9 Language-Learning Tips for Summer

9 Proven Language-Learning Tips Just for Summer

9 Language-Learning Tips for Summer

We get it — summertime often means vacations where you’ll be out of your regular routine, and maybe even taking a break from your classes or lessons. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. offers some tips for avoiding the dreaded learning loss, while still enjoying your summer…

 

Practice makes perfect, and language skills are no exception. And while we don’t recommend taking time off from learning, we understand the summertime mindset.

If you must take a break, you can avoid major learning losses — while still having fun and enjoying your summer. Use your free time to explore the language you’ve been studying in new ways, so you’ll return in the fall with increased skills, fluency, and appreciation for the language you’re mastering.

Continue reading for tips specifically for summer, aimed at strengthening the skills you’ve already developed, exploring new facets of the language, and maintaining motivation and momentum in your target language.

Summer language-learning tips for parents

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Parents

 

  •  Hire an au pair with a specific language background.

Au pair arrangements can be ideal: you provide someone with the opportunity to travel with you or stay in your home, and in exchange, they offer child care, in the target language alone or in combination with English. Not only will your child improve his or her language skills, they will also make a new friend and learn directly about the culture behind the language.

  • Make new friends.

As a parent, you’re probably always looking for activities to keep your kids busy in the summer; seek out like-minded parents whose children are either learning the same language or are growing up speaking it, and plan a play date! You can even offer to host it. During the play date, you could encourage the kids to have a tea party in the target language, have the dolls or stuffed animals speak in the target language, or even put on a Disney movie dubbed into the target language.

  • Look into summer language camps.

Going to a language camp can create a lifelong love of learning and languages, as it can be a uniquely profound and immersive experience for your child. Research camps to find one at the right level for your child, and you’ll see their language skills soar!

Summer language-learning tips for adults

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Adults

  • Keep up with your workbook, listening activities, and other supplementary materials.

If you or your tutor is out of town, there’s plenty you can do on your own! Using a textbook that comes with a workbook and/or audio activities is a great idea, since you can check your work with the answer key. For bonus points of education and enjoyment, try working on your workbook in a café that offers cuisine from the culture. For example, if you’re learning French, head to a French cafe and enjoy a croissant and an espresso while working.

  • Attend outdoor cultural events.

Summertime is made for outdoor dancing, film screenings, and picnics. Research events in your community to find which activities are culturally oriented toward your target language. While you’re attending these events, you may make new friends, practice the language, and experience the culture first-hand.

  • Join a book club, in person or online.

Reading is a summertime pastime that can go wherever you go; you can read at the beach, on a plane, or in a garden, and you’ll be building new vocabulary, increasing your reading speed and comprehension, and enjoying yourself in your target language. Try either joining a club where you can discuss what you’re reading, or create your own personal reading challenge for the summer – choose several books and commit to finishing them by a certain date!

Summer language-learning tips for everyone

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Everyone

  • Reinforce language skills in the car. 

If you’re planning some summer travel, make use of that time stuck in a car, plane, or train! For kids, consider bringing along some flashcards or language-focused card games to keep them occupied and engaged. You could also download language-learning apps and games onto your iPad or iPhone. For adults, queue up some interesting podcasts in your target language. (Editor’s Note: Check out our top picks for Spanish podcasts!)

  •  Join a cultural center.

Organizations that are dedicated to a specific culture offer loads of fun and learning in the summer, when it’s a great time to be out and about. Between film screenings, organized trips to museums and cultural institutions, and picnic gatherings and social hours, cultural centers will offer you or your child creative ways to engage with the language.

  • Travel!

If you’ve dreamed of exploring Spain, Germany, Italy, or anywhere else, summer is a great time to do so! You’ll return home refreshed, along with immersing yourself in the language. Plan ahead of time how you’ll maximize your time spoken in the target language and minimize the use of English.

 

Of course, these language-learning tips are just the beginning — use your imagination and incorporate your target language into whatever activities you enjoy! Enjoy your extracurricular enrichment, and don’t forget to schedule your next lesson or class for the fall, as you’ll want to continue building on all the new skills you developed in the summer!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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French vocabulary for summer

52 Fun French Vocabulary Words and Phrases for Summer

French vocabulary for summer

Summer, summer, summertime! It’s the perfect time to relax and have some fun. Plus, it’s a season full of fun French words and phrases! Read on to learn some vocab from French tutor Beth L. 

 

Summer is coming, and France is a wonderful haven during this time of year (if you can avoid the heat)! The weather is warm, and delicious, fresh food abounds. Children are on vacation from school, and many families take advantage of that to travel. For many, the allure of nature and the great outdoors is difficult to resist.

