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

Learn How to Play Love Songs on Guitar and More!

guitar love songsHave you joined our Google+ network yet? This month, we’re offering two live workshops through Google Hangouts, where you can connect with fellow students, teachers and TakeLessons staff!

It’s February and love is in the air – but forget the flowers and candy hearts… the best way to make an impression is through music!

First up: On Tuesday, February 12th at 6pm EST, join host Erik D. and learn how to sing 3 popular love songs: ”Two Is Better Than One” by Boys Like Girls featuring Taylor Swift, “Locked Out Of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and “I Don’t Care” Elle Varner. RSVP here. Read more

Sneak Peek: TakeLessons Online Workshops

Want to learn something new, or brush up on some of your music knowledge? TakeLessons is excited to announce our free Online Music Workshops series, open to students of all ages and levels! And the best part? No need to travel anywhere – you can sit in on the class from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you want to learn the  Basics of Guitar or Music Theory, classics or Top 40s, we’ve got several workshops that can supplement your private music lessons with us. Each 30-minute class is taught by one of our in-house music experts using MeetingBurner technology, so you can see and hear the instructor, as well as interact and ask questions. With the group setting, you can feel free to speak up and bounce ideas off other attendees – or sit back and simply watch! It’s an easy way to learn something new, and there are no obligations or commitments. We just want you to have fun! Check out the video below for a preview…

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Surprising Findings – Where Most Teens Listen to & Find New Music

Finding new musicSometimes being a music fan can be exhausting. It seems like every day – or more like every hour -  there’s a new artist, new band, new hit song or new genre blowing up the music world. How do you keep up?

With the exhaustive list of options for discovering new music these days, we were intrigued by the latest findings from media research firm Nielsen – as it turns out, more teens are listening to music on YouTube (64%) than radio (56%), iTunes (53%) and CDs (50%). But while teens are favoring YouTube for listening to music, most still rely on the radio when it comes to finding new music.

What do you think? Where do you turn to find new music? Will radio continue to be the go-to resource, or will online methods eventually catch up? If you lean toward online discovery, you’re probably well-versed in apps like Spotify and Pandora. Back in January we featured 5 great ways to find free music online, but as we all know, music – and technology – moves fast. Here are 4 more ways to share and find music, to ensure you’re ahead of the pack:

1. viinyl
Ready to share your music with the world? The viinyl platform lets you upload a song and turn it into a solitary, interactive website, complete with artwork and videos. The website is currently in beta form, so artists can create sites for free – all you need is an mp3 (or Soundcloud) version of your original song, and a jpeg background image. From there, share your URL as much as you’d like, and promote away!

2. Google+ Hangouts On Air
Are you on Google+? Earlier this week, the social network introduced “Studio Mode,” a musically-evolved version of Google Hangouts. In the official announcement, Google’s product manager Matthew Leske spoke about the trends of artists and bands using Hangouts to stream live performances for fans worldwide.  The updated platform allows users to switch from “Voice” to “Studio Mode,” which optimizes the audio for an even better sound. Moreover, fans can interact with the band directly, see who else is in the virtual audience, and share with Google+ circles quickly and easily.

3. The Hype Machine
Every day, thousands of music fans are blogging about new artists and songs. Hype Machine curates all of the most popular song searches and blogs on the Internet in a given time period, save you the time of sifting through all of those posts. You can also find a complete music blog directory, filter songs by genre, and keep track of your favorites. Although Hype Machine isn’t exactly new, it continues to be one of the best and most comprehensive mp3 blog aggregators out there.

4. Songza
Working on a specific activity, and want to find the perfect song? Whether you’re doing housework, cooking breakfast or working out, Songza’s Music Concierge is on a mission to play the right music, at the right time. Select the day of the week, time of day and your activity of choice, and you’ll receive a customized playlist that is sure to get you going. The program is also available for iPad, iPhone and Android, so you’ll always have the right tunes.

- TakeLessons staff member and blogger

Are we missing any other cool websites or apps? How do YOU find new music? Leave us a comment below!

 

 

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Photo by Sleeping Sun.

