Practicing is the key to learning a musical instrument

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICING.

So you see a great musician and you wonder how can someone be so good and so talented at something? The answer is easy: practice. Never underestimate the importance of practicing. No one is great at playing a musical instrument unless they have put in the time and effort. It is that simple. Albert Einstein said it perfectly: Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.

I have a lot of thoughts about practicing, and more importantly practicing correctly. It is very rare that I go a whole week without being asked the following question: how long should my child practice for? And to be honest, how long one should practice is important, but much more emphasis should be put into the crucial part about practicing: how to practice properly, and what happens in the time allocated to practice.

Practicing gets results.
Practicing gets results.

HERE IS A VERY COMMON PRACTICE MISTAKE.

Let’s take a piano student who has had about a year of lessons as an example. A typical new piece will have about 4 lines of music. Let’s say this student has 30 minutes to practice.

Here is perhaps the most common thing a parent will tell their child: “Play through each piece of music that has been assigned to you to practice five times”. Before you know it, the student has spent half an hour “practicing”. What was accomplish in that time? Nothing. Or close to nothing.

The reality is that students will most likely stumble through their music five times and probably not improve their pieces much, if at all. Then they will repeat the same pattern tomorrow, and on each subsequent practice day of the week.

SET PRACTICE GOALS.

It is extremely important to have a clear, laser focused, attainable objective before starting to practice. You must know what you are trying to achieve before you begin. Setting clear, realistic and measurable practice goals will make your practicing much more efficient.

Let’s go back to that piece of music that has 4 lines. It would make more sense to identify the structure and break the piece down in much smaller chunks. A good goal in a practice session might be to learn the first line hands separately. Start by figuring out the right hand, and then the left hand. Don’t even look at the rest of the piece. It is a waste of time to just play through it all when you should be focused on your practice goal of learning the first line. Playing the rest of the piece contributes nothing towards that goal.

BREAK DOWN THE MUSIC.

Imagine that instead of stumbling through 4 lines of music five times, you could play the first line 20-30 times in the same amount of practice time. You would actually retain that part of the music. And the bonus is that chances are that 3 of the 4 lines will be very similar, if not identical. So by doing that, you often will have mostly learned 3 of the 4 lines already, which is 75% of the piece.

If the line is too difficult, break down the music even more. Go measure by measure if you have to. There is no chunk of music that is too small to use as a practice session. The important thing is to be logical about it and break down the music in a way that makes sense and is manageable.

GO SLOW. AND PRACTICE REGULARLY.

Almost every student I have ever worked with wants to practice too fast. Much too fast. And practicing is often fairly irregular. Here is one very, very important piece of advice: Go Slow. And Practice Regularly. Take the time to learn a passage of music properly and slowly, with all the correct movements happening in time. When students practice too fast, they make mistakes, have pauses in the music, and hand movement is not in time. Going slowly and using a metronome will force the performance to be in time and the student will play the music correctly. It is easy to speed up a performance that has been learned correctly. Repetition is key, but it is important to repeat something that is played correctly.

BE GOAL ORIENTED. BE CLEAR.

Instead of being time oriented, be goal oriented. Be clear. You will accomplish much more that way and your progress will be exponentially faster. You will also instill good habits in your children that can be carried forward in other areas of their lives.

A note or a directive saying “Practice this Piece” is meaningless, especially for more beginner students. One of the most important jobs we have as educators or as parents/supporters is to help students understand and develop good practicing habits.

Be Specific.

Here is a better approach to help a student practice. Remember to be specific.

– Work on the first line only, hands separately.
– Put your metronome on at quarter note = 80
– Pay attention to the half note and be sure to hold it for 2 beats.
– There is a rest in the left hand at measure 3, be sure not to play the note through the rest.
– Remember to start the first note with finger #2 and that the first note of the song is a Bb.
– You will notice there is a crescendo from bars 4 to 6. Be sure to increase the volume there.

Practicing is easier with goals.

The idea is to give specific things to work on and to improve so the student knows exactly what to do. If you have been practicing in a way that is not goal oriented, it is not too late to change your habits. Go ahead and try, you will be amazed with the results. And you will feel like you have accomplished something each and every time you practice. That should inspire you to do it even more!

For more information about KLM Music Lessons, please contact usemail us, visit our website or call us at (403) 210-3339.

How to Tune Your Guitar

One of the most common challenges when first learning to play is how to tune your guitar. All you need is an electronic guitar tuner of your choosing. That’s it! The easiest to use is the type which clips on the head of your guitar.

Start with your sixth string, the thickest one, closest to the ceiling while in playing-position. This string should be tuned to an E note. Tune that string to the lowest E possible, without the string becoming completely loose and flappy. Make sure to keep striking the string, as the tuner will ‘hear’ the ‘attack’ of the string most prominently. Turn the machine head to increase tension on the string and the pitch will rise. Turn the other way to decrease tension and the pitch will fall.

