How To Pick Out A Guitar for Your Guitar Lessons

Are you getting ready for your guitar lessons and need to pick the right guitar? There are a dizzying number of guitars on the market to choose from. You can certainly spend upwards of $1,000 and get a fabulous guitar, but the trick is to find a guitar that works for you for much less!

Acoustic or Electric?

Acoustic guitars are either Steel String, or Nylon String (also known as a “Classical Guitar” or “Spanish Guitar”). They are good choices for children because they are available in ½ and ¾ sizes.

Steel String Guitars are great for finger picking and strumming, and are used by such artists as Jewel and Bob Dylan – the characteristic “Folk guitar” sound. The necks are of medium width, and the bodies come in many different sizes.

Nylon String Guitars are good for Classical Guitar music, and for Brazilian music. They have a mellower sound, smaller bodies, and wide necks, making them more challenging for people with small hands.
Electric Guitars have small, flat bodies, steel strings, and make little sound on their own. Therefore you will need an amplifier and cord as well (extra $$). The necks of the guitars are generally small to medium in width.

How much do you want to spend?

Below $250. There are some nice playing guitars in this range, but it is really hit or miss. All the major guitar makers now offer “knock-offs” of their more expensive standard models in this price range. Fender offers the Squier models. Gibson offers the Epiphone series. Really scrutinize what you are buying.

Generally guitars in this range are strung with extra-light gauge strings that can disguise problems with the neck. The action is often really high (height of the strings off the neck). This makes the guitar hard to play. They also have lower quality tuning machines and poor intonation that can result in a guitar that never seems to be in tune.

There are many used acoustic guitars in this price range. Shop with care! Some of these guitars will sound and play fine with a new set of strings and a professional set up, which can run you ~$60 on top of the price of the guitar.

$250-$750. There are a lot of decent quality guitars in this range. As a beginner or intermediate, a guitar in this price range should be well-built and provide years of enjoyment. Try Takamine, Fender, and Gibson.

$750 and above. Professional quality instruments. Higher quality through out. As the price increases, the use of expensive rare woods and cosmetic features such as mother-of-pearl inlays becomes more common. My favorite is a Taylor.

Picking the right guitar for guitar lessons Features to look for

Acoustic guitars.
Solid wood top is the way to go. It vibrates more freely than plywood, and will sound louder and more alive. Spruce and Cedar are the most common woods for Steel String and Nylon String guitars respectively.

Solid wood sides and back are better, but many lower priced acoustic guitars have plywood back and sides.
Size matters! – Choose a guitar with a body size that fits yours.

Electric guitars
Pickups – either humbucking or single-coil. Some guitars have both. The single-coil pickups can be noisy around fluorescent lamps, and humbucking pickups are constructed to avoid this (hence the name). Single-coil pickups have a thinner tone, and are found on guitars modeled after the Fender Stratocaster. Humbucking pickups sound thicker and more powerful and are usually found on Gibson brand guitars such as the Les Paul.

Body shape – really wild shaped electric guitars can look really cool, and if that means you will play it more – go for it! Often these guitars slide off your leg when playing sitting down, and you will definitely need a strap to help you hold on to the guitar.

Try out many guitars in your chosen style and price range

Pick up the guitar, and hold it in playing position. Make sure you can easily reach the end of the neck and the sound hole and controls. It should feel comfortable in your hands.

Press the strings down to the fret board at various places – if it feels like real work to do this, then you may have found a guitar with “high action”. This is a common problem with used acoustic guitars. It can sometimes be fixed, but it’s best to find another guitar.

Run your hands up and down the neck, check for sharp edges on the metal frets. The frets themselves should be polished with no obvious grooves.

Rotate the tuners at the end of the neck. They should move easily, and feel solid.

Pick each string, and listen – does it buzz or rattle?

Check all the switches and controls and the output jack on electric guitars. They should all move smoothly with no noise or crackling. If it is loose or crackling, it will need to be repaired. The store should do this for no cost. If not, find another guitar.

You will know when you find the “right” guitar. It will feel comfortable – not too big or too small. You will be able to get your hand around the neck, and easily reach the strings. It will probably look “cool” to you. For children, I feel the two main considerations are the size of
the guitar, and how “cool” it looks! For parents, cost of course is an issue!

The “right” guitar will make you more excited to play and that is what you want!  Happy picking!

