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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Singing Lesson Myth: Classically Trained Singers Can?t Sing Popular Music

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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.

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Breathe Easy: 10 Tips for Vocal Students

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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

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Beat the Cold: 10 winter care tips for your instrument.

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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

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Listen up and be happy: 10 ways music improves your mood!

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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

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Unconventional Benefits of Music Lessons

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Music lessons can be fun for kids and help them excel in school and standardized testing, but those aren?t the only reasons to enroll your children in music lessons.

Here are some more benefits of music lessons.

Slow and steady. When first beginning music lessons, there are lots of techniques to learn. Children are used to trying something and, if not seeing immediate results, quitting. Music lessons are a slow progression that ultimately will give results if the students practice and take lessons seriously. Music lessons teach children the importance of sticking with something even if they don?t see immediate results.

Persistence pays off. Music lessons and practicing an instrument are not always going to be fun. Sometimes it will hurt and sometimes it will be boring. That?s life and that?s going to continue to happen. Eventually, children will learn the importance of pushing through the hard stuff to get to the end, but why not start young with music lessons. If children learn young that persistence pays off, then they will save themselves lots of regret by sticking with activities that might not be easy at first.

Self-esteem boost. Self-esteem can be an inherent trait that children come by naturally. For others, developing and excelling at a talent can help raise children?s self-esteem. Kids need to know that they are good at something and music lessons are something that anyone can excel at given enough practice. Not only will music lessons raise children?s self-esteem just by giving them a talent, they will have a built-in group of friends once they are able to join school band. Clubs are a great way for children to make friends and get involved.

Most children will not become a world-class musician, but they will benefit from music lessons for the rest of their lives.

More articles about the benefits of music lessons:
Improve your overall well being and start singing!
Music Lessons Help Raise Children?s Self Esteem
Music lessons = Better Communication Skills

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It?s December; time to tune the piano.

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Piano owners know that a piano should be tuned twice a year (once a year at the very least) to keep the piano at top performance. But do you know the best times to tune your piano? A good rule of thumb is two weeks after you turn your heat on in the winter and two weeks after you turn it off in the spring.

Why are those the best times to tune your piano?

Well, here are some reasons why your piano will need to be tuned:
–Humidity changes
–Temperature changes
–Heavy hands
–Frequent moves

Humidity and temperature changes affect the tune of the piano more than anything else. When the seasons change, specifically from fall to winter and winter to spring, the humidity levels severely change in your home. Less moisture in the air shrinks the wooden structure of the piano causing it to lose its tune. Similarly, when you turn off your heat in the spring and moisture is back in the air, your piano will soak up the new moisture and the wood will swell. This also causes the piano to drift out of tune.

There are some ways to maintain moisture in your home, which could mean that you can tune your piano any two times per year. However, if you?re planning on trying to regulate the humidity for instrument care, make sure you are up for the challenge. Your humidifier needs to be constantly monitored to be sure it does not dry out. You also need a thermometer to monitor the temperate and humidity to make sure the levels are consistent. If you forget about your humidifier, then the levels will severely drop causing more harm to your piano than the gradual climate shift that happens naturally.

Similar articles:
Case Closed: Winter Instrument Care Tips
Piano lesson myth: I never play my piano so I don?t need to tune it.
Signs of a Damaged Piano

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Case Closed: Winter Instrument Care Tips

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Just like your skin gets dry and cracked in the winter, your instrument will too, especially instruments made of wood.? But applying lotion directly to your instrument isn?t the answer.? Instead, you need to take precautions to prevent your instrument from drying out.

Here are some winter instrument care tips:

Regulate: Instruments need consistent temperature and humidity for best upkeep.? In the winter, the humidity levels severely drop (that?s why your hair is frizzier in the summer and more static-y in the winter) which is what dries out your instrument.
–To regulate the humidity, you need to know the humidity levels in your room.? A hygrometer monitors relative humidity.? When buying one, be sure to do some research to be sure you purchase an accurate one.? Inactive readings will be of no help in regulating the humidity.
Humidify: A room humidifier adds moisture into the air.? If you?re going to use a humidifier, it?s important to store your instrument in that room only.? Humidifiers require constant upkeep to be sure they do not dry out.
–WARNING: If you?re thinking of using a humidifier, make sure you are prepared to constantly keep an eye on it.? If your instrument gets too much moisture, it can do more damage than too little moisture.? Similarly, if you let your humidifier dry out, then your instrument will experience extreme climate changes, which can severely damage your instrument.
Case closed: For instruments, the case is their defense against weather, water and damage.? Take advantage of the fact that your instrument has a case by leaving the case closed whenever possible.? If your case protects your instrument from water, then it should be able to lock in moisture keeping your instrument from drying out.
Acclimate: If you?ve ever owned a fish, you know that you can?t simply buy a new fish and drop it in your tank.? You need to put the fish and its current water and container in the tank to acclimate the fish to the new temperature.? I know that instruments are not living things, but they can take just as much care as pets sometimes.? When going to a lesson, arrive early and let your instrument sit in the case for a while.? Then, open the case slightly and let your instrument slowly adapt to the climate changes.
–To make more sense of this, think about when you?re inside your warm house and have to go outside.? The second you get outside; you?re freezing cold.? Your skin tightens and your muscles tense.? Instruments experience this as well, except instead of shivering, they crack.

More instrument care articles:
Dos and Don?ts for a Healthy Voice
Tips for Piano Health
Summer Instrument Care

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Piano lesson myth: I haven?t played piano in years and now I have to start over.

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Myth: Since I haven?t played the piano in years, now I have to start from the beginning again. If you haven?t played the piano in years and you decide to sit down and play some Chopin one day, probably you won?t play as well as you used to (if you can still play at all). There are some things that you can pick up after not having done in years, like riding a bike or a horse. However, there are a lot of things that you can?t just pick up again, like doing cartwheels or double dutch jump rope. If you?re trying to play the piano again for the first time in years, then it may seem like playing the piano is something you have to learn all over again. Your fingers might be stiff and unable to reach a full octave or you may have forgotten the fingering for several notes. But that doesn?t mean you have to completely start over.

Fact: As with many things, you may have forgotten some of the basics overtime, but as soon as you get back into it, you?ll pick things right back up again. Taking some refresher piano lessons would be a good idea to help you remember the basics quicker, but it isn?t necessary. All you need to do is take some time to go over the basics and practice daily. It may feel like you?re starting over, but think about how long it took for you to learn these techniques in the first place; definitely not as long as it?s taking you now.

If you?re fingers are stiff and you feel like you just can?t master the fingerings, you just need to relax and stretch. Think about when you take off a few months (years) from the gym and decide to get back into it. You?re not going to be able to run ten six minute miles right away; you?re going to need to build up to it. Take your time and relax your hands and fingers. Your entire hand doesn?t need to be firm and press the keys; only your fingertips need to do the work. The more you practice the more nimble your hands and fingers will be.

More piano lesson myths:
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.
Piano Lesson Myth: I Have to Practice Everyday.

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