Musical Thoughts

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5 Tips to Get You to Practice Your Instrument

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!

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guitar lessons
Musical Thoughts

The 60 Hour Rule For Guitar Lessons

When starting to learn something new, especially when it’s violin or guitar, it can be hard to stay dedicated, to want to overcome the barrier that prevents most emerging musicians from keeping with guitar or violin and becoming good at that instrument. But think—it only takes about sixty hours of violin or guitar lessons before you become good enough to feel comfortable playing, knowing that if you keep up at this rate you’ll be able to play pretty much anything within a few more months of dedicated practice.

Guitar inspiration

It’s before this point of sixty hours that you have to find yourself inspired somehow, and that’s where listening to other music comes in. It can be hard to be inspired by violin music if you’re unfamiliar with classical in general, or to find pleasure in guitar if you don’t really like the blues. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to like the kind of music you’re learning to play. The key to excelling at at the guitar is to think about how you’re spending your time, and to recognize that you’re learning, and that it takes time to get good, even if it is difficult. But once you get over that initial barrier, that first hurdle, you can play better and more widely. So if nothing else, just counting down your sixty hours of practice can be motivation enough when starting out. That’s roughly four months of practice at half an hour a day.

Music lessons as a noble practice

Above all, remember that the way you’re spending your time, learning guitar or violin, is a noble effort. When you have a great teacher from the Manhattan, someone who’s practiced for years and performed onstage, you can rest assured that what you’re doing will pay off; even if you aren’t a natural. Because experiencing difficulty in learning something new makes you a stronger, better person, especially if you stick with it and get to the point where you can play pretty much anything you want.

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Guitar Lessons - Musical Thoughts

5 Easy and Iconic Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners

 

guitar

Playing the guitar should be fun right? If you’re the type of person we like to call a “strummer” and you’re not looking to rip a technical solo, then this list of songs is perfect for you. Most of these tunes use only 4 or 5 chords and are great for singing along to. This list is sure to impress your guests at your next BBQ.

Wish You Were Here- Pink Floyd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPL_SV3n7IU

This is one of my favorite songs to play especially on acoustic guitar. It has a very simple intro that can be learned by ear or the tabs can be found here http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/p/pink_floyd/wish_you_were_here_ver5_tab.htm . The rest of song uses C, D Am, G and Em. It’s a great song that everyone will like hearing, or you can just rock out alone in your bedroom…

Free Fallin’- Tom Petty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lWJXDG2i0A

This is such an iconic rock song. Practically everybody knows it. To play it in the same key as Tom Petty, put a capo on the 3rd fret and play D, A, G and you’ve got it. The entire song is basically just 3 chords! Singing it like Tom is another challenge and we’ll save that tip for another blog.

Redemption Song- Bob Marley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFGgbT_VasI

This is an extremely powerful song. It has a short and simple intro that can be found here: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/bob_marley/redemption_song_tab.htm The chords are crafted in such a way to create an emotional atmosphere for anyone listening. The best part is any beginner can master this one. It’s also another great song to sing along to without worrying about complicated chord changes.

Strong Enough – Sheryl Crow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiYE5e8gXRY

Sheryl Crow is an incredible composer. This song uses a few basic chords. The verse and Chorus is D, G, Bm and A with a bridge using Em, Bm C and A. Not really a lot but another easy and fun song to play. If you’re not a girl, go find one to sing this with and you’ll be in business.

Wonderwall- Oasis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hzrDeceEKc

Here is a song that is known internationally. Everyone has their opinions about Oasis but no matter what they are, there is no disputing the popularity of this song. The acoustic guitar strumming the intro is so recognizable but easy to play. Throw a capo on the 2nd fret and play Em, G, D, and A and that’s basically it. The chorus uses C, D and Em. There are some extensions to these chords, but for a beginner the basic forms will work nicely. This is a song that everyone will love to sing along to.

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Guitar Lessons - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts

Picking the Right Guitar (Pun Intended)

Guitar

The guitar comes in three types, classical with nylon strings, acoustic with steel strings and electric with steel strings and pickups to electrify the sound. Within that, there are literally thousands of options of styles and colors. And they come in all shapes and sizes. From Jimmy Page’s double neck, Jerry Garcia’s Tiger, BB King’s beloved Lucille and Willie Nelson’s Trigger, there are plenty of guitars out there to satisfy your musical appetite.

