Would You Buy a Used MP3?

ReDigiI love the thrill of a good used record store run. Flipping through crates of CDs and old vinyl to find hidden gems is like going on a musical archaeological dig. Although I tend to buy more music online these days for convenience, I will always love the surprise finds that come from visiting a used record store. From coveted albums to hilarious oddities, used record stores hold a special place in my heart. But when I heard on NPR that a company called ReDigi can help you buy and sell used MP3s online, I had to learn more.

ReDigi’s business model is currently the subject of copyright law debate. The company buys old MP3s, which shoppers can search through and purchase. They claim that their service does not violate any copyright law because their technology ensures that users who sell MP3s are not harboring any more copies of the file on any Internet-connected devices. ReDigi states that their service does not violate copyright law due to something called “first sale” doctrine. Basically, any copyrighted material that you buy can be resold or given away after you’ve purchased it, without the permission of the copyright holder.

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Teacher Spotlight: From Studio to MTV Shout-outs

Louie D.Many new musicians dream about recording in a studio, signing with a record label, and creating a loyal fanbase. For Los Angeles music teacher Louie D., that dream became reality with his band, holychild. In fact, their music video for “Best Friends” was recently featured on MTV’s Buzzworthy Blog. How did they get to where they are now? Here’s our exclusive interview with Louie…

1) How did your band get started?
Liz (the singer of holychild) and I met in college at the George Washington University in Washington DC, and started writing songs/jamming together informally at first. holychild initially started as my senior thesis project for my jazz studies degree, of which at some point while we were recording our songs in the studio in DC, we realized that it was something worth pursuing after college.

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Tuning In To Twitter’s New Music App, #music

After weeks of buzz as celebrities and VIPs test-drove Twitter‘s new music app, #music, the platform has finally been released to the public, available for iPhone and iPad. #music is designed to help tech-savvy music fans discover new music. The app also promises to turn Twitter into a powerful tool for artists to reach even more new fans than before.

Does #music live up to the hype? Read on to learn more about how the app works and what it might mean for the future of music discovery online. Read more

3 Websites Indie Bands Need to Know

It’s no secret that the Internet has made a huge impact on the music industry. Up-and-coming bands used to dream that being signed to a major label would be their ticket to stardom. Now, musicians work to get more Twitter followers and pray that their next video will go viral. Although it’s easier now for artists to have direct access to their fans, it’s harder for musicians to independently manage things record labels would have provided in the past, such as paying for studio time or handling music distribution. Luckily, there are sites popping up to help indie bands directly appeal to their fans and make money doing what they love. Here are 3 great sites that musicians need to know about! Read more

The Value of Making Mistakes

mistakes in musicMost artists lean toward perfection. Every note, technique, and performance need to be just right. But it’s important to realize there is value in making mistakes, too! Read on as New York guitar teacher Chris K. explains…



Face it, we’re human – tainted, prone to error.  Yet we thrive in spite of – sometimes because of – our flaws, proving that the pursuit of unattainable, platonic “perfection” is perhaps a fruitless endeavor.  As musicians, we grapple with this every day we practice or evaluate a performance.  Too often we dwell on “getting it right” as opposed to “making music.”  This is a hindering mindset, for good musicianship involves more than merely stringing the correct notes together; it requires a complete acknowledgment of imperfection and the courage to play on anyway.  That’s tough.

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6 Tips for Singing and Playing the Piano at the Same Time

singing and piano

Artists like Billy Joel and Elton John may make it look effortless, but singing and playing the piano at the same time takes time and practice to truly master! Understandably, it’s difficult because you’re multitasking by “playing” two instruments simultaneously – your voice and the piano. It’s easy to lose concentration on one, while the other goes a little off; if you focus on your voice, you might mess up the timing with your fingers, and should you pay too much attention to the piano keys, you could find yourself mumbling along to the song. Getting this skill right will take plenty of practice, so we’ve put together a few singing tips to help you gain independence from your hands and sing excellently, too.

