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What instrument should I learn

What Instrument Should I Learn? [Quiz]

What instrument should I learn

If you’re completely new to music, you’re probably asking “What instrument should I learn?” Learning how to play an instrument is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself, whether you’re 15 or 50, so great job getting started!

There are so many instruments to choose from that starting from scratch can feel overwhelming. In this article, we’ll share a little bit about five of the most popular instruments to help you decide.

First, take this fun and helpful quiz that pairs you up with an instrument that matches your personality, preferences, and goals!

What Instrument Should I Learn?

The Smart Choice: Piano

Arguably the most versatile instrument on the planet, the piano is an excellent option for creating inspiring music.

One major advantage of this instrument is the way its keys are laid out. The keyboard is a near perfect mirror of the steps needed to understand music theory, and this is why we’ve dubbed piano “the smart choice.”

The piano is a great instrument for adults and children. Students of any age or background can learn how to produce tones on the piano within just a few minutes. However it can take years to master more advanced piano skills.

what instrument should I learn - guitar

The Popular Choice: Guitar

Electric, acoustic, and classical guitar – there are so many options! Each instrument is unique and better suits the needs of different students.

No matter how old you are, the guitar is an absolute blast to play. Students typically learn to master chords and scales after a month or two, but it can take years to master the instrument’s more virtuosic capabilities like fingerpicking, arpeggios, and soloing.

The electric guitar is the best choice for younger students because its strings are easier to play than the acoustic or classical guitar’s. Keep in mind though that you’ll need an amplifier to go with it.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Unique Instruments to Learn

what instrument should I learn - violin

The Challenging Choice: Violin

The violin is capable of producing some of the world’s most achingly gorgeous music, but it’s an instrument that can take many years to master.

The violin is similar to the guitar except that there are no frets, and this makes it especially challenging to learn. But even with its challenges, the right violin teacher can help students of any age navigate this incredible instrument over time.

If you’re interested in picking up the violin, give yourself six months to a year to master some of its basic concepts. The violin requires patience and persistence; you won’t sound like Joshua Bell or Antonio Vivaldi right away!

what instrument should I learn - ukulele

The Simple Choice: Ukulele

The ukulele is the friendliest instrument to learn on the planet, but that’s not the only reason you should consider playing it. Ukuleles are inexpensive, portable, and cheery-sounding instruments that are perfect for creative songwriters.

Amanda Palmer and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole are a few well known uke musicians, but thousands of artists around the world play this fun instrument. The only real downside of the ukulele is that it’s extremely limited as far as sound and dynamics go.

If you’re looking for an awesome starter instrument for kids, the uke is best choice available, hands down. Kids can learn how to play simple chords on the ukulele within a week or two.

what instrument should I learn - drums

The Fun Choice: Drums

If you’re looking for an instrument that lets you be loud and expressive, then the drums are perfect for you. Drums come in all shapes and sizes, but most sets have a snare, bass drum, hi-hat, and toms.  

Do Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon inspire you? Listening to some of music’s famous drummers before deciding which instrument you should learn is a good idea.  

It can take a few months of practice on the drums to be able to produce solid and discernible beats. The drums aren’t too difficult to learn, but you’ll definitely want to work with an experienced drum teacher to ensure that you’re learning correct technique.

We hope this article and quiz helped you answer the daunting question “What instrument should I learn?” If you need more help choosing the right instrument for you, try sampling a few beginner-level lessons in several different instruments before committing to just one.

Check out TakeLessons Live where you can take FREE classes in each of these instruments for 30 days!

Need Private Lessons?

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Guest Post Author: Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and educator. He records and performs music under the name, Straight White Teeth.

Christmas gifts for musicians

40+ Unique Christmas Gifts for Musicians

Christmas gifts for musicians

Looking for Christmas gifts for musicians? You’ve come to the right place. The holidays are upon us and it’s time to do some shopping! No matter what instrument your favorite musician plays, they deserve a gift just as unique as their hobby.

We’ve compiled a list of the best Christmas gifts for musicians to make finding the perfect present a little easier. Whether you’re shopping for stocking stuffers or a bigger, more impressive gift, there’s something for everyone on this list!

40+ Unique Christmas Gifts for Musicians

Stocking Stuffers for Musicians

Christmas gifts for musicians

Musician’s Dice, $19 – If the musician in your life loves spontaneous jam sessions, or has ever experienced a roadblock when composing, then this is the perfect gift. These dice are a fun way to help musicians improvise and get their creative juices flowing.
Christmas gifts for musicians

Music Magnets, $2-10 – Their small size makes them perfect for a stocking, and with all the unique designs available you’re sure to find one for your favorite pianist, flutist, or guitarist!  

Christmas gifts for musicians

Vinyl Record Cufflinks, $60 – Do you have a stylish musician friend or relative? Help them show off their musical style with these cufflinks! This accessory is as unique and funky as your favorite musician.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Guitar String Bracelets, $14 – Fashion forward musicians will also love these creative bracelets. They can display their love of music on their wrists by wearing repurposed bass guitar strings as a fashion statement.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Music Score Removable Tape, $8 – Composers can cover up mistakes or change a passage with this removable tape. No damage will be done to the original, and the musician can easily add to any piece of music!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Premium Dark Rosin with Case, $10 – This premium rosin will not only produce less dust but the stylish and convenient case makes one-handed application easy. Viola, cello, bass, and violin players will thank you.

Christmas gifts for musicians

“Rock On” Iphone Case, $18 – You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by the way they accessorize their phone. Give your favorite musician another way to express themselves with a cool phone case that shows off their love of rock!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Ear Plugs, $20 – These ear plugs are perfect for musicians in loud environments because they reduce volume but still let the sound in. Your musician can enjoy the music while protecting their hearing!

