The Single Most Important Tip for How to Sing Acapella

how to sing acapella

Want to learn how to sing acapella? You’re not alone! From the contemporary acapella group Pentatonix, to smash films like Pitch Perfect and televised singing competitions, singing acapella has become more popular than ever this year.

Singing acapella is a true test for the singer to demonstrate their sense of musicianship, tonality, intonation, ear training, and sight reading. Being able to sing acapella also puts the singer at an advantage for securing jobs as a performer.

Whether you want to join a choir, glee club, or barbershop quartet, this article will help you learn the most vital tip for how to sing acapella.

#1 Tip for How to Sing Acapella

Ear training is the single most important tip for how to sing acapella. What is ear training you ask? Being able to recognize pitch, tone color, and rhythms by hearing, and then demonstrating that through singing.

The official definition from Webster Dictionary is: “training to improve musical perception that generally includes solfège, sight singing, and musical dictation.”

Don’t be intimidated! Ear training is not as scary as it sounds. Below, we’ll share a simple exercise to get you on the right track in developing your listening skills.

The Most Effective Ear Training Exercise

To get started, pick a few standard, traditional songs – something from the American songbook such as “Amazing Grace” or “God Bless America,” that everyone is familiar with. Next, listen to a professional recording of the song.

[If you play an instrument, learn to play the melody of the song. It’s okay if you need to look at the sheet music or lyrics – this does not need to be memorized right away.]

Once you feel confident acapella singing the melody of the song, start to double-check yourself. Sing one note at a time, and then compare it to the recording.

If you’re playing along with a piano or guitar, check your pitch against it. If you did not hit the correct note, simply try again until you can sing the correct pitch.

how to sing acapella

This process does take time, and it shouldn’t be rushed. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t hit the right note the first time; it takes practice!

Once you’ve mastered note-by-note checking, try acapella singing the whole song from start to finish. Record yourself doing this so you can spot areas that still need some improvement.

If the notes you sang sound the same as the original melody – congrats, you’re training your ear! If they sounded quite different, focus back on that melody again, and go over it pitch by pitch.

You should also compare your last note to the last note of the recording, to make sure you stayed on track.

You can repeat this exercise as many times as you need to with as many different songs as you like. You can also watch video tutorials like this one, that help you learn to identify and remember the individual notes in a song –


The more practice you get at ear training, the faster you will learn how to sing acapella!

More Ways to Perfect Your Acapella Singing

Being able to recognize if your singing is off pitch, flat, or sharp is ear training in itself. To further sharpen these necessary skills for acapella, listen to a range of very good singers and then, some not-so-good singers. Look for the difference in their pitch, intonation, and tonality.

If you’re unable to tell the difference of hearing pitches, and every note sounds the same to you, you may require some additional ear training methods.

Here are a few excellent apps that will help you learn while on-the-go:

You can also try singing while you play scales or singing intervals to perfect your sound. If you’re a more advanced musician, try composing without the use of an instrument or transcribing your favorite song.

Every professional singer should have a few songs in their repertoire that they can sing acapella. You never know when your next audition may be, and you can’t always expect a musician or CD player to accompany you at your auditions.

If you need some additional guidance learning how to sing acapella, consider lessons from a vocal instructor to broaden your skillset. A vocal teacher can guide you through the process of ear training at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Good luck, and enjoy learning the art of acapella!

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

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5 Little-Known Factors That Affect Your Piano Posture

correct piano posture

Proper piano posture: the words alone are enough to make any pianist wince, straighten up, and make every effort to maintain it, at least for a few minutes.

You may not realize that when you’re playing the piano, your posture is a key factor in your technique and whether or not you feel at ease practicing the instrument.

Because practicing is a repetitive activity, it’s important to do it well. Otherwise, you risk reinforcing bad habits through repetition. If you struggle with maintaining proper piano posture over time, it could lead to pain and injury.

When your body is in an optimal relationship to the bench, the ground, the pedals, and the keys, you develop ways of executing challenging passages with coordination, skill, and grace without as much effort. Let’s take a look at how to improve our piano posture.

5 Factors That Affect Piano Posture

Slumping at the piano is an obvious no-no, but there are a few additional factors that you probably haven’t considered relevant to your piano posture.

Recognizing these factors and making adjustments can create a significant difference in feeling poised and comfortable at the piano. The best part is, these changes are all very easy to implement into your routine!

1. Your Bench

The first culprit to proper piano posture is often your bench (or lack thereof). The bench is the last thing someone considers when buying a piano or keyboard. You may not even have a bench at all!

Remember that the bench is an integral part of the piano, and it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for you. A good option for many people is an adjustable bench, which you can tailor to any player’s height. This ensures that your hand and wrist positioning are correct, so that you can make a good tactile connection to the piano and avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Your bench is also a source of stability.

Your sitting-bones (at the bottom of your pelvis) give you strength to play forcefully when needed. Standing up while playing is particularly hazardous, since you’re forced to look down at the piano and bend your arms at an awkward angle to reach the keys.

One other common problem is using a chair instead of a bench. While not the worst option, this can also negatively affect your posture, particularly if you have a tendency to recline into the backrest while playing. As you can see, your bench can make a big difference in your ability to stabilize, connect to the piano, and draw the music from your whole body, not just your hands.

2. Practice Session Length

Another critical factor that’s often missed when thinking about correct piano posture is how long you’ve been seated. Playing for extra long periods of time can wreck anyone’s posture, even those who started with good posture at the beginning of the practice session.

This is especially true for beginners, since the amount of concentration needed to execute your playing makes it challenging to also dedicate attention to your posture.

At the end of a long practice session, you might find yourself over-focused at the piano, with your neck drawn forward to your music and your spine collapsed. Luckily, this hidden factor in piano posture is easily fixed.

Take frequent breaks, set a timer if needed, and build up to longer playing times as your body adjusts and forms good habits.

3. Not Using a Footstool

This next surprising pitfall is particularly key for children and shorter adults at the piano. Are your legs dangling from the piano bench? This is a big red flag! Just like the bench helps you to stabilize your body, so does the ground.

If you’re not touching the ground, you’re losing a place to release your weight into while maintaining an upright posture.

Being upright at the piano actually starts from the ground, and an adjustable footrest is an excellent solution.

Not using a footstool when it’s needed means you’ll be putting a lot of effort and strain into your upper body. You may even find that your legs are tense, as you can get into the habit of holding them up while they dangle in the air.

4. Lack of Exercise

Another factor you may not have considered actually happens outside of piano practice. Have you ever thought about physical fitness as a part of maintaining good posture at the piano?

