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10 Essential Songs You Need on Your Halloween Playlist

halloween-playlist

Whether you’re turning your house into a creepy haunted mansion, heading to a rockin’ Halloween party, or getting the kids dressed up for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, these Halloween party songs are the best way to get into the spirit.

No playlist fit for consumption by ghouls and goblins is complete without these 10 essentials.

Turn it up, and have a happy and safe Halloween!

1. Thriller

Who doesn’t love the “Thriller” dance?

2. Candy

Because it’s not Halloween without plenty of candy.

3. I Put a Spell on You

For extra bonus Halloween points, check out Bette Midler’s version of this classic tune from the movie Hocus Pocus.

4. This is Halloween

Another great Halloween movie, Nightmare Before Christmas, is full of great songs by Danny Elfman, perfect for this scary season!

5. Dead Man’s Party

Speaking of Danny Elfman, throw a “Dead Man’s Party” with this 80’s favorite.

6. Time Warp

Rocky Horror is always appropriate.

7. Somebody’s Watching Me

This tune is perfect for a Halloween dance-off!

8. Ghost Riders in the Sky

Johnny Cash brings the spooky vibes in this golden oldie.

9. Psycho Killer

Run, run, run!

10. Monster Mash

Because it’s not Halloween until you’re doing the mash!

What’s your favorite Halloween party song? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


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women in music

Happy Mother’s Day! Shout Out to 5 Amazing Rock and Roll Mamas

Where did you get your love of music? Was your mom musical? Maybe she played an instrument, sang in church or in a band, or splurged (or currently splurges) so that you could take guitar lessons?

Regardless, this Mother’s Day, we can’t help but think about rockin’ women in music who are also moms.

1. Madonna

“Material girl”? More like “Mom-terial girl”! Did you know that Madonna is a mother of four? Her oldest daughter, Lourdes, will be turning 22 this year. Can you imagine having Madonna as a mom? It must be at least a little trippy; one minute she’s singing, “Gimme All Your Love”, and then the next minute, she’s asking you to clean your room.

But no matter what generation you were born in, you’re probably familiar with at least one of Madonna’s songs (“Lucky Star”, anyone?) and that kind of staying power is a dead give away that Madonna rocks, and all while being a mom.

2. Patty Smyth

In the early 80s, Patty Smyth sang the poppy “Goodbye To You” and later, the lady power anthem, “The Warrior”, and young women everywhere were inspired by the pep and fire in the songs. Cut to 2014, to a true story. I had just performed at Joe’s Pub in N.Y.C., when a woman came over to me and said, “I really loved your set.” I tried to play it cool, and I had to try hard, because it was none other than Patty Smyth!

We wandered outside into the cool night air, and she told me, “You remind me of my daughter.” And then I remembered, oh yeah! This lady has seen and done it all, from rockin’ the world’s stages to motherhood. Which daughter? I thought to myself, because she has three. She didn’t elaborate, but wow, it must be pretty cool to have the rockin’ Patty Smyth for a mom!

3. Gwen Stefani

Though Kingston, Zuma and and Apollo might remind you of a town in Jamaica, a dance class and a space mission, they are also the names of Gwen’s offspring. When Gwen sang “Don’t Speak”, the world connected with the song on a serious level. But if you are one of her children, the word’s might take a different meaning…

The powerful lyrics from her song, “I’m Just A Girl” make it hard to imagine Gwen all grown up and disciplining a gaggle of human duckings. However, it’s easy to see that she is a mom who totally rocks.

4. Kim Gordon

This mom surely did things that most moms do—she changed dirty diapers, sang lullabys and celebrated little achievements with her daughter, Coco. But she did something else that most mom’s don’t—she helped define a generation and a genre by creating Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore during a time in music history when no-wave was all the rage.

Unlike many moms, in addition to her musical output she also found time to write a book. (Where does one find the time?!) In Girl In A Band, she elaborates on her life and what it’s like to be as a mom who rocks. Hats off to Kim on this mother’s day!

