Electric Guitar Accessories: What’s in Your Gig Bag?

gig bag

Got the gig? Great! Now… what should you bring? Read on to learn about the electric guitar accessories that Charleston, SC teacher Christopher A. recommends stowing in your gig bag…

As you get into playing guitar, opportunities may arise to showcase your talents in a live setting. Regardless of the performance location, be it a bar, coffeehouse, or your high school gymnasium, there are a few essentials you should carry with you in your gig bag or guitar case. Making a list of items you need for the gig allows you to double check that everything makes it into your car, so you don’t arrive missing a key piece of gear, like your instrument cable or microphone. Here are a few staples that most working musicians I know carry to every gig:

Extra Strings
It’s always great to be prepared in case a string breaks mid-show. Having a spare set can keep you from having to play a five-string guitar for your gig.

String winder and pliers
These tools allow you to change strings quickly and remove the excess so your instrument looks good should you have to replace a busted string mid-show.

Instrument Cables
You never know when a cable will break or someone will accidentally step on your pedalboard and break it, so carrying a spare instrument can save you from a silent performance or help out a bandmate who left one at home.

These two tools are key when backing a vocalist who may need to raise or lower a song’s key, and should always be in your bag. The slide, while not used on every song, can easily be clipped into the capo for easy travel, and both can attach to a mic stand for quick access during a show.

Bring a spare strap in case your main one breaks.

Wait, isn’t it common sense to have a pick on your person for a show? Sure, but when you’re mid-song and your pick flies from your fingers because it’s a hundred degrees and you’re sweating profusely, you will need a suitable replacement, so having a few extras in your gig bag ensures you can shred on.

Power Cable
Most of today’s amps use IEC type cables that are easily detached before and after powering on your amp, so make sure you carry a spare in case you lose the original on the way or forget to pack altogether.

Instrument Stand
Manufacturers have figured out ways to make smaller stable instrument stands and having one will allow you to have a spare guitar on that stand or somewhere to rest your instrument during set breaks. No one wants to leave their cherished instrument leaning on an amp during a break only to see it fall as your bandmates rush to speak to their friends in the crowd.

There are times power circuits in a club can trip breakers or fry the fuse in your amp. Having a spare fuse or two that precisely match the voltage and amperage your amp needs can save the day. Likewise, sometimes power tubes or preamp tubes fail, and having a spare can allow you to carry on provided you don’t have to re-bias your tube amp on the spot. That brings me to the last item I suggest you carry:

Power Amp
In the rare instance that your fuse is blown or a tube fails and you’re 30 miles away from home, it’s a good idea to have a spare amp or backup in your possession. Some of my friends use amps like the Crate PowerBlock as a backup that stays in their car for any emergency like this. I use an Electro Harmonix 22 Caliber amp. It is the size of a standard stomp box but has a 22-watt power amp built in that goes from instrument to speaker in your amp, and has a volume and bright switch. Once my band was doing a television morning show and somewhere between my house and the studio the fuse and its retainer fell out. I was ready to play and I flipped the power but nothing happened. Luckily I had the little 22 power amp in my bag, so I powered it up and the show went off without a hitch.

Most of these electric guitar accessories you probably already have among your gear. You don’t need all of them to have a successful gig, but having spare strings, cable,s and picks can keep a situation from ruining your show. I didn’t place a tuner on my list because my pedalboard has one, but the clip-type tuners take up little space and can make sure your instrument is harmonious and ready for whatever you want to play on it. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so take a few minutes and check your gig bag before your next show. Being prepared for anything allows you to focus on making music and not running home or to a music store to save the day.


ChrisAChristopher teaches mandolin, violin, music performance, and guitar lessons in Mount Pleasant, SC, as well as online via Skype and Google Helpouts. He has over ten years of experience in teaching in classrooms and studios, and his lessons focus on providing the budding musician with the tools to become a proficient player.  Learn more about Christopher here!



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Introduction to Belly Dancing Styles: How to Find the Right Classes For You

belly dancingIf you’re itching to learn belly dancing, you may be wondering where to start. Here, teacher Morwenna A. explains the differences in belly dancing styles:

What is belly dancing? This article will help cut through the hype. You will be able to make an intelligent choice of classes to take.