– Guest contributor, Andy Garby

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Singing Lessons – Yoga for the Voice

Gfire When I first began my professional singing career, still in my teens, I was extremely dissatisfied with the explanations I had been given for how and why the singing voice works. I just couldn't make my voice do the things I wanted it to. Admittedly, I had pretty high expectations.

Fortunately, I went to my public library and happened on a copy of "Science and Singing" by the late, great Ernest George White of London, England. After decades of scientific research, White discovered how the voice and vocal tone actually originate in the four sets of sinus cavities in the head, not in the throat/vocal cords, as was previously believed. White taught people to speak who had had their vocal cords surgically removed – just by training them in controlling the air in their sinus cavities.

He explains in his book that the air vibrating in an enclosed space (the head) acts as a musical instrument, similar to a flute or a recorder or even air moving through a keyhole and producing sound. He felt that the vocal cords, or vocal folds as he preferred to call them, merely aided in regulating the flow of breath from the lungs up to the head, where the sound was actually produced.

Unfortunately for me, White had already passed away in 1940, so I began my own attempts at playing with the air in my sinus cavities. After many months of study, pretty much by trial and error, I found that I was actually a first soprano, not a second soprano, as I had thought. I found that it took much less air – and a lot of control – to maintain my high notes, but that I now HAD control. And I really began to develop my own unique singing voice, after years of trying to sound like everyone else that I admired. Wow – even my high expectations had been reached.

When I moved to Austin a few years later, I began teaching singing lessons in Austin (and piano) as my day job. I taught all kinds of people how to sing and speak, from age 8 to age 72. Many of my students found great success with playing with the air in their sinuses – remarking that, although they hadn't had success with traditional exercises, they could now make their voices sound clearer and they could control the voice. There is a lot of joy in learning that what was once a mystery can be placed under control in a fun and musical way.

But what actually ended up putting the true icing on the cake for what I now call "Yoga For the Voice" technique was my study of kundalini yoga, and subsequent training as a kundalini yoga instructor. I found that by incorporating yogic breathing and exercises, and sometimes even chanting yoga mantras, my students and I were able to make even more progress in controlling our vocal instruments. Not to mention the improvements in health, speaking voice, keeping the sinuses free and clear, and gains in personal confidence.

Some of the benefits we discovered:

  • You learn exactly what your vocal range is and why – your vocal range is determined by the shape, number and quality of the sinus cavities in your head.
  • You discover how to create the very best tone your voice is capable of making – when you can keep as many muscles as possible out of the way of creating a pure tone in the head, you have the basis of beautiful, unencumbered musical sound.
  • You feel the difference in your own body – singing feels healthy, beautiful and under your control. If it feels right, it actually is right. The reverse is true as well – if it feels wrong, then there is some work to be done, usually in releasing some tension and muscular effort that is getting in the way of the tone.
  • A side benefit includes keeping the sinuses free and clear – it actually helps your overall health in addition to your vocal health. Ernest G. White's sinus exercises have been used solely for the purpose of keeping the head cavities clear, and can be helpful for people with allergies and other problems which create mucus in the sinuses.
  • White's exercises can be used to improve your speaking voice and your vocal projection – they are excellent for actors, teachers and public speakers as well as for singers. In general, if one is just using the exercises for speaking purposes, the vocal range is more limited and focused on the actual speaking voice than in singing training.
  • For children, I tend to break it down to very basic, easy-to-understand exercises. I think the sinus concepts are too difficult for most children to grasp, so I try to give them exercises they can easily understand and have fun with.

In the beginning stages of vocal training, a typical "Yoga For the Voice" lesson will consist of three parts. First I teach the student two different kundalini breathing techniques that have proven useful to the singing student. We next begin the sinus exercises from Ernest George White's teachings, starting to find what I like to term the "musical architecture" inside the voice student's head, i.e. her/his particular set of sinus cavities. The last part consists of integrating what we have learned into "full body" exercises, which enable the student to start to experience her/his full vocal instrument, from the solar plexus to the top of the head. I sometimes use traditional vocal exercises for this step or, depending on the student, chanting exercises.

If you are interested in exploring "Yoga For the Voice" further, my voice lessons are available privately at my music studio in Austin, Texas. See voice lessons in Austin TX.

ABOUT gfire

gfire is a Kundalini yoga instructor, and a professional singer-songwriter, DJ, voice and piano teacher in Austin, Texas. She has taught literally hundreds of students how to use their voices more effectively. 

