How to sing better (almost) instantly

Video: How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly | Singing Tips

Want to sing better… almost instantly? Learn to be a great singer — fast! — with these tips from voice teacher Arlys A.:

Video Recap – How to Sing Better (Almost) Instantly

There are two foundations of singing you should know if you want to become a better singer! Can you guess what they are?

(1) Posture

Make sure you’re not slouching! Your body is your instrument, so keep an eye on how you’re holding it! Stretching and physical activity can also help you loosen up.

Additional Resources About Posture:

(2) Breath

Once you’ve situated yourself, focus on your breathing. Avoid shallow breathing — you should feel your ribcage open as you breathe in. This will instantly change your sound for the better!

Additional Resources About Breathing for Singers:

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

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

violin solos

The Ultimate List of Violin Solos [Video Tutorials]

violin solos

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced violinist, it’s important to be armed with a number of solo pieces to play. Here, violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. put together an in-depth guide to violin solos for players of all levels…

With thousands of pieces to choose from, the world of music can be overwhelming! In this handy reference guide, we’ve picked some of our favorite violin solos and categorized them according to skill and experience level.

From easy songs to intermediate selections and some great choices for auditions, we’ve g
ot something for everyone!


Easy Violin Solos

 “Minuet No. 1”- J.S. Bach

This is a great solo for a beginner who’s been playing for six months to a year. It’s a step up from the common early beginner folk songs, and a great introduction to classical music from Baroque-era composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

It keeps it short and simple but adds some complex rhythms and stylistic bowings.


“Minuet No. 2” – J.S. Bach

This song is a nice next level piece that takes things up a notch. The second in this series of Bach Minuets, it follows the same style and themes but increases playing stamina with length, and couples familiarity with a few new twists and turns.


 “Gavotte” – F.J. Gossec

This is a simple yet challenging beginner solo. It’s playful and lighthearted style will  impress friends and family or an audience at a recital.

It adds complexity, and again, pushes your stamina, which is a big factor when you’re starting out and getting used to playing for longer periods of time.

Looking for more beginner-friendly solos? Check out these 14 popular violin solo pieces for beginners!


Intermediate Violin Solos

“Gavotte” from Mignon – A. Thomas

This is a great choice for an intermediate violinist who has been playing for around one-and-a-half to two years.

It’s lively, melodic themes give it spark, and it’s a great segway piece for those transitioning from beginner to intermediate.


 “Minuet in G” – L. van Beethoven

This solo is a wonderful introduction to the music of legendary composer Ludwig Van Beethoven. Sitting right on the border between the classical and romantic eras, Beethoven’s lush and rich melodies are  indicative of the time period he helped define.


“Minuet” – L. Boccherini

You’ll probably recognize this one from television commercials and films. Luigi Boccherini’s “Minuet” is a great song to play at a recital.

This infectious tune will get heads bobbing and toes tapping.


Violin Solos for Auditions

“Student Concertino” – A. Huber

This three-page Concertino is a great audition choice for a student who has been playing for two to three years. It’s a longer song, so if you play it at an audition, the director may ask you to play a shorter segment or selection.

Showcase your talents through the range of styles and tones. From languidly slow to spunky and fast, this song will show off your versatility.


“Concerto No. 2” (3rd Movement) – F. Seitz

If you’ve been playing for two to three years, try this as an audition piece.

The song has a lot of variety and will allow you to show the director several different skills. It also offers clear-cut sections the director can pick and choose if he or she wants to hear certain excerpts for the audition.


“Concerto in A Minor” (1st Movement) – A. Vivaldi

A familiar, delightful tune, this Antonio Vivaldi concerto is another excellent option, especially for a more advanced audition.

If you’ve been playing for three to four years, master this piece to wow an audition director. It’s a nice advanced-intermediate piece, and on top of that, it’s a fun piece to learn and play!


Famous Violin Solos

“Méditation” (From Thaïs) – Jules Massenet

This is one of the best, most endured violin solos of all time. It’s gorgeous and lush arrangements make it a stunning piece for both personal enjoyment and public performances.

I cannot stress enough how much I recommend adding this to your repertoire as you progress on your musical journey.


“Running Dry” (Requiem for the Rockets) – Neil Young with Crazy Horse (Violinist Bobby Notkoff)

This emotive violin solo is a must-know for rock ‘n’ roll history enthusiasts or anyone interested in pop and rock music from the 1970’s classic rock era.