What will you be doing with your summer? Beef up your vocabulary so you can tell your friends about it – in French!

One of the first things summer brings to mind is the excitement of vacation and travel.

1) l’été – summer
2) les vacances – vacation
Note: les vacances d’été – summer vacation
3) voyager – to travel
4) un voyage – a journey
5) juin – June
6) juillet – July
7) août – August

Now, let’s use these words in a sentence! For example…

  • Pendant mes vacances d’été, j’aime bien voyager! (During my summer vacation, I like to travel!)
  • Je peux choisir le mois de juin, le mois de juillet, ou le mois d’août pour mon voyage. (I can choose the month of June, the month of July, or the month of August for my trip.)

Many people enjoy the extra time and warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors.

8) le parc – the park
9) la pelouse – the lawn / grass
10) un pique-nique – a picnic
11) de la glace – some ice cream
12) la plage – the beach
13) le sable – sand
14) la piscine – the swimming pool
15) la mer – the sea
16) l’océan – the ocean
17) un maillot de bain – a swim suit
18) un lac – a lake
19) un bateau – a boat
20) nager – to swim
21) le Jardin – the garden
22) jardiner – to garden
23) une fleur / des fleurs – a / some flower(s)
24) une plante – a plant
25) un arbre – a tree
26) la nature – nature
27) les montagnes – the mountains
28) dehors – outside
29) marcher – to walk
30) courir – to run
31) jouer – to play

Editor’s Note: Get a refresher on conjugating -er verbs.

Example sentences:

  • Pendant l’été, nous jouons souvent dans le parc. (During the summer, we often play in the park.)
  • On prend un pique-nique pour déjeuner déhors. (We bring a picnic to eat lunch outside.)
  • J’aime surtout le jardin d’enfants avec ses fleurs et ses arbres. (I especially like the children’s garden with its flowers and trees.)
  • J’ai toujours aimé les bateaux. (I always liked boats.)
  • Quand je suis à la mer, je fais du bateau à voiles. (When I’m by the sea, I go sailboating.)
  • Quand je passe du temps à un lac, je regarde l’eau et les arbres, et j’écoute la silence. (When I spend time at a lake, I look at the water and the trees, and I listen to the silence.)

With the outdoors, of course, you’ll need to be able to talk about the beautiful weather, as well.

32) le soleil – the sun
33) la chaleur – the heat
34) le vent – the wind
35) les nuages – the clouds
36) le ciel – the sky
37) le sud – the south

Example sentences:

  • Quand on va à la plage, il faut se souvenir de son maillot de bain! (When you go to the beach, you must remember your bathing suit!)
  • Comme ça, on peut courir dans l’eau et dans le sable. On peut se bronzer sous le soleil, sentir le vent sur la peau, et apprécier la beauté de l’eau et du ciel. (That way, you/we/one can run in the water and in the sand. You/we/one can tan yourself/ourselves/oneself in the sun, feel the wind on your/our/one’s skin, and appreciate the beauty of the water and the sky.)

In addition to the words above, below are some common phrases and expressions related to summer.

1) Je vais dehors – I’m going outside
2) Il fait chaud – It’s hot
3) Il fait du soleil – It’s sunny
4) Il fait beau – It’s / the weather is beautiful
5) Il fait du vent – It’s windy
6) donner de l’ombre – give / provide shade
7) se limoger – to distance oneself
8) faire du camping – to go camping
9) faire du bateau à voile – to go sailboating
10) aller à la (f.) / aller au (m.) / aller aux (pl.) – to go to
11) prendre l’autoroute – take the highway
12) tomber en panne – break down
13) un coup de soleil – sunburn
14) prendre un coup de soleil – get a sunburn
15) se bronzer – to sunbathe / to get a tan

Check the same regular verb list linked above for help conjugating the regular -er verbs on this list. Several more expressions use the verbs faire and aller. (Learn more about irregular conjugations here.)

Example sentences:

  • Aujourd’hui, on a voulu se bronzer à la plage. (Today, we wanted to tan ourselves at the beach.)
  • Mais on est tombé en panne quand on a pris l’autoroute. (But our car broke down when we were getting onto the freeway.)
  • On a perdu toute une journée d’été! (We lost a whole day of summer!)

So, what are your favorite French words and phrases for summer? Here are ours:

Fun French Vocabulary Words for Summer

As school lets out and the summer begins, don’t be the first to lose your French – instead, continue practicing with your friends while you’re out having fun!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by Tommie Hansen

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The Perfect Father's Day Playlist for Rock and Roll Dads (1)

The Perfect Father’s Day Playlist for Rock & Roll Dads | Videos

Famous fathers and Father's Day songs

Shout-out to the rock and roll dads out there! Read on as guitar teacher Matt K. shares his top picks for famous dads known for rocking out, plus the best Father’s Day songs from them to play… 

 

Balancing studio time, touring, and constant press coverage is part of being a rock star. Add taking care of a kid or two (and doing it well) to the equation, and we have to wonder… how do famous musicians do it?