Turning Pages: Where to Find Sheet Music Online

Sheet music onlineAfter you’ve learned the notes and scales (or guitar chords, for all you guitar players), there’s only so much noodling around you can do on your own before you’ll need to find actual music to play.  And once you’ve learned how to read it, the world of sheet music is your oyster!

When you’re first starting out, your music teacher should have ideas for typical beginner pieces – but if you have your eye on another tune (or perhaps a popular song on the radio), the Internet can be a great resource for finding sheet music.

Here are a few of our staff and teacher favorites for finding sheet music online:

 

1.  Musicnotes.com
This is a great online catalog of over 200,000 songs, with everything from Bach to Sara Bareilles. The categories (piano, guitar, voice, woodwinds, brass and strings) are easily searchable, with additional lists for the current Top Downloads, New Stuff and Recommended Picks.  A corresponding app also syncs to your iPad, where you can even annotate the music with virtual highlighters and text.  Note: In order to print the sheet music, you’ll need to download Musicnotes Suite, the program used to preview and make purchases.

2. SheetMusicPlus.com
This website boasts the world’s largest collection of music, with over 720,000 titles in their catalog.  Similar to Musicnotes.com, pieces are categorized in several different ways, including by instrument, genre, format (CD sheet music, DVD sheet music, play-along, karaoke, etc.), top sellers and even alphabetically if you want to spend the time purely browsing.  Additionally, each piece is marked with a difficulty rating and includes a rundown of all of the different positions, scales, chords and rhythms you will need to know beforehand.  The only downside?  Since downloading to your computer isn’t an option, you’ll have to place your order and wait for the snail mail to arrive.

3. 8notes.com
If you’re looking for free sheet music, 8notes.com is a great resource for all types (and levels) of musicians.  Not only can you find sheet music, but the website offers tons of other music tools, like an online metronome, interactive music theory lessons and guitar or piano chord charts.  You can also set up blank sheet music, if you’re planning on trying your hand at composing!

- , TakeLessons staff member and blogger

Where do you go to find sheet music?  Share the link by either leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page! Looking for a private teacher?  Sign up for music lessons here.

 

 

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Photo by racheocity.

7 Tips for Working as a Freelance Musician

Last night’s 84th Annual Oscars paid tribute to the best of the best of the past year’s big screen efforts – and, of course, the music involved.  Out of the two music categories, The Artist won for Best Original Score, and Bret McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” won for Best Original Song.

So what can the Oscars, more prominently known for recognizing great films, actors and directors, teach the modern day musician?  Lucky for you, as a musician there are several different paths to take.  Whether you see yourself on lead guitar, behind the scenes in the recording studio, as concertmaster in the Philharmonic Orchestra, or penning an Oscar-winning film score, a passion for music can take you to many different careers.

For most, freelance work is part of the journey at some point.  It’s a great way to establish a network, get your name out there and earn some extra cash.  If you’re just getting started, check out these great tips from Ultimate-Guitar.com about surviving as a freelance musician:

1. At least in the beginning, you will need a day job: This is the part that nobody likes, but you will most likely not be able to support yourself by playing music alone. The thing about the music business is that it really is all about who you know. It’s such a tight-knit, close community, and a lot of your credibility will come from people you know and recommendations from your peers and other clients. When you’re first starting out, you have none of that credit, and may not be called about very many gigs. You may have to solicit yourself to play for things, not the other way around.

2. Make yourself marketable: As odd as it sounds, you are a product that your clients have to buy. Just like an advertising campaign makes a certain product stick in the minds of consumers, you have to work to stick in the minds of your potential clients. And the best way to do that is not through crazy costumes and ridiculous stage antics. Make business cards (you can do this at home with Microsoft Office and other programs) and hand them out any time you have a gig. That way, your name will always be available when people ask for a guitarist. Make sure people know that you’re available and willing to play gigs. Be polite, be reliable and work hard.

3. Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism!: This may be the most important aspect that will help your career. Just like with any other job, you will not be hired again if you make the experience an unpleasant one for your employer, nor will you be recommended for any other job. But make it a happy, comfortable experience, and you have a shot at more gigs. Always be on time, always have everything you’ll need for that day of playing, and always have your parts learned. If for some reason there is a part you can’t play at the first rehearsal, make sure that it’s flawless by the next rehearsal. Take criticism, don’t ever lose your temper, and always be the kind of person that people want to work with.

4. Never, ever complain about the check: This isn’t the marketplace. You don’t get to haggle. What you get paid is what you get paid. If you don’t think it’s fair, then just don’t take gigs from that person anymore. Making a scene burns a bridge, and someday, you might need that bridge to get jobs. Of course, if somebody says they’re going to pay you a certain amount, and then the check comes and you get shorted or not paid at all, then you have every right to (politely) discuss the discrepancy – just be careful not to lose your temper.

5. Be versatile: You might love to play metal, but if you can play rock, country and jazz, too, you’ve got a much better shot at getting gigs.  The more things you can do, the more jobs you’re going to get. And never turn down a gig just because it isn’t your kind of style. When you’re making the big bucks, then you can be as picky as you want.

6. Be proactive: If you hear about a gig, pursue it. It is perfectly acceptable to call somebody and say “Hey, I heard you might need a musician on such and such a date. Well, my name is such and such, I’m very capable, and if you need somebody, here’s my number.” It can’t hurt, as long as you’re polite and professional.

7. Don’t give up: Even if you can’t make a full-time job out of being a musician, continue to take gigs and put yourself out there. You never know which gig could be the break you’ve been looking for!

What have you learned from your own experiences freelancing?  Leave a comment below and share your tips and expertise with the community! Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.

 

 

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Photo by Universidad de Navarra.

Discover 5 New Places to Find Free Music Online

Remember a time when the only way to discover new music was listening to the radio or asking your friends?  With the growing list of ways to find music online, that sure seems like ancient history now!

We were in awe when Spotify was released, a perfect equation of one-part Pandora and one-part iTunes, with practically every song you think of available for free and instant streaming.  Unfortunately, for those who downloaded the service when its first US release came out in July 2011, your streaming access will soon be capped to just 10 hours per month.

Still, you don’t have to worry – there are many other options for finding music.  Facebook, for example, has been rolling out its “Listen With Friends” feature, allowing friends to listen to songs simultaneously.

Still need more options?  Here are 5 more ideas for finding music online:

MOG
MOG’s music streaming service is very similar to Spotify’s, with roughly 14 million songs available on demand and three pricing levels, but unlike Spotify there is no time limit for the free streaming plan. Instead, users can earn more free plays by sharing music choices with friends on MOG.

Google Music
Google Music may not have as much free music as either Spotify or MOG, but every day it offers new songs and albums from big-name artists that users can download to their computers for free. Moreover, users can upload up to 20,000 of their own songs to Google Music for free to stream from any computer or mobile device. This way, you don’t have to waste any of your allotted time on services such as Spotify listening to music you already have.

RCRD LBL
Like Google Music, RCRD Label lets you stream and download new tracks from established and lesser-known artists for free every day. There’s no membership fee or subscription; all you have to do is create a free account and you can download the tracks, no strings attached. The site’s selection is much smaller than the others on the list, but then again, the point of it is to discover new artists whose catalogs you can listen to elsewhere.

Turntable.fm
Calling Turntable a music streaming service misses the point somewhat. In reality, Turntable is a virtual hangout space that just happens to be built around music. Users create avatars for themselves and can join or create music rooms of their choice, each centered around a different genre, where users take turn playing the role of DJ and chatting with other users. It’s probably not the right service for someone who just wants to passively listen to a few songs while at work, but the site does offer the potential to discover artists and new friends, all for no cost.

YouTube
When all else fails, there’s always YouTube. If there’s an artist or song you want to listen to, chances are YouTube has it — it just may not always be studio quality.

Will you be paying for a Spotify membership once they start capping the free music, or will you turn to other services?  What other ways do you find music online?

Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.