Playing the piano is an endurance sport of your small muscles, as well as your spine and upper body.

Exercising allows you to release any tension from your practice session and encourage circulation.

Another reason to exercise outside of your piano practice goes back to the idea of repetition. Since you’re exercising certain muscles repeatedly at the piano, it’s important to vary your workout so you can avoid tension from over-strengthening certain muscles.

5. Your Position on the Bench

Lastly, it’s important to take a few minutes to notice how you’re sitting on the bench. A big factor in correct piano posture is to make sure you don’t just have the right equipment, but that you’re also using it well.

If you’re sitting too far back on the bench, this can have a detrimental effect on your posture.

Why? Just like you don’t want to be collapsed forward and leaning too far into the piano, it’s equally important not to lean back and over-straighten your arms.

This position strains your connection to the keys and causes too much effort to maintain your posture. It also throws off the positioning of your head, as your head may crane forward to compensate for your backwards stance. Yikes!

Final Tips & Tricks

Now that you’ve seen some sneaky causes of bad piano posture, here are a few tips that will help you reduce strain in the future. With these tips, you’ll feel better and look effortlessly graceful at the piano, too!

  • For pianists who feel that the weight of the music lies in their shoulders, try to release your upper body weight into the bench, so your shoulders can release and widen.
  • You can do the same with your feet by allowing them to release into the ground, so your legs feel free instead of tense.
  • Allow your head to rest easily on top of your spine and try to avoid pulling your neck forward, toward the music.
  • Let your eyes view the music with a wide, easy gaze so the muscles of your head and neck can release.

Having correct piano posture is very important, and if you feel like you need some more attention in this area, a qualified piano teacher can help you overcome these challenges and improve your technique.

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DIY: Homemade Capo Tutorial in 4 Easy Steps [Video]

How to make a DIY Homemade Capo

If you want to learn how to make your very own homemade capo from scratch, keep reading. In this article, we’ll share four simple steps to put together a DIY capo on the fly – with just two materials!

When you’re jamming with friends and there’s a new vocalist in the mix, you might find yourself having to play in unfamiliar keys. If you left your trusty capo at home, no problem! Follow this easy guide and you’ll learn how to make a capo in no time.

DIY Homemade Capo Tutorial

You can solve the key-change conundrum with relative ease if you know how to make a capo on the fly. Essentially, you need a rigid strip of material that can be clamped onto the neck of your guitar.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  1. A pencil or sharpie
  2. 2-4 rubber bands (medium thickness)

Yes, you only need two simple materials for this homemade capo. If you can’t find rubber bands, a good alternative is a hair band.

Now that you have all you need, here are the steps for how to make a capo.

Steps to Make a DIY Capo

  1. Make sure your guitar is in tune.
  2. Place the pencil or marker upon the desired fret.
  3. Fold the rubber band in half and loop it over both ends of the pencil.
  4. Add more bands as needed to achieve the desired tension. Check this by plucking each string and listening for a clear tone.

That’s it! This is such an easy way to put together a homemade capo on the fly, with materials that are readily available. Need to see the process demonstrated visually? Watch the steps in the quick video below:

5 Reasons Every Guitarist Needs a Capo

Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a capo, in case you weren’t already convinced that you need one.

  • A capo creates a moveable nut or barre. For example, if you place the capo on the second fret, you’ve moved all the chords up one step (a C is now a D).
  • It allows you to play chord shapes that you’re already familiar with, but in a different key. So with a capo, a bit of transposing savvy, and a handful of chords, you can play some previously hard to reach tunes.
  • Using a capo allows you to explore different chord voicings, or inversions, which can make a chord sound brighter or darker, and add interest to picking.
  • It is helpful for changing tunes to a more comfortable range, or key, for vocals.
  • A capo adds depth when playing with other guitarists. Some can play open chords while others place capos at different locations, which creates a broader sonic range and textural interest.

Now you know some of the benefits of using a guitar capo, so even if you’re only slightly familiar with this tool, you can begin exploring its capabilities.

You’ve also learned how to make a capo very quickly and easily if you wish to try out these concepts without spending any money.

While practicing your skills, be sure to look into private guitar lessons or online guitar classes to help you achieve your musical goals, as personal feedback is a very important part of the learning process. Have fun with your DIY capo, and rock on!

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches guitar, drums, piano and more in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She’s been teaching since 2010 and has her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University. Learn more about Tracy here!

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Singing Lessons: Before and After [Best Transformation Videos]

singing lessons before and after

The transformation in vocal students before and after singing lessons is truly inspiring. As a singing teacher, it really is amazing to watch students learn to do everything from match pitches to mix belt like a Broadway star.

Have you ever wondered what you would sound like if you took voice lessons? Although every singer’s results will be different, YouTube has a variety of before and after singing lessons videos, so you can hear the typical results of vocal study.

These three transformation videos leave no doubt: voice lessons definitely work!

Singing Lessons: Before and After

Troy Donavan’s Singing Transformation


In Troy’s older videos, one thing stands out immediately: his significant jaw tension. It almost looks like he is holding something in his mouth, and he is afraid that if he opens his mouth too wide, something will fall out.

Try to notice his masseter muscles clenching as he sings. In addition to the jaw tension, his muffled, uncomfortable tone suggests tongue and throat tension. Now check out this second video.


Even by watching Troy’s “after singing lessons” videos without sound, it’s obvious that he’s starting to relax his jaw and open his mouth more while singing. His face looks much more comfortable, and forming words looks much easier.

His tone is also clearer and has lost that muffled quality, suggesting that the tongue and throat tension he struggled with has largely dissolved. Congratulations, Troy! This is truly an inspiring singing transformation.

Polina Lesik’s Singing Transformation

Polina Lesik is a professional singer from Russia. Although her video does include some footage of live performances, most of the older clips are audio only. Even so, the difference in technique is abundantly apparent.

In the older singing clips, Polina’s singing shows significant pitch problems. While she was always in the ballpark of the correct pitches, she was off just enough to give the singing an amateur quality. She also exhibited no vibrato in the early years.

However, she was studying classical voice during that time, and by 2007 (as exhibited at 3:11 in the video), her head voice technique had markedly improved. She was also showing better pitch accuracy and vibrato.

Even still, Polina was not working on her chest voice technique yet, and that showed in her singing. While her head voice was improving, her chest voice technique from the same period sounds forced and thick. This sounds like a result of tension in the throat and tongue.

It wasn’t until 2010, when Polina again started studying with a voice teacher (this time for jazz voice), that her rock and pop sound improved. The forced sound disappeared, and she was left with greater pitch accuracy, steady vibrato, and a clearer timbre in both her chest and head registers.