5. Beyonce

Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, was in the spotlight from the time she was born. And last year, the world waited for her twins to arrive like a kid waits for gifts on Christmas. But aside from being a rockstar and a mom, Beyonce still finds time to volunteer with the Make A Wish Foundation and from most accounts, appears to be a kind and humble person. And those are totally qualities that make any mom rock!

How does your mom rock? Tell us about her in the comments below!

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10 Affordable & Fun Fall Activities for Families [Infographic]

Fun fall activities

Looking for fun fall activities? From all there is to see in nature – leaves changing, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches – to all the fun crafts and recipes you can whip up indoors, this colorful season is the perfect time to start new family traditions.

If your family is on a budget this year, you’ll love this helpful guide. Our list of affordable and fun fall activities will keep your family entertained from September to November without “breaking the bank.” Christmas will be here before you know it!

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10 Affordable & Fun Fall Activities For the Family

1. Have a Fall-Themed Family Photo Shoot

Decorate your Instagram with adorable family photos taken at the nearest apple orchard. Sport scarves and earth tones to make it the ultimate fall-themed photo shoot. You can even get creative and add the pictures to your holiday cards! (See #9 on this list for more holiday card tips).

2. Take a Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Nothing says “autumn” more than taking a trip to a local pumpkin patch. Try to find one with a corn maze for even more family fun. See who can find the biggest pumpkin and take it home to carve it into something spectacular. Don’t toss out those delicious seeds! Here are some yummy recipes for seasoning and roasting them.

3. Get Spooked Together

Are you a fan of scary movies? Check Netflix around Halloween for new seasonal additions. Grab some popcorn, hot chocolate, and get ready to binge watch Stranger Things! If you’re looking for something on the less spooky side, here is a helpful list of Halloween movies for wimps. (Does “Hocus Pocus” ring a bell?)

4. Craft Your Costumes

Store-bought Halloween costumes can be so expensive, but there are plenty of DIY options that are just as fun and creative. Here are a few easy and unique costume ideas. *Note: Many of these ideas will require a visit to your local craft store or thrift shop. Have fun trick-or-treating!

5. Whip Up Some Pumpkin-Flavored Treats

Pumpkin-flavored muffins, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie… the list goes on and on. Now that pumpkins are in season it’s the perfect time to satisfy your cravings. Baking as a family isn’t just a great bonding experience; it also doubles as a learning one. You’ll get to work on your cooking skills together and best of all- enjoy the fruits of your labor when it’s all done!

6. Have Fun Indoors with Group Music Classes

If it’s too cold outside to visit the pumpkin patch, try out free music classes at TakeLessons Live. These online, group classes are taught live by an expert instructor, whether you want to learn a new instrument or work on your singing skills. Children and adults of all skill levels are welcome to join in the fun. *Hint: This time of year, you’ll find unique seasonal classes such as “Spooky Halloween Piano Songs.”

7. Go for a Hike or Nature Walk

When weather is permitting, a hike or nature walk is an excellent way to get in some beneficial exercise while enjoying the colorful scenery. Have the kids collect pinecones or acorns and paint them when you get home for some festive decor. Here are some fun tutorials on how to make DIY pinecone centerpieces, wreaths, and more.

8. Enjoy Homemade Apple Cider

Apple cider is a fall-favorite because it’s both delicious and easy to make. Pinterest is a great place to go for cider recipes. Many of them only require a few simple ingredients! Enjoy this warm and tasty treat around the fireplace and as Thanksgiving approaches, share things your family is thankful for from the past year.

9. Work on Holiday Cards

The holidays are quickly approaching and now is the perfect time to reach out to your closest friends and relatives. Express your sentiments in homemade holiday cards or letters this year for a greeting they’ll always cherish. If you’d like to add a family photo, check out Etsy for customizable, DIY holiday card templates.

