drum performance

8 Ways to Prepare for Your First Drum Performance

drum performance

If you practice hard and stick with your drum lessons, you’ll eventually be ready to take the stage for your first drum performance. Whether you’re playing a local gig or you have aspirations to make money playing drums, we want to help you prepare to rock your first show. Here, San Diego, CA drum instructor Maegan W. shares her eight-step checklist to help you nail your first drum performance.. 

So it’s time for your first drum performance — do you feel nervous? Don’t worry, that’s normal; being nervous just means you care. Once you stop getting nervous, that’s when you need to worry.

Remember, you have done all the work: practice, promotion, networking… and here it is, your first drum gig!

Here are eight things you can do to be successful at your first drum performance. By the way, this checklist is also great for your 20th, 100th, or 1000th gig, too.


 

drum performance

Make sure you know the set list inside and out. If you think you’ve got it, run the set one more time, and then one more time after that.

Once you’re on that stage, your mind will be in a million places, and you’ll need to rely on muscle memory to help you through. The more you play and practice before you take the stage, the less you will have to think when you’re up there.

Once you hit the stage, you can have fun and let loose!


 

drum performance

Before your gig, practice counting in to your metronome. This may seem silly, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to add an extra 10 bps when your heart is racing with the adrenaline of a live show.

Lock in the time, and make sure you can remember how the song starts so you don’t get confused.


 

drum performance

Preparing for a gig doesn’t stop after your practice your songs. Before the show, make a gear checklist or a counting system so you don’t forget anything. Write down the items you need: your set list, your throne, a rug, etc.

There’s nothing worse than forgetting something you need for a show.


drum performance

You don’t just want to be prepared, when it comes to playing a show, you want to be over prepared. Bring a spare snare or drum head, and bring extra drum sticks. Throw in an extra pedal, if you have one, and an extra cymbal. You may not want to lug the extra supplies to the gig, but once you’re there it’s too late, so bring them just in case you need them.

Here are some more suggestions, for musicians in general, of important items to pack in your gig bag.


 

drum performance

Have someone film your show. Don’t let this distract you, this is not to make you a YouTube star; not yet, anyway. Video is a great learning tool. The best way to learn and improve is by watching yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not happy with your performance; use it as an opportunity to learn.


 

drum performance

What’s the real point of playing this show? What’s the end result for you? If you’re considering drums as a career, than you must always think bigger than the current gig, and always look for opportunities.

Bring some business cards with your contact information. Be ready to meet people that may be good connections to help you book more gigs.


 

drum performance

Part of being prepared is being professional. Always act like there’s someone important in the crowd, you never know who’s watching. Behave as you would in a job interview (for something cool that you love to do).

The point of playing, besides having a blast, is to get exposure and grow your business (if this is your ultimate goal). Never overlook an opportunity, this is what separates the wannabes from the professionals.


 

drum performance

There is absolutely no point to any of this if you’re not having fun. Playing gigs requires a lot of time, energy, and preparation, so if you’re not having fun, you will burn out or lose interest.

When it really comes down to it, the reason you started playing drums is because it’s fun and you love to do it. remember that, above all, when you play your first gig.

I hope this helps, I know you’re going to have a great drum performance. Playing live is a learning experience; don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake.

I’ve learned something new at each and every gig (and I’ve played hundreds). Sometimes the lessons are embarrassing, but they always help me learn and improve.

What lessons have you learned from playing gigs? Share them with us in the comments below!  

 

Maegan-W
Post Author:
 Maegan W.
Maegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!

Photo by Ashraf Saleh

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How to Play Drums: The Complete Guide for Beginners

How to Play Drums A Guide for Beginners

Do you want to learn how to play drums but aren’t quite sure where to begin? You may be asking yourself a number of questions like, “What equipment do I need?” or “How can I learn to play with a band?” Like most tasks in life, the first steps are often the most challenging.

Rest assured, everyone has to start somewhere. In this article, we’ll break down how to play the drums for beginners, and give you a solid foundation to have the best possible drumming experience.

How to Play Drums for Beginners

Table of Contents:

  1. The Parts of a Drum Kit
  2. Drum Equipment for Beginners
  3. How to Hold Drum Sticks
  4. How to Play Drum Rudiments
  5. How to Read Drum Sheet Music
  6. How to Read Drum Tabs

Parts of a Drum Kit

One of the most intimidating things about learning how to play drums is the cost of getting started. Oftentimes, instruments don’t come cheap. And unlike most other instruments, the drum set is composed of several pieces of expensive gear — it’s not just one simple piece.

Before we look into alternative options for beginners, let’s take a look at the basic parts for buying your first drum set.

Snare Drum

learn how to play snare drum

The snare is the center of a five-piece drum kit. The snare drum is responsible for the loud crack, usually on upbeats, that you hear during songs.

The snare’s sound comes from its shell, which is generally made from wood like maple, birch, or mahogany, or from metals such as aluminum, bronze, brass, or stainless steel.

The drum head (batter) is coated, while the bottom of the snare is thin and responsive. The rims are the hoops on the top and bottom that secure the drum heads on the snare.

While all of the parts of a drum kit are important, developing your snare drum skills can help you become a better all-around drummer. In fact, it’s good to practice some snare drum exercises so you can improve your technique and focus on things like rhythm and intonation.

Bass Drum

learn bass drum

The bass, or kick drum, is easy to find because it’s the largest drum in a drum kit. Most bass drum shells are made from woods like maple, heartwood birch, and mahogany, but you can also find bass drum shells made from metals.

When you play the bass drum, you use your foot on the drum’s kick pedal to produce a thumping sound. The bass drum is essential to the drum kit because it’s the most distinctive part of a band’s timekeeping.

Timekeeping refers to a drummer’s ability to play in time with the pulse of the music. It’s a very important skill for drummers to learn. Make sure you practice this and improve your timekeeping skills in order to develop a consistent tempo when playing.

Toms, Hi-Hat, and Cymbals

learn how to play toms and cymbals

The toms, or tom-toms, are mounted either above the bass drum or held up by adjustable legs. In a five-piece drum kit, there are two types of toms: the rack toms and the floor toms. The floor and rack toms are most commonly used during drum fills. Like the other drums in the kit, the toms are generally made from wood or metal.

In addition to these basic parts of a drum set, you can also add cymbals like the hi-hat, crash, and ride cymbals. These add accents to your music and can serve as transitions from one passage in a song to the next.

Most beginner drummers don’t have the luxury of having a full drum set at their disposal. Luckily, you don’t need a complete drum kit to get started when learning how to play the drums.


 Drum Equipment for Beginners

The first piece of drum equipment that we recommend for students is free and readily available: your own body. Start with hand drumming, whether that’s playing on your thighs, a pillow, or anything else you can think of that won’t get damaged from repetitive hand tapping.

Start by tapping along to your favorite songs and focus on playing along with the drummer or another instrument in the song. If you don’t have immediate access to music, then simply practice keeping a steady tempo, alternating between tapping with your right hand and then your left hand.

Sticks and a Metronome

When you’re ready to take the next step, the first piece of gear we recommend purchasing is a pair of good drum sticks. You can find drum sticks at any music store and countless online stores, and they’re very affordable (most pairs are less than $8). We also recommend buying a rubber practice drum pad in the early stages, but if money is an issue, you can always use your drum sticks on a book, pillow, or any other firm, durable surface.

One final piece of equipment that will help you begin your journey of learning how to play the drums is a metronome. Drummers are expected to be able to maintain a steady tempo, and nothing keeps a steadier tempo than a metronome. Metronomes come in both analogue and digital.

metronome for beginners

We recommend practicing with a metronome at the beginning of your drumming journey, as it’ll help you develop a strong sense of time and rhythm. This will save you a lot of headaches later on.


How to Hold Drum Sticks

Now that you’ve got a pair of drum sticks, let’s talk a little bit about how to play drums with the proper technique. There are essentially two ways to hold drum sticks: matched grip and traditional grip.