Her later videos also exhibit an ability to mix her chest and head voice (called modal voice) in order to hit belted high notes without any strain. Great job, Polina!

Rached Hayek’s Singing Transformation

Rached Hayek is a singer and songwriter from Sydney, Australia. This video’s “before” example is a cell phone recording that doesn’t include video. But just like with Polina, the noticeable difference is enormous.

The song in both the “before” and “after” recordings is “Walking Away” by Craig David, sung a cappella. In the “before” recording, Rached’s tone is pleasant, and it’s clear that he has talent. However, he was not able to successfully navigate the runs and register changes in the song.

When he tried to change notes rapidly, he went out of tune, and because he was singing a cappella, this threw the whole song off balance. In addition, his runs slid together, at times resembling a vocal slide rather than individual notes.

The “after” recording tells a different story. The runs are now clean and distinct, each note precise. As a result, even without a back track, Rached is able to stay in tune. Wonderful work, Rached!

Transform Your Voice

If you’re serious about making vocal progress, find a singing teacher near you or start taking online singing classes today. With the proper guidance, you’ll learn how to sing comfortably in whatever style you choose. And soon, you’ll be able to make your very own “Singing Lessons – Before and After” video!

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The 50 Best Guitar Songs Ever (From Different Eras & Genres)

best guitar songs

Everyone’s list of the “best guitar songs” will be different, but there are certain moments in history when we all seemed to fall in love with the same music together. These songs have stood the test of time, and become enshrined as the classics of guitar repertoire.

Although the following list is by no means comprehensive, it is a representative sample of some of the best guitar songs of all time – including everything from classical to rock.

The 50 Best Guitar Songs of All Time

Before we dive into which songs made the list and why, check out this clickable infographic for a preview of 25 top guitar songs.

Best guitar songs of all time

Best Acoustic Guitar Songs

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd


This popular song was destined to some form of greatness because of Pink Floyd’s established reputation. The fact that the main acoustic guitar riff is so playable has also helped this song become a staple for many beginning guitarists.

Fire and Rain – James Taylor


This song was one of the singles off James Taylor’s second album that made him particularly famous in the 70s. To this day, he still frequently plays “Fire and Rain” in concert. It’s known to both older and younger audiences who are familiar with his music.

Hotel California – Eagles


A reflection on the excesses of the Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle, this song features both acoustic and electric guitar work that stands out and complements each other.

Blackbird – Paul McCartney


An ode to struggling Black women in Detroit, the unassuming charm of this song makes it a favorite for beginning guitarists. The unusual left hand intervals make it challenging but not unattainable.

American Pie – Don McLean


An enchanting (and sometimes cryptic) ode to Rock ‘n Roll history, this song is still popular as a tune for beginners to learn their basic guitar chords on.

Wonderwall – Oasis


Released on their second album, “Wonderwall” has become Oasis’ biggest hit. It’s the most streamed song released before 2000, and it’s the archetypal example of 90s pop chord playing.

More Than Words – Extreme


Ironically the most popular song of a much heavier band, this song was released in 1991 and has since forced its writers to embrace their softer side. Known for their heavy, funk-metal style, Extreme reached a much wider audience with this vulnerable ballad.

Dust in the Wind – Kansas


Another crowd pleaser on this list of best guitar songs, “Dust in the Wind” particularly hit a nerve during the spiritual seeking of the hippy era. The intro has charmed fingerpicking beginners since the song’s release.

Redemption Song – Bob Marley


Taking inspiration from Marcus Garvey, Bob stripped away all the rich instrumentation of his reggae roots and reduced this song to simply the acoustic guitar and singing. The song has remained popular both as a protest song and a staple among beginning guitarists.

Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel


This song begins with a simple but haunting guitar hook that is immediately recognizable to fans of the folk-pop duo. Paul Simon’s fingerpicking technique remains a great teacher for beginners of the craft.

Best Rock Guitar Songs

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin


The song every guitar teacher gets tired of teaching, but still listens to in secret and quiet admiration of its epicness.

Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns ‘n Roses

Another perfect example of a heavy band whose most famous song is a vulnerable love song. This one somehow manages to maintain its epic rock quality amidst all the intimate lyrics.

Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix


This is one of several songs Jimi did that changed rock history. The raw power that he holds together with his indescribable talent made this a piece that captured the imagination of rock guitarists for generations.

I Love Rock ‘n Roll – Joan Jett


A perfect integration of power chords and simple blues licks make this an ideal introduction to rock guitar. It’s also great for getting people to sing with you in a bar!

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream


Another song that is often used to introduce rock guitar to beginners, this song has a soulful punch that continues to draw Clapton fans back to his early days.

Back in Black – AC/DC


Of the tremendous library of ridiculously catchy riffs in the AC/DC canon, this one stands out near the top.

Seven Nation Army – Jack White


Many millenials who didn’t grow up with the early rock records find this song to be the gateway to the rest of the rock experience. Easy to play, easy to love!

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana


This is another song that is famous partially because of its poignant lyrics that spoke to the rebellion of a generation. It’s also a perfect song to learn power chords on.

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple


This song gets a bad rap because so many guitarists know the first hook but not the rest of the song. The rest of the song is certainly worth a listen, though!

Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne


This song has both one of the easiest power chord riffs and one of the hardest guitar solos. It’s a song that fans love to sing and guitarists love to play!

Best Folk Guitar Songs

Sweet Home Chicago – Robert Johnson


This unassuming folk blues song comes to us only from field recordings, but it was incredibly influential on many British rock stars. Johnson’s raw guitar style and troubled lyrics heavily influenced the Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and others.

The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Bob Dylan


This unapologetic protest song summarized the rebellion of the hippy generation and became a folk standard that is still sung and played to this day.

If I had a Hammer – Peter Paul and Mary


Sung by many folk artists, this metaphorical song served as a rallying cry for social change and remains a campfire favorite.

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright – Bob Dylan


One of Bob Dylan’s more personal songs, the intricate fingerpicking in this tune lends a unique quality to lyrics about love gone wrong. Have a listen and you’ll quickly find out why this made our list of best guitar songs. 

Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie


Many audiences wonder if Arlo made up the verses on the spot. In any case, the 16 bar guitar loop is the jumping-off point for a lengthy political rant that anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy.

Scarborough Fair – Simon and Garfunkel


Based on an English poem, this song is accompanied by Paul Simon’s mysterious fingerpicking and a vocal melody that many remember as a childhood lullaby.

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell


This song is definitely a foot-stomper! It has had activists singing the charged lyrics since its release – at the height of the environmental movement in 1970.

