When Should You Upgrade Your Instrument?

If your music studies concentrate on playing a specific instrument, the cost of that instrument is going to be one of your most significant expenses. One of the biggest debates that people have when somtrumpetebody decides to take music lessons – particularly a child – is how much money they want to spend on an instrument. After all, an adult or a child may start out playing the trumpet and then suddenly decide that the viola is really where it’s at.

viola up close

Most of the time, music stores online or off will have plenty of beginner level instruments. These are instruments that are generally chosen because they have acceptable quality but are not particularly expensive compared to a professional quality instrument. When you do find out that the instrument you are playing really is your passion, however, you’re going to want to upgrade at some point. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when you should go ahead and do this.

 

Give it a Year

If you’ve never played an instrument before, it will probably take you a year or so before you can play it well enough to notice the difference in instrument quality as far as the tone a more expensive instrument is going to give you. Unless you happen to be quite talented, before this point, any lacking tone you have is probably connected to your technique more than it is to the instrument and therefore it’s not worth the money to  an instrument upgrade.

 

If you still love the instrument that you’re playing after a year and you really want to get something that allows you to develop your abilities as a musician further, start looking to upgrade your instrument at that point. You can upgrade to a mid-range instrument or you can go all out and get something professional quality. Some people choose the latter option, as it means they’ll probably never have to buy another instrument again, at least for quality reasons.

fender guitar update your instrument

Develop Your Style

You’re going to find that you develop a preference for certain instruments after you become more experienced as a musician. For instance, some guitarists prefer Gibson guitars while others prefer Fender guitars. Both of those companies produce world-class instruments, some examples of which have actually become legendary. They have subtle differences in the way they are constructed – particularly where the fret board is concerned – that makes some musicians prefer one brand strongly over the other. It will take you time to develop sufficient skill to know whether you prefer one instrument over another, so invest some time in developing your own style so that you know which instruments you are likely to gravitate towards.

 

Be Sensible

Remember that you don’t have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on the most expensive instrument you can find. There are excellent instruments that are available for under $1000 and that will last you a lifetime. Take the time to explore a little bit, talk to experienced musicians and don’t forget to look for used instruments. In some cases, you’ll find that the best thing you can do is purchase a used instrument of a very high quality that has a few miles on it, so to speak. This sometimes allows you to get a world-class instrument that you could never afford to purchase new.


Why Music Theory Still Matters for Musicians

Music theory is oftentimes the bane of beginning musician’s existence. It’s complex, some of the vocabulary is, frankly, antiquated and some of the conventions are born of aesthetics that went out of fashion a century ago or more. Why does theory still matter? Because theory, despite the fact that many musicians regard it as a limitation on their creativity, is actually a way to understand music at a meaningful level.

music notes

The Modern and the Traditional

 

Today, musicians in popular music spend little time worrying about whether they’ve gone off-key in a song or whether a wayward tritone has worked its way into a passage that was intended to be harmonious. In many ways, today’s musicians have a level of freedom that their historical counterparts couldn’t have imagined being possible.

 

In modern music, musicians are more likely to use the precise language of machines to describe what they’re writing, as well. For instance, instead of notating music with a repeat sign to denote that a passage is to be played more than once, today’s musicians will oftentimes just cut and paste a composed part on a recording into another time frame, which is rather akin to writing the same section twice on a piece of sheet music, but which can be done in a couple of seconds rather than a couple of hours.

 

Today’s musicians would likely refer to an A-440 tone as 440 Hz, to an ostinato passage as a “loop”, and to a loudness shift from forte to piano as a “break”. Does this mean that traditional theory is outdated? Not at all.mixer music

 

Why Traditional Music Theory Matters

 

To a large extent, Western ears still perceive music in a way that is largely in line with the teachings of traditional theory. When you hear an inexperienced singer hit a sour note and your entire body cringes, it’s because you have a sense of what is “sour” based on your cultural predispositions to consider certain notes within a series to be harmonious—i.e. in key—and to perceive others as clashing. This is something that goes down to the core of your being aesthetically speaking. Every culture has its own traditions that mirror this effect.

 

Knowledge of traditional theory makes it easier to communicate with other musicians, particularly when improvising. For instance, it’s a lot easier to call for a chord progression that fits the standard I-IV-V model than it is to ask a guitarist and a bassist to play specific frequencies.