With Father’s Day coming up, it’s important to recognize all of the great dads out there, including the ones that make the music we love. Below, I’ve compiled a list of famous fathers, in no particular order, and which of their songs I’d add to a rock-heavy Father’s Day playlist.

1) Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney raised four children with his first wife Linda Eastman. Heather (Paul’s stepdaughter), Mary, Stella, and James. All of them have become successful in their own right. Heather is a well-known artist, Mary is a photographer, Stella is a fashion designer, and James just released an EP called “The Blackberry Train” back in May.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Yesterday”

2) Steven Tyler

Aerosmith’s frontman has four children. You may recognize at least one: Liv Tyler is an actress who has appeared in many hit films, including “Lord of the Rings”. Although his role as a father was not perfect — Liv wasn’t aware that Steven Tyler was her father until age 11 — they quickly made up for lost time. She even starred in Aerosmith’s music video “Crazy”.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Dream On”

3) Ozzy Osbourne

The Prince of Darkness has two children from his first marriage, and three children with second wife Sharon Arden: Aimee, Kelly, and Jack. The latter two were featured on the reality show “The Osbournes” with the couple. Nowadays, Ozzy is more like the Grandfather of Darkness, with six grandchildren!

Father’s Day playlist song: the 1991 hit “No More Tears”.

4) Slash

Slash is Guns and Roses’ famous top-hat-wearing guitar wizard. He has two children with pretty cool names: London and Cash. They were born in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

5) Zakk Wylde

Super-shredder Zakk Wylde makes this list because of the awesome names donned upon his children. He has three kids: Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads, Hayley Rae, and Jesse. Although Jesse didn’t get a rock and roll name, Ozzy Osbourne is his godfather.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stillborn” (below is a video of Zakk improvising over an Andy James track)

6) Travis Barker

Like Ozzy Osbourne, Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker also had a reality television show. In “Meet the Barkers”, we got an inside look into this father and his home away from the rock life.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stay Together For the Kids”

7) Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is an indie rocker who helped form the band War on Drugs. He is now a successful solo artist who seems to be working on the next big thing constantly, but it’s pretty clear his family comes first; you can see his daughter steal the show in the video below!

Father’s Day playlist song: “Never Run Away”

8) Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen may be the coolest rock dad on this list. In 2006, Van Halen’s original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s 15-year-old son, Wolfgang. Fast-forward to 6:40 in the video below and you can see them rocking out together.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

9) Thurston Moore

Sonic Youth’s singer/guitarist Thurston Moore attempted the near-impossible: he and now ex-wife Kim Gordon raised their child on the road. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Coco Hayley Gordon-Moore now fronts a band called Big Nils.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Superstar”

10) Carlos Santana

Guitar god Carlos Santana has three children: Salvador, Angelica, and Stella. Nowadays, Stella is following in his footsteps by releasing an album — although you won’t find any guitar solos here. Instead, she has a more soulful and R&B vibe to her music.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Black Magic Woman”

Readers, who would you add to this list, and what other Father’s Day songs should be included? Vote for your favorite in the poll below, or let us know who you’d add by leaving a comment below! 

Who's the most legendary rock and roll dad?

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Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

Sources: IMDb – Paul McCartney,  IMDb – Liv Tyler, IMDB – Ozzy Osbourne, IMDb – Slash, IMDb – Zakk Wylde, IMDb – Travis Barker, MusicRadar, Refinery29, IMDb – Carlos Santana, Billboard

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11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish 720x300 (1)

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish [Infographic]

conversational Spanish lessons + tips

Whether you’re learning Spanish for business or just for fun, your end goal is most likely to communicate with others — not just stare at a textbook! And to do this, you’ll need to practice listening and talking with real people. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. shares some tips, and where to find conversational Spanish lessons… 


Ready to start speaking in Spanish with confidence? The following tips include creative ways to practice your Spanish in social settings and in your community, with native and non-native speakers.

If you’ve been studying Spanish but feel your conversational skills are lagging behind your understanding of grammar or your reading abilities, use these tips to make rapid, consistent progress while simultaneously having fun!

Note: These tips work for any language you’re learning. From Spanish to Japanese to French, conversation practice is key.

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish

1. Attend social events geared toward Spanish speakers.
This could be a cultural event, a local gallery opening of Latin American art, or a community meeting regarding an issue affecting the local Spanish-speaking community.

