So You Wanna Learn How to Play Guitar (pt.XVIII)

Eric Clapton

Here's the latest entry from our awesome guitar teacher Jason:

Rock History 101 (the Atomic History)

One of the questions I get asked most from the ladies is, "Why do you like "Metal" so much?"  Or something similar to needing a way to find out what I'll call "Rock Appreciation".

It basically starts out as a "who's who" list and goes back into a bit of history.  So without giving you the official history of rock and roll, I'll give you the insight on what's exactly taken place to get you up to speed with this whole rock gig.

I grew up listening to my fathers blues tapes which gave me a glimpse of such artists as Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Jimmy Thackery, Stevie Ray Vaughn, ZZ-Top but didn't really get into rock until I hit 14.  The blues background is a great start for any guitarist as it resonates a feeling I think most people can relate to.

At 14 it hit, Metallica.  From there it opened up the doors to Pantera, Ministry, Megadeth, Anthrax, and White Zombie.  It's important to know the guitar players from these bands rather than just think "agro".  Metallica has James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Pantera had Dimebag Darrell, Ministry had Al Jorgenson, Megadeth has Dave Mustaine and a former Marty Friedman, Anthrax has Scott Ian, and White Zombie had J.Yeunger.  These are still very important players even in todays culture.  I believe it's important to see what these guys have to offer.

Around the same time I started discovering other bands.  Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, the Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, and Primus.  Nirvana had Kurt Cobain, Soundgarden had Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil, Hole had Courtney Love, the Smashing Pumpkins James Iha and Billy Corgan, Alice in Chains had Jerry Cantrell, and Primus has a bass player named Les Claypool.

It was at this time, circa' 97 that music really started taking a dive.  Record labels dropped most of their bands and there was no myspace yet to discover anything new so all you had to go on was MTV and they were doing this whole competitive thing between genres that was just really stupid. I got into the whole rockabilly thing for a about a month which was just long enough to learn Brian Setzer is a great guitar player and there was another great guitarist named Danny Gatton who was a like minded country-blues shredder.

Guitar wasn't around much again for a few years… sure you had Godsmack and Orgy, but they were following the industrial trend started by Nine Inch Nails (one of the great pioneers of industrial metal).

Now that you've got that solid background I can mention a few other bands that you can discover just by being fans of the previously mentioned:

Motorhead/Deftones/Darkest Hour/Obituary/Shadows Fall/Children of Bodom/Dope/Opeth/Powerman5000/Guns and Roses/ACDC/the Misfits/Dead Kennedys/Between the Burried and Me/Prong/Opiate for the Masses/Machine Head/Trivium/Queens of the Stone Age/Slayer/Exodus/Marilyn Manson/Black Sabbath/Deep Purple/Iron Maiden/Black Label Society/John5/Die Krupps/Butthole Surfers…. the list doesn't really stop, but this should be a good jump start.

I didn't really mention much in terms of classic rock like the Rolling Stones or Queen just cause that wasn't the route I took.  To me the Metal genre players have always had a bit more edge and a sort of excitement about their playing.  Regardless of whether or not it was rebellious most of the riffs are just really awesome to play.  And many times that riff is all you need before you realize that nothing else matters.Jason



How to be a smart professional musician

Our mulit-talented New York teacher Jamison submitted an entry about how to be a "smart" professional musician and teacher. Here is his post:Jamie

I appreciate and value all of my students, but lately, some their parents have been a challenge. Interruptions, billing issues, and I am tempted to remind them that if I can schedule lessons for 30 kids, they should be able to schedule after-school activities for two or three. While this situation and the frustration associated with are specific to private lessons, and petty at that, there are a few lessons to take away from my struggles that apply to all musicians of all varieties.

More often than not, the career of a musician, or at least a successful yet one, is multi-faceted. Even if you are purely a performer or composer, scheduling and managing your time effectively is essential to success. I would employ some kind of system, or if you’re doing well enough, secretary/manager/assistant to manage business related issues. I know that I constantly struggle to keep track of my income, as it changes on a weekly basis.

Lastly, it is important to carry yourself professionally in every situation. You don’t have to be uptight (that’s not our way ☺), but timeliness, organization, and looking at least decent are good places to start. Jamie&Student Also, it’s been important for me to remind myself that different gigs, performing, teaching, and otherwise, will expect different standards of you. Some may even cling to negative musician stereotypes. In these cases, your own professionalism can dispel these misconceptions, further your career, and build reputation simultaneously. Some funny examples I’ve gathered from clients who’ve had bad experiences with teachers and performers, mostly of the rock and roll variety:

• Musicians use drugs
• Many also sell drugs
• Musicians philander
• Musicians are always late
• Musicians are uneducated
• Musicians are usually unkempt
• Drummers are the most promiscuous members of all rock bands
• Lead guitarists/singers are a close second
• Classical and jazz musicians are all pretentious
• Musicians are lazy
• Bass players are especially lazy
• Musicians are reckless
• Musicians are poor/frequent spenders
• All rock music comes directly from Satan

I think you get the picture. By being infinitely patient with your clients and maintaining a professional attitude at all times, you make yourself that much more competitive in our already competitive field, or in any field. This is all coming from a guitarist who has yet to own an iron.

