banjo

Are Heavy Metal Banjos The Next Big Thing?

Loud, jangly, and twangy, the banjo is an instrument with a distinctive voice that immediately evokes the spirit of the American South. Long a mainstay of bluegrass music, banjos have recently been incorporated into pop music as well by bands like Mumford and Sons.

And, if YouTube trends are any indication, it looks like the banjo is making another genre shift!

A pack of viral videos featuring banjo covers of hard rock classics are making the rounds and proving that banjos can shred just as hard as guitars. Check out a few of our favorites:

“Thunderstruck” – Steve’n'Seagulls

“Raining Blood” – Rob Scallon

“Enter Sandman” – Iron Horse

What do you think? Do you want to hear more banjo? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Songwriting Tips | The Wisdom of a One-Of-Kind Song Title

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What’s in a name? If you’re looking for songwriting tips as you pen your next tune, check out this advice from Perth Amboy, NJ teacher Jeff S...

 

There is not one “right” or preferred way to write a song. It’s a very individual choice. Some songwriters start out with a patch of melody or a line or two of lyric as their creative catalyst. Others will initiate the songwriting muse with a unique and instantly-captivating song title or writing from their emotions. And in this ever-crowded, highly-competitive song placement marketplace, why wouldn’t you want to carve out an immediate attention-getting premise by coming up with a standout song title?

Having a compelling title and unique lyrical approach can instantly pique interest and generate listens, especially if your musical dreams extend to getting listened by decision-makers in the music industry. But even so if you just want your song and music video to stand out from the crowd on YouTube or other Internet sites where music can be posted. After all, isn’t generating listens and “likes” the initial goal of a yet-to-be discovered songwriter?

As a general guideline and one of the best songwriting tips, it is probably best to stay away from hackneyed song titles like ”I Love You” or “I Need You”. On the other end of the spectrum, it is also a wise idea to avoid leeching onto titles that are intrinsically and irrevocably linked with the artist who had a hit with them;. Such songs (and titles!) like Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, The Beatles’ “Yesterday”, Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”, Tom Petty’s “Freefallin’ ” Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”, and Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” are just a few that fall under this iconic (and therefore untouchable) category. They are so woven into the pop cultural fabric that it would be fool’s gold to try to re-excavate them.

It’s also imprudent and unoriginal to glob onto more modern (yet also seminal) song titles like Amy Winehouse’s ”Rehab”, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” or Beyonce’s, “If I Were A Boy”.

So how you know when a song title is truly original and unique? Well, first I would trust your gut feeling about that. But there is an amazing (and free!) resource that you can use as a litmus test for your song title’s originality. Just go to iTunes and type your song title into the iTunes search engine and see how many other songs pop up with that same title. If it’s fewer than 10, then you probably have a very original title. But if 100 or more song titles come up with your title, then I’d give serious thought into putting your creative time, studio time, and hard-earned money into a demo or a master recording.

Besides iTunes, there are some other fantastic sources you can utilize to get a fix on the creative uniqueness of your song titles. The major performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) all have super extensive databases. ASCAP has the ACE Title Search. On the BMI site, look for the word search at the top of their home page. SESAC has a repertory search at the bottom of their home page. No matter what title you come up with, have fun and try to find a previously unexplored approach to your title and craft it into something that is truly you! This is the best songwriting tip to keep in mind. Remember — it’s never a bad idea to be as original as you can. Happy and successful title-finding and songwriting!

JeffSJeff S. teaches guitar, ukulele, speaking voice, songwriting and more in Perth Amboy, NJ, as well as online. Jeff has created and taught songwriting and music business classes at colleges, universities, and music schools throughout the country for many years. Learn more about Jeff here! 

 

 

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Learn to Play the Flute: Your Top Challenges, Resolved!

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Want to learn to play the flute or improve your existing skills? Check out these helpful tips from New York flute teacher Nadia B...

As you learn to play the flute, you may encounter some challenges as you grow, learn, and improve. Read on to discover the most common issues I see my flute students facing, and tips to overcome them so you can play at your best.

“I don’t have enough air to play that passage!”

While you may feel that you don’t have enough air, you usually have enough, or even too much. As you play a long phrase and feel the air being used up, your mind usually takes over and reminds you that you still have to make it to the end, so you had better start squeezing out the air… that’s where the problem comes in. If you try to squeeze out the air, you are contracting lots of large, powerful muscles, which actually prevents you from using up the rest of the air inside the body. Then, you may gasp a breath of air at the end of that long phrase without having used up all the air you already had, creating an issue for the next phrase.