How to tune your guitar Tip#1

While your tuner will be able to tell you how close you are to an E, it likely won’t tell you which E you’re closest to. You’ll know the string is tuned too high if it begins to sound thin and tinny, and the machine head becomes more difficult to turn. It should NOT be difficult to turn. To get a good idea what that single E note on a guitar sounds like, throw on AC/DC’s Back in Black. The first chord is an E, with that low string ringing out nice and loud.

How to tune your guitar with the Fifth Fret Trick

Once you’ve got your string tuned to a low E, it’s time to move on to your next string. The next string is the fifth string, which should be tuned to “A”. Before you go to that string, simply press down on your 6th string, the one you just tuned to E, on the fifth fret (see diagram below). Play that one note. That note is the A your fifth string should be tuned to. Turn the machine head of the 5th string until it matches that pitch. Once the pitch sounds close, use the tuner to finely adjust the pitch until it shows that your string is right at the pitch it needs to be (“A”).

You can continue this pattern for the next two strings. The fifth fret on your fifth string is a D, which is the desired pitch of your fourth string, and the fifth fret on your D string is tuned to a G, which is the desired pitch of the third string.

The only place on the guitar where the “fifth fret trick” does not work is between the third and second strings. Here, it is actually the fourth fret on the third string that will sound just like the tuning of the second string played open, a “B”.

Finally, the fifth fret on the second string is yet another E, tuned two octaves above the lowest string.

To help you understand how to tune your guitar

Once you have that string tuned, go back and make sure each string is still at its designated pitch. Your tuner will tell you if you are correct and will help you make the finer adjustments that may be required. Once you feel you’re ready to test and see if the guitar is in tune, play your favorite open-chords. The E and G chords are great to test tuning, as they use all six strings at once.

Tune your guitar each day when you pick it up! Remember that it is totally normal for most guitars to go out of tune while playing once in a while. With a little practice, you should be able to have this whole process down in no-time.

Now that you know how to tune your guitar, here are some extra tips for you

1: You may want to de-tune each string before tuning UP. This will help ensure you won’t break a string by starting out higher, and accidentally attempting to tune to the next highest octave.

2: Be aware of ‘accidentals’. It is possible that you may tune your note to a FLAT version of itself, usually indicated on the tuner with a little (b) symbol. You’ll have to tune up just a bit from there to reach the NATURAL pitch, which will have no symbols next to it.

You may also tune your note to a SHARP version of itself, usually indicated on the tuner with a hashtag symbol (#).You’ll have to tune down just a bit from there to reach the NATURAL pitch, which will have no symbols next to it.

3: On most guitars, your fifth fret will have a small dot on it.

4: The overall tuning stability of your guitar  is dependent upon each individual string being perfectly in tune. Electric guitars have much skinnier strings and  some have “floating bridges” that require precise tuning of all strings at once to remain stable. If you have a whammy bar on your guitar, you may want to go over each string in succession three or four times total, just to be sure.

With that, good luck and happy tuning!

If you would like more information on guitar lessons or on purchasing a guitar, click here.

KLM Group Ukulele Lessons & Instruments

Have you ever wanted to learn to play the Ukulele? Dreading the freezing cold outside here in Calgary? Imagine yourself strumming along on a Hawaiian beach with the sounds of the waves crashing into shore…you may not be able to make it to Hawaii anytime soon but you can still learn to play the wonderful sounds of the Ukulele. Who knows maybe you will make it to Hawaii one day and be able to play your Ukulele on the beach! We do offer Group Ukulele Lessons…so read on to learn more.

ukulele hawaii instrument klm group ukulele lessons aloha beach waves

KLM Music Group Ukulele Lessons

Here at KLM Music, we offer Group lessons where people of all ages can learn to play the Ukulele. It takes some work but is a relatively easy instrument to learn. Fewer strings than a guitar and obviously a lot smaller! And affordable too! A lot of our students really enjoy the group aspect of our ukulele lessons, you will get to meet others who want to learn and maybe you will even find a partner to jam with. Nothing better than bonding over music!

We offer 8 week programs to teach you all the basics you need. After going through our ukulele course, you will be able to play several songs, be familiar with different strumming patterns and know enough chords to learn many, many more or your favourite tunes! Imagine singing and strumming with your new friends, we promise it will make you smile.

The ukulele is a great instrument choice for everyone from children to seniors. It is accessible and affordable, and sure to be fun! take lessons privately or in a group setting – strum along in a class with our light-hearted and easy going instructors. You’ll be ready to jam wherever you go!

