Using Colors to Understand Breathing and Technique


Understanding the connection between proper breathing and great singing is essential to your success. But it can also seem a bit silly to re-learn something you’ve been doing your entire life! Here, Pittsburgh teacher Jen V. shares how she explains the technique to her students…


Have you ever thought about what happens in a voice lesson? The preconceived notion is a room filled with musty old books, a well-worn grand piano and a 90-year-old woman who smells of Aquanet and flecks of Poligrip. You walk into your lesson and are welcomed with a hearty handshake and are instructed to take a seat on the rustic piano bench to begin your scales. This version of a musical education might suffice for some people and for all intents and purposes, it works just fine. However, sometimes what gets forgotten is that particular scenario can often send students running for their lives for fear of Mozart and vocal arpeggios.

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20 Modern Resources for Savvy Musicians

For many people, learning to play an instrument means more than just mastering techniques and memorizing songs. Playing music is an outlet for self-expression and creativity. These musicians get the most enjoyment out of their instrument when composing their own material to express their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Are you wondering how to make the leap from just playing an instrument to writing your own songs? Take advantage of the many resources for musicians available online to expand your musical knowledge, boost your creativity, start writing your own pieces, and share them with the world. Read more

How to Expand Your Musical Palette (and Why You Should!)

classical music composersYou probably can pinpoint your favorite type of music, or at least a few favorite artists or composers. But why limit yourself? Listening to every genre – even ones you’re not particularly excited about – is an important part of expanding your musical palette. Read on as Grand Rapids, MI teacher Marty L. explains…


As musicians or music-appreciators, we all have our favorite genres. You will most likely find me grooving to the new Red Jumpsuit Apparatus EP (which is pretty cool) or expanding my palette with some of Asheknazy’s recording of Beethoven’s piano sonatas (my favorite composer). You will not, however, find any of my radio presets on any country station. Ever. It’s just not my thing.

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Music Games for Kids – Classroom and At-Home Practice

music games for kidsKeeping young kids engaged in learning music can be a struggle, for teachers and parents alike. The solution? Make music a blast by incorporating games! Here are some great tips from Dallas, TX teacher Eric C., which can be used both in the classroom and during at-home practice…


As an educator, we would like for our students to enjoy our lesson plans, even if the lessons sound dull on paper. In fact, the ideal these days is to have students believe that learning can be fun. It’s best to create an environment in which the students feel welcomed and comfortable. These strategies can be applied for both private music lessons and larger music classes.

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Celebrate Music In Our Schools Month

“M” is for music, and March is for Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM).  A celebration honored since 1985, MIOSM has grown from a week-long celebration to a month devoted to music and music education on a national level.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) deserves a round of applause for their efforts in spreading awareness about the importance of children receiving a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts.

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The Magic of Minor vs. Major Keys

major keysWhat happens when you take a fun pop ditty and switch the key, say, from major to minor? The result might shock you.

Last week, NPR published a great article and podcast showcasing this very experiment, which just goes to show how simple changes in a musical score can result in a completely contrasting experience for the listener. We’ve explored the different “characters” of key signatures and how to learn music theory through colors, but this is a prime example of a shift that even listeners without any music theory training can understand. Most songs have some essence of “happy” or “sad,” and quite often, one of the underlying reasons is whether the song is in a major or minor key.

Click here to read the article or listen to the podcast below. You’ll hear snippets from reworked versions of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime,” the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” and “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. Pretty eerie, right?

So what does this mean for songwriters and composers? The power is all yours! As you’re writing, think about the response you want your listeners to have. What are the emotions behind the song that you’re hoping to influence? Craft your chords carefully, and consider how your lyrics correlate with the sound. Most of all – experiment! One simple key change can be the difference between a so-so tune and a chart-topper. A little tweak here and there, and you might find yourself with your next hit song!

And on another note… I’m loving the CDZA‘s newest video, demonstrating just how epic key changes within songs can be – check it out here! What do you think?

- , TakeLessons staff member and blogger



You might also like…
- Struggling With Songwriting? Focus on This.
- Music Transcription: How to Transcribe Your Favorite Song
- Video: How to Build Major and Minor Chords


Photo by dno1967b

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s… Violin?

We’ve seen our share of crazy music inventions, from instruments made out of vegetables to the Lego Guitar. But making music with garbage? Seems a little far-fetched, until you see this recycled orchestra in action.

The orchestra is part of Sonidos de la Tierra, an organization that runs music workshops and schools in Paraguay, and all of the instruments are made from recycled objects like oil cans, wood scraps and kitchen tools. These instruments really do sound like their true counterparts, giving kids the chance to play music in a community where a real violin isn’t affordable.

Check out the clip below and see the orchestra in action:

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Research Confirms Drummer’s High

Drummers, you know the feeling. You’re halfway through band practice and suddenly the tune just comes together perfectly. Or you’re on stage, and the audience cheers you on as you crush that killer drum solo you practiced for months beforehand. You feel… exhilarated. Excited. Like you just downed a 5-hour Energy and ran a marathon. Forget “runner’s high,” you think; this is drummer’s high!

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Music, Math and More: How Do They Relate?

music and mathMusic is often seen as a creative art, but believe it or not, math plays a heavy role in learning how to read the language. Read on as violin, vocal and piano teacher Blythe Q. explores just a few ways music can help students in other subjects…


Most of us have heard of the “Mozart effect,” the set of research indicating that early exposure to classical music can improve the brain’s ability to perform certain tasks, particularly related to spatial-temporal reasoning. As a lifelong classical musician, I have noticed these effects first-hand. The correlation between music and math, language, and other subjects is clear to those who have studied music throughout their lives.

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Understanding Music Theory Through Colors

RainbowStruggling to understand a music theory concept? Sometimes, all it takes is a tweak to the way material is taught for a student to really grasp it. Here, Pittsburgh voice teacher Jennifer V. reveals her unique ROYGBIV method…


Has your child ever come home in tears because they just couldn’t master a skill they learned in school? You listen, wipe their tears and tell them “Tomorrow is a new day,” and “I know you can do it!” But the next day he or she comes home upset about the exact same thing.

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