6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Here’s What to Know Before Buying an Instrument

6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Thinking about buying a new instrument? It’s a big decision, as an instrument is truly an investment — especially if you’re spending several hundred dollars (or more, for higher-end brands and models) on it.

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to do some research. But where do you start? With so many brands out there, how do you know which ones are worth the money? What do you really need to ensure years of playing and practicing?

We came across a great article over on Donna Schwartz’s blog that we think hits the nail on the head for what to consider before handing over your cash — whether you’re looking at new or used musical instruments.

Donna writes:

Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or pro, here are 5 questions to ask yourself when trying out different musical instruments:

  1. Does the sound of this instrument match my concept of how I want to sound?
  2. Is the instrument free-blowing enough to allow me to get my “perfect sound”? (Or maybe I want a little resistance on this trumpet to help out with high notes?)
  3. Is it easy enough to play in all registers of the instrument comfortably?
  4. Can I control the intonation in all registers of the instrument?
  5. Are the keys placed in such a way that I can perform rapid passages comfortably?

The above 5 questions are important and vary for every performer. This next question though is absolutely necessary for every musician that wants to perform at their best for a long time.

When you are comparing a few different brands and have found some you really like, before you pull out the credit card, it is crucial to ask this question:

If my instrument breaks, do you have the parts to fix it, and if not, can you get the parts?

Donna continues to point out that an instrument like the saxophone has more than 600 moving parts — so if you end up with an instrument with sub-standard parts that can’t be replaced… you may be out of luck if it breaks. Moral of the story? Do your research. Ask questions. Get help from your music teacher, and have him or her try out instruments with you. Make an informed decision!

You can read the article in full here.

For even more tips, we also like this article from the Tampa Bay Music Academy blog. As part of their steps for buying an instrument, they offer some additional pointers regarding instrument quality:

Instrument quality can generally be assessed using three categories: student quality, intermediate quality, or professional quality.

Your 5th grader doesn’t need a professional quality instrument yet, but should you go the cheap route with a student model or shell out a few more bucks for the intermediate? Ultimately, that depends on your goals for your student.

Is this a “try it and see if you like it” endeavor, or have you and your child committed to this instrument for the long haul? Student quality instruments are usually made of cheaper materials and won’t produce as nice a sound, but they are good for students who don’t know if they will stick with it or not. They’re also good starter instruments if money is tight.

If your child (and you) have committed to playing this instrument throughout middle and high school, however, go ahead and invest in the better quality option if possible.

Continue reading the article here.

And finally, if you’re opting for the used musical instruments route, Get-Tuned.com has a great article on how to evaluate a used instrument.

Readers, how have your experiences been buying new or used instruments? What other tips would you add? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Image by Vincent Diamante

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource


how to overcome stage fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage performance is a challenging art form. Whether you’re acting out a role in a musical theatre setting, giving a speech in front of a crowd, or even playing a solo at an open mic night, the experience can be nerve-wracking even for seasoned performers.

It can be even more anxiety-inducing if you’re a perfectionist, as that can breed a fear of failure… and from there, performance anxiety can feel even stronger.

Performance anxiety (commonly referred to as stage fright) can devastate a performer’s career and enjoyment of their craft, but it doesn’t have to — performance anxiety is a normal human reaction and a completely curable condition if given the right resources, patience, and support system. This article is a guide to learning how to overcome stage fright, for anyone who may experience it — musicians, actors, dancers, speakers, educators, and students. If you wish to understand and improve anxiety issues that are holding you back from giving your best performances, read on!

What is Stage Fright?

Let’s start with anxiety, which is defined as a feeling or worry, nervousness, or unease about an upcoming event. Most people have experienced some level of anxiety before, during, or after a performance, speech, sports game, or test. Anxiety differs from fear in that fear addresses a present threat, while anxiety is typically felt in relation to something in the future. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human experience and, in small doses, is beneficial in making decisions and in achieving peak success.

Performance anxiety (stage fright) in particular is nervousness or unease about a specific future event in which you will be required to execute a task, such as a song, a scene, speech, or test — and usually when you’ll be in front of an audience. Symptoms may be present during the task, for weeks or months leading up to it, and sometimes after the event is over.

So, how do you get over stage fright? Even most experienced performers feel anxiety, so it’s more a process of learning how to deal with stage fright. Here are the steps I recommend.

dealing with stage fright - step 1

Knowing if you are truly experiencing anxiety is critically important, as it’s the first step toward understanding and overcoming it. If you have experienced a few or many of the following symptoms before or during a performance situation, you are experiencing stage fright:

  • Excessive sweating (typically in the palms, feet, armpits or face, but could be anywhere)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills, hot flashes, or sudden changes in body temperature
  • Shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, or hyperventilation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Racing thoughts, obsessive fear of failure during the task
  • Inability to concentrate or process logical information
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urge to use the bathroom
  • Inability to make small talk or hold a basic conversation
  • Shakiness, especially in the hands
  • Sensitivity lights, sounds, or textures in the environment

As you can see, this list of sensations is not only unpleasant, but makes performing at your best nearly impossible. Fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  • Look at the list of anxiety symptoms, and make a mental checkmark next to the ones that you have felt during performance situations.
  • Note when it happened, how often, and any other details you remember. Are your symptoms limited to a specific few, or all of them? Are there symptoms you’d like to solve first as a priority, before others?

