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Monthly Archives: September 2011

10 Tips for Buying a New Piano


New pianos are a big investment; so before going out and buying the first piano you see, there are a few things to consider.


1.? Shop around. Pianos are not all the same and every one will not be right for you.? Make sure and look at as many pianos as you can before making a decision.? Always remember to play and inspect a any instrument before you buy it!
2. Placement. Make sure you have a space ready for your new piano before you buy it.? Factors such as room size, carpeting etc. will make a difference in how it sounds.? When buying a piano, be conscious of the space you?re going to put the it in; if you?re not sure how a piano would sound in your space, don?t be afraid to ask.
3. Moving. Before purchasing a piano, find out who is responsible for moving it.? Private retailers usually expect you (the buyer) to do the moving yourself, while large piano manufacturers will often handle the moving for you.? Always remember to hire professionals to assist with the moving.? Moving a piano by yourself will cause expensive damage to your new instrument.
4. Hire a professional. Having a professional help you choose a piano is a good idea if you don?t know a whole lot about pianos.
5. Play. Don?t be afraid to play and test the piano thoroughly before you buy it to be sure it is in good condition.
6. Age. Pianos have a long life span (30-60 years), so don?t be turned off if a piano is 20 years old, it could still be in pristine condition.
7. Be cautious. If a seller is trying to turn your attention to the new finish on the exterior of the piano rather than telling you about the life of it, be suspicious.? This is a common trick to distract buyers from actual problems with the instrument.
8. Initial call. Before taking the time to drive over and look at a piano, call the seller and get some background information about the piano.? Information like age and value of the piano will help you decide whether or not to actually take time to look at the piano.
9. Tune. Before taking lessons with your new piano, be sure that it is properly tuned.? Practicing on an out of tune piano will get you nowhere.
10. Price. Plan on spending at least $100 on moving and tuning the piano (this is on top of the cost of the piano).? Don?t try to save money by moving the piano yourself when a professional piano mover can safely move it.

Once you have a piano, contact Lesson Match to enroll in lessons!

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Woodwind Instrument Care


Like all instruments, a woodwind instrument need to be cleaned and cared for.

With proper care you can get several years of optimal performance out of your woodwind instrument.? Proper instrument care begins with daily care, then monthly and yearly maintenance.? The daily care is up to you, but there are some things you should leave to a professional.

Here are some things you can do yourself and things you should let professions do to keep your instrument clean.


Daily Care

1.?? ?When removing an instrument from its case, never pick it up by the keys!? Remove it by picking it up by a sturdy place without keys.
2.?? ?Be sure to rub all the joints with a soft cloth to remove any debris or build up.? For clarinets, apply a small amount of cork grease to the tenon corks.
3.?? ?Put the instruments together using slow back-and-forth twisting motions.? Never push or pull on the instrument when assembling or disassembling as this can damage the tenons (joints).
4.?? ?When tightening the screws on the ligature, be careful not to over tighten as this can also damage the instrument.
5.?? ?After you?re finished playing, pull a cleaning swab through all parts to remove moisture.? Remember to carefully wipe off the outside of the instrument as well to remove any oils caused by your hand.
6.?? ?Always store instruments in their cases!? Do not put anything else in the case as this can cause damage to the keys.

Monthly Care

1.?? ?Check all screws and pivots to see if they?re coming loose.? If they are, take your instrument to a repair shop to have them adjusted.? Do not try to adjust them yourself as this can cause over tightening and damage to the instrument.

Yearly Care

1.?? ?You take your woodwind instrument to a repair shop once a year to have your instrument checked.
2.?? ?If you never find anything wrong with your instrument during your monthly checks, it is still recommended that you have it checked yearly.? A professional might see something you don?t and repair it.
3.?? ?Yearly checks are necessary to ensure optimal performance of your instrument.

If you’re ever not sure about the proper instrument care, ask a professional to ensure no damage is done to your woodwind instrument.

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Moving a Piano


While a piano may seem like another piece of furniture easily moved from one room to another with some force, it is not.? The piano is a delicate instrument and if damaged can result in hundreds to thousands of dollars in repair.? Here are a few things to consider before moving your piano.