2. Listen to material that is casual and conversation-based.
It’s great to listen to newscasts, but if you’d like to converse in Spanish, you can improve your comprehension of spoken Spanish by listening to podcasts and other recordings that reflect common usage of Spanish, rather than formal spoken Spanish. (Our Spanish podcast picks here!)

3. Combine your passions.
It can be hard to find time to improve your language skills when you’re balancing work or school, friends, and other hobbies. So, why not combine them?

If you like traveling, consider choosing a Spanish-speaking country, where you can practice your conversational skills and gain new ones. You could also consider doing volunteer or paid work in your field that would expose you to Spanish speakers. If you enjoy dining out, go out with a few friends who speak your target language — and try to go the entire meal speaking in Spanish!

4. Find a language exchange partner and work with a tutor.
Language exchanges are an excellent way to practice conversation, make a new friend, and learn all about the cultural aspects of speaking Spanish. This is a unique way to challenge your conversational skills, as language exchange partners are usually fluent, native speakers.

Keep in mind, though, if you’re making grammatical mistakes, your partner may not provide corrections. Because of this, it’s smart to balance your study by also working with a private Spanish tutor. Don’t let the word “tutor” scare you off — the great thing about private lessons is that you can set your own specific goals! If you’d prefer to spend the majority of the time practicing conversations, just let your tutor know! Many teachers specialize in conversational Spanish lessons.

5. Chat with a friend who is also learning the same language. 
If you’re more comfortable with someone familiar, try chatting with a friend who is also learning the same language! Even better, take a class together. Even if you don’t live in the same city, online group classes are a great way to learn together and get structured conversation practice with others.

6. Use online forums and communities to your advantage.
The internet is full of helpful resources for language learners! The TakeLessons Blog, for example, features articles and guides from professional language tutors like myself. You can also check out forums, like WordReference.com. If you can’t find the answer to your question, you can post it and get answers from native speakers and other in-the-know Spanish speakers.

7. Set specific goals or niches you’d like to focus on.
Is there a certain topic that you would like to excel in conversationally? Identify what interest you, then look for resources (or ask your tutor) to help you build a specific set of vocabulary.

For example, if you like to discuss politics, you could read the newspaper in Spanish, follow Spanish and Latin American politicians on Twitter, or join a community political activist group where Spanish speakers are active. Soon you’ll find yourself conversing easily on a variety of topics in your niche interest!

8. Supplement real-time conversations with language-learning apps.
Language-learning apps are great to use on your own and during your downtime. Some apps focus on pronunciation and conversational skills. Others include fun games that can drill vocabulary and grammar rules that you’ve worked on with your tutor.

Here are some of our favorite apps for supplementing your conversational Spanish lessons:

9. Watch films and telenovelas. 
Watch classic films or catch up on your latest telenovela to hear how Spanish sounds, what vocabulary is used, and how people express themselves. Try watching with subtitles to add another layer of reinforcement and understanding!

10. Get out in the community.
Volunteer to help Spanish speakers learn English, and you’ll learn about Spanish sentence structure and expressions by observing the ways in which they try to express themselves in English. Your knowledge of Spanish will also help when they are searching for an expression in English, but haven’t learned it yet.

This is just one of many ways to offer your skills as a volunteer and simultaneously improve your conversational skills. There are many opportunities for volunteering in the fields of law, social justice, nutrition, and more!

11. Host an exchange student or rent a room to a student.
If you have some extra room in your apartment or house, why not host an exchange student or rent a room to a Spanish-speaking student? In addition to making some extra money, you’ll get an enriching experience as you interact with your guest, learn various social customs, and engage in both Spanish and English. Your guest will appreciate your effort to learn his or her language, and you could also request that your guest does a weekly conversation hour with you in Spanish. It’s a win-win!

To recap…

How to Improve Your Conversational Spanish - lessons

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Conversational Spanish can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding activities for language learners. Start with one or two of these tips, and then continue through the list as you improve. Most of all, enjoy the journey as you increase your knowledge, make new friends, and have new experiences.

Want some extra help? Search for a local or online Spanish tutor to get started!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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alternate guitar tunings

Step Up Your Game: 4 Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

alternate guitar tunings

Whether you just started guitar lessons or you’ve been playing for a while, you may be itching to learn some new songs and take on some new challenges. You might be wondering: where can I go from here? That’s where alternate guitar tunings come in! With this guide from Michael L., you’ll learn how alternate guitar tunings can take your playing to the next level…

One of the amazing things about the guitar is its versatility. Not only can you play rhythm and/or melody in different genres, but you can also change the tuning (or the key) to create different atmospheres.

