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Mexico- 5 Perfect Travel Destinations for Beginner Spanish Speakers

5 Perfect Travel Destinations for Beginner Spanish Speakers

Traveling to a Spanish-speaking country can be intimidating for a beginning Spanish speaker. Here, language tutor Jackie A. shares her recommendations for beginner-friendly travel destinations…

So you’ve finished your first couple of Spanish lessons and you’re ready to practice your new skills. Traveling and experiencing a new culture is a great way to learn Spanish for beginners. Here are five travel destinations that are perfect for beginning Spanish speakers.

 1. Costa Rica

If you feel nervous about your Spanish, you can rest assured, the “Ticos” will embrace you and teach you how to live la Pura Vida! In Costa Rica, you can explore the Caribbean, the rain forest, and the Pacific. Although the country has its own currency (the Colon), many stores advertise with USD.

Costa Rica- 5 Perfect Travel Destinations for Beginner Spanish Speakers

Photo by Jane Boles

2. Panama

This country has become an expat haven with many settling in the capital, Panama city. It’s the only country where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic. The official currency is Balboa, but you can find a lot in USD as well. Bonus for you introverts, it’s not overpopulated, so you can truly get away from the hustle and bustle.

3. Dominican Republic

This beautiful country on the island of Hispaniola is a popular tourist destination. You’ll be able to find plenty of English speakers, but you’ll still have a great opportunity to practice your Spanish. Should you get stuck, the locals can switch languages for you. The Dominican Republic has an interesting history, and lively culture filled with food, music, and dancing.

4. Mexico

Visit our friendly neighbors to the south to explore the country and practice your new language skills. Tourism is a big industry, so you’ll find lots of English speakers. There’s so much to do in Mexico; you can explore the beaches, rain forest, cities, and ruins. There’s not a beginner Spanish speaker that can’t find something they’d like to do here.

Mexico- 5 Perfect Travel Destinations for Beginner Spanish Speakers

Photo by ruimc77

Y finalmente… (and finally)

5. Puerto Rico

Passports are optional for this Caribbean island that’s filled with friendly Spanish speakers to help you with your new language. Many Puerto Ricans learn English in school, so the locals may be able to help you if you get stuck. Enjoy the culture, food, dance, music, art, and breathtaking views.

Puerto Rico- 5 Perfect Travel Destinations for Beginner Spanish Speakers

Photo by Giuseppe Milo

No matter where you are in your Spanish learning journey, there are so many wonderful places that you can visit and practice your skills. While traveling can  be a great way to learn Spanish for beginners, you can also look for cultural events in your area that may lead you to a new Spanish-speaking amigo/a or two.

Want to work on your Spanish-speaking skills without leaving home? Find a Spanish language tutor in your area.

Jackie A

Jackie A. is an acting, English, French, and Spanish instructor in Essington, PA. She taught English as she studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and is an active member of her local improv troupe. Learn more about Jackie here!

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3 Things Every Guitarist Needs to Know About Songwriting

3 Things Every Guitarist Needs To Know About Songwriting

3 Things Every Guitarist Needs to Know About SongwritingWriting a song can be one of the most satisfying experiences you’ll have with your instrument! Guitar teacher Samuel B. shares three things every guitarist should know about writing a song on guitar…

As a teacher, having you develop the ability to express yourself is my number one goal. Playing guitar solos is one form of personal expression. Writing songs is another. If you’ve never written a song, you might think of songwriting as something that only a few special people can do. In reality, nothing is further from the truth.

Anyone Can Write a Song

During an 1990s interview in Performing Songwriter Magazine, John Mellencamp was asked whether or not songwriting is something that comes naturally to him. His response was “I think everyone’s a songwriter.” He compared songwriting to shooting baskets and hitting baseballs. There are, of course, people with greater abilities than others, but he made it clear that songwriting is not something that only five people in the world can do.