 

 

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Photo by cdharrison, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

5 More Awesome iPhone Music Apps

What a year for Apple – iPhone sales are still through the roof, Siri continues to be a hot topic, and Steve Jobs is now being recognized with a posthumous Grammy award for his part in revolutionizing the music industry.  Nowadays our smartphones help us with anything and everything, it seems; it’s hard to imagine living without them!

But besides organizing our calendars and feeding our Angry Birds addiction, the iPhone is a great resource for music teachers and music fans alike.  Check out our original list of 5 apps for music lovers – now, here are 5 more especially great music apps for teachers to check out, courtesy of www.funmusicco.com:

1. ACappella – This simple song recording app can be used to record voices into tracks that can be played at the same time or one by one. The user can adjust the volume, tempo, and time signature. The app was designed for ease of sharing files: song URL’s can be posted to Facebook and Twitter or shared on a special website called “SingSing.” ($1.99)

2. Notes for Little Composers – Designed for ages 3 and up, this app can be used to introduce beginners to music notation and basic composition. The user taps on the treble clef screen to make notes, hear the names of notes, and create simple songs. Ideal as an accompaniment to starting music lessons. ($0.99)

3. Ear Trainer – This app is designed for beginning to advanced music students, and provides exercises on intervals, chords, scales, and relative pitch. A virtual piano keyboard helps you recognize the notes that have been played. Individual progress is tracked so that users can pinpoint areas of strength or weakness. ($6.99)

4. ImproVox– Record your voice into your device and create harmonies as you sing. This app demonstrates effects such as reverb and echo, and enables you to generate 4-part harmonies in different styles. ($3.99)

5. TabToolkit – This guitar tablature and notation viewer can be used for learning guitar and practicing music. The interface shows a fret board or keyboard with finger positions and/or standard music notation. Upload tabs from your computer or download from the Internet. ($4.99)

What other music apps do you love?  Leave a comment below!

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Image courtesy of http://www.appstorehq.com/playthisnote-guitar–iphone-89811/app

Don’t Let Winter Ruin Your Instrument!

When the weather outside is this frightful, we’re thankful it’s acceptable to listen to Christmas music 24 hours a day – at least until December 26th. Luckily, if you’re already tired of the old standbys, many stars these days – from the Killers to Glee to Michael Buble – are getting into the spirit by releasing holiday albums for your listening pleasure.

But before hitting the slopes or heading to shop, don’t forget to take a few moments to take special care with your instrument when the mercury dips to outrageous temperatures. Check out these tips for winter instrument care :

For flutes:
You are one of the lucky ones! The cold does not affect the flute as much as it does many other instruments. Your most important job is to blow warm air into your instrument to warm it up before you play, mostly to help intonation. Also, make sure to clean out your instrument when you finish playing. If moisture remains inside your instrument, it could freeze and create frost on your pads and keys, which will cause pads to stick and could cause permanent (and expensive!) damage to pads, springs, and screws.

For clarinets:
In very cold weather, corks can freeze and it will be very difficult to put your clarinet together. Never force your clarinet together, as the corks will tear and then your instrument will not be playable. Use cork grease and then put your instrument together. Also, be sure to clean out your instrument when you’re done. Similar to the flute, if moisture remains inside your instrument, it could freeze and create frost on your pads and keys, and could cause permanent damage. If your clarinet is wooden, you must warm it up to about body temperature before you blow warm air into it. The wood can crack, and this cannot be repaired. Repairmen like to “joke” that once wooden clarinets, oboe, or piccolos crack, they essentially become firewood.

For saxophones:
Like flutes, you do not have much to worry about. Just be sure to remove moisture from the inside of your instrument when you are done playing so nothing freezes.

For trumpets and trombones:
Cold, dry air makes valves sticky and difficult to move up and down. Make sure you use plenty of valve oil and don’t force the valves to move. If they are really stuck, let them warm up. The same applies for trombone slides.

So let it snow, let it snow… but don’t forget about your instrument! A private music teacher can help you learn to take excellent care of  your instrument and teach you to play to the best of your ability. TakeLessons teachers are prescreened and qualified, so you can trust you’ll have an excellent learning experience. Find a music teacher near you today!

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