15 Fun-to-Say Japanese Onomatopoeias

15 Fun-to-Say Japanese Onomatopoeias (with audio)

15 Fun-to-Say Japanese Onomatopoeias

It’s time to make your Japanese vocabulary POP! In this article, Japanese teacher Yo’el E. will take you through 15 Japanese Onomatopoeias that are even more fun to say than they look…


What Are Onomatopoeias?

An onomatopoeia is a word where meaning is derived from a sound, or when a word sounds like how it looks. In English, we have onomatopoeias like “cock-a-doodle-doo” for the sound a rooster makes, or “crunch” for the act of crushing things.

Onomatopoeias are quite common in many, if not all languages. We tend to notice them most in comics as sound effects: zippers “zip” and light switches “click.” They’re fun to say and they certainly aren’t hard to learn.

Certain Asian languages, like Chinese and Japanese, show emphasis through repetition of a word. This emphasis is usually applied when it comes to onomatopoeias.

Before we get to the onomatopoeias, allow me to digress and give you a little bit of background on how Japanese treats things uniquely.


The Verb Suru する
Suru is a verb in Japanese that means “to do.” It’s a very simple verb, but it’s tantamount to speaking intelligible Japanese. You’ll see this used in conjunction with the onomatopoeias below.


The Onomatopoeias

Let’s start off with an onomatopoeia that anyone who watches anime or reads manga is sure to be intimately familiar with…


dokidoki    どきどき/ドキドキ


The sound of a small throbbing, dokidoki is most often used to identify a beating heart – typically one that is beating unusually fast or hard. It’s often used to signal sexual tension to the reader of a manga. Dokidoki-suru can be used to infer being excited, nervous, anticipatory, or embarrassed. Actually, saying dokidoki-suru would translate to “I’m nervous,” or, “You make my heart race.”

perapera    ぺらぺら/ペラペラ


The sound of something flapping in the wind, perapera is often used to describe incessant chatter. Perapera-suru could be used to tell someone that they should take a breath. But perapera can also be used for good; suggesting that someone flaps their gums in a language would describe them as fluent.

jii    じー/ジー


One of the more unique onomatopoeias in Japanese, jii is the sound of staring and motionlessness. The longer the vowel is extended, the more intense the stare. When used as a verb with suru, jii becomes jitto-suru (じっとする). This “to” is a quotation marker and it’s sometimes seen accompanying onomatopoeias in Japanese.

kirakira    きらきら/キラキラ


“Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” Most of us know that nursery rhyme. Kirakira is like that “twinkle twinkle.” It’s the sound of sparkling, whether it’s water, gemstones, or stars. Kirakira-suru could be used to let a friend know that the rock you found might just be a diamond.

zaazaa    ざあざあ/ザアザア


We don’t really have a word for this in English, but I think it’s fantastic! Zaazaa is the sound of rain falling, or the sound of static on your television screen. This isn’t one you would use too much in ordinary conversation, but it could be used adverbially when talking about rain.

shiin    しーん/シーン


Another word we don’t have in English, shiin, is the sound of silence. This is an example of the best part of Japanese onomatopoeias: words for sounds that aren’t made by anything! This word can be used with suru to mean “to be silent,” or more commonly with “to-suru,” as seen above with jii, to form the sense of doing something silently.

wakuteka    わくてか/ワクテカ


This is one of my personal favorites. It’s actually a two-fer; it comes from the phrase “wakuwaku tekateka.” Let’s break that down: wakuwaku (わくわく/ワクワク) is the sound of trembling – it means to get excited or nervous, and tekateka (てかてか/テカテカ) is the sound of something shiny or gleaming (similar to kirakira, but less “sharp”). Together, you get wakuteka – the jitters. When someone is shivering with excitement and they just can’t keep still, you might comment with wakuteka-suru.

gorogoro    ごろごろ/ゴロゴロ


Gorogoro is the sound of something rolling around. It’s great for describing all manners of things, like roly polies, a runaway barrel, a rolling pen, your gymnastic friend, and more! In addition, it can be the sound of a grumbling stomach, or even thunder. If you imagine all three uses, you can start to really hear the similarity in the sounds.

pachipachi    ぱちぱち/パチパチ


Snap! It’s the sound of a book clapping closed, or the bubbling pop of a wood fire. It could also be the sound you make when you snap your fingers. Have you heard of pachinko? It’s a pretty popular game in Japan (often used for gambling) and it’s named so because it makes that sound too! This one has a variant, pachin, that’s goes “zing!” – like bullets ricocheting or the sound of a pinball game.

pekopeko    ぺこぺこ/ペコペコ


The sound of a grumbling stomach, pekopeko, is more often used by children, but it can be a cute way to say you’re feeling famished! A groaning pekopeko-suru should get you headed toward food in no time (especially after you read the complete guide to sushi).

suu    すう/スウ


The sound of sucking, suu, is actually a normal Japanese verb. But… it’s also an onomatopoeia! Whether taking a breath, pulling on a pipe, or slurping up some broth, suu can be used. Keep in mind that unlike the others on this list, you can’t just add suru to suu because it’s a godan verb, not a suru verb!

mogumogu    もぐもぐ/モグモグ


Chew chew chew… and not just in the literal sense. You can use mogumogu for munching on your lettuce leaves, but also to indicate mumbling. Don’t forget to chew your words!

zudon    ずどん/ズドン


Thud! Bang! Something heavy just hit the ground. Maybe you dropped a box of books or a bowling ball. Either way, you can use zudon to call to mind a decisive slam onto the floor (or table, bench, or what-have-you).

herohero    へろへろ/ヘロヘロ


Oh man, am I wiped! I’m completely pooped from writing this article – I would say I’m herohero. If you take a piece of plastic and flap it around, listen to the sound it makes. This word means flimsy, in the sense of utter and total exhaustion. It counts whether it’s mental, physical, or both.

It’s often used in conjunction with 疲れる (つかれる/ツカレル – to be tired) as ヘロヘロに疲れた (へろへろ に つかれた / herohero ni tsukareta – totally wiped out).

nikoniko    にこにこ/ニコニコ


We’re at the end of the article, but don’t be sad – put on a smile! Niko is the sound a smile makes. When you put two smiles together and get nikoniko, it has connotations of happiness – doing something with a grin.


You know emojis? Those cute little faces on your phone that are so popular? Did you know that if you’re using an IME (Input Method Editor) to type Japanese, you can get to those by using onomatopoeias? Try it! Type niko next time you’re writing in Japanese and hit your spacebar.


If you had a fun time with these onomatopoeias, be sure to leave a comment below with your favorite one! Ask your private Japanese teacher for more fun-to-say onomatopoeias!

Post Author: Yo’el E.
Yo’el teaches Japanese and Asian Cooking in Pleasant Hill, CA and online. He has been teaching for over four years and takes pride in giving his students the best instruction possible. Learn more about Yo’el here!
types of ukuleles

Types of Ukuleles: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

types of ukuleles

Whether you want to buy your first ukulele or upgrade to a new instrument, there are several different types of ukuleles to choose from. Here, ukulele teacher Michael L. introduces you to the different types of ukuleles so you can make the best decision for your goals and your budget…

When you’re shopping for a ukulele (for yourself or your child), it’s important to know the different types of ukuleles so you can find the right fit for you. There are several different types of ukuleles; they come in different sizes, pitch ranges, and distinct styles, which gives them each a different sound.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the different options, don’t worry, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the different types of ukuleles.

Ukulele Sizes

The first question you should ask yourself is: “what size ukulele do I want?” Traditionally, ukuleles comes in four sizes (also known as voices): soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

Soprano Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Musician’s Friend

The soprano ukulele is the smallest, and the most common ukulele. The lightweight size makes them ideal for children with smaller hands.

If you have a young student who wants to take ukulele lessons, this may be the ideal ukulele for you. Soprano ukuleles are also generally less expensive than the larger-sized ukuleles.

Concert Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Guitar Center

The concert, or alto ukulele, is the next size up from the soprano. The main difference between the concert size and the soprano size is the length and width of the neck (concert ukuleles have a wider neck). You can tune both ukuleles the same way.

If you or your child need a ukulele that’s a little bit larger than a soprano, but still in the same general price range, you may want to consider a concert ukulele.