Lionel Ritchie once slapped his hand rhythmically on the arm of a chair in response to a very similar question. “All of you who can hear a song or a melody playing in your head right now,” he said. “You’re a songwriter.” Songwriting requires no special training or qualifications – only the ability to hear music and the desire to create it. Although I teach soloing only at a set point in the curriculum (after you’ve learned chords in the keys of C, D, and E), songwriting skills can be taught at any time.

Most American Songs Are All Loosely Based On The Same Three Chords

E, A, and B7th are as basic to the key of E as D, G, and A7th are to D, and C, F, and G7th are to C. These are three examples of the I-IV-V chord progression which can be heard in campfire songs, gospel, contemporary country, rock, folk, and (of course) the blues. The pattern gets its name from the fact that C is the first note of the C scale (just as F is the 4th and G is the 5th). Although you’ll want to make variations in each song (such as the amount of time you play each chord), you’ll be surprised how many options three chords will provide you.

You may decide to write a song with verses and choruses only (ie “This Land Is Your Land”). You may decide to add a bridge (which you will play only once). You may decide to include verses and a bridge only. Whatever your preference, you will likely want to include a minor chord somewhere in the mix for variety’s sake. Am is the appropriate choice for a song in the key of C (just as Bm is for a song in the key of D and Cm is for one in E).

Bridges Are Often Structurally Simpler Than Verses And Choruses

One song I teach that’s become a favorite of at least one student is Bob Dylan’s “Man In The Long Black Coat.” The entire song involves four chords (Em, G, D, and C), includes verses and a bridge only, and involves fewer chord changes during the bridge than the verses. The Em, G, and D progression is repeated four times during a verse before a full measure of C interrupts the flow. The verse concludes with one final round of the Em, G, and D sequence.

The bridge, however, begins with a full measure of C. Its second measure involves two strums of D and two strums of Em before another full of measure of C is played. Just like in the verses, the bridge concludes with a single go-around of the opening sequence (Em, G, and D). You might think of the bridge as the song’s chance to “air out.” For the musician, it’s actually a more relaxing part of the song as it tends to be where both the tempo and the rate of chord changes decrease.

Although these are all important guidelines for how to get started, you may find that your compositional preferences involve more (or fewer) chords than those I’ve recommended. You might become absorbed in an elaborate picking pattern that requires fewer than three chords. You might branch out into jazz a bit and want to embellish a four-chord song with some additional variants (ie minor seventh, ninth, augmented, and/or diminished chords). Songwriting is a process (not a product) in which you slowly discover who you are as a musician. Enjoy the ride!

SamuelBSamuel B. teaches beginner guitar lessons in Austin, TX. He teaches lessons face-to-face without sheet music, which is his adaptation of Japanese instruction (involving a call-and-response method). Learn more about Samuel here!

 

 

 

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What Should I Look For In a Guitar Teacher for My Child

What Should I Look For in a Guitar Teacher for My Child?

What Should I Look For In a Guitar Teacher for My ChildOne of the most important factors in guitar lessons for kids is finding the right teacher. Guitar teacher Raymond L. shares his secrets for finding a great teacher for your child…

In my opinion one of the first qualities, you, as a parent, have to look for in a guitar teacher is that they inspire your child and help them develop a profound love for this beautiful musical instrument.

If your guitar teacher does not inspire your child, very likely they won’t be able to motivate your child or awaken in them a passion for the guitar, which is so essential to assure a progressive and sound development in your child’s musical and technical abilities.

As a parent, you should ask yourself these questions to see if a guitar teacher is right for your child:

  1. Does the guitar teacher know how to stimulate a positive attitude in my child?
  2. What systems does he or she use to motivate my child?
  3. Does the guitar teacher have good teaching skills and experience?

Stimulating a Positive Attitude

It is crucial that your guitar teacher works with your child to create a positive mindset because many students get easily frustrated when they are taking beginner guitar lessons. So the guitar teacher has to help with the anxiety of the student, always making him or her feel at ease.

They should tell your child, from the start, to avoid using the words “hard” or “difficult” in their vocabulary whenever they are experiencing some technical difficulty in playing a piece of music, but rather to substitute the word “challenging” for other words that have a more negative connotation.