To begin, you may be wondering what constitutes belly dance. I believe it falls in three main categories, like a coin with two sides and a rim:

Side 1: This might be a dancer that dances in a restaurant or club that offers entertainment for the guests. In restaurants one often works with live music and the dance is improvised. Variations include theater and house parties. Theater work would be choreographed though.

Side 2: This style includes the various folklore dances of different countries. These are taken from the dances of the people then staged for a stage presentation in any venue that you feel is adequate for doing a show.

Side 3:  The rim of the coin is where I place line dancing like the Debke of Lebanon or Greek line dancing. Here it is the social dance of the people, but solo dancing can fall here also. When choreographed and used in a show it becomes entertainment and then moves into Side 2.

Next, you’ll need to understand the different types of belly dancing. It is all about knowing what to look for. Belly dancing comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Below you will find a synopsis of the most popular styles of belly dancing. A word first about the term “belly dance” – we use it here as what it is commonly known here in the USA. In the rest of the world, however, it is known by other names. “Belly dance” is not what I call it myself or what I offer in my studio. I call it “Arabic Style Dance.”  My preference only! To me, belly dance has a derogatory sound to it. It is an art like any other!

Styles Offered as Belly Dance

All of the styles offered today shouldn’t necessarily be called belly dancing, but I have included them because they are out there. Ones that are not included, like burlesque and pole dancing, are left off on purpose. They have nothing to do with belly dancing at all.  Most of the styles listed at least relate to the dance in some way. I believe what we do is fusion of one style or another, as we do not know the direct history of the dance.

BELLY DANCE – a collective name for Middle Eastern dance style that is done socially or as a solo performance. There are several variations of such that fall under this heading. The name is a misnomer and was named to create an audience when the word “belly” was not used in polite company.

MIDDLE EASTERN DANCE – the dance style taught or presented that is generally accepted by Middle Eastern countries and the people. You would primarily see this style if you visited most of these countries, as they all do a variation of this style. This includes both the classical and folklore dances of the Middle East.

NEAR EASTERN DANCE – a dance style that sticks closer to the roots of the Eastern Mediterranean countries. This style includes both classical and folklore styles.

ARABIC STYLE DANCE – this style gives you a wider scope of all Arabic speaking countries and again includes both classical dance and folklore styles.

EGYPTIAN STYLE – a variety of styles put under one heading that is inspired by dancers in Egypt, which Americans emulate. Style depends on which Egyptian one emulates.

LEBANESE STYLE – a style that is the most commonly accepted and recognized as that from the Eastern Arabic countries.

BELEDI STYLE – the style danced by the folk at parties and gatherings. Beledi means “country” in Arabic. Each country has its own style. Remember, belly dancing is the social dance of the Middle East. Everyone does it!

ORIENTAL DANCE – this refers to the dance of the Orient or East. The common areas it involves are the countries of the Near and Middle East, not the Far East. It is often referred to as the classical dance of the East to sound more sophisticated.

RAKS SHARKI/SHARQI  – this means “dance of the East,”  which is another name for belly dance.

AMERICAN CABARET  – a style that is done strictly by Americans. The attempt is to be Middle Eastern. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. Two-piece belly dancing costumes are in vogue.

FUSION STYLE – a mixture of styles and countries, commonly called CONFUSION in the business. True fusion comes from creating within a true form.

GODDESS STYLE – an American style that adds spirituality in the form of Sacred and Liturgical dance, using modern or belly dance movements. This style is performed by women and uses dance as a religious expression. This has nothing to do with the religious rituals from the Middle East.

AMERICAN TRIBAL STYLE – performed by women with similar movements in a mishmash of styles. This started in California with costuming from a multitude of Eastern countries. It has little or nothing to do with the Middle East.

Dance classes are offered in many different settings. You need to find the right teacher for you and what you are looking for. There are many different types of settings for teaching dance, whether you want to learn belly dancing or another style. There are also many different varieties of levels. An Introductory class at one place might be a Beginner class elsewhere. Each division has different level, at least Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

So, are you ready to learn belly dancing? Do not miss the opportunity now that you know a little more about this style of dance. It is now time to jump in and take some classes. Enjoy this interesting dance form, the music, the rhythms, and the culture behind it. Enjoy this fascinating and interesting journey into other lands. Take the plunge and sign up now!