Here’s the way out of this vicious cycle: We actually don’t need as much air as we think we do. So when you’re getting ready to start a phrase, don’t gasp in air, or try to tank up. Just let some air naturally flow in (after all, when we have finished up the air inside of us, our bodies automatically respond to make room for air and bring it into the body) and then begin playing the phrase. Your body-mind knows how to manage the air based on the length of the phrase. If you feel like you’re starting to run out, sense the ground underneath you and see if you can allow your body to expand rather than contracting and collapsing in your body to squeeze the air out.

“The flute feels like it’s slipping” or “My pinky finger or thumb hurts from gripping to hold onto the flute.”

Finding a hand position that is effective, comfortable, and sustainable is the key. Too often I see students clenching the flute for fear of dropping it and developing hand pain or fatigue as a result.

It’s important to know that the flute is not just supported by the fingers. (Even if it were, our fingers are longer than most people realize—they start at the base of the hand.) To find a more supportive position, we can visualize a connection between our hands and our back, with our arms as the conduit. You can imagine your arms growing out of your back, and letting the fingers lengthen as the hand touches the flute. This gives you much more support for the flute, so that your back is doing the ‘heavy lifting’ rather than the hands.

Next, find a book and hold it with the fingers stretching out across the front or back cover of the book, and the thumb stretching out across onto the opposite cover. Imagine the fingers connecting to the thumb through the book. This relationship of the fingers and the thumb when holding a book is similar to how we should hold the flute. When the lines of the fingers and thumb in each hand are roughly parallel (but not held straight, simply curving and arched naturally) as we hold our flutes, this eliminates a lot of extra contorting and tightening of the fingers.

These two fundamental ideas should help you find a hand position that feels, looks, and ‘sounds’ better!

“My sound is fuzzy/thin/airy.”

Developing good tone is crucial since a clear, rich, and flexible sound allows us to have a wide range of tone color for expression. Most flute students try to manipulate tone quality by making changes to their embouchure.

While the embouchure is undoubtedly important, sometimes we can become preoccupied with it and forget that the sound depends on the quality of the whole body. When the body is free and open, there’s more room for the sound to resonate through us, which is infinitely better than a sound that is produced in the throat, cut off from the rest of the body by excessive tension and manipulated by too many changes in the embouchure. As you learn to relax your body, your embouchure will naturally respond to make the changes needed to facilitate a change in color, dynamic, or range.

To try this out, play a long tone and see if you can imagine the sound traveling all the way through your body. Mentally scan your body to see if there is muscular gripping anywhere in the body that is blocking the passage of the sound. After all, sound is vibration, and vibration needs space to occur.

With these ideas, your practice will be easier and more enjoyable!

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

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Writing

How to Write Lyrics: Steps to Success for Any Musical Style

Writing

Interested in learning how to write lyrics and songs? Here, New Jersey guitar teacher Matthew H. explains an easy 3-step process to follow… 

Songwriting is not easy; just ask any composer or lyricist. While the musical composition is highly important (making sure the melody is catchy without sounding too trite), having a strong, relatable message to go along with a great tune is just as, if not more, important. Here are some tips on how to write lyrics for a good song.

1) What is the story?
Too often, songwriters worry about the rhythmic structure or rhyme of the lyrics when they first should be focused on the whole point of a song: storytelling. It doesn’t matter if you are adding lyrics to existing music, creating music for the lyrics, or doing both simultaneously, you have to have a story to tell. Start small. What do you want the overall point or moral of the song to be? How should a listener feel after hearing it? Common examples include: falling in love, missing someone, feeling liberated, and so on. Once you choose a starting point, expand upon it, but write down the story as if it were prose rather than a song. For example: I miss my brother ever since he moved out of the country. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to and I feel like a part of my life will not be the same as a result. I wish things were the way they used to be when we were younger and living together at home.

2) Make your story musical.
Now that you have an outline of how you want the song’s story to play out, set it to music. Even if you don’t have a solid sense of the entire orchestration or final production elements, play around with different melodic structures and rhythms. Taking our missing brother example from before, figure out which specific words need to be stressed. If you’re working on the hook and you decide that the sensation of “nostalgia” takes precedence over everything else, then be sure to make that clear within the chorus with either a very clever line (avoid clichés like comparing his absence with death) or a sustained syllable within a strategic word (the o in home, for instance). A good rule of thumb is to never marry any idea right off the bat; the best way to write lyrics is to be flexible. In doing so, you’ll avoid any problems you might encounter if you insist on having a specific line a certain way.

