50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

MO - 50 Best Age-Appropriate Theater Audition Songs for Teens

As a teen, it’s important to choose an audition song that not only shows off your voice, but is also age-appropriate. Here, voice teacher Molly R. shares a few tips for selecting your song, plus 50 top picks for musical theatre audition songs for teen girls and boys.

It’s wonderful to be a teen musical theater performer! There are so many great opportunities at this age – high school productions, community theater, and even professional theater for a lucky few.

But it’s not always easy to choose the perfect musical theater audition song. In this post, you’ll find top recommendations for audition songs for boys and girls, but you’ll also want to keep a couple of things in mind…

1) What is the production staff looking for?

If they say “don’t sing from the show,” then don’t! However, you DO want to find something as close as possible to the show in question.

For example, is the company doing an edgier show like “Rent”? If so, you may want to sing an audition song from a show like “Spring Awakening” or even “Hair”. If they’re doing an older classic like “Carousel”, consider something else by Rodgers and Hammerstein, like “South Pacific”, or something from the same era, like “My Fair Lady”.

2) What audition song suits YOU?

What is your type? Are you more of the leading man? The sweet ingenue? Maybe you’re a sassy belter, or a character actor.

The good news is that there is a huge variety of songs that are appropriate (and fun) for teen musical theater performers. This list includes songs for all types of voices and personalities, with several different styles and time periods. While many of these songs and tried-and-true classics, many are lesser-known and will delight your audition panel.

Audition Songs for Teens

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Girls

1. “Frank Mills” — Hair

2. “I’m Not At All In Love” — The Pajama Game
3. “Think of Me” — Phantom of the Opera
4. “Beautiful Candy” — Carnival
5. “Mama Who Bore Me” — Spring Awakening
6. “Once Upon a Dream” — Jekyll and Hyde

7. “How Can I Wait?” — Paint Your Wagon
8. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” — My Fair Lady
9. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” — Funny Girl
10. “Tryouts” — Bring It On: The Musical
11. “My Big French Boyfriend” — The Toxic Avenger
12. “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All” — Barnum
13. “A Wonderful Guy” — South Pacific
14. “Sing Happy” — Flora the Red Menace

15. “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” — Camelot
16. “Astonishing” — Little Women
17. “Live Out Loud” — A Little Princess
18. “So In Love” — Kiss Me Kate
19. “Heaven Help My Heart” — Chess
20. “Out of My Dreams” — Oklahoma!
21. “Still Hurting” — The Last Five Years
22. “The Finer Things” — Jane Eyre: The Musical

23. “Once Upon a Time” — Brooklyn: The Musical
24. “Once You Lose Your Heart” — Me and My Girl
25. “Waitin’ for My Dearie” — Brigadoon

Musical Theater Audition Songs for Teen Boys

1. “Ten Minutes Ago” — Cinderella

2. “This is the Moment” — Jekyll and Hyde
3. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” — Les Misérables
4. “I Believe” — The Book of Mormon
5. “One Song Glory” — Rent
6. “Where Do I Go?” — Hair
7. “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” — Guys and Dolls
8. “I, Huckleberry, Me” — Big River
9. “Proud of Your Boy” — Aladdin

10. “Her Face” — Carnival
11. “It’s All Right With Me” — Can-Can
12. “Fallin’” — They’re Playing Our Song
13. “On the Street Where You Live” — My Fair Lady
14. “Sarah” — The Civil War
15. “I’m a Bad, Bad Man” — Annie Get Your Gun
16. “Real Live Girl” — Little Me

17. “Anthem” — Chess
18. “Love, I Hear” — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
19. “Momma, Look Sharp” — 1776
20. “Love Changes Everything” — Aspects of Love
21. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” — Oklahoma!

22. “Me” — Beauty and the Beast
23. “Passeggiata” — The Light in the Piazza
24. “Make Them Hear You” — Ragtime
25. “Santa Fe” — Newsies”

Final Tips for Your Audition

I recommend being prepared with a few solid songs, as you never know if they’ll ask for more! Your repertoire book should have a variety of audition songs that include old and new shows, a song from a pop/rock musical, and at least one Disney song that suits you. And of course, make sure that you’ve had adequate time to practice and prepare before the audition.

If you’re confused about what to select or how to sing it, consult a voice teacher near you, or find one online. A professional vocal coach will ensure that your voice is prepped and ready for your next audition. Have fun exploring the world of musical theater, and break a leg!

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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by TED Conference

How to Play Violin Pain Free: 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

MO - How to Play Violin Pain Free- 11 Easy Tweaks to Reduce Shoulder, Neck, and Back Pain

Do you experience pain or discomfort when you play violin? Here, Portland, OR violin instructor Naomi Cherie S. shares her tips to teach you how to play violin pain free…

If you’ve been playing violin for a while, you know that it can be a lot of fun! You’ve probably also noticed, however, that it isn’t always the most comfortable instrument to play. Due to the positions and poses necessary to play this unusual instrument, you may feel sore and stiff after practice.

Like most physical activities, any repetitive motion can cause wear on the body. Over time, these issues can develop into bigger problems.

Just like athletes, we musicians must take the time and consideration to keep up with maintenance and do preventative exercises to keep our bodies in peak playing shape!

We’ve put together a list of 11 quick fixes and healthy practice habits to help you learn how to play violin pain free!