MorwennaAMorwenna A. teaches belly dancing, choreography, and stage performance in Oceanside, CA, with belly dancing as her specialty. After spending 40 odd years in the business, being married into the culture for almost as long, she has a great feeling for the people, the dance and you. Teaching is her passion and the sharing of information with you. Learn more about Morwenna and book lessons here!



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 Photo by Frank Kovalchek

You Have to See What Sound Really Looks Like

We’re not talking about digital renderings of sound waves or synesthesia! This amazing video from NPR’s science tumblr Skunk Bear uses an interesting photographic technique to capture what it looks like when sound waves push against the air.

It’s incredible actually seeing the sound of hands clapping:


and being able to see sound vibrations leave a speaker!


Whether you’re a musician or a music lover, sound is a huge, yet normally invisible, part of your life. What do you think about these photos and video of sounds? Let us know in the comments below!


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Tennis Lessons for Kids: 6 Frequently Asked Questions

Tennis Lessons For Kids Does your son or daughter want to be the next Roger Federer or Maria Sharapova? If you’re looking into tennis lessons for kids, you might have some questions before you get started. Read on as West Orange, NJ tennis coach David E. tackles 6 of the frequently asked questions…

1) What size racquet should I get?

Generally the sizes recommended are as follows:

  • Ages 0-4: 19″

  • Ages 4-5: 21″

  • Ages 6-7: 23″

  • Ages 8-10: 25″

  • Ages 10-12: 26″

  • Ages 12 & up: adult size-27″-29″

The racquets can usually be purchased for about $20 at places like Sports Authority, Modell’s, & K-Mart. Most brands will display the size of the racquet and age that they are appropriate for.

2) What type of balls should be used?

Your kid can learn tennis with regular tennis balls, but it is generally agreed today that felt or foam balls are better. They have a slower bounce, and weigh less. This gives children plenty of time to react to the ball. They are also safer because they are soft. The disadvantages are that they are expensive, and sometimes start falling apart after a while. They can also be difficult to use outside, especially if it’s windy.

3) What type of lesson should I get my kid?

There are three types of lessons to consider: private, semi-private, & group lessons.

  • Private: Advantages are 1) completely individualized attention, 2) usually the most rapid improvement, and 3) best format to “fix” a stroke. Disadvantages are 1) usually expensive,  2) no other peers present, and 3) generally fewer fun games to play.

  • Semi-private: Advantages are 1) cost is shared between two players, 2) kids have a peer to play with, and 3) teachers can organize games and competitions between students. Disadvantages are 1) if one kid is learning faster than the other, it can be frustrating for slower learner, and 2) it can also hold back the kid who is learning faster.

  • Group: Advantages are 1) lowest cost, 2) different peers to socialize with, and 3) low pressure and usually the most fun. The one is disadvantage is that instruction per student is limited.

4) How long should tennis lessons for kids be?

For ages 4-7, 30 minutes is plenty. Kids ages 8-12 might consider 45 minutes, and 12 & older may be able to handle 60 minutes.

5) What qualities should a tennis instructor have?

  • Enthusiasm: If the tennis instructor is enthusiastic, very often this excitement will permeate to the student. If the instructor isn’t passionate about being out there on the court, how can your child be expected to be motivated?

  • Knowledge: The instructor needs a sound knowledge of things like grips, stroke techniques, footwork, and strategies.

  • Patience: Your child needs to feel comfortable with the instructor, so using positive reinforcement and critical responses can help. The instructor needs to be calm, offer a lot of praise, and not show frustration if it takes time for your kid to improve in their skills.

  • Communication Skills: It is important to understand that there are multiple learning styles. One student can learn by verbal instruction, and another may need step-by-step visual guidance. They need the ability to break down instructions into a progression of achievable goals. Also, communicating by using humor at times is helpful in making a lesson more fun for your kid.

6) What exactly is taught in tennis lessons for kids?