Keep it real.

Jamie S
Guitar, Saxophone, Piano
Teacher, Composer, Performer

Yoga for the Voice – an introduction!

Here is a very interesting article written by our singing teacher gfire, hailing from Austin, Texas, about how practicing yoga techniques can improve overall singing capability:

When I first began my professional
singing career, still in my teens, I Gfire 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 (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.Gfirepiano


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 Sinus Breathing 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. In addition, I offer lessons
over the phone and over the Internet as well (using Skype), making myself
available to you wherever you are in the world.


ABOUT gfireGfirepink


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

How to buy the first guitar for a student

Guitar Strings

Here is a compelling article about how to choose a guitar from our Rancho Cordova teacher Bob C, who has a Masters in Music from Columbia University.

Starting musical lessons is a wonderful idea and can improve a person’s life.  It has been shown that students that seriously study music develop structures in their brain that MRI studies demonstrate are used for Math and Physics concepts.   In fact, Einstein credits his conceptual creativity on learning the violin at aged four.  As you learn, your brain grows musically and you’ll enjoy music much more.

To start lessons, as the teacher I am more than willing to help obtain a  reasonably priced, easy to play instrument.  Unfortunately students often show up with a guitar shaped toy.

The Toy:

Many parents show up or I find someone bought them a guitar at Wall Mart or similar guitar shaped toy.

The parents say, “If he/she likes it, we’ll get a better one.”   Well, it never works like that.
No one likes to play a piece of junk.  They are generally impossible to play; they hurt your fingers and sound terrible.   If they do everything perfect, which is almost impossible, it will still sound terrible.

The student won’t want to play the guitar.  End of lessons.   It is a sure path for failure.
Worse, it will discourage the student and think they can’t play guitar.     

The Recommended Starter Guitar:

A steel string guitar has 220 pounds of pressure, and usually has a narrow neck.  It is much easier for the student to start on a nylon string, usually called a classical guitar.
Nylon strings are much easier to play and there is more space between the strings making it easier to play chords.    It just is easier. 

Many children want to learn electric guitar.  At some point, when the student has progressed, that’s fine.  However electrics are a much more expensive proposition. You have to pay for a guitar, electronics, cables and an amp.       When a student is ready for an electric they can play and feel how well they play.    

If you prefer to go to a store, I’ll help work with a local store selecting an instrument.  You will pay more at a store, but they will be there if you need repairs or adjustments.

There are a number of excellent Chinese makers and but these people will only export a number at once.   While most Chinese guitars are junk, but there are a few shops that make excellent instruments for the money.  I used to import basses, and I can import very high quality supplier of guitars at low costs.  

Why a solid top?  That’s your speaker.  The more it is played, it will quickly open up and sound better and better.  Plywood tops will never get the beautiful sound.  But the top must be made of good woods and toned correctly.

Please buy a tuner.  Tuning is a fairly difficult task, and learning to tune a guitar with a tuner makes it much easier.   Tuning is tricky since it involves listening, getting used to adjusting the pitch.   Tuning takes practice.  And out of tune guitar really sounds terrible.
Get a tuner that will let you set which string you are on.  Some will play the sound of the note.  Even pros use tuners.  Regardless, I’ll teach you how to tune your guitar.

If you go to a store to buy a guitar, there are a few basic things you can check. 

1:  If you put a straight edge from the neck, it should hit the bridge, ideally, at the bottom of the saddle.  If not, the angle is off, and the guitar will be useless.  A yardstick or ruler is ideal for this.  If the angle is wrong,   the only repair is a neck reset which costs about $150 or more.

2:  If you push the guitar string down on the top and bottom fret the string should come close to hitting every string, with no more than a 1/8th of an inch.  If not it will be warped, and difficult to play.  Sometimes we can adjust the truss rod and straighten the neck.

3: Play every note on the guitar and make sure than all of them clear the next fret and don’t buzz.

4: It should be as easy to press down on the 12 fret as the first fret.  The notes are closer together up high on the fingerboard.  Once again, it is likely the guitar teacher will be able to help get a guitar. 

I think it is foolish to go to a store without someone that knows how to play guitar.  Each instrument that comes off the factory floor is unique.  You will pay much more.

In summary, a playable guitar is a musical instrument, not a toy.   If you buy a toy it will simply be money wasted and discourage your child.  A good student guitar is not very expensive, usually between $100 to $200.   I try and keep a few that I sell at cost to students.  I want my students to be successful and have a great time.  I will be glad to check out family instruments.   A string bass is well over a thousand dollars for even a playable plywood instrument.

And, a good guitar will likely appreciate in value over time.   So you see a good used solid top guitar, well taken care of is actually the better investment than the toy.

