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5 Ways Playing A Musical Instrument Can Benefit Your Health

 

Besides being fun, learning and playing a musical instrument can have many positive effects on your health and mental wellness. Research shows that these benefits can occur at any age and come from playing any instrument. Keep reading to see why people are playing instruments to improve their general health.

Stress Relief – Playing an instrument can help refocus bad energy into something positive and enjoyable, which in turn can help alleviate stress. Reduced stress levels lead to slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Research shows that playing and composing music can reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels.

Improves respiratory system – Whether you’re singing show tunes or blowing into a saxophone or oboe, one of the most important things you can learn is how to breathe properly. Producing a good sound on any wind instrument is dependent on your breath, making breathing with the proper technique a must.  So while you are in the pursuit of becoming a great singer or woodwind player you are actually also improving your respiratory system.

Exercise – Playing an instrument can be a great form of physical activity. Playing the piano, guitar or drums takes a lot of upper body strength and playing  for extended periods of time can help build muscle while also improving your posture and increasing your stamina.

Improves Cognitive Performance – It has been shown that playing and listening to music can help improve memory in  people suffering from  Alzheimer’s disease. Playing music has even been shown to help people recover from strokes as well as slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimers.

Improved Immune System -Research between Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music has found that singing for an hour can increase levels of immune proteins, reduce stress and improve people’s mood. Studies have also shown that making music enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses.

 

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 3 Reasons Why Your Child Must Take Piano Lessons

 

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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10 Reasons Why Music Lessons Are Highly Effective: An Infographic

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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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What is the best age to start music lessons?

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.

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Top 5 Easiest Rock Songs To Play On The Piano

nyc piano lessonsPlaying the piano is a skill that takes years of practice, dedication, and desire. Our students study every type of music during their piano lessons including classical, jazz and pop music. If you are just getting started with your piano lessons and are looking for some instant gratification, here are some easy rock songs to get you ripping up the keys in no time!

1) “Let It Be” by the Beatles


Everyone knows and loves this one. This song has 4 chords that you can play. Learning this tune is a rite of passage for every budding piano player.

2) “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon


Here’s an easy piece to play and fun to sing along with. There are a few simple chords and once you learn it you’ll be playing one of rock’s most iconic piano licks!

3) “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd


Well – you’d be wise to avoid this song if you’re hanging out with Neil Young, but do play it if you want to impress your southern friends. It’s another iconic piano riff that’s easy enough to play.

4) “Hey Jude” by the Beatles


Yep, another Beatles song, but are you surprised? It’s easy, it’s awesome, and one of their biggest hits. Play this tune at a party and enjoy your rockstar moment.

5) Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue


This is great piano riff that was written by Crue drummer Tommy Lee. Learn how to play this and you might be able to date Pamela Anderson….

Well, here are five classic and easy songs to get you started on your musical journey, but don’t forget to keep practicing. Rock on!

Are You In The New York City Area?

Learn these 5 songs by a professional teacher. Sign up for our Piano Lessons today!

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6 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Could Rock An Instrument

If you’re trying to make it in the big city, Piano Lessons could be the difference between you booking a gig or going home empty-handed.

The city is full of incredibly talented people all vying for the same coveted jobs and positions, from acting, to finance positions, to political spots.  You’ll never know who might be impressed by your ability to play a musical instrument.

And it certainly came in handy for these famous names.  Not only does playing a musical instrument help keep your brain sharp, but demonstrating mastery of instrument shows dedication and commitment to something you voluntary chose to pursue.  You do it because you love it, and others take note of that.

So, if you want a leg up on your peers and maybe even wow your boss’s boss at a work retreat, get inspired by these multi-talented celebrities, who are well-known for various reasons, but harbor a love for music as well.

1.)  Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman can probably get a belly laugh out of you for his work in Tootsie and The Graduate, but he also knows his way around a piano pretty well.  He’s said he wanted to be a jazz pianist , and occasionally has sat down to play on screen.  Clearly, he’s someone who was always meant for the spotlight.

2.)  Meryl Streep

As if we needed more reasons to be in love with Meryl Streep, if you haven’t seen her 1999 film Music of the Heart, you probably didn’t know that’s she’s a very talented violin player.  Basically, what we’re saying is if you violin lessons in NYC, you’ll be the next Meryl Streep (sort of…).

3.)  Clint Eastwood

So if you really want to see an overachiever, look no further than Clint Eastwood.  Successful actor, professional piano player…oh wait, don’t forget to add professional composer to that list.

Yup, Clint Eastwood has done the soundtracks for movies like Million Dollar Baby and Flags of our Fathers. The man has superpowers.  Don’t worry though, we won’t hold it against you if you just choose to become a piano aficionado and maybe hold off on your career as a composer.  We know that’s a bit much.

4.)  Condolleeza Rice

Bet you didn’t expect a politician to sneak her way onto this list, did you?  Well, Condy’s actually quite the piano player.  She’s even played for the Queen of England.

We’re not sure why anyway would choose a life of politics over music, but hey, it’s not our decision. Condolleeza even had the chance to accompany renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the 2002 National Medal of Arts Awards.

5.)  Keanu Reeves

So if your child is absolutely hellbent on taking bass or guitar lessons in NYC, then let Keanu Reeves be the proof that hard work pays off and that knowing how to play an electric instrument is just as valuable as knowing an acoustic one.

Keanu Reeves was a member of the alternative rock group Dogstar from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.  Apparently, he even plans to get back into the musical swing of things in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3.

6.)  Ryan Gosling

Because the world wasn’t in love with him enough, Ryan Gosling formed a band called Dead Man’s Bones with his friend, Zach Shields.   The band sings love songs about ghosts and monsters.  So that’s pretty adorable.

