Music isn’t just a skill

Scholarship Entrant: Nicholas from Running Springs, CA – California
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Music wasn’t something that I was too interested at first; I actually quit for a few years, but now it’s something that I love to do everyday. Playing guitar and mandolin has not only helped me learn a new skill that I can show my friend, it’s given me something to help me grow, something that makes me unique. Music has helped me grow closer to God as well, I play worship music for my church nearly every Sunday now and I love it! I get to play with people who are close to me, and we get to all help each other in ways that we couldn’t on our own. This is what music means to me.

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Muse

Scholarship Entrant: Jevin from Kettering, ohio
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Music is an important part of our world. It effects the way we socialize and express ourselves. The right kind of music develops habits and exemplifies cultural habits. This is what music has done for me.
It has become a vehicle of expression and entertainment. I personally play the guitar and have been told from scientists that making and playing music helps the function of the brain. It in fact helps the learning process.
The best part of playing music is the gift experience of seeing people join together through music. You can see the enjoyment through dance and sometime crazy facal expressions. Other times it heals the brokeness in people.

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Muse

Scholarship Entrant: Jevin from Kettering, ohio
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Music is an important part of our world. It effects the way we socialize and express ourselves. The right kind of music develops habits and exemplifies cultural habits. This is what music has done for me.
It has become a vehicle of expression and entertainment. I personally play the guitar and have been told from scientists that making and playing music helps the function of the brain. It in fact helps the learning process.
The best part of playing music is the gift experience of seeing people join together through music. You can see the enjoyment through dance and sometime crazy facal expressions. Other times it heals the brokeness in people.

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What Music Means To Me

Scholarship Entrant: Jose from Corpus Christi, Texas
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Music has been in my life since I was born. My mom was a saxophonist and my dad was a drummer/singer. I started off as a saxophonist and now I’m a keyboardist. I have a major love for music and I always will. I’ll just tell you about something I call (The Greatest Career Move My Mom Ever Made For Me). I tryout for band in the 6th grade, I get home from school and I tell my mom that I tried out for band and I got in. She asked what instrument did you pick, I said I picked the trumpet. She gave me a funny look, (since she was my mom and dad all rolled up into one, I lost dad when I was 8 years old so she was all I had.) She said to me no son play the saxophone. So I Said ok, without know that she played saxophone. I learned a ton from her. I became a successful saxophonist and ultimately a keybroardist. The Greatest Career Move My Mom Ever Made For Me. So finally to answer your question, I really don’t know what I would do without music. Music is everything to me. My love for music is beyond anything. So thats really all I can say. Thank you for your time and the opportunity. Good bye.

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Music saved my sanity

Scholarship Entrant: jeff from belleville, NJ
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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When I was growing up there was alot of domestic abuse in my household. I used to hide in my music just teaching myself piano. It became another world for me and i would also play when my mother was sad etc. to make her feel better. There were times I abused that instrument as it was the only way I could release my anger and rage and all that was happening around me.

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How Music Shaped My Life- TJ Hays

Scholarship Entrant: Laurie from Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Music has significantly changed my life. Being the age of 15, like other teenagers I struggle with depression. Music has helped me through my toughest times. When I was around the age of 7 my mom was pregnant and I was so excited to have a new baby sister. Sadly after a rough day in 1st grade my parents picked me up and on the ride home told me that our little baby Libby had died in my moms stomach. Sadly enough, less than a year later the same thing happened again. I always used to hide in my room because i didn’t want to see my parents cry or them to see me cry. It really drew the family apart. For a good 7 years i struggled with depression because of this. At times i would self harm. Then this year i asked my parents for an electric guitar. They spent every last dime we had on one. I would play and my dad would play and my mom would play. Soon my parents introduced me to some of their favorite music as I did to them. My dad got his own drum set, as he has always wanted to be a drummer, but never got the chance. Slowly it drew our family closer than ever before. We bought a record player and we all search everywhere for vinyls that the rest of us would enjoy, and we all are trying to learn more instruments to impress the other. So i ask that you consider this entry not for the want of material things, but so you can help grow the love of a family with a simple thing such as music.

