10 Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners That Are Not Even a Little Cheesy

10 Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners That Are Not Even a Little Cheesy

Nobody likes trudging through difficult music that they don’t like. If a song is too hard, it’s not going to sound good. And if you don’t like the song, why bother putting in the effort?

To solve this problem for you, here’s a very eclectic list of easy songs to play on your acoustic guitar.

DISCLAIMER: Making music is tricky business. There’s a lot of multitasking and it takes time to get things flowing the way that you want to hear them. Additionally, guitarists all have different strengths and weaknesses, so a song that your friend told you was easy, might be really difficult for you. Don’t get discouraged!

My hope is that this list includes enough styles and techniques that you’ll be able to find something that you enjoy and something that is easy for you.


Ventura Highway – America

This is a cool old song with great, simple harmonies and a fun lead lick, that’s a little more challenging. If you’re looking for an easy song to start with, you’ll want to focus on the chords first.

You can get through the whole song using just two chords: Fmaj7 and Cmaj7. If you play the two chords as shown in the link below, the switch between them should be fairly easy.

If you’re still having any difficulty, try keeping the first finger in the Fmaj7 chord down so that you’re playing the standard C chord shape. If you’re playing this along with the recording, you’ll want to capo at the 2nd fret, to make the chords Gmaj7 and Dmaj7 (played using the same shapes and fingerings).

Get the chords: Ventura Highway


Bend the Bracket – Chevelle

A little heavier of a song, but still great. Originally played on an acoustic, “Bend the Bracket” uses almost exclusively power chords, which you can just slide around on the fifth string. One tricky bit of business is that Chevelle plays this on a guitar tuned down one half-step.

If you’d rather not worry about retuning but still want to play with the CD, just move everything down one fret. There are no open strings, so you won’t have to worry about that. The one thing that could become difficult with the wrong fingering is the intro. If you play the power chord on the fifth string at the seventh fret (or 6th if you’re moving down a fret), you can reach the sixth string at the eighth fret with your middle finger without having to lift the power chord.

Get the chords: Bend the Bracket


Heroin – Velvet Underground

Despite the length of this song, there are only two chords in it, and one can be played with only one hand. How’s that for easy? Similar to the song by Chevelle, Lou Reed also has his guitar tuned down a half step. If you already retuned for the last song, then don’t tune back up yet!

If you can form a D chord with your left hand, you’re already well on your way to playing this entire song. Essentially, he bounces between a D chord in the usually formation and a G which can be played using the open 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. Of course if you’re already comfortable with a six-string G chord, feel free to mix it in as you think sounds good.

These chords are generally played whole and then picked with the notes separately while the left hand stays unmoved on the chord. The only other part to the song is the ending.

Okay, I sort of lied when I said only two chords, but mostly only two chords. Besides, the chords at the end are played using the same D shape that you’ve already mastered, just slide up to the 7th and 9th frets.

Get the chords: Heroin


Bard’s Song – Blind Guardian

Metal you say? On an acoustic you say? Yes, and it can still be EPIC! Now, I may get some pushback on this being an “easy” song, but like I mentioned before; everyone has their own strengths.

I’ve personally had students for whom this would be less difficult than previous songs on this list. That being said, if fingerpicking isn’t one of your strengths, use this as an easy introduction to improve!

Get the chords: Bard’s Song


Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins

This song remains a favorite of mine. You may see versions of the chords of this song listed as G-Em-C-D. While you could play these chords along with the song with no trouble, it would lack some of the sound of the original, and, not to mention, be more difficult.

So in the same vein of keeping it easy and sounding better anyway, let’s look at the real chords. G-Em7-Cadd9-Dsus. If those look more complicated, don’t worry. While they’re more complicated from a music theory standpoint, they allow us guitarists to keep two fingers down for the WHOLE SONG!

Go ahead and plant your ring and pinky fingers on the 2nd and 1st strings at the 3rd fret. The rest of the chords can be formed as follows:

Get the chords: Disarm


Dumb (acoustic) – Nirvana

Another song that is all power chords, also known as 5th chords (A5 ). Like some others here, Kurt often played his guitar tuned down a half step. As with the Chevelle song, the power chords make it easy to play a fret lower if you’re in standard tuning.

Get the chords: Dumb


One Less Addiction – Embodyment

This is a hauntingly beautiful song that I’m guessing many of you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing before. I’m guess that it’ll also be a breeze for most of you to play.

The majority of the song just switches between these two chords in the seventh position. I like to keep my middle finger planted on the third string at the eighth fret as an anchor between these two chords.

Get the chords: Embodyment


Moorish Dance – Aaron Shearer

Another one will be really easy for the left hand, but if you have a hard time playing without a pick, it could be tricky. If you have trouble stretching for chords and getting all the notes to ring, this song will give your left hand a break. You’ll only need it for six, yes six, different notes.

Beyond that, your right hand will alternate between playing the tune with the thumb and playing some higher accompanying notes with the index and/or middle fingers.

Fun story: I was recently talking with a friend and fellow guitar teacher who had broken a bone in a right hand that connected his ring and pinky fingers to his wrist. He mentioned that some of his older students weren’t convinced he could still be a good teacher without all his fingers. He used “Moorish Dance” as his “show-off piece” to prove otherwise.

Get the chords: Moorish Dance


Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash

Technically speaking, this is actually a set of four songs, but they’re all played as a complete piece of music and they all use the same tricks to keep it easy on the fingers. This is one of the more complicated songs on this list, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard!

If you look at a bare and accurate chord chart of this song, you’d see a whole bunch of complicated looking chord symbols with ‘sus’s and numbers and slashes. While you’re all smart players and probably know what those mean, it’s still more information to process and send to our fingers.

The key here, rather than dealing with all of these complicated and frequently difficult to change between chords, is to make sure you’ve got the tuning right. We’ve already covered songs in this list using an alternate tuning (Eb or half step down tuning), but this is a bit more radical. We’ll leave the highest two strings alone, so they’ll remain at E and B, going down from there, we’ll tune the 3rd string down to E, the 4th string **up** to E (always use caution when tuning higher than standard), and finally the 5th string down to E, to match the 6th string.

If you’ve been keeping track, that leaves us with, from low to high, EEEEBE. From there, follow the tab, since your sense of where chords usually are will be totally out of whack. It’s a whole bunch of open and straight barre chords with a few little licks sliding down the first two strings.