 

Traditional theory still has its place and is still worth studying. This particularly applies to art and antique music. You could, of course, break down all the frequencies for the notes in one of Beethoven’s symphonies and understand the piece in that regard, but it wouldn’t give you insight into the composer’s thought process when he was writing the piece in the same way that studying the symphony in the framework of traditional theory would. Traditional theory training still has its place and, even in a world of electronic music, it’s still a very valuable tool to have available.


Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution to Learn an Instrument

new years 2016

It’s that time of year again and with 2016 just around the corner lots of people are making resolutions to make 2016 the year they learn how to play a new instrument or learn how to sing. If previous years have taught us anything though, it’s that New Year’s Resolutions are easier made than kept. Using these tips (along with a little hard work and determination) you can make 2016 the year you succeed in keeping your resolutions- at least the musical ones!

 Buy Your Instrument

buying stringsIf you don’t already own the instrument you want to learn, it’s a good idea to outright purchase your instrument of choice. While rental programs are also viable options, especially if you are on a tight budget, when you buy an instrument you are making a monetary commitment. You also can’t return it to the store you’re renting it from at the beginning of February!

 

Find a Teacher You Like

While online tutorials can be great resources, having a teacher that you visit on a weekly basis is by far the best way to learn an instrument. Your teacher won’t just help you learn how to play, they’ll also keep you on track with practicing and make sure you’re not developing bad habits or technique. Like having a gym buddy, your teacher will hold you accountable for putting in the time needed to keep that resolution.

It’s also important that you like your teacher and that your learning style fits with their teaching style. If you don’t enjoy your lessons you’re less likely to stick with them. Musika’s risk free trial lesson lets you take a lesson with your teacher before committing to studying with them, so if it doesn’t feel like a good fit you can try another teacher.

Don’t Cancel Your Lessons

After a long day at work or school it can often be tempting to cancel your lesson in favor of going home or grabbing a drink with friends. When you feel the urge to skip a week, remind yourself why you wanted to learn in the first place and think about the progress you’ve made. Also remember that your teacher has set aside time for you and they are expecting you. Things like family emergencies and coming down with the flu are bound to happen once in awhile and that’s okay, but try to avoid those “my dog ate my lesson book” weeks.

Schedule Your Practice Timeplanner book scheduling

Practicing is where the real progress happens. It’s also the hardest part of learning any new skill. Even if it’s just 15 minutes per day, regular practice is how you’ll get better. When you’re juggling an already busy schedule, picking a time and setting it aside helps make practicing a habit. It also helps with fighting procrastination! Sit down once per week and plan when you’re going to practice during the upcoming week. Write it into your calendar or planner so that it’s part of your daily schedule and you can’t avoid it. If you don’t keep a written or digital calendar, try setting alerts on your phone or computer.

Do Mental Practice

Sitting down and formally practicing your instrument is the main way to improve, but mental or informal practicing is also a useful tool. If you commute to work or school, use your travel time to listen to a recording of your most recent lesson. Have five extra minutes waiting for an event to start? Go over key signatures or the order of the notes on the staff in your head instead of playing with your phone. If you’re a doodler, try drawing the music you’re working on or the lyrics to the song you’re learning instead of your normal doodles. Practice hand positions with a tabletop for a keyboard, a pencil for wind instruments, or even just in the air. You’ll not only be more prepared when you sit down for formal practicing, you’ll also keep yourself actively interested in learning which will help you stick with it.

Inspire Yourself

Any time you set out to try something new there will always be things that are especially difficult to master. When you’re stuck on sixteenth notes or fuming over finger placement, step back, take a break, and remember why you wanted to learn your instrument in the first place. Put on some music by a musician you look up to or admire and think about how awesome your instrument sounds. Keep in mind that everyone started somewhere and that all musicians have something they can improve on. Stick with it and by this time next year you’ll be glad you did.

learn an instrument


Renting vs. Buying: Weighing the Pros and Cons

So you (or your child) finally took the plunge and signed up for music lessons! Regardless of which instrument you have decided to study, making the choice between purchasing or renting can be mind-boggling, especially for first time students.