Tenor Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Martin Guitar

The tenor ukulele has a warm tone, in comparison to its two smaller counterparts. Some uke players prefer the tenor size for the rounder, more bass-y tone.

Tenor ukuleles are generally a little more expensive than concert and soprano ukes, but if you have a background with guitar, you may prefer the tenor ukulele due to its larger body.

Baritone Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Ukulele tricks

Moving up in size, the baritone ukulele is larger and has a deeper, darker sound. The baritone ukulele is generally tuned lower than other ukuleles. The four strings are usually tuned the same as the lower four strings of a guitar.

If you’re an adult switching from guitar to ukulele, you may want to try the baritone.

Bass Ukulele

types of ukuleles

In the last few years, a new size ukulele has been developed: bass ukulele. These are bigger than the baritone, but they can only be heard through a pickup, which adds more power to your sound. Most bass ukuleles are sold with pre-installed pickups.

Bass ukuleles have the same tuning as electric ukes (see below), but they’re much shorter. It’s actually quite astounding how low they can go in pitch (for such a small instrument).


More Ukulele Options

When choosing an instrument, it’s also important to decide if you want an acoustic, electric, or electro-acoustic ukulele.

Acoustic Ukulele

An acoustic ukulele is a traditional ukulele, which doesn’t have to be plugged in. If you get an electric or electro-acoustic ukulele, it can be pretty fun to experiment with effect pedals as well.

Electric Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Electric ukuleles are similar to electric guitars; they don’t make much sound unless they’re plugged in, and they’re usually made with steel strings and magnetic pickups, giving you a metallic sound.

Electro-Acoustic Ukulele

An electro-acoustic ukulele is similar to a standard acoustic ukulele, but it has a pre-installed pickup, so you can plug it into an amplifier. It usually has nylon strings, like acoustic ukuleles, so it has a more traditional sound.

Banjo Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image Courtesy Ukulele Guide

Another variety of ukulele is the banjo ukulele, or banjolele.  Instead of the traditional body of a ukulele, the banjolele is made with a small drum head on the body. The banjolele has the twang of a banjo with the light-heartedness of the ukulele.

Ukulele Brands

There are several ukulele manufacturers, and when you’re shopping for a ukulele, you should be familiar with some of the most popular brands. Let’s look at some of the most well-known brands.

Kala Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy Kala Brand Music co

Kala is only 10 years young, but they make a wide variety of ukuleles. You can find ukuleles priced under $100, and up to several hundred dollars.

The budget ukuleles sound nice for their value and with their higher-end ukuleles, you can definitely hear the difference in the production value. They also make every size and most varieties of ukuleles.

Lanikai Ukulele


Image courtesy Lanikai Ukuleles


Lanikai is a part of Hohner, a well-known, trustworthy instrument maker from Germany. In the beginning, Lanikai was only known for making cheap, introductory ukuleles. In recent years, however, they have stepped up their production value with some great sounding ukes.

If you’ve ever heard the band Beirut, then you’ve heard a Lanikai tenor ukulele in action. They also make every size and most varieties of ukulele.

Mahalo Ukulele

types of ukuleles

Image courtesy amazon


Mahalo ukuleles are known for their unique designs. You can get ukuleles with smiley faces, some shaped like surf boards, some shaped like Flying V electric guitars, and other quirky designs. If you prefer something more traditional, you can still find this with Mahalo.

Most of Mahalo’s ukuleles are priced for a budget, with a great sound for the price. If you’re looking for something with higher production value, you can also find a few models with Mahalo.

Makala Ukulele

makala ukulele

Image courtesy Kala Brand Music Co.

Makala ukuleles are a subsidiary of Kala. At Makala, they pride themselves on making great sounding, budget-priced ukuleles. While there is a wide variety of designs, there’s a limited amount of sizes; most Makala ukuleles are soprano sized.

Makala ukuleles sound great for their value; they’re my favorite brand of introductory ukulele.

Kamaka Ukulele


Image courtesy Kamaka Hawaii


Kamaka ukuleles sound magical, but if you want to buy one, be prepared to spend at least several hundred dollars for a new one. They come in a variety of sizes, but most are made in traditional styles (no banjoleles here).

As you can see, ukuleles come in several different shapes and sizes. With a little knowledge and research, you can find the right ukulele for you. I hope this helps you make sense of all the choices that are out there waiting for you!

Which type of ukulele do you use? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments below! 

Willy MPost Author: Michael L.
Michael teaches ukulele, guitar, drums, and music theory in Austin, TX. He studied music theory and vocal performance at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy. In addition to private lessons, Michael teaches music to special education students in Austin public schools and foster children with Kids in a New GrooveLearn more about Michael here!

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Top karaoke songs

Top Karaoke Songs for Girls, Guys, Groups & More

Top karaoke songs

Karaoke night! Some people make this a weekly ritual. Some do it for fun, and some take it very seriously… and even compete in karaoke contests!

No matter how you view karaoke singing, it’s a wonderful way to practice performing — especially if you’re a beginner singer. This guide is here to help you make the most of the night, including tips to prepare beforehand, how to choose the best song to sing for karaoke, and how to shine on stage!

How Karaoke Can Make You a Better Singer

Going to karaoke is a great idea if you’re pursuing music. Think of it this way: you’re not being judged as you would be at an audition or vocal contest, so it’s certainly less stress. You can try out new material here before you take it to the “big time”!

It also goes without saying that performing, in general, becomes easier the more you do it.  Karaoke night is a great way to get over stage fright if you attend regularly — you’ll always have an audience, and they are usually very supportive and encouraging (especially if you go with your friends and family!).

How to Pick the Best Karaoke Song For You

Before you hit the stage, I’d recommend having a few songs in mind. Thinking ahead can be especially helpful for beginner karaoke singers, since it will take the stress away from choosing the song the night of. But there’s a lot more to it than just picking your favorite song and rolling with it…

Let’s say you just love the Beatles. That doesn’t mean you can SING it in the original key without straining! John and Paul had very high singing voices, and most males are baritones. So, ask yourself this: “When I sing along to my favorite songs, who am I most comfortable singing with?”

Maybe it’s Taylor Swift, a middle voice. Or perhaps a higher one, like Dolly Parton. Use this as your guide for picking your song.

Oh, and since karaoke is about fun, don’t forget to pick a song that you truly enjoy singing! It’s usually a better idea to choose something more up-tempo as it’s less likely for nerves to show. If you’re nervous and singing a ballad, things can get shaky.

5 Tips for Singing Karaoke

Here are some other things to keep in mind about how to have a successful karaoke night:

  • Look confident! Start with a smile and with your feet planted shoulder width apart. Make no apologies for being on that stage!
  • Pick a song you really know so you’re not always having to look at the lyrics on the screen. Don’t forget you have an audience that wants you to sing to them!
  • Use good vocal technique. Breathe low, and keep your sound placed in your mask rather than shouting into the microphone.
  • Practice at home! YouTube has many excellent channels, such as KaraFun, where you can pull up the song for free.
  • Remember it’s about fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you pick a song you love, it will show in your performance. That’s when you can expect the compliments to pour in!

Ok, ready to find out the top karaoke songs? Here are our top picks, broken down by genre, category, and more! You can also jump to specific song recommendations using these links:

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Best Female Karaoke Songs

Ladies, you’ve got so many great choices when it comes to karaoke songs! From powerhouse pop to girl-power classics, these songs are really fun to sing! Here are our picks for the best female karaoke songs.

  1. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  2. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  3. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  4. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
  5. Single Ladies – Beyoncé
  6. Like a Virgin – Madonna
  7. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
  8. Emotions – Mariah Carey
  9. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
  10. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles
  11. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
  12. Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover – Sophie B. Hawkins

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Best Karaoke Songs for Men

Guys, start warming up your voices for these top picks in all vocal genres: rock, pop, punk, and even lounge-style. Here are our picks for the best karaoke songs for men.

  1. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  2. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  4. Wonderwall – Oasis
  5. My Way – Frank Sinatra
  6. I Wanna Be Sedated – the Ramones
  7. Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
  8. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
  9. 867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone
  10. Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
  11. If I Was Your Girlfriend – Prince
  12. When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars

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Top Easy Karaoke Songs

Need something a bit easier to sing? If your vocal skills aren’t quite where you want them to be yet, don’t worry — there are plenty of easy karaoke songs that you can still rock out to.