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The Key to Effective Music Practicing

Violins.Image via Wikipedia

There is a saying that captures a critical difference between how amateurs and professional musicians practice and learn difficult musical passages:

“The amateur practices until she gets it right. The professional practices until she can’t get it wrong.”

I once performed violin in an orchestra under maestro Anshel Brusilow, a wonderful conductor and former concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra. During one rehearsal he presented his philosophy on the art of practicing and mastering difficult passages. He explained that his philosophy was to practice a passage until he could play it correctly five times in a row. After achieving this goal, he knew he had mastered the material and would proceed to the next challenge.

If your goal is to be an amateur musician, then practicing until you get a difficult passage right is far enough. But if you aspire to be a professional musician, then practicing until you can’t get it wrong will require more work, but bring greater rewards. By attaining the goal of playing a difficult passage five times in a row without any mistakes, you may attain professional mastery on any instrument.

by: Robert Padgett, TakeLessons instructor for violin lessons and piano lessons in Santa Rosa, CA. Robert is married with five children, performs violin and piano
professionally, and is an accomplished music instructor on violin, viola,
piano, music theory and composition.

Editor's Note: TakeLessons uses the Lessons Success Journal and online Music Practice Pages to keep track of all your goals, lessons, and practice times. Using these tools help you stay motivated and track your progress.

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The Relationship Between Music and Math

We are surrounded by two things everyday… Math and Music. Most of the time we don’t even notice the math or we just choose to ignore it. But we notice music everywhere… Sometimes as soon as our radio alarm clock goes off in the morning we are surrounded by it. When you take music lessons, we realize that in that music, there are beautiful and symmetric numerical systems. From simple arithmetical processes to things as complicated as Group Transformations, music is full of mathematics.

I would like to show you the beauty so some of the mathematical structure which underlies the basics of Western music theory.

Upper stave: Claude Debussy's Première ArabesqueImage via Wikipedia

The Western musical system consists of 12 tones, or notes. We give these notes names using letters A, B, C, etc. and we go all the way up to G and then we start at A again. Now this only accounts for 7 notes and the other 5 come from things called accidentals which are noted by the #(sharp) sign or the b(flat sign). There is already math involved here. These notes are just multiples of frequencies. The lowest note on the piano is an A and its frequency is 27.5 Hz. To get A# you simply multiply by the 12th root of 2 and you get 29.135 and you keep doing this and after doing it 12 times you will get 55 which is 27.5×2. When you get a multiple of a frequency then it is the same note, up or down some number of octaves. So 27.5 (A) is the same note as 55 (A), just one octave apart. So every note you hear in music is just some frequency and is derived from this.

Now if we lay out a little chart of the notes and do a little mathematical modeling we will begin to see some very interesting things:

Picture 2

And if we now associate numbers to all of these we get this:

Picture 3

Now if we imagine adding one number to another as moving that number up the piano that many notes then we can see that if you take

0+1=1 This means that 0(or C) moved up one note is C#.
You can do this with any numbers as many times as you want as long as you mod out by 12, which means if you get a number higher than 12 when you add, simply divide that number by 12 and the remainder is your new number.

9+11=20 20/12= 1 with a remainder of 8, so 8 is our new number. So when you move A up 11 notes you will land on G#. And this works for any number of additions.

3+7+4+9=23=11mod12 This means that if you take D# and move it up 7 notes, then 4 more, then 9 more, you will land on a B.

You can even do this with whole chords.

C major = {C,E,G} = {1,5,8} I will say that when you add a number to a chord, you are adding that number to each note in the chord.

So C major, plus 7 = {1+7,5+7,8+7} = {8,0,3} which is a G# major chord.

An interesting note about this is that if you add a number to a major chord you will get a major chord and if you add a number to a minor chord you will get a minor chord. This is basically what you are doing when you transpose to a new key. You could do it to the entire scale and it is essentially the same thing as going from one key to another.

There are many things you can do with this idea, such as inverting chords and doing whole Group Transformations which will give very interesting musically related results, but the math is very tedious and deep.  This is just a glance at the very surface of the relations music has with math and is one of the reasons why I believe musicians are generally better in areas such as math or science.


Jon Jonathan Evans is a fabulous TakeLessons instructor. He gives piano lessons in Ventura CA.

“I enjoy teaching any age and any skill level. I have had students as
young as 9 years old all the way up to 70 years old. No one is too
youung or too old to start learning the piano. My laid back, patient
approach puts no pressure on the student, but allows them to learn at
their own pace. I set goals with the student to allow them to progress
as fast or slow as they want to. After 3 months the student will have a
strong understanding of reading music and sight reading.”

