Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Welcome, Singers and Pianists!

Our students often ask for recommendations for basic home recording equipment (which can also enhance your online lesson experience!), how to mitigate sound for home practice (so as not to disturb family/roommates/neighbors), and even how to shop for the best digital pianos (or keyboards). This post will provide an overview of suggested tools to help you reach your goals- whatever they may be!

An auxiliary microphone can really improve your sound quality for home recording and in lessons (if your teacher can hear you even more clearly, they can be even more specific with their feedback)! We recommend any of these popular models:

  • Samson Go – USB plug-and-play simple, small and portable
  • Blue Snowball – USB plug-and-play simple, cardioid and omnidirectional settings
  • Zoom iQ6 – perfect for iOs users, via Lightning connector!
  • Blue Yeti – USB plug-and-play simple, suitable for many recording needs!

Make sure you’re catching every detail with a solid pair of headphones or a bluetooth speaker (either works! pick according to personal preference). Here are our favorites:

  • Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones
  • Other Headphones: Monitor recommended
  • Bluetooth Speakers:
    • To play your backing tracks, it’s best not to play the track on the same device you’re using to log into your lesson. A bluetooth speaker is a great option to help balance your voice with the track so that your teacher can hear you the best! (Some students prefer to use an external speaker for the whole lesson, instead of headphones– up to you!)
    • Doss Soundbox , $30
    • JBL Charge 3 , $120

Some students also worry about their living situation interfering with their ability to focus (and/or driving family, roommates of neighbors nuts!). These are some common solutions to help with sound transfer:

  • BeltBox , $50 –muffles very effectively for practice, but works better on some face shapes than others. Also, would not be useable during your lesson, only for solo practicing.
  • Audimute Curtain, $80 — blocks sound transfer well (not soundproof), very heavy and may pose some challenges in hanging.
  • Acousticurtain, $120 — effectively diminishes sound transfer through flimsy doors (generally one of the main culprits in sound transfer throughout your home).
  • Isolation Booths like this one or this one — most effective options, but also priciest! We recommend consulting on your individual needs before purchasing.

 

Can your teacher see you clearly? Don’t underestimate how important our view of your torso, neck, and face are to providing great guidance for your singing and playing! Check the lighting in your camera view (if you look shadowed on-screen, close any windows behind you and consider placing a light in front of you!), and make sure your camera angle gives your teacher enough feedback about your posture and body movement. Stands like these are inexpensive tools to help make the adjustments you need:

When learning to play piano, many of our students are looking for affordable instruments that provide a quality playing experience without taking up too much space. Here are some tips about what to look for in a digital piano:

  • Full 88-keys
  • “Weighted” keys (sometimes “harmonically weighted”): this means that the higher keys have a lighter touch and the lower keys take more pressure to depress, making the digital piano feel more like an acoustic piano.
  • Pedals: Whether one pedal or the more standard set of three, having access to a damper pedal at all will be a great benefit.
  • Polyphony is a commonly advertised feature, but for beginning pianists, it won’t make much difference in the playing experience (only very advanced pianists would notice the difference).
  • Respected brands to look out for (best audio sampling, longevity): Yamaha, Roland, Kawaii.

Here are some specific options at a variety of price points (note that stand, bench, and pedals may be additional purchases in the lower priced options):

  • Budget-friendly Entry Keyboard: Casio CTK-3500 — only 61 keys, but “piano style” keys which are touch sensitive
  • Mid-Range Keyboard/Digital piano:  Williams Legato —  full 88 keys,  only partially weighted
  • High End Digital Piano:  Yamaha P-125 — fully weighted keys for a more piano-like feel, three pedal unit available as an add-on (optional)
  • Top of the Line digital piano: Yamaha Arius or Clavinova – very solid and reliable instruments with excellent touch and sound quality; sturdy furniture casing, pedals, and benches all standard and included.

 

Whatever tools of the trade you choose to implement, your Cardon Studios teachers are here to guide you every step of the way. Ready to get started? Schedule your complimentary Intro Session today!

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