Matched Grip

With matched grip, you’ll hold the drum sticks the same way with both hands. Your thumb should rest opposite your index finger on the stick; this pinching between your thumb and index finger is your fulcrum or pivot point. Matched grip has three different variations: German, American, and French.

German Grip

Hold the sticks with your palms facing down and use your wrists to drive the motion.

American Grip

Turn your hands to a 45-degree angle. With this grip, you can use your wrists for power and your fingers for control.

French Grip

Hold the sticks so that your thumbs face the ceiling and your palms face each other. The fulcrum rests between your thumb and index finger.

Traditional Grip

Traditional grip is often used for jazz music and drum lines. To do this, extend your left hand as if you’re about to shake someone’s hand. Place the stick in the webbing between your thumb and index finger, and rest the stick on the cuticle of your ring finger. Rest the tip of your thumb on the first knuckle of your index finger.

Your middle finger should rest lightly on the top of the stick. The fulcrum, or pivot point, is between your thumb and index finger. You’ll grip the stick in your right hand the same way you do with the American matched grip.  In traditional grip, you’ll rotate your forearm as you play (think of twisting a door knob).

As you advance, you can decide which grip style works best for you. The most important thing is to establish good drum stick technique. Poor technique can make drumming more challenging and also increase your risk of injury.

If you need a visual, here’s a helpful infographic on how to hold drum sticks:

how to hold and grip drum sticks to play


How to Play Drum Rudiments

Once you have your basic equipment (drum sticks, playing surface) and a good sense of proper technique, you’re ready to start learning the fundamental patterns of drumming, or the drum rudiments.

Drum rudiments are often described as the basic building blocks of learning how to play the drums. There are 40 essential rudiments, each of which consist of a unique sticking pattern (coordination of right and left hands) and distinct rhythm. Mastering all 40 rudiments provides you with a wealth of control and rhythmic knowledge that you can then apply to the entire drum set.

Don’t be intimidated about learning all 40 rudiments right away. Here’s a step-by-step video to help you learn the seven essential drum rudiments. As a beginner, these seven drum rudiments will give you a solid foundation and help you learn to play basic drum patterns and songs.


How to Read Drum Sheet Music

Drummers are encouraged to learn how to read drum notation. Many drummers are also expected to know how to read sheet music, as it’s a requirement of school concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, and many professional ensembles. When you understand drum sheet music, it can be used as a drummer’s secret weapon.

Drum notation is a fairly simply code and once you understand the basics it becomes easy to apply that knowledge to more advanced concepts. It’s important for beginning drummers to start with reading very basic drum rhythms before trying to jump into understanding intermediate drum beats.

Start Out Simple

For example, begin with exercises that use a combination of quarter notes and quarter rests with all notes being played on only one drum. Read rhythmic exercises out loud before trying to play them on the drums, because it strengthens the connection between your brain and limbs and it mentally prepares you for the exercise ahead.

Reading the exercise before playing it also allows you to locate any challenging rhythms and work them out ahead of time. Once you have read the rhythm out loud, it’s time to play!

With beginning rhythms, you should focus only on the coordination of your left and right hands (no feet yet) and ensure that you’re playing in time with a metronome. This lesson introduces basic drum notation in a clear and easy-to-understand fashion. The accompanying audio clips are also extremely helpful.

Get the Rhythms Down

Regardless of your skill level, we strongly suggest beginning your practice routine with basic rhythmic exercises involving just your hands on one playing surface. This will help you improve your coordination and timing, and mentally prepare you for more difficult exercises.

Once you’ve learned how to read and play rhythms on one drum, it’s time to add another playing surface. Still focusing on only the hands, start to play patterns that involve the left hand playing one rhythm while the right hand plays another. Most drum beats involve at least three different playing surfaces, but beginners should focus on just the snare and cymbal.

When you can accurately play exercises that involve two different rhythms with the hands, then it’s time to add the feet. First add your kick drum foot, working on exercises that focus on coordination between both hands and your kick drum foot.

Coordinate the Limbs

If you’re having trouble coordinating all three limbs, break the exercise down so that you’re only focusing on two limbs at a time. Make sure that you’re comfortable with each limb combination before trying to put all three together again.

Eventually, you’ll also want to start working your fourth limb, the hi-hat pedal foot. Like the other limbs, start with very basic exercises that coordinate all four limbs before trying to learn more advanced drum beats.

Be aware that drum notation for the full drum set is much more challenging to read than snare drum notation because there are many more drums/cymbals involved.


How to Read Drum Tabs

Drum tabs are different from sheet music because they’re written specifically for the instrument. They use the parts of the drum set that we talked about earlier. Drum tabs use abbreviations for the drum parts, for example:

  • CC – Crash Cymbal
  • HH – Hi-Hat
  • Rd – Ride Cymbal
  • SN – Snare
  • T1 – Hi Tom
  • T2 – Low tom
  • FT – Floor Tom
  • B – Bass Drum
  • HF – Hi-Hat (with foot)
  • O – Bass Drum hits
  • X – Snare and Hi-Hat hits

Here’s an example of this practice in the “two and four” beat from this article about easy drum beats for beginners. The drum tabs appear as follows:

  • HH: X X X X
  • SN: X X
  • B: O O

Here’s another example from the “boom, boom, clap” beat:

  • HH: X X X X
  • SN: X X
  • B: O O O O

These drum tabs show you which parts of the kit to use (hi-hat, snare, and bass) and when to play them. You can learn more about drum tabs in this beginner’s guide to drum tabs.


How to Play Drums for Beginners

Once you’ve got a pair of a drum sticks, a playing surface, and practice materials (rudiments, sheet music exercises), it’s time to hit the woodshed! Like any other skill, good practice habits are the key to becoming better at your craft!

Start out practicing with these essential drum beats and these easy drum songs for beginners. Another great way to learn how to play the drums is to practice along with your favorite songs.

While practicing, it’s very important to check in and make sure you’re using proper techniques. For example, ask yourself, “Am I holding the sticks correctly?” or “Am I playing this rudiment correctly?” If you forget some of the skills you’ve learned, make sure to ask your drum instructor — plus, you can always check back here to review the basics!

Good luck on your drumming journey and remember to have fun along the way!

Maegan-W Post Author: John S.
John S. is a drum and percussion instructor in Saint Paul, MN. A full-time musician and teacher, he performs with two different bands and teaches in-home and in-studio lessons. Learn more about John here!

Photos by Brandon Nguyen, Vladimir Morozov, Maxime Seguin, Jeremy Wright, Edwin M Escobar

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sewing stitches

The Beginner’s Guide to Basic Sewing Stitches [Infographic]

sewing stitches

Before you can sew your own clothes, create crafts, and take on sewing projects, you have to learn the basic sewing stitches. From hand-sewing stitches to seam finishes, sewing instructor Cathy G. is here to help you master the basics… 

Modern sewing machines have all but eliminated the need for hand sewing. Gone are the days of constructing a garment by hand with a needle and thread. That being said, there are still many places where hand-sewing stitches are necessary for a high-quality finish. Moreover, there is something satisfying about adding the smooth finish of a hand-stitched hem or crocheted button loop, for instance. The joy of constructing something with your hands never gets old.

Personally, I use my sewing machine to build and construct garments, but I still hem and mend by hand. When it comes to hand-sewing stitches, we seamstresses need to consistently hone these skills if we wish to improve. I’m going to cover some basic hand-sewing and machine stitches in this article, starting with basic sewing tools, and then going into the different types of stitches.

Tools of the Trade

In order to do any hand stitching, you’re going to need sewing tools like need high-quality needles, thread, and scissors. I cannot emphasize this enough. In addition, you may want to invest in a small ruler, tailor’s chalk or marking pencil, and straight pins. And depending on the types of finishing, you will also need both narrow and wide bias tape (I sometimes make my own to match or contrast with the garment or project), hem tape, narrow stretch lace, and pinking shears.