  1. 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
  2. These Boots Are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
  3. Crazy – Patsy Cline
  4. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  5. Copacabana – Barry Manilow
  6. That’s the Way (I Like It) – KC and the Sunshine Band
  7. Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  8. Funkytown – Lipps, Inc
  9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  10. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

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Duet Karaoke Songs

Grab a friend for twice the fun! Duet karaoke songs let both singers shine — check out the list below for our top picks.

  1. The Boy is Mine – Brandy and Monica
  2. Cruisin’ – Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow
  3. Islands in the Stream – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
  4. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
  5. All I Have – Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J
  6. Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
  7. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
  8. Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
  9. Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  10. Hunger Strike – Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell

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Best Group Karaoke Songs

For those of you that hit the bar with a bunch of friends, these group karaoke songs will let you all join in on the fun at the same time!

  1. We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  2. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
  3. ABC – Jackson 5
  4. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  5. Push It – Salt ‘n Pepa
  6. No Scrubs – TLC
  7. Lean On Me – Club Nouveau
  8. Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang
  9. YMCA – Village People
  10. Supersonic – JJ Fad

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Funny Karaoke Songs

Want to just have fun, without worrying about your vocal skills at all? Pick one of the funny karaoke songs below, add in a splash of confidence and stage presence, and the crowd will love you.

  1. Rock Lobster – B-52s
  2. Just a Friend – Biz Markie
  3. Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
  4. MMMBop – Hanson
  5. Mickey – Toni Basil
  6. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy
  7. The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Timbuk 3
  8. Whip It – Devo
  9. If You Like Piña Coladas – Jimmy Buffet
  10. Rico Suave – Gerardo

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’90s Karaoke Songs

’90s kids, listen up! Whether you grew up with rock or pop princesses, these crowd-pleasers will get everyone singing along with you.

  1. Closing Time – Semisonic
  2. Time of Your Life – Green Day
  3. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
  4. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  5. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
  6. Genie in a Bottle – Christina Aguilera
  7. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It – Will Smith
  8. Who Am I? (What’s My Name) – Snoop Dogg
  9. Santeria – Sublime
  10. Don’t Speak – No Doubt

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’80s Karaoke Songs

More a fan of ’80s music? Here are our favorite jams to sign up for.

  1. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
  2. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
  3. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany
  4. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go – Wham!
  5. Don’t You Want Me – Human League
  6. Tainted Love – Soft Cell
  7. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz
  8. All Night Long – Lionel Richie
  9. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
  10. Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder

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’60s and ’70s Karaoke Songs

Break out the bellbottoms and get your best John Travolta impression ready for these disco tunes.

  1. Dancing Queen – ABBA
  2. Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
  3. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan
  4. Rapture – Blondie
  5. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – Rod Stewart
  6. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
  7. Brick House – Commodores
  8. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
  9. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
  10. Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye

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Best Karaoke Love Songs

Can you feel the love tonight? If you want to impress your sweetie in the crowd, pick one of these top karaoke songs about love.

  1. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  2. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  3. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding
  4. Come to My Window – Melissa Etheridge
  5. The Sweetest Thing – U2
  6. I Melt With You – Modern English
  7. That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson
  8. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
  9. She Loves You – the Beatles
  10. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

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Best Rock Karaoke Songs

Love singing rock music? Here are some of the best rock karaoke songs to consider.

  1. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  2. Creep – Radiohead
  3. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  4. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  5. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
  6. Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi
  7. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  8. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin
  9. Zombie – The Cranberries
  10. Enter Sandman – Metallica

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Best Pop Karaoke Songs

Pop songs are just plain fun to sing! Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Royals – Lorde
  2. Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
  3. Push – Matchbox Twenty
  4. Treasure – Bruno Mars
  5. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  7. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  8. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  9. Timber – Ke$ha and Pitbull
  10. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

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Best R&B Karaoke Songs

Feeling that rhythm and blues? Put your heart and soul into these top R&B karaoke songs.

  1. This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
  2. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  3. Poison – Bel Biv Devoe
  4. End of the Road – Boyz II Men
  5. No Diggity – Blackstreet
  6. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
  7. Un-break My Heart – Toni Braxton
  8. Not Gon’ Cry – Mary J. Blige
  9. He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
  10. Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin

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Best Country Karaoke Songs

More of the honky-tonk type? Whether you prefer classic country songs or modern-day hits, here are the best country karaoke songs.

  1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain
  2. Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
  3. Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
  4. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  5. Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette
  6. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
  7. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
  8. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
  9. Celebrity – Brad Paisley
  10. All My Ex’s Live in Texas – George Strait

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Worst Karaoke Songs

And whatever you do… avoid these WORST karaoke songs!

  1. Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
  2. I’ve Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
  3. Picture – Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock
  4. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
  5. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
  6. Barbie Girl – Aqua
  7. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
  8. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
  9. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber
  10. Friday – Rebecca Black

Readers, what top karaoke songs did we leave out? Add a comment with your favorites!

mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly 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!

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

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thanksgiving songs for kids

10 Thanksgiving Piano Songs Kids Will Gobble Up

thanksgiving songs for kids

Are you looking for some Thanksgiving songs for kids? Below, piano teacher Alicia B. shares 10 yummy turkey tunes kids will love playing…

Whether it’s playing for friends and family around the table or at a school holiday party, Thanksgiving is an excellent time for beginner piano players to demonstrate their skills to a welcoming crowd.

Below are 10 Thanksgiving songs for kids. These piano songs vary by level and style, so there’s something for everyone.

1. Five Fat Turkeys Are We: Primer level

Veteran piano teacher and university professor, Gilbert De Benedetti compiles several arranged and original holiday-themed songs, including this primer-level piece, “Five Fat Turkeys Are We.”

It’s a great Thanksgiving song for kids, as it has kid-humor lyrics. For example, “Five fat turkeys are we, we slept all night in a tree, when the cook came round, we couldn’t be found, so that’s why we’re here you see!”

Find this and other free music at gmajormusictheory.org.

2. Hurray, Thanksgiving Day!: Pre-reading level

Educator, Susan Paradis wrote this Thanksgiving song for kids as part of her teaching resources blog, which focuses on the pre-reading level.

It’s a great easy piano piece your beginners can learn in a day. The song even has lyrics for the cousin choir. Find this free piano piece on susanparadis.com.

3. Simple Gifts: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Originally a Shaker hymn (other interpretations include it as a dance song), “Simple Gifts,” is an American folk tune written by Joseph Brackett.

The piano song’s tone of wistful Americana makes it ideal for this time of year.

Many classical fans have heard the song as part of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and today it’s used for several movies and television holiday specials.

4. Turkey in the Straw: Beginner, Intermediate

The American folk song, “Turkey in the Straw” dates back to the early 1800s and is comprised of themes from other countries, such as Ireland.

Given its steady eighth-note feel, it was originally popularized as a fiddle tune, but is now enjoyed by all instrumentations.

Find a version of “Turkey in the Straw” for piano players on Makingmusicfun.net

5. We Gather Together: Intermediate, Beginner

This hymn was originally taken from a Dutch folk tune. Composer, Adrianus Valerius added lyrics to commemorate the victory over the Spanish in the Battle of Turnhout.

In current day, the piano song is often heard around the Thanksgiving holiday, as its title and lyrics suggest a time to join and reflect on the year’s blessings.

The 3/4 time signature and dotted quarter note pattern is a great warm up for “Silent Night,” which shares a similar structure.

You can find Andrew Fling’s arrangement of this tune on makingmusicfun.net

6. Thanksgiving Theme (A Charlie Brown Christmas): Advanced, Intermediate

Pianist and composer, Vince Guaraldi made an indelible mark on American culture when he composed a series of jazz-inspired pieces to accompany Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang for the 1965 television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Since that time, the laid-back jazzy tunes have become a staple of the holiday season, and “Thanksgiving Theme” is a wonderful example.

Its driving 3/4 time signature and cascading triplets beautifully juxtapose the busyness of the season and the beauty of falling snow.

This piece is available for purchase in many Charlie Brown songbook collections.

7. Teacher’s Pet  (School of Rock, The Musical): Intermediate

Now coming to Broadway, School of Rock (originally a 2005 movie starring Jack Black) inspired a generation of kids to get involved in music education through high-energy classic rock and soul music.

