learning music

Are You Taking the Right Approach to Learning Music?

learning music

Can you learn to sing on your own? Can you learn piano with online videos? Find out what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to learning music, in this post by guitar teacher Kirk R...

 

Dreaming of playing an instrument, or learning to sing? These days, there are many different ways to get started with music.

You could take private lessons. You could play in groups, whether that’s in school, group classes, or just jamming with friends. You could even start learning on your own through observation, or search for prerecorded video or audio lessons.

But what’s the most effective way to learn? You might be surprised to learn that it’s NOT the options listed above.

That is, not on their own.

Let’s take a look at each one, and the benefits and drawbacks they present.

Learning On Your Own

Spending time with your instrument on your own is essential to getting better. Anyone you ask about learning music will surely support your own private practicing and desire to learn new things outside of classes, lessons, and rehearsals.

I recommend reading books and blog posts (like you’re doing now, good job!) and listening to other musicians, even those from other instruments or styles. Doing so will help you recognize what you like and what you don’t like.

However, if you’re not around other musicians regularly, it becomes very easy to let your playing get way off track. Your brain can trick you into thinking the sound you’re making or hearing is the same as the sound you tried to create, even if it’s not. And if this goes unchecked, it can lead down a long path of mistakes until one day you play for someone and they don’t recognize the song at all!

It’s important to have a regular “check-up” for your playing. Even professional musicians get together regularly to play for someone else! As a beginner, working with a private music teacher is key.


Consider This: Is it Possible to Teach Yourself to Sing?

While learning notes or chords on your own on the guitar can be a great starting point, singers trying to learn on their own tend to struggle.

Why’s that? Learning how to use your instrument (your voice!) is a whole-body experience, which often requires the instruction of a teacher, whether online or in-person, who can easily identify the root issues — whether that’s poor posture, unsupported breathing, or something else.


“Canned” Music Lessons

The internet is a huge part of our society now and I think it is a huge advantage to musicians everywhere. You can find tons of videos and online courses, and these types of lessons are a great way to gain some knowledge.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that prerecorded videos don’t tell you if you’re doing something wrong, let alone what it is. Similar to learning on your own, mistakes can easily become habits. I have had guitar students who learned chords on their own, and in their first lesson actually played all the chords upside down. Needless to say, it didn’t sound great, but they were used to hearing it and didn’t even notice the mistake.

If you want to learn the notes or chords for a specific song, YouTube is a great option. But if you’re looking for lessons with substance, steer clear of prerecorded lessons. The reason? These videos assume your prior knowledge of music, which isn’t always effective.

Learning music is not a linear process; in fact, teachers don’t always agree on the order certain things should be taught. Often, it depends on the particular student and their goals. This is why working with a teacher — who can create personalized lesson plans for you — makes a huge difference.


Consider This: Can you Really Learn Piano Online?

Many students are leery of online piano lessons. After all, how can a teacher properly see what you’re doing with your fingers and if you’re placing your hands correctly?

Fortunately, the answer is yes — and online lessons are a great option for many students. Experienced teachers know how to angle their camera so you can see their hands clearly, and will direct you to adjust yours so they can provide feedback. Just remember the advice above: don’t rely on canned video tutorials alone!


Group Music Classes

Learning to play music with others is essential for any musician of any style. Collaborating with other musicians will force you to pay attention to details, like precise rhythms and a careful balance in volume, which may sneak past you when playing on your own.

Many beginner students get their start in band or orchestra, and many adult students, too, flock to group classes because it’s less daunting than private lessons. However, I don’t recommend relying on group sessions alone if you really want to improve. The reason behind this is that with group classes, you will receive little, if any, individual help.

Likewise, more advanced musicians shouldn’t rely on jamming with friends to improve their skills. Other musicians may be able to share some skills, but even good players often make terrible teachers! Learn from them, but be cautious not to pick up bad habits or get frustrated if you’re not able to pick up something right away; perhaps your friend took a subtle skill for granted and didn’t think to explain it as an experienced teacher might.


Consider This: How to Find Musicians Near You

If you’re taking private lessons, but missing the group component, don’t fret!

Younger students, consider attending band or orchestra camps in the summer to get ensemble practice. Older students, try asking your teacher to put together jam groups, or search through the myriad websites for finding musicians near you to jam with. We like Jamseek, Bandmix, and MeetUp!


Private Music Lessons

Individual lessons are a great starting place (and continuing place!) for almost any musician. Since your teacher is right there observing you, you’ll get feedback in real-time. And that can save you a lot of time searching on your own. In the midst of trying to get the right pitches, rhythms, and articulations, identifying when something is going wrong on your own can be nearly impossible, even for more advanced players.

The only drawback to individual lessons, however, is that you only receive one perspective on your playing: your teacher’s. However good the teacher is, as a musician and a teacher, they have only one perspective of many.


Consider This: How Do I Find the Best Music Teacher?

A simple search on TakeLessons can pull up tons of teachers for guitar lessons, piano lessons, and more. But how do you find the right teacher for your needs, goals, and schedule? We’ve got you covered. Check out our tips here.


So, How SHOULD You Be Learning Music?

Now that we’ve reviewed these four options for learning music, here’s my point: to really improve your skills, you need to combine all of the methods above. Here’s what I recommend:

  • If you’re a part of a group class at school or in the community, sign up for private lessons as well to get individual help.
  • Same goes for if you’re working your way through a prerecorded course or relying on videos. Take some time each week to meet with a teacher, to make sure you’re on the right track. With online music lessons, you don’t even need to leave your house! Review what you’ve learned in your course, and get their feedback on your technique.
  • If you’re already taking private lessons, see if your teacher can connect you with other students to get some group experience. Most teachers will be thrilled to hear that you’re interested in collaborating with other students!
  • Keep practicing and learning on your own, too. Treat practice like a lesson that you give yourself. If you’re not sure what to do to improve something, try searching online, or simply experiment! Ask yourself, “What if I use this finger? Or if I breathe here, instead?”

