Tips from Teachers How to Get Ready for a Piano Recital

How to Get Ready for Your First Piano Recital [Infographic]

Tips from Teachers How to Get Ready for a Piano Recital

A good piano performance takes plenty of patience, practice, and persistence. And your first piano recital can be nerve-wracking, on top of that! Here, music teacher Liz T. shows you exactly how to prepare…


If you’re new to playing piano, your first piano recital is a wonderful opportunity to showcase what you’ve learned in front of family and friends! However, performing can be nerve-wracking for kids and adults alike. Here is a suggested timeline to help you perform at your best!

Prep Before the Recital

3 Months Before

  • Start planning your repertoire (the songs you’ll be performing) with your teacher. Having your songs picked out at least three to four months before your recital gives you plenty of time to practice.

2 Months Before

  • In your lessons, work with your teacher on improving your rhythm, as well as mastering the melody and chords.
  • In between lessons, practice your pieces! Work on the left and right hand separately, then practice with both hands together.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn entire songs in one sitting. Break it down: work on 16 measures at a time, or one page at a time.

1 Month Before

  • This is the most crucial time before the recital, so make sure you’re not slacking off!
  • If you feel prepared, try challenging yourself by memorizing your piano pieces.
  • Try recording yourself playing, so you can identify areas you still need to work on.
  • Listen to professional recordings of your pieces.

Week Before

  • Make sure you know the logistics of the recital: What time should you arrive? How should you dress? Will the recital be indoors or outdoors?
  • Put on a mock recital in front of your friends and family.

Day of the Recital

  • Get a good night’s rest and eat a well-balanced meal.
  • Bring extra copies of your music, as well as snacks and water.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Make sure you warm up! Run through some scales and arpeggios, stretch your muscles, and keep your hands warm and loose.
  • Breathe! It’s normal to get stage fright, but imagine your performance going well, and stay positive.

Additional Tips for Your First Piano Recital

  • Besides bringing extra copies of your music, I recommend having a picture of your music saved on your smartphone (as you never know what can happen).
  • I also recommend either laminating your music onto a small board or putting it into a three-ring notebook. This way, you won’t have pages blowing away and falling down.

Got it? Here’s a handy infographic to print out and post where you can see it!

Piano Recital Timeline - How to Get Ready for Your First Piano Recital

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I wish you all the best with your upcoming piano recital. If you would like to map out an action plan for how to excel at your next recital, schedule a piano lesson today and get started!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as 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!

Photo by bnilsen

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Disney Live auditions

4 Insider Tips For Your Disney or Nickelodeon Audition

Disney Live auditions

Want to perform with Disney, or another popular production company or cruise line? Learn what to expect at Nickelodeon and Disney singing auditions — and how to put your best foot forward –in this guest post voice teacher Liz T...


Have you ever thought of auditioning for a job with a Disney or Nickelodeon production? Well, there are a few things you should know before your audition! As a performer myself with Disney Live, Radio Disney, and Nickelodeon at Sea, I am here to give you insight into what these types of companies are looking for at their performer auditions.

Here’s what you need to know about Disney singing auditions and the like…

Don't ever pay money for an audition - Tips for Disney singing auditions

Don’t ever pay money for an audition

Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there that convince families to pay large advances to so-called “agencies” to get your kid seen in front of a Disney or Nickelodeon Casting Director. This is not the way to approach landing a role. If someone is asking for money just to give your child a chance to be seen, their promises may not be true.

Also, you should never pay an agent any money upfront — most deals end up at only 10-20% if they actually help you get contracted work.

Presentation is everything - Tips for Disney singing auditions

Presentation is everything

For the actual audition, Disney and Nickelodeon hold many casting calls each year in Orlando, New York City, and Los Angeles. It’s common for them to list auditions on websites like Playbill, Backstage, Walt Disney, and Feld Entertainment. Sometimes there are workshops in these cities where you or your child can participate in a master class with a casting director.

Remember: from the moment you walk in the audition room or send your headshot for review, you are being considered for a part! Both Disney and Nickelodeon look for actors who are positive and confident. They don’t want to see you walking in the audition room with your head down and a sourpuss face (even if you are auditioning for a serious role). They want to see a smile, an upbeat personality, and someone who can hold an intelligent conversation!

I suggest wearing a nice, bright-colored outfit to your audition to show you care about your presentation (also, make sure your clothes are free of logos). Imagine if you were meeting a friend’s parents for the first time — you want to make a good impression right from the start! They also want to see that you can work well with others and do not give off a diva-like impression.