Your guitar teacher should encourage your child to never say, “I can’t”, but to say instead, “I will”.

It is also essential for your guitar teacher to get to know your child’s interests: for example what kind of music they love in order to be prepared and able to teach your child those songs, or the type of music that most inspires them.

Your guitar teacher has to establish long-term, intermediate- and short-term goals together with your child, by brainstorming with them and incorporate those goals in the curriculum.

Your guitar teacher should never foster the feeling in your child that they are being punished, for example, making them repeat a song or a passage too many times. On the contrary, they should reinforce the child’s self-confidence by accompanying them, while repeating the song or music section, just enough to keep their interest and help them continue learning.

Motivation

When your child achieves one of their goals and is able to play their first song, riff, or piece of music satisfactorily, they will get what we call in psychology, “intrinsic motivation”.

This type of motivation develops from inside your child, from the pleasure they get from the task itself, from their enjoyment of playing, or even the satisfaction of working with the music. Many children are already intrinsically motivated because they simply love music or have an idol that they want to imitate or emulate.

Your guitar teacher should also stimulate your child’s motivation by using “extrinsic motivation” by rewarding him or her for their progress, especially if they notice signs of discouragement or low motivation. This approach will help to compensate for any gaps in intrinsic motivation and keep your child’s motivation at a high level.

Your guitar teacher can use different methods and systems to reward and motivate, such as:

  • Playing the guitar for your child
  • Using encouraging words such as: “Good job”, “Perfect”, “Awesome”, etc.
  • Rewarding them with stickers for their music book or notebook when they play a song correctly
  • Practicing together with your child, accompanying them while they play the instrument
  • Repeating and adding rhythm to the song or music if they have played the song correctly
  • Giving out certificates of merit and achievement
  • Organizing jam sessions with other students of the same level
  • Organizing recitals together with students for parents, family and friends
  • Organizing awards and competitions between students

Parents should also use what I call the “Motivation Meter” that shows the measure of their child’s motivation. This is the intuition or feeling you get when your child starts showing lack of interest in attending guitar lessons. Once the “Motivation Meter” sends the alarm signal to your mind, immediately you should start looking for the cause of this lack of motivation in your child. You’ll want to be able to talk to their guitar teacher about the problem too.

Teaching Skills Versus Technical Skills

It is of vital importance for parents to know the type of education, preparation, musical background, technical skills, music knowledge, and even written reviews their child’s guitar teacher has.

Do not be impressed only by a guitar teacher’s technical skills (how well they play the guitar) because this aspect is not always a guarantee that they also possess the ability to communicate information clearly and with ease. It is important to distinguish a performing artist from an educator.

Parents, you don’t want to have to struggle with your child to get them to their guitar lessons, neither would you like to see them dragging to practice. I’m sure you would like to see your child enjoying their guitar lessons, so please consider these tips to evaluate and select your child’s guitar teacher with consciousness. Consequently you will contribute to a delightful experience for your child with the guitar.

Interested in guitar lessons for kids? Search for a guitar teacher near you!

Remi LRaymond L. teaches guitar, classical guitar, musical theory, ukulele, and Spanish in Jacksonville, FL. Raymond has been teaching for over 30 years and he specializes in pop, blues, modern, Latin, classical and popular music. Learn more about Raymond here!

 

 

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5 Qualities Every Professional Singer Needs to Have

5 Important Qualities Every Professional Singer Needs

5 Qualities Every Professional Singer Needs to HaveWhat does it take to make it in music industry? Learn how to be a professional singer and the five must-have qualities you need in this guest post by Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T...

 

Being a professional singer is a career path you may have been dreaming of your whole life! Even with its ups and downs, it is a very rewarding career choice. Being a professional singer will not happen overnight (no matter how talented you are!), but here are some qualities you should strive for to ensure career success.

1. A “Go-Getter” Attitude

I hear so many singers complain about not getting gigs, not performing, or not writing as much as they should. My advice here is to be proactive! You can’t wait for opportunities to come to you; you have to put yourself out there and go find them!