Performed by violinist Bobby Notkoff, it’s the perfect accompaniment to Neil Young’s melancholy vocal stylings and mid-tempo electric folk balladry.


“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band

When people ask you (and trust me, they will) the difference between a violin and a fiddle, you can tell them with confidence that there’s no difference in the instrument itself; the difference between a violin and a fiddle is in the style or genre of music and some of the techniques.

There are many notable differences between the two main violin genres (classical vs. fiddle) and this song is a great example of that. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” by famed violinist Charlie Daniels, is probably the single most infamous fiddle piece of all time. And rest assured, as a violinist, people are going to ask you if you know how to play this song.

If you want to go the extra mile and impress these hearty fiddle enthusiasts, it’s a good idea to have this song in your pocket! The fast-fingered fiddle licks are challenging to learn, but they make an exceptional parlor trick to entertain and impress crowds.


“Bittersweet Symphony” – The Verve

The ’90s anthem, “Bittersweet Symphony”, has one of the most memorable violin solos of the era.

This generation-defining song has stood the test of time and the repetitive nature of the song will have you humming the violin part in your head, making it easier to remember and pick up by ear.

This generation-defining song has stood the test of time, and the repetitive nature of the song will have you humming the violin part in your head, which makes it easy to remember and pick up by ear.

Do you have a performance or audition coming up? Check out these tips to pull off a showstopping violin performance!


Classical Violin Solos

“Sonata II” in G Minor – G.F. Händel

This is a stunning piece by one of the most esteemed composers of the Baroque era. The movements take the listener and the performer from somber to upbeat to pastoral, and back to upbeat.

It’s also an excellent example of a Baroque-period piece with plenty of clean lines, phrasing and ornamental trills.


“The Swan” (From The Carnival of the Animals) by C. Saint-Saëns

“The Swan” is one of several pieces that make up a whole known as The Carnival of the Animals. This legendary work of art by Camille Saint-Saëns catalogs some of the common creatures of the zoo, from the swan to the elephant, there’s a piece for each animal.

This elegant and whimsical piece is short, sweet, and always leaves the listener wanting more. Traditionally written for the cello, it translates beautifully to the violin and is full of life and heart.


“The Lark Ascending” by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” is the picture of eloquence. Written during the World War I era following his active duty in France, it stands at an epic 16 minutes.

Inspired by a poem of the same name by George Meredith, it’s an unforgettable piece that takes you on a journey through meadows, woods, and skies.

Now you have several violin solos to choose from! No matter your level, you should be able to find something you can learn to play.

Stuck on a song? Find a violin teacher to help you master your technique! 

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.

Photo courtesy Tara Kamangar

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day is a day to show appreciation to the special woman who raised you. But flowers and traditional gifts aren’t the only way to show your mom you love her. Here, guitar instructor Matt. K has put together five guitar songs that are perfect to sing for your mom…

When it comes to Mother’s Day and certain holidays, sometimes us musicians can’t afford the traditional gifts, like a bouquet of flowers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give our mothers something special.

What better way to show appreciation for mom than playing her a song? She will love it more than anything else you can give her. If you don’t end up writing your own Mother’s Day song, there are plenty of songs to choose from.

I’ve put together a list of five guitar songs. I selected from different genres, so no matter what type of music your mom is into, you’re sure to find a song that that she will love!


“Mama I’m Comin’ Home” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is known for his heavy metal and his rock star antics (just search “Ozzy bat incident” on Google), but on his album “No More Tears,” Ozzy decided to slow it down and write a brilliant ballad.

Although this song is not about his actual mother, it’s still one of the best Mother’s Day songs.

Here is the tab of the intro on guitar:

e–12————–|
B—-12————|
G——–13/11–9–|
D——————|
A——————|
E—————–0|

e—0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0——0—-|
G-9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D———————————————-4——2——–|
A————————————————————–|
E————————————————————0-|

e|–0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B|—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0—-|
G|9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D|———————————————4——2——–|
A|————————————————————-|
E|———————————————————–0-|

e———-0———0——-0——-0——–0—0–0——–0—0–0|
B————–0——-0——-0——-0——–0-0—-0——–0-0—|
G——-9———8——8-6—–4——-4-2——1——1——–1—|
D———————————————————4——-2—|
A———————————————————————|
E-0——————————————————————-|

If you want to learn to play the rest of the song, you can find the tabs here.


“Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley

In 1970, the king of rock “n” roll released “Mama Liked the Roses.” It was originally released as a B-side, but charted in the top 100, and became an Elvis stand by. It’s a sad, beautiful song about his late mother.

