Learn to Play Guitar

In-Person, Online, or DIY: What’s the Best Way to Learn Guitar?

Learn to Play Guitar

The guitar is a beautiful instrument that lends itself flawlessly to expression and creativity. Adaptable and versatile, it allows the intent and emotion of the artist to flow through it.

On top of that, the guitar is also very accessible for beginners. After learning only a few easy chords, you can not only play songs, but write them! Once you get the hang of it, playing guitar allows you to emulate your musical heroes. Many of your favorite songs are simple to learn on guitar, and it’s a wonderful feeling to play for your friends and family.

With musical elements like chords, scales, and strum patterns, learning guitar can seem intimidating at first. Unlike piano, scales on the guitar are not set out in straight, obvious lines, and chord patterns can be difficult to master. Luckily, learning guitar does not depend on your ability to read musical notation, or ‘notes-on-staff’. Instead, you may prefer tablature, which marks the notes to be played on lines representing strings as you would see on the guitar itself.

Whether you’re interested in learning acoustic, electric, or bass guitar, you need to begin with some sort of instruction. There are many options available: lesson videos on YouTube, private online lessons, books with audio discs, or a traditional private tutor. When seeking instruction for yourself or your child, deciding what is the best way to learn guitar can be overwhelming, so let’s go over the options in more detail.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

At-your-leisure learning, whether through books, CDs, DVDs, MP3s or online guitar videos, is a flexible and convenient way to begin.

Pros:

  • Due to the plethora of materials and teachers, you can sample many media and teaching styles easily to find what works best for you.
  • Lessons can happen any place or time you find convenient.
  • You can decide precisely what you would like to learn, and take as much time as is needed to master it.
  • In most cases, DIY is the least expensive option for beginners.

Cons:

  • If you are practicing incorrectly, there’s no one to correct you.
  • Progress can be slow due to not being motivated by a teacher and not having a set schedule.
  • Important skill building may be missed when you are creating your own lesson plan ad-hoc.

Conclusion: While learning on your own is a flexible and affordable option, it is not the fastest way to learn guitar. Unless you’re highly motivated and laser-focused, it’s challenging to reach your full musical potential when you go it alone.

Remote Instruction

Online guitar lessons via video calls provide an alternative to in person lessons, where you can communicate in real time with your teacher without leaving your home.

Pros:

  • Great for students with mobility issues or tight schedules, including busy kids and their parents.
  • Assistance is available as you learn, and you progress at your own pace.
  • The selection of teachers is not limited to those in your geographical area.
  • Often this option is more affordable than in-person lessons.

Cons:

  • Internet connections and software are not always reliable.
  • It can be quite challenging to learn guitar when your only model is a reverse image of what you’re trying to play.
  • It may be difficult to catch subtle mistakes when your teacher is not there with you.

Conclusion: Remote guitar lessons are by far the best way to learn guitar online. YouTube videos and instructional articles can’t give you the personalized feedback that an online instructor can. The more online lessons you take, the more natural it will feel to learn the instrument remotely. You’ll quickly get used to quirks such as the reverse image, and your teacher can even flip their video feed to avoid this issue entirely.

Group Instruction

In larger towns and cities, group lessons are sometimes offered at community centers or after hours in schools. Often high school or college students, or retired musicians, provide weekly lessons to a small group.

Pros:

  • Learning with others can be enjoyable, especially if you find a group that fits your age and skill level.
  • Unlike online guitar lessons, there is a teacher on-site to help you correct mistakes.
  • This is a great way to meet other musicians. Who knows, you may even start a band!

Cons:

  • There is little personal attention. Your teacher may not catch your mistakes, leaving your skills sloppy and incomplete.
  • There can be many distractions as it’s easy for a group to get off topic.
  • Much of your time may be devoted to solving other people’s problems.
  • You have little input into what you’re learning.
  • Everyone moves at the same pace, even if you are capable of learning more quickly, or need more time.

Conclusion: If you’re an absolute beginner, group lessons can be one of the best ways to learn to play guitar. That’s because learning alongside other beginners can help you stay motivated. There are even online guitar classes that combine the convenience of online lessons with the collaboration of a group setting. Once you’re ready to refine your skills beyond the beginner level, turn to a private instructor.

Private Lessons in-Person

One-on-one learning with a teacher focused on you, your interests, and your progress.

Pros:

  • Your teacher is a professional who can bring all the benefits of years of practice to you.
  • All of their technical skills and tricks are at your disposal.
  • You set the pace. You can choose between styles and methods, notation or tablature, and which songs you want to play.
  • Regular lessons and homework keep you on track and motivated to do your best.
  • The education you receive will be complete and will give you the skills you need to become truly talented.

Cons:

  • One-on-one lessons are generally the most expensive option.
  • You’ll need to find someone in your area whose schedule is compatible with your own.

Conclusion: If you’re looking for the absolute best way to learn to play guitar, nothing beats private lessons. Your teacher will provide you with a personalized lesson plan that helps you reach your full potential as a guitarist. Those who are serious about learning guitar should seek the help of a professional teacher, whether online or in-person.

Whether you choose online guitar courses or a more hands-on experience, learning guitar is a rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. Remember to take pride in your accomplishments and have fun. The best way to learn guitar depends on your own goals and learning style. No matter what path you choose to master the instrument, we wish you the best on your musical journey!

Interested in Private Lessons?

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Photo by bennylin0724

How to Start a Singing Career

So You Want to Become a Singer? Here’s How to Get There

How to Start a Singing Career

Private lessons? Check. Big dreams? Check! But there’s more to the equation when it comes to singing professionally. Monclova, OH teacher Carrie A. shares her professional experience to inform your own singing journey.

How to Become a Singer

I can’t tell you how many students over the years have come to me asking, “How do you become a singer on TV or Broadway?” before they finish their first vocal lesson. While those are great aspirations to go after, the truth is that it’s better to focus on smaller, more achievable goals as you start out.

Now, I don’t say this to discourage aspiring stars from taking the stage – not at all. The point of managing expectations at the beginning of our singing journey is to 1) stay humble, and 2) recognize that there’s no substitute for hard work and practice.

What I have found is a great way to get started is to look for opportunities to perform right in your own community. It is a serious long shot to go from never performing at all, to being chosen for some sort of reality show. Though you may hear of people winning the vocal lottery on TV, the fact is that many of the singers we know and love had humble beginnings and put in countless hours of practice. No one becomes a singer overnight.

I have performed in front of thousands of people numerous times, including once at Carnegie Hall. I, however, did not start there. I participated in lots of community theater, performed at weddings, did gigs at coffee shops, and performed at other small-scale venues before I had more distinguished opportunities.

I understand the desire to perform in front of large audiences. Still, I strongly encourage my students to take advantage of every opportunity they have to perform, whether big or small. Every performance is an opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun. The following suggestions are ones that I give to my students to help them find opportunities.

