a distinct sound created by a hallmark set of notes. Every key is based on a scale. If you play a C major scale on any instrument, you have just…

Music Practice

Don’t be fooled by the price.  Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering Your Instrument Like a Professional by David Dumais is not a cheesy little booklet full of half-baked ideas with no meat on their bones.  It’s a concise but thorough look at how to make the most of your practice time,…

Benefits of Making Music

Those of us who play music typically do it for the love of it, not necessarily for any benefits it might bring us. However, research indicates that playing an instrument goes a long way toward making us healthy, well-balanced individuals. Here’s how: Enhanced brain function. About 90% of the brain is stimulated during music practice….

Get Ready for July 2016

Summer can be very busy, but don’t forget to learn and brainstorm.  Spend some time enjoying nature, researching animals, and growing healthy plants. Brush up on your birdwatching vocabulary. Discover how wood type affects the sound of your guitar. Explore the 11 physiographic regions of Kansas. Learn about rare and popular breeds of livestock. Consider…

Get Ready for June 2016

June is just around the corner. Take some time to sharpen your knowledge of farming, music, crafts, and history. Find out how glyphosate-resistant crops work. Brush up on your mandolin technique. Teach your kids how to knit on those rainy days. Discover the story of the Stetson hat. Make a strawberry shortcake. Collect five things…

Get Ready for May 2016

Summer is fast approaching! It’s time to battle the bugs, brush up on music skills, and plan some family time for Memorial Day. Discover the historical geography of the United States. Choose the right string gauge for your guitar. Deter garden bugs before they show up for lunch. Start a homemade construction project. Learn how…

The Roots of Western Music

One of the most interesting aspects of traditional American music is its lineage.  Traditional songs morph over time, perhaps getting their start in foreign countries and adapting themselves to fit the American experience.  As that experience changes and travels to new places, so does the music. Such was the case with cowboy music, also called…

The Kansas Poems of John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier was probably best known for his book-length poem Snowbound, but as a Quaker he was also an ardent abolitionist, even taking an active hand in political lobbying for the cause at one point. When the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 plunged the entire nation into a debate on slavery and the respective roles…