Now go back next to each symptom that you’ve checked, and rate it on scale of 1-10 as to how severe it felt (1 being hardly felt it, 10 being you felt it so much you couldn’t concentrate on anything else).

If you are seeing numbers in the 1-4 range, it’s likely that you are experiencing normal, healthy jitters that can actually add to your performance by making you more focused. If you are seeing numbers in the 5-10 range, you are experiencing moderate to severe stage fright and should read on to discover strategies for improvement.

dealing with stage fright - step 2

Before you can properly map a route to overcome stage fright, it’s important to know where you’ve been — and what has caused stage fright in the past. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you are experiencing stage fright, how they might contribute to your present challenges, and how you can utilize them most effectively.

Start by asking yourself some questions about your performing career, starting from the very, very beginning, which might include childhood memories or more recent situations depending on your age.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  1. Recall the first time you performed for an audience, formally. Who was there? What thoughts and feelings do you remember? Were you happy with the outcome of the performance? Was it a positive or negative experience, was it stressful or relaxed?
  2. Recall the first time you performed and experienced anxiety (if different from above). What were the circumstances? Who was there? Did you practice or prepare, and how much? If different from #1, what do you think sparked anxiety if there were previous performances that didn’t?
  3. Recall the next few times that you performed, after #2 above. Ask yourself the same questions and look for patterns.
  4. Recall the 2-3 most recent times you performed. How recent was it? Have you purposely avoided performing in recent circumstances due to fear? Were you with a large group, small ensemble or solo? Were there any post-performance experiences worth noting?
  5. From the above questions, look for patterns. Are there any pivotal events that dramatically changed the course of your performance history? Are there any key people, venues, or pieces that contributed to where you’re at today?

dealing with stage fright - step 3

The next step is re-contextualizing key anxiety triggers so that they don’t continue causing problems. Most people can identify one or two key incidents that left a large impact on their self-esteem.

Maybe it was a teacher giving an aggressive critique, a family member telling you not to quit your day job, or a performance in which you froze on stage and ran off crying.

At the time you may not have realized the impact of this key event, but in hindsight you can see that it has undermined your confidence and affected your ability to perform ever since.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

The mind is powerful and can distort memories, making them seem bigger and nastier than they really were in real life. As far as exercises that can help you deal with stage fright, this is a great one to try. Pick one of your key incidents that is particularly painful or memorable and jot a few notes about it to the facts:

What venue were you performing in?
What piece were you performing or practicing?
Who was watching?
What feedback were you given, either verbal or non-verbal?
How did you react? Did you shout, cry, freeze up, or laugh it off?
If you responded verbally, what did you say?
What did you do after the event?

Re-Contextualizing the Event

Now let’s bring some imagination to it: sometimes taking the gravity out of a memory and bringing it into a lighter, if not humorous, context can be extremely healing. By re-contextualizing this event, you are not dismissing it or minimizing its impact, but re-framing it in a more positive, lighthearted perspective. By giving your brain a new way to interpret it, you will begin to move past it and no longer allow it to block your present performance opportunities. Jot a few notes in response to the following:

If you could go back and re-live this event, what would you do differently?
Is there anything positive that has come out of the negative memory?

dealing with stage fright - step 4

We’ve spent the preceding sections of this guide processing your past. Now it’s time to move into the present and start thinking about what you can do now, and in the near future, to overcome stage fright.

There is no magic formula, unfortunately; you must expose yourself – you must perform, perform, perform, and this is known as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a fancy name for the common-sense approach known as “facing your fears,” a technique commonly used by psychiatric doctors to treat phobias of all kinds. However, there is an art to exposing yourself to your fears, and it should be done in careful, small, planned doses that gradually lead up to a major milestone.

Create an Exposure Ladder

Exposure ladders are a technique used widely by the medical psychiatric community to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias of all types.

An exposure ladder is a list of activities that lead you gradually to a big goal (such as performing on your city’s biggest stage, for example), with activities ranked from least to most anxiety-provoking. An individual will work up the steps of the ladder, moving on to the next step only after mastering exposure to the current step with little or no anxiety.

You’ll need to create your own customized exposure ladder, starting with #1, which is your first, tiny little step toward performing — something that you could handle right now, today, with little or no anxiety symptoms. Then you’ll move on to #2, and so on, gradually making steps more anxiety provoking as you go, until you’ve reached a final step which is your final performing goal. You can make your final step as big or small as you want, just be honest with your true performing goals.

One precaution: be careful not to create too big of a jump between steps on the exposure ladder. You can repeat a step as many times as needed, in order to master that level with little to no anxiety. Depending on how often you are working on the steps, it might take months or years until you feel you’ve mastered a step, and that’s just fine. Study the example below to help you brainstorm ideas for your own ladder.