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TakeLessons Music Lessons Guide – download a free copy for a limited time

Guide to Getting Started with Music Lessons.

TakeLessons Guide to Music Lessons


TakeLessons Discover Your Music. TakeLessons™ lorem ipsum dolor sit amet  Music Lesson Guide                                                           TakeLessons they learn much more than just how to perform! Benefits of Music & Voice Lessons Older adults find that music lessons are a great way to stay mentally active. Many will resume lessons for an instrument they played in the past to polish up their skills while others are interested in learning something brand new and acquiring a special talent. Music is known to be therapeutic and a great way to keep one's mind young! Did you know that music… When people of all ages take music and voice lessons, Parents find that music and voice lessons for kids not only improve their children's memorization and small motor skills, but strongly contribute to the building of their child's self-confidence. This in turn helps children succeed not only in music, but in school and other outside activities. Both children and their parents find it truly rewarding when a child reaches a pre-set goal or milestone; whether that is learning a new song, performing in front of others or just finding enjoyment in music. Adults in their 20's and 30's see lessons as a creative outlet and something to help them de-stress after a long day. For many, music and voice lessons are the beginning steps of a career in live performance or recorded music. For others, music lessons are a way to express emotion or impress others with their new-found talents through a birthday, wedding, or special event performance. • Helps develop skills needed in today's workforce: critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, teamwork, and confidence • Keeps kids engaged in school and less likely to drop out while helping them achieve in other academic subjects like math, science, and reading • Helps communities share ideas and values among cultures and generations   Finding the right instructor The Instructor It's About Chemistry     For most students, music is about having fun, living your dream, and discovering your music. You'll want to be paired with an instructor that understands where you currently are and can relate to where you want to go. When you begin, you may not even know where you want to go – and that's ok. Your instructor should be able to help you take small steps that help guide you and help you see the picture of what you want to accomplish. The chemistry between the student and the instructor is really important. There should be a natural respect and friendliness between the two. There are many styles of instruction, so find someone that fits your personal style. Some people learn better with a more disciplined instructor that pushes them. Others learn better with a more laid-back, assertive style. Be honest with what works for you. When speaking to your lessons company, express the style of instructor that you think will work better for you. Chris Waldron, Director of Recruiting for TakeLessons Learning Centers, has hired thousands of instructors and says a key to good instructors is not only their musical aptitude, but their attitude as well. "A good instructor will share in your success and help you through the rough patches. He or she will challenge you to get better while giving you insight, tools, and training on the best way to improve. They are there to help you achieve higher skill levels and maximize your potential while providing constructive feedback that leads to continuous improvement.", Waldron says. Remember, however, that private lessons are a two-way street and the relationship should be mutually beneficial. Instructors are not baby-sitters or therapists and they will expect you to uphold your end of the bargain by practicing, trying hard, coming to the lessons prepared. They cannot make you great. YOU make yourself great. They are there to encourage and challenge you, but ultimately, your success is going to depend on your own motivation levels and how much you decide to apply yourself. Here's a checklist of what to look for in an instructor. Your instructor should: • Have passed a criminal background check • Have positive feedback from other students • Have a degree in music, working on a degree, or several years of experience • Enjoy the style and genre of music you wish to learn • Be a good listener • Focus more on you, and less about themselves • Helps you discover your strengths • Help you set high, yet attainable milestones • Be clear on what is expected of you each week • Hold you accountable for practicing and continued growth • Provide you with timely and specific feedback • Use technology to help keep track of lessons and monitor your growth • Offer the option for you to perform at a local concert or recital • Help you get excited about learning and staying involved with lessons • Be constantly growing themselves—musically and as a teacher                                                           Picking the Right Program & Instructor     When moving forward with lessons, it's best to work with an established music learning company. When you call and speak with them, they should be friendly, excited to help you, and focused on what YOU want to learn instead of what they want to teach. Beware of instructors or programs that have an air of arrogance about them. Normally, these
instructors are focused more on what you can do for them instead of what they can do for you. Also, beware of programs that are so strict that the lessons no longer are fun. Your lessons company should also have a documented, thorough application procedure for their instructors. This includes interviews, reference checks, background checks and ongoing quality certifications. They should also require liability insurance for their instructors. Feel free to ask them to see their liability insurance paperwork. If they cannot provide documentation, you are risking a higher liability with the instructor. Finally, working with a lessons company helps ensure your money is safe. There have been many stories from unsuspecting students who write a check or pay cash to an instructor they found online or in a classifieds ad, and that instructor never showing up after the first lesson. Others have paid for a semester or year's worth of lessons, only to find their instructor has left town or shut down their studio.     