Jewish World Review
Music for everyone
Randy A. Salas
Do you have a student musician in the house? Or maybe you're an aspiring instrumentalist. Here are some free online resources to help keep you pitch-perfect.
Get in tune
After warming up, you should probably tune up. Get Tuned has a variety of online tuners for stringed instruments - guitar, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, cello and ukulele. The guitar and bass also have adjustable tuners for alternate tunings. Band instrumentalists can try the tuner at Danman's Music Library, which is essentially a virtual piano. Serious instrumentalists might like the free Windows program Win Temper, which explores historical temperaments in pitch. It's not intuitive, but it does include microphone support. Also, be sure to read Stephen Howard's tuning tips to avoid the pitfalls of relying too much on a tuner. His website is geared toward woodwind players, but his advice applies to all instrumentalists.
Keep the beat
There are many virtual metronomes online, but I like, funnily enough, Metronome Online, provided by e-MusicInstitute. The device can be set at regular intervals from 40 beats a minute (largo) to 208 (prestissimo). The standard A tuning note (at 440Hz) is even available for a quick tune-up.
Learn the notes
Beginners might need a quick reference showing how to play notes or chords. BandTek.com has links to fingering charts for all concert-band instruments, including the comprehensive Woodwind Fingering Guide. Violin Online keeps aspiring violinists in the know with its charts, which are also available at sister sites for violists and cellists. Among many guitar sources, 8notes.com's Guitar Chord Chart stands out, because it allows you to pick any chord, shows you what the fingering looks like and plays you a sample of how it should sound. Pianists might like MusickEd.com's interactive (and printable) fingering chart.
Write it down
Need some blank sheet-music paper? Save some money and print your own. 8notes.com has standard blank manuscript paper with 10 lines to a page, single or double (for piano). Or you can create custom sheets using its Staff Paper Generator.
Understand the basics
Dan Traugh's Instrumental Music Resource Page offers solid advice and techniques for beginner students in band and orchestra. For online help with any instrument, see the Indiana University School of Music's Worldwide Internet Music Resources. If you have no musical ability at all, there's still something for you online. Exploratorium's Science of Music is an interactive site where you can explore topics such as "Why does my singing sound so great in the shower?"
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Randy A. Salas is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Do you have a favorite Web site or a question about how to find something on the Internet? Send a note by clicking here.
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