First, get a set list together. Whether you are a vocalist or instrumentalist, you need to have at least 10 songs that are performance-ready. Don’t be in a hurry with this step – look for songs that mean something to you and flow well together. Work with your music instructor to find what fits your singing style and go with that.

Second, gear up for rejection. You will be told no, probably multiple times. Don’t stop until you get a yes! Every successful person has gone through their fair share of rejection. I’m a professional singer, and I’ve had to deal with the same thing. Don’t take it personally, just move on and get excited for when someone says yes.

Third, connect with area charity organizations and ask if they need music at their next fundraiser. It will be a chance to use music to strengthen the community and possibly create more connections for future performances.

Fourth, think of places you can give back and get performance experience at the same time. For example, lots of nursing homes will jump at the chance to have you come and entertain their guests.

Opportunities like these are rewarding on many different levels. It feels good to use your talents for a positive and uplifting cause.

Finally, don’t look down on any opportunity that comes your way. Remember, in the beginning, it’s all about getting yourself out there and letting people know you are available. This will help you hone your skills and build your network. Vocal students wondering how to become a singer on the professional level need to understand that even the most ambitious goals happen one step at a time.

If that means you start by singing the national anthem at a local high school basketball game, so be it. One of my students did that very thing and now is invited by major car racing events to do the national anthem. She went from performing at the local high school to singing in front of 30,000 people during a televised event! The bottom line is this: in the beginning, nothing is too small if you really want to become a singer.

Whether you’re singing in the shower or Madison Square Garden, your love for music will propel you forward. Enjoy where you are today, pour your heart into each and every performance, and create a rewarding musical future!

 

CarrieACarrie A. teaches guitar and singing lessons in Monclova, OH. She has a BA in music and business, and has been teaching professionally for over 10 years. Learn more about Carrie here!

 

 

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Learning Belly Dancing

How to Belly Dance for Beginners

Learning Belly Dancing

Belly dancing is a popular form of dance that has its roots in Egypt. This expressive and captivating style is best known for its focus on dynamic torso movements, and has made its way into pop culture across the globe. If you’re interested in learning how to belly dance, this guide will get you pointed in the right direction.

The Origins of Belly Dancing

Belly dancing has a long and mysterious history that is often debated over by scholars and dance enthusiasts. Some say that the origins of belly dancing can be traced back nearly 6,000 years, to when early societies would use expressive dancing as a part of religious rituals. Although there’s no doubt that forms of dancing played a role in early civilizations, we lack hard evidence that ties modern belly dancing to these ancient rituals.

Belly dancing as we know it today most likely had its start in 18th century Egypt. A traveling group of dancers known as the ghawazee pioneered the form, and, later, spread it throughout the Middle East and Europe. Since then, various stylistic refinements were added by cultures throughout the world, including new influences from ballet and Latin dance. In the 1960s, many Americans became interested in how to learn belly dance, and global popularity of the style exploded in North America.

Recommended: 8 Music Video Dances That Will Give You Superstar Moves

Belly Dancing for Beginners

Watch any advanced belly dancer, and it’s clear that muscle isolation is a critical part of the style. Learning how to belly dance gives you exquisite command of core muscles and hip movement. There are a few iconic belly dancing moves, including:

  • Hip lifts: This move makes it look like the hips are quickly swinging from side to side. Although it looks as if the hips are making this move in isolation, it actually comes as a result of straightening one leg while keeping the other slightly bent. The head and shoulders should be kept still so that it looks as if only the hips are moving.
  • Shimmy: Once the tempo of the alternating hip lifts is increased, a vibrating movement is produced, which is known as the shimmy. The muscles of the lower back are also involved in this movement. You can also shimmy with the shoulders.
  • Belly roll: This move comes as a result of isolating the lower and upper ab muscles. Contracting the lower ab muscles and then the upper ones creates a rolling motion once you get the hang of it. If you can’t access this move at first, don’t be discouraged! It will come with time as your core muscles develop.

How to Learn to Belly Dance

While online resources such as blogs and videos can be helpful for beginners, properly learning how to belly dance requires the help of an instructor. Your dance teacher can show you how to isolate the correct muscles and gracefully perform these expressive moves. If you don’t have any dance teachers in your area, online belly dancing lessons are a great option. Visit our directory and find a belly dance instructor today!

Find more inspiration for dancing and music in the TakeLessons blog.

Ultimate Guide for Tuning Guitars

How to Tune a Guitar – Easy Tricks and Pro Tips

Ultimate Guide for Tuning Guitars

What’s the first thing you should do every time you pick up a guitar? Resist the urge to shred for a moment, and make sure you’re in tune.

If you’re just beginning to play the guitar, an out-of-tune instrument can be incredibly frustrating and make every note sound like a mistake. Knowing how to tune a guitar properly will ensure that you always sound your best when you play.

This guide will teach you exactly how to tune a guitar using several different methods so that you can play like a pro.

How to Tune a Guitar

The mechanics of tuning a guitar are simple. To adjust the pitch of a string, turn the string’s corresponding tuning key on the head of the guitar. (Hint: here’s our guide to the parts of a guitar).

Turning the tuning key away from you will tighten the string and raise its pitch. Conversely, turning the tuning key toward you will loosen the string and lower its pitch.

How to Tune Using Standard Guitar Tuning

Most guitarists tune their instruments to “standard tuning.” If you’re just beginning to play and aren’t sure which tuning to use, you should stick with standard tuning for now. As you get more comfortable with your instrument, feel free to experiment with other tunings to achieve different sounds with the guitar.

The strings on the guitar are numbered one through six, starting with the highest string.

Guitar String Tuning Notes

You’ll commonly name the strings in ascending order, starting with string six: E, A, D, G, B, E. Take a look at the following image to see to which note each string should be tuned. Note that your highest and lowest strings are both E, the same note spaced two octaves apart.

Each note corresponds to the pitch your string should produce when played open, without holding down any of the frets. When you’re tuning, it’s best to start with the sixth string and work your way down.

How to Tune Guitar with a Chromatic or Pitch Tuner

When you’re learning how to tune a guitar, it’s very important to have a reliable method of finding the right pitch for each string. Most guitarists either use an electronic tuner, app, or another instrument. Each method comes with pros and cons.

For most beginners, using a tuner is the simplest way to find the right pitch for your guitar. Tuners come in a few different varieties. Chromatic tuners “hear” the note you’re playing and display the pitch your string is currently tuned to. You will be able to see if your guitar is sharp or flat, and also see when you’ve adjusted the string to the correct note. Here’s a video to show what this process looks like:

Pitch tuners play the pitch for each string, and you must match each note by ear. You can also get a tuning fork, which you strike to produce the correct pitch for your guitar string. If you happen to be near your computer when the need to tune arises, it’s easy to find a free online guitar tuner, such as this one by Fender. There are also plenty of “tune my guitar” apps available on your smartphone.

If you do decide to invest in a tuner or tuning fork, ask yourself if you’re a more visual person or if you’ve developed an “ear” for musical notes and intervals. Visual people and beginning musicians will benefit greatly from the use of a chromatic tuner, and over time may begin to develop a better ear for music by using a tuner as a guide.