Maintain a position image - Tips for Disney singing auditions

Maintain a positive image

If you are lucky to get a job with Disney or Nickelodeon, you will be in the public eye. This means that many kids will look up to you as a role model, so it’s important that you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Disney and Nickelodeon want to give off a positive, clean, healthy image to kids. They also do check-ins constantly, so even after you are hired, you still have to maintain a healthy lifestyle while performing. They are very strict with this, and do not tolerate bad behavior at all. Many well-known actors have been dropped from their TV show contracts or record labels for not maintaining these lifestyles.

Choose an appropriate songs and monologue - Tips for Disney singing auditions

Choose an appropriate song and monologue

To work for companies like Disney and Nickelodeon, you also need to have great energy and high spirits! So, it’s important to show this in your audition. Pick an audition song that is appropriate for your age and range, and make sure it doesn’t include any offensive material.

You can sing a Disney song or use a monologue from one of their movies or TV shows for their audition, but I also encourage you to change it up! Research some old, classic musicals, or even use some new and currently popular material for your audition. Most audition panels love funny material, and they love to laugh! They want to see big personalities, and that you would be a fun, lovely person to work with.

How Do Disney Auditions Work?

There are many different ways you can audition for Disney or Nickelodeon. For example, I made an audition video and sent it into Disney because I was not able to attend an audition in person. In my video I included some clips of past singing, acting, and dancing performances.

I finally received an email almost six months later, asking to do some more interviews and auditions over Skype. After another month, I was finally offered a role with the company! So, it paid off being patient and making that video, because you never know what opportunities are in store for you.

How Do Nickelodeon Auditions Work?

For Nickelodeon, I attended an audition in person. The audition was a very positive experience, and they took a lot of time getting to know me as a person and not just as an actor.

I spent about an hour with the panel, and they asked to hear me sing, read from a children’s script, and learn and perform a new dance combination. This is very rare for auditions, as most only last about two minutes. At the end of the audition, they offered me a job right on the spot, which started in two weeks! I was very lucky, as this is not particularly common.

I happened to be at the right time and right place for both these auditions. A little luck may have been on my side, but it would not have worked out without my hard work, determination, and practice for many years.

How to Get Singing Gigs with Disney and More

Looking for more? Check these resources out!

Other TakeLessons tips:

Elsewhere online:

These companies are very professional and look for the best of the best — hard-workers who are serious about performing. I suggest not going to your audition until you are extremely prepared and confident.

It’s a good idea to build up your experience with other auditions first, and then try out for these major companies when you’re truly ready. And of course, working with a voice teacher or acting coach is a great idea — your teacher can help you choose the right song and monologue, and teach you how to present your best self at the audition.

Good luck with your Nickelodeon or Disney audition, and let me know how it goes!

Photo by Ricky Brigante

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as 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!

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11 Signs You're Going to Rock Your Singing Audition

11 Signs You’re Going to Rock Your Vocal Audition (in GIFs!)

11 Signs You're Going to Rock Your Singing Audition

Even if you’ve picked out the perfect song to sing for your audition, it’s normal to feel nervous! But take a deep breath — if you’ve got the below 11 things down pat, you’re on the right track… 


Auditions are a fact of life for a serious singer. After all, they are the job interview for the performer! If you’re wondering how to prepare for a singing audition, I’m here to help you with some important singing audition tips.

Although auditions can seem daunting, there are plenty of things you can do to feel confident. Here are 11 signs that you’re going to rock your vocal audition!

1. You are rested.

True, it may be harder in this day and age to get the suggested eight hours of sleep every night, but the more quality sleep you have the night before, the better! A relaxed body means better sound, as there will be a lot less tension.

2. Your materials are together.

This means your sheet music is in the right key and clearly marked for the accompanist. The pages are also back-to-back and neatly organized in a binder. If you’re using sound files, they should be easily accessible and cued up at the correct time.

3. You know your lyrics backwards and forwards!

Confidence is key, and knowing that you REALLY have your songs down pat will help you soar through the audition!

4. You’ve done a good warm-up.

This means at least 15 to 20 minutes or so of light vocal exercises. It’s best not to do too much more than that, as you risk tiring yourself out. Think basic lip trills, hums, and sirens — you can never go wrong with those! It doesn’t needs to be anything fancy.

5. You are dressed appropriately.

This means you look professional, but you are also not restricted in any way by clothing or shoes that are too tight, which can affect your breathing and overall comfort level. Remember — a comfortable body means free tone!

6. You’ve picked songs that are right for your voice type.

The tessitura of each song fits you like a glove. These songs are so worked into your voice that someone could wake you up at 3am to have you sing them— and you’d still sound good! That’s when you know you have the perfect audition songs for your voice.

7. The “coast is clear” – meaning your throat and sinuses!

You’re free of congestion and excess phlegm. This means your vocal cords will come together nicely to make beautiful sounds. Problems with congestion? Please don’t panic. Just do more lip trills and sirens!