Wear Comfortable Shoes

You may play violin with your hands and arms but this doesn’t mean you should forget about your feet!

If you’ve ever been on your feet all day, for a job or at school, you know it’s important to have proper footwear. The same applies for violin.

Wear comfortable shoes when you practice. Cushioned flats or tennis shoes will give you the support you need and take some of the pressure of standing off your lower back.


Use a Pad or Cushioned Rug for Practice

I always recommend that my students set up a designated practice area in their house to get inspired to practice regularly. Set up a corner in your bedroom, study, or living room where you keep your music stand and violin.

Make sure to keep a cushioned rug or floor mat in your area to stand on, especially if the room has bare floors. This will also help take stress off of your lower back.

If you’re still having issues, try investing in a memory foam floor mat.


Use a Comfortable Chair With a Pillow or Cushion

Many people prefer to stand when they play, to practice presentation and posture. If you get stiff when you play, however, don’t rule out sitting during practice.

You may also want to alternate between sitting and standing every few minutes. When you sit down, make sure to use a proper chair like a desk chair or dining room table chair.

Avoid using something with too much cushion, like a recliner or couch. Make sure to sit up tall on the edge of your chair with your spine straight. Your legs should make a right angle and your feet should rest flat on the floor.

If your chair becomes uncomfortable, keep a flat cushion or memory foam pad nearby.


Pace Yourself

It’s very important to pace yourself, especially as a beginner. You want to achieve consistency but you need to be careful not to overdo it, which can cause burnout and physical strain.

You need to develop the necessary muscles and flexibility required to play the violin. As a beginner, your body isn’t used to the unusual poses required to play the instrument.

Practice daily in segments, rather than extended periods once or twice a week. Beginners should start out with 20- to 30-minute practice sessions. After a few months, you can increase your practice time to 3o minutes to an hour.

This practice time will increase as your playing stamina develops, and as time goes on, you’ll get a feel for how much practice you need to accomplish your goals.


Take Stretch Breaks

Stretch breaks are incredibly important. It’s easy to get carried away and play for long periods of time; make sure to stop and stretch every so often.

You can take breaks in between scales, exercises, or songs. Put your instrument down, shake out your hands and arms, and stretch your wrists. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs, and your neck and shoulders.

These simple stretches can prevent strain, injury, and bigger issues down the road.


Reduce Tension: Breathe and Relax

Breathe. It sounds like a simple concept, but when you’re wrapped up in the passion and energy of music or concentrating on a difficult concept, it’s easy to forget to breathe consistently.

Keep a reminder in the back of your head and allow yourself to breathe throughout the practice session. Be mindful about tension. Your neck and shoulder muscles may tense up during practice, so take note of this and remember to relax.

Sometimes we don’t realize we’re tensing up, so take a breather every few minutes to keep yourself in check!

 Try these five exercises to reduce tension when you play violin.


Proper Posture

When it comes to playing violin, proper posture is imperative!  Whether you’re standing or sitting, your spine must be tall and straight at all times.

While standing, keep your feet about a foot apart with equal weight on each foot. Keep your tummy tucked to avoid putting pressure on your lower back.

While seated, keep your feet spaced about a foot apart with each foot flat on the floor.


Proper Stand Height

The proper stand height (or owning a stand at all) is important to develop healthy practice habits.

Some beginners overlook this detail and try to practice their sheet music by hunching over and reading it off a couch arm, desk, or table. Avoid this mistake and purchase a music stand.

Not only is it important to have a music stand, it also needs to be the correct height. Many of the generic stands sold in stores are made for children and don’t get much higher than five feet. If you’re an adult or you’re taller than five feet, make sure you invest in a stand that has an extension rod that allows you to adjust your stand. You may need to visit a violin shop or order a stand online.

When you’re looking at your music, it should be eye level. You shouldn’t need to bend your neck to read your music. You can reduce tension by keeping your head level and your spine straight. 

Besides a music stand, find out which violin accessories you may need! 


Exercise Daily

Regular exercise is important to alleviate the aches and pains from playing violin, but it’s also important to relieve the aches and pains of life!

In addition to your stretch breaks, make sure you stretch before and after practice. Pre-practice stretching is a great addition to your practice routine. Post-practice yoga is one of my favorite ways to stretch my back and neck after a long playing session.

Keep a yoga mat near your practice area and consider picking up a few poses from a YouTube yoga channel. Trust me, your body and your mind will thank you for it!

In addition to physical exercise, don’t forget to do exercises to build your finger strength!


Strengthen Your Core

A strong core will reduce the tension on your upper back, shoulders, and neck. When you have a strong core and abdomen, you can absorb some of the pressure the violin causes to your upper body.

Try adding core-strengthening exercises like crunches, push-ups, or light weight lifting to your daily exercise routine to help you build a strong core foundation.


Massage Therapy

If you’re like me and you’re prone to back and neck issues (due to genetics or previous injuries), you may still deal with back, neck, or shoulder pain from time to time, even with healthy practice habits.

For more serious cases, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. I’ve personally employed the assistance of many professionals over the years, and combined with lifestyle choices and healthy practice habits, I’ve found some relief.

When dealing with a more serious issue, sometimes it’s necessary to take some time off from playing violin. Recognizing the problem and taking time off to heal will make playing violin much more enjoyable.