Christmas Gifts for Musicians’ Homes

Christmas gifts for musicians

DIY Music Ornament, $6-20 – Cut up strips of sheet music and stuff them into clear ornaments from your local craft store. Bonus if it’s their favorite song!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Record Clock, $38 – All musicians need to be good at keeping time (literally)! They’ll enjoy looking at this clock so much they’ll never be late for band practice again.
Christmas gifts for musicians

Framed Music Quote, $34 – These elegant wall hangings give musical quotes an artistic flair. They can be easily displayed in a musician’s home as a decorative yet meaningful piece.
Christmas gifts for musicians

Guitar Flipper Spatula, $12 – Whoever said musicians can’t cook has never seen these cool spatulas! Your favorite musician will be more motivated to make breakfast before band practice with this fun kitchenware.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Life Without Music Mug, $18 – Give a gift that combines their love for music and coffee! This cute and funny mug is perfect for any musician who appreciates a hot drink.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Sound Waves Print, $45 – Give that musician you love a sentimental gift with these customizable sound wave prints. Use their favorite song or first dance to turn a memory into a piece of decor!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Guitar Amp Keyholder, $35-40 – Modeled after a real amp, this keyholder will add some musical flair to any home. Your favorite musician will never lose the keys again!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Art Vinyl, $52 – Their favorite vinyl record can double as an art piece and stay protected from damage. Bonus if you give this gift with a record already inside!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $60 – Every music lover will appreciate a good speaker. These portable speakers make it easy to take music wherever you go, just use the Bluetooth to connect a phone or Ipod!
Christmas gifts for musicians

Vinyl Record, $20-35 – Oh how music has evolved! For the friend or relative who loves music and all things vintage, records are a perfect gift if they own a record player.

SEE ALSO: Best Last Minute Gifts Ideas for Musicians

Practical Christmas Gifts for Musicians

Christmas gifts for musicians

Bright Hammerhead LED Music Light, $22 – This ultra bright light is compact and portable. The gooseneck also twists and will attach to anything, so all the musician has to worry about is playing music!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Pick Punch, $25 – Now string instrumentalists can make their own picks out of anything they want. This is a fun gift for the creative musician who always loses picks!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Music Stand, Music Sheet Clip, and Light, $35 – This collapsible music stand comes with everything a musician needs to ensure they have an amazing performance or practice session. The best part: it all fits into one nifty carrying case that’s included!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Moleskine Music Notebook, $13 – This notebook is perfect for musicians, songwriters, and composers. The right page consists of eight staffs and the left is blank so they can write down and brainstorm new ideas.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Swirly Gig Drink Holders, $26 – Staying hydrated is a necessity for many musicians, especially singers. These holders clip onto most microphone stands so a beverage is easily accessible during  jam sessions.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Mic Stand Ipad Holder, $20 – Put the music and lyrics right at their fingertips! This tablet holder fits onto most mic stands and is perfect when trying to learn a new song.  

Christmas gifts for musicians

Headphones, $25 – A musician can never have too many pairs of headphones! Durability and excellent sound quality make these headphones perfect for any music lover.  

Christmas gifts for musicians

Guitar Center Gift Card, $5-500 – Guitar Center has something for every musician, not just guitarists! If you’d rather send a quick e-gift card, you can even customize it with a personal photo.

Fun Christmas Gifts for Musicians

Christmas gifts for musicians

Spontuneous: The Song Game, $30 – What better way to spend cold winter nights with friends and family than by playing a singing game! Don’t worry – no talent is required, just a knowledge of song lyrics.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Itunes Gift Card, $10-$200 – An Itunes gift card is perfect for music lovers because it allows them to download their favorite songs or music-related apps. The best part is you can choose whatever amount fits in your budget.  

Christmas gifts for musicians

Guitar Case Lunch Box, $22 – Do you know any young musicians who are still in school? This fun lunch box will help show everyone in the cafeteria what a cool musician they are. It even comes with stickers to customize it!
Christmas gifts for musicians

Mini Portable Karaoke Machine, $28 – Take the show on the road, literally. This portable karaoke machine will let your favorite musician have fun singing wherever and whenever their heart desires!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Playable Electronic Guitar Shirt, $30 – What’s more fun than a vintage t-shirt featuring a playable musical instrument? This shirt hooks up to a mini amp and allows the wearer to actually play their favorite song.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Mechanical Music Box Set, $7-$22 – This creative gift is extra unique. Based off the old classic music boxes, this set lets the music maker punch holes onto paper which is fed through the box to make beautiful melodies!
Christmas gifts for musicians

TakeLessons Live Subscription, $0-20/month – For the musician who is still learning, or wants to explore new instruments, a subscription to online music classes is the perfect fit. TakeLessons Live offers more than 300 classes on a variety of subjects, from singing to piano to ukulele.

Impressive Christmas Gifts for Musicians

Christmas gifts for musicians

USB Mix Tape, $26 – Make your special someone their very own mix tape, well sort of. This unique gift lets you add the playlist to a USB in cassette-like packaging. So 80s rom-com!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Mahogany Ukulele, $79 – The ukulele is an excellent gift for new musicians, or experienced ones who want to broaden their skillset. This mahogany ukulele is a great option because it’s both high quality and affordable.
Christmas gifts for musicians

Pocket Synthesizer, $89 – It may look like a strange calculator, but this small synthesizer allows a musician to make beats in the palm of their hand! Of all the Christmas gifts for musicians, this one is sure to be a favorite.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Concert Tickets, $30-$1000 – Is there a band in town they’ve been dying to see? This is the perfect opportunity to surprise your favorite musician with a night they won’t forget.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Medium Sized Cajon, $129 – Have a drum enthusiast in your life who doesn’t have the space for a full set? A cajon is the perfect marriage of chair and drum. It’s also a great new instrument for musicians who want to branch out and try something new!

Christmas gifts for musicians

Portable Cube Amp, $180 – This small amp is battery operated and can be taken anywhere. It works with guitars, keyboards, MP3 devices, and more.  

Christmas gifts for musicians

Crosley Keepsake Vinyl Record Player, $169 – Few things are as cool as a vintage record player. With all the options of vinyl record players out there, this keepsake is a must-have.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Portable Digital Audio Recorder, $160 – Don’t let its small size fool you. This little audio recorder has amazing sound quality and is the perfect Christmas gift for the creative songwriter.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Computer DJ System, $70 – This USB powered DJ system hooks right up to a laptop so the DJ can scratch, mix, fade, and more all of from one device like the disc jockeys of old.

Christmas gifts for musicians

Music Lessons with a Private Instructor, $50-$5,000 – A private instructor is the best way to learn a new instrument or improve musical skills. Surprise the growing musician in your life and purchase private lessons as a gift! TakeLessons has thousands of teachers to choose from.

Finding Christmas gifts for musicians doesn’t have to be a challenge with these creative and unique ideas! When ordering online, don’t forget to account for shipping costs and the length of time your gift will take to arrive.

Checking for coupon codes and discounts is another helpful tip if you’re sticking to a shopping budget. Whatever gift you decide on, remember it’s the thought that counts and the musician in your life will appreciate it!  