Also, make sure you’re familiar with these basic sewing terms and vocabulary


Hand Sewing Stitches

 

sewing stitches

Running Stitch

The running stitch is the most basic of the hand sewing stitches, and has many variations. It’s used for gathering, mending, and tucking. Depending on its use, you an either knot your thread or take a couple of back stitches to lock it into place. In its longer form, it becomes a basting stitch.

Bring your needle through the fabric from the back (wrong side). Once the knot hits the fabric, make a stitch to the left or right. Bring the thread back up and repeat.

Basting Stitch

Use the same technique as the running stitch, but make longer stitches (between 1/4 inch and a 1/2 inch).

Today, we tend to pin baste more than hand baste our garments and projects, but hand basting can still be useful, especially with both lightweight (silk and chiffon) and heavyweight (leather and Melton) wools.

Backstitch

Before sewing machines, all clothes were built by layer upon layer of backstitches.

Working from left to right, take a small stitch, then insert the needle at the end of the previous stitch, bringing it out beyond the point where the thread emerges. Continue, always inserting the needle in the end of the previous stitch.

Catch stitch (Cross-Stitch)

You can use this stitch to to finish hems with fabric that doesn’t fray, and to tack facing invisibly.

Working from left to right, take tiny stitches on the hem, and then on the garment. Keep the stitches loose and even. They will appear as crosses on the wrong side and small stitches on the right.

Slip Stitch

This is my go-to stitch when it comes to hems and other finishes. It’s tidy and almost invisible, when it’s done right, and with care on both sides.

Bring the needle through the fold of the hem and pick up a thread of fabric at the same point. Make the stitches about a 1/2 inch apart and fairly loose.

Blanket Stitch (Buttonhole Stitch)

If you want to sew eyelets or buttonholes by hand, learn the buttonhole stitch.

Secure the thread on the wrong side of the fabric, then with the right side facing upward, insert the needle from back to front through the fabric 1/8 inch from the edge. Wrap the working head around behind the eye end of the needle, then behind the point. Pull the needle through, bringing the knot to the fabric edge. Continue, making closely spaced stitches and knot.

The eyelet version is worked in a circle, with the wrapped edge to the inside; the blanket stitch variation has at least a 1/4 inch spacing between stitches.


Sewing Machine Stitches

sewing stitches

Standard Forward / Backward Stitching

Begin straight stitching 1/8-3/8 inch from the fabric edge. Backstitch the forward stitch over the pinned or basted seam. Repeat the reverse stitch to finish.

You can use the straight stitch for seams, under stitching, stay stitching, and simple top stitching.

ZigZag Stitch

The zigzag stitch provides a clean finish to raw edges, and you can use it as a finish technique in combination with a stay stitching line. You can adjust both the width and length of this stitch.

Buttonholes

The good news is that most sewing machines can make buttonholes, either with a fully-automatic buttonhole foot attachment, or in the case of some mechanical and most computerized machines, a pre-programmed buttonhole.

Check your machine’s manual for these details.

Blind Hem Stitch

This sewing machine stitch consists of two or three straight stitches, and then one wide zigzag / catch stitch. Just as in the hand-stitched version of the blind hem, the fabric is folded under and away with the hem edge just projecting. The stitches show as a small dot on the right side.

There is a special machine foot that keeps the fabric folded away. This technique requires a lot of practice, and I recommend learning on lots of scrap fabric.

Once mastered, the blind hem stitch makes quick work of hemming pants and skirts.


Seam Finishes

sewing stitches

Related: Learn how to hem jeans by hand or machine

Zigzag

You can use a zigzag finish on most types of fabric. Once the seam is sewn and pressed open, zig stitch the raw edge and and trim away the excess. The width and length of this can vary depending on the fabric weight. There is a variation where the seam-edges are trimmed to half their depth, zigzagged together, and pressed to one side.

Turn and Stitch

This is mainly used on crisp cottons. Fold and press the seam, allowing a 1/4 inch, and machine stitch along the folded edge to finish. The seams are then pressed open, or to one side, depending on the pattern’s directions.

This creates a tidy finish and wears quite well.

Bias Tape

This is mostly used on unlined jackets and skirts.

Using purchased 5/8 inch bias tape, enclose the raw edge with the tape and stitch through all layers. Commercial bias tape
is slightly wider on one side; that side should be on the underneath the fabric.

You can also make your own bias tape in contrasting or matching fabric.

Pinked Seams

Pinked seams are the simplest of seam finishes. Using pinking shears, trim away as little of the seam allowance as possible. This version is best used on wools and polyester fleece and is not very hard wearing.

A better version of this finish is to machine stitch 1/4 inch from the seam, then trim the edges with pinking shears.

Hand Overcast

The hand overcast seam finish is used as an alternative to the zigzag stitch in small areas or on very thick
fabrics.

Taking very loose stitches, overcast the raw seam edges by hand.

Top Stitch

The top stitch creates a hard hem line, and can be used to strengthen a seam or as a decorative finish.

Press the seams opens and then stitch in place from the wrong side. The seam are often pinked beforehand, sometimes with a contrasting bobbin thread.


sewing stitchces

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This just the beginning, as you become more proficient with sewing stitches, you will discover even more techniques for you to master. A good general sewing book is an invaluable resource. Find something that suits your learning style.

Personally, I find photographs confusing and like to use line drawings instead. I also encourage you to try a new technique with every new project, this way, you’re continually expanding your repertoire and improving your skills. The more choices you have when you sew, the better your project will turn out.

While books and online resources are very helpful for beginners, the best way to learn sewing basics is through one-on-one lessons with a private sewing instructor. Search here for sewing teachers near you.

Do you have questions or feedback? Let us know in the comments below. Good luck and sew on!

Cathy GPost Author: Cathy G.
Cathy teaches sewing, and designs clothing and knitwear in Astoria, NY. An all-around crafty gal, she can drape and draft patterns, hand spin and weave, embroider, make lace, and style wigs. Cathy graduated with a degree in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College.  Learn more about Cathy here!

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vibrato violin

Everything You Need to Know About Vibrato Violin

vibrato violin

Do you want to learn how to do vibrato on the violin? Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. gives a lesson on how to master this impressive skill…

Have you ever been captivated by the wavering notes in the slow movement of a violin solo? If so, you were probably listening to an accomplished violinist who had thoroughly mastered vibrato violin.

Learning vibrato violin is a big step in your musical development. Mastering this complicated skill will help take your violin playing to the next level. In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about vibrato violin.

What is Vibrato Violin?

Vibrato violin is a technique used mostly by advanced violinists to bring attention to their music by making the note oscillate around the base pitch.

Most violinists begin learning vibrato only after they have had a relatively solid tone without vibrato, and have reached a certain level of ease with the left hand.

On the violin, vibrato comes from moving the arm and/or wrist back slightly toward the scroll, and then back up toward the bridge.

This allows the vibration to be passed along through the hand and fingers so that the fingers oscillate slightly back and forth along the string.

A violinist can also control the speed of his or her vibrato via the rate at which the fingers, wrist, and arm are moving back and forth.

Types of Vibrato Violin

There are three main types of vibrato violin;

  • Arm vibrato
  • Hand vibrato (i.e. wrist)
  • Finger vibrato

Wrist vibrato is driven primarily by wrist movement, and is usually very fast. This type of vibrato violin is great for adding flair to a particular song.

Arm vibrato is driven by the arm, and is much slower and broader. This type of vibrato violin is best used for slow or sad violin songs, such as Ave Maria.

Many violinists start learning wrist vibrato first. Although, different violinists may prefer different types of vibrato. For optimal sound, it’s best to use a combination of all three types of vibrato violin.

How to Do Vibrato on a Violin

Step 1: Get comfortable with the movement

To start training yourself for vibrato, first practice the wrist movement away from the violin. For instance, try holding a small object such as a rubber stress ball or a plastic Easter egg that has been partially filled with rice or beans.

