Myth: In order to become the best musician I can be, I have to practice my instrument for several hours every day. It makes sense, right? The more you practice your instrument the better you will become. We’ve all heard those stories as well; about the musicians that practice for long hours every day to become successful. But that does not need to be the case for everyone.
Fact: It doesn’t necessarily matter how long you practice your instrument, just as long as you’re practicing effectively. Learning to play a new instrument should be a daily commitment but it does not need to encompass your whole life. Practicing correctly for an hour a day, or even every other day, can actually help you progress faster. Your body needs time to rest your fingers and arms and your mind needs time to soak up the new information. If you practice for too long then you could injure or overwork yourself.
Similarly, playing an instrument for several hours a day can actually harm your progress. If you’re practicing nonstop then you might not have time to take a break and assess your progress and mistakes. If you practice for hours a day but aren’t practicing correctly, then you’re spending hours learning to play the mistakes. This can be damaging because after a few hours of practicing poorly, you can pick up bad habits that could be hard to break.
The best way to practice is however feels right for you. If you can manage playing for long periods of time and are progressing, then that’s fine. But that does not need to be the case for everyone.
More music lesson myths:
Piano Lesson Myth: Practicing means playing a piece from start to finish over and over.
Singing Lesson Myth: Classically Trained Singers Can’t Sing Popular Music
Piano lesson myth: I haven’t played piano in years and now I have to start over.
In the last article, I outlined some of the beginner guitar mistakes, but by no means is that all of them. Beginners with any instrument will have trouble and it’s important to know what some common issues are to make sure they’re avoided.
Here are some more common beginner guitar mistakes.
1. Not taking lessons. With online tutorials and videos promising to teach prospective guitar players how to play the guitar, it may seem silly to pay for a teacher. Taking guitar lessons is still necessary for all students who seriously want to learn to play guitar. A good teacher can teach students things and answer questions that a tutorial cannot.
2. Overdoing it. New students are often overanxious to learn the guitar and want fast results. Practicing for 10 hours a day might seem like the way to go, but overdoing it one day can cause pain and discomfort for the next, especially when just starting out.
3. Skipping warm ups. Just like vocal students, guitar students need to warm up their fingers and hands before playing. Not warming up can result in injury and cramping during practice.
4. Practicing the same things every day. It may seem necessary to perfect something before moving onto a new thing, but that’s not always the case when learning guitar. Students who are having trouble with certain chords or songs should move onto something new and come back the next day. Sometimes the mind needs a break.
5. Not experiencing live music. Live concerts showcase guitar players and their showmanship. Attending concerts gives students a chance to learn something new and get up close and personal with the guitar players.
Common Beginner Guitar Mistakes
Developing Guitar Calluses
Common Mistakes Guitar Students Make When Practicing
Learning a new instrument can be difficult. It takes time and motivation to stay on track. The guitar is one of the most popular instruments because it has a nice acoustic sound and is popular in bands. Beginning guitar students (or any beginning instrument student) might become discouraged easily or make avoidable mistakes.
Here are some common guitar mistakes that new students should be aware of.
1. Giving up too soon. Learning a new instrument is not an easy task. It takes time, effort and dedication. Most people will not be able to pick up a new instrument and instantly learn to play it. It’s important to keep in mind that learning a new instrument is a journey and everyone who can plan an instrument has gone through it.
2. Only practicing one chord at a time. This is an easy habit to fall into because it makes sense. But think about learning anything new, often starting out by trying to learn several things at once will be more effective. Instead of learning one chord at a time, try learning three.
3. Buying the wrong guitar. It may seem silly that there is a wrong guitar out there, but there are different sizes. Smaller students should not get a huge acoustic guitar. Students learning guitar to play heavy metal in a band should probably start out on an electric guitar. Every guitar has a purpose.
4. Not changing guitar strings. Dirt and oil from fingers will eventually build up on guitar strings. They need to be changed periodically to maintain clear sound.
5. Taking it too slow because of sore fingers. All guitar players need to build up calluses on their fingers so they can play longer. It might seem like a good idea to take a break because of sore fingers initially, but the more a student practices, the faster the calluses will develop.
