THE STYLISH AND SMART SERIES - EPISODE 2

By Vivienne Luxford

What makes a band stylish and smart?

Stylish and smart are two words most people wouldn’t associate with music. Music means different things to different people, but I believe to stand out in the sea of others, bands must adopt a stylish and smart approach. A truly respected musician is smart enough to not change their style to suit the demands of a record label or radio, but instead produces their art authentically. 

Here are three artists who are changing the way they produce their art, in a stylish, smart, and unique way.   

Client Liaison 

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Client Liaison immediately came to mind when I thought of smart and stylish. The Melbourne synth-pop quartet merges 80’s-Australiana-business aesthetic with an injection of pastel, to create something from a nostalgic dream. However, they are anything but out-dated; rather a time-transcending audio-visual feast for the senses- welcome to the world of Client Liaison. 

“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style- we are Client Liaison”

Filling the stage with strong vocals and in your face outfits- high-waisted suits in plain pastel or embroidered with Australian iconography- Client Liaison still have a suave and stylish feeling about them. It’s interesting to note that an all-male band actively puts effort into their fashion, with multiple costume changes in one set. To add to the bands personal style and aesthetic, they created their own clothing, Client Liaison Deluxe Line, which blurs the line between fashion and merchandise, a business venture never-before-seen in Australian music.  

To complete the Client Liaison world, Expo Liaison, an Expo 88 themed mini festival for their “shareholders” (fans); a 7 hour event showcasing “all things Client Liaison.” With special guest, Australian legend John Farnham, Client Liaison continually link back to their style and kitsch of Australiana branding that fans have come to expect.  

Client Liaison is loved for their unique music sound, but are also loved for their outlandish and bold fashion choices, and making those choices accessible to their fans. They have created a well-rounded artistic style, integrating music and fashion to create their own universe within the Australian music landscape. 

Okay, but what if you don’t know what they look like? 
Without the visual aid, can they still be stylish?

Whilst ‘looks’ is the obvious answer, stylish and smart can also relate to how the band sounds.  Smooth vocals, sounds with a purpose, catchy lyrics and the ability to transform their environment into an intimate experience (whether live or listening through headphones) help obtain this image. 

Running Touch

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Running Touch is touted as a “mysterious producer” and multi-instrumentalist from Melbourne, producing electro-dance hits. Arguably his most stylish song, “Better Together” is a collaboration with Australian electro-pop singer Hayden James, drips with dapperness. It’s a hip-swinger within the first second. Clean and crisp beats create an infectious production, and James’ clever lyricism makes this a slick and stylish dance floor hit. 

Unlike Client Liaison, Running Touch couldn’t be more separate from his music, stating, “I keep it anonymous to keep the limelight on the art…rather than who I am.” Anonymity allows him to escape the spotlight, and let the music speak for itself, rather than clutter the image of Running Touch- a minimalistic approach in a modern world defined by visuals. His music is full of atmospheric niceties, and using instruments to distinguish sections of “Better Together.

Running Touch has used his privacy to focus on making his music sound better, without any “gimmicky” tricks. Listeners don’t always need a face, identity or persona to follow and cling to, as it can sometimes distract from what the artist actually represents- music.  

Confidence Man 

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Whilst you only see two band members, Confidence Man screams ‘effortlessly stylish.’ This semi elusive quartet is a conglomerate of Brisbane bands, all from indie-rock backgrounds, coming together to create a dance-pop sound. Moonlighting under the pseudonyms Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Clarence McGuffie, and Reggie Goodchild, the band uses these hyperbole personalities to reflect the vanity and obnoxiousness in present in society. 

Confidence Man has an artistic maximalist approach to their projects. Their video clips are littered with visual red herrings, however it is unapologetically aesthetic with professionally choreographed danced routines. Although they use pseudonyms, McGuffie & Goodchild wear black beekeeping hats even when on stage, giving a strange air of drama and intrigue to their style. 

Their Splendour in the Grass 2017 set was divisive amongst critics. A choreographed dance routine to their hit single “Boyfriend (Repeat)” left some people confused as to what is music or art, however, it was quintessentially Confidence Man, stylishly sticking it to the man. You can’t deny the thousands of people all dancing full of energy is something to discredit the band for.  

The band is visually overwhelming, however, their sound is anything but “littered.” Confidence Man has great commercial appeal, but their music doesn’t fit into the parameters of mainstream pop, nor does it reflect modern indie dance music; it’s a strange self-contained genre solely consisting of Confidence Man. A smart but bold choice for a band that is still in its infancy, only being signed in 2017.  

On paper, these artists may have little in common; but they’re all just…cool, because they are passionate for the sound and the aesthetic world they have created. Client Liaison has created their own universe, Running Touch is a shadow in a world dominated by visuals, and Confidence Man live by their “stupider the better” motto. However, their choices don’t feel forced or a façade for something (or someone) else. They know who they are and aren’t ashamed of it. Now that’s pretty smart and stylish to me. 

The Stylish And Smart Series - Episode 1

Written by Demi Leigh, creator of Lost In The Sound UK

The music industry is an inspiring place to look for individuals that are both Stylish & Smart. For me, those qualities lie in the artists that have done well to capture their own unique individuality and went on to forge their own path from it. Immediately coming to mind was the talents that embraced their own essence perfectly and by doing so, blessed us with their pure originality in its best musical form—untouchable classics such as Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Tupac and David Bowie are a perfect example of this. Musicians who knew exactly who they were as creators and by doing things their way, resulted in their work remaining loved and adored by generations all across the world. It was their undeniable passion and complete dedication to keeping a firm hold of their authenticity and vision, that not only had an impact on the quality of their work, but the appeal that surrounded them and furthermore granted their ultimate success. It’s why they, among others, have gone on to inspire the future of music in such an incredible way. All while firmly reminding us, that our individuality should always be embraced.

