Music Theory

Teaching music composition may seem like an easy task: you show your students the tools, you teach them how to use them and that’s it.

However, the most difficult thing is to teach them how to be creative and translate unmeasurable things such as feelings into music.

Teaching students to use composing skills  is not an easy subject, but to make things a bit more organized let’s go through the steps to guide a young music student through their composition journey.

A Passion for Music

Composition

Now, the first thing that should be clear from the start is that there is a passion for music.

There are many cases in which a young student can become a great performer but there is no passion for music, and it is very hard to  change that.

It might be a bit controversial since it involves parents who wish the best for their children by helping them learn music but when it comes to art, the act of creation can’t be taught, it’s an impulse and sort of a second nature.

That doesn’t mean that some young students can’t find a passion for music after learning a few key things and discovering a whole new world.

But it is important for the teacher to identify these things in order to strengthen their students’ weaknesses.

Rhythm Composition

Rhythm is the backbone of every music composition, there is no music without rhythm but there can be music with just a rhythm in the form of percussion.

This is also some of the easiest ways to make your students feel like they are making some form of music and feel the happiness of success.

It is definitely the best way to approach music composition at first, as it’s quite easy to make it fun and involve several students in exercises.

Encourage Improvisation and No Restraints Approach

This may be easier for musicians that focus on genres of music such as rock, punk, blues or electronic music due to the nature of those types of music.

But when it comes to including improvisation in the formation of music students, it’s a bit more difficult.

After helping your students build a strong musical foundation with music reading and writing, you also have to teach them to let go of all of that and just play.

This not only encourages new and interesting combinations of music due to the lack of restraints, but it also makes the experience fun because of the excitement of not knowing what will come out of a playing session.

Think about it as fishing, it’s all about being relaxed, patient and not knowing what you are going to get, and when you realize you have something, it’s time to reel in and not let the fish escape.

The waiting part is just playing and improvising, the fish is that surprise chord, and reeling in it’s about finally writing and recording that big idea.

To encourage this “fishing” idea in music makes being a musician very exciting.

Feedback

In order to help your students improve their skills as composers, you need to provide good feedback so that they can feel that sense of progress and learn from their mistakes.

But how do you provide good feedback as a teacher? Well there are a few things to consider when giving feedback to students on their compositions.

First of all, focus on the good things, a sense of accomplishment is very important in order to keep them motivated.

Then as a teacher, you need to show them where they could improve.

And lastly, you need to let them know that there is always room for improvement while also giving them some pointers in order to help them focus on their weak spots.

Remember to use Music Teacher’s Helper to allow you to have a lot more time on your hands to plan your composition lessons instead of using that precious time for tedious but necessary tasks.

 

Read More

From the very beginning of music lessons, the voice is our first go to, tool to learn about notes harmonies and scales. This is an essential part of reading music and training your musical ear. However, the voice as an instrument is also the cause of many insecurities, such as not liking how it sounds, not having a wide range or just not feeling comfortable with others listening. The first step in order to overcome this, is to understand why it’s so important to control this natural instrument, what is vocal range and learning how to find your own voice through trial and error.

Why Sing?

There are two answers to this question, with the first one being the obvious one, which is that you want to be a singer. However if you are interested in playing instruments and don’t want to focus too much on singing, it’s still an useful instrument to have when getting involved with music. First of all, it’s the instrument you’ll always carry with you, to master this natural instrument is to carry melodies with you at all times. Secondly, singing is often an integral part of music education. Teachers involve students very easily by making them sing certain melodies or read sheets, not only does this improve the dynamic of the class itself, but it helps to develop a musical ear, remember musical structure of music writing, and reading.

Vocal Range

The vocal range determines roughly your range as a singer based on your lower note and your higher note,according to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music these vocal ranges classifications are:

soprano: C4 to A5
mezzo-soprano: A3 to F#5
alto: G3 to E5 (and contralto as F3-D5)
tenor: roughly C3 to A4
baritone: A2 to F4
bass: F2 to E4

The soprano and tenor are considered to be high voice, baritone and mezzo-soprano mid voice and alto and bass low voice.

This of course is not permanent, the vocal range can expand with practice and time, it can also be smaller if for example the vocal chords suffer some kind of strain, damage or not enough practice.

In order to know your vocal range, it’s as easy as playing notes to see how far can you go, and then find where you stand, this can help you know where you feel comfortable singing and what you want to improve. It also helps to know your vocal range so that you can look for singers with a similar tone to practice.

Finding your Voice

It happens many times to students that they want their voice to sound in a particular way, and they get frustrated because the only thing they find is something different than what they want, and something different than their usual speaking voice. This is important due to the fact that our singing voice is different than the regular speaking voice, because of this, some effort has to be put in order to find this new singing voice, and this requires patience.

Knowing your vocal range and listening popular singers will definitely help, however the best way is always to practice and record yourself, you may not like what you hear, but like any other instrument, you need to tune your vocal chords, and learn how to use them.

Even if you’re not very interested in being a professional singer, there is a chance that, while trying and learning the basics, you find a comfortable way to sing and you may discover an unknown talent, so long as don’t strain your voice, experiment with different techniques and get to know your voice.

Read More

It’s common sense that music is something that is heard, listened, it goes through our ears, we are able to register sound and that way we can experience music, however there is a very important visual part of music, some are also a part of common sense or logic, others form part of aspects that aren’t very explored and could bring a lot to what music is to the world.

First of all, most people are generally more visually driven, this makes every experience begin with sight, and shortly after sounds. This is how classical music interpreters approach their art, they begin reading their sheets and then make the sounds through their instruments. Music academies are very visual in general due to the fact that there is so much emphasis on reading and writing music.

There is also a thing with beginners that is a very common and instinctively thing to do, which is looking exactly at what you’re doing, which is something that does not happen while singing, in singing you hear and you feel, playing and instrument, beginners see and hear, which is not a bad thing at all, it just happens. The thing is that as a beginner musician progresses, they no longer feel the need to watch every move every single time, while it works as support, it is no longer needed.

Visual Sounds

There is also a case that cannot be ignored, which is disabilities, this can change the way music is perceived as a whole, and if a person is deaf, you may think that, that person has no way to experience music but that is not true. A deaf person can still read and write music, and it’s not weird to feel music, when we go to a concert or we are in a party our body feels the vibrations of the rhythm, and this responds to another sense.

There is another way a deaf person can experience music, and while it’s not very common, it does happen, and this is to experience sounds, visually, this can be a bit strange to some but according to… amber Galloway Gallego this can be achieved.

She believes that music can still be expressed without actually hearing and criticizes many translators that just cue a sign that means “music” and just stand there while the sound of music is there, when you could actually do so much more.

This is not only a good effort to help disabled people experience music in a visual way, it is also a reminder of how complex and rich can music be.

While visual experiences can be a very good complement of the sounds themselves, such as going to a concert and seeing all the lights, fires, smoke, and breathtaking effects, music videos published along side the music to help tell a story, or even album covers; the visual part of music can also be the experience itself whether it is through music composition and reading or as a tool to interpret sounds and what the musician is trying to express.

Read More