Your child will learn the fundamentals of the forehand, backhand, volley, overhead, and serve. To ensure success, progression will be used. Starting with a drop feed, short tossed, and then a feed from the racquet. Your kid should start inside the service line, and then move back gradually when they show success in drilling. Drills and games are used to make it educational and fun, too. That’s the most important thing: for your child to experience success it is important that the lesson is fun!

DavidDavid E. teaches private, semi-private, and group tennis lessons in West Orange, NJ. He has over 30 years of experience teaching tennis, and joined the TakeLessons team in 2014. Learn more about David and book lessons here!



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How to Play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”: One Teacher’s Tips

Learning How To Play Beethoven’s Fur EliseAs a musician, one of the best parts of playing music is adding your own spin to the notes and markings on the page. Here, Seattle teacher Amber A. explains her interpretation of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”, an ever-popular piece for piano students:

Fur Elise, one of the most beloved piano pieces by Beethoven is often a favorite of many piano students. There are a few different performances of this piano music available on the Internet. My favorite performance is the one played by Ivo Pogorelich. His interpretation is very much like that of Romanticism or Impressionism, in that the tone contains so much color and emotion. Recently I had an opportunity to teach Fur Elise, and I would like to share some thoughts regarding how to play this piece.

Freedom from the Time Signature

Many of you might have felt like me when you played the beginning one and a half measure and similar melody at measure 4 and 5; that there is no way to feel the three-beat pattern.


The first two notes, E and D-sharp, are inseparable from the rest of the melody and it makes a sense only if it is played by 4/8 time.

What about the measures 13 through 16? Here it still makes a sense only if it is played by 4/8 time. Did you notice the stress Ivo Pogorelich put on the high E (the highlighted note) when he played this piece? It falls on the 1st beat if you consider the part beginning at measure 13 in 4/8.



The 3/8 time is unclear again at measure 38, just before the 2nd appearance of rondo theme. From the measure 38 on, it can be considered 2/8, 3/8, and 4/8 time; or 3/8, 2/8, and 4/8 time.



When you play this piece, if you feel these passages in the times that I suggested above, you can play them without fighting the 3-beat pattern and convey the melodies with more ease and elegance.

Conflict between the Upbeat and Downbeat

Many piano students are charmed by the simplicity and beauty of the theme of Fur Elise. However, behind this simplicity, there is a bit of challenge when playing the first few measures. The little melody ends on the 1st beat at measure 2 and the right hand must release the tension.


But at this tension release point for the right hand part, you will need to play the broken chord for the left hand, the 1st note of which may be called the tension building point. This is no doubt a hard task for student at a beginner or intermediate level. To overcome the difficulty, play the A at measure 2 for right hand part (highlighted) by raising your wrist and play the third 16th for left hand (highlighted) at measure 2 in the same way. You can practice similarly for the following 2 measures. When you raise your wrist, you easily get to release the tension.

Fingering for the Theme

A piece of music will never played well if you use a bad fingering. The theme of Fur Elise is often suggested to be played using the fingering as follows:


But it is not good to use repetitive 5 and 4. These fingers are too weak and you will feel uncomfortable when you keep using them. I suggest you use fingers 4 and 3 instead. They can bring out the appropriate tone for this melody. Then someone may ask, “Then why not 3 and 2?” I consider them too strong for this kind of figure and you will need some adjustment when you play the note, D-natural.

Pedaling in the 4th Section

Some pianists play the section from measure 61 on with the pedal on each measure and off for the last 16th. It seems that kind of pedaling makes the music too choppy. I suggest different pedaling here. The pedaling should be continuous with new pedal for each measure except where there is a chord change. It requires new pedaling on the 3rd beat of measure 68.





New pedal on the 3rd beat may be optional for the measures 66, 74, and 75 depending on the tone quality of the piano and the room acoustics. For measure 71 it wouldn’t be necessary to use a new pedal on the 3rd beat because the tone gets thin in this range and mixing notes that belong to different chords doesn’t hurt our ears.