Let your hand rock back from the wrist and then back forward again.

Step 2: Place your hand in third position

When you are comfortable with this, try placing your hand in about third position. In other words, your first finger will be where your third finger usually is.

This also means that your palm will rest very close to the body of the violin, which can then serve as a support so you aren’t moving more than you want to.

Step 3: Choose a finger

Pick a finger–preferably the second or third finger–to place onto the string and begin the back and forward motion with your wrist.

This should cause your finger to roll back along the string and then back up to its upright position. Do this slowly at first, and gradually speed up.You might try putting your metronome somewhere between 60 and 80.

Pull your wrist back on the first click, then forward on the second, back on the third, and so on. When you are comfortable with all four fingers, move to two movements per click, then three, then four.

Reaching full comfort with four movements (and two full rounds of vibrato) per metronome click on all four fingers may take some time, especially for the shorter, weaker pinky fingers. So don’t be frustrated if it isn’t easy right away. When you are ready, try moving back to practice first position.

Step 4: Practice slow scales

When you are comfortable in first position, the next step will be to practice with slow scales, followed by a slow, easy going piece or two. [Need help with violin scales? Check out this beginner tutorial.]

When you reach this stage, begin with songs that are not too difficult so that you can focus on vibrato, rather than finding the right notes, producing a good sound, or bowing correctly.

Still need help? Check out this quick vibrato tutorial from violin teacher Naomi S.

Am I Ready for Violin Vibrato?

Many intermediate violin players are eager to jump into the vibrato technique. However, it’s important that you’re ready for this big undertaking.

One should develop a full tone before learning the vibrato technique, as this will ensure that you sound the best. You should also have a solid understanding of first and third position.

And lastly, your wrist and arm need to have good form, as this technique can be very strenuous on the muscles.

If you can confidently check all of these boxes, then you’re ready to learn the vibrato technique! Just remember to be patient with yourself, and don’t push yourself too quickly.

Progress may seem slow at first, but with practice, you will reach your goal. Work closely with your violin teacher to come up with exercises to help you master this skill.

Photo by Garry Knight

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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The 12 Best iPhone Apps for Learning French

The 12 Best iPhone Apps for Learning French

 

Learning a language is a wonderful challenge. It can open up new opportunities, allow you to converse with new people, and serve as a tool on your travels.

The French language is used throughout the world in places like France, Canada, Belgium, Haiti, Monaco, and many other countries.

If you’ve embarked on a journey to learn French, there are some apps that will support you in your endeavor. Here are 12 of the best apps to learn how to speak French.

 

1) TakeLessons

For easily accessible French lessons on the go, the TakeLessons app is the perfect resource no matter your skill level. You can also join free online group classes for your first month as a new student.

With the TakeLessons app, you can learn French from a professional no matter where you are. The app is available for both Android and iPhones.

 

2) SpeakEasy

This offline book of phrases comes in handy when you’re learning French.

Use flashcards, basic phrases, numbers, days, greetings, and more. SpeakEasy has a simple and appealing interface that just about any user can navigate.

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3) French Translator & Dictionary + 

VidaLingua offers the #1 French-English translator and dictionary on iPhones and iPads with advanced features and bonus content. The app also includes a phrasebook, verb conjugator, vocabulary quizzes and flashcards.

It allows users to attach notes, audio, and images to dictionary words. This app will become your new favorite learning companion!

 

4) Open Language French

If you plan on using French in a more formal setting, Open Language French will be the ideal app for you. Geared more toward internationally-accepted foreign language teaching guidelines, you’ll follow a course of instruction that’s more linear in nature.

It may not be as fun as playing games, but Open Language French is one of the most comprehensive language learning apps out there.

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5) MindSnacks

MindSnacks has won awards for best educational app, and it continues to delight users with a fun and lighthearted teaching style.

Designed by experts, MindSnacks manages to make learning French exciting and addictive. Grammar, context and real-world vocabulary has never been so entertaining.

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6) FluentU

One thing often heard from foreign language learners is how much TV, movies, and videos helped them learn a new language. Maybe it’s seeing things acted out as they’re spoken, or perhaps it’s the nuances in people’s expressions.

Whatever the reason, FluentU is a video-based learning app that teaches language through cool real videos from around the world.

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7) MOSAlingua

There are over 3000 phrases to learn on MOSAlingua’s app. The timed repetition has proven effective for many users, and you can easily change levels as you progress.

The app was designed to save time, money, and keep you motivated. Think of it as a personal language coach in your pocket.

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8) Memrise

Are you someone who likes to laugh and finds humor the best method for learning? If you are, Memrise is probably the ideal foreign language app for you.

It uses quirky concepts and hilarious images to get you speaking French in no time. You can even compete with friends to see who can reach language goals first.

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9) Busuu

Busuu is basically a social network for learning French and other languages. There are both adult and kid versions to download. Use the games and audio grammar lessons, or reach out to someone in the Busuu community for help.

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10) HiNative

Not every tip is available through learning courses. Sometimes the best answers come from those who actually speak the language.

Get the HiNative app so you can receive answers to all your French language questions from the people who actually speak it daily.

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11) Brainscape

Flashcards can be an incredibly useful tool for learning a new skill. If you want to create your own French flashcards, Brainscape is an app that will allow you to do so.

You can also look for already-made flashcards that work well for you. Use the app for French, or any other subject you’re interested in learning.

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12) Babbel

Babbel combines its mobile app with its website to form an excellent foreign language learning platform. You’ll be able to polish your pronunciation, learn new phrases, conjugate your verbs, and more in this top-rated program.

The goal is to retain the information in your long-term memory so you can use your new French language skills for years to come.

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Technology brings forth innovative ways for all types of students to learn and acquire a new language. Use these best apps for learning French in your daily life when you have a spare moment. It’s a great way to support learning French. Between classes, private lessons, conversational meet-ups, and a few apps, you’ll have French down before you know it.

Bonne chance!

 

What helps you study French? Share your favorite apps, games, and study guides in the comments below!

 

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how to tune a violin

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Tune a Violin [Instructional Video]

Learning how to tune a violin is essential for beginning violinists. Below, experienced violin teacher Naomi Cherie S. provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to tune a violin properly.

Eventually you’ll want to learn how to tune a violin by ear, but that can take years of practice. In the beginning stages of your development as a violinist, it’s best to learn how to use a violin tuner to help you stay in tune.

How to Tune a Violin with a Tuner

What You’ll Need:

To tune your violin you’ll need a chromatic tuner, which you can find at any music shop. These tuners usually run from $30 to $40. There are also free versions online.

If you have a smartphone, you can also download a tuning app for free or cheap. Just search for “violin tuner” or “chromatic tuner” in your app store.

Every violin tuner is slightly different, but they are all usually pretty easy to work with after a little getting used to.

Generally, there will be a display that tells you what note you’re playing and a needle hovering over a dial in the middle that will show you how in tune your string is.

You want that needle to be as close to the center point as possible. Most violin tuners light up green when the string is in tune.

If the needle is hovering over to the right of the dial your string is “sharp,” which means it’s too high or tight. If it’s hovering over to the left of the dial your string is “flat,” which means it’s too low or loose.

How to Tune a Violin Using Its Pegs

On the violin there are both pegs and fine tuners. The pegs are used for when your instrument is really out of tune and the fine tuners are used for when it’s just slightly out of tune.

When you’re just learning how to tune a violin, it’s easiest to avoid using the pegs, as they can be very hard to work with. Ask a violin teacher or someone at a violin shop to set your pegs for you.

Normally, the pegs should stay in place most of the time unless they get bumped or your violin is exposed to extreme temperatures. However, if you notice that your pegs are slipping multiple times a week it would be a good idea to take your violin into a shop to get it checked out.

If your pegs unravel and you don’t have access to someone who can help, you can start by slowing tightening your pegs.