Acoustic vs. Electric: Which guitar is right for you?
Should You Be Practicing the Guitar Right Now?
Guitar Lesson Myth: Since there are online tutorials, guitar lessons are no longer necessary.
Myth: Practicing the piano means playing a piece from start to finish over and over again. When learning to play a piece, it makes sense that you would play it from start to finish. You want to make sure that you can play through the piece to perfection and while you’re doing that, you’re probably learning to practice notes.
Fact: Practicing the piano is not only playing a piece over and over. That’s just learning to play a piece. To effectively practice, students need to learn notes, practice measures and learn the basics. Otherwise, you’re just learning the one piece and when you try to play another piece, you’ll have to start all over again.
In order to efficiently learn to play a piece, you need to lay the groundwork first. Take your time when practicing, practice one measure at a time and focus on the ones that give you trouble and try to play with one hand. All of these things will ensure you’re actually learning to play the piano and not just learning to play one piece.
Eventually, you’ll be able to play through any piano piece from start to finish with ease.
More piano lesson myths:
Piano lesson myth: I haven’t played piano in years and now I have to start over.
Piano Lesson Myth: Mistakes are okay because I am just beginning to play the piano.
Piano Lesson Myth: My hands are too small to play the piano.
What are group piano lessons?
Group piano lessons are piano lessons that involve multiple students of similar age and skill level. If the lessons are for one family of young children, often times, only one piano is needed and the students will sit and learn together. If there are multiple students in a larger setting, multiple pianos or keyboards will be needed as three or more students cannot comfortably play and learn on the same piano.
Are group piano lessons right for my children?
Group piano lessons on one piano typically work best with smaller children and only two students should be on the piano at one time. Students need to be able to comfortably sit at the piano together and that does not work well with more than two students.
Group piano lessons also work best if the students are all at the same skill level. If one child has already had two years of lessons and the other is a beginner, then the lessons will have to cater to the beginner.
The difficult part about group piano lessons is that the children need to stay focused, as there will not be as much individual attention. If you know your children cannot concentrate when they are together, you will be wasting your money with group lessons, as the children most likely will not learn much.
Are there any benefits to group piano lessons?
Group piano lessons can be beneficial for young students that might not be able to focus for a 30-minute lesson. If your children are young and cannot focus for longer periods of time, then having their sibling next to them learning can be motivation to do well. Time will go by quicker for the student if they are not alone.
Group piano lessons are also great for students who are easily discouraged. If only one student is taking lessons and he/she is not seeing any progress, he/she could become discouraged and want to quit lessons. With group lessons, both students would see that they are progressing at the normal rate, even if they aren’t making much progress.
Children who might be shy about playing piano in front of others will quickly overcome this fear if there is always another person sitting next to them. Group piano lessons can be a great way to overcome stage fright!
It’s that time of year again; the time when people makes the decision to alter their lifestyles and better themselves. One of the most common resolutions is to learn something new. Wondering what new talent you should learn? How about learn to play an instrument! Learning to play an instrument will have lasting benefits, regardless of your age, gender, demographics etc.
Where to begin learning an instrument?
First. Decide what instrument you would like to learn. Don’t just listen to your friends, or learn to play the piano simply because you have access to a piano. Take some time to think about what instrument truly interests you. You may hear that some instruments are easier to learn than others, but that’s not necessary true. If you chose an instrument that you’re actually interested in learning, then you’ll have the motivation to practice and overcome obstacles.
Second. Pick a plan of action. Are you going to take private lessons, group lessons in a classroom setting or just watch online tutorials? For some instruments, you will be able to learn the basics by watching online videos. However, I definitely recommend taking lessons. Deciding whether to take group lessons or private lessons depends on your learning abilities. Private lessons will offer a more tailored teaching method, but group lessons will allow you to take lessons with friends or peers.