Best father daughter songs of all time

Most Popular & Heartwarming Father Daughter Songs of All Time

Best father daughter songs of all time

There’s a special kind of bond between a girl and her father, and dozens of popular songs that honor this strong connection. Whether you’re looking for that perfect song for a father daughter dance, a meaningful Father’s Day tribute, or a special gift for a birthday, keep reading.

In this ultimate list of heartfelt, father daughter songs from every genre, you’re sure to find just the right lyrics to celebrate your relationship with Dad. 

Best Father Daughter Songs From Every Genre

“My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw – Country

“You’re beautiful baby, from the outside in

Chase your dreams but always know

The road that will lead you home again”

This heartwarming song, written from a father’s perspective, is a tear-jerker right from the beginning. It’s an excellent choice for a dance, sweet 16, graduation, or any coming-of-age celebration.

“Daddy’s Little Girl” by Michael Bublé – Classic

“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot o’ gold, you’re Daddy’s Little Girl to have and hold

A precious gem is what you are, you’re mommy’s bright and shining star

You’re the spirit of Christmas, my star on the tree, you’re the Easter bunny to mommy and me

You’re sugar, you’re spice, you’re everything nice, and you’re Daddy’s Little Girl”

Michael Bublé really shows off his crooner side in this sweet melody about all the wonderful things that a man’s daughter means to him. This song would be a great addition to a wedding or birthday party playlist.

“Your Joy” by Chrisette Michele – Neo Soul

“No one loves me just like you do

No one knows me just like you do

No one can compare to the way my eyes fit in yours”

This soulful tribute from a daughter to her father is perfect for a girl or young woman to sing to her father. Not too comfortable with your singing voice? Write the lyrics in a greeting card to add an extra nice touch.  

“Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle – Christian/Gospel

“Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right

To deserve a hug every morning, and butterfly kisses at night”

This beautiful tune, written from a father’s perspective, shares special moments throughout different stages of his daughter’s life. It’s a nice option for a wedding, or simply when you want to remind your father that you’ll always be his little girl!

“Daughters” by John Mayer – Acoustic Rock

“Fathers, be good to your daughters

Daughters will love like you do

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers

So mothers, be good to your daughters too”

This acoustic tune from John Mayer shares about the loving bond that exists between family members. It’s meaningful but also light-hearted, and would be a fitting addition to any family gathering.

“Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon – Pop

 

“So you’ll always know, as long as one and one is two

There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you”

Slightly more upbeat but just as sentimental as the rest, this catchy tune goes with any father daughter occasion. The lyrics represent a sweet declaration of love from a father to his daughter.

“I’ll Always Be Your Baby” by Natalie Grant – Contemporary Christian

 

“You are my hero and that will never change

You still can dry my tears with just a smile”

This Natalie Grant song is a heartwarming tribute from a daughter’s perspective. The lyrics mention walking down the aisle, so this would be a great song for a wedding reception or engagement party.

“Daddy” by Beyonce – Contemporary R&B

 

“Because you loved me I overcome, yeah

And I’m so proud of what you’ve become, yeah

You’ve given me such security

No matter what mistakes I make you’re there for me”

In this R&B number, Beyonce reminisces about all the ways her father has been there for her over the years. If you truly admire your father, this is the perfect song as a token of gratitude to him.

“Zoe Jane” by Staind – Alternative Metal

“I wanna hold you, protect you from all of the things I’ve already endured

And I wanna show you, show you all the things that this life has in store for you

And I’ll always love you, the way that a father should love his daughter”

This beautiful song has a very powerful chorus that emphasizes just how much a father desires to protect his daughter. It’s a wonderful song for the dad who loves rock music and soulful lyrics.  

“Dance with my Daughter” by Jason Blaine – Country

“Gonna dance with my daughter

Spin her around under the lights

‘Cause I’m just a father making the most of this moment in time”

This sentimental, country tune emphasizes the importance of enjoying every moment while your daughter is growing up. Since it’s written from a father to his daughter, it would be best for a wedding or father daughter dance.  

“Fathers and Daughters” by Michael Bolton – Pop/Rock Ballad

“When times are hard I know you’ll be strong

I’ll be there in your heart when you’ll carry on

Like moonlight on the water, and sunlight in the sky

Fathers and daughters never say goodbye”

This emotional ballad is an appropriate choice for any milestone event, such as a graduation. It would be a guaranteed tear-jerker if sung as a duet, since it commemorates the eternal bond between a father and daughter.

“Cecilia and The Satellite” by Andrew McMahon – Alternative/Indie

“If I could fly, then I would know

What life looks like from up above and down below

I’d keep you safe, I’d keep you dry

Don’t be afraid, Cecilia, I’m the satellite

And you’re the sky”

This uplifting and modern tune is a poetic promise from a father to his daughter. It’s a delightful alternative song just right for a father daughter dance or birthday party playlist.

“I Loved Her First” by Heartland – Country

“From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me

I knew the love of a father runs deep, and I prayed that she’d find you someday

But it’s still hard to give her away, I loved her first”

This truly heartwarming song is a testament to the pride and protectiveness a father feels toward his daughter. It’s a sincere and moving choice for a father daughter dance at a wedding.

Each of these father daughter songs has its own unique way of honoring the love between a daddy and his little girl. Choose one of them for your special event, or combine all of them into one CD to give as a special gift to your father!

Are you musically talented? You can also consider learning to sing or play one of these beautiful songs to guarantee a memory that will last him a lifetime!

 

JasmineTPost Author: Jasmine T.
Jasmine T. teaches piano, academics, yoga, and more in San Diego, CA. She has her Power Yoga Level 1 200-Hour Certification, as well as a Certificate of Merit for Piano and Theory from the Music Teachers’ Association of California. Learn more about Jasmine here!
Why are music lessons so expensive

Super Easy Ways to Save up for Music Lessons [Infographic]

Why are music lessons so expensive

One common question asked by many aspiring musicians (and oftentimes, their parents) is: “Why are music lessons so expensive?”

There are a few main factors that contribute to the cost of music lessons. In this blog post, we’ll uncover what those factors are and then share 10 clever solutions that make saving up for music lessons easier than you think.

Why are Music Lessons so Expensive?

The average cost of private, in-home music lessons is $31.50 for a 30-minute lesson, according to this nationwide study by TakeLessons.

The average cost of online music lessons is a little more affordable, at $25 per 30-minute lesson. That comes out to $100 a month if you take one lesson per week.

While these rates might seem high at first glance, they make more sense when you take the following factors into consideration.