You’ll want to do it very carefully because the string can easily snap while you’re turning the pegs. The old saying “righty tighty, left loosey” applies to violin tuning.

If you turn the peg to the right, you’ll notice the string is tighter and sounding higher, or sharper. If you turn the peg to the left, you’ll notice the string is feeling looser and sounding lower, or flatter.

The Names of the Violin Strings

On the violin there are four strings. Starting with the thickest string, they are called G, D, A, and E. An easy way to remember this is to use the mnemonic device below:

  • G = Good, D = Dogs, A = Always, E = Eat. Good dogs always eat!

When learning how to tune a violin, always start with the A string. In a sitting position with your violin upright on your knee, use your left had to pluck the string and use your right hand to turn the peg.

Pluck the string as you turn your peg to the right to make it tighter and look at your tuner to see how close to the middle dial it is.

When it’s right in the center, bring your left hand up to the scroll and support it as you press the peg firmly into the hole to make it stay exactly in that spot, being careful not to let it move.

If the peg turns even a hair while you’re pressing in, it can make the string go out of tune. The real trick here is to press the peg into the hole it sits in firmly, and sometimes you will have to use all of your strength to make it stay where you positioned it.

SEE ALSO: Pros and Cons of the Suzuki Violin Method

If you can’t get the string perfectly in tune, that’s okay. Just get it as close as you can and we’ll do the rest when we fine tune.

Depending on what kind of condition your violin is in, it may take several tries to get the peg to stay in place. As I said earlier, if you’re constantly having problems with your pegs it’s best to get help from a violin teacher or violin shop.

For the rest of the pegs, you’ll use the same process, except when you go to tune the G and the D strings you’ll switch hands and use your left hand to turn and your right hand to pluck and support.

How to Tune a Violin Using the Fine Tuners

Now let’s move on to fine tuning. First, hold your violin in your normal playing position with your chin. Bring your left hand under the violin to hover over the fine tuners so you can turn them as you’re bowing the strings.

We’ll start off with the A string and tune each string until the dial is in the center. The same principles apply here: if you turn to the right, the string will get higher or sharper. Turn it to the left, and the string will get looser or flatter.

If you notice that the fine tuner has been turned as tight as it will go you will have to loosen it all the way up. If it starts rattling you’ll know you’ve gone too far. Then re-tune with the pegs followed by some touch up tuning with the fine tuners.

Keep in mind that if your violin is new or hasn’t been played in a long time, it will usually take a few weeks of constant tuning to get it to stay in tune.

You’ll want to tune your violin every time you play it. Over time you’ll notice that the more your violin is played the better in tune it will stay.

With lots of practice and patience, you can develop ear training skills that will someday allow you to tune your violin by ear without the help of a tuner. In the meantime, we hope this tutorial on how to tune a violin helps you get started.

Post Author: Naomi Cherie S.
Naomi teaches violin in Austin, TX. She is a classically trained violinist with over 20 years of experience and a diverse musical background. Learn more about Naomi Cherie S. here.

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Introduction to Spanish Culture

Introduction to Spanish Culture: Daily Life & More

Introduction to Spanish Culture

The Spanish culture is one of the most beautiful and exciting in the world. It’s no wonder Spain is one of the top travel destinations for tourists every year!

If you’ve already checked out our infographic with 50 interesting facts about Spain, now it’s time to dive a little deeper!

Whether you’re planning a trip to visit this enchanting country, or you’re just curious about it, here’s a little introduction to Spanish culture and its customs. Let’s go – Vamanos!

Intro to Spanish Culture

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Spanish Food & Dining

Spain is a wonderful country for many reasons, but one of our favorite reasons is the food! In Spain there are many bars. On small streets you can find two, sometimes three bars all right next to each other. These bars offer more than just tasty drinks; they usually have delicious food as well!

The tradition in Spain when going out to eat is to go for tapas – small portions of food that used to be made to enhance the taste of liquor. However, the tapas later became just as important as the liquor, and today it’s a highly distinguished cuisine.

When you go out to eat in Spain, try a variety of tapas bars and a variety of tapas. Here are some popular Spanish tapas that you’ll undoubtedly come across:

  • Albóndigas: Meatballs with sauce.
  • Allioli: “Garlic and oil” – the classic ingredients are only garlic, oil, and salt, but a common form of it includes mayonnaise. It is served on bread or with grilled fish, meat, or vegetables.
  • Bacalao: Salted cod loin sliced very thinly, usually served with bread and tomatoes.
  • Boquerones: White anchovies served in vinegar (boquerones en vinagre), or deep fried.
  • Calamares or rabas: Rings of battered squid.
  • Carne mechada: Slow-cooked, tender beef.
  • Chorizo al vino: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in wine.
  • Chorizo a la sidra: Chorizo sausage slowly cooked in cider.
  • Croquetas: A common sight in bar counters and homes across Spain, served as a tapa, a light lunch, or a dinner along with a salad.
  • Empanadillas: Large or small turnovers filled with meat and vegetables.
  • Ensaladilla rusa: Mixed boiled vegetables with tuna, olives, and mayonnaise.
  • Gambas: Prawns sauteed in salsa negra (peppercorn sauce), al ajillo (with garlic), or pil-pil (with chopped chili peppers).
  • Papas arrugadas or papas con mojo: Very small potatoes boiled in salt water, then drained, and slightly roasted. They’re served with mojo, a garlic, Spanish paprika, red pepper, cumin, olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, and bread crumb thickener.
  • Queso con anchoas: Castilla or Manchego cured cheese with anchovies on top.
  • Solomillo al whisky: Fried pork scallops, marinated using whisky, brandy, or white wine and olive oil.

As you can see, the food in the Spanish culture usually has a LOT of garlic! They also serve, and are very proud of, their jamón serrano, or rustic ham. It’s very common for bars to compete and claim they have the best jamón.

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Religion in Spain

One thing to be aware of in Spain is the importance and prominence of Roman Catholicism. It’s by far the most prominent religion in the country. In fact, 68% of Spaniards identify themselves as Catholics!

That’s a big statistic, and it explains why there are so many churches and beautifully decorated cathedrals in Spanish culture.

Religious Celebrations in Spain

If you’re planning on going to Andalucia during the week leading up to Easter, check out one of the biggest festivals of the year – Semana Santa. The festival is particularly celebrated in Seville and it runs for one week.

This week is a big deal in Spain. Some people will spend all year planning for it! Streets are blocked off, bands will come out and play, and bars and restaurants participate by having specials.

SEE ALSO: 20 Spanish Traditions and Customs

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Spanish Culture in Daily Life

The daily life in Spain is much different than what you find in other countries. You always feel great in Spain because everything seems so relaxed. The streets are relaxed and the people are relaxed.

The key difference in Spanish culture is that people don’t get stressed out over simple things. If you’re five or 10 minutes late for something, they simply say, “No pasa nada!” This Spanish phrase basically translates to, “Don’t worry about it.”

(Of course, when it comes to business meetings and occasions where you have time limits, then this might be frowned upon by some.)

Siestas in Spanish Culture

Perhaps the most difficult part of getting used to Spanish culture is the daily work schedule. All throughout Spain, they have the infamous tradition of the siesta. This is an old tradition that involves taking an afternoon nap in the middle of the day, which is usually the hottest time of the day.

The siesta is a wonderful thing if you feel like taking a nap or just relaxing after lunch. The problem is that if you have things you would like to get done, you really can’t go to any stores because everything is closed!

The typical work hours in Spain are from 9 AM – 2 PM, and then the city shuts down.

Afterward, however, things open back up again from 5 or 6 to 10 PM, or even later. This can be a very hard schedule to get used to, but if you’re there (especially in the summer), you’ll see why this tradition is actually very necessary because of the heat!

Family Dynamic in Spain

This brings us to another difference about Spanish culture: people are very friendly because they look at one another as family. In Spain it’s very typical to be close to your family, and this helps them in treating neighbors just the same.