There are a few ornaments in this piece, the roll at measure 25 and the short grace note at measure 28. image12


The turn at measure 31 was ignored by most performers. This can be a good taste because it is the closing section of the phrase and you don’t want so much attention on it

The ornaments mentioned above except the turn are supposed to be played starting on the beat. While the measure 25 is played with an emphasis on the main note C, the short grace note B flat at measure 28 should get more stress than the following main notes.

I hope the suggestions I’ve made above help you to play better, whether you would like to play like Ivo Pogorelich, or some other pianists you like, or perhaps even create your own interpretation of Beethoven’s Fur Elise.


Amber A. teaches academic subjects and piano in Seattle, WA. She studied piano performance at University of Iowa, holds a DMA in piano performance and pedagogy, a BS in Computer Science from State University of New York, and also studied in the Master’s program for Computer Science at Portland State University. Learn more about Amber here!



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Get to Know the Arts Scene: 4 Dallas Artists to Check Out

Up And Coming Artist In Dallas, TxAre you looking for music that’s more than just something to play in the background? How about art that’s more than just something to hang on the wall? Dallas is home to some great artists, musicians, and filmmakers. In fact, the burgeoning Dallas art scene is breaking new ground every day! So buckle up, as we take you on a tour of diverse Dallas artists. These are the ones to watch right now:

1. Ulnae

Part theater, part visual art, and part sound collage – this act is pretty much a multi-sensory attack. Ulnae is a duet made up of vocalist Lily Taylor and cellist Darcy Neal, who dip into their bottomless bag of audiovisual tricks to present a show of experimental, free-form music combined with elaborate costumes and performance art. Ulnae is a must-see for anyone looking to expand their artistic horizons, and who isn’t afraid of a journey into unknown and unique realms. This is just one example of how Dallas is home to music and performance artists breaking free of the typical country twang stereotype.

2. Josiah Rizzo

Writing creatively since the age of five, Josiah Rizzo’s many influences range from Charlie Chaplin to Wes Anderson. He is a member of RAW, Dallas’ own artistic collective made up of creative individuals from around the globe. Rizzo’s new film, KIDZZ, is an ambitious project about a guy making a movie about a group of kids making a movie. His artistic style has solidified Rizzo in the minds of critics as something of a Gen Y Fellini.

3. Robert Jessup

With visual art ranging from playfully surreal to downright nightmarish, Jessup’s work is impossible to ignore. On one end, Jessup’s paintings are enticing studies in lyrical motion (see, for example, Falling People). However, Jessup has a darker side as well, which showcases a flair for the dreamlike and grotesque. One thing is certain: Robert Jessup is never boring. He is definitely a Dallas artist to keep an eye on.

4. Gwenda-lin Grewal of Hardly Alice

The name of Dallas native Grewal’s design company is meant to invoke the spirit of Lewis Carroll, and Ms. Grewal does not let that great spirit down. Hardly Alice is all about lace – teasing, playful, sultry, and yes, even functional. But don’t let that last word fool you. Ms. Grewal’s wearable art is a madcap foray into the nonsensical, rendering her high-brow threads into a beautiful splash of insanity in a buttoned-up world. Lace suspenders? Why not!

You may unfasten your seat belts now. Wasn’t that a wonderful ride? We hope dipping your toes into these artsy waters was enough to make you want to jump in up to your ears. After all, these creative forces are buzzing all around you! The Dallas art scene is alive and well, and these are the artists that are making it happen.

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San Diego Music - Casbah

The San Diego Music Scene: Venues, Bands, and Festivals That Started it All

The San Diego Music Scene: Venues, Bands, and Festivals That Started it AllSan Diego is a city rich with culture. In particular, the San Diego music scene is especially vibrant and varied, with a number of famous artists, venues, and festivals drawing people to the city. From heavy metal to eclectic rock to opera and everything in between, the San Diego music scene features a wide range of genres, making it easy for anyone to find something they enjoy.

Beyond these well-known and current figures and places, the San Diego music scene is also steeped in a rich musical history. Continue reading to learn more…

A Brief History of the San Diego Music Scene

The San Diego music scene has been steadily growing and evolving for many decades, from the opera and big band music of the early 1900s to today’s more eclectic mix. The ’60s in particular were a definitive turning point for San Diego, as several influential bands turned the city into a place to watch for up-and-coming musicians.