Example Exposure Ladder

1. Imagine yourself performing.
2. Perform alone.
3. Record yourself performing a scene or song and watch it without critique.
4. Perform for a supportive partner or friend.
5. Perform a duet or ensemble in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
6. Perform solo in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
7. Perform a duet or ensemble at a venue that is higher caliber, like a talent show for your class at school, a neighborhood barbeque, or karaoke at a bar.
8. Perform solo within the same circumstances in #7.
9. Perform with a semi-professional ensemble, such as an audition-only community chorus or community theatre.
10. Arrange an opportunity to perform solo for your peers or an audience, within the group you’ve identified in #9.
11. Enter a competition.
12. Continue finding opportunities similar to #11 with gradually higher caliber venues (or even paying gigs!).

dealing with stage fright - step 5

Once you start working the steps on your exposure ladder, there are going to be successes, and also setbacks. It’s important to arm yourself with relaxation techniques so that when setbacks occur, you have a strategy in place to deal with them in a healthy way. Try these:


Find a quiet space, sit or lay in a position that is comfortable enough to sustain for 10 minutes minimum, close your eyes, and stop thinking. It’s as simple as that; meditation is simply a state of thoughtlessness. Your mind will wander, and when it does, just bring it back to a blank space. If you can commit to meditation as a daily practice for 10-20 minutes, over time you will be able to push aside thoughts that distract you during performances, including anxious thoughts.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Find a quiet space and lay down with your arms naturally at your sides and legs fully extended. Close your eyes. Prepare with three slow, deep breaths. As much as possible, focus all of your attention on the task at hand; don’t let your mind wander. Tense your forehead muscle, holding it as tight as you can for about five seconds. As you do this, inhale and hold the breath while the muscle is tense, and then exhale and breathe normally as you let the muscle relax. Enjoy the relaxed position for about five seconds.

Repeat the above process with the following muscle groups: your face/cheek muscles, neck muscles, shoulders (pull them up and tight), back muscles (pull your shoulder blades back and in), abs/stomach muscles, arms and hands (make a fist while you do this and tense it all the way down to the fingers), glutes, thighs, calves, and then finally feet.

dealing with stage fright - step 6

Acceptance is a final and critical step in learning how to overcome stage fright, as resistance will only make a problem grow stronger. It’s important that you stop criticizing or judging yourself for having fears or challenges on stage, as it is one of the most common types of anxiety, and you are definitely not alone!

Acceptance is not declaring that stage fright is “just a problem you have” and that you’ll have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Acceptance is realizing you have some uncomfortable symptoms that are occurring and allowing the process of change to unfold, even if the process is difficult. Acceptance is allowing setbacks to happen, refraining from self-criticism when they do, and celebrating the small successes along the way.


Public speaking and performances of all types continue to be the number one fear of most adults. By reading this article, you have embarked on a journey that very few are brave enough to take – congratulations are due just for starting!

Your reading has given you initial tools for understanding what stage fright is, how you experience it personally, how your past is affecting your present, and beginning to learn how to deal with stage fright.

Performing is one of life’s great joys and you too can enjoy sharing your unique gifts and stories in front of an audience, free of fear, paralysis, or uncomfortable feelings. Don’t give up, and remember that psychological change is a gradual process. Good luck, and happy performing!

Readers, what other ways have you learned how to overcome stage fright? Let us know in the comments!

How to Overcome Stage Fright Infographic

ErinRPost Author: Erin R.
Erin teaches acting, singing, speaking voice, and more in San Diego, CA. She holds a B.A. from University of Minnesota in Vocal Performance, a M.A. in Education from National University, and has been teaching since 2007. Learn more about Erin here!

Image credit: Kian McKellar

Techology and online Music lessons

How Has Technology Changed Music Lessons? [Infographic]

Over the past several years, online music lessons have substantially grown in popularity. And it’s no wonder — it’s an option that is convenient and often priced lower than in-person lessons. Plus, you can choose an instructor from practically anywhere!

Advances in technology have made the success of online music lessons possible, but that’s not the only way that technology has changed the way we learn music. New innovations provide fun and creative ways to enhance the learning experience for today’s student. You can find the best online piano lessons, for instance, and then supplement those with apps, games, and YouTube tutorials.

Here are some fascinating facts about how we learn, teach, and promote music online.

Technology and Music Lessons Infographic - Online music lessons

Share this Image On Your Site

Teaching Music Online – Additional Resources

Interested in teaching online? These days, you’ve got several options for video platforms to use, allowing you to instantly connect with your student, send files, and record lessons. Learn more about teaching online with TakeLessons here.

Learning Music Online – Additional Resources

Whether you’re looking for the best online piano lessons via Skype, pre-recorded YouTube drum tutorials, or chord charts for guitar and bass, there are so many resources available for students!