But what about that six year old who’s thinking about starting lessons? I don’t think you’re running out to buy The Flying V just yet. So where do you start? Let the pros at Music to Your Home be your guide.  Our first piece of advice is don’t go out and buy the most expensive guitar on the rack. It’s not necessary at this point. As the student progresses, you’ll know when it’s time to make a bigger investment, but for now you can get a decent set up for under $200.00.

For beginners there are generally three sizes of guitars to choose from, full size, ¾ size, and half size. Here’s a breakdown but remember, the only true way to get the right fit is to head to a store and try one in person.

The half size guitar is great for kids ages 3-6. The ¾ should work well for 6-10 year olds. Finally, the full size should cover you after that, but be aware that there are variations of regular size guitars, so once again, hold one and see how it feels!

Now that you have an idea of size, let’s discuss string type. Nylon strings are much easier to push down on and softer on little fingers and many of our teachers would suggest starting on those. If steel strings are preferred, go for it, but know that it will take a while to build up the calluses that all guitar players eventually develop.

Is your child a lefty?  There are a couple of lefty guitars out there, however, like baseball mitts, the choices are much fewer. You can also learn to play right handed, or string a righty guitar upside down. Many lefties simply adapt, and learn to play righty.

Don’t forget the accessories too – stand, tuner, case, picks, and an amp for your little shredder if needed.

Whatever guitar your child ends up with, our instructors can teach them how to tune it, care for it and hopefully, one day, play your favorite song on it!

 

Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Viola Lessons

8 Reasons to Choose the Viola

Carrie D.

MTYH Viola teacher Carrie D. has been playing viola since age 6, and she’s pretty passionate when it comes to all things having to do with this cool instrument.  Here are her thoughts on why viola is a great choice for your musical journey:

Want to play the violin but can’t sing that high? Want to play the cello but don’t feel like lugging it around? Here’s a solution for you: viola!

A violin and viola look pretty much the same, so what exactly is the difference? Kindly referred to as a “larger violin” or “smaller cello,” the viola is the perfect choice for many reasons.

 

  1. It’s unique. Not many people start out playing the viola, and so you and your instrument would be one of a kind!
  2. Because the viola is “in between” a violin and cello, it comes in many sizes and lengths for all types of people, tall or short.
  3. Violists get to play violin music, cello music, and our own music. Because of this, you will learn how to read many different clefs, giving you the upper hand in future music theory classes.
  4. Being able to perform a wide variety of instruments’ music also means violists are adept at playing many different genres of music. Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, rock and roll, Broadway, and much more!
  5. Composers today love to write for the viola, and the “new music” scene is an ever-growing part of the current musical community. Some of these pieces may even include electric viola.
  6. Beautiful things are associated with the word “viola:” Viola (the flower), Viola Davis (the actress), Viola Thompson (the baseball player), and even a character named Viola from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.
  7. While lots of musicians are focusing on playing the melody out front, violists get to play the harmony. They are good at supporting and helping other instruments, proving us to be true team players! This also makes the viola a great instrument for people who are shy and like to blend in.
  8. Music to your Home (MTYH) has viola teachers available and excited to start teaching YOU today!

 

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Musical Thoughts - News

Top Musicians The Industry Lost In 2016

2016 has been quite a tough year for music lovers worldwide since it has witnessed the loss of many top musicians. The year started with the exit of David Bowie, a music maestro in January and much the subsequent deaths of other legends including Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Prince, and others.

Here is a look at the top musicians the music industry lost in 2016 and left us with just beautiful memories.

1. David Bowie

On January 10th, music maestro David Bowie died at age 69 following a long struggle with cancer. Bowie earned fame for such hit songs as Modern Love, China Girl, Under Pressure, Changes, Heroes, Space Oddity, and much more. Bowie was not only a successful musician but also an accomplished actor with roles in movies such as Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

 

2. Prince

On April 21st, the Purple Rain hit-maker known as Prince died at his Minneapolis recording studios aged 57. Throughout his distinguished career, Prince won various accolades and awards including 7 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award for Happy Feetís The Song of the Heart as well as an Academy Award for Purple Rain.

3. Frank Sinatra Jr.

On March 16th, Frank Sinatra passed away at age 72. Frank Sinatra Jr. was the son of Frank Sinatra who was yet another legend. Sinatra Jr. also had an accomplished music career of his own and had a decent career run appearing in close to 20 shows including Family Guy.

4. Leonard Cohen

On November 10th, Canadian musician Leonard Cohen departed aged 82. Leonard was a Grammy Award winner and an accomplished poet and songwriter too. He was best known for his song Hallelujah.