8. You’re hydrated.

This is one of the most important singing audition tips to keep in mind. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of a dry throat when you have to sing! Just make sure you didn’t over-hydrate, because that can dry out your vocal folds, too.

One of my favorite things to suggest to singers is to cut an apple into quarters: this has the perfect ratio of water as well as citric acid to break up any light congestion. It’s the perfect pre-audition snack!

9. You know what you’re singing about.

Now this is a biggie! Singing the right notes, rhythms, and words is essential, but what good is all of that if you aren’t connecting dramatically? Those that choose to be compelling over perfect are almost always those that get hired!

10. You realize that the audition starts before you begin singing.

This means being kind and respectful to any audition monitors, stage managers, and definitely to your accompanist, should you be working with one! You never know who has the final say in whether or not you get hired or cast. Smile, be friendly, and be prompt! Being a diva will get you nowhere.

And lastly….

11. You are prepared to have FUN.

Yes, I said it. Auditions can indeed be fun. You are going to rock any vocal audition you do if you treat it like an intimate performance, rather than something you have to do.


With these singing audition tips, you’ll have an easier time dealing with the butterflies that try to creep up. If you are not already working with one, a voice teacher is also essential for preparing you for your auditions. There are so many great instructors with backgrounds in rock, pop, musical theatre, and more. He or she can help you find the songs that fit your voice, as well as coach you further in the essentials listed above!

Break a leg! Remember that auditions do get easier the more often you do them… so get out there and show them what you’ve got!


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!


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50+ MORE Best Songs to Sing at A Talent Show

50+ MORE Best Songs to Sing at a Talent Show

50+ MORE Best Songs to Sing at A Talent Show

We’ve showcased a few good songs to sing at talent shows, but we heard you wanted more! Here, Brooklyn, NY voice teacher Liz T. shares 50+ more options, along with the three helpful steps to ensure an amazing performance! 


Singing at your school’s talent show is a great experience for young performers! Many singers, however, are shy to sign up because they are nervous or don’t know what to songs to sing. I’m here to help you work through these concerns!

First off, WHY should you sign up for a talent show? Performing in front of others has many benefits. You’ll learn how to overcome stage fright, how to sing with a microphone, and — depending on your set-up — how to perform with a background track, pianist, or band (or maybe even accompanying yourself!). If you want to become a famous singer someday, it’ll also prepare for you for those bigger gigs!

First Step: Choose a Song

If this is your first talent show, or if you are new to performing, choose a song you know — one that you have practiced a lot and that you feel comfortable singing. You will sound better and look more comfortable on stage when you feel confident and at ease with the song you are singing! Also, some of the best songs to sing at a talent show are ones with simple lyrics that you can remember, just in case those nerves kick in!

Next Step: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

If you really want to “wow” the crowd, I recommend working a voice teacher leading up to your performance! He or she can help you prepare for your talent show, including choosing the best song to sing, working through stage fright, and polishing up your overall performance. Even with natural talent, a singing coach can help you bring your skills to the next level. Singing isn’t easy, and it’s smart to have a strong foundation!

Final Step: Have Fun!

Ready to perform? The crowd is waiting! But what should you do if the nerves kick in? Sometimes we can’t help but get those jitters and butterflies in our stomachs when we step onto the stage. Here are my tips for how to deal with them:

  • Be prepared! Know your material well, and bring extra copies of the music or backup CDs. This will help you in case something goes wrong with the equipment or you lose your sheet music –you’ll be ready!
  • Bring water, and hydrate yourself regularly. One side effect of nerves is a dry throat, so drinking water will help!
  • Do some meditation, yoga, or stretching right before you go on stage. This will help those tight muscles and body jitters!
  • Bring headphones and an iPod, and listen to your song right before going on stage so it’s fresh in your mind.
  • Have fun! Your friends and family will be cheering you on.

What Are the Best Songs to Sing at a Talent Show?

Still unsure about what to sing? Here are some talent show song ideas, along with the artists who either wrote or popularized the tune:

Traditional/Folk Songs

  1. Amazing Grace
  2. God Bless America
  3. Danny Boy
  4. This Land is Your Land
  5. Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver
  6. Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
  7. The Rainbow Connection
  8. Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary
  9. Shenandoah
  10. This Little Light of Mine


  1. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin
  2. Imagine” by John Lennon
  3. Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack
  4. Respect” by Aretha Franklin
  5. Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
  6. In My Life” by The Beatles
  7. Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas
  8. What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
  9. Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
  10. Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder


  1. Dancing Queen” from “Mamma Mia!”
  2. Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz”
  3. Anything Goes” from “Anything Goes”
  4. The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from “Man of La Mancha”
  5. My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music”
  6. Tomorrow” from “Annie”
  7. Fame” from “Fame”
  8. Hopelessly Devoted to You” from “Grease”
  9. Beauty and the Beast” from “Beauty and the Beast”
  10. Footloose” from “Footloose”


  1. Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald

    2. “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
    3. “Misty” by Sarah Vaughn
    4. “I Got Rhythm” performed by Judy Garland and others
    5. “Georgia on My Mind” performed by Ray Charles and others
    6. “At Last” by Etta James
    7. “Feeling Good” performed by Michael Bublé and others
    8. “Fever” performed by Peggy Lee and others
    9. “Blue Skies” performed by Willie Nelson and others
    10. “Someone to Watch Over Me” performed by Linda Ronstadt and others

’80s/’90s Pop

  1. Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

    2. “Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt
    3. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
    4. “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
    5. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
    6. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
    7. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
    8. “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan
    9. “Your Song” by Elton John
    10. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel

Contemporary Pop

  1. Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones

    2. “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift
    3. “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
    4. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
    5. “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes
    6. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
    7. “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles
    8. “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
    9. “Stronger (What’ Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
    10. “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer


  1. I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5

    2. “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston
    3. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat
    4. “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
    5. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
    6. “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun”
    7. “Summer Nights” from “Grease”
    8. “All I Ask of You” from “Phantom of the Opera”
    9. “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher
    10. “One” by U2 and Mary J. Blige

I wish you all the best of luck in preparing for your talent show, and hope to work with many of you soon!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz 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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popular karaoke songs

6 Struggles Only Karaoke Enthusiasts Understand (in GIFs)

6 Struggles Only Karaoke Enthusiasts Will Understand

Love karaoke? And by that we mean… borderline obsessed? Is it your first suggestion for a birthday get-together? Do the karaoke hosts at your local bar know you by name… and get concerned when you don’t show up? Are you first on stage, while your friends hide in the corner slowly sipping their liquid courage?

Yep, we know the feeling.

Even if it takes you forever to browse the book and pick the perfect song to sing, it’s all worth it when you take the stage, grab the mic, and hear the roaring cheers of your fans (er, friends).

If you know your local karaoke spot’s song catalog by heart, karaoke isn’t just a late-night whim for you. It’s a hobby that unleashes the natural performer inside you, daring you to take risks and win over crowds. If you’re a karaoke enthusiast like us, we bet you can relate to these six struggles…

1. YouTube swallows your weekends whole.

Most people imagine the karaoke life as a series of parties, bars, and amateur contests. However, you do most of your singing at home. YouTube is full of popular karaoke songs, complete with scrolling lyrics, so it’s easy to warm up with a few of your favorites. But before you know it, hours have passed and you’re down a sing-along rabbit hole. The Internet is a great place to practice, but if you’re not careful, you’ll lose track of real-life karaoke, with its far superior sound systems and energetic live audiences.

2. You have nightmares about losing your thumb drive.

Once upon a time, people burned their favorite popular karaoke songs onto CDs and handed them to KJs. Today, you can fit thousands of custom-edited and privately purchased karaoke songs onto one flash drive. However, if you’ve ever fished around for your USB drive in a dark pub, you know this convenience is a double-edged sword. If your competition has your playlist of karaoke songs, there goes the element of surprise.

3. You take notes while listening to the radio.

You can’t help it. When you’re driving to work or school, streaming an online radio station, or listening to a friend’s music collection, you’re constantly on the lookout for popular karaoke songs to sing. Are those lyrics fun and easy to hear? Is the beat recognizable? Do you think you can match the singer’s voice? Should you go scrambling for the rest of their collection, hoping to find that perfect track for the next karaoke night? Without fail, listening to music always results in karaoke brainstorms.

4. Reality show judges make you want to scream.

When you watch singing shows like “American Idol,” “X Factor,” or “The Voice,” you can’t help but critique the amateur singers who somehow get a national platform for their mediocre mimicry. And it’s inevitable: With every new season of yet another televised singing competition, a few more talent-less wannabes are kicked out of tryouts because they “belong in a karaoke bar.” Ironically, the judges are usually music-industry veterans who profit every time you sing a song they recorded or produced. Why, then, do they insist on using karaoke as a punchline?

5. To alter or not to alter: That is the question.

Some karaoke machines can raise or lower a song’s key, to better match your own voice with the singer’s. You’ve been around long enough to know how divisive this issue is, and you may even have a firm opinion about whether or not it’s a legitimate way to perform. However, there’s no denying the appeal of a guaranteed harmony, digital or otherwise.

