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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!

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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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Music Lesson Myth: The flute is the easiest musical instrument to learn

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Myth: The flute is the easiest musical instrument to learn. The flute has the reputation of being the easiest musical instrument to learn for a lot of reasons. It?s small and easy to transport. It?s cheaper to buy and is very popular. Since the flute is smaller, it?s much easier to handle than a tuba or trombone. Some instruments require you to be doing different things with your mouth on the reed or doing two different things with your hands, which can be challenging for some.

Fact: The difficulty of the instrument depends on the person playing. The flute may be easiest for some people but others may not be able to make a sound. The flute is smaller and takes the least amount of effort to make a sound, but it?s not going to be the easiest instrument for everyone to learn.

A lot of factors play into someone?s ability to learn an instrument.

Interest: If a student is more interested in learning one instrument over another, they will be more apt to practice and learn the instrument they are interested in.

Size: Instruments come in all shapes and sizes. A larger person with large hands may have more trouble making sound with the flute than a small person. Similarly, a small person may have trouble learning and transporting a brass instrument.

Accessibility: Some instruments may be easier for parents to acquire. If the family does not have a piano but their children would like to play piano, it?s going to be more difficult for the students to practice piano outside of studio lessons. Keep in mind that students will be carrying around their instrument. If the instrument is too large, then the student may not want to carry it back and forth from school and therefore it will never be practiced.

No instruments are easier to play than others! It all depends on the student. If you?re unsure of what instrument your child should play, contact Lesson Match to speak to a lesson coordinator about what instrument would suit your student best.

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Music Lesson Myth: Band instruments are gender specified.

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Myth: Band instruments are gender specified-girls should play woodwind instruments and boys should play brass and percussion. If you look at a school band ensemble, typically the girl will be playing the flutes and clarinets and the boys will be playing the drums and brass instruments. Seems legit right? If you look at a school band, most of the flute players are girls and very rarely will a female be playing the drums or tuba. So it would seem that girls should play woodwind instruments and boys should play brass instruments and percussion instruments.

Fact: Instruments are not gender specified, but instead, gender stereotyped. Boys can definitely play the flute and in fact, some of the best flute players in the world are men. The myth came about because the flute and other woodwind instruments are smaller and create a lighter, higher pitched sound; all things that are thought to be more appealing to females. While on the other hand, brass instruments are larger and create bigger sounds, things that males are thought to be more interested in.

In reality, both males and females can play any instrument. All instruments require practice and some children might be more talented at one instrument than another. If a girl has had piano lessons, she will most likely excel at playing the drums over a boy that has never taken piano lessons. Don?t limit yourself or your children to certain instruments simply because of gender stereotypes in music.

More music lesson myths:
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Music Lesson Myth: I can?t learn to play the piano well because I only have a keyboard.

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Choosing Band Instruments

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For many students, elementary/middle school bands will be their first experience with musical instruments. This can also be the beginning of their musical career or the end of their music attempts. So how do you choose the right band instrument and give your child a fair chance at loving music?

Here are some tips to help parents choose the right band instruments for their children.

Talent
Children definitely stick with things longer when they are good at them. If they pick up a band instrument and show an innate talent with it, then odds are, they?ll enjoy playing it. It?s also easy to get discouraged if children cannot make a sound from an instrument. If they are having trouble with the instrument, then they probably will not continue past the mandatory band years.

Preference
If your child knows she has wanted to play the saxophone ever since she can remember, then she?ll be more likely to practice and stick with it. However, if your children show no talent with this instrument that they loved so dearly, then they?ll likely quit band. Find a happy medium! If your child wants to play the saxophone but finds after taking lessons that she cannot handle this larger instrument, switch to something a little smaller, like the clarinet. The clarinet has similar components to the saxophone but it small smaller.

Size
Band instruments vary in shapes and sizes, as do students. Some students will not be able to handle playing larger instruments. Keep in mind that children are going to be carrying these instruments back and forth from school and home all week. If the instrument is too large, then the student may always leave the instrument at school or in their locker, therefore never practicing.