Even rock players do most of their personal practice on acoustic instruments.

Many children want to learn electric guitar.  At some point, when the student has progressed, that’s fine.  However they are a much more expensive proposition.   You have to pay for a guitar, electronics, and an amp.  Just think, the cost of pickups alone can easily exceed $100.   The cost for a playable instrument is much more expensive and a cheap one sounds terrible.    When a student is ready for an electric they can play and feel how well they play.     Only buy a guitar when you can get a good quality instrument and amp.

Finally, always wash your hands before playing the guitar.  The acids and dirt on your fingers will ruin the strings and even the guitar. Never let anyone play the guitar without washing their hands.

Going into the Studio to Record

Our new teacher Ben B submitted a very insightful post about what it's like recording music. Here is his article:  BenB

Recently, my brother, John, and I went into the studio to record our first serious project and debut album.  I feel like what I learned from this one experience is comparable to the amount of information you learn in a complete year of college.  What I want to share with you here is some of the musical and practical knowledge I gained in the process. 

Have a Plan             
To have the best experience preparing for your own record date in the studio, and after, you need a plan, and you will probably need more than one plan.  You're going to need to prepare first and foremost musically, but also conceptually, practically, and financially.  Your planning needs to start months ahead.   It should be thorough enough so that you feel confident, but you also need to remain flexible.  Life always has a few surprises.  I’ll elaborate on that later.            

One of the first things you want to do is pick out the music and the band.  That preparation should include picking the repertoire, or in the case of many musicians and myself, composing the music.  You will want to do this early enough to give yourself ample time to prepare the performance aspects of the music.  Don’t compromise the recording by not giving yourself enough time to practice.  Often, in college, students spend an entire month or even a few months working on the same pieces.  You will want to give yourself that kind of time or more considering this recording will be around after many performances have come and gone.  If you have successfully given yourself ample practice time, use it wisely and do not procrastinate. You will also need to pick out the musicians you want to record with.  Notify them a couple of months or more in advance, so you can be positive of who is available and willing to do your record.  You will want committed musicians on your project, and letting them know far in advance will give them time to do that.  Most importantly, rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse.            

Beyond these specific musical preparations, you also want to think of a broader vision.  Knowing your direction or theme and what kind of statement you want to make, helps guide the creation process flow more smoothly.  This broad conceptual thinking will help you in determining the music, the musicians, and it will even aid in the mixing and mastering processes later on.  Goals are also set during this part of the planning process.  What do you want to accomplish with this album?  Are you looking to make money?   Are you making an artistic statement?  Setting specific goals will help you accomplish more and also help determine how you will proceed.            

Some practical preparation that needs  to be considered includes choosing a studio, choosing an engineer or engineers for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering, setting a time-line, and having a general idea of how you will use your time in the studio.  Deciding on a studio can be a tough decision.  You will want to consider the equipment they have available, the sound quality they are capable of producing, their price, and the convenience of their location.  Do your research and ask questions.  To find out more about the sound quality of a studio check out records that have been recorded at the studios you are considering.  Remember that not just a studio determines the quality of a recording.  Though the best equipment can make a big difference, in the hands of an incompetent engineer it can sound like a record made in a basement home-studio.  At the same time a great engineer could use average equipment and get great sounds.  Again, check out records made by specific engineers you are considering, and make sure you trust their work.  The recording process doesn’t end with recording, but extends into realms of editing, mixing, and mastering.  You will want to have an idea of how you will accomplish these tasks as well.  They make a big difference in the overall product.  Even the last step, mastering, can make or break a record. 

In order to accomplish each stage of the recording process when you want or need to, you will want to book each event at least a month or two in advance.  The busiest studios and engineers are booking months ahead.  If you wait on booking mixing, for example, you might be doing it a week or two later than you hoped, and a lot of similar little delays can really add up!  Finally, have a plan for your time in the studio.  Prepare a loose order of the pieces you will record, and have a good idea of whether you will want to do multiple takes right in a row or not, or if you will want to do any possible overdubs after all the tracks have been laid down or after each take as you go.  Having a plan like this will help you use your time effectively and efficiently.  You’ll probably be paying per hour and have some kind of time restraints, so effective time use is a must.  It will also give the other musicians confidence if there is a leader with a confident, yet not overbearing, attitude.  Practical preparations like these will help ensure that your entire recording experience is more relaxed and enjoyable.              

Be prepared financially.  Making an album can be expensive.  It can also be done relatively cheaply, but unless you have a record label, and it seems like fewer and fewer musicians do these days, then to get a good product you're going to have to pay.  You may have to pay for some or all of the following: musicians, copyright royalties for the pieces you decide to use, studio time, editing, mixing, mastering, and then there is everything beyond this including packaging, artwork, marketing, etc.  Contact everyone involved beforehand to see what kind of money you are looking at spending. Know what you're getting into, and make sure to do it in a way you can afford.               

