Between baseball, soccer, karate and cell phones, our children’s schedules are packed with fun activities. If you were on the fence about adding piano lessons into the weekly grind, here are a few reasons why piano lessons might be an important activity for your child to be involved in.
- Learning to play the piano helps teach children how to concentrate, focus and be patient. During a piano lesson so many different skills are being learned. Students are essentially learning how to read an entirely new language. Children are learning to be present and in the moment and to focus on the music and the technique it takes to make the music. It’s a great way for kids to clear their minds of stress for an hour a week and concentrate on an amazing art. Piano lessons are also a great way to challenge kids into learning a new skill. Learning how to sit down and focus on a task will help them in many different ways as they get older.
- Piano lessons help develop speech, cognitive skills and social abilities. “Music study requires a high degree of precision in auditory processing: being almost in tune is not good enough. This means that musically trained children are better able to distinguish subtle details of speech, leading to improved reading, better comprehension, and also a greater ability to interpret what other people– children and adults – are really saying.” (The Royal Conservatory) https://www.rcmusic.com/sites/default/files/files/RCM_MusicEducationBenefits.pdf
3) Piano lessons boost self-esteem.
Piano lessons offer an activity where children can learn to accept and utilize constructive criticism. Overcoming negative feedback with practice and accomplishing goals will help build confidence and self-esteem in students. Recitals and other other performances will help build confidence in other non musical areas such as public speaking. Also, having a musical skill can help a child stand out from everyone else, further adding to their self confidence.
Unlike the guitar, saxophone or piano, when it comes to singing, your body IS your instrument. And we all know that taking care of our bodies is not only paramount to living a healthy life but also helps you sing to your full potential. So when it comes to the idea of little kids starting voice lessons there’s a bit of confusion so allow me, someone who started formal singing lessons at 5 years old and with not a nodule in sight, to clear up any misconceptions.
Let’s begin by saying that most likely your 6 year old isn’t chomping at the bit to sing Italian Art Songs. If they are? Cool, we’ll cover that so read on. They probably enjoy singing the soundtrack to the latest Disney hit or Taylor Swift song. Either way, professionally trained voice teachers know that working with voices that haven’t matured yet require tapping into a skill-set and repertoire that accommodate an undeveloped body and mind.
Our philosophy is pretty simple, we think kids playing music, any kind of music, is igniting that part of the brain those newspaper articles are always talking about, so we’ll teach any song a kid wants, and we’ll show them how to sing it in such a way that they are laying the groundwork for correct vocal technique while having fun! Yes, it’s possible!
The first song I learned how to sing was the theme to Sesame Street. My teacher knew I loved it, it was simple, familiar, and I enjoyed practicing it every day. I eventually moved on to show tunes, ran through the Les Miz book, the Rogers & Hammerstein classics, discovered the Tapestry record, was introduced to Italian Arias and opera, fell in love with jazz, all the while rock and folk rested closely in my heart. But the point I’m making is that every genre I sang as I grew up, I was always using proper technique because my teachers recognized the right repertoire to suit my age and growing body.
Kids today have shows like The Voice to inspire them- and that’s amazing, but some of those contestants have no formal training and are actually straining their voices pretty badly. You can hear a lot of them “sitting” on their vocal chords, putting all that tension on the throat where it doesn’t belong. That’s the damaging stuff we are avoiding with proper coaching.
So are we looking to have your six-year old work on their belly breathing and tongue position? We’ll get there over time, but for now that child will enjoy singing their favorite songs while the seeds to formal training are planted. And you can rest easy knowing they’ll be no permanent damage in sight for your young musician.
For in-home singing lessons, visit: http://www.musictoyourhome.com/voice-singing-lessons-nyc/
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ever hear the saying pee clear, sing wet? We know it sounds gross. But think about it. Last time you drank a glass of milk didn’t it feel like you had, well, a glass of milk stuck in your throat? This obviously will not help with your vocal technique but here are some insightful tips from the pros that will.
Hydrate! We are all constantly bombarded with calls to hydrate and we’re jumping on the bandwagon too. 8-10 glasses of water a day. Sing wet.
Rest! Yes, resting is good for your body and your voice. Fatigue will not help you nail The Queen of the Night aria by Mozart.
Humidify! Dry air? Fix it. Grab a humidifier and use it at night. Steam showers are another great remedy for staying moist.
Eat well! Melons promote hydration. Fruits loaded with antioxidants are great for overall vocal function. Fried foods and spicy foods are not.
Warm up! Do your vocal warm-ups before you hit the stage, start your lessons, or jam with friends. At this point, if you don’t know this, call us ASAP and we will send you a voice teacher directly to your home to show you proper vocal exercises!