Here’s the deal:

Not all songs are written to be played in standard E-A-D-G-B-E tuning, so if you want to expand your range as a guitarist, you need to learn play some alternate guitar tunings.

Alternate guitar tunings, or open tunings, allow you to play new songs and explore new music styles. Essentially, alternate guitar tunings will expand your range and skill set.

If the only alternate tuning you know is Drop D tuning, then this tutorial will introduce you to some new concepts. We will focus on three open tunings: Open G, DADGAD, and Open D.


Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

Drop D Tuning

You may already be familiar with drop D tuning: Take your low E string and tune it down a whole step to D. In this tuning, you can play power chords by barring the low three strings.

Drop D tuning is usually associated with metal music, but you can also play other songs like the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and “I Might Be Wrong” by Radiohead.

Open G Tuning

Open G tuning requires three strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down a whole step to D, and the A string down a whole step to G.

Now when you strum the guitar, you’ll play a G chord. This tuning makes the guitar resemble a banjo, except with a banjo, the low G string is a high G string and the low D is not there. You can play some banjo songs in this tuning, substituting the high G with the low G offers a new sound on some traditional banjo songs.

I primarily use this tuning for blues, folk, bluegrass, and rock, but I’m sure you can find other genres to play in this tuning. A couple of songs that use this tuning are “Poor Black Mattie” by R.L Burnside and “Death Letter” by Son House (or covered by White Stripes).

The beauty of open G tuning is that you can strum the bottom five strings together and play a melody with any of the strings as long as the note is in the key G. You can also get any major chord you like if you barre the fretboard on the corresponding right fret (the chord is based off the notes on the G strings).

If you want a minor chord, barre the fret but play a half-step lower, on the B string. Alternating between the low G and D strings gives you fun bass lines, too.

If you would like to learn more chord shapes simply look online for “banjo chord chart” and apply those shapes to the guitar in this tuning.

DAGAD Tuning

DADGAD is very similar to open G. For this tuning, just tune the fifth string back up to A and the B string to A. This tuning opens the door for some really neat sounding modal music.

You can play folk music, like Paul Simon’s version of “Scarborough Fair” and “Armistice Day”, some rock music like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir“, or even nu-metal like Slipknot’s “Circle“.

Open D Tuning

Open D tuning requires four strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down to D, the G string to F#, and the B string to A.

Now, when you strum the guitar, you’ll get a D chord. Again, I mostly use this tuning for rural music (blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, etc.) This tuning is also my favorite to play the slide guitar.

Go ahead and strum steadily on the low D string while playing melody notes on the high D and A strings, and tell me that’s not one of the most sultry sounds you’ve heard! A couple of my favorite songs in open D are “Blind Willie McTell” by Statesboro Blues and Bob Dylan’s “Corina, Corina“.

As with open G, you can find any major chord by barring the corresponding fret (the chord is based off the note on the D strings). If you want a minor chord, play a half-step down on the F# string.

Here are a couple of open D chords, besides barre chords, to get you started.

G7 A7
—3— —2—
—2— —0—
—1— —1—
—0— —2—
—2— —0—
—0— —2—

I hope this gives you some new ideas on how to approach the guitar. Have fun with these alternate guitar tunings. They changed the way I think of guitar and I hope they do the same for you, especially if you’re a fan of delta blues and folk music!

If you need help with any of these alternate guitar tunings, ask your guitar teacher to go over them during your next lesson!

Want to ramp up your guitar skills at home? Try one of our free online group classes

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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learn violin

Pinspiration: 13 Fantastic Pinterest Boards to Help You Learn Violin

learn violin

Believe it or not, Pinterest is one of the best online resources for all things violin! From pictures, charts, and tutorials, to infographics, how-to guides, and video lessons, it’s an amazing place to find instruction and inspiration. Here, music instructor Julie P. brings you 13 awesome Pinterest boards to help you learn violin…

Learning violin can be challenging and sometimes, you can use a little inspiration to keep you going. It may seem like you’re making slow progress, but if you keep working, you can learn to play the violin!

If you didn’t already know, Pinterest is a fantastic place to learn violin, if you know who to follow!

From violin inspiration to sheet music and tutorials, here are 13 Pinterest boards to help you learn violin!


Violin

by Allyson

learn violin

This board features helpful articles about specific topics to help you learn violin. There are practice guides and easy-to-follow tutorials.

You will find inspiration and entertainment through beautiful pictures of fine violins, performance videos, and beginner sheet music and tips.


Violinists

By Catherine Blankenship

learn violin
Look through hundreds of beautiful pictures of violinists of all ages.