Use these tips when you practice violin to develop healthy habits, increase longevity, and reduce pain.

If you have questions, let us know in the comments below! 

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

Photo by _zhang (with text overlay)

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Vocal Health: The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Vocal Health- The Important Tip That Will Save Your Voice in Rehearsals

Lots of rehearsals coming up? Feeling under the weather? In this article, singing teacher Elaina R. shares an important vocal health tip that can save your voice! 

 

The tenor in my professional vocal quintet is named Mark. It’s a perfectly good name, but for a singer it can be frustrating. Nearly every day someone announces that they are going to “mark,” and poor Mark gets confused. Sometimes even Mark has to mark.

What the heck am I talking about? Marking is an important skill that every singer, amateur or professional, must learn in order to stay healthy. Learning about this vocal health tip (and how to do it properly) can save you from a whole host of problems, including vocal fatigue and injury. And if your name is Mark, I apologize in advance for any confusion this may cause.

What Is Marking and When Should I Do It?

Marking is a type of modified singing meant to minimize strain on the voice. It limits volume and range while maintaining rhythm and pitch accuracy.

Most importantly, marking is a tool you can use to avoid getting vocally tired and hurting yourself during vocal rehearsals of any kind. This includes rehearsals for choir, musicals, operas, show choir, a cappella, even personal rehearsal time. Marking comes in handy when:

  • You have to sing the same taxing thing over and over. This can happen:
    • For the benefit of collaborators (e.g. piano accompanists, orchestra, other singers)
    • When learning new music, either with others or on your own. There’s no reason to sing a vocally difficult passage forte 10 times just to learn it.
  • You are feeling vocal fatigue (pain or discomfort in the throat, difficulty getting a clear vocal sound, general feeling of strain)
  • You are vocally compromised by allergies or illness (maybe you are getting over a cold and don’t want to overdo it)

A quick note on marking in rehearsal: be sure to let your conductor, director, and/or pianist know that you will be marking beforehand. Marking is completely acceptable to any conductor or accompanist (in fact, it shows how mature you are!), but if you don’t let people know, they might be confused as to why you sound different than usual.

How to Mark

There are two main ways that singers mark. However, before we get to how to mark, let me give a little disclaimer.

Marking can be just as tiring, if not MORE tiring, than singing in full voice if you don’t do it properly. You may think you’re taking it easy, but you still have to think about breath, resonance, and tension in the same ways you would if you were singing in full voice. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself while marking, which completely negates the purpose of this vocal health tip!

Got it? OK, good. Moving on to the two main types of marking.

  • Sing quieter. When marking, singers often eliminate dynamics in favor of a comfortable piano. This often involves switching vocal registration (head voice instead of high chest voice, for example). The result is a lighter, easier sound than full voice singing. Not sure what this means? Refresh your knowledge of vocal registers.
  • Eliminate range extremes. When marking, singers avoid high notes by transposing them down an octave. For example, if I was marking and I had an E6 in my music, I would sing an E5 or E4 instead.

Mark Away

The next time you are feeling vocally strained while trying to learn new music or while in a rehearsal, remember this vocal health tip. When done properly, marking helps protect your voice from fatigue and injury, ensuring that you’ll sound great when performance time comes around. Your musical collaborators, your voice teacher, and your vocal cords will all appreciate that!

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ypsilanti, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Accomplish Anything: The Ultimate List of Empowering Songs [Infographic]

MO - Accomplish Anything The Ultimate List of Empowering SongsThere’s nothing you can’t accomplish with a pair of headphones and the right soundtrack. From doing chores around the house to preparing for an interview, we’ve got 50 empowering songs that’ll take your productivity to the next level…

 

Did you know that pop music is scientifically-proven to be the best music for working quickly and accurately? It’s true! Try throwing on some Taylor Swift the next time you need to work — it’ll help!

Moreover, did you know that music can actually improve your memory? The reason is that music can reduce stress, allowing our brain to absorb information better. In fact, classical music has been proven to work best for improving memory.

With these facts in mind, we wanted to create the ultimate science-backed playlist for every occasion. Check the infographic below and empower yourself today!

(Below the infographic are Spotify playlists for your convenience!)

Guitar_Infographic


Power Through a Task.

Perfect for doing tasks that don’t require much thinking (e.g. chores around the house).

  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk
  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
  • Die Walküre (Ride of the Valkyries) by Richard Wegner
  • Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys

Spotify Playlist


Boost Your Creativity

Great for when you need inspiration to get your creative juices flowing (e.g. working on art).

  • Dirty Harry by The Gorillaz
  • A Little Soul by Pete Rock
  • Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
  • Singing Under the Rainbow by World’s End Girlfriend
  • Knights of Cydonia by Muse

Spotify Playlist


Improve Your Memory

Excellent for enhancing your focus and comprehension (e.g. studying, reading).

  • Four Seasons by Vivaldi
  • Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart
  • Symphony No. 67 in F Major by Joseph Haydn
  • Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven
  • Water Music by George Frideric Handel

Spotify Playlist


Make You Laugh

Sometimes you just need a good laugh!

  • Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash
  • Amish Paradise by Weird Al
  • United States of Whatever by Liam Lynch
  • Parents Just Don’t Understand by Will Smith
  • Pool Party by The Aquabats

Spotify Playlist


Heighten Your Romance

Wonderful for getting you in the romantic mood (e.g. preparing for a date).