Out of the many music events that took place in the 1960s, one stands out: the formation of Iron Butterfly. The band formed in San Diego in 1966 before having their first national hit with “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, and are known for their unique sound that paved the way for hard rock music.

The 1970s also saw a great deal of progress, especially with the change in popular music. However, of marked importance in this decade was the introduction of Tom Waits. Now renowned as a musician, in 1972 he was simply the doorman at a San Diego club. However, with his first album “Closing Time”, which came out the following year, Waits lifted himself into his now storied career.

In the 1980s, the San Diego music scene exploded with several new festivals and the introduction of The Casbah, arguably the city’s most famous venue.

The Casbah: San Diego’s Iconic Venue

Though The Clash’s famous song “Rock the Casbah” was not inspired by the San Diego club, this venue certainly stands out within the San Diego music scene. Originally built in 1989, the Casbah quickly found a strong following of locals and musicians, hosting notable bands like Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. The club is renowned for hosting both world-class musicians (including MGMT, No Doubt, Ben Harper, and Arcade Fire), and local artists looking to make it big.

 In 2014, the Casbah celebrated 25 years of operation. And though its owner, Tim Mays, has been humble in the past when discussing the Casbah’s influence on the San Diego music scene, it’s impact is undeniable. In fact, the city of San Diego even declared January 14 to be “Casbah Day”. Its location near downtown is an iconic piece of San Diego real estate.

Songs and Music Dedicated to the City

With the number of renowned musicians that have come from San Diego, in addition to those that weren’t born here but have come to love the city, it is no surprise that several artists have idolized the city through their songs.

One of the most notable is “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” by Bing Crosby. Written in commemoration of the opening of the Del Mar racetrack, the song is short but straightforward, describing the simplistic nature of what Crosby hoped the racetrack and city would be for visitors and residents.

Another notable song that features San Diego is Bruce Springsteen’s “Balboa Park,” named for the 1,200-acre park in San Diego that boasts hiking and biking trails, museums, theaters, and the San Diego Zoo. The song takes on a somber feel, as at the time the park was plagued by a string of criminal activities, from vandalism and theft to murder; thankfully, the park has cleaned up since then.

Perhaps one of the more well-known musicians who has highlighted San Diego is Eric Clapton with his 2006 album titled “The Road to Escondido”. Nominated for a Grammy in 2007, the album doesn’t feature songs dedicated specifically to San Diego, so much as embody the feeling of the city, as Clapton and JJ Cale, Clapton’s collaborator for the album, both had ties to the city.

With such a vibrant music scene, many people have taken the step to begin learning music themselves. If you are considering learning how to play, taking private music lessons with a qualified professional teacher is a great first step. Who knows – you might be the next big San Diego musician to make it big!



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How To Teach Yourself Piano

Feeling Stuck? Here’s the Easiest Way to Learn Piano

Feeling Stuck? Here's the Easiest Way to Learn PianoThe ever-popular piano: with its large repertoire of songs and adaptability across many genres, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most enjoyable and accessible instruments around for beginner musicians. Maybe you’ve thought about learning this instrument, but how do you know where to start? What is the easiest way to learn piano, if there is one? Maybe you have tried striking a key or two, but weren’t sure where to go from there.

With the advent of the Internet and the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time, you have several options for how to start playing the piano. So what is the easiest way to learn piano? That depends on you and your learning style, but here are some choices that can help you start:

  1. Books: Many people love the Internet, but others also enjoy learning from a good old-fashioned book. At your local library or bookstore, you can read about all aspects of the piano, including its history, basics about notes and scales, composing for the piano, and more. If you’re more of a linguistic-style learner, you may realize that the easiest way to learn piano does not have to be restricted to playing!

  2. Free online videos: If you are undecided about which method of instruction to use, or you just want to gain a basic idea of what it’s like to play the piano, consider searching for some free online videos. Although they’re not the optimal way to learn piano in the long-term, you can still get a taste of what you need to know and how to learn it. You can find videos from people of all levels and in many genres.