Have you been playing music for a while now? We’d love to hear what ways you went about learning. Leave a comment below and share your story! 

Photo by Daniel Davis

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelor’s degree in guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

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Rosita R.

The 7 Types of Learners & How to Find the Best Teacher For YOU

Rosita R.

No matter how far your education has taken you, you’ve likely had a lot of teachers over the course of your life.

Elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers and beyond; each year brought one (or more) teachers and mentors into your life. Maybe you even had Little League coaches or camp counselors along the way.

When it comes to private lessons, though — whether you want to learn music, languages, fitness, or something else — it’s a whole new ballgame.

You select the teacher, tutor, or coach you want to learn from. And that can be a little overwhelming!

Fortunately, finding a good teacher for music lessons or otherwise — the perfect person to help you or your child — doesn’t have to be hard. But it does take some reflection and research.

Finding a Great Tutor or Teacher with TakeLessons

To begin, let’s pinpoint who you are, what you want, and what you need. Out of the options below, which do you identify with? Start your search at TakeLessons with the lesson type and your zip code, and we’ll help you find a tutor or teacher who’s the perfect fit.

Want to find your teacher faster? Call our team at 877-231-8505 and we can help!


The “Schedule-Challenged” Student


We get it: life can get busy! Whether you’re working around a 9-to-5 office job, or you’re a parent juggling your child’s extracurriculars, we know some students need a specific timeslot — no exceptions. On the flipside, if your schedule is constantly in flux, you may want a teacher who can offer you more flexibility.

Our search filters make it easy to find instructors with the availability you need. And if you have unique scheduling needs, remember that you have the option to ask instructors questions before booking — simply click the Ask a Question button to the right of a teacher’s profile picture to send them a message.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Availability” dropdown at the top. Select the day(s) you’re looking for, and then pull up individual profiles to see available timeslots. You can see this within the box to the right of the teacher’s information.
  • Consider our “Schedule As You Go” plan if you need flexibility.
  • Have a unique scheduling situation? Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking, or contact us for assistance.

The Location-Bound Student


What’s that, you say? You don’t want to spend two hours commuting to and from your lesson? We get it.

We’re lucky to work with instructors from all across the U.S. — you’ll find teachers from Seattle to St. Louis, and everywhere in between. You may even find teachers who will travel to your home for lessons.

Even if there’s not a teacher directly nearby, online lessons make it easy and convenient to connect with our top teachers on a regular basis. Not tech-savvy? We’ve created the TakeLessons Classroom just for you. It’s a video chat-based virtual classroom that requires no downloads, and you can get to it right from your Student Account.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Looking for a teacher close by? After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort by: Distance to see your closest options.
  • Want an instructor who will come to you? Pull up an individual profile, and look at the “Select a location” prompt in the right-hand box. If a bubble for “Your Home” shows, the teacher may be able to travel to you — click the blue prompt to enter your address and make sure you’re within his or her travel radius. (Or, contact us via phone or email for a quicker search!)
  • Prefer online lessons? After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Location” dropdown, and select “Online.”

The Budget-Conscious Student


Private lessons can be expensive. But as many students can attest to, the personalized attention you get from them is priceless! Fortunately, if you’re operating on a budget, there are ways to make it work.

TakeLessons teachers set their own prices, which are shown prominently within search results. This is usually based on their specific location, their experience level, and how long they’ve been teaching.

Also, consider taking online lessons! Often these are a bit cheaper than in-person or in-home lessons, and you’ll be saving money (and time!) by not having to commute anywhere.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Lowest Price to sort your options. Note that prices may be marked at 30-minute, 45-minute, or 60-minute lesson durations.
  • Consider online lessons to save money. After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on the “Location” dropdown, and select “Online”.

The Goal-Oriented Student


Are you an aspiring singer dreaming of being the next Adele? Are you learning French for an upcoming vacation, or so you can interact with clients at work?

If you have specific goals, it’s more important than ever to find the right teacher. So first, write down those goals: where do you want to be in one year? Five years? Ten years? Next, get to work: dedicate some time to browsing profiles, and look for instructors who have experience teaching the specific genres, techniques, or skills you want to learn. Look for the Student Favorite badge for our top teachers, and read the reviews from current and past students.

Still struggling? Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking, or give us a call for extra assistance in finding the right match.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Dedicate some time browsing profiles to find someone who has the experience you need.
  • Use the Ask a Question tool for specific inquiries before booking.
  • Look for the Student Favorite badge (a red heart icon) in search results for our top teachers.
  • Read other students’ feedback! After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Reviews to see teachers with the most reviews.

The Picky Parents


OK, maybe you’re not picky. Moms and Dads, we know you just want the best for your child!

And for kids, the “right” teacher isn’t always the most qualified — often it’s the person your child feels the most comfortable with. You’ll want to find a tutor or teacher who is patient, encouraging, and friendly, with (successful) experience with other children.

If safety is important to you, you may want to start your search by marking the option for “Background Check Verified” — this indicates the instructor has opted in and passed a thorough background check.

From there, filter your results by clicking on “Student Age” and selecting from the dropdown. Many teachers will also list their experience and what age groups they enjoy working with in the “Overview” section of their profile. Feel free to use the Ask a Question tool to send a message to the teacher, too.

Beyond that, sometimes it just comes down to a personality match. And the best way to test that is to just try out a lesson — if for any reason it’s not working out, our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee protects you.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, check the box for Background Check Verified.
  • Click on the “Student Age” dropdown, and indicate child or teen.
  • Pull up individual profiles and look at the ages taught in the “About” section.
  • Browse through profiles to get a feel for the teacher’s personality.
  • Use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers before booking.
  • Call us for extra assistance to find that perfect teacher for your child!