The upcoming Broadway cast is performing at the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which should inspire and invigorate your young pianists, as the cast is comprised of actual child musicians – and even features a rockin’ keyboard solo!

8. Autumn Leaves: Intermediate, Advanced

Well-known jazz standard, “Autumn Leaves” began as the 1945 French song, “Les feuilles mortes” (The Dead Leaves) by Joseph Kosma.

It was only after American songwriter Johnny Mercer added English lyrics in 1947, did it gain popularity as a pop and jazz standard.

It’s now often used as a teaching tool for beginner jazz pianists, as it illustrates a ii-V-i (2-5-1) chord progression pattern, a pivotal concept in many jazz standards and improvisation.

9. Largo and Scherzo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony: Intermediate, Beginner

Highly celebrated Bohemian (now Czech Republic) composer, Antonin Dvorak had always been influenced by his geographic surroundings.

It is of no surprise, therefore, that when he moved to the U.S. in 1892 he wrote his impressions in his 9th symphony, commonly known as the “New World” Symphony.

The Largo movement is a solemn march that takes direct influence from African American spirituals and Native American intervals and rhythms in the Scherzo.

Find a version of the Largo movement on makingmusicfun.net.

10. Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.: Beginner, Intermediate

This early James Brown classic is basically a rhythm and blues jam in which Brown lists every one of his favorite cities.

The song’s driving groove is perfect for the cooking mood and it’s a great way to practice some blues improvisation. Encourage your guests to chime in with the city in which they’re visiting, while giving shout-outs to their favorite side dish.

You can find a recording of this song, and many blues backing tracks to practice with on YouTube.

These Thanksgiving piano songs for kids will keep your pumpkin pi(e)anists practicing until Black Friday! Happy Thanksgiving and have a musically merry holiday season!

Untitled design 66Post Author: Alicia B.
Alicia B. teaches piano, violin, music performance, and more. She is a graduate of Miami’s Public Arts Programs, including Coral Reef Senior High and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. Alicia has over 15+ years of musical experience. Learn more about Alicia here!

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piano solos

15 Easy Piano Solos That Sound Hard

piano solos

Do you want to impress your friends and family with your new piano skills? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares 15 piano solos that sound hard, but are actually fairly easy to learn…

Are you a beginner piano player looking for some new and fun piano solos to learn? If you answered “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place.

Chances are you’re eager to show off your skills with some popular piano songs. The good news is there are tons of easy piano solos out there that sound hard, but are actually pretty easy to play.

From piano pop songs to old classics, below are 15 of the best piano solos you can play if you want to impress your audience.

15 Easy Piano Solos That Sound Impressive

While these piano solos might not sound like beginner songs, they are fairly easy to master with some practice.

Browse through these 15 best piano solos and choose a few that grab your attention. Watching the videos is a great way to get a feel for each song.

1. All I Ask of You: Phantom of the Opera

This gorgeous theme song from the musical “Phantom of the Opera” composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber is a classic love song that will surely wow your audience. This great piano solo can be performed with or without vocalists.

2. Piano Man: Billy Joel

If you’re a pianist and a singer, this is a great song to practice both your piano skills and your vocals. Your audience will be impressed with how you can channel your inner Billy Joel with this classic piano pop song.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen

Looking for a rock solo to add to your repertoire? This piano solo is great if you want to practice slow and fast tempos, and the use of dynamics. You can make this song as easy or as hard as you want.

4. Heart and Soul: Hoagy Carmichael

Whether you decide to play this song solo or as a duet, you’re sure to have a blast! It has a very fun, simple piano rhythm in the left hand, with a fun melody in the right hand.

5. Fur Elise: Beethoven

If you’re looking for a classical hit to wow your audience, try this piano solo. It’s great for practicing arpeggios and showing off your classical technique.

6. The Entertainer: Scott Joplin

A classic ragtime piece, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” is a great piano solo that will show off your fancy finger work. There are many modified piano versions out there, so find one that fits your skill set.

7. Cannon in D: Pachelbel

A beautiful classical piece, this piano solo is perfect for weddings or any other formal celebration. It’s also a great solo to practice easy chords, and a simple bass line.

8. Ave Maria: Schubert

This simple, but impressive ballad is great for practicing arpeggios and chords. Because the song pretty much keeps the same pattern throughout, you should be able to learn it in no time!

9. Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavichord: Bach

This is one of my personal favorites to play on the piano because it sounds difficult but is very easy to play. It’s also great for practicing dynamics.

10. All that Jazz: Chicago

This piano solo is a fun jazz piece that sounds fancy, but is easy to play. The bridge and ending will make your audience think that you can bring the house down.

11. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wizard of Oz

Audience members will surely shed a tear during your performance of this famous song. It’s the perfect piano solo to milk out long legato phrases, and sounds pretty in any key.

12. Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast

One of Disney’s most sensational piano pieces, this piano solo is an easy piece to embellish the melody, add trills, and chord inversions if you feel like making the song extra special.

13. My Heart Will Go On: Titanic

This Grammy award-winning song will captivate your audience’s heart. In this ballad, you can really capture emotion with just a few chords, and repeating melodic phrase.

14. New York, New York: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s hit, New York, New York is a crowd favorite. You can really build up the chorus section, which the audience will go nuts over because they will want to sing along.

15. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong

This piano solo will melt your audience to pieces. This is a great song if you want to work on conveying emotion through different peaks and climaxes, especially in the bridge section.

These are all great piano solos you can start practicing today. I recommend starting with the piano book, “More Popular Piano Solos – Levels 1-4: Hal Leonard Student Piano Library,” to help guide you.

If you need more expertise on performing these popular piano solos, work closely with your piano teacher.

Photo by Kevin Ohlin

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 Enter (and Win) Singing Contests (3)

How to Enter (& Win) Singing Contests & Competitions

How to Enter (and Win) Singing Contests

Are you ready to step out of the practice room and take your talent to the stage? In this article, voice teacher Milton J. shares his tips for preparing for a competition or audition, and then continue reading for our list of contests to enter!


For quite a few years, we’ve tuned in our televisions, phones, and tablets to our favorite singing contests and competitions every week. We’ve been picking our favorite singers, voting for them (sometimes more than once), and hoping they win the coveted record deal at the end of the season.

We’ve watched as the juggernaut American Idol, a derivative of Pop Idol from Europe, gave way to other singing competition shows like The Voice, The X-Factor, and The Sing-Off.

Other worthy and not-so-worthy opponents, such as ABC’s Rising Star, have tried to get into the singing competition game. While American Idol may be ending, there are many singing competitions locally, regionally, state-wide, and nationally that vocalists can enter into, in addition to auditioning for the current king of reality singing competitions, The Voice.

The following tips will help out vocalists who audition live, as well as those who audition through a prepared recording. Let’s first take a look at tips for those who are preparing to audition live in front of a panel of judges.

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Tips for Live Singing Auditions

More often than not, singers will have to audition in front of one or more judges in order to be considered as contestants. It may sound nerve-wracking to sing in front of others, but you’ll be glad you seized the opportunity.

Live auditions give you the benefit of having instantaneous feedback from a panel of judges who, as a standard, should be well-versed in the art of vocal performance. Let’s go through some tips to help you conquer any live audition you wish to attend.

1. Be Well-Prepared

Judges can and will recognize an auditionee who has put enough time and effort into perfecting their performance. Practice is not something that should be overlooked. Develop a routine and structure your singing practice in a manageable way.

Your degree of preparedness will only be determined by how comfortable you are with your greatest weakness. Turning that weakness into a driving force in your performance will help you get to the level of comfort you need for a live audition.

For example, if your weakness involves your voice cracking at a high note, embrace it and try to make the voice crack fit the feel of the song. Australian singer Sia has a natural voice crack that has made its way into many of her songs. She embraced what many would call a weakness and turned it into something stylistic and beautiful.

2. Choose a Song That’s Suitable for Your Voice

One issue that plagues even wonderful singers is performing a song that’s not suitable for their voice. If your voice is more Andrea Bocelli (opera) than Justin Bieber (pop), that’s ok! Being true to your own voice, which inherently has unique qualities, is what will shine instead of doing a song that’s popular but doesn’t showcase your voice in the best light.