Be proactive by going out on auditions, sending your headshot and resume to casting directors, and/or writing and recording a demo and sending it to label A&Rs. Stop wasting your time sitting at home, waiting for your phone to ring. Go out there and network! Whether it’s going to hear live music play or participating in a singing competition, you have to be a “go-getter” in this industry, always seeking out opportunities to perform. Every day you should be working on your craft and looking for auditions, places to play or record, and so on.

2. Patience

As I stated earlier, being a professional singer is not something you can just pick up overnight. It is something that you develop over time, with hard work, dedication, and patience. In every talented singer’s career, there have been slow times. Patience is the key to keeping healthy and focused while you are waiting for your career to unfold. You must have patience not only with yourself, but with others that you work with, whether it be musicians, musical director, or composers. If you do not have patience and come across as impatient, needy, or feisty, this may be a big turn-off to people in the industry.

3. Team Mentality

In this business you will be working and collaborating with many different people in different roles, such as other singers, writers, instrumentalists, producers, and technicians. No matter who you are dealing with, you must always stay professional. You have to be a team player, and work efficiently with others. Some of my best friends are also well-known industry artists/musicians, and this is because we have collaborated so well when working together in a musical environment. Sometimes, you may come across someone in the industry who is not pleasant to work with, and this may be very hard for you, but always remember that being a team player will always lead to success.

4. Eager to Learn

Having enough knowledge about your craft is important for singers. Knowing the repertoire you can sing, your vocal limits, and familiarity with other artists/composers is going to help you in this industry. It is a major turn-off in the industry when a singer knows nothing about their art or proper vocal technique. Spend the time and money working with a vocal coach and studying your craft to become the best possible singer you can be, as well as studying what’s happening currently in the music industry. Educate yourself!

5. Openness

As a singer, it will help for you to remain open when auditioning and working with other musicians. Don’t limit yourself by saying something like “I only sing classical music” — experiment with jazz, Broadway, R&B, and everything else. You never know what musical possibilities are in store for you. It’s also important to remain open to any feedback you may hear from an audition or someone just listening to your demo or performance. Everyone has their opinions, and you may not agree 100% with their critique, but being receptive to their ideas may give your voice and career a fresh new element.

I wish you all the success as a professional singer!

LizTLiz 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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5798939739_7bffcf4d6f_b

5 Ways To Make Money Playing Violin

5798939739_7bffcf4d6f_bWhen you think about making money using your skills as a violin player, violin teacher jobs might be the first thing that comes to mind. But there are so many more options! Here are some ideas from Brooklyn, NY teacher Julie P...

 

The ability to play the violin is a very marketable skill. If you’re looking for violin teacher jobs, working at a school or teaching private lessons is a great way to earn money. But if you’d prefer to just play and perform, there are a number of opportunities open for you to make money with your violin playing.

1. Special Events

Special events such as weddings, funerals, bridal or baby showers, and church services are great places for violin players to provide music. Any of these events may call for a solo violinist, but often they call for string quartets or trios. The types of music requested are usually classical and light jazz/pop, but it really depends on the event. Churches often use violinists as part of larger orchestras for special services around Christmas and Easter, or as a solo instrument for weddings and funerals. Some funeral homes keep a database of musicians to contact when clients request special music.

2. Playing in Bands

If you play any music in the rock/pop/folk/bluegrass/jazz genres, you could make money playing violin in a band. Since the violin is often a featured instrument in these groups, playing in a band is great for people who enjoy performing as a soloist. Some groups provide written music, but often the violin player improvises their own parts, so it’s important to be able to improvise and play by ear. You can also work your way up to soloing with musicians such as Celine Dion, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones.

3. Cruise Ship Entertainment

Many cruise ships hire string groups (often trios) to play mostly classical music in the dining room, as well as in places like the grand promenade on large cruise ships. If you have your own group and possess the proper repertoire, this can be a great opportunity to get performance experience while also seeing different parts of the world. Cruise ships pay a weekly salary and also provide room and board free of charge. Some cruise ship companies have websites that list opportunities for musicians, but often your best bet is to find an agency that books acts on cruise ships.

