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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Turn on the music and start studying!

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?Turn off that music and do your homework!? Sound familiar? Most of us have heard that at one time or another; someone yelling at us to turn off the music so we can focus. But is this actually counter productive? You may have heard that listening to music can actually make you focus better and it’s true.

Here are some reasons why listening to music while studying can help you focus.

Distractions: While studying, people often find that they are easily distracted by background noises. Traffic, pen clicking, the hum of the refrigerator running etc. are all sounds that people cannot control. These are the sounds most likely to annoy and distract you when you are trying to focus. If you find yourself becoming distracted by sounds that you cannot control, drown out those sounds with something you can control and would prefer to listen to?music! Choose a type of music that is not going to distract you from your studies, but instead distract you from the annoying sounds of life.

Relaxation: Studying is a time when your mind should be shut off from the outside world and completely focused on the task at hand. But how often does that really happen. When you?re trying to make your brain focus on one thing, of course all the other things you?re worried about are going to creep into your thoughts??Did I pay those bills? I better take a break and check.? If you try to study in complete silence, then the worries in your mind are going to seem much louder. Instead of trying to study with complete silence, put on some relaxing music in the background. Classical music is shown to relax most people, but that doesn?t mean it will relax you. Choose a type of music you know will relax you and allow you to focus on your studies.

Keep in mind, that listening to music while studying will not work for everyone. In fact, sometimes you can become so distracted by the music that you might not remember anything you had learned in the past hour. Take some time to figure out what works best for you. But don?t think that just because you?re listening to music, you?re not efficiently studying.

More articles about music and the brain:
Music Lesson Myth: Listening to classical music makes you smarter.
Music lessons = Better Communication Skills
10 Benefits of Music Lessons

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Volunteer: Do your part and spread some cheer!

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The holidays are a great time to volunteer. People are always looking to give to those less fortunate, but you might be stuck on how to volunteer. Local soup kitchens and food drives are always looking for volunteers this time of year, but there are also ways you can spread your talent and put your music lessons to good use. Volunteer at a hospital or local shelter and sing or play an instrument.

Here are some places to volunteer and why to play your music there.

Sing at a hospital. More and more hospitals around the country are incorporating the arts into their therapy and treatment options. That?s because people heavily exposed to music are shown to be happier and healthier. During the holidays, hospitals are flooded with carolers, but the rest of the year is lacking volunteers. Hospitals are filled with people who can be cheered up and what better to brighten their spirits than to sing to them. It may seem like a meaningless gesture, but even the smallest gestures are welcomed on the holidays.

Carol in your neighborhood. The number of people who carol around the holidays has significantly decreased in recent years. Our society is based around the idea that others should bring things to us. Caroling around your neighborhood is a simple way to spread joy to others. Get a few friends together and walk around the neighborhood singing. If you?re nervous about going door to door, start out by visiting your friends and family members. Or put up fliers and spread the word that you will be caroling one night so that people can be prepared and make sure they are home to hear you.

Put on a concert at a nursing home. Typically in nursing homes, the time between lunch and supper is reserved for activities. Speaking from experience (since I used to work and volunteer in a nursing home), nursing home activity coordinators are always looking for new and exciting ways to entertain the seniors. Often times, during small concerts, the seniors will join in and sing or clap along. If you?re worried about imposing with your caroling in a busy setting, then a nursing home is the perfect place to volunteer.

Similar articles:
Improve your overall well being and start singing!
Singing Your Way to Good Health
What is Christmas Caroling?

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Improve your overall well being and start singing!

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I?ve already covered the mental health benefits to singing and music lessons, but there are many more reasons to learn to sing!

Emotional benefits of singing lessons:

-Singing lessons increase self-esteem and confidence because singing is something you will be able to do better than your peers.
-Singing enhances your mood. Think about when you?re feeling blue and your favorite song comes on. You can?t help but smile and sing along.
-Singing reduces stress. When you?re singing, you can?t really think about other things because you need to focus on the music and lyrics. If you?re not thinking about the things that stress you out, then you can?t be stressed.
-Singing is energizing. Most people have a playlist for when they work out of fast paced, upbeat songs to keep them energized. If you?re one of those people, think about how much faster you run when one of your favorite workout songs comes on.
-Singing can be healing and evoke emotion. Similar to songs enhancing your mood, songs can also evoke sad feelings. Sometimes that?s a good thing and can be healing if you just need a good cry.

Social benefits of singing lessons:

-Singing enables you to meet new people. Local choirs, church choirs etc. have different people coming together to sing. This is a great outlet to meet new people with similar interests.
-Singing provides support. Choirs often act like support groups where everyone in the choir is supportive of others. The people you meet while singing can become a great place to turn to in times of need.
-Singing brings people together and creates a sense of community. Think about how you feel if you?ve ever watched a choir perform. Often the audience sings or claps along because they feel engaged by the performers.

More singing lesson articles:
Dos and Don?ts for a Healthy Voice
Music lessons = Better Communication Skills
Singing Promotes Youth

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Singing Your Way to Good Health

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Singing isn’t just for fun anymore! Studies show that singing actually improves your health and can help with some chronic conditions. But how?

Here are some ways singing can improve your health.

1. Asthma. This is one benefit that definitely makes sense. Proper singing requires deep breaths and breathing techniques. It?s no surprise that this helps people who suffer from asthma or other chronic respiratory illnesses.
2. Aging. Singing promotes youth for lots of reasons! Think about all the muscles in your face that you?re working by singing. You also feel younger since singing makes your feel happier and reduces stress.
3. Memory. Learning to play any instrument helps with your cognitive skills, but singing especially requires you to memorize lyrics and notes. This helps with your overall memory.
4. Immune system. Everyone knows that you?re more susceptible to illnesses when you?re stressed out. Singing reduces stress; therefore singing increases immune system health and keeps you healthier.
5. Posture. This may not seem like a great benefit, but good posture means better breathing and healthier muscles and joints. Slouching is not good for your body in any way and singing doesn?t allow for bad posture.
6. Self-confidence. When you feel better about yourself, you instantly feel healthier. Confidence plays a big part in your health because there are parts of illnesses and recovery that are mental. If you want to feel good, then the majority of the time, you will. Singing increases self-confidence because you?re not stressed, you?re meeting new people and you?re in a good mood.
7. Healthy diet. Believe it or not, there is a vocal health diet. Singers cannot be constantly eating processed foods and ice cream because it messes with their vocal chords. A diet for vocal health includes lots of water, no alcohol or caffeine and lots of healthy foods. You need to keep your body healthy in order to sing properly.

Similar articles:
Singing Lesson Myth: Singing should hurt since it?s building the muscles.
10 Foods and Drinks Not to Consume Before a Vocal Performance

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What is Christmas Caroling?

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When you think of Christmas caroling, you probably think of carolers going from door to door singing, but that isn?t how things used to be. Caroling originally had nothing to do with Christmas. Christmas caroling in the traditional sense is actually two older traditions combined.

So, where did carol singing come from?

Originally, caroling had nothing to do with Christmas. Carols are just songs stemming from medieval tradition. Medieval carols festive songs that are usually religious, but are not necessarily connected to church worship. In medieval times, carols were sung and played during festivities and dances (since they didn?t have DJs like we do now).

What is a Christmas carol?

The origin of the Christmas carol comes from the medieval carols, but their lyrics revolve around the theme of Christmas. Traditionally, Christmas carols stick with their roots and follow medieval chord patterns. That?s often how you can tell the difference between Christmas carols and Christmas songs. The Christmas carol gained notoriety around the protestant reformation for use as worship.

Why do we go from house to house caroling?

This is where two traditions emerge. While Christmas carols are the songs sung, Christmas caroling is the act of singing and spreading cheer to neighbors. Caroling originally meant neighbors wishing each other good fortune and often did not involve singing at all. The two traditions of caroling and carols merged in Victorian England when church music began to merge with Christian folk music. Instead of neighbors spreading good fortune and figgy pudding, they spread good cheer through song.

You might also like:
10 Reasons to Give a Musical Instrument as a Gift
10 Songs to Set the Holiday Mood

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Playing Music from Memory: Is it necessary?

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Memorization comes in handy in every aspect of life; from school to song lyrics, but is it necessary to memorize music if you’re learning to play an instrument? Of course you need to memorize note names and the position of each note on the staff, but eventually that will become second nature. Is it necessary then to memorize pieces of music?

Here are some pros to memorizing pieces of music.

– Once you have a piece memorized, it?s easier to focus on techniques or how you can play the music better.
– At one point or another, you?ll probably be asked to demonstrate your musical talent at some type of gathering. It?s a good idea to have a couple pieces memorized just in case this situation ever arises.
– If you?re always looking at a piece of music, you can rarely look at your hands and fingers. If you have a piece memorized, then you can spend more time studying the positions your hands make and perfect techniques.
– Musicians look more professional and well rehearsed if they do not need to have a piece of sheet music on the stand during a performance.
– If you want to play in a band, sheet music will not be allowed. When was the last time you saw your favorite band on stage with music on a stand in front of them.

For beginners, it may be helpful to always have sheet music in front of them while they are playing, just in case they become distracted and need to refer to the music. Once you?re an advanced musician, memorizing music will be a huge advantage.

You might also like:
10 Tips for Writing Your Own Music
10 tips to Prepare for an Honor Band Audition
10 Tips for Your First Recital

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Making the Most of Music Lessons

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Music lessons can be an expensive investment; you have to pay for the instrument and materials that go along with it, upkeep, lessons etc.? With the money you?re spending on lessons, it?s definitely a good idea to make sure you?re making the most of each lesson!

Here are some tips to make the most of music lessons.

1. Begin music lessons at the right age.? Adults can begin lessons at anytime because their success is based on their dedication.? For children, they need to be mentally and physically able to play an instrument.? Starting a three year old out with vocal lessons isn?t a great idea because they aren?t developed enough to get everything from the lessons.?
2. Take private in home music lessons.? With group lessons or lessons in a classroom setting, students do not get much one-on-one time.? If you?re trying to get the most you can out of each music lesson, private lessons are the way to go.
3. Make sure you have a qualified instructor.? If you want to learn to play the piano like a professional but you?re getting music lessons from someone only qualified to teach beginners, then you won?t progress past beginner level.? Not qualified instructors could also teach you bad habits, which would be hard to break later.? It?s best to learn from a qualified instructor from the beginning if you would like to progress quickly and efficiently.
4. Use practice time wisely.? Don?t sit and practice your instrument in front of the TV or try to cram in practice right before bed.? Set aside designated time each day to practice your instrument and always practice in the same place.? If you?re practicing at the same time in the same place, practice will become routine.
5. Have fun!? If you hate practicing or taking music lessons, then you?re not going to want to progress.? Try finding a different teacher that uses different techniques before giving up on lessons.? Sometimes a new teacher can make things fun again!

Similar articles:
How to Keep Kids Interested in Music Lessons
Benefits Of In Home Music Lessons
10 Benefits of Music Lessons

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Should you buy a used piano? Pros and Cons

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The value of a piano depends on many factors. Sometimes you can get a great deal by buying a used piano and you may even like it better than a new one.

Here are some pros and cons to buying a used piano.

Pros:
-The sound of a quality piano ages well. If you can get a quality piano that has been kept well, it should have a nice tone rather than a contrasting tone that can happen with newer poorly made pianos.
-You could get a great piano for a great price! Some people are in such a rush to sell their piano that they will sell it for a low price to ensure it sells quickly. This can be great because you could be getting a nearly new piano for a fraction of the cost.
-Piano history can be mysterious and be a great conversation starter. Pianos can last upwards of 60 years if properly maintained and think about what a great history that could have!
-They won?t break the bank. This is a given but used instruments are cheaper than new ones. Remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, that it probably is. Keep an eye out for signs of piano damage before purchasing.

Cons:
-Cheap used pianos may be cheaply made or poorly maintained. Not everyone knows how to take care of a piano and they may not know what they are selling. Just because the instrument looks nice on the outside, there could be interior damage rendering it useless.
-While the piano may be cheap, the repairs might not be. Beware when purchasing a used piano of the repair costs that go along with it. When buying any piano, you should always have it tuned and checked out by a piano technician, which can be very pricey.
-Older pianos may not have a lot of life left in them. Older pianos have been through a lot in their lifetime: frequent moves, infrequent tunings, climate changes etc. All of these things can increase the amount of stress on a piano shortening its lifespan.

Similar articles:
Avoid Being Ripped off by a Piano Salesperson
Always Ask a Piano Salesperson These Questions!
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Piano lesson myth: I never play my piano so I don?t need to tune it.

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Myth: Since I never play my piano, I don?t have to tune it. This seems logical, if you?re not playing an instrument, then why should you tune it.

Fact: Pianos need to be tuned regularly whether or not they are being played. In order to understand why you need to tune your piano regularly, it?s important to understand why you need to tune your instrument at all.

Why tune your piano:
Pianos need to be tuned because of the high string tension. This causes the strings to stretch and go flat. Regardless of whether or not your playing it, the string tension will always be there.

Your argument might still be that since you?re not going to play your piano at all, then you don?t care if the pitch is flat. However, if you ever want to sell your piano at a good value, then you need to take proper care of it! If your piano is left un-tuned and flat for too long, the piano may not be able to handle the stress of taking the strings back up to standard pitch. Essentially, not tuning your piano for long periods of time destroys your piano making it unable to play or sell.

A good rule of thumb is to tune your piano every six months or twice a year. Six months is the longest a piano should go without being tuned because that?s how long it takes before interaction between the strings occurs making it nearly impossible to tune. That means that when you?re tuning one string, the tension becomes too much for that string to handle and the strings around it (that might have just been tuned) lose their pitch.

Don?t fret if you go more than six months without tuning your piano, the damage is most likely reversible, it?s just going to take longer to bring your piano back to good health.

Similar articles:
Signs of a Damaged Piano
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How Often Should You Tune Your Piano?

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Dos and Don’ts for a Healthy Voice

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Just like with any other instrument, you need to take proper care of your voice. Unlike other instruments, your voice is irreplaceable and if you don?t take care of your voice, you could lose it.

Here are some dos and don?ts for a healthy voice.

DON?T: Clear your throat! Ever! That means when you feel like something is in your throat or your voice sounds scratchy, resist the urge to clear your throat. Instead, drink or eat something acidic to help break down the phlegm like pineapple or lemonade.

DO: Wear a scarf! You know when you have a sore throat and drinking warm liquids soothes it, it?s because your vocal chords need to stay warm to maintain clear sound. Your throat should also stay warm since when your body is cold, your muscles constrict.

DON?T: Drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you and that is the worst thing for a voice. You want to make sure and steer clear of any foods or drinks that will dehydrate you.

DO: Drink lots of water! Since dehydration is the worst thing for your voice, water is the best. You want to make sure and drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. You can also get hydration from fruits and vegetables that have high water content. Just be sure not to eat too many acidic fruits.

DO: Rest! Singing is a workout for your voice and just like after any other workout, your body needs rest. Make sure and get 6-8 hours of sleep each night so you are fully energized throughout the day. If your voice gets tired mid vocal session, take a break and rest your vocal chords.

More about vocal health:
Singing Lesson Myth: Singing should hurt since it?s building the muscles.
10 Foods and Drinks Not to Consume Before a Vocal Performance
Tips for a Healthy Singing Voice

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