Earlier I mentioned being flexible.  To illustrate the point I’ll share Chris Pottersomething from our recording experience.  We had prepared our music and had begun to rehearse.  We were shooting f
or a late July recording date, and we were counting on using the month before to continue rehearsing.  We had also decided we wanted to have Chris Potter as a guest artist on the album.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Chris Potter is one of the best jazz saxophonists alive, and he is consequently a very busy guy.  When I approached him about doing the record he let me know he could do it if it fit in his schedule.  Late July did not fit his schedule and late June did, so we decided to record a month earlier than we had originally planned. We started rehearsing more even though different band members were absent from various rehearsals.  We accommodated our compositions, and we made as much time as we could to fit in our personal practice and preparation.  When the recording date came, everything went smoothly and we had a great experience recording with a truly amazing musician.  It just shows that being flexible is important, sometimes necessary, and will be worth it in the end.     

The Process                            
Eventually, you will arrive in the studio, hopefully all prepared.  The first half an hour to an hour (and possibly longer at a less efficient studio), is devoted to setting the microphones in the right places, checking input levels, and setting up the mix you will hear in the headphones.  All three of these are very important to the end result, and two of these are very pertinent to you during the recording process itself.             

Microphone placement is vital in getting the best sound out of your instrument.  It's important that while the engineer sets up, that you play like you will be really playing during the rest of the day.   Unless you are a pianist, drummer, or similar instrumentalist, if the microphone is placed in a less than optimum position it will become easier for you to be further away or closer to the microphone than desired, and it is also possible that it will become easier for you to go off-microphone.  Off-microphone means that while you are playing you end up too far away from the microphone for it to pick up what you are playing.  Here are a couple of suggestions to further prevent going off-microphone.  First, practice playing with a microphone before you go to the studio, especially if you are prone to lots of movement.  Second, have your specific instrument volume loud enough in the headphones so that you recognize when you are straying from the microphone.  Many instrumentalist and even vocalists move a lot when they are performing, so they will want to pay attention and get this right from the beginning.            

The volume and reverb levels that are set in your headphones will play a large part in your ability to perform well throughout the recording session.  Pay close attention during the process of setting the levels and make sure that you can hear yourself well, and also listen and be sure that you don’t have too much reverb or any EQ that distracts you. Hearing yourself well, and in an honest manner, will help you play your best. Make sure you can also hear the other musicians well. You want to be able to hear each instrument distinctly. Adjust volumes, reverbs, and pans (how far to the left or right an instrument sounds in the headphones). Don’t hurt your ears, but don’t be afraid to crank the volume. It's hard to simulate the sound of playing right next to the other instrumentalists using headphones, so at least give yourself a fighting chance!            
As you set into actually recording the music you will probably want to warm-up or even rehearse a specific part of the music.  Record everything you do.  You never know what you might want to use in the end.  Much of the rest of the recording process is up to personal preference, but I do have some last suggestions.  Take time to listen back to what you have recorded.  A certain take might sound a lot better than what you thought, or there might be a mistake you want to catch and overdub while you are there at the studio.  Listening will help you use the rest of your time more effectively.  Lastly, listen to your engineer.  You are paying him or her to help you sound good, and if he has a suggestion it very well could be just what you need.  Depending on who you hired, they probably have a lot more experience in the recording studio than you do.  One of the best assets you can have in the studio is a great engineer.            

Recording can be an extremely rewarding experience, but the key is preparation.  Don’t leave your recording session up to fate.  Ensure that it will go well before you get there.  Something big or little will probably go wrong no matter what you do, but the better prepared you are, the more likely you will end up with a great sounding album.   One last suggestion: let the music come first!        

Coldplay Eat Your Heart Out!

These AMAZING elementary school kids perform their rendition of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida." Their talent and enthusiasm embody why we at TakeLessons love our jobs and why we really seek to inspire a generation through the power of music. Enjoy!

Top 10 parenting tips for successful piano lessons

We found this excellent, informative article originally written by Julie Lind on August 17, 9:52 AM for the Minneapolis Piano Lesson Examiner

Piano Lesson
Photo: istockphoto/robcruse

Here are my top ten parenting tips for successful piano lessons:

1. Find a good piano teacher.
Keep in mind that each child has different needs. For some children a
friendly piano teacher is the most important. For others a strict
teacher is best.

2. Invest in a piano.
You can not expect to get successful results from piano lessons if you
are not willing to provide a quality piano for your child to practice

3. Make practice time a priority. These days it is hard to find time to practice, but without practice there can be no progress.

4. Take away any distractions during practice time. When your child is practicing make sure they are not distracted by siblings, friends, cell phones, or televisions.

5. Check your child's assignment.
Most students will try to avoid practicing songs they don't like. It is
your job as a parent to make sure the student is practicing all of
their assigned songs. Also make sure your child is making all of the
corrections the teacher suggested at the prior lesson.

6. Help your child practice.
Many children don't know how to practice. Explain to your child that
practice means working slowly through songs until they are able to play
through the songs without mistakes.