A Reputable Learning Company   A Reputable Learning Company  • The company should offer several instructors in your area. This way, if the first one doesn't fit your style, you can switch to another at no cost to you. pellentesque:  Checklist • The lessons programs should be focused and tailored around what you want to learn, and the company should provide an instructor that is suited for your style of music and your skill level. Nam vestibulum dolor quis libero.  • The company should always protect your money. If their instructor does not show up, their policy should be to issue you a quick and full refund. • The company should allow you to obtain a refund if, after your first lesson, you do not wish to continue. • Never pay for more than a quarter's worth of lessons upfront (three months). • Always pay by credit card or debit card. This way, if there are billing issues, you have recourse through your bank or card company. • Check the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company treats its customers well. • Check the company's web site for the owners and employees. They should be transparent about who runs the company. Also check for press releases, financial backing, advisory boards, and partners. All of these items help you see if they are an established, reputable company. • Look to see if they have partnered with community organizations such as the YMCA or PTA and if they run programs for private schools after-school programs, or corporate wellness. If they have proven themselves by working with these partners, there is a good probability they are reputable. • Look for a company that has instructor certification processes which includes criminal background checks and ongoing quality ratings. Ask the percentage of instructor applicants that get hired. If it's more than 40%, the company may be accepting anyone who applies and may have a quality problem. • The pricing should reflect your skill level. If you are a beginner, chances are you don't need the instructor with a PhD and 30 years of experience. You'll overpay. Find a company that has a selection of instructors with differing levels of experience and reasonable rates. • Make sure the company has an established online lessons tracking system. This allows you to access your lesson notes from anywhere on the web and creates accountability between you and the instructor. If you are a parent, this allows you to see what your children are working on during the lessons, thus ensuring you are getting your money's worth.     Why Take Lessons? Tak eL essons Discover Your Music. Why Not Learn on your Own? There are a myriad of music self-study courses, books, CD's, and DVD's. Add in the hours of video on YouTube and across the Internet, and you've got an endless supply of information. But information alone isn't the key to having fun and learning. It's the application of the information that makes the difference. When you take lessons with a live instructor, you get added benefits that simply cannot be attained through all the do-it-yourself media. Speed Up Your Learning Curve, Slow Down Your Frustration When you first start with music, it will most likely be a bit odd to you. That's ok. Its normal. It takes some time to understand the fundamentals and mentally digest why notes, chords, and songs sound good together. Working with a private instructor helps you quickly understand the fundamentals while making learning fun. You will learn faster, which helps build your confidence and increases the likelihood of you continuing with your lessons. The First Step is the Hardest With music, there's a phenomenon called the "First Month Hump". During the first month, you're at an important stage that determines whether you keep going or whether you call it quits. Everything is new. Some things make sense—other things do not. And inside, you're trying to decide whether the dream of making music is worth the fear of failing at it. It's at this stage where private instruction really starts to make a difference. With the help of a good program and instruction, you see more improvement, which helps build your confidence and increases the likelihood of continuing. Your lessons are customized around you, so you get to learn the things you're most interested in. This naturally speeds up your learning curve as well. You also have personalized attention that helps you fast-track through the First Month Hump and into the next phase of learning. Staying Motivated Without a doubt, there will be times during the first few months when you feel disappointed with your playing. Perhaps you didn't find time to practice, or you can't quite figure out how to work your left and right hand with the proper timing. Again, that's ok! It's normal. The benefit of working with a private lessons company is that you have the support of your music counselor, your instructor, and a community of other people learning at your level. A good lessons program will help you A.I.M. High! A — Accountability I — Inspiration M — Milestones Accountability Private or group lessons help you become accountable to yourself, to your instructor, and others. As a general rule, we always work harder when we know someone else is counting on us. By telling others what our goals are, we trigger something inside the mind that helps us give a little extra effort. A good program will help you set your first goal and then help you share that goal with others. Inspiration A good lessons program helps inspire you by having people that believe in you. You get to hear stories of how other people are living their dream and can then apply their learning to your own situation. By taking lessons, you'll tap into the wisdom of instructors that have been through your situation before, and are willing to help you get to where you want to be. Milestones Part of the job of private instruction is to help you see yourself living your dream and discovering the music inside you. A good lessons company will understand your current skill level and help you set reasonable milestones for your growth. Using online tools, your music program should be able to help you keep track of your progress with lesson notes and practice pages that can be accessed via the web. They should provide you with candid feedback after each lesson to help you see where you're doing great, and where you need help. “Nobody's a natural. You work hard to get good and then work hard to get better. “ -Paul Coffey With music, you'll never hit your target if you don't know what you're shooting for. With a solid lessons program, you'll always know where you're heading. TakeLessons Discover Your Music.   For questions or to find a certified instructor in your area, please contact TakeLessons 1-877-231-8505 TakeLessons 624 Broadway Suite 504 San Diego, CA 92101