3) Don’t be afraid to make some changes!
Test out your song. Does the story make sense? Do the lyrics flow well with the music? Would everything suddenly sound much better if you switch out one word with another? These are the things you need to look for after developing your perspective and making it melodic. If you’ve been working on the song for a long time, take a break. Your ears and mind will need a distraction. After a couple days or a week even, try listening to what you have and make any necessary changes that jump out at you after having taken some time to separate yourself from your creation.

When songwriting, you really are baring your soul for the world to see (and hear) in an extremely vulnerable way. If you follow the advice above on how to write lyrics, you will find the words resonate deeper than the generic pop schlock that typically permeates the radio’s Top 40.

MatthewHMatthew H. provides tutoring in various subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ.  He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here! 

 

 

 

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All in Order: Tricks for Identifying Key Signatures

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What are the “keys” to identifying different key signatures? Read on for some great tips from Tucson, AZ teacher Lourdes C

In reading music, there are a few things that give musicians the biggest headaches. One major migraine-maker is determining keys from the key signature and then remembering the order of sharps and flats. This chart gives musicians a quick way to help with identifying key signatures.

Key Signatures at a Glance

Major sharps: the name of the key can be found at 1 semitone above the last sharp.

Minor sharps: the name of the key can be found at 2 semitones below the last sharp.

C has no accidentals

A has no accidentals

G: F# + 1 semitone = G…

E: F# – 2 semitones = E…

D: F#, C#

B: F#, C#

A: F#, C#, G#

F#: F#, C#, G#

E: F#, C#, G#, D#

C#: F#, C#, G#, D#

B: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#

G#:  F#, C#, G#, D#, A#

F#: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#

D#: F#, C#, G#, D# A#, E#

C#: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

A#: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

Major flats: the name of the key can be found at 7 semitones above the last flat.

Minor flats: the name of the key can be found at 4 semitones above the last flat.

F: Bb + 7 semitones = F…

D: Bb + 4 semitones = D…

Bb: Bb, Eb

G: Bb, Eb

Eb: Bb, Eb, Ab

C: Bb, Eb, Ab

Ab: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db

F: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db

Db: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb

Bb: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb

Gb: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb

Eb: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb

Cb: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb

Ab: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb

Written Order of Accidentals and Example Key Signatures

Figure 1Let’s work on identifying key signatures by looking at the image above. The last flat in this case is F (Fb is E, in enharmonic spelling). From Fb, count up 7 semitones (half-steps) and keep the enharmonic spellings for E and B (Fb and Cb, respectively): Fb -F-Gb-G-Ab-A-Bb-Cb (B) – key of Cb major. Count four semitones up and you get Ab minor, the relative minor of Cb. Even if you don’t know the mode, either major or minor, by using this key signature method, you will always be able to find the major and relative minor for any signature you encounter.

Figure 2

This next key signature has one accidental. Avoid assuming that this is Bb major or minor. This is actually Fb major. Fb minor is actually E minor, which is a sharp key. This method will help you work through the Circle of Fifths and understand the relationship between tonal arrangements in keys.

Other Problems to Avoid

Accidentals (sharps and flats symbols) are written in descending order from top right to bottom left on the staff. So, knowing the last flat or sharp requires that you remember the order of sharps and flats, because on the staff, the last accidental may appear higher than the first, which can trick you into thinking it’s the first accidental. This is Bb major, as an example:

Figure 3

Mnemonic for the Order of Sharp and Flats

The order of flats is BEADGCF (“bead” – gcf). A good mnemonic is “bead the G clef from middle C to the F clef”. If you can remember that, just know that for sharps, it will be backwards: FCGDAEB. If you remember only that mnemonic and the counts in the chart above, you’ll always be in the right order and you can identify keys by their signatures alone with just a little practice. To practice, find any good graphic image for the Circle of Fifths and try this for yourself! Happy music-making!

LourdesLourdes C. teaches various music subjects and tutors in Tucson, AZ. Her doctorate is in Applied Linguistics and American Indian Studies. She has been an instructor and tutor for over 20 years for academics, research methods, languages and literature, and music as well. Book in-person or online lessons with Lourdes here!