You can discover new artists and learn about your favorite violinists. Plus, if you picture yourself like the people on this board, you’ll be back in the practice room in no time!


Violin

By Chelsea Hopkins

learn violin
Check out this board for a mix of articles, instructional videos, and infographics.

There are also lots of pictures and helpful tips for both new violinists and intermediate players.


The Violin Player

By Lorene Lash

learn violin
When you’re learning violin, it can be fun to know a little bit about the instrument’s origins.

Learn about the violin through this board by Lorene Lash.

Pins also include artwork featuring famous violinists.


Violin

By Lishno W.

learn violin
If you’re a beginner, follow this board for violin songs and fun activities.

Violin practice should be fun, so use this board to spice up your routine!


Learning the Violin!

By Molly H

learn violin

Learning the Violin by Molly H. is packed with exercises, articles, and tips to learn violin.

It also has a bunch of easy, beginner-friendly sheet music.


Violin

By XxNikki TurleyxX

learn violin

Looking for pop, rock and movie sheet music? Check out these pins to learn some new tunes!


Learn to Play the Violin

By Revelle Strings Violins

learn violin

This board is like an FAQ page for learning the violin.

If you have questions about what kind of violin you should buy, how to get started, the benefits of playing the violin, or how to stay motivated, you will find answers here with this board from Connolly Music.


Violin

By Lauryn Gibbs

learn violin

Lauryn Gibbs put together an awesome smorgasbord of violin inspiration!

There are fun, artsy pictures, videos of violin pop covers, inspirational quotes, and violin humor.


Learning to Play the Violin

By Sissy Bates

learn violin

This board is packed with helpful how-to guides. You can learn how to tune your violin and  read about proper care and maintenance.

There are also tutorials where you can learn different violin techniques like vibrato and shifting, and helpful tips to find the right violin for you.


Violin, Music Learning

By Noell R.

learn violin

Violin, Music Learning has a good mix of tutorials, practice tips, inspiration, and fun.

If you play any other instruments or are interested in other music topics, you will find lots of helpful resources.


Violin Tutorials

By MJStreetTeam

learn violin

If you’re working on your bow hold or want to master important violin techniques, Violin Tutorials is the board for you.

From video tutorials to lessons, you can find an easy-to-follow guide to help you boost your violin skills.


Learning the Violin

By Katelyn Lucas

learn violin

From sheet music to infographics and guides, Learning the Violin is a great Pinterest board for beginners.

You can find charts to help you learn proper finger placement, infographics on the parts of the violin, and sheet music to help you learn new songs.


When you check out these boards, you’ll be itching to get back in the practice room! The more you practice, the more you can do with the violin, so get inspired and then get to work!

Which violin boards do you follow on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments below! 

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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guitar news

The 5 Best Websites for Guitar News and Gear Reviews

guitar news

Part of learning to play guitar is staying up to date on current events, gear, and industry news. To help you stay in the loop, guitar instructor Matt K. has put together a list of his go-to websites for guitar news…

Once you’ve taken a few guitar lessons, you may feel the urge to learn more about the instrument, and the gear that goes with it.

The guitar can become an addiction, and once you’ve mastered the chords, scales, and licks, you’re going to want to learn about all the gear and equipment.

A guitar isn’t just a six-stringed instrument anymore. The addition of an amplifier, pedals, and other fun gear can help produce a number of different sounds.

There are several guitar news websites for up-to-date info on guitars and gear, along with in-depth music news, and sometimes even tablature to learn new songs.

Maybe you want to learn more about the guitar players that play your favorite songs, or learn when they have a new album coming out.

From electric guitar news, acoustic guitar news, and gear reviews, here are my favorite sites to stay  in the loop with all things guitar.


Music Radar

guitar news

I’ll start with my favorite website for any type of gear news, from guitars to DJ equipment, Music Radar.

Any time I’m looking at a new piece of gear or a new instrument, I go to Music Radar and read one of their reviews.

Music Radar also complies lists which make it easier to decide what to buy. For example, before buying a new travel acoustic guitar I checked out their list “32 of the best budget acoustic guitars in the world today“.


Guitar World

guitar news

Guitar World is less “techy,” and instead  features lots of artist news and guitar videos.

You can still learn about the latest gear and even get a quick video tutorial on how to tune the guitar in different keys, but I go to this website to see “Dude Plays Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ on Banjo”.

 


GuitarPlayer

guitar news

I remember being in the grocery store with my mom and picking up the latest issue of Guitar Player Magazine when magazines were still a big thing. Now, the magazine is online and very easy to navigate.