  3. Friend or family member: Sometimes the best introductory resources are the ones closest to home – literally! Since piano is such a popular instrument, chances are good that you know a friend or family member with some experience. Although they may not be able to give you the detailed instruction you need to progress, friends and family can teach you how to identify notes on both the treble and bass clefs, provide an overview about sharps and flats, and help you play a few easy piano songs.

While the above options are all great ways of sinking your teeth into learning the piano, ultimately the best and easiest way to learn piano is by taking lessons with a piano teacher. Here are some reasons why:

  • Knowledge, experience, and education: trained instructors have it all. They can prepare you for exams and recitals, and help you learn your favorite songs. Private instructors can teach you the techniques used in many songs, making it easier to learn more complicated songs later on in your studies. Plus, if you’re having trouble with a specific section or phrase, the one-on-one guidance and advice will go a long way.

  • Instructors can also expose you to different types of music that will expand your repertoire, and introduce you to other like-minded students of similar abilities and goals.

  • Many teachers hold yearly recitals, which can be a great opportunity to increase your confidence and get comfortable being in front of a crowd, which often translates to other life skills.

  • Finally, private piano teachers can ensure that you’re using the correct technique, posture, and fingering, thus avoiding injuries and strains as you play.

While some people shy away from taking private lessons for a variety of reasons (such as cost, location, practice schedule, or fear of making mistakes), the thing is – the investment you make in your learning is worth it. Your piano teacher will keep you motivated, introduce you to new genres and music, and monitor your progress – all ensuring that learning the piano is both easy and fun!

Overall, remember that when it comes to figuring out the easiest way to learn piano, the most important piece of the puzzle is you. A teacher, video, or book can only take you so far. It’s up to you how quickly and far you want to advance. Take what your instructor tells you, and incorporate it into your practicing in between lessons. Good luck!

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San Diego Artist

5 Inspiring San Diego Artists You Should Know

5 Inspiring San Diego Artists You Should KnowSan Diego is a city rife with artistic talents of all kinds.  If you live here, you probably already know that! If you have an untapped creative energy that seeks artistic inspiration, there are a few great San Diego artists that you should get to know. Discovering new artists with a variety of talents can inspire you as you work on your craft – or, can help you decide which area of the arts you might like to pursue when you’re ready for lessons with a private teacher. Here are a few to check out:

  • Robert Henri

Henri was a well-traveled American painter who spent a formative summer in San Diego in 1914. Although his early work was heavily influenced by Impressionism, his later personal approach to painting was to create a kind of modern Realism. Henri died in 1929 in New York, but his inspirational presence in San Diego made a big impact on the arts in the latter city. As one of the founders of American Realism, Henri’s artistic fingerprints can still be seen in San Diego today.

  • Maurice Braun

Braun was a Hungarian immigrant who originally settled in New York, but then moved to San Diego later on in his life. Inspired by Southern California’s beauty, Braun created a series of Impressionist paintings of the landscapes he saw around him. Considered one of the formative landscape artists of San Diego, Braun died in 1941, but not before he predicted that California artists would create a micro-culture all their own.

  • Jonathan Borofsky

Borofsky is one of the most well-known current San Diego artists, and his sculptures are featured internationally. Borofsky‘s work is stunning in scale and often features human figures in a rainbow of colors. His sculptures, prints, and films make him an important artist to know because they are simplistic while simultaneously grandiose; hopeful art students of any age can connect with Borofsky’s work and feel inspired to create their own.

  • Marcos Ramirez ERRE

ERRE is a Latino artist whose cultural background plays a big role in his work. Born in Tijuana, Mexico and now a resident of San Diego, ERRE first worked in the United States as a carpenter. When his artistic side got the better of him, he began to create wooden and metal structures that are featured worldwide.

  • Adelaide

Adelaide moved to San Diego in 2005 to create the Middle Eastern Dance Company; now, this one-name artistic expressionist is truly one to watch as she continues to change the artistic landscape of San Diego. Although her first love is dance and performance art, Adelaide also uses paint, pencils, and other traditional tools of the artist’s trade to create amazing pieces.

Learning to express yourself through art is a freeing endeavor, made all the more poignant by personal inspiration in those around you, such as these San Diego artists. The more you know about the artists in this list, the more creative facets you can access in yourself! So get out there, get creative, and have fun!


