Wall Sit

Wall Sit

Can you get a great workout while sitting down? That sounds way too good to be true.

It’s not too good to be true at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! The Wall Sit isn’t anything like sitting in a chair. In fact, you might start to wonder how your chairs manage to do the hard work of holding you up all the time. 

This exercise works the quads hardest, but it uses most of the other major muscle groups as well, at least a little bit. 

Two Rights Make it Right

The foundation of the Wall Sit are the two right angles that body must form to do it properly. That’s one right angle between the thighs and the torso, and another between the thighs and the calves. This is incredibly simple for an exercise, and with those two right angles, perfect form is easy. Knees should be directly above the ankles, and the back should be flat against the wall at all times. 

To do a Wall Sit, all you have to do is sit against a wall!

  • Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder width apart and around two feet out from the wall, legs straight.
  • Tighten the core muscles as you slowly slide your back down. Stop when you form the two right angles between the lower legs and upper legs, and between the upper legs and the torso.
  • Move the knees carefully so that they are directly above your ankles, never over the toes. 
  • Hold the position, back flat against the wall, for fifteen to sixty seconds. 
  • Gently push back up the wall, ending in a standing position.  
  • Rest for one minute and then repeat. 

This right angle position puts a great deal of focus on the knees, so fitness enthusiasts with knee problems should be aware and not push too hard with this exercise.

The Benefits of Sitting

It turns out that sitting against a wall is a beneficial exercise for a wide variety of reasons. 

It might be the opposite of and exotic exercise, but this simple exercise burns a whole lot of calories. Unlike other exercises in which the muscles contract and release, in a Wall Sit, the muscles stay contracted for the duration of the exercise. Sitting down in a Wall Sit will cause your heart rate to increase! It’s an unexpected and positive side effect of this exercise. This boosts the metabolism during the exercise, burning calories and giving the fitness benefits you’re looking for. 

Increased endurance is another major benefit of the Wall Sit. This goes hand in hand with the increased heart rate. It’s not a strength exercise really, but rather one that pushes the heart rate up and offers a whole lot of other benefits. For this reason, it’s great for distance runners, cyclists, and athletes.

This exercise works the entire lower body. It’s a static exercise, but it still forces a lot of muscle groups and joints to work together. The glutes, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps are all getting attention here. The Wall Sit can be maintained more easily over time, There are lots of variations on the Wall Sit, using weights or adding curls, even using only a single leg. While it might look just like sitting, it’s far more than a rest! Doing Wall Sits is a great way to make your body work hard and work for you.

Tuck Jumps

Tuck Jumps

Jump for joy! There are very few exercises that bring a spontaneous smile to the face of the person doing them. Imagine smiling through Sit-ups or Dumbbell Rows. Tuck Jumps, for all their powerhouse strength building, are fun to do. Maybe it’s because there are reasons to jump besides working the core, where there’s no reason to do a Side Plank except exercise.

Tuck Jumps aren’t just jumps though. They might look like a video game, but they’re more than that. Good form is still important to get the fitness benefits you’re looking for. Tuck jumps come from plyometric training, which is essentially all about jumping. It was popularized in the 1970’s as a form of intense muscle extension and contraction. It’s primarily used by athletes because it specifically improves movement so wonderfully.

Jump for a Better Rump

The benefits of Tuck Jumps are pretty amazing. 

This exotic exercise works the entire body, which means they burn lots of calories in a short amount of time. Every major muscle group is worked with the Tuck Jump, from the calves all the way up to the neck. The lower body does get the bulk of the benefits, strengthening the glutes and shaping that rump. It’s an incredible booty lift exercise. An added benefit is that the Tuck Jump shapes the hips, which can be a challenge to get to with other exercises. 

This is a cardiovascular exercise. Tuck Jumps elevate the heart rate, and with consistency can be done with enough repetition to contribute tremendously to cardio fitness.  

The Tucky Jump is a good exercise to build bone mass. Plyo in general is an effective way to build bone density in the lower back and hips. This is important for everyone but especially women, who are at higher risk for osteoporosis as they age. Learning to land properly with a Tuck Jump helps to maintain knee stability and prevent injury, not just during exercise but also during daily activities. 