Find out which type of music suits your voice by listening to different singing styles and genres. Once you figure that out, you can start working on perfecting your style.

3. The Judges Are Your Audience

One mistake some vocalists make in their auditions is forcefully singing to judges, which turns to ineffectively singing through the judges — this is a common singing audition mistake. Treat the judges as your audience members as opposed to your adjudicators. Take them on your journey and help them feel the emotion you’re conveying through the lyrics of your song. The more you sing FOR them and less TO them, the more effective your performance will be.

4. Always Warm-Up Your Voice

One of the things vocalists time and time again fail to realize in their rehearsals and auditions is to properly warm-up their voices. Much like how an athlete that needs to fully stretch out their body before entering a game, a singer must stretch the muscles in their vocal cavity to be as musically effective as possible.

Be sure to take ample time to go through all of the warm-ups and vocal exercises you have learned from your vocal coach. This is very important to ensure that you can hit all the notes you need to and acquire consistency throughout the song.

There’s more to warming up your singing voice than you may think. For example, reciting tongue twisters are a great way to practice syllable annunciation. Be sure to try more outside-of-the-box vocal warm-ups to increase your vocal effectiveness.

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Tips for Pre-Recorded Auditions

In many cases, vocal competitions will require you to send in an audition video in lieu of a live performance. This may be a result of limited space in the audition venue, limited time with the judges, or due to the sheer amount of auditionees that can’t possibly be given the chance to perform live.

Make no mistake, pre-recorded auditions are not necessarily easier than live ones. Sure, you’re able to record yourself as many times as you need, but in turn, the judges are able to play your tape over and over again. If you make a mistake, a simple rewind will allow the judges to hear it again.

With that said, pre-recorded auditions can be powerful when done right. Let me show you some tips on how to make an impact on the judges via a video performance.

1. Create a Performance

One interesting thing about the major singing competitions, such as The Voice, is that their video submission guidelines are straightforward, and yet they leave room for creative freedom. With that freedom afforded to you, you should create a performance video.

For this, have your camera set up with a view of a stage, makeshift stage, or perhaps even just curtains. Whether you’re able to record in a large auditorium or a small bedroom, make the best of the environment to boost your performance.

A performance is only supplemented by how well a singer can act. You need to make sure that your performance resonates with the audience behind the camera lens, which is a great reason why singers should learn how to act.

2. Eye Contact and Connection

While performing in front of the camera, understand that your audience lies behind the camera lens. You must therefore create an artificial connection toward the camera by engaging your eyes, facial expressions, and body language. Maintaining eye contact is an important facet of how to sing with confidence.

The best way to find this connection is through a couple methods: record and review your interactions with the camera or ask someone to stand behind the camera so you may sing to them. Performing in front of someone else is good practice for suppressing your nerves and building your confidence.

These tricks can help you see what’s working in your performance and what’s not.

3. Stay Loose!

With a lens in front of us, many vocalists tend to lock up and become methodical, robotic, or in layman’s terms, fake. We may lose the natural tenor of our speaking voice when introducing ourselves, or we may rush to get our words out and muddle our speech in order to meet the time requirements.

That nervous energy is then transferred into our performance, which we know isn’t the best performance we’re capable of giving. Be sure to keep yourself loose before the camera turns on. You’ll be more relaxed if you practice your introduction and conclusion, and use the natural cadences in your speaking voice to keep you grounded as you move into your vocal performance.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to rock your vocal audition!

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2016 Online Singing Contests

Ready to enter? Here are some competitions to look into, most of which are online singing contests that you can enter no matter where you live. Some of them do require travel if you advance to the next round, so be sure to check out the details on the contest’s website.

Young Arts

  • Cash awards of up to $10,000
  • Must be a U.S. resident, age 15-18, or in grade 10-12
  • Submit an online application through National Young Arts website
  • Apply here

Song Door

  • Must be 16+ to enter
  • Submit your song online, along with your $10 entry fee
  • Enter here

New Song Contest

  • Open to anyone 18+
  • Submit your song online, along with your $30 application fee
  • Enter here

Mid-Atlantic Song Contest

  • No criteria currently given, check back later

Fox’s Next Empire Artist

  • Must be a U.S. resident, 18+
  • Submit a video performance of your solo or group act
  • Enter here

Song of the Year

  • Must be a U.S. resident, 18+
  • Submit your song online and pay the entry fee (varies)
  • Enter here

Unsigned Only

  • Must be amateurs 18+, younger entrants may enter with parental permission
  • Submit your song and lyrics online or through the mail, along with $30 per entry
  • Enter here

Paramount Song Contest

  • Please contact contest officials for more information
  • Enter here

American Traditions Competition

  • Must be 21+ to enter
  • Submit three songs from the categories listed on the contestant information page, and pay the entry fee of $55
  • Apply here

Hal Leonard Vocal Competition

  • All ages welcome
  • Submit a video recording
  • Enter here

Classical Singer Competition

  • Open to anyone 14+
  • Two song submission by video recording online, by mail, or audition in person, along with $85 entry fee
  • Register here

The American Prize

  • Open to U.S. residents 18+
  • Send in 3-5 recordings of arias to the email below, along with $40 entry fee and form
  • Enter here

Schmidt Competition

  • Open to high school sophomore, juniors, and seniors
  • Complete your application and pay the $45 entry fee, then perform three musical compositions live from one of the locations listed
  • Apply here

Texas Troubador

  • Anyone is welcome to enter, but finalists will be asked to travel to Clifton, TX
  • Submit one to three original songs, along with application and entry fee
  • Apply here

Singist Online Singing Contest

  • Submit a video (see guidelines on their page) and users vote on the winners
  • Contest re-starts each month

SingSnap Online Karaoke Competitions

  • Join the SingSnap network to upload videos, meet other singers, and share your talents

American Protege

  • Anyone five or older can enter (varies by category)
  • Send a video recording, $200 application fee, and application form
  • Enter here

American Guild of Music regional contests

  • Open to students with 3 months to 12 years of music study, up to age 21
  • Your teacher must be an American Guild of Music member to participate
  • Regional contests are held throughout the year; see website for details and upcoming dates

The Voice Auditions

Singing Contests for Kids

If your son or daughter has an interest in the spotlight, a few of the singing contests listed above are open to youngsters. However, it’s a good idea to start with voice lessons to help build their confidence and refine their voices before entering. And of course, make sure to show your support along the way, no matter how they place!

Singing Contests for Teens

Singing competitions can be a great resume-booster and wonderful experience if you’re thinking of pursuing a music degree or a career in music. Getting as much performance experience as you can is key! Check out the age restrictions on the singing contests listed above, or check with your teacher for local competition recommendations.

Additional Resources for Singing Contests

Readers, do you know of other singing contests for teens, singing contests for kids, or singing contests for all ages? Leave a comment and let us know the details!

MiltonJPost Author: Milton J.
Milton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

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strumming patterns

7 Ukulele Strumming Patterns for Beginners

ukulele strumming patterns

No matter where you are in  your ukulele lessons, learning different ukulele strumming patterns will help you improve your technique and your sound. Here, ukulele instructor Willy M. goes over some basic strumming and fingerpicking patterns…

Welcome to picking on the ukulele with Willy. In this lesson, we will learn how to insult, berate, sting and verbally abuse your ukulele! Just kidding! We’re going to talk about ukulele strumming patterns. We’ll also cover picking techniques and strumming basics that will help you make beautiful music with your ukulele.

Ukulele Strumming Techniques

One of the first things that people ask with any stringed instrument is: “How do I strum?” This seems like a simple question until you’re actually holding the ukulele in your hands and wondering: “Should I use my thumb? My fingers? Should I use a pick?”

These are important questions, but once you find the answers, you’re hit with even more questions like: “Do I strum fast, or slow, up or down, or down and then up?” Or, “am I supposed to strum only down or only up?” “What about finger picking? How does that work?”

To eliminate confusion, let’s take a look at some of these questions. First, let’s tackle basic strumming technique, then we’ll delve into different ukulele strumming patterns you can try on your own.

Playing the Ukulele With a Pick

I’m a fingerpicker. I started out on the guitar, and then moved to the mandolin and ukulele after learning a lot of my technique on the guitar. So I apply guitar principles to the ukulele. These techniques are actually very helpful, and can keep you from developing bad habits that can hurt your wrists and fingers.