 

 

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write a song

How To Write a Song Today: 4 Easy Steps

write a song

Learning how to write a song is easier than you think! Greeley, CO teacher Andy W. outlines the steps here… 

Don’t you wish you could write a song that tells your own story – whether it’s about love, hardships, or finding humor in life? There’s no reason that you can’t do that today! To help get you started, here are four easy steps to writing your own song:

1. Play chords or a riff.
2. Sing or hum over the harmony.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 to form a chorus and then a bridge.
4. Place the song sections in this order: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus

1. Play chords or a riff.

Play chords that you know sound good together. You can use what you know of music theory to help think of possible chords. One of the most common chord progressions is I, IV, V, which would be C, F, G in the key of C.

Another approach is to forget about all that theory and just play chords that sound new and good to your ears. This is a great way to make a song sound like your own.

2. Sing or hum over the harmony.
Start by singing syllables without words. When Paul McCartney originally wrote “Yesterday,” instead of saying “all my troubles seem so far away,” he sang “Scrambled eggs, oh my darling you’ve got lovely legs.” Likewise, when Stevie Wonder first wrote “Superstition,” instead of singing “writing on the wall,” he sang “wash your face and hands.” If they write lyrics this way, so can you! Then once you have a basic melody, it can be much easier to add lyrics.

3. Repeat steps 1-2 to form a chorus and then a bridge.

Here is a general breakdown for what each section of your song should look like:

  • Verse: The verse should tell a story. Use it to describe a scene, an emotion, or something in detail. This section can rhyme but it doesn’t have to.
  • Chorus: The chorus should be very simple and repetitive. Try to make a hook that people can‘t get out of their heads. Here are a few examples of songs with memorable choruses: Beatles – All You Need Is Love; Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe; Eric Clapton – Layla
  • Bridge: The bridge is a common addition to a song that keeps the listener engaged by going into new territory. It‘s often used as an instrumental section where solos can occur. Changes in the chords, key, tempo, dynamics, or instrumentation are common.

Here are two additional song sections that are commonly used:

  • Pre-Chorus: The pre-chorus is typically a transition between the verse and chorus. Another approach can be to use the pre-chorus in place of a chorus for the first half of a song. This allows you to save the chorus for a big climax toward the end.
  • Intro and Outro: Intros and outros can be instrumentals or feature lyrics that introduce or develop the main idea of the song.

4. Place the song sections in this order: Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus

This is a very common structure for pop songs. Examples of songs that use this structure are: Otis Redding – Dock of the Bay; Incubus – Drive; John C. Mellencamp – Jack and Diane

By playing chords, singing over them, making multiple sections, and finally ordering these sections, you can quickly and easily write a song today! Congratulations! As you continue to write, avoid writer’s block by doing these steps without judging yourself and your abilities. You can do it. Happy songwriting!

AndyWAndy W. teaches guitar, singing, piano, and more in Greeley, CO. He specializes in jazz, and has played guitar for 12 years. Learn more about Andy here!

 

 

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saxophone lesson

Tips for Parents: 4 Ways to Help Your Child in Music

saxophone lesson

Not sure how to encourage your child in between his or her music lessons? Show your support with the following strategies from Nashville teacher Dave L.:

So your child has begged you for music lessons, chosen an instrument, and is about to begin this new and exciting journey in music… what now? You’ve just paid a bunch of money for an instrument, instruction books, accessories… you’re considering the time and money it’s all going to take in order for them to do this… what ELSE can you as their parent or guardian possibly do for your child to help them succeed in their musical journey that the teacher CANNOT provide? This article will give you a checklist of options. The main assumption is only that your child is important to you (obviously!) and you already provide them with a living space some or all of the time. The final assumption is that we as the teacher/parent team want your child to be successful their endeavors.

So what’s first?

1. Help your child create a special music area. This could be an extra room or their own room. Include items such as a music stand, metronome, perhaps an instrument stand, a place to keep their instruction books, and also an audio source such as an iPod or CD player. This space should be a place where they can play uninterrupted away from outside distractions like their cell phone, pets, friends, and siblings. It should also be an area that is kept clean (by the student) – once kids see the value in maintaining this type of area as their own, they’ll take pride in ownership, which will spill over into their learning.