7. Bring all of the lesson materials to the lesson.
Children will often "forget" a book if they don't want to play a song
for their piano teacher. Be sure you check to see that all of their
music, theory and assignment books are brought to each lesson.TeacherKidsPiano

8. Limit after-school activities.
Many parents make the mistake of over-scheduling their child. Piano
lessons are more than a half hour commitment each week. Students should
be committed to practicing at least a half-hour every day.

9. Keep the communication lines open with your piano teacher.
If there are any circumstances which are making piano lessons difficult
for your child, let your piano teacher know. Perhaps there is a divorce
or death in the family, or maybe your child dislikes their method book.
Surprisingly many children will not offer this type of information
during the lesson.

10. Expect to have good and bad times.
It is normal for a student to feel excited about piano one day, and
dread it the next. Try to work through the bad times by purchasing
piano pieces the student is passionate about such as popular, jazz or
Broadway tunes.

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(Why Do) You Wanna Learn To Play Guitar (pt.XVII)

Kurt Cobain

I got asked the question the other day about music that got me to think about the beliefs that I have about music and the future of the music I'll be making with the amount of knowledge that I have. 

"Where do you see your music taking you?"

This brings up numerous other questions and almost intrudes on the philosophy I have of music that I've kept personal for a long time.  Why do I play music?  Is it to start a band and become famous?  Is it to be on T.V.?  Do I wanna play huge concert venues to 1000's of fans?  Do I wanna set my guitar on fire and climactically smash all my gear?  Yeah, of course… and no at the same time…. but either way why does any of that reinforce what I've done and what I continue to do?  I've been teaching people and sharing my music with others since day one.  I've known for a long time (for me) that music was a long term deal.  Ya know, Kurt Cobain died the same time I was getting into music and the whole MTV image was something you were supposed to shy away from.  Darrell of Pantera passed a couple years ago. I've used my music as an outlet for frustration/expression with the same general hypocracies that most people have, and it always seemed to "cure" me.  To me, being able to hold a riff or hit a solo has always empowered me with a "this is what you're supposed to be doing" feeling.  So, where do I see my music taking me?

It's a really tough one to answer.  I can answer all the 20 questions that put my priorities in check when it comes to music and my habits are completely dedicated.  I don't think my outlook on music has changed much since I started.  I still crave the same things, maybe even more so now that I've had my doors opened up.  I still want the band… still desire a gig, and ultimately the goal should be to hit the largest audience possible with your best foot forward.  But haven't I already done that?  Didn't I write the songs/form the band/play the festivals/ record the cd's/ make the t-shirts/ book the bands/ network with the like minds already?  I'm thankful for everything, did I miss something?  Why do I still want more?

Because this is what I choose to do and this is the life I've created for myself. The pros outway the cons.  I see the endless possiblities of music and I've still got a long way to go before I'm done.  I hope to continue to inspire others to do the same and expand others minds to see how powerful music can really be.  It may very well be the way that I seek other friendships and relationships out of the deal rather than just end all be all on some stage in the middle of Eupope for example.  There's still a plan, and the plan is the answer to the end.  It's the big picture that hopefully continues to be asked, "Where do you see your music taking you?"


Jason Jason M

Gifted Education 101: Enrichment opportunities for your musical child

Here is an awesome article originally posted by Alina Adams from NY Gifted Education Examiner about the power of music education:  Philharmonic

When Farah Taslima’s parents immigrated from Bangladesh, they didn’t dream that their 12-year-old girl’s music would someday be performed by the New York Philharmonic. Even if they had, they never could have imagined it would happen in North Korea….

The 106 members of the Philharmonic returned Thursday from a historic visit to North Korea, which is locked in frosty negotiations with the United States over its nuclear weapons program. It was the biggest American delegation to visit the communist country since the Korean War.

The pinnacle of the trip was a concert broadcast to the world last Tuesday. And the next morning, four members of the orchestra and four North Korean musicians performed an octet by Felix Mendelssohn, with Taslima’s piece squeezed in at the end.

“It was a wild-card thing,” said Jon Deak, a Philharmonic double bass player who runs the orchestra’s teaching program for child composers….

She had originally written it for the entire Philharmonic two years ago, and it was played at one of the orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts at Lincoln Center.

But she scaled down the work for a smaller group of musicians – clarinet, violin, cello and double bass, including the Philharmonic’s top violinist, concertmaster Glenn Dicterow….

Farah, who attends a gifted children’s school at Manhattan’s M.S. 54, started composing as a third-grader at P.S. 199, where Deak – also a composer – introduced his Very Young Composers program sponsored by the orchestra.

For the musically gifted youngster more interested in jazz than classical music, the NY Gifted Examiner spoke to David O’Rourke, Artistic Director of the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra (JSYO), about opportunities available for boys and girls with his organization.