Learn to play ukulele in our Calgary studios in our NW or SE locations. We offer expert ukulele lessons for beginners or those looking to refine their ukulele skills. The best way to learn ukulele is to start group classes with KLM Music!

KLM Music School also sells Ukuleles!

Set on playing the Ukulele already? We also sell the instruments at our Glenmore trail location! We have a wide selection of ukulele’s. Not sure what to buy? Talk to one of our team members and let us guide you through the process of getting the right instrument in a colour you will love. Ukulele’s start from about fifty dollars, and expect to pay about $65.00 for a reasonable quality instrument like this:

SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR JANUARY

KLM will offer you a 20% discount on the purchase of a ukulele when you sign up for an 8 week course.

Thanks for reading our post about Group Ukulele Lessons and instruments! If you want to try out any of our instruments feel free to stop by our SE location anytime or call us at (403)210-3339.

klm music blog importance music teachers piano guitar

The Importance of a Qualified Music Teacher

KLM Qualified Music Teachers

So you have decided to learn how to play a musical instrument. What now? Maybe you are not sure what to do next, maybe you have been doing it for a while and are stuck doing the same thing over and over? Maybe there are things you don’t understand, or you feel like you have reached your maximum growth?

Here is my best advice for you: Get a qualified music teacher. Learning an instrument is not an easy task; doing it without any help is a fool’s errand. There are so many reasons to work with a music instructor and the benefits far outweigh the costs, both in time and money.

Regular lessons will force you to be accountable, which will make you practice more, which means you will improve faster. When you see improvements, you will be encouraged to keep going and the entire process will snowball into a positive experience.

A great teacher will motivate you

Having a qualified teacher overseeing you, teaching you proper practice habits, exposing you to different genres of music, or giving you tips and tricks will save much time and frustration. And you will come out of it having learned the correct information.

A qualified music instructor will bring structure to your learning, introduce and explain concepts in a logical order, catch your mistakes and help you work through challenges. You will be able to navigate the ups and downs of learning an instrument a lot more easily under the guidance of someone who has most likely encountered the same challenges and found ways to work through them.

Fill in the gaps in your knowledge

One common thing we encounter when interviewing potential teachers are candidates who come in wanting to teach and have many gaps in their knowledge and training. Most of the time this happens when they are “self-taught”. When interviewing potential instructors who have had proper training, there is always a clear difference in the quality of musicianship and knowledge they possess. A crucial part of our job when hiring instructors for our music school is to ensure that candidates are properly vetted and that teachers who ultimately end up working with our students are qualified.

The right teacher will prove to be a positive influence for you or your children, and chances are you will never forget the impact great teachers have had in your life.

For more information about KLM music lessons click here

klm music blog importance playing music piano guitar

The Importance of Playing Music

Why Music is so Important

Have you ever looked at someone performing a piece of music and thought “I wish I could do that”? Or have you ever been moved by a recording or a live performance? Watched a movie and been scared, tense, happy, or sad? These are a just a few of the things music can do. It has the power to move you, inspire you, remind you of a place or time, or augment any emotion. Whatever you feel, you can feel it stronger with music. And no matter your background or where you come from, chances are music plays a part in your daily life.

How Can You Develop Music as a Talent?

While a musician might make a performance seem effortless and easy, the reality is that it takes time to develop a talent. Even the most accomplished musician started out as a beginner and got better through practice, discipline and perseverance. While there is a process to master a musical instrument, the rewards are limitless.

Music is creative. Music is emotional. It is an art and a science. It can be done as a solo activity or with a group of people. It is both social and intimate. Music can be an outlet to express emotions, fuel creativity and develop multiple skill sets, often at the same time. Muscle groups, feet, eyes, and ears will all need to work in perfect harmony for a performance to come together.

The best part about music is that anyone can do it.

The beauty of playing an instrument is that it can be done at any age and at any level. You can enjoy the sounds and see progress even at the beginning stages, and the more time you spend on it, the better you will become. Music can be a hobby, a career or anything in between. It is an activity that is fun and rewarding and will bring you pride and confidence.

Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort

Working it into your routine will help you develop good habits and discipline. Working through challenges successfully will build character. Performing, in front of an audience or at home by yourself, will bring you joy.

There is no question that learning a musical instrument can play an extremely important role in a child’s development. As a parent, it is important to create opportunities for your children, to be supportive and to understand that there will be ups and downs throughout the process.

Music can be learned at any age!

Finally, a common story that is often told goes like this: “When I was young, I wish my parents wouldn’t have let me quit my lessons. I regret it now”. If that statement touches a nerve, just remember that it is never too late to learn how to play music. That it is not only for children, it is also beneficial for adults. And that many adults, some older than you, do it each and every day. No matter at what stage of life, there are immeasurable and tangible benefits to playing an instrument. So go ahead and try it, you may surprise yourself!

