5 World-Famous Hispanic Musicians With Inspiring Stories

Hispanic Musicians

Many of the world’s most well known and talented musicians come from a Hispanic background. The music of these singers, guitarists, and pianists has won globally recognized awards and transcended cultural borders.

Several Hispanic musicians, such as Santana and Gloria Estefan, have overcome the odds to chase their dreams and here, we’ll share their inspirational stories. Keep reading to learn about five artists that are sure to leave you motivated, encouraged, and moved.

5 Inspiring Hispanic Musicians

Gloria Estefan – Pop Singer

Hispanic musicians - Gloria Estefan

Source: Jesus Cordero

Gloria Estefan was born in Havana, but her family fled from Cuba to Miami when she was a young girl. After serving in Vietnam, Gloria’s father became very ill. With her mother working and attending night classes, Gloria was left at home to care for her father and sister.

These responsibilities were a lot for a teenager, but Gloria turned to music as an escape. She would lock herself in her room and sing for hours. In 1975, Gloria became acquainted with a keyboardist who later became her husband. He led a band called “the Miami Latin Boys” and asked Gloria to be the lead vocalist as soon as he heard her sing.

The band’s name was later changed to “the Miami Sound Machine.” Their albums launched to the top of the charts, and Gloria was called a demure, Hispanic version of Madonna.

Her story doesn’t stop there, though. A car accident while on tour in 1990 left Gloria with broken vertebrae in her back. Never one to stay down, she made a miraculous recovery and was back on tour and making albums within the year. To this day Gloria Estefan is still making music, with many projects paying tribute to her native home of Cuba.

Santana – Guitarist

Hispanic musicians - Santana

Source: Libby Fabro

Santana has become a very familiar name, working with artists from every genre such as Michelle Branch and DJ Khalid, but it hasn’t always been that way. Growing up in Mexico, Santana’s father originally taught him how to play the violin, but he found that he liked the electric guitar much more.

As a teenager living in Tijuana, Santana started out performing at a variety of small venues.  He later moved to San Francisco and spent his days working as a dishwasher in a diner and playing for change on the streets. B.B. King and Ray Charles were two of his biggest musical inspirations.

Santana never gave up on his dreams though, and eventually decided to pursue music full time. What started out as “The Santana Blues Band” later became known as “Santana” and gained a mass following, even performing at Woodstock.

The crowds loved Santana’s sound – a mix of blues, rock, and jazz. The band released multiple albums that went platinum and Santana has continued to win Grammy awards. He also recently published a memoir called “The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light” with the hope of inspiring others, and it became a national bestseller.

Ruben Gonzalez – Pianist

Hispanic musicians - Ruben Gonzalez

Source: Ebet Roberts

Ruben Gonzalez is proof that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. He released his debut album at the age of 78! Ruben originally studied medicine, but later in life he decided to pursue music.

He was known for his Latin jazz sound and was requested by many bands and ensembles. Ruben was best known for working with the Afro Cuban All Stars and the Buena Vista Social Club, specializing in Latin dance and traditional Cuban music.

His album with the Buena Vista Social Club won a Grammy in 1997, and that same year Ruben decided to release his first solo album – “Introducing…Ruben Gonzalez.” After releasing a second album in 2000, he died three years later knowing that he had done what he loved with his life. His music is still enjoyed by many.

Placido Domingo – Opera Singer

Hispanic musicians - Placido Domingo

Source: Barbara Davidson

Both of Placido’s parents were singers for Spanish operettas in Madrid, which definitely contributed to his remarkable tenor voice and musical abilities. This didn’t mean that his success came easily, though.

After moving to Mexico at eight years old, Placido began appearing alongside his parents in performances. He originally played the piano and enrolled in school to become a conductor, but later decided to focus on singing. Placido had a few small television appearances and often played in piano bars to earn money.

At 18 years old, he began landing roles in various opera productions. Placido continued to work hard and eventually won a Grammy award for Best Opera Recording in 1971. Fourteen Grammys later, he is now in his seventies and lives by the motto, “If I rest I rust.”

Placido didn’t even let health problems such as cancer slow him down. He is still performing, recording, and running a prestigious voice competition called “Operalia” to discover and nurture new talent.

SEE ALSO: 20 Spanish Traditions, Customs, and Superstitions

Selena – Tejano Singer

Hispanic musicians - Selena

Source: Dave Einsel

We can’t discuss Hispanic musicians without mentioning Selena. Known as the “Queen of Tejano,” Selena’s legacy lives on today despite her early death. (Tejano is a type of music that incorporates Mexican and other styles of music such as country.)

Selena began singing as a child. She was the lead in her family’s band alongside her brother and sister. The band originally performed at her parents’ restaurant, weddings, and fairs. As their music became increasingly popular, the band started to record albums and go on tour.

Eventually Selena was signed as a solo artist, and her Spanish-language albums received major accolades and awards. She began to work on her first English album, but before she could see its release, she was killed by one of her own fans at just 23 years old.

Selena’s untimely death was shocking to all who enjoyed her music. Her English album, “Dreaming of You,” was later released in 1996. The album sold more than a million copies and introduced many people to Tejano music. Selena’s story lives on, and she continues to inspire many with her impressive accomplishments in such a short career.

Each of these Hispanic musicians are inspiring in their own unique way. From different regions and different walks of life, they all overcame obstacles to introduce the world to their musical styles and abilities. Tell us about a musician you love in the comments below!

Feeling inspired to work on your own musical talents? Learn how to become a better musician and performer from expert instructors in the online courses at TakeLessons Live.

Health benefits of playing an instrument

17 Surprising Health Benefits of Playing an Instrument

Health benefits of playing an instrument

Playing an instrument has many benefits – learning self-discipline, strengthening mental capacity, and spreading the joy of music, just to name a few. And research shows that these benefits aren’t just for kids. Musicians of any age can take advantage of the physical and emotional health benefits of playing an instrument.

It doesn’t matter what instrument you choose to play, either! Keep reading to discover how the act of playing music can drastically improve your overall health.  

Health Benefits of Playing an Instrument

Physical Benefits of Music

Health benefits of playing an instrument

  • Deep Breathing – Most of the time our breathing is very shallow, but activities like singing or playing a wind instrument require deep breathing from the diaphragm. This strengthens your lungs and respiratory system. Playing the harmonica can even help with pulmonary disease!
  • Immune Response – When we learn to play an instrument, we often become inspired to create our own music. According to an article by Live Science, making music “enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses.”
  • Stress Relief – Playing music brings your energy and focus into a positive activity, which can help alleviate stress. Those reduced stress levels can help get your blood pressure and heart rate down to a healthy level.
  • Fine Hearing – Learning music refines your hearing skills by training you to isolate sounds as they occur. Studies have even shown that musicians are better at picking out specific voices and sounds in a noisy environment.
  • Exercise – Playing an instrument naturally leads to increased physical activity. Whether you’re playing the piano, guitar, strings, or a wind instrument, you’re using your arm and back muscles to play and/or hold up your instrument. And if you play the drums, you even get to do some cardio!
  • Posture – Any good music teacher will correct your posture during lessons. This can help you get into the habit of sitting up straight and having proper alignment even when you’re not playing. These are all great ways to alleviate neck and back pain.

Mental Benefits of Music

Health benefits of playing an instrument

  • Mental Performance – Playing music is like doing a workout for every part of your brain. It helps improve your mental performance and memory. There’s even evidence that music can help a patient’s brain recover from a stroke, as well as slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Coordination – Using your fingers, hands, and feet in a rhythmic manner for a sustained amount of time, while also being conscious of playing the correct tones, can be a challenge for even the most coordinated people. Over time though, playing music refines your motor skills that go beyond the hand-eye.
  • Time Management – Learning an instrument requires practice, of course! But more specifically, it requires consistency and routine. Figuring out how to fit practice into your busy schedule and really stick to it helps you develop better time management and organization skills.
  • Reading Skills – Reading music helps strengthen your ability to process information by creating new connections between the synapses in your brain. As a result, reading and absorbing information from other sources becomes a lot easier.
  • Listening Skills – Learning music doesn’t just improve your ability to hear details; it also makes you better at listening. Whether you’re practicing on your own or playing with other people, you have to listen for timing, expression, and whether you’re in tune. This can make you a better listener even in everyday conversations as well.
  • Concentration – Focus is a necessary part of learning an instrument. Improving your musical skills forces you to use all the parts of your brain involved in concentration, making you better able to concentrate in other life situations. This is another reason why music is beneficial for those with disorders like ADD.
  • Mathematics – Learning music is all about pattern recognition, which is mathematical in itself. But even more than that, learning about how music is divided into equal measures and beats, and how those beats are in broken up, can help improve your math skills!

SEE ALSO: The 5 Easiest Instruments Perfect for Adult Learners

Emotional Benefits of Music

Health benefits of playing an instrument

  • Self Expression – Whether you’re writing your own piece of music or playing someone else’s, music allows you to express yourself in new ways. You also get to be creative when choosing your own unique style and genre.
  • Therapy – Playing music can help with stress, insomnia, and depression because it acts as an outlet for difficult emotions. It can be a form of self-soothing in tough situations, and a healthy distraction from a stressful day.
  • Achievement – There’s nothing like the feeling of finally mastering one of your favorite songs! Setting a goal, putting in the work, and eventually reaching that goal gives you a strong sense of achievement. It will improve your confidence in other areas of life in the process.
  • New Friends – Whether you use music as an icebreaker when meeting new people, or as a way to actually meet new people – playing in a choir, band, or orchestra, for example – music is a great way to make new friends.

These are just a few of the remarkable health benefits of playing an instrument. To begin reaping the benefits of music in your life, check out the online group music lessons at TakeLessons Live today.

You can access hundreds of live classes on a variety of instruments – completely free for your first month. Start playing that instrument you’ve always wanted to, and your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!

JasmineTPost Author: Jasmine T.
Jasmine T. teaches piano, academics, yoga, and more in San Diego, CA. She has her Power Yoga Level 1 200-Hour Certification, as well as a Certificate of Merit for Piano and Theory from the Music Teachers’ Association of California. Learn more about Jasmine here!
Best father daughter songs of all time

Most Popular & Heartwarming Father Daughter Songs of All Time

Best father daughter songs of all time

There’s a special kind of bond between a girl and her father, and dozens of popular songs that honor this strong connection. Whether you’re looking for that perfect song for a father daughter dance, a meaningful Father’s Day tribute, or a special gift for a birthday, keep reading.

In this ultimate list of heartfelt, father daughter songs from every genre, you’re sure to find just the right lyrics to celebrate your relationship with Dad. 

Best Father Daughter Songs From Every Genre

“My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw – Country

“You’re beautiful baby, from the outside in

Chase your dreams but always know

The road that will lead you home again”

This heartwarming song, written from a father’s perspective, is a tear-jerker right from the beginning. It’s an excellent choice for a dance, sweet 16, graduation, or any coming-of-age celebration.

“Daddy’s Little Girl” by Michael Bublé – Classic

“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot o’ gold, you’re Daddy’s Little Girl to have and hold

A precious gem is what you are, you’re mommy’s bright and shining star

You’re the spirit of Christmas, my star on the tree, you’re the Easter bunny to mommy and me

You’re sugar, you’re spice, you’re everything nice, and you’re Daddy’s Little Girl”

Michael Bublé really shows off his crooner side in this sweet melody about all the wonderful things that a man’s daughter means to him. This song would be a great addition to a wedding or birthday party playlist.

“Your Joy” by Chrisette Michele – Neo Soul

“No one loves me just like you do

No one knows me just like you do

No one can compare to the way my eyes fit in yours”

This soulful tribute from a daughter to her father is perfect for a girl or young woman to sing to her father. Not too comfortable with your singing voice? Write the lyrics in a greeting card to add an extra nice touch.  

“Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle – Christian/Gospel

“Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right

To deserve a hug every morning, and butterfly kisses at night”

This beautiful tune, written from a father’s perspective, shares special moments throughout different stages of his daughter’s life. It’s a nice option for a wedding, or simply when you want to remind your father that you’ll always be his little girl!

“Daughters” by John Mayer – Acoustic Rock

“Fathers, be good to your daughters

Daughters will love like you do

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers

So mothers, be good to your daughters too”

This acoustic tune from John Mayer shares about the loving bond that exists between family members. It’s meaningful but also light-hearted, and would be a fitting addition to any family gathering.

“Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon – Pop

 

“So you’ll always know, as long as one and one is two

There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you”

Slightly more upbeat but just as sentimental as the rest, this catchy tune goes with any father daughter occasion. The lyrics represent a sweet declaration of love from a father to his daughter.

“I’ll Always Be Your Baby” by Natalie Grant – Contemporary Christian

 

“You are my hero and that will never change

You still can dry my tears with just a smile”

This Natalie Grant song is a heartwarming tribute from a daughter’s perspective. The lyrics mention walking down the aisle, so this would be a great song for a wedding reception or engagement party.

“Daddy” by Beyonce – Contemporary R&B

 

“Because you loved me I overcome, yeah

And I’m so proud of what you’ve become, yeah

You’ve given me such security

No matter what mistakes I make you’re there for me”

In this R&B number, Beyonce reminisces about all the ways her father has been there for her over the years. If you truly admire your father, this is the perfect song as a token of gratitude to him.

“Zoe Jane” by Staind – Alternative Metal

“I wanna hold you, protect you from all of the things I’ve already endured

And I wanna show you, show you all the things that this life has in store for you

And I’ll always love you, the way that a father should love his daughter”

This beautiful song has a very powerful chorus that emphasizes just how much a father desires to protect his daughter. It’s a wonderful song for the dad who loves rock music and soulful lyrics.  

“Dance with my Daughter” by Jason Blaine – Country

“Gonna dance with my daughter

Spin her around under the lights

‘Cause I’m just a father making the most of this moment in time”

This sentimental, country tune emphasizes the importance of enjoying every moment while your daughter is growing up. Since it’s written from a father to his daughter, it would be best for a wedding or father daughter dance.  

“Fathers and Daughters” by Michael Bolton – Pop/Rock Ballad

“When times are hard I know you’ll be strong

I’ll be there in your heart when you’ll carry on

Like moonlight on the water, and sunlight in the sky

Fathers and daughters never say goodbye”

This emotional ballad is an appropriate choice for any milestone event, such as a graduation. It would be a guaranteed tear-jerker if sung as a duet, since it commemorates the eternal bond between a father and daughter.

“Cecilia and The Satellite” by Andrew McMahon – Alternative/Indie

“If I could fly, then I would know

What life looks like from up above and down below

I’d keep you safe, I’d keep you dry

Don’t be afraid, Cecilia, I’m the satellite

And you’re the sky”

This uplifting and modern tune is a poetic promise from a father to his daughter. It’s a delightful alternative song just right for a father daughter dance or birthday party playlist.

“I Loved Her First” by Heartland – Country

“From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me

I knew the love of a father runs deep, and I prayed that she’d find you someday

But it’s still hard to give her away, I loved her first”

This truly heartwarming song is a testament to the pride and protectiveness a father feels toward his daughter. It’s a sincere and moving choice for a father daughter dance at a wedding.

Each of these father daughter songs has its own unique way of honoring the love between a daddy and his little girl. Choose one of them for your special event, or combine all of them into one CD to give as a special gift to your father!

Are you musically talented? You can also consider learning to sing or play one of these beautiful songs to guarantee a memory that will last him a lifetime!

 

JasmineTPost Author: Jasmine T.
Jasmine T. teaches piano, academics, yoga, and more in San Diego, CA. She has her Power Yoga Level 1 200-Hour Certification, as well as a Certificate of Merit for Piano and Theory from the Music Teachers’ Association of California. Learn more about Jasmine here!
Why are music lessons so expensive

Super Easy Ways to Save up for Music Lessons [Infographic]

Why are music lessons so expensive

One common question asked by many aspiring musicians (and oftentimes, their parents) is: “Why are music lessons so expensive?”

There are a few main factors that contribute to the cost of music lessons. In this blog post, we’ll uncover what those factors are and then share 10 clever solutions that make saving up for music lessons easier than you think.

Why are Music Lessons so Expensive?

The average cost of private, in-home music lessons is $31.50 for a 30-minute lesson, according to this nationwide study by TakeLessons.

The average cost of online music lessons is a little more affordable, at $25 per 30-minute lesson. That comes out to $100 a month if you take one lesson per week.

While these rates might seem high at first glance, they make more sense when you take the following factors into consideration.

  • Music teachers are often self employed and don’t have the benefits of a salaried position
  • Many teachers factor in the time and expenses it takes to travel to your home for lessons
  • Music teachers take extra time to prep for each individual student prior to a lesson
  • Some teachers pay for their own studio and additional instruments for students
  • Teachers who are just starting out don’t have enough students to fill up a 9-5 work shift
  • If you live in a bigger city, the cost of lessons will be higher because there is more competition in the market

Now you know some of the reasons why music lessons are expensive. If the dream of becoming a better musician still seems distant because of your financial situation, keep reading for some easy ways to save up!

10 Easy Ways to Save Up for Music Lessons

Save $150 a month brewing at home

Are you an avid coffee drinker? If you find yourself making daily trips to your local cafe, one excellent way to save five dollars a day is to try brewing your coffee at home instead.

Consider it an opportunity to try out some new roasts, and a small sacrifice to have to make on your way to musical success. After just one month, you’ll be able to afford six online music lessons (at $25 per 30-minute lesson).  

Save $300 a month packing a lunch

The cost of eating out adds up quickly. Did you know that waking up just a little bit earlier than normal to prepare a lunch can save you hundreds every month? Or, an even easier option is to make some extra food for dinner the night before your work day!

At $10 a day in savings, you’ll have saved up the equivalent of 12 online music lessons by the end of the month.

Save hundreds on your commute

Driving your own car to work can cost you hundreds of extra dollars per month. Instead, try carpooling with coworkers, or if you live close to the office, try bike riding.

Another great idea that will also save you money on parking is to use public transportation, such as a bus or train. Any one of these options will save you hundreds in gas money per month, which you can gladly put toward music lessons instead.

Save $100 a month cutting cable

Many people who have cable find that they don’t actually use it enough to warrant the high monthly cost. If that sounds like you, consider cancelling cable and spending more of your free time on your hobbies.  

With $100 in monthly savings, you’ll be able to afford weekly music lessons after cancelling a cable subscription.     

Save $50 a month skipping the gym

No, we’re not giving you an excuse to stop exercising. Staying in shape is extremely important to your overall health. But instead of spending money on a gym membership, try going for a run or riding a bike at your local park instead.

With all the workout routines available on the internet, it’s easy to get in shape in the comfort of your own home, too! An average $50 monthly gym membership fee equates to two music lessons per month.

Save hundreds more with a rewards card

If you have a credit card that allows you to accrue rewards points with every purchase you make, why not redeem those points as cash and apply them to music lessons?

Rack up the points by using your credit card to pay for groceries, gas, and bills. Many credit cards don’t have a limit to how many points you can accrue or an expiration date on your points.

SEE ALSO: Private Lessons Don’t Need to be Expensive – Here’s How to Save

Save $100 a month staying sober

For some aspiring musicians, this saving strategy might seem like a lot to ask. But just like eating out, the cost of alcoholic beverages can add up very quickly.

Drinking a bottle of wine each week for example, can end up costing you around $100 a month. If you simply cross wine off of your shopping list, you’d be able to afford weekly online music lessons.

Save $50 a month doing your nails

For the ladies, getting a monthly manicure and pedicure will cost you a minimum of $50 a month. Do your own nails instead, or go au naturel, and you’ll be able to afford two additional online music lessons every month.

If you’re learning an instrument like guitar or violin, having short nails will help you hold down the strings much easier anyway!

Bundle up to save even more!

See if you can join a family plan if you currently just have a single line. Reevaluating your cell phone plan is an easy way to save money on your monthly bills.

If joining a plan with relatives isn’t an option, consider getting a group of friends together on the same plan instead. Splitting the cost of a plan with unlimited data is much more affordable than paying for it all on your own.

Pass on name brands

Every grocery store has its own line of products, and they’re usually cheaper than the big name brands we all recognize. A lot of times the ingredients in these products are exactly the same.

Skip name brand items at the grocery store to save up more money every week for music lessons. You can also apply this tip to shopping for clothes – every little bit helps.

Save the infographic below as a visual reminder and watch your savings add up!

 

Why are music lessons so expensive

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With the right tips and tricks, anyone can afford music lessons. Yes, music lessons can be expensive. But don’t let money stand in the way of you reaching your goals and dreams. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

Want one more way to make music lessons even more affordable? Start out with online group classes, as opposed to private lessons.

At just $19.95 a month for new students, TakeLessons Live offers group classes in many instruments and skills, from ukulele to music theory. Plus, you’ll get a whole month’s worth of classes for free when you sign up. Try it today!

 

Most unique instruments to learn

Top 10 Most Unique Instruments to Learn

Unique instruments to learn

Tired of fitting into the status quo? Want to impress and surprise your friends with something different? If piano and guitar seem boring to you, then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading as we share 10 of the most unique instruments to learn from across the globe.

Top 10 Unique Instruments to Learn

Bagpipes

Fun Facts About Bagpipes 

  • The bagpipe is a wind instrument that has been played for an entire millennium.
  • Although commonly believed to have originated in Scotland, historians believe it was first played in ancient Rome and Persia.

Finger Cymbals

Fun Facts About Finger Cymbals

  • Finger cymbals are also known as “zills.”
  • This set of four small, metallic cymbals is often used in belly dancing performances.

Banjo

unique instruments to learn - the banjo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts About Banjos

  • Not all banjos are alike – the instruments can have anywhere from four to six strings.
  • It’s now associated with country music, but the banjo was initially designed by the first African Americans.

Harmonica

Fun Facts About Harmonicas

  • The harmonica is also known as a French harp or mouth organ.
  • There are several different types of harmonicas, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass.
  • Because playing the harmonica helps promote deep breathing, it’s often used in physical therapy programs for pulmonary rehabilitation.

SEE ALSO: The 5 Easiest Instruments Perfect for Adult Learners

Accordion

Fun Facts About Accordions

  • An accordionist performs by expanding the instrument’s bellows while pressing down keys with both their right and left hands to play the melody and accompaniment.
  • The accordion is commonly used in Brazilian pop music.

Harp

Unique instruments to learn - the harp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts About Harps

  • The use of harps can be traced all the way back to 3,500 BC, but they gained popularity during the middle ages and renaissance period in Europe.
  • Harps vary in size – some are small enough to be played on your lap!

Oboe

Fun Facts About Oboes

  • Oboe is pronounced “oh-boh” and it stems from the French word “hautbois.”
  • This woodwind instrument is most commonly played in concert bands and orchestras.

Ukulele

Fun Facts About Ukuleles

  • One of the most popular unique instruments to learn, the ukulele originated in Hawaii before making its way to the mainland.
  • Multiple celebrities have picked up the easy-to-learn instrument, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ryan Gosling.

SEE ALSO: 15 Awesome Musical Instruments You Can Make At Home

Bassoon

unique instruments to learn - bassoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts About Bassoons

  • Like the oboe, this woodwind instrument is common in orchestras and concert bands.
  • The bassoon is known for its wide range and its sound is comparable to a male baritone voice.

Mandolin

Fun Facts About Mandolins

  • The most commonly played mandolin has eight strings and was first designed in Italy.
  • Considered an easier instrument to learn, the mandolin can be heard in country, folk, and bluegrass music.

Learn any one of these instruments and you’re sure to stand out from the crowd. With the right teacher, becoming a pro at banjo or mandolin is easy. Need help finding a music teacher who is experienced in an unusual instrument? You can easily search for a qualified music teacher here.

If you know of any more unique instruments to learn, leave a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

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music and autism

Music and Autism: The Benefits of Music for Special Needs Children

Music and Autism

More and more parents and teachers of special needs children are starting to realize the remarkable connection between music and autism. Research has shown that when autistic children interact with music on a regular basis, their communication and behavior improve.

Keep reading to learn more about how music affects autism, and how your special needs child can begin experiencing the benefits of music today.

Quick Facts About Autism

  • Autism is a developmental disorder that negatively affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with other people.
  • Symptoms of the mental condition, which begin to appear in children ages 2-3, can be reduced but not entirely cured.
  • Each child diagnosed with autism faces his or her own individual challenges.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that autism occurs in approximately one in 68 children in the United States.

The Surprising Connection Between Music and Autism

In the first reports of autism dating back to 1943, there are multiple references to autistic children’s musical ability and interest. Dozens of studies have been conducted since then that clearly show a strong tie between music and autism.

Although individuals with autism are slower to develop verbal communication skills, evidence suggests that they are actually able to process and understand music just as good if not better than their peers.

Specifically, autistic children have demonstrated advanced abilities in pitch categorization, memorization of melodies, and labeling of emotions in music.

Take 13 year old Jewels, for example. At three years old, Jewels was unable to speak or move his fingers. But with the help of music therapy sessions, he is now a talented pianist. Check out the video of Jewels below.

Playing piano didn’t just become a fun hobby for Jewels; it helped improve his behavior and develop fine motor skills. Learning to play an instrument can have numerous benefits such as these for autistic children.  

The Benefits of Music for Autism

Communication

The struggle of trying to communicate with an autistic child can weigh heavily on any parent or caregiver, but incorporating music into the child’s routine presents a ray of hope.  

Music interventions have been found to improve speech output among individuals with autism in the areas of vocalization, verbalization, and vocabulary. Singing can be especially helpful for teaching autistic children to effectively express their emotions.

Social Skills

A 2009 study showed that during play sessions with music, children with autism showed more social engagement with their peers than in those without music. How? Music encouraged the children with autism to interact in more appropriate ways with other children, including sharing and taking turns.

Behavior

Music can also be an avenue to improving an autistic child’s behavior by helping them learn to follow directions. A recent study found that music connects the auditory and motor parts of the brain. This helps autistic children better understand and obey verbal commands.

In another study of 41 children over a 10 month period, music therapy helped decrease negative behaviors such as aggression and tantrums.

Cognition

Teachers of autistic children often take advantage of the benefits of music for improving cognitive development. Music’s rhythmic patterns provide a structured way for autistic children to organize auditory information.

This makes music a very helpful tool for memorization and learning daily routines. With repetitive training, music can also help improve a child’s attention span.  

SEE ALSO: How to Find the Right Tutor for Special Needs Students

Emotions

Autistic children are more likely to experience anxiety than the average child. Introducing music into their routine helps increase their tolerance for frustration and decrease anxious behaviors. The repetitive and predictable rhythms of classical music are particularly beneficial for relieving anxiety.  

Introducing an Autistic Child to Music 

There are a couple different ways to introduce your child to the benefits of music for autism. Music therapy is one potential route. Music and Autism

The American Music Therapy Association defines it as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Music therapy is similar to physical therapy in the sense that a therapist will assess the individual and provide a unique treatment plan based on his or her needs. You can easily search online for a Board Certified music therapist in your area.

An alternative and often less expensive option is to sign your child up for private, in-home music lessons. With a tool like TakeLessons, it isn’t hard to find a qualified teacher who has experience working with special needs students.

Keep in mind that either option works best when done repeatedly over longer periods of time. Overall, the evidence supports that making music a consistent part of your child’s routine will not only be an enjoyable activity, but a key to unlocking their full potential.

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making time for hobbies

Here’s the Secret to Finding “Hidden” Time for Your Hobbies

making time for hobbies

“If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend your time?”

Your answer to that question can tell you a lot about yourself, and it’s fun to think about.

But the reality is: 24 hours is all you get. (Sorry!)

You can’t quit your job. You can’t ignore family commitments and responsibilities. If you want to learn a new skill, improve your current talents, or work toward a big learning goal, it’s up to you to make that happen. So how do you balance that with a busy schedule?

It’s simple: learn to budget your time the same way you budget your money.

Here are the steps you can take if you feel like you’re too busy to learn or take up a new hobby, proven to work by some of our top students.

1. Decide you WANT to learn.

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The first step to financial success is deciding to have a budget. And that budget is often dictated by your short- and long-term goals. Maybe you want to pay off your student loans or mortgage within five years. Or maybe you just want that new jacket you saw at Nordstrom.

Now let’s translate that into learning: what are your goals there? Do you want to be able to sing confidently in front of a group? Play guitar at a friend’s wedding? Speak Spanish fluently on an upcoming vacation? Write these down, and put them somewhere you can see them every day.

Excuses will always come up. And heck, life will sometimes get in the way. But if you’re excited about improving your skills, that’s the first step.

2. Be realistic.

finding time in your schedule for music lessons

You wouldn’t set a $300 budget for going out to eat if you only had $50 discretionary cash per week. Similarly, be realistic about the time you can commit to practicing and taking lessons.

If you’re juggling a busy schedule, a 30-minute lesson once per week may be all you can find time for. Or maybe you can’t even commit to that — fortunately, you can find teachers who are more flexible week-to-week, and rescheduling is always an option if something comes up.

Once you have your lesson time penciled in, then it’s time to schedule your practice time. But be realistic about that, too! You may not be able to practice for hours every day, and that’s OK. Even a short practice session will help you stay on track, if you make it efficient.

3. Find the right hacks.

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If you’re a super-budgeter, you probably know all the tricks. You hold out for great deals, look for coupons and discount codes, and so on.