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Belonging

Scholarship Entrant: Joanne from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Not being a popular in school was always a problem for me. However, I asked to join the music program in high school and became a member of the marching and concert band; this changed everything for me. While still not “popular,” I finally had a group in which to be a part, all having music in common. I had friends in various grades and still communicate with them today. Looking back, it was the best part of high school for me – I only wished I had learned to play an instrument sooner!

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Daily Accomplishments

Scholarship Entrant: Matthew from Pflugerville, Texas
Essay Question: How has music changed your life? Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.
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Everyday I accomplish something new. Even though it may not seem huge I try to celebrate every victory. Music has given me a purpose everyday. In March of 2013 I won $10,000 in an online competition. I knew that it was a huge deal and I wanted to make the most of it. I had songs inside of me that I needed to share with the world. I put the winnings toward releasing a full length album. The journey to create the album was incredible and I met so many amazing people. People in the music industry are amazing. Even though they say the music industry and entertainment industry in general is corrupted I would have to disagree and say that there are just as many good people in the business than bad. My new album, luckily, turned out amazing and reached many people. The songs were very personal and people could relate to them. Everyday I hear from people about how the music has changed their life or made a positive impact on them. That is why I do it! That is why music has change my life and shaped my life into something amazing today.

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Why Pentatonic Scales Are Essential for All Guitarists

Why Pentatonic Scales Are Essential for All GuitaristsWant to learn scales on guitar but not sure where to start? Guitar teacher Joey I. explains why pentatonic is the way to go…

The title of this article says it all: Why pentaonic scales are essential for guitarists. Learning these scales is an absolute necessity.

Now is it really necessary to know pentatonic scales to be able to play the guitar? No! A lot of guitarists go their whole career learning riffs, songs, and making up licks based off of the knowledge that they have while enjoying every minute of it. However, a lot of these guitarists know in the back of their mind that they should learn their scales.

If you have been a guitarist for a little while, you have probably heard about it from other guitarists, musicians, teachers, and Internet articles that you should know your scales. And most guitarists have the desire to learn scales, but become overwhelmed because of how many scales there are to learn, and let’s be frank: there are a lot to learn and when you learn them, they are not easy to immediately apply to your playing.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the pentatonic scale is the easiest and most useful scale to learn. The pentatonic scale can be used in almost every single song. Even if the song you are playing to uses a scale other than the pentatonic, you can play pentatonic over it and it will sound amazing.

The pentatonic scale gets more miles per gallon than any other scale, and the fuel is recyclable. You can just keep using it and using it, and it never gets old. It is truly the bread and butter of guitar soloing, and song writing. Most songs that you love that sound “complicated” are actually using pentatonic guitar scales.

Let’s look at what makes the pentatonic scale so easy:

  • To start, the pentatonic scale has fewer notes than other scales.  The word pentatonic literally translates to 5 tones. Pent, meaning five. And tonic, meaning tone.
  • “Our brains are inherently wired to know the pentatonic scale,” says famous musician Bobby McFerrin.  Check out this Ted Talk video where Bobby uses the audience to show how we all naturally know the pentatonic scale:
  • Finally, you can play this scale over virtually every song, so this makes practicing a lot easier.

Now, here are a few tips when practicing this scale:

  • Practice slowly.
  • When you’re ready, try out these pentatonic scale exercises for guitarists.

  • Make sure each note rings out and sounds good.

The benefits of learning the pentatonic guitar scales:

  • Learning the scale shapes allows you to improvise over virtually any song or backing track. Once you unlock this ability, practicing becomes easier and far more enjoyable. Not sure what we mean? Watch the video below.

  • The pentatonic scale is the foundation for almost every other scale there is. Learning this foundation will set you up to easily play the other scales. Especially the blues scale, natural minor scale, harmonic minor scale, and the melodic minor scale.
  • It will increase your confidence in playing dramatically. No more feelings of being overwhelmed by scales or the guitar. Your skill level will increase two fold because of this.
  • Finally, it will allow you to seamlessly improvise with other musicians in a real live setting. Your friends will be thoroughly impressed and your confidence will soar.