Mr. Bojangles – Jerry Jeff Walker


This song was written in New Orleans when the composer was arrested and put in a cell with a street dancer. The story has been a favorite among folk artists since its premiere on a radio show in 1968.

Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt


First recorded in 1937 by the Hot House Band, this is one of Django Reinhardt’s most famous tunes. It’s also a standard introduction to gypsy jazz.

Guitar Boogie – Arthur Smith


This song was first released in 1945 and has since been played by many other thumb-picking greats, including Tommy Emmanuel.

Best Classical Guitar Songs

Asturias – Isaac Albeniz


A landmark of the classical repertoire, this piece is more reminiscent of flamenco traditions from Andalucia than the northern Spanish region of Asturias. This is probably because it was given its name by a German publisher after the composer’s death.

La Catedral – Agustin Barrios-Mangore


The masterpiece suite by a South American composer, La Catedral is a musical illustration of a grand building and a service within the building.

E Minor Bouree – J.S. Bach


This piece is a popular selection from the Lute Suite in E minor. It often tricks beginners because it sounds good at a slow speed but it’s meant to be played rather quickly.

Etude in A Minor – Dionisio Aguado


Often the first piece a classical student will ever see, this simple fingerpicking etude is a great introduction to the process and pleasure of classical guitar!

Recuerdos de la Alhambra – Francisco Tárrega


This piece is the most legendary of tremolo classical guitar pieces. Using a technique that involves rapidly plucking a single string, the difficulty of this song is matched only by its profound beauty.

D Minor Chaconne – J.S. Bach


One of the most profound pieces in the classical repertoire, this piece was originally written for violin. It has since been transcribed for pretty much any other instrument that has a virtuoso to play it, and guitar is no exception!

Mazurka Choro – Heitor Villa-Lobos


This prolific Brazilian composer had many great pieces, and this one is the first in a suite called “Suite Popolaire Bresilienne.” Give it a listen and see if you can resist the urge to learn all five movements.

Prelude from the E Major Lute Suite – J.S. Bach


One of the most famous and uplifting pieces in classical repertoire, this piece falls under the fingers almost serendipitously and fills a room of any size with the warmest musical bath you can imagine.

Study in B Minor Opus 35 no 22 – Fernando Sor


A gem of the beginner’s classical guitar repertoire, this is a piece that teachers often introduce to their students. Give it a listen and you’ll see why it’s so unforgettable!

Romanza – Anonymous


“Romanza” is another charming piece frequently learned by beginners. The gentle repetition of fingerpicking over the beautiful Spanish melody make this a favorite for both players and audiences.

Best Electric Guitar Songs

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers


Mournful and rich in feeling, this guitar riff is great for getting early picking techniques going. It’s also an excellent choice when you want to play something recognizable to a lot of guitar fans.

Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits


This is a favorite of music lovers and musicians alike! It includes a rhythm riff that’s not too difficult, along with some solo passages that will give any player a run for their money.

Gravity – John Mayer


John said he was particularly proud of this song because he felt he could apply the lyrics to any situation he found himself in. The soulful guitar work captured the interest of many electric guitarists, both aspiring and established.

La Grange – ZZ Top


This band had a knack for writing hooks, and Billy Biggons had a knack for playing crazy blues solos. Both are reasons “La Grange” made it on our list of the best guitar songs of all time!

Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd


Anyone who has played in a band has probably heard more audience members scream “Freebird” than any other song in history. Most people actually request it as a joke!

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles


The fact that the lyrics of this song refer to a guitar is almost accidental among its deep reflective nature. Maybe it’s a factor in the song’s popularity with so many guitarists.

Eruption – Eddie Van Halen


“Eruption” ripped open the gates to progressive guitar playing. The song still stands as a staple for aspiring electric guitar virtuosos to master.

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry


This pioneering piece opened up the sound of early rock to wider audiences. It’s another favorite song for electric guitarists to learn.

Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan


This song can be difficult to learn at first because of its muting techniques, but it brings along the full power of the Texas Blues to anyone who masters it!

Layla – Eric Clapton


“Layla” is revered for both its powerful lyrics and its captivating virtuosic guitar hook. Clapton fans expect to hear it at every concert.

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best guitar songs of all time, what would you add? Let us know in a comment below!

These are the songs that inspired most kids to pick up an axe in the first place. If you’re interested in learning the guitar, this list will give you some easy songs to start with as well as some masterpieces to aspire to.

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The 7 Best Guitar Picks for Every Kind of Guitarist

Cool guitar picks

The best guitar picks are the ones that help you achieve the tonal sound you’re looking for, while providing just enough grip and comfortability.

When you take a trip to your local music store or shop for guitar picks online, you will run across thousands of options. Don’t be intimidated! Every guitar player starts off trying a variety of different types of guitar picks.

Guitar picks are made out of many different materials including nylon, plastic, wood, stone, or metal. Some picks are floppy and some are stiff. They can also be small or large in size.

The cool guitar picks on this list each provide a great deal of tonal variation. So if you’re trying to get a nice and bright, jangly sound, or a darker, more muted sound, there is a guitar pick on this list for you!

The 7 Best Guitar Picks for All Guitarists

1. Sharkfin Guitar Picks

Sharkfin - Cool guitar picks

Sharkfin picks give you a lot of versatility, and the way they’re cut provides an easy grip. With a sharkfin pick, you get the traditional sounds that come from a regular pick, in addition to unique tonal qualities brought to you by the knurled edge.

You will be able to achieve different effects by dragging the knurled edge along your strings or brushing them as you strum. These unique guitar picks usually run between $1-$2 and are sold by Landstrom, Dunlop, and others.   

2. Stubby Picks

 

Stubby - best guitar picks

Its small size, hardness, and overall look make the stubby a necessary addition to this list of cool guitar picks. The stubby pick feels comfortable and has a bit of a rough grip which makes it easier to hold.

Numerous brands make stubby picks, such as Dunlop and V-Pick. You can find them for a little over a dollar, then try out multiple brands to see which one you like the best.

3. Nylon Flex Guitar Picks  

Nylon flex best guitar picks

This is a great option for guitarists who want a really floppy pick for strumming, and many reputable brands sell them. The Herco Flex 50 specifically produces a nice, bright tone and gives you all the flop you could need. It also has just enough grip to not slip from your fingers.

A Herco Flex 50 should run you about a dollar, though sometimes the thicker versions cost a bit more. If this option isn’t available at your local music shop, a good runner-up to this model would be the Jim Dunlop Nylon 60mm pick.