GuitarPlayer always has very informative, interesting articles. For example “U.S. Made PRS vs. Korean Made PRS: What is the difference” (PRS stands for Paul Reed Smith and is an excellent guitar).

GuitarPlayer also has excellent product spotlights that I recommend checking out.


Ultimate Guitar

guitar news

Where Music Radar is all about the gear, Guitar World and Guitar Player are about the news. Ultimate Guitar, however, is all about the TABS.

When I want to learn a new song, this is my go-to website. They have a great ranking system, so you know which guitar tabs are accurate and which ones were created by an internet troll.


Premier Guitar

music news

 

Last, but definitely not least, Premier Guitar keeps you up to date on guitar news, gear, and artists.

There are also some great how-to videos, and my favorite feature, the “Rig Rundown“. This section features a new artist or band every week and shows the guitars and gear they use on a nightly basis.

If you want to see how your favorite bands get their sound, check out Premier Guitar.


Check out these sites and let me know which ones you like. If you have any other go-to sites for gear and guitar news, let us know in the comments below! 

Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

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1

Play Like the Pros: 6 Techniques You Can Learn From Famous Violinists

famous violinists

Don’t just watch your favorite famous violinists, learn from them! Here, music instructor Julie P. shows you the violin techniques you can learn from watching famous violinists…

You have probably seen videos of famous violinists on YouTube and various violin blogs. In fact, these videos may have inspired you to pick up a violin and take lessons.

Want to know the best part?

While these videos are inspiring and entertaining, they’re also educational. You can learn important violin techniques by watching the masters at work!

So grab your violin and your computer, and get ready to watch and learn. Here’s what you can pick up from six famous violinists.


Jascha Heifetz

Posture, Relaxed Technique, and Musicality

Jascha Heifetz is unquestionably one of the greatest violinists and musicians of all time. In addition to his impeccable technique and natural, relaxed posture, he added incredible nuance to his phrasing.

In this video, pay close attention to his left hand. Notice how he holds it comfortably, without added tension. Reducing tension won’t just help your sound, but help you play comfortably, without pain.

Also, watch how he holds the violin and his body upright and maintains a natural posture.


Lindsay Stirling

Stage Presence

Lindsay Stirling is a talented violinist who enjoys her craft and adds her own style.

The famous female violinist combines playing with acting, dancing, and storytelling. The result is a pop-infused violin party.

Her performances are great examples of stage presence and how to enjoy playing the violin. Lindsey is an inspiration to dance to the beat of your own drum and make you dreams come true!


Mark O’Connor

Fast Bowing

Want to learn how to bow super fast? Mark O’Connor shows you how it’s done in this video of “Orange Blossom Special.”

He plays 16th notes at  breakneck speeds with incredible bow technique. Watch his right arm work as one unit, supporting his bow hand.

Also, notice how his right-hand fingers stay relaxed and don’t tense up. His playing is efficient, with no wasted movements.

Want to improve your finger strength? Try these exercises!


David Oistrakh

Projecting Your Sound

In this video, David Oistrakh plays the Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto,” and has no problem projecting over the orchestra.

Watch how he uses his entire bow and a fast bow speed to create more sound. Even on shorter notes, he uses a lot of the bow length to create his enormous sound. His right hand is sometimes just a blur!

His bowing engages his whole arm, which allows him to bow with speed and power without taxing his bow hand.


Taylor Davis

Creativity / Brand

For you aspiring violinists, the internet is full of potential fans, if you can find the right way to engage them. Another famous female violinist, Taylor Davis, has made her mark with a YouTube channel full of videos of her performing video game and movie music.

The millions of views have allowed her to release multiple albums and go on tour. Taylor loves playing this music, so she used her creativity to build a full brand around it.

In this video, she plays music from Pirates of the Caribbean, you can see how she has crafted a full video experience with costuming, staging, and a dynamic accompaniment.

You can learn even more about Taylor in this Q&A she did for us at TakeLessons!


Jerusalem Quartet

Communication

Watching string quartets, like the Jerusalem Quartet, is great a great way to learn about communication between musicians, which is important if you want to play with other performers or in an orchestra.

In this video, notice how the Jerusalem Quartet moves to the music, look up at each other, and gesture at various points in the music.

Solid communication will help you have a smooth performance!


The more you watch famous violinists, the more you will learn. When you find a video you like, watch it several times; you’ll notice new violin techniques each time.

Besides videos and lessons, there are lots of helpful violin resources available online. Take advantage of these materials and use them to boost your violin skills!

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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violin bow hold

Product Review: Master Your Violin Bow Hold With Bow Hold Buddies

violin bow hold

Are you struggling with your violin bow hold? While it’s one of the most important aspects of your technique, it can be a challenge for new violin players. Here, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. reviews Bow Hold Buddies, a product designed to improve your violin bow hold..