Renting

rent signMany students taking lessons for the first-time may opt to rent an instrument as it’s a good way to acquire an instrument without the burden of a large initial investment. Renting is a good option for students who are unsure of how much commitment they may be able to offer. Many rental programs offer a three month trial period which gives students a decent amount of time to try out the instrument before deciding if they’d like to continue. Rentals are also a good option for younger students learning a stringed instrument as they will often require size upgrades as they grow. Many programs allow you to switch out to a larger size or to a different instrument altogether should the student change their mind. Instruments will also most likely need repair or maintenance from time to time which can be costly. Many rental programs usually cover these repair costs at little to no additional fee depending on what the program covers

However, instrument rentals are not without disadvantages. In the long run, costs can add up. A year of instrument rental fees is about equal to the cost of purchasing a starter or used instrument in good condition. Some programs may add on insurance fees or other surcharges as well. Additionally, many rental programs are rent-to-own which may ultimately lead to paying much more than what the instrument is worth. Rental instruments also tend to be used, and you are most likely not the first person to rent the instrument. There may be small damages on the instrument such as dents or sticky valves. They also tend to be older and may need regular repairs or maintenance. And in the event the instrument is lost or stolen there may be high fees, so it would be best to look into a rental program that offers protection in such events should you choose to go the rental route.

Buying

Buying an instrument may seem like a risky investment at first, especially if this is the first time you’re taking music lessons. However, there are a few advantages when it comes to buying an for sale signinstrument. In the long run purchasing an instrument can actually be cheaper than renting an instrument, especially if the instrument you’re purchasing is a starter or used. For example, a year of rental fees for a full sized violin may equal or be similar to that of the purchase of a starter one. Additionally should you  decide to stop lessons the instrument may be resold, either to a local or online music shop. Keep in mind you will most likely be offered below retail price for the instrument, but you will get some money back. Owning an instrument can also give the student a sense of pride. This may lead to increased practicing as well as motivation in learning the instrument.

Like all things, purchasing an instrument can have drawbacks. Selecting the best instrument for you can be overwhelming, especially as a beginner who may be unsure what characteristics to look for. This may result in owning a lower quality instrument or one that is a poor fit. It’s best to take note of the store’s return policy. Similar to owning your own home as opposed to renting, any repair costs would be covered solely by you unless you have purchased separate insurance to cover these kind of issues. While the costs for repairing an instrument are usually not astronomically high, these costs may add up over time.

 

Regardless of whether you choose to rent or buy your first instrument it is important to weigh the pros and cons based on your individual needs. For those who are still unsure whether to rent or buy, it may be best to seek out the advice of a professional such as an instructor. Here at Musika, we may put you in touch with one of the great instructors in our network who’d not only be able to give a trial lesson but offer recommendations on obtaining an instrument as well!


Can You Learn Perfect Pitch?

perfect pitch pipesPerfect pitch refers to an ability that some people have that allows them to identify musical notes almost flawlessly with no reference note. For example, if you play a C for someone with perfect pitch, they could tell you that the note is a C, no matter what octave you are playing it in, no matter what instrument you’re playing it on, and no matter whether or not they can actually see the note being played.

It is widely accepted that perfect pitch is something you are born with and not something you can fully learn, however if you keep studying music, your ability to identify pitches will develop to a more precise degree. If you’re not one of the lucky few to have this skill, you can utilize tools that musicians have been using for generations in order to identify pitches precisely.

 

Relative Pitch

The ability to identify pitches based on another pitch you’ve heard is called relative pitch. If you’ve taken any singing lessons, you probably remember solfege, a tool many music educators use to teach sight singing. It’s also one of the most popular ways to develop relative pitch. Solfege is familiar to most people from the iconic musical The Sound of Music, specifically the song “Do-Re-Mi.” If you haven’t ever heard “Do-Re-Mi” give this clip from it a listen, not only because it’s an amazing part of musical theater history, but also because it demonstrates solfege perfectly.

 

 

If you haven’t taken any singing lessons, you should, because practicing vocal solfege exercises increases your ability to identify pitches. The “do, re, mi” exercises you learn in voice lessons teach you intervals. If you know that a piece of music happens to be conforming to a given scale and you can identify the root note of that scale (referred to as “do” in solfege), you can then identify any other notes by their interval to the root note.

For example, if a piece of music is in the key of C Major and the first three notes are C E G then the solfege would be do mi sol. Do Mi SolIf the piece is in D Major, however, then D F# A would correspond to do mi sol. Do Mi Sol The intervals are exactly the same, the pitches are just a step up in the key of D Major. This is a skill most professional musicians use extensively and helps them quickly sightread any music put in front of them.