10. Make a Christmas Wish List

Does the thought of Christmas shopping overwhelm you? Have family members fill out a “wish list questionnaire” of their likes and dislikes, favorite movies, candies, or places to shop. Wish lists are a win-win. They make shopping easier and ensure your loved ones will enjoy their gifts. *Bonus Tip: You can even organize a “Secret Santa” within your family so that each person is only responsible for buying one gift.

Each of these fun fall activities are a great bonding experience for the whole family. Do you have any more ideas of affordable things to do in the fall? Let us know in the comments below!

 

yoga

6 Popular Spring Hobbies That Won’t Break the Bank

Happy first day of spring! Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, it’s the perfect time to start a new hobby. And don’t worry — there are tons of hobbies to choose from that don’t require expensive equipment or pricey commitments. In fact, many of these cheap hobbies can actually save you money in the long-run. Check out our recommendations below, and see what sparks your interest!

1. Languages

learn a language

Did you know that learning a second language can increase your brain power, expand your network of friends, and set you apart from other candidates in your job search? Plus, knowing how to speak the native language of a country is the easiest way to save money while traveling, since you’ll be able to quickly negotiate with locals and avoid tourist traps.

The best way to learn is by working with a language tutor, but there are also tons of free resources, apps, and online games that can supplement your lessons and help you improve even faster at no added cost. Additionally, language classes are among the easiest lessons to take online — saving you the commuting expenses and allowing you to learn from the comfort of your home.

2. Crocheting, Knitting, or Sewing

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Why spend money on a tailor when you can hem your paints, repair holes, and sew on lost buttons yourself? With the right skills, you can even design your own garments or make statement pieces like springtime scarves, headbands, and handbags. To cut down on costs, stick with inexpensive yarn or fabric, and connect with a crafts teacher who can help you learn without wasting materials and making pricey mistakes!

Tip: These handmade creations make excellent gifts for Mother’s Day!

3. Cooking

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It’s common knowledge that eating out constantly is one of the best ways to sink your savings. So why not learn to cook a few dishes that you bring to all the spring picnics and parties coming up? To really watch your budget, stay away from expensive ingredients like fish and opt for legumes, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A cooking teacher can help you master a particular dish or technique, to make your learning more efficient.

4.  Yoga

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Yoga is one of the best cheap hobbies to consider, because it doesn’t take much to get started, and it results in a ton of mental and physical benefits. All you need is comfortable clothing and a yoga mat! And spring is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you breathe, relax, and focus on positive thoughts. While you can find many yoga poses described online, it’s best to work with a teacher, who can observe and adjust you in each pose. If you want more individual attention, a private yoga instructor can guide you through exercises that are catered to your specific needs.

SEE ALSO: 40 Hobbies for Women

5. Dance

dancing

Spring is a popular season for weddings — and that means lots of opportunities for dancing! Instead of embarrassing yourself in front of your family and friends (or worse, the date you’re trying to impress), why not take a few dance lessons to brush up on your skills? An instructor can show you specific steps, or give you overall feedback to help you feel more confident on the dance floor. The best part? For most genres, there’s no need for fancy equipment or attire — all you need is comfortable shoes and a positive attitude! 

6. Music

ukeleles

Music is a great skill to learn any time of year! If you’re looking for something easy to start with, singing is a go-to choice for many, since you already own your instrument (your voice)! If singing isn’t your jam, there are many affordable ukulele brands out there,  as well as reasonably-priced keyboards that are perfect for beginners. Beyond that, many music stores rent out all types of instruments — just do your research to find the the best option in your area. With the help of a private music teacher, you’ll be ready to show off your skills at any potluck or bonfire by summer.

These are just some of the cheap hobbies that are fun to learn and can even save you money! Ready to get started? Enter the hobby you want to learn and your location here to find teachers near you.

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48 Successful People With Unexpected Hobbies

Did you know that Bob Barker once studied karate with Chuck Norris, or that both Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling like to knit? Even brilliant billionaire Warren Buffet loves to play the ukulele. This fun and fast-paced video from Mental Floss will take you on a tour of the hobbies of 44 other wildly successful people, and it might even inspire you to take up a new hobby of your own!