According to O’Rourke: Jsyo

At a time when
arts education programs in public schools continue to diminish, it’s
imperative that we ensure all school-aged children have access to a
quality education that includes music. Studies have shown that music
study improves children’s SAT scores, basic math and reading abilities,
self-esteem, empathy for various cultures, interpersonal communication
skills, self-expression, and the list goes on and on.

For the
eighth consecutive season, the Jazz Standard, the nation’s premier jazz
club, and JSYO, a breeding ground for NYC’s talented young musicians,
are providing numerous performance opportunities, priceless musical
education and insight from today’s top jazz professional musicians, as
well as collegiate auditions and scholarships for hundreds of children
between the ages of 11and 18,  all while motivating the next generation
of up-and-coming artists.

The vast majority of our JSYO
alumni pursue music in college, many testing out on several of their
first year courses due to their performance experience with us. Little
did I realize when we launched this program in 2002, that through music
I would find myself helping to prep kids for their college auditions,
helping place some of them in performing arts high schools, alongside
helping to develop prodigious young talent. We audition kids from La
Guardia High School, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the local community
and schools to identify students to participate in the program each
year. We see a trend developing where our musicians are coming to us at
an increasingly younger age while their level of playing is already
quite developed. Our youngest members are 11 years old!

addition to the kids’ private teachers and school band directors, the
JSYO provides these youngsters with the greatest of all teachers:
regular live performance. We launched JAZZ FOR KIDS, a weekly
performance at Jazz Standard that involves the JSYO playing for the
general public. JAZZ FOR KIDS offers our student musicians the
opportunity to play exciting new arrangements of big band classics such
as St. Louis Blues and Don’t’ Be That Way, Big Band charts such as Miles DavisSo What,
and jazz compositions by the likes of Duke Ellington, Cedar Walton, Wes
, and Charlie Parker. For the audience, which usually
consists of families and their impressionable children, JAZZ FOR KIDS
provides an opportunity to connect with the music in a lively
environment.  To learn more, visit


100 Best Online Archives for Music Majors

Amber Johnson, from, was kind enough to share this article with us.

Internet technology has been a bane to music companies. But the wide
range of available audio resources has made studying music easier than
ever. Online music archives host a variety of genres from countries
around the world. Here are the best online archives for music majors
pursuing their passion.

Popular Genres

Popular music shapes culture and often serves as a soundtrack for
current events. Check out these music archives for popular genres such
as rock and rap.

  1. Artist Direct: Free downloads and streaming music from the biggest and newest acts.
  2. Iceberg: A Canadian service offering international pop groups in a range of genres from R&B to techno.
  3. CMT: Focused on country music, this site has video, lyrics and more.
  4. Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music: With samples, equipment reviews and a library, this archive is great for anyone interested in techno or electronic music.
  5. Motor City Music Archives:
    Detroit has a long tradition of great music from gospel to punk rock.
    This archive is dedicated to Motor City music such as Motown and the
    White Stripes.
  6. Stoner Rock: Latest news
    and releases from the world of acid rock, this resource includes
    samples from up and coming bands in addition to established groups.
  7. Eternity Rock: This music community shares information and archives from varying genres.
  8. Gospel Music Archives: Songs, MP3s and sheet music for modern gospel tunes, this archive is sure to save your soul.
  9. Free Music Archive: A collection of songs from unsigned, unknown bands this archive is a must for indie fans.
  10. Promoting electronic and electroacoustic music, this archive regularly adds more top quality music every day.
  11. Cosmopolis: This music archive caters to fans with different tastes. Get music in nearly any genre from jazz to classical to pop.
  12. New Gibraltar: An encyclopedia of progressive rock, this archive provides streaming samples and downloads.
  13. Christian Music Archive: A solid site for Christian music fans, this archive is blessed with an easy to use interface.
  14. This collaborative project was started to source, digitize and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings.
  15. Hyperreal Music Archive:
    Hosting music representing a range of indie labels across a variety of
    genres, this archive offers amazing resources for musicians interested
    in techno.
  16. The Children’s Music Archive:
    Lyrics and sing-a-long suggestions from this site makes it particular
    useful to music majors thinking about a career as an elementary teacher.
  17. VGMusic: A kitschy little site specializing entirely in video game theme music this is a must for any geek.VanMorrison
  18. The Music Archive: This database provides detailed information on some of the popular acts in history such as Neil Young and Van Morrison.
  19. ASMA: A massive archive of sounds from the Atari system of video games, this site grows rapidly and now contains thousands of songs.
  20. The Indie Music Archive: An archive for out of publication indie music, many of the bands on this site are Canadian and have broken up.

Classical Music

Studies have shown listening to classical composers such Mozart and
Beethoven can boost brain power. Get smarter by checking out the best
online music articles.

  1. Classical Archives:
    One of the largest archives available on the web, this site contains
    hundreds of thousands of classical tracks from thousands of composers
    new and old.
  2. Classical Guitar Archives: This database for classical guitar is run by a master musician looking to share his craft with the world.
  3. NOM Classical: Music cataloged by specific instrument, this site hosts beautiful and traditional in classical music
  4. Bach Chorales: An archive specifically dedicated to the German Composer Johan Sebastian BachBach
  5. Arman’s Concert Hall: The thousands of piano works available on this site will drastically expand anyone’s classical repertoire.
  6. The Sweet Sounds of Classical Music:
    A collection of masterful symphonies from the earliest creations to the
    present day, this archive contains some of the world’s most beautiful
  7. A free Internet resource committed to guitarists and classical pieces, this archive has thousands of songs and video clips.
  8. Classical MP3s: Free classical MP3s and other music downloads, this site is a lot of fun for classical lovers.
  9. MusicWeb International:
    Over 100 of the greatest symphonies ever written performed by some of
    the greatest musicians alive today, this classical database offers
    reviews, audio files and, best of all, completely free.
  10. Classical MIDI with Words:
    Classical masterpieces aren’t all instrumentals, some of the best come
    with words. This MIDI archive of classical works with words is
    fantastic reference tool.
  11. A-M Classical: News and information relating to the classical community, this database provides quick access to favorites.
  12. Classical LP to MP3:
    This unique archive gives classical music lovers access to recordings
    from Dutch radio in the 1950s. These awesome recordings will delight
    any true fan.
  13. ELIXIR’S MIDI Page for Classical Guitars:
    A fantastic collection of songs for classical guitar players, this
    archive contains hundreds of tracks and links for aspiring professional
  14. eClassical: Crystal clear files are the standard for this classical archive that offers an easy search by composer, title or instrument.
  15. Aji’s Classical Music Palace: Get works from great composers, past and present, at this site for classical music aficionados.
  16. Tina Billet’s Keyboard Creations:
    These recordings of pieces from master composers were performed by a
    talented amateur musician based in England and placed into a convenient
  17. Classical MIDI Connection:
    MIDI music ranges from brilliant compositions to annoying beeping. This
    database of songs serves as a fantastic reference guide for an amazing
    number of classical works.
  18. Classical Guitar MIDI Archives: This site gives students a wonderful introduction to classical guitar by providing over 2400 songs from 100 composers.
  19. Classical Music Archives: A simple, no fuss interface, this site seeks to provide users with an amazing classical experience.

World and Regional Music

Countries, cultures and people are greatly influenced by music. Hear
what the world has to offer with these great music archives featuring
the best world and regional music.

  1. The Internet Chinese Music Archive: Featuring music from various periods of Chinese history, this archive includes modern tracks representing a new China.
  2. Global Music Archive:
    A fantastic resource provided by Vanderbilt University, this database
    of world music includes traditional and new songs from around the world.
  3. CaribPlanet: Checkout the amazingly varied genres produced from the Caribbean with this archive specializing in island music.
  4. Canadian Music Archives:
    This resource provided by the Canadian government preserves the musical
    history of the great nation to the north. Search this database of
    Canadian musicians and learn about the culture of Canada.
  5. Hawaiian Hula Archive: This archive ensures the continued perseverance of Hawaiian culture contains hula tracks perfect for parties or study.WorldMusic
  6. Mendocino County Public Broadcasting Archive: An archive of radio music from the Mendocino coast of northern California, this site contains an eclectic mix of genres.
  7. Asobi Music Gallery: A collection of orchestral works and piano duets, this gallery of well-performed music is worth checking out.
  8. The Digital Music Archive: An
    archive of music and composers this site has thousands of compositions
    for known greats and modern masters around the world.
  9. World Music Central: A gateway to world music, this site has thousands of artists and albums.
  10. FolkStream: A database for Australian folk songs, this site offers traditional and modern music.
  11. BBC World Music:
    A complete online archive for world music, the BBC provides an amazing
    service for students looking to expand their musical tastes.
  12. Wisconsin Music Archive:
    Wisconsin has a surprisingly rich musical history the University of
    Wisconsin at Madison stores with a fantastic archive for preserving
    songs from the cheese state.
  13. NPR: This resource for world music includes songs from every part of the globe provided by American public radio.
  14. RootsWorld: An archive of African music that reveals the wide variety of genres from one of the least understood continents.
  15. New England Music Archive: The music of New England has played an important role throughout American history, this site is a great site for studying

Historical Music

Music is a distinctive feature of any historical period. These archives include music from specific important eras of history.

  1. Folk Music Archives: Focusing on American folk music, this archives stores the creative contributions of common people.
  2. The Internet Renaissance Band: Performing works from the Renaissance period, this site givers users a taste of a more enchanted time.
  3. Ceolas: A Celtic
    music archive providing the sweet tones of Scotland and Ireland, this
    database is great for anyone looking to explore cultural heritage.TheCorrs
  4. Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America:
    A collection of old folk music from the history of English speaking
    countries, this archive provides artist biographies, genre history and
    other information.
  5. Acadia Early Music: Sounds from the swamp, this archive gives music students access to songs from old Louisiana.
  6. Folk Music: This archive of folk music is geared toward teaching students how to play old American classics.
  7. Tulsa Music Archive: This site aims to preserve the musical heritage of artists from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  8. The Jewish Theological Music Archive: A collection of music representing the Jewish tradition, this site connects students with a rich cultural heritage.
  9. Sarasota Music Archive:
    A public resource from the good people of Sarasota, this site preserves
    the musical tradition of hard working individuals and their ancestors.
  10. The Greatest Music Collection:
    Over 3 million recordings starting from the earliest Thomas Edison
    production, this site is an impressive resource for any music student
    covering any and all genre throughout history.

