Learning piano – Its all in the head with this guy !

3rd March 2017

I happened across Danthecomposer a few weeks ago and felt that his philosophical approach to playing the piano, although very different, had a lot of merit and deserved investigating. Here is an about link:   https://www.youtube.com/user/danthecomposer/about

I have watched his first 4 of his 10 videos and am now practicing according to his suggestion, briefly several times a day to implant the mind to fingers memory needed  . I have to say this has changed not just my playing, but perhaps more importantly, my feeling for the piano and what I am able to create .

Here is link to the suite of videos:

His idea is to quickly create the freedom and confidence to be able to play across the entire keyboard with fluidity and without sheet music – amazingly it works!

For those wanting to take this to the next level he continues with a series on playing Jazz piano;


A Better Case for an Autoharp

8th July 2016

’70’s OS 21 Chord Appalachian

My OS 21 Appalachian Autoharp came with a battered case probably from Oscar Schmidt over 30 years ago .  Made from cardboard with simulated black leather finish it was showing serious wear and tear 🙁 .

Being a woody guy I decided to make a new one and asked around the harpin’ community for anyone with plans or drawing of one , finding none I committed to making one from scratch .

The materials I have on hand are Full 2″ x 4″ clear yellow cedar and 1/8″ baltic birch plywood .

First I drew on corigated box cardboard an outline of the Autoharp body and added 1″ all round for padding room to create  a template .

The idea was to maintain the 2″ thickness at the joints for strength and sculpt away the rest to  1/2″ wall thickness using my bandsaw .

The five legs join at inconvenient angles, I used a digital protractor to transfer these to the table saw to accurately cut the joint faces.

Case Frame Assembled

The joints were secured temporarily with finishing screws, these will be replaced with dowels in the final assembly stage .

The 1/8″ plywood panels will set in a 1/4 wide  x 1/8″ deep rebate set in from the inner faces. The enclosed box will then be cut in two  approx 1 1/4 ” down from the top face . Hinges and latches added and carrying handle .

The inside will be fabric lined and blocks of foam cut support the harp securely inside .

More to follow when finished  🙂

The Sound of Cinema – Neil Bland – BBC iPlayer

6 th April 2016

This is for you if you share my love of “Film Video & Music”

Currently available on BBC iPlayer is 3 x 1 hour documentary by Neil Bland on Music in the film industry – It is a fabulous enlightening story.

Here is a link : http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b03b51db

NOTE ::: If you are outside ok the UK you will need to use a VPN or use Get iPlayer Automator on a Mac to download it .

Here is how : http://tomndi.blogspot.ca/2012/03/ecstatic-customers.html

Hurrry ! beforeit expires 🙂


How to get Clear Clean sound from Yamaha DGX 640

19th Dec. 2015

I have owned my Yamaha DGX-640 for about 2 years . For much of that time I have been trying to resolve some weird base sounds when the ACMP is turned on . today while nurdling around I noticed that the “Style” volume was at 75% . When I turned it down ti Zero the noises were eliminated. Sinve I do not use the “Styles” facility I went through all my bank settings and reset the “Style” volumes to “0”

Now my playing sound much better and I am happy with the output quality.
I hope this helps others  as there is no help in the Yamaha manual.


GarageBand 10.1 – Orchestral Composition & Plug-ins

29th July 2015

To start with I am not very competent in using GarageBand. The current version is much changed over that of the last few years.

My main interest is as a movie maker and wanting to be able score my own work.

I have Sonicfire Pro 5.8 which I have used for many years and it does a good job. BUT! – Even with some 20 plus libraries to chose from it is inclined to be “Same-ish”.

I recently stumbled upon “Xhail ” – http://www.xhail.com/
This looks as though it may well be the way of the future in film scoring for the small and independant producers.

Meanwhile I have been exploring what a non-musician can create in GarageBand with free orchestral sounds. GarageBand 10.1 provides for downloading ” additional content ” ( JamPacks ) one of which includes orchestral sounds.


There is also some other free Orchestral sound libraries such as “Sonatina Synphony ” which requires installing the Alchemy Player plugin and Native Instruments “Factory Selection” using Kontak5 player.

Camel Audio who produced Alchemy shut down Jan 2015 and were supposedly acquired by Apple . It is possible to search the web and find an active download site courtesy of a musicians friend 🙂 Try these :



or contact me.

Having installed both of these I could not figure out where or how to activate either of these in Garage Band.