First of all, if you decide to use a pick, you should learn how to hold a pick correctly. Make sure that you don’t hold it too tightly. Your pick should be held firmly between the thumb and the first finger, and your hand should not be cramped up (you don’t need to have a death grip on the pick). In fact, proper technique is to hold the pick with a firmness that you or a friend could gently tug the pick from your fingers, but not so loosely that you will drop the pick when you play.

Now, what type of pick should you use? That all depends on the sound you want to hear. I recommend going to your local music store and purchasing six types of picks. First, buy the thinnest type of pick that they have. Then, buy the thickest one, and then the one in between. Then see if they have a felt pick (if they don’t, they can probably order one for you). You may also want to pick up a set of banjo picks (either metal, plastic, or both). Then after you pay, take a quarter or dime from the change, and add that to your pick collection. Brian May, lead guitarist from the rock band Queen, used an English Pence with a milled edge to get interesting sounds out of the strings.

Give all of these picks a try, and see which ones work for you. This collection of picks should give you plenty to experiment with, and will help you figure out if you like using picks, or if you’d rather do without them and use your fingers.


If you’re going to use your fingers, I recommend keeping the fingernails on your fretting hand trimmed. If you want, you can let the ones on your picking hand grow a little longer, or use acrylic nails (like James Taylor and Phil Keaggy). I keep both of my hands trimmed short when I play, and use the pads of my fingers. Try some different things and see what works for you!

When you finger pick, keep your hands loose, and try not to allow yourself to get stressed out as you play. I know that learning something new requires a lot of concentration, but you don’t want to get in the habit of playing stressed; you will experience pain, discomfort, and in extreme cases, develop problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and ulna nerve damage.


Ukulele Strumming Patterns

Once you break it down and think about it, ukulele strumming isn’t that difficult. You have down strums, up strums, and palm-muting techniques. If you apply these three principles, you get a wide variety of rhythmic variation that you can use to play songs.

The key to being a good rhythm player is to learn to strum in time to the music. Practice slowly at first, and then speed up as you get better. Also, try strumming in ways that you think accentuate the beat of the song. Ask yourself: “is what I’m strumming adding to or taking away from the drum section in this song?” If there are no drums, ask yourself: “is my strumming rhythmic and steady, and does it fill in where the drums are missing?”

Palm muting is a fun exercise to practice when you’re strumming. Place the bottom part of your hand across all the strings, lightly. Roll your hand and use your pick to strum across the strings. You should hear a “plunky” sound. This is a common guitar technique that’s used by the Cars and other ’80s rock bands. It sounds very interesting on the ukulele; it gives it a “pizzicato” sound.

Here are some ukulele strumming patterns to help you get started:

Down – Up – Down – Up

down up down up


This simple pattern is the most basic, and can be strummed to whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, or even eighth and 16th notes. Just consider that each type of note you strum to will either make it sound slower or faster.

When you strum a whole note, you will count to four before you strum the next up whole note. If you’re using eighth notes, you will strum eight times in each measure.



Down – Down – Up

down down up

This pattern allows you to rest on the last beat of a four-count measure. Or you can play it as a waltz-time kind of feel.



Down – Down – Up – Up

down down up up


This is another popular, easy pattern.



Down – Up – Down

down up down


This is also called a triplet pattern. Triplets are clever devices that allow you to cram three notes into the space of two!

If you’re repeating this pattern, it will go like this: D – U – D, D – U – D, etc.



Up – Up – Up – Up

up up up up


This pattern gives you a bright, jumpy sound.



Down – Down – Down – Down

ukulele strumming patterns

This pattern is the opposite of the last one, and it has a more authoritative beat.



Down – Up – Up

down up up


This can be another triplet pattern, or three beats and a rest.

Keep trying various combinations until you find some that work for you.


Ukulele Picking Patterns

Finally, let’s look at ukulele picking patterns. With these patterns, you don’t need a pick. You can use one if you’d like, but most people throw out the pick and use just their fingers.
Now which fingers should you use? Well, you have four strings, so you probably won’t need your pinky. This leaves you the option to finger pick with your thumb by itself, your thumb and forefinger, your thumb, your forefinger and middle finger, or your thumb, forefinger, middle, and ring fingers.

I personally tend to finger pick with just my thumb and first finger, though occasionally, I will throw in a banjo roll with my first three fingers. You need to try what works for you, but here are a few patterns that you can experiment with to see what feels comfortable.

For these patterns, you should know how to do some basic rolls on the ukulele.

Forward Roll

Place your fingers over the strings (lightly). Use your thumb to control the G and C strings. Use your thumb to alternately pick the G and C.

Use your index finger to control the E string, and use your middle finger for the A string. The pattern goes like this: thumb – index- middle.

Backwards Roll

This is the forward roll in reverse: middle – index – thumb.

For these picking patterns, I will give you the strings and you can try the different fingerpicking methods. You might want to practice these patterns by holding down a chord that you’re familiar with and then picking along.

G, C, E, G, C, E

This is basically a forward banjo roll.

G, G, C, E, A

This is a modification of the forward banjo roll.

C, E, G, A

A four-string variation of a Travis-style roll.

C, C, E, G, C

Another type of Travis roll.

C, C, E, G, A

This is basically a forward roll.

C, C, E, G, A, E, C

A forward-backwards roll.

A, E, C, G

A backwards roll.

A, A, E, C, G, C

Another backwards roll, but ends on the tonic.

G, A, C, A, E, A

Similar to the picking in the classical Spanish song Malagueña.”

G, A, C, A, C, A, G

This is another variation of the previous pattern.

You can also try these fingerpicking patterns with just your thumb and first finger, or your thumb and middle finger. Then, try them again with your thumb, first finger, and middle finger. Then, try them all again with your thumb, first finger, middle finger, and ring finger.
So there you have it; a bunch of rolls, patterns, fingerings, strums, and rhythms that should help you get started strumming the ukulele!

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!

Photo courtesy WFIU Public Radio

If you need some more help with strumming patterns, make sure to ask your ukulele teacher!

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piano pop songs

100 Piano Pop Songs Everyone Will Love

piano pop songs

Do you need a break from classical music? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares 100 piano pop songs you can add to your repertoire…

Are you sick of playing the same classical tunes over and over again? It may be time to spice up your piano playing by adding a few piano pop songs to the mix.

Whether you’re into pop rock or R&B, there are tons of popular pop songs you can learn on the piano.

Not only will learning piano pop songs help keep you interested, but it will also improve your performances.

Its common for piano players to get requests for pop songs. Learning a few piano pop songs will ensure that you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Below is a list of 100 piano pop songs that everyone will enjoy. The following songs are broken down into various categories for easy browsing.

Choose a few of your favorite songs to add to your repertoire. Please note that some of these piano pop songs are more difficult than others.

If you can’t play one, just move onto an easier one until you’ve sharped your skills.

Easy Piano Pop Songs for Kids

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Bob Marley
  • Go the Distance: Hercules
  • Mmm Bop: Hanson
  • Let it Go:Frozen
  • Happy: Pharrell Williams
  • You’ll be in My Heart: Tarzan
  • Accidentally in Love: Sherk
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  • A Whole New World: Aladdin
  • Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen
  • I See the Light: Tangled
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Judy Garland
  • The Rainbow Connection: Kermit the Frog
  • My Girl: Temptations
  • Circle of Life: The Lion King
  • I Got You Babe: Sonny and Cher
  • Kiss The Girl: The Little Mermaid
  • Do You Want to Build A Snowman?: Frozen
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice: The Beach Boys
  • Reflection: Mulan
  • That’s How You Know: Enchanted
  • YMCA: Village People
  • Part of Your World: The Little Mermaid
  • The Medallion Calls: Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Piano Pop Songs for Teens