  • Music teachers are often self employed and don’t have the benefits of a salaried position
  • Many teachers factor in the time and expenses it takes to travel to your home for lessons
  • Music teachers take extra time to prep for each individual student prior to a lesson
  • Some teachers pay for their own studio and additional instruments for students
  • Teachers who are just starting out don’t have enough students to fill up a 9-5 work shift
  • If you live in a bigger city, the cost of lessons will be higher because there is more competition in the market

Now you know some of the reasons why music lessons are expensive. If the dream of becoming a better musician still seems distant because of your financial situation, keep reading for some easy ways to save up!

10 Easy Ways to Save Up for Music Lessons

Save $150 a month brewing at home

Are you an avid coffee drinker? If you find yourself making daily trips to your local cafe, one excellent way to save five dollars a day is to try brewing your coffee at home instead.

Consider it an opportunity to try out some new roasts, and a small sacrifice to have to make on your way to musical success. After just one month, you’ll be able to afford six online music lessons (at $25 per 30-minute lesson).  

Save $300 a month packing a lunch

The cost of eating out adds up quickly. Did you know that waking up just a little bit earlier than normal to prepare a lunch can save you hundreds every month? Or, an even easier option is to make some extra food for dinner the night before your work day!

At $10 a day in savings, you’ll have saved up the equivalent of 12 online music lessons by the end of the month.

Save hundreds on your commute

Driving your own car to work can cost you hundreds of extra dollars per month. Instead, try carpooling with coworkers, or if you live close to the office, try bike riding.

Another great idea that will also save you money on parking is to use public transportation, such as a bus or train. Any one of these options will save you hundreds in gas money per month, which you can gladly put toward music lessons instead.

Save $100 a month cutting cable

Many people who have cable find that they don’t actually use it enough to warrant the high monthly cost. If that sounds like you, consider cancelling cable and spending more of your free time on your hobbies.  

With $100 in monthly savings, you’ll be able to afford weekly music lessons after cancelling a cable subscription.     

Save $50 a month skipping the gym

No, we’re not giving you an excuse to stop exercising. Staying in shape is extremely important to your overall health. But instead of spending money on a gym membership, try going for a run or riding a bike at your local park instead.

With all the workout routines available on the internet, it’s easy to get in shape in the comfort of your own home, too! An average $50 monthly gym membership fee equates to two music lessons per month.

Save hundreds more with a rewards card

If you have a credit card that allows you to accrue rewards points with every purchase you make, why not redeem those points as cash and apply them to music lessons?

Rack up the points by using your credit card to pay for groceries, gas, and bills. Many credit cards don’t have a limit to how many points you can accrue or an expiration date on your points.

SEE ALSO: Private Lessons Don’t Need to be Expensive – Here’s How to Save

Save $100 a month staying sober

For some aspiring musicians, this saving strategy might seem like a lot to ask. But just like eating out, the cost of alcoholic beverages can add up very quickly.

Drinking a bottle of wine each week for example, can end up costing you around $100 a month. If you simply cross wine off of your shopping list, you’d be able to afford weekly online music lessons.

Save $50 a month doing your nails

For the ladies, getting a monthly manicure and pedicure will cost you a minimum of $50 a month. Do your own nails instead, or go au naturel, and you’ll be able to afford two additional online music lessons every month.

If you’re learning an instrument like guitar or violin, having short nails will help you hold down the strings much easier anyway!

Bundle up to save even more!

See if you can join a family plan if you currently just have a single line. Reevaluating your cell phone plan is an easy way to save money on your monthly bills.

If joining a plan with relatives isn’t an option, consider getting a group of friends together on the same plan instead. Splitting the cost of a plan with unlimited data is much more affordable than paying for it all on your own.

Pass on name brands

Every grocery store has its own line of products, and they’re usually cheaper than the big name brands we all recognize. A lot of times the ingredients in these products are exactly the same.

Skip name brand items at the grocery store to save up more money every week for music lessons. You can also apply this tip to shopping for clothes – every little bit helps.

Save the infographic below as a visual reminder and watch your savings add up!

 

Why are music lessons so expensive

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With the right tips and tricks, anyone can afford music lessons. Yes, music lessons can be expensive. But don’t let money stand in the way of you reaching your goals and dreams. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

Want one more way to make music lessons even more affordable? Start out with online group classes, as opposed to private lessons.

At just $19.95 a month for new students, TakeLessons Live offers group classes in many instruments and skills, from ukulele to music theory. Plus, you’ll get a whole month’s worth of classes for free when you sign up. Try it today!

 

5 Insider Tips for a Successful Music Career

MO - 5 Insider Tips for a Successful Music CareerBreaking into the music industry is tough, but it’s a lot easier when you have some help along the way. In this article, professional singer and music teacher Liz T. will show you 5 valuable tips you can use to make it the music industry…

 

Based on my performing experience in the music industry, I’ve observed many fellow (and talented) musicians struggle. Having a successful music career isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be the next Beyoncé or Hunter Hayes to be considered a “success.”

There are many independent musicians out there who perform in front of sold-out crowds each night, run their own marketing campaigns, and promote their music in the media — all while making money!

Here are some tips from my personal experience that will help you have a successful music career, no matter which instrument or genre you choose!

How to Make It in the Music Industry


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1. Choose Your Band/Co-Writers Wisely

I’ve seen many leaders fail when they don’t have reliable members in their band. Here’s my advice: Choose musicians you know you can depend on, both on and off the stage. In other words, choose musicians who you can trust to show up to all rehearsals, recordings, and act professional in a music environment.

Don’t Choose on a Whim

More often than not, because of the lack of effort, support, and preparation from the band, the leader may fail. Audition your band mates, try a few gigs with them, and if it’s not working, move on — just like in the dating world! There’s no sense in keeping bad relationships.

The same goes for songwriting: Choose members you want on your team wisely, and consider choosing members who have strengths that you don’t. The bottom line is that you should never feel at competition with your band mates or co-writers; it’s completely a team effort!

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2. Research the Music Industry

As a musician, you should always be listening and watching the charts. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse — find out what’s popular, what’s performing well, and what’s dying in the industry. From knowing current artists to knowing music-sharing trends, you’ve got to be current with the times!

You Don’t Need to Research Everything

Even if you’re an “old school” person, you don’t necessarily have to download every music app or listen to every artist, but you need to be familiar with what’s happening in the industry. In my experience, a surprising amount of people don’t do their research. Those who don’t do their research might send their music demos on CDs, even when the publisher clearly says “only MP3s” via email. If you do that, you’re only going to upset the publisher.

Keep Up With the Trends

With that being said, read directions carefully and do your homework — you don’t want to make enemies in the industry by making bad impressions! The trends in the industry are always changing, so be sure to read books, blog articles, and ask your friends how they listen to (or even buy) music; who are they going to see in concert, what are their favorite music videos?

Don’t be behind the times — be ahead!

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3. Be Your Own Booking Agent

I’ve often found this very frustrating in the music industry: trying to get the booker or promoter’s attention. Oftentimes, you’ll hear no response, or they’ll have incredibly high demands (and want you to play at less-than-appealing venues). I challenge you to start booking your own gigs when you feel your music is ready to be performed in front of live audiences.

You Can Do It All

I started booking my own gigs first in Boston, then to the New York scene, which eventually lead to Europe! I’ve booked 100+ gigs entirely on my own, without the help of a booking agent. Of course, it takes a lot of time to do this research, along with negotiating contracts and figuring out logistics, such as backline equipment (like amplifiers) and transportation.

There’s no reason you can’t start booking your gigs right away. Focus your attention on one region, then figure out the venues in that market. Indie on the Move is a great resource for this sort of thing!

4

4. Keep Plugging Away

Rejection is a common theme in the music industry. You’ll often go to tons of auditions, submit your song, and hear “no,” more than you’ll hear “yes.” With thousands of musicians vying for their shot at fame and fortune, along with few opportunities out there, the competition is fierce.

Rejections Eventually Lead to Success

I encourage you to keep performing and submitting your music. I’ve felt extremely discouraged after going to 100 auditions, but then after the 101st audition, I would land the gig! Moreover, I would submit my music to publishers and record labels over and over, hearing no response, only to finally hear an answer a couple years later!

Don’t let rejection tear you down and stop you from doing what you love. Continue to work on your craft — practice, compose, and write like there’s no tomorrow. You can even create your own opportunities. For example, if you’re still having trouble getting signed, release an album independently! Or, be your own social media manager and promoter.

Remember to always stay positive and believe in yourself!

5

5. Pick the Right Songs

Whether you decide to write your own music or be in a cover band, the decision is up to you! Many bands become successful by writing new material, and other bands find their first success by creating new interpretations of original songs.

With YouTube, you can easily upload your songs, promoting them for people all over the world to explore and enjoy! But first, it’s best to decide if you’re going to be an artist that focuses on just making videos, or if you’re more interested in booking live shows. Allocate your resources accordingly.

How to Choose The Right Songs

When choosing your song material, you’ll want to make sure you’re completely comfortable performing these songs. You don’t have to sing an Adele song just because it’s popular and challenging, or write material if you stink at writing lyrics. Instead, find out what your strengths are and which songs showcase your voice or musical instrument the best!

It’s important to find your musical niche. To do this, I encourage you to listen and watch other bands perform in order to see what repertoire they have in their sets or albums. Don’t outright copy other bands or artists, but instead use them as a source of inspiration.

The End Goal is the Audience

Visualize your album or set in advance; the flow, the rhythm, and the melodic content is important to keep in mind. You don’t want to do a show that’s entirely made up of slow rock ballads — your audience will be asleep in no time! It’s vital that you keep them engaged, even if you’re singing about serious subject matter.

The end goal is really to grab and hold the audience’s attention the entire time you’re performing. The same goes for an album; make sure the songs you record transition nicely into each other. The last thing you want is for the listener to skip tracks!

Use Sheet Music to Choose Songs

If you’re still stuck on which songs to choose, you can always browse through sheet music. You can find sheet music for thousands of popular songs, namely by big-name publishers like Alfred and Hal Leonard. There are also a couple of dedicated sheet music websites. Check them out here:

If you’re looking for more than just sheet music, check out this all-encompassing resource guide for musicians:


Conclusion

I hope these tips help you on your way to a successful music career! Remember, you don’t need to be the hottest celebrity in L.A. to have a successful music career. Many musicians find their musical success right in their own backyard (or garage)!

If you ever need one-on-one advice for how to get into the music industry, schedule a meeting with a professional musician on TakeLessons today!

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

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10 Great Movies About Musicians (and Their Formulas for Success)

MO - 10 Great Movies About Musicians (and Their Formulas for Success) 1There are a ton of movies about musicians out there — but what can you learn from them? In this article, music teacher Willy M. takes you through 10 movies about musicians and reveals their unique tricks that made them successful…

 

Art is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.” – Roger Ebert

 

When it comes to movies about musicians, we generally see the same pattern in each story: an unknown artist struggles with their personal demons as they try to make a name for themselves, and they ultimately reach stardom at the expense of their relationships or mental health.

While most of these movies fit a cookie-cutter pattern, they also showcase the unique skills and tactics that each artist uses to become successful.

Below is a list of 10 movies about musicians that include a brief summary of each film, as well as each artists’ special formula for rising to the top. These movies were selected based on Rotten Tomatoes’ Audience Score, meaning we picked the top 10 movies based on tens of thousands of audience votes.

Are you ready to take an inside look? Let’s check them out!

 


Walk the Line (2005)

“Walk the Line” is the story of Johnny Cash’s rise to fame. It gives a glimpse of both the triumphs and heartaches that come from striving for fame. Johnny had a troubled relationship with his father, and playing music was his way of finding solace. Unfortunately, he turned to drugs for the same reason.

The movie demonstrates how Johnny went from one failed relationship to another, eventually conquering his addiction to drugs, and ultimately finding a way to use his music to inspire and bless people (namely prisoners) who related to him.

Walk the Line

Click here to watch the trailer

As demonstrated in the film, Johnny Cash learned how to make the I, IV, V pattern work for him. His simple chord structure, under well-crafted melodies, put his songs in the minds of listeners for generations to come. While Johnny Cash songs aren’t structurally complex, the melodies are catchy and reminiscent of older folk idioms that continue to inspire and challenge players today.


Ray (2004)

Many movies discuss the dangers of using drugs to fuel creativity, and “Ray” is no exception. Jamie Foxx portrays the late, great Ray Charles in this biopic about his life. In the movie, we see Ray’s rise to fame and his struggle (and ultimate victory) over a heroin addiction.

Ray

Click here to watch the trailer

Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles is one of the most accurate depictions of a popular musician moviegoers will see. We see a great deal about the process of making a great recording, and how producing a good record is often a team effort.