There are also some over the counter remedies out there. Try Singer’s Saving Grace, a throat spray that soothes throat dryness. Enjoy a spot of tea now and then? Indulge in Throat Coat Tea, which according to its description, “helps you sing it loud, say it proud, stand up and be heard.” Keep any of these items near your piano during your NYC voice lesson and you’re guaranteed to impress your teacher!
Learning to care for your voice and use it properly at an early age will definitely help you avoid the dreaded nodes we hear so many pop stars battling with today. Take good care of your body, take good care of your instrument. It’s simple, pee clear, sing wet.
Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Music to Your Home is proud to work with the best, brightest and coolest musicians in NYC so we’ve been picking their brains about music lessons. The latest interview was with Kiyan T., who took the time out of his busy schedule consisting of teaching, recording and performing to answer these 10 important questions every parent considering singing lessons for their child should know.
1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting vocal lessons for their children?
Kiyan: Make sure to speak with the child beforehand to see what they’re into as far as genre, or what they see for themselves musically, in conjunction with your own opinion. This way, you can know what you’re looking for in a teacher.
2) Why do you think vocal lessons have become so popular over the past few years?
Kiyan: Thats a large question! I think there’s a large correlation to singing and the high-glam pop star image that technology permeates into media. Its important to remember that singing is art, technical, and requires an instrument (the human body) to be understood and mastered, with plenty of love and passion!
3) What is the right age for a child to start singing lessons?
Kiyan: I would say no younger than 7. Maybe an unusually intuitive 6 year old?
4) How much daily practice time does it take to become a great singer?
Kiyan: I don’t think a “daily” regiment is the answer. You need to love singing, and feel that natural inclination to express through this medium, in order to have the desire to practice enough to become “great”, however many hours that takes.
5) Are vocal warmups important? If so what are you favorite to do?
Kiyan: Honestly, I talk so much that by the time I have to sing, the voice is already warm. I enjoy warm ups in minor keys that feel like musical lines. This gets the ear going, as well as a sense of carving out a phrase.
6) Do you think having a piano at a vocal lesson is important?
Kiyan: It makes it much easier, yes, but I have done Skype lessons without a piano for many years without a hitch.
7) What do you love about teaching voice lessons?
Kiyan: I love that, in my self-centric life as a recording artist, I get to take all of my musical faculties and apply them to another person. Its a rewarding balance of ego for me in the sense that while on my time, I will ask you to think of music the same way I do (visually, kinesthetically, emotionally), which leads to so much growth. I often find my approach just catches people off guard in how absolutely simple it is.
8) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
Kiyan: I was in college, and I had a student come to me completely unable to match pitch. I’m talking: I play middle C, and he sings the F# two octaves below. After two or three months, I said “listen, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m starting to feel bad taking money from you when I can’t even get a single note out of you.” He wouldn’t have it, and insisted that we continue. It was only after research on overtones from the piano as opposed to the human voice did I realize that all I had to do was use my voice as reference. I had him doing a major scale, in solfege, up and down, and unaccompanied in two weeks. What a huge triumph this was!
9) When and where was your most memorable performance?
Kiyan: My first solo show in New York was a highlight for me.
10) Who are the singers that have inspired you?
Kiyan: Too many to list, but: Patti LaBelle, Beyoncé, and Edita Gruberova.
Kiyan T. is available in NYC for voice & piano lessons. Contact us today to schedule yours!
If you really want to get yourself into a routine and stay motivated while practicing your instrument, then it’s best to have a solid plan. The following are five tips to keep you going:
1. Create the right atmosphere
Nothing will motivate you in your musical practice like the right environment. You might be one of those people who prefer a quiet room. Others need a little bit of stimulation. Whatever setting you like, try to be consistent so as to enter the right mindset when you start practicing. If you will need water, snacks, picks, pencils, manuscript paper, and sharpeners etc. have them with you. If you use apps, download them in advance.
2. Warm up
Musical instrument practice is much like a physical workout. To get yourself in the mood, ensure you do a warm up every time before you start. That way, you will be able to prepare your mind and body before the actual practice. It doesn’t have to be 15 minutes of fiddling with scales but can be something like sight reading or playing a familiar song if you like. Also, get into the right mindset by considering the keys of the pieces you are rehearsing.
3. Set Goals
Practicing is not synonymous with just playing through your music. You need to have the end in mind at the start of each practice session. With a prior goal for each practice session, you will find yourself progressing more quickly and effectively. Only that each goal needs to be broken down into smaller and focused objectives. Every time you complete a goal should help you feel more accomplished.