Learn Guitar 

Learn Piano

Learn Violin

Learn Drums

Whether or not you take (or teach) lessons online, there are many ways you can use current technology to enhance and supplement the learning experience. If you’re a teacher and need a place to start, online forums are great for sharing ideas with other instructors. The possibilities are endless! And once you start looking, it’s amazing what you can find out there!

Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with this article! 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

The Language of Music

How to Approach Learning Music: 3 Exercises to Try

The Language of Music

Whether you’re learning Spanish or learning piano, you’ll find that both are complex languages with lots of history and unique jargon. In this guest post, Mike Lowden from Falls Music School bridges the gap between music and language by explaining just how similar they really are…


As a music teacher, I spend a good amount of time explaining to my students how learning music should be approached in a similar style to learning a language. Most professional musicians and music teachers consistently refer to “the language of music,” as this is a parallel that’s accepted worldwide.

Musicians Learn to “Talk” Music Like How Toddlers Learn to Speak

How do infants learn to speak their first words? They listen to what’s around them and do their best to copy it. As they grow older, they learn how to speak full sentences just as they’re taught. As they grow older still, they’re influenced on how to speak by friends and other social groups (e.g. a group of teenagers repetitively using the same slang) and use all of these different resources to eventually sound like “themselves.” People don’t put very much thought into it.

Listen to anyone talk; even though there might be individual nuances, language is actually a culmination of sayings from one’s parent(s), friends, teachers, and other social influences. People learn to talk by blending their social experiences together. Why do you think accents exist in certain regions and someone who moves there might eventually develop an accent? It all depends on what’s around you; we humans like to absorb what we hear.

Defining Your Musical Influences

This is exactly the same process that musicians go through; we listen to players we like and end up emulating their style. If you’re really into B.B. King, you’re going to do your best to play just like him. But maybe later you get into another player, so you learn how they “talk.” Eventually, everything you’ve learned from the music you’ve played goes into your tool belt of “self-expression.” There are many artists out there who are known for their own unique style, but all of them had influences that shaped who they became.

Put it into practice: Find a musician you really enjoy and see if you can trace back their musical history, almost like a family tree. If you have trouble tracing the history yourself, you can usually find interviews where they discuss their musical influences. Take note of some of their signature licks or musical tricks and see if they can be traced back. It’s fun just to see how far back you can trace! This can be an extremely enlightening exercise. Bonus points if you do this with your own playing.

Building Your Vocabulary

Having an extended vocabulary is extremely important when you’re trying to express ideas through both your native language and the language of music. “Bad” and “egregious” both essentially mean the same thing, but those two words have different connotations; choosing one over the other can be vital to expressing a story or idea.

Building vocabulary in music is just as important. Not only does it help culminate your overall style, as stated above, but it also can be the difference between a good solo and a great solo. Having a limited vocabulary means you can only say so much in a particular way. The last thing an artist wants is to be limited.

While one lick might fit and work well in a part of a song, there might be another that’s able to display an emotion even more perfect. Composers and improvisers agonize over these nuances just as much as poets and novelists agonize over their word choices. A musician decides on music ideas just as a poet might decide to say “glorious” rather than “cool.”

Put it into practice: Listen to the same song done by two different artists. Choosing some unexpected covers to compare is a fun idea. See what differences of “vocabulary” they each end up choosing. Often, an artist may choose to express an idea that’s exactly the same — basically reciting what the artist before them did. If you pay close attention, many artists will choose subtle differences in licks or chord voicings to show how they think the song should be played. Learn both versions and compare!

Speaking With the Right Nuances

Another thing musicians spend a fair amount of time on is contemplating the “interpretations” of composers. This means that it’s not only important to play the notes correctly, but to express them in a very specific way. Think about it — the way we say things in our spoken language can sometimes be even more important than the words we’re actually saying.

If you were speaking to your child and asked him or her to make their bed very nicely, that might get the job done. If the child still didn’t make the bed, however, you could repeat those same exact words but say them in a much sterner manner. It’s likely that this change in tone will elicit a different response.

Similarly, musicians focus on a lot of nuances with their music — how to attack each note, how loud or soft to play (dynamics), how to phrase musical ideas, and so on. The list of nuances is almost endless!

Understanding the Details

This same idea can cross over to styles of music. I had a jazz professor who would consistently tell students who had trouble swinging, “You’re saying the right thing, but you’re speaking French with a Russian accent — it ain’t right!” This meant that even though somebody was playing the right notes for it to be considered jazz, the nuances didn’t quite fit with the style, and, therefore, sounded funny.

This is exactly why someone who speaks the native tongue of a country can always tell if someone else hasn’t learned it as their first language. Sure, the words are right, but it sounds forced and foreign. It takes a lot of learning and practice to sound natural. A lot of people don’t realize that these subtleties are what make a piece of music so powerful.

Put it into practice: Start actively listening to ways people approach certain musical phrases and try to identify what makes one style different than another. If you’re a musician, try this with your own playing. What are other ways you can interpret the same phrase? Do you have trouble playing a particular style of music even though you can technically play the notes correctly? Look at what nuances you might have to add!