It’s not uncommon for family members to live just a couple houses down the street, or even in the same house together for their entire lives. This creates a strong family dynamic and level of trust between other people you get close to as well.

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Nightlife in Spain

The nightlife is an extremely exciting part of Spain! In Spain, it’s normal to stay up until midnight or later on weekdays. However, the weekends are when the fun really begins.

A typical Spanish evening out on the town does not start before 11 or 12 PM. People will stay out until 5 AM, or sometimes later when they go out for parties, clubs, or even just drinks!

Other Social Events in Spanish Culture

If you’re a true Spaniard, you might go see an evening bull fight (corrida de toros), or sometimes a night of listening to live flamenco music. The tradition of bull fighting has actually subsided quite a lot in Spain, and now you can only see it in the south of Spain.

Flamenco music, on the other hand, is everywhere throughout Spain. It’s considered a high art form, and you can find flamenco dancers (bailes de flamenco) and shows in almost any city.

In reality, though, not all Spaniards like to go out and watch flamenco all the time. Some do, but it’s actually a spectacle that’s mostly catered toward tourists. The real Spanish thing to do is to go out for tapas and then go see a fútbol (soccer) match.

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Holidays in Spain

The people in Spain know how to party!  They also have a lot of holiday time off. In Spain, every saint gets their own holiday, and depending on which city you’re in, or what churches are nearby, you might get a day off (usually three or more per year).

Besides the religious holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Semana Santa, there are many other great occasions to celebrate in Spanish culture. One is La Feria (the fair), or if you’re in other parts of Spain, they might have Carnaval.

This is a time when every city in Spain has their own celebration. Nobody works and it’s fun for the whole week. People dress up in traditional flamenco-like dresses at La Feria, and for Carnaval, everyone dresses up in a ridiculous costume (like Halloween, except it’s for a whole week).

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Common Spanish Phrases

Here are some Spanish phrases and words you’ll hear used a lot around Spain. They might not be in every travel dictionary you can pick up at the store!

  • Venga: Come on/let’s go/yeah right

This word is just a small exclamation, but Spaniards use it all the time. It can be used in a variety of contexts so it’s a good phrase to know.

  • Yo quiero/yo no quiero: I want/I don’t want
  • Me gustaría: I would like (polite)

These two Spanish phrases are helpful for when you need to ask for things during your travels.

  • ¿Dónde está…?: Where is…

This is a good phrase to know if you’re in unfamiliar places and you need directions from a local.

  • Así: Like this/like that/this way

This is a handy little word that you can pair with a word like como if you want to say “like this/that” (Como así).

  • Por favor: Please
  • Gracias: Thank you

These are VERY IMPORTANT words in Spanish, especially when speaking with people you just met!

SEE ALSO: Best Apps to Learn Spanish

A Note on Spanish Greetings

It’s good to know how to greet someone politely in Spanish culture. In English, even speaking with people you may not know, it’s common and acceptable to simply say “Hi” or “Hello.”

However, in most romance languages it’s common to greet people you don’t know formally.

  • Buenos días: Good morning
  • Buenas tardes: Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches: Good evening
  • Hola: Hi (for people you know)

These are just glimpses of the cultural experiences you’ll discover in this amazing country. There are many more customs and traditions unlike anything we have here in the U.S.!

The Spanish culture is truly remarkable, and if you get the chance to go to Europe, you must visit this wonderful place. Who knows, you may never want to leave!

Post Author: Christopher S.
Christopher S. teaches Spanish and Italian in West Columbia, SC. He received his Bachelors degree from Humboldt State University and has been teaching since 2004. Learn more about Christopher S. here!

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piano practice

50 Best Pinterest Accounts for Inspiring Piano Practice Ideas

 

piano practice

Are you in a piano practice rut lately? There’s nothing worse than having to practice or teach the same piano songs and techniques over and over again. It’s enough to drive someone mad!

Luckily, there are many resources available online that can help spark inspiration. Pinterest, for example, is a great resource for both students and  piano teachers. There are hundreds of pages dedicated solely to piano playing.

Since we know you don’t have time to sift through all of these pages, we’ve rounded up the 50 best Pinterest accounts for piano practice ideas, games, sheet music, and more.

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, these Pinterest pages are great for finding ideas to spice up your piano practice routine. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Piano Practice Tips

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1. Hannah-Lee Ableson: “Teaching Piano” has a ton of piano practice tips both parents and teachers can easily implement. We particular love all the tips for parents, such as how to end piano practice wars and how to deal with never-ending excuses. Check it out here.

2. Chrissy Krahn: “Piano-Tips for Teachers” has a variety of how-to’s that are primarily geared toward teachers. However, there are some tips and exercises that parents can use to encourage their children to practice. Check it out here.

3. Laura Lowe: “Piano Studio” is another great board that boasts an array of piano practice tips students can use to improve. Everything from hand positioning to common music mistakes is featured on the board. Check it out here.

4. Beverly Cox: If you’re looking for a wide variety of piano practice tips, look no further than “Piano Stuff.” This board has kid-friendly tips about how to read notes, play scales, sight read, and more. Check it out here. 

5. Christy Young: From sight reading to proper posture, “Piano Practice Techniques” covers everything beginner piano players need to get started. It also has some great tips for teachers who are might be struggling to think of practice exercises. Check it out here.

6. Leila Viss: “Keys to Piano” features a ton of quality information for piano players, teachers, and parents. We particularly like all of the ideas for keeping kids motivated to practice. Check it out here.

7. Melody Payne: “Piano Teacher Articles” isn’t just great for teachers, but it’s also helpful for students and parents. The board has an array of information on how to make the most of one’s practice time. Check it out here.

8. Ashley Caldwell Brown: “Piano” features a variety of practical piano tips that will help kids stay motivated. We particularly like all of the advice for parents who want to help their child practice. Check it out here.

9. Gail Fischler: With four boards related to piano, Fischler has a wide scope of information related to piano. Browse through her “Piano Addict Tips & Resources” board to discover helpful tips you can apply to your next practice. Check it out here.

10. Emily Zook: Looking for some actionable practice tips? “Piano” has a bunch of helpful tips and activities that will help students improve their piano skills. Check it out here.

11. Carri Corbitt: From practice tips to sheet music, “Tickle Those Ivories Piano Studio” has over 200 useful pins for both piano students and teachers. We especially like all of the fun, free printables. Check it out here.

12. Rhonda Hunter: If you’re looking for piano sheet music, “Education/Piano Music” is the right board for you. This board has fun practice tips and sheet music every student will love. Check it out here.

13. Nichole Lookabaugh: Warming up is an important part of piano practice. “Piano Lessons” has some fun warm-up exercises as well as some technique tips to help assist students. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Games

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14. Susan Paradis: From rhythm bingo to memory match, “Music Games and Worksheets” has everything parents and teachers need to keep their budding musician entertained. Check it out here.

15. The Plucky Pianista: “The Plucky Pianista” has over 100 useful pins for students and teachers, including a ton of fun and educational games. We especially like the warm up games for building strength and dexterity. Check it out here.

16. Claire Westlake: “Music Education” is a wonderful board that features an array of engaging games and activities for students, many of which are easy and cost effective to replicate. Check it out here.

17. Andrea Dow: “Teach Piano Today” has over 27 boards full of inspiration geared toward piano teachers. We particularly love her piano teaching games board, which features dozens of fun and education piano practice games for students. Check it out here.

18. Wendy Stevens: With 17 boards dedicated to piano, Wendy Stevens has everything a piano teacher or parent is looking for. Browse through her “Piano Teaching Games” board for piano games to inspire your next practice session. Check it out here.

19. Joy Morin: “Color in My Piano” features a great roundup of piano practice games for students. Even better, the board has a number of printable PDFs that you can download and use during your next piano practice. Check it out here.

20. Carla Lowery: With over 6,000 pins, “Music Stuff” has an abundance of tips, activities, and resources for both students and teachers. We love all of the different games that come with printables. Check it out here.

