6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…

 

Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them

 

1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters

 

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6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Here’s What to Know Before Buying an Instrument

6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Thinking about buying a new instrument? It’s a big decision, as an instrument is truly an investment — especially if you’re spending several hundred dollars (or more, for higher-end brands and models) on it.

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to do some research. But where do you start? With so many brands out there, how do you know which ones are worth the money? What do you really need to ensure years of playing and practicing?

We came across a great article over on Donna Schwartz’s blog that we think hits the nail on the head for what to consider before handing over your cash — whether you’re looking at new or used musical instruments.

Donna writes:

Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or pro, here are 5 questions to ask yourself when trying out different musical instruments:

  1. Does the sound of this instrument match my concept of how I want to sound?
  2. Is the instrument free-blowing enough to allow me to get my “perfect sound”? (Or maybe I want a little resistance on this trumpet to help out with high notes?)
  3. Is it easy enough to play in all registers of the instrument comfortably?
  4. Can I control the intonation in all registers of the instrument?
  5. Are the keys placed in such a way that I can perform rapid passages comfortably?

The above 5 questions are important and vary for every performer. This next question though is absolutely necessary for every musician that wants to perform at their best for a long time.

When you are comparing a few different brands and have found some you really like, before you pull out the credit card, it is crucial to ask this question:

If my instrument breaks, do you have the parts to fix it, and if not, can you get the parts?

Donna continues to point out that an instrument like the saxophone has more than 600 moving parts — so if you end up with an instrument with sub-standard parts that can’t be replaced… you may be out of luck if it breaks. Moral of the story? Do your research. Ask questions. Get help from your music teacher, and have him or her try out instruments with you. Make an informed decision!

You can read the article in full here.

For even more tips, we also like this article from the Tampa Bay Music Academy blog. As part of their steps for buying an instrument, they offer some additional pointers regarding instrument quality:

Instrument quality can generally be assessed using three categories: student quality, intermediate quality, or professional quality.

Your 5th grader doesn’t need a professional quality instrument yet, but should you go the cheap route with a student model or shell out a few more bucks for the intermediate? Ultimately, that depends on your goals for your student.

Is this a “try it and see if you like it” endeavor, or have you and your child committed to this instrument for the long haul? Student quality instruments are usually made of cheaper materials and won’t produce as nice a sound, but they are good for students who don’t know if they will stick with it or not. They’re also good starter instruments if money is tight.

If your child (and you) have committed to playing this instrument throughout middle and high school, however, go ahead and invest in the better quality option if possible.

Continue reading the article here.

And finally, if you’re opting for the used musical instruments route, Get-Tuned.com has a great article on how to evaluate a used instrument.

Readers, how have your experiences been buying new or used instruments? What other tips would you add? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Image by Vincent Diamante

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Beginner Flute Lessons: How to Make the Most of Your Lessons

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As you learn to play the flute, attending regular private lessons are integral to your success. Here, Chicago, IL flute teacher Jillian D. shares her tips for making the most of those lessons…

 

Growing up, flute lessons were, and still are, an important part of my life. They instilled me with discipline, integrity, and pride, while also allowing me to grow and mature artistically. The moments you spend with your teacher are filled with helpful information and wise insight. The hard part is getting it all to stick. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your beginner flute lessons:

Before your lesson:

  1. Eat. Nothing is more distracting than a growling stomach. Eat a good meal before your lesson, so you’ll be fueled and ready to play.
  2. Be prepared. Show up to each lesson prepared and ready to learn. Working hard in the days leading up to your lesson will allow you to make progress each week.
  3. Review your lesson material without your flute. Going over fingerings, pieces, and other lesson material away from your flute is a good way to warm up your brain before a lesson. You’ll be surprised at how much you remember when you come back to your flute.

During your lesson:

  1. Be engaged and stay focused. It’s easy to let your mind wander when your teacher rattles on about alternate fingerings, harmonic overtones, and melodic minor scales. But stay focused! Be as attentive as possible, and try to absorb everything your teacher says like a sponge.
  2. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, do not be afraid to say so. Your teacher only wants to help you get better, so if something is unclear, ask!
  3. Record it. Recording your lessons is a great way to easily review your teacher’s feedback later. However, it’s always important to ask for permission before you hit record.

After your lesson:

  1. Take notes in your flute journal. You’ll be given a LOT of useful information during your lessons. Write them down in a notebook or journal as you go along. That way, you won’t forget when you’re practicing during the week.
  2. Review. Keep your lesson notes organized and detailed. Even something as simple as reviewing your notes on the car ride home will help your flute playing immensely.
  3. Practice as soon as you get home. Practicing after your lesson is a great way to make sure everything sticks. Go over what your teacher helped you with during the lesson. Take what he or she said a step further, and see what kind of progress you can make on your own.

Concentration, hard work, and preparation are the keys to getting the most from your beginner flute lessons. Have fun, stay focused, and discover something new while playing your flute every day.

JillianDJillian D. teaches flute in Chicago, IL. She is currently working on her degree in Flute Performance at DePaul University School of Music. Learn more about Jillian here!

 

 

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6 Websites for Finding Free Flute Sheet Music

free flute sheet music resources

Looking for free flute sheet music? If you’re a flute player looking for more music to learn, you’re in luck! There are many places to find free flute sheet music on the web. There’s more music out there than you’ll ever have time to explore, ranging from solos to duets to etudes and scales. You can find music in genres from Classical to Pop/Rock, Folk, and Holiday.

Whether you’re looking for your next solo to study or want to practice your sight reading, the six sites below are excellent options for finding free flute sheet music.