  • I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
  • My Boo by Usher feat. Alicia Keys
  • Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
  • Unforgettable by Nat King Cole
  • More Than Words by Extreme

Spotify Playlist


Lift Your Spirits

Feeling down? Listen to these songs when you need cheering up!

  • Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Strawberry Bubblegum by Justin Timberlake
  • Lovely Day by Bill Withers
  • In the Stone by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder

Spotify Playlist


Dance Your Heart Out

Great for when you need to let loose and bust-a-move on the dance floor.

  • The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson
  • Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega
  • Lose Control by Missy Elliott
  • Grown Woman by Beyonce
  • Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

Spotify Playlist


Calm Your Mind

Feeling stressed or nervous? Take a load off your mind with these relaxing songs.

  • Sunrise by Norah Jones
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole
  • Just My Imagination by The Temptations
  • Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
  • Aqueous Transmission by Incubus

Spotify Playlist


Build Your Confidence

Feeling weak or unmotivated? Power-up with these explosive tracks.

  • Survivor by Beyonce
  • We Are The Champions by Queen
  • You’re the Best Around by Joe Esposito
  • Express Yourself by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
  • Uprising by Muse

Spotify Playlist


Exercise Your Body

Need to feel in-the-zone? These songs will get you through the toughest workouts.

  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • Show Me How to Live by Audioslave
  • Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine
  • Satisfaction by Benny Benassi
  • Around the World by Daft Punk

Spotify Playlist


*Sources included on infographic

 

Know any songs that belong on our list? Comment below!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

french pronunciation

5 Helpful French Pronunciation Hacks for Beginners

french pronunciation

Are you having trouble nailing your French accent? Below, French teacher Jinky B. explains how to sound like a  français or française in just five easy steps…

The French have an undeniably distinct accent that can be difficult for non-native speakers to perfect.

Nevertheless, it’s not entirely impossible for non-natives to learn how to speak French.

All it takes is some direction from your French teacher and a whole lot of practice.

Below are five helpful French pronunciation hacks or shortcuts to help you perfect your French accent.

5 French Pronunciation Hacks

1. The Silent Letters

One of the first French pronunciation rules is that you don’t actually say all the letters that are in a word.

The general rule of thumb is that you don’t say the consonants at the end of a word unless there is an ‘e’ at the end of the word. Check out the examples below:

Example one: français (Frenchman)

DO NOT say the ‘s’ sound, rather it sounds like ‘frong-say’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

Example two: française (Frenchwoman)

DO say the ‘s’, but making it more like a ‘z’ sound, to sound like ‘frong-says’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

There are some notable exceptions. Use this acronym to recognize when it’s possible to pronounce the consonant at the end of a word: CaReFuL. See the examples below.

Example one: Un truc (a thing)

DO say the ‘c’ in truc to sound like ‘trook’.

*The ‘u’ sounds like the English word ‘too’, not the English word ‘crook’.

Example two: Hiver (winter)

DO say the ‘r’ in hiver to sound like ‘e-vair’.

*The ‘h’ is silent at the beginning of the word.

2. The Liaison ‘Z’

One surefire way to sound more français or française is by linking the letter -s and the vowel in the word that follows.

For example, ils sont (they are) and ils ont (they have) look very similar in writing. However, when spoken, there is a very notable difference.

In the first, Ils sont, do not say the ‘s’ sound in ils, but DO say the ‘s’ in sont to sound like ‘eel song’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

In the second, Ils ont, the ‘s’ actually have the ‘z’ sound, which is known as a liaison, since the ils and ont are connected together. DO say ‘eel-zong’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

3. The ‘O’ Sound

Sometimes, you will see a string of vowels in French that look a bit puzzling. Don’t do too much work, but rather make the one vowel sound, ‘o’.

When pronouncing this group of vowels, your lips should also form the ‘o’ shape. Check out the examples below.

Example one: Beau (handsome), which sounds like the ‘-bow’ in ‘rainbow’.

Example two: Eau (water), which sounds just like the letter ‘-o’.

4. The Nasal ‘On’ Sound

The nasal sound in words like Bonjour (hello) and cent (hundred) is a very recognizable French sound.

Non-French speakers can generally pick up that French is being spoken when hearing these sounds.

Think of the English word, ‘song’. Say the word, but stop when you reach the ‘-ng’ sound. In the French word chanson (song), for example, it sounds like ‘shan-song’.

5. The ‘R’ Sound

Fin (the end) is the most difficult French sound to produce as well as the  most used sound in French.

While this may take the most time to master, you will definitely feel like a true français or française once this is achieved.

It sounds a bit like you’re gargling water at the back of your throat. For example, Bonjour, Paris! (Hello, Paris!).

The ‘r’ sound is at the end of Bonjour and in the middle of Paris. Practice saying this phrase five times a day and you’ll get it down fast.

Your Turn!

For even more tips to improve your French pronunciation, and sound like a native speaker, check out this quick YouTube tutorial.


Keep these French pronunciation shortcuts in mind when you’re practicing your accent. If you concentrate on the proper pronunciation, you’ll be sounding like a real français or française in no time.

