How to Set Up a Drum Set

drum setNew to the drums? Learning how to set up a drum set properly should be your first priority. Read on as Mundelein drum teacher Jonah D. shows you the way…






Before I even touch the drums I have to set up my drum throne.  I adjust the height so that I can lift my legs easily using my thighs.  I start with a height that puts a 90-degree angle at my knees.  I sit higher up, but you can raise or lower the seat to make it comfortable.  Sitting too high or too low will actually impede your ability to play.

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Video: Learn and Master Major Scales

Gibson guitarGuitarists, want to master your scales once and for all? Practicing scales and training your fingers goes hand-in-hand with improving your overall technique, especially when you start working on soloing and improvisation. We were excited to come across Gibson’s series of tutorial videos, and this one in particular is great for guitar players who want to learn a few major scale exercises.

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Dubstep Violin with Lindsey Stirling

We simply can’t get enough of Lindsey Stirling! Her amazing violin skills, modern integrations of hip-hop and dubstep, and creative videos (many of which have gone viral) have launched her into YouTube celebrity fame ever since she impressed audiences nationwide on America’s Got Talent. She has performed globally and recently embarked on a U.S. tour, and her first self-titled album was released on September 18th. Take a look at her most recent music video here:

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Studying Creativity: How to Find Your Muse

creativityBeing a musician isn’t always sunshine and roses – sometimes you lose focus and motivation. But finding your muse can help give you a fresh new outlook and the inspiration to continue creating. Today’s featured guest author is Astoria, NY teacher Jessy T. Read on as she shares her story…

We all possess a creative spirit that leads us to do, to make, to discover and to enjoy.  It’s that inner spark that suddenly one day ignites, and makes us leap out of bed and set out to create something that is uniquely our own.  For us musical folks, this is why we pick up an instrument or start singing.  Music is our natural medium of expression.

I have been a singer for my whole life.  Through singing I have found the greatest joys and greatest challenges I’ve ever known.  Singing was always fun and made me feel good when I was younger, so it seemed natural that I would pursue serious vocal study at the collegiate level.  I was excited to embark upon this journey, but I quickly discovered that studying voice was not all fun and games.  In fact, it was difficult, tedious and even frustrating.  After a while, I found myself enjoying it less and less.  I even got to the point when I was actually dreading my voice lessons.  I was analyzing myself so much that I forgot singing was supposed to be fun!  I felt mechanical, and had censored my creative intuition so many times that it practically went into hiding.

In the midst of this artistic turmoil, I turned to songwriting.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an escape for me.  I was searching for some way to enjoy making music again, and soon found my new favorite form of self-expression in the process.  I will never forget the first time I performed my first original song at a college coffee house.  The reaction from my friends and colleagues was so positive and reassuring; I knew I had discovered something very exciting!  This “unleashing of the muse” was a breakthrough for me because it helped me to express everything I was feeling in a creative way, it reminded me of WHY I wanted to sing, and it helped me to trust my musical and artistic choices again.  I started to feel like an artist for the first time in my life.

As a beginning student of singing, all of the technicalities can seem daunting.  It is easy to lose touch with that creative spirit that inspired you to make music in the first place.  When you break something down to its most fundamental levels, it can become challenging to see the forest for the trees.  You can actually end up getting in your way and blocking your own creativity.

So, how do you study singing (or any other instrument) without losing touch with your own creative intuition?  The answer is you must make it into a study of creativity.  And you do so by always reminding yourself to HAVE FUN!  This may be easier said than done, but isn’t that why we start making music to begin with?  Because it’s fun!  Don’t allow yourself to become so bogged down in the study that you forget the initial joy you found in music.  Trust your unique choices, and try to not be your biggest critic.  Your creative spirit is calling.

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Astoria voice lessons with Jessica T.Jessy T. teaches singing, music performance, music theory, and songwriting lessons to students of all ages in Astoria, NY. With a Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance, Jessy specializes in classical, music theory, jazz and pop styles. She joined the TakeLessons team in August 2012. Find out more about Jessy, or visit TakeLessons to search for a teacher near you!


Photo by derrickcollins

Discounted Summer Music Lessons – Now Through May 25th!

SummerMemorial Day is approaching, and you know what that means: summer is almost here!  And if you haven’t started thinking about your family’s schedule, it’s smart to start planning before it’s too late.

In the land of sunscreen and Popsicle stands, it can be all too easy for kids to forget all of the techniques and songs they learned in the last 9 months, so it’s important to keep them engaged in music in some form.

Many families take advantage of the extra time available by adding in extra lessons or extending the lesson duration, giving kids a head start on their instrument before the next school year starts. For students shuffling between family visits, camps and other vacations, a flexible lesson schedule can be ideal.  If committing to a weekly timeslot is too difficult, speak with your child’s teacher and call our support staff to switch over to the “Flex” plan.

Of course, the opportunity isn’t restricted to the youngsters: with the longer days and carefree attitude the season usually encourages, it’s the perfect time for musicians of all ages to get started.  Since some teachers will have more open availability as students take breaks, use that to your advantage and secure an after-work or weekend timeslot.

But best of all?  We’re offering a special Memorial Day promotion to help you get a jump start – now through May 25th, new students are eligible for one FREE lesson with the purchase of three lessons.  For a longer commitment, book our Quarterly plan and receive two free lessons with the purchase of eleven lessons. Browse our certified teachers, find an instructor near your home and begin a summer to remember!

To find out more and take advantage of this special discount, call us at 877-231-8505 and connect with one of our student counselors!  This offer is available to new students only, and is not currently available for online booking.  Lesson plan pricing will return to normal for all billing cycles following your initial purchase.


Photo by Loren Sztajer.

Beyond the Piano Tie: 5 Absurdly Cool Pianos

If you’ll be in Los Angeles between now and May 3rd, keep your eyes open for the latest public art installation – 30 pianos, designed and decorated by local artists and community organizations, with one simple instruction: “Play Me, I’m Yours”!  The art celebrates conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane’s 15th anniversary as music director for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Similar Street Pianos have been featured in several US cities over the past 5 years, including Birmingham in 2008, New York in 2010 and Austin in 2011. Check out their official website to download a map of the piano locations and find out more information.  You can also upload your own photos, videos and stories to be featured on the website.  Just a look through their library shows just how creative artists can get with a seemingly simple piano.

We’ve shared photos of crazy guitar designs here before, but what about pianos?  Here are a 5 absurdly cool piano designs that caught our eye:


Chichi, Rocking Piano1. Chichi, the “Rocking Piano”:
This piano really rocks – back and forth, that is.  UK designer Sarah Davenport crafted this idea around a standard baby grand from the 1900s and literally rocks the player as a way of strengthening the relationship between the pianist and the piano.



Burning piano2. Burning Piano:
Ok, not really a piano design, but a unique performance nonetheless.  In 2008, Japanese pianist Yosuke Yamashita donned a fireproof suit to play a piece as the piano enveloped in flames.  Believe it or not, it was actually the second time he performed the stunt.



Piano table3. Piano Table:
Would you love to have a piano in your home, but the space is too limiting?  Georg Bohle’s Piano Table design works double-duty – just don’t get any crumbs between the keys!  The electric keyboard is made out of oak wood and is completely hidden when the lid is down.  All yours for the retail price of $6,000.


Hydra Piano4.  Hydra Piano:
This other-worldly design by Macedonian designer Apostol Tnokovski was reportedly inspired by a Lady Gaga performance.  The concept is also heavily influenced by Hydra, the mythological 7-headed sea monster, hence the name.


Schimmel Pegasus5. Schimmel Pegasus:
Italian designer Luigi Colani takes us to another dimension with this unique look. The Pegasus offers an ergonomic keyboard, over 200 strings, and 7 1/4 octaves. Its curved soundboard also results in a highly-efficient resonance system.  Reportedly Lenny Kravitz and Prince each own one of these pianos.



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5 Music Industry Leaders You Should Know

Fast Company Magazine recently released their list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2012, with 10 filling the Music category.  These days, it seems like the music industry is expanding at rapid speed – is it just us, or does it feel like we were just listening to portable CD players?  Now, we’ve got iPods the size of a paperclip, it seems.

The best part?  These innovators impact everyone in the music industry- not just artists, but concertgoers and fans.  What will be next?  In 20 years, we can only imagine how we’ll be sharing, distributing, recording and listening to music.  Check out our 5 favorites that made the list, along with commentary from Fast Company:

1. SoundCloud
For creating a simple, democratic sound-sharing platform embraced by everyone from 50 Cent and Madonna to urban nomads looking to capture an interesting neighborhood sound. More than 10 million users have jumped on SoundCloud’s mission to “unmute the web,” two million of which came in the last two months. In May, it released its API to appbuilders with SoundCloud Labs, where more than 10,000 apps are currently in development. And $50 million from a Kleiner Perkins-led funding round? Well that sounds pretty sweet, too.

2. Spotify
For taking the cake in the battle of the all-you-can-eat on-demand music streaming services (against competitors such as MOG and Rdio). Since its July U.S. launch, Spotify has become Facebook’s default music partner and gained 3 million paying subscribers worldwide, 20% of its active user base. Most surprising? More than half of those paying for the service are under 30.