Room to room
Before moving a piano from one room to another, really decide if it needs to be moved.? Pianos weigh hundreds of pounds and are not easy to move.? Think about when you?re moving the couch (typically about 100lbs.) and something happens and you accidentally drop the couch.? No big deal right?? Now think about the same thing happening when moving a piano (300-1,500lbs.).? Piano legs are the most likely thing to get damaged and can be high cost to get fixed.? A simple drop of the piano can result in external and internal damage.? Instead of planning on moving the piano, really think about where you?re going to put it before it arrives.? Pianos should be placed in a room where there are little or no drafts, directly out of sunlight to avoid discoloration and in a place where humidity is low because high humidity can cause your piano to go out of tune faster.? If you have to move the piano to a different room, make sure you have plenty of strong people to help you.

New house
Obviously if you?re moving to a new house then you?ll need to move the piano, but consider hiring a professional piano mover.? Professional piano movers have moved pianos before and know how to do so successfully without damaging your piano.? Moving a piano a long distance without the help professionals can result in damage that costs thousands of dollars to repair (usually it?s cheaper to buy a new piano than to have it rebuilt).? Hiring a professional may cost a little money now, but it will save you lots of money down the road if you damage your piano.

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Buying a Keyboard Instead of a Piano


A piano is an expensive instrument to invest in; luckily there are other options.? A keyboard can be used for piano lessons, but there are a few things you need to know before going out and buying a cheap keyboard.

88 Weighted Keys
In order to take piano lessons on a keyboard, the keyboard needs to have 88 weighted keys.? A cheap keyboard will usually be half-sized and not suitable for piano lessons, as you?ll run out of keys.? Always make sure a keyboard has 88 keys.? The keys also need to be weighted so it feels like a piano when you?re playing.? If the keys are not weighted and touch sensitive then you won?t be able to make louder and softer sounds like you can on a piano.

Keyboards are going to cost considerably less than a new piano, but still plan on spending at least $500-$1,000.? Cheap keyboards typically have less than 88 keys and they are not weighted or touch sensitive; essentially they are useless for serious piano lessons.? Buying a new instrument can be an investment, but if you would like to give your child a real shot at learning the piano, you need to spend a little bit of money.

Stand and Bench
Keyboards are nice because they?re portable and can be played anywhere.? However, if you?re taking piano lessons, a keyboard stand and a bench are musts!? The bench and stand create the feel of a real piano.? If a student is playing the keyboard while sitting on their bed, they will develop poor posture.

One major advantage of buying a keyboard over a piano is the ability to use headphones.? If you live in an apartment and are worried about piano lessons because of the noise, a keyboard is a great way to go.? Digital keyboards allow you to plug in headphones so only the player can hear the sounds being made.? This is also great if you have multiple children taking different music lessons; they can all practice at the same time without disturbing each other.

Pianos take up a lot of space, even the vertical pianos.? Keyboards are small and portable so if you have a limited amount of space you can still take piano lessons.

Bells and Whistles
If you?re buying a keyboard for piano lessons, do not waste your money buying a keyboard with a bunch of buttons and sound recorders.? Those add-ons can add hundreds of dollars to your price and are not necessary for regular piano lessons.

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Announcing Cole Mickelson on Guitar!

Cole Mickelson

Cole Mickelson was raised on a small family grain farm in northwestern Minnesota.? He grew up listening to his father play mandolin and guitar; it was here that his love for music began.? Despite his father?s love of music, Cole didn?t pick up a guitar until the age of 17.? He then spent most of his time studying with his father and several ensemble groups.? Cole moved to the Twin Cities in 2004 to learn more about music and enrolled in McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.

While studying at McNally Smith, Cole had opportunities to practice and perform a wide range of music, including jazz, country, pop and funk.? He has been lucky enough to study with some of the area?s greatest players and educators.? He spent two years touring the Midwest with popular country bands.? Now, Cole is focused on playing pop and jazz in local ensembles.