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TakeLessons featured in San Diego Union Tribune Sunday Edition

Read the story form the San Diego Union Tribune on how young web start-ups are doing to survive and flourish during the recession. TakeLessons was a featured company.

Steven Cox of

"The company started working out of Cox's house. It now has offices,
but not the $700 Aeron chairs that typified the excesses of the first
dot-com wave.

“Our plan is to preserve cash,” Cox said. “We work at tables that cost $20 at Staples.”

Cox said his business is growing, but he suspects growth would be faster in a better economy.

"Anyone who says they're not affected by the recession has their head in the sand," Cox said. "But if you're agile, quick, and can preserve cash, there can be advantages."

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What is music anyway?

By Erol O

Erol - music teacher in New York

While still a student in college, I attended a concert with
some friends. Two of them were fellow musicians, and one was not. After the
show was over, we were walking out of the venue and talking about how great the
show was. That’s when I noticed the non-musician being silent, so I asked him
what he thought of the show. He said: “I don’t know”.  

The three of us looked at each other in
bewilderment. What do you mean, you don’t know?” I asked. Then he said
something that would stick with me for years to come. 

“I don’t know….” he said, “What is music anyway?”. That took us by
surprise. We all struggled for an answer, but couldn’t really come up with
anything good. We just shook our heads and said; well I guess he just doesn’t
get it, and moved on. After that night, from time to time we would retell the
story about the guy who didn’t know what music was and get a kick out of it.
But the more I thought about it, the more I instinctively felt that there was
something deeper behind those words than we all realized.

 For me, music was something I was drawn to at an early age.
I could “feel” the music; it made something resonate inside of me. I started
playing guitar in the fourth grade. I took one guitar lesson, hated it, and
quit. My enthusiasm for music, however, pushed me to learn on my own. By
watching other players and copying records, I was soon good enough to be in my
first real band and have a real paying gig by the seventh grade! After making
those seven bucks, there was no stopping me!

So, what is music anyway? 
Good question. The next time you are teaching music lessons and sitting with a student that is
having difficulty or is unmotivated, or just lagging behind, think about that
question. But not from your point of view, think of it from theirs. What is
music to them? Maybe it’s a tiny step forward. Maybe it’s blowing off their
assignment to show you the really cool lick they figured out themselves. Maybe
it’s about being a good student. Maybe it’s about nothing at all this
particular week. The important thing to remember is that it’s about them, not you. Being the one who senses
their inner fire and feeds the flames is far more important than following a
schedule that may have nothing to do at all with their particular needs. You
know what music is to you. Be a part of what music is to them.

The Tradition of Fiddling in the US and Ireland

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: Klezmer musicians marc...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Fiddling came to the US Appalachian region from Irish immigrants, who brought their music and fiddles with them. The most significant wave of Irish immigrants came during the 19th-century potato famine. If you are taking fiddle lessons, you’ll have a large repertoire of folk and traditional music to choose from.

Irish fiddling has been around for about 200 years, so Irish fiddlers already had a strong tradition when they arrived on US soil. One of the most famous styles of fiddling came from Donegal County in Ireland, where fast-paced, lively fiddling was – and still is – the norm. The somewhat isolated county produced many great fiddlers, including the most famous Irish fiddler of all time, John Doherty. Nearby Sligo County also has its own style and many famous fiddlers. Both counties are rural and located in northwest Ireland, one of the hardest-hit areas of the potato famine, so immigrants from this area were a strong demographic in the exodus to the US.

