The Language of Music

How to Approach Learning Music: 3 Exercises to Try

The Language of Music

Whether you’re learning Spanish or learning piano, you’ll find that both are complex languages with lots of history and unique jargon. In this guest post, Mike Lowden from Falls Music School bridges the gap between music and language by explaining just how similar they really are…


As a music teacher, I spend a good amount of time explaining to my students how learning music should be approached in a similar style to learning a language. Most professional musicians and music teachers consistently refer to “the language of music,” as this is a parallel that’s accepted worldwide.

Musicians Learn to “Talk” Music Like How Toddlers Learn to Speak

How do infants learn to speak their first words? They listen to what’s around them and do their best to copy it. As they grow older, they learn how to speak full sentences just as they’re taught. As they grow older still, they’re influenced on how to speak by friends and other social groups (e.g. a group of teenagers repetitively using the same slang) and use all of these different resources to eventually sound like “themselves.” People don’t put very much thought into it.

Listen to anyone talk; even though there might be individual nuances, language is actually a culmination of sayings from one’s parent(s), friends, teachers, and other social influences. People learn to talk by blending their social experiences together. Why do you think accents exist in certain regions and someone who moves there might eventually develop an accent? It all depends on what’s around you; we humans like to absorb what we hear.

Defining Your Musical Influences

This is exactly the same process that musicians go through; we listen to players we like and end up emulating their style. If you’re really into B.B. King, you’re going to do your best to play just like him. But maybe later you get into another player, so you learn how they “talk.” Eventually, everything you’ve learned from the music you’ve played goes into your tool belt of “self-expression.” There are many artists out there who are known for their own unique style, but all of them had influences that shaped who they became.

Put it into practice: Find a musician you really enjoy and see if you can trace back their musical history, almost like a family tree. If you have trouble tracing the history yourself, you can usually find interviews where they discuss their musical influences. Take note of some of their signature licks or musical tricks and see if they can be traced back. It’s fun just to see how far back you can trace! This can be an extremely enlightening exercise. Bonus points if you do this with your own playing.

Building Your Vocabulary

Having an extended vocabulary is extremely important when you’re trying to express ideas through both your native language and the language of music. “Bad” and “egregious” both essentially mean the same thing, but those two words have different connotations; choosing one over the other can be vital to expressing a story or idea.

Building vocabulary in music is just as important. Not only does it help culminate your overall style, as stated above, but it also can be the difference between a good solo and a great solo. Having a limited vocabulary means you can only say so much in a particular way. The last thing an artist wants is to be limited.

While one lick might fit and work well in a part of a song, there might be another that’s able to display an emotion even more perfect. Composers and improvisers agonize over these nuances just as much as poets and novelists agonize over their word choices. A musician decides on music ideas just as a poet might decide to say “glorious” rather than “cool.”

Put it into practice: Listen to the same song done by two different artists. Choosing some unexpected covers to compare is a fun idea. See what differences of “vocabulary” they each end up choosing. Often, an artist may choose to express an idea that’s exactly the same — basically reciting what the artist before them did. If you pay close attention, many artists will choose subtle differences in licks or chord voicings to show how they think the song should be played. Learn both versions and compare!

Speaking With the Right Nuances

Another thing musicians spend a fair amount of time on is contemplating the “interpretations” of composers. This means that it’s not only important to play the notes correctly, but to express them in a very specific way. Think about it — the way we say things in our spoken language can sometimes be even more important than the words we’re actually saying.

If you were speaking to your child and asked him or her to make their bed very nicely, that might get the job done. If the child still didn’t make the bed, however, you could repeat those same exact words but say them in a much sterner manner. It’s likely that this change in tone will elicit a different response.

Similarly, musicians focus on a lot of nuances with their music — how to attack each note, how loud or soft to play (dynamics), how to phrase musical ideas, and so on. The list of nuances is almost endless!

Understanding the Details

This same idea can cross over to styles of music. I had a jazz professor who would consistently tell students who had trouble swinging, “You’re saying the right thing, but you’re speaking French with a Russian accent — it ain’t right!” This meant that even though somebody was playing the right notes for it to be considered jazz, the nuances didn’t quite fit with the style, and, therefore, sounded funny.

This is exactly why someone who speaks the native tongue of a country can always tell if someone else hasn’t learned it as their first language. Sure, the words are right, but it sounds forced and foreign. It takes a lot of learning and practice to sound natural. A lot of people don’t realize that these subtleties are what make a piece of music so powerful.

