Be a Musician, Not a Drummer – Part 1

drumsetIf you want to learn how to drum, finding a great teacher or mentor is key – someone who can offer you advice, tips and encouragement as you work on your skills. Read on as Brooklyn, NY drum teacher Dylan M. shares the advice that influenced him early on…


It was during the CMJ music festival of 2010 in New York City when I got the most valuable piece of advice of my entire career to date, and it came from one of my favorite drummers, Jojo Mayer, on a night that almost didn’t happen. I got called to play a last-minute, late-night gig at a venue down off of Bowery St., after which I was packing up and noticed a familiar face walking toward the stairwell. Taking no chances, I dropped my gear and ran toward this mystery figure. Sure enough, it was Jojo, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. Knowing that I was probably being pretty annoying, and he probably had somewhere to be, I simply asked, “If you could just give me one piece of advice, what would it be?”

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Music To Money [Infographic]

Forget the “starving artist” cliche – with the right skills and network, it is possible to make money in the music industry! Whether you want to write your own compositions or get the party started as a DJ, there are tons of career options to consider. A strong music background can help, no matter what your preferred instrument is – so signing up with a private instructor for guitar, piano or singing lessons, for example, can give you a great head start.

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Learn Piano With the Help of Quincy Jones

electric keyboardThe tech world is full of innovative products, apps and games designed to help the amateur musician improve their craft and make life a little easier for professionals. These days, you can record studio-quality tracks, learn how to DJ and more, using your Smartphone, tablet or home computer.

When Guitar Hero was released in 2005, many critics bashed the game for its ineffectiveness to actually teach music; after all, how much can you learn from a fake instrument with 5 plastic buttons to emulate guitar strings? To combat this, next came more innovative software that hooked up to real instruments, like the gTar and Rocksmith. Next up? Aspiring piano players might want to check out Playground Sessions – a new project from Chris Vance, recently backed by 27-time Grammy award-winner Quincy Jones.

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5 Awesome Up-and-Coming Female Musicians

Lake Street DiveHad enough of Kesha and Rihanna yet? Great vocalists know the power of listening to every genre – and sometimes that means turning off the radio and doing some exploring. Mainstream music culture may have strayed a bit from the sultry sounds of singers like Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, but it doesn’t mean the days of blues and jazz powerhouses are gone!

To help you out, Mother Jones recently compiled a list of 5 female vocalists to watch in 2013, and we’ve had them on repeat ever since. Here are a few of the singers the article features:

Rachael Price (of Lake Street Dive):

Australian by birth, Nashvillian by pedigree, Price earned a degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and performed with T.S. Monk Sextet at jazz festivals around the world. After hearing a recording of Price in 2003, actress/singer Kathryn Grayson deemed her “the best young voice I’ve heard, period. No one around her can even touch her voice and style.” While Price mostly stuck to standards in her early career, she’s now departed from strictly jazz as a member of the indie group Lake Street Dive.

Price’s voice soars with clarity and classically trained precision. She can make the most of a Motown cover but also glides easily into blues, country, and pop. The video above, featuring Price belting out a relaxed cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” aptly showcases her glamor and command. But also make sure to listen to the band’s original song “Bad Self Portraits” (below), which has Price sounding like a young Bonnie Raitt. Bonus: Her band mate Bridget Kearney rocks it on the upright bass and has a lovely voice, too. Lake Street Dive just finished touring with Yonder Mountain String Band, will soon be touring with Josh Ritter, and has a date this week opening for Mavis Staples in Iowa.

Aluna Francis (of AlunaGeorge):

AlunaGeorge, featuring chanteuse Aluna Francis, is quickly becoming one of the breakout bands of 2013. Consisting of Francis and producer George Reid, the electronica group combines intimate vocals with synthesized pop, house, R&B, and dub-step. Though already pretty big in the UK—the duo nabbed second in BBC’s Sound of 2013 contest—Francis’ voice will likely get way more air time in the US in the coming year.

Francis, who is half Indian and half Jamaican, worked as a reflexologist and previously sang for the band My Toys Like Me. She first met Reid when he remixed one of My Toys’ songs, and they paired up and released their first commercial single (“Your Drums, Your Love,” above) late last year. Though minimalist and futuristic, AlunaGeorge’s songs are made human by Francis’ velvety touch. She imbues the pulsing drive of a late-night dance tune with soulful emotion, and her high-pitched timbre balances well with Reid’s beats, to a mysterious but alluring effect. “You can’t say I’m going nowhere, when you don’t know where I am from,” she croons. On the contrary, I’d say she’s barreling straight toward stardom. AlunaGeorge’s debut album, Body Music, is due out in June.

Luz Elena Mendoza (of Y La Bamba):

Portland-based band Y La Bamba draws from Mexican folk songs and mariachi singers as influence for its eerie tunes. Emerging in 2003, the band has enjoyed limited success in indie circuits, but never much widespread attention, apart from becoming one of NPR Music’s darlings. That could change this year, as they just wrapped up an East Coast tour alongside the Grammy-nominated Lumineers.

Lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza has a distinctive and charged voice, filled with nostalgia and mourning. She often manages to sound both completely in control and completely unhinged. Y La Bamba’s recent EP, Oh February, showcases her chilling vocals, and also demonstrates how she continues to evolve and experiment. While she may never be an American Idol-type star, she’s an original and wise artist who will continue to turn heads at her live shows.

Continue reading the article here.

Readers, what do you think? What new artists have inspired you recently? Leave a comment below!

Photo by Jay Adan

From Guitar to Mandolin and More: How Easy is it to Switch Instruments?

mandolinIt’s an awesome feeling when you start making music! And after you’ve mastered a few songs, you might even have the itch to start branching out. Here, Doswell, VA teacher Jesse S. answers the question: Once you learn guitar, how easy is it to switch to bass, mandolin, or other stringed instruments?


This is a question that I hear frequently in guitar lessons.  Most students who start playing guitar will eventually become interested in trying to learn another stringed instrument; but does learning the guitar really make it easier for a student to transition to another instrument?  In my experience, it certainly does.

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When is the Right Time to Start Music Lessons?

guitar lessonMusic lessons really are for all ages! Don’t believe us? Think you’re too old to learn? Read on as Dayton, OH teacher Mike H. explains why this is far from the case!




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Violin Video: Introduction to Phrasing

If you’re looking for some new YouTube videos to supplement your violin lessons, check out the Fiddlerman! We love his website and YouTube channel, which is full of tutorial videos, from strings advice to jamming on the violin and everything in between.

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Overcoming Drummer Stereotypes – Part 2

If you missed Austin drum teacher Matt D. article last week about how to overcome drummer stereotypes, check it out here. Now, read on for part two of the article…





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Piano Tips: How to Stop Dreading That Certain Measure

pianoWe’ve all been there. You’re cruising along in your piano music, when all of a sudden, you glance ahead and remember that a particularly difficult measure, phrase or line is coming up. Don’t stress! Read on as Philadelphia piano teacher Edward L. offers some tips for success…
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How to Sing Harmony – Top 3 Tips

how to sing harmonyFor many singing styles, learning how to sing harmony lines adds an amazing sense of depth and spice. But if you’re used to singing the melody, sometimes recognizing – and sustaining – the harmonies can take some practice. Here are a few tips to help you improve your technique:

1. Learn and memorize intervals.
Training your ear to quickly recognize intervals is a great first step to learning how to sing harmony. An easy way to do this is to think about specific songs that represent each interval; for example, the first two notes of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is an octave jump. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” presents a perfect fifth. And “Amazing Grace” is a perfect fourth. Take some time to run through each interval until you can identify each.

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