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French lessons in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

piano technique

5 Piano Technique Mistakes You’re Probably Making

piano technique

Let’s face it, even the most experienced pianists make mistakes. Below, piano teacher Julie P. shares the 5 most common piano technique mistakes that both beginner and experienced pianists often make…

As a piano player, you’re always looking for easy ways to improve your playing. While there are no fast-tracks to becoming a great piano player, there are simple things you can do to better your skills.

In fact, you’re probably making some simple piano technique mistakes that are holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Below are the five most common piano technique mistakes. If you work on fixing these mistakes not only will you improve your piano technique, but you’ll also open up your ability to make greater improvements in the future.

5 Most Common Piano Technique Mistakes

1. Flat fingers

Many students play with flat or collapsed fingers when they’re first learning the piano. This means that either their finger is extending from their hand in a flat manner and/or their first knuckle is collapsing.

Flat and collapsed fingers slow down finger technique and usually cause tension. Play with your fingers in a curved position, as shown in the video below.

2. Sitting too close to the piano

If you sit too close to the piano, your arms won’t have enough room to extend in front of you. This limits the range of motion for your arms, which causes your wrists to contort in an effort to reach the right notes.

Sit on the edge of the piano bench and move it back until your elbows are extended slightly forward from your shoulders. Check out the video below for some additional tips.

3. Wrists too low

Your wrists should extend straight from your arms and shouldn’t collapse down. If your palms get close to the front of the piano, your wrists will likely collapse.

Wrists that are too low cause tension and strain in your arms and fingers, and also reduce the speed at which you can play.

If your wrists are low, your fingers are probably also collapsing, as discussed above. The picture below shows the right and wrong way to hold your wrists.

piano techniqueImage courtesy of Casio Music.

4. Not using your arm weight

The points mentioned above about arm position are important because we want to use the weight of our arms and torso when playing the piano.

Even though our fingers control the piano keys, students who push down the keys with only the strength of their fingers will not produce a very good tone.

Channeling our arm and body weight efficiently through our arms allows you to produce a wide range of sounds and tone colors. It also reduces the strain on your fingers.

5. Not establishing efficient fingerings

One of the best ways to learn a song quickly and reliably is to decide ahead of time the best fingering pattern.

Students who play with random fingerings that change every time they practice often get into a fingering jam, or have to search for the key they want.

If you know which fingers are playing which notes, and use the same fingerings every time you practice, you’ll know the song more securely and won’t be searching for the keys anymore.

If you can correct these five piano technique mistakes, you’ll be a much better piano player. Your piano teacher can also help you correct these mistakes as well as any other technique issues you may have in your playing.

Photo via Shalbs

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

MO - 6 Helpful Diction Exercises for Singers [Video]

Improve your technique (and your next performance) by working on diction! In this article, singing teacher Liz T. shares some great exercises to try out…

Imagine you’re at a concert, and your favorite artist gets up on stage to sing. You recognize a popular song from her album starting, but when she opens her mouth… you can’t decipher any of the lyrics.

As a singer, paying attention to diction — that is, the way you enunciate your words — can make a big impact on your performance. It’s a crucial part of connecting with your audience and even having proper vocal health!

If you struggle with you diction when you sing, though, don’t be ashamed. It is truly something all singers struggle with! It doesn’t mean you are a bad singer… but the better diction you have, the more your audience will be able to enjoy and appreciate your performance.

There are tons of diction exercises you can try, which will help you train yourself. Start adding these to your practice sessions, and you’ll notice a difference!

1) Practice Tongue Twisters

Try speaking your favorite tongue twisters first, and then try singing them! I recommend focusing on ones with letters or syllables that are more difficult for you. Start slow, and then work up to a faster speed. Really make sure you are articulating each sound. You can also try speaking or singing the alphabet to get the shapes ingrained in your muscle memory.

Here are a few tongue twisters that are great for improving your diction:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Red leather, yellow leather.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Who washed Washington’s white woolen underwear, as Washington’s washer woman went West.
  • Mommy made me mash my M&Ms.

2) Study Phonetics (IPA)

For this exercise, take a look at the song you’re currently working on, and break down each word in the lyrics. Break apart the vowels, consonants, and diphthongs. Feel free to write in your score, if you need to spell a word differently for it to make sense in your singing.

Many singers refer to the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) when singing. This is a system derived from Latin that is used today as a standardized representation of sounds. It’s a great tool for singers to use and study!

3) Practice Vowels

Take some time focusing on each of the vowels: ah, ay, ee, oh, and oo. Add a consonant at the beginning (such as “mah, may, me…”) and sing through the list, making sure each one is clear.

4) Practice Consonants

Next, focus on consonants, like D, T, and N. Practice speaking the different sounds, repeating each a few times.

5) Do Some Lip Buzz/Trill

Warm up your lips, tongue, and teeth with simple lip buzzes and tongue trills.

6) Incorporate Breath Support

Pick one of the tongue twisters above, and practice saying it all in one breath.

Whether you are performing live on stage (using a microphone or not) or singing in a studio, you should always use clear and accurate diction! And if you’re struggling, remember that clear diction may not happen overnight. Keep practicing these diction exercises, and work with your voice teacher to improve your technique. Good luck!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons 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!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Video Lesson: 13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

Ready to help your son or daughter learn Spanish? There’s a lot of research about how learning languages is easiest for kids, so it’s the perfect time to teach him or her a few easy Spanish words.

