Playing Piano in the Studio

2016-12-07 00:59:47 tangoclub

Upright Piano

At the Tango Club we like to add instruments to our studio so artists can explore different styles of dancing.  The piano is one of the most beautiful instruments and it is so diverse.  It was only logical for us to purchase one so others could use it and little did I realize how much we would use it in the studio.  The piano has attracted new business and I have had several requests to borrow it.  So with limited space what did I end up getting?

Finding a Piano for Your Needs

My first desire when picking up a piano was to get a grand piano.  They are elegant and beautiful.  The drawback is they are very expensive and can take up a lot of space.  I found a great post from about what you can expect from different piano sizes.

Here are the Sizes of Upright/Vertical Pianos:

  • Spinet
    It is the shortest upright piano which ranges from 36″ – 40″ in height. It is sometimes known as an “apartment piano” because it is a popular choice of several people who lives in an apartment or has a limited space for piano. Spinet piano is the answer of your limited space and fund. However, as of the 1990s, spinets are no longer made. Yet you can still purchase the restored used spinet piano.
  • Console
    Console is a little bigger than spinet upright with its height ranges from 40″ to 44″. It is popular to its quality tone and furniture styled piano. It is well known for its elaborate inlays and finish. If you are particular on complementing furniture in your home, you can have several choices on Console piano. Moreover, Console piano is the choice of the beginners. It is best played at home as your hobby and in a small family get together.
  • Studio
    The common Studio piano upright range from 43″ to 47″. It is best size for educational and practice settings. Its actions is known for accuracy and efficiency like grand pianos. It is usually seen in music schools and music studios. It is also known for its tone quality and durability.
  • Professional
    It is the tallest among the upright pianos. It is also called full size upright pianos. Its sizes ranges from 47 inches to 52 inches. It can be most compare to grand pianos. Its durability is tested to last up to the next generation and maintain its tonal quality over time.
  • Baby Grand
    It is the smallest among grand pianos and also the most popular. It size ranges from 5’0 to 5’4. It is the best choice among those who have smaller dwelling place. It is also popular on its sound quality and beauty. Also, people prefers baby grand because it is the most affordable among the grand pianos.
  • Medium Grand
    Medium grand is commonly seen in music schools or institutions. Many homes prefer medium grand because it doesn’t take up so much room. Several pianist prefers this because of its rich and superior sound quality. Its sizes ranges from 5’5″ to 5’9″ in length.  Read the rest here.

We ended up affording a used upright from one of the local shops and it was in great condition.  I expect it to last a long time and it is a beautiful piano.  As a bonus we I have included a free lesson with instructor Josh Roland.  He is very helpful when it came to responding to my piano questions.

Piano Lesson for Beginners

It was a long time ago that I started to learn the piano and I started off on a very small Yamaha keyboard.  Not only did I outgrow it but it also sounded horrible.  Some of the things I won’t forget are having the proper posture and learning where middle C is.  This is a great excerpt about piano playing:

The keys are arranged on the keyboard to be able from the lowest around the left to the greatest on the right. moving and left to the right, each black or white key is a half step higher in pitch than the key before it. For a full step, it can be necessary to go up (or down) two half (1/2) steps. Try some half steps and a few full steps. After some practice, you must be able to learn the sound of individuals intervals easily.

By learning where to put your hands, you can start. There are a group of keys in the direction of the center of the key-board called the Home Keys. These are nine keys where your hands ought to rest as you get ready to play.

You might ponder why there are only nine Home Keys when you have ten hands and fingers. Both thumbs rest on middle C. That’s the reason. Middle C is a reference point that will be referred to over and over as you are studying and learning the piano. It can be recognized by looking at the pattern of white and black keys at the center of the keyboard. Look at the snapshot of the center of a piano keyboard beneath. Take notice of the keys that do not have a dark key to separate them. This is how you understand the pattern.  Finish the beginner piano lesson here.

If you do not have the money to get a piano, get a keyboard.  Technology has advanced so much that you will be able to find a quality keyboard for a low cost.  The best resource I can mention is the internet and also our friend Josh’s website.  If you are in Canada we suggest you stop by or just come and try our new piano.




Learn How to Tango Dance

2016-12-06 23:49:32 tangoclub

One of my favorite types of dance and what this website is based off of is Tango.  I always feel so sexy when I dance and want to share it with the world.  So, I have thought of a few different beginner lessons and also some great resources for my readers.  You will find some great tips here and the videos will help you get a great idea of how you can get started dancing with your partner.

beginners guide to learning tango

Learning The Steps of Tango

The first thing is learning the frame of tango.  This will be huge if you can master this.  Not only does this allow you to portray your emotion but also to learn good habits in the beginning instead of trying to unlearn them later.  Gray Miller has created a wonderful article on how to get this right and here is a small piece of it:

Before You Dance, the Frame

One of the more important aspects of the tango is the frame, or the way the dancers hold their bodies with each other. The dance position is “closed,” that is, with the lead’s right hand on the follow’s left shoulder blade and left hand extended to the side, grasping the follow’s right hand. The follow’s left hand is placed midway down the lead’s right arm. While this gives the appearance of the arm resting, no actual weight should be placed on the lead’s arm.

The lead and follow should look to the side, towards the left and right, respectively, with spines very straight and a slight tilt back to the follow’s head. Occasionally there will be tango dance steps that require them to snap their heads around and look at each other (often with a smoldering look) but their heads should always go back to the rest of the frame.

That frame is held through many of the steps, with only the tilt of the bodies changing (for example, in the corte). While this may seem like it makes the dance too rigid for some, in reality the stability of the dance frame makes all the rest of the tango dance steps more elegant.  See the full post here.

Now that you have a good idea of how the frame is, it is time to learn the basic moves of tango.  This maybe confusing and first so we recommend watching the video a few times.

Beginning Tango Steps

Now it is time to get started dancing.  Learning the steps will help and give you a good basis of tango.  There is a great resource for this on Endre Tango and also included is a bonus video to give you a good idea of sequences.

Although in Argentine tango there are no pre-defined figures or steps, leading the cross – often in the 8 step sequence – is one of the first things taught in all dance schools. You might have heard of this sequence as 8 count basic.

The methods used to teach leading the cross vary from teacher to teacher but as mentioned above the 8 step sequence is frequently used.

Why is that? With these 8 simple steps we can prepare and lead the cross, closing down the sequence.
This is all nice and simple but as a teacher I beg you NOT to practice or teach 8 step basic starting with a back step!!!

Steps of the 8-sequence:

step 1 – the leader takes a step to the back. It is advised to ignore this step as the leader cannot see behind himself and could collide with others!
step 2 – side step or “salida” usually towards the center of the dance floor.
step 3 – the leader steps on the outside of the follower
step 4 – preparation of the cross with a forward step
step 5 – the leader closes his feet, the follower completes the cross step
steps 6-7-8 – these steps terminate the sequence

Read more of the post here.

After you get the hang of dancing I would recommend going to a music studio or meetup to find some lessons in person.  A professional instructor will be able to pinpoint anything you are doing wrong and is well worth the money spent.  If you are passionate about Tango, you will have a great time and learn quickly.
Video with Tango instructions included below:


Dancing and Singing At The Same Time

2016-12-06 01:30:36 tangoclub

We like to get together with local groups and recreate plays along with other things through out the year.  We usually take volunteers and local talent to save on cost and usually only charge 5 dollars for people to come see our productions.  This has not only been fun for the community, it has also inspired many people to dance and sing.  This article was made to address some of the issues we have seen with choreography and singing.

coreagraphy and singing

Dancing While Trying to Sing

One of the hardest things and I still struggle with it today is dancing while trying to sing.  If I focus on one more than the other, I will end up taking smaller steps or lose my place.  So I went online and found Dance Spirit which specializes in helping others to become a better performer.  This is what Amy Smith had to say:

How can I sing when I’m so focused on the choreography?
Doing so can feel like you’re trying to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. One of the key elements is matching the singing to the movement, says Diane Lala, resident musical-theater choreographer at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). “When my students learn the choreography, I tell them to say the lyrics while they move,” Lala says. “That way they can see how the two pieces fit together.” Choreographers often use movements to accent certain lyrics or musical phrases. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help making connections to the vocals.

Sometimes, even just moving around as you sing can be helpful. Broadway performer Sarrah Strimel used this tactic when learning musical numbers in Christopher Wheeldon’s dance-heavy An American in Paris. “Our musical director had us walk around the room while practicing our parts,” she says. This is also a good challenge if you have trouble singing when you’re dancing next to someone in a different vocal part.

I have to think about singing so much, I can’t remember the choreography.
The more complicated a vocal harmony is, the more concentration it requires. Tap into your strength as a dancer and get the choreography into your muscle memory—then add the singing. Don’t get discouraged. “Learning to sing and dance together is building a skill, just like working on your turnout,” Strimel says. “It’s a muscle that you have to train.”

For that reason, don’t hold back. Strimel’s motto is to sing loud and proud so the vocal coach can correct her if she needs help. “I tell myself to ‘Sing out, Louise!’ ” she says, referencing the famous line from Gypsy. “If you’re wrong, you’re not going to be fired. In rehearsal, it’s always better to be strong and wrong than timid and right.”  Read the rest here.

This is a great resource for multi tasking.  The more coordination you get the better you will be at all of this.  The other key thing is to work on your singing voice.  This will be the area of focus for our next section.

Learning How To Develop Your Singing Voice

This was something that was overlooked my many people getting started in our groups.  It is much harder to sing while moving around on stage than to just stand still.  So, we followed up with another online resource to discuss how our artists can get a few good posture tips in.  This is what Kevin McClintock explained on his website:

Learn how to Sing: Body Basics

Your voice is part of your body that is whole also it’s influenced by the motion of surrounding muscles. You should ensure that your position is correct and that the supporting muscles, including shoulders and neck, are warm and relaxed. If not, you could strain your voice, and risk harm.
How to Maintain Your Bearing

Learn to Sing With Good Singing Posture How you stand is something that needs to be considered. We propose:
Stand upright – envision a cord pulling you upward in the top of your head.
Place your feet shoulder- width.  Your head must be erect, looking directly ahead.
Keep your shoulders down and your abdomen relaxed.  Make an effort to relax – anxiety will keep you from creating a sound that is good.

Breathing exercises will permit you to better control the pitch and duration of your singing. It’s no surprise: singers who get better mileage out of their voice will breathe deeply.

Practice opening your throat more Relax and open out the jaw like a fish might out of the water. Begin bending your facial muscles a bit in between. Start by inhaling a couple deep breaths. Envision the air is very heavy as you breathe it in.
Allow the breath fall into your diaphragm, below your belly button. Exhale and repeat many times.

Get a light pillow- feather and practice keeping it in the air, sort of like you’re juggling a feather with your air stream. Slowly blow the feather really high up, and try keeping it there.  Read full article on

After you learn how to have good posture and breathe, it is time to move onto singing.  Remember to take it slow and master the basics first.  For good beginner singing lessons we recommend going to other articles on the site.  It is a good free resource that you can use.

Videos on correct poster and singing below:






Finding The Drum Beat With Dance

2016-12-04 19:12:02 tangoclub

drum and dance

Some of the dance instruction I do involved a lot of drumming.  Drumming adds that basic beat and our body moves to the beat.  We wanted to add some drumming into the studio where we teach dance and we found some people interested in learning to play the drums.