In the past year, Cole has kept busy in the local music scene, performing several times a week at venues such as the 7th Street Entry, Sauce(Cause) and the 331 Club.? As a member of folk-rock group ?Skittish,? Cole played at the South-by-Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas this past spring.? The band was also featured on Kare 11?s local show last winter.? In addition to live performance, Cole enjoys recording music and has been featured on several local artists? albums.? He is also a staple guitarist at Cornerstone Church in Crystal, MN.? Above all else, Cole enjoys learning more about music and playing with new musicians.

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Group Piano Lessons


Beginning piano students often take private lessons right from the start because parents are not aware piano lessons can be taught in a group setting.? The piano has a reputation of being an instrument people play individually; however, when done correctly, piano lessons can be a great way for beginners to learn.

Here are some advantages of taking group piano lessons:

Longer class times
Since multiple students are learning, lessons are often offered for an hour at the rate of a half hour class.? This is because students are not getting the individual attention they would receive at a private lesson.

Group activities
Group lessons are ideal for learning basic concepts such as rhythm and counting.? Children tend to retain these concepts better because they are presented in a fun way.? Children like to learn if learning is fun.

Ensemble skills
Group lessons deal more with ensemble pieces that can be played in parts.? Students learn how to play and perform in a group, a skill they will need for school bands.

Low stress
Not all students in beginning piano lessons will have the same skills as their peers.? This results in low-key lessons where students will not feel embarrassed because they don?t yet have the skills needed to play piano well.? Students taking group lessons can also learn from other students how to effectively practice and perfect their technique.

While group piano lessons might be a great idea for some students, they will not work for everyone.? Find out what your child?s learning ability is and if they would benefit more from individual or group lessons.? If you?re not sure which type of lesson would be best for your child, you can always consult an instructor.? At LessonMatch we have instructors that teach both individual and group lessons and they love helping parents find the ideal lesson plan for their child.

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Lesson Match Welcomes Wendy Pace!


Hi! I grew up with music all around me, playing piano since I was five, and later the flute during my school years. After working in the business field for several years, I realized my heart was with music and children, and I went on to complete my Bachelors and Masters in Music Education at the University of South Carolina. I love all types and styles of music, and love guiding young and young at heart in developing a lifelong foundation of musicianship. I also love to sing, and while teaching elementary music I saw the joy that singing, movement, and singing games brought to the students in my classroom. I use these elements in every class. My curriculum is called ?Music Moves For Piano?, and is designed to develop musical thinkers and keyboard performers through the ?sound to notation? method. It is a?new piano?series for the 21st century that builds on?Orff, Kodaly, Suzuki, and Dalcroze and applies Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory ?to the teaching of piano. It is a sequential learning process that guides students how to hear music with understanding, providing a solid foundation for developing music literacy.

In Music Moves for Piano students learn to:

  • Improvise, play by ear, transpose, and harmonize
  • Compose, arrange, read, and write music notation
  • Sing?and?play?- accompany singers?and instrumentalists
  • Perform?with comfort and fluency in a variety of social settings
  • Play with technical ease and freedom from muscular tension
  • Listen to and perform music with understanding?-?students?audiate
  • Become independent music thinkers

Lesson activities are organized around four specific areas of musical development:

1. Audiation skills ( ability to think musically with understanding) using singing, chanting, moving, and pattern instruction.

2. Keyboard?geography and technique

3. Keyboard exploration, creativity, and improvisation

4. Book/ listening assignments.

This program is ideal for families with two or more siblings ages 4 to 10 yrs old wishing to take lessons. Private instruction time overlaps with partner activities, movement activities, and playing duets together. Single children will also love the purposeful activities and creative approach to music making. All children are guided in musical experiences that foster a lifelong love of music making.

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Buying a Beginner Guitar


Acoustic, electric, bass?there are so many different types of guitars to choose from.? So, how do you know which guitar is right for you?

Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitars are the most hassle free guitars to learn on because they don?t require any additional equipment.? This also makes them cheaper than electric guitars.? Acoustic guitars are very portable so you can practice just about anywhere.? The drawback with these guitars is that they?re harder to play.? This is because the strings are thicker and take more force to make a solid connection with the fret board.? The upside of this is that it increases your finger strength so you can play longer.