Here are the chords for the chorus:

C Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses she grew them in the yard
Dm E7 A7
But winter always came around and made the growing way too hard
Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses and when she had the time
Dm E7 A7
She’d decorate the living room for all us kids to see

Click here for the rest of the chords.


“Dear Mama” – 2Pac

Tupac released “Dear Mama” as a single in 1995. The song climbed the charts quickly and is still considered one of his best songs.

It’s about his mother and his appreciation for everything she did for him, and lucky for us, it features a guitar in the hook.

The riff is below, play this along with the video.

E |————————————————–15h17-15-|
B |——————————-14————————–|
G |———–13—-x—————————————–|
D |–15h16————(16)———————————– |
A |———————————————————–|
E |———————————————————–|


“Mother” – Danzig

“Mother” by Danzig does not fit the mold of the other songs. It’s not about how much he appreciates his mom, but rather a warning to mothers about himself.

Definitely not your traditional Mother’s Day song, but it rocks, and it might be funny to play for mom!

Note: I only suggest this one if your mom likes to rock, and has a sense of humor.

Intro:

e|—————————||—————————–|
B|—————————||—————————–|
G|—————————||-o————————-o-|
D|-4——0——2——-4—||——0——–2—–4——-|
A|-2——2——0——-2—||-o—-2——–0—–2—–o-|
E|——–3——————||——3———————-|

Get the rest of the chords here.


 “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles


This is not a Mother’s Day song, but it’s my mother’s favorite song, so I had to add it to the list.

It’s a beautiful song off of the White album, and if you perform it for your mother, you can’t go wrong. Almost everyone loves this song.

I’ve included the tab for the verse and you can find the rest of the song here.

e|2—— ——- ——- ——-|2—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-3———–|——————-3———–|
G|————2——————|————2——————|
D|——–0—————0——|——–0—————0——|
A|0——————————|3——————————|
D|—————-0————–|—————-0————–|

e|0—— ——- ——- ——-|3—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-1———–|——————-3———–|
G|———–0——————-|———–0——————-|
D|——–2—————2——|——–0—————0——|
A|3—————3————–|——————————-|
D|——————————-|5—————5————–|

Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or you just started lessons, you can take your pick from these five guitar songs and give your mom a mother’s day concert she’ll never forget!

Which guitar songs do you like to play for your family and friends? 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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

30 More Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings | Love Songs

30 MORE Romantic Songs to Sing at Weddings

As a wedding singer, choosing a song that represents the couple and their love story can feel like a lot of pressure! As you’re working with the bride and groom, here are some ideas from voice teacher Molly R. for choosing the perfect song to sing…

 

Love is in the air! Before you know it, June will be here — the busiest month of all for weddings.

If you’re a singer, you might already know how fun (and let’s face it: lucrative!) it can be if you offer wedding gigs.

Sometimes, the happy couple knows exactly what they want as far as the song goes. But often, they are certainly open to suggestions from the professional!

Before you decide which songs to sing at a wedding, think about the following:

1. Consider the couple.

If the bridge and groom are young and hip, a Josh Groban song might not fly! Likewise, if it’s an older couple, they may want an old standard. If you know the couple personally, you might already know what kind of music they like. Browse through my recommendations below and offer them a couple of ideas to go from.

2. Consider the ceremony.

Another important thing to consider is whether the event is super formal, or more casual. A beautiful classical song is ideal for a formal wedding in a church, but you may want a more current love song for a backyard wedding with a more laidback vibe.

3. Consider your own strengths.

The final thing to consider is… YOU! When selecting any song, you have to think about your voice type, vocal ability, and styles that you sing comfortably in. A Handel aria would be out of some pop singers’ ability, and likewise, an opera singer may sound completely awkward singing the Beatles.

Now that you’ve put some thought into it, take a look at my recommendations below. There’s a lot more where these came from, so just use these as a starting point!