The Takeaway

These concepts are only the tip of the iceberg! All of the world’s best musicians are great because they have become so fluent in the language of music. If you’re learning music, use these approaches to improve your skills. If you’re a seasoned pro, you can always improve your musical fluency. Happy practicing!


Guest Author: Mike Lowden
Mike Lowden has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember, and enjoys playing every type of music that he can get his hands on. Mike has education from the Berklee College of Music, and studied Jazz at the University of Akron. Now the guitar instructor and co-owner of Falls Music School, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, his mission is not only to teach music students at the school, but also through online content.

Photo by Nic McPhee

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource


12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs (2015 Update)

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

Since the invention of the app store, aspiring and experienced musicians have been finding inspiration, practicing their skills, and immersing themselves in their craft — all with the help of some of the top music apps!

There are so many noteworthy apps that can benefit all musicians, from guitarists to singers and songwriters. Whether you are looking for something educational or creative, this list will benefit your collection of apps. And best of all, they are all fun to work with… and pretty addictive, we might add!

Here are our picks for top music apps…

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songwriter’s Pad

Songwriter’s Pad is the ultimate songwriter’s tool. It contains powerful idea-generating tools to inspire creation while making lyric-writing easier than ever. Everything you need to write music is packed into this one application. Finally, an app to defeat writer’s block once and for all!

Download: iOSAndroid


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songsterr Tabs & Chords

Songsterr Tabs & Chords was featured in the Wall Street Journal as, “one of the best apps for learning to play music.” With a huge catalog of 500,000 accurate tabs and chords, all musicians can learn something with this app. Most songs have tabs for individual instruments too, including the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

Download: iOS, Android


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)GarageBand

Do you need a full recording studio on the go? If so, this is the app for you. GarageBand turns your phone into a collection of instruments, including piano, organ, guitar, and drums. Guitarists can even plug their electric guitar in and play through classic amps and stompbox effects!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)My Note Games

This is a fun music game that teaches music theory and instrument mastery, including lessons for saxophone, piano, guitar, recorder, trumpet, violin, viola, and cello, plus vocals and whistling. The app actually listens to you playing your instrument, checking your tone, pitch, and accuracy.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Beatwave

With Beatwave, you can make unique music just by tapping on your screen! No musical skills are required, and you can create songs anywhere from your phone. In minutes, you can make complex songs with multiple layers of instruments and sounds — and then share them on social media!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Ear Trainer

Ear Trainer is an educational application designed for beginner to advanced musicians, music students, and anyone interested in improving one’s musical ear. There are more than 260 individual exercises covering intervals, chords, scales, relative pitch, and melody.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Sing! Karaoke by Smule

Are you ready to take karaoke to the next level? With Sing! Karaoke by Smule, you can sing your favorite karaoke songs and show them off to the world. Record yourself, add audio effects, and share with the app’s global community!

Download: iOS, Android


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Polyphonic!

Polyphonic! is a simple interface app for creating your own complex layers of music, even without any prior musical ability. Each square represents a different sound and each color represents a unique group of sounds. This app is perfect for anyone interested in music creation.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Hum

Hum makes note-taking and audio recording of song ideas easier than ever! Every aspiring songwriter needs this tool in his or her arsenal. Hum keeps your lyrics and song ideas organized and sortable so you never lose anything again.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Lyrics Pro

With this app, you get access to the lyrics of millions of tracks, straight from your phone. You can search by artist, song name, or the lyrics themselves. It also has a cool auto-loading feature that delivers the lyrics to any song that is currently playing!

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Figure

You now have the ability to create awesome music in minutes! Simply open Figure and start by creating a beat, then share it with your friends. Whether you are new to music production or are a seasoned veteran, this app is super fun to use. All musicians can use it to improve their rhythm and expand creativity.

Download: iOS


12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)SongPop

Do you know everything about music? Test yourself against friends with SongPop. As you play, you’ll listen to song clips from thousands of original artists in more than 300 genres, and the idea is to guess the artist or song faster than your friends.

Download: iOS, Android


Readers, what top music apps are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

Looking for easy crafts for kids? If your child loves music, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve complied a list of our favorite music activities and easy, DIY musical crafts your family will love to create.

You’ll find a link to the original post with instructions, as well as the level of difficultly, ranging from music activities your preschooler can do to more advanced, adults-only projects to decorate your home. Enjoy!

Musical Crafts for Kids

These crafts are perfect for kids, from DIY music-makers to fun decorations!