Electric Guitar
Electric guitars are usually easier for people to learn because the strings are thinner which makes it easier to get a solid connection with the fretboard.? This makes a difference because you only need half the force to push down the string and make a solid connection with the fret board, which is a struggle for many beginning guitarists.? Electric guitars require more equipment than acoustic guitars, which can get expensive.

**It is important to remember, when buying either type of guitar, not to just buy the cheapest one.? Cheap guitars may seem like a good idea if you’re not sure you want to invest in a guitar, but odds are if you buy a cheap guitar you’ll hate the instrument.? Cheap guitars hinder learning and practice and often give the player a bad taste for the instrument.? You don’t have to spend thousands on a beginner guitar, about $150 should get you a decent acoustic guitar, but don’t skimp.? A decent guitar could mean the difference between sticking with guitar lessons and quitting.

In the end, the most important thing to consider is which guitar you enjoy playing the most.? The sales associate in a music store may give you a really great pitch about why you should start with an acoustic guitar, but if you?re more interested in the sound of an electric, then go with the electric guitar.? Always test the guitars in the music store before investing in one to see which guitar feels the best for you.

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10 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright


What do Adele, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart and Carly Simon have in common?? They all suffer from stage fright.? That?s right.? Even celebrities get nervous before performing on stage.? Performing on stage can be a terrifying experience, but there are a few tips and tricks to make the performance go by a little smoother.

1.?? ?Practice. The more you practice, the better you?ll feel about your talent.

2.?? ?Be prepared. Make sure that you have everything in order for your performance long before the performance is supposed to begin.

3.?? ?Analyze. Check out your performance space before the actual performance.? This will ensure there are no surprises and you?ll feel more in control.

4.?? ?Relax. Find some relaxation techniques that work for you.? If you have a few techniques you know will relax you before anything, this will help calm your nerves.

5.?? ?Take deep breaths. Use deep breathing to calm your body and your nerves.

6.?? Rid yourself of distractions. Avoid all distractions the day of your performance.? Try not to have a million things on your plate that day so the only thing you have to worry about is the performance and practicing.

7.?? ?Visualize. Before the performance, take an imaginary journey of it.? Close your eyes and imagine the entire performance from beginning to end.? Then once the performance is actually happening, it will feel like you?ve already given the performance.

8.?? ?Nobody?s perfect. Try to accept the fact that every performance is not going to be perfect.? Realize you might make a mistake every once and a while but you have to pick up and move on.? That?s what helps Donny Osmond control his stage fright.

9.?? ?Encouragement. Make sure some friends and family are in the audience.? Friends and family can offer silent encouragement and reinforcement.

10.?? ?Have fun! Make your performance a celebration of everything you?ve accomplished rather than punishment for being so talented. icon smile 10 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright

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Will Dental Braces Interfere With Music Lessons?


These days the majority of kids are going to need braces at some point in their life, and depending on how old they are, this could be right in the middle of learning an instrument.? A common fear among children about getting braces is that they will not be able to continue with their instrument of choice.? Here are some common questions parents have about braces and musical instruments.

Will braces interfere with my child?s music lessons?
If students have braces put on once they?ve already started music lessons, this can make playing the instrument a little uncomfortable.? However, with patience and practice, they?ll be able to adapt and continue with lessons like nothing?s changed.? During the first week or so, there will be some discomfort in their mouths (this could lead to cuts or canker sores).? If your child already has braces on and would like to begin music lessons, they should be able to learn just fine as they have had no practice without the braces.

How does putting dental wax on the brackets help?
Dental braces can be tough on the mouth when they?re first put on.? The sharp ends of the wires and pointed parts can cause cuts and sores in the mouth, which can make playing an instrument especially difficult.? Most orthodontists will recommend putting dental wax on the sharp parts of the braces; this helps to reduce irritation when playing an instrument.

Should I switch my child to an instrument that they don?t have to put in their mouth?
There is absolutely no need to force your child to switch instruments if they already love their brass or woodwind instrument.? If they didn?t like their instrument to begin with, this might be a good opportunity to have them try out the guitar or piano.? Braces don?t have to completely disrupt your children?s lives?; with enough practice they?ll be able to play any instrument they would like.

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