Same goes for budgeting your time. If you break down your schedule, you may find you have extra time in your day for your hobbies. And yes, that may mean skipping the Netflix marathons, or cutting back on the time you spend browsing social media.

You were probably expecting that advice, right? But look: there are even more hacks you can try. Here are some ways TakeLessons students have made time for their hobbies:

  • Take online lessons. Ordering takeout for dinner is a great time saver. What if you could get music or language lessons delivered to the comfort of your home, too? Turn on your computer, pull up the TakeLessons Classroom, and you can meet with your teacher instantly — no travel time required.
  • Take advantage of your workspace. If your company allows it, consider taking your online lessons during your lunch break. If you prefer in-person lessons, find a teacher close by your work, so it’s not a hassle to get to. You can also use your time going to and from work. As a language learner, for example, you can practice listening to your target language during your commute!
  • Find a flexible teacher. If you need to reschedule a lesson every now and then, don’t stress. While a designated lesson time each week will help you stay accountable, we understand that things come up! If you have unique scheduling needs, feel free to use our Ask a Question feature before booking your lessons, to find a teacher who can accommodate.
  • Use your guilty pleasures to your advantage. Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be all work, no play! Musicians: jamming with community groups or going to karaoke is a fun way to add music to your day. Language students, consider changing the language settings when you’re watching TV, or pick a foreign movie with subtitles.

4. Adjust as needed.

practice guitar

Budgets ebb and flow — unplanned bills show up, salaries go up and down, and can’t-miss opportunities arise. The best financial advice is to stay flexible and adjust your budget often.

Similarly, sometimes the time you’ve budgeted doesn’t go as planned. We get it: life gets busy. So don’t beat yourself up if you need to reschedule a lesson or if you miss a practice session. Stay positive, and fit in what you can!

Planning ahead can help, as well. Work with your teacher to create a 15-minute practice routine, if you’re short on time one week. Or, make a list of ways to fit practice into your everyday life.

Even the most successful people have “off” days. Get back on track when you can, review your goals again, and envision where you’d like your skills to be in one year.

5. Pay yourself first.

pay yourself first

One of the best money tips out there is to pay yourself first.

What does that mean, exactly? In terms of finances, it means setting aside funds for your future self before anything else. (Think: emergency funds, retirement accounts, and so on.)

So, apply the same strategy to how you’re spending your free time. Want to stay sharp? Learning a musical instrument is linked to improved memory, concentration, and IQ. Want to get ahead in your career? In today’s job market, learning a second language will make you a more valuable employee, and may even lead to a higher salary.

Or maybe it’s a more personal goal. Many of the adult students we talk to mention they took music lessons as a kid, and wanted to bring that joy back into their lives.

So the question is… do you want to invest in yourself? When you think of it that way, making time for your hobbies seems like a no-brainer.

Readers, how do you make time for yourself? Have you ever felt like you were too busy to learn something new? Leave a comment below and share your experience! 

Photo by Will Foster

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Bad at Keeping Time? 6 Rhythm Exercises for All Musicians to Try

how-to-improve-your-rhythm

Do you struggle with keeping the beat? In this post, music teacher Heather L. shares six rhythm exercises that all musicians can try…

 

When’s the last time that you heard a musician perform live, either at a concert or online, and said to yourself, “Wow, her rhythm sounds really off. But she’s a phenomenal musician!”

I can’t remember, either.

That’s because a strong rhythmic sense is essential to being that phenomenal musician we all aspire to be, and we all can be! It’s part of what distinguishes an amateur from a pro.

Bad at Rhythm? You’re Not Alone

The very thing that those pros have is something called an internal sense of rhythm, which you can hone by tapping into your natural sense of a steady pulse. It’s like your own built-in metronome! It removes the need to tap your foot or rely on a drummer, or any other external time-keeper, for that matter.

It’s important to know that “rhythm” and “timing” mean slightly different things. “Rhythm” means the regular succession of strong and weak beats, but “timing” is your ability to keep a beat by yourself, especially within a group.

Lots of musicians struggle with both rhythm and timing, often because we choose pieces that are too complex for us at that current point in our musical journeys.

So remember your three S’s: Simple, slow, steady.

Simple are the pieces that you choose while you work to improve your rhythm, slow is the tempo that you should play the pieces, and steady rhythm is what we aim for!

If you struggle with rhythm and timing, your music teacher can help you with specific exercises and pieces to practice. In the meantime, here are the rhythm exercises that I recommend to my own students.

1. Record Yourself

  • Start simply. Choose a song that you know really well (think “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), and then choose a slow tempo.
  • Record yourself playing (or singing, if your instrument is your voice) it alone, without a metronome or any backup. Recording yourself gives you immediate and valuable feedback.
  • Listen to the recording. Are you confident that a stranger could tap to your beat? Are you speeding up or slowing down?
  • Tap or clap along with the recording. Keep a tally of how many times you got off the beat or hesitated.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not that steady. Just resolve to improve. Remember, this is just another skill to be learned!

2. March to a Pulse

This rhythm exercise might be the most fun — all you need to do is perform something physical to a pulse. If you like to dance, then dance along with the beat… and if you’d rather walk your dog, then go get the leash!

Physical movement matched to a pulse is called eurhythmics. This is the idea that music should be learned through all of the senses, including your kinesthetic (physical) awareness.

It’s best to create the pulse using a metronome. If you don’t own one, install a metronome app on your smartphone. I have one called The Metronome by Soundbrenner, but you can find lots of them in the App Store or in the Google Play Store.

The following video reveals a fascinating class in which eurhythmics is demonstrated. Notice that the students are creating movements that match rhythms. This is the fundamental idea. Keep watching, and you’ll see simple walking-to-a-pulse, dancing-to-a-pulse, and even punching-to-a-pulse!

3. Tap and Count

Find a recording of your favorite song, and clap your hands together with each count as you listen to it. You can also tap your leg, your guitar or piano, or a table. When you feel comfortable, add counting. Count “one, two, three, four,” or “one, two, three” depending on the time signature. Most songs have the feeling of three or four beats in each measure. Try both and see which one fits.