When fiddles first appeared in Appalachia, the musicians maintained the Irish style. However, like any other piece of culture, the tradition began to change in its new environment. As young people learned to fiddle and it was taught to each new generation, new styles developed. As Irish music blended with Scottish, English, and African music, old-time music emerged. This music was primarily played at dances, where hard-working rural folk could relax and have a good time after a season of work in the fields or mines. The fiddle was the primary melodic instrument, if not the only instrument, at many of these dances. It was accompanied by the new American instrument, the banjo, as well as sometimes an accordion, mandolin, or washtub bass.

Patrick MoranIn the first half of the twentieth century, music recordings made Appalachia’s music available to people all over the country, and then all over the world. Different styles became evident, then continued to develop, flourish, and feed off one another. Of worthy note were bluegrass, country, and folk music, all of which are still enjoyed today. Two famous American fiddlers still playing today are Brad Leftwich and Rayna Gellert.

Even now, some of Ireland’s most famous fiddlers still hail from Donegal County, including Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, a highly lauded female fiddler who has appeared with the band Altan as well as Riverdance. Today, Irish fiddling thrives in large part due to local pride; fiddling is a mainstay in family gatherings, pubs, and festivals, and it’s what keeps American fiddling alive as well. Starting fiddle lessons gives you a ticket into this tradition and the joy and lively music scene you can be a part of as a fiddler.

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TakeLessons Teams up with Kevin Bacon, NAMM, and MTNA for Wanna Play Music Week

TakeLessons is powering the NAMM‘s Wanna Play Music Lesson Locator. This free “Find Music Lessons Near You” search tool at,
features one of the most comprehensive databases of music teachers on
the Web from NAMM’s network of Member stores, the Music Teachers
National Association
(MTNA) and TakeLessons. This easy-to-use tool helps people who are interested in
learning to play music to easily find a qualified music teacher in
their neighborhood by simply entering their zip code or city

Here is the full release from our friends at NAMM.

Celebrities Rally with Kids in Nationwide Effort to
Promote Music Making as NAMM Wraps Up Second Annual National Wanna Play
Music Week

Survey Shows 85 percent of Americans Wanna Play Music, as Thousands of
Aspiring Musicians Flock to ‘Wanna Play Music’ Web site

We wanted to show our support for what NAMM and others are doing to help encourage people to get out and play music

is obviously a huge part of our lives. Playing a musical instrument can
help drive a passion that can last a lifetime and play an integral part
in maintaining a healthy mind and body.

tremendous response to National Wanna Play Music Week, the popularity
of our music-making tools, and the support from so many notable music
makers reinforces our belief in the power of music making

Find Music Lessons Near You


Carlsbad, Calif. (PRWEB)
May 8, 2009 — NAMM, the 108-year-old, not-for-profit association of
the international music products industry, concluded its annual
National Wanna Play Music Week today, after a monumental period of
music making that drew the participation of stars, such as Kevin Bacon
and Yoko Ono. With the goal to build awareness of the proven benefits
of playing musical instruments for people of all ages, NAMM executed
the week-long series of events to encourage the music maker in every

Kevin Bacon, left with brother Michael Bacon, right and Yoko Ono, center, joined students from LaGuardia High School in New York, May 4, 2009, to kick Wanna Play Music Week which runs from May 4th-8th. The program aims to build awareness for the benefits of playing music.
Bacon, left with brother Michael Bacon, right and Yoko Ono, center,
joined students from LaGuardia High School in New York, May 4, 2009, to
kick Wanna Play Music Week which runs from May 4th-8th. The program
aims to build awareness for the benefits of playing music.

Music Week Launch with The Bacon Brothers, Yoko Ono and the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” House Band.

NAMM kicked off the week with “Music Monday,” a five-year tradition
started by the Canadian-based Coalition for Music Education that
encourages musicians, music organizations, school bands and music
lovers everywhere to play music at the same time to demonstrate the
galvanizing power of making music. During NAMM’s second year
participating in “Music Monday,” more 2,000 schools and organizations
rallied across North America to simultaneously play music together with
celebrity musicians participating in the effort on both coasts.

In New York, The Bacon Brothers, featuring acclaimed actor Kevin
Bacon and his brother, award-winning film and TV composer Michael
Bacon, helped to launch National Wanna Play Music Week in the U.S., and
appeared nationally on “Fox & Friends,” on behalf of NAMM. On Music
Monday, The Bacon Brothers performed before a crowd of students at the
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing
Arts, promoting music in schools, along with Yoko Ono and the John
Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

“We wanted to show our support for what NAMM and others are doing to
help encourage people to get out and play music,” said Kevin Bacon.
“Music is obviously a huge part of our lives. Playing a musical
instrument can help drive a passion that can last a lifetime and play
an integral part in maintaining a healthy mind and body.”