Many of today’s musicians share in these values. 

Being stylish is more than just the way you look, it’s how you carry yourself. The way you move and adapt with the times, while managing to keep a hold of your authenticity through every step. It’s finding who you are as an artist by following your heart and doing what feels right to you. Smart is sticking to that and staying true to yourself no matter what. It’s knowing what you as an individual can bring to the table and letting your differences inspire and carry you forward.

Below is my pick of a particularly stylish and smart bunch of artists that I am loving right now. Each making music a more special place to lose ourselves in, as they carry on blazing their own trail into 2019 and beyond.

EASY LIFE

Easy life

Easy life

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This five-piece, Leicester-raised band, have been making their mark in the music industry since their brilliant debut single ‘Pockets’ dropped back in 2017. Gripping us with their fresh, creative and totally chilled tones, the guys have been surfing on their own wave ever since. As their storytelling tunes echo the influences of different genres,

merging the likes of jazz, R&B, indie, pop and hip-hop into their distinctive sound and infusing the overall creation in their own Easy Life essence—the boys certainly are a stylish bunch of creators. Joining forces as a group brought a whole host of strengths to their mix, allowing the collective to become a multi-talented force of musical good stuff. Led by frontman Murray, who forms the band alongside bassist, saxophonist and singer Sam, drummer Cass, guitarist Louis and Jordan on the keys and backing vocals; their combined creativity and talent have allowed the group to craft up a superb collection of tunes already and it’s only the beginning for them. Press play on their latest Spaceships mixtape below:


TOM GRENNAN

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A force to be reckoned with, the super talented Bedford-born musician, Tom Grennan, stands in a total league of his own. His incredible vocals have a unique power behind them that will blow you away from the very first note he sings, especially when hearing him perform live. The music Tom

creates feels as though it beams directly from the very core of him. Charged full of his heart and soul, his songs tear through the distance and connect him instantly with his listeners, as his relatable lyrics passionately resonate with every play. He is an artist who appears to do things his way, owning his story and who he is, and projecting that in all its honesty through his art. Keeping his rawness and originality firmly intact, is a key element in Tom Grennan’s appeal as a creative. It’s also why he stands as one of the finest male solo artists in the UK right now. His debut album, Lighting Matches, released last year holds the proof of that in every track. Listen below:

RALEIGH RITCHIE

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Raleigh Ritchie, real name Jacob Anderson, has been a favourite of mine for a long time! He has a special way of wrapping his feelings and emotions up into the most brilliantly, creative little packages and then gifts them to the world in the form of songs. From the lyrics he delivers, to the production and visuals attached to his tracks, Raleigh is a creator who

perfectly sculpts his work into the first-class art that it is. The musicians debut album, You’re A Man Now, Boy—alongside each of his amazing EP’s—are a perfect example of his talents. He lowers his guard and bears all through his sound, which allows him to connect with his listeners in a very special and personal way. By embracing his individuality, Raleigh Ritchie stands apart from the crowd with ease. And with his music serving as a gateway into his one-of-a-kind world, Planet-Ritchie is a bloody good place to be! Find out for yourself below:

JESSIE REYEZ

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Hailing from Toronto, the incredible Jessie Reyez was an instant standout from the very first moment I heard her. Hitting the industry like a breath of fresh air, Jessie’s sound is hard to ignore. The raw talent she holds is captured in everything she produces and with her creative way of weaving through a

range of different moods, styles and lyrical topics in her material, the artist constantly keeps things fresh and exciting. From her captivating, love-infused breakout single ‘Figures’, to the hard-hitting ‘Gatekeeper’ and the attitude oozing Body Count’—everything Reyez crafts up is golden. She knows exactly who she is as an artist, which gives her a confidence that rolls boldly across each one of her tunes. The style and vision of Jessie Reyez as a musician, is presented through her current two EP’s, Kiddo released in 2017 and Being Human In Public, out in Autumn last year. We’re currently pending the release of her debut album, but there’s no doubt that it will be a beast of a creation. Watch this space.

LOYLE CARNER

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Presenting us with a warm and wholesome energy in the atmosphere of his sound, South London MC Loyle Carner, sails in his own direction as an artist. By pressing play on his music, Carner’s storytelling, poet like qualities, read us through different pages of his life, as we’re welcomed in to listen to the echoes of his memories, feelings and the relationships he has with those close to him. He is an artist who

wears his heart openly on his sleeve and by having the confidence to do so, just increases his appeal. The release of his sophomore album, Not Waving, but Drowning out last month—a follow-up to his debut Yesterday’s Gone back in 2017—brought more of his distinctive features back to the attention of the industry. As we listen to his easy-going flow pace the music in his mellow laid-back manner—we are once again reminded that doing things our own way, is what this life is really all about.

Weighted Piano Keys: Why They Are Important for a Beginner.

By Daz Thornton at The Piano Vault


When I interview a prospective pupil, it frequently turns out that they don't currently own an acoustic or digital piano. They may have a keyboard, which is better than nothing, but, not really ideal for developing a good piano playing skills.

One of the questions that they ask is "what do you recommend as an instrument to get me started?" Many beginners / beginner's parents in the initial stages of learning are not always willing or able to invest in an instrument that will take them beyond the beginner standard of playing. With this in mind, it is important that I recommend an instrument that is affordable enough for them to decide whether piano playing is for them or not, but more importantly, it needs to be something that will help the pupil experience something of the feel and touch of an acoustic piano. This is where full size weighed keys are an important consideration.

WHAT ARE WEIGHTED KEYS?

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Weighted keys are a feature that digital pianos (and some keyboards/portable pianos) include in their design to help mimic the action of an acoustic piano. You can see from the example above that by pressing a key on an acoustic grand piano, a series of mechanical parts are set into motion with the aim of throwing a hammer at the string(s). This creates the familiar sound of a piano and provides a pianist with the level of control that is required to produce an array of expressive possibilities.

WHY ARE WEIGHTED KEYS BETTER FOR BEGINNERS THAN THOSE OF A KEYBOARD?

Weighted keys will bring the beginner pianist closer to that of an acoustic piano, helping them feel the sensitivity required to push down the keys with different levels of control, as opposed to those on most keyboards that are unweighted. Unweighted keys do not provide the resistance that is needed to develop piano playing skills.

To make a good start in developing their piano technique, the learner needs to feel that they are pushing against they key to play a note, and also experience the sensation of the key pushing back up when returning to its resting position. On a larger scale, this is a little like the sensation of being sat on one end of a seesaw.

The unweighted keys that you get on many keyboards, don't provide this sensation, and will result in a pupil practising on an instrument that doesn't resemble the key resistance of an acoustic piano. This often presents them with quite a shock when they start to play for their teacher on a weighted action for instance. The evenness of their playing can be affected due to their fingers not building up the strength to move from one key to another, which in turn will also affect the dynamic level and tone they produce from the instrument.

WHAT SORT OF PIANO WOULD BE GOOD FOR A BEGINNER ON A BUDGET?

For beginners who are on a budget, and/or may be limited for space, they may like to consider an instrument that is portable like a keyboard, but includes the type of weighted action that has been spoken about above.

Many manufacturers offer a beginner 'entry range' of portable, weighted keyed instruments that provide a good basis for building a piano technique. One such instrument (at a very affordable price I might add) is the Casio CDP-S100. See the short video below for an overview:

Casio have also gone to the trouble of designing these weighted keys to have a textured finish, rather than the slippery shiny plastic feel that is often used on keyboards. This adds a feeling of quality to the keys, which is great for an entry level product, as well as providing an element of grip whilst playing.

Whilst trying out this instrument, I asked a young pupil of mine (who currently owns an unweighted keyboard) what her first impressions were of these weighted keys. She answered by saying that the keys on her keyboard were "easier to push down". I then explained to her mother that she shouldn't be fooled by her usage of the word "easy". Just because there is very little resistance when pushing down on an unweighted keyboard, it doesn't mean that it will be of any benefit to her playing or in developing a good sense of control at the piano. In other words, don't associate the word 'easy' with the word 'beneficial' It would be like going to the gym and handing someone a really light dumbbell. They may be "easy" to lift, but that is not going to help in developing muscles. It is the weight and the resistance of the keys on an instrument like the Casio CDP-S100 that will help a beginner develop the finger control they need as a piano player.

SEE THE CDP-S100 IN ACTION

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY

It may be tempting as a beginner to go for a cheaper keyboard over something a little more substantial in the early stages of learning. What usually ends up happening though, is that a player will soon need to upgrade to an instrument that will take them further than a simple keyboard with unweighted keys can achieve. With this being the case, I would advise that you invest a little more in providing something that offers what they need to start them on their musical journey from the very start of their piano lessons, for all the reasons I have listed above.

A portable beginners piano such as the Casio CDP-S100 would be a good choice here, and, will not break the bank at approx £325. Just for the key action alone, this price is fantastic!

If however you would like something more substantial than a beginners piano, why not try this piano selector to help you find an instrument that is right for you:

https://music.casio.co.uk/piano-selector/

Find out more about the Casio CDP-S100 here:

https://music.casio.co.uk/cdps100

Listen to more of the Casio CDP-S100 in this specially selected playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcG-xdMuAYX9uCQ4S2dpnZUKmqln487oK

Will Practising on a Digital Piano Damage Your Piano Technique?

By Daz Thornton at The Piano Vault

For many pianists ranging from beginner to advanced, it is not always possible to practice on a traditional acoustic upright or grand piano. There may be space restrictions, neighbours and other family members to consider, or of course, budget limitations. Serious piano students can worry that practising on digital pianos (sometimes called electric pianos) will have a limiting effect on the development of their technique, or even damage it if they are already playing at a high level.

Let's explore the pros and cons of this concern.

WHAT IS PIANO TECHNIQUE?

Piano technique is a pianist's ability to carry out the technical requirements of a composition, and control the instrument they are playing to achieve a desired expressive outcome.

There are probably two main areas that affect how a pianist can use or develop their technique... 1) the action of the piano - meaning the keyboard and hammer mechanism combined with how it feels under the fingers, and 2) the sound produced by a piano when reacting to the action. Depending on the abilities of a pianist, ranging from beginner to professional, these two areas will be of varying importance.

WHAT MIGHT LIMIT YOUR PIANO TECHNIQUE?

It really depends on the piano you are playing as to how you can either use the technique you already have, or develop a technique from scratch. It also depends on the genre of music you are playing, and at what level.

