Playing the Blues“Can I hear your progress on that song we were working on last week please?”

He just shrugged his shoulders and looked at me sheepishly!

“Oh okay then. How about those exercises we were doing? Can I hear how you got on with them?”

He just looked at his feet!

“Oh dear! What HAVE you been practicing?”

Suddenly a mischievous grin appeared on his face.

“I’ve been playing the blues ALL week!!! It’s been driving my mum crazy. I play it before and after school. I can’t stop!”

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun students have at learning to improvise the blues. And not forgetting the kudos it earns them when they can use it to entertain friends and family. Best of all, it’s just so easy to learn!

So this month, here are some free resources to get you started or to add to the ones you use already. I’ve tried to make the sheet music universal to whatever instrument you play or teach (treble & bass clef/guitar & bass tab). I’ve also recorded a slow blues backing track (in G) that you and your students can “jam” with.

Introducing the coolest scale on the planet! Whatever instrument your student plays, they will love learning the  [···]

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A few weeks ago, I had a young student (age 13) be told by the music director of a local Children’s Theater group (someone I’ve been professional acquaintances with for  many years) to stop studying with me as I was teaching her to be “too classical.”  I received this information from the mother, who was getting ready to go out of town on an extended business trip.

Food for thought

I had been working with this young girl for only 6 months, and had determined that her voice had not yet begun to truly change.  We were working on getting vocal consistency and projection.  I was well aware that her goal was to sing music theater, but did not feel she was ready to try anything even approximating a belt.  She has a small soprano voice.

When I received this communication from the mother, I immediately called her to discuss my concerns.  I felt, as we hung up, that she was aware of the potential dangers of pushing this young girls voice too hard, too quickly (although she stated “I know nothing about music.”).

She tried to contact the music director the following day, and when she had not heard anything within 48 hours, I sent a follow-up email to the director.  My email said the following:

“Hey _____,

XXX’s mom said that you had a concern about where I’m taking XXX vocally/stylistically. Could you give me a call so that I can let you know where I feel XXX’s voice is developmentally and we can work on a game plan to help her have the best of everything? I know she’s really into Music Theater and I totally support that (and I love to teach broadway). I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page and can help this fabulous kid. Thanks!!!



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