1. Recycled Outdoor Music Station via My Nearest and Dearest
Recycle cans and mason jars for fun outdoor play!
Level: Moderate

2. Homemade Kids Drums via A School of Fish
Let the kids make and decorate their own drums for a marching band.
Level: Very Easy

3. Fancy Shaker Eggs via Mama Smiles
Plastic eggs filled with various items create noisemakers for little hands.
Level: Very Easy

4. Cardboard Guitar via Makedo
Channel your favorite rockstar with this DIY guitar!
Level: Moderate

5. PVC Pipe Xylophone via Frugal Fun for Boys
This large-scaled xylophone requires some space, but is a super fun instrument to play around with!
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - pvc instrument

6. Cardboard Castanets via Whimsy Love
Cardboard and buttons make a child-sized castanet.
Level: Easy

7. Tin Can Howler via Housing a Forest
All you need is a string and a tin can for this fun howler.
Level: Easy

8. Easy Trumpet Craft via Preschool Crafts for Kids
Practice your best marching band steps with this easy DIY trumpet!
Level: Easy

9. African Drums via DLTK Crafts for Kids
Practice rhythm with these easy to make and fun to design African drums.
Level: Easy

10. DIY Masquerade Mask via Circle City Creations
Stretch your artistic side with these decorated masks.
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - masquerade mask

11. Rainbow Xylophone via And Next Comes L
Wood, window casings, and paint create a giant rainbow xylophone.
Level: Skilled

12. Do Re Mi Bottle via Life with Moore Babies
Discover different pitches with this colored water craft.
Level: Easy

13. Painted Stick Instrument via Twodaloo
Natural materials and craft supplies combine to make a unique instrument from ancient times.
Level: Easy

14. Rain Stick via Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
A mailing tube combined with a few other items create the sound of rain.
Level: Moderate

15. Shaker Toys via The Educators’ Spin On It
Use a variety of containers and ingredients to explore different sounds.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - music shakers

16. Homemade Kazoo via Buggy and Buddy
Common kitchen items come together to create a DIY kazoo.
Level: Easy

17. Corn Shakers via Sow Sprout Play
This is a great project for sensory play and teaching rhythm.
Level: Easy

18. Popsicle Stick and Paper Plate Kalimba via Kodaly and Orff Music Teacher’s blog
This is a fun, unique instrument your kids have probably never heard before.
Level: Easy

19. Pin Strummers via Pi’ikea Street
Use bobby pins to create boings, pops, and other sounds!
Level: Easy

20. Homemade Trumpet via All Done Monkey
All you need is cardboard tubes, poster board, and decorating materials for this easy craft.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - DIY trumpet

21. Jingle Bells via Chasing Cheerios
Tiny bells and a cardboard tube create a fun shake stick – perfect for around the holidays!
Level: Easy

22. Homemade French Horn via Savvy Homemade
Everyday items come together to make a fun French horn.
Level: Easy

23. Noisemaker via Ganz World
Easy-to-make noisemakers perfect for New Years.
Level: Easy

24. Wind Pipe Instrument via Laughing Kids Learn
This is a simple wind pipe that children can make in just a few minutes.
Level: Easy

25. Paper Plate Tambourine via SheKnows
Simple items make fun tambourines!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - paper plate tambourine

26. Homemade Harmonica via Mess for Less
Popsicle sticks, paper, and rubber bands create a DIY harmonica.
Level: Easy

27. Homemade Wind Chimes via Hands On As We Grow
Tin can that are decorated then assembled into custom wind chimes.
Level: Moderate

Crafts for Music-Loving Families

Want to spruce up your home with some more advanced crafts and DIY projects? Here are our favorite Pinterest-worthy ideas: 

1. Sheet Music Candles via Can’t Stop Making Things
Learn how to make Pottery Barn lookalike candles with sheet music.
Level: Moderate

2. Guitar Shelf via Budget Girl
Make unique shelves for trinkets from an old or broken guitar.
Level: Skilled

3. Custom Envelopes via (Never) Homemaker
Create your own crafty envelopes from sheet music.
Level: Easy

4. Broken Record Ombre Wall Art via Tattooed Martha
Turn old vinyl records into amazing décor your guests will love!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - broken record wall art

5. Vinyl Record Bookends via Treetrunkwise
Keep your bookshelf organized with these DIY bookends made from old records.
Level: Easy

6. Vintage Record Dessert Stand via Bubby & Bean
Showcase your cupcakes or desserts with this adorable stand.
Level: Easy

7. Music Box Ornament via Craft Snob, guest post from SaltTree
Surprise! This cool glitter ornament is actually a wind-up musical box!
Level: Moderate

8. Sheet Music Coffee Table via A Diamond In the Stuff
Spruce up your coffee table with sheet music!
Level: Easy

9. PVC Flute via the Widget Forge
Break out your toolbox and create your very own DIY flute.
Level: Skilled

10. Sheet Music Coasters via An Oregon Cottage
Use old sheet music to create unique drink coasters!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - sheet music coasters

11. Record Album Cover Box Tutorial via Zombies Wearing Helmets
Stash items and keep your space organized with this retro-looking storage box made from old record covers.
Level: Moderate

12. Sheet Music Dresser via Miss Mustard Seed
Learn how to decoupage a dresser with sheet music here.
Level: Easy

13. Sheet Music Gift Bags via Eclectically Vintage
Make gift bags from sheet music for a special gift!
Level: Moderate

14. DIY Vinyl Record Table via The Flourishing Abode
Save money by making your own accent table made out of old vinyl records.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - record side table

15. Sheet Music Monograms via The Country Chic Cottage
Yet another sheet music craft idea to spruce up any room.
Level: Easy