In Los Angeles, late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” lent the
talents of its house band, Cleto & the Cletones, toward the effort
of making music. Bandleader Cleto Escobedo III and lead guitarist Toshi
Yanagi performed music with a band class at Nightingale Middle School
in Los Angeles. Students were later treated to a private jam session
with Cleto & the Cletones, visiting the set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live”
and hanging out with the entire band and Jimmy Kimmel himself.

“The tremendous response to National Wanna Play Music Week, the
popularity of our music-making tools, and the support from so many
notable music makers reinforces our belief in the power of music
making,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM’s president and CEO. “NAMM is
consistently seeking out new ways to connect people with the enjoyment
and proven benefits of playing music and creating simple ways for
anyone to get involved. It’s never too late to learn to play a musical
instrument, whether you are five or 85. Even beyond NAMM’s National
Wanna Play Music Week, any time is a great time to give music making a

TakeLessons team members Drew Davies and Steven Cox at the NAMM Show.Tools to Make Music Making Easy

According to the recent “2009 Public Attitudes Toward Music” Gallup
survey *, 85 percent of Americans wish they could play music. In
response to that desire, NAMM created several user-friendly services
and tools aimed to help anyone begin to play music. With the goal of
educating consumers on the benefits of playing music and empowering
them to easily find quality music instructors, NAMM also has developed
a variety of tools, which were unveiled during National Wanna Play
Music Week, including:

  • Music Lesson Locator – This free “Find Music Lessons Near You” search tool at,
    features one of the most comprehensive databases of music educators on
    the Web from NAMM’s network of Member stores, the Music Teachers
    National Association (MTNA) and, a nationwide provider
    of lessons. This easy-to-use tool helps people who are interested in
    learning to play music to easily find a qualified music teacher in
    their neighborhood by simply entering their zip code or city
  • So
    You Wanna Play Music? Hotline – As an additional resource for National
    Wanna Play Music Week, a special hotline was established to help
    connect people curious about playing music with a NAMM representative
    to ask any questions they may have about ways to get started, how to
    select the best instrument, and how to overcome the most common
  • Wanna
    Play? Film Contest – NAMM reached out to more than 500,000 music and
    film enthusiasts, asking them to participate in its short film contest,
    highlighting the positive aspects of making music. Working with
    OurStage, an online community site for filmmakers, submissions will be
    accepted throughout May with the short film winner receiving $5,000
    cash, a MacBook Pro, various computer software for video and audio
    editing, and a trip to the Summer NAMM show in Nashville, Tenn. for a
    world premiere of his or her film.
  • Music Making Resources – The
    Web site also featured daily themes that help to educate and build
    awareness around making music, and highlighted important trends, tools
    and news in the world of music.

National Wanna Play Music Week is part of the association’s ongoing
Wanna Play? public awareness campaign, which recognizes the vital role
that music and music education play in people’s lives, and how
recreational music making can directly impact the health and social
well being of people in all stages of life.
About NAMM
The National Association of Music Merchants, commonly
called NAMM in reference to the organization’s popular NAMM trade
shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and
strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products
industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music
making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of more than 9,000
Member companies. For more information about NAMM, interested parties
can visit or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).

*According to the April 2009 Gallup Poll entitled “2009 Public Attitudes Toward Music”

Google and Universal Music Planning a “Deeply Immersive” Music Site

Just to keep up with all that's happening in the web/music space, here is a video from on a new partnership between YouTube and Universal Music called Vevo. It will be interesting to see if it will be like the old MTV where they really did focus on music. Also, what about the other labels? Will they be included, or will YouTube have to generate yet another site to house competing firms? That seems at odds with the openness of the internet, so we'll have to wait and see…

From Beet.TV:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — Vevo is the big
music site being created in a partnership between Google's YouTube and
the Universal Music Group.  It will be a "deep, immersive" music site
with e-commerce and revenue share around advertising.

While YouTube is powering the infrastructure of the site, it will be managed separately.  Yesterday, there was a widely reported story that Vevo has selected a CEO.

the Google office on Tuesday, Beet.TV sat down with YouTube's Chris
Dale who explained the relations ship between Google and Universal
Music Group and the anticipated user experience.  The site will launch
later this year, he told us.

It is not a joint venture, but a "partnership" Chris explains.

Here's a report from in April with more information.

Andy Plesser, Executive Producer

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