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Tutor profile: Spencer J.

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Spencer J.
DMA Student at the University of South Carolina, 11+ years of instruction/tutoring private students
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

How do I make sure my writing makes sense to the reader?

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Spencer J.
Answer:

Some things that help make your writing clear include organizing the structure of your writing in a way that could make sense to most readers. An example is putting ideas around the same theme or subtopic in the same paragraph or section. It should be obvious to the reader what your organization logic is. Another factor that affects clarity is your use of grammar. Understanding sentence structure, when to use punctuation (such as commas), and how to to word your ideas clearly makes a difference. For example, a sentence with more that one idea may need punctuation, such as a comma, to help the reader understand your ideas without having to reread the sentence.

Subject: Music Theory

TutorMe
Question:

What are musical intervals?

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Spencer J.
Answer:

Musical intervals refer to the relationship or distance between two pitches or notes. In Western music, the distance between notes is measured by half steps but the names of intervals relate to a typical 7-note scale. A visual aid for understanding half steps is to look at the keyboard of a piano. Each piano key, white and black, is a half step from its neighboring keys. For example, if you play middle C on a piano and the next highest C on the keyboard, the interval played is called an octave. An octave contains 12 half steps. After playing middle C, you would need to play 12 consecutive keys to arrive at the next C. Considering this, there are 12 possible note intervals besides the octave. Other intervals include a unison (two voices sounding the same pitch), a minor second and major second, a minor third and major third, a perfect fourth, the tritone, a perfect fifth, a minor sixth and major sixth, and minor seventh and major seventh.

Subject: Music

TutorMe
Question:

How do I learn to read and play rhythms accurately?

Inactive
Spencer J.
Answer:

It is helpful to approach this question in a few layers. First, it is important to develop an internal sense of beat or pulse. Listening for regular pulse in music and tapping along is a way to do this. A second layer includes recognizing that playing different rhythms and reading notated rhythms are two different skills. All music traditions rely on aural learning to some degree. As such, I think it is important to learn rhythms by ear and mimic them, either by singing or a body movement (such as clapping). It is also important to recognize how the rhythms you hear relate to the pulse of the music. This helps develop an internal sense of rhythm that can be used as a reference when learning to read rhythms. The third layer includes understanding how rhythms are described logically. For example, understanding how pulse fits into a meter, and how that pulse is divided (ex. 3/4 meter has 3 beats or pulses in a measure of musical time). This provides a basis for learning how different note lengths relate to the meter and pulse structure. Finally, after learning musical notation symbols and their meanings ( whole note, half note, quarter note, etc.) it is easier to recognize what they indicate after developing your own internal concept of rhythm from the layers mentioned.

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