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
Something worth doing is never easy. Those are strong words, and they are true when it comes to learning to play a musical instrument. The importance of keeping up your music lessons cannot be overstated. It takes patience, hard work, dedication, and the ability to work through the rough patches that you will come across, and I promise you that it won’t always be easy. But should you see it through to the other side, the rewards will more than make it worth your while.
Through my years of performance, I have long ago lost track of how many people told me they wish they would have kept going with their music lessons when they were younger, that one of their biggest regret is quitting, or that they wish their parents would have forced them to continue. It is a common story that I encounter all the time.
Get to the root of the issue
When students, especially children, express frustration with music, it doesn’t necessarily mean they hate it. More often than not, it means that they do not know what to do or where to start, or that they are facing a challenge, perhaps for the first time in their life, and are not equipped to overcome it. As educators and parents, it is important to get to the root of the issue. What is causing the student to be frustrated is more important than the fact that the student is frustrated.
The reality is that many students will quit music at a very young age. But it is important to be clear and determine if a student is just going through a rough patch or if music is really not for them. Do they have the correct instrument? Is practicing a part of their regular routine, and are they practicing correctly? Do they have the right teacher? Are they playing music that interests them, and is it at an appropriate level of difficulty? The answer to these questions will help you determine if keeping up your music lessons is the right decision for you.
There is not a single musician in the world who has not struggled at some point, or questioned their abilities or commitment to their craft. It is perfectly normal and there is only one way to get better: Don’t Quit.
Learning a musical instrument will help you
Learning a musical instrument will help you. It will teach you discipline, perseverance, work ethic, how to overcome challenges, how to organize your time. You will learn to believe in yourself, your abilities, develop your self-confidence, have the satisfaction of accomplishing something, and ultimately the pleasure of playing a musical instrument.
The thing about practicing regularly is that you will get better. As you get better, you will have more fun playing. When you have fun, you will play more. As you play more, you will improve your skills and develop your repertoire. It is really that simple. And along the way, you will need the wisdom to understand that sometimes you won’t be as productive. And the patience to work through those phases.
Create an environment for success
Students must be set up to succeed, and there are many factors that contribute to their success or failure. Parent and teacher support, along with proper practicing habits will go a long way to help create an environment for success.
Here is some information to help you from blogs previously published:
Watching a great performance is exhilarating. Playing a musical instrument is a special skill and doing it at a high level is a privilege reserved only for those who persevere. Remember that if it was easy, everyone could do it.
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, andwhat happens in the time allocated to practice.
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.
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!
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.
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.