4. Star Picks

Star pick - Cool guitar picks

You should definitely consider adding a Star Pick to your collection of best guitar picks. The .73mm pick is an excellent choice from Star Picks because of its hardness. A hard pick produces a bright, biting sound. Some players prefer a pick to have that bite when it comes to playing solos, because it makes the solo pop out of the mix a little more.  

When using a naturally bright guitar like a Fender Statocaster, hard picks are great for getting a little extra tone above the rest of the band. The Star Pick has these advantages, but also seems to grip to your thumb pretty well. It has a small star cut-out which makes it really easy to hold. These unique guitar picks are fairly cheap, usually costing a little less than a dollar.

5. Tortex Picks

Tortex - best guitar picks

The Tortex picks by Dunlop come in a variety of colors and thicknesses, and are fairly inexpensive. Many guitarists like the feel of this pick. You will notice a considerable change in tone when using it, but you may like it if you’re into a more mellow tone.

When you’re using a Tortex pick, the tone does not really become muted, but the ringing quality of some strings are brought down. So if you have a guitar that seems a little too bright, the Tortex might be the perfect pick to help take away some of the harshness.

There are a couple other comparable picks that don’t darken the tone, such as the Clayton 1.07mm pick and the Dunlop Ultex pick. The Clayton is especially easy to keep a grip on.

6. Metal Thumb Picks

Metal Thumb Pick - Cool guitar picks

Metal thumb picks are probably one of the most useful and unique guitar picks to own. These metal finger picks are perfect for boosting the volume on your guitar just a little bit. For only a dollar you can’t go wrong.  

Some people find that using a regular pick is difficult because they are easily dropped, or they get cramps in their hands. The advantage of using a thumb pick is that it doesn’t fall out of your hand when you play.

You can find these cool guitar picks in metal, plastic, and some that are a hybrid of plastic and metal, although the hybrid picks tend to be more expensive. One good thumb pick to check out is the Dunlop 3040T.

7. Felt Picks

Felt picks - Cool guitar picks

Even though they’re marketed for ukuleles, felt picks are very useful for guitarists as well. Felt picks typically run around $1-$2, which is a bargain for the cool tonal variety they bring to your playing.  

The muted sound that you get when playing with a felt pick is truly unique. It’s not muted to an extent that you can’t hear your instrument, but it certainly changes the tone and can make your guitar sound like a totally different guitar. This pick would be very useful in recording sessions if you’re trying to go for the sound of two different guitars, but only have one.

Final Tips

No matter what type of guitar or genre of music you play, there is something on this list of best guitar picks for everyone. Most types of guitar picks run for less than a dollar, so if you can afford it we recommend buying a bunch and trying them all out.

If you want to start out small, try the thumb pick and felt pick first. These guitar picks are the most distinct in the tonal sounds they create, so you’ll be able to really experience and appreciate the variety that different guitar picks can provide.  

This selection of cool guitar picks should give you plenty to try out and practice. You can find them at your local music store or online. Remember that a good guitar teacher can help you learn proper picking and strumming technique, and TakeLessons is the place to go if you want to find an experienced guitar teacher in your area.  

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches acoustic, bass, blues guitar and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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8 Basic German Words for Questions & How to Use them

German question words

Learning how to ask some basic questions in German will help you engage more with others and develop your language skills.

Conversations need to be two-way, and the more you ask questions, the faster you’re going to learn.

Using the German question words in this tutorial, you’ll be able to ask how much something costs, where someone is from, and more. Let’s get started!

8 German Words for Questions

In order to ask basic questions in German, you’ll need to memorize some new vocabulary. Here are eight German question words you can use in everyday conversation.

  • Wo (where)
  • Woher (where from)
  • Wohin (where to)
  • Wann (when)
  • Was (what)
  • Wer (who)
  • Wie (how)
  • Warum (why)

You may notice that there are multiple ways to ask questions with the word “where.” Depending on the context of what you are asking, the word you use for “where” will differ. Check out the following sentences for examples of their usage.

  • Wo wohnst du? (Where do you live?)
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Wohin gehst du diesen Sommer? (Where are you going to go this summer?)
  • Wann fliegst du nach Deutschland? (When do you fly to Germany?)
  • Was machst du dieses Wochenende? (What are you doing this weekend?)
  • Wer ist das? (Who is that?)
  • Wie alt bist du? (How old are you?)
  • Warum gehst du nach Hause? (Why are you going home?)

All of the German question words start with the letter “W.” Remember to pronounce the “W”s in German as you would pronounce a “V” in English.  

You also need to remember that in German, questions might be worded a little differently than what you’re used to. For example, when you want to know somebody’s name in English you ask: What is your name?

This example uses the word “what.” But in German, you would use the word wie, which means “how.” For example: Wie ist dein name? (literally: how is your name?). You can also ask: Wie heißt du? (literally: how are you called?).

How to Form Sentences with German Question Words

To structure a question in German using your newly learned vocabulary, you must start with the question word first. Next you’ll add the inflected verb in the second position, and then finally – the subject.

If there is anything else within the question, then it will follow the subject. For example:

Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going?)

In this sentence, Wohin (where to) is the question word, gehst (go) is the inflected verb, and du (you) is the subject.

Here is another example:

Warum wohnt er jetzt in Deutschland? (Why does he live in Germany now?)

Here, Warum (why) is the question word, wohnt (live) is the verb, er (he) is the subject. Jetzt in Deutschland (now in Germany) is the rest of the information, which will always go last.

Differences Between German and English Questions

As you can see, the sentence structure for forming basic questions in German differs from English. In German you have the question word, then the verb, and then the subject. However in English, we use verb phrases which are split with the subject.

Let’s go back to the example above:

Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going?)

In the English version, you have the word “where” first. Then “are,” which is the first part of the verb phrase, is followed by the subject, “you.” Finally, the second part of the verb phrase – “going” – completes the question.

When asking a question in German, these verb phrases aren’t necessary. This is because in German, the present tense conjugation of a verb can be interpreted in three different ways in English. For example, er wohnt translates to:

  • He lives
  • He does live
  • He is living

Because of this, German questions might seem like they’re missing an element or two when compared to their English counterparts. But they are actually more simple than questions in English.

10 Basic Questions in German

Now that you know how to form questions there will be no stopping you! To start practicing your skills, here are 10 basic questions in German that every beginner should know. Try to figure out the literal meaning of each sentence for extra practice.