But wait, there’s more.  Gosling and Shields played every single instrument on their album, because Gosling plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, and cello.

Take a look at him here crooning and playing piano alongside a children’s choir.  Amidst the witty banter he shares with the kids at the beginning, the smooth piano skills, and the deep, scratchy singing, I think it’s safe to say he’s cemented his place as the Male American Sweetheart for eternity.

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What’s the Right Age to Start Piano Lessons?

We all know Mozart started playing piano around the age of three, but if we suspect our children aren’t musical geniuses, what’s the ideal age to start them on lessons?

Firstly, bear in mind that Mozart came from a musical family. His father was a composer and taught his older sister how to play the piano, or the 18th century equivalent, the harpsichord. All this music around young Mozart kept him intrigued. It was only natural for him to imitate his big sister by thumping away on the piano when he had the chance.

Your Music Habits

In judging when to start your child’s piano lessons, consider how often you play music in your home. How does your baby respond? By dancing, laughing and raising his arms in glee? If yes, do you or the baby’s other parent play piano or violin, actively practicing? It’s better if you do, since kids love to imitate. It’s a great idea to start your child’s piano lessons around the age of three or four if music is already a large part of your lives.

If it’s not so much, but you want to see it as such, think about taking your kids to group classes while they’re young. For children under the age of three, these usually require parents’ involvement. Often by the age of five, kids are ready to learn an instrument with the violin or piano lessons. By age seven, it’s okay to start guitar lessons.

How to Get Kids to Practice

The hardest part about getting kids to appreciate their violin or piano lessons is to get them to practice on the regular. Try rewarding them with a treat like ice cream or soda for every half hour they practice. Private piano lessons can be a good addition to lessons at school, where kids can’t always get the individual attention they might need.

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Music and You, Together, Doing Great Things

Music isn’t rocket science.

That said, it’s not exactly something you can pick up and learn in a few weeks.  It takes studying.  It takes dedication.  It takes lots and lots of practice.

Have you ever wanted to learn an instrument, but keep putting it off because the time isn’t right?  Do you have a son or daughter who you want to teach discipline and self-motivation to?  Do you just want to impress all your coworkers at the next holiday party with your incredible oboe skills? (Maybe not…)

Guitar and Piano Lessons are just the beginning

The first step is getting your hands on an instrument, but learning to play goes beyond that, too.  You need to understand music as a culture.  The different genres, the major players, the major news in the industry, any information you can get your hands on.  The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to become a master of your craft.

That’s what we’re here for.  We want you to learn with us in real life and in virtual life.   Taking piano lessons is a great stepping-stone, but if you want to hear live jazz on a random weeknight, where can you go?

When the music instructor leaves your place, you should have an outlet to continue honing the skills you were taught and learning more about those not yet covered.

The Internet is an absolutely amazing resource, and a great tool if you ever get stuck on a particularly difficult part of a song.  For example, check out this guy who will teach you how to write a melody that goes with a chorus.  This comes with the caveat that watching Youtube videos is NOT a substitute for live, in-person lessons.  Youtube is a great resource to expand your musical knowledge, but you can’t interact with Youtube the way you can with an instructor.

Or this little girl absolutely killing it on the guitar.  If you ever need inspiration to practice, take this girl’s video to heart.

The Internet is a place where you can take what you’ve learned and find the resources for real life application.  Combined with the NYC guitar lessons or piano lessons you’re taking, it’s like having thousands of teachers at your fingertips.

Make music your best friend

Don’t let the learning stop when the lesson ends.

At Music to Your Home, we’re obsessed with music.  We’re so obsessed with it we’ve made it our livelihood, and we want you to get obsessed with it, too.  There’s more than enough blogs out there addressing things like music reviews, or where to catch some great live music.  However, if you want a music outlet you can trust, while still learning the craft, then we’re the place for you.

Check back here a few times a week to see what we’re cooking up, be sure to follow us here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/musictoyourhome, and here on Facebook: www.facebook.com/musictoyourhome, so you’re always up on the latest news.  If you’re looking for inspiration to finally learn the ins and outs of music, this is the place to start.

Just take that first step.

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Why You Should Learn to Read Music

Imagine taking piano lessons and not reading music. While guitar tabs work pretty well for guitar lessons, it’s a little different taking instructional piano tutorials without sheet music. On a stringed instrument, you can name the string and where to pluck it, and this is how the earliest musical notation evolved in Sumer, in 2000 BC. But as musical instruments advanced, so did musical notation. By the time of the Byzantine Empire, notation had improved to the point of using a system based on differential, that is, according to the rise or fall of a pitch. But the lack of an absolute system led to the emergence of the modern staff notation we know today.

Modern musical notation

Guido d’Arezzo lived in the early eleventh century in northern Italy. He was a Benedectine monk who recognized how much difficulty singers had remembering Gregorian chants. Around 1025, he created the “ut-re-me-fo-so-la” mnemonic and the four line staff. This led to the standardization of melody, but it took another few hundred years for rhythm to be accounted for through standardized note lengths, and another nearly three centuries for the use of regular measures to come into play.

Reading music to improve your style

Today’s notation includes many different notes about how to play a piece, from tempo to expression and dynamics. These words above the staff can make for large differences in how the same piece can be played if only the notes and rhythm are followed; they allow for a personal touch on each note. Glenn Gould was very well known for playing Bach in a very individualistic style, so much so, that after Gould, it was hard to play certain Bach pieces in any other way. Indeed, Gould claimed that he often studied piano by reading sheet music instead of playing it. It also helped that Gould could memorize on sight, but hey, if he didn’t know how to read music, he might never have become as good as he was!

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