Traditional/Classical Songs to Sing at a Wedding

1. “Let the Bright Seraphim” – Handel

2. “Panis Angelicus” – César Franck
3. “Ave Maria” – Bach/Gounod
4. “Bist du bei mir” (If you are with me) – Bach
5. “Irish Wedding Song” (Traditional)
6. “Ich Liebe Dich” (I Love You) – Beethoven
7. “You Raise Me Up” – Josh Groban

Pop Songs (Old and New) to Sing at a Wedding

1. “We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters

2. “At Last” – Etta James
3. “Just the Way You Are”- Billy Joel
4. “I Can’t Wait” – Ben LaRue
5. “All of Me”- John Legend
6. “Could I Have This Dance” – Anne Murray
7. “Here and Now” – Luther Vandross
8. “Here, There and Everywhere” – The Beatles
9. “Thinking Out Loud”- Ed Sheeran
10. “From This Moment On” – Shania Twain

Broadway and Movie Songs for Weddings

1. “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof”

2. “Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde”
3. “Till There Was You” from “The Music Man”
4. “One Hand, One Heart” from “West Side Story”
5. “A Thousand Years” – Sung by Christina Perri, from “Twilight”
6. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Elvis Presley, from “Blue Hawaii”
7. “Evergreen”- Barbra Streisand, from “A Star is Born”
8. “There You’ll Be” – Faith Hill, from “Pearl Harbor”

Duets to Sing at Weddings

1. “Endless Love” – Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

2. “It’s Your Love” – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
3. “The Closer I Get to You” – Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway
4. “E Più Ti Penso” (The More I Think of You) – Andrea Bocelli and Ariana Grande
5. “Lucky” – Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

If you’re having a hard time deciding on a song, check in with your voice teacher. Brainstorm together, keeping your vocal strengths in mind, to really come up with something that’ll impress the bridge and groom! Your teacher can also help you prepare for the big event so you feel confident.

Most of all, have fun with it! Weddings are beautiful, and it’s such a great feeling knowing you’re contributing to the experience of both the bridal party and the guests. Enjoy it!

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 Krystian Olszanski (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens (7)

50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

As a teen, it’s important to choose an audition song that not only shows off your voice, but is age-appropriate! Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares a few tips for selecting your song, plus 50 top picks for musical theater audition songs for teens (both girls and guys!)…

 

It’s wonderful to be a teen musical theater performer! There are so many great opportunities for this age: high school productions, community theater, and even professional theater for a lucky few.

But it’s not always easy to select the perfect musical theater audition song. In this post, I’ve listed my recommendations for audition songs for boys and girls, but you’ll also want to keep a couple of things in mind…

1) What is the production staff looking for?

If they say “don’t sing from the show,” then don’t! However, you DO want to find something as close as possible to the show in question.

For example, is the company doing an edgier show, like “Rent”? Then you may want to sing an audition song from a show like “Spring Awakening” or even “Hair”. If they’re doing an older classic like “Carousel”, consider something else by Rodgers and Hammerstein (like “South Pacific”), or something from the same era, like “My Fair Lady”.

2) What audition song suits YOU?

What is your type? Are you more of the leading man? The sweet ingenue? Maybe you’re a sassy belter, or a character actor.

The good news is that there is a huge variety of songs that are appropriate (and great fun!) for teen musical theater performers. This list cindlues songs for all types of voices and personalities, with several different styles and time periods for both genders. While many of these songs and tried-and-true classics, many are lesser-known and will delight your audition panel.

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Girls

1. “Frank Mills” — Hair

2. “I’m Not At All In Love” — The Pajama Game
3. “Think of Me” — Phantom of the Opera
4. “Beautiful Candy” — Carnival
5. “Mama Who Bore Me” — Spring Awakening
6. “Once Upon a Dream” — Jekyll and Hyde

7. “How Can I Wait?” — Paint Your Wagon
8. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” — My Fair Lady
9. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” — Funny Girl
10. “Tryouts” — Bring It On: The Musical
11. “My Big French Boyfriend” — The Toxic Avenger
12. “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All” — Barnum
13. “A Wonderful Guy” — South Pacific
14. “Sing Happy” — Flora the Red Menace

15. “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” — Camelot
16. “Astonishing” — Little Women
17. “Live Out Loud” — A Little Princess
18. “So In Love” — Kiss Me Kate
19. “Heaven Help My Heart” — Chess
20. “Out of My Dreams” — Oklahoma!
21. “Still Hurting” — The Last Five Years
22. “The Finer Things” — Jane Eyre: The Musical

23. “Once Upon a Time” — Brooklyn: The Musical
24. “Once You Lose Your Heart” — Me and My Girl
25. “Waitin’ for My Dearie” — Brigadoon

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Boys

1. “Ten Minutes Ago” — Cinderella

2. “This is the Moment” — Jekyll and Hyde
3. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” — Les Misérables
4. “I Believe” — The Book of Mormon
5. “One Song Glory” — Rent
6. “Where Do I Go?” — Hair
7. “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” — Guys and Dolls
8. “I, Huckleberry, Me” — Big River
9. “Proud of Your Boy” — Aladdin

