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Wanna Play Music? Join the Fun During NAMM’s Wanna Play Music Week May 2-8

WannaPlay2011During the week of May 2-8, musicians, schools, and other organizations across the country will come together to celebrate National Wanna Play Music Week, an annual event sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).  This week-long celebration highlights the importance of music education programs in schools and promotes the benefits of playing music for people of all ages and skill levels.  NAMM is also a TakeLessons organizational partner, which is why we are proud to support this event and power the lesson locator tool on the official Wanna Play Music website.

Ahead of this year’s Wanna Play Music week, NAMM has introduced a new initiative called “Pledge to Play” where interested participants can take a pledge and make their commitment to learning an instrument. There’s still time to sign up on the Pledge to Play Facebook page – you’ll even have the chance to win some cool prizes!

The week will officially kick off on Monday, May 2 with the seventh annual “Music Monday,” an event in which schools, community and professional organizations will perform one piece of music simultaneously at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, 11 a.m. Mountain Time, 12 p.m. Central Time, and 1 p.m. Eastern Time.  NAMM hopes that by having everyone sing the same song at the same time, music will transcend all genres and unite people through the melody and the act of performing the piece together.  You can register your school or organization as a participant in Music Monday online or by emailing musicmonday@namm.org. If you aren’t able to play at the designated time, NAMM also encourages participants to pick up an instrument and play at any time throughout the day.

Other events will take place throughout the week, including an announcement of the “Best Communities for Music Education” on Wednesday, May 4 and a day featuring “unexpected celebrity musicians” on Thursday, May 5.  The week concludes with National Music Store Weekend from May 6-8, when musicians and non-musicians alike are encouraged to visit and support local music stores in their neighborhoods. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved during this year’s Wanna Play Music week, so mark your calendar and get ready to play!

The Beginner Musician’s Mind: Four Tips for Successful Performances

The following post comes from TakeLessons teacher Jeremy R. in Hudson, Florida. Jeremy has been a professional performing musician for over 10 years and has taught hundreds of students during that time.  Below he shares some of his favorite tips for beginner musicians who are learning to perform.

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As a beginner musician, learning to perform a song is a challenging obstacle. After all, you spent countless hours learning modes and chord progressions and now you must take what you have learned and translate it into a successful performance.  Below I will share some methods that have worked for me.

Clear your head.  Each time I pick up the guitar, I go through the same mental exercise to prepare myself to play. I pick up the guitar, tune, and play a couple warm up exercises. It’s important that your warm up piece is something that you have to really concentrate on and think about to be able to play. It’s perfectly fine to play these pieces verbatim with little or no deviation. In fact, a piece that challenges your abilities that you have worked hard to master is a great candidate for a warm up piece. The point isn’t to play the piece to perfection; rather, the point is to get the other songs out of your mind and focus your thoughts on playing.

Phantom play.  If you have ever played at a large venue or in front of an important audience then you’ve undoubtedly had the issue of nerves clouding your head and distracting your focus. Before you play your song for anyone else, play it in your mind. Maybe even just finger your fret board quietly. Again, the point isn’t the perfection of the song – it’s the mechanics of your mind while you play.

Emotional focus.  You’ve tuned your guitar, played your warm up exercise and gone through the song in your head. Now you’ve got 4 minutes before you go on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a guitar player play the correct notes in the correct rhythms in the correct key but the performance is as flat as rice paper. I look for the emotion that is communicated by the song and then I think about things in my life that bring out the same emotion. A great example of this is “Crying” by Joe Satriani. This song is so sad it should come with a warning label saying it could cause depression. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the song “Baba O’ Riley” by The Who is an extremely upbeat and energetic piece.

Believe.  A great personal friend of mine is a phenomenal song writer and performer. You will often hear my band playing and recording his material for the public. He is an amazing talent but doesn’t share it with anyone. Don’t be afraid to get up and play. It doesn’t matter if you’re the next Celine Dion or William Hung – both have their place in music, and you do too!

-Jeremy R.

Watch Our Latest TakeLessons Music Teacher Videos!