Is there a hobby you would like to learn more about or get better at? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

 

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15 Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever

Small changes in our daily routines can make a huge difference over time. Here are some of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make so that 2017 is your best year yet!

1. Practice gratitude.

Take a moment each day to appreciate the things that are great about your life. The more you notice your blessings and practice gratitude, the happier you will be!

2. Unplug more.

Resolve to put your phone down more and engage with the people in the world around you. Simple things like banning devices during dinner are a great way to feel more connected and enjoy the moment more.

3. Be kind to yourself.

Give yourself a compliment, or splurge on a small surprise treat. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in your worries or insecurities. Instead, choose to be a little kinder to yourself, and you’ll find you have more strength and energy for the things in life that really matter.

4. Be kind to others.

Whether you’re volunteering your time with a charity organization or just doing a favor for a friend, doing things for other people is a great way to boost your happiness. Do small acts of kindness each day to make 2015 a great year for you and your community.

5. Learn something new.

Learning new skills makes you more confident, and you might even discover a new passion for life. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, speak a new language, or take photos like a pro, 2017 is the perfect time to learn.

6. Get active.

Exercise releases endorphins that make you happier, and keeps your body in shape. If you’re not very active, try adding a walk to your daily routine, riding your bike to work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

7. Take a trip.

Traveling is a great way to destress and learn more about the world. Even if you can’t afford a big vacation, why not take a day trip to a nearby destination? Seeing new places is refreshing, and you’ll feel like you’re going on an adventure.

8. Cross something off your bucket list.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? It can be something big, like skydiving, or something smaller like writing a loved one a poem. Whatever it is, find a way to make it happen in 2017, and you’ll have a memory that will last you the rest of your life.

9. Cook something fabulous.

If you’re not great in the kitchen, learn to cook a few stand-out dishes that will impress guests, as well as easy meals that don’t come from a box. If you’re already a great cook, why not try something fancy, like a French pastry or rolling your own sushi? Master some new dishes in 2015 and have fun showing them off!

10. Spend more time with loved ones.

Life is all about the people you spend it with. Take more time for your family and friends this year and see how much richer your days become!

11. Read a great book.

A great book has the power to touch your heart, expand your mind, and even stimulate your creativity. Reading also trains your brain to focus better, an important skill in our increasingly distracted world. Even if you just read a few pages before bed each night, squeeze in some time with a good book and you’re sure to feel the benefits.

12. Go outside.

Take a quick walk in the morning or after dinner and notice things like the color of the sky, the plants around you, and the way the air feels. Getting outside is relaxing, and sunlight helps your body make Vitamin D.

13. Kick a bad habit.

Whether you need to stop overeating desserts, cut down on your TV time, or quit smoking, make this the year that you finally kick your bad habit. Think about it — with your bad habit out of the way, you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy doing the things you really love.

14. Celebrate more.

Celebrate your accomplishments and those of your loved ones! Don’t let achievements go by unacknowledged. The more you celebrate, the more opportunities you will find to share happiness with the ones who matter to you the most.

15. Have fun!

Most importantly, have fun! It’s your life and you get to decide how to make the best of it. Go through your days with a smile and you’re sure to have a very happy new year!

What are some of the best New Year’s resolutions you’ve made? What is your resolution this year? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

 

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13 Cheap and Easy DIY Halloween Costumes That Rock

DIY Halloween Costumes

So, what are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Not sure yet? You’re not alone.

To help you find the perfect costume this year, we put together 13 cheap and easy rockstar DIYs. Rockstars always turn heads wherever they go, and with one of these rockin’ costumes you’re sure to do the same.

Let’s get this party started!

DIY Rockstar Halloween Costumes

Solo Artists

These are great easy DIY Halloween costumes you can wear all on your own or with a backing band.

1. Paul Stanley

Mastering the facepaint is key to getting the KISS frontman’s iconic look. Once you have your face right, you’ll be instantly recognizable.

