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

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.

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’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.

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.

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.

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?

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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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Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Musician?

Before Lady Gaga was making headlines with her off-beat music videos and selling millions of albums, she was just Stefani Germanotta, performing in school musicals and open mic nights around New York City.  The whirlwind of success she attained between then and now has made her one of the most well-known artists of this decade.  She has continued to stay a media favorite, with her head-turning wardrobe, die-hard fan following, and numerous award nominations.  Wondering the secret to her success?

Musicians who have catapulted themselves into stardom often have many personality traits in common – from strong networking skills to get them in the door to a commitment to working hard at their art.

Here, Suzanne Glass at indie-music.com describes the essential personality traits for today’s successful musician – and we couldn’t agree more!

1. Patient – From the studio to traveling to rehearsing to making business calls, being a musician requires attention to detail. It takes a lot of practice to get it down perfectly. Being patient and relaxed about the inevitable delays is necessary.

2. Thick-Skinned – From the time you first perform in public, some people are going to judge your music harshly. This might come from a label rep or a departing band member or a publisher, but you can’t let it get you down. Keep believing in yourself, and move on to the next thing.

3. Persistent – You have to have drive to succeed in the music business, and that has to carry you through times when things aren’t going very well.  If you can’t get up and try again, you’ll be out of the game early.

4. Optimistic – Remember that you got into music first and foremost because it was inspiring and FUN. Look on the bright side of things, take criticism constructively, and enjoy the process of “getting there”.

5. Extroverted – If you naturally love going out and meeting new people, that will be a tremendous asset in this networking-heavy business.

6. Self-directed – You need to know what your dreams and goals are, and you need to keep yourself focused on them.  You have to have internal drive, and you have to depend on you own instincts.

(View the full article here.)

If you’ve honed these skills already, you’re already one step ahead.  Stay committed to your music lessons, continue to follow your passions and you’ll reach your goals in no time.  Sometimes, all it takes is perseverance! (Need a music teacher?  Search for one near you here.)


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How to Break into the Music Biz Without Even Playing a Note

Do you dream of someday working in the music industry, but consider yourself tone deaf? If you don’t have the musical chops necessary, it doesn’t mean you need to give up on that dream.  Today, we’re taking a look at a few behind-the-scenes career paths that might be right up your alley.  For example…

Booking Agent (or Talent Agent)
Booking agents work to secure performance engagements for musical artists and groups. They work to find talent to book and may be involved with developing the talent toward a goal. They must possess good communication skills to sell talent and develop contacts in the music industry. They often work closely with an act’s manager and may be involved in setting the fee and negotiating with promoters or clubs. A booking agent is paid a percentage of the negotiated fee for an act’s performance.

Entertainment Attorney
An entertainment attorney handles any contractual matters conceivable within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys can be freelance, hired on retainer, or an employee of a company or business within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys generally specialize in one of three separate fields within the entertainment industry: sports, film and television, and music. An attorney that specializes in the music industry usually has a solid depth of understanding with regard to copyright laws and artist/band agreements with managers, publishers, record labels, booking agents, etc. Successful completion of law school and a state bar exam are requisites for being an entertainment attorney, as well.

Publicist (or Staff Publicist, Press Agent)
A publicist handles the publicity and press needs of acts signed to a label. Publicity helps the label sell records and produce income. A publicist must be able to get an artist’s name in the news (magazines, music trades, TV, radio, etc.) as often as possible. This is accomplished by writing press releases, sending them to the correct media, talking to media about acts, and arranging interviews. The publicist often arranges a series of print interviews, radio interviews, and TV appearances in conjunction with the release of a new record. Staff publicists spend a lot of time on the telephone and are usually the first to send out promotional copies of new records and other important materials to the media. After a new record is released, a publicist may work with the A&R or promotional departments on a showcase booking of the group, and make arrangements for a press party.

Music Publisher
Music publishers are responsible for acquiring the copyrights to songs and publishing them. They may work for a very large music publishing company and perform one or two specific duties as a music publisher. They may work for a relatively small firm and fulfill a variety of functions. Many individuals in music publishing or songwriting become independent music publishers, running their own music publishing firm. The goal of the music publisher is to find and acquire potential hit songs (copyrights) and songwriters, promote them for financial gain, and serve as copyright administrator whereby tracking, licensing, and payment collection can be done efficiently. A good music publisher has knowledge of all facets of the music business, an understanding of music industry dynamics, an ability to hear hit tunes, knowledge of copyrights laws, and contacts in the music business.

Tour Coordinator
The tour coordinator is responsible for coordinating the many facets of an act’s tour, including travel, lodging, arranging for services, and budgeting for expenses.

Sound Technician
Sound technicians are responsible for high-quality sound during the live performance. They usually arrive at the concert site before the performers and are involved in unloading and setting up the equipment and instruments along with the road crew. The sound technician supervises the placement of equipment and works with the talent during the sound check to achieve the best sound. They may even work a soundboard during the actual performance.

The list goes on and on: music supervisor for TV and movies, music journalist or critic, music therapist, and of course, radio DJ.  The NAfME Career Center page and the Careers page for Berklee’s College of Music are great resources to check out if you need some guidance.  So if you’re in college now – or ready for a career change – consider these options if you can’t carry a tune!

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