Learn more about our Lessons here.

KLM Backline Festivals – August Long Weekend in Calgary

Calgary International Blues Festival

The Calgary International Blues Festival is celebrating its 13th year! It has been running all week from July 31st to August 6th.  We are proud to be supplying backline gear to the Blues Fest stages.  Check the schedule to see headliners such as Big Bill Morganfield, Bob Hall, Lil’ Jimmy Reed, Paul DeLauriers, Ghost Town Blues, and so many other amazing artists.  Pack a day bag and head to Shaw Millennium Park for a festivals weekend full of the grooviest blues workshops, concerts, and special events.

KLM Music at One Love Festival

One Love Festival is Calgary’s biggest day for hip hop and R&B fans on August 4th.  Keep an eye out for KLM backline on site. We are proud to be supporting this year’s talented artist line-up. One Love Fest is partnering with Chasing Summer this year at the Max Bell Festival Grounds. Start your weekend with One Love Festival, and head over to Chasing Summer to keep the party going the whole long weekend!

Continue reading KLM Backline Festivals – August Long Weekend in Calgary

KLM Music at Calgary Folk Festival 2017

Calgary Folk Music Fest starts today!

There are so many amazing musicians, artists, and venues that come together to create the BEST weekend on Prince’s Island Park. We have been anxiously counting down 365 days since we had to say goodbye to Calgary Folk Fest 2016.  We cannot be more excited to welcome Calgary Folk Fest 2017 starting tonight, July 27th, that will be continuing throughout the weekend. We are proud to be the official backline supplier of the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Our team and gear will be across all seven of the park stages, I’m sure you’ll catch a glimpse.  

We will be on the grounds of the park every day supporting CFMF’s amazing artists. I am most excited to see Coeur de pirate, Basis Bulat, Michael Kiwanauka, City and Colour, Holy F*ck, Langhorne Slim, Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, just to name a few. There is such a wide variety of talent for everyone! You may even discover your next favourite artist.

 

Calgary Folk Festival Fun For Everyone!

Did you know that Calgary Folk Festival is a family friendly event? Everyone under the age of 12 gets free entry. To keep the little ones busy during sets, be sure to stop by the Family Zone for games and crafts. There are a wide variety of local food trucks and grub in the center of the island to keep you, and your little ones happy and full of energy. For the Elder Folkers (18+), pay a visit Calgary’s own Big Rock Beer Garden to try a limited edition CFMF brew.  Or check out the amazing work by local artisans at the Artisan Market on the north side of the island.  

Continue reading KLM Music at Calgary Folk Festival 2017

Happy Stampede Backline from KLM Music – Yeehaw!

Yes, it is that time of year when Calgary transforms into a fun-filled, cowboy themed city, and where we can show our great Calgarian hospitality. Hopefully, you will put on your cowboy boots and hats and shout out a big YEEHAW as you enjoy the many activities and events going on in the city.

KLM Music at the Calgary Stampede

Not only is this a great time to be here, but it is an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. time to take in some great live music in venues all over the city. We are proud to be the official backline supplier to the Calgary Stampede and if you do attend a live event over the next 10 days, there is a very good chance that you will see our gear on stage. We thought we would share some of that with you!

Stampede Backline at the Coke Stage

We will be on the grounds at the Coke stage every day of Stampede and here are some of the acts you will be able to see playing our gear: Ria May, USS, Theory of a Deadman, Alex Aiono, Sabrina Carpenter, Alex Veliz, Nelly Furtado, Mariannas Trench, The Elwins, The Strumbrellas, Jonathan Roy, Alessia Cara, Ben Harper, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, The Sadies, Whitehorse, Faith Healers and July Talk.

Continue reading Happy Stampede Backline from KLM Music – Yeehaw!

The Philosophy and Mission of KLM Music

Thinking of signing up for music lessons with KLM Music? We may be a little bias but we really do believe that you will never regret it! Our philosophy and mission is simple, we will:

Do our absolute best to provide our students with the skills they need to enjoy music for a lifetime. To treat our clients, staff and instructors respectfully and ethically. To create an atmosphere that is inclusive and fosters positive relationships.

KLM Music Philosophy and Mission

KLM Music was founded in 1997 with the goal of offering high-quality music lessons to Calgarians. Our goal is to provide the skills and confidence for students of all ages to reach their musical potential. We have worked with students as young as 5 and as old as 75.

Playing a musical instrument has brought us so much joy and that’s why we want to bring it into others lives. There are many benefits to music education and we believe it will improve your daily life. Simply listening to music can uplift our spirits and make us feel better! That’s part of the reason we believe that playing a musical instrument and getting better at it will improve your quality of life.

Continue reading The Philosophy and Mission of KLM Music