Remember, if it sounds like a waltz, then it probably has three beats per measure, but if it sounds like a march, then it probably has four beats per measure. Check out a video that demonstrates this exercise here.

4. Practice Subdividing

Now that you’ve counted the basic beat of your song, you’re going to subdivide. Learning how to subdivide is the basis of establishing that internal sense of rhythm, and later, just figuring out tough rhythms!

Subdivision is the practice of dividing the beats of a song into shorter beats. For instance, if you have a song that is made up of only quarter notes, to subdivide you might count “one, and, two, and, three, and, four, and…” instead of “one, two, three, four.” By subdividing, you’ve stopped guessing how long each beat is. I call it “naming the little baby notes.”

The following video visually details this rhythm exercise, but Dan also does a great job explaining it aurally.

5. Be an Apprentice

Find a friend, a neighbor, a band, or a great teacher with TakeLessons whose sense of rhythm and timing you really admire, and then find time to play with them. They’ll probably be flattered that you think of them so highly and be happy to help!

Here’s a terrific video of jazz piano great Chick Corea explaining his tips for getting better rhythmically, and this idea of apprenticeship.

6. Play with a Metronome

Now, take that song that you recorded before, set the metronome to a slow, steady beat again, and play along. But first, feel yourself settling in, letting your kinesthetic pulse — that internal sense of rhythm — sync with what you’re hearing.

Watch this video where the metronome is demonstrated on the piano. Even if you don’t play the piano, the instructor explains so simply that it will immediately make sense on your guitar, flute, or violin, or even your voice!

It’s been said that rhythm is not a series of dots, but of circles. As long as you hit the beat really close to the perfect spot, you’re okay. In fact, as humans, we’ll never be as exact as a metronome! And that’s great, because it creates a groove.

Being just a hair behind or ahead of the beat pulls the listener in, and frankly, keeps us from sounding like robots, or some computer program that makes music. It keeps us sounding human. Being human means being imperfect. And that’s just perfect.

Readers, what other rhythm exercises have helped you improve your skills? Leave a comment and let us know!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Learn more about Heather here!

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The Magic of Music 8 Musical Phenomena Explained

The Magic of Music: 8 Musical Phenomena Explained [Infographic]

Have you ever thought about how awesome music is? The joy of performing and listening to music forms a universal language that connects us across cultures and across time.

And yet despite how universal the experience of music is, there’s still a lot we don’t know about its effects on our bodies and minds. In fact, the famed anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once said that music is “the supreme mystery of human knowledge.”

Mysterious though it may be, scientists have discovered some interesting theories for the most common musical phenomena that we all experience. For example, why do songs get stuck in your head? What’s the effect of music on memory?

Check out the infographic below to discover 8 musical phenomena, and continue reading to find out more!

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1. Why do songs get stuck in my head?

Whether it’s a commercial jingle or an overplayed radio hit, you’ve likely experienced having songs stuck in your head. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as an earworm, and they don’t know all that much about it.

For one, it’s difficult to study: a song popping into your head can happen at random times. Moreover, it often happens when your mind is zoned out and focused on a repetitive task.

As you can imagine, these are not conditions that are easy to replicate in the laboratory!

What we do know: several scientific studies have shown that one of the biggest contributing factors to experiencing an earworm is listening to a song over and over in a short amount of time. Other studies suggest that the shape of your brain plays a part.

Ok, but how do you get that song OUT of your head? Other music may serve as a useful distraction, but one of the best cures may be to give in and listen to the song again.


2. Why does my voice sound different on recordings?

You’ve lost your phone (again), so you borrow a friend’s to call your own. It’s ringing… did you leave it on silent? You let it ring through to your voicemail, when all of a sudden — whose voice is that?

Scientists believe this phenomenon is because of the mechanics of your ear. When you speak, you hear your voice in addition to vibrations from your vocal cords passing through your throat and mouth into your inner ears. These vibrations are typically low frequency, which is what you’re used to hearing. When you record your voice, you only hear the air-conducted sound — which is why you might think you sound higher-pitched.

Test it yourself: As you’re speaking out loud, curl both hands behind your outer ears and pull them forward. This will allow more air-conducted speech sounds into the ear, changing the volume and timbre. For the opposite effect, try plugging your ears to hear only the bone-conducted sounds.


3. I’m bad at singing — am I “tone deaf”?

Not everyone has the courage to sing in public. Some even fear that if they so much as open their mouth, everyone in the room will cover their ears and glass will shatter!

But there’s a difference between being truly pitch-challenged and having an untrained singing voice. The inability to follow a tune or to differentiate between pitches is called amusia, and researchers say it occurs in about one out of every 20 people.

While brain scans have revealed some differences between people with amusia and people without, it’s hard to say which came first. It’s possible amusia is wired into the brain at birth, but it’s just as likely that a lack of musical training is to blame.

Are you really tone deaf? Learn more and take the tone deaf test.


4. Why are some people so bad at keeping rhythm?

Similar to the inability to hold a tune, some people find keeping rhythm a challenge. But before you try to excuse yourself from the dance floor citing auditory arrhythmia, keep in mind that the actual scientific condition of being “beat deaf” is even rarer than amusia.

In one study, researchers found only two people to be truly rhythmically challenged, out of a group of hundreds.

These “beat deaf” individuals had no trouble tapping out a beat in silence, but they couldn’t synchornize their movements with sounds. Scientists think this is due to an abnormality in brain connectivity and internal biological rhythms.

Bad at rhythm? Here are some great tips to improve from Easy Ear Training.


5. Why do I get chills when listening to music?

Ever felt chills while listening to a specific song? You’re not alone! Scientists call this musical frisson.

It’s little surprise to scientists that the experience involves dopamine release, the brain’s “feel-good” chemical. What did come as a surprise in this scientific study was that the emotional climax of a song was not actually the part responsible for musical frisson; it seems the anticipation of emotional release during the tension-building moments matters just as much as the eventual resolution in giving us that tingling feeling.

What song gives you the chills? Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is one of our favorites. More songs here.


