Friday, February 27, 2015

The Healing Power of Music: Robin Spielberg at TEDxLancaster

Robin Spielberg, a renowned contemporary pianist and composer, tells a very personal story about the healing power of music. Her experiences inspired her to share how music makes an impact on our well-being and helps us through difficulties.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Titanium / Pavane (Piano/Cello Cover) - David Guetta / Faure - ThePianoGuys

All of the sounds you hear in this tune were created by the piano; electric, steel, acoustic & carbon fiber cellos; vocals; and a tambourine.

 This video was filmed at Bryce Canyon National Park in cooperation with the Garfield County Office of Tourism. For more information go to Thanks to Bruce Fullmer and Mark Wade for their assistance in location scouting and project management. See more of Bryce Canyon in this video:

Story behind the song:

Have you ever awakened with a melody in your head and you don't know how it got there? That was the beginning of our PianoGuys' version of David Guetta's "Titanium (feat. Sia)." Paul especially loved this tune -- he lobbied us to arrange the song, but after we could not find a way to begin the arrangement. Every time we tried it just didn't flow. We also were concerned that the hook of the tune was nothing but the beat :-) and lacked a lead melody, which would make it more difficult to convey with piano and cello. Steve woke one morning and couldn't get a melody out of his head. It was Gabriel Faure's "Pavane" -- a hauntingly beautiful melody that weaves in and out of richly sequenced harmonies and fluid counter-melodies. It had been a favorite of his as a child, but he hadn't heard it for years. In the studio that same morning we tried the melody over the top of the chorus of David' Guetta's Titanium and it was like witnessing a reunion of two childhood friends. The main melody of the Pavane and its supporting chords, transposed and changed stylistically to mimic Guetta, also fit nicely as the intro we had been searching for. And we thought since Guetta and Faure are both French it must have been meant to be! :-)

If you're not familiar with "Pavane" Listen to a version of Bobby McFerrin singing it with La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra: (As a boy Steve heard this very version live in concert and it evidently had an indelible impression on him!)

Classical music is such a big part of who we, ThePianoGuys, are. You can hear it in everything we write. We love pairing it with the music of today.

This was the most difficult music video to set the "stage" for thus far. We considered so many locations -- a copper mine, a steel mill, an industry factory, a mountaintop ski resort, a wildflower meadow, a desert bluff, and many others. As you know we love putting pianos and cellos in crazy places (a common comment is 'how the heck did they get the piano up there??') -- places that show off breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. When Mark Wade with Garfield County's Department of Tourism called and offered full creative access to its national parks we abandoned all of our tabled ideas and focused on showcasing Bryce Canyon National Park -- an incredible place of raw beauty and geological history written in rock. It is a place like no other. We feel so blessed to have been able to film there.

This video features a NEW STEEL cello made by Dawson Swan: Thor II -- with significant improvements over Thor I. It's lighter, easier to play and it looks awesome! Dawson is an incredible artist! Check his website out here: Thank you again, Dawson!

Pavane written by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Arrangement produced by Al van der Beek & Steven Sharp Nelson
Arrangement written by Al van der Beek, Jon Schmidt & Steven Sharp Nelson
Jon Schmidt: Piano
Steven Sharp Nelson: Electric, Acoustic, Carbon Fiber, Steel Cellos, Cello-percussion, percussion
Al van der Beek: Vocal textures, percussion
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Al van der Beek at TPG Studios in Utah
Video Filmed, produced and edited by Paul Anderson & Tel Stewart

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Making Sure Young Brains Get The Benefits Of Music Training

The percentage of students receiving music education has been in decline for decades. The Harmony Project, a music program for inner city kids in Los Angeles partners with a neurobiologist to study the impact of music training on the learning skills of poor children.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Music for Laughter and Enlightenment: David Polansky at TEDxYouth

Using trumpet, piano, and voice, David opens a window into his musical life and invites the audience to join him for a number of his songs, preceding each one with a short history. Using music to tell stories, David delights and engages preschoolers and grandparents alike. David Polansky claims to have never grown up but has been writing music for over 50 years and has performed it for thousands of delighted listeners who attend his concerts and listen to recordings of his songs.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Playing a Titanic Tuba | The New York Times

Carl Fischer Music owns what some believe is the world’s largest tuba. Playing it requires a strong set of lungs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

3 Ways Music Benefits Children

You don't have to be a scientist performing detailed research to see how music benefits children. You just have to be a parent who has a child involved in a music program! Many parents with musically-inclined children notice differences in their children as they grow with their music.

Following is a short list of just three ways all children can benefit from music. They don't have to be natural music pros to receive these benefits. They don't even have to take music lessons at a very serious level to receive them. They just need to exposed to music and the art of making music from a young age.

#1: Fine Motor Skills & Coordination

Making music requires a lot of coordination of different body parts, depending on the type of instrument being used. Think of a child learning to play a simple recorder. They must learn to hold the instrument with one hand and their mouth while moving their fingers in specific patterns over the holes on the instrument.

Different types of body coordination and fine motor skills would be used to play a bass or a violin. When children are exposed to different types of instruments at a young age they are challenged in this way and develop greater fine motor skills and coordination abilities.

Children can get some of these benefits from playing sports as well, but it is different with musical instruments. Most sports do not require children to use their fingers in the same way they are used to make music. They learn to pay attention to small details, such as placing each finger completely over tiny holes in a recorder.

Many children who struggle with coordination or fine motor skills are involved in music so they can improve these skills.

#2: Creative Thinking

Creating music also stimulates creative thinking in children. As they learn to work with others to create interesting or beautiful tunes their brains come alive with their own ideas. This is why many children who love music will spend some of their free time playing around with instruments. They will come up with their own songs and tunes from their own creative minds.

Creativity is sparked to a high degree in early music education programs. These programs allow small children to bang around on drums and play with a variety of other instruments before technique is properly understood. They are able to play and have fun while exploring their own creative minds.

#3: Self Expression

This is perhaps the best benefit of music on growing children. It gives them a way to express themselves and to explore who they are as people. As children identify instruments that they really love and types of music that speak to their souls in a personal way, they start to explore who they are in the world.

Eventually they will grow into older children who can express themselves through their chosen musical instruments.

Think of how adults use music to express the deepest emotions of the soul. Children are able to express themselves through music much the same way when they are given the right tools. The tools are simply exposure to music in fun, creative environments that encourage self expression.

Even infants can start building these benefits if they are given the right type of musical exposure!

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