Sheet Music

Reading music notation is one of the most important music skills
music majors learn. Here are the best sites for getting sheet music for
a range of instruments.

  1. Levy Collection of Sheet Music: This resource is provided by John Hopkins University and is one of the most impressive collections of sheet music on the web.
  2. Sheet Music Archive: Providing over 100,000 sheets of music, this archive is a must for musicians looking for obscure pieces to play.
  3. Musica Viva: A collection of sheet music for nearly any instrument, this archive of sheet music also caters to varying skill levels.
  4. Jumbo Jimbo’s Song Lyrics Archive: Tabs and sheet music for guitar players, this archive includes music representing all genres and tastes.Sheet Music
  5. Tabby Cat Music Archive: Tabs for musicians interested in country, this database is a collection tailor made for country lovers.
  6. Ward Irish Music Archive: A public collection of Irish sheet music, this database one of the largest emerald archives in the United States.
  7. Tin Whistler: A sheet music archive for penny and slide whistles, this site is a must for anyone interested in unique instruments.
  8. Fedor Vrtacnik: This database is maintained by a composer and offers pop arrangements and classical scores.
  9. A free sheet music resource, this sites caters to any instrument or skill level.
  10. Free sheet music and scores, this site provides pieces for a number of instruments from guitar to the voice and French horn.
  11. Free Sheet Music: Free classical scores and sheet music, this database includes works from Beethoven and Bach.
  12. Eerland: This site contains definitive collections of sheet music from master German composers.
  13. Great Scores: Providing printable sheet music for a vast array of instruments, this site is great for students just learning the basics.
  14. Keystave: A leading classical music site, this resource has sheet music for a variety of instruments.
  15. Lysator: Modern renditions of classical works, this offers 17th and 18th century masterpieces.
  16. Original sheet music for any instrument, this site contains hundreds of songs and composers.
  17. Musicroom: Everything a musician needs for their instrument, this site has sheet music, samples and links to online stores.
  18. MusicaStorica: Specializing in spreading music knowledge, this site is great for locating hard to find pieces.
  19. Notation Machine: This unbelievable archive of sheet music also lets users upload their own work and generates sheet music for others to play.
  20. Archive of Popular American Music: This site is generously provided by UCLA and hosts digital sheet music from some of the greatest 20th century composers.
  21. The Gospel Music Archive: An extensive catalogue of gospel music especially for the guitar.

Lyric Archives

Crafting song lyrics can be frustrating for sonically gifted
students. Head over to these lyric archives for idea inspiration from
indie gods and popular acts.

  1. The Lyric Archive: Lyrics for popular albums from across genres and generations.
  2. Ohhla: The original hip-hop lyric archive, this site is comprehensive including all rap genres.
  3. My Lyric Archive: User submitted lyrics makes this site excellent for popular lyrics and well-known classics.
  4. An extensive archive of song lyrics from popular musicians and indie greats.
  5. Risa Song Lyrics Archive: Collected from user submissions and other Internet sites, this archive of song lyrics covers all genres and eras.
  6. One of the
    largest song lyrics destination on the Internet, providing access to
    more than 200,000 lyrics from around 15,000 artists/bands for over ten
  7. The Archive of Misheard Lyrics:
    This archive contains popular lyrics that are often hilariously
    misunderstood. Check out the mistakes made on popular classics such,
    “Mrs. Robinson.”
  8. Ireland First!:
    An Irish song lyric archive, this collection of 391 Irish songs range
    in emotion from political to funny, some sad, some happy, all worth
    listening to.
  9. MusicMoz: A free song lyrics search engine with offering searches based on artist, song name or album.
  10. The SKA Lyric Archive: This resource is dedicated to SKA music and is a great site for passionate fans.
  11. The largest
    Christian lyrics site on the internet, this archive has thousands of
    lyrics to hymns, worship songs, praise choruses and a lot more.
  12. Lyrics Search Engine: A completely searchable database of lyrics including popular hits, classics and indie tracks.
  13. A-Z Lyrics Universe: A pretty comprehensive database of song lyrics that grows daily as a result of an active network of users.
  14. MP3 Lyrics: Large lyrics
    website with over 150000 lyrics from 7000 artists. The site features a
    search engine that lets users search by artist, song title and album.
  15. Lyrics Point: Find the words to all your favorite songs by searching thousands of free music lyrics from popular singers and artists.