Pair your perfectly painted face with black clothes for an easy look, or for a twist add a striped shirt and a beret – voilà, French KISS.

2. Bruce Springsteen

It’s easy to be the boss for Halloween. All you need to get this look is blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a red bandana.

Break the ice with a cutie at the party by inviting them to dance on stage with you, just like Bruce’s “Dancing in the Dark” video.

3. Madonna

Making a DIY Madonna costume couldn’t be simpler. Head to your local thrift store and pick up a short 80s style dress, lace gloves, and lots of bracelets and pearls.

For an added bonus, carry a microphone (or make one out of a paper towel roll).

4. 90s Grunge Look

Depending on your lifestyle, this look might not be much of a stretch. But if you tend to be more polished and dressy, the grunge look could be a great change of pace for you.

Channel your favorite alt rock stars of the 90s with oversized shirts and jeans, and of course lots of flannel.

5. Joan Jett

Be one of the baddest women in rock and roll this Halloween with this simple, classic look. Pair tight jeans with a leather jacket, add a lot of attitude, and you’ve got this DIY Halloween costume down.

Carry a guitar with you, and you’re sure to be a runaway hit at the Halloween party.

6. 80s Glam Rocker

Big hair and tight pants are what this costume is all about. Tease your hair or find a wig at the Halloween store, and don’t forget to wear lots of eyeliner.

Wear an old loose tank top or cut up a t-shirt to get this glam look on a budget.

7. Stevie Nicks

Stevie’s signature style includes scarves, hats, and anything long and flowing. Wear your hair long and wavy and unleash your inner mystical wild child.

If you have an old witch costume with a long skirt, you might even be able to repurpose it into a Stevie Nicks look.

Dynamic Duos

These DIY couples costumes are sure to make a splash. Pair up with your partner or a good friend and get to work!

8. Justin and Britney

Bring some early 2000s nostalgia to the party and make a grand entrance with your partner in Justin and Britney inspired head-to-toe denim.

9. Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”

Sick of homies dissing your girl? Show the world that you don’t care what they say about you anyway with this easy DIY Halloween couples costume.

All you need to do is pull together a couple of squeaky clean preppy outfits. One of you will need glasses like Buddy Holly, and for the other flipped hair like Mary Tyler Moore.

10. Hall and Oates

Make your Halloween dreams come true with this easy DIY costume perfect for a fun-loving twosome. Head to a thrift store for 80s-style blazers and feather your hair.

To make it a little more obvious, you can write “Hall” and “Oates” on your t-shirts.

11. Taylor Swift’s 1989 Vs. Ryan Adams’ 1989

Got bad blood? Bring your rivalry out on Halloween with this timely costume.

Get the polaroid look of the album cover by cutting frames out of large pieces of cardboard, and be ready to sing songs from 1989 all night long!

12. David Bowie and David Bowie

Did someone say David Bowie? From Ziggy Stardust to Jareth the Goblin King, David Bowie has had more iconic looks than you can shake a spandex jumpsuit at.

Celebrate Halloween in style with your best friend or partner by dressing as some of David Bowie’s different looks throughout the years.

13. John and Yoko

Dress as the original iconic rock and roll couple and make a statement this year. All you need is long hair, white clothing, and love.

Or you can ditch the costumes and stay in bed for peace!

 

So, what will you be? Tell us your favorite costume idea in the comments below!

 

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Can You Identify the Weird Instruments Featured in Rolling Stone’s Top-100?

What do the contrabassoon, the swarmandal, and the finger cymbal all have in common? They all play an important part in the greatest songs of all time! Berklee Online recently took a look at Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and focused in on the top 100 to give us an inside look at the music that has shaped our lives. From pop songs with flute to songs for alto sax, there’s something special about hearing unique instruments used in creative ways by some of the world’s most famous and beloved musicians.