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Violin Notes

Introduction to Violin Music Notes

Introduction to Violin Music NotesThe violin is often considered by musicians to be one of the most challenging instruments to learn. Its roots trace back many centuries and it was clearly a definitive instrument in shaping classical music all over the world. One of the reasons it is considered a difficult instrument to learn is that it’s a fretless string instrument, making violin music notes appear to be inexact, yet fingering must still be done with precision. The reward for learning this sweet-sounding elegant instrument, however, is that it is associated with advanced musicianship and intellect. Here are some things to keep in mind as you learn how to play…

Holding the Bow

While you can learn to play notes on a piano very quickly, violin music notes take more practice, since the sound of the violin depends on how the bow interacts with the strings, whereas a piano is built to naturally sound nice as long as you play the right notes. If you do not hold the bow correctly and apply smooth strokes to the strings, you may hear an undesirable squeaky noise. Once you learn the art of proper strokes, however, you’ll learn how to produce a pleasant melodic sound. Your violin teacher can show you how to hold your bow correctly, which is part of this process.

Tuning Up

You should always make sure your violin is in tune before you begin playing! The A string is usually tuned first as a fixed reference, and you can use another instrument, a pitch pipe, or an electronic tuner to do this.

Once you’ve tuned your violin, you can begin learning the notes by using the open strings. The lowest sounding string is G, which is also called the fourth string. The third string is D, the second string is A, and the first or highest string is E. Memorize the pattern G-D-A-E, so that you have a base for learning other notes.

How to Find Notes

Memorizing the location of all the violin music notes is the fastest way to understanding the nature of playing songs. To do this, start by studying diagrams of where notes appear on the fingerboard. A creative way to memorize the notes is to draw your own diagram and keep it with you as a reference. You may even want to create a big chart on a poster board and hang it on your wall.

It’s really not hard to remember violin music notes because it’s just like learning the alphabet, except that there are a few extra sharps and flats to learn. Starting with the open G string, the first fingered note is G sharp, commonly displayed as G#, followed by A, A#, B, C, C#, and D. On the open D string the first position is D#, followed by E, F, F#, G, G#, and A. On the open A string the pattern is A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, and E. On the open E string the pattern is F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, then B.

Learning Scales

Melodies are often based on variations of basic note progressions called scales. These scales may seem complex at first, but they are no more difficult than learning the “Do-Re-Mi” song. There are different types of scales for different styles of music, but the famous one from the movie “Sound of Music” is known as a major scale, characterized by a bright, happy sound. A minor scale has a more melancholy sound. Learning scales will help you understand music theory.

Learn more about violin scales with this beginner video tutorial.

Fitting Notes Into Chords

The combination of three or more notes played at once in harmony is called a chord. To memorize these, try studying chord charts to learn which notes belong to simple chords. Every note from A to G# is the root of the chord of the same name. Think of chords as fuller sounding versions of notes that have the same name.

How to Practice

It’s not a secret that the more you practice violin, the better you’ll get! Some great things to practice if you want to accelerate your progress are 1) simple melodies, 2) scales, and 3) sight reading.

  • Practicing simple melodies and songs at a slow tempo is the best way to understand and develop rhythm in your bow hand.
  • Practicing scales is almost the same concept as learning simple melodies, except that scales are even easier to remember. All scales follow a logical progression of notes that are not far from each other. Try drawing diagrams of various scales on a poster board, as it may help you visualize the scales better.
  • Sight reading involves learning how to read sheet music, which includes understanding music theory. This can be extremely helpful and can open your mind to many additional dimensions of music. Sight reading will also improve your ability to learn how to play new songs quickly.

Guidance From a Private Teacher

If you’re serious about learning the violin, the best advice is to work with an experienced teacher; he or she can answer any questions you have about roadblocks in your learning, and show you which specific exercises to practice. It’s easy to get confused when there is so much to learn! Why do it alone? The feedback and encouragement you receive from a teacher can be a huge help.

Once you’ve mastered learning the violin notes, the musical world is your oyster! Good luck, and have fun learning!


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