To sing and play the piano at the same time, you will need to focus on:

  • Singing at the correct pitch
  • Maintaining both key and singing rhythm
  • Assigning the correct word or syllable to a specific piano note
  • Keeping the song’s timing and synchronized rhythm

This may collectively sound like an impossible task, but with the right approach, you’ll get there with time.

1) Start with the Correct Posture
Having correct posture is one of the key singing tips to note. Good posture translates to good breathing, and results in a better sound. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer sitting or standing – either is fine as long as you maintain flexibility in your spine. You may be tempted to bend forward as you play the piano, but straightening up not only looks better, it helps your voice and your breathing technique.

2) Position Your Mic Just Right
The way you position your mic will affect your posture and your breathing technique, so make sure that you don’t need to lean forward too far. Your mic should also be placed at the correct height to encourage you to straighten your spine.

3) Sing and Play Separately at First
During your preparation, try focusing your attention on one specific skill at a time. Start by singing a cappella and then work your way to singing along with a pre-recorded piano track. You can then try playing few simple chords while you focus on your singing technique. Then, switch the focus to the piano, while singing quietly. Keep at it until you’re feeling confident with the keys, and then slowly start to combine the two.

4) Draw Power From Your Lower Body
Make sure that you’re not tightening your shoulders and neck to draw singing power from them. You should instead center your control and energy at your pelvic floor – this way, even if you’re sitting or standing, you’ll be able to sing with proper breathing and open throat technique. If you prefer being seated, one quick singing tip is to sit on the edge of your seat and press yourself down against it. If you’re more comfortable standing, your legs should be shoulder-width apart as you draw power from your feet.

5) Play With Light Fingers
This sounds simple, but playing lightly with your fingers will help reduce tension and the chance of you throwing yourself off. Keep your touch light and wrists flexible. This will allow your entire body to be more open.

6) Practice Regularly
You’ll need to be consistent in your practice in order to master this skill. It’s recommended that you practice at least half an hour every day, and if possible, record your sessions to track your improvements over time. You should notice a difference in your ability within a month or so.

Have fun with your newfound skill!

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5 Must-Read Tips for Your First Music Lesson

If you’re taking music lessons for the first time, you’ll quickly find out there is so much more to learn than just the notes on the staff. As a Student Support Counselor at TakeLessons, I chat with new music students all the time. From my conversations, I’ve found that the students who progress the most right off the bat tend to be students who carefully prepared for their lessons before they even started. What are these savvy students doing to ensure that everything goes smoothly? Read on to find out the 5 things you can do to get the most out of your first music lesson… Read more

Student Spotlight – April 19, 2013

Kids, it’s time to unplug your Xbox and break out your guitar! These days, YouTube is loaded with amazingly talented kids – and we have several right here in the TakeLessons community, as well! Check out some of our rising stars in this video:

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TakeLessons in the Community: Song of the Butterfly

Music has a special power to bring people together and to change the world. At TakeLessons, we are all very passionate about music and about making a difference in the world. When we heard that a local 11-year-old girl named Moriah had organized a concert to benefit homeless children here in San Diego, we knew that we had to get involved and sponsor her efforts! Moriah and her Girl Scout Troop organized a wonderful benefit concert called “Song of the Butterfly” on Saturday, April 13 to fund a music program for kids at the Monarch School. The students at the Monarch School are kids whose families have been impacted by homelessness. The school does not currently have a music program, but Moriah is going to change that! Read more

How Long Does it Take to Learn Piano Songs?

how long does it take to learn pianoIt’s easy to feel stressed when you pick up a new piece of music. Where do you start? What should you do if you get stuck? And how long will this take? Read on as Winnetkta, CA piano teacher Anthony B. shares his advice…



Everyone has a repertoire of songs that they practice or play often; but what happens if you don’t have one, or better yet want to expand it? When learning a song on the piano, the biggest struggle resides in choosing a piece of music you’d like to learn, finding the route to go about purchasing the sheet music or locating the book it is found in. Once settled, and you have the music in front of you, there is a pressing question on your mind: How long will it take to learn this?
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