4. Musical Theater

Many musical theater productions call for violinists. If you enjoy this kind of music and don’t mind playing the same thing for multiple nights in a row, playing for a musical can be a great way to make money. The top level for this kind of playing is Broadway, where the pay is quite high. But opportunities exist in almost all major cities, as well as at high schools, colleges, and community theaters.

5. Symphony Orchestra

The violin sections of professional and semi-professional symphony orchestras are made up of some of the very best classical players in the world. Getting a job in one of these orchestras is very difficult and consists of passing at least one audition, if not more. The amount of money these orchestras pay their members depends on the number of services (rehearsals or performances) that make up their season, as well as the performance level of the orchestra itself. The top orchestras pay a full-time salary while the semi-pro groups often pay a set amount per service. Audition notices may be posted in union papers and some trade magazines/journals.

For any of the ways to make money playing violin listed above, you have to be a solid player as well as have good networking skills. Musicians are often recommended and hired by word of mouth, so it pays to know as many people as possible in your field. It’s also important to conduct yourself professionally in all work situations, and be easy to get along with. If people have a good time on the gig with you, chances are they’ll want to work with you again.

If one of these five ways to make money playing the violin appeals to you but you don’t have the necessary skills yet, private lessons are a great way to move toward your goal. Find the right teacher to help you achieve your goals today!

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

 

 

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TL shouts 5-27

TakeLessons Community Shout Outs – Week of 1/19/15

Each week, TakeLessons students and teachers send us their shout outs. We’re thankful to be a part of this positive and thriving community, so we’d like to share these messages with you. Here are the shout outs we received this week:

Michael E. in Dallas, TX wrote, “I have the privilege of teaching a young man named Aidan. Here he is playing part of “Day Tripper” by the Beatles:

He just turned nine years old and has been taking lessons for only eight months, having never touched a guitar before that. I can’t claim the credit here. He has done the work and it shows what a student can do if they really want to do it. It’s a pleasure teaching him.” Great work Aidan! We can’t wait to hear more great music from you!

James W. in Jacksonville, FL wrote in to let us know his student Carla recorded her first vocal demo this weekend. James wrote, “ The recording session for my student Carla went great.  She did a good job on vocals on “You” by Shakira.  She liked my new slightly faster tempo for the song and acoustic guitar track I made for her. I used Keri’s ibanez .I will add  a guitar fingerpicking track with my Ovation sometime this week and Keri will add some lovely vocal harmonies.  So far so good. Smile She’s happy. I’ll mix and master it within two weeks or thereabouts.” Congratulations Carla on the recording! Keep up the good work!

Share your good news with the TakeLessons community by sending an email with your shout out to GoodNews@TakeLessons.com. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ to keep the conversation going!

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TakeLessons Community Shout Outs – Week of 12/22/14

Each week, TakeLessons students and teachers send us their shout outs. We’re thankful to be a part of this positive and thriving community, so we’d like to share these messages with you. Here are the shout outs we received this week:

Kelvin L. in Bolingbrook, IL wrote, “I would like to congratulate Sophia H., Matt M., Spencer M., Sannah B. and Jay B. for your excellent performance at Steinway Piano Gallery yesterday! Your excellent performance and hard work are deserving of recognition. Have a blessed holiday!” Bravo and keep up the good work in the new year!

Share your good news with the TakeLessons community by sending an email with your shout out to GoodNews@TakeLessons.com. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ to keep the conversation going!

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TakeLessons Community Shout Outs – Week of 12/15/14

Each week, TakeLessons students and teachers send us their shout outs. We’re thankful to be a part of this positive and thriving community, so we’d like to share these messages with you. Here are the shout outs we received this week:

Chelsea C. in Savannah, GA wrote, “In just 6 weeks my weight loss student, Andy, has lost 25 pounds! His work ethic and perseverance is inspirational and it makes it easy to encourage and advise on his next steps. So proud of him and his hard work!” Way to go, Andy!