10. “Her Face” — Carnival
11. “It’s All Right With Me” — Can-Can
12. “Fallin’” — They’re Playing Our Song
13. “On the Street Where You Live” — My Fair Lady
14. “Sarah” — The Civil War
15. “I’m a Bad, Bad Man” — Annie Get Your Gun
16. “Real Live Girl” — Little Me

17. “Anthem” — Chess
18. “Love, I Hear” — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
19. “Momma, Look Sharp” — 1776
20. “Love Changes Everything” — Aspects of Love
21. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” — Oklahoma!

22. “Me” — Beauty and the Beast
23. “Passeggiata” — The Light in the Piazza
24. “Make Them Hear You” — Ragtime
25. “Santa Fe” — Newsies”

Final Tips for Your Audition

I recommend being prepared with a few solid songs, as you never know if they’ll ask for more! Your repertoire book should have a variety of audition songs that include shows old and new, a song from a pop/rock musical, and at least one Disney song that suits you. And of course, make sure that you’ve had adequate time to practice and prepare before the audition!

If you’re confused about what to select and how to sing it, your best source is your voice teacher, who is bound to have lots of helpful ideas. Feeling nervous? Reserve your spot for TakeLessons’ live, online class about singing with confidence!

Have fun exploring the world of musical theater repertoire. And break a leg!

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 TED Conference (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

MO - How to Play Violin Pain Free- 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

How to Play Violin Pain Free: 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

MO - How to Play Violin Pain Free- 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

Do you experience pain or discomfort when you play violin? Here, Portland, OR violin instructor Naomi Cherie S. shares her tips to teach you how to play violin pain free…

If you’ve been playing violin for a while, you know that it can be a lot of fun! You’ve probably also noticed, however, that it isn’t always the most comfortable instrument to play. Due to the positions and poses necessary to play this unusual instrument, you may feel sore and stiff after practice.

Like most physical activities, any repetitive motion can cause wear on the body. Over time, these issues can develop into bigger problems.

Just like athletes, we musicians must take the time and consideration to keep up with maintenance and do preventative exercises to keep our bodies in peak playing shape!

We’ve put together a list of 11 quick fixes and healthy practice habits to help you learn how to play violin pain free!


Wear Comfortable Shoes

You may play violin with your hands and arms but this doesn’t mean you should forget about your feet!

If you’ve ever been on your feet all day, for a job or at school, you know it’s important to have proper footwear. The same applies for violin.

Wear comfortable shoes when you practice. Cushioned flats or tennis shoes will give you the support you need and take some of the pressure of standing off your lower back.


Use a Pad or Cushioned Rug for Practice

I always recommend that my students set up a designated practice area in their house to get inspired to practice regularly. Set up a corner in your bedroom, study, or living room where you keep your music stand and violin.

Make sure to keep a cushioned rug or floor mat in your area to stand on, especially if the room has bare floors. This will also help take stress off of your lower back.

If you’re still having issues, try investing in a memory foam floor mat.


Use a Comfortable Chair With a Pillow or Cushion

Many people prefer to stand when they play, to practice presentation and posture. If you get stiff when you play, however, don’t rule out sitting during practice.

You may also want to alternate between sitting and standing every few minutes. When you sit down, make sure to use a proper chair like a desk chair or dining room table chair.

Avoid using something with too much cushion, like a recliner or couch. Make sure to sit up tall on the edge of your chair with your spine straight. Your legs should make a right angle and your feet should rest flat on the floor.

If your chair becomes uncomfortable, keep a flat cushion or memory foam pad nearby.


Pace Yourself

It’s very important to pace yourself, especially as a beginner. You want to achieve consistency but you need to be careful not to overdo it, which can cause burnout and physical strain.

You need to develop the necessary muscles and flexibility required to play the violin. As a beginner, your body isn’t used to the unusual poses required to play the instrument.

Practice daily in segments, rather than extended periods once or twice a week. Beginners should start out with 20- to 30-minute practice sessions. After a few months, you can increase your practice time to 3o minutes to an hour.

This practice time will increase as your playing stamina develops, and as time goes on, you’ll get a feel for how much practice you need to accomplish your goals.


Take Stretch Breaks

Stretch breaks are incredibly important. It’s easy to get carried away and play for long periods of time; make sure to stop and stretch every so often.