Since the first installment of our featured TakeLessons music teacher videos was so popular, we’re back to bring you more of the latest and greatest videos that our teachers have recorded!  Once you’re done watching these videos, head on over to our YouTube Channel to meet even more of our talented piano, voice and guitar teachers.  If you are a current TakeLessons teacher and would like to record or upload a video for your profile, simply click here and follow the instructions.

Adjoa S. – Singing Lessons in South Pasadena, CA:

Mike G. – Guitar Lessons in Dublin, CA:

Scott M. – Guitar Lessons in Denver, CO:

Jason W.  – Guitar Lessons in Burbank, CA:

Gianni D. – Guitar Lessons in Denver, CO:

TakeLessons Rocks with NAMM at Recent AARP Event

Earlier this month, our TakeLessons piano teacher Dee L. from Kissimmee, FL had the opportunity to work with our partner NAMM and perform at the AARP conference in Orlando, Florida. Dee was selected to accompany the AARP Voices Choir composed of conference attendees who performed “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “California Dreamin’” at the conference’s closing session.

This year marks the first time NAMM has coordinated this type of performance. The choir of 40 attendees was assembled and rehearsed on-site, before opening for celebrity guests Whoopi Goldberg, Larry King and 6,000 fellow attendees. According to NAMM, the performance was extremely successful in illustrating the message that anyone can get involved in making music, regardless of talent or experience.

Check out a few pictures from their performance below!

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Dee setting up for the performance

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The choir performing to Dee’s accompaniment

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Thank you Dee for being such an outstanding representative for TakeLessons!

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Exciting News from NAMM – Register for SchoolJam USA!

WP_WebBanner300x250V3Exciting news from our partner NAMM about a great opportunity for TakeLessons students to showcase their talents and possibly win some very cool prizes…

The second annual national SchoolJam USA competition is inviting middle and high school teens to enter this year’s battle for the title of “Best Teen Band in the USA!”

Produced by NAMM, the competition highlights quality musical teen talent who aspire to be discovered by music industry professionals, have a passion for music, and want to help promote the significance of their schools’ music programs.

Teen musicians between the ages of 13 and 19, with the majority of band members currently registered in a middle or high school in the United States, and are in an unsigned band, are eligible to participate.  Bands have until October 15, 2010 to register online at www.schooljamusa.com.  Bands can perform any genre of music, but the song must be original content or designated as “public domain.” 

12 semi-finalists from each of four regions will be announced on Nov. 1, 2010; online voting for the top 10 finalists will be open to the public from November 1-30, 2010.  The top two finalists from each region along with two “wild card” finalists will advance to the final competition on January 15, 2011, which will take place at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA.

The winning band will walk away with the grand prize trip of a lifetime to perform at the original SchoolJam festival in Frankfurt Germany, as well as receive a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Bus, $1,000 towards the purchase of new gear and $5,000 for their school music program.

Reinforcing the competition’s mission to encourage active music making among teenagers, all finalists will receive a credit toward the purchase of musical merchandise from a local NAMM Member music product retailer of their choice.  In addition, each of the top 10 finalists’ schools will receive funding to support their school music programs.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to showcase your talent – register your band today at www.schooljamusa.com!  You can also follow SchoolJam USA on Facebook and Twitter.

TakeLessons Rock Star Teacher of the Week: Joshua M.

Joshua MThis week’s Rock Star Teacher of the Week is the multi-talented Joshua M., who teaches several subjects including singing, acting and music performance in the Washington, DC area.  A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joshua has a strong background and interest in musical theater and also studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  In addition to his role as a TakeLessons certified instructor,  Joshua has worked as a Musical Director/Rehearsal Pianist for many shows within the NY/NJ/DC tri-state area and serves as the Co-Artistic Director of No Rules Theatre Company based out of Washington, DC and Winston-Salem, NC. He remains active in theater and has performed in, written and directed a number of  musicals; some of his notable performance credits include roles in Godspell, Othello, Show Boat, Sweeney Todd, and Les Miserables.

Joshua believes in creating a strong foundation for his students to learn, and focuses primarily on breath, placement and eliminating bad vocal habits early on so that students can grow and develop new skills.  His students describe him as “easy to work with” and “incredibly patient,” and praise his ability to help them understand the core principles and underlying concepts of singing and acting. Congratulations on a job well done, Joshua!