  • Wie geht es dir? (How are you?)
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Wie spät ist es? (What time is it?)
  • Wie ist das Wetter? (How is the weather?)
  • Wie weit ist es? (How far is it?)
  • Wo sind die Toiletten? (Where are the restrooms?)
  • Wo kann ich _____ kaufen? (Where can I buy _______?)
  • Was kostet das? (How much is it?)
  • Wo finde ich ein Geldautomat? (Where do I find an ATM?)
  • Wann fährt den Zug/das Flugzeug ab? (When does the train/plane depart?)

Hopefully these questions inspire you to go spark up some conversations with new friends. If you feel like you need more guidance though, try working with a großartig (German teacher) to really take your skills to the next level.

Taking private German lessons is very beneficial as you’ll get to work at your own pace, following a curriculum that is tailored to your individual needs and goals. Best of luck learning German!

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12 Best Piano Brands for Every Kind of Pianist (w/Sound Clips!)

Best Piano Brands

When you’re in the market for a piano, the possibilities of piano brands can seem endless. Yamaha or Kawai? Digital or acoustic?

If you want to end up with the perfect piano for your budget, skill level, and musical goals, this guide is a great place to start. Any one of these 12 popular piano brands will offer you an excellent choice.

The 12 Best Piano Brands for All Pianists

Yamaha


This Japanese brand is recognized worldwide for its excellence and versatility. They build sturdy, high quality pianos and offer good digital options, as well. Their pianos are known for having a signature bright sound, yet there is still a roundness to the sound.

Yamaha is an innovative brand that is constantly improving and creating new models to meet a variety of needs. One of the coolest features you can find on a Yamaha piano is its silent piano option. The feature allows you to play an acoustic piano but hear the sound through headphones, so you can practice at any hour without disturbing others.

Many well-known musicians endorse Yamaha including Alicia Keys, Elton John, and Chick Corea. Its U1, and slightly larger U3, upright models are well-loved acoustic pianos that stand the test of time. Its CLP series is a popular digital option.

Yamaha also sells concert grand pianos. Their prices are fair for the quality, and they are a reasonable option for anyone looking for an upright piano.

Steinway & Sons

Quality and history come together to form Steinway & Sons, a favorite piano maker of many musicians. A German immigrant in New York City started Steinway, and it remains there today.

Steinway is a classical pianist’s dream. Many famous pianists endorse the brand including Lang Lang, Mitsuko Uchida, and Martha Argerich. Steinway offers different sizes of grand pianos, which are often selected based on the size of the concert hall they are used in.

Due to its long history, you can find many vintage Steinways for sale. Steinway’s grand pianos are their most well-known models, but their price range makes them a better choice for the most dedicated and serious pianists.

Luckily, they’ve also created two lines of pianos for those with a more limited budget: the Essex (entry level) and the Boston (mid-level).

Kawai

Kawai is another one of the Japanese piano brands that offers pianos at a reasonable price range. They are durable, well-made pianos with several unique features, including longer keys for increased technical ease and the use of different materials in their construction, like plastic and composite.

Their digital pianos were the first to be built with wood keys, offering the experience of an acoustic piano’s keys. Kawai upright pianos and digital pianos are good options for intermediate pianists who want a fairly priced, durable option. Artists playing Kawai pianos include Joe Yamada and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Bösendorfer

If you care about tradition and history when shopping for piano brands, you will value Bösendorfer. Established in 1828, the pianos have a rich and luscious sound. One innovation is the addition of keys beyond the typical 88.

This piano maker is best for connoisseurs and serious pianists who are ready to invest in a well-crafted piano, as their pianos are among the most expensive in the world. Their grand pianos are the bulk of their production, with a few upright pianos offered as well.

Artists who love Bösendorfer pianos include Kimiko Ishizaka, Beatrice Berrut, and Saskia Giorgini.

Fazioli

This northern Italian piano maker creates only the finest grand pianos. Its various models include creations made from unique materials like red elm, ebony, and even gold leaf.

Fazioli pianos are truly works of art, and their price range is very high for this reason. While it’s a relatively young piano brand (started in the late 1970s), Paolo Fazioli’s dedication to his craft quickly established his reputation in the piano world.

Herbie Hancock, Matteo Fossi, and Lucas Wong all treasure Fazioli pianos. This piano brand is perfect for a serious pianist who is ready to invest in a piano for life. 

C. Bechstein

Bechstein pianos have a long history, with endorsements from composers like Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy creating a worldwide demand. Vassily Primakov, Kit Armstrong, and Michael Dalberto are all well-known pianists who enjoy playing these gorgeous and elegant pianos.

The German pianos are ideal for concert hall performances as well as recording studio work. There is also a line of high quality upright pianos. The price range of the Concert pianos is high, but Bechstein has created three other piano brands to suit a variety of needs.

Beginners can explore the Zimmerman and W. Hoffman brands, while advanced players should look at the C. Bechstein Academy brand.

Blüthner

Blüthner is a Leipzig-based, German brand that achieved acclaim in the time of composers like Brahms, Mahler, and Wagner. It also grew in popularity with The Beatles’ music.

These pianos have stood the test of time. Blüthner currently makes a wide variety of models including uprights and grands. Many artists are fans of Blüthner pianos, including Rima Chacaturian, Billy Childs, and Ying Feng.

Blüthner pianos are best for those who value tradition and creativity. The pianos create a memorable sound and are long-lasting. Known as the piano with the “golden tone,” the price tag reflects the quality of the brand.

Mason & Hamlin


This Massachusetts-based brand is a stalwart in the industry, making several models of grand pianos and a professional upright model. Their pianos are especially well-built and made to last.

Mason & Hamlin made several innovations in the design of their pianos, including the crown retention system, used in the soundboard. These pianos are a good choice for anyone interested in purchasing a quality vintage piano.

The pianos are on par with Steinway in performance, and their price tag reflects this. Artists playing the timeless pianos include Brian Culbertson, Jarrod Radnich, and Rod Tanski.

Stuart & Sons


Want to have your own custom-built piano? Australian brand Stuart & Sons builds pianos with high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Custom orders can be placed directly with the piano makers.

The pianos come in concert grand and studio grand sizes, with either 97 keys or 102 keys. Choices of materials include Tasmanian Huon Pine and Tasmanian Sassafras. These pianos are unique works of art and as such, are best for those with a high budget who want a piano full of personality.

Artists playing Stuart & Sons pianos include Gregory Kinda and Fiona Joy Hawkins.

Casio


Casio is an electronic keyboard maker known for producing lightweight and compact keyboards that can go anywhere. Their price can’t be beat. The portable models are popular, but Casio also offers more advanced arranger keyboards and space-saving, discreet console pianos.

Their pianos offer many fun sounds that can transform your music making. This brand comes from Japan, and is popular with many singers, pop musicians, and stage performers. Rachel Sage, Larry Dunn, and Kyle Morrison all use Casio keyboards.