You can take breaks in between scales, exercises, or songs. Put your instrument down, shake out your hands and arms, and stretch your wrists. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs, and your neck and shoulders.

These simple stretches can prevent strain, injury, and bigger issues down the road.


Reduce Tension: Breathe and Relax

Breathe. It sounds like a simple concept, but when you’re wrapped up in the passion and energy of music or concentrating on a difficult concept, it’s easy to forget to breathe consistently.

Keep a reminder in the back of your head and allow yourself to breathe throughout the practice session. Be mindful about tension. Your neck and shoulder muscles may tense up during practice, so take note of this and remember to relax.

Sometimes we don’t realize we’re tensing up, so take a breather every few minutes to keep yourself in check!

 Try these five exercises to reduce tension when you play violin.


Proper Posture

When it comes to playing violin, proper posture is imperative!  Whether you’re standing or sitting, your spine must be tall and straight at all times.

While standing, keep your feet about a foot apart with equal weight on each foot. Keep your tummy tucked to avoid putting pressure on your lower back.

While seated, keep your feet spaced about a foot apart with each foot flat on the floor.


Proper Stand Height

The proper stand height (or owning a stand at all) is important to develop healthy practice habits.

Some beginners overlook this detail and try to practice their sheet music by hunching over and reading it off a couch arm, desk, or table. Avoid this mistake and purchase a music stand.

Not only is it important to have a music stand, it also needs to be the correct height. Many of the generic stands sold in stores are made for children and don’t get much higher than five feet. If you’re an adult or you’re taller than five feet, make sure you invest in a stand that has an extension rod that allows you to adjust your stand. You may need to visit a violin shop or order a stand online.

When you’re looking at your music, it should be eye level. You shouldn’t need to bend your neck to read your music. You can reduce tension by keeping your head level and your spine straight. 

Besides a music stand, find out which violin accessories you may need! 


Exercise Daily

Regular exercise is important to alleviate the aches and pains from playing violin, but it’s also important to relieve the aches and pains of life!

In addition to your stretch breaks, make sure you stretch before and after practice. Pre-practice stretching is a great addition to your practice routine. Post-practice yoga is one of my favorite ways to stretch my back and neck after a long playing session.

Keep a yoga mat near your practice area and consider picking up a few poses from a YouTube yoga channel. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you for it!

In addition to physical exercise, don’t forget to do exercises to build your finger strength!


Strengthen Your Core

A strong core will reduce the tension on your upper back, shoulders, and neck. When you have a strong core and abdomen, you can absorb some of the pressure the violin causes to your upper body.

Try adding core-strengthening exercises like crunches, push-ups, or light weight lifting to your daily exercise routine to help you build a strong core foundation.


Massage Therapy

If you’re like me and you’re prone to back and neck issues (due to genetics or previous injuries), you may still deal with back, neck, or shoulder pain from time to time, even with healthy practice habits.

For more serious cases, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. I’ve personally employed the assistance of many professionals over the years, and combined with lifestyle choices and healthy practice habits, I’ve found some relief.

When dealing with a more serious issue, sometimes it’s necessary to take some time off from playing violin. Recognizing the problem and taking time off to heal will make playing violin much more enjoyable.

Use these tips when you practice violin to develop healthy habits, increase longevity, and reduce pain.

If you have questions, let us know in the comments below! 

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

Photo by _zhang (with text overlay)

french pronunciation

5 Helpful French Pronunciation Hacks for Beginners

french pronunciation

Are you having trouble nailing your French accent? Below, French teacher Jinky B. explains how to sound like a  français or française in just five easy steps…

The French have an undeniably distinct accent that can be difficult for non-native speakers to perfect.

Nevertheless, it’s not entirely impossible for non-natives to learn how to speak French.

All it takes is some direction from your French teacher and a whole lot of practice.

Below are five helpful French pronunciation hacks or shortcuts to help you perfect your French accent.

5 French Pronunciation Hacks

1. The Silent Letters

One of the first French pronunciation rules is that you don’t actually say all the letters that are in a word.

The general rule of thumb is that you don’t say the consonants at the end of a word unless there is an ‘e’ at the end of the word. Check out the examples below:

Example one: français (Frenchman)

DO NOT say the ‘s’ sound, rather it sounds like ‘frong-say’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

Example two: française (Frenchwoman)

DO say the ‘s’, but making it more like a ‘z’ sound, to sound like ‘frong-says’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

There are some notable exceptions. Use this acronym to recognize when it’s possible to pronounce the consonant at the end of a word: CaReFuL. See the examples below.