Ray has a great band, awesome producers (like the legendary Ahmet Ertegun), and great backup singers (though they’re often at the center of many of his issues). Ray’s success shows us that it’s important to work well with others, and that serving the music should come before serving yourself.


Love and Mercy (2014)

“Love and Mercy” describes the life of Beach Boy bass player, songwriter, producer, and vocalist, Brian Wilson. The movie shows Brian slowly descend into madness during the recording of the “SMiLE” album.

He spent years in a drug-induced fog, until the controversial Dr. Eugene Landy helped “rescue” him from his addictions. But it really took Brian’s love for his wife, Melinda, to rescue him from the clutches of the overbearing Dr. Landy.

Love and Mercy

Click here to watch the trailer

Surprise, surprise! This is a film that, yet again, shows the dangers of using drugs to self-medicate, and how they quickened Wilson’s mental descent. But this film also demonstrates true musical genius when it comes to the amazing melodies and harmonies that Wilson chooses to explore in his music.

The true nature of great melodies is demonstrated in the scenes that show Wilson composing. The movie also shows how some of Brian’s melodies are almost lost by the verbal abuse from his demanding father, Murray. Yet, the powerful melodies endure and inspire us today, which goes to show you that a great melody is practically immortal!

 


Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” tells the story of country singer, Loretta Lynn, and her rise to stardom from the absolute depths of poverty. Her musical endeavors are supported by her husband, her children, and her manager, Norm Burley. Burley is shown throughout the movie tirelessly working to promote Lynn’s music.

Coal Miner's Daughter

Click here to watch the trailer

One of the key takeaways from this movie, aside from the tremendous amount of hard work that Loretta puts into her act, is the amount of effort her family and manager put into it as well. What we see as a successful “solo” act is actually the result of many people working together to bring her music to the world.

This is another important lesson that young musicians should know: No matter how good you are as a musician, you can’t get anywhere without the support of quality people. This movie teaches us that when you get to the top, be careful not to step on the people who helped you make it.

 


Amazing Grace (2006)

This movie is about the events that led to the classic Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace,” and the ending of slavery in England. The movie depicts the work of William Wilberforce, an attorney who strove to end the slave trade in England. One of Wilberforce’s friends and supporters is John Newton, former slave-trader turned churchman.

Newton inspires Wilberforce with courage and spiritual strength to stand up against an age-old tradition (slavery) that both men see as pure evil. Newton describes the events that caused him to have a religious conversion, which he sees as giving him a second chance in life. These events inspire the words to the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie teaches many great lessons that young musicians can learn from, but one that stands out is the power of a lyric. Amazing Grace’s lyrics show that faith and a new start can truly cause change in both individuals and society as a whole.

John Newton was a scoundrel, but after nearly dying at sea, he became a Christian. Instead of enslaving his fellow man, he spent the rest of his life working to end slavery. His powerful testimony has been passed down in the form of a hymn and has inspired people from all walks of life to continue to work towards helping people instead of harming them.

Amazing Grace shows the value of songwriting and how a truly inspiring song can continue to impact the lives of people for hundreds of years afterwards.

 


The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

“The Glenn Miller Story” tells the story of big band era (1930s-1940s) band leader, Glenn Miller. Not only was Miller the leader of a famous band, most famous for the song “In the Mood,” but he also served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. His stint in the Air Corps was brief, however, when his plane disappeared over the English Channel in 1944.

Glenn Miller Story

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie shows a top notch musician (he played cornet, mandolin and trombone) and band leader who felt a higher calling than just entertainment. He chose to give up a lucrative career as a band leader, at the height of his fame, in order to help stand up against the tyranny of Nazi Germany. And though it ultimately cost him his life, he died for something he believed in, which is a rare thing in the music business these days.

The takeaway for modern musicians: use your music to accomplish great things, and not just to entertain for entertainment’s sake.

 


La Bamba (1987)

“La Bamba” is the story of Ritchie Valens, one of the first Hispanic rock stars in the world. The movie follows his rise to stardom, showcasing his rocky relationships with his family and his girlfriend, Donna. Valens’ career was tragically cut short because of a plane crash that also killed another musician on our list, Buddy Holly.

La Bamba

Click here to watch the trailer

Ritchie Valens was one of the first rock musicians to combine traditional Mexican scales over top of rock rhythms and chord progressions. We see in this movie that talent took Valens a long way, along with his creation of a new genre that combined traditional rock with a new style.

La Bamba was a great song because it took the newly developed idiom of rock and slapped a folk tune and lyrics onto the new style. His style was certainly enduring — people love La Bamba even to this day!

 


The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

“The Buddy Holly Story” tells the tale of early Rock n’ Roll guitar legend, Buddy Holly, and his band, the Crickets. In their brief career, they had hit after hit of great tunes that continue to influence musicians to this day.

Buddy Holly Story

Click here to watch the trailer

Buddy Holly is one of those musicians that, even if you’ve never heard of him, you’ve been influenced by him. Even though he died in the 1950s, musicians for decades to come were heavily influenced by his music (e.g. James Taylor, The Ramones, Don McLean, Tom Petty, the Cars, and many other famous musicians who were kids in the 50s and early 60s).

Buddy Holly’s music shows that a great lyric, melody, and chord progression will last forever. Not only were his melodies well-crafted and infectious, but his punctuated singing style was unique at the time and set him apart from other singers.

 


Bound for Glory (1976)

“Bound for Glory” describes the events surrounding the life and times of folk legend, Woody Guthrie. When the harrowing Dust Bowl hit Oklahoma in the 1930s, Guthrie left his wife to migrate to Southern California. From there, his music career began.

Bound for Glory

Click here to watch the trailer

Guthrie was one of the most influential figures surrounding the folk movement of the 1960s. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, or Simon and Garfunkel; they were all heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie.

Guthrie’s simple melodies, such as “This Land Is Your Land,” captured a generation of singers who loved to perform his tunes. His rambling lifestyle gave him a great amount of material to write about, as well as reflect on a tumultuous period of American History, prior to World War II. Woody Guthrie’s life and music demonstrates the importance of the songwriter as a historical record-keeper.

 


The Benny Goodman Story (1956)

“The Benny Goodman Story” is not supposed to be the most accurate version of the big band leader’s life, but it does capture the great music that Benny Goodman produced. The actual details seemed to have been adjusted by Goodman, who was still alive while the movie was being made (and who played most of the clarinet solos that were recorded for the movie).

Most of the movie centers around his romance with his wife, Alice Hammond, sister of John Hammond, the guy who discovered Bob Dylan years later.