If you feel confident in your ability to hear and distinguish pitch (or if you like a challenge), you might be happier with a tuning fork or a tuner that plays pitch.

SEE ALSO: 5 Basic Guitar Chords and 20 Easy Songs for Beginners

How to Tune a Guitar Without a Pitch Tuner

If you find yourself playing solo without a tuner, you can make a guitar sound decent by tuning it “to itself.” Check out this helpful tutorial or follow the steps below.

Start with your sixth string held down on the fifth fret. You’re now playing an A on your E string. Adjust your fifth string, the A string, until your A string played open matches the pitch of the E string played on the fifth fret. It can be helpful to hum the correct note as you tune your open string, so you can hear if the string is tuned too tight or loose.

Next, tune your D string to match the pitch of your A string played on the fifth fret. You can continue tuning each string to the fifth fret of the string above it, except for the B string. To tune your B string, hold the G string down on the fourth fret. If each string is tuned to the correct interval from the next string, your guitar will sound fine by itself.

How to Tune a Guitar by Matching Pitch with a Keyboard

If you don’t have a guitar tuner handy, but you do have access to a piano, you can use the piano to find the correct pitch for your guitar. Tuning to a piano or keyboard is a great way to get the right pitch for your guitar, and is especially useful if you will be playing along with a pianist or other instrument.

Just tune your sixth string to the E two octaves below middle C. From there, you can tune your guitar to itself or continue to match each pitch to the right notes as you go up the keyboard. As a bonus, tuning this way can help you develop your note-seeking skills on the piano!

Alternate Guitar Tunings

What do Joni Mitchell and Black Sabbath have in common? It’s all in the tuning! Both artists often used alternate tunings to get unique sounds from their guitars. Once you have a good grasp of standard guitar tuning, it can be a lot of fun to experiment with alternate guitar tunings. There are hundreds of possible alternate tunings for the guitar, but two of the most common alternate tunings are Drop D and Open G.

Drop D Tuning

Tuning your guitar to Drop D is pretty simple. Start with your guitar in standard tuning, and just tune your sixth string down a full step from E to D. You can also tune down the E string until it matches the same pitch as the D string, but an octave lower. Famous songs in Drop D tuning include the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”, and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”

Open G Tuning

If you love Keith Richards’ guitar playing in the Rolling Stones, you’re already a fan of Open G tuning. In Open G, your guitar strings are tuned to the notes of the G chord, so when you strum open, you’re already playing a complete chord. Starting from the sixth string, tune to the following notes: D-G-D-G-B-D. This is a great tuning to explore if you’re interested in bluesy slide guitar!

DADFAD Tuning

This is another open tuning that is popular in blues music. Instead of tuning to a G chord like with Open G, DADFAD tunes your guitar to an open D minor chord. To change this tuning to a D major chord, simply tune the F note up to F# – you’ll then have DADF#AD. This tuning sounds great with open strings, so it’s a good option for those who don’t know any chords yet but still want to produce a powerful sound. If you know a child that likes to bang on the open strings, tune the guitar to DADFAD first!

How Often Should I Tune a Guitar?

Guitars are sensitive instruments. The wood in your guitar expands and contracts slightly due to changes in temperature and humidity. In turn, it can change the tension in the strings and cause them to go out of tune. You might notice your guitar going out of tune as you play it, if you tend to play very hard or frequently bend pitches.

Due to the guitar’s sensitivity, it’s best to tune at the start of your practice, and again any time you sense that it doesn’t sound right. You will notice that even professional musicians occasionally need to take some time during performances to tune a guitar. New strings will also need to be tuned more frequently until they break in.

How Can I Make My Guitar Stay in Tune Longer?

Keep your guitar in tune longer by changing your strings regularly. Depending on how often you play, you might want to change your strings anywhere from once a month to once a week. When you’re not playing, store your guitar in a hard case in a cool, dry place to avoid changes in heat and humidity. It’s also a good idea to wipe your strings down with a clean, dry cloth when you’re done playing to keep your finger oils from corroding the strings.

If you follow these tips but still have issues with your guitar going out of tune, there may be an issue with your instrument’s intonation. Intonation refers to your instrument’s ability to hold pitch up and down the fretboard. The most common example of bad intonation is when the open strings on your guitar sound in tune but fretted notes sound out of tune.

Intonation may be affected by wear and tear as you play your guitar or by the way your guitar was manufactured. Visit a guitar shop and ask them to take a look at your guitar’s intonation. They will be able to help you find the right solution to your tuning woes.

how to tune a guitar infographic

How to Tune a Guitar Step-by-Step:

  • Step 1: Start by tuning the low E String.
  • Step 2: Next, tune the A String.
  • Step 3: Tune the D String.
  • Step 4: Tune the G String.
  • Step 5: Tune the B String.
  • Step 6: Tune the High E String.
  • Step 7: Play a chord to check that all of the strings are in tune.
  • Step 8: If any strings sound off, retune them.

Free Online Guitar Tuners

There are several free online guitar tuners you can use to help you tune your guitar. Here are a few of our favorites:

8notes.com – You can use this tuner to hear the correct pitch, or activate your computer’s microphone to enable pitch detection.

JamPlay – This free online guitar tuner from JamPlay also allows you to tune by ear or use your computer’s microphone for pitch detection.

TrueFire – TrueFire makes a great free guitar tuner you can use on your computer in addition to their fantastic Pro Guitar Tuner app.

GuitarTricks – This tuner uses real guitar tones so you can match your instrument to its sounds.

Now that you know how to tune a guitar, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals on the instrument. If you’re serious about taking your guitar skills to the next level, there’s no better way than with private lessons. The online guitar classes at TakeLessons Live make it easy to improve your playing from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you work with a teacher online or in person, the first part of the lesson will always be to tune up. You’ll then be ready to learn how to play different chords, new strumming patterns, and some of your favorite songs!

Interested in Private Lessons?

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

Violin Sheet Music: How to Read and Play

How to Read Violin Notes: A Beginner’s Guide

Violin Sheet Music: How to Read and Play

Learning how to read violin sheet music is a challenging but important task.

Being able to read music off of the page unlocks an entire world of musical potential. When you develop your sight-reading skills, playing a new piece of music can be as easy as reading these words.

Playing by ear is a wonderful and valuable skill that can come in handy in many situations, especially when it comes to improvising. However, learning how to read violin sheet music is necessary if you aspire to perform with an orchestra, quartet, or band.

Once you’ve learned how to read violin notes, you’ll be able to play any piece of music you set your mind to. Learning a new piece is exponentially easier when you can interpret the sheet music. The good news is that you can learn how to read music while building up other fundamental violin techniques such as scales, finger positions, and bowing

Below, we will walk you through how to read violin sheet music and then test your knowledge with a quick quiz.