2. Understand that interest = practice, and not necessarily the other way around. You obviously want your child to practice as much as his or her teacher does. But neither the teacher nor you as the parent can truly force the student to do this while also expecting them to find enjoyment in playing music. The student must develop an intrinsic motivation to do this. Help your child create a practice schedule that fits with their daily activities – if they’re a beginner, 15 minutes a day is a great start. While they’re practicing, peek in once or twice as more of a “fan” or audience member. Show interest and ask open-ended questions about what they’re doing, like “Wow, that sounded really cool – how are you making that sound?” or “Can you show ME how to hold the instrument?”  - then all of a sudden the student gets to “play teacher” for a minute and show you what they’re learning, which only strengthens the learning process for them.

3. Help your child create a fun music library that incorporates the instrument they’re playing. Ask your child’s teacher for recommendations if you aren’t sure. Also, bringing them to live concert events that feature a soloist or group playing the instrument of study is a great way to motivate your child. This may also be a nice way to introduce them to music that is exciting to you, as well!

4. Encourage discovery. Allow your child to make his or her own discoveries in music as often as possible. This encourages independence, confidence, and motivation. So many times I see parents come down hard on their kids for not practicing, or smothering the child with criticism, many times with all good intentions (impress the teacher, progress faster, etc.). But it’s my opinion that this approach isn’t best. We want to help them reach their OWN goals. The discovery in this case may be that music just isn’t what interests them – which is OK! Other students will discover a brand new love for life through music and along the way continue to learn about the world, themselves, and humanity. I believe it’s our job as educators and parents to help our youth find exactly what they’re looking for. Music is just one of MANY vehicles we can use.

Thanks for reading!

DavidJDave L. teaches clarinet, flute, music performance, music theory, piano, and saxophone lessons in Nashville, TN. Dave holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The University of Central Florida, and is currently the touring keyboardist/saxophonist for Platinum-selling band Sister Hazel. Previously he toured with artists such as 80s pop icon Tiffany and Grammy-nominated vocalist John Berry. Learn more about Dave here!

 

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piano practice

Making Practice FUN – 2 Ways to Spice Things Up

piano practice

Is practicing your instrument becoming more of a chore than an enjoyable pastime? Check out these tips from Hayward, CA and online teacher Molly R. for making practice fun and getting out of the rut:

 

Sometimes as students and teachers, we lose sight of some pretty important things in music making: personality… and plain FUN!

Sure, there may be a handful of musicians out there that wow with their impeccable technique. But is that really enough? Think of yourself as an audience member for a moment and ask yourself which performances are the ones you really remember: the ones that appeared flawless, or those that touched you in some way?

We should ask ourselves the same thing as a musician in our day-to-day lives. Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be interesting? It all starts in the studio or practice room.

Here are some ways to get out of your head and to start bringing the fun back into making music:

  • Are you a singer? Well, if you’re learning a “serious” aria, why not sing it in the style of Katy Perry or Beyonce? Why not rap it? Instrumentalists… the same applies to you! Say you’re doing a jazz or classical piece that’s pretty difficult . Stand up and rock it Jerry Lee Lewis style and really use your body and attitude (no one’s looking! Go, Killer, go!).
  • How about our basic warm ups? Those don’t have to be boring, either. Sing your scales using nonsense words. Swing the rhythms! Dance or sway or stomp and clap. Make funny faces. Use your imagination – the options are limitless!

Now after you have done some of these “crazy” (but hopefully fun!) things, sing or play as “you.” Record yourself. Are you amazed at the difference? You should be. Something magical just happened. By allowing yourself to cut loose , you will do wonders for your singing and playing. When the mind relaxes, so does the body!

As I tell my students, practicing should NEVER be a chore. There are plenty of ways for making practice fun by mixing it up and simply playing. My rule is “first, make it fun.”  After all, isn’t that why you got into music in the first place?

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

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Music is a universal language

Music is a Universal Language: The Truth About Learning It

Music is a universal language

You’ve likely heard the saying “Music is a universal language.” If that’s the case, then how should we be teaching it? How can you effectively learn the language? Read on as Aurora, CO teacher Zach S. explores the idea… 

I recently was able to go to a master class taught by Victor Wooten, and he brought up something that is not talked about nearly as much as it should be in music. Music is a language. Now what does that mean? It means that music has rules (music theory) just as languages do (grammar), and that music can be used to communicate with others.

I will go more in depth into those two aspects of music as a language, but if you read one thing from this post, this should be it: You do not learn a language by studying grammar all day, you learn a language by talking and by listening. The same approach should be taken to music – learn to talk (play) but also learn how to listen.