The Hobbyist (or, the “Bucketlister”)


If you’re a casual learner who just wants to have fun — or to check off your bucket list — you’re in luck! Most of our teachers are well-equipped to help you with the basics. As you search for your teacher, spend some time browsing profiles and see who catches your eye. Most teachers will speak to their experience, interests, and teaching style in the “Overview” section of their profile. Feel free to give us a call and we can help you sort through your options.

And for older adults, it’s never too late to start learning! Many of our instructors enjoy teaching retirees and above, and will cater your lessons to your learning style and interests. Filter search results by clicking on the “Student Age” dropdown, and use the Ask a Question tool to message teachers if you have a specific inquiry.

Tips to find a teacher:

  • Dedicate some time browsing profiles.
  • Look for the Student Favorite badge (a red heart icon) in search results for our top teachers.
  • Read other students’ feedback! After you’ve pulled up your initial search results, click on Sort By: Reviews to see teachers with the most reviews.
  • Seniors: Find instructors who teach older adults by using the “Student Age” dropdown.

The Worrywart (and Everybody Else)


With our search tools, you can filter your results to find a music teacher, tutor, or coach based on what matters to you, whether that’s price, location, availability, or ages taught. If you’re still not sure, use the Ask a Question tool to message any teachers you’re curious about.

But all said and done, we know that an online profile will only take you so far. So if you’re still not sure, give us a call at 877-231-8505! Our staff includes Student Counselors who regularly talk to our teachers across the U.S., and have experience matching students and families with the best teachers.

Beyond that, there’s no need to worry. You always have the option of booking a smaller lesson package to try things out. Not quite what you expected? Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee protects you. (Read more here.)

So what are you waiting for? When you’re ready to take that first step toward your goals, we’ll be here.

Special shout-out to music teacher Rosita R., featured in the photo! Learn more about Rosita here.

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best movie scores

Quiz: Which Well-Known Symphonic Movie Score Represents You?

best movie scores

Summertime is a prime time for blockbuster movies, and 2016 is no exception!

But even with all the new movies on the way, there’s nothing quite like the classics. Think about the movies that took you on great adventures, pulled at your heartstrings, and got your adrenaline racing. Which ones top your list?

Now think: can you recall the movie score? For many of the acclaimed films from the last few decades, the music behind it is integral. After all, where would Jaws be without the iconic two-note theme? Would Star Wars be the same without its epic intro?

Although not all movie-goers recognize it, it’s the music that leads you on the journey and coaxes your emotions out.

So, let’s have a little fun. Out of the best movie scores, which one represents you? Is your personality more adventurous… or more romantic?

Find out with this fun quiz from Connolly Music:

What’s YOUR soundtrack? Leave a comment below and share your results!

Want to learn more about the best movie scores, and how to get started composing your own? Continue exploring with these links:

Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras

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john legend pre-show routine

10 Pre-Show & Stage Fright Rituals of Famous Musicians [Infographic]

Do you get butterflies before you’re about to perform, even for a small audience? Imagine singing or playing your instrument at sold-out arenas!

Performing for screaming fans can be nerve-wracking even for the most seasoned musicians. To combat the nerves, many rely on pre-show rituals to center themselves. Continue reading to find out what some of your favorite famous musicians do behind-the-scenes…

stage fright in famous musicians - pre-show rituals

How 10 Famous Musicians Battle Stage Fright

Learn about the pre-show rituals of your favorite musicians.

  • Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper eats Skittles as a pre-show snack and watches kung-fu movies before he takes the stage.

  • Beyoncé

Beyoncé has a pretty specific pre-show ritual: she gathers the members of the band to say a prayer and do a stretch. After that, she sits in a massage chair while she gets her hair and makeup done. She also enjoys an hour of peace before her show and has a special playlist that she listens to every day.

  • Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones rocker is very specific about his pre-show meal. He always eats a Shepherd’s pie, and he must be the one who breaks the crust.

  • Justin Bieber

When Justin Bieber was a young star, he enjoyed Sour Patch Kids and gummy worms before his show. We’re not sure if he still eats these snacks before he performs for sold-out arenas, but whatever he’s doing, it’s working!

  • Rihanna

Like Beyoncé, Rihanna grabs her musicians and backup dancers together for a prayer circle. Also, right before they take the stage, they put their hands in the middle and raise them as they yell a rallying cry.

  • Eminem

The fit rapper requests 25-pound dumbbells and six Lunchables Snack Packs (three turkey and three ham and cheese) for his dressing room.

  • Coldplay

The British rock band enjoys a little bit of quiet time before their shows and always makes sure to do a group hug.

  • John Legend

John Legend knows it’s important to eat a good meal before a performance. The singer eats roasted chicken before his shows.

How to Battle Anxiety and Stage Fright

While the musicians listed above have a lot of performance experience, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to feeling some pre-show jitters. In fact, many famous musicians — including Adele, Barbra Streisand, and more recently Zayn Malik –have shared their personal stories of anxiety and stage fright.

In reality, stage fright is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you can even use that energy to your advantage — check out our Ultimate Guide to Stage Fright to learn the strategies. So get out there and enjoy yourself! The rush you’ll feel is worth it, we promise.

Readers, do you have your own pre-performance rituals? How do you battle stage fright and anxiety? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Sources: MusicNotes, Mental Floss, EMGNHuffington Post, Photo by Benny Chandra

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5 Insider Tips for a Successful Music Career

MO - 5 Insider Tips for a Successful Music CareerBreaking into the music industry is tough, but it’s a lot easier when you have some help along the way. In this article, professional singer and music teacher Liz T. will show you 5 valuable tips you can use to make it the music industry…

 

Based on my performing experience in the music industry, I’ve observed many fellow (and talented) musicians struggle. Having a successful music career isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be the next Beyoncé or Hunter Hayes to be considered a “success.”

There are many independent musicians out there who perform in front of sold-out crowds each night, run their own marketing campaigns, and promote their music in the media — all while making money!