  • Get Lucky: Daft Punk
  • Sexy and I Know It: LMFAO
  • Thrift Shop: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Clarity: Zedd
  • Born This Way:Lady Gaga
  • Thinking Out Loud: Ed Sheeran
  • Before He Cheats:Carrie Underwood
  • Boyfriend: Justin Beiber
  • Single Ladies: Beyonce
  • Party in the U.S.A: Miley Cyrus
  • California Girls: Katie Perry
  • Trouble: Taylor Swift
  • I Want It That Way:Backstreet Boys
  • Bye, Bye, Bye: NSYNC
  • Waterfalls: TLC
  • Wannabe: Spice Girls
  • Hit Me Baby One More Time: Britney Spears
  • Ain’t No Other Man: Christina Aguilera
  • Lady Marmalade: Moulin Rouge
  • I Believe I Can Fly: R. Kelly
  • Rehab: Amy Winehouse
  • Uptown Funk: Bruno Mars
  • Rolling in the Deep: Adele
  • Hey Ya: Outkast
  • Torn: Natalie Imbruglia
  • Wonderwall: Oasis
  • Hero: Mariah Carey
  • Respect: Aretha Franklin
  • Shake It Off: Taylor Swift

Piano Pop Songs for Adults

  • The Piano Man: Billy Joel
  • Bennie and the Jets: Elton John
  • Dancing Queen: Abba
  • Hey Jude:The Beatles
  • California Dreaming: The Mamma’s and The Papa’s
  • Roxanne: Sting
  • Superstitious: Stevie Wonder
  • River Deep, Mountain High: Tina Turner
  • Natural Woman: Carole King
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love: Elvis
  • American Pie: Don McLean
  • I Can’t Make You Love Me: Bonnie Raitt
  • What a Wonderful World: Ray Charles
  • Do You Think I’m Sexy: Rod Stewart
  • Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: U2
  • Hotel California: The Eagles
  • Crazy:Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline
  • I Will Always Love You: Dolly Parton
  • Moondance: Van Morrison
  • Knockin on Heaven’s Door: Bob Dylan
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water: Simon and Garfunkel
  • Last Dance: Donna Summers
  • Stairway to Heaven: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
  • Big Yellow Taxi: Joni Mitchell
  • Born in the U.S.A: Bruce Springsteen
  • My Heart will Go On: Celine Dion
  • Material Girl: Madonna
  • Time After Time: Cyndi Lauper
  • Stop! In the Name of Love: Diana Ross
  • Lanslide: Fleetwood Mac
  • Wind Beneath My Wings: Bette Midler
  • Don’t rain on my Parade: Barbra Streisand
  • Don’t Stop Believing: Journey
  • Sweet Caroline: Neil Diamond
  • Smooth Criminal: Michael Jackson
  • I’ve Had the Time of My Life: Dirty Dancing
  • I’ll Make Love to You: Boyz II men
  • Un-Break My Heart:Toni Braxton
  • Killing Me Softly: Roberta Flack
  • Ironic: Alanis Morrisette
  • Kiss From a Rose: Seal
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Pat Benetar
  • I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones
  • At Last: Etta James
  • Sweet Child of Mine: Guns and Roses
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Livin on a Prayer: Bon Jovi

Where to Find Piano Pop Sheet Music

Now that you’ve browsed through the 100 piano pop songs, chances are you’re going to need some piano sheet music. Below are some great websites where you can find sheet music for all of the piano pop songs above.

  • Piano Play It: From pop to Disney, this website has great piano sheet music for kids and beginners. The best part is it’s free! Check out the website here.
  • 8notes.com: This website has a ton of piano sheet music. You can browse through categories, such as “playalong jam tracks,” “most popular piano,” and more. Check out the website here.
  • OnlinePianist: This website also has a wide variety of piano pop sheet music. What’s great about this website is that it indicates whether a song is beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Check out the website here.

Expand your repertoire with these fun piano pop songs. If you need help learning new techniques and styles, ask your piano teacher for some help!

Photos by woodleywonderworks and Jeff Dun

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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A Beginner’s Guide to Proper Violin Fingering [Instructional Video]

One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to play the violin is finger placement. Below, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. provides a lesson in proper violin fingering…

So you’ve just started to learn how to play the violin. Before you can start wowing crowds like famous violin players Lindsay Stirling and Joshua Bell, it’s important that you first learn the basics, starting with proper violin fingering.

Learning the proper violin finger placement is a great place to start, as it will serve as the foundation of your violin playing. Below is a beginner’s guide to proper violin fingering and placement.

Let’s get started!

What is First Position?

There are several violin finger positions one must learn. However, as a beginner, the first one you’ll need to learn is called first position.

First position includes the first (or lowest) five notes that you can play on each violin string.

Since violins don’t have frets or marks that show you where to put your fingers the way guitars do, one of the most challenging aspects of learning the instrument is knowing where to place your fingers.

If you don’t have your finger in exactly the right spot (even if it’s just a hair off) the note can come out sounding out of tune.

The most common way to get around this issue is to place finger tapes on the fingerboard that show you the proper violin finger placement.

Over time, your fingers will develop something we call “muscle memory,” and eventually you’ll be able to remove the tapes and play in tune without them.

Most beginners keep their tapes on anywhere from six months to a couple of years depending on the student.

What You’ll Need

  • Finger tape: You can find a roll of violin finger tape online or at your local violin shop. You can also purchase pinstripe tape from an automotive shop.
  • Chromatic tuner or smartphone tuning app: See our list of the top 10 violin tuner apps here.
  • Your violin
  • Pencil

How to Put Finger Tapes on Your Violin

You will first want to make sure your violin is in tune. You can tune it using a chromatic tuner or smartphone violin tuner app, as explained in this instructional video.

It is imperative to get each string exactly in tune before applying your tapes. Therefore, check your tuning a couple of times just to be sure.

Once you’ve tuned your violin, place your first finger about two inches down from the top of the fingerboard on the G string and pluck the string.

Look at your tuner and move your finger around until the tuner reads A and lights up green with the tuner needle in the middle of the dial signifying that your A is in tune.

You can use a pencil to mark the spot and then slide a three-inch long strip of tape under the strings and press down firmly to go across the entire fingerboard and around the neck of the violin. This will be your first finger tape.

Place your first finger (index finger) on the tape and pluck one string at a time, looking at the tuner to make sure it reads A on the G string, E on the D string, B on the A string and F # on the E string.

If the tuner reads each note as in tune, the tape has been placed correctly. You may need to adjust it a few times and double check with the tuner before it is perfectly placed. The same process will follow for the placement of each tape.

The second finger tape will be placed roughly one inch away from the first tape. Adjust your second finger (middle finger) on the G string until the tuner reads B and then place your tape down.

When the second finger is placed on the second finger tape on each string, the tuner should read B on the G string, F # on the D string, C # on the A string and G # on the E string.

The third finger tape will be placed about a half inch or less away from the second finger tape. Adjust your third finger (ring finger) on the G string until the tuner reads C and then place your tape down.

When the third finger is placed on the third finger tape on each string, the tuner should read C on the G string, G on the D string, D on the A string and A on the E string.

The fourth finger tape will go down about an inch away from the third finger tape. Adjust your fourth finger (pinky finger) on the G string until the tuner reads D and then place your tape down.

When the fourth finger is placed on the fourth finger tape each string, the tuner should read D on the G string, A on the D string, E on the A string and B on the E string.

Please note that the rough one-inch etc. measurements I am using for spacing are based on a full size or 4/4 violin.

If you’re putting tape on a smaller violin, everything will be the same except that the tape will be placed closer together.

The main thing to pay attention to is getting the correct readings for the notes on the tuner.

And that’s it! Now that you have all four tapes down, you’ll know the proper violin finger placement while playing in first position.

How to Label Notes

Once you’ve put your tapes on, the next step will be to learn and memorize where each note in first position is and how it corresponds to the tapes.

In music, we use the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F and G to describe each note.

Once you’ve gotten to the end of the cycle and played G, you’ll start back over with A again and the sequence will repeat.

See violin fingering chart below:

Memorizing the Notes in First Position

So looking at your violin, start with your G string and place your first finger on the first finger tape. This note would be A.

Then place your second finger on the second finger tape. This note would be B. Your third finger would be C and so forth and so on.

You can look at the violin finger chart below to see where all of the notes fall on your tapes.

Over time, you will memorize all of these notes and become so familiar with them that you’ll be able to identify them without having to stop to think.

Making flash cards with a drawing of the note on one side and a label of the note on the other side is a really great way to help you memorize the notes.

See violin fingering chart below:

There are a lot of other notes that fall in between the notes on the tapes.

However, the reason why we start with the notes in the above chart is that these are the most commonly used notes and therefore the easiest to learn.