Cost
Some band instruments are more expensive than others. It?s hard to justify shelling out big bucks if your child really isn?t interested in band in the first place. Shop around and see what band instruments are cheaper that your child might be interested in learning or if a neighbor has an instrument to sell or loan to you. If you don?t want cost to limit your child?s band instrument choice, see if the school rents instruments or if there is somewhere you can rent the instrument before buying it.

Give your children a shot at a musical life by encouraging them to learn band instruments!

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10 tips to Prepare for an Honor Band Audition

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When you?ve got musical talent or are a serious musician, there will probably be a time when you audition for an honor band. This can be a stressful time since honor bands are very prestigious. The key to nailing the audition is to relax and be prepared!

Here are some tips to prepare for an excellent honor band audition.

1. Know the requirements! Every audition is different, so just because one band audition didn?t require you to do something, doesn?t mean another one won?t. Different instruments have different requirements as well; make sure you are familiar with your instrument requirements, not just the general requirements.

2. Bring the piece you are auditioning with. The director might have the piece there for you, but don?t count on it. It?s better to have it and not need it than to not have it.

3. Bring extra pieces of all your equipment. Having your instrument fail you when you?re completely prepared can be about the worst thing to happen! Don?t let your instrument wreck your audition; have extra reeds etc. just in case.

4. Memorize as much as you can! Just like preparing for an exam, make sure to have enough memorized so you look prepared. You will be able to use sheet music for the audition piece, but octaves and scales will likely need to be memorized.

5. Show off, but don?t overdo it. You get points for everything you can do, but you?ll earn more points by playing 3 octaves than by playing a more difficult octave and messing it up.

6. Ask for help before the audition. If the required piece is more difficult than you anticipated, ask a musical friend or instructor to assist you with practicing. It never hurts to ask for help, especially if they can give you pointers about the piece or audition.

7. Make sure you?re instrument is in its best shape! You don?t want to get to the audition and have your instrument be what fails you. Take it to be professionally cleaned or looked at before the audition.

8. Arrive early to the audition fully prepared. Warm up and get everything together before leaving for the audition and get there early. This will give you time to calm down and scope things out before the audition.

9. Practice! Even the little things that you have been doing since you started playing an instrument can be forgotten or get rusty (sight-reading). Make sure and practice everything you can so you know you won?t make avoidable mistakes.

10. Stay calm. Nerves can wreck an audition! If you?ve practiced and are prepared, then all you can do is try your best. It?s only one audition; there will be more.

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When to Buy a Used Musical Instrument

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Parents of musical students know that buying a new musical instrument is quite an investment.

Pianos can cost upwards of $10,000, guitarists will easily spend $500 on the guitar alone (not to mention equipment and upkeep). So when should you buy a used instrument rather than a brand new one?

It may be tough to know when to buy the used trombone instead of buying the used one from your neighbor. Children often get very excited about a new hobby and are convinced they will stick with it forever and become a famous orchestra member. It becomes difficult as well when required school band classes force parents to go out and buy the instrument their child is assigned to play. When I was in school, I desperately wanted to play the saxophone (like my mom played), but instead I was assigned the flute. My parents knew I did not want to play this instrument, but I had no choice. This is a common occurrence in schools where some instruments are more sought after than other. So what is a parent to do when their child has to learn an instrument that they are not particularly interested in? This is definitely a good time to buy a used instrument. If you know your child will only play this instrument for a year and then switch, it?s probably not the wisest to purchase a brand new instrument.

Some parents might argue that giving a sub-par instrument to a child to learn is setting them up for failure. Parents typically have a good idea about whether or not their child can/will stick with an instrument. A good way to test out the water is to rent an instrument. You can typically rent instruments from local stores (or possibly even your child?s school) to see if your child warms to the instrument. If they still hate their instrument, don?t purchase it?find a used instrument to get them through the year and then once they decide what instrument is their true passion, then you can shell out the big bucks for that instrument.

The best way to ensure that your children succeed with any instrument is to sign them up with private lessons! Children who are progressing at learning an instrument will be more apt to continue with that instrument.

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Music Lesson Myth: Children should learn to play the piano before any other instrument.

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Myth: The first instrument a child should learn to play is the piano. This is a common myth that seems to make sense because when children are young, it may be easiest for them to play the piano. It?s simple; you just sit down and play. When learning other instruments, such as the guitar or trumpet at a young age, it can be difficult for students to press down the guitar strings hard enough or produce enough sound with the trumpet.