6. Practice doesn’t always make perfect.

Successful “self-taught” singers are few and far between for a very good reason: singing takes more than just talent. If you want to master the nuances of singing for a live audience, you’ll need to train your vocal cords with exercises that make it easier to breathe, stay on key, remember the lyrics, and sing with emotion. A private vocal coach or singing instructor can work with you to hone your singing talents and tweak your performance style.

Karaoke Tips: Picking the Best Songs to Sing

Remember… picking the best song isn’t always about choosing from the most popular karaoke songs of all time. If you want to avoid embarrassing mistakes, you’ll want to select a song that suits your voice (i.e. your vocal range and stylistic tendencies), your personality, and also your audience! Are you at a grungy dive bar? Might be best to save “Genie in a Bottle” for another time.

Also, remember that singing karaoke is all about having fun! If you’re nervous, it’s much easier to pick a song your genuinely enjoy singing before breaking out the high notes and fancy riffs.

For specific recommendations, check out our list of fun songs to sing at karaoke!

Additional Karaoke Resources

Need more karaoke tips and inspiration? Here are few other websites to check out:

  • The Karaoke Channel — This website offers thousands of professional, re-recorded hits available for download, along with a community forum and a mobile app to take with you on the go.
  • Karaoke Version — Another great resource for finding instrumental tracks to sing along to.
  • Sunfly Karaoke — Offers more than 13,000 karaoke tracks available for download or via a personalized karaoke disc.
  • RedKaraoke — Feeling shy? These apps work with your iPhone/iPad, Android device, or SmartTV to start the party, without ever leaving the house!
  • Ace Karaoke — Need karaoke equipment, like amps, cables, stage lighting, or mics? Find it all here!

Readers, anything you’d add to this list? What are your favorite karaoke songs to sing? Leave a comment below and let us know!


Photo by Richard Sunderland

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How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Musicians, Here’s How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Ready to take your talents to the masses, but not sure how to get music gigs? In this guest post, our friends over at GigSalad share a few helpful tips to help you start your gigging career…


It’s safe to say that almost every musician dreams of making a career out of their talent. However, many artists are intimidated and unsure of where to begin. If you’re serious about your music, and you know you want to succeed in the industry, there are a few essential steps to help you find music gigs and kickstart your career. By applying these few simple methods to actively promote yourself, you’ll be well on your way to making a living doing what you love.

Practice, practice, practice. We know you probably hear this enough from your teachers, but your practice hours are crucial to your sound. It’s what attracts fans and keeps your calendar booked, so before you start your gigging endeavors, make sure you’ve mastered your performance.

You need a solid web presence. In order to line up your first few gigs, you have to put your talent in front of a lot of eyes and ears. One of the best (and cheapest) ways to do this is by promoting yourself online. There are many marketing tools available for musicians, but don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to utilize them all. Just focus on these few, and you will have a stronger impact.

  • Find a website builder. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to have a great place to host your music. There are several website builders that make it easy to plug your media into a beautifully designed template. You’ll want to choose one that is mobile-friendly, can be easily customized, and offers stylistic flexibility. We recommend Bandzoogle because it’s built specifically for musicians to add downloadable music files, gig calendars, and band merch. Having a beautifully designed website is an excellent way to gain more fans.
  • Use your social media. Your social platforms are a great way to engage your audience and attract new fans. You can notify followers of your upcoming shows, get feedback from past performances, and even find out what kind of music they’d like to hear in the future. And by activating the new Facebook call-to-action button, you can get booked directly from your page! To truly maximize your opportunities, consider going outside of your own social media feeds. When you connect with other local performers, venues, and community groups, you’re exposing your business to their followers as well. Liking other posts instead of just asking users to like yours creates a more direct relationship with those users.

Get gigs by playing gigs. At the beginning of a gigging career, often times artists will put on free shows to get started. These performances are typically in smaller, more intimate venues such as coffee shops, libraries, or house parties. Although these are unpaid gigs, they can still offer other valuable benefits. Any gig opportunity helps boost your stage presence, earns you the spotlight, and gives you a chance to recruit more fans.

Surround yourself with musicians. Not only do you get a chance to chat with people who have the same interests, but you can also learn a lot from these conversations. The music scene is constantly evolving, and your fellow musicians can keep you updated on the latest trends and tips that have helped them. This also gives you a great opportunity to create mutual referrals for future gigs.

Connect with venue owners. Venue owners come in contact with a ton of musicians, so it’s important to make yourself stand out. Introduce yourself in person, and be sure to leave them a link to that great website you’ve created to promote your music. Because of their heavy workload, it’s a good idea to send them a follow-up email if you haven’t received a response after a few days.

There are a lot of tips out there for musicians who are just starting their gigging careers, and it can feel daunting to consider all of them. Every musician is unique in their journey to success, so make the moves that feel right for you. By perfecting your talent, creating a strong web presence, and connecting with the right people, you can considerably boost your gigging opportunities.