If you’re a beginner or you’re having trouble with your violin bow hold, I recommend checking out a product I recently heard about called Bow Hold Buddies.

proper violin bow hold is essential to your foundation as a budding player. Holding the bow in a very specific, time-tested way will impact the quality of the tone you produce.

The proper violin bow hold can also be one of the hardest feats for a beginner to accomplish, as it requires a very specific set of muscles and hand positioning.

With practice and exercise, students can usually pick it up within a few months, but some students, especially young children, have a harder time than others.


Bow Hold Buddies

violin bow hold

Image courtesy Things4Strings

Enter Bow Hold Buddies, a unique device that fits on your bow and guides your hand into place for the perfect violin bow hold. Ruth Brons created Bow Hold Buddies to help her beginner violin students.

“My beginners love getting off to a quick start and I  value optimizing lesson time,” Brons says. “Because I do not have to correct the bow hold multiple times in each lesson, which is both time consuming and frustrating, students are able to move through and master those first couple of method books so much more quickly and easily.”

I got the chance to test the Bow Hold Buddies product myself, and I even tried it out with some of my students. Read on to see the results!


The Results

Installation

The Bow Hold Buddies device is fairly easy to install and use.

I was a little unsure at first when reading the pictogram on the instructions, so I definitely recommend watching the short video where the creator explains exactly how to use the product.

Bow Hold Buddies are lightweight, smart, and cute. They come in animal shapes including a frog, a fish, and an elephant, which makes them perfect for kids and adults, and the adjustable design can adapt to any hand size.

How it Works

violin bow hold

While there are several exercises you can do to improve your violin bow hold, this device eliminates confusion and shows you exactly where to place your fingers.

Since it covers most of the areas where your fingers shouldn’t be, your fingers will easily to slip into place in the right spots!

As one of my adult students said, “Now I can see everything I was doing wrong before. It’s almost as if you can’t put your fingers in the wrong spots.”


Conclusion

All in all, I’d recommend this product to anyone who’s just starting out, but like any DIY or commercial violin training device, only as a temporary tool.

Bow Hold Buddies are kind of like training wheels on a bike: they will help you get started, but you shouldn’t use them forever.

Having even the slightest bit of extra weight on the bow can reduce your control and overall tone quality. Therefore, while I highly recommend this product, I suggest you use it until your hand adjusts and you can keep your violin bow hold in place without struggling.

I’d also suggest alternating between playing with the device and playing without it. For instance, try practicing with the Bow Hold Buddies for 20 minutes, then take them off and see how you do.

When you practice on your own, watch closely, and take note of how your muscle memory is working and improving a little bit each time you practice.

For even more ways to improve your violin bow hold, try these exercises!

Props to Things4Strings for their creativity and ingenuity on this product! I definitely haven’t seen anything else like it. Make sure to check out the other useful tools for cello and violin at Things4Strings.

If you’re struggling with your violin bow hold, make sure to ask your violin teacher for help! 

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.

Image courtesy joeannenah

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Video: vocal exercises to increase range

Video: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range | Singing Tips

Singers, ready to reach those high (or low!) notes? In this video, teacher Arlys A. demonstrates some easy vocal exercises to use as you work on increasing your range:

Video Recap: Vocal Exercises to Increase Your Range

Try incorporating these exercises into your practice routine:

  1. Lip bubbles or lip trills
  2. The “oooh” slides

From there, work with your voice teacher to find songs at the right level for you — it’s crucial to find the balance of challenging yourself, but not straining your voice!

Here’s an idea of what your voice teacher may work with you on, as described by teacher Emmanuel N:

  • First step: Discovering your current vocal range is our first step. I will play a virtual piano, and you will sing each note I play (if you have mimicry then this will be easy) until we have found your vocal range. If you know your range already then we skip this step.
  • Second step: We then discover your weak spots – where your voice sounds weak, where you have trouble, and where you need help. After this we can then start to increase your vocal range.
  • Third step: I will then teach you and give you tips and suggestions on how to sing lower or higher – depending on what you want. Here is where our lessons will vary completely seeing as each student is different.
  • Fourth step: Every time we discover a new voice I will teach you to bridge your voices together so there is no gap between them. Typically this is our last step with each voice.

Not sure of your current vocal range? We love this video, which you can follow along with to determine your vocal range in one minute:

Make sure to stand up straight and fully support your voice as you’re working on these exercises, too. Posture can make all the difference!

Additional Resources About Increasing Range:

Want to learn more? Check out our live, online singing classes taught by Arlys and other awesome singing teachers!

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