Here are some tips from my personal experience that will help you have a successful music career, no matter which instrument or genre you choose!

How to Make It in the Music Industry


1

1. Choose Your Band/Co-Writers Wisely

I’ve seen many leaders fail when they don’t have reliable members in their band. Here’s my advice: Choose musicians you know you can depend on, both on and off the stage. In other words, choose musicians who you can trust to show up to all rehearsals, recordings, and act professional in a music environment.

Don’t Choose on a Whim

More often than not, because of the lack of effort, support, and preparation from the band, the leader may fail. Audition your band mates, try a few gigs with them, and if it’s not working, move on — just like in the dating world! There’s no sense in keeping bad relationships.

The same goes for songwriting: Choose members you want on your team wisely, and consider choosing members who have strengths that you don’t. The bottom line is that you should never feel at competition with your band mates or co-writers; it’s completely a team effort!

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2. Research the Music Industry

As a musician, you should always be listening and watching the charts. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse — find out what’s popular, what’s performing well, and what’s dying in the industry. From knowing current artists to knowing music-sharing trends, you’ve got to be current with the times!

You Don’t Need to Research Everything

Even if you’re an “old school” person, you don’t necessarily have to download every music app or listen to every artist, but you need to be familiar with what’s happening in the industry. In my experience, a surprising amount of people don’t do their research. Those who don’t do their research might send their music demos on CDs, even when the publisher clearly says “only MP3s” via email. If you do that, you’re only going to upset the publisher.

Keep Up With the Trends

With that being said, read directions carefully and do your homework — you don’t want to make enemies in the industry by making bad impressions! The trends in the industry are always changing, so be sure to read books, blog articles, and ask your friends how they listen to (or even buy) music; who are they going to see in concert, what are their favorite music videos?

Don’t be behind the times — be ahead!

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3. Be Your Own Booking Agent

I’ve often found this very frustrating in the music industry: trying to get the booker or promoter’s attention. Oftentimes, you’ll hear no response, or they’ll have incredibly high demands (and want you to play at less-than-appealing venues). I challenge you to start booking your own gigs when you feel your music is ready to be performed in front of live audiences.

You Can Do It All

I started booking my own gigs first in Boston, then to the New York scene, which eventually lead to Europe! I’ve booked 100+ gigs entirely on my own, without the help of a booking agent. Of course, it takes a lot of time to do this research, along with negotiating contracts and figuring out logistics, such as backline equipment (like amplifiers) and transportation.

There’s no reason you can’t start booking your gigs right away. Focus your attention on one region, then figure out the venues in that market. Indie on the Move is a great resource for this sort of thing!

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4. Keep Plugging Away

Rejection is a common theme in the music industry. You’ll often go to tons of auditions, submit your song, and hear “no,” more than you’ll hear “yes.” With thousands of musicians vying for their shot at fame and fortune, along with few opportunities out there, the competition is fierce.

Rejections Eventually Lead to Success

I encourage you to keep performing and submitting your music. I’ve felt extremely discouraged after going to 100 auditions, but then after the 101st audition, I would land the gig! Moreover, I would submit my music to publishers and record labels over and over, hearing no response, only to finally hear an answer a couple years later!

Don’t let rejection tear you down and stop you from doing what you love. Continue to work on your craft — practice, compose, and write like there’s no tomorrow. You can even create your own opportunities. For example, if you’re still having trouble getting signed, release an album independently! Or, be your own social media manager and promoter.

Remember to always stay positive and believe in yourself!

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5. Pick the Right Songs

Whether you decide to write your own music or be in a cover band, the decision is up to you! Many bands become successful by writing new material, and other bands find their first success by creating new interpretations of original songs.

With YouTube, you can easily upload your songs, promoting them for people all over the world to explore and enjoy! But first, it’s best to decide if you’re going to be an artist that focuses on just making videos, or if you’re more interested in booking live shows. Allocate your resources accordingly.

How to Choose The Right Songs

When choosing your song material, you’ll want to make sure you’re completely comfortable performing these songs. You don’t have to sing an Adele song just because it’s popular and challenging, or write material if you stink at writing lyrics. Instead, find out what your strengths are and which songs showcase your voice or musical instrument the best!

It’s important to find your musical niche. To do this, I encourage you to listen and watch other bands perform in order to see what repertoire they have in their sets or albums. Don’t outright copy other bands or artists, but instead use them as a source of inspiration.

The End Goal is the Audience

Visualize your album or set in advance; the flow, the rhythm, and the melodic content is important to keep in mind. You don’t want to do a show that’s entirely made up of slow rock ballads — your audience will be asleep in no time! It’s vital that you keep them engaged, even if you’re singing about serious subject matter.

The end goal is really to grab and hold the audience’s attention the entire time you’re performing. The same goes for an album; make sure the songs you record transition nicely into each other. The last thing you want is for the listener to skip tracks!

Use Sheet Music to Choose Songs

If you’re still stuck on which songs to choose, you can always browse through sheet music. You can find sheet music for thousands of popular songs, namely by big-name publishers like Alfred and Hal Leonard. There are also a couple of dedicated sheet music websites. Check them out here:

If you’re looking for more than just sheet music, check out this all-encompassing resource guide for musicians:


Conclusion

I hope these tips help you on your way to a successful music career! Remember, you don’t need to be the hottest celebrity in L.A. to have a successful music career. Many musicians find their musical success right in their own backyard (or garage)!

If you ever need one-on-one advice for how to get into the music industry, schedule a meeting with a professional musician on TakeLessons today!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

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How to Memorize Any Piece of Music: 5 Easy-to-Follow Steps

Do you want to learn how to memorize music? Check out the five simple tips below from our friends at Soundfly. Note: This article was originally published on Soundfly…

Memorizing music is invaluable in the eternal quest of learning and growth. From strengthening your ears to widening your understanding of compositional structure and recognizing patterns, there is no quicker way to develop into a well-rounded musician than to leave your charts at home and memorize the music you play, practice, and perform.