Get the chords: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes


Cruise – Florida Georgia Line

Were you worried there wouldn’t be any country on here? What good is an easy acoustic list without a little twang! Remember the chords from “Disarm”? Same deal here! If you prefer the sound on the Dsus chord, you can play a standard D shape, but keep that 3rd finger planted! The order is G-Dsus(or D)-Em7-Cadd9. Have fun!

Get the chords: Cruise


Hopefully you found a few new things on this list, even just something you can enjoy listening to. With a list like this you’re bound to find a song that suits your strengths and weaknesses.

If you haven’t, this list isn’t exhaustive, so don’t give up! A well versed guitar teacher is a great resource to find the right songs for you. You’ve got a knack for guitar (everyone does in one way or another) and you just have to figure out what it is.

Once you get some traction with that, then go after your weaknesses! There’s no problem in your guitar playing that can’t be fixed.


Kirk RPost Author:
 Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelors of music in Guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!


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5 Guitar Moves That Sound Hard But Are Actually Easy

Guitar Moves That Sound Hard But Are Actually Easy

Have you ever heard a guitar lick that sounded crazy complicated? Guitar teacher Christopher S.  explains how some of the hardest sounding techniques can actually be easy once you try them…

When taking up the challenge of learning to play the guitar, I strongly recommend finding the skills and techniques that you are best at and using them to create the music you love.

There is an endless amount of sounds which you can create with the guitar, and if you have the skills to produce them, you will have so many options literally at your fingertips!

Below, I will discuss different techniques that sound hard to play on the guitar, but with time and discipline, they are actually quite simple. I want to emphasis that some of these techniques may come naturally to you, and some may not. In my experience, it is better to take the ones that come naturally, as you will make the best music with them, and to give the others more time for practice.

For example, you may be great at fingerpicking guitar licks on the guitar right away. Or, you may be incredibly fast at picking with a pick after just a few hours. Whatever the technique, I say learn as many songs as you can using that technique. Make the music that works best in your fingers, and don’t fret too much over a technique that is giving you frustration.

So, let’s buckle up and get ready to do some “wood-shedding.”

1. Power Chords (Drop-D Tuning)

A power chord is one of the most common chord shapes on the guitar. It is easy enough to create, it is easy to move on the neck, and it sounds good in almost any style of music. The shape of the power chord looks like this, with your index finger on the low E string and your ring finger on the A string.

G Power Chord

This happens to be a G power chord. You can also put your pinky on the D string, right below your third finger to give it some more “power.” The rest of the strings are muted.

This chord shape is important to learn on the guitar, because it is used to play millions of songs. However, your fingers can get tired in some kinds of music (such as punk rock or heavy metal) when trying to imitate and play the songs of these experienced guitar players. To help you in playing those quick power chord changes on the guitar, here is a trick that you can use to make changing power chords a breeze.

Known as “Drop-D tuning,” you literally take the low E string and “drop” or tune it down a whole-step, so that it becomes another D string. By doing this, you can play your power chord shape with one finger instead of three! The shape now looks like this.

Power Chord in Standard and Drop D Tuning

On the recordings of bands that use this tuning, such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, or The Foo Fighters, these chords sound complicated. However, little did you know that they were actually playing all of those chords with just one finger!

An example of a song which uses a power chord shape with this drop-D tuning is the song “Hollywood” by Nickelback.

This song would be quite difficult if it were all played in standard tuning; however, in drop-D tuning, it is really quite easy to play! Here is the tab to help you learn it.


Hollywood Tabs

2. Fingerpicking

Fingerpicking is something that always boggles people. It is really not as hard as some make it sound; however, it does take some disciplined practice if you want it to sound good. To develop this technique, I often recommend to my students to learn songs by The Beatles. Although sometimes they say, “Oh, that song is way beyond my skill level,” the songs are really quite simple to play.

Take the song “Blackbird,” for example. The tune sounds like it is quite a difficult fingerpicking pattern; however, because you rarely change the strings that you are picking, it is actually quite simple to play. The majority of the song is picked on the A, B, and G strings. The right hand always uses the pattern of thumb and middle finger together and then index finger after. That is the whole picking pattern throughout the entire song. Beyond that, all you have to do is move the left-hand position.

Here is the tab to “Blackbird.” Try the picking-pattern, and see how it works throughout the entire song.


Blackbird Intro and Verse Tabs


Blackbird Chorus Tabs

3. Alternate Picking

This is a technique that will take some time to really master, but after you learn it, you will be playing the guitar faster than ever! The technique is basically how it sounds. When you are picking a crazy-fast solo on the guitar, your notes will come out much faster if you pick alternatively, rather than picking in one direction all the time. When you pick one note in a downward direction, the next note you should pick in an upward direction. See the diagram below for a representation of this movement.

Alternate Picking Diagram

“Snow (Hey Oh)” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers is a good song to see how fast your picking can be, after you get the hang of alternate picking by practicing with scales.

The guitar line sounds difficult; however, if you have the alternate picking technique down really well, then this song will be as easy as pie. Here are the tabs to start learning how to play the main riff!


Here is a link to the entire tab.

4. The “Pick Squeal”

Also known as the “Pick Harmonic,” this is a common guitar technique that came out of the music from the 80s and 90s and from the abundance of guitar solos in this time period. The sound is a high, screechy sound, but it sounds great if you’ve got the right amount of distortion when playing rock’n roll music.

Hold the pick so that there is only a small section of the tip showing. Then, as you pick the note in the same stroke, touch the side of your thumb on the string, but don’t hold it there. Continue the stroke so your thumb only touches the string for a second. Where you pick the string has a big effect on the sound that comes out, and every guitar has a different “hot spot.” Experiment a bit to find your guitar’s best location. Generally the hot spot is near the pick-ups of your guitar.

It will take some time to learn this technique, so don’t get discouraged trying to make the sound in the beginning. Just have some fun, and your guitar will soon be squealing! One group that frequently used this technique is the infamous Eddie Van Halen. You can hear Eddie squealing away on the song “Jamie’s Cryin’.” Here is a video of some awesome pick-squealing solos.

Here is also the tab for this song.


Jamie's Cryin' Intro Tabs

Jamie's Cryin' Chorus Tabs

Jamie's Cryin' Solo Tabs

5. Sweep Picking

This guitar technique sounds difficult, and in fact it is a bit difficult, at first. However, with the right amount of practice and a loose wrist, you can actually begin to play awesome-sounding fast sweeps before you know it!