How to Read Violin Sheet Music: Step by Step

The Staff

The journey of learning how to read sheet music starts with the staff. The staff is the set of five horizontal lines on which notes are placed in standard violin sheet music.

There are seven notes of which all music is based: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Once you get to G, you would start back over with A and the cycle would repeat again, getting higher in pitch as you go up the staff.

There are also multiple pitches that correspond with the same letter in music. For instance, there are several different A’s on the violin. They are just in varying forms of higher or lower pitches.

how to read violin notesThe Notes on the Lines

The easiest way to learn violin music notes is to divide the staff up into lines and spaces.

These are the notes that fall on the lines of the staff, meaning the notes directly on top of the lines, with the lines intersecting them.

how to read violin notes

Starting from the bottom line, begin to memorize each note going up the top line. One popular mnemonic device you may have heard is “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Another is “Elvis’ Guitar Broke Down Friday.”

These devices can be really handy to help you memorize the notes! You can also start with a beginner violin book, such as Essential Elements for Strings Volume I, which will give you some great exercises to help you memorize and learn these notes.

The Notes on the Spaces

Next, there are the violin music notes that fall in between the lines – on the spaces:

how to read violin notes

Another great mnemonic device applies here. If you look at the notes starting from the bottom note up to the top note, you will see that the letters spell F-A-C-E. And that of course rhymes with space. It’s quite catchy and memorable: “Face is in the space!”

Whenever you’re practicing or working from an exercise book make sure to keep these mnemonic devices in mind. If you forget the name of a note, first determine whether the note falls on a space or a line.

Then take your finger or a pencil and point to each note from the bottom on up, while saying aloud the corresponding mnemonic device to refresh your memory. See, learning how to read violin notes isn’t that hard after all!

RELATED: Beginner’s Guide to Tuning a Violin

Ledger Lines

The five lines and four spaces aren’t quite enough to contain the entire spectrum of violin notes. In order to place these violin music notes, we use small lines or dashes called “ledger lines.” The notes can fall on the lines or in the spaces between them just like the five lines of the staff.

In the G scale chart above, you’ll notice that there are other notes that fall below the staff (lower in pitch) and above the staff (higher in pitch.)

To read these notes you can use the ones on the staff that you already know as a reference point to figure them out.

Important Symbols on the Staff

A very important part of learning how to read violin notes is memorizing the different symbols you might come across on the staff. If you look over some violin sheet music or an exercise book, you’ll notice some new symbols at the beginning of each staff line.
how to read violin notes

The Treble Clef

You may recognize the fancy swirly symbol at the beginning of the staff as a clef. Clef symbols are reference points that name a specific note on the staff from which the names of all the other notes are based.

Lower pitched instruments use other clefs with different reference points, such as bass or alto clef. But in violin (as well as higher pitched instruments such as flute and trumpet) we use the treble clef.

The main thing a beginner should take from this is that if you’re looking at sheet music with a treble clef on it, it signifies that the music is suitable to be played on the violin.

Key Signature

Next, you’ll see the key signature, which is very important to pay attention to because it will tell you whether or not you have any flat or sharp notes in the song.

  • A flat note (i.e. B flat) is a half-step lower in pitch than the base note (B) and is signified by this symbol: ♭
  • A sharp note (i.e. C sharp) is a half-step higher in pitch than the base note (C) and is signified by this symbol: #

how to read violin notes

If you see a flat symbol in the key signature, look at the line or space that is striking through the center of the symbol and determine which note corresponds to the line or space.

Now throughout the duration of the piece (whether it’s a higher or lower version of that note) you will be playing the flat version of that note.

The same goes for when you see a sharp symbol in the key signature. Take a close look at the sharp symbol and notice that there is a little skewed square right in the middle of the symbol.

Whichever note corresponds to the line or space that the square forms around will be the note that will become sharp throughout the piece.

Sometimes there will be multiple sharps or a combination of sharps and flats. If you don’t see any sharps or flats in your key signature, you can just assume that all the notes in the piece are going to be your normal or “natural” notes.

Any notes that are not mentioned in the key signature are assumed to be natural notes as well.

Time Signature

Next in line is the time signature. The time signature lets you know how to count a piece or how many beats are in each measure.

The staff is divided by vertical lines into segments called “measures,” which will contain a certain number of beats depending on what your time signature says.

The top number in the time signature tells you how many beats are in each measure. Once the allotted number of beats have been counted out, it’s time to move on to the next measure and start the counting over again.

The bottom number describes the length of the beat. If you have a 4 on the bottom (most common) that would signify that you are basing your beat off of the length of a quarter note.

These are the numbers you’ll be seeing on the bottom of the time signature and which note lengths they correspond to:

  • 2 = half note
  • 4 = quarter note
  • 8 = eighth note
  • 16 = sixteenth note

These are the most common time signatures you will see:

how to read violin notes

The 4/4 time signature is so common that it is referred to as “common time” and often, you will see a C on the music where the time signature would normally be which means to play the piece in 4/4 time.

SEE ALSO: The Pros and Cons of the Suzuki Method

Quiz Yourself on How to Read Violin Notes

Now that you understand all the symbols and signatures at the beginning of a violin song, you’re ready to start reading notes.

Remembering your mnemonic devices can help you read the notes on the staff, but will you be able to identify the notes that fall off the staff?

As discussed earlier, there are many notes that will fall above the staff and a couple that fall below it.

Just remember that if you know the notes on the staff, you can count up or down using the alphabet to figure out any note you come across.

Test yourself with the chart below.

Starting with the top line, which you know is an F, count up alphabetically to figure out what note this is. Make sure you count each space and line!

how to read violin notes

If you guessed D, you’re right!

Now that you understand the basics of how to read violin notes, you’re ready to start putting it all together. You can now begin to learn about how these notes on written sheet music correspond to the notes on your violin, which is discussed thoroughly in this article.

While we covered a lot of information in this post, online resources such as these are no substitute for a violin teacher. Your teacher can provide you with a personalized, step-by-step approach to mastering how to read violin sheet music, while answering any questions you may have along the way.

If you’re looking to improve your musical skills from the comfort of your own home, online violin lessons are a great option. Your teacher can share their screen and explain the various elements of sheet music in a fun and accessible way. Through real-time feedback, you can develop proper playing habits and make the most out of your time on the instrument.

The time you spend learning how to read music is well worth it. The more you practice, the more the notes will jump off the page and onto your violin!

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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How to Play the Bass Guitar: Step by Step

How to Play Bass: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

How to Play the Bass Guitar: Step by Step

It may not always be center stage, but the bass is arguably the most important instrument on the bandstand. The bass guitar serves as the glue that holds all of the other instruments together, and a solid bass line can make all the difference between a hit song and an average one.

If you’re interested in learning how to play bass, it won’t be long until you can hold down a steady groove and unlock a world of musical collaboration. It’s easy to get down the basics of bass, but make no mistake – mastering this instrument takes just as much work as any other. That’s why it’s important to have a qualified teacher guide you along your journey through the low end of the sonic spectrum.

While there’s no substitute for bass lessons, there are some fundamental aspects to the instrument. These basics include topics such as the anatomy of the bass guitar, how to tune, how to practice, and how to read bass tabs. In this post, we’ll touch upon all of these topics, so you can learn to play bass guitar in the most efficient way possible!

Why Learn Bass Guitar?

Although lead guitarists and singers tend to soak up all of the limelight, the secret weapon of any great band is a great bassist. The power of the bass cannot be overstated – just plug in a bass guitar to an amp, turn up the volume. When you hit the thickest string, you’ll hear what we mean. The bass isn’t just heard, it’s felt.

Even if an audience is unaware of the role that the bass plays in a band, take away the bass; they’ll definitely feel the difference. Together with the drummer, the bassist provides the rhythm and groove of every popular music style. This means that the demand for a good bass player is always high – if you learn to play bass guitar well, you’ll have no trouble finding a gig!

How to Play Bass for Beginners

How to Choose a Bass Guitar

 

If you’re just getting started with learning bass guitar, there’s no need to shell out thousands of dollars on a vintage instrument. It’s fine to start out with an entry-level bass for beginners, and then graduate to a higher-end model as your skills progress.

When you begin your search, start by setting a budget and gaining an understanding of the basic parts of a bass guitar. Understanding the parts of the bass and how it’s built will help you ask the right questions and make an informed decision.

Here’s a quick overview of the basics:



  • Neck: The neck of the bass guitar includes the headstock, fretboard, and an internal truss rod, which is how the neck is connected to the instrument body.
  • Headstock: The headstock is the wider part at the end of the neck where the tuning pegs are located. The tuning pegs adjust the string tension and are how you change the pitch to tune the instrument.
  • Fretboard: The fretboard is a thin piece of rosewood, ebony, or maple. Fretboards can vary widely in quality. The best fretboards are smooth and easy to move your fingers over. They are usually slightly arched from side to side; this arch is the radius.
  • Frets: Embedded in the fretboard are thin metal strips called frets. The frets divide the neck into half step increments and determine where each note is played on the neck. While some basses are fretless, they require greater skill from the player and are best left to intermediate or advanced players. If you’re learning how to play bass guitar for beginners, you will definitely want a fretted bass.
  • Truss Rod: The truss rod connects the neck to the body and is used to keep the neck from twisting. Because bass strings are much thicker than guitar strings, they exert a lot of pressure on the neck. Adjusting the truss rod allows the neck to be straightened if it becomes bowed or twisted. It is also used to adjust the string height.

Types of Basses for Beginners

Bass guitars come in several variations including solid body and hollow body basses. Pickups can be either single coil or humbucker, and electronics can be either passive or active. Basses come with four, five, and even six strings.

All of these variations (other than the number of strings) effect the tone of the bass and are not crucial to its playability. Smaller “scale length” basses are available that are perfect for younger players as they are a little smaller than full-sized instruments.

The best option for choosing the right bass is to set your budget and then visit your local music store. Play the available options in your price range and see what feels best for you. The most important factor is making sure the instrument feels comfortable when it’s in your hands. As a beginner, spend as much time as possible playing and practicing.

As you progress in your studies, you may decide to upgrade to a better instrument. At that point, it’s good to have more of an understanding of pickups and electronics as these will help shape your personal sound on the instrument. Your bass teacher can also help you select a new instrument.

For now, just focus on finding an instrument in your price range that feels good under your fingers and comfortable in your lap. Most beginner basses have adequate electronics and four strings. Play a bunch of different instruments and choose the one that feels right for you!

How to Tune a Bass Guitar for Beginners

It’s critical that your bass is in tune when you play. If your bass isn’t tuned correctly, not only will the basslines you play sound off, but the development of your listening skills will be held back. Hearing the differences between notes is an important skill that comes naturally as we practice, and playing in tune is the best way to develop your “ear.”

Tuning your bass can be tricky if you’re a beginner. The good news? The more you do it, the easier it will get. Tuning your instrument is especially crucial if you’re going to be playing with other musicians.

The bass is pitched exactly one octave lower than the guitar. The strings are tuned to the same four notes as the 4 lowest guitar strings: E, A, D, and G. Here are a couple of methods to help you get in tune and ready to play.


If you’re playing with a guitarist and they are in tune, have them play the four bottom strings. Use your ears and turn the tuning pegs on your instrument to match their pitch.

If you have a piano handy, you can ask them to play the tuning notes and match the pitch by turning your tuning pegs. Today, there are also a number of apps for your smartphone that will help you tune your instrument.

Electronic tuners are available and make tuning a snap. Simply plug your instrument into the tuner, and pluck a string, then turn your tuning pegs until the arrow lines up with the correct note on the face of the tuner and you are done. Go through all four strings. There are also portable tuners. They are easy to take along and clip onto the headstock of the bass and help you tune through the vibration of the notes. 

One great method to learn that requires no technology and is called the “5th Fret Method.” With this method, you need to get one string in tune (preferably the low E) and then use that string as a reference pitch. Even if you don’t have access to a keyboard or other tuning device, the 5th fret method will let you tune the instrument “to itself.”

Once you’ve tuned the low E string, press your finger on the 5th fret of the E string. This is the note “A”. Pluck the open A string and compare the two. Use the tuning pegs to match the pitch.

Now that the A string is in tune, repeat the process to tune the D string. Fret the 5th fret on that A string, pluck the open D string and adjust the tuning pegs to match the pitch. Using the same process, tune the G string, and you’re ready to go!

How to Read Bass Tabs

Bass tablature, or bass tabs, are a simple system of music notation to help you learn to play bass guitar. Tabs are available through books, bass magazines, and on various websites online. Learning how to play bass using tabs is a great option for beginners, but it’s no substitute for learning how to read music notation or chord charts. This is because tabs only show you where to play a note – they don’t give you any information about the rhythm of the bassline.

Still, it’s much easier to learn how to read tabs than it is to read standard musical notation. Use tabs to learn your favorite basslines quickly, then work on your standard music reading skills so that you’ll become a well-rounded musician.

Bass tab is a system that shows the strings of the bass drawn horizontally, like this:

G D A E

This is standard bass tab for a four string bass. The lowest (fattest) string is at the bottom.

In tab, notes are indicated as a fret number on a string. Most basses have between 20 and 24 frets so you may see fret numbers between 0 and 24. For example, you may see something that looks like this:

2

In this example, start by playing the 3rd fret on the E-string followed by the 2nd fret on the A-string, the 5th fret on the A-string, and finally, the 5th fret on the D-string.

Measures are marked as in standard notation with a vertical bar line. Often rhythm is not indicated in bass tablature. All you get is the order and position of the notes. Rhythm may occasionally be marked with the count written under the fret numbers. It’s often best to listen to the song you’re practicing to get the rhythm of the piece.

There’s really not too much to know about reading bass tab. Basically, it’s just fret numbers on string lines. While it’s a great way for a beginner to start playing quickly, the best method is to use tab as you begin to study standard musical notation and memorize the note names on the instrument.

How to Practice Bass for Beginners

Practice is the key to learning how to play bass guitar for beginners. How long should you practice? Practice as often as you can fit into your schedule. However, it’s best to establish a basic regimen in order to progress. Here are some tips to get you started:

Practice regularly. Preferably practice daily, and from 30 minutes to as long as you can.

Find a time of day when you can practice without distractions and when you can concentrate. Some players get up early and practice for an hour before work, some practice after dinner.

Start with technique exercises. Run scales, play arpeggios, and chords to get your fingers moving and your mind focused.

• As a bass player, developing a strong sense of time is important. Always practice with a rhythm device whether it’s a metronome, a drum machine, or a play-along recording.

Start slowly. Focus on each note and as you gain fluidity and precision.

Keep track of your progress with a practice log. Keep track of your routines, goals, exercises, and difficult passages you need to work on.

Learning to play any instrument is a challenge that can pay dividends for your lifetime. While it’s possible to teach yourself how to play bass, it’s a good idea to study with a qualified teacher. They can help you avoid bad habits and will offer direction, inspiration, and encouragement to get you through challenges that may arise.

Congratulations, you made a great choice when you decided to learn how to play bass guitar! Best of luck on your musical journey!

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Great Violin Songs to Play

50 Easy Violin Songs for Beginners (That Sound Impressive)

Great Violin Songs to Play

When you’re just starting out on the violin, it’s important that you have some easy violin songs to help you stay motivated and maximize your fun.

Simple violin music can be just as beautiful as its complicated counterparts, and you don’t have to be Paganini to play some expressive and rewarding melodies. Knowing just a handful of notes, you can play tunes from a variety of styles.

If you’re new to violin lessons, your teacher can help you learn some of these beginner violin songs with proper dynamics and technique. With each lesson, you’ll build upon the fundamentals while taking on new material.

Use the following list to discover easy violin music across a variety of genres, including classical, pop, and Irish fiddle. We’ve also included some holiday favorites, as well as the top songs for kids to learn. Read on to find out your new number one violin song!

Easy Violin Songs for Beginners


Easy Fiddle Songs and Celtic Violin Tunes

easy fiddle songs

When it comes to simple fiddle tunes, the traditional Irish and Scottish repertoire contains some of the most iconic songs around. From soaring Celtic anthems to lilting and joyous themes, these simple tunes can pack a serious emotional punch.

Celtic music also heavily influenced the fiddle music of the United States, and many catchy fiddle classics came out of the Appalachians. These are also wonderful songs for beginners to learn. In fact, you may recognize some of the following tunes from the popular country-folk collection!

There are quite a few violin books with traditional (and often easy) Irish songs and fiddling songs. Several of the songs below can be found in “Fiddler’s Philharmonic.” Check out the easy violin sheet music for these songs here.

1. “Bile ‘Em Cabbage Down”

2. “Cripple Creek”
3. “Old Joe Clark”
4. “Arkansas Traveler”
5. Swallowtail Jig”
6. “Si Bheag, Si Mhor”
7. “Scarborough Fair”
8. “St. Anne’s Reel”
9. “Ashokan Farewell”
10. “Oh Susanna”

See Also: The 5 Best Violin Songs of All Time

Easy Violin Songs For Kids

easy violin songs for kids

Do you have a budding violinist at home? If so, then it’s a great idea for them to learn songs they can already sing by heart! When your child practices tunes on the violin that they are already familiar with, they’ll be able to tell which notes are correct and be more motivated to play.

Building confidence is important when your child is first starting out on an instrument, and these simple violin songs make it possible for them to showcase their skills as soon as possible. They’ll be sure to celebrate when they get their first few melodies down!

Note: The songs marked as rounds are particularly fun when you have more than one player or singer, and they allow you to create some relatively simple, beautiful harmonies.

1. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

2. “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
3. “Hot Cross Buns (round)”
4. “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”
5. “Frère Jacques” (Brother John – round)
6. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (round)”
7. “Have You Seen the Ghost of John” (round)
8. “London Bridge is Falling Down”
9. “Old McDonald Had a Farm”
10. “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”
11. “Des Colores” (The Colors)
12. “Los Pollitos Dicen” (The Chicks Say…)

Popular Violin Music for Beginners

Easy Violin Songs for Beginners

If your goal is to perform live for a group someday, playing one of these popular tunes is sure to captivate your audience. The good news is that your big performance doesn’t have to be too far away, since you can quickly learn these sing-alongs!

1. “America the Beautiful”

2. “House of the Rising Sun”
3. “Drink to me Only With Thine Eyes”
4. “Titanic Theme: Wherever you Go”
5. “Little Brown Jug”
6. “Do a Deer”
7. “A Thousand Years”
8. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

See Also: 15 Easy Violin Songs That Make You Sound Impressive

Classical Violin Songs for Beginners

Easy Violin Songs for Beginners

Think you have to stick within the pop and folk realm to play beginner violin songs? Then think again. There are plenty of simple violin songs in the classical music repertoire. While the list here attempts to target those pieces that have become more common as solos, there are also many other famous classical melodies from larger works that are easy to play on the violin.

1. “Greensleeves / What Child is This”

2. “Ode to Joy”
3. “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”
4. “Bach’s Minuets 1, 2, and 3 in G from the Anna Magdelena Notebook”
5. “Schubert’s Ave Maria”
6. “Amazing Grace”

Easy Christmas Violin Songs

Easy Violin Songs for Beginners

If you’re looking for easy Christmas duets specifically, Christmas Duets for Violin and Other C Instruments by the Hal Leonard Corporation is a great place to look.

If you’re playing alone, you can also play the melody part as a solo. Some of the songs from this book can be found in the list below.

1. “Feliz Navidad”

2. “Hava Naguila”
3. “Oh Hannukah
4. “Happy Birthday to You”
5. “We Three Kings”
6. “Silent Night”
7. “Joy To the World”
8. “Jingle Bells”
9. “Deck the Halls”
10. “Oh Holy Night”
11. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
12. “Frosty the Snowman”
13. “Little Drummer Boy”
14. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Easy Violin Sheet Music

In order to play these songs, you’ll need sheet music! Here are some of the best online resources for violin sheet music:

Violin Videos for Beginners

There are also several helpful YouTube channels that will not only give you the sheet music, but also demonstrate how to play various songs.

If you’re looking for even more videos, this guide has great violin YouTube tutorials.

So, there you have it, our list of easy violin songs that you or your child can play today! You can use this list as a resource until you’re ready to move onto intermediate material. Even as your skills progress, you can return to these easy tunes to warm up or unwind.

The best way to approach the violin is with the help of a teacher. Building proper playing habits is important when starting out, and only a violin instructor can give you the personalized guidance you need to reach your full potential on the instrument.

Even if you’ve hardly touched a bow before, you can use in-person or online violin lessons to get a jumpstart on your musical journey today!