Why write about how to memorize music? For one thing, I am of the belief that you can’t truly know a song until you no longer need to read it off of a piece of a paper. As rhythm players, once you can get off the page, you’ll be able to anticipate changes and sit comfortably in the groove, instead of reconciling your trouble spots and letting them dominate you.

And as lead players, a song won’t really come alive until you’re able to weave your way through the changes without constantly having to look at a piece of paper for a roadmap — it’s in your ears. So here are my five steps on how to memorize any piece of music.

1. Understand the whole piece

Never try and jump into learning a composition piecemeal if you aren’t familiar with it yet. The learning process will be smoother if you know how things come together in the long run. Do this by listening to recordings of the piece first — no instrument required.

2. Identify a song’s basic form and changes first

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the moments when the song changes, or where you hear repeated/thematic material. Here’s where you get to put your ears to work, for those who aren’t familiar with reading music (if you are interested in starting to read music, here’s a free online course).

But if you do have a chart, read along to see what you can use from the written material. More complicated music, such as jazz standards, will often have charts with the melody and the chords written, and to truly understand the song, there’s no substitute for knowing both.

Is the song in verse-chorus form, or an AABA, or a blues of some sort? The more you can recognize these types of structures for yourself, the easier it will be to keep learning new music.

3. Don’t always start memorizing music from the beginning

In fact, you can start wherever you want! By now you understand the form, and you can work within the roadmap of the material, if there’s a hook that’s already in your head, or just a few bars of the chord changes that you happen to recognize, you can start there.

You’ll be chopping up the music anyhow, so don’t worry about that yet — you’ll know it all like the back of your hand (does anyone actually know the back of their own hand?) once you’re done learning all the pieces.

 

To discover the remaining two tips, head on over to Soundfly.

 

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10 Great Movies About Musicians (and Their Formulas for Success)

MO - 10 Great Movies About Musicians (and Their Formulas for Success) 1There are a ton of movies about musicians out there — but what can you learn from them? In this article, music teacher Willy M. takes you through 10 movies about musicians and reveals their unique tricks that made them successful…

 

Art is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.” – Roger Ebert

 

When it comes to movies about musicians, we generally see the same pattern in each story: an unknown artist struggles with their personal demons as they try to make a name for themselves, and they ultimately reach stardom at the expense of their relationships or mental health.

While most of these movies fit a cookie-cutter pattern, they also showcase the unique skills and tactics that each artist uses to become successful.

Below is a list of 10 movies about musicians that include a brief summary of each film, as well as each artists’ special formula for rising to the top. These movies were selected based on Rotten Tomatoes’ Audience Score, meaning we picked the top 10 movies based on tens of thousands of audience votes.

Are you ready to take an inside look? Let’s check them out!

 


Walk the Line (2005)

“Walk the Line” is the story of Johnny Cash’s rise to fame. It gives a glimpse of both the triumphs and heartaches that come from striving for fame. Johnny had a troubled relationship with his father, and playing music was his way of finding solace. Unfortunately, he turned to drugs for the same reason.

The movie demonstrates how Johnny went from one failed relationship to another, eventually conquering his addiction to drugs, and ultimately finding a way to use his music to inspire and bless people (namely prisoners) who related to him.

Walk the Line

Click here to watch the trailer

As demonstrated in the film, Johnny Cash learned how to make the I, IV, V pattern work for him. His simple chord structure, under well-crafted melodies, put his songs in the minds of listeners for generations to come. While Johnny Cash songs aren’t structurally complex, the melodies are catchy and reminiscent of older folk idioms that continue to inspire and challenge players today.


Ray (2004)

Many movies discuss the dangers of using drugs to fuel creativity, and “Ray” is no exception. Jamie Foxx portrays the late, great Ray Charles in this biopic about his life. In the movie, we see Ray’s rise to fame and his struggle (and ultimate victory) over a heroin addiction.

Ray

Click here to watch the trailer

Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles is one of the most accurate depictions of a popular musician moviegoers will see. We see a great deal about the process of making a great recording, and how producing a good record is often a team effort.

Ray has a great band, awesome producers (like the legendary Ahmet Ertegun), and great backup singers (though they’re often at the center of many of his issues). Ray’s success shows us that it’s important to work well with others, and that serving the music should come before serving yourself.


Love and Mercy (2014)

“Love and Mercy” describes the life of Beach Boy bass player, songwriter, producer, and vocalist, Brian Wilson. The movie shows Brian slowly descend into madness during the recording of the “SMiLE” album.

He spent years in a drug-induced fog, until the controversial Dr. Eugene Landy helped “rescue” him from his addictions. But it really took Brian’s love for his wife, Melinda, to rescue him from the clutches of the overbearing Dr. Landy.

Love and Mercy

Click here to watch the trailer

Surprise, surprise! This is a film that, yet again, shows the dangers of using drugs to self-medicate, and how they quickened Wilson’s mental descent. But this film also demonstrates true musical genius when it comes to the amazing melodies and harmonies that Wilson chooses to explore in his music.

The true nature of great melodies is demonstrated in the scenes that show Wilson composing. The movie also shows how some of Brian’s melodies are almost lost by the verbal abuse from his demanding father, Murray. Yet, the powerful melodies endure and inspire us today, which goes to show you that a great melody is practically immortal!

 


Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” tells the story of country singer, Loretta Lynn, and her rise to stardom from the absolute depths of poverty. Her musical endeavors are supported by her husband, her children, and her manager, Norm Burley. Burley is shown throughout the movie tirelessly working to promote Lynn’s music.

Coal Miner's Daughter

Click here to watch the trailer

One of the key takeaways from this movie, aside from the tremendous amount of hard work that Loretta puts into her act, is the amount of effort her family and manager put into it as well. What we see as a successful “solo” act is actually the result of many people working together to bring her music to the world.