For instance, most beginner violin books will contain songs or exercises that use these notes.

Once you’ve memorized all of the notes on the tapes and where they fall on the violin, you can start to learn the notes that fall in between the tapes as illustrated in the chart below.

You won’t need to put down tapes for all of these other notes because after getting familiarized with the first set of notes on the tapes you’ll be able to rely on the tapes, your fingers, and muscle memory as guide.

See violin fingering chart below:

Understanding Sharp and Flat Notes

Chances are you’ve noticed that there are the standard notes labeled as A, B, C etc. and then there are other notes such as C#, B♭, G#,  and A♭

So what exactly do those funny symbols mean? Below are some basic guidelines to understanding these other notes:

When you see a # symbol it means “sharp.” A sharp note, for instance a C # (C sharp), is a half-step higher than just a regular C.

When you see a ♭ symbol it means “flat.” A flat note, for instance B♭ (B flat), is a half-step lower than just a regular B.

If you look at the violin fingering charts above, you’ll see that some of the sharp notes fall on the tapes, but for many others, such as B♭ or G #, your fingers will need to stray from the tape.

By sliding the nearest finger either above or below the tape, you can accomplish these notes.

For instance, in order to play the B♭ on the A string, take your first finger which is normally positioned to play a B on the first finger tape on A string and slide it a half step below the first finger tape to turn that note into a B.

You can use your tuner to make sure your finger is in the correct spot at first.

Now You’re Ready

Once you’ve memorized all of the notes in both of the violin fingering charts above and mastered playing them fluidly, you’ll know all of the notes in first position.

Most beginners spend the first couple of years studying first position, while they’re developing their violin fingering technique, bow technique, etc.

Once you have a good foundation and grasp on proper violin fingering, you can delve into learning other more advanced positions on the violin, such as third and fifth position.

In the meantime, I hope this information on the proper violin finger placement has helped you and I wish you the best on your musical journeys!

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin in Austin, TX. She is a classically trained violinist with over 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

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drum exercises

11 Drum Exercises for Speed, Independence, and Control

drum exercises

If you want to improve as a drummer, you have to practice! But how can you make your practice time more productive? By working on specific exercises, you can strengthen your weaknesses and work on important aspects of drumming that will improve your technique. So if you want to see some big improvements in your drumming, make sure you check out these drum exercises from Saint Paul, MN drum instructor John S…

Drum exercises are rhythmic patterns that develop your drumming coordination and independence. In this article, we’re going to take a look at a wide range of exercises that are fantastic for beginning drummers and even the most advanced players.

Ready to improve your drum skills? Grab your drum sticks and let’s go!

Drum Warm Up Exercises

Drumming is a physical activity, and like most physical activities, it’s important to warm up your muscles and get your limbs working in coordination. Whether preparing to practice in the woodshed or perform on stage, I always try to incorporate at least five to 15 minutes of warm-up exercises into my routine.

Warm-up exercises can range in difficulty, but it’s important to pick exercises that are appropriate for your skill level, because these exercises are geared toward simple coordination and building your confidence behind the drum set. That being said, I encourage drummers to use a metronome when warming up because it strengthens your time-keeping in addition to warming up your body.

Drum Pad Exercises

First, let’s take a look at a few simple rudiment warm-ups. Drum rudiments are drum patterns that you can use for drills or warm-ups, or develop into more complex drum patterns.

These exercises are designed to be played on one surface, and I like to play them on a drum pad before hitting the stage for a performance.

Single Stroke Roll



Double Stroke Roll


Single Paraddidle


Double Paraddidle


Triplets (Single Stroke Seven)



Drum Exercises for Beginners

Now, let’s try  some warm-up exercises that incorporate the whole drum set. These warm-ups are more challenging than the drum pad warm-ups because they incorporate more drums and the coordination of all four limbs.

Start slow, and remember: it’s about accuracy and coordination, not speed and power. If these exercises seem difficult, try subtracting one limb (I usually recommend the hi-hat foot), and then try the exercises with just three limbs.

Note: These exercises are divided into groups of two. The exercises on the left use just one surface for the hands (snare drum), while the exercises on the right focus on moving the hands around the drum kit.

Make sure to practice leading with both the right and left hand, and don’t forget to use a metronome!


Here’s a great five-minute drum set warm-up video that runs through a few of the exercises, in addition to providing a few new exercises. Check the video information section to download the accompanying sheet music and try playing along with the teacher.

Snare Drum Exercises

Snare drum independence refers to the ability to play snare drum rhythms that are separate from the pattern(s) performed by the rest of your limbs.

For beginners, I recommend playing the exercises on the left, which focus on just two voices on the drum set (snare drum and hi-hat). Intermediate drummers may benefit from playing the exercises on the right, which incorporate a steady bass drum pattern in addition to the hands.

If you’re more advanced, try playing the snare patterns over more challenging rhythmic patterns.

Here are a few examples of trickier bass drum and hi-hat patterns which can be played along with the snare drum patterns from the sheet above:


The goal of all these drum exercises is to be able to apply any number of snare drum rhythms freely to your own drumming, rather than just playing a repetitive loop.

Try mixing and matching the various exercises to come up with your own snare drum melody, or make up your own snare drum rhythms!

Bass Drum Exercises

Bass drum independence refers to the ability to play bass drum rhythms that are separate from the pattern(s) performed by the rest of your limbs. Much like the snare drum independence exercises, I recommend that beginners focus on just two voices on the drum set (bass drum and hi-hat) before adding the third (snare drum).

Check out this video from Online Drummer and accompanying sheet music (below) for a series of great bass drum independence exercises.

drum exercises

Image courtesy Online Drummer

Drum Exercises for Speed

Besides how to improve, most drum students want to know how to play drums faster. Like the other skills we’ve discussed (coordination and independence), becoming a faster drummer doesn’t just happen overnight. Let’s take a look at several drum exercises to help improve your speed.

Develop Sound Technique

While there are a number of correct drum techniques, there are an awful lot more incorrect techniques that will inhibit your speed. Poor technique can even potentially cause injury, in the long run.

Developing good drumstick technique takes time and lots of practice. As a beginner, it’s important to watch your hands to make sure you’re using proper stick technique. Check out this video to learn a few simple exercises that will increase your hand speed.


There are a number of things you can try to boost your drum technique. For example, play heel down vs. heel up, or bury the beater against the head vs. releasing the beater from the head.

I also recommend playing along with the simple exercises in this video from Drumeo to improve your bass drum speed.

Use Heavier Sticks for Practice

When you practice, use sticks that are heavier than your regular drum sticks. In much the same way that baseball players put weights on their bats before going up to bat, practicing with heavier drum sticks will make your usual sticks seem almost effortless when you switch back.

Practice single strokes, double strokes, and paradiddles with a metronome, gradually increasing your metronome speed. Then practice alternating singles, doubles, and paradiddles between the hands and feet. The four-limb warm-up exercises in this article are also great to develop speed. Remember, speed comes from both of your hands being even, so make sure you practice leading with both.

In this video, Tony Royster Jr. discusses his practice routine for increasing speed, which includes combining singles, doubles, and paradiddles into a smooth warm-up loop.

Swing Pattern Drum Exercises

These drum exercises are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to warm-ups and developing independence with each limb. Most of the exercises focus on straight rhythmic patterns, but I encourage drummers to try the exercises with a triplet-based, “swing” feel.

Here is a video that can help beginner drummers learn to swing a drum pattern:

For more rhythmic drum exercises, I recommend purchasing Ted Reed’s book Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer. This book is often considered the most important source for developing independence, as it provides page after page of unique rhythms that can be applied to any limb on the drum set, and performed either swung or straight.

Below is a brief excerpt from his book that combines a wide range of patterns into an exercise that will test overall independence of any limb you choose. These rhythms can be translated to any drum(s) and can be played with either a straight or swing feel

Now you have several different drum exercises to keep you busy and help you improve! If you need help with any of these exercises, make sure to ask your drum teacher!

Which of these drum exercises have you tried? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!


Maegan-W Post Author: John S.
John S. is a drum and percussion instructor in Saint Paul, MN. A full-time musician and teacher, he performs with two different bands and teaches in-home and in-studio lessons. Learn more about John here!

Photo courtesy David Russo 

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