And if you don’t speak the language yourself, don’t worry. There are so many great learning resources available online, many of which are free. In the video below, tutor Rosita R. shares several easy Spanish words and phrases that are perfect to learn together!

Plus, see even more Spanish vocabulary for kids here.

  • Buenos dias – Good morning
  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Good evening / Good night
  • Como se llama usted? / What is your name?
  • Me llamo… / My name is…
  • Mucho gusto / Nice to meet you
  • Como esta usted? / How are you?
  • Estoy bien, gracias / I’m fine, thank you
  • Con permiso / Excuse me
  • Perdóname / Excuse me, sorry
  • Por favor / Please
  • Gracias / Thank you
  • De nada / You’re welcome

Want to learn more? See even more easy Spanish words for kids here, or check out our live online Spanish classes! Kids will learn vocab, conversational phrases, and much more in a fun group setting.

AndyWFeatured Instructor: Rosita R.
Rosita teaches Spanish, singing, and many other subjects in Los Angeles, CA, as well as online. Rosita also teaches several online group classes, including Spanish for Kids. Learn more about Rosita here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

how to play guitar like prince

How to Play Guitar Like Prince | A Tribute to a Music Legend

how to play guitar like prince

The world was stunned on Thursday morning when news broke that music legend Prince had died at the age of 57.

Fans, celebrities, and fellow musicians took to Twitter to share their reactions, memories, and condolences. Shortly after, various tributes sprung up all over the internet, as the world mourned the music icon.

One of the best ways to honor the late star is to share his (many)talents. Celebrate Prince and learn to play his famous guitar licks in this video from Jonathan B


How to Play Guitar Like Prince


how to play guitar like prince

Want to see these guitar licks and techniques in action? Check out Prince’s Super Bowl XLI performance here!

We’ll never forget Prince and his contributions to music and the world. What’s your favorite Prince song? What will you remember most about the legendary musician?

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Sound Opinions

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

jazz guitar scales

How to Play Jazz Guitar Scales | 10 Scales Every Guitarist Should Know

jazz guitar scales

You don’t have to be a big jazz fan to boost your guitar skills with some jazz techniques. In this guest post, Matt Warnock from mattwarnockguitar.com teaches you 10 must-know jazz guitar scales. 

Even if you’ve never played jazz guitar before, you’ve probably come across numerous articles and lessons exploring jazz guitar scales.

There seems like an endless mountain of scales to learn when exploring jazz on the fretboard, and they all come with strange names and sound even stranger.

If you’ve ever wanted to explore jazz guitar soloing, but were overwhelmed by the amount of scales to learn, or even where to start, then this lesson is for you!

In this lesson, you’ll learn 10 essential jazz guitar scales, how they’re built, how to play them on guitar, and how to use them in your guitar solos.

There are more scales to learn if you go further with your jazz guitar studies, but these 10 scales are more than enough to get a jazz sound in your solos.

To help you learn these jazz guitar scales from a theory perspective, each scale will have a three-point breakdown of its construction and application.

This breakdown works like this:

  1. Interval Pattern: How to build the scale.
  2. Used Over: What chord to use this scale over.
  3. Sounds Like: What the scale sounds like over that chord.

Once you’ve learned the theory behind any of these 10 jazz guitar scales, you’ll be ready to take them to the fretboard and add them into your jazz guitar solos.

Now it’s time to begin learning these 10 jazz scales, working them from a technical perspective, and using them to jazz up your guitar solos in any genre of music.


Dominant Bebop Scale

The first jazz scale that you’ll explore is one of the most jazz sounding scales out there, the dominant bebop scale.

This scale is built by adding a major 7th passing tone to a Mixolydian scale, creating an 8-note scale that’s used to solo over dominant 7th chords.

Here’s the interval pattern for the dominant bebop scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7th Chord

With that knowledge under your belt, it’s time to take this scale to the guitar. The first step is to listen to the scale in a one-octave shape.

You can also play this one-octave scale in order to begin taking the dominant bebop scale onto the guitar fretboard.

 

jazz guitar scales

To help you take this scale further on the fretboard, here are several two-octave shapes that you can practice in the woodshed.

Be sure to work these dominant bebop scale shapes with a metronome as well as solo with them over backing tracks in your studies.

jazz guitar scales

One of the best ways to work scales is to learn jazz guitar licks that use those scales in their construction.

Here’s a sample dominant bebop lick that you can learn, work with a metronome, and add to your soloing practice routine over backing tracks.

 

jazz guitar scales

 

Make sure to practice using this lick in your soloing, rather than only working it with a metronome. Jazz soloing is a learned skill, so practice just like you practice learning scales in your guitar practice routine.


Minor Bebop Scale

You can also explore a minor key bebop scale, which is used to solo over M7 chords in a jazz context.

Here’s the interval pattern for this eight-note scale, which is built in a similar way to the dominant bebop scale.

Here, you’re adding a passing note to the Dorian scale, which ends up being a Dorian with an added major 7th interval.

  1.  Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: m7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: m7 Chord

Now that you know how to build the minor bebop scale, here’s how it sounds and looks on paper.

Give this scale a try to see how it sits on the fretboard and how it sounds when you play it on your instrument.

 

jazz guitar scales

After exploring this scale in a one-octave shape, you’re ready to take it around the fretboard using these two, two-octave scale shapes.

