Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

The Dean's Desk - Fall 2018

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Always staying current while remaining true to our time-honored musical values, we are moving forward in the areas of music technology and composition.

With our major lower level construction project still more than a year away, we will set up an interim Digital Piano Lab on our second floor. Ten workstations will each have a digital piano, computer, and the latest software – ideal for teaching studio composition, arranging, classical composition, theory and more. The lab will provide training for high school students to hone their 21st century music technology skills and prepare for college and careers. It will also house group piano classes for young children and adults.

Another new trend we’re headlining is our “Singer-Songwriter” program, offering classes and private lessons in this popular art form. Taught by recording artist Melissa Frabotta, this program is for all aspiring songwriters/performers, regardless of age or experience.

For two years running, we have earned the title “Best of Westchester,” in part because of our enthusiasm for adaptation and innovation. For our team of teachers, students, parents, and administrators, this is just the beginning!

Dr. Douglas Bish
Dean of Students and Faculty

The Dean's Desk - Spring 2018

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

While grounded in time-honored musical values, the Music Conservatory is equally committed to innovative programming for today’s students, including our very youngest. This fall we will embark on a new elementary group guitar curriculum for students as young as age 4, imparting the musical foundations to pursue more advanced studies in classical, rock, Latin, or jazz guitar, and preparing them to join a variety of bands and ensembles. 

A new sequential First Notes curriculum will start at age 3 months, and will be offered on Sundays for the first time. Parents will see their children engaged in fun learning activities, gaining new skills at each level. The curriculum will seamlessly progress to our Music Skills and Theory classes. 

We are redesigning our group piano classes as we prepare to create a Digital Piano Classroom with a separate work station for each student. We anticipate a robust demand for these classes, from children age 4 right through adult learners of all ability levels.

The Conservatory’s unique blend of innovation and tradition has built our reputation for almost 90 years. Every day, we work hard to prove that we are, and will continue to be, the “Best of Westchester.”

Dr. Douglas Bish
Dean of Students and Faculty

What Do Leap Year and Tuning A Piano Have in Common?

Monday, February 29, 2016

By Jean Newton, Executive Director

It takes 365.25 days for the earth to revolve around the sun, but our calendar only has 365 days, so every four years we get an extra day. We’ve “scheduled” this day on February 29th and call it “Leap Year.” But imagine if we decided instead to divide up that extra day, and give a little piece of it to some or all of the other days in the calendar.

On a piano, there’s a difference in pitch of .25 semitone between 12 perfectly tuned fifths and 8 perfect octaves. A semitone is one half-step, or two consecutive notes such as C/C#. Without going into the mathematics of piano tuning, if you try to play a piano with all perfectly tuned intervals, it will sound AWFUL!!

So, piano tuners have to take that extra .25 semitone and divide it up among all the other intervals. We call this “tempering” the tuning. In fact, the only perfectly tuned intervals on a piano are the octave and the fifth; all the others are a tiny bit imperfect, so that the piano will sound beautifully in tune.

There are many different ways of “tempering” a piano. Today, we use “equal temperament” – meaning that all the intervals, except for octaves and fifths, are “imperfect” by the same amount. But in previous centuries, keyboard instruments were tuned using “well temperaments” – meaning that the intervals were not all tuned the same. Nearly every piano student plays pieces from J.S. Bach’s “Well Tempered Klavier,” which includes a prelude and fugue in every single key. Bach was demonstrating that a good temperament would allow all the intervals and harmonies in each key signature to sound beautiful!