TakeLessons Rock Star Teacher of the Week: Katherine C.

Katherine CAn award-winning and highly sought after mezzo-soprano and recording artist, Katherine C. of Elmwood Park, IL is this week’s  Rock Star Teacher of the Week!  Katherine has been with TakeLessons since October 2009, and teaches singing and opera voice, music theory and music performance in the Chicago area.  Her students call her a “great teacher with lots of enthusiasm” and praise the attention to detail that she brings to each lesson.  Katherine has taught at both the high school and college level, and her lessons focus on helping her students learn proper singing techniques, including how to prepare the body for singing and correct breathing techniques.

Among the many achievements in her opera career, Katherine created the role of the Young Nun in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good during Glimmerglass Opera’s 2006 Festival Season, which was later recorded on the Naxos label, and recently returned to the company as Aglaonice in the critically acclaimed production of Philip Glass’s Orhpée. Next, she makes her role debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel at the Syracuse Opera, where she will be awarded the comprimari “Artist of the Year” in 2010. Other notable engagements include a role debut as Sesto in Giulio Cesare and Un Musico in Manon Lescaut at the Florida Grand Opera.  Congratulations on your accomplishments, Katherine!

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TakeLessons Rock Star Teacher of the Week: Faiona M.

FaionaMeet our latest Rock Star Teacher of the Week – Faiona M., who teaches in the Orlando, Florida area.  Faiona has been a TakeLessons Certified™ Instructor since August 2009, and specializes in the Suzuki Method, Kindermusik, Orff training, Music Therapy training, Broadway and opera training.  Her students describe her as “proactive” and “engaging,” and praise her ability to think outside the box when teaching.

Faiona’s approach to teaching centers on meeting each student’s goals and instilling them with the confidence, self esteem, and motivation necessary to reach their highest potential.  Her curriculum stems from various teaching methods in music education, music therapy, and music performance, which she adapts to the curriculum needed to succeed in various music programs in school settings and other venues.  Faiona is a true example of a Rock Star Teacher who strives to help her students reach the goals needed to excel and grow in their musical journeys – keep up the great work, Faiona!

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TakeLessons Rock Star Teacher of the Week: Matthew P.

Matthew P.Our latest Rock Star Teacher of the Week has only been teaching with TakeLessons since January, but he’s already making a big impact with his students.  Meet Matthew P., who teaches several subjects including drums, guitar, and singing in the Los Angeles area.  Matthew specializes in pop and rock performance, and works with students who want to learn how to express themselves in a live environment, as well as aspiring songwriters and composers who are learning to write their own music.

Matthew’s enthusiasm for music is infectious, and his students certainly agree; they say he is “easy to work with” and “gives great feedback.”  In addition to teaching, Matthew is an award-winning composer and songwriter with many film and television credits, including the new Starz series “Gravity” which premiered on Friday, April 23.  Awesome job, Matthew!

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Wanna Play Music? Take Part in Music Monday on May 3!

WannaPlayMusicWeek10During the week of May 3-7, musicians, schools, and other organizations across the country will come together in support of the fourth annual National Wanna Play Music Week, sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).  This week-long celebration highlights the importance of music education programs in schools and promotes the benefits of playing music for people of all ages and skill levels.  NAMM is also a TakeLessons organizational partner, which is why we are proud to support this event and power the lesson locator tool on the official Wanna Play Music website.

The week will kick off with “Music Monday” on May 3, an event in which schools, community and professional organizations will perform one piece of music simultaneously at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, 11 a.m. Mountain Time, 12 p.m. Central Time, and 1 p.m. Eastern Time.  NAMM hopes that by having everyone sing the same song at the same time, music will transcend all genres and unite people through the melody and the act of performing the piece together.

NAMM is also encouraging people to pick up an instrument of their choice and play any time on May 3 as part of the Music Monday celebration.  This is the sixth year that NAMM has supported Music Monday, which is also hosted by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and has grown to more than 2,000 schools since its inception.  You can register your school or organization as a participant in Music Monday by e-mailing musicmonday@namm.org.

If you plan to take part in Music Monday on May 3, tell us how you’ll be getting involved!  Will you be participating in the group song, or playing an instrument?

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