This is another important lesson that young musicians should know: No matter how good you are as a musician, you can’t get anywhere without the support of quality people. This movie teaches us that when you get to the top, be careful not to step on the people who helped you make it.

 


Amazing Grace (2006)

This movie is about the events that led to the classic Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace,” and the ending of slavery in England. The movie depicts the work of William Wilberforce, an attorney who strove to end the slave trade in England. One of Wilberforce’s friends and supporters is John Newton, former slave-trader turned churchman.

Newton inspires Wilberforce with courage and spiritual strength to stand up against an age-old tradition (slavery) that both men see as pure evil. Newton describes the events that caused him to have a religious conversion, which he sees as giving him a second chance in life. These events inspire the words to the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie teaches many great lessons that young musicians can learn from, but one that stands out is the power of a lyric. Amazing Grace’s lyrics show that faith and a new start can truly cause change in both individuals and society as a whole.

John Newton was a scoundrel, but after nearly dying at sea, he became a Christian. Instead of enslaving his fellow man, he spent the rest of his life working to end slavery. His powerful testimony has been passed down in the form of a hymn and has inspired people from all walks of life to continue to work towards helping people instead of harming them.

Amazing Grace shows the value of songwriting and how a truly inspiring song can continue to impact the lives of people for hundreds of years afterwards.

 


The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

“The Glenn Miller Story” tells the story of big band era (1930s-1940s) band leader, Glenn Miller. Not only was Miller the leader of a famous band, most famous for the song “In the Mood,” but he also served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. His stint in the Air Corps was brief, however, when his plane disappeared over the English Channel in 1944.

Glenn Miller Story

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie shows a top notch musician (he played cornet, mandolin and trombone) and band leader who felt a higher calling than just entertainment. He chose to give up a lucrative career as a band leader, at the height of his fame, in order to help stand up against the tyranny of Nazi Germany. And though it ultimately cost him his life, he died for something he believed in, which is a rare thing in the music business these days.

The takeaway for modern musicians: use your music to accomplish great things, and not just to entertain for entertainment’s sake.

 


La Bamba (1987)

“La Bamba” is the story of Ritchie Valens, one of the first Hispanic rock stars in the world. The movie follows his rise to stardom, showcasing his rocky relationships with his family and his girlfriend, Donna. Valens’ career was tragically cut short because of a plane crash that also killed another musician on our list, Buddy Holly.

La Bamba

Click here to watch the trailer

Ritchie Valens was one of the first rock musicians to combine traditional Mexican scales over top of rock rhythms and chord progressions. We see in this movie that talent took Valens a long way, along with his creation of a new genre that combined traditional rock with a new style.

La Bamba was a great song because it took the newly developed idiom of rock and slapped a folk tune and lyrics onto the new style. His style was certainly enduring — people love La Bamba even to this day!

 


The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

“The Buddy Holly Story” tells the tale of early Rock n’ Roll guitar legend, Buddy Holly, and his band, the Crickets. In their brief career, they had hit after hit of great tunes that continue to influence musicians to this day.

Buddy Holly Story

Click here to watch the trailer

Buddy Holly is one of those musicians that, even if you’ve never heard of him, you’ve been influenced by him. Even though he died in the 1950s, musicians for decades to come were heavily influenced by his music (e.g. James Taylor, The Ramones, Don McLean, Tom Petty, the Cars, and many other famous musicians who were kids in the 50s and early 60s).

Buddy Holly’s music shows that a great lyric, melody, and chord progression will last forever. Not only were his melodies well-crafted and infectious, but his punctuated singing style was unique at the time and set him apart from other singers.

 


Bound for Glory (1976)

“Bound for Glory” describes the events surrounding the life and times of folk legend, Woody Guthrie. When the harrowing Dust Bowl hit Oklahoma in the 1930s, Guthrie left his wife to migrate to Southern California. From there, his music career began.

Bound for Glory

Click here to watch the trailer

Guthrie was one of the most influential figures surrounding the folk movement of the 1960s. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, or Simon and Garfunkel; they were all heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie.

Guthrie’s simple melodies, such as “This Land Is Your Land,” captured a generation of singers who loved to perform his tunes. His rambling lifestyle gave him a great amount of material to write about, as well as reflect on a tumultuous period of American History, prior to World War II. Woody Guthrie’s life and music demonstrates the importance of the songwriter as a historical record-keeper.

 


The Benny Goodman Story (1956)

“The Benny Goodman Story” is not supposed to be the most accurate version of the big band leader’s life, but it does capture the great music that Benny Goodman produced. The actual details seemed to have been adjusted by Goodman, who was still alive while the movie was being made (and who played most of the clarinet solos that were recorded for the movie).

Most of the movie centers around his romance with his wife, Alice Hammond, sister of John Hammond, the guy who discovered Bob Dylan years later.

Benny Goodman Story

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie is inspirational to young musicians because it shows that you should continue to strive to develop your art and bring your gift to the world, despite the obstacles that might get in your way. Benny Goodman was wise in his choice of side musicians — one of his sidemen was the great jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Picking great musicians to work with will challenge any musician to strive for greatness.

 


Honorable Mentions

Here are some other movies about musicians that are worth checking out too. Click them to watch the trailers:

Cadillac Records (2008)

Gene Krupa Story (1959)

Jersey Boys (2014)

Great Balls of Fire (1989)

 

What are your favorite movies about musicians? Comment below with your thoughts!

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He’s the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

Movie photos courtesy of IMDB

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Accomplish Anything: The Ultimate List of Empowering Songs [Infographic]

MO - Accomplish Anything The Ultimate List of Empowering SongsThere’s nothing you can’t accomplish with a pair of headphones and the right soundtrack. From doing chores around the house to preparing for an interview, we’ve got 50 empowering songs that’ll take your productivity to the next level…

 

Did you know that pop music is scientifically-proven to be the best music for working quickly and accurately? It’s true! Try throwing on some Taylor Swift the next time you need to work — it’ll help!