Make sure to practice these shapes with your metronome and use them to solo over chord changes in your improvisational practice routine.

jazz guitar scales

This sample phrase uses a Pat Metheny inspired run over the m7 chord at the start of the progression, built from the minor bebop scale.

 

jazz guitar scales

 

Once you have this lick under your fingers, practicing personalizing this line as you begin to change the rhythm, add notes, take notes away, etc.


ii V Bebop Scale

You can play the minor and dominant bebop scales separately, and you can also combine them to form a nine-note scale that’s used over both m7 and 7th chords.

When doing so, combine the iim7 and V7 chords in a key, Dm7-G7 in C major, for example, and use the extra notes in those bebop scales together.

After combining the two scales, you produce the following interval pattern:

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: m7 and 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: m7 and 7th Chord

Here is the nine-note ii V bebop scale on paper, so you can get your fingers and ears around this chromatic sounding jazz guitar scale.

 

 

jazz guitar scales

To take things further, here are two different ii V bebop scale fingerings that you can work with a metronome and solo in your improv practice routine.

 

jazz guitar scales

To finish off your intro to the ii V bebop scale, here’s a ii V I lick that uses this scale to solo over the first two chords in the progression.

 

jazz guitar scales

When you’re ready, make sure to take this lick to other keys, which will allow you to apply this phrase to your solos in any key that you’re playing in on a tune.


Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor scale is used in many styles of music, though in jazz it differs from its classical music cousin.

In classical music, you play one version of the scale ascending and one version descending.

But in jazz, you only play the ascending version of the scale, which you can see in the interval pattern below.

You can then use this version of melodic minor, often called jazz minor, to color m7 chords in your solos, giving them a mMaj7 sound along the way.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 4 5 6 7
  2. Used Over: m7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: mMaj7 Chord

Here’s how the melodic minor scale looks and sounds on the staff. Give this scale a try to see how it sounds compared to the other minor modes you know.

 

jazz guitar scales

To help you take this scale to the guitar, here are two, two-octave melodic minor scale shapes that you can practice in 12 keys on the guitar.

*Make sure to put on a backing track and work on soloing with this scale in the improvisational section of your routine.

jazz guitar scales

Lastly, here’s a common application of the melodic minor scale in a jazz context, used to solo over a iim7 chord in a ii V I chord progression.

The phrase in bar one of the line is a common melodic minor lick, one that you can extract from this longer line and use in other musical contexts.

 

jazz guitar scales
Once you have this lick under your fingers, make sure to practice soloing with it over various m7 chords, keys, and tempos.


Lydian Dominant Scale

The next scale is one of the most popular scales in jazz, the 4th mode of melodic minor, otherwise known as the Lydian dominant scale.

This scale is used to color your 7th chord lines by bringing out the 7#11 sound over those chords.

Here’s the interval structure of Lydian dominant so you can get your fingers and ears around the theory behind this popular jazz scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 3 #4 5 6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7#11 Chord

Here is that interval breakdown on paper,so you can see and hear this scale as you introduce your fingers and ears to the Lydian dominant scale.

 

jazz guitar scalesNow that you know how to build the Lydian dominant scale, you can take it to the fretboard with these two-octave scale shapes.

jazz guitar scales

Here is a sample lick that uses a classic Lydian dominant sound over the V7 chord in a ii V I in F major.

If you dig the phrase over C7, feel free to extract that and use it over other chords and in other musical situations in your solos.

 

jazz guitar scales

Make sure you work this lick with a metronome, in various keys, as well as add it into your solos.

Learning how to improvise, in jazz or any genre, is easier when you practice improvising in the woodshed.


Altered Scale

You’re now going to explore one of the most famous jazz guitar scales, the altered scale, so named because it outlines the 7alt chord in your solos.

This scale, the 7th mode of melodic minor, produces the chord 7(b9,#9,b5,#5), which is shortened to 7alt in lead sheets and chord charts.

Here’s how the altered scale looks on paper.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 b3 3 b5 b6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7alt Chord

Now that you can build an altered scale, get your fingers and ears around this new scale with the following one-octave fingering.

 

jazz guitar scales

To take this scale around the fretboard, here are two altered scale shapes that you can work with a metronome and add to your solos over backing tracks.

 

jazz guitar scales

The sample lick for this scale uses a classic altered scale pattern over the second bar, C7alt, of the ii V I lick in F minor.

If you enjoy that part of the phrase, you can pull it out of this lick and apply it to other contexts in your soloing, just the second bar.

 

jazz guitar scales

When working on this, or any lick, make sure to personalize it by changing the rhythms, adding notes, and taking notes away.


Phrygian Dominant Scale

You’ll now look at the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale, otherwise known as the Phrygian dominant scale.

Harmonic minor modes are rarely used in jazz soloing, with the exception of the 5th mode, which is used all the time to bring a 7b9,b13 sound over 7th chords.

Here’s how the interval pattern lays out for the Phrygian dominant scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 4 5 b6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9,b13 Chord

To introduce your ears and fingers to this jazz guitar scale, here’s how the Phrygian dominant scale sounds and looks on paper.

 

jazz guitar scales

Now that you know how to build this scale, here are two Phrygian dominant scale fingerings that you can use in your technical and soloing workout.