Readers, what other strategies do you use to find music gigs? Let us know in the comments!

Post Author: Tessie Barnett
Tessie Barnett is the content writer for GigSalad, an online platform for artists to promote their talent, connect with event hosts and planners, and get booked for private and public gigs ranging from weddings and parties to corporate events and festivals. As the largest entertainment booking platform in the U.S. and Canada, GigSalad helps talented people do what they love.

Photo by Lauren Liggett

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get better at singing

4 Unconventional Ways to Get Better at Singing

get better at singing

Did you know there are ways you can get better at singing… that DON’T involve singing? Find out the ideas in this guest post by professional voice teacher Molly R...


The obvious thing to do when you want to get better at singing is, of course, to sign up for voice lessons! You may have even found that teacher right here on TakeLessons.

But singing is so much more than what goes on with your vocal cords. We also have to exude confidence and connect with our audience. We can’t always get the help we need to become dynamic performers from voice lessons alone. Here are some suggestions for other classes that will take you from a good singer to an unforgettable one!

Dance Lessons

No one’s looking for you to become the next Fred Astaire, but it’s essential that you move well if you plan on singing on any stage. Any type of dance lesson will do: ballet, salsa, ballroom, and more.

When the body’s more relaxed and agile, not only do you look more polished, your voice will be a lot more free. Gone are the days of “park and bark,” where you just stand there and open your mouth. To use your space effectively, you have to be comfortable with your body. Fear not, non-dancers: There are plenty of lessons out there that cater to beginners. I plan on taking a swing dance workshop this summer, and I am encouraging all my students to join me!

Tai Chi and Qigong

This is super simple, yet so very beneficial. Master the eight brocades in Qigong, and you have a marvelous way to connect with both body and breath! Tai Chi and Qigong lessons help us conquer nerves, get better sleep, and move with more grace. Yes, many of us have heard how yoga does all these things, too, but many people would prefer something easier and gentler. Plus, Tai Chi and Qigong are perfect for kids and senior singers!

In addition to your private lessons, I recommend following Jesse Tsao on YouTube for tips and inspiration.

Acting Lessons

A great voice becomes a spectacular voice when the audience believes you know what you’re singing about. One of the best ways to develop your performance skills is to take acting lessons. Even if you’re new to acting, beginner acting lessons abound. You can even find teachers through TakeLessons (I happen to teach beginning acting, too!).

Remember, each song you sing is a monologue set to music. Finding ways to express it dramatically, as well as musically, will set you apart from other singers who are only focused on sounding good! To help you get better at singing, an acting coach will challenge you to create a character for each song, thus making each of your performances more meaningful to both you and your audience.

To supplement your lessons, I also recommend reading the book “What Do I Do With My Hands?” by Rhonda Carlson, who has coached many Broadway performers.

Improv Lessons

This one changed everything for me! These days, improvisational comedy workshops are offered everywhere, including at corporate events and schools to make employees and students feel more confident. Plus, it’s plain fun!

Stepping out of your comfort zone is essential for any sort of performer. By taking improv lessons, you’ll strengthen your creativity by learning how to think on your feet and to trust your instincts. You’ll also learn how to “play well with others” — meaning your fellow performers and the audience. And did I mention just how much fun it is? Go for it! After performing in any improv situation, recitals, musicals, and open mics will seem so much easier!


So, what are you waiting for? As a voice student, you will always be learning something new to help you get better at singing — but, surprisingly, it’s not always about vocal technique! So go sign up, and have a blast. When you’re having fun on stage, so is the audience!

mollyrPost Author: Elaina 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 Nick Page

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The One Thing a Good Singer MUST Do

Singers, Don’t Forget the Most Important Part of Performing!

The One Thing a Good Singer MUST DoOut of all the stage presence and performance tips for singers, there’s one surprise element that many vocalists forget about. Learn what it is — and how to improve your own performance — in this guest post by Davis, CA teacher Steve G


Some people are born with perfect pitch, others with great ability to control the volume and character of their voice, and still others with a natural ebullience and a knack for the spotlight.

Each of these attributes can contribute positively to a vocal performance, as can learned traits such as proper breathing, a relaxed stance, and keen knowledge of the stylistic idioms of each genre. But these technical aspects and these decorative flourishes are each secondary to the true goal of singing a song: conveying a message to the audience.