6. Why do certain artists and songs bring back memories?

There are many experiences that prove the connection between music and memory. Listening to music can make you think of a time or place, and it can make you feel nostalgic for a past relationship. Similarly, music has been shown to deeply affect those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite significant research into the subject, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the connection. It’s challenging to study, since music blends emotional experiences with text and meaning — and these are stored differently in the brain. Emotional experiences are encoded as an episodic memory, and text and meaning is encoded as semantic memory. This is why sometimes you remember the title or lyrics of a song, but not the tune, and other times you remember the tune, but the words never make it past the tip of your tongue!

Music can also help you learn other subjects faster! Check out the research (and our playlist) here.


7. Does music really help you exercise?

Many people rely so much on music when exercising that when their phone or iPod runs out of battery, they are completely thrown off and can’t even complete their workout. And many professional athletes rely on a particular playlist to pump them up.

A recent scientific study on workout music reveals several explanations for this phenomenon. First, music serves as an important distraction from physical pain and fatigue.

Second, music can trigger your “rhythm response” — your body can’t help but move to the beat! This keeps your movement consistent and helps you use energy more efficiently.

What’s the BEST workout music, though? Check out this playlist from Fitness Magazine.


8. Why do I love listening to sad songs?

In addition to energizing us, music can lead to deeply personal emotional catharsis.

Psychologists pinpoint the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin as one reason we keep coming back to sad songs in particular. These hormones, involved in social bonding and nurturing, are also part of romantic attachment. Emotional identification with sad songs is an important part of our ability to empathize and bond with others.

What are the best sad songs to listen to? In a Rolling Stone readers’ poll, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” topped the list.


So there you have it — 8 musical phenomena that connect many of us. Whether you’re enjoying 400-year-old classical music, learning how to sing or play music, or jamming to the rap album that dropped last week, we all get an equal chance to participate in the many mysteries of music.

 

magic-of-music-david-heinenPost Author: David H.
David H. writes freelance psychology articles out of Milwaukee, WI, and has a passion for presenting a psychological perspective on any number of different topics. A veteran instrumentalist and a Tenor 2, David enjoys car singing and playing improv jazz in his free time.

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What If I’m Not Any Good? 4 Reasons We Put Off Learning New Skills

Vocal coach Terry Wood (left) works with 2010 Operation Rising Star winner Melissa Gomez during recording session at Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, Calif. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

Learning a new skill, exploring a new hobby, or working toward a big goal can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

The cycle is all-too-common. Maybe you buy a brand new guitar or a bunch of books in another language, and you’re pumped up to start learning! You noodle away for a while or thumb through some pages… and then the doubts start to creep in.

What if I have no musical talent? What if — after months of practicing Spanish — I still get nervous talking to a native speaker?

Those self-doubts can get the best of you if you let them…

… but you’re stronger than that, right?

We recently surveyed our readers to find out some of the common worries when it comes to taking lessons. Is it nerves? Is it fear that you won’t be any good? Do you feel clueless about what instrument to buy, or which supplies to invest in?

Here’s what we found out, followed by advice straight from current students for overcoming the most common concerns.

1) I’m worried I won’t be talented at my instrument, target language, etc.

This was one of the most popular responses in our survey. And we totally get it.

But here’s the brutal truth: you probably won’t be any good… at first. So here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • If you’re a total beginner, remember that teachers are used to this! As long as you’re motivated and excited about learning, that’s what your teacher wants to see.
  • Your teacher is also there to give you real-time feedback. If you’re trying to learn from prerecorded videos or books, you’ll miss out on that one-on-one help. With the right guidance and practice, you’re bound to improve your skills.
  • Learning just for fun? Even better! Try to think positively, and remember that even if you’re learning slowly, you’re still making progress.
  • Setting small and specific goals can help immensely. And don’t forget to celebrate when you reach them!

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2) I’m worried formal lessons will make learning boring.

Did your parents force you to take piano lessons as a child? Did you take a language class in high school or college to fulfill a credit requirement?

Here’s a little secret: even if you disliked these lessons or classes back then, making the decision to learn something on your own is a totally different experience.

Now is your chance to set your own goals. Are you learning a language for an upcoming vacation? Do you want to learn an instrument for fun, to keep your mind sharp? Take some time to think about your motivations.

Next comes the fun part. The great thing about working with a private teacher is that your lessons will be customized exactly for you. If you’re clear about your goals, your teacher will work with you to keep you motivated — so if you’re feeling bored, speak up!

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3) I’m worried I won’t have enough time to commit to learning, practicing, etc.

Ah, the common excuse: I don’t have time for lessons!

In reality, it’s just a matter of reorganizing your time to make room for your hobbies. We like to compare it to budgeting your money — and that starts with setting those specific (and realistic) goals, taking advantage of practice time you may be overlooking, and following the “pay-yourself-first” rule (learn more here).

Moreover, taking private lessons can actually keep you on track. Instead of wasting time on confusing online programs or watching tutorial videos out of order, your teacher will have a plan to ensure you’re making progress at the right pace.

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4) I’m worried my teacher won’t be a good match for me.

Yup, we get this one too. Working with the right teacher can play a big part in your learning experience.

Maybe you need someone who’s great with kids, if you’re booking lessons for your son or daughter. Maybe you want to work with a teacher who specializes in a certain genre, dialect, or style. Thousands of private teachers have joined TakeLessons, so you’re bound to find a great one.

So take a look, browse around, and let us know if you need some help. And don’t worry — you’re always covered by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

More tips here: The 7 Types of Learners & How to Find the Best Teacher For YOU

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OK, ready to take the next step?

You might still feel nervous — that’s OK. Even our pro teachers were in your shoes once. Heck, even Kurt Cobain, Misty Copeland, Mark Zuckerberg, and anyone else who inspires you was once a beginner. And look where they are now.

For the aspiring musicians out there, we’ll share one last piece of advice from Belinda M., one of our guitar students:

Learning to become a great musician is like the lottery… You can’t win if you don’t play!

How can you argue with that?

Photo By U.S. Army

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