Communicating with Music
I love music theory. I have studied it for seven years and it is my favorite class in college right now. With that being said, there are a lot of problems with the way music is being taught. When handed an instrument the first thing I am told to do is learn to play scales. Why? There is nothing musical about scales. I am not able to communicate with a scale, just as I am not able to communicate by saying the ABCs.

The first thing we teach a child when they are learning how to speak is a word, but in music the first thing we teach a student is a scale. Why not teach the student how to communicate? Why not teach them how to express themselves first and then teach them how it works second? What I do with students in their first lesson is have them play. I don’t care what, I don’t care how, I just want to see what they have to say. Then I play back, and by the end of our lesson we are able to communicate and my student has learned how to say something with his instrument. That is why they came to me in the first place, to learn how to talk with their instrument. Why not teach the student that first?

Learning How Communicating With Music Works
Now this is where music theory comes in. After a little bit of communicating with music, we start to learn why it works. Just as toddlers start to learn grammar in grade school. It is not the FIRST thing that is taught, but it is still taught. One can communicate without any knowledge of grammar, but the ideas one can get across are simple. As one learns more grammar they are able to get more and more complex ideas across to the listener.

This is why one should learn scales – not to be able to play through them at rapid fire, but to be able to use the scale to get a more complex idea across. Let’s take my main instrument, for example, which is bass guitar. I can hang out on the root of a chord and I will sound good. I then can add in some different rhythms to give it my own little flair. That is with one note, but if I learn the scale that goes with the chord, then six more notes open up. I am able to get a more complex idea across just because I have studied the grammar behind music. This is why music theory is important to allow musicians to better express themselves.

Conclusion
Music is a universal language. Everyone feels something from music, so that should be the first thing taught to students – how to communicate using your instrument, how to be in a band, and how to contribute to the sound. That should be the first thing taught by a teacher. Then it is the teacher’s responsibility to open up the vocabulary of the student, to allow the student to be able to say more, and say something complex. Music is taught backwards currently; we teach students the grammar and then hope they stay with it long enough to the point were they are allowed to say something. Let’s teach student how to say something first, then worry about the grammar behind music.

Thank you for reading!

Zach S.Zach S. teaches music theory and bass guitar in Aurora, CO. He is currently a Music Major at CU Denver, and has played bass guitar and studied music theory for seven years. Learn more about Zach here!

 

 

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5 Easy Ukulele Songs For Summer

5 Easy Ukulele Songs to Play This Summer

5 Easy Ukulele Songs For Summer

Nothing says Summer quite like the sound of a ukulele! With the days getting longer and the mercury rising, now is a great time to pick up a uke and make a splash at this season’s barbeques, bonfires, and pool parties.

Even if you’ve never picked up an instrument before, getting started on the ukulele is fun, easy, and inexpensive. You can find a decent starter ukulele at your local music shop for around $40, plus there are tons of resources available online to help you strum your first chord.

For starters, check out these great YouTube tutorials. We picked out five of our favorite easy ukulele songs to get you strumming this Summer:

1. “I’m Yours” – Jason Mraz

This mellow favorite has just 4 easy chords: C, G, Am, and F. Get familiar with this chord progression now, because you will be it to play tons of songs in the future! The strumming pattern might take  you some time to master, so feel free to pause the video and go as slow as you need to.

2. “You Are My Sunshine” – Jimmy Davis 

Using just three chords, C, F, and G, you can play this instantly recognizable classic tune. With a little luck, you might even get a sing-along going!

3. “Stand By Me” – Ben E. King

Who doesn’t love singing along to “Stand By Me”? Once you master the strum pattern, this song is a piece of cake.

4. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers

Remember the chords from “I’m Yours”? Play with them in a different order and you’ll be strumming “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. I told you that chord progression would come in handy!

5. “Twist and Shout” – Bert Russell and “La Bamba” – Mexican Folk Song

This is technically song five and six on our list, because with one chord progression you can play two easy ukulele songs!

For more help with your new uke, private lessons with a great ukulele teacher can’t be beat! Your teacher can help you learn good technique, show you how to tune your instrument, and give you live feedback on how you’re doing. Getting started with lessons is easy, and your teacher will be able to tailor your lessons so you learn what you really want to play. To get started, search for your perfect teacher now!

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Photo by Alex