Most people when starting out on their musical journey will begin on a relatively inexpensive instrument, and upgrade as their technique and musicianship grows. Leaving what are termed as 'keyboards' out of this discussion (usually with unweighted sprung keys), there are basically two different categories of piano, both having sub-categories within them.

Pianos without strings

Stage pianos, digital pianos and digital hybrid pianos.

Pianos with strings

Upright pianos and grand pianos.

It is often assumed that all acoustic upright and grand pianos are going to be superior to anything in the digital category as far as developing a good technique is concerned. However, in my experience, if developing your technique to a high level is your goal, ALL the categories and sub-categories above will vary in action and sound to a greater or lesser extent. As well as this, you will find that the action and sound will differ between instruments within just one of these categories too.

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Upright Piano Action

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Upright Piano Action

Not so long ago, there was quite a difference between the digital and acoustic categories in terms of both action and sound. Well maintained acoustic pianos usually always come out on top, but due to acoustics often requiring regular maintenance, they can quickly slip into disrepair, or develop an unpleasant sound. I've always pointed out that if a developing piano student had the option between an out of tune, poorly maintained acoustic, and a good quality consistently reliable digital, they would probably have a much better playing experience with the digital piano option.

When I was studying music at college and university, each practise room had an upright acoustic piano in it, and each of them felt completely different as you moved from one to the other. The quality of the uprights would vary enormously, as would the state of repair. The practice rooms that had grand pianos in them tended to be more reliable and consistent, but the key action and the sound of each one was also very different. All these variations affect how you can either use your piano technique, or indeed, develop and refine it further.

With this example in mind, it is clear that there can be a lack of consistency between the abilities of acoustic pianos. This could also be true of pianos in the digital category, but usually for reasons of the software and hardware rather than needing maintenance.

MOVING BETWEEN DIGITAL AND ACOUSTICS

Whilst developing my piano technique as a student, I had a digital piano at home to practise on, as well as an upright acoustic. The acoustic had limited capabilities due to the somewhat worn action, but I could do enough on it to get by in playing music from the advanced repertoire. I don't recall having any problems moving between one and the other, even though the digital piano had a somewhat lighter key weight than the acoustic. It's actually good practice for making quick on-the-spot adjustments to your playing when faced with using different pianos. This of course is a skill that pianists must acquire, whether they only ever play on two different pianos (their own and their teacher's), or, are playing at different venues. Quickly adapting to different pianos is an essential part of developing a good piano technique.

Pianists off the top of my head who practise on a digital piano are Stephen Hough, Benjamin Grosvenor, Artur Pizarro and Josh Wright. Their technique is still very much intact! Let's be clear though... these pianists will also practise on acoustic grand pianos that they either own, or have access to at concert venues. I do advise that playing good quality acoustic pianos is an important thing to do for a developing pianist... even if it's somewhat occasionally.

If you only ever play on one piano digital or acoustic, you will probably develop a technique within the confines of that specific instrument. You will become so familiar with it that you will know every nuance of it's action and sound, and will be able to predict how that piano behaves. This is great if you only ever intend to play this one piano, but you would be surprised at how strange it can feel to play an unfamiliar instrument. The sound and touch may be completely different to what you are use to, and as a teacher, I've seen many pupils sit down at one of my pianos and react with shock as they play the first few notes of their piece. As mentioned above, this is simply due to them practising all week on their own instrument, and expecting the feel and sound of another piano to be the same as they have grown accustomed to at home.

If you are planning to perform, and wish to avoid the 'shock' of playing an unfamiliar instrument, practise on as many different instruments (digital and acoustic) as you can. This will allow you to adapt quickly and deliver a performance to the best of your ability.

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER

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We have seen above that not all acoustic pianos can be described as preferable to digital pianos when it comes to developing and maintaining a piano technique. If the option is a badly maintained acoustic, you probably won't be able to develop any level of refinement in your playing, which will definitely hold you back in building your technique and enjoying your playing experience. On the other hand, if your situation allows, I would say that playing and excellent acoustic piano is probably the ultimate option. If you are limited by budget, and buying either a well maintained second hand acoustic or a brand new on is not an option, a good digital piano may be just what you need. What you will find however, is that your budget will dictate the amount of nuance that you can add to your playing due to the action of the keyboard and the quality of sound. This may either limit the development of your technique if you are moving toward an advanced level of playing, or not live up to what you can already do as an advanced player. In general, as you would expect, the more you spend, the more you move towards the realism of an acoustic, and the more your chosen instrument will respond to your technique. You don't have to break the bank though to purchase an instrument of quality and convincing authenticity.

Unfortunately for me, an acoustic grand or upright piano is impractical. Being constrained by space, I needed a digital that emulated a well maintained acoustic piano. Something that would feel authentic, respond to my technique, and create a sound that behaves according to those things. There are then all the other benefits that a digital piano comes with, usually at a fraction of the price of a quality acoustic piano.

One such instrument on the market at the moment is the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid. As I write this post, the Grand Hybrid is the most affordable instrument in the 'hybrid' range of digital pianos currently available on the market. But, don't let an affordable price fool you into thinking that this is not a quality instrument. You don't half get a bang for your buck!

WHAT IS A DIGITAL HYBRID PIANO?

It was mentioned earlier that an important aspect of developing a good piano technique is the action of the keys. Although I would take the opportunity wherever you can to play well maintained acoustic pianos, the digital hybrid piano market has now really started to close the gap between acoustic and digital playing experience.