Once you have become comfortable with the pentatonic scales, try applying them by improvising over a backing track or your favorite song. Change the speed and rhythm, but most importantly, HAVE FUN! For a visual reminder of the G Major pentatonic scale, see the infographic below.

G Major Pentatonic Guitar Scale 5 Positions

Do you have any more questions about how the pentatonic scales work, or how to play them? Leave a comment and let us know.

joey i

Joey I. teaches guitar, bass guitar, and drum lessons in Aurora, CO. He studied music production and recording arts at Berklee School of Music and he has been teaching music lessons for seven years. Learn more about Joey!

 

 

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how to sing well without lessons

Is It Possible to Sing Well Without Taking Lessons?

how to sing well without lessonsIf you’re wondering how to sing well without lessons, you’ll want to check out this guest post. Here, Washington, DC voice teacher Jacqueline E. shares her thoughts…

Is it possible to sing well without taking voice lessons? In a nutshell, my answer to this is a firm “no.”

So, what does it look like for someone who genuinely wants to learn how to sing well, but can’t take lessons, for whatever reason, and just commits to self-teaching through various methods? The different opportunities to learn how to sing well, then, are observing famous singers in each genre on YouTube or in concerts, listening to recordings, and reading books/articles on vocal pedagogy.

While all of these can be great tools, I’d like to address the problems associated with self-teaching in singing.

Understanding Your Voice

First, when a student watches a good singer, there are so many things about that singer’s body to observe: the jaw, mouth, lips, cheeks, neck/throat, chest, shoulders, abdominal area, etc. But the voice is not an instrument that you can see. The vocal cords and the other parts of the internal vocal mechanism demand an experienced, knowledgeable teacher who can give you immediate feedback based on what he or she hears about the sound you produce in relation to what physical sensations you experience when you sing.

Developing Your Unique Sound

If you learn how to sing by imitating what you hear, no matter how good your ears are, you will most likely end up sounding like the singers you listen to — not yourself. Furthermore, because of the structure of our skeletons and heads, we cannot hear ourselves the way others hear us, which is again another reason to have another set of ears assess your singing. A good voice teacher will bring out YOUR authentic voice, which is beautifully unrepeatable.

Correcting Bad Vocal Habits

Books on vocal pedagogy can certainly be helpful if you want to go in depth about the vocal mechanism. Listening to good singers is a great habit to get in to. But then, how will you know if you are picking up the correct vocal habits? What if you ingrain bad vocal habits over a long period of time? If you have never had lessons at all, you cannot know by yourself if something you watch or hear a singer do is going to be the right way to sing for YOU or if the way that “famous singer” is singing is actually the healthiest way to sing. (One should not equate “fame” with “sings in the healthiest way.”)

Developing Correct Vocal Habits

By all means, I do support the use of YouTube and vocal pedagogy books to help you discover the truth on what healthy singing is (and by contrast, what unhealthy singing is), but ultimately, it cannot be the only route you take. If you gather and synthesize all of this information by yourself, you will direct yourself toward developing bad habits because a live person did not give you feedback. Neither a book nor the Internet can teach you how to identify certain physical sensations while singing (because singing is more about feeling and less about listening), how to develop strong, healthy technical habits, and how to help you get rid of bad ones. A good teacher can.

When you do find a good teacher, my advice is to make sure that person is an accomplished singer who knows not only how to sing, but also how to teach about the vocal mechanism. Being accomplished means having had a lot of professional performing experience (not paying to perform) and if that teacher is old enough, even having students who have had a lot of success. Knowing how to teach means showing you they have a deep understanding of how the vocal mechanism works and can give you a clear cognitive and physical understanding of your instrument.

Vocal technique is inherited from a teacher and develops over long-term study. In short, if you’re wondering how to sing well without lessons, consider this advice. If you truly want to be a good singer with healthy habits, I highly recommend working with a singing teacher — and not just any teacher, but one with good ears and who meets your individual needs!

Jacqueline E Jacqueline E. teaches singing, music performance, and music theory in Washington, DC. She is a classically trained lyric-coloratura soprano, currently working on her Bachelor of Music degree in General-Choral Music Education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in May 2015. Learn more about Jacqueline here!

 

 

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