Do you have a favorite violin song? Let us know in the comments below!

Carol BPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth teaches 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!

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Easy Ukulele Songs to Learn

How to Play 10 Songs Using Just 4 Simple Ukulele Chords

Easy Ukulele Songs to Learn

The ukulele is a beginner-friendly instrument that you’re never too young or old to try out.

From the first time you pick up the uke, you’ll be amazed at just how accessible this instrument is. With just a few easy ukulele chords, you can play a variety of tunes that sound great and are fun to sing along with.

A few extra bonuses – the ukulele is affordable, portable, and has a warm, uplifting tone. If you think the ukulele is only fit for breezy tropical tunes, think again. You can use a uke for virtually any song, especially those originally written for the guitar. You’ll find that our list covers everything from folk favorites to pop anthems, and that’s just a small taste of what’s possible with this instrument.

If you don’t already own a uke, you can start by choosing from the three most common ukulele sizes for your first instrument: the soprano, concert, or tenor. They all use the same tuning, but the main difference is in body size (tenor is the largest). You should be able to purchase a starter uke for between $50 and $100.

Once you have your uke in hand, you’ll be cranking out tunes in no time. Simply get a few easy ukulele chords under your fingers and find some basic songs to take on. Some of the greatest compositions of all time have just three or four chords, but don’t let their simplicity fool you!

We picked these 10 easy ukulele songs, so that you can experience the joy of playing the uke as quickly as possible. You can use these tunes as a launching pad to motivate you to practice and take your musical journey to new heights. Or, you can just sit back and enjoy just how far four ukulele chords can take you!

How to Play 10 Easy Ukulele Songs with 4 Chords

Step 1: Tune Up and Learn 4 Basic Ukulele Chords

Standard ukulele tuning is G-C-E-A, which lends itself nicely to the key of G. To play the songs in this blog post, all you’ll need to do is learn the fingerings of four chords and get comfortable transitioning between them. The four basic ukulele chords are: G major, C major, D major, and E minor (Em). Once you familiarize yourself with them, you can play any one of the easy ukulele songs here, including hits from Bob Dylan, Adele, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Learn the Chord Shapes and a Simple Down-Strum Pattern

Below you’ll find chord diagrams for these four basic ukulele chords. Finger them carefully, making sure you’re sounding all of the notes clearly. To make sure of this, try playing each string individually and adjust your fingers as needed if you hear muted or muddy notes. Before you attempt to play any of these songs, first practice each chord with a down strum, using your righthand thumb.

basic ukulele chords for beginners

These easy ukulele songs are all in the time signature known as 4/4, meaning there are four beats in every measure, and each one of those beats is a quarter note. So, to prepare for learning these songs, play each chord four times. Start with the G chord, playing several measures of four consecutive down strums at a slow tempo. Then move on to the C chord, then back to the G chord, and then the D chord. Try tapping your foot as you play the chords, strumming each chord for four counts.

Though learning a single chord is easy enough, recalling different chord shapes and seamlessly switching between them takes some practice. Don’t worry if you find it frustrating to switch between different chords at first. Over time, you will build up your muscle memory and you won’t even need to think about where your fingers need to go.

Optional Rhythmic Strumming Pattern

Once you have that simple down strum and foot-tapping working, you can try this more interesting strumming pattern consisting of:

Down, Down-Up-Down, Down-Up-Down, Down-Up-Down, Down-Up-Down, Down-Up-Down, Down-Up

This pattern is fairly easy, though it might look harder than it is. Just break it down to an independent down strum to start off with, followed by 5 groups of Down-Up-Down, ending with Down-Up. You can either use your thumb or a felt pick. Please note: the down stroke (down strum) symbol most commonly used is: Π and the up stroke (up strum) symbol most commonly used is: ∨.

Step 2: Pick an Easy Ukulele Song!

Once you’re relatively comfortable moving from chord to chord, you’re ready to try playing one of the uke songs listed below. Remember to take it slow at first, and gradually increase the tempo as you get more comfortable. Don’t expect to play along with the recording right away!

In the beginning, it’s ideal to start with a song that you’re already familiar with. This will help you get the chord changes right and will allow you to sing or hum the melody as you play. You can then move on to more novel and challenging tunes!

1. “Blowin’ In The Wind” – Bob Dylan

  • Verses: G, C, G, G, C, D, G, C, G, G, C, D
  • “The answer my friend” refrains: C, D, G, Em, C, D, G

2. “Brown Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison

  • Verses: G, C, G, D, G, C, G, D, G, C, G, D, G, C, G, D, C, D, G, Em, C, D, G
  • “Do you remember when we used to sing: ”sha-la-la-la-la-la-la” refrains: D, G, C, G, D, G, C, G, D, C, D, G, Em, C, D, G

3. “22” – Taylor Swift

  • G, D, C, D

4. “I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty

  • Verses: Em, D, G, Em, D, G, Em D, C, Em, D, G
  • Choruses: C, D, C, D, C, D, Em,, D, G, Em, D, G

5. “Someone Like You” – Adele

  • Verses, Choruses and Bridge: G, D, Em, C
  • Pre-chorus: D, C, D, C, D

6. “Your Mama Don’t Dance” – Loggins & Messina

  • Verses: G, C, G, C, G, D, C, G
  • Bridge: C, C, C, C, D, C, G

7. “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Verses: G to D (for verses),
  • Choruses: C, D, G, Em, D C, D, G, Em, D——C, D, G, Em, D—–C, D, G

8. “Bring It On Home” – classic blues song recorded by countless artists

  • G, D, G, C, G, D, G, C, G, D

9. “This Magic Moment” – Jay And The Americans, Lou Reed, etc.

  • Verses: G, Em, C, D
  • Pre-chorus: Em, C, G, D
  • Choruses: G, Em, C, G, Em, G, Em

10. “Tougher Than The Rest” – Bruce Springsteen

  • Verses: G, C, D, C, G, D (for verses)
  • Bridge: Em, C, G, C, D, G, Em, C, G, C, G, D, G

Looking for more uke tunes? Here are 10 more easy ukulele practice songs for beginners.

Remember, listen to these songs as you’re learning and play along so you can hear where the chord changes happen. You can also look them up on a site like Ultimate Guitar, which shows where the chord changes occur relative to the lyrics of the song.

Need some extra help mastering these ukulele chords and songs? Nothing beats working with a teacher one-on-one. Your uke teacher will give you a fun and engaging pathway to uke proficiency, so you can get a big sound out of this little instrument.

By taking online or in-person lessons with an experienced ukulele teacher, your skills will noticeably improve in a short period of time. With every lesson, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your musical goals. Search for a ukulele teacher today!

Jeff S

Jeff S. teaches ukulele and guitar lessons in Perth Amboy, NJ. He is both a songwriter and performer, and has taught music business and songwriting at various universities and music schools. Learn more about Jeff S here!