16. Paper Roses via Capitol Romance
Transform sheet music into paper roses with a vintage look.
Level: Moderate

17. Lined Jewelry Box via Crafting a Green World
Spruce up an old jewelry box by lining it with sheet music.
Level: Easy

18. Sheet Music Shoe via Tales of a Trophy Wife
Cover your shoes in sheet music for a unique look.
Level: Easy

19. Sheet Music Star Decorations via Sweet Something Designs
These make great decorations for the holidays!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - sheet music ornament

20. Music Themed Door Wreath via Reloved Rubbish
Use old sheet music to make a stunning wreath.
Level: Moderate

21. Mosaic Bird Bath made from CDs via Me and My DIY
Repurpose old CDs to give your bird bath a cool mosaic look!
Level: Moderate

22. DIY Candle Holder via Lots of DIY
Grab some old CDs and marbles to make stunning candle holders.
Level: Easy

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource


5 Reasons Why Songwriters Should Collaborate

collaborating with other musicians

This article was originally published on Soundfly and is being shared as part of Songwriting Week! Join the conversation on social media (#SongwritingWeek) for even more tips, articles, and resources.


So many musicians and songwriters stress the importance of collaboration. But without knowing how collaboration could benefit your work, why would you share an idea you’ve spent countless hours thinking about, only to open yourself up to criticism? As it turns out, all those advice-givers really are on to something — collaboration can tease out new ideas you hadn’t considered before, help you get past roadblocks, and even validate your idea. Here are five reasons why collaboration is one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your art.

1. Collaboration forces you to articulate your ideas to other people.

One of the most difficult parts of being an artist is clearly explaining your ideas so that other people understand them. You may know exactly what you’re trying to tell the audience with that story about your break-up, but the audience may have no idea what you’re referring to. When you talk your ideas out with other people, you can explain the thinking behind them and collectively come up with the clearest way to articulate the idea to others. (And if you need further help developing your ideas, consider signing up for our new songwriting course!)

2. It helps you play to your strengths and accept your weaknesses.

In order to collaborate with other people, you must first understand what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. If you claim to be a world-renowned MC, but you can’t keep a steady rhythm for your life, your project is going to fall apart. If you are up-front about your out-of-whack rhythm skills, you can find a drummer or beatboxer who can improve your project. Bring to the table what you know you’re good at and find a friend who can compliment your weaknesses.

3. It reminds you that your project is part of something bigger.

It can be easy to forget that one section of a song you’re working on is part of a much larger work when you concentrate on it for so long. Working with other people helps you remember that what you’re working on is combined with many other parts to create something wonderful. Check in every once and a while with your fellow collaborators and see where they are in their part of the project. It can inspire you in new ways and help you remember why you’re working so hard on your section. Although everyone is working on something different, having collaborators helps remind you that everyone is working towards one larger goal.

4. You have real deadlines to hit.

When we’re working on something that is only for ourselves, it’s easy to get lost in procrastination. We are only letting ourselves down in these situations, so without a ton of self-drive, a lot of these projects are never completed. When we work with other people, there is a greater sense of deadlines because missing them impacts everyone. If the group sets up a timeline for the project, it will be easier to keep track of deadlines and make sure the project is completed in a timely manner.

5. It’s an easy way to gain fans!!

One of the best benefits of working with other musicians is that you’re opened up to a whole new set of fans! If your sound is similar to, but with a unique spin on the work of the person you’re collaborating with, you’re sure to open up the door to many fans coming your way. People are always looking for new music, and what better way than to find it through their favorite artists?! Even if your acts are completely different, you’ll get your music in front of an audience you never would have found before, and you can bet that fans respect artists that their favorite musicians are into! Sharing fan bases makes for easier collaboration on songs, shows, and many other aspects of your musical career.

We are all still learning as musicians, and what better way than to learn from each other? Collaboration exercises your brain while producing tremendous work. And if it doesn’t work out? Learn from your mistakes this time and try again. Everyone works differently, and before long you’ll find the right type of collaborators for you.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

3 Summer Activities And How They Help Your Child Grow (Piano)

3 (Fun!) Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

fun summer activities for kids

Summer is here! With school out and the temperatures rising, no doubt your kids are excited to play. But beyond the summer camps, sleepovers, bike rides, and water balloon fights, stealthy parents know how to encourage activities that can actually help kids grow and learn!

Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean workbooks or summer homework. We’ve got three fun summer activities in mind that kids will be excited to participate in, and ones that will build confidence at the same time.

  • First up? Music lessons! If your son or daughter loves to sing along to songs when you turn on the radio, music lessons are a natural fit. And there are so many different lesson types to consider, from piano to guitar to saxophone.
  • For the more introverted or bookworm types, learning a language — like Spanish or French — might be a great choice. Of course, your child won’t become fluent over the course of one summer… but it can be a fun introduction to new cultures! Plus, it’s easy to find fun games and apps that support language learning.
  • Finally, if your child can’t stop moving, sports like soccer and softball are a great way to keep him or her busy. They’ll never know they’re actually improving their teamwork and goal-setting skills!