Casio keyboards are best for young beginner pianists, those with interests in rock, pop, or metal, and pianists who enjoy experimenting with unique sounds at the piano.

Korg


Korg is another one of the many Japanese piano brands that dominate this list. This modern, digital brand offers a wide range of models, from beginner to more complex. Korg is known for its technological advancements and their ability to produce a wide variety of piano sounds.

Korg offers many versatile digital pianos in a very reasonable price range. The C1 Air model is a good option with technological advancements like Bluetooth. Artists who use Korg digital pianos include Richard Clayderman, Herbie Hancock, and Tom Coster.

Roland


Roland, also from Japan, offers both digital and acoustic pianos in a moderate price range. They are aesthetically-pleasing pianos that are recommended for a variety of needs.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a digital piano or a more serious pianist looking for a well-made acoustic, Roland has something for you. The F-120 is a popular model for a beginner looking for a digital piano. Jim Brickman, David Benoit, and Marcus Johnson all play Rolands.

How to Find the Best Piano Brands For You

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced pianist, there are some guidelines you can follow to make the process of choosing a piano easier. Before you decide, spend some time considering the following factors.

    • How much room do you have for a piano?
      • Answering this question will help you choose between a digital and acoustic piano, since digital pianos can take up much less room. It can also help you decide between an acoustic upright piano or an acoustic grand piano.
    • Do you prefer digital or acoustic pianos?
      • While many prefer the feeling of striking an acoustic piano’s keys, these pianos do come with some additional upkeep. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of annual tuning, which is essential for acoustic pianos. 
    • What is your budget for a piano?
      • Setting a budget will help you narrow down your options. Your budget will affect whether you buy new versus used, digital versus acoustic, or one piano brand over another.
    • What are your goals with playing piano?
      • Just because you’re a beginner who doesn’t need 88 keys right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Likewise, after a few years you might feel unsatisfied with a cheaper keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys. Think about investing more so you can keep enjoying your piano over the years. Or if you’re just trying out piano, start small and upgrade once you’re more committed to playing.

Lastly, always try a piano in person before you buy it. Choosing a piano is a very personal decision with many factors unique to each individual, such as the feel of the piano. Trying different piano brands in person is the best way to gain insight into the right piano for you.

If you still need help deciding between the many piano brands that are available, try seeking advice from an experienced piano teacher.

Now that you’ve explored all of the best piano brands, start improving your playing skills in the free piano classes at TakeLessons Live. There are daily classes available for every kind of pianist. Here’s to your new piano!

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How to Restring a Ukulele in 5 Easy Steps

How to string a ukulele

If you’re looking to find out how to string a ukulele, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide five easy steps that will help you restring a uke in no time.

Whenever your strings start to sound dull, you will want to restring your ukulele. This will vary depending on your environment and how often you play, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re performing publicly you should change your strings every one to three months.

If you play less frequently as a hobby, you should change them every three to six months. Also, if you break a string you will want to restring your whole set. You don’t want to have one new string mixed in with the old strings, because the new string will sound brighter than the others!

Here’s How to String A Ukulele in 5 Steps

Step 1 – Unwind and Remove Old Strings

The first step in how to restring a ukulele is very simple, unless your uke is old and the strings have begun to solidify due to grime and oxidation from the tuning pegs.

(If you find yourself in this situation it’s best to just clip them off with nail clippers or a pair of wire cutters. But be careful not to harm the wood of the ukulele when doing so).

how to restring a ukulele

When unwinding the strings on the side of the ukulele that faces the ceiling when you play, you will unwind in a clockwise manner. Whereas, the strings that are on the side facing the floor as you play will need to be unwound in a counter-clockwise manner.

In the photo below you’ll see two different ukuleles. One ukulele uses a knot and slot method of holding the string in place at the bridge. The other uses a traditional, classical guitar style knot to hold the string in place. We’ll go over both in this article.

how to string a ukulele

These are the two different types of bridges you may encounter on a ukulele. Check out your bridge once you have the strings off to make sure it doesn’t need to be cleaned or repaired.

Step 2 – Secure New Strings to the Bridge

For this step, you will want to have your new strings handy. A few good brands for ukulele strings are Martin, Aquila, and GHS.  

It’s easier to change strings that have a bit of texture to them, rather than strings that have a super smooth finish. Better quality strings will hold the knot that you tie in them. However, with lower quality strings the knot tends to slip apart when you begin to tighten up the string.

Depending on the type of bridge that you have, you will need to use a different method to secure the strings. As you can see in the photograph below, the first style of bridge is relatively easy to work with.

All you have to do is tie a knot in the end of the string and fit it into the slot of the bridge.

how to restring a ukulele

This style of bridge has a slot, and a knot in the string rests under the slot in the small opening at the base of the bridge.  

Here is a close-up of the simple knot you can use to secure the bridge end of the string. If you feel like your knot will come apart when you begin to tighten it up, then you might want to double knot it.

how to string a ukulele

The second style of bridge has a series of four holes drilled through it. The string inserts into the hole from the body side of the bridge, then comes over the top of the bridge and is tied in a double or triple-loop knot along the top surface of the bridge.

So when the knot rests against the saddle (the bone part of the bridge) it gets pulled tight against the saddle when the string is tightened, and the loops cinch down – locking the entire knot in place.

The loop is not very difficult to make. You simply feed the free end of the string three times into the knot that you are making. Just remember to leave a little bit of the string out to secure it by tucking it under the next string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have all the strings secured to the ukulele, tuck the ends of the string underneath the knots to the left and right of the string you are tying. This way, the string ends won’t poke you while you play. This also helps prevent the string from coming unknotted.

After you get all the strings situated the way you want, pull them tight and go onto the next step. Just be sure that none of your knots are actually laying on the saddle itself. You want the string to knot up just behind the saddle.

Step 3 – Feed the Strings Through Tuning Peg Holes

The next step in how to string a ukulele is to insert each string into its corresponding tuning peg hole. You’ll start this step once each string is secured at the bridge. Make sure to keep one hand on the knots at the bridge just to make sure they don’t unravel.

After the string is through its tuning peg hole, you can begin to wind up the string. Remember, if you are stringing the side that will face the ceiling as you play, you will wind it counter clockwise. Wind it clockwise for the side that will face the floor.

how to string a ukulele

Here is a close-up of the string after the first turn. Notice how the string goes over the end of the tip of the string that is sticking out of the hole. The next turn will go under the string so that it locks the string into place.