Moreover, did you know that music can actually improve your memory? The reason is that music can reduce stress, allowing our brain to absorb information better. In fact, classical music has been proven to work best for improving memory.

With these facts in mind, we wanted to create the ultimate science-backed playlist for every occasion. Check the infographic below and empower yourself today!

(Below the infographic are Spotify playlists for your convenience!)

Guitar_Infographic


Power Through a Task.

Perfect for doing tasks that don’t require much thinking (e.g. chores around the house).

  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk
  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
  • Die Walküre (Ride of the Valkyries) by Richard Wegner
  • Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys

Spotify Playlist


Boost Your Creativity

Great for when you need inspiration to get your creative juices flowing (e.g. working on art).

  • Dirty Harry by The Gorillaz
  • A Little Soul by Pete Rock
  • Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
  • Singing Under the Rainbow by World’s End Girlfriend
  • Knights of Cydonia by Muse

Spotify Playlist


Improve Your Memory

Excellent for enhancing your focus and comprehension (e.g. studying, reading).

  • Four Seasons by Vivaldi
  • Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart
  • Symphony No. 67 in F Major by Joseph Haydn
  • Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven
  • Water Music by George Frideric Handel

Spotify Playlist


Make You Laugh

Sometimes you just need a good laugh!

  • Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash
  • Amish Paradise by Weird Al
  • United States of Whatever by Liam Lynch
  • Parents Just Don’t Understand by Will Smith
  • Pool Party by The Aquabats

Spotify Playlist


Heighten Your Romance

Wonderful for getting you in the romantic mood (e.g. preparing for a date).

  • I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
  • My Boo by Usher feat. Alicia Keys
  • Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
  • Unforgettable by Nat King Cole
  • More Than Words by Extreme

Spotify Playlist


Lift Your Spirits

Feeling down? Listen to these songs when you need cheering up!

  • Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Strawberry Bubblegum by Justin Timberlake
  • Lovely Day by Bill Withers
  • In the Stone by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder

Spotify Playlist


Dance Your Heart Out

Great for when you need to let loose and bust-a-move on the dance floor.

  • The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson
  • Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
  • Lose Control by Missy Elliott
  • Grown Woman by Beyonce
  • Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

Spotify Playlist


Calm Your Mind

Feeling stressed or nervous? Take a load off your mind with these relaxing songs.

  • Sunrise by Norah Jones
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole
  • Just My Imagination by The Temptations
  • Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
  • Aqueous Transmission by Incubus

Spotify Playlist


Build Your Confidence

Feeling weak or unmotivated? Power-up with these explosive tracks.

  • Survivor by Beyonce
  • We Are The Champions by Queen
  • You’re the Best Around by Joe Esposito
  • Express Yourself by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
  • Uprising by Muse

Spotify Playlist


Exercise Your Body

Need to feel in-the-zone? These songs will get you through the toughest workouts.

  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • Show Me How to Live by Audioslave
  • Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine
  • Satisfaction by Benny Benassi
  • Around the World by Daft Punk

Spotify Playlist


*Sources included on infographic

 

Know any songs that belong on our list? Comment below!

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13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

So your son or daughter has just started music lessons. You’ve found a kind, knowledgeable teacher, set up a practice space, and bought an instrument.

But here’s the kicker: No matter how excited your child is initially, there comes a point in time when your son or daughter simply doesn’t feel like practicing.

To help you avoid endless fights and keep you from pulling your hair out, we’ve put together this collection of strategies from music teachers, bloggers, and child psychologists to help you motivate your child to practice.


Treat Music Like a Different Subject

Think back to when you were in school. You had your academic classes and your after-school activities. You knew your daily routine: Math, English, Science, etc. Then after school: piles of endless homework!

With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. That’s where you come in — you can help shift your child’s mindset!

What’s the bottom line? It’s up to you to help your child see music in a different light!

Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.

“If you want your child to be motivated to play an instrument, music needs to be different than other educational subjects,” says Bobby K. from Guitar Chalk. “Your child shouldn’t see music as a forced discipline, like Math or Geography. This ultimately comes down to choosing the right instrument, which is going to be the one the child is excited about and wants to play on his or her own.

“For me, that was the guitar, which had me practicing (voluntarily) three to four hours a day at 11 years old. That couldn’t have happened with piano because piano wasn’t “my” instrument. It was just another subject. But guitar was different in that it felt like play, not school work. Getting your child into a similar situation, where their instrument doesn’t feel like just another school subject, is absolutely critical. If it’s not happening, that might be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments.”

This also means you may need to be flexible. While it can be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with him or her to find one he or she enjoys and is intrinsically motivated to practice.

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Put Your Child in Control

It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. During the course of a day, there are several different people (parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches) telling kids what to do. Add music to that list and it’s no wonder motivation seems to dwindle!

Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.

“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,”  says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”

Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.

“The child makes the schedule, then the parent reinforces it,” Weiss says. “I’m sure many parents reading this would say…’yeah but will they do that day to day?’ That’s where you come in — but you have more weight in your reminder. It was the child’s desire to make the goal. Additionally, the reward should be for accomplishing little goals. For example: ‘practice every night this week and we can download that song you want.’ Reward the work.”

More: Motivate Your Child to Practice With a Reward System


Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music

Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.

“I believe that we’re here in this world to do great things with the gift of our lives, and we’re here to serve others,” says Heather F. from Music for Young Violinists. “Learning to play [the violin] helps us in both of these areas — we’re drawn up into a level of greatness through the discipline required to study this art form, and in this process, we cultivate a gift that we can share with others.”

This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.

Many adults wish they had stuck with a hobby or endeavor they started as a child, like playing a musical instrument. While this can be a difficult concept for young kids to grasp, teaching them to appreciate music can help them understand why practice is important.