Third. Invest in an instrument. If you already have a piano at your house and that’s the instrument you would like to learn, then hire a piano tuner to come and check out your piano. There’s nothing worse than trying to learn to play an instrument if it’s not in tune. If you need to buy your instrument, shop around first. Don’t jump on the first “best deal” you find. Do some research into the instrument you’re purchasing and decide if you’re going to rent it, buy it new or buy a used one. If necessary, bring along a friend or teacher that knows more about the instrument than you since he or she will know what to look for and what questions to ask.
Learning to play an instrument is a process; it’s not something that one picks up overnight. New years resolutions are meant to be challenging, and if you’re up for the challenge, learning to play an instrument will be worth it.
Unconventional Benefits of Music Lessons
Music Lessons Help Raise Children’s Self Esteem
Benefits of In Home Piano Lessons
Myth: Classically trained singers are not able to sing popular music without sounding strained or fake. Similarly, a pop singer would not be able to sing classical music. Think about how differently the two genres sound. Can you imagine Ke$ha singing a piece from La Traviata or Cecilia Bartoli trying to sing Ke$ha’s Tik Tok? The two styles of music are so radically different that it seems impossible the two artists could cross over. Classically trained singers are trained to focus on the vowels in the song rather than consonants. With popular music, consonants are absolutely not the afterthought and are often emphasized. The consonants are what give popular music its unique rhythm and beat. So, does that mean that the two genres cannot cross over?
Fact: Anyone can sing any genre of music, but it’s going to take a lot of practice! Classically trained singers are taught one way and in order to sing pop music, they need to forget most of what they already know. Classical singers will need to drop all their training and rules and just go with the flow to sing pop music. That sounds much easier than it is. However, half of learning something new is identifying what makes them different, which I just did above.
Here are some tips to switch from classical music to popular.
-Listen to as much pop music as you can. Try to mimic the techniques and sound like the artist.
-Understand the different techniques pop music uses. Pop singers often suppress their vibrato in most cases unlike classical singers who are taught to usually hold notes with vibrato.
-Try to sing with the emotion of the song. If you’re trying to sing a song about someone tough or seeking revenge, make your voice sound angry.
-Listen to other styles of songs and try to mimic them. The more you can add to your range and repertoire, the easier it will be to learn new techniques.
More singing lesson myths:
Vocal Lesson Myth: Singing lessons are not for me because I’m interested in singing popular songs.
Singing Lesson Myth: Singing should hurt since it’s building the muscles.
Vocal Lesson Myth: I cannot sing in pitch and therefore am tone deaf.
For most singers, it’s easy to identify problems and know when something is wrong with your voice. Singers know what their voice sounds like and feels like on a regular basis, so when something doesn’t seem right, it’s usually easy to identify the problem. While you may be able to identify vocal problems, it’s easier to prevent them than fix them.
Here are some tips for keeping your voice and vocal cords healthy.
1. Posture. Posture is one of the most important things singers need to master! In order to breathe easy and get the most air through your lungs, your rib cage needs to be open.
2. Relax. Your body and throat should never feel tense or like you are trying to force sound out. The best sound comes from relaxed singers.
3. Practice. Practice makes perfect. That saying definitely applies to singers. The only way to excel is to practice. Try to aim for 30-60 minutes 5 times a week.
4. Warm up. Vocalists need to remember to always warm up before a performance and practice! If you forget this important part, you can cause serious damage to your voice.
5. Diet. Singers should be conscious of what they are eating and drinking at all times. Some foods and drinks should be avoided before a performance. Other things, like alcohol, should be avoided at all times.
6. Tilt. Tilt your head back slightly when singing. This can open your throat and vocal cords more allowing for a relaxed sound.
7. Hydrate! Make sure to always keep your vocal cords hydrated by drinking lots of water. Dry throats will produce cracked sound and damage vocal cords.
8. Don’t clear your throat! Clearing your throat too much can irritate your vocal cords and make them hoarse. If your throat feels plugged, try drinking a glass of water and resting your voice.
9. Rest. Make sure to get plenty of sleep each night! Especially make sure to spare your voice when you’re sick. You never want to overwork your voice.
