All posts in piano

Music is an important part of the human experience. Be it through song and dance, listening to music in a cafe or at home, going to a concert with your friends, or jamming with your band. People connect through music. Sound and rhythm are learned from early childhood, in fact babies start to hear and feel sound in the womb. Music helps us to develop and learn language as toddlers. It is part of our daily life, through movies, radio, and other places. You can sit on a terraza and buskers may pass you, playing on their instruments or singing. Music is such an integral part of being human.

As a parent you probably want to encourage a love of music, or as an individual maybe it is a hobby you would like to take up. Music can be an interesting career, with many aspects. From music production to teaching and performing. As a music school we understand the benefits of studying music and creating an environment where we can enjoy learning.

But studying music can also be daunting for a beginner, and without expert advice, it can be expensive and at worst, not a positive experience! With so many health benefits, from improving your cognitive abilities to actually being a physical workout and a stress reliever, studying music or learning an instrument should not be scary.

One vital aspect is your instrument! At Shine we offer fantastic rental instruments from our instrument rental department.

Imagine that your child wishes to start playing a musical instrument, or it’s been your dream to take a guitar class, but you just don’t know where to start. Perhaps you are spending a semester in Spain and don’t want to stop playing music, but shipping or flying with your instrument is not an option. Whatever situation you find yourself in, playing an instrument can be an expensive and often confusing endeavour as any professional musician will tell you.

This makes so much sense!

Test & Try

Hiring a musical instrument instead of buying one is an option that just adds up for multitude reasons. Not only can you try and test out a variety of instruments, but you also don’t have to make a huge investment in an instrument without some musical knowledge and know-how.

Grow with your Instrument

This is especially relevant when looking into instruments for children. More often than not, the instrument has to grow with your child. This can mean buying numerous instruments as your child requires a bigger size. A disaster if your kids decide they don’t want to play anymore, and also extra work if you have to keep buying and selling instruments.

Quality Instruments

Unfortunately as you will quickly discover, cheap instruments are difficult to play, tricky to tune, often sound bad, and in the end a cheap instrument regularly results in the player getting frustrated and not wanting to play. What a lost opportunity for musical discovery!

All your questions answered!

Long-term instrument rental is an affordable and flexible way to play an instrument. Hiring a digital piano or cello to play at home makes practice easy and practical. If you happen to move, you don’t have to lug a heavy or expensive instrument with you! You find that your musical experience will improve when you don’t have to worry about your instrument. If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch with us or head directly over to our website, where you can hire your instrument online through a few easy steps!

We have a wide array of instruments from quality brands, from beginner instruments to advanced instruments.

Choose your instrument:

Pianos & Keys   
Guitars & Basses             
Drums & Percussion              

Want to know about how it works? Please click here for Rental Instructions.

Click to WhatsApp: +34 930 11 2282
Click to Call: +34 930 11 2282

Mary Lou Williams

“The first lady of the jazz keyboard”

Mary Lou Williams, born in 1910, was a pianist, arranger and composer from Atlanta, U.S. She was the first woman to be ranked with the greatest of jazz musicians and an important contributor to every aspect of jazz.

Her career began in the late 1920’s and lasted for more than half a century. She first started playing piano because of her mother, a classically trained pianist, picking out simple tunes at age two, she was a prodigy with perfect pitch and a highly developed musical memory by the time she was four years old. At age ten she was known as “the Little Piano Girl” and was performing for small audiences throughout Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her professional debut with big bands came in 1922, at age twelve, when she substituted for a pianist in the Buzz and Harris Revue, a traveling show.

By 1925, at just 15 years old, Williams was a full-time working musician with a  solidified status as a jazz great. She helped develop the Kansas City swing sound of the 1930s. And in the 1940s, she mentored some of bebop’s most famous innovators like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk.

Williams was an expert at her instrument and whatever she apparently ‘lacked’ for not being a man she made up for on the bandstand. Her musical ability allowed her to gain the respect of many men, both inside and outside of the jazz community. Mary Lou focused on the plight of her race and mourned the loss of the jazz heritage, and even later in her career tried to educate young blacks of the next generation about their jazz heritage. Mary Lou’s concerns and activities were noble and based on her preoccupation with racism.

She often had to legitimize her place on the bandstand through a demonstration of her musical ability. Simply because she was a woman, the men in her field did not expect her to have abilities equivalent to that of a man. The culturally appropriate place for Mary Lou was not on the bandstand, but rather in the home. Mary Lou broke the culturally appropriate gender roles by pursuing her music rather than motherhood. 

In the 1960s and ’70s she composed a number of liturgical pieces for jazz ensembles, including Black Christ of the Andes (1962), a cantata; Mass for the Lenten Season (1968); and Music for Peace (1970), popularly known as “Mary Lou’s Mass.” In 1970 she also recorded a comprehensive performance-lecture entitled The History of Jazz. Five years later she was appointed to the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and in 1977 to the faculty at Duke University.