 

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Photo by Victor Engmark

Music Therapy for Depression

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Depression

Music Therapy for Depression

It’s hard to imagine a world without music. Our favorite songs lift us up and help us better understand love, loss, and life. Although most people feel strongly connected to music in some way, not everyone knows that music can be used to heal.

From the very first tune ever hummed, music has brought increased physical and mental wellbeing to musicians and listeners alike. Music therapy is the modern world’s application of this ancient wisdom, using evidence-based musical interventions to explore a wide range of mental health benefits.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide. People of all ages and cultural backgrounds can suffer from depressive episodes, impacting a wide range of biological, psychological, and social factors. Because of this, there is a strong need for increased awareness and treatment of mental health issues such as depression.

Healing with Music Therapy

The effectiveness of music therapy is impressive. Reduced muscle tension and anxiety are just a couple of the benefits of music therapy that have been documented. When it comes to using music therapy for depression, the supportive evidence is also strong. In fact, combining music therapy with traditional treatment methods helps to reduce depressive symptoms and improve social functioning, according to HealthyPeople.gov.

“Combining music therapy with traditional treatment methods helps to reduce depressive symptoms and improve social functioning.”

Music is deeply connected to our memories and emotional states. The right song at the right time can have a transformative effect on our minds and moods. If you’re still not convinced that music can transform the brain, check out this popular video of how a man in a nursing home reacts to hearing his favorite tunes:

Just as music brought this man to a higher state of functioning, it can also uplift those who are suffering from depression. Listening to music, studying an instrument, and even writing songs can be a great way to overcome depressive symptoms. These activities are welcome distractions, and they can have lasting effects on our sense of wellbeing.

Related: 13 Effective Strategies for Natural Stress Relief

Using Music for Emotional Processing

Ask seasoned songwriters, and you’ll hear plenty of anecdotes about how music has helped them process emotions throughout their lives. Just listening to a heartfelt piece of music makes this clear. Even when it’s hard to communicate with others, art can be used to express what we need to express and process what we need to process. The beauty of music therapy is that it extends the power of the creative process to everyone.

“The beauty of music therapy is that it extends the power of the creative process to everyone.”

With the help of a music therapist, those suffering from depression can improvise with drums, shakers, and other percussive instruments. As the drum intensity rises and falls, players can relate the highs and lows to their emotional states. When done in a group setting, this is a great way to relate with others and feel a greater sense of connection.

Wondering how to become a music therapist? Check out this guide.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Every music therapy session is different since it’s catered to the needs of the individual. Music therapists are trained to determine the best application of therapy techniques, based on someone’s cognitive, emotional, and communicative abilities. This can include singing, analyzing song lyrics, and learning to play an instrument.

If you’re wondering how music therapy works in the brain, scientists are just beginning to understand it. Although the benefits of music therapy have been observed externally for decades, a more recent study has used EEG scans to show a significant change in brain signals during a type of music therapy. When music therapists and clients use music to “connect,” their brain activity can sync up, resulting in a shift toward positive emotions.

Using Music Therapy for Depression

Everybody knows the power of music, but not everyone has the skills to use music therapeutically. A board-certified music therapist combines strong musical knowledge with therapeutic best practices to offer music therapy sessions tailored to the individual.

Many TakeLessons music teachers hold Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC) credentials. Simply check out a teacher’s profile page to find out if they have a background in music therapy.

Music therapy is just one of the tools that can be used to ease the symptoms of depression. Please seek out the advice of a mental health professional if you or a loved one suffers from depression.

 

Are you interested in pursuing vocal coaching or music lessons in your instrument of choice? Visit our marketplace to connect with trusted online music teachers.

The benefits of learning music

Music Education: The Benefits of Music on the Brain

The benefits of learning music

What’s more human than music? From the beginning of human history, our ancestors have been organizing sound into meaningful melodies and rhythms.

The lines between language and music are often blurred, as many of the same parts of our brain are used to process both phenomena. Even as babies, our cooing and babbling often have a rhythmic quality as we try to imitate our parents. On top of that, nothing soothes a restless child like a mother’s song!

The Benefits of Music Education for Kids

Music is not only fundamental to human culture, but it also can affect the way our brains develop and function. The benefits of music education have been well-studied for years, and the skills that children learn in music class go far beyond their instruments alone. Improved language, reading, and math skills have all been noted in musical kids.

Even if your child has no interest in becoming the next Mozart, encouraging them to study an instrument helps their brains stay sharp in the classroom. In addition, learning music can boost a child’s confidence and even improve social and emotional development. Playing music with others helps refine your child’s listening skills, which can contribute to healthy communication for the long term.

“Improved language, reading, and math skills have all been noted in musical kids.”

Is your child learning piano? Check out five kid-friendly piano songs!

The Health Benefits of Music as We Age

While the benefits of music education for children are clear, the truth is, people of all ages can improve their mental health with music. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, listening to and playing music is one of the best ways to keep our brains engaged as we age. Research has shown that older adults can experience memory, attention, and problem-solving improvements just by taking a few piano lessons. Emotional wellbeing and quality of life also see improvement through music.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional musician to enjoy the benefits of playing a musical instrument. Just studying the basics of the piano or any other instrument is enough to give your brain a boost. In fact, you don’t even need to learn an instrument to experience the health benefits of music. Just listening to your favorite songs can make a difference!

One of the most exciting applications of music therapy is with dementia patients. Playing someone’s favorite song from their youth can bring them back to their most memorable era and improve their mood. An upbeat tune can energize, while a relaxed and soft piece of music can have a soothing effect. Moreover, listening to music with a loved one is a great way to feel connected, even when verbal communication is limited.

“One of the most exciting applications of music therapy is with dementia patients.”

How Does Music Affect the Brain and Learning?

By using MRI scans, researchers have made fascinating discoveries about how music affects the brain. Listening to music can enhance the functioning of various parts of your brain, including the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus. These areas relate to thinking, hearing, and retrieving memories, respectively. When it comes down to it, virtually every part of the brain is affected by music in some way.

Studies have highlighted a substantial correlation between language and music skills in young children, too. Singing to your child and introducing them to music is a great way to stimulate their cognitive skills. Although there is a stereotype that classical music makes children smarter, it turns out that any type of music can have a positive effect on the brain. This is good news for those who prefer The Beatles over Beethoven!

The Power of Learning Music

As you can see, listening to and learning music can have a wide variety of positive effects on the brain. Even those with no musical background can enjoy the brain-boosting benefits by picking up a new instrument, taking a vocal lesson, or just clapping along with their favorite beat. Parents can even explore the benefits of music education at the same time as their kids by learning alongside them!

The best part about learning music is that the mental benefits are built up automatically. Just by challenging your skills and having fun playing, you’re strengthening valuable connections in your brain and body. This is why music can play such an important role at every stage of life, from age three to 103!

If you’re interested in learning music, there’s no substitute for working with a private teacher. Whether online or in-person, music lessons will ensure that you and your loved ones can experience the various health benefits of music.

Ready to get started? Search for your music teacher today!