Music Lessons for Kids: How Involved Should Parents Be?

saxophoneParents are usually encouraged to take an active part in their child’s education in school, but what about in private music lessons? Read on as New Jersey music teacher Blythe Q. tackles the question…


So, you’ve signed your child up for music lessons. She’s shown a lot of interest in playing over the past couple months and you have that lovely piano from your mother-in-law. You’re both excited to get started! But after a few lessons, she’s starting to lose interest. You heard her playing the piano pretty often at the beginning, but now she never touches it. What went wrong? She was so enthusiastic to start with and now she dreads her lessons.

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Violin Tips: Avoiding the Bouncing Bow

violinAs you’re learning how to play the violin, the art of holding and placing your bow just right is important to master. There are a lot of details that go into proper bowing technique, and each has the potential to make or break your sound.

For many beginners, learning to control the bow so it doesn’t bounce against the strings is the first step. The dreaded  “bouncing bow” is a common issue, especially if you’re trying to play softly, or if you’re nervous. Here are some possible reasons for a bouncing bow, and how to fix it:

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Sneak Peek: TakeLessons Online Workshops

Want to learn something new, or brush up on some of your music knowledge? TakeLessons is excited to announce our free Online Music Workshops series, open to students of all ages and levels! And the best part? No need to travel anywhere – you can sit in on the class from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you want to learn the  Basics of Guitar or Music Theory, classics or Top 40s, we’ve got several workshops that can supplement your private music lessons with us. Each 30-minute class is taught by one of our in-house music experts using MeetingBurner technology, so you can see and hear the instructor, as well as interact and ask questions. With the group setting, you can feel free to speak up and bounce ideas off other attendees – or sit back and simply watch! It’s an easy way to learn something new, and there are no obligations or commitments. We just want you to have fun! Check out the video below for a preview…

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Videos We Love: Overly-Enthusiastic Drummer

Music has an infectious power. And for those of us who have experience playing or performing, the feeling is sometimes hard to describe. Just think about your first recital or gig – did you feel that bundle of nerves before you stepped on stage? Did you feel the audience’s energy?

You can always tell which performers are truly passionate about their instrument, even from a young age (did you see the YouTube clip we featured a few weeks ago with that talented 4-year-old?). And at the other end of the spectrum, we have musicians like 72-year-old Kwon Soon Keun, whose expressions alone might inspire you to grab your drumsticks. Enjoy!

, TakeLessons staff member and blogger

 

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Why You Don’t Need to Play the Drums like Travis Barker
Booked the Gig? Here’s How to Prepare
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Test Your Knowledge! 6 Surprising Piano Facts

pianoHow much do you really know about the piano? While it may seem like an easy instrument to play (after all, you don’t have to worry about things like embouchure or tuning it every time), it’s actually very complex! Here are just a few interesting piano facts to test your knowledge…

 

– While a piano may seem like a simple instrument to operate, it has more than 12,000 parts, 10,000 of which are moving. The extensive number of moving parts is one reason why tuning a piano can be such an involved process.

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shy singer's survival guide

The Shy Singer’s Survival Guide

shyGetting up on stage can be scary for any new musician, but the feelings of anxiety can be even more intense if you consider yourself on the quiet side. So how can a shy singer survive? Before you relegate yourself to the audience for the rest of your life, know that many timid musicians have made a name for themselves – Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and Carly Simon, to name a few, have all dealt with anxiety or shyness off-stage. The good news is that there are ways to train yourself to become a confident, energetic performer even when you’re battling nerves. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your spirits up:

1) Focus on positive feedback. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we’re doing awesome. We all have different reasons for feeling timid, and fear of rejection or critique is a common one. So when you receive praise from others, don’t brush it off. Remember their feedback, and remind yourself of it before your next performance. Working with a private voice teacher is also important; find an instructor who balances helpful feedback with positive praise, and be honest with him or her about your fears. You and your teacher can work together to find exercises for stage presence and stage fright that help calm your nerves.

2. Amp up your experience. You spend hours, weeks, months preparing a piece before it sounds perfect, right? Same idea can be applied to performing. The first time you get up in front of a crowd may feel overwhelming, but the more you do it, the easier it will become over time – trust us! (Not sure where to start? Check out this list of low-key performance opportunities to build stage confidence.) Of course, this doesn’t mean rushing into performing, either. If you’re simply not ready to take it to that step, don’t force yourself. In the meantime, try joining a choir to get experience without the center-stage pressure.

3. Don’t forget the basics. When you’re shaking in your boots, it can be all too easy to completely forget the basics, such as proper breathing and good posture. For some singers, it can help to write down simple things to remember, and review the list before going on stage. Take a deep breath, feel free to take a few moments after you’ve situated yourself on stage (no need to rush!), and fill your mind with positive thoughts. Above all, don’t forget why you enjoy singing. Sharing your passion with an audience can be a very rewarding experience – and remembering that passion can often mask any signs of nerves.

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DIY: How to Make a Guitar Pick

Tired of losing your guitar picks all the time? Why not add to your collection, and learn how to make a guitar pick out of everyday materials? It’s easier than you might think! Check out this great tutorial from Hard-Guitar.com below, and start getting creative!

, TakeLessons staff member and blogger

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

You might also like…
Video: Understanding Guitar Power Chords
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The Real Secret to Effective Practicing

music practiceBored with your practice routine? Remember – when it comes to practicing, there are no hard and fast rules. So mix it up, keep if fresh and have some fun! With these great tips from Burbank, CA teacher Victoria G., you’ll be looking forward to practicing instead of dreading it…


To be encouraged to practice, every musician has heard countless catchy phrases, like “Practice makes Perfect.” Often this involves hours of repetition, drills, discipline and sometimes complaining. But practicing doesn’t have to be a chore and, in fact, it should be the highlight of making music!

Perhaps the hardest part of practicing is that many musicians, including myself, become so wrapped up in technical matters or how we sound, that we forget why we are even making music. Without emotion or joy, music becomes just black and white dots on paper, and then no wonder practicing seems dull.

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The Science Behind the Strings

violinEver wondered what makes your violin strings produce that beautiful tone? When you really think about it, it’s pretty amazing to consider how you can create music from just the friction on a string. Understanding the science behind your violin’s pitch, frequency and resonance can help you fully understand what’s going on when you play; we recently came across a great collection of videos and explanations that worth the read for that very reason. The article is featured over on Amanda Wall’s blog, and the videos are really what makes it interesting – don’t miss the super-slow-motion clip of a string’s motion as the bow glides across it!

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Preparing for a Drum Audition: Cruise Ship Musician Gig

drumsA few weeks ago we discussed how to prepare for a gig, but what if you’re stuck on the very first step of getting through the audition? Check out this expert advice from DC-area drum teacher Andrew T., who has experience working as a musician for Princess Cruises:

 

As musicians, most of our gigs stem from informal auditions, which are typically very loose and relaxed. But what happens when you are asked to audition formally for a gig with a large corporation? From 2007 to 2009 I worked as a cruise ship show-band drummer and I am often asked by other drummers how to prepare for this type of audition. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

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