Benny Goodman Story

Click here to watch the trailer

This movie is inspirational to young musicians because it shows that you should continue to strive to develop your art and bring your gift to the world, despite the obstacles that might get in your way. Benny Goodman was wise in his choice of side musicians — one of his sidemen was the great jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. Picking great musicians to work with will challenge any musician to strive for greatness.

 


Honorable Mentions

Here are some other movies about musicians that are worth checking out too. Click them to watch the trailers:

Cadillac Records (2008)

Gene Krupa Story (1959)

Jersey Boys (2014)

Great Balls of Fire (1989)

 

What are your favorite movies about musicians? Comment below with your thoughts!

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He’s the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

Movie photos courtesy of IMDB

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Guitar_Infographic


Power Through a Task.

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Boost Your Creativity

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Improve Your Memory

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Make You Laugh

Sometimes you just need a good laugh!

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

Spotify Playlist


Heighten Your Romance

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Lift Your Spirits

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Dance Your Heart Out

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Calm Your Mind

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Build Your Confidence

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

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

Spotify Playlist


Exercise Your Body

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

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

Spotify Playlist


*Sources included on infographic

 

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

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5 Horrible Solo Albums From Famous Musicians

MO - 5 Horrible Solo Albums from Famous MusiciansGoing solo isn’t easy. Once you leave a famous band, it’s hard to achieve the same level of success on your own. In this article, Jessica Kane from SoundStageDirect discusses five solo albums from famous musicians that just didn’t cut it…

 

There are unknown reasons as to why some famous musicians feel the need to try to wing it on their own. Some have found great success upon breaking away from their band, while others have only put more nails in their creative coffins.

Ready to hear what many consider some of the worst albums by solo artists? Here are five horrible solo albums from famous musicians:


1) Gone Troppo by George Harrison

The Beatles are perhaps the most famous rock band of all time. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr have all had successful and well-received solo albums in their post-Beatles lives. However, Gone Troppo by Harrison is one of the weakest releases of the bunch.

To say that George Harrison is full of talent is a massive understatement, but his charm, skill, and focus fell short with this album. It’s generally regarded as underwhelming and does not capture the magic that Harrison has brought to other albums. Listen to the title track and hear a part of George you haven’t heard before:


2) Two Sides of the Moon by Keith Moon

Keith Moon is known as one of the most iconic and powerful drummers in rock history. His thunderous hammering can be heard across all of The Who’s powerhouse albums of the 1960s and 1970s. Two Sides of the Moon delivers you on a half hour journey to a much too dark side of Moon that is best left unexplored.

The tracks on this album are as lifeless as the actual moon. Keith Moon, while a savage drummer, is a pitiful solo artist. He lacks the talent of most famous singers, and despite an impressive lineup that includes Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, and a rumored David Bowie, Two Sides of the Moon plays more like a strung-out mishap.

This is what happens when you let someone as wild as Keith Moon alone to his own devices inside of a recording studio, with the intention to do a vocal cover album.


3) This Time by Melanie C

The Spice Girls treated the world to energetic, fun, and sexy pop music that bred a cult of millions of Spice wannabes and fashion-deficit followers.

Sporty Spice, or Melanie C, tried to capture some of that same success in a post-Spice Girl world but fell flat on her face. While not one of the worst albums of the last 100 years, This Time is just unoriginal and dull. This was Melanie’s fourth solo effort and one of her weakest. In contrast, Northern Star was a solid pop experience that had good energy and lasting themes.

Let your bleeding ears check it out here:


4) Who I Am by Nick Jonas

This album deserves to be ranked among the worst albums of all time on every list of bad albums, ever. The Jonas Brothers are known for their cute pop rock that caters to pre-pubescent teen girls. Nick Jonas tried to set himself apart with this edgy attempt at a solo album.

The blues is universal, as everyone feels suffering and angst, but Jonas needs to keep out of the blues world. This track is all the reason to stop listening to Nick Jonas:


5) Oh Yes I Can by David Crosby

David Crosby is perhaps best known for his influential work with the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, but as a solo artist, he’s been hit and miss. Oh Yes I Can is a definite miss.

Released in 1989, this album does not bring the listener the same deep emotional satisfaction that was found in previous releases. Crosby is an excellent songwriter and performer, but he should have kept this one to himself. The impact he found in other hits is missing from this release.


Conclusion

You’ve just experienced five horrible solo albums back to back. Hopefully your ears are recovering now! If you want to avoid making horrible solo albums yourself, schedule a lesson with a private music instructor and get better at your craft today!

 

Know any other horrible albums from famous musicians? Comment below!

Post Author: Jessica Kane
Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.

 

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Motivate Your Child To Practice With a Reward System

Getting your child to practice anything can be tough. It’s easy for them to get distracted, bored, or otherwise uninterested when faced with a task. In this article, piano and singing teacher Mariana L. shares her reward system for kids that works brilliantly on her music students…

 

Children can get bored and easily distracted while trying to focus on a task.

Many of them look like this:

As a piano and voice teacher, the number one question I receive from parents is:

“How do I get my child to practice more?”

This question usually arises after they find themselves constantly nagging their children to practice. In turn, this causes the music students to become frustrated; they may even lose the interest and love they felt for their instrument when they began taking lessons.

What’s my suggestion for handling this situation? A reward system. Its purpose is to encourage students to practice and regain the joy they felt for music when they first wanted lessons.

In my experience, parents are always excited about introducing a reward system for music lessons because it’s something familiar; most of them already use a reward system at home for their children’s schoolwork, chores, behavior, etc.

What is a Reward System?

The concept of a reward system stems from the operant conditioning studies of psychologist B.F. Skinner. Skinner studied positive and negative reinforcement as a way of changing or achieving a behavior from an individual.

In his laboratory, Skinner placed some rats in a box that had a lever, which, upon pulling it, released pellets of food. At first, the rats would accidentally push the lever and receive their reward. After several times of getting food by accident, they figured out how to receive the reward (food) whenever they wanted it.

For children, practicing their instrument is the lever and the food is whatever your child gets excited about. Their reward could be toys, books, games, or even an extra outing to the park – it’s up to you.

Setting Up a Reward System

I strongly recommend you work with your child’s instructor to figure out what both of you would like to achieve from the reward system. For example, you might simply want your child to practice more than fifteen minutes a day, but your child’s instructor might also want them to mark their sheet music before coming to the lesson.

Work out your goals first, then compare them to the goals of the instructor, and then construct the reward system from there.