Sweep picking is a technique used mainly in heavy metal music, in which you play arpeggios at an incredibly fast speed. This makes your music sound awesome and really makes you sound like a pro with really very little effort.

To achieve this technique, let’s begin with the right hand. Simply take your pick and pick up three, four, or five strings (however big the “sweep” is). Then, when you get to the lowest string, simply pick downward until you are back at the high string (high E string).

And that is it! You are simply moving the pick upward and then downward on three, four, or five strings. These are known as 3-string, 4-string, or 5-string sweeps.

In the left hand, you make an arpeggio shape, and you generally have a pull-off on the high or low string of the arpeggio.

A great example of sweep picking can be heard in the song “Altitudes” by Jason Becker.

Here are the tabs to his solo, which occurs at 2:05 in the song. He plays them very fast, and I know they look intimidating, but just take them as exercises. Try playing the first arpeggio very slowly with the right hand technique I described above, and don’t forget to include hammer-on’s and pull-off’s on any consecutive notes on the same string (unless otherwise marked with a slide “/“ marking). Do the exercises slowly at first, and then gradually build up speed and you will soon be sweep picking just like Becker!


Altitudes Solo Tabs

You can find a site to the complete tab here.

Think you’ve mastered these moves on your guitar? Getting some feedback and advice from a qualified guitar teacher can be the key to taking your guitar skills to the next level. Search for your teacher today!

ChristopherS.Post Author: Christopher S.
Christopher S. teaches bass guitar, guitar, and composition in Jamaica Plain, MA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Humboldt State University and is currently atttending New England Conservatory for his Master of Music degree. Christopher has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Christopher S. here!

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Get Ready to Roll: The Complete Guide to Sushi


There’s no better way to learn Japanese than exploring the culture and sampling some of the signature dishes! Sushi is one of the most popular Japanese foods, not only in Japan, but also worldwide.

Sushi has a long history in Asia, and the traditional Japanese cuisine is vastly different from the sushi you find in America, which brings us to etiquette. Learn proper dining manners, whether you’re a longtime sushi fan or just discovering this delicacy.

Sushi History

Sushi as we know it today is an edible art form. The itamae (sushi chef) uses the freshest ingredients: fish, rice, shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and other seasoning, adds rice, and rolls it neatly in nori (seaweed). The presentation is just as appealing as the taste.

Sushi has a long history which dates back to second century A.D. in China. It was derived from a method to preserve fish; placing fish in rice would prevent it from going bad. The rice was later thrown away and the fish was eaten by itself.

Once this concept reached Japan, around seventh century A.D., the Japanese began eating this fish with the rice. Shortly thereafter, a man from Edo (Tokyo), Matsumoto Yoshiichi, began adding rice vinegar and selling this early version of sushi.

Sushi has gone through several upgrades since the early stages; here is an awesome look at its evolution.

Sushi Vocabulary

Now that you’re a sushi historian, it’s time to learn some important vocab. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Maki – Maki is a type of sushi rolled with a bamboo mat.
  • Gunkan Nigiri – Gunkan means “boat.” The ingredients are held in place on top of the roll in a boat shape.
  • Temaki – hand rolls. You can generally order sushi as a hand roll or a cut roll. Hand rolls are cone-shaped single servings, whereas cut rolls are smaller and easy to share.
  • Nigiri – Sliced raw fish over rice. If you don’t like nori, you should try nigiri.
  • Sashimi– Sliced raw fish (no rice).
  • Chirashi – Assorted fish over rice, served in a bowl.

Sushi Ingredients

Some of the most popular sushi rolls are the California roll (crab, avocado, and cucumber), Philly roll (salmon, cream cheese, and vegetables), rainbow roll (crab, avocado, cucumber with tuna, yellowtail, and salmon on the outside), caterpillar roll (cucumber, fish cake, crab, avocado), and the dragon roll (cucumber, avocado, eel, and eel sauce).

One of the best things about going out to eat sushi is trying new things. Here are some of the common ingredients you will find on the sushi menu:

  • Hamachi – Japanese amberjack (a type of yellowtail).
  • Nori – Seaweed
  • Tako – Octopus
  • Tamago – Sweet egg
  • Tobiko  Often used as a garnish, tobiko are flying fish roe (eggs)
  • Unagi – Fresh-water eel.
  • Wasabi – Be careful with this one, this spicy Japanese horseradish will add a kick to your roll.
  • Shoyu – Soy Sauce

This is just a small sample of many ingredients you can add to sushi. Depending on how adventurous you feel, step out of your comfort zone and try ordering something new!

Sushi Etiquette

Impress your friends next time you dine out at a sushi restaurant with these guidelines:

Sushi Dos

  • Eat what you take; wasting food is considered disrespectful. Plus, sushi is delicious!
  • If you’re not great at using chopsticks, rest assured, you’re permitted to use your fingers to eat sushi. Keep in mind, however, this applies to hand rolls and cut rolls, you shouldn’t use your hands to eat sashimi.
  • You should eat nigiri-style sushi in one bite.
  • When you eat at a Japanese restaurant, you may hear a lot of slurping. Go ahead and join in, slurping noodles is OK!

Sushi Don’ts

  • Sushi is generally served with ginger and wasabiDon’t combine the ginger with your sushi; it should be used between bites to cleanse your palate.
  • Don’t shake the shoyu off of your sushi.
  • Dip your sushi fish side down. Only the fish (not the rice) is meant to be dipped in the shoyu.
  • Only order sushi from the sushi chefs. You should order drinks, sides, appetizers, and additional items from your server.
  • You may see people doing this all the time, but you’re not supposed to rub your chopsticks together.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sushi

  • Most people think sushi means raw fish. This is a common misconception. Sushi actually means rice seasoned with vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  • While many people eat Miso soup as an appetizer, in Japan, Miso soup is served at the end of the meal to aid digestion.
  • The knives used by sushi chefs are direct descendants of samurai swords; the blades should be sharpened every day.
  • You shouldn’t leave your chopsticks sticking up in your bowl. This symbolizes offering food for the dead.
  • A sushi chef used to have to complete 10 years of training before he or she could work in a restaurant. Now, because of a much greater demand, a sushi chef can begin working after only two years of training.

Now that you’re a sushi expert, try some new items next time you grab sushi with your friends.

What are your favorite sushi rolls? Let us know in the comments below!