Fact: While the piano may seem like the easiest instrument to learn, children do not need to know how to play the piano before they can play another instrument. School band class typically begins around 5th grade and many students entering band have never picked up an instrument. It?s true that many band teachers will require drum students to have basic piano skills, but that?s the only instrument. In fact, the piano is not an instrument that band students can take so if your child has never had piano lessons before, they will have to begin playing a different band instrument.

For young children, the piano is not the only instrument they are capable of learning. Many young children begin music lessons by playing the violin, thanks to the Suzuki method created by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki. The Suzuki method does not require children to learn to read music, they listen and play what they hear. This method works well for young children around the age of three because often they cannot read yet. While this method can be taught on any instrument, for young children, the violin is the easiest for them to play besides the piano.

Children can learn any instrument at a any age; not just the piano!

Listen to your children and see what instrument they would like to play or what you think they are capable of learning and enroll them in music lessons!

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10 Tips to Motivate Students to Practice Music

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Now that school?s started again, children?s practice schedules just got hectic.? Kids have their favorite after school activities and hobbies that they can easily make time to practice.? After the school day ends, kids have after school clubs or sports (which can last hours), homework and dinner.? By the time night falls, kids are exhausted and just want to relax.? So, how can you motivate them to make some time to practice their instrument?

Here are some tips to keep kids motivated to practice their instrument.

1. Aim to practice everyday.? This might seem daunting, but practicing everyday can shorten practice times so it doesn?t seem like such a chore.
2. Praise their efforts.? Kids get bored and discouraged easily.? If they feel they aren?t making any progress with their instrument, they won?t even want to try.? By commending them for their hard work, they may become more motivated.
3. Keep a set schedule.? Set aside 15-20 minutes every day at the same time everyday for your children to practice.? After awhile, this routine will become second nature.
4. Create a practice area.? Not many students are going to want to practice the piano when their sibling is sitting on the couch in the same room watching TV.? Separate practice areas from common areas so they are comfortable and free of distractions.
5. Remove distractions.? Try to make it so your children aren?t thinking about other things, like food or sports by having music be the last thing they focus on before homework.? After sport practice, make a snack and have your child sit down for a couple minutes to practice.? If they know homework comes right after practice, they won?t want to rush through it.
6. Reward practice.? Keep a calendar of all the days or minutes that your children practice their instruments and have a reward (pizza party, new movie etc.) at the end of a set amount of time.
7. Sign them up for recitals.? Kids will practice much better if they know they are going to be playing their instrument in front of people.
8. Create a musical home.? Play music while cleaning or making dinner.? This will put your children in the music mind set so music and practice seem second nature.
9. Make sure they are practicing efficiently.? Since kids get bored easily, if they are not making progress, they will not want to continue.? Speak with their band teacher or private instructor to make sure they are maximizing their practice time.
10. Take private lessons.? If children know they have an instructor coming to their home weekly to see what they?ve accomplished and teach them new things, they might be more apt to practice to impress their instructor.

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Recording Music Lessons

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You?ve probably had this happen before during practice sessions or music lessons. You?re playing/singing a piece of music and it sounds great, but luckily you decided to record it to critique it later. Once you listen to it, you realize that it really doesn?t sound as great as you though. This is a common occurrence because of perception and typically people are too busy trying to play/sing the piece and can?t focus on listening to what they are performing.

As teachers, you know how your students sound during music lessons, but is that what the students are hearing?

Recording music lessons is a great way to be sure the students are on the same page as the teachers. You don?t have to let the student know they are being recorded, but once they are having success with a piece, or you think there is a technique they should be working on, record the session and play it back at the end. For some students, this can be discouraging since in their minds they could think they sound amazing. Recording music lessons an be a great way to point out smaller flaws in the sound that the student cannot hear while they are playing, or point out a part that they are excelling at.

Recording music lessons can also be a great way to show the students how far they?ve come. Students often get discouraged and feel like they?re not making any progress. If you?ve recorded one of their earlier lessons, you can play it when they feel like they?ve hit a wall. Record the student playing a current piece of music and then play it right after listening to the older lesson.

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