Put it into practice: Start actively listening to ways people approach certain musical phrases and try to identify what makes one style different than another. If you’re a musician, try this with your own playing. What are other ways you can interpret the same phrase? Do you have trouble playing a particular style of music even though you can technically play the notes correctly? Look at what nuances you might have to add!

The Takeaway

These concepts are only the tip of the iceberg! All of the world’s best musicians are great because they have become so fluent in the language of music. If you’re learning music, use these approaches to improve your skills. If you’re a seasoned pro, you can always improve your musical fluency. Happy practicing!


Guest Author: Mike Lowden
Mike Lowden has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember, and enjoys playing every type of music that he can get his hands on. Mike has education from the Berklee College of Music, and studied Jazz at the University of Akron. Now the guitar instructor and co-owner of Falls Music School, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, his mission is not only to teach music students at the school, but also through online content.

Photo by Nic McPhee

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9 Thoughtful and Affordable Christmas Gifts for Teachers

Christmas Gift Ideas For TeachersWith Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time to give your or your child’s teacher a present as a token of appreciation for the time and energy he or she has invested  — this includes teachers at school as well as private lesson teachers and tutors! To help make your shopping easier, here are nine thoughtful and affordable ideas for Christmas gifts for teachers this holiday season.

1. A Handwritten Card

Sometimes the best things in life really are free, and a card written by a student is one of the most meaningful gifts that a teacher can receive. Teachers cherish these sweet words of admiration and usually keep these letters for many years. A homemade card is appropriate for younger students, while older students can compose a personalized letter of appreciation. You can also leave some kind words in a review for your TakeLessons teacher, which helps him or her attract new students!

2. Christmas Ornaments

Holiday ornaments make wonderful Christmas gifts for teachers because they are small, inexpensive, and easy to find. Steer clear of anything “teacher” related, as any teacher who has been teaching for more than a year or two likely already has more of these themed items than they know what to do with! Instead, select something you feel reflects the teacher’s style or personality.

3. Homemade Treats

Almost everyone loves homemade goodies, so if you are culinarily inclined, baked goods can make a delicious gift that is sure to be appreciated. Cookies, truffles, or fudge are all good options, as they are quick and simple to make, while also being easy to transport. Include the recipe so they can make it for themselves later on!

4. Gift Card or Gift Certificate

Take time to pamper your or your child’s teacher by giving them an indulgent gift card. A $5 gift card to a coffee shop may not seem like much, but getting to splurge on a fancy latte they might not usually purchase for themselves is a welcome treat. And don’t forget, TakeLessons offers gift certificates, too! Whether your teacher wants to improve their cooking skills, work on their fitness, or learn a new language, there’s so much to explore!

5. Cookie Jar

Fill a clear jar with all of the dry ingredients necessary to make your favorite homemade cookies, layering each ingredient. Tie the recipe to the jar with a fancy ribbon and you have a beautiful, simple gift. This idea also works well with homemade hot cocoa powder.

6. Tote Bag

Teachers and tutors who travel to students are always carrying books and supplies around with them. Help your teacher out by giving them a tote bag so they can carry their materials to you in style! You can select a pattern you think the teacher would enjoy or have a plain bag embroidered with their name or initials.

7. Travel Mug or Cup

Because teachers (especially singing teachers!) use their voices constantly throughout the day, many of them always have a drink with them for when their throat gets dry or scratchy. Reusable travel mugs or cups make wonderful Christmas gifts for teachers. You can find them almost anywhere in a wide variety of colors and prints. If you have a young child, you might even pick a customizable cup that they can decorate just for their teacher.

8. Handmade Crafts

Feeling crafty and want to make something unique? Pinterest is filled with creative ideas ranging from extremely simple to fairly complex, so you can pick the idea that fits your level of skill and the amount of time that you have. Your teacher will love your one-of-a-kind gift.

9. Hand Sanitizer

During the winter, children tend to become walking petri dishes for cold and flu germs, depositing them on every surface they touch everywhere they go. In an attempt to keep everyone healthy, teachers and tutors tend to use a lot of hand sanitizer for both themselves and their students during the colder months. While it may not be one of the most exciting Christmas gifts for teachers, hand sanitizer is certainly a practical gift that will be well appreciated.