21. Chantelle Thaler: With over 467 pins related to piano, “Piano Studio-Inspiration, Games, Printables,” has everything a budding piano player needs, including a number of unique and education piano practice games. Check it out here.

22. Kathy Williamson: If you’re looking to engage your child or student, “Teaching Piano” is a great resource. The board has a number of piano practice games that are simple for parents and teachers to play with their budding musician. Check it out here.

23. Micheline Roch: Learning the piano doesn’t have to be boring. “Piano Studio” has an abundance of fun piano games that students can play, many of which use simple household items. Check it out here.

24. Julie Williams: “Piano Lessons Teaching Aids” is another board that features tons of fun, and engaging piano games for beginner piano players. We particular like all of the free printouts she provides. Check it out here.

25. Alicia Dunlap: “My Keys” is a great resource filled with piano games geared toward young, beginner students. From sound match games to finger patterns, this board has a variety of fun games. Check it out here.

26. Lana Hughes: Learning complex musical concepts can be difficult for beginners.”Piano Teaching” features a number of fun games that make these concepts easy for students to understand. Check it out here.

27. Katrina Grabham: “Piano Teaching” has a ton of kid-friendly piano games for students who have a hard time sitting still on the bench. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Sheets

piano practice

28. Kacie Zajic: “Teaching Piano” is a great resource for young musicians, as the board features several themed piano practice sheets. For example, she has some fun holiday-themed piano practice sheets for kids. Check it out here.

29. Patti Kolk: “Piano Teaching Ideas” has a wide variety of piano practice sheets for beginners as well as general music exercises to help little ones understand how to read scales and rhythms. Check it out here.

30. Debbie Lumpkin:“Music Board” is a great general music board for youngsters. The board features an array of practice sheets to help students learn rhythms, notes, and more. Check it out here.

31. Music Teacher Resources: With over 69 boards, “Music Teacher Resources” has everything from free, printable piano practice sheets to music theory assignments. We especially love how the boards are organized by age-group. Check it out here.

32. Shirley Cadle: “Love Teaching the Piano” is a wonderful board with everything from helpful time signature worksheets to metronome tips. Check it out here.

33. Bethany Parnell: Running out of ideas for practice time? “Piano Studio” has a number of helpful piano practice sheets as well as tips for keeping kids engaged during practice. Check it out here.

34. Marilyn Herrett: Whether you’re looking to work on sight reading or rhythm, “For My Piano Studio” has everything you need. We particularly love all of the holiday-themed worksheets. Check it out here.

35. Anjuli Crocker: If you’re looking for piano sheet music and practice sheets then look no further than “Kids Piano.” This board is filled with helpful tips and exercises. Check it out here.

36. Jenny Boster: “Piano Teaching” is filled with sample exercises and practice sheets students can use  to practice various piano skills, such as chord inversions and note naming. Check it out here.

37. Mary Miller: With over 1,000 pins, “School Stuff” has everything you need to keep your child engaged and learning during their piano practice sessions. Check it out here.

38. Inge Borg: While this board is primarily geared toward teachers, it has a ton of great practice sheets and tips for students. We especially love the wide variety. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Charts

39. Diane Hidy: With over 10 boards dedicated to piano, Diana Hidy has an array of practice charts, inspiration, tools, and ideas for students, teachers, and parents. We especially love all the helpful tips for teachers. Check it out here.

40. Barnes Piano LLC: Are you looking for some piano practice charts? “Piano Teaching Games” has an array of sample sheets and tips for how to structure your child’s piano practice. The board also includes some fun, educational games. Check it out here.

41. Sara @ Let’s Play Music:“First Piano Lessons for Kids” is great for beginner piano players, as the site has a wide variety of exercises, games, and charts. We particular like how many of the piano practice charts can be download for convenience. Check it out here.

42. Heather Nanney: “Piano Lesson: Practicing” has a ton of free piano practice charts and worksheets both teachers and parents can use to keep track of their child’s progress. The board also features several resources on how to make practice fun. Check it out here.

43. Tim Topham: “Piano Practice” has an abundance of resources and tips for practicing piano. We suggest taking a look at the practice charts for kids. Tim also has a number of other helpful piano boards you can browse. Check it out here.

44. Tracy King: The self-proclaimed “Bulletin Board Lady,” Tracy King has ton of music practice charts that can be applied to several instruments, including the piano. Check it out here.

 45. Kelly Nelson: Besides having an abundance of tips for teachers, “Piano Students” has a wide variety useful piano practice charts that are super helpful for students. Check it out here.

46. Shana Elliot: “Music Class Printables” has an array of practice charts and worksheets that are great for kids. We especially love all of the holiday-themed charts for Halloween, Christmas, and more. Check it out here.

47. Larissa Coleman: If you’re looking for piano practice charts and beginner piano sheet music, than look no further “Piano Lessons.” The board has a ton of great resources for beginner students. Check it out here.

48. Patty Johnson: “Piano Lesson Ideas” is filled with a ton of piano practice charts. Whether you want to work on rhythm or melody, this board has everything you’re looking for. Check it out here.

49. Kim Smith: With over 1,000 pins, “Music Classroom/Piano Lessons” has an abundance of entertaining practice sheets and tips. We particularly like the fun worksheets! Check it out here.

50. Tiffiny Almond Allen: Head over to “Piano Teaching” and browse through all of the fun worksheets and practice charts. You’re sure to find something that will keep your little one engaged while practicing. Check it out here.

51. LadyD Piano: LadyD Piano has a variety of boards for those learning how to play piano. For example, she has a board dedicated to music apps, books, and practice printables. Check it out here.

52. Ashely Danyew: “Piano Teaching” has an abundance of wonderful tips and tricks for both piano players and students. We especially love all the resources that help teachers motivate students. Check it out here.

If you’re bored with your piano practice routine or you simply want to mix things up, browse through these Pinterest accounts to get some inspiration. Remember, practice makes perfect!

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interesting facts about Spain

50 Interesting Facts About Spain [Infographic]

50 interesting facts about Spain

Curious to learn some interesting facts about Spain? If you’re planning a trip to Spain soon and are interested in Spanish culture, there’s a lot to learn about this awesome country. If you’re learning how to speak Spanish, studying the culture of Spain will motivate you and make your studies much more interesting!

So without further ado, here are 50 interesting facts about Spain that you might be surprised to learn.