10. No smoking. Inhaling smoke, even secondhand smoke, can seriously irritate your vocal cords.
More vocal tips for students:
Dos and Don’ts for a Healthy Voice
10 Foods and Drinks Not to Consume Before a Vocal Performance
10 More Vocal Tips
1. Keep your instrument case shut to regulate temperature and humidity. Instrument cases not only keep water out, but they keep moisture in. It’s definitely important to keep your instrument in its case when transporting it.
2. Buy a humidifier to keep moisture in your home. If your instrument stays inside and you’re able to regulate the moisture levels, your instrument will have no idea the air is dry outside.
3. Tune your piano! Piano strings should be tuned twice a year and the start of winter is definitely a good time. If the air in your home is dry, then your wooden piano might shrink and cause the strings to lose their tune.
4. Wear a scarf and drink warm tea to keep your vocal chords warm. When you’re throat is cold, your voice will not sound flawless. Some musicians are known for requesting the heat be turned on in all their venues to make sure the temperature is best for their voice.
5. Don’t leave your instrument in the car! If you need to run some errands after practice or a gig, take your instrument home first. You may think you’ll just be a few minutes, but if you get caught and your instrument stays in the cold car for a period of time, the instrument will get cold and the wooden structure will contract. Then, once you turn the heat on or take your instrument inside, the heat will be such a shock that real damage can occur to your instrument.
6. Keep practicing! Just because you’re on winter break and lacking motivation does not mean your instrument should be neglected. Your instrument will benefit from consistent use, especially in the cold dry winter.
7. Don’t store your instrument in a dry place like a closet or garage. These are closed off from heaters and the humidifier. Instead, keep your instrument out in the open.
8. Don’t store your instrument near a heater or fireplace! Even if you have a humidifier to regulate the moisture in the air, close contact with heat sources will dry out your instrument before the humidifier can balance out the air.
9. De-tune your strings if you won’t be playing your instrument for an extended amount of time. Tuned strings place significant pressure on the neck of your instrument which, when combined with the air trying to dry out and shrink your instrument, is not good. Both forces working together will shrink your instrument more than you’d like.
10. Keep a close eye on your instrument! If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out right away. It’s much easier to fix problems when they’re just starting out as opposed when the damage has already been done.
You might also like:
How Often Should You Tune Your Piano?
Summer Instrument Care
Tips to Extend the Life of Guitar Strings
1. Music provides entertainment. If you’re bored at home and can’t find anything to do, music can be a way to entertain yourself. Concerts also provide great entertainment!
2. A song can take you back in time to older, better memories. Songs have a way of taking you back to the first time you heard it, or when you heard it with someone special.
3. Music calms you down when you’re stressed. Studies show that if you’re stressed and listen to classical music, your stress will melt away as your heart rate syncs with the music.
4. Music can be a distraction from a hectic day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have had a bad day, listen to your favorite artist to improve your mood. When you’re singing along with the lyrics, your mind doesn’t have time to think about anything else.
5. Music can be a way to connect with lost loved ones. Think about a song you shared with that person or an instrument you both played. Playing the song or instrument can make you feel closer to them.
6. Music can help expel unwanted thoughts and emotions. If you’re feeling sad and want to get in a good cry, play some sad songs that you know will make you cry. Afterwards, you will feel refreshed and ready to move on.
7. Playing a song on an instrument can help you feel talented. Playing an instrument increases self-esteem because it’s something to excel at. If you feel like you can’t do anything right one day, pick up your instrument and show the world what you can do!
8. When performing, music can bring about strong emotions! Think about when you’re singing an emotional song and you start to smile or cry. Music has the ability to change your emotion within seconds.
9. Music can energize you in the mornings. Feeling groggy in the morning? Blast a favorite tune and just try to stop yourself from dancing! Music has a way of energizing your mind and body.
10. Music can help you feel like yourself again. Everyone’s had a bad day where they just don’t feel like themselves. Listening to or playing familiar music will help bring you back.
You might also like:
Improve your overall well being and start singing!
Music Lessons Help Raise Children’s Self Esteem
Music lessons = Better Communication Skills