As Spring Break hits, it’s so tempting to put everything on hold and just lounge by the pool with some lemonade, passing a few lazy days before getting back to school or work. If you’re studying music however, it is really important not to slack off when it comes to your practice routine. Taking just a week off can seriously slow your progress or even move you backwards from reaching your goals. How do you keep up your discipline to practice when your brain is in vacation mode? Try these five tips to make the most of your break! (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Music Lessons’
The dreaded plateau is not just a fitness concept – most musicians, at some point or another, are forced to face it as well. It’s when many students decide to give up and end their music lessons, because they’re convinced they are unable to learn any more. The key? Have a plan of action.
As any pro musician (or athlete, at that) can tell you, it’s just a matter of breaking through that barrier and keeping the inspiration alive. And maybe the extra oomph that you need is a matter of adding a few more minutes of practicing each day. Who knows – you might discover a new source of motivation as you dissect certain passages or try out different warm-up exercises.
If you’ve already hit the plateau and feel frustrated with a lack of progress, consider these 5 ideas for extending your practice sessions, as published on The Collaborative Piano Blog:
1. Work in more detail. Take apart each phrase and discover what you need to do in order to make it fit into the whole. Once you’ve finished working on one phrase to your satisfaction, go on to the next one.
2. Repetition. Once you’ve got a passage worked out, repeat it several times to solidify it in your playing. Having longer practice sessions can accomplish this very nicely. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean running whole pieces several times and calling it a practice session, unless the detail work is already in place.
3. Come back to each piece you’re working on every day. Day-by-day repetition is what can add tremendous reliability to your performance. That passage that almost worked in the first session of the week can usually be played with ease if attended to daily. There’s something about working hard on a passage, setting it aside and then returning to it the next day that builds confidence and command to what seemed initially unplayable.
4. Warm up properly. Consult with your music teacher as to how you should warm up every day. Try out several different types and styles to keep things interesting.
5. Add more diverse activities to your daily practice session. Changing gears several times can lessen any chance of boredom practicing. Activities such as technical exercises, sight reading, transposition, reviewing old pieces, playing in a different musical style and improvising can make your time spent practicing more rewarding.
Remember: Musicians of all levels can experience the feeling of hitting a wall. When that happens, it’s important to look back on what motivated you in the first place and keep that momentum going. And of course, let your music teacher know how you’re feeling. Maybe all you need to break through the plateau is a shift in focus, exposure to some other creative outlets or some new music! (If you don’t have a private teacher, sign up for lessons here.)
Have you reached a plateau in your own music studies? How did you keep your motivation up? Share your story – leave a comment below, or head on over to our Facebook page!
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?
Are you challenged with the task of finding interesting curriculum to keep your students motivated during their lessons? TakeLessons guitar teacher Lisa T., who is based in the Chicago area, has some tips for fellow teachers who want to create an engaging and fun lesson experience for their students.
If you’re looking for a unique approach to teaching your students and you don’t want to use store-bought materials, you always have the option of creating your own curriculum. The advantage of creating your own curriculum is having the freedom to enhance or modify what you are teaching as you go along. Once created, the curriculum can be used over and over again, tweaking where needed.
So how can you develop a good curriculum? The first thing you should do is define your objectives for your student. Once your objectives are clear, you can start thinking about how you will get there. Measuring your success through defined goals such as tests, practice charts and student feedback is also important.
When defining your objectives, ask yourself the following questions:
–What will the student accomplish during this lesson?
–To what specific level (i.e. 80% accuracy) will the student be able to perform a given task?
–How will the student show that they understood and learned the goals of your lesson?
–Are there any specific modifications that need to be made in order for your student to be successful?
–What tools (both formal and informal) can be used to assess the student’s progress? These can include practice charts, motivational charts, skill builders and recitals.
These are just a few suggestions for successful lesson planning. Start with a clearly defined goal and track your progress along the way to ensure you achieve the desired results for both yourself and your student. Good luck!
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Leave it up to music to reveal life’s sometimes hard, yet poignant truths.
To be honest, perseverance is painful. Trying is tiring, and discipline is difficult. When working towards a goal (i.e. getting something we want), instant gratification and instant results are typically as non-existent as Mick Jagger‘s 28” waist.
Take life in the TakeLessons office for example. Just today, one of our new Student Support counselors was sharing his disappointment with me that he wasn’t able to keep a new student on. The student quit a day after her first lesson.
Our Support Counselor, a fellow musician, reminded the student that mastering any instrument takes time and dedication. He invested his sincere time and efforts in this exchange and wanted to see this student continue…but she didn’t. You can’t always get what you want….
The student’s end goal was to be a pop star. Initially, she was really excited for her first lesson. She was quickly disappointed that after a one hour voice lesson, she couldn’t sing like Taylor Swift. After realizing the dedication involved in vocal training and recognizing what an uphill climb it was, she opted out. This story is not told to discount the student, it simply illustrates how hard it can be to persevere. Who hasn’t been discouraged by process? Goals are daunting! But if you try sometimes….
Our company just turned 5 years old, and while I wasn’t here from the beginning, I can certainly tell you that we didn’t get where we are today overnight. TakeLessons was founded with a goal. A BIG goal: to inspire the next generation of musicians, to pay teachers, and to eventually pay ourselves. Everyone who is in leadership positions now started out small – even our CEO made sales calls at one point! Our small team of 5 persevered, and kept the end goal in sight. Now we are a team of 60 plus employees who work with hundreds of instructors who teach thousands of students! We have outgrown our current office space and continue to grow.
We also continue to be inspired by our teachers and students every day. Bottom line, everyone at TakeLessons and every one of our teachers and students has had hard days, bad days and thin days where we just didn’t get what we wanted. However, we have persevered. We have students who have put in that extra hour of practice, or teachers who travel 20 extra miles to teach a lesson, and who eventually see results! We are proud of how far we have come and look forward to where we are headed.
Now how is that for getting what you need? I think Mick Jagger would be impressed. At the very least, some of us in the office have really good dance moves, but I don’t think anyone has as small a waist.
Student Support Counselor