Have a happy holiday season!


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6 Fun and Unique Ways to Learn Music Theory

Orchestra-Performance-23Staring at the Circle of Fifths and memorizing key signatures isn’t the only way to learn music theory! Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares some creative ideas to revive your learning…


Music theory is a very important part of your musicianship, whether it be mastering ear training, harmony, or sight reading. No matter what instrument you play or what styles you enjoy, those who learn music theory grow further as musicians. A solid knowledge can help you improve your performance, technique, composition, and analysis of music!

For some, learning music theory can be very dry, or perhaps even overwhelming at first. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be all about sitting down with a theory book and memorizing scales, chords, and key signatures. There are many other interesting ways you can improve your musicianship. Here are some ideas to try that incorporate both learning and having fun!

1. Learn to play other instruments
If you’re a singer, then learning the piano is vital to becoming a well-rounded vocalist. And if you’re a pianist, then being able to sing comfortably will improve your piano skills, believe it or not! The more instruments you know how to play and read the music for, the easier it will be for you! You can also try learning an instrument that plays in bass clef if you play an instrument in treble clef, to work on those transposing skills!

2. Listen to new material
I recommend attending many concerts of vocalists, choirs, orchestras, and big bands, to train your ear on what all the different voices and instruments sound like. The only way to really develop your musical ear, and to start working toward perfect pitch, is by listening to the different instruments.

3. Analyze your favorite songs
If you’re up for the challenge, find the sheet music for one of your favorite songs, and analyze it. For example, what are the tempo markings? What key signature is it in? Are the chords major or minor? Then, I dare you to sing the song only in solfege, not the lyrics, on the correct pitches. This is going to improve your theory and musicianship immensely! Even if you think it’s time consuming, it is very good practice. As a performer, knowing the music you’re singing or playing inside and out is key!

4) Find visuals
If you’re a visual learner like I am, consider placing music theory posters around your music room, or somewhere you can always see them. There are also clocks that represents the Circle of Fifths (like this one); every time you look at it, you will start to memorize the key signatures!

5) Incorporate movement
I encourage dancing and movement when learning music theory, especially with my younger students. This can really help you gain a sense of musicality and feel the rhythm in your body. Freeze dancing, ballet, tap, zumba, and yoga are all great ways to be lyrical with your body. And by dancing regularly, your body will begin to internalize the rhythm automatically, so that when it’s time for sight reading and performing rhythms it’s going to second nature for you!

6) Try composing a song
I also encourage you to try composing music on your instrument! Write your own chord progressions, melody, and rhythms without thinking too much about it, and remember that it’s okay to start simple and to make mistakes. Just write whatever comes to mind. Then start to analyze what you have just written, and you may be surprised with the masterpiece you have created!

I highly recommend trying out these ideas as you learn music theory — they are fun, creative, and much more hands-on than staring at a book!

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



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Should Your First Music Lessons be 30, 45, or 60 Minutes Long?


You’ve found a great music teacher and are ready to book – but if you’re not sure how long your lessons should be, you’re not alone! Read on for some helpful advice from Greensboro, NC teacher Alanna H...


When first starting music lessons, either for your child or yourself, it’s hard to know how long your lessons should be. Eventually many students can work up to 60-minute lessons if they want to, but where is a good place to start? Here’s my advice:

30-Minute Music Lessons

–Young children (elementary school and most middle schoolers)
–Students who have never played the instrument before

30-minute lessons are great for young children and people brand new to the instrument. If you have a young child (middle school or younger) who is new to the instrument, I would definitely start with half an hour. In addition to not having the playing endurance, young students often don’t have the attention span to get full use of an hour or a 45-minute lesson. There are of course always exceptions, but that is a good rule of thumb. Adult beginners might also find that 30 minutes is the best for them endurance-wise.

45-Minute Music Lessons

–Children who are serious about learning the instrument
–Adult students who have never played before

45-minute lessons are great for adult beginners, high schoolers, and younger children with a keen interest in music and longer-than-average attention span.

60-Minute Music Lessons

For serious music students, or students preparing for auditions or competitions, 60-minute lessons are ideal. An ideal candidate for a 60-minute lesson practices regularly and therefore has built up the playing endurance to feel comfortable all the way through the lesson.