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Intro to Coloratura Singing | Exercises & Examples

How to Get Started Singing Coloratura

Interested in opera singing? You may run into the word “coloratura” in your studies. Here, vocal instructor Molly R. will give you the inside scoop on what the term means, and what you need to know to get started with the technique…


Coloratura! A fancy word for a very fancy vocal device. Coloratura is ornamentation done in classical singing: think trills, big leaps, and intricate melismas (also known as vocal runs). The most intricate coloratura singing involves cadenzas, which are improvised vocal flourishes. There’s even a very special voice type, the coloratura soprano, who’s expected to be a vocal virtuoso who sings well above high “C” (C6)!

An Example of Coloratura Singing

Certain opera composers, such as Mozart and Rossini, are known for writing music that contains coloratura showpieces. Perhaps one of the best examples of powerhouse coloratura singing is one of the arias the Queen of the Night sings in Mozart’s “Magic Flute.”

These arias can be quite daunting to the novice singer! However, the key to mastering ANYTHING is starting small. There are plenty of vocal exercises and songs that will prepare you for more advanced repertoire later on in your studies.

How to Sing Coloratura

Singing requires many skills beyond controlling your breathing and hitting the right notes. Here are the first steps to take when learning how to master the art of coloratura singing.

1. Become REALLY well-acquainted with your lower support muscles.

In order to sing good, clean, and accurate coloratura, you must “sing where you laugh.”
The best vocal warm-up for this is a simple staccato exercise, which will strengthen your core and increase overall flexibility throughout your vocal range. Here’s an example of an exercise to try:

2. Practice intervals and pitch accuracy.

Accuracy is key so that your notes are dead-on and not sloppy or out of tune. A really fun “go-to” in my studio is Kim Chandler’s series called “Funky ‘n Fun.” Although geared for non-classical singers, her exercises that focus on intervals are tremendously helpful for the ear AND the voice!

3. Get some “old school” books written by vocal masters.

There’s a wealth of information on coloratura singing written by experts who are well-versed in the practice. Having resources to reference to will aid in your practice and understanding of valuable singing techniques. Here are a few of my top picks:

  • Mathilde Marchesi’s “Bel Canto” – This book’s exercises start small, with simple two-note “shakes” and three-note “trills”, building you up for more elaborate ornamentation as the book progresses. These exercises can easily be played on the piano by a novice!
  • Estelle Liebling’s “Vocal Course for Coloratuna Soprano” – Estelle Liebling is a student of Marchesi and teacher of one of the finest coloratura sopranos, Beverly Sills. These exercises start simply and build in complexity. Liebling, like Marchesi, stresses clean, pure-tone, and rock-solid lower support. These are indeed the two main things a singer must master to sing coloratura!
  • Estelle Liebling’s “Coloratura Cadenzas” – This book is for later in the coloratura soprano’s studies. It provides various options for cadenzas a soprano may insert into many famous arias. Do note that these arias are not to be studied until a student has mastered the basics — but it may be a good idea to have this book on hand to see what musicality is necessary for singing a cadenza.

What Are Some Songs for the Coloratura Soprano?

At this point, you may wonder what some popular but simple coloratura songs sound like. Below are a couple suggestions for  repertoire that may be helpful for beginner coloraturas before they build up to coloratura opera arias.

“Poor Wandering One” from “Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan

This is the place to start! It’s short, in English, and has a section that will definitely get a soprano on the right track for singing good, clean high notes.

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s “Messiah”

Handel oratorio arias are excellent preparation for florid singing. It’s also wise for a soprano singer to learn “Messiah”, anyway — it’s a staple among classical music repertoire and chances are you may be asked to sing it at some point in your career. Many of Handel’s operatic arias are must faster, but the slower tempo of this piece allows your voice to really get the hang of the trill.

Final Thoughts

Coloratura singing is NOT one of those skills you can learn on your own. It’s very important that you have the eyes and ears of a trusted voice teacher guide you through it, and most importantly, assess when you’re ready to tackle more advanced repertoire.

There are many fantastic vocal instructors on TakeLessons.com. If you don’t have a teacher already, browse around to find your ideal instructor and get started now!


mollyrPost Author: Molly R.
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

Photo by Baldwin Wallace University

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29 Survival Tips for Studying in Japan (From Language and Travel Experts)

29 Survival Tips for Studying in Japan

Whether you’re traveling to Japan for fun or to study the language, it’s important to prepare for your time away from home. It’s natural to experience some culture shock any time you travel to a new place, but proper preparation can make the difference between an uncomfortable trip and a life-changing experience.

So whether you’re traveling with a language or exchange program, with a small group, or flying solo, here are 29 tips from language and travel experts to help you have an unforgettable travel experience.

Traveling to Japan

From what to pack in your suitcase to how to create the perfect travel itinerary, make sure you have your bases covered long before you head to the airport.

Immerse Yourself at Home

True language immersion is impossible if you don’t live in a Japanese-speaking city, but it’s important to expose yourself to the language (as much as possible) before you go.

It’s not as hard as you think to do this, you just need to be creative. Watch Japanese TV shows with subttiles, listen to Jpop (Japanese pop music), read manga, and watch anime.

Define Your Goal

There are several options for students studying in Japan. You could join an immersion program, find a scholarship program, study abroad, or find a language exchange program.

Determine what you want to get out of your trip and then choose the best plan of action to achieve that goal.

Do Your Homework

If you don’t plan to stay in Japan for a long period of time and just want to get a taste of the culture and lifestyle, look into the different travel options and opportunities.

Read travel blogs, brush up on the essential parts of the language, and talk to people who have spent time in Japan.

You want to know as much about the culture, climate, lifestyle, and language before you go.

Learn About Etiquette

Remember, you’re going to be a guest in another country, so it’s important that you’re courteous to the locals; you don’t want to accidentally offend anyone.

In Japan, it’s common to bow when you greet someone.

Plus, did you know that it’s considered polite to be as silent as possible on the train?

Shop Around

If you’re planning on studying in Japan, find a language program that is either a full immersion program or requires a language pact. GoAbroad is a great resource for this, there are various opportunities like study abroad programs, volunteer opportunities, internships, and more.

Read reviews and ask around. Try to get unbiased opinions from past participants, they can tell you what you need to know and the pros and cons of each program.

“The world is now a very well-connected place, you will be able to find people who have participated in any program and ask for their thoughts,” advises Amanda Rollins from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. “Be prepared to hear good and bad things, and use your judgement based on what matters to you.”

Do your homework and shop around for the program that suits your needs. Ask questions and make sure you have all the necessary information.

Partner schools are another option for language students, so make sure to look into those as well.

“Many partner langauge schools offer short-term study (as little as 1 – 2 weeks) and then the student is free to continue on his or her trip,” says Anthony Joh of  GaijinPot. “Most people probably don’t think about starting their holiday in Japan at a school, but it’s a lot of fun and the language you learn will really come in handy later.”


This doesn’t just mean putting aside money for your trip, it means taking an honest look at your finances and determining what you can do.

Check out this travel budget calculator from Independent Traveler.

Also, plan ahead for accommodations, travel expenses, and meals.

Plus, you will probably want to buy some keepsakes to remember the trip and some souvenirs for your friends back home.

Check the Weather

Again, this may seem obvious, but what you bring on your trip will depend on the season. For example, summer is hot and humid, so lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes are best.

If you don’t plan ahead for the weather, you may have to buy new clothes in Japan, and this takes away from the money you have to use on your trip.

Also, bring a comfortable pair of shoes, you will be exploring and walking, a lot!

Learn Japanese

No you don’t need to be fluent in Japanese, but don’t underestimate the importance of being able to communicate.

Learn the essential phrases you need to get by. Learn to ask for directions and to greet people.

If you’re traveling to Japan with a group, you’ll have some guides to help you communicate, but wouldn’t you feel more confident armed with a basic knowledge of the language?

Ask your Japanese teacher to go over the most important aspects of the language that will help you communicate and navigate in Japan.

Once you’re in Japan you will have an opportunity to practice your Japanese skills, make sure you take advantage of this.

“Even if you don’t know much Japanese, the practice you get in Japan is worth twice as much as practice at home,” Tofugu editor Michael Richey says. “Take advantage of the time. Also, Japanese people are very patient listeners in general and usually have good attitudes towards foreigners who are trying out their language.”

Don’t Leave Your Study Materials Behind!

While traveling to Japan will allow you to have real-life experiences which will help you take your Japanese-language skills far beyond the classroom, don’t leave your resources behind.

Bring books and items you’re familiar with, so you will have materials to study from that you already know how to navigate. This will make it easier to look things up as necessary.

Bring Gifts

It’s an excellent idea to bring a gift (as many as you can) from where you’re from. Keep in mind that these gifts don’t need to be expensive or extravagant.
There is a gift-giving culture in Japan, and when you meet key people (individuals or groups you will interact with regularly), like a host family, it would be a polite, courteous gesture to give them a gift.
 This will also show that you appreciate Japanese culture.

Make New Friends

Find a language-exchange buddy. This will help you learn and you will have a new friend!

“If you want to make friends, go do interesting things and invite many people along,” says Amanda Rollins from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. “Some of those people will go with you, and some of those people will make an effort to maintain the friendship. This is how you make friends (as opposed to sitting in your room, waiting for people to knock on your door).”


Exploring different parts of Japan will allow you to experience different dialects and cultures.

“Japan is unique in the world in that the train and public transport networks allow you to access practically everywhere in the country quickly,” says travel blogger Robert Schrader. “The high level of personal safety in Japan means that nowhere is off limits, even at night. So Wander! Get lost! Discover as many nooks and crannies as you can, because the more you get to know Japan, the more you’ll fall in love with it!”

Even if you’re traveling on a tight budget, you can still experience everything Japan has to offer. Zooming Japan writer Jasmine T. recommends getting the Seishun 18 Kippu,which will allow even the most budget-conscious travelers the opportunity to explore.

Find Local Events and Festivals

You may not be able to plan your trip around a big event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience some smaller, local festivals and celebrations.

Do your research before you go; you don’t want to miss out on an unforgettable experience.

Make a “Must-See” List

Has traveling to Japan been on your bucket list for years? If so, you’re probably already a step ahead in choosing your must-see destinations.

Regardless of if you want to travel to Kyoto or visit the Matsumoto Castle, do your homework and decide what you must see or do before you leave Japan.

Creating a list and an action plan will help you accomplish your sightseeing goals.

Have a Plan (but be flexible)

Yes it’s important to plan ahead, but also understand that other options and interests will arise, and that’s OK.

“Pick out two to three neighborhoods you would like to visit each day and a few things you would like to see in each neighborhood,” says Lisa Ng, Editor-in-Chief of This Beautiful Day. “It’s great to have a loose, flexible plan that doesn’t have you rushing from place to place or criss-crossing all over the city. When I arrive at a new hotel, I like to ask the staff members where they like to go for lunch. This is how I found one of the best ramen places on my trip!”

Obviously, the length of your stay will affect how much you can see and do in Japan, but if you have a game plan before you go, you can make the most of your time.

Here is a great sample itinerary for a shorter trip to Japan.

Consider Visiting Lesser-Known Sites

Along with the hotspots on your must-see list, consider going off the beaten path and exploring lesser-known destinations.

You never know what you will find, and these hidden gems will be less crowded than the main tourist attractions.


You’re going to want to connect with family and friends back home so you can tell them all about your trip. Save some money; download skype and encourage them to do the same.

traveling to Japan

 Don’t Rely on Street Addresses

You’re probably thinking, I’ll have my phone, I can use Google Maps. While your phone will come in handy, especially for translation apps, it may not help you navigate the city.

Buildings in Japan aren’t numbered by location, instead, they’re numbered by their size and history.

Jaunted.com recommends taking screenshots of places you want to visit, or ask for taxi cards which usually have a map and Japanese directions.

Learn to Read a Train Map

Much of Japan is accessible by train, so learning to read the map of the railway system will save you time and a lot of frustration.

Public transportation is very important to help you get around on your trip. Tofugu editor Michael Richey recommends getting a Japan rail pass.

“It’s a special rail pass only available to foreign visitors entering Japan, and it allows unlimited travel for either seven or 14 days,” Richey says. “The price tag may seem high, but if you take two Shinkansen trips, it pays for itself. Considering all the train riding you’ll be doing, it may save you money in the long run. Also, spending time on the trains is a joy, so there’s a bit of experience built into the travel.”

Bring Cash

It’s pretty rare to carry cash these days, but it’s a great idea while you’re visiting Japan. Most Japanese ATMs don’t accept international cards.

You can exchange your local currency in airports; save yourself the headache and bring cash.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

With unfamiliar surroundings and a new language and culture, you will face some challenges while you’re in Japan. There will be times when you’ll need to ask for help.

Your Japanese comprehension may not be sufficient to fix day-to-day challenges, so it’s important to establish good relationships with Japanese people, and find individuals who you can rely on.
If you’re respectful toward the Japanese people, they will help you when you’re in trouble. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.


You Don’t Need to Tip (for the most part)

In Japan, you generally don’t tip cab drivers and servers. If you go to a fancy restaurant, a service charge may be added to your bill.

Money gifts are acceptable for special services like a personal tour guide.

Mind Your Manners

Did you know that sticking your chopsticks up in a bowl symbolizes death in Japan?

While no one will expect a visitor to know every intricacy of Japanese culture, you can avoid awkward stares from the locals if you learn some customs and etiquette.

You Can Forget Your Toothbrush (if you’re staying at a hotel)

Just about all the hotels in Japan (fancy or not) provide a toothbrush and toothpaste for their guests.

Besides your toothbrush, there are a few things you may not need to worry about bringing from home. Here are some more great packing tips from JapanTravelMate.

Take off Your Shoes

It’s customary to take off your shoes when you enter a house. This is also true for most businesses.

There will usually be a rack to store your shoes, and in many cases, slippers will be provided.

traveling to Japan

Now that you know some essential things to feel comfortable in Japan, here are some tips to make sure you have the trip of a lifetime.

Step out of Your Comfort Zone

Who knows when you will have another opportunity to travel to Japan, so make this one count! Be adventurous (but be safe), try some new things.

Think of the epic stories you will have to tell your friends when you get back home.

Here are some roller coasters and water parks in Japan for all you thrill-seeking travelers.

Seize Every Opportunity to Learn

“Consider everywhere a classroom,” says Jessica of Notes of Nomads, an award-winning blog specializing in Japanese travel. “Japan has a unique language and culture; you can’t experience this kind of immersion anywhere else in the world! From eating out and shopping to taking trains and visiting shrines, each is an opportunity to learn something new and practice what you have studied in class in a real-life context. Lots of things won’t make sense in the beginning and you will make mistakes, but don’t be afraid of making them. Do your best, have a positive attitude and Japan will smile at you. Guaranteed.”

Keep a Journal

You will be creating lifelong memories on your trip so give yourself a way to document them. Write about your experiences and take photos of the places you see and people you meet.

Ask the Experts

With so many digital and online resources, you have an unlimited supply of information at your disposal. Connect with someone who has traveled to Japan, and ask him or her for their advice and recommendations for studying in Japan.

Read Japan travel blogs and take note of any and all relevant information.

Here are some additional sites you may want to bookmark and check frequently.

Japan Travel Advice

Inside Japan


Most importantly, try to learn all the Japanese-language basics you can before you leave. Sign up for lessons with a private Japanese tutor, here

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10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

10 MORE Easy Piano Songs for Kids [Video Tutorials]

10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

We’ve already shown you easy piano songs for your child to learn, but why stop there? Piano teacher Liz T. adds to the excitement with her recommendations for 10 more of the best piano songs for kids…


The keyboard or piano is perhaps the easiest instrument for kids to learn how to play. Within a few weeks of practice, most kids are already playing the melodies to some of their favorite tunes! Between the ages of four through 10 is ideal for students to start learning how to play the piano.

Your child will most likely already be familiar with some of these traditional songs, therefore making it fun and easy for your child to pick them up on the piano. Here are some of the best piano songs for kids to learn.

1. “The Wheels on the Bus”

The wheels on the bus go round and round
Round and round, round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All through the town

2. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

3. “Pop Goes the Weasel”

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey thought twas all in fun
Pop goes the weasel

4. “Ode to Joy”


5.”You Are My Sunshine”

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
G C D E E E D# E C C
You make me happy when skies are grey
You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you
So please don’t take my sunshine away

6. “Yankee Doodle”

Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his hat and called it Macaroni
Yankee Doodle went to town, Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step and with the girls be handy

7. Barney’s “I Love You” Song

I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
Won’t you say you love me too

8. “When the Saints Go Marching In”

Oh when the saints
Oh when the saints
Oh when the saints go marching in
Oh how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

9. “Amazing Grace”

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
D G B G B, A G E D
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Twas blind but now I see

10. “Jingle Bells”

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh
Over the fields we go, laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey

Following along with these video tutorials can be helpful, but I also recommend checking out this guide to piano notes, so your child can learn more about the relationships between the keys.

I also encourage you and your child to sing along while you play these songs! This is a great way for children to become familiar with these classic and traditional songs, while improving their reading and aural skills.

Finally, if you or your child needs some guidance working on these songs, I highly recommend working with a piano instructor! A private piano teacher can show your child the proper fingering placement on the piano, the appropriate speed and pace for the song, and the joy of playing these fun songs. Happy playing!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by C.K. Koay

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The Korean Future Tense Part 4: The Future Presumptive

future presumptive

In part four of our four-part Korean grammar series on describing the future in Korean, language teacher Bryce J. explains how to use the future-presumptive tense in Korean. 

Before you learn about the future-presumptive tense, make sure you review the other future tenses in Korean:

The Future Presumptive

Many people falsely assume that this grammatical pattern is THE future tense in Korean.

Although it’s often called a future tense by most textbooks, the future-presumptive tense has several functions, none of which is purely a statement of future events.

Grammatical Rule – Predicate Stem + 겠다

The future-presumptive tense functions as follows:

  1. A matter-of-fact statement of personal intention in 1st person declarative and 2nd person question (slightly more formal compared to the equivalent expression [verb stem + (으)ㄹ래요])
  2. A notion of intention in 3rd-person sentences
  3.  A conjecture or assumption regarding the state of being when used with adjectives
  4.  Used with verbs to indicate modality (likelihood, ability, or permission)

Here are some example sentences for each of these functions:

1. Personal Intention (Formal)

A: 내일 오시겠습니까?  “Will you (do you intend to) come tomorrow?”
B: 네, 내일 가겠습니다.  “Yes, I will (do intend to go).”

2. Third Person (Intention)

(A and B witness a little child fall and scrape her knee on the pavement.)
A: 야, 아프겠다!  “Whoa, that must hurt!”
B: 어, 다쳤겠지.  “Yeah, I bet she’s hurt.”

3. Conjecture

A: 그 책이 도서관에 있을까요?  “Do you think that book will be at the library?”
B: 있겠지요.  “Sure, I suppose so.”

4. Modality

알겠어요. “I know or I understand” (instead of 알아요).
모르겠어요.  “I wouldn’t know or I don’t understand” (instead of 몰라요).

You can also see this grammar in combination with the simple past tense where it has only the meaning of intention as in “must have” or “I’ll bet that.”

For example:

아마 기차로 갔겠지요. “I’ll bet he must have gone by train, don’t you think?”

Finally, the future-presumptive [predicate stem + 겠다] is also seen in various fixed, formulaic expressions as follows:

– 잘 먹겠습니다.  Bon Appétit.
– 다녀오겠습니다  I’ll be back.
– 주문하시겠어요?  Are you ready to order?

Clearly there is significant overlap in the meaning and usage of the different functions of the future-presumptive [predicate stem + 겠다], which is to be expected.

The grammar has only one meaning but multiple applications.

Ultimately, the future-presumptive tense [predicate stem + 겠다] tends to have a formal feel to it when used in first and second person, whereas in the third person it’s generally interpreted as “must.”

To be clear, let’s distinguish between the two kinds of “must” in English. One expresses obligation:

“You must buy me lunch.”

Obligation is expressed by the Korean construction [verb stem + 어/아야 되다/하다], a completely different grammar form.

The other “must” expresses probability, assumption, or likelihood:

“That girl with Bill must be his fiancé.”

“It’s raining — it must be getting cooler.”

It’s this second kind of “must” which is conveyed by the future-presumptive [predicate stem + 겠다].


Future Presumptive


As you can see, there are several different ways to use the future-presumptive tense, and this can be confusing for beginners.

Don’t get discouraged, with hard work and consistent practice, you will learn how to use the Korean future tense.

Need some help with Korean grammar? Find a Korean teacher near you! 


BryceJPost Author: Bryce J.
Bryce J. teaches college-level Korean and ESL classes in Minneapolis, MN. He has his MA. in teaching from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Learn more about Bryce here!

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Drum Fills

3 Simple Steps to Create Powerful Drum Fills

Drum Fills

Want to take your drumming to the next level? Learn how to write drum fills. Here, Chicago, IL drum instructor Michael P. shares his three simple steps to create powerful drum fills…

As a drum teacher, I hear a lot of questions about drum fills.

Drum fills are great to spice up a song and show off your chops, but when you sit down to write a fill, it’s easy to end up scratching your head and asking yourself, “what do I do now?”

So next time you find yourself in this situation, try these three steps to turn a simple idea into a killer drum fill.

Step 1: Research

The first step in putting together a great fill is to dig for ideas. These days, it’s easier than ever. Just Google “cool drum pattern,” “drum rudiments,” or “accent patterns,” or check out one of the many drum lessons on YouTube.

Another great strategy is to listen to drummers who play your favorite styles. See what elements they use in their fills, and try to use similar elements in your own songs.

Don’t just consider rhythm; think about the wide range of dynamics and timbres available on your drum set.

Here are some elements I like to use in my fills:

  • Rhythm: eighth notes, sixteenth notes, triplets, flams, five-stroke rolls
  • Dynamics: accent patterns, ghost notes
  • Timbre: double-kick, tom-tom, ride bell, open hi-hat

If you want to get creative, listen to different music styles and see if you can incorporate these ideas in your own style. Remember, the goal of a drum fill is to complement the rest of the music, so try to choose elements that will fit with your song.

Here’s an example:

My fill is a one-measure chorus-to-verse transition in a driving metal song, but I’ve decided to start simple with this classic accent pattern:

drum fills piture 1

I’ll also add in triplets, double kick, and tom-toms for extra flavor.

Step 2: Deliberate Experimentation

Now that you have elements to put in your fill, it’s time for the fun part: experimenting!

At an easy tempo, play through the beat just before the fill. Once you have a good feel for that part of the song, try out a fill. Piece together some elements you like, play through them, and see how they sound together.

Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a different rhythm I could use to spice this up (flam, triplet, etc.)?
  • Can I switch this note or group of notes to different instruments?
  • Could I alter the volume or accent the notes in a different way?

I call this step deliberate experimentation because I use these questions systematically to transform the fill into something I really like, as in the following example:


drum fills piture 1

I’ve already got some good accents here, but I want to make the unaccented rhythms more interesting, so I’ll add triplets (rhythm).

drum fills

Much better, but now the fill is a bit monotonous because it’s only played on the snare drum.

I’m going to throw in some double kick (timbre).

drum fills picture 3

Great. Now, let’s bring out the accents even more by doubling them up on the floor tom as well (dynamics).

I still think there’s a bit too much snare, so let’s put the unaccented snare hits on the medium tom-tom instead (timbre).


drum fills picture 4

There. That’s a pretty awesome fill. See how I changed one or two elements each time to transform the ordinary accent pattern into something cool?

Step 3: Testing

Now that you have a cool fill, it’s time to test it out.

Play the fill in the context of the song. Does it match the energy and the timing? Does it complement the other instruments? Is it carrying through an important transition?

If you’re in a musical group, this is a good time to ask for feedback. Your fellow musicians will be able to tell you if you’re suffering from ODS (Overactive Drummer Syndrome).

If the fill doesn’t fit with the music, that’s OK. You aren’t always going to get it right the first time. Write down your idea and go have some more fun experimenting!

Here’s a sample of my drum fill:

I’m pretty pleased with how it sounds, so I’m going to keep it and start working on the next one.

Well, that’s it! Now you know the secret to making awesome drum fills: research, experimentation, and testing.

Go ahead and give this process a try; before long, you’ll be rocking the house like your favorite drummers!

Michael P.Post Author: Michael P.
Michael P. teaches percussion and drum lessons in Chicago, IL. He has been playing drums for over 15 years, and recently played with the heavy metal band Erlang Kovata.  Learn more about Michael here!

Photo by Flavio Serpa

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useful italian phrases

Getting Down to Business: Useful Italian Phrases and Etiquette Tips for Doing Business

useful italian phrases

Close the deal on your next Italian business trip with this lesson from Italian teacher Nadia B. on useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips for doing business…

Are you planning on doing business in Italy? It’s important that you learn Italian—even just a little—before your trip, as you want to interact with constituents in a professional and polite manner.

In this article, we’ll explore various useful Italian phrases and words you can use to ensure your meetings go off without a hitch. But before we jump into learning Italian, below are some helpful etiquette tips.

Italian Business Etiquette Tips

When it comes to doing business, Italy and the U.S. are fairly similar; however, there are some cultural differences. Use the tips below to ensure that you’re well prepared for your meeting.

  • Be on time: Contrary to popular belief, Italians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously. Make sure your on time for meetings and leave yourself enough time to get to your destination if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • Gift giving: Only after you’ve established a trusted relationship with your Italian constituents is it appropriate to give a small gift. Proper gifts include liquors, delicacies, or crafts from your native country.
  • Dress Code: Italians are as serious about their fashion as they are their food. Make sure, therefore, that you dress to impress. Men typically wear high-quality, tailored suits, while women opt for a feminine skirt suit or dress.
  • Greetings: Greet the group by saying “Buongiorno” (good morning) or “Buonasera”’ (good afternoon/evening) and shake each individual’s hand. Typically, older people and women will be introduced first.
  • Titles: When meeting someone for the first time, address the person with his or her appropriate title followed by his or her last name. For example, “Dottore” and “Dottoressa” for individuals holding a university degree, “Avvocato” for a lawyer, “Ingegnere” for an engineer, and “Architetto” for an architect.

Useful Italian Phrases for Business

Perhaps the most important concept to learn in Italian is the use of the formal ‘you’. While in English, there’s only one way to address a person, in Italian there’s a formal (“Lei”) and an informal (“tu”) option.

In most business situations, you’ll want to use “Lei” since it’s more formal and a sign of respect. However, if you find yourself among colleagues of a similar age in a more casual situation, it may be more appropriate to use “tu”.

Here are some other useful Italian phrases for initial introductions and greetings, as well as some helpful networking phrases.

  • Buongiorno, come sta/stai? (Hello, how are you [formal/informal]?)
  • Piacere. (Nice to meet you.)
  • Come si chiama/ti chiami? (What is your name (formal/informal)?)
  • Sono ___.” (My name is ___.)
  • Per quale società lavora/i? (For what company do you [formal/informal] work?)
  • M’interesserebbe sapere più del suo/tuo lavoro.” (I would be interested to learn more about your [formal/informal] work.)
  • Posso avere il suo/tuo recapito?” (Can I have your [formal/informal] contact information?)
  • Se vuole/vuoi, mi piacerebbe incontrarci per un caffè. (If you [formal/informal] like, I’d like to meet you for a coffee.)

When you’re really getting down to business, you might need the following Italian phrases.

  • Quanto costerebbe questo progetto? (How much would this project cost?)
  • Quanti articoli vorrebbe/vorresti? (How many items would you [formal/informal] want?)
  • Quando potrebbe essere realizzato? (When could it be completed?)
  • Possiamo usare l’inglese per communicare? (Can we use English to communicate?)

Lastly, here are some useful Italian vocabulary words that might come in handy.

  • “la riunione” (meeting)
  • “l’agenda” (agenda)
  • “la presentazione” (presentation)
  • “il verbale” (report)
  • “la tassa” (tax)
  • “il salario” (salary)
  • “gli affari” (business [in the general sense])
  • “l’azienda/l’impresa” (company)
  • “l’impiego/il lavoro” (occupation)
  • “il negozio” (shop/store)
  • “il/la cliente” (client)
  • “il pranzo di lavoro” (working lunch)
  • “il biglietto da visita” (business card)
  • “i contatti” (contacts)

With these useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips above, you’ll be able to smoothly navigate throughout the world of business in Italy.

Post Author:
 Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

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Learn Japanese Through Music: 7 Fun Songs to Sing at Karaoke

Learn Japanese Through Music - 7 Songs to Sing at Karaoke

Karaoke is a fun activity in any language, but believe it or not, singing karaoke is also a great way to improve your Japanese-language skills.

Karaoke, as we know it, actually started in Kobe City, Japan. The word ‘karaoke‘ is a combination of the words kara (from karappo, which means ’empty’) and oke (from okesutura, which means ‘orchestra’).

You may not have realized that you can learn Japanese through music, but karaoke is one of the best ways to practice vocabulary and pronunciation. Learning Japanese songs will help you hear how phrases are used, and help you get a feel for the way words are pronounced.

Learn Japanese through music with these seven popular songs!

1. “Tentai Kansoku”

This song is easy for karaoke enthusiasts, since it doesn’t require a large vocal range. It’s J-pop (Japanese pop), which means it has a steady rock beat and is easy to sing.

Tentai Kansoku” tells the story of a star-gazing couple, who drifts apart as time goes on.

2. “Kiseki”

This love song is one of the most popular Japanese karaoke songs.

The word kiseki means ‘miracle,’ and the song is about a couple’s devotion and eternal love.

The words are generally slow, which makes it ideal for beginners.

3. “Guren no Yumiya”

If you’re an anime fan, you may already be familiar with this popular Japanese song.

As the opening theme for the first season of “Attack on Titan,” this song is operatic rock. It has both Japanese and German lyrics (but you don’t have to sing the German parts).

The Japanese verses are a little faster; try to focus on the words over the powerful beat.

4. “Hanamizuki”

This is another popular love song that is slow and easy for beginners.

This J-pop song doesn’t require a powerful voice, but you should be able to sing on key, because it’s meant to be tender.

This was the title song for the “Hanamizuki” movie soundtrack.

5. “Zankoku na Tenshi no These”

This karaoke favorite was the theme song for the Japanese anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン).

This song is a little more challenging, but if you’re at an intermediate level, go ahead and see if you can sing along.

6. “Memeshikute”

Don’t get intimidated by this one. It starts out pretty fast, but try to stick with it!

This J-pop song is popular because of the up-tempo beat and catchy lyrics. While it’s definitely one of the more challenging songs on the list, it can really help you improve your Japanese-language skills.

7. “Matryoshka”

You don’t need an amazing voice to sing this song, but it’s pretty fast, which can make it challenging.

If you take the time to really learn the lyrics, you will impress your friends with your ability to sing fast in Japanese!


Learn Japanese through music with these catchy tunes. With some practice and repetition, you’ll learn the lyrics and perfect your pronunciation. Plus, you’ll have lots of fun and boost your Japanese-language skills!

Want to perfect your Japanese pronunciation? Sign up for lessons with a private Japanese tutor. 

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