The Most Important Performance Tip for Singers

Whether a singer has written the lyrics to the song him or herself or is singing a cover of someone else’s lyrics, the audience should always feel as though the singer is communicating the words for the first time, from his/her own imagination directly to the ears of the listener. Songwriting is storytelling, regardless of whether the story is told in an ornate fashion (Mariah Carey), a rich one (Josh Groban), an unpolished one (Joe Strummer), or a simple one (Paul Simon). It is often satisfying if the audience is impressed with a singer’s technical ability, range, or “flavor.” But if the audience responds to the message of the music, the performance has been a successful one.

Developing Stage Presence by Emphasizing Particular Words or Phrases

Given this dynamic, a singer can enhance his or her performance in a number of ways. A particular word or phrase might be emphasized with more volume or ornamentation (or conversely, as a contrast to the bombast around it) if the word or phrase is of particular importance to the message. When I perform “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (my version is closest to Neil Diamond’s version), I always put extra focus on the words “Why not share?” just before the song’s climax. Listen here:

This crystallizes the meaning of the song into a single, simple phrase, and I sing it as though my obligation to the audience is to have them internalize just these three words if they take anything from my performance.

In other cases, words may be sung with a particular inflection of strain or of release, as per the singer’s vision of the song’s message. I put an extra level of strained intensity into the line “Stop this heartbreak overload” in John Waite’s “Missing You” in order to show that the narrator has reached the limits of his emotional angst and thus must cry out in fury:

Meanwhile, I sing the line “Take away all my sadness” in the song “Have I Told You Lately” (my version is closest to Rod Stewart’s version) with exceeding calm and relief, expressing that although the tone of the song is rather sad, the narrator is reassured into solace by his lover.

Developing Stage Presence Through Body Language

Body language can also be an important element in conveying a story to an audience, even if one’s body is partially occupied by playing an instrument while singing. An audience will always respond to conviction and comfort, and these can be displayed not only through a singer’s familiarity with the song at hand, but also through confident posture and the willingness to connect both with individual listeners and with a crowd in general.

Some artists accomplish this through their banter between songs, or their willingness to perform a cover of a well-known song to which the audience already may have a strong nostalgic attachment. Others draw from techniques employed by dancers (purposeful movements, exuberant energy), actors (poignant facial expressions), speech-givers (different rhythmic cadences to emphasize key thematic concepts), or folk-tale narrators (a tangible sense of wondrous exploration in each new piece that is sung).

Perhaps the most universal connection between singer and audience can be achieved through strategic use of eye contact. Eye contact need not (and perhaps should not) occur for every moment of a song — a singer may look above the audience’s head, look down, and/or close his or her eyes for certain lines in a song, and often these moments not only infuse an enhanced urgency or poignancy into a line that is sufficiently powerful to compel such a change, but can continually renew an audience’s interest every time that eye contact is re-established.

As an example, take a look at this performance of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” by Cassandra Wilson:

You’ll notice she switches about evenly between making eye contact and closing her eyes. Her eyes are always closed when singing the most introspective, evocative line of the song (“Cause all I ever have, redemption songs”), but are often open when the lyrics “instruct” the audience on what to feel (“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery”). In this way, she is able to distinguish the communal from the personal, and thus give an added dimension to the story she is telling.

When I teach voice lessons, it is sometimes necessary to work on things such as intonation, situational breathing, projection, eye contact, vowel sounds, and other tools. These instructions help develop the basic parameters of a capable singer. But I always strive to gear these devices toward helping the student achieve a unique interpretation of each song he or she works on. Keep these performance tips for singers in mind . The real magic occurs beyond the physical framework of the notes; it occurs in the message that is communicated.

Steve G.Steve G. teaches singing, piano and music theory lessons in Davis, CA. He earned his PhD in music theory and composition from the University of California Davis and also tutors math and writing. Learn more about Steve here!



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Tips for Singers - What to Pack in Your Gig Bag

Singers, Don’t Forget These 9 Items In Your Gig Bag!

Performing in front of a live audience is an amazing feeling! But to ensure a smooth, no-stress gig, preparation is key. If you’re looking for tips for your first gig — or just need a refresher — check out this advice from Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...


For the performing singer, there’s nothing quite like having practiced your butt off for three weeks, spraying your throat every five minutes with that throat spray for singers, and running through your customized voice exercises, only to realize as you walk through those venue doors that you forgot your microphone at home.

As the lead singer of two Saint Augustine, Florida bands, I know that I’m part of a team. But I also know that I need to be responsible for my own stuff, and what exactly we need as performing singers, whether you’re a solo act or in a group, can get pretty specific. Whether it’s your first gig or you’re an experienced performer, you need to be prepared. Here’s my list of what every singer needs to pack in his or her gig bag.

What to Pack In Your Gig Bag

Throat Coat Tea and Honey (single-serve packets)
You might be skeptical of special teas and potions for the voice, like I once was. But trust me, after singing in a dry room for two hours, you’ll be thankful for the lubrication!