So, think you can identify some of the weird instruments on this list? Check out the awesome infographic below to test your knowledge of these classic tunes!

rolling-stone-instruments-berklee-online

So how’d you do? Were you able to name some of the weird instruments in this list? If anything, this infographic proves that great music comes from unique instruments and dynamite musicians – and great things happen when the two come together!

No matter what instrument you play, taking private lessons with a quality music instructor can take your musical skills to the next level! Who knows — someday we might see one of your songs on this list!

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ideas for teacher appreciation week

The ABCs of Teacher Appreciation Week [Infographic]

May is just around the corner. Do you know what this means? It’s almost Teacher Appreciation Week!

Between May 7th and May 11th, you’ll have a golden opportunity to show your teacher how much you care for all that she or he does. And sharing a gift with a fun note or card can be the perfect way to express your appreciation! Are you or your child taking lessons from a private music, sports, singing, or language instructor? Then there’s no better time than Teacher Appreciation Week to show your gratitude for all the hard work that your teacher does.

So, what to get for that extra-special teacher in your life? Don’t sweat it. Coming up with fun gift ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week can be easy as ABC! Check out some great ideas below to spark your creativity in showing thanks to your beloved instructor. These gifts are easy to make (and fun for kids to help out with, too)! Finally, be sure to check out the links to these ideas at the bottom of this post for even more inspiration from some gift-giving experts!

ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week

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All Thing Apple

Brainy Bookmarks

Clever Candy

Dynamo Drinks

Eloquent & Earthy House Plants

Fancy Floral Arrangements

Groovy Gift Cards

Heartfelt Handwritten Notes

Inexpensive Gift Ideas

  • “I Couldn’t Have Picked a Better Teacher” Strawberry Pack – Dixie Delights

Jam-Packed Gift Jars

Keys & Accessories

Let’s Get Physical!

Magical Gifts for Musical Teachers

Necklaces, Bracelets, & Charms

Outdoorsy Gifts for the Adventure-Seeking Teacher

Quick & Easy Gift Ideas

Resources for Teaching

  • “Thanks for Being a ‘Staple’ to My Success” Stapler –  Desert Chica
  • “Thanks for Sticking With Me!” Tape Gift Pack – The Happy Scraps
  • “Thank you for pushing me to do my best!” Push Pin Gift Pack – Liz on Call

Super Soaps & Sanitizers

Terrific Tech Gadgets & Gear

Upcycled Gifts

Vital Presents for Voice Teachers & Acting Coaches

Wonderful Writing Utensils

Xtra-Ordinary Gifts

Yummy Goodies & Treats

Zany Gifts for the Quirky Teacher in Your Life

Have more fun ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week? Leave a comment below to share what you’ll be getting for your favorite teacher!

 

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Looking Back: Our Favorite Blog Posts of 2014

2014 was an incredible year for us here at TakeLessons. Our days were packed with growth and learning, and we hope yours were too! In the past year, we expanded our service from offering just music lessons to including many, many other subjects ranging from academic tutoring and foreign languages to sports, dance, crafts, and so much more.

Through it all, we’ve stayed focused on how wonderful it is to learn new things and made it our mission on the blog to show off the many amazing subjects our teachers can help you learn more about. Of course, we also have fun along the way!

So, in no particular order, here are 10 of our favorite fun and informative blog posts we’ve written in the past year. We hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we loved writing them, and we look forward to learning even more with you in 2015!

Your Official Road Trip Playlist: 150 Best Songs to Sing Along To

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3 Small Mistakes That Make a Big Impact on Learning Piano

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12 Strategies & Resources to Take You Beyond “Buenos Días”

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10 Simple Ways to Transform Yourself for the Better

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How To Write a Song Today: 4 Easy Steps

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8 Goof-Proof Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

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6 Easiest Tips for Weight Loss

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Arts and Crafts Ideas for Kids: 3 Simple Steps to Get Started

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Audition Tips: 4 Things You Need Besides Talent

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Inside the Mind of a Young Songwriter | TakeLessons Student Spotlight

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What did you learn in 2014? Is there anything you’d like to learn more about in 2015? Let us know in the comments below!

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