Music lesson length can also be determined by the actual time you have available, as well as budget, and those are perfectly acceptable reasons to choose a certain lesson length. If you still feel unsure about how long the first music lessons should be, contact a TakeLessons Student Counselor, or speak with your teacher about your goals, experience, and schedule prior to your first lesson to get a recommendation.

AlannaHAlanna H. teaches music theory, clarinet, and saxophone lessons in Greensboro, NC. She received her degree in Music Performance (Saxophone) from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Learn more about Alanna here! 



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piano practice

Making Practice FUN – 2 Ways to Spice Things Up

piano practice

Is practicing your instrument becoming more of a chore than an enjoyable pastime? Check out these tips from Hayward, CA and online teacher Molly R. for making practice fun and getting out of the rut:


Sometimes as students and teachers, we lose sight of some pretty important things in music making: personality… and plain FUN!

Sure, there may be a handful of musicians out there that wow with their impeccable technique. But is that really enough? Think of yourself as an audience member for a moment and ask yourself which performances are the ones you really remember: the ones that appeared flawless, or those that touched you in some way?

We should ask ourselves the same thing as a musician in our day-to-day lives. Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be interesting? It all starts in the studio or practice room.

Here are some ways to get out of your head and to start bringing the fun back into making music:

  • Are you a singer? Well, if you’re learning a “serious” aria, why not sing it in the style of Katy Perry or Beyonce? Why not rap it? Instrumentalists… the same applies to you! Say you’re doing a jazz or classical piece that’s pretty difficult . Stand up and rock it Jerry Lee Lewis style and really use your body and attitude (no one’s looking! Go, Killer, go!).
  • How about our basic warm ups? Those don’t have to be boring, either. Sing your scales using nonsense words. Swing the rhythms! Dance or sway or stomp and clap. Make funny faces. Use your imagination – the options are limitless!

Now after you have done some of these “crazy” (but hopefully fun!) things, sing or play as “you.” Record yourself. Are you amazed at the difference? You should be. Something magical just happened. By allowing yourself to cut loose , you will do wonders for your singing and playing. When the mind relaxes, so does the body!

As I tell my students, practicing should NEVER be a chore. There are plenty of ways for making practice fun by mixing it up and simply playing. My rule is “first, make it fun.”  After all, isn’t that why you got into music in the first place?

mollyrMolly 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!

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Piano Lessons

Top 5 Piano Lesson Books for Adults

Piano Lessons

Have you been thinking about taking piano lessons, but aren’t sure where to begin as an adult? No problem! Learning musical theory and practice as an adult just means that you’re more likely to be a dedicated, intelligent student!

Learning with the help of piano lesson books is an ideal way to get comfortable with your new instrument and grasp the basics of musical theory. Once you have covered the basics, you can work with a specialized, private piano teacher to enhance your skills!

The following piano lesson books are the most highly rated among adult learners:

Alfred’s Basic Adult All-in-One Piano Course

The Alfred’s collection of piano books is one of the most popular among adult students because it’s easy and enjoyable to use. Each section covers a piano lesson, musical theory, and technical information about the elements of music and the piano itself. This is the most highly recommended adult piano book on the market right now!

John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course

Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course is not an overstatement: this series of piano lessons is perfect for beginners. Thompson introduces each note in his book one at a time and reinforces his lessons with colorful illustrations and characters. This lesson book, complete with writing and reading assignments, is a great supplemental resource when working with a professional teacher one-on-one.

The Classic Piano Course Book

Written as a series of piano lesson books, the Classic Piano Course Book starts at the beginning with notes, names, pitches and keys. From the first book in this series, you’ll be guided carefully through the practical exercises, as well as theoretical learning. Beautiful classical songs, like “Swan Lake” and “Fur Elise” are included, which will motivate you to complete the lesson! There’s no better feeling than achieving the ability to play a beautiful piece of music. Understanding classical music fundamentals will also help you to play different genres of piano music, and a piano teacher will be able to show you exactly how these principles apply.