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Casio's collaboration with C. Bechstein on the Grand Hybrid's keyboard action means that the instrument benefits from world class experience when it comes to acoustic piano building. Hybrid pianos aim to combine the action of an acoustic piano with all the things that are usually expected from a digital piano. The advantage here is that you can feel more authenticity of touch under your fingers... as you would do of course on an acoustic piano. This leads to a higher quality of playing experience that enables you to use your technique (or develop it) along the same lines that you would do on a good acoustic. The Grand Hybrid makes an excellent practice instrument!

More on this keyboard action in the video below:

As well as having a reliable and authentic action, this instrument is definitely designed with the serious pianist in mind. You can choose between three distinctive piano samples, which as far as your piano technique is concerned is a great way to practise adapting to different piano sounds. This really helps if you are planning to perform on unfamiliar pianos at some point. You could also adjust the touch sensitivity and practise adapting to a piano that requires either more or less finger strength in each key stroke.

Here are some examples of the Casio Grand Hybrid in action:

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY

After exploring whether practising on a digital piano would damage your technique or not, I think the answer is a clear no. However, that would all depend on the quality of the instrument. Just like an acoustic piano can vary in quality, as well as its state of repair, you could make a similar argument against a digital piano and it's quality of action and sound.

Playing on both acoustic and digital pianos can affect how we play to a lesser or greater extent, and being able to adapt to this depending on what is available to us is an important aspect of piano technique to develop.

If you were thinking about investing in a digital piano due to being limited by living conditions that would rule out an acoustic, I'd recommend that you go for something like the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid. You may even consider one as a second piano! You can be sure that it will allow you to develop or maintain your technique without the worry of having a vastly different experience when you play an acoustic piano.

If however The Grand Hybrid is beyond your budget, why not try this piano selector which will help you find an instrument that is right for you:

https://music.casio.co.uk/piano-selector/

Find out more about the hybrid range of instruments here:

https://music.casio.co.uk/premium-grand-hybrid/


Listen to more of the Grand Hybrid in this specially selected playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcG-xdMuAYX-x1SGtM4odZmnUttQQWCRV

Casio Grand Hybrid at The Trinity Proms 2018

The Trinity Proms 2018 took place on Saturday 7th July, marking the end of the School year. This delightful evening showcased both the best of Trinity School homegrown musical talent, alongside special guests Johan Hugosson (composer/pianist) and Hannah White (singer-songwriter)

During the evening we were treated to two remarkable performances from pianists Amiri Harewood and Johan Hugosson on our unique Grand Hybrid piano. Amiri Harewood on 16 years old, is the 2018 Trinity Musician of the Year. 

Johan Hugosson was born in Sweden and studied piano at the Royal College of Music. While at RCM he won a number of prizes, including the coveted Chopin and Beethoven prizes respectively.

The evening came to a close with an amazing performance by the Trinity School Big Band, playing under the direction of band leader Lewis Brito Babpulle.

We had the pleasure to talk to Amiri Harewood, Johan Hugosson, Lewis Brito Babpulle about their passion for music, music education and all things Grand Hybrid...

https://youtu.be/xdrSMJE8Qwk

Lorraine Liyanage reviews The Grand Hybrid Competition at the Dulwich Music Festival

The Dulwich Music Festival runs several events throughout the year for piano at various London venues. The festival was established in 2012 by South London-based musician Lorraine Liyanage to address the need for local music events in the vibrant community of South London. 

The Festival is always an exciting time for Casio. This year however, the Festival was even more stimulating than usual: Casio teamed up with Dulwich Music Festival for the first digital piano competition for amateur pianists of all ages.

We had nearly 60 performers participating in a free piano competition on Sunday 11 June 2018 at Kingsdale Foundation School in South London. Find out more about the event below, in the word of Lorraine Liyanage

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This is the third year the festival has been sponsored by Casio but the first time we have offered a competitive music platform solely on digital pianos.

We believe this is the first-ever digital piano competition held in the UK (and maybe further afield!). The competition was adjudicated by Claire HarrisNikolas SiderisBen Norburyand Alison Mathews.

Casio have gone one step further than recreating the sound of a grand piano and that is making the digital piano  feel like a grand piano. They have incorporated C. Bechstein’s traditional wooden keys into the Grand Hybrid and it has also brought in a natural grand hammer action to enhance response and feedback, which in turn should enhance the expressiveness of playing. The Grand Hybrid feels satisfyingly weighty under the keys and I have not played another digital piano that actually feels like an acoustic piano.

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We had nearly 60 performers participating in a free piano competition on Sunday 11 June 2018 at Kingsdale Foundation School in South London.

Wiktoria Cwik, student of the Womack-Banning Piano Academy in Bedford performed in the piano competition and has decided to order a Casio Grand Hybrid digital piano as she embarks upon a music career once she leaves secondary school:

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Wiktoria says: “My teacher, Lorraine Womack, is a Casio Grand Hybrid Ambassador and suggested that I should upgrade my digital piano to a Casio Grand Hybrid Piano now that I am studying towards my Grade 7 exam. As I am looking to pursue my musical studies at university once I leave school, this instrument ticks all the boxes for me! I was delighted to have the opportunity to perform in the Casio Grand Hybrid Piano Competition at Kingsdale School as well as speak to Casio expert Andy Brown who gave us all the information to satisfy us that this is the right piano for us to purchase. We are ordering the piano this week and as I know it will greatly improve my playing to have such a beautiful instrument. I will be taking this instrument to University with me so it will accompany me on the next stage of my exciting musical journey.”