To prepare your little music student for success, make sure they have the following items:

  • An assignment chart
  • Tons of stickers
  • Fake money [optional]

With my students, I use three sheets to manage the system.

1) The Point Tracker

On this sheet, each colored star has its own point value. All you need to do is assign X amount of points to X amount of dollars and you’re good to go! I find it easiest to calculate points per one dollar value.

2) The Point Earning Guide

On this sheet, you’ll assign a point value to behaviors and/or tasks. You can be as broad or as specific as you want. For instance, you could reward ten points per one minute of practicing, or fifteen points for finishing a unit. In this example, the guide is quite specific because there were certain behaviors my student’s mother and I wanted to correct.

3) The Reward Menu

This part of the process, in my opinion, is the most fun to create! Parents, teachers, and students can work together to decide what type of prizes the student will receive. My rewards include students getting to play with a box of my percussion instruments, playing a musical game on my iPad, or playing on my keyboard with voices other than the piano (violin, trumpet, xylophone, etc.).

Remember to assign a somewhat high “cash” value to the rewards to ensure the goal is not achieved too early. As a bonus, this is also a wonderful way to teach children about saving money!

My Shareable Files

I use a free graphic design service called Canva to create sheets for my students. Below are the sheets that I use. Feel free to change them based on your student’s needs and desires.

How to Keep the System Working

After working with a reward system for a few months, parents often wonder if the system is sustainable. In other words, they’ll ask:

“Will I always have to reward my child in order to get them to practice?”

To tell you with complete honestly, there’s no general answer to that question. Some students develop an almost Pavlovian response to practice, where they no longer need a reward to pick up their instrument every day; playing music IS the reward.

The natural consequence of more practice is, of course, developing an advanced skill to play an instrument. And with enough practice, being able to play more complex and interesting pieces of music.

If a student is not ready to practice without getting rewarded, it’s always a good idea to find ways to keep the system fun and fresh; every couple of months, sit down to change the rewards and ways to earn points. It’s best to consult with the student’s teacher first, since certain behaviors and skills might have already been achieved.

Conclusion

If you can take anything from this post, it’s this: remember the joy that music brings to your child’s life. Find a way to keep that passionate flame burning. The last thing they want is to restart piano lessons as an adult, regretting the fact that they quit as a child.

For more information about reward systems and encouraging your child to practice, try scheduling a lesson with a private music instructor. A little one-on-one instruction goes a long way!

Know any tricks to get young students to focus on practice? Comment below!

Post Author: Mariana L.
Mariana L. teaches singing, piano, and Spanish in Maple Grove, MN. She’s holds a Masters of Music degree from The Catholic University of America. Her approach to teaching is speaking in terms that are easy for her students to understand and remember. Learn more about Mariana here!

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75 Songs Sure to Make You Happy

SL - 75 Songs Sure to Make You HappyIt’s time to boost your mood and make you happy! In this article, singing teacher Liz T. put together a list of some of the happiest songs you’ll ever hear…

 

What’s better than being happy? That’s a hard question to answer. In fact, there may not even be an answer at all. Happiness is the reason the world goes ’round, after all.

Songs that make you happy aren’t just for boosting your mood – they’re an effective short-term solution for increasing productivity. In other words, you can increase your productivity by 12% if you’re happy. If that sounds too good to be true, listen to a few below as you work or study.

We’ve included a handy Spotify playlist at the bottom of this article so you can listen to all 75 songs on the list. Click below to scroll right to it.

The following songs range from the 1960s up until now, which means we’ve got a music for every generation. Take a look at our list and see if you recognize any of these foot-tappers!

75 Songs Sure to Make You Happy


 75. Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver

74. Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves

73. All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow

72. O Happy Day from Sister Act

71. Happy Together by The Turtles

70. I Wanna Hold Your Hand by The Beatles


69. Happy Days Are Here Again by Barbra Streisand

68. Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus

67. Don’t Worry be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

66. Just Got Paid by *NSYNC

65. This Will Be by Natalie Cole

64. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel

63. September by Earth Wind and Fire

62. Feeling Good by Michael Buble

61. Macarena by Los Del Rio

60. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

59. Spice Up Your Life by Spice Girls

58. Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys

57. Fame by Irene Cara

56. Footloose by Kenny Loggins

55. Smile by Nat King Cole

54. Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly

53. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

52. The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow from Annie the Musical

51. The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens

50. Put On a Happy Face by Dick Van Dyke

49. I’m a Believer by The Monkees

48. Love Shack by the B52’s

47. YMCA by The Village People

46. Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder

45. Blue Skies by Frank Sinatra

44. Beautiful Day by U2

43. Best Day of My Life by American Authors

42. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

41. Lovely Day by Bill Withers

40. Turn the Beat Around by Gloria Estefan

39. Let’s Get Loud by Jennifer Lopez

38. Dancing Queen by ABBA

37. I Want You Back by Jackson 5

36. What the World Needs Now by Dionne Warwick

35. Bubbly by Colbie Caillat

34. Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles

33. The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) by Jason Mraz

32. Don’t Worry by Madcon feat Ray Dalton

31. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis

30. Hey Ya by Outkast

29. Forget You by CeeLo Green

28. The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson

27. Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations

26. All Star by Smash Mouth

25. Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO

24. Baby by Justin Beiber feat. Ludacris

23. Come On Over (All I Want is You) by Christina Aguilera

22. Independent Women Pt. I by Destiny’s Child

21. MMMBop by Hanson

20. Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan

19. You Light Up My Life by LeAnn Rimes

18. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

17. Last Dance by Donna Summer

16. You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder

15. Hot Hot Hot by The Merrymen

14. The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra

13. L-O-V-E by NatKing Cole

12. Steal My Sunshine by LEN

11. Music by Madonna

10. Who Let the Dogs Out by Baha Men

9. Mambo No.5 (A Little Bit of…) by Lou Bega

8. Troublemaker by Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida

7. Price Tag by Jessie J feat B.o.B

6. My Girl by The Temptations

5. Love Train by The O’Jays

4. Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin

3. Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

2. Get Lucky by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams

1. Happy by Pharrell Williams

 

Spotify Playlist

The End

There you have it – 75 songs sure to make you happy! Do try to listen to them all when you get the chance. If you want to learn more about music like this, be sure to ask your private music teacher more about it. Maybe you’ll discover how to write your own songs like the ones on this list. Happy learning!

Know anymore songs that make you happy? Comment below and share with us!

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

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