 

5. Sharon Jones

On November 18th, Sharon Jones died in New York aged 60 after struggling with pancreatic cancer. Sharon was an accomplished American soul and funk singer. She was also the lead singer of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.

6. Bobby Vee

On October 24th, Bobby Vee also known as Robert Tomas Velline died aged 73. Bobby gained fame in the early 60ís with hits such as Take Good Care of My Baby.

7. Greg Lake

On December 8th, Greg Lake, an accomplished British songwriter, musician, and singer passed away aged 69. Lake died after struggling with cancer. 21st Century Schizoid Man and In the Court of the Crimson King are some of the songs he will be best remembered for.

8. Leon Russell

On November 13th, Leon Russell, an American pop star died aged 74. Leon had earned quite a reputation as a studio pianist back in the 1980ís. As a studio musician, producer, and songwriter, Leon has collaborated with Ike & Tina Turner, The Ronettes, Sir Elton Jon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and many more.

9. Glenn Frey

On January 17th, Glenn Frey who was a co-founder of Eagles died aged 67 years due to health complications since he was suffering from pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time. Glenn was a guitarist and a co-writer of some of the greatest hits of all time including Hotel California and Desperado.

 

10. Mose Allison

On November 15th, Mose Allison, an accomplished American jazz pianist passed away aged 89. Allison became famous for playing an interesting mix of modern jazz and blues, playing the piano and singing too.

11. Maurice White

Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind, & Fire passed away on February 4th aged 74. Maurice has battled with Parkinsonís disease for a long time before his death.

12. Pete Burns

Pete Burns, the Dead or Alive singer died on October 23rd due to a heart attack aged 57. Pete was a controversial pop star that participated in the reality show titled Celebrity Big Brother.

13. Phife Dawg

On March 23rd, rapper Phife Dawg also known as Malik Taylor died at a very young age. Phife was just 45 at the time of his untimely death. He was a co-founder of the legendary hip-hop group known as A Tribe Called Quest.

14. Paul Kantner

On January 28th, Paul Kantner, a rhythm guitarist and vocalist died aged 74 due to multiple organ failures. His hits such as Somebody to Love and White Rabbit deserve a special mention.

15. Merle Haggard

On April 6th, Merle Haggard died aged 79. Haggard was best known for songs such as Workiní Man Blues and The Okie From Muskogee. Haggard has over 35 number 1 country hits in his illustrious music career.

It is quite clear based on the long list of musical artists who have passed away in 2016 that this year has been the most tragic yet, musically speaking. The 15 artists featured on this list were truly astounding and contributed greatly to the world of music, each in their special way. Each of each of these musicians have also inspired us to teach music lessons to an entire new generation of future artists. What is left is for us to cherish their music because if we do that, we can be sure that their spirits live on among us.

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Drum Lessons - Musical Thoughts

Top 5 Rock Drummers

drums

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians? A Drummer. OK, it’s no secret among musicians that drummers get a bad rap – but Music to Your Home knows how valuable drumming is within a band and are here to dispel those myths and put to rest any notion that drumming isn’t as much a part of a band than any other instrument. We hope that you will also appreciate the level of talent our top 5 favorite rock drummers possess. So here they are in no particular order.

Ringo Starr makes our list because no matter what, when you are in the world’s greatest rock band you make the list. Yes, we know Paul played drums on many of their studio recordings, but we still highlight his skill because eventually all those studio versions were played live, and he nailed them. Each and every time. We’ve heard the story of how The Beatles stormed America, slayed it at Shea stadium, killed it on Ed Sullivan, etc. and Ringo was there for all of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wS7O_GedYI

Neil Peart’s drum kit alone should have its own place on our list, but a kit is nothing without an absolute master behind it. Neil’s command of his elaborate drum set is a thing of beauty, and to watch him work out such intricacies within Rush’s complex arrangements for any music fan is a thrill. His fills on Rush’s Clockwork Angels tour are off the charts good. It’s no wonder Rush is known as the musicians’ musicians. With a guy like that in your rhythm section, the musical possibilities are limitless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUFXFBFfqkU

Carter Beauford’s father was a jazz trumpeter, and Carter started out studying jazz, and it’s apparent when you hear him play. His fills are often melodic, and we found a cool example of him playing Dave’s guitar melody within the four minute and 30 second, yes, that’s correct, the 4:30 long intro to “Say Goodbye.” See if you can hear it too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al2YC-yGq3U

Keith Moon’s showmanship is unparalleled. He used his drum set not only to back up one of the greatest rock band’s ever, but it was also a prop, an extension of him and to watch him play is always entertaining. Beyond that of course, are his bombastic and energetic drum solos. Here’s an interesting listen for you, it’s Keith isolated drum track on “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJH8DmPfVmU

John Henry Bonham, the thundering powerhouse of Led Zeppelin – often imitated and never duplicated, though many of us have tried. The scope of his influence remains, and we’d be hard pressed to find drummers playing any genre of music who wouldn’t cite Bonham as one of their heroes. The proof is here. Turn up the volume and listen to this guy go for it.

 

There are so many more unbelievable drummers out there, yes, we’re talking about you Dave Grohl, Mike Portnoy, Charlie Watts, Steve Gadd and Roger Taylor among others. We hear you loud and clear and we think you guys are amazing. I’m sure all our readers have opinions too, and we want to know them. Feel free to attach some of your favorite solos or tell us about your ultimate rock drummer.

 

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Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Piano Lessons

5 Reasons Why You Should Play the Piano

ID-100620305 Reasons Why You Should Play The Piano

If you’ve come across this blog you’re probably already a music lover or someone who’s looking for that one reason to finally start learning an instrument. Here are a few great reasons why you should begin taking piano lessons immediately…

  • Playing piano is a major stress reducer: One of the things we hear most from our adult clients is that after a long day at the office, playing the piano at home has a real calming effect on their moods. Playing the piano can refocus your energy and help you become a more creative person. Listening to music can be totally soothing – but the act of performing it can take your mind away from that annoying day at work. Our younger students have experienced the exact same reactions to practicing their instruments. After a day of classes, tests and afterschool activities playing the piano or taking a piano lesson can help relieve anxiety and stress in children as well.
  • Playing the piano is good for your brain: Studies have shown that children who begin learning piano at a very young age have better general and spatial cognitive development than children of the same age who have not learned piano. Studying piano can also boost math and reading skills. In addition, taking piano lessons helps with concentration and can therefore improve a students’ overall school performance.
  • Playing the piano can help you become a great multitasker: Unlike any other instrument, the piano is unique because you are forced to have two totally different things going on with each hand at the same time. Your brain splits two very complex tasks, (reading treble and bass clefs) between the right and left hand. With practice, putting these tasks together at the same time makes for some really nice music and also trains your brain to focus on several things at once.
  • Playing the piano builds self- confidence: We’ve seen this many times with our students. After learning a piece from start to finish even the shyest student will have a feeling of accomplishment. It takes patience, hard work, determination and a love of music to learn the piano and finishing a difficult piece or participating in a performance is a real confidence builder for many people. Performing in recitals at a young age can help students become more comfortable speaking in front large groups and can help make them more confident in social situations.
  • Playing the piano is cool: Well it is… Discovering that you have a talent for playing piano is a great feeling. Sitting down and entertaining at a party or social event will always grab people’s attention and can possibly make you more interesting to others. If you’re not sold on this theory just ask a Billy Joel or an Elton John fan!

 For in-home lessons, visit our Piano Lessons Page

 Image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Voice Lessons

When Should My Child Start Voice Lessons? Now!

ID-100126627

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

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Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts

In the Summertime When the Weather is High…

NYC Guitar Lessons

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer, and for some, that officially ends their music lessons. Why? We still can’t figure it out!

The warm weather brings us all outdoors, but when it’s time to cool off, we can send our kids in to watch television, or to practice music. The idea right now of spending another minute indoors seems daunting. But let’s all remember that it does in fact rain during those hot months. And with the sun beating those dangerous rays on us, everyone needs a break. And that’s when practicing an instrument is going to keep the cobwebs out of those growing brains.

With summer also comes no homework, no after-school activities, no big projects and no reading logs to sign off on. So playing music is a great way to help your child keep some of the discipline they’ve maintained throughout the school year. With less distractions from other activities, a child can hone in on the skills they’ve been learning all year without feeling like they need to rush through practicing.

Summer is also a great time to introduce your child to an instrument they’ve expressed interest in playing at school.   Their band, chorus or orchestra experience will be so much more rewarding when they are able to keep up with their peers.

Sending your child to sleepaway camp? Pack their instrument and some sheet music. Many camps have talent nights or even “house bands” that kids can participate in.

So just because the mercury has risen, don’t throw away all those hours of hard work. Encourage your child to keep at it and I promise you, one day, they will thank you for it.

 

 

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