Once you have both of these shapes under your fingers, work on moving between the two shapes in your solos to cover more of the fretboard in your improvisations.

jazz guitar scales

To finish your introduction to this scale, here’s a lick with the Phrygian dominant scale outlining the C7 chord in the second bar of the phrase.

 

jazz guitar scales

Make sure to practice this lick in different keys and at various tempos, as well as adding it into your solos to work it into your improvisations.


Mixolydian b9 Scale

Moving on, you’re now going to learn the 5th mode of the harmonic major scale (1 2 3 4 5 b6 7), which is referred to as the Mixolydian b9 scale.

This scale gets its name because if you take a Mixolydian scale and lower the 2nd (9th), you produce the 5th mode of harmonic major.

You can use this scale to color 7th chords, as you bring a 7b9 sound to your dominant chord soloing in a jazz (or other genre) solo.

Here’s how the Mixolydian b9 scale looks on paper.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 4 5 6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9 Chord

Now that you know how to build this scale, here’s the Mixolydian b9 on paper so you can see and hear the interval structure.

Don’t forget to play through this scale in the one-octave fingering below, to give your ears and fingers a chance to explore this sound before moving on.

 

jazz guitar scales

To help you take the Mixolydian b9 scale around the fretboard, here are two, two-octave shapes that you can learn and apply to your guitar solos.

jazz guitar scales

Taking this scale into the improvisational realm, here is a ii V I lick in F major where the Mixolydian b9 scale is used to color the C7 in bar 2 of the lick.

 

jazz guitar scales

 

Once you have this lick under your fingers, work it in 12 keys, at various tempos, and apply it to your soloing practice to get the most out of this lick study.


Tritone Scale

You’re now going to step outside of the usual melodic minor, bebop, and harmonic minor modes, and explore a symmetrical scale.

The tritone scale is built by combining two major triads a tritone apart, like C and F#, on the fretboard.

When you line up those six notes in alphabetical order, you get the following interval pattern and construction.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 #4 5 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9,#11 Chord

Here’s how the tritone scale looks on the fretboard, and sounds, so you can introduce your fingers and ears to this cool, but rare, jazz scale.

 

jazz guitar scales

Now that you know how to build the tritone scale, and what it sounds like, you’re ready to take this scale to the fretboard.

Here are two, two-octave tritone scale shapes that you can learn, practice in all 12 keys, and apply to your soloing over 7th chords when working with backing tracks.

jazz guitar scales

To finish your intro to the tritone scale, here is a lick that uses the C tritone scale over the C7 chord V7, in a ii V I progression.

Notice the tension this scale creates in the second bar of the lick that’s then resolved to the Fmaj7 chord in the final measure.

Using outside sounding scales, like the tritone scale, can be effective in your solos, but if you don’t resolve them properly they might sound like a mistake.

To paraphrase Stevie Ray Vaughan:

“It’s easy to go outside, it’s really hard to get back inside.”

So make sure to always have a plan to get back to a more stable sound when applying the tritone scale to your solos, to avoid sounding out of place.

 

jazz guitar scales

Once you have this lick under your fingers with a metronome, practice applying it to your solos over a backing track.

Start by playing the lick as is, then begin to adapt the lick by changing the rhythm, adding notes, taking notes away, etc.

This will allow you to keep the vibe of the lick in your playing, but also personalize the lick along the way.


Augmented Scale

The final scale is an outside sounding scale that you can use to add flavor to your maj7 chords when soloing in the jazz style.

The augmented scale isn’t for everyone, but with the right touch, it can be used to increase the intensity over Imaj7 and IVmaj7 chords in your jazz guitar solos.

To build an augmented scale, you can play two augmented triads a minor 3rd apart, such as C and Eb.

Then, when you lay out those six notes in order, you get the following interval pattern.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b3 3 5 #5 7
  2. Used Over: Maj7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: Maj7#5 Chord

Here is how the augmented scale looks on paper and how it sounds in a one-octave scale shape.

After listening to the example, play this scale on the guitar to begin to see how it sits on the fretboard.

 


jazz guitar scales

To help you take the augmented scale around the fretboard, here are two, two-octave augmented scale shapes that you can run through in your practice routine.

Don’t forget to practice these scales with a metronome, as well as over backing tracks, as you work these shapes from a technical and musical standpoint.

jazz guitar scales

Lastly, here is a sample augmented scale lick that you can learn and use in your solos when improvising with this cool sounding scale.

Learn the lick in one key first, then, when you’re ready, bring it to all 12 keys as you work this line across the entire guitar fretboard.

jazz guitar scales

There you have it, 10 jazz scales every guitarist should know and work on in their practice routines.

If you’re looking to add a bit of jazz flavor to your solos, or just step outside the box in your playing, then these 10 scales are just what you need to expand your playing.

If you have any questions about these scales, please post it in the comments section below; I’ll be glad to help you out.

And, if you want to take your jazz guitar playing further, check out my free Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar eBook.

Looking for more jazz guitar lessons? Check out these articles and tutorials! 

 

mattwarnockGuest Post Author: Matt Warnock
Matt Warnock is the owner of mattwarnockguitar.com, where over 1 million guitarists have learned to play jazz guitar. As well, he helps music teachers build, develop, and grow their online teaching businesses through his website teachmusiconline.com.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource