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Volunteer: Do your part and spread some cheer!


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.

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Playing Music from Memory: Is it necessary?


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.

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How to command the stage: 10 Vocal Performance Tips


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 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!

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10 Tips for Writing Your Own Music


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 to Prepare for an Honor Band Audition


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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More Tips for Starting Your Own Band


Start a band.

Sounds easy enough, right? Find musicians, pick a cool name and start jamming together.

Starting your own band might sound easy, and to some extent it is, but there are some obstacles to overcome before your first gig.

1. Find people to join your band that you work well with and make decisions together. Band always have a front man, but all decisions should be a consensus. If half the band wants to do one thing and the other half wants to do something else, work together to find a solution. If some band members are constantly losing battles and being walked over, eventually they?ll leave, and probably not at a convenient time.

2. Have clear goals! Make sure all band members are there for the same reason. If some members only want to play and have fun and others want to work hard and play gigs, there is going to be some nasty disagreements. Things might work with your band at first if you?re trying to prove playing gigs and making records is worth it, but eventually things can go bad and you?ll be back to square one.

3. Deal with problems right away instead of hoping they?ll fizzle out. If one of your band mates is a stage hog or refuses to practice the basics even though they should, these issues should be handled right away. Bands are a team effort and if one person feels like it?s their band, there will be more problems and power struggles later on.

4. Remember that things take time! Just because you read an article about a band that became famous over night does not mean that will be your band. Keep practicing and working towards your goals and don?t give up! Many famous bands had doors slammed in their faces early on, but they were persistent and determined and it paid off.

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10 Music Performance Tips


A music performance can be very nerve-wracking.

Here are some tips to make sure you have a great performance.

1. When you first walk out on stage for a performance, introduce yourself and make eye contact with some friendly faces in the crowd. Always smile and convey confidence, even if your nerves are getting the best of you.
2. Exude confidence! Even some of the best performers have terrible stage freight, but their love of music helps them overcome these fears. You?re the one with the talent who has the courage to be on stage, so show it. Remember that you can still have a great performance even if everything wasn?t perfect.
3. A music performer is similar to a public speaker, in that they have to engage the audience in the first 10 seconds. If the crowd isn?t hooked right away, it sets the tone for the rest of the performance.
4. Make sure your first piece is one that you truly enjoy. Again, this is the time to ?hook? your audience. You will perform a piece better if you actually like it. Your audience will be able to tell if this song is one you love performing or one that you are forced to play.
5. Play or sing your piece as if it?s a journey. Introduce the piece if it required introduction and begin with great energy and enthusiasm. During the climax, use the highest amount of expression and emotion. End the performance as you would end a journey-with resolution.
6. Visualize yourself as an entertainer rather than just a performer. Entertainers engage the audience and try to see their performance through the eyes of the audience. This will greatly improve your performance because you?ll be focusing on the needs of the audience.
7. Be unique. Even if you?re doing a cover rather than playing your own songs, do something different. No one else can play or sing exactly how you do, so don?t try to mimic the original artist. Take everything you play and make it your own.
8. Perform your piece as you would like it to be performed. The audience doesn?t expect a perfect performance, but they did come to be entertained. Use full energy and keep the audience engaged, otherwise your audience numbers will dwindle as you continue to perform.
9. Remember the lyrics! This seems like a no-brainer, but it?s very embarrassing for a performer to sing the wrong lyrics, or sing them in the wrong order.
10. Chat up the audience in between songs. If you aren?t able to engage the audience during your songs, you might be able to grab them in between. This is a great way to build a relationship with the crowd during a performance.

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Recording Music Lessons


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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Diet for Vocal Health


Most singers know to avoid smoke and keep their vocal chords hydrated and in good vocal health, but not everyone knows that the foods you eat can have just as much effect on the sound of your voice as a cold would. In order to maintain vocal health, it?s important to maintain a healthy diet.

Here are some foods to avoid for a vocal health.

1. Foods with high fat content (fast food, chocolate desserts etc.). Foods with high fat content can trigger the acid in your stomach to over-produce to digest these foods. This can cause heartburn and swollen vocal chords making it difficult and unpleasant to sing correctly.

2. Alcohol and caffeine. These are ones you?ve probably heard of, but maybe don?t know why to avoid them. Alcohol and caffeine have similar effects on the body and dehydrate you. Both increase acid production in your stomach, which can cause acid reflux and is damaging for vocal health.

3. Salty and spicy foods (Mexican and Chinese foods). These aren?t ones to cut out of your diet completely, but definitely before a performance and practice session and definitely only eat in moderation. Both these foods can cause dehydration and swollen vocal chords. Your body needs to use more water to metabolize salty and spicy foods, so when eating these foods it?s important to have a glass of water nearby.

4. Dairy before a performance. Growing up singing in choirs, this was always my favorite thing to tell my parents I had to avoid since I hated milk. Dairy products are essential to body and vocal health and should not be cut out of a diet completely, but performers should definitely steer clear of them before a performance or practice session. Dairy products cause excess mucus production and make it difficult to get a crisp clear sound when singing.

The most important thing to remember about vocal health is keeping a well-balanced, healthy diet.

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