Music Teachers National Association
Call Today! 612-460-7653

Monthly Archives: October 2012

10 Piano Practice Tips


There are lots of ways to maximize your piano practice time. With all the other activities you or your children are involved in, finding time to efficiently practice can be difficult.

Here are some piano practice tips to make sure you are practicing efficiently and using your time to maximize results.

1. Create a practice area. Make sure your area is clear of distractions and is someplace comfortable where you can practice daily.
2. Get organized! Not only should your piano practice materials be in order, your piano practice schedule should be organized as well. If you?re having trouble figuring out what to practice, your piano instructor will be able to help you create a practice schedule.
3. Don?t become discouraged. Everyone struggles with piano lessons and piano practice at one point or another. The key to success is to not get discouraged and realize that even if you?ve hit a plateau, you will begin progressing again soon.
4. Dedicate time to piano practice. Set aside time each day when you know you can practice. If you don?t have time to practice or you aren?t focused on the instrument, then don?t practice. If you?re practicing in the wrong frame of mind, you can pick up bad habits and not progress at all.
5. Focus on one area of study at a time. If you?ve been trying to get through a Mozart piece for the past couple practice sessions, don?t move onto another composer before you?ve finished this piece. While it might be nice to take a break from a piece, going back and forth between composers and pieces will waste more time.
6. Always warm up! Take a few minutes before each piano practice session to warm up by playing a few scales.
7. Don?t make mistakes! Everyone will make mistakes when they?re starting out, but once you?ve been taking lessons for a while, mistakes happen because you?re being careless or going too fast. If you make a mistake, stop, start over and slow down.
8. Break it down. If you?re playing a piece but constantly getting stuck on one part, break the piece up. Don?t keep playing from the beginning and starting over if you?re constantly messing up in the same place. Take the section you?re having trouble with and practice that separately until you master it.
9. Keep a piano practice log. Not only of the time you practice, but also of what you practiced and what you had trouble with. You may think that you?ll remember how you overcame a difficult piece or a tip you just learned, but keeping a practice journal will ensure you remember everything you do.
10. Don?t only practice with the piano. Some things can be done without the distraction of the piano. If you are trying to work on ear training or analyzing a piece, step away from the piano and give the task your full attention. This will also help you learn to practice when you do not have access to a piano.

You might also like:
10 Piano Tips for Beginners
Piano Lesson Myth: My hands are too small to play the piano.
Music Lesson Myth: I can?t learn to play the piano well because I only have a keyboard.

Read More

Music Lessons Help Raise Children’s Self Esteem


Self esteem is an issue that parent?s worry about for their children. Children are constantly comparing themselves and being compared to other children. In school, students are trying to be the best and find their niche. Music lessons can be something that children excel at or it can help with their hand eye coordination with sports. Music lessons benefit children in immeasurable ways!

Here are some ways music lessons help children?s self esteem.

Music lessons help children make friends!
Just like all clubs and organized sports, music lessons bring together groups of children with similar interests. Even if your children take private lessons, you can still enroll them in recitals or music programs through school. Lasting friendships are made when people have similar interest. Making new friends and bonding with others over common interests will help raise your child?s self esteem.

Music lessons could be where your child shines!
Most schools have talent shows at the end of the year or solos in choirs. Singing lessons can help prepare your child for their talent show performance or land them the lead in the school musical. Children who are singled out for their talents will often have higher self esteem. Even if your children have natural musical talent, music lessons can take their skills to the next level and refine their techniques.

Music lessons make kids smarter!
Okay, so music lessons don?t necessarily make kids smarter, but they do help with standardized testing, listening skills, hand eye coordination, spatial reasoning etc. Like I said before, children will have higher self esteem if they are excelling at something; that includes school classes. Music lessons can help your children excel in school and find their niche among other students who excel in school.

Music lessons show children a whole new world of music!
Well-rounded, cultured children will be more open minded to change and new challenges. Music lessons introduce children to different cultures and genres of music. Kids love being right and feeling like they know more than others, and they will definitely know more than others if they are interested to new things with each music lesson.

You might also like:
Music lessons = Better Communication Skills

Read More

Benefits of In Home Piano Lessons


Besides wondering whether or not to sign their children up with piano lessons, parents have to decide whether to do in home piano lessons or lessons in a studio. As with anything else, there are pros and cons to taking in home piano lessons or studio lessons. With in home piano lessons, the benefits simply cannot be overlooked.

Here are some benefits of in home piano lessons.

Prepared. How many times have you gotten your children to school or practice and they have forgotten an integral part of their gear or homework? This happens to all parents and children periodically. If you show up to piano lessons and your child has forgotten his/her piano book, then lessons for the day will have to be review rather than something new. With in home piano lessons, there?s no way the student cannot be prepared! Everything needed for lessons will already be in your home.

Involved. With in home piano lessons, parents have the chance to get involved with their children?s lessons. At a studio you would most likely have to wait outside or observe from another room, but with in home piano lessons, you can sit in the same room. This will allow you to hear the progress you child is making and help them with homework the teacher assigns them.

Money. Time is money! So, if you?re spending 15 minutes driving to and from piano lessons and another 30-60 minutes waiting for the lesson to end, you?re spending a lot more on lessons than you would if the only time you lost was the time the instructor was at your house for in home piano lessons. While the upfront cost of in home piano lessons might be more expensive, if you add up driving time and gas spent driving to and from the lesson, odds are you?re spending more in the long run driving to a studio.

Familiar. When lessons are in a studio setting but practice takes place at home, there is never a chance to become familiar with a lesson on a piano. Different pianos could play a little differently or one piano bench might not be comfortable. When you?re having a lesson and practicing on the same piano, things seem familiar. Similarly, if you don?t play piano so you don?t know if your piano is out of tune, your child will be practicing songs and techniques with an out of tune piano and progress will be very slow.

You might also like:
10 Piano Tips for Beginners
Tips to Save Money on Music Lessons
Benefits Of In Home Music Lessons

Read More

10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Practice Area


It?s easy to become distracted, especially if you have a lot of other things on your mind. If you want to learn to play a musical instrument, you need to focus and practice. Learning an instrument doesn?t happen overnight. One thing that can help motivate you to practice is creating the perfect practice area.

Here are some tips for creating the perfect practice area.

1. Choose a place where you can practice every day. If your sibling watches TV shows every other day for a few hours, don?t practice in a room where there will always be other people.
2. Pick a place where you can have your lessons and practice. If you?re taking lessons in the same place you practice, things will become familiar and you?ll be more likely to remember your lessons when practicing.
3. Rid the area of distractions. Don?t choose the family room as your practice area because that?s a room that has a lot of traffic.
4. Choose a place you feel comfortable in. The living room will probably be much more comfortable than the kitchen.
5. Make sure the room you choose has adequate lighting. You don?t want to have to strain your eyes to see the music.
6. Don?t practice near the kitchen if you?re going to practice around dinnertime. You?re more likely to become distracted if you?re hungry and can smell dinner cooking.
7. Choose a quiet area. If there are lots of noises around you, you may easily become distracted without even knowing it.
8. Don?t pick a small area! You need to have enough room to create a nice sound and to move around if your instrument requires it. If you play the french horn and are trying to practice in the corner of the kitchen, you?re probably going to hate practicing and not want to do it anymore.
9. If your learning an instrument that?s stationary, like the piano, set up practice times every day and make sure your family knows they are not allowed to interrupt you during that time.
10. Make sure all the tools you need to practice are in your area. Keep your music stored in the area and have a glass of water near by. You want to make sure you have everything you may need handy so that you do not need to get up and leave the area.

More practice tips:
10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Practice Session
10 Piano Practice Tips
Common Mistakes Piano Students Make When Practicing

Read More

Tips for Vocal Performers


Vocal performances are different than other instrument performances because your voice is your instrument. If you play the guitar and show up to a gig and have a cold, you can still make it through the performance. Not so with a vocal performance. Singing takes practice and dedication just like all other instruments, but there are some things that you will need to work on if you sing rather than play an instrument.

Here are some things that vocal performers will need to worry about that other instrument players may not.

Articulate your words. Articulate literally means to make clear. Your words should sound clear so that people can understand you. Have you ever gone to a rock concert where you couldn?t understand a word the singer sang? That?s because he/she didn?t articulate their words. A song will be more effective if the audience can understand the lyrics.

Overcome singing complications. All singers have had to overcome some unforeseen hurdle in their singing career. Even if the hurdle is just a common cold, you will not be able to perform as usual. Try not to strain your voice and cut your performance short if you feel exhausted. Always remember to err on the side of caution if something does not feel right with your voice.

Follow a healthy vocal diet. Everything you put in your mouth affects your instrument. Smoking and drinking during a performance are definitely not good things to do, even if the rest of your band is drinking. You?re vocal cords should always stay hydrated and healthy to make sure you give the best performance possible.

Don?t overdo it. Over practicing isn?t just going to exhaust you, it could permanently damage your voice. With other instruments if you practice and strain yourself, you?ll just have to take a break for a few days/weeks, but not so with vocal performers. If you think you?ve overdone a performance, take a break and go to the doctor if necessary.

More tips for vocal health:
10 Foods and Drinks Not to Consume Before a Vocal Performance
Is Karaoke Bad for a Singing Voice?
Diet for Vocal Health

Read More

10 Songs About Fall


Summer?s over, but it?s not quite Christmas yet. The sleepy season in between is upon us and there?s no better way to welcome this colorful season than to listen to songs that celebrates autumn.

10 songs about fall.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young. While this might be more of a love song than a song about fall, the harvest moon happens during the autumn equinox. This song is very fitting of the autumn season.

October by U2. While this might not be one of their most popular songs, it definitely captures the essence of fall??October, and the trees are stripped bare.?

Autumn Almanac by The Kinks. This is one of the songs that is considered a classic of the 1960s. With its lyrics highlighting the great things about cold autumn days, it?s sure to get you in the mood to drink some tea and hide from the cool breeze.

Autumn Leaves by Nat King Cole. Originally a French song called ?The Dead Leaves,? Nat King Cole popularized this song with his rendition in the film ?Autumn Leaves.?

September Song by Frank Sinatra. This song was originally performed in the Broadway musical ?Knickerbocker Holiday,? but Frank Sinatra brought it mainstream in 1946. There are many different covers of this song. Let us know what your favorite performance is!

L?autunno by Antonio Vivaldi. Part of his concerto ?Four Season,? L?autunno (Autumn) is the third concerto in the song. The music of this concerto cannot help but remind you of the cool changing season.

Forever Autumn by Moody Blues. Originally a jingle for a Lego commercial, this song achieved success with the rendition by Moody Blues in 1978.

Autumn in New York by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. This song has been recorded by a number of artists but one of my favorite versions is Ella and Louis.

September by Earth, Wind and Fire. This upbeat song will get you ready to go out and rake some leaves or spend a night on the town. With lyrics like ?never was a cloudy day,? the song uses the season to signify an autumn romance.

Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day. Not exactly an upbeat tune, but it certainly talks about fall. With summer coming to a close and realty setting in (work and school), autumn can be a dreary season.

Tell us what your favorite autumn songs are!

Read More

10 Piano Tips for Beginners


Learning to play piano is great endeavor.

It may be challenging and frustrating at times, but the benefits greatly out weight the difficulties! Most beginning piano students will be excited and nervous about beginning lessons because the piano is an intimidating instrument. With enough practice and piano lessons, anyone can learn to play piano!

Here are some tips for beginning piano players.

1. Set aside time to practice everyday. You don?t need to practice everyday, but it?s a good habit to get into. If you pick a time that you know you?ll have about 30 minutes free most days, try to practice at that same time everyday. Creating a routine is the best way to keep up with lessons.
2. Create a practice area. A practice area should be one free of distractions where you can let loose and practice uninterrupted.
3. Get rid of all distractions. When you are going to practice, don?t have the TV on in the background or your sibling watching you. Make sure your phone is off and distractions are at bay while you?re practicing. It?s easy to become distracted, especially for beginners, when practicing.
4. Ask your teacher to give you some homework or let you know what you should be practicing. Sometimes you might feel like you don?t know what to practice so you just wait until your next lesson. If you ask your teacher to write down some things for you to practice, you?ll be more apt to actually follow through.
5. Break down difficult pieces. Rather than looking at a piece of music and letting it scare you, break it down into smaller parts and work on it bit by bit.
6. Listen to a wide variety of music. Popular songs on the radio aren?t usually instrument centric. Try listening to different kinds of music, like jazz or classical to broaden your musical taste.
7. If you don?t understand something your teacher has taught you or if you have questions, don?t be afraid to ask! There are no stupid questions. Piano teachers are there to help you and want to see you succeed.
8. Use a metronome. Keeping proper count and rhythm is crucial to learning to play the piano.
9. Don?t get discouraged! Learning to play an instrument will not happen over night. At times, you will probably hit a plateau. Just remember that even the great piano players were beginners like you at some point.
10. Play for your family and friends. Family and friends are great at giving compliments and telling you how great you?re doing. To avoid becoming discouraged, play a small recital for your family members. You may be surprised by how well you play.

Similar articles:
10 Piano Practice Tips
10 Tips to Motivate Students to Practice Music
Common Mistakes Piano Students Make When Practicing

Read More

Guitar Lesson Myth: Since there are online tutorials, guitar lessons are no longer necessary.


Myth: I don?t need to take guitar lessons because I can learn to play the guitar by watching YouTube videos and downloading tutorials online. It?s true that we live in a time when everything you would ever want to know is online and you can find guitar lessons demonstrations or tutorials on YouTube. ?How to? videos on YouTube can show you what?s in the video, it can?t tell you if you?re playing something right or wrong.

Fact: Online videos can never take the place of one-on-one personalized lessons with a professional instructor. It?s true that you can probably learn to play a song on the guitar by watching a video, but you will only know how to play that song. You won?t know how to practice or create your own music; you would need to watch another video to learn how to play another song. ?How to? videos will only be able to show you one approach to practicing or playing a riff, but an experienced instructor will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and show you how best to practice and play songs.

Not all songs are the same level of difficulty to learn and if you are having trouble learning a more difficult song or riff, you cannot ask a video what you?re doing wrong or for a different approach. A guitar instructor will be able to help you through more difficult riffs and give you tips about playing guitar. Online videos can give you tips, but not all may pertain to or work for you. If you?re serious about learning to play the guitar, professional guitar lessons are a must. YouTube videos are great for brushing up on some skills, but nothing beats the one-on-one time with an experienced guitar teacher.

Similar articles:
Guitar Lesson Myth: The cheaper, the better.
Common Mistakes Guitar Students Make When Practicing
10 Tips for Beginning Acoustic Guitar Players

Read More

Music Lesson Myth: I?m a beginner so I don?t need an experienced music instructor.


Myth: I?m a beginning music student so I do not need an experienced music instructor yet. Sounds right, doesn?t it? Since you?re a beginner yourself, why spend more money on an accomplished music instructor when you?re just starting out? There are plenty of high school students looking to make extra money teaching piano lessons and that seems like it would be perfect for beginning music students.

Fact: When you?re a beginner is the most important time to have an experienced instructor! Beginning music students are going to start out learning the basics and the foundations of their instrument. Instructors that only have basic knowledge of an instrument are only going to be able to teach you what they know, rather than teach you why techniques are important and create a lesson plan tailored to you. If your instructor has only has one teacher in the past, he/she will only be able to teach you how he/she was taught rather than creating a teaching approach specific to your needs.

Sometimes having an inexperienced teacher can harm your learning ability. Inexperienced teachers may have picked up bad habits unintentionally simply because they do not have a broad range of experience. You don?t want to pick up back music habits because they could either turn you off of music for good or make it so you have to start over once you get a new instructor. It?s better to learn things right the first time than to have to condition bad habits.

More music lesson myths:
Music Lesson Myth: The flute is the easiest musical instrument to learn
Music Lesson Myth: Band instruments are gender specified.
Music Lesson Myth: I?m not musical and incapable of learning an instrument.

Read More

Vocal Lesson Myth: Singing lessons are not for me because I?m interested in singing popular songs.


Myth: Vocal lessons are for people who want to sing opera or classical music. Since I?m interested in singing popular music, singing lessons are not for me. Opera and classical singers will usually say they started taking vocal lessons at a very young age. Similarly, many rock legends say they have had no professional vocal training. It makes sense to think that singing lessons are only for people who want to become classically trained, but that?s not true.

Fact: Music lessons are for everyone and many instructors teach a variety of styles, including pop and rock. A vocal instructor?s job is to improve the student?s singing ability and range. They do this through breathing techniques, tone productions, expansion of ranges etc. They want the students to have well-rounded musical knowledge and talent. Vocal instructors will be able identify the student?s voice type and characteristics. If they feel you?re voice would do better more classically trained, then they might try to steer you in that direction. However, if you are completely against classical music training and only want to be able to sing karaoke like a pro, your instructor will listen to your needs and get you where you want to be.

Not all vocal teachers are alike and you may find an instructor that believes you should be classically trained before learning any other styles. If this really is not for you, you will be able to find an instructor that can meet your needs. Before signing up with music lessons, make sure and ask if your instructor is able to teach a variety of vocal style or if they only specialize in one genre. Switching instructors may not seem ideal, but if the choice is quitting music or switching instructors, finding a new instructor is definitely the way to go.

More music lesson myths:
Music Myth: Listening to classical music makes you smarter.
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.

Read More