James W. in Jacksonville, FL wrote, “My student Larry Favroth landed a part in a new film.” Congratulations Larry!

Beverly M. in El Reno, OK wrote, “I am so proud of all of my students, but several are excelling in the field of music. I thought I would share a couple of bios… More to come later!

Junior piano student, Ashley, just completed recording 14 original songs for her debut album. She’ll be recording her first video in January. I’m so excited for her!! She serves on the Junior Student Council; participates in volleyball, basketball and track; is on the Principal’s and Superintendent’s Honor Roll; is scuba certified and a student pilot; and last but not least, a guitarist and pianist. Check out some of her songs!

Senior piano student Emily is the drum major at her high school, an honor student, and excels at playing flute and trombone. Her favorite genre is jazz, and we’ve enjoyed learning pieces such as “In The Mood,” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” I’m going to miss her terribly when she leaves for college next year!  She is first chair trombone in the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra, Oklahoma Youth Winds, Oklahoma Youth Jazz Ensemble, and Yukon High School Wind Ensemble. She has been the Drum Major for the Pride of Yukon for two years. She is a three-time All Stater and has made the Central Oklahoma Director’s Honor Band for six years in a row. Upon graduation from high school next year, Emily plans to continue her music education and study to become a music educator herself.” Amazing accomplishments, Ashley and Emily! Keep up the good work!

Rebecca F. in Bellevue, NE wrote, “I have 2 students who are brothers, and another 2 students that are grandfather and grandson. For Christmas, they have been doing duets with each other. This requires coordination and good listening skills, and both duets have managed to learn how to work with each other. They learned to listen and play together, and are having lots of fun.” Duets are loads of fun! Keep listening to each other and playing together!

Share your good news with the TakeLessons community by sending an email with your shout out to GoodNews@TakeLessons.com. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ to keep the conversation going!

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TakeLessons Community Shout Outs – Week of 11/24/14

Each week, TakeLessons students and teachers send us their shout outs. We’re thankful to be a part of this positive and thriving community, so we’d like to share these messages with you. Here are the shout outs we received this week:

Heather W. in Abingdon, MD, wrote, “Way to go, Hana! You’ve mastered the Premiere Piano Books 1A (Lesson, Performance & Theory)! You are now ready to tackle the Premiere Piano Books 1B! Keep up the good work and keep on practicing!” Great job, Hana!

BJ M. in Seattle, WA, wrote, “Last weekend, I hosted my first ever Studio Jam session. My beginning students got a chance to experience the feeling of playing music with others violinists and playing with a band of guitars, piano and drums. It’s not an easy thing for any beginning student to come into an unfamiliar situation to learn and play new music on the spot. My students were up to the task and contributed wonderfully to this new experience of the Studio Jam Session. We tackled every thing from pop to roots music and even included a beautiful rendition of Pachabel’s Canon in D. All in all it was a great success and it’s an event I’m looking to put together on a regular basis. Audio clips can be found directly on my website as well on my TakeLessons profile.” Congratulations to all the students who participated, and thank you BJ for making this event possible!

Share your good news with the TakeLessons community by sending an email with your shout out to GoodNews@TakeLessons.com. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ to keep the conversation going!

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TakeLessons Community Shout Outs – Week of 11/17/14

Each week, TakeLessons students and teachers send us their shout outs. We’re thankful to be a part of this positive and thriving community, so we’d like to share these messages with you. Here is a shout out we received this week:

Diane G. in Gaithersburg, MD, wrote, “ I wanted you to know that three my students performed at the Love Ball which was to raise money for humane societies and rescues. Arianna and Estrella performed on the violin and Arianna even performed a beautiful solo. Lisa performed on the piano. It was such a wonderful cause and these students added beauty and dignity to it. I am so proud of them.” Well done, Arianna, Estrella, and Lisa! Thank you for using your talents to help others.

Share your good news with the TakeLessons community by sending an email with your shout out to GoodNews@TakeLessons.com. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ to keep the conversation going!

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