Air Time

It’s particularly important to get the form correct for this exercise, as it is an impact movement. Improper form, repeated over time, can lead to jump injuries. 

What’s the proper form for a Tuck Jump? Here are the steps to do this exercise.

  • Start with feet hip’s distance apart, arms by your side. Pull those shoulders back and down while straightening the spine. Tighten the core.
  • Begin the downward motion by shifting the hips back, then down, while bending the knees. Keep moving down until the heels are about to come off the floor, keeping the back as flat as possible. Use your arms to balance, but keep elbows in as much as possible. 
  • Pause for just a moment at the bottom, then push with great strength up through the lower body. The ankles, knees, and hips should all push through and extend. As you go into the air, pull your knees up to your chest so that the heels are as close to your bottom as possible. Feet are level with each other and with the floor.
  • The landing is the most important part of the exercise as far as injury prevention. Feet should hit the ground at the same time, on the middle of the foot but then rolling back onto the heels to compensate for the force. Hips should always come down and backwards to absorb the force. Don’t lock the knees or the quads as this puts the most risk for knee injuries. 

Focus on form when learning Tuck Jumps, and take it slow to begin with. Speed and height will come with practice!

After a few jumps, it’s easy to feel the whole body workout from this exercise. Don’t push to the point of fatigue with this one, as tired bodies are more likely to sustain injuries. Other than that, feel like a kid while getting closer to those fitness goals with Tuck Jumps!

Sit-ups

Imagine yourself lying on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Your hands are behind your head, and your face is turned towards the ceiling, eyes closed. It’s relaxing. Suddenly, you hear a voice yell loudly “Hey you! Get back to your Sit-ups. This is P.E., not naptime!” 

Most of us can remember gym class in school, where Sit-Ups were a staple of peer pressure and adolescent torture. They have a reputation for being among the most difficult and unpleasant exercises, but while Sit-ups are hard work, they also provide a major fitness payoff. 

Proper Sit-up Form

Though everyone seems to think they know how to do a Sit-up, learning the proper form is important for getting the most out of the exercise. The simplicity of this exercise is deceptive. With more exotic exercises, it seems easier to learn the right way. However, with an old standby like the commonplace Sit-up, it’s easy to assume you’ve already got it right. 

The basic form of the Sit-up takes only a few steps. Lie down, knees bent and hands behind the head. Tighten the abdominal muscles and pull the torso up to the knees. Then lower back down to the starting position. 

This simple process requires attention to detail in order to get it right and get the most out of this exercise. Here are a couple of important points for proper Sit-up form.

  • Move slowly and with control. 

Getting up isn’t the point, because that can happen with momentum. Muscle control is the goal, and that’s improved when you slow down. It’s much easier to get up by using momentum, but it’s counterproductive. 

  • Foot position 

Though it might seem like the feet aren’t part of the abs, they are actually part of the chain of muscles that runs from the abs down through the upper thighs to the feet. Try flexing the feet while doing a Sit-up for more active engagement of the core.

Being conscious about form, even in the mundane Sit-up, takes this exercise out of the P.E. classroom and onto the next level.

Mix-up the Sit-up

There is more to the Sit-up than the standard movement that we all know and dread. There are many, many variations on this classic exercise that slightly change the muscles being used or increase the resistance. Note here that Sit-ups are distinct from Crunches. In a Crunch, the head and shoulders only rise halfway, not all the way up to the knees as in a Sit-up. Crunches are considered a variation on the classic Sit-up though. 

Other variations on the Sit-up include:

  • Reverse Crunch, where the legs go up into the air instead of the torso going up.
  • Russian Twist, in which legs and torso are in the air, with the upper body twisting side to side.
  • V-Ups, with both the legs and torso coming up to form a “V” shape.
  •  Scissors, where the head and shoulder come off the floor and then one leg at a time comes up to the center.
  • Inverted Sit-ups, which happen upside down with legs hanging over a bar but everything else stays the same.
  • Weighted Sit-up, where the individual holds a weight while performing a classic style Sit-up.

Each variant on the Sit-up targets different parts of the body, but all types of Sit-ups engage the core and build strength. This exercise is a long-time staple and ultimately a cliche because it works!