Great Microphone
My microphone is a Shure product. It’s not expensive and sounds great. What’s important is having your own, especially if you ever put your mouth on it. Germs, anyone?

Wind Screen
This is super important for protecting the investment that is your microphone. Strong wind, a drop on the floor, or even blowing air into it can cause damage. Your wind screen can prevent this.

Your Phone
OK, so you might not need to pack this in the gig bag, but be sure to take it. If you’re running late, you’ll want to let the venue know.

Mic Stand
Even if you’re the kind of performer who runs all over the stage with a cordless mic, you’ll need to keep that mic in a safe spot between sets. There might even be a song you’ll want to try with the mic in its stand!

Even though I personally recommend drinking tea with a thicker consistency than water during performances, water will hydrate the body before and after you sing.

Potato Chips
I was skeptical about this one for a long time. But a music producer recommended them, and now, I always pack them in my gig bag. The salt reduces mucus, the oil lubricates, and the crunch helps relieve stress.

Your Merch
If you have any merchandise for your act, like T-shirts, CDs, cards for free downloads of one of your songs, or even just business cards, you’ll want to pack them in your gig bag. You never know who you’ll meet at a show, or what fans will ask for!

Extension Cord
Recently, my band had to make a really stressful and last-minute run to the local hardware store 20 minutes before show time, because our cords weren’t long enough for the new venue. Be prepared with a 50-foot extension cord. Oh, and make it an outdoor one, in case it rains!

Not There Yet? Here’s How to Get Gigs

Word of mouth is said to be the best way to get gigs for bands and musicians. But since the Internet is where so much is communicated nowadays, word of mouth means having a great social media presence. Make sure that you have a fresh, updated Facebook page with videos, reviews (even from teachers and fellow musicians), audio, and lots of photos of rehearsals and formal band photos, too. Make sure that you have a YouTube channel, so that potential clients and fans can watch you perform. Even if you only post great band practices, people can still get a feel for your sound! You can also make your own website for free at, where you can post past and future gigs. (Here’s a great post from Wix about setting up your music website.)

Next, search your local paper or Google local open mics — these are a great way to get exposure and meet other musicians! You can also build a profile for free at websites like GigMasters and GigSalad. They’ll send leads for gigs right to your email and charge a small fee. Here’s a great round-up of those and other websites for finding gigs.

Tips for Your First Gig

Gearing up for your first gig? Congrats!

  • First, get as many details as possible from your gig contact, who’s probably the person who scheduled or hired you. Make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need to bring, what the venue already has and is willing to share, how early you’re allowed to set up your gear, how long you’re expected to perform, and a number for your contact at the venue on the day of the event, just in case you get caught in traffic or tied up, and you need to call ahead.
  • Second, if it’s possible, go to the venue yourself to check it out. How much room is there? (This’ll also help you feel more comfortable when you actually perform in the space.)
  • Third, rehearse as much as your schedule allows, and try to practice in the same physical set-up that you’ll be in the venue. Here’s a handy checklist for preparing for a gig.
  • Fourth, relax, but not by telling yourself not to be nervous… instead tell yourself that the nervousness is only excitement. It really is all about perspective and attitude.

All this considered, the most important thing to bring to a performance should be so big, that you couldn’t fit it into any gig bag. That thing is your amazing self-confidence. Remember that excitement you were feeling earlier? One of the best tips for your first gig is to use that excitement as extra energy. Because, let’s face it, you could drink all of the finest teas in the world and own the best microphones, but if you don’t believe that you belong up there, singing, you’re toast.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!


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Checklist for Auditions-Performance

How to Prepare For Your First Singing Performance [Checklist]

Are you gearing up for your very first time singing on stage or in front of an audience? Learn how to get ready for an audition or vocal performance — and overcome stage fright before it hits you — with this handy checklist from online voice teacher Tyler J...


Performing can be a beautiful experience, but if it’s your first time in front of an audience, the thought of it can be nerve-wracking. Stage fright is common for beginners (and believe it or not, sometimes even for professionals who have done tons of gigs), but these fears can be overcome with simple preparation. By following this timeline, you can learn how to prepare for a singing performance — from talent shows to important auditions — conquer any anxieties, and hit the stage with confidence.

Checklist for Singers First PerformanceIf you follow these steps, you’ll find that the stage isn’t quite so scary after all. If you still feel a little anxious right before, that’s okay – use that adrenaline to add energy to your performance. Throughout the weeks leading up to the performance, make sure to use a checklist like this with your private instructor. He or she can help coach you and provide plenty of encouragement as you prepare for your singing performance or audition. Remember, you’ve worked hard and are well prepared — now get out there and show the audience what you’re made of!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!



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