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Many of my piano teacher colleagues are members of the new Casio Grand Hybrid Ambassador scheme info.casio.co.uk/pianoteachernetwork This allows us the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the instruments and make recommendations to our students that are seeking a high-quality digital piano for use at home. One of my favourite features of the instrument which makes it ideal for learners is the Record and Playback function of the piano. I always encourage my students to record their performances and listen back to them to critique and review their technique and interpretation. The playback function lets you pause, fast-forward, rewind and A-B segment your performance during playback. This is a fantastic feature that lets you improve your playing skills by reviewing your own performance objectively afterwards.

I also love the Concert Play function that improves students’ listening skills by playing along with live orchestra audio. Very few pianists will have the option to play with a live orchestra but with the Grand Hybrid piano, it is entirely possible to bring the orchestra to you and for you to become the soloist! Listen to the Concert Play sample tracks online. You can also choose which acoustic setting you want your performance to take place in – cathedral, opera house or concert hall. The choice is yours!

We interviewed Roberta Wolff, pianist, piano teacher, adjudicator and owner of Music, Me, Piano about her thoughts on her Grand Hybrid Piano:

 

For more information about the Casio CELVIANO Grand Hybrid pianos, please email me. You can play the pianos at Musicroom in Denmark Street, WC2, open 7 days a week.

View the Casio digital piano range online:

GP-400 Celviano
GP-500 Celviano

" I love my Casio hybrid piano. It has enhanced both my piano teaching and personal music making opportunities.

The touch is authentic and the sound quality is great. Many pianists who visit comment on the quality of sound.

I enjoy having two pianos for teaching. With younger students the duet mode works well when playing in unison along side the student. This helps develop listening skills and rhythmic playing in a very intuitive way.

For older students it is comfortable to teach from one piano whilst the student uses the other. We also play together during the learning stages of a piece which is a very instinctive way to refine skills such as rubato, tone and shaping.

The various features like hall simulator, listener position, light to heavy touch options and different piano sounds are very useful, especially in the run up to a performance. I set the piano up differently each week and the student has to play on it and respond and alter touch in real time to create a balanced performance.  A particularly fun and informative setting is harpsichord with no touch response (this sounds terribly unmusical, I know) but I use this when a student is underplaying the bass lines, particularly in Bach. There is a light bulb moment when they suddenly hear balance between their own hands.

I use this piano along side my Steinway model O when playing two piano repertoire. It does a good job of holding its own against my grand. Sight reading concertos with the orchestral backing is a very rewarding way of improving this skill. There are also a range of other instrument voices to select which add colour and depth when we play in groups.

The record function is ever useful and just last week I recorded a set of backing tracks for a singer who needed a specific key.

The Casio hybrid is great value for money. It is easy to use and I wouldn’t be without it now.

Roberta Wolff

www.musicmepiano.co.uk –

Highly acclaimed practice resources for students of all ages and stages. Instant download available as well as many freebies.

www.robertawolff.co.uk –
Please check out my website for further details on what I offer in addition to piano lessons."

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For more information about the Casio CELVIANO Grand Hybrid pianos, please email me. You can play the pianos at Musicroom in Denmark Street, WC2, open 7 days a week.

View the Casio digital piano range online:

GP-400 Celviano
GP-500 Celviano

What is a Hybrid Piano? 7 Things you should know...

In a world of modern tech, we're quite used to the word 'hybrid'. If something is a hybrid, it means that it's a mixture of two different ideas, which gives improved performance over conventional designs.

So, you probably know that a Hybrid car combines petrol and electric motors for cleaner emissions. But, what's about a hybrid piano all about?

1. No Strings Attached. 

Grand Hybrid pianos have moving hammers, to make the key feel more authentic when playing.

Grand Hybrid pianos have moving hammers, to make the key feel more authentic when playing.

The keys of an acoustic piano are connected to hammers which hit strings to make the sound. A hybrid piano also has hammers but produces sound electronically. This means there are no strings to tune, and the instrument can be made smaller to fit into living spaces more easily.

2. Hammers make the touch more authentic.

Although there are no strings, it is important to keep the hammers. It's this moving mechanism attached to each key that pianists can feel when they play. If you remove this, as most digital pianos do, the movement of the keys is different (even though the keys themselves might look similar).

Hybrid pianos have full-length, wooden keys

Hybrid pianos have full-length, wooden keys

3. Hybrids have real piano keys.

Most digital pianos have keys that are made of plastic, or a mixture of wood and plastic. This is not true of acoustic pianos, where the key is shaped from specially-grown Austrian Spruce. Casio's Grand Hybrid pianos have keys made from exactly the same wood, for an authentic feel.

4. Hybrids use the same key length as acoustic pianos.

82% of surveyed teachers said that the feel of the keys is the most important part of a piano. But, conventional digital pianos often don't measure up in this area: their plastic keys are shorter when compared to an acoustic piano. This compromises the key movement and the instrument feels less realistic. With a hybrid piano, the key length is the same as an acoustic piano, which means the travel and bounce of each key is much closer to that of a real Grand. 

Grand Hybrid pianos have three different Grand Piano tones stored inside them, such as a C. Bechstein D282 (right). 

Grand Hybrid pianos have three different Grand Piano tones stored inside them, such as a C. Bechstein D282 (right). 

5. You can have three different Grand piano sounds in one instrument. 

Because the sound of a hybrid piano is produced digitally, without strings, you can make the instrument produce more than one traditional piano tone. Casio's Grand Hybrid range includes the tone of three of Europe's most finest brands of acoustic piano, including a £115,000 C. Bechstein D282 piano. 

Irene Veneziano plays "Allegro de Concierto, OP. 46" by Enrique Granados on a CELVIANO Grand Hybrid GP-500BP in the beautiful gardens of Palazzo Gromo Losa in Biella (Italy).

6. You can play them in the garden.

Ok, not permanently, but the serious point here is that a hybrid piano is more resilient than its acoustic counterpart. This means it will live happily in spaces that wouldn't be suitable for traditional pianos, such as in direct sunlight, a conservatory or summer house, or next to a radiator. 

7. You can plug headphones in, for silent practice.

Even though hybrid pianos use a lot of acoustic piano principles for their feel, the sound is purely digital, so can still plug in headphones and get the best of both worlds: the touch of an acoustic piano with the convenience of digital sound. 

To find out more about Casio's award winning Grand Hybrid range, visit

 

 

 

 

Explore the Grand Hybrid Range:

What's the best digital piano for beginners?

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Need some help choosing your first digital piano for 2018? 

Music teacher, Dr Chris Stanbury reviews two of the best digital pianos for beginners. 

The CDP-130 is an ideal starter digital piano

The CDP-130 is an ideal starter digital piano

A digital piano can give you a great start in music, and they're ideal for home use. Not only do they fit into compact living spaces, but you can also plug in headphones and they don't need tuning. Many students ask me what is the best digital piano for beginners, and I’ve found two from Casio UK which should be at the top of your shopping list.

Casio CDP-130

As one of the most affordable digital pianos on the market, I was genuinely impressed with what the Casio CDP-130 has to offer. I’ve seen and heard quite a few other products that are available for a similar price, but I have to say that the CDP-130 offered the best sound and touch of all the starter digital pianos that I've tried. It's no wonder that this is such a popular instrument and often recommended by piano teachers worldwide.

Above all, it’s really important that a digital piano has touch sensitive keys and a weighted keyboard. This means that the keys have a slight resistance to being pushed down, just like an acoustic piano. Learning to play against this key resistance is an essential piano playing technique.

the cdp-130 is an ideal choice for beginner pianists of all ages

the cdp-130 is an ideal choice for beginner pianists of all ages

So, choosing a digital piano that reproduces this key weighting correctly is crucial, because having something which sounds nice but doesn't really feel like an acoustic piano can do more harm than good. Thankfully, the touch and key weighting of the CDP-130 is very good and ideal for beginners. I felt certain that piano students of all ages would be encouraged to play in the right way with this instrument. 

How a digital piano sounds is also very important, of course.  When you’re trying out a digital piano, try this: play any key quickly and with force, and you should hear a tone that is both loud and bright, with a clear, ringing tone. Then, play the same key slower and with less force. The resulting note should be quieter but also much more mellow in character.

Pianists call this ‘tone colour’, and it’s a very important area of expressive playing which beginners need to appreciate. In some digital pianos, doing this experiment just results in the same tone just at different volumes. This isn’t ideal, as it isn’t what occurs on an acoustic piano.

Thankfully, Casio tell me that the CDP-130 has something called ‘Dual Element Sampling’, which means the piano can tell if you’re playing loudly or softly and plays the matching ‘colour’ of piano tone. For the beginning pianist, this means that the CDP-130 helps them to develop good expressive skills as well as the proper playing technique. 

The touch and key weighting of the CDP-130 was really good, and I felt sure that beginning piano students would be encouraged to play in the right way with this instrument.
— Chris Stanbury, Music Teacher and LCM Music Examiner
An affordable first piano: The CAsio CDP-130 (shown with optional stand)

An affordable first piano: The CAsio CDP-130 (shown with optional stand)

Overall, the Casio CDP-130 is a great digital piano for beginners, and would be ideal for a student of any age who is looking for something affordable but with all the essential features included. A quick look online shows that this instrument would suit anyone with a budget of £299 (in actual fact, I found the price to be even lower in my local music shop).

Casio PX-770

If you’re able to put a little more into your investment, you might be interested in my next choice: the Casio PX-770.

The Casio PX-770 is one of the best digital piano for 2018

The Casio PX-770 is one of the best digital piano for 2018

The PX-770 is the first instrument in Casio’s very popular Privia range. They sound great and they're also some of the most compact digital pianos available in the UK. This means that they are perfect for when you need an instrument that plays well but doesn't take up much room.

It’s a general rule in the digital piano industry that a higher price means a better quality touch and sound. But, Casio think about things differently. In recognition of a digital piano’s important place in music education, Casio has it's own rule: that every instrument they produce, including the PX-770, should have a first class touch and sound.

In fact, many important parts of the PX-770 (such as the weighted keys) are borrowed from instruments costing twice the price, which is why this piano is great value for money. 

When I played the PX-770, I was genuinely surprised by how good it was. The tone was very clear and it was nice to listen to. I’d happily recommend this to any beginning piano student.
— Chris Stanbury - Piano Teacher and LCM Music Examiner


The PX-770 uses a completely different technology to the CDP-130 that I mentioned earlier, and I could hear a big improvement in the sound quality. The instrument coped with everything I played, from starter tunes to professional pieces. 

Casio concert Play makes the px-760 the best digital piano for beginners

Casio concert Play makes the px-760 the best digital piano for beginners

From a teaching perspective, there are a few extra details which I can imagine will make a big difference to piano students of all ages and abilities. Firstly, the song recorder is really useful, as it means you can record the pieces that you're learning and then listen back to your performance to spot mistakes.