Where to Find Free Flute Sheet Music

International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)

The IMSLP database is one of the best places to go for free flute sheet music. If you look at the page of scores featuring the flute, you’ll find thousands of scores available for free. These are classical, public domain works with varying instrumentation. Go to this site for flute solos, duets, trios, sonatas, concertos, and etudes, as well as small and large ensembles including the flute.

This site can be overwhelming since there are so many pieces available. Try out some etudes, including popular ones by Anderson or Gariboldi, or play some duets, including ones by Quantz and Kuhlau. If you’re really into Bach, try out some of the sonatas, partitas, and concertos.

FluteTunes.com

FluteTunes.com posts free flute sheet music for a new song every day. Each piece is labeled by difficulty level from “easy” through “advanced.” The genres represented are mostly classical and folk music from a wide variety of cultures. Instrumentations represented include flute solos, flute duets, flute with piano, flute with organ, flute with strings, and flute with guitar.

MP3 and MIDI tracks allow you to play along with the accompaniment while you learn the song. The site also has pages of flute scales and fingerings.

8notes.com

8notes.com has over 450 free flute sheet music pieces from various genres, including Classical, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Traditional, World, and Film. Songs are labeled by difficulty level from “beginning” through “hard.” Play-along tracks and sheet music accompaniments are available as well.

Fluters Music

Fluters Music is a blog run by a high school flute player who writes out the notes for the melodies of pop songs you hear on the radio. The notes are written as letter names above the lyrics so there’s no need to know how to read music! This is a great site if you’re a beginning flutist and you want to play the pop songs you already know and enjoy.

Herbert Lindholm

Herbert Lindholm has made many of his flute compositions available for free. These include technique studies, flute solos, duets and trios, flute ensembles, and flute with piano or guitar. Most pieces are labeled by difficulty level (1-9) and also include the approximate duration of the piece. You should definitely add this to your list of sites that offer free flute sheet music.

Lark In the Morning

Lark In The Morning has a number of large collections of folk songs from all around the world. Collections of free flute sheet music include folk dance melodies from a variety of countries, including Armenia, Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia, Germany, Greece, and Yugoslavia!

Now that you know the variety of free flute sheet music that is available, enjoy picking some new pieces you’d like to learn. There are a few pieces you may be able to learn on your own, but most will require the help of a teacher. Check out TakeLessons for an experienced flute teacher in your area.

JuliePJulie 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!

 

 

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Learn to Play the Flute: Your Top Challenges, Resolved!

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Want to learn to play the flute or improve your existing skills? Check out these helpful tips from New York flute teacher Nadia B...

As you learn to play the flute, you may encounter some challenges as you grow, learn, and improve. Read on to discover the most common issues I see my flute students facing, and tips to overcome them so you can play at your best.

“I don’t have enough air to play that passage!”

While you may feel that you don’t have enough air, you usually have enough, or even too much. As you play a long phrase and feel the air being used up, your mind usually takes over and reminds you that you still have to make it to the end, so you had better start squeezing out the air… that’s where the problem comes in. If you try to squeeze out the air, you are contracting lots of large, powerful muscles, which actually prevents you from using up the rest of the air inside the body. Then, you may gasp a breath of air at the end of that long phrase without having used up all the air you already had, creating an issue for the next phrase.

Here’s the way out of this vicious cycle: We actually don’t need as much air as we think we do. So when you’re getting ready to start a phrase, don’t gasp in air, or try to tank up. Just let some air naturally flow in (after all, when we have finished up the air inside of us, our bodies automatically respond to make room for air and bring it into the body) and then begin playing the phrase. Your body-mind knows how to manage the air based on the length of the phrase. If you feel like you’re starting to run out, sense the ground underneath you and see if you can allow your body to expand rather than contracting and collapsing in your body to squeeze the air out.

“The flute feels like it’s slipping” or “My pinky finger or thumb hurts from gripping to hold onto the flute.”

Finding a hand position that is effective, comfortable, and sustainable is the key. Too often I see students clenching the flute for fear of dropping it and developing hand pain or fatigue as a result.

It’s important to know that the flute is not just supported by the fingers. (Even if it were, our fingers are longer than most people realize—they start at the base of the hand.) To find a more supportive position, we can visualize a connection between our hands and our back, with our arms as the conduit. You can imagine your arms growing out of your back, and letting the fingers lengthen as the hand touches the flute. This gives you much more support for the flute, so that your back is doing the ‘heavy lifting’ rather than the hands.

Next, find a book and hold it with the fingers stretching out across the front or back cover of the book, and the thumb stretching out across onto the opposite cover. Imagine the fingers connecting to the thumb through the book. This relationship of the fingers and the thumb when holding a book is similar to how we should hold the flute. When the lines of the fingers and thumb in each hand are roughly parallel (but not held straight, simply curving and arched naturally) as we hold our flutes, this eliminates a lot of extra contorting and tightening of the fingers.

These two fundamental ideas should help you find a hand position that feels, looks, and ‘sounds’ better!

“My sound is fuzzy/thin/airy.”

Developing good tone is crucial since a clear, rich, and flexible sound allows us to have a wide range of tone color for expression. Most flute students try to manipulate tone quality by making changes to their embouchure.

While the embouchure is undoubtedly important, sometimes we can become preoccupied with it and forget that the sound depends on the quality of the whole body. When the body is free and open, there’s more room for the sound to resonate through us, which is infinitely better than a sound that is produced in the throat, cut off from the rest of the body by excessive tension and manipulated by too many changes in the embouchure. As you learn to relax your body, your embouchure will naturally respond to make the changes needed to facilitate a change in color, dynamic, or range.

To try this out, play a long tone and see if you can imagine the sound traveling all the way through your body. Mentally scan your body to see if there is muscular gripping anywhere in the body that is blocking the passage of the sound. After all, sound is vibration, and vibration needs space to occur.

With these ideas, your practice will be easier and more enjoyable!

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

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