Side Plank

Turn your head to the side. Don’t be shy! Pull that ear towards your shoulder. Now, imagine seeing the world from that same angle, except also getting an amazing workout for your whole core. That’s what a Side Plank does. 

The Side Plank originates in yoga, where it’s called Vasisthasana. Vasistha actually means “the best ever” and is traced back to the lords of creation in Hindu beliefs. The name is well deserved for this exercise, which has spread out from the yogic tradition to now be a part of the strength and balance training for athletes and novice fitness enthusiasts everywhere. This exotic exercise isn’t exotic anymore. 

Rise up right now

The Side Plank is one of those exercises that is all about balance. There are many variations of this exercise to accommodate beginners who aren’t ready to balance on their own yet. Balance comes with progress and consistency. Starting out with the basic, beginner version of the exercise is only a starting place. Eventually, it’ll be easy to move to the full Side Plank.

To do a Side Plank, you’re going to rise up off the floor, being supported by one arm and one leg, with the opposite arm and opposite leg being in the air. No equipment is needed for the Side Plank.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for doing a Side Plank.

  • Lie down on one side with knees straight. Feet are stacked on top of each other, sideways.
  • Pull the core in, tightening the muscles to brace for the movement.
  • Prop your body up on the lower hand, pushing up with the body braced on the outside of the lower foot and the palm. Hips should come up off the floor.
  • Raise the other arm high until it’s perpendicular to your body from the shoulder joint. The body should form a T. 
  • Hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds, breathing deeply.

A variation on this position, for those struggling with balance, is to push the feet into a wall for added stability. Beginners can also prop up on the lower elbow rather than pushing all the way up onto the hand, keeping the higher arm on the hip. 

Be sure to repeat the exercise on the other side for balanced growth.

Top Ranked Plank

Of all the variations on the simple plank, the Side Plank is the best for overall core strength, though it’s often overlooked. 

In particular, the Side Plank is good for preventing back pain. That’s because this exercise forces you to engage part of the posterior abdominal wall that’s integral to back support. These muscles are difficult to target with other core exercises, but they get the main focus with the Side Plank. 

For even more of an intense workout, there are variations on the Side Plank including the Ball Side Plank, the Side Plank Crunch, the Raised Side Plank, and even the Side Plank with Lateral Raise. The last one adds free weights to the Side Plank, lifting them with the upper arm. 

All variations of the Side Plank have one thing in common – they engage all of the lateral abdominal muscles and require the use of muscle groups all over the body. This is truly a whole body exercise! No wonder its name means literally “the best ever!”

Single-Leg Deadlift

“Are you doing ballet at the gym?”

“No, I’m just building my balance and stability with Single-Leg Deadlifts.”

“Oh. It looks a heck of a lot like ballet.”

The Single-Leg Deadlift is one of the most challenging and downright awkward looking weightlifting exercises. It’s a perfect exercise for building whole body fitness, but it looks like one of the most exotic exercises in the gym. Balancing on one leg, no matter how much you might be committed to your fitness journey, almost always feels odd. It’s best to just get over the awkwardness though, because this exercise works.

One-Legged Weightlifting

Though this weightlifting exercise may look strange, it actually imitates many more organic movements like running and swimming. The Single-Leg Deadlift teaches you to develop force through a single leg while you learn to effectively carry the weight through the leg as well. All of this is going to increase your stability when external factors press in. 

The Single-Leg Deadlift targets the glutes, so much so that it’s known anecdotally as the “non-surgical butt lift”. It’s a remarkable exercise because it not only improves muscle tone, it is widely reported to smooth out the glutes, giving these muscles a more pleasing and even appearance. Though it is closely related to the traditional, two legged deadlift that keeps both feet on the ground, raising one leg in this variation proves to add a whole lot of power to the exercise. 

By separating each side, the Single-Legged Deadlift teases out imbalances that you probably didn’t know were there, no matter how much fitness you’ve focused on. You get to fully appreciate how beautiful balance is, even if these exercises are a hugely challenging in the beginning. With time, each side of the body learns to work on its own without either over compensating or favoring one side over the other. 

The Mechanics of the Single-Leg Deadlift

Dumbbells, kettlebells, or even bags are all appropriate depending on individual taste to use for weight when doing this exercise. However, experts recommend that fitness enthusiasts master the form of the exercise before adding weights in. As with any weight training exercise, proper form is key to preventing injury and getting the best results. 

To perform a Single-Leg Deadlift, first root the foundational foot on the ground by spreading out all five toes and planting the heel firmly in the ground. Obviously all of the weight is going to go here, so it’s got to be solid. Slowly lift the other leg, hinging it back until it’s parallel with the floor. The back must remain flat during this entire process! Keep the knee of the moving leg as straight as possible. Don’t let the chest drop below the hips, but do bend the weight bearing knee for balance.

Keep your head up and looking forward throughout the process. This will help to prevent the back from rounding. If you’re going to use weights, now is the time to reach down and pick them up. Hinge the hip forward to reach the weight, then pull the shoulder blades back once you have the weight in your hand. This movement is repeated backwards, putting the weight down between each rep. 

Keep in mind that form is critical to this exercise. Again if you’re starting off, just use the movement without adding weight until the form is perfect. 

One final tip – the Single-Leg Deadlift is a great way to start a workout! It’s an exercise that is more common to lead to injury if fatigue has already set in. It is actually a great exercise to start with, as it engages a wide variety of muscles across the body and will get them nice and warm.

Don’t be afraid to go for one leg! Balance and whole body fitness are on the other side of this intense and challenging exercise.

Xylophone

traditional gamel Xylophone and drum sticks

With its distinctive sound that can stand alone, rise above or blend with other instruments, the xylophone has delighted audiences from its earliest form in ninth century Southeast Asia and Africa to modern-day children tapping the keys with rubber mallets.

Xylophone Basics

An instrument in the tuned percussion family, the xylophone has three major construction elements: mallets, keys and resonators. Professional instruments are made by highly skilled craftsman, although handy do-it-yourselfers can also make their own xylophones.

With two to four octaves in range, the xylophone’s highest note is like a piano’s C-88. Xylophone music composition is created as an effects instrument and only rarely as a solo. Xylophone variants include amadinda, balafon, calung, and malimbe.

Origins of the Xylophone

The word xylophone is derived from the Greek word, xylon, meaning wood. Imagine the evolution of the xylophone since its earliest iterations, when wooden keys were placed atop tied straw bundles and mallets were willow with spoon-shaped bowls on the ends. According to historians, the musical instrument developed independently in ancient Africa and Southeast Asia.

During the fifteenth century, a xylophone version developed in Central and Eastern Europe. African musicians carried their wooden instruments to Central America in the seventeenth century, and the xylophone later became the marimba, still popular across Mexico. It took until the mid-1800s for Western composers to begin writing music for the xylophone.

How It’s Made

In short regarding the keys, the craftsman first carves the keys out of rosewood, which has been aged for two years; then cuts resonators from aluminum tubing; drills holes to affix keys to nodes; carves out the arcuate notch in a series of steps to affect pitch; finally, keys are tuned, sanded, polished, stained and varnished. Frames are built separately.

In xylophone construction, wooden keys mount to a wooden frame over a grouping of metal tubes or resonators. Rosewood is essential for orchestral-grade xylophone bars, while school instruments for teaching often use synthetic materials.

Mallet choice material depends on the xylophone player’s preference, which is determined based on their technique, wrist strength, the music they’re going to play and the sound of their xylophone. Mallets consist of sticks and heads. Stick material is birch, bamboo, fiberglass or rattan. The heads are made of hard rubber or plastic. Felt, rubber or wood pads support keys where they rest on the frame above the resonators.

How to Play a Xylophone

Learning to play the xylophone requires mastering three major elements: how to hold the beaters to strike the notes, play individual scale notes and play chords.

Perhaps one of the most familiar, yet intricate pieces played on the xylophone is The Flight of the Bumblebee.

Major Xylophone Composers and Players

Their names may not roll off the tongue like those of piano and trumpet artists, yet gifted xylophone composers and players have mesmerized audiences worldwide with their performances.

  • Ian Finkel — Considered the greatest xylophonist in the world and the son of actor Fyvush Finkel, Ian Finkel has both written for and appeared with Sid Caesar, Madeline Kahn, Ginger Rogers and Michael Feinstein.
  • Red Norvo — Illinois-born, nicknamed Mr. Swing, Red Norvo helped usher in the xylophone, marimba and vibraphone as compatible with jazz instruments. He recorded with Billie Holiday, Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra. His recordings include Congo Blues, Bughouse, Dance of the Octopus and Hole in the Wall Knockin’ on Wood.
  • Teddy Brown — An American entertainer, Teddy Brown played the xylophone in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He also performed in the 1930 Alfred Hitchcock directed movie Elstree Calling where he played the xylophone single-handed in a later scene.

For audiences who enjoy performances by jazz ensembles, orchestras or soloists, the xylophone’s unique appearance and sound are unforgettable. It’s distant, humble origins are a stark contrast to its place in modern music.

Drums

man with drum sticks over head sitting at a full set of drums

Drums are the backbone of music. The drumbeat is what creates a song’s rhythm, and it’s how musicians keep time with the music. Despite their common use as a rhythmic instrument in bands and orchestras, drums have the capability to create melodic music without accompaniment. Throughout history, drums have proven to be one of the most versatile musical instruments around.

Drum Variations

Drums come in many variations, each producing a different type of sound. Most genres of popular music are produced using an acoustic drum kit, the basic elements of which include a bass drum, snare drum, cymbals and tom-tom drums. While acoustic drums are the most common variation heard and seen in the western world, there are many other types of drums. There are hundreds of styles of drums across the world, but some of the most common include:

  • Conga and bongo drums: Congas and bongos are types of hand drums that originated in Cuba. Congas are rather large, freestanding drums while bongos are their smaller, handheld counterpart.
  • Djembe: Another hand drum, the djembe is native to West Africa. The original djembe drum is a sturdy handheld drum that’s tuned using ropes that are tied taut around the drum’s base and head. Djembe drums are traditionally made of goatskin but may also be synthetic.
  • Steelpan/Steel Drum: Originating in Trinidad and Tobago and popularized in Jamaica, the steel drum features a unique sound that can be described as full and tinny. It’s a large, columnar hand drum that is usually played in slower rhythms. The distinct sound of the steel drum is one of the key elements in reggae and dub music.
  • Tabla: The tabla is a small, wooden hand drum that hails from India. It’s played with the heels of the hands and the fingertips and creates a unique sound that’s rich in vibration. Tabla drums also come in a smaller, metal size that’s called a dagga.
  • Udu: Udu drums are clay-based, hand drums that are popular in Nigeria. The udu drum has a large hole in the top with a smaller hole in the side to amplify its sound. To play this drum, the musician taps the top hole with their palm or fingers.

Drumming in Ancient Times

Drumming dates back to ancient China. Originally, drums were used to send messages. According to The Book of Music, which was written during China’s Sung Dynasty, the drum was a means of communication between the government and China’s people, who would beat a drum when they were displeased with the government’s actions.

Modern Drumming

Today, drums are a prominent feature in all genres of music. Different styles, rhythms and techniques are used to create a variety of different sounds. In popular genres, including rock, country, pop and hip hop, acoustic drums are commonly used in kits of varying sizes. In some cases, though, popular world music features samples of steel drums, bongo or conga drums and djembe drums.

Famous Drummers

Popular and international music have produced many famous drummers throughout history. In Africa, drummers like Leon Mobley and Drissa Kone are known for their djembe drumming skills while Indian drummers Alla Rakha, who played with Ravi Shankar, and Zakir Hussein have helped Indian music to gain international recognition.

In Western World, rock and popular music drummers like John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Questlove (The Roots), Dave Grohl (Nirvana), Ringo Starr (The Beatles) and Danny Carey (Tool) have helped their bandmates to create songs that are considered timeless classics.

The drum is one of the oldest instruments known to man. Whether it’s played on it’s own or as an accompaniment to other instruments, the drum has the capability to create a diverse range of music styles and has lent its sound to the most famous and beloved music around the world.

Snare Drum

person playing the snare drum

Drums evoke a primal response in listeners, arguably representing the earliest form of music played by ancient man around campfires and in deep caverns. Among all drums, the raspy snare stands out for its unique features that allow both novices and newbies to showcase their talent. Learn more about this central instrument’s history and composition.

The Snare Drum from Tension Lugs to Drumhead

The snare drum resembles a hat case or round keepsake box you might find in your grandmother’s attic. Each part can be adjusted to alter the sound produced. Learning the different parts helps new players perform with technical precision.

Looking at the drum from the top, you first see the batter head, which is the surface you hit with sticks, mallets, brushes and other striking tools. The metal rim, or counter hoop, is sometimes struck for a deeper sound, called a rimshot. This short video explains the rudiments of how to hold the stick, where to strike the drum heads and various strokes that a beginner must master.

The top and bottom rims hold the drumheads in place against the cylindrical shell, and the depth of the shell is made of wood, metal or plastic. Tension rods connect the top and bottom rims and are used to tune the drum with a drum key.

The snare head is on the bottom of the drum and eight to 18 snares of nylon, metal or plastic extend across the snare head, giving the drum its characteristic terse, rattling sounds. The earliest forms used animal intestines to make the snares, which were called catgut.

Besides holding the drum together, the tension rods or lugs also impact the sound quality. Most snare drums use split lugs or lugs in tubes. Tube lugs minimize direct contact with the shell, allowing a longer sustain on each stroke.

Snare beds are held by a lever the player can release to move the snares away from the snare head. This can be used to get a deeper sound like a tom-tom drum. Snare beds hold the wires flat against the snare head. Without the snare beds, the sound would be buzzy and uncontrolled.

Modern snares sit in a stand that has three prongs to hold the drum in place atop a tripod base. In classical and big band music performed by symphonies, orchestras and high school bands, the snare is sometimes played alone.

Where the Snare Came From?

The first drum related to the snare was the tabor of Medieval Europe circa 1300. The tabor was a double-headed drum with a single snare.

By the 1500s, the English developed the snare into the larger field drum used in military campaigns. Then, the snare drum was altered for classical music performances and eventually became part of the drum kit, sealing its popularity into modern times.

Best Snare Drum Groups and Players

Rolling Stone magazine lists Led Zeppelin’s Jon Bonham and The Who’s Keith Moon as drummers who had the greatest impact on their genre — Moon was the inspiration behind Animal on the Muppet Show.

Virtuoso performers can be found in elite college marching bands, such as Purdue University’s All American Marching Band, which historically rank among the top drumlines in the nation.

The snare has inspired songs as diverse as the Fall Out Boys rap song Rat a Tat to the Christmas favorite The Little Drummer Boy. Drumbeats were first inspired by the beating human heart and still have the universal power to stir our blood:

Microphone

two Microphones on a stage

Whether in the studio or in front of a live audience, singers and musicians use microphones to amplify the sound of their voices and their instruments. Most people are familiar with the basic function of a microphone, but many are surprised to learn that to sound good on a microphone, singers and sound engineers must master some rather elaborate techniques.

The History of the Microphone

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Telephones contained a device called a telephone transmitter, a technology which was perfected 10 years later by Thomas Alva Edison, who used it to create the first carbon microphone. Carbon microphones were considered the standard in voice amplification until 1916 when Bell Laboratories developed the condenser microphone, which was used in radio broadcasting and motion picture recording.

Bell Laboratories continued working on sound amplification technologies and in 1931 created the dynamic microphone, which had a lower distortion level than the carbon or condenser microphones. The dynamic microphone is still used today in radio broadcasting, recording and performance. Other types of microphones have been created since, including the ribbon microphone and crystal microphone. However, the dynamic microphone is the most commonly used in music and other forms of entertainment.

old time radio and studio microphone

How Microphones Work

Microphones are transducers, which means they convert energy from one form (acoustic) into another (electrical). Inside every microphone is a diaphragm, which is a very thin piece of plastic that vibrates when sound waves hit it. The vibrations in the diaphragm cause the rest of the microphone to vibrate, which is what converts acoustic energy into electrical energy and amplifies the sound.

Using Vocal Processors to Modify Sound

Vocal processors work in a similar way to guitar pedals. Singers can plug their microphone into a small machine that alters and transmits the sound to a speaker. While some vocal processors, such as autotune, simply exist to improve a singer’s pitch or tone, others offer far more advanced effects, such as voice looping, vocal widening, diffusion or megaphone amplification.

Microphone Techniques and the Singers Who’ve Mastered Them

When singing or speaking into a microphone, it’s crucial to follow several techniques to ensure a high-quality, crisp sound. By holding the microphone too close to the mouth or too far away, sound can be easily distorted and muffled.

When recording in the studio, screens, which are called pop filters, are usually placed over the microphone to filter out the popping sound of fast-moving air, which can really stick out in a recording. Sound engineers also use placement techniques and occasionally pop filters when recording instruments, such as drums, bass and guitar, in the studio.

Some of the best and most well-known singers in the world have earned their place in the music industry by mastering professional vocal and microphone techniques that help them sound their best. Singers, such as Jeff Buckley, Luciano Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury (Queen), used microphone techniques in the studio and on stage, allowing fans to hear the true sound of their voices without distortion. Artists such as T-Pain and Ke$ha are known for their use of autotune to create a unique, almost robotic sound with their voices.

In music, the microphone is a pivotal piece of equipment for recording and performance. It helps singers to project their voices beyond their natural range, and it helps musicians perform for larger audiences by amplifying their sound exponentially.

Refined Carbohydrates: What They Are, Why They Are So Unhealthy, and How To Eat Less of Them

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about how bad carbohydrates are for you. Low-carb diets (such as the South Beach, Atkins, or paleo diet) or even no-carb diets have become popular. However, it isn’t so much carbohydrates themselves that are bad for you, it’s specifically refined carbohydrates.

Refined carbohydrates are those made from grain which has had the bran and wheat germ stripped from it. Unfortunately, the bran and wheat germ takes with them most of what makes grain healthy. Once refined, the grain is no longer whole, and no longer has many nutrients. The large amounts of fiber once present are lost, as well most minerals and vitamins.

Sadly, refined carbohydrates play a huge role in the typical modern diet in Western countries. The biggest culprit might be white bread, which is hugely popular in sandwiches and on its own. Chips are another big problem, as are many sweets, including cookies, donuts, and cake. Other popular refined carbohydrates include pasta and white rice.

But how exactly are refined carbs bad for you? Unfortunately, in a variety of ways. The refining process means the loss of the fiber, minerals, and vitamins that made the grain nutritious. Practically all that’s left is starch, which is digested very quickly.

This rapid digestion leads to a spike in insulin and blood sugar levels. This contributes to fat storage and weight gain. Worse, over time these spikes lead to insulin insensitivity, which can culminate in diabetes. High blood sugar and insulin resistance can lead to heart disease as well.

Refined carbs aren’t even a good source of energy. When blood sugar levels collapse after initially spiking, hunger returns. Instead of long-lasting satiation, a person is likely to eat again just a few hours after consuming refined carbs. This obviously encourages overeating. Refined carbs have also been linked to increased inflammation.

To sum up, refined carbs have virtually no benefit, but plenty of downside. Consuming a lot of refined carbs generally results in a high-carb, low-fiber diet, which is terrible for health. Getting too little fiber can lead to digestion problems and increases risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

You don’t have to buy into the theory that all carbs are bad to benefit from an understanding of the truth that refined carbs are certainly unhealthy. Nor do you have to cut out refined carbs entirely. That would probably be asking too much from yourself. Instead of achieving your goal, you would be more likely to make no improvement at all. A more reasonable approach is simply to cut down on consumption of refined carbs.

Luckily, reducing the amount of refined carbs you eat is eminently doable. With some foods, replacing an unhealthy refined carb version with a more nutritious alternative is the best approach. For example, replace white bread with whole-wheat bread. Do the same with pasta, crackers, and cereal, all of which can be made with whole grains. With other foods, the better strategy is to heavily reduce how much you consume. Cookies, cake, and the like would fall under this category — most sweets can’t really be made without refined carbs, so there is no healthy version.

Bottom line: refined carbohydrates are not at all good for you. Any amount you can reduce your consumption of refined carbs will be beneficial. Doing so will be a challenge due to how firmly refined carbs have become ensconced in the typical modern diet, but will be well worth effort.