According to this article from MusicTeachersHelper on motivating students to practice, “…I can’t count how many times I’ve heard adults say to me, ‘I quit taking piano when I was young and it was such a mistake. I wish I could go back and take lessons again.’ Parents can help children know the value that musical talent brings to society.”


Don’t Make Practice an Obligation

This one may seem a bit counterintuitive, right? After all, you’ve invested the money in an instrument and lessons, and you want your child to make the most of it. Plus, if your son or daughter wants to be good, he or she needs to practice!

The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. For example, if your son or daughter loves to play video games or play outside, don’t allow him or her to do this until after completing practice.

Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.

As Why We Teach Piano suggests, “Don’t set an arbitrary amount of practice time, without specific goals, and then reward them with playtime or video games afterwards. This just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”


Plan Performances

When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.

“If you want to keep students engaged and excited about their music education, make sure they’re performing consistently throughout the year,” says Anthony M. founder and author of The Music Parents’ Guide. “There are other profound effects on more scheduled performances for all school programs, as well. We, as parents and teachers, need to foster a growing curiosity and even an excitement about music in our children’s lives. Consistent performances are the best way to do this and continue to motivate our children.”

It gets better:

Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!


Let Your Child Choose

Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.

“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”


Be Their Cheerleader

Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.

Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.

Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!


Help Them Engage With Music

Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.

To help your child stay engaged, become a part of the process. Whatever you can do to get involved is likely to increase their interest and motivation.

“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey.”Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”


Create Challenges

Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges. This will help them progress faster because they’ll work on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering particular skills. This idea can be applied to any instrument.

Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”

Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website, thebootcampedition.com, for a huge collection.


Celebrate ALL Accomplishments

Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.

While verbal praise is important, you may also want to create another way to celebrate achievements; familyshare recommends keeping a journal of your child’s accomplishments. When you put it in writing, you’re less likely to forget. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can keep a white board on the fridge, or make a chart that you can display in the house!

Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.


Let Them Play Music They Like

While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing.

Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.

According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”

Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.


Make Practice Fun

This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! Incorporate fun games, activities, and challenges, and your child will look forward to practice!

According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”

Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!


Find the Right Teacher

This brings us to our last strategy and one of the most important: find the right teacher! Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time.

According to Music Central,”…finding the right teacher will make or break the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to try a new teacher if your child isn’t connecting. The best teachers are usually the ones who not only teach, but know how to be a good friend and mentor to your child.”

Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.

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Which of these strategies have been successful for you? Do you have other methods that you use to motivate your child? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 Horrible Solo Albums From Famous Musicians

MO - 5 Horrible Solo Albums from Famous MusiciansGoing solo isn’t easy. Once you leave a famous band, it’s hard to achieve the same level of success on your own. In this article, Jessica Kane from SoundStageDirect discusses five solo albums from famous musicians that just didn’t cut it…

 

There are unknown reasons as to why some famous musicians feel the need to try to wing it on their own. Some have found great success upon breaking away from their band, while others have only put more nails in their creative coffins.

Ready to hear what many consider some of the worst albums by solo artists? Here are five horrible solo albums from famous musicians:


1) Gone Troppo by George Harrison

The Beatles are perhaps the most famous rock band of all time. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr have all had successful and well-received solo albums in their post-Beatles lives. However, Gone Troppo by Harrison is one of the weakest releases of the bunch.

To say that George Harrison is full of talent is a massive understatement, but his charm, skill, and focus fell short with this album. It’s generally regarded as underwhelming and does not capture the magic that Harrison has brought to other albums. Listen to the title track and hear a part of George you haven’t heard before:


2) Two Sides of the Moon by Keith Moon

Keith Moon is known as one of the most iconic and powerful drummers in rock history. His thunderous hammering can be heard across all of The Who’s powerhouse albums of the 1960s and 1970s. Two Sides of the Moon delivers you on a half hour journey to a much too dark side of Moon that is best left unexplored.

The tracks on this album are as lifeless as the actual moon. Keith Moon, while a savage drummer, is a pitiful solo artist. He lacks the talent of most famous singers, and despite an impressive lineup that includes Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, and a rumored David Bowie, Two Sides of the Moon plays more like a strung-out mishap.

This is what happens when you let someone as wild as Keith Moon alone to his own devices inside of a recording studio, with the intention to do a vocal cover album.


3) This Time by Melanie C

The Spice Girls treated the world to energetic, fun, and sexy pop music that bred a cult of millions of Spice wannabes and fashion-deficit followers.

Sporty Spice, or Melanie C, tried to capture some of that same success in a post-Spice Girl world but fell flat on her face. While not one of the worst albums of the last 100 years, This Time is just unoriginal and dull. This was Melanie’s fourth solo effort and one of her weakest. In contrast, Northern Star was a solid pop experience that had good energy and lasting themes.

Let your bleeding ears check it out here:


4) Who I Am by Nick Jonas

This album deserves to be ranked among the worst albums of all time on every list of bad albums, ever. The Jonas Brothers are known for their cute pop rock that caters to pre-pubescent teen girls. Nick Jonas tried to set himself apart with this edgy attempt at a solo album.

The blues is universal, as everyone feels suffering and angst, but Jonas needs to keep out of the blues world. This track is all the reason to stop listening to Nick Jonas:


5) Oh Yes I Can by David Crosby

David Crosby is perhaps best known for his influential work with the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, but as a solo artist, he’s been hit and miss. Oh Yes I Can is a definite miss.

Released in 1989, this album does not bring the listener the same deep emotional satisfaction that was found in previous releases. Crosby is an excellent songwriter and performer, but he should have kept this one to himself. The impact he found in other hits is missing from this release.


Conclusion

You’ve just experienced five horrible solo albums back to back. Hopefully your ears are recovering now! If you want to avoid making horrible solo albums yourself, schedule a lesson with a private music instructor and get better at your craft today!

 

Know any other horrible albums from famous musicians? Comment below!

Post Author: Jessica Kane
Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.

 

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