Here is how they are revealed and activated in GB10.1-

With Garageband open – click on the 3rd icon top left it looks like a turn knob.
This opens a window bottom left – click on the first icon ” i”
This in turn opens a window with “Keyboard Sensitivity” and below that ” Plug-ins”
Click on the top block – to the right side is a tiny up/down arrow thingy .
Clicking this opens up a dropdown menu revealing the Apple audio units plus your other installed AU plug-ins .

I was not able to find any reference to this in Apple’s GB Help

SpeedShifter & Amazing Slower Downer – Music playing Aids

24th May 2015


Learning to play piano keyboard with aged mind and fingers is a challenge I enjoy. I have been advised by several teachers to learn each piece by playing Veeery Slooooowly . 

First the right hand melody and then the left hand chords separately before trying to play them together. Others have sugested playing along with a recording of the song. The problem with the latter is slowing down the recording to a speed which I can play with initially meaning Keep up with :()

I have found two pieces of software that can do this on my Mac :

Amazing Slower Downer – http://www.ronimusic.com/index.html

ABRSM Speedshifter – http://ca.abrsm.org/en/exam-support/practice-tools-and-applications/speedshifter/

The 2nd one is free and for me the better of the two .

Let me know what you think of them.

New Music Discovery – Dexter Britain

10th May 2015

“Herring Spawn 2015 “


Denman Island –
Vancouver Island BC.

By Carol Hunter :

Recently a friend shared this video. I was particularly taked by the background music which was composed and created by Dexter Britain.

Further research revealed that much of his beautiful work can be heard and downloaded from SoundCloud.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂



forScore the App for Sure !

7th Nov ’14



This app for the iPad and it delivers huge benefits to musicians.

I was looking for a way having all my music available to read from the iPad when I found this highly praised  $10 app.

I have installed it on the iPad and also scanned in .pdf format the sheet music that I most frequently play. Via iTunes on my Mac mini I imported these .pdf files into forScore on the iPad.

I found a simple way to set the iPad in a good reading position on my Yamaha DGX 640 keyboard using two clear plastic bumpers used on the back of picture frames.

Notice two 1/2′ dia bumpers either side of the built in LCD display

To get a complete description of the softwares capability here is a link to the user manual
 – http://www.forscoreapp.com/forScore6.pdf

To be able to have all your music in this format is a wonderful ! No more multides of books and binders to hunt through until you want to add another song or two then just scan the material and add it to the iPad. QED 🙂


Learning to play S-L-O-W-L-Y

28th Oct ’14

I have been very slowly improving my piano playing. It is almost 2 years since I began (  http://tomndi.blogspot.ca/2013/03/begining-late-adventure-in-music.html ). I have now reached a point where not being able to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time has become a problem.  At the piano this is called hand independence and is a stumbling point for most learners. I recently contacted Scott Houston about this. His book “Play the Piano in Flash” got me started playing.

In the book he advises learning on hand at a time playing slowly before attempting to play them together. In his reply to my inquiry he reiterated this saying if you can recognize the tune your playing in the beginning then your probably playing it too fast ! Wow that Slow !

I have just discovered another tool to help in this regard ” SpeedShifter ”
(  http://ca.abrsm.org/en/exam-support/practice-tools-and-applications/speedshifter/ )  which enables you to slow down your favourite mp3 song so that you can learn it more easily.


Dancing in the Dark – Cine Negro – Flash Mob Dancing is next !

Argentine Tango

Recently letter appeared in our local paper saying that a beautiful scene was witnessed late on a Friday night in Qualicum Beach , a sleepy town renown for its elderly population. A couple were seen dancing Argentine Tango in the street near the Fire Hall. A follow up letter was submitted the following week by one of the participants inviting others ho join them at 11 pm on Fridays during the Summer.

Another of my interests is making movies and this subject appealed to me. My wife Dian, and I were there this week with video camera. My camera in HD format but an inexpensive one and hence poor in low light capability so I hand no idea what I might be able to record. The lighting around the Fire Hall was better that expected and the near full moon was rising over the Town Hall. There were six of us gathered and some exercise mats laid down on the pavement and using iPhone with stereo wireless speakers dancing began  and continued until midnight much to the astonishment of a few folks driving by 🙂

I was fun and we enjoyed meeting other mildly eccentric owls!

The video captured was pretty grainy so I applied a B&W effect and added some suitable sound tracks the result is a quite pleasing Cine Negro !
You can watch the 6 minute version here :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fSnSd88TL

Maybe this will be the next Mob thing – Imagine Dancing breaking out after dark in the most unexpected places  around your community 🙂