Secondly, Casio’s brilliant Concert Play feature introduces the sound of an orchestra into your music learning. Basically, you can play along to some beautiful orchestral music and be the star soloist alongside Japan’s finest orchestra, the NHK Symphony. As a beginning piano student, I always dreamed of what it would be like to be part of an orchestra. With the Concert Play feature and the free included music book, Casio makes this possible and my students love it. 

connect an ios and android device to control tHE PX-770 functions remotely, or play musical games.

connect an ios and android device to control tHE PX-770 functions remotely, or play musical games.

The PX-770 is a great musical companion, and it’s no wonder that it’s one of Casio’s top sellers. Is it worth the extra £200 over the CDP-130? Definitely. As I found out, a PX-770 could cope with even top grade piano pieces, thanks to the impressive piano sound and great keyboard feel. What's more, its sleek cabinet design looks really stylish (in black or white) and it can connect to iOS and Android devices too. In my view, it's one of the best digital pianos for beginners on the market today. 

What else do Casio do?

As you’d expect from the company that invented the electronic keyboard, CASIO are still the market leaders and have many models available. My two favourite keyboards are the LK-265 and CT-X700.

The LK-265 is a great introduction to keyboard playing.

The LK-265 is a great introduction to keyboard playing.

Casio LK-265

The LK-265 is all about making music fun and is packed with features to keep you going back for more. The keys light up to show you how to play any of the 60 built-in songs, all of which have a full band accompaniment that sounds great. However, plug an Android or iOS device into it, and you can follow the music on the screen as well. When using the Lesson feature, the keyboard will wait for you to find the right notes before continuing with the song, so you can learn at your own pace.

Casio CT-X700

For the ambitious performer looking for an upgrade, look no further than the CT-X700. Using brand new AiX sound technology which has taken the musical industry by storm, the CT-X700 proves that inspirational products can be reasonably priced too. If you’re a budding performer or music producer, you’ll love the new features in the CT-X700, such as powerful yet easy to use recording, performance and editing functions. Plus, the all new drum styles, effects and sounds put many so-called ‘professional’ synths to shame!

You’ll be amazed at what the CT-x700 can do.

You’ll be amazed at what the CT-x700 can do.

need help to choose?

Wondering which digital piano to buy for 2018? Try the Piano Selector tool and let Casio UK help find your perfect instrument.  


Explore the range

Cory Henry meets the Casio CT-X

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The Frankfurt MusikMesse show is always an exciting time for Casio. This year however, the atmosphere was even more electrifying than usual: the incredible new CT-X keyboards were making their European debut, launched by none other than Grammy award-winning artist, Cory Henry.

As expected, Cory produces a masterful set, wowing the thousands of visitors and putting the new CT-X keyboards through their paces.

After the show, Casio's Jack Terroni caught up with Cory to chat to him about the new keyboards.

"Cory, that was an amazing set. A lot of people here are saying how impressed they are with the quality of the new sounds. How authentic do you feel the CT-X range’s AiX Sound Source is?"

It felt good when I was tracking for the Casio video, the sounds I used in that shoot was really fun! For a starter keyboard you really get great sonic sounds that make you feel as if you are at a professional level, that’s really important.

"I noticed you took great care in adjusting the EQs and Effects on the Keyboard. How important is it to you to be able to refine your sound?"

Yeah, I like my sounds with a lot of low end and on the dry side, with the ability to build effects in if necessary. I like to hear how the tone sounds before effects are added. My boy Rich (Richard Formidoni, Casio US Product Marketing Manager), when he bought the board over, he was like, ‘You gotta hear this man!’ It was cool to hear the CT-X in the raw, you’ve got a good 'board there!

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"When choosing a Keyboard what are the things you look for?"

It’s kind of like a 5 point checklist: touch, sound, the ability to navigate smoothly through the keyboard, how many keys, the design… there’s a lot of the different things I look for.

"What music among contemporary artists are you currently listening to and where do you see the state of music at presently?

It’s in a good place, the music is in a good place - I’ve been digging recently Anderson Paak, Kendrick LamarEsperanza Spalding and Robert Glasper are amazing… they are really progressing the art form.

"What do you value more in a keyboard player, technical proficiency or ‘feel’?"

Feel, every time.

"Your epic keys solo in the track ‘Lingus’ from the Snarky Puppy, ‘We like it here’ LIVE DVD is often listened to here at Casio Music UK. What are your memories of that day and your time with Snarky Puppy?"

That day was cool, although I wasn’t really feeling that well - we had recorded two shows a day for 4 days that week!

I think they took the ‘Thursday’ (solo for the DVD). However, I think my best day was the second set on the Tuesday. I remember playing that solo and I looked at Mike and was like ‘THIS IS IT!’ and then when the record came out, we were out and I heard it and it was not the ‘Tuesday’ one! Mike said, ‘…well the band sounded better…(on the Thursday session)’. I got it, it was cool, no problem -because by the time I played the last solo on the Thursday I had already played it 7 times, so by the eighth time I just thought I’m gonna let this one hang! I picked some new sounds, I played totally different… I tried a piano track, a rhodes pad, lots of different tones and I’m glad I did it, because I was happy with the one that made the cut after the fact.

Playing with Snarky was great, it was wonderful to be with those guys and travel the world. Everyone in that band was a genius in their own right, it was cool to be in a situation where no one wanted to overstep each other and just play together. It was wonderful.

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