Friday, July 23, 2021

Check Us Out on Medium!

10:41:00 AM

Expect new articles to start appearing on our website. In the meantime, make sure you check out to see more in-depth articles. I'm currently in the process of rewriting and updating all of the articles on this website, and there will be additional articles posted as well. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Picking a Song for an Audition

8:00:00 AM

Selecting the right song for an audition can greatly increase your chances of winning an audition. Whether you plan to audition for a popular jazz or rock band or an opera, you need to know what the group listening to you considers appropriate music. Personal preference plays a small role in the selection of music, but ultimately, you should play to the tastes and requirements of the group holding the audition. Some preparatory work and research makes it possible to select an appropriate song.

The Ensemble

Learn about the ensemble holding the audition. Determine the style of music and what role you will perform. For example, a group that hires Broadway singers will want to hear music from Broadway.

Range and Capabilities

Assess your range and capabilities. The song you select is one of the few parts of an audition you have control over. Select a song that shows off your range and capabilities in a flattering way. Don’t choose a technical piece if you sing best with lyrical songs. If you have a high range, select a piece that demonstrates that range.


Prepare a song you can sing from memory. Memorize the song well in advance to reduce the possibility of forgetting your words in the middle of the piece. If you have trouble memorizing songs, don’t pick a song that is overly complicated. Select a piece that has repetitive phrases to minimize the amount of memorization you must complete.

Difficulty Level

Select a song that is difficult enough for you to show off your expertise and minimize any weaknesses, but not so difficult that you are prone to making a mistake in the audition. Remember that the judges expect you to have this piece well rehearsed. If you have a song that shows off your high range, but exposes a weaker low range, consider another song.

Practicing the Song

When you practice your song, start slowly and aim to avoid making mistakes. If you make a mistake, slow down and perform it five times correctly without making a mistake. The brain doesn’t differentiate between a mistake and the intended outcome very well, so you should aim to perform the piece correctly every time no matter how slow you take the piece.

Making a mistake could make the judges lose confidence in your ability. However, if you keep singing and don’t get flustered by your mistake, it will show that you have competent performance skills. Look through several pieces before making a final decision.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Find a Music Tutor

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Finding a good music tutor requires time, preparation and commitment. The time spent looking for a teacher will save time, money and frustration during lessons. The teacher’s job is to guide students and advise them how to improve their ability. It is not always possible to be your own best critic, and even professional musicians still take lessons to get that valuable second opinion. It is important to look for a teacher that you can relate to, is able to teach to your style of learning and takes teaching seriously.

Find a list of teachers that specializes in your specific instrument. Prospective students can look in grocery store community boards, local coffee shops and browse through online teacher resources. There are many high-quality resources which a student can use to find teachers. Some of the most prominent ones are listed in the resource section.

Call the teacher to determine policies on make-up lessons, payment, and general policies. This is not the time to go into specific detail about every policy but to talk with the teacher and get a general feel for their ability to communicate, level of tolerance, and payment options. This is also a good time to ask about general policies such as how often it will be required to purchase books, if the teacher provides the materials, or if you will need to find them on your own. Many teachers will require payments up front for a month, semester, or biannually or even annually. Make-up lesson policies will differ with each teacher, but most instructors will provide you with one make-up lesson per month. Remember that teachers are scheduling time that another student could use, so it is important to be understanding of these make-up policies.

Assess the level of the studios current students. If you are looking for an advanced teacher and the studio only has children, there is a good chance that that studio is not a good fit. Teachers generally teach to specific age groups. Some teachers will specialize in the young beginner, while other teachers only take adults, and yet another group will only take advanced students capable of playing fugues and sonatas. Talk to the teacher about the level of students that they teach. If you have any concerns, discuss your experiences with the teacher and ask in a very straightforward manner if you are a good fit for their studio. Most teachers are honest about these questions since their reputation relies on honesty in the community. This is also a good time to ask how many years they have been teaching, if they have a degree or certification, and if they are a member of any music organizations such as Music Teachers National Association.

Ascertain whether there are any additional perks for the studio. Do they offer online courses? Online courses are a great, but rare, addition to a studio since they allow the student access to resources when the teacher is not normally available. With online lessons the format is recorded more easily and available for student review. While recording of one on one lessons is also possible, generally, online lessons give the teacher more freedom to respond and take additional time on a lesson when necessary.

If you are a parent, the instructor should have no problem with you sitting in on the lesson. Warnings Online lessons are only useful for music theory, composition, and non performance related studies. Performance based lessons require one on one interaction. Get a list of references and call them before you go to a teachers house. Let people know where you will be to be safe. When possible, look for a teacher that has been screened by an agency.

Monday, November 14, 2016

What Are Acoustic Guitars Used For?

8:00:00 AM
The acoustic guitar has six strings that each plays a different pitch.

Acoustic guitars serve several purposes and are used in a variety of contexts from popular to jazz music. An acoustic guitar is an instrument that does not require external power to create sound. These instruments have a built-in chamber that serves to amplify and distribute the sound without the use of an amplifier. Violins, trumpets and clarinets are all types of acoustic instruments. The acoustic guitar is capable of playing any style or genre of music. However, there are some styles that the acoustic guitar is featured prominently.

Folk Music

Folk music uses acoustic guitars extensively. The music is generally very simple, easy to sing and uses basic chords to back up the melody lines. Folk music makes use of a technique called finger-picking in which the guitarist will quickly pick at the strings with a single finger. This technique creates a twangy sound as the strings bounce against the fretboard.


Country music can be broken into both old and new country. Both styles of music make extensive use of the acoustic guitar. When you think of a country music star or see a picture, they are almost always sitting with their acoustic guitar. The guitar in country music often strums chords vigorously to support the lead singer and vocal lines.


Classical music in this context is any music from the Renaissance to the modern period. In classical music, the guitar is featured prominently because of its ability to play in a fashion similar to the piano. Chords and melody can be played simultaneously making the guitar and ideal solo or ensemble instrument for playing classical music. Agustín Barrios, Mauro Giuliani and Sergei Orekhov are all composers who have written for classical acoustic guitar.


Mariachi music involves the use of upbeat rhythms and small traveling groups of anywhere from four to 12 people. The guitar plays a central role in mariachi music and often plays the lead and guides the ensemble. The ability to play chords makes it an ideal candidate to back up the trumpet and violin in the ensemble. The guitar is well suited to play mariachi music as it carries easily and provides texture and rhythm to the ensemble.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ways to Remember Lines in a Play

8:00:00 AM
Practicing lines in a play requires commitment.

Perhaps the most te terrifying experience you can have on stage is forgetting your lines; however, there are methods that will help to reduce and even prevent this from happening. Becoming familiar with the character and using cues will help you to increase your retention and prevent unneeded embarrassment. There are several techniques that will make it possible for you to learn your lines and improve your stage presence.


Pay attention to the other parts in the play. Don’t just listen for the parts that appear before you come in. When there is a dress rehearsal, stay the entire time and watch the play. Learn about the context in which your character exists in the play. Often, a performer will only stay for his section of the play during a rehearsal. Study your lines while watching the rest of the play.


Listen carefully to the lines that come immediately before your own lines. In the early stages of learning the play, you will usually be able to use your script. Try to look at the script as little as possible to make it easier when it comes time to leave the script at home.


Break your lines into small segments. Instead of trying to memorize one sentence at a time, memorize the sentences by breaking each sentence into two or three parts. If the sentences are short, just memorize one sentence at a time. Build each sentence and part onto the next part by completely memorizing one part before moving on to the next. Type out your lines three times each. The act of typing your lines makes you focus on the words. At this point, type each paragraph three times before moving on to the next paragraph.

Audio and Visual

Stand in front of a mirror and watch your lips as you read the lines. You will find that in a performance if you can recall what your lips looked like when reading a line, you can often recall the words. This technique works extremely well. Practice recording your lines with an audio recorder. Using a tape recorder helps recreate the sensation of performing. You can also use it to record the entire rehearsal with your fellow actors to help with your practicing. You may also record other people's lines and then play them back to help you memorize your lines.

Mock Reading

Find family members and friends who will read other parts with you and help you memorize your lines. Give each member a separate part, and have one person hold onto your script to help you in case you forget a line. If you forget a line, she should provide you with hints to try to get you to remember the line. This is more effective than simply reminding you your line.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Violin Music & Instruments

8:00:00 AM
The violin heralds as the smallest and highest-pitched string instrument.

The violin has specific types of music and various instrument sizes that make it an ideal choice for those that want to play in an orchestra, chamber or solo field. The different sizes of the violin will make it possible for children and adults to learn to play the instrument. Approach the selection of your violin with some care as getting the right fit makes a great difference in sound and your ability to play.

Violin Sizes

Several violin sizes exist based on a proportion to the full-sized violins. These sizes include 4/4 (full-size), 3/4, 1/2, 1/8, 1/10 and 1/16. Determining the size you need for your body type involves measuring your arm from your neck to the middle of the palm on the hand used to hold the violin, usually the left hand. If your length is between 15 to 18 inches, you should play the smaller violins; 18 to 21 inches indicates that you should use a medium-size violin and all others should try the full-size. Adults should learn to play on a full-size violin, regardless of their arm length. Differences in sound exist between the small and full-size violins, as the smaller violins sound brighter with a narrowly defined sound.

Orchestral Music

The orchestral violinist should study excerpts from the most commonly played repertoire books. This way, they can learn to play the most difficult portions of the music without actually having to study the entire orchestral part. For violinists serious about playing professionally, these books prove indispensable as a resource. Students should work through every excerpt until they achieve the ability to play the music with ease.

Chamber Music

Chamber music requires a different style of playing than orchestral music. With chamber music, the violinist must keep track of his individual part and interpret the music to create a high level of musical expression. Unlike in orchestral music, where a conductor guides the ensemble towards a total vision, chamber music leaves the interpretation to the individual performers. The violinist must lead the ensemble and help to provide an artistic direction based on the input of the ensemble.

Solo Music

The solo career of a violinist forms largely from the ability of the violinist to perform intricate music at a high-level. The violinist should study the basic repertoire and attempt to create an original interpretation of the music. Additionally, playing each piece with precision and careful attention to detail makes for an effective performance. Playing solos on a