Bastien Piano for Adults

The Bastien Piano for Adults lesson book was truly designed with adult learners in mind. Not only does the sample music include songs from all kinds of musical genres and eras — jazz, blues, folk, ragtime and classical — but the lessons are more progressive than children’s versions, at least in terms of musical theory. In addition to the text, the Bastien book includes a CD accompaniment to the lessons. The CD will help you gauge your understanding of tempo and timing, but it still can’t replace the private teacher’s pinpointed guidance.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Musical Theory

Don’t be embarrassed by the title — The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Musical Theory will help you complete your learning experience! A lot of adults worry that they have no musical affinity or natural talent. Is that how you feel? Then this book is most definitely for you! This guide is not specific to piano, but it will help you on your journey to understanding the theory behind all music, from the piano to vocals. Confusing theories are explained as simply as possible, which will help you on your way to being a virtuoso in no time. Musical theory can seem very complicated to the untrained student, so you should never hesitate to seek out the professional guidance of a music teacher.

With the right piano lesson books in hand, you can really tackle your new instrument with gusto! Once you feel more confident at the keys, you will benefit the most from learning with a good teacher. TakeLessons piano tutors can help you find the right person to help with any questions or struggles you experience on the piano, as well as suggest new course books to enhance your learning even further.

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Is Your 9-to-5 Draining Your Creativity?

OK Go are known for their creative music videos, and their most recent release is definitely on par.  After all, why stand on stage playing instruments (yawn!), when you can use a car with retractable arms to play the instruments for you?  These guys are either insane or genius – decide for yourself.  (Click here to watch the video for “Needing/Getting”!)

Musicians are usually creative by nature.  But sometimes – especially if music is something you do in your spare time, instead of as your career – it can be all too easy to get caught up with the routine of life.  Maybe you have to stay late at work, and the last thing you want to do is practice scales and etudes when you get home.  Maybe your goal is to write a song, but the lyrics just aren’t coming to you.  Maybe you’ve practiced your heart out, but the idea of performing in front of people makes you break out in hives.  But why give up on something you were once so passionate about?

Being creative is something that needs to be exercised, just like a baseball player exercises certain muscles.  So if the daily grind is starting to get to you, it’s time to take action.  Shake up your routine and jump-start your creative mind.  Even if the initial activity doesn’t involve music, it may awaken parts of your brain that will help you in music later on.  Need some ideas?  Here are 10 ways to rejuvenate your creativity, courtesy of

1. Surround yourself with creative people. Hang out with writers, musicians, poets and artists. Often, just being in a creative environment will inspire you and refresh your creative mind.
2. Start somewhere. Whether it’s creative writing in Word or sheet music, the brain will eventually loosen up and it will be easier to break through the barrier and come up with ideas.
3. Expose yourself. Expose yourself to new art – books, music, paintings – all the time. If you’re a rocker, listen to funk. If you’re a crime writer, read fantasy. If you’re a productivity writer, read something about slacking off.
4. Do something new. Play chess. Read a book if you usually watch television and watch television if you read. Go outside. Sing in the shower.
5. Meet new people from different walks of life. Gain insight into their perspectives on life. Strike up a conversation on the bus.
6. Shut out the world. Instead of sucking in new information, sit quietly, go to sleep or meditate. Stop thinking and clear your mind so that the clutter doesn’t get in the way of your thoughts.
7. Don’t be a workaholic – take breaks. Your mind needs a chance to wind down so it doesn’t overheat and crash.
8. Experiment randomly. What does a flanger sound like on a vocal track? Like Lenny Kravitz, of course.
9. Exercise every day, before you sit down to be creative. If you exercise afterward, you’ll get the creative burst – just too late.
10. Spend time with your children. Or someone else’s.

What other ideas have you tried when you feel your creativity dragging?  Share your thoughts below! Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.



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Stop Stressing: 3 Remedies For Musical Frustration

The 2012 Oscar nominations were released today, although only two songs (“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets and “Real In Rio” from Rio) are up for the Best Original Song category. This is the first time only two songs have been nominated, which came as a big surprise seeing as how 39 contenders were originally noted back in December.

Still, the music industry has several other opportunities to shine throughout the year, such as the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, and the upcoming Grammy Awards.  And if you dream of one day taking home one of those awards, you better start working hard!

With hard work, however, may come frustration.  Maybe you’re not mastering a piece as quickly as you’d like, or you’re having trouble with a specific section.  Perhaps it’s stage fright that’s holding you back.  Wherever your frustration stems from, it’s important to learn how to handle it to your advantage.  Read on for a few helpful tips for dealing with those musical frustrations:

Tip #1. Give Yourself Credit – Before looking to improve something, look at the progress that has already been made. Appreciate and be thankful for that. Remember when you were a beginner and you couldn’t play at all? You would have been happy to have the skills you have now.  Appreciate this, and feel good about what you have achieved up to this point.  Many people beat themselves up over their own playing when they are pretty good already. This does not mean that you should become complacent or lose motivation to improve, it only means be happy with yourself and your playing as you continue to improve and move forward as a musician.

Tip #2. Become Aware of That Which Empowers and Inspires YouThere may be certain things, moments, scenarios, events, places or people that make you feel good about yourself as a musician.  These things are different for each musician.  Perhaps you become very inspired by going to see a concert.  Or maybe you get very motivated by watching or jamming with musicians who are currently better than you.  Or, maybe you become inspired by revisiting some of your old recordings and seeing how much you have improved.  Being able to realize (and have tangible proof of) how much you have grown as a musician is a powerful inspirational force for some people.  Whatever these things are, anything that gets you away from concentrating on the temporary frustrations and setbacks and focuses you on your motivation and inspiration is what you should surround yourself with.

Tip #3. Let Time Be On Your Side – Many musicians feel frustrated when big progress does not seem to come in a short period of time.  As a result, time is perceived as an enemy.  However, if you are making at least some progress over time and you are patient enough and let accumulated time work for you, then time in fact becomes your biggest advantage. Learning an instrument is much like investing money with a fixed rate of compound interest.  In the beginning, the investment seems to grow so slowly that it seems like you are watching grass grow, but over the years, the growth will explode because of the exponential power of compound interest. If you know that time is on your side, you will be sure to feel much better about your musical future.

How do you handle your stress when you’re feeling frustrated?  Let us know – leave a comment and share with the community!

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Composing Life Lessons from Music

The benefits of music are well-documented when it comes to instilling skills and confidence in young children – here, TakeLessons instructor Bryan B. explains how music can translate into career success for adults as well!


Recently, I went on a two week trip to sunny Northridge, California, where I got to work with amazing artists and teachers to help develop my craft. What is my craft you say? Singing – more specifically, opera singing.

The program I took part in, OperaWorks, provided me with much more insight than I initially expected. Living in an age of doubt, I immediately felt like it might not have been worth my money. But after two weeks I was pleased to see that there were noticeable changes not only in my music, but also in my life.

Let’s take a closer look at how my training in music affected my life and my world:

Opera-ism #1: I am AWESOME. This was a technique I learned to help prepare myself for an audition. By giving myself a pep talk before walking through the door, I am able to walk in with confidence.

So how does this apply to my life? Well, aside from teaching, I have a normal day-to-day job in sales. And as part of that job, I have to provide people with a service or product. This can be really nerve-wracking because I hate sales people myself. I recently went to buy a car and the worst part about the whole experience was the salesman. I already knew I was going to buy a car, I had already researched the car that I wanted and he just seemed to get in the way. Because of experiences like these, I try to steer myself away from being a “pushy” sales guy.

When I applied my “I am AWESOME!” pep talk to my day-to-day job, I found that it was a lot easier for me to sell to people without being pushy or being pushed over. I was able to confidently talk about products, build relationships with my clients and actively listen and respond to their concerns. Essentially, being AWESOME allowed me to be myself when I was on the phone, and let my personality shine. What I learned from this is products don’t sell – people do.

Opera-ism #2: Music is not what’s written on the page, it is what the performers make of it. The intention of the composer was not that the performer sing the song exactly how it was written, in a robotic fashion, but to add expression and interpretation to it.

This came to light for me when I sang an operatic aria (Love Sounds the Alarm from Acis and Galatea), which is a love song.  Rather than expressing lovey-dovey emotions, this aria became a “war speech” in OperaWorks. I was inspiring a nation to defend itself against its enemies. The whole meaning of the song changed, but it was really effective.

The real life experience happened in learning my “pitch.”  You can always hear the sales pitch coming when you’re on the phone with a salesman.  Well, I realized it’s not about the words, it’s about the meaning. Upon returning, having already memorized the pitch, I started to implement the meaning of the words, and tie them back to the desires of my customers.

What I’ve learned as a performer has more than affected my life – it has changed me. I went into OperaWorks as an insecure performer and came out a confident man. The results speak for themselves. My performance at work has improved, and my personal life is much happier and free. This just goes to show that things shouldn’t be taken at face value. What you learn in school might actually apply to real life. Who knew?


Bryan B.

TakeLessons Instructor