3. Bjork
For creating the world’s first app album. Björk tapped interactive design guru Scott Snibbe to create the phantasmagoric iPad app for Biophilia, her first full-length album in four years, immediately positing it as a new-media model for fellow recording artists.

4. Mason Jar Music
For pioneering a new concert model. The Brooklyn-based collective of musicians, artists, and filmmakers eschews large, commercial spaces for nontraditional venues that foster organic collaboration. In October, they partnered with indie darling Feist to stage a 25-piece band for a secret debut of her Metals album at a tiny Harlem crypt. And a recent video for their new Grooveshark series, “Mason Jar Music Presents…,” documents a performance by The Wood Brothers at an abandoned Brooklyn schoolhouse.

For turning music sharing into a novel social experience.’s 110,000 active users–about 30,000 of whom are logging 10 to 20 hours a month–can DJ their favorite songs to each other in virtual “rooms,” either from their personal libraries or from the service’s own catalog, supplied by copyright heavyweights ASCAP and BMI. Since its debut last January, the service has inspired several copycats, notably Facebook’s “Listen With” feature which launched this January. In the age of made-for-you personal playlists from the likes of Pandora, is a breath of fresh air.

Your turn – what are your predictions for what’s next for the music industry and technology?  Think big, and let us know what you think!  Are there any companies that you feel are missing from this list?  Leave a comment on our Facebook page to join the discussion. Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.


Photo by Audio-TechnicaUK.

How To Write a Jingle of Super Bowl Proportions

Are you ready for some football?!

In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, this Sunday marks Super Bowl XLVI, with the New York Giants and the New England Patriots playing for this year’s title.  We don’t know about you all, but we’re ready to sit back, eat some chicken wings, and enjoy the game (and commercials, of course).

But don’t be surprised if afterward, you have a jingle or two stuck in your head.  With all of those commercial breaks, it’s bound to happen.  (If you’re the type to skip out on the commercials, at least listen up for the dubstep remix of the NFL theme song this year.)

With a lot of hard work, creativity, and networking, maybe your own tune could be featured in the next Super Bowl.  Here are a few great tips from the DiscMakers Blog, Echoes, to get you started writing and selling jingles:

1. Research Other Jingles
“Listen to everything,” says Richard Leiter, a California-based composer who has created jingles for Walmart, Tropicana, the American Red Cross, and Microsoft, among others. “When it comes to the quality of your work, you need to match what’s on TV.”

Lloyd Landesman, a New York-based musician and jingle writer who has worked with Budweiser, Capital One, Dr. Pepper, Ford, and many others, agrees. “Pay attention to commercials and watch channels that are more youth-oriented, like MTV and Fuse,” he says. “What kinds of music are being used in those commercials? Are they dance tracks and electronica, or more quirky, acoustic songs from artists like Ingrid Michaelson? Watching and listening to what’s out there can give you an idea of what the industry is looking for.”

2. Understand Your Role
“Jingles are custom-written works for specific companies that have both words and music,” says Leiter. “Your goal as a jingle writer is to understand what a company’s message is and to translate that into a song. In other words, it’s their message, but your illumination of it.”

Landesman echoes the point, emphasizing that aspiring jingle writers need to be open to suggestions and compromise. “You’re providing a service,” he says. “You want the client to be happy with what you’ve done, so if within the 30 seconds of music you’re writing there are 10 seconds that the client isn’t thrilled with, it’s your job to find out what’s wrong and correct it. Don’t be married to anything you’ve done and be very careful about picking your creative battles. Will changing this guitar part to make your client happy ruin your spot? Probably not — and sometimes listening to your client’s ideas can actually make your work that much better.”

3. Shamelessly Self-Promote
“One way to get into jingle writing is to start a dialog with somebody at an ad agency – a writer, creative director, or producer,” says Leiter. “If you can figure out what their specific needs are at the time, then you can offer to help. They may have focused messages that they need to convey that you’d never be able to guess otherwise.”

Getting access to such people can be tricky, Leiter says, so he advises taking every possible route. “Call them, figure out their email addresses and write to them, send them homemade chocolate chip cookies,” he says. “Tell everybody you know that you write jingles, and see who knows a creative director at an ad agency. Then go in and try to meet with them, tell them you’ll work for free for the first one. You want to open doors, so do what’s necessary to get there, even if it means putting together a free demo.”

Readers, do any of you have experience writing and selling jingles?  Share your expertise with the community! Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.



You might also like…
- Lyrically Stuck?  Think Like Eddie Vedder
- 10 Proven Steps for Writing Lyrics That Stick
- How to Break Into the Music Biz Without Even Playing a Note


Photo by rockmixer.