Sometimes when using this method the strings will want to slide out of the tuning peg hole. In this case you can always tie a knot in the string at the tuning peg hole, and then tighten the string from there.

Step 4 – Tighten the Strings

When you get the strings in place, you will need to tighten them up. Do not be concerned at this point about tightening them up to pitch. Just tighten them up until they feel slightly secured and then proceed to the next step.

There are string winders that help make this job a little easier. If you’d like, you can use hand winding tools, or a battery powered one. Just be careful not to over-tighten the strings to the point that they snap.

While you’re tightening up the strings, you should also keep your eye on the bridge knots and tuning pegs to make sure the ends do not slip out.

Step 5 – Stretch the Strings and Tune to Pitch

The final step for how to restring a ukulele is to stretch the strings to pull out any slack. Once all the strings are on, simply lay the ukulele flat on a table and gently pull each string up a few inches.

Many nylon strings take a long time to stretch into position when you first put them on, and this step makes the tuning process go a lot faster. Just be careful not to pull too much or you can snap the string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have the tension out of the string, you can re-tighten it. This time, tighten it up to the actual pitch of the string. Then you will have a freshly tuned ukulele with new strings!

Every beginning musician finds re-stringing their instrument a challenge at the start, especially ukulele players because of the material the strings are made of. But these five steps for how to string a ukulele should make the process much easier.

If you want to learn more about playing the ukulele, or are looking for a good teacher to help you get started, be sure to check out the online and local ukulele lessons offered at TakeLessons!

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches banjo, mandolin, and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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25+ Fascinating Violin Facts That Will Surprise You

violin facts

Looking for fun violin facts? Here, you’ll find the 25 most interesting facts about the violin we could round up!

People have spent their entire lives studying the possible benefits of playing the violin, its history, and how it functions. Enjoy exploring some of their findings in this short list of violin facts.

25 Interesting Violin Facts

violin facts

(This infographic was made by our friends at Venngage).

Interesting Facts About the Violin – In Detail

  1. Most people consider playing the violin an intellectual pursuit. However, a violinist can burn around 170 calories per hour. That’s equivalent to about one soft drink!
  2. Based on research measuring the different levels of cognitive processing, violinists have shown to develop faster processing speeds compared to the average person who does not play an instrument.
  3. Even though the exact year the violin was officially created is a mystery, we do know that the design of the modern violin is over 500 years old. While the violin hasn’t changed much over that time, the bow and other accessories have gone through many changes.
  4. Italy is primarily attributed with the creation of the modern violin. A lot of Italian makers, such as Stradivari, lived and worked in the small town of Cremona, creating some of the world’s oldest and most valuable violins.
  5. The word “violin” comes from the medieval Latin word vitula. What makes this one of the funniest violin facts is that oddly enough, the modern Latin translation of vitula also means “female cow.”
  6. String players, like violinists, tend to have larger brains. This is due in part to the complex motor skills and reasoning required to play the instrument.
  7. The main body of the modern violin contains 70 different parts. In high quality instruments, these parts are all made from a variety of woods.
  8. Famous violinist Fritz Kreisler served in WWI as a captain. His aural sensitivity, developed by playing the violin, allowed him to determine the location of large artillery by listening to the changing pitch of incoming shells across the battlefield.
  9. The violin was the leader of the orchestra before conductors became a main fixture. Prominent composers would often conduct their orchestral arrangements from the first violin chair or the concertmaster position.
  10. Even though Mozart was a prominent pianist and composer, he also played the violin. In fact, Mozart’s father began his son’s musical training on the violin.
  11. The modern violin was developed largely by Gasparo da Salò, Andrea Amati, and Antonio Stradivari, all of which lived in Italy during the 17th century.
  12. The violin has ancestral ties to the Byzantine empire through its distant cousin, the lyra. This archaic instrument evolved into the “rebec” and then the medieval fiddle, before finally transforming into the modern violin.
  13. The violin has become an essential instrument in cultures all over the world, from Ireland to India. Some of these cultures have developed different ways of playing the instrument. One of the most interesting violin facts is that some Indian players sit cross-legged while playing, and rest the scroll on their feet with the bottom of the violin under their chin!
  14. The parts of the brain that are responsible for the left and right hand are more sensitive in violinists. This means that violinists have greater conscious control over more areas of their hands.
  15. Some of the most popular careers for violinists include teaching, and performing in orchestras or other small groups. Highly sought after orchestral positions are extremely difficult to obtain.
  16. In 1626, King Louis XIII of France created an orchestra, Les 24 Violons du Roi. This helped launch the violin into prominence for the first time in history.
  17. Violinist Niccolò Paganini was one of the first musicians to pioneer the “rock star” image. His revolutionary compositional style and playing inspired many other performers and composers such as Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.
  18. Many violin facts show that playing the instrument has a significant impact on the mind. A study from Harvard University found that early training in the violin improves a myriad of cognitive skills including memory, nonverbal reasoning, and attention.
  19. The rich sound of the violin partially comes from a small dowel inside the instrument beneath the bridge, called the “sound post.” It does this by receiving the vibrations, created by the strings, from the bridge and transmitting them to the back of the violin.
  20. The most expensive violin ever purchased by a private investor was acquired for $16 million dollars. However, The Ashmolean Museum currently owns an estimated $20 million violin.
  21. Despite contracting polio as child, famous violinist Itzhak Perlman rose to prominence and is now one of the best violinists in the world. In fact, Perlman was honored in 2016 when he was asked to perform at President Obama’s inauguration.
  22. The violin and fiddle are the same instrument. Even though the term “violin” is more often used in connection with classical music, and the “fiddle” with Irish or folk music, they are in fact the same.
  23. Researchers studying the brain’s plasticity often use violinists to examine how much the brain can adapt.
  24. YouTube sensation and violinist Lindsey Stirling has over 10.5 million subscribers. Her most watched video, “Crystallize,” has over 194 million views.
  25. Want even more shocking violin facts? Violin strings were originally made from the dried intestines of cats and other animals! Nowadays the strings are made from a combination of synthetic materials and a variety of metals.
  26. The violin bow was originally shaped like a hunting bow. This changed in the 19th century when François Tourte perfected the modern bow by creating a concave curve.

These are just a few of the most interesting facts about the violin, but there are so many other wonderful things to learn. If any of these violin facts sparked your interest, or if you’ve always wanted to play the violin, check out the spectacular teachers at TakeLessons.

The violin is one of the most challenging and rewarding instruments you can learn. It is also one of the few instruments capable of matching the diversity and complexity of the human voice. Know any more interesting facts about the violin? Leave a comment below!

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Sources:

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