As I looked online, I came across Spencer Smith’s articles and website to share with some of the members of our dance studio.  We found a few drums online and followed his drum stick guide on finding a few different drum sticks to give us the best results.  Now it is time to learn how to play some basic drum beats.

Learning Some Basic Drumming Techniques

The first thing to getting started with playing the drums after you purchase your equipment is learning to read basic notes.  You don’t have to learn complicated beats, it is just easy to get started with three different notes that will appear on basic sheet music.  I found a website that explains music notes and how to read sheet music much better than I ever could.  Music Nuke explains it best:

When you are looking at sheet music or you are getting instruction from another person, you want to make sure that you understand each notes value.  Starting off with the basics, counting with a bar of 4/4.  This means that you will find 4 quarter notes in the measure.  The quarter note  is what is getting the individual count.  If you are starting out tapping out on your legs, you want to tap 4 equal beats with one of your hands.  This will give you the four beats per measure.  The 4 beats per measure are the quarter notes.

The notes that you will come across are whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes.  There will be other notes that you will run across as well like thirty second and triplets on occasion.  Starting with the whole note and moving down from there you will be breaking up the beats per measure.  So say if you have eighth notes in a bar then you would have 8 notes per measure.  When tapping out the beat or keeping track of how many notes you will have to count on the down beat as well as the up.  So when counting eighth notes you want to count off 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 while playing a note on the “and” as well as the number.   Read the rest here:


Youtube Video on How To Play Drums With Your Hands:

Getting started with drums is easier than you think.  We have included a few videos in this article that you can follow along with.  These are basic beats to get you started and feel comfortable behind the drum.  After we have a basic idea of rhythm we will be playing with music and dance.

Here is a video that will help anyone learn basic drum beats.  This is great way to learn how to play different drums at one time.  Learning limb independence is huge when learning.  Keeping good rhythm will be important through all of this.  Just remember that someone is dancing to a beat so it should remain consistent.

Video on keeping a basic beat:


Benefits of Music and Dance

2016-08-30 20:07:17 tangoclub

To me music is a language of the soul.  There is no other way for me to explain it.  It touches me with or without words and I can feel what the artist is trying to portray.  Sometimes music will make me sad to the point of tears while other times it leads to shear joy that makes me jump or dance.  It is that presence though that really gets me into the music.  When you are fully in the moment you can not help but move your body to something as beautiful as music.  So, let me get a little deeper into music and dance.

How Music Changed How I Danced

Couple DancingThere are so many different styles of dance and music out there.  Each are an art form that develops more and more over time.  The best part about all of this is each individual including yourself has a unique expression.  This will change as you start to follow your passion.  The more in tune you are with music, the more you will be able to find the rhythm of the music that you are listening too in your body.  Letting go and being present has changed so much of how I dance now.  It is something that makes us stare and be in awe at the person dance.  It is what is truly amazing about dance and how it captivates others.

When teaching dance, in the beginning you can see each student in their head trying to learn each dance move.  Then as a student evolves you can see them starting to relax and have fun.  After the student starts learning to have fun, they then are able to get more in their body and they have truly found the art of dancing.  This is where the magic happens and time stands still.  There are some students that give up before this happens and it is sad to see.  If you decide to take dance lessons, make sure to give yourself a chance to get into it fully.

The Dance of Life

There is even a dance of life out there that is happening in the world.  It is in the everyday moment and how you respond to it.  Sometimes you may have to roll up your sleeves and it doesn’t seem like a good dance, but do it anyway.  There is always a moment to be in joy instead of anger.  With a light heart you can do just about anything.

Watching children is one of the most amazing things you can do.  They are so light heart and are always moving.  It is just like watching someone dance, they are in the moment having a good time.  So it is time to ask yourself this, when am I going to find my own dance?  Keep a smile on your face and remember that we are all suppose to be having fun.  If you can’t find a smile, at least do something nice for yourself.