Example one: Un truc (a thing)

DO say the ‘c’ in truc to sound like ‘trook’.

*The ‘u’ sounds like the English word ‘too’, not the English word ‘crook’.

Example two: Hiver (winter)

DO say the ‘r’ in hiver to sound like ‘e-vair’.

*The ‘h’ is silent at the beginning of the word.

2. The Liaison ‘Z’

One surefire way to sound more français or française is by linking the letter -s and the vowel in the word that follows.

For example, ils sont (they are) and ils ont (they have) look very similar in writing. However, when spoken, there is a very notable difference.

In the first, Ils sont, do not say the ‘s’ sound in ils, but DO say the ‘s’ in sont to sound like ‘eel song’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

In the second, Ils ont, the ‘s’ actually have the ‘z’ sound, which is known as a liaison, since the ils and ont are connected together. DO say ‘eel-zong’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

3. The ‘O’ Sound

Sometimes, you will see a string of vowels in French that look a bit puzzling. Don’t do too much work, but rather make the one vowel sound, ‘o’.

When pronouncing this group of vowels, your lips should also form the ‘o’ shape. Check out the examples below.

Example one: Beau (handsome), which sounds like the ‘-bow’ in ‘rainbow’.

Example two: Eau (water), which sounds just like the letter ‘-o’.

4. The Nasal ‘On’ Sound

The nasal sound in words like Bonjour (hello) and cent (hundred) is a very recognizable French sound.

Non-French speakers can generally pick up that French is being spoken when hearing these sounds.

Think of the English word, ‘song’. Say the word, but stop when you reach the ‘-ng’ sound. In the French word chanson (song), for example, it sounds like ‘shan-song’.

5. The ‘R’ Sound

Fin (the end) is the most difficult French sound to produce as well as the  most used sound in French.

While this may take the most time to master, you will definitely feel like a true français or française once this is achieved.

It sounds a bit like you’re gargling water at the back of your throat. For example, Bonjour, Paris! (Hello, Paris!).

The ‘r’ sound is at the end of Bonjour and in the middle of Paris. Practice saying this phrase five times a day and you’ll get it down fast.

Your Turn!

Keep these French pronunciation shortcuts in mind when you’re practicing your accent. If you concentrate on the proper pronunciation, you’ll be sounding like a real français or française in no time.

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French lessons in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

piano technique

5 Piano Technique Mistakes You’re Probably Making

piano technique

Let’s face it, even the most experienced pianists make mistakes. Below, piano teacher Julie P. shares the 5 most common piano technique mistakes that both beginner and experienced pianists often make…

As a piano player, you’re always looking for easy ways to improve your playing. While there are no fast-tracks to becoming a great piano player, there are simple things you can do to better your skills.

In fact, you’re probably making some simple piano technique mistakes that are holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Below are the five most common piano technique mistakes. If you work on fixing these mistakes not only will you improve your piano technique, but you’ll also open up your ability to make greater improvements in the future.

5 Most Common Piano Technique Mistakes

1. Flat fingers

Many students play with flat or collapsed fingers when they’re first learning the piano. This means that either their finger is extending from their hand in a flat manner and/or their first knuckle is collapsing.

Flat and collapsed fingers slow down finger technique and usually cause tension. Play with your fingers in a curved position, as shown in the video below.

2. Sitting too close to the piano

If you sit too close to the piano, your arms won’t have enough room to extend in front of you. This limits the range of motion for your arms, which causes your wrists to contort in an effort to reach the right notes.

Sit on the edge of the piano bench and move it back until your elbows are extended slightly forward from your shoulders. Check out the video below for some additional tips.

3. Wrists too low

Your wrists should extend straight from your arms and shouldn’t collapse down. If your palms get close to the front of the piano, your wrists will likely collapse.

Wrists that are too low cause tension and strain in your arms and fingers, and also reduce the speed at which you can play.

If your wrists are low, your fingers are probably also collapsing, as discussed above. The picture below shows the right and wrong way to hold your wrists.

piano techniqueImage courtesy of Casio Music.

4. Not using your arm weight

The points mentioned above about arm position are important because we want to use the weight of our arms and torso when playing the piano.

Even though our fingers control the piano keys, students who push down the keys with only the strength of their fingers will not produce a very good tone.

Channeling our arm and body weight efficiently through our arms allows you to produce a wide range of sounds and tone colors. It also reduces the strain on your fingers.

5. Not establishing efficient fingerings

One of the best ways to learn a song quickly and reliably is to decide ahead of time the best fingering pattern.

Students who play with random fingerings that change every time they practice often get into a fingering jam, or have to search for the key they want.

If you know which fingers are playing which notes, and use the same fingerings every time you practice, you’ll know the song more securely and won’t be searching for the keys anymore.

If you can correct these five piano technique mistakes, you’ll be a much better piano player. Your piano teacher can also help you correct these mistakes as well as any other technique issues you may have in your playing.

Photo via Shalbs

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

Improve your technique (and your next performance) by working on diction! In this article, singing teacher Liz T. shares some great exercises to try out…

 

Imagine you’re at a concert, and your favorite artist gets up on stage to sing. You recognize a popular song from her album starting, but when she opens her mouth… you can’t decipher any of the lyrics.

As a singer, paying attention to diction — that is, the way you enunciate your words — can make a big impact on your performance. It’s a crucial part of connecting with your audience and even having proper vocal health!

If you struggle with you diction when you sing, though, don’t be ashamed. It is truly something all singers struggle with! It doesn’t mean you are a bad singer… but the better diction you have, the more your audience will be able to enjoy and appreciate your performance.

There are tons of diction exercises you can try, which will help you train yourself. Start adding these to your practice sessions, and you’ll notice a difference!

1) Practice Tongue Twisters

Try speaking your favorite tongue twisters first, and then try singing them! I recommend focusing on ones with letters or syllables that are more difficult for you. Start slow, and then work up to a faster speed. Really make sure you are articulating each sound. You can also try speaking or singing the alphabet to get the shapes ingrained in your muscle memory.

Here are a few tongue twisters that are great for improving your diction:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Red leather, yellow leather.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Who washed Washington’s white woolen underwear, as Washington’s washer woman went West.
  • Mommy made me mash my M&Ms.

2) Study Phonetics (IPA)

For this exercise, take a look at the song you’re currently working on, and break down each word in the lyrics. Break apart the vowels, consonants, and diphthongs. Feel free to write in your score, if you need to spell a word differently for it to make sense in your singing.

Many singers refer to the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) when singing. This is a system derived from Latin that is used today as a standardized representation of sounds. It’s a great tool for singers to use and study!

3) Practice Vowels

Take some time focusing on each of the vowels: ah, ay, ee, oh, and oo. Add a consonant at the beginning (such as “mah, may, me…”) and sing through the list, making sure each one is clear.

4) Practice Consonants

Next, focus on consonants, like D, T, and N. Practice speaking the different sounds, repeating each a few times.

5) Do Some Lip Buzz/Trill

Warm up your lips, tongue, and teeth with simple lip buzzes and tongue trills.

6) Incorporate Breath Support

Pick one of the tongue twisters above, and practice saying it all in one breath.

Now that you’ve read the descriptions of the diction exercises, here’s a video you can follow along with:

Whether you are performing live on stage (using a microphone or not) or singing in a studio, you should always use clear and accurate diction! And if you’re struggling, remember that clear diction may not happen overnight. Keep practicing these diction exercises, and work with your voice teacher to improve your technique. Good luck!

 

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

MO - 13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

Video Lesson: 13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

Ready to help your son or daughter learn Spanish? There’s a lot of research about how learning languages is easiest for kids, so it’s the perfect time to teach him or her a few easy Spanish words.

And if you don’t speak the language yourself, don’t worry. There are so many great learning resources available online, many of which are free. In the video below, tutor Rosita R. shares several easy Spanish words and phrases that are perfect to learn together!

Plus, see even more Spanish vocabulary for kids here.

  • Buenos dias – Good morning
  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Good evening / Good night
  • Como se llama usted? / What is your name?
  • Me llamo… / My name is…
  • Mucho gusto / Nice to meet you
  • Como esta usted? / How are you?
  • Estoy bien, gracias / I’m fine, thank you
  • Con permiso / Excuse me
  • Perdóname / Excuse me, sorry
  • Por favor / Please
  • Gracias / Thank you
  • De nada / You’re welcome

Want to learn more? See even more easy Spanish words for kids here, or check out our live online Spanish classes! Kids will learn vocab, conversational phrases, and much more in a fun group setting.

AndyWFeatured Instructor: Rosita R.
Rosita teaches Spanish, singing, and many other subjects in Los Angeles, CA, as well as online. Rosita also teaches several online group classes, including Spanish for Kids. Learn more about Rosita here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource