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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:
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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.

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How to command the stage: 10 Vocal Performance Tips

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1. Dress to impress. Wear a nice outfit that you feel comfortable in. If you feel like you look great, then you?ll have more confidence, which will radiate on stage. However, always be comfortable. If you?re wearing a great outfit that you don?t feel comfortable in, you?re mood will show it and you might hide.
2. Don?t hide. Don?t wear a big hat or a bunch of makeup to hide your appearance. Be comfortable and let the audience see you.
3. Mean what you?re singing and act like it. If one of your songs speaks to you, don?t blow through the lyrics with little emotion. Feel the music. Make the audience believe in what you?re singing.
4. Make eye contact. Don?t just stare off into space; look at the audience. They want to feel engaged and their love for your music can motivate you. If you don?t feel comfortable looking at strangers, have your friends come and sit in the audience and keep your eyes on them.
5. Open your eyes! Just like making eye contact, the audience identifies with you through your eyes. It makes them feel part of the show. You may feel more emotion with your eyes closed, but your audience will not feel the emotion.
6. Stay calm. If you make a mistake, move past it. Don?t stand on stage awkward or make it known that you are having trouble; act natural. The audience does not know what is and is not part of your show.
7. Think about your set list. Make sure the songs flow and that you can keep up. Don?t put everyone?s favorite songs right at the beginning of the performance or the audience might lose interest.
8. Relax. Give yourself time on stage to relax. Don?t play a succession of fast paced dance songs; break them up with a couple slower songs. You don?t want to give your all right in the beginning and have the rest of the performance be dull.
9. Have a Plan B. Make sure you have some songs as back up in case you are feeling under the weather and are unable to hit the high notes or you can?t keep up your energy. Make sure your band is aware of the possible changes as well.
10. Rehearse! Make sure you are prepared for a live concert. Practice everything through and do practice runs to make sure you are able to do the set list. With all the other things that can go wrong during a show, make sure forgetting the lyrics isn?t one of them.

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10 Piano Practice Tips

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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.

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10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Practice Area

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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.

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10 Songs About Fall

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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!

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10 Piano Tips for Beginners

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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.

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10 Ways to Become More Cultured in Music

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1. Check out the local music scene! Cities often have an underground music scene that most people aren?t even aware of. That?s how a lot of great bands actually got their start. Check Facebook, local websites or coffee houses for concerts by local bands. Typically they are free or very cheap and definitely worth your time.
2. Ask someone interesting what they listen to. We all have those friends who listen to different music (not top 40) and march to the beat of their own drum. Ask them what kinds of music they listen to or if they would recommend a couple bands to you.
3. Listen to the whole CD. If you love a song on the radio, go out and buy the whole CD. Listen to it in its entirety and see what you think. Often times the songs that are played on the radio are uncharacteristic of the artist and the best songs are the ones that aren?t mainstream.
4. Listen to bands that others credit as their inspiration. Artists always credit other artists as their inspiration, and sometimes their inspiration is a lesser-known artist.
5. Take a music theory class. This is a great way to really appreciate different types of music. If you?re written off whole genres of music simply because you don?t understand it, a music theory class can help you understand and appreciate different music.
6. Listen to Internet radio stations. With Internet radio stations, like Pandora, you can type in the name of an artist or a song that you really like and the station will play other songs and artists similar.
7. Similarly, rate songs on Internet radio stations that you listen to. The station will then get a feel for your taste and start playing more songs that you might like. This is a great way to discover new bands and music.
8. Take music lessons. Taking music lessons will allow you to really listen to different instruments in a song and appreciate the complexity of songs. Your music instructor may be able to recommend some great bands as well.
9. Keep an eye on local venues. Smaller venues in larger cities will often have concerts by local artists as well as concerts by well-known artists. Look at fliers and the website for the venue and see who?s playing. Then look up the songs online and see what you think.
10. Go to concerts! If your favorite band is coming to town, buy a ticket, but make sure you?re on time to hear the opening bands. If you like the headliner, odds are you?ll like the opener too, which can lead to a whole new world of music.

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10 Tips for Writing Your Own Music

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Writing your own music may seem like a difficult task; coming up with the melody, the lyrics and putting them all together. These days, many performers have other write their music because it is a difficult task. One way to really get yourself noticed is to write your own music rather than playing other people?s music or starting a cover band.

Here are some tips for writing your own music.

1. Figure out what works best for you. Try writing some lyrics first, then try playing a melody. Figure out what?s easier for you to start with and go with that.
2. Listen to different types of music and get inspiration from them. Different artists are going to do different things with their music and it?s important to keep variety in your songs to make them unique.
3. Keep a pen and paper or a tape recorder with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will hit and you don?t want to be caught without a way to record your thoughts.
4. Draw inspiration from past experiences. Think about your first love or a high school bully and think about how you felt. The songs with the most emotion are the ones people can relate to because they feel real.
5. Make sure your music and lyrics go together. Sad lyrics shouldn?t have a happy upbeat tempo. Make sure everything about the song makes sense.
6. Make sure your song means something. Songs with silly lyrics can become hits, but the best songs are the ones that mean something and people can relate to.
7. Try to create catchy lyrics and music. The catchy songs are the ones people sing over and over and become hits. This doesn?t mean your whole song has to rhyme, but some sort of word play can be helpful.
8. Create a hook. The hook is the part of the song that captivates listeners and makes them want to listen to it over and over. Great hooks are what will make listeners remember your songs.
9. Get feedback or ask for advice. If you?re not sure about a part of the song or how to really take it to the next level, ask a friend or fellow musician to help you. They might have some insights that you did not think of.
10. Keep writing! Don?t stop just because you have so many songs that you?d never be able to play them all. The more you write, the better your songs will be.

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10 tips for cleaning your drum set

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Just like other instruments, drum sets need to be cleaned regularly to maintain the best sound. Unlike other instruments, drum sets have many parts that need to be cleaned different ways.

Here are some tips for cleaning your drum set.

1. Compressed air. Use a can of compressed air to get dust out of those hard to reach places that your drum set is filled with!
2. Goo Gone. Use Goo Gone to get the tape residue off your cymbals or drum stand!
3. Use Gaffers Tape. This is definitely more expensive than duct tape, but it doesn?t leave the residue that other tapes leave. If you don?t want to waste time and money trying to get tape residue off your drum set, invest in Gaffers Tape.
4. Don?t clean your cymbals. At least think about it before you do! Some musicians swear by their dirty old cymbals. They think it gives the cymbals a warm sound and adds character giving their music a unique sound.
5. Furniture polish. This is probably the quickest way to clean your drum set. The antistatic properties help keep dust from sticking and finger prints wipe off easily with a cloth.
6. Damp cloth. Don?t use a sopping wet cloth! Rather, wet a cloth and wring it out, then wipe down your drums. Don?t use a wet cloth on the metal stands unless it is almost dry.
7. Dry cloth. If you?re drum set is already set up for a show and you don?t want to disturb it, but you still want to clean off your drum set, use a dry cloth. Instead of wiping your drum set, stand back and whip the drum with the dry cloth. This will create a breeze to blow away the dust and force dust out from hard to reach places.
8. Remove the drum heads. Rather than trying to clean around them. This does not need to be done every time, but for a thorough cleaning, the drum heads should be removed to clean inside the shell.
9. Keep the stands free of moisture. The metal parts of your drum and stands should always stay dry and free of moisture to prevent rust. Wipe down all metal parts after practice and performances.
10. Don?t use abrasive cleaners! Abrasive cleaners can damage your drums. You may think you?re getting a better clean, but this damage is permanent and your drums will not last as long.

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