50 Interesting Facts About Spain & Spanish Culture

  1. Not all Spaniards are native speakers of (Castilian) Spanish. There are four official languages in Spain (Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician), three unofficial regional languages (Asturian, Aragonese, and Aranese), and several more dialects.
  2. The Spaniards have a completely different life rhythm from other Europeans. They typically have lunch between 1 and 3 pm, and dinner around 10 pm.
  3. Spanish culture greatly influenced modern art from the late 1800s, with artists like Antoni Gaudí (Art Nouveau), Pablo Picasso (expressionism, cubism, surrealism), Joan Miró (surrealism), and Salvador Dalí (surrealism).
  4. Flamenco is not actually a dance; it’s a musical style, which sometimes has dancing in it.
  5. 58 million tourists go to Spain every year, making it the fourth most visited country in the world.
  6. Spain is renowned for its lively festivals, including San Fermín (“running of the bulls”) in Pamplona and Tomatina (“tomato battle”) in Buñol.
  7. More than 150,000 tomatoes are usually thrown at La Tomatina.
  8. The official name of Spain is “Kingdom of Spain.”
  9. The national anthem of Spain has no words.
  10. There are no laws about public nudity in Spain.
  11. 43% of the world’s olive oil production is done in Spain.
  12. From 2008 to 2013, the Spanish national football team was named FIFA Team of the Year.
  13. Spain won its first World Cup football title in 2010, which made the country the 8th country to have ever won.
  14. The tooth fairy is a mere rodent in Spain, referred to as Ratoncito Pérez.
  15. Our favorite of all the interesting facts about Spain – Breaks, free time, and siestas are a huge part of everyday Spanish culture.
  16. Spain was the world’s third most popular tourist destination in 2013 (after France and the US).
  17. Don Quixote, the famous book written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in 1605, was voted the “most meaningful book of all time” in 2002 by a panel of top authors.
  18. Traditionally, you have two surnames in Spain – the first surname from your father, and the second from your mother.
  19. Spaniards celebrate the New Year by eating one grape with their family for each bell strike of the clock.
  20. The quill pen is thought to have originated in Spain about 1,400 years ago.
  21. The Spanish often use gestures with, or to substitute for, words. Flicking the teeth with the thumbnail, wiggling fingers from the nose, and grabbing the left arm with the right while making a left-handed fist are all thought to be offensive.
  22. There are fewer marriages in Spain than in any other EU country, except Sweden.
  23. The divorce rate in Spain is 17% (relatively low compared to over 50% in the
    USA).
  24. Madrid is in the physical center of the country and the plaza Puerta del Sol is the exact center of the country.
  25. Spain has the second highest number of bars per inhabitants.
  26. Do not be alarmed by a dirty floor in a bar. It is completely acceptable and normal to throw things on the ground in bars. Most of the time a dirty floor means a good bar!
  27. Tortillas in Spain are not the same as tortillas elsewhere. Tortilla española refers to a very popular egg and potato dish. Spaniards use the word “tortitas” to refer to flour/corn tortillas.
  28. Most households buy fresh bread every day. Traditionally, they are long baguettes called barras or pistolas. Bread is present (and required) at almost every meal.
  29. Tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, tobacco, and cacao (for chocolate) were all imported into Europe by Spain.
  30. Though Spain is more famous for its red wine than white, the majority of its vineyards have white grapes.
  31. Spain is one of the world’s biggest producers of saffron, an important ingredient in paella.
  32. The Madrid subway is the second largest underground system in Europe and the sixth largest system in the world.
  33. The family is the basis of the social structure and includes both the nuclear and the extended family, which sometimes provides both a social and a financial support network.
  34. Owning one’s home is very important to Spanish people, and some 80% of Spanish households do.
  35. The majority of Spaniards are formally Roman Catholic, although different religious beliefs are accepted.
  36. People are often referred to as Don or Dona and their first name within formal occasions.
  37. If invited to a Spaniard’s home, you can bring chocolates, pastries, cakes, wine, liqueur, brandy, or flowers to the hostess.
  38. In business, face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication.
  39. Despite the beret being associated with France, the Basques in Northeast Spain invented it.
  40. It is not customary to tip in Spain, especially for cheap meals.
  41. Each regional country of Spain – Pais Vasco, Cataluña, Galicia – has its own language, hymn, and flag.
  42. Barcelona has 15 million visitors per year, while Madrid has only 6 or 7.
  43. The Madrid-Barcelona route has the highest number of flights per week in the world.
  44. Spain has more than 8,000 beaches.
  45. The name Spain diverged from the word Ispania, which means the land of rabbits.
  46. Of all the interesting facts about Spain, this one is perhaps the most bizarre. On May 15th all the single women in Madrid visit the chapel called Ermita de San Isidro to prick their fingers with pins and put it in a vessel, in order to find a husband.
  47. Same sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
  48. On St. George’s Day (April 23rd) in Barcelona, it’s customary to exchange a book and/or a rose with the person you love.
  49. Spaniards own more cars than cell phones.
  50. Spanish people are very fond of food. A famous saying is Barriga llena, corazón contento, which translates to “A full belly and a happy heart”!

For those who are visual learners, here is a fun infographic with dozens of interesting facts about Spain.  If these facts don’t get you excited about taking a future trip to this beautiful country, we don’t know what else will!

Interesting Facts About Spain Infographic –

50 Interesting Facts About Spain Infographic

 

Do you know any additional interesting facts about Spain or Spanish culture? If so, feel free to leave a comment below and share!

10 Cool Sites to Learn French by Podcast, Video, or Blog

9 Cool Sites to Learn French by Podcast, Video, or Blog

When you’re learning French, consistent linguistic exposure at and just above your level is vital. It can help you reinforce your current level, and help you raise your level through context clues and direct introduction to new vocabulary.

Podcasts and other online mediums are an excellent way to do this. Below are a few podcasts, YouTube channels, and blogs that can help you improve. While the focus and organization of these types of sites is sometimes a little bit different, they can also provide some similar types of linguistic support.

YouTube Videos


1) TakeLessons’ French Playlist


The TakeLessons French playlist offers a collection of videos for learning basic to intermediate skills. Videos include grammar points such as verbs and prepositions, vocabulary lists on topics such as colors and weekdays, and pronunciation tips to refine your accent.


2) French Possum

French Possum features an abundance of videos about French culture and language, covering everything from history, traditions, and food. All videos are in French with English subtitles, which is a great way for students to hear and practice proper French pronunciation. As an added bonus, full bilingual transcripts in French and English can be found on the blog, French Possum. 

Podcasts


3) Learn French by Podcast

LearnFrench cropped

Learn French by Podcast on subjects such as superfoods, migrants, grammar points, expressions, and user questions. The podcasts provide interesting information in French, and a discussion about the language and grammar used in the course of the podcast.

They also include a vocabulary list available before listening.


4) The French Podcast

FrenchPodcast cropped

The French podcast includes beginning, intermediate, and advanced podcast conversations in French. It also contains motivational interviews with people who have lived in France.

The creators focus on natural language conversations. Each podcast includes a pdf with a transcript and vocabulary. Both the transcript and vocabulary usually come out after the conversation.


5) DailyFrenchPod

DailyFrenchPod cropped

Daily French Pod offers daily podcasts in French with conversations by native speakers. The beginning introduces the podcast in French, and recommends the College de Paris.

The daily conversation is then presented with an explanation. For intermediate to advanced podcasts, most new vocabulary is explained in French. The conversation is then repeated. Most are accompanied by a PDF Podcast.


6) French Blabla

French blabla cropped

French teacher and native French speaker, Caroline, offers classes in French and, more recently, has begun to blog about French language. Her blog posts include audio, and website visitors can subscribe to receive her posts by email. Follow her on Twitter also at @French_Blabla.


7) French-Podcasts.comLearningFrenchPod cropped

Podcasts illustrate various elements of life in France through contact with real-life situations and contact with French people and places. The listener can also download a transcript. Most were done between 2007 and 2008, but are still available online. Sometimes the recordings lag a little.


8) One Thing in French a Day

OneThingaDay cropped

Three days every week, Laeticia, a French woman, posts several minutes of commentary on her children, watching television, a museum exhibit, or whatever other interesting tidbits she might dig up in her day.

The audio is available along with the beginning of the transcript every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on her website. Listeners can subscribe to her newsletter for the full transcript.

 

Blogs


9) Oui, c’est ça!

FrenchBlog cropped

Includes comics, francophone history, and music for French learners and francophiles. While the blog is more visually-oriented than some of the podcasts listed above, many of the articles contain recorded segments – isolated words and phrases, or recorded versions of the typed French or bilingual transcript.

Posts are also classified as beginning, intermediate, or advanced, so you can gauge whether or not it will be close to the right level.


10) French Language Blog

LanguageBlog cropped

This blog contains the fewest auditory resources and includes the most English of all the resources listed in this article. Its articles are primarily in English, but include interesting passages, words, and phrases in French.

They also present interesting tidbits about France, French-speaking places, French grammar, French culture, and the French perspective on the world. It also occasionally links in interesting videos (which contain audio), such as a humorous song about coffee posted earlier this month.

So, if you’re studying French on your own or you need additional practice reviewing, listening, and speaking, take heart! There are many French resources available (often for free) that can help you advance yourself.

Have you found any great French podcasts or websites that you enjoy studying with? Share them with us in the comments below!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by The LEAF Project

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