4. Be realistic
Many people – including your teachers – have told you to “get a lot done now”. Of course, it’s not realistic for you to do all your practice in one go. It gets even worse when you have a tough part to practice. The best way to go about this is to practice a little but more often. That way, you can go through a long-drawn process bit-by-bit. Think more about quality and not the quantity of your practice. Practice smarter and not necessarily longer if you want to have the willpower to keep going. Small and realistic goals should help you overcome areas that looked tricky and accept any missteps you might have made.
5. Identify and overcome problems
There is no need to ignore any areas you might find problematic. Learn to identify where you are using the wrong fingering or stumbling out of time. Decide why it’s going wrong and make up your mind how you will fix it. Obviously, different problems require different techniques. Problems with rhythm call for steps at mastering it. You may want to practice rhythm by simply clapping it out or use one note alongside a metronome. That way, you will know when to increase the tempo and when to slow it down. With time, you will master your musical instrument. Having the right music teacher is also a huge factor in overcoming plateaus and ultimately making the most progress. That’s where we come in, contact Music to Your Home to set up your NYC music lesson today!
Many people ask us “what is the best age to start learning music?” Honestly? The answer varies from person to person.
We currently teach in home music lessons to students of all ages, ranging from two years old to senior citizens. Learning music is like learning another language and many studies show that the earlier children are exposed to a new language, the easier it will be for them to learn it.
Each student is different so what might work for your three year old might not work with another child the same age. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding to enroll your child in lessons:
Does he/she express an interest in music? If not, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t ready, but if you have a child who really responds to music, through dancing clapping, even banging in the table, that’s a sign that it’s time to channel that excitement into one on one music lessons. A teacher can show them how to clap on beat sing songs, explore different percussion instruments and start to identify basic note reading and rhythmic patterns.
Do you notice your child constantly playing on your piano? Do they gravitate towards other instruments? If you start noodling on your guitar, are they at your feet either listening or attempting to strum some chords? Those are pretty good indications that they might really benefit from more structured music lessons.
Five years old is an optimal age to begin lessons. At that point, children are usually pretty good at being able to sit and focus with a music teacher in their home. But if you have a curious four or even three year old who you know has the attention span for a music lesson, by all means, give it a try!
How about adults? Here’s our rule of thumb, just do it! The only criteria for learning music as an adult is the desire to go for it. One of our talented teachers will take care of the rest, right in your home.
What are the benefits of playing in a recital?
When students perform in a recital in front of friends, teachers, and family, they provide great entertainment value to the audience. However, recitals benefit the participants too. Here are some of the benefits of playing in a recital:
- Having something to work for
Something will change in you when you hear that you will be performing in a recital. Apart from the sense of urgency and nervousness, there is a deadline. If you don’t know the value of a deadline, ask working people who have to deal with one almost daily. When you have a recital to look forward to, you start practicing more often. Wether you are taking online lessons or in home music lessons, your sense of urgency to get the song right is a great motivator! You are willing to absorb information more than ever before. Once the recitals become routine, you are likely to keep working just as hard after the recital because you’ve enjoyed the rewards of your efforts.
- Gaining performance experience
When you perform in a recital at a young age, you gain valuable performance experience. If it is your dream to be a professional musician, you will certainly need to get lots of live shows under your belt. It takes a few things to get used to performing in a live setting. It’s not easy to perform in front of people. You need lots of practice. When you are new to recitals, performance anxiety will be the order of the day. However, the more you perform in front of an audience, the easier it becomes. You learn how to play through a mistake or take a gracious bow or smile at the audience. That way, you are gaining very valuable experience to use for future performances.
- Getting inspired by advanced performers
In many recitals, more beginner students are placed closer to the beginning with the more experienced coming at the end. That way, you get to watch the more advanced students do their thing. As a beginner, you see a great performance and discover that you are capable of playing like that too. All you need is some more time, practice, and energy. You will definitely leave the stage psyched to do exactly what you saw the seniors do. With time, your motivation will increase even as your performance skills improve.
Gaining a great sense of pride
This is perhaps the most important benefit you will get out of recitals! You have definitely worked very hard taking lessons in your home and faced the worst of your fears. How would you feel when the applause and smiles finally come from the audience? You will wish this magical moment of the recital lasts forever. Like most students, you will feel special, accomplished, and appreciated for all your hard work. It’s a moment like this that makes it worth the effort. This is when you are likely to psyche yourself up for the next challenge. When you enjoy this at a young age, you become more fearless. Your self-esteem will be boosted like never before. You will definitely look back when you are older and more successful with a smile that you were able to accept this awesome challenge.