Mary Lou was privy to many race issues throughout her life and time as a jazz pianist. Race and gender combined to make life as a composer difficult for Mary Lou. Not only was Mary Lou Williams a woman, but she was a black woman, and black women in the first part of the twentieth century were not afforded many rights.

Critics had a difficult time responding to Mary Lou’s music and classifying her as legitimate. While working for and touring with Andy Kirk’s band, the Clouds of Joy, Mary experienced first-hand the difficulties of segregation. Travelling even to a ‘northern’ city such as Kansas City, the effects of segregation remained rampant; even musicians’ unions were segregated. Luckily for Andy Kirk and the band, this did not prevent them from performing at many different venues. Conversely, later in her career, Mary Lou worked at Café Society Downtown, a club in New York City that practiced full integration and treated blacks and whites equally, and also she volunteered her time playing benefits for the NAACP as well as for the Committee for the Negro in the Arts.

For Williams, jazz was a vast and mighty tool of expression and one that, she believed, could serve as a crucial and necessary portal for black peoples to commune with and convey the complexities of their past. On many occasions, she set to writing — informally in unpublished essays and letters but also at times in public forums — in order to elaborate on the ways in which her own “modern music” was both a statement in aesthetic “progress” and yet, likewise, constitutive of old forms.

Her last recording was “Solo Recital” (Montreux Jazz Festival, 1978), three years before her death, a mixture of spiritual themes, ragtime, blues and swing. In 1981, Mary Lou Williams died of cancer in Durham, North Carolina, at the age of 71. Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman and Andy Kirk attended her funeral at St. Ignatius Loyola Church. She was buried in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Looking towards the end of her life, Mary Lou Williams said, “I did it, didn’t I? Through muck and mud.” And to this day we remember her as “the first lady of the jazz keyboard.”

Research from: Npr Music, Cedarville university, NY Times, Wikipedia

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!

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!

Benefits of Learning from Home

Online learning, with live lessons, like those offered at Shine for many years, has recently grown in popularity due to the current world situation and the need to stay at home due to Covid-19. However this way of learning has great benefits, from the economic, to the flexibility and continuity of classes from anywhere in the world, even if you are not confined or sheltering in your home!

When we take classes from our homes it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside or if traffic to get to our school is jam packed. Attending a class is as easy as switching on a button, sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea, and getting started with your teacher! Just sit back and enjoy a lesson from the comfort of home. Now there is no excuse for being lazy! And what a joy to laugh and smile with a familiar face while enjoying your favourite hobby!

The current disruptions of the Corona Virus don’t have to break your usual way of life, you can continue lessons unhindered with online classes. Being able to carry on with our normal routine means that our situation at home is more stable, which can help alleviate undue stress or anxiety. No complications, no hassle, just an internet connection, and you are ready to go, and this means that you can stay safe both physically and mentally!

Perhaps you are only discovering the benefits of online learning now, during the “shelter at home” movements, but Shine has been touting the benefits of online study for almost a decade. Ask any of our long-time online students; having the flexibility to continue lessons after a work transfer or move, mean that we can maintain our musical progress. A number of our students came to Barcelona to study an intensive course, and now continue their lessons from their homes, extending and advancing their studies. We continue to cultivate our teacher-student connection.  No need to hunt for new teachers or lessons. Online lessons have just made our life easier!

Online classes can be more intensive and focused. Classes through platforms such as Skype, Zoom, among others, create a space of full attention. Without the distractions that may happen in a school environment, because of this students often see great and rapid advances in learning.

Distance means nothing! No matter what country in the world we live or where we move, we can continue taking classes with the teacher we like from anywhere. Classes are not only a source of knowledge for many students but also an enjoyable way to pass the time, and learning online means that you can continue with your hobby from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows a continuity that would not be possible in any other way. Many students take advantage of virtual classes so as not to lose any headway in their studies, when traveling for work or long vacations.

Further benefits to online study include better time management. Many people these days have busy schedules, filled with work requirements, or family life and extra-murals. We tend to rush about and often find little time to practice our instrument. With an online lesson, you don’t have to use your time to move from one place to another. Rather you can make time for practice or being well rested for your class. So much time and energy can be saved, and undoubtedly, the efficiency created by e-learning provides greater comfort and a better quality of life.

Economically speaking, money can be saved on transport, and perhaps these savings can be put towards buying a dreamt of instrument or indeed investing in further learning. Often online lessons are also cheaper for many people, as rates for classes are more competitive.

If you haven’t  experienced music lessons online, now may be a good time to encourage yourself to try. Take advantage of the advances in technology to improve your quality of life, manage our own time, save money, and be able to continue with your favourite teacher from anywhere on the planet at any time of the year.

We invite you to try this wonderful experience of learning an instrument from the comfort of your home.