TakeLessons Spooky Halloween Playlist

Whether you’re hosting a haunted house party or handing out candy, the TakeLessons Halloween Playlist is sure to get you in the Halloween spirit. We picked out some great kid friendly classics, plus tunes for the grown  ups to enjoy from the Rolling Stones to She & Him, Oingo Boingo and more. Subscribe to our playlist, turn it up, and get spooky!

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Using Colors to Understand Breathing and Technique

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Understanding the connection between proper breathing and great singing is essential to your success. But it can also seem a bit silly to re-learn something you’ve been doing your entire life! Here, Pittsburgh teacher Jen V. shares how she explains the technique to her students…

 

Have you ever thought about what happens in a voice lesson? The preconceived notion is a room filled with musty old books, a well-worn grand piano and a 90-year-old woman who smells of Aquanet and flecks of Poligrip. You walk into your lesson and are welcomed with a hearty handshake and are instructed to take a seat on the rustic piano bench to begin your scales. This version of a musical education might suffice for some people and for all intents and purposes, it works just fine. However, sometimes what gets forgotten is that particular scenario can often send students running for their lives for fear of Mozart and vocal arpeggios.

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Don’t Forget to Celebrate National Book Month!

national book monthOctober is coming to a close, but it’s not too late to celebrate National Book Month (and to get warmed up for National Novel Writing Month in November). Here at the TakeLessons HQ, we’ve been sharing some of our favorite books from childhood to reconnect with the excitement and joy of getting lost in a good book. There’s something about these books that speak to us and remind us why reading is so important in the first place.  Read more

Why Do Kids Quit Hobbies?

why do kids quit hobbiesChildhood is a magical time of learning, growing, trying new things, and having fun! However, many parents feel their kids change too much, going through many phases of different hobbies. If your child wants to take dance lessons one week and karate the next, how can you best support your child’s growth? Read more

Julie’s Journey: Lesson 10

It’s amazing how much progress you can make toward your goals in just a few short months! We’ve been following new piano student Julie since her very first lesson with Jordan M. When she started taking lessons in June, she was nervous, having never played a note before.

Now Julie is playing songs on the piano, and, just as important, having fun! Check out the video below to see how far she’s come:

 

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Videos We Love: Why Music Matters

Happy Friday! Are you ready for some short, sweet animations about music history that are sure to kindle your inspiration? You’re in luck, here comes “Why Music Matters”, a great video series on the lives and work of classic artists ranging from Louis Armstrong and the Beatles to Sigur Ros. Check them out and share why music matters to you! Read more

Behind the Scenes at X-Factor With Vocal Coach Stevie B.

photoDid you catch The X-Factor last night? There’s definitely a lot of talent on the show this season! Among this talent is power pop trio Girls United, who earned a coveted spot in the Top 16 last night.

But behind every great performer is also a great teacher, coach, or mentor. And in this case, the girls can credit Los Angeles-area teacher Stevie B., who has been working with the group since the beginning.

We recently caught up with Stevie to get the low-down on the behind-the-scenes action, the role of a vocal coach, and more. Here’s what we learned…

What has been your involvement with Girls United?
I’m involved with everything live. As their vocal coach, I’ve worked with them on vocal development and artist development. For live shows like the X-Factor, I’m working with them on their live vocals specifically, and also developing their arrangements.

What’s it like behind the scenes at X-Factor?
It’s pretty chaotic, and you have to be prepared to wait around a lot! Thousands and thousands of people show up to audition in each city. It’s also in front of a huge audience; the girls went from doing small gigs to performing in front of almost 8,000, so it’s pretty intense. You can also really feel the emotions and the intensity of the other performers backstage. A lot of these singers are coming from parts of the country where this is their only shot, as opposed to coming from Los Angeles or another big city where there may be more opportunities.

What exactly is  a vocal coach?
In vocal work, there are generally three categories: vocal teachers, vocal coaches, and vocal producers. But with me, I’m all three at once. To me, the most important thing is not doing the exercises, but how you perform. No matter how talented you are a singer, it can be a completely different feeling being in front of an audience. Many singers have trouble with this, so I work on getting you to a place where you can deliver in front of people. And it’s usually more of a mental thing, too – I’ve always said that singing is 70% mental and 30% vocal skills!

How can a student be sure they’re working with the right coach or teacher?
You should notice improvements right away if you’re working with the right person – not huge leaps and bounds, but noticeable results.

One of the best ways to see if you’re improving is to record yourself. I tell all my students to record themselves singing whatever song they’re working on, and then sit down with the lyrics sheets and make notes that have to do with the fundamentals, like where your energy dips or your pitch is off. Then sing it through a few more times while looking at your notes, and then rerecord yourself. If you continue doing this, and you’re practicing consistently, you’ll see the improvements at the end of the week!

What’s next for the group? Tune into the X-Factor on Fox, or follow Girls United on Twitter or Instagram. They also recently released their first music video, a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Pink Champagne” – check it out here!

StevieBStevie B. teaches singing, songwriting, and music performance in the greater Los Angeles area. His specialties include mainstream genres (pop, country, etc.), live performance, and recording studio development. Check out Stevie’s TakeLessons profile to learn more and book lessons! Or, search for vocal coaches near you here.