It’s a common problem among parents and music teachers; sometimes kids just don’t want to practice! So when your old methods aren’t working, it’s time to try some new tactics to encourage a child student to practice. TakeLessons put together an infographic that includes tips from bloggers, music teachers, and experts.

Use some of these tips to assist parents with home practice. What are your proven tips for practice motivation? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

Groove website-3

“Here’s my top tip for musicians interested in becoming better improvisers: Forget the metronome. Practice with backing tracks, those auto-accompaniment loops that inspire, keep you on the beat, and mesmerize you into practice loops.” -Bradley Sowash, jazz improv specialist.

If you aren’t sure how to find or create backing tracks, I’d like to personally invite you to a webinar called “Groove Your Theory. The idea stems from Bradley’s regular use of backing tracks in his lessons and his own practice. We also use them at our 88 Creative Keys keyboard improvisation workshops that Bradley and I co-founded four years ago.

The webinar will be packed full of ideas that will help you save practice (or lesson) time as you compress theory, timing and technique and creativity into one activity. Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music Theory, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Microphone

So you are heading off to your first recording session. What tips can help you achieve a great recording? Even if you are just having fun recording yourself in your bedroom, hopefully, the following tips will help.

Before the recording session
•  If this is your first time being recorded, if you can, visit the studio so as to get familiar with the vocal booth setup to help you relax. Even just looking at the photos on the studio website will help.

•  If you are recording a vocal, get familiar with the words, ideally, memorise them and bring a copy to help the producer follow for accuracy as you record.

•  When you rehearse, check that you only take breaths at the end of sentences to avoid spoiling the flow of the phrases.

•  Focus on your performance. What does the song mean to you? Can you “feel” the emotion as you perform?

•  Head to the session wearing Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

LangPiano

I remember a parent once asking me: “Can you ask Jonny to brush his teeth regularly? He will listen to you!”

Sometimes a lesson is learnt better from someone less familiar.

For a couple of months I’ve been trying an idea with my students which has been very successful, maybe it might work for you and your pupils. Enter the masterclass video!

One of my adult students found an app called “Mastering the Piano with Lang Lang.” The app has three levels at the moment (more coming) each containing eight units of high-quality videos and music designed to help piano students improve their technique and musicality.

At the start of each lesson, I show my pupils one of these videos, working our way systematically through the app one video per week. The videos are only short, most less than a couple of minutes but Lang Lang, as well as being a fabulous musician and teacher, is friendly and entertaining. After the video has finished, I look for application in their pieces they are currently learning which helps to reinforce the specific concept under consideration.

Lang

Some of the practical topics are: playing faster, legato playing, staccato playing, dynamics, playing chords, posture, hand position, making mistakes, etc. What I love about the videos is that they can be understood by a beginner but also have value to the advanced student alike.

The results have been overwhelming! My students have loved his teaching, have listened and applied his advice and as a result, their technique and musicality has been greatly improved. I’m now looking at other apps and videos from masters of other genres that might be effective. Do you know of any good videos I could try? Please feel free to add a comment to the blog.

Isn’t it strange how “Jonny” listens to Lang Lang even though I’ve often been telling them similar things in the past! Maybe Lang Lang can bring out an app about brushing your teeth!

 

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Quality

Between lessons, music students are left to fend for themselves and practice without your nagging–oops– I mean guidance. The minute they walk out of their lesson, it’s almost as if they walk into a black hole. We cross our fingers and hope for the best. If you want quality home practice between lessons, it begins with the teacher–yes YOU!

It’s hard enough trying to fit all the concepts that need to be covered in a lesson but if you want students to progress, THE most important concept that you need to teach in EVERY lesson is…HOW to practice!

In the first weeks and even months of lessons with a new student, I feel that 60-70% of my lesson is spent on practicing with them: clapping or moving to the beat, playing hands alone, hands together in small chunks, playing a portion 3x and aiming for the 3rd time to be perfect and other games and drills. Read more…

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Posted in Practicing, Teaching Tips

The Power Of Recitals To Transform Lives And Community

We held our Winter Music Recital last Saturday at my local public library.  It was a massive success and every one of my student’s came through with flying colors.  Were they flawless?  Not at all.  But the passion, joy and enthusiasm was palpable.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to get up in front of a room full of strangers and perform.  I remember at my first recital, several of my students looked green around the gills, I was worried that I needed to get a bucket!  So after all these recitals, what have I learned?

Be Prepared

For months we’ve set goals, learned challenging new pieces, honed the trouble spots, worked on memorization and then polishing it all into a performance.  I helped arrange each student’s pieces to be suitable for recital length and simplifed when needed.  Preparation is key and it’s the Boy Scout motto.  I was Senior Patrol Leader of my troop (385 Commack, NY) and probably learned more about leadership and public speaking there than any place else.  My aim was to bring this experience to my music education experience for all my students.

Winter Recital 2016 Park Slope Music Lessons, Brooklyn, NY

Winter Recital 2016 Park Slope Music Lessons, Brooklyn, NY – Photo by Paloma Tejada


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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

brain research on musicians

Who has not heard a teenager, a parent or adult beginner, or an administrator or politician wonder out loud what the point of learning music is, for those who are not planning on turning pro?

Apart from the obvious personal benefit from enjoyment, social connection, and artistic expression, there is scientific research about learning music that is well worth keeping in mind and passing along to others — especially as a music teacher.  I emailed my son a link to a great little animated video from TED-Ed-Lessons, which presents an excellent summary of how learning to play music helps develop higher brain function.  It was written by Anita Collins, who has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Music Education.  We’ll discuss this more, below.

But first, it’s worth noting that only in the last couple of months, MIT researchers have published findings that certain neurons in our brains are tuned in specifically to processing the sound of music, suggesting that music may have played an important role in the evolution of the human nervous system.  Taken together with the finding of musical instruments from as far back as 70,000 years ago, it’s clear that music is essential to human society.
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Posted in Music History & Facts, Music News, Practicing

Sandy Lundberg

The Stories We Tell

January 26th, 2016 by

music mentality

According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, in chapter seven of her book Rising Strong, we are hard-wired to tell stories to explain the world around us. By “stories,” she means our perceptions of ourselves and others. This inclination is so strong that our body actually releases cortisol and oxytocin when we come up with a satisfactory story to explain a situation. Unfortunately, most of our stories are constructed without all of the facts, especially since we cannot read other people’s minds or know all their history. Our stories also reflect all of our own past experiences and the stories we have created around them.

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Reversing the learning process

There is a common presumption among music students that learning a piece of music is processed in this order:

1.  The mind tries to understand what’s going on through analysis, reading, listening to the teacher.
2.  The hands are told by the brain what to do so they can practice and learn their job.
3.  The ears serve as audience and judge to see how it comes out.

More and more, I have come to realize that this presumption only serves to frustrate students and slow them down.  For example, some students have trouble being asked to play a note if they do not understand why or how it fits into what they’re working on.  Others might go over a phrase of music several times successfully, and then look up and say that they don’t know how to play it.  A student may play several notes of a musical phrase and have their fingers poised correctly for the next note, but feel they can’t play it because they don’t “know” what comes next. Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Happy students don’t quit piano lessons!image

What is more  important than keeping your current customers?

Use Music Teacher Helper to have happy students by communicating on a regular basis.

The lesson notes feature of Music Teachers Helper is helpful in that you can send any message after each lesson.

Use lesson notes to retain students!

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Posted in MTH 101, Practicing, Promoting Your Studio, Studio Management, Using Music Teacher's Helper