Relative pitch might not be as impressive as perfect pitch when you’re at a party, but it’s certainly equally useful. You don’t have to have perfect pitch to develop the ability, all you need is the dedication to keep studying it enough that you develop the skill.

Practice

Practicing your main instrument will also strengthen your ability to identify pitches. What ends up happening is that you hear certain notes repeatedly so much that you start to be able to pick them out without really thinking about it. This will come with time and, while you may not develop perfect pitch, you’ll definitely be able to come very close. playing keyboard

You can also practice identifying intervals and specific pitches on a piano keyboard. Keyboards are excellent for this, as their layout conforms very closely to the layout of sheet music and anyone can pick out notes with minimal training. Simply pick a root note and practice each interval up the scale until you reach the same note an octave above where you started. Try both listening to the intervals as you play them and singing them while you play. Do this in multiple keys, and experiment a bit. After a while, you’ll be able to identify the particular sound of each interval to the point that it makes it easier for you to identify which notes are being played in a song you’ve never heard before.

So Just How Important is this Perfect Pitch?

At the end of the day, not very. If you were born with it, it’s a very useful skill, but the majority of professional musicians don’t have perfect pitch. Learning to use tools such as relative pitch will improve anyone’s overall musicianship skills though, and practicing sight singing and doing ear training exercises are beneficial for all music students.


What to Look For When Selecting a Violin

With all of the choices available on the market selecting a violin can be stressful, and might even seem downright impossible if you’re a first time or beginner student. From our students taking violin lessons in New York, where a multitude of purchasing options may be available, to students in Milwaukee, where there may be less, all students will find our guide helpful for choosing the right violin.

violin

Renting vs. Buying

First time students usually struggle between whether renting or purchasing the instrument is best. Renting an instrument is usually beneficial when the student is unsure of how much commitment they can offer. It is also good for younger students who are not ready for a full size violin as purchasing a new one each time they grow out of it can be costly. For older students and adult beginners it’s best to purchase the instrument as it’s cheaper in the long run. A year’s worth of rental fees usually ends up costing the same as a beginner violin. A used violin is also another affordable option to consider, as well as “rent to buy” programs where students pay monthly rental fees until the instrument is paid for in full.

The Sizing

Violins come in nine different sizes. Students aged eleven and up usually require a full size violin, also referred to as a 4/4 size. For younger students sizing may range between ¾ and 1/32 sizes. To measure a student, have them fully extend their left hand out and measure from neck to wrist or palm. Measurements up to the wrist indicate the most comfortable size for the student while the palm measurement refers to the largest size violin the student can possibly use. You may refer to the chart below to determine the best size for your child.

violin size chart

(chart source: Musician’s Friend)

Violin Model

Violins are usually classified into three models: student, intermediate, and professional. The classifications are general and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Student violins are best for first time students. They can range anywhere from one hundred to several hundred dollars depending on quality. Student violins are usually made from lower quality wood and contain plastic parts.

Intermediate violins are best for students who have a little more experience and are looking for a better quality instrument. These provide better sound quality and may be used for a number of years before the student decides to upgrade to a professional violin. They can range between several hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Professional violins, also referred to as master violins, are for advanced students and professionals alike, hence the name. These violins are usually much pricier than student and intermediate models and can cost upwards of several thousand dollars. Professional models are made of high quality wood and ebony. The value of these may appreciate over time if kept in good condition.

It is important to note, violins do not necessarily come with a bow, rosin, chin rest or case. These items need to be purchased separately unless specified.violin bow

Tonewood

The types of wood used in a violin and their quality greatly impacts the durability of the instrument and the sound it produces. It is also reflected in the price of the instrument. Spruce and maple are commonly used for the body of the violin, while rosewood and mahogany are used for pegs and other small parts. Wood from colder climates is more desirable as it results in a more resonant sound. Also, taller and older trees produce a stronger wood.

Online vs. In-Store

While many recommend instrument purchases be made in-person, purchasing a violin online may be something worth looking into especially if it’s a student violin you’re looking for. Online stores may be able to offer a larger variety than a standalone store at lower prices without having to deal with a pushy salesperson. However, there are benefits of purchasing in store as well. Intermediate and advanced players get a chance to test out various violins, something which is important when looking for a violin with good tone quality. Younger students can also try different sized violins to find

 

Once you’ve selected the right violin for you, you’ll be ready to learn!


Dealing with Frustration when Studying Music

Whenever you start studying music, you’re taking on a challenge. There are some people who are referred to as “naturals” where music is concerned and, indeed, some people do have an almost spooky ability to play music with very little training. Most of us don’t have this ability. In fact, most of the best musicians you’ve heard spent a long time learning how to play properly, even though you may not have guessed that from the way that music seems to flow naturally from their fingers or through their voices.

When you start studying, here are some ways that you can keep frustration at bay and make certain that you are getting the most out of your music lessons.metronome

 

Play Slowly

One of the most common mistakes that beginner students make is trying to play songs too quickly. When you are first learning a new piece, play it slowly. Very slowly. Take the time to understand the proportional differences between each note. For instance, if you need to stretch a whole note out to last a full two seconds so that you can play a passage of 16th notes in proper time, do so. Using a metronome can help this process as it will keep your tempo steady. Don’t rush through music, as it’s only going to make you more frustrated.

 

Choose Realistic Pieces

Remember to choose realistic pieces of music to learn from. This may mean learning Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star before you learn anything else. It also may mean playing that song to the point where you can barely stand to hear it anymore.

Everybody has to start at the beginning. Unless you have some strange ability to play the violin that science hasn’t really figured out a way to explain yet, you’re probably going to have to start with learning your scales, learning a few simple songs, and trying to master them.

One way to think of this that may make it less frustrating is that you only get to be a beginner once. When you are studying music, it actually is one of the most exciting times, as literally everything you’re going to study is brand-new to you and you can go in any direction that you want.

 

Don’t Over Criticize

violin practiceDon’t criticize yourself too harshly. Remember, if you’re taking music lessons just so you can learn an instrument for fun, you don’t need to hold yourself to the standards that somebody who plays for a professional orchestra needs to hold themselves to. In fact, there is a very good chance that you’re never even going to be in the league of somebody like that, and so what? Learning music is worthwhile in and of itself. If you never ascend to the level of a professional player, that in no way means that you have lost anything in terms of the experience of studying music.

 

As one final tip, students are oftentimes encouraged by their teachers to record themselves playing and then play it back. If you’re frustrated with something, don’t listen to the playback right away. Wait a day. This will give you a more realistic assessment of how you sound, as you’ll forget about most of the unnoticeable mistakes that you made when you were recording it.


Intro to Music Theory with Emphasis on Guitar: Modes and Scales

Introduction

In this post we will learn what comprises scales, how scales relate to modes, and how to utilize modes and scale positions to map out all the available notes for a given key on the guitar’s fretboard.  This knowledge is particularly useful for guitarists who are interested in soloing and improvisation.

We will do so without trying to get bogged down by too much music theory, however the modes are a wonderful introduction to understanding how one set of notes and intervals relate to each other and create a wide variety of sounds and moods.

 

guitar frets

Major and Minor Scales

To begin, let’s start with some fundamental basics about music theory. In Western music there are a total of 12 different notes available. These 12 notes repeat themselves indefinitely, but are essentially restricted within the range of human hearing. If one were to write them out, they would look as such:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#

or similarly

A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab

(we won’t get caught up on sharps and flats for the time being, but they are essentially two sides of the same coin. A# = Bb, G# = Ab, etc)

When these notes are played in order it is called Chromatic, and a scale consisting of all 12 notes is called a Chromatic Scale.
A Scale is (most commonly) a series of 7 different notes that resolve at the original note an octave higher. Thus, a C Major scale would look as follows:

 

C major scale

 

Scales can be broken up into two basic categories: Major and minor.  Major scales will sound happier and more upbeat while minor scales tend to have a sadder quality, generally speaking.

There are several different types of major and minor scales, however what differentiates the two is the 3rd note of the scale. Major Scales have a Major 3rd interval while minor scales have a minor 3rd interval.  This is determined by the total amount of notes between the 1st and the 3rd note (chromatically speaking).  A Major interval will have 4 chromatic steps between the root and the 3rd, while a minor interval will only have 3 chromatic steps.

C Db D Eb E = Major 3rd Interval

C Db D Eb = Minor 3rd Interval

The same interval counting can be done for any root note, for example the major 3rd of D is F# and the minor 3rd is F

D D# E F F# = Major 3rd

D D# E F = Minor 3rd

 

Modes

Now that we know the difference between major and minor keys, and that scales consist of seven notes, we can start to talk about modes. Essentially, modes are the same 7 notes of a scale, but start on a different root note so that the following pattern emphasizes a certain tone or feeling (variations on major or minor).

If we were to play a C scale starting on the root note C, it would be a C Major scale, also known as Ionian.

 

 

C major scale

If you were to play a C scale starting on D, it would form a D minor scale known as D Dorian.

D dorian scale

Consequently, there are seven different modes corresponding to the seven different root notes of a scale

 

I – Ionian – Major scale (no sharps or flats) – classic Major scale, sounds wholly resolved

II – Dorian – minor scale (flat 3rd, flat 7th) – minor scale distinguished by a natural 6th note

III – Phrygian – minor (flat 2nd, flat 3rd, flat 6th, flat 7th) – minor scale distinguished by flat 2nd

IV – Lydian – Major scale (sharp 4th) – Major, however with a dissonant spaciness from sharp 4th

V – Mixolydian – Major scale (flat 7th) – Major, but sounds off/unresolved due to flat 7th

VI – Aeolian – minor scale (flat 3rd, flat 6th, flat 7th) – natural minor, also known as relative minor

VII – Locrian – diminished scale (flat 2nd, flat 3rd, flat 5th, flat 6th, flat 7th) – wholly unresolved

All of these modes consist of the same notes, but changing the root note (and subsequently the intervals between the notes) creates a completely different tone to the scale.  These may not be immediately apparent when noodling up and down the fretboard, however when played over background accompaniment and emphasizing the different aspects of the scale,  you can really start to explore the different characteristics of each mode.

 

Modes as a Guitarist

While other instruments such as keyboard have to memorize which scales have sharps and flats, the beauty of guitar is that if you learn a scale in one position, you can easily move it up or down the fretboard and transpose the scale without changing the finger positions!

Given that all the modes are just varieties of the same seven notes, once you know where to find these notes on the fretboard you will have access to all the available notes for a given key.  At that point the only thing limiting you is your own imagination!

One of the easiest ways to map out all the available notes on the fretboard is by playing in seven different positions corresponding to the root note of each mode.

To clarify: while these seven positions correlate to the root note of a given modal scale, they are essentially all one of the same scale, different faces for the same grouping of notes, regardless of place or mode.  These positions are simply a way of mapping out all the notes for any mode you may find yourself playing.
Guitar Frets for Modes

In this diagram, let us for a change say that F is the root note (the darkened note) and that we are playing in F Ionian.  This is helpful because F is the 1st fret on the E string.  As such, I Position would start on the first fret; II Position would then start at G on the 3rd fret; III Position at A on the 4th fret; IV Position on the 6th fret; etc. The positions move all the way up the fretboard, culminating at the octave on the 13th fret and repeating itself.

Essentially, what these scales are showing is every available note you can play in the key of F Major entirely mapped out on the fretboard.  Not only that, but with a little knowledge of music theory these scales can be utilized in a variety of different keys. For example if you are playing a song that is in D minor, you can use all of these scale positions because D is the relative minor of F. (More on relative majors and minors coming soon!)
In summary if your goal is to comfortably solo across the fretboard with a thorough knowledge and awareness of available notes, definitely practice and learn these scales up and down the fretboard! In doing so, you will familiarize yourself with areas of the guitar that you may otherwise avoid.


Online Piano Lessons: Are They Right For You?

With all the advancements of technology and popularity of the Internet, pretty much anything can be learned online these days, including piano lessons. While some may believe online lessons to be inefficient and impersonal compared to more traditional in-person lessons, online piano lessons can be the best choice for many individuals! When determining if online piano lessons are right for you, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

  • For those with a busy or hectic schedule, online piano lessons can be especially beneficial as it eliminates traveling time. A simple push of the button to turn on the computer is all that’s needed to set up the lessons. This also allows for digital pianothe student to schedule lessons at times convenient to their schedule, which works especially well for those with rotating or inconsistent schedules. Parents or beginner adults with full-time jobs will surely appreciate the ease with which lessons can be taken.

 

  • Another factor to consider is the available space in which lessons will take place. It’s best to dedicate a specific area for lesson and practice space.  A busy living room with family members constantly passing through is most likely not a good setting as it can lead to distractions on both student and instructor end. But on the other hand, this can be a great option for those in smaller living areas, such as individuals looking for online piano lessons in NYC, but would still like the benefit of in-home lessons.

 

  • With so much time spent online these days, especially for those under the age of 18, lessons taken via Skype or FaceTime can spark interest in students who may have previously thought of piano lessons as boring or chore-like. The familiar setting of an online activity may lead the student to take initiative in learning and practicing piano more diligently.Online lessons may also benefit shyer students who may not be comfortable interacting with an instructor they are not familiar with face-to-face. It can also be a good way for students to test the waters, if they are unsure of how interested or committed they are.

piano lessons

  • Lastly, online lessons are really great for those on a budget. Online lessons tend to be less costly than traditional lessons as it eliminates the added costs of traveling, such as gas or public transit fares, and having a studio space. Online piano lessons can also be great for individuals living in rural areas where there may not be as many instructors available. This allows the student to take a lesson in the comfort of their home with a teacher anywhere in the country.

Taking piano lessons online offers a fun and enjoyable learning environment for both student and instructor. Signing up for online lessons with Musika allows us to put you in touch with one of the great instructors in our network for a trial lesson. There’s no better time than now the get started!


7 Guidelines For Successful Music Lessons

While just showing up to your music lessons will yield a small amount of progress, to get the most out of your lessons it’s important to really commit to your chosen instrument. Check out these 7 tips for having successful music lessons, then get practicing!

music, piano music

1. Pick the right instrument.

It’s important to consider the instrument you are using and how you will be using it. Material variation such as composite-based materials versus natural fibers can affect the tone, sound, weight, and durability of an instrument. Some students require instruments that are sized down to fit their body structure. Shoulder straps, finger pads, and chin rests can be augmented to provide the most comfortable fit possible. Spend time finding the best ways to custom fit your instrument to your body and practices. Comfortable and familiar instruments allows you to focus on the lesson without frequent shifting or adjusting.

 

2. Be open to instruction.

While many students focus on a particular genre of music or style, it’s important to listen to constructive criticism from a trained ear. Sometimes it’s the quick exercises, like scales and runs, that help us develop lighting fast sight-reading skills or pick up our favorite tunes. Be willing to enter lessons knowing that you’re going to mess up and that your instructor is going to know the best ways to help you make progress. Know your progress plan and be sure to communicate your goals with your instructor.

 

3. Be ready to learn.

Life is hectic! Most students may also be attending school or working. As a result, sometimes we grab a quick snack or maybe drink a quick coffee during our busy day. Take a moment before lessons to take a deep breath, stretch out, and make sure you have everything you need. For all lessons, drinking a bottle of water is a great way to keep yourself hydrated and brushing your teeth before lessons for wind instruments helps keep your instrument clean of sugars or acids that can degrade it over time while also refreshing yourself. This crucial moment will help you be more present and aware during your lesson.

 

4. Bring a pencil.

pencilsStore it in a case or clip it to your music but make sure you have it and an eraser. Notation on sheet music and in practice books will allow you to write crucial reminders, make note of sections to practice later, and give you a way of remembering the very important lessons you learn in class. It’s easy to forget something in the rush of the day that could help you make big progress at home between lessons.

5. PRACTICE.

It sounds cliche but consistent and regular practice is the only way to build muscle memory and make success second nature. Students aren’t just training their minds, they’re training their bodies with proper posture and increased dexterity. As a result, those muscles remember and benefit from regular exercise. Really want to hit an audition out of the park? Make sure that you practice a little each day. Want to nail your favorite song? Make playing the notes second nature by repeating them until you don’t need the music any longer. Struggling to remember the key? Scales are a great way to make the adjustments quickly and easily.

6. Proactive Progress

Often in practice it’s easy to realize what you don’t know, but your instructor isn’t with you. By keeping a notebook and/or notating on your music/workbook you can remind yourself in a lesson about your questions in practice. Make sure that before you go to a lesson you have your questions in one place so you can address them all, and notice any patterns (is one type of transition bogging you down? Is this tempo just not sounding right?). Addressing those problems first in a lesson can help you make quick and consistent progress.

7. Celebrate your successes.jumping person in sunset

You’ve done it! You’ve nailed the song, finished the book, or finally hit that third octave on the scale. Take a moment to celebrate! You can share the music with your friends, post a video on youtube, or do a happy dance wherever you are. Mastering an instrument is a life-time pursuit, but every little victory is worth celebration! While there is always more to learn, it’s important to celebrate how far you’ve come with your instructor, your family, or your friends. Sharing the music, and the success, is half the fun.


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