Violin Tips: Stiff Shoulders and Arm Pain

violin techniquePlaying the violin should be fun – not a pain! Some arm fatigue is normal when you’re first starting out, but anything more than that may be a sign of poor posture, technique or instrument placement. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you practice and play…

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Violin Tips: Mastering the Double Stop

violinAfter you learn the basics of playing the violin, you can start exploring more exciting techniques and tricks. Double stops, for example, are when you play more than one string simultaneously, which can add a lot of color and flair to your playing. However, it’s not the easiest technique to master. We found a great read on All Things Strings online, jam-packed with tips to help you along the way; here’s an excerpt to get you started…

First and foremost relax, relax, relax. Any tension in your left hand will quickly tie it up and cramps are sure to follow. Don’t mistake tension for strength. They are very different sensations.

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How to Set Up a Drum Set

drum setNew to the drums? Learning how to set up a drum set properly should be your first priority. Read on as Mundelein drum teacher Jonah D. shows you the way…






Before I even touch the drums I have to set up my drum throne.  I adjust the height so that I can lift my legs easily using my thighs.  I start with a height that puts a 90-degree angle at my knees.  I sit higher up, but you can raise or lower the seat to make it comfortable.  Sitting too high or too low will actually impede your ability to play.

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The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Recital Preparation

music recital tipsDo you have a holiday recital or performance coming up? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. From practicing effectively to overcoming stage fright, we have a lengthy list of resources to help you prepare for the upcoming event. Let’s start at the very beginning…

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Recognizing Chest Voice vs. Head Voice

What’s the difference between chest voice and head voice? Recognizing each – and learning to seamlessly transition from one to the other – can help you really take advantage of your full vocal range. Valencia, PA voice teacher Melody M. explains in this informative video:

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Video: Learn and Master Major Scales

Gibson guitarGuitarists, want to master your scales once and for all? Practicing scales and training your fingers goes hand-in-hand with improving your overall technique, especially when you start working on soloing and improvisation. We were excited to come across Gibson’s series of tutorial videos, and this one in particular is great for guitar players who want to learn a few major scale exercises.

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Dubstep Violin with Lindsey Stirling

We simply can’t get enough of Lindsey Stirling! Her amazing violin skills, modern integrations of hip-hop and dubstep, and creative videos (many of which have gone viral) have launched her into YouTube celebrity fame ever since she impressed audiences nationwide on America’s Got Talent. She has performed globally and recently embarked on a U.S. tour, and her first self-titled album was released on September 18th. Take a look at her most recent music video here:

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What the iPhone 5 Means for Musicians

iPhoneThe duel between Android and iOS fanatics doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but Apple is certainly making headlines this week with the announcement of the iPhone 5, set for release later this month.

As technology improves and new products are launched, musicians of all types can benefit from the various music apps and programs available, bringing the world of music right to your fingertips. Want to quickly look up a guitar chord chart for A minor? There’s an app for that. Looking for an easy way to manage a busy schedule of music lessons and band practice? Yup, there’s an app for that, too. Who knew technology would take us this far?

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Helping Your Child Set Music Goals

bandSo you’ve booked your child’s music lessons, organized your schedule, and made the decision between purchasing or renting an instrument. Parent involvement can be a big factor in your child’s success, so your job doesn’t end there!

Younger students in particular may need help with establishing good practice habits, tracking progress, and staying motivated outside of the lessons. There are a ton of ways you can provide that support, and simply sitting down with your child to set a few goals for the school year is a great way to start. And not only will it help their success in music lessons, but developing the skill (and habit) of setting goals will carry over into other areas of their life.

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Should You Rent or Buy Your Child’s Band Instrument?

flute Do you have all of your back-to-school shopping done? Sometimes that list can seem never-ending – books, pencils, highlighters, new uniforms, etc. – and the stress can get to the best of us, especially if you’re on a budget.

If you know your child will be starting a music program this year, or if you are thinking about signing up for private music lessons outside of school, a decision you’ll inevitably have to make is whether to buy or rent your instrument. So how do you make this decision? The right answer will depend on a few different factors.

A common path for new musicians (and children, in particular) is to rent the instrument for the first couple of months or even the first year, in order to get comfortable with playing it. Once the student is committed or gets to a more advanced level, then you might start shopping around to purchase. High school is a good time to upgrade to a new model, especially if your child is getting more serious about music.

The amount you pay, of course, will depend on the model, condition and type of instrument, so you’ll want to shop around and find one that suits your budget but is also still quality. If the decision is between renting a higher-end instrument, or buying a cheaper model, it may be better to begin with renting. A good instrument can save your child from a lot of frustration, as well as help you avoid repair costs on an older or used model. Many rental contracts will cover you for things like routine repairs and maintenance. Some may also allow you to switch your rental to another instrument with no penalty, in case your child wants to learn something different.

Of course, there are also advantages to buying your instrument, whether new or used. First, you’ll avoid costly monthly fees, which will save you money in the long-run. Second, owning an instrument can also be a source of pride for students, and drive home the fact that playing an instrument is a commitment. If you’re purchasing a used model, consider having your band director or music teacher take a look at the condition, to point out any potential defects or issues.

Take some time to think about your lifestyle, commitment level and budget as you decide which option is right for your family. Whether you end up buying or renting, make sure your child also knows the importance and basics of instrument maintenance, and you’ll set them on the path to musical success!

, TakeLessons staff member and blogger

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Photo by Lifesupercharger.