Here’s a recap of all the surprising stats you need to know about these fun summer activities for kids.

3 Fun Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

Whether your child is athletic, musically inclined, or interested in learning another language, summer is the perfect time to enroll them in classes and nurture a new hobby. And knowing your son or daughter is also growing and learning, you can sit back and relax this summer — just as the season was intended for.

Ready to get started? Search for fun summer activities, classes, and lessons near you!

Photos by Philippe PutDark Dwarf, and l. c.


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Musicians, Here’s How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Ready to take your talents to the masses, but not sure how to get music gigs? In this guest post, our friends over at GigSalad share a few helpful tips to help you start your gigging career…


It’s safe to say that almost every musician dreams of making a career out of their talent. However, many artists are intimidated and unsure of where to begin. If you’re serious about your music, and you know you want to succeed in the industry, there are a few essential steps to help you find music gigs and kickstart your career. By applying these few simple methods to actively promote yourself, you’ll be well on your way to making a living doing what you love.

Practice, practice, practice. We know you probably hear this enough from your teachers, but your practice hours are crucial to your sound. It’s what attracts fans and keeps your calendar booked, so before you start your gigging endeavors, make sure you’ve mastered your performance.

You need a solid web presence. In order to line up your first few gigs, you have to put your talent in front of a lot of eyes and ears. One of the best (and cheapest) ways to do this is by promoting yourself online. There are many marketing tools available for musicians, but don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to utilize them all. Just focus on these few, and you will have a stronger impact.

  • Find a website builder. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to have a great place to host your music. There are several website builders that make it easy to plug your media into a beautifully designed template. You’ll want to choose one that is mobile-friendly, can be easily customized, and offers stylistic flexibility. We recommend Bandzoogle because it’s built specifically for musicians to add downloadable music files, gig calendars, and band merch. Having a beautifully designed website is an excellent way to gain more fans.
  • Use your social media. Your social platforms are a great way to engage your audience and attract new fans. You can notify followers of your upcoming shows, get feedback from past performances, and even find out what kind of music they’d like to hear in the future. And by activating the new Facebook call-to-action button, you can get booked directly from your page! To truly maximize your opportunities, consider going outside of your own social media feeds. When you connect with other local performers, venues, and community groups, you’re exposing your business to their followers as well. Liking other posts instead of just asking users to like yours creates a more direct relationship with those users.

Get gigs by playing gigs. At the beginning of a gigging career, often times artists will put on free shows to get started. These performances are typically in smaller, more intimate venues such as coffee shops, libraries, or house parties. Although these are unpaid gigs, they can still offer other valuable benefits. Any gig opportunity helps boost your stage presence, earns you the spotlight, and gives you a chance to recruit more fans.

Surround yourself with musicians. Not only do you get a chance to chat with people who have the same interests, but you can also learn a lot from these conversations. The music scene is constantly evolving, and your fellow musicians can keep you updated on the latest trends and tips that have helped them. This also gives you a great opportunity to create mutual referrals for future gigs.

Connect with venue owners. Venue owners come in contact with a ton of musicians, so it’s important to make yourself stand out. Introduce yourself in person, and be sure to leave them a link to that great website you’ve created to promote your music. Because of their heavy workload, it’s a good idea to send them a follow-up email if you haven’t received a response after a few days.

There are a lot of tips out there for musicians who are just starting their gigging careers, and it can feel daunting to consider all of them. Every musician is unique in their journey to success, so make the moves that feel right for you. By perfecting your talent, creating a strong web presence, and connecting with the right people, you can considerably boost your gigging opportunities.

Readers, what other strategies do you use to find music gigs? Let us know in the comments!

Post Author: Tessie Barnett
Tessie Barnett is the content writer for GigSalad, an online platform for artists to promote their talent, connect with event hosts and planners, and get booked for private and public gigs ranging from weddings and parties to corporate events and festivals. As the largest entertainment booking platform in the U.S. and Canada, GigSalad helps talented people do what they love.

Photo by Lauren Liggett

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

rolling-stone-instruments-berklee-online header

Can You Identify the Weird Instruments Featured in Rolling Stone’s Top-100?

What do the contrabassoon, the swarmandal, and the finger cymbal all have in common? They all play an important part in the greatest songs of all time! Berklee Online recently took a look at Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and focused in on the top 100 to give us an inside look at the music that has shaped our lives. From pop songs with flute to songs for alto sax, there’s something special about hearing unique instruments used in creative ways by some of the world’s most famous and beloved musicians.

So, think you can identify some of the weird instruments on this list? Check out the awesome infographic below to test your knowledge of these classic tunes!


So how’d you do? Were you able to name some of the weird instruments in this list? If anything, this infographic proves that great music comes from unique instruments and dynamite musicians – and great things happen when the two come together!

No matter what instrument you play, taking private lessons with a quality music instructor can take your musical skills to the next level! Who knows — someday we might see one of your songs on this list!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource