All posts in instruments

A look back at our past concerts

Each year the Shine School of Music in Barcelona hosts a concert. It’s a unique opportunity for students to perform for a live audience, and get a taste or experience of performing for a crowd and certainly a chance to show off what they have accomplished with their teachers.

Our concerts have grown, from one small concert once a year to now a series of concerts during the year, and each one just gets better and better! As we get ready for our first online music concert, we want to take a look back at some of our student’s and teacher’s performances over the years.

We hope that you tune in with us for the concert this year. It will be a first for us, in that it will be streamed online. We really look forward to what our talented students and teachers have put together. You can set up a reminder by visiting the video HERE and even make a watch party with friends!

Famous musicians from Barcelona

Let’s have a look at some of Barcelona’s famous exports:

One of such talents is Joan Manuel Serrat. Born to an anarchist father in the popular barrio of Poble Sec, Serrat became the voice of a generation, singing in Catalan when it was frowned upon if not openly prohibited, and singing about the daily life in Catalunya after the civil war. Infused with the sensibilities of the “coplas” and traditional music of his early childhood, his sound captures the essence of Mediterranean nostalgia, and built a  cultural bridge between latin american and catalan music in the XX century.

Coming out of the rock scene from the early nineties, Pau Dones and his band Jarabe de Palo, redefined what was to be expected from spanish rockers. Their intensely popular song “la flaca” propelled them to international stardom, breaking records across all the spanish speaking world. Not to be defined by their early success, they have kept pushing the envelope and constantly surprising their audiences with their creativity.

Too punk for rock, to rocker for punk, José María Sanz Beltránbetter known for his stage name, Loquillo, has had a tumultuous career. Alongside his band Los Trogloditas, and recently by himself, he has earned his place in the rock pantheon of Barcelona´s greats. Navigating easily between popular genres, he has eluded being pigeonholed by his style and continues to be one of the cities favorite prodigal sons.

Barcelona has always been characterized for being a melting pot of identities. The city lends itself for cultural cross-pollination. It’s no surprise then, that a group like Ojos de Brujo found its footing in the streets of el Raval. A genre-bending experiment in musical creativity, these talented musicians have fused their influences in a large pallette of sounds that they have come to define as jipjop flamenkillo, a tongue twister of a name but a clear and focused execution of modern fusion styles.

Walk around the streets of the gothic quarter on a Friday evening and you will soon understand why this city is loved by the creative types. Maybe it’s the fact that the city defined itself in a opposition to the XX century dictatorship in the country, or the amount of talented immigrants who like to call Barcelona their home, whatever it is, the musical effervescence felt around every corner has surely inspired many souls, and lures the artist with its energy.

Do you wanna be part of the music revolution? Learn more at the Shine Music School, we offer combo and band lessons! And don’t forget to browse our Teacher pages, where we have featured videos of many of our teachers performing!

Your Musical Travel Companion

As summer vacation is fast approaching, and international and national restrictions lift, holidays are looming, and even perhaps a little bit of travel if you can! Perhaps you have already planned your first trip! You can start dreaming again of sand between your toes on a beach in Ibiza, or the Canary Islands. Perhaps even a secret cove in Mallorca. Close your eyes and think of the mountain hike you can go on in the Pyranees.  The birds singing in the trees, the sound of a softly trickling stream. Suddenly you realize something is missing. What could possibly make this moment even more magical? Yes! Music! What if you had an ukulele or guitalele right next to you?

Traveling with an instrument is difficult!

Most guitar players that travel are worried about their precious guitar getting damaged on the plane. Imagine turbulence as you descend over the Pyrenees bumps and scratches your favourite guitar! And you didn’t insure it! Even worse, you are forced to stow it in the luggage bay, or pay for an extra seat to accommodate your instrument. Then the baggage handlers loose your luggage, including your guitar! A nightmare for musicians! This is why finding other options than traveling with your guitar can be a smart idea.

Here are some benefits of choosing an ukelele or guitalele as your travel instrument of choice:

1# Size and weight: The ukulele and guitalele are small enough for taking inside the airplane and are easy to transport, making them the perfect instruments for travel. Extremely lightweight and easy to transport, they fit perfectly in the overhead luggage compartment in an airplane. Small and easy to carry, but offering a similar sound to the original guitar.

2# To socialize: Because of their small size and weight, both instruments become a great way to make friends and meet people. The great thing about them is you can take them everywhere! You can easily play the ukulele or guitalele on Barceloneta beach, perform on Barcelona streets or jam in the most popular pubs and bars around town. The joyful sound of both instruments easily attracts peoples attention and you will often find yourself surrounded by smiley faces. People love singing along to today’s favourites played on a cheerful little instrument.

3# Price: You can get any of these two instruments at a very reasonable price and not worry if they get damaged. While traveling it’s easy for your instrument to get damaged by the sun, bumps or too much use. So better not take your expensive guitar on the road! You can easily rent or buy an ukelele or guitalele and not worry so much if something happens to your little buddy.

So why not give it a try?

Our teacher Sebastian Pan regularly plays his electric guitalele, you can get a lesson with him if you like!

If you in Barcelona and want to try an ukelele or guitalele, please contact instrumentrentalbarcelona.com for more details.

5 tips for practicing music

1. Use a metronome.

It’s all about timing.  If music is the art of alternating sound and silence, the precision with which you can understand and subdivide time is crucial to the groove. Practicing with the metronome at slow speeds will improve sense of timing and practicing at higher tempos will help you achieve accuracy and precision. Don’t forget to incorporate metronome exercises in your practicing schedule and you’re guaranteed to hear the results!

2. Play with other people.

Art does not exist in a vacuum. Even if you are a solo singer songwriter that hates sharing the stage with anyone else but his guitar, you can benefit from playing with other people. Music is an interactive skill that requires deep sensibility and quick reflexes, but more importantly, it’s about learning to listen.  Getting together with other musicians and learning to communicate with them through music will undoubtedly help you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself as a musician

3. Transcribe songs by ear.

Music is first and foremost, a listening art.  Although there are thousands of resources to help you learn new songs, nothing beats sitting next to the cd player for hours on end, and picking apart your favourites songs note by note. Transcribe a song by ear every week and you will quickly develop an ability to recognise and find notes on your instrument. Your bandmates and ears with thank you.

4. Learn other styles of music.

They say nothing interesting happens inside of our comfort zone. That is definitely true for music.  After a while playing your music style of choice you will start to develop a matching vocabulary as you become more comfortable with it. This is all good and well, but sometimes it’s easy to keep repeating the same ideas over and over again. That’s when a journey across different genres of music can refresh your musical outlook and give you new ideas and concepts to apply in your music. Sometimes, forcing yourself to play things you usually dismiss can open up new avenues and take  your creative spirit to places you never imagined before.

5. Practice 30 minutes daily (better than cramming 6 hours one day a week)

They say that  practice makes perfect. But mix it up, don’t always do the same drills. Scales are a good warmup, but can get boring if you are doing the same things over and over. Set goals and work through them. Break up your music pieces into smaller chunks and play them on repeat until they are 100 % perfect. Be mindful in your practice, don’t daydream. Practice in a room free from distractions! Practicing often for shorter periods of time works well! Recording your practice also helps.

Introducing the Piano

Pianos are renowned the world over, despite being just over 300 years old. A relatively short rise to fame compared to that of the guitar, whose beginnings can be traced back to around 3000 years ago. And yet they have been a prominent part of society almost since they were created. Today the piano is still often found in middle and upper class homes, and taught at schools across the world. In china alone, a survey counted over 40 million children learning to play the piano in 2015.

Considered a vital instrument for musical learning, the piano is here to stay. This is hardly surprising, as pianos have been found to enhance our performance in numerous ways, and brain imaging has shown that playing the piano actually physically changes our brain, forming more connections between both the left and right hemispheres.
Pianists are a step ahead of the game in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. It’s no mental leap then, that parents and teachers alike would encourage learning the piano.

Pianos have opened the doors to music for many people, they are relatively straightforward to understand and play. They provide an important basis of musical knowledge and have become a stepping stone, often allowing musicians to move onto other instruments.

For many years pianos brought music into homes and the lives of people. Forming such an important role in our social history, the instrument has easily found its way into popular culture. Movies, books and musicians highlight it as a magical and versatile instrument.

Read more about the history of Pianos on our Instrument Rental Website. If you live in Barcelona, we rent pianos to students, or anyone who wishes to play at home. Living in a city with limited space means that having a piano at home is a bit of a luxury, but the rental program takes care of a number of issues. There is no longer a huge initial investment. A delivery service bring the piano to your door and removes it when you no longer need it or want to use it. Phew!

Having a piano in the house has benefitted many of our students during the lock down. Keeping fingers nimble and it’s also as an intelligent way to pass the time. Playing the piano is a workout for your brain!

Before the pandemic our pianos made appearances in various concerts across the city from small private functions to large orchestras in the Palau de la Música. They have been played as brides walk down the aisles up and down the coast of Barcelona. A piano certainly adds a special touch to any event. As we slowly start to move forward again, and places begin to open, we hope that our pianos bring joy to many more people, and music begins to appear in the public quarters of Spain.

Did you know that most of the pianos we use at the school are digital pianos? By all appearances they seem to be acoustic pianos. But what is the difference really?

Digital pianos are electronic keyboards which have been developed to mimic acoustic pianos. Technological advances mean digital pianos now sound and feel (almost) like classical acoustic pianos, but with the convenience of being portable and not requiring fine tuning. 

Digital Pianos can also easily be amplified for concerts or connected to headphones for playing at home. Digital pianos are usually cheaper than regular acoustic pianos, but their advantages often outweigh the fact that they may not feel or look exactly like an acoustic piano, and they are rapidly becoming the instrument of choice for the modern day classical pianist.

These pianos accomplish all that through a variety of methods, from weighted keys to built in sound quality. And no, a digital piano is not a keyboard. There are unique differences! If you are intrigued you can read an in-depth explanation here.

The guitar may have taken over in popularity, but the piano is a key stake holder in the world of popular music, with the likes of Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend and Lady Gaga all performing pop music on the instrument.

The piano is widely used as an important classical instrument, forming part of symphony orchestras across the world. And the classical pieces are still hugely popular with pianists such as Louis Lortie known as one of the best interpreters of Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel.

The piano has been used in all kinds of music, from jazz and classical to rock and pop. It’s a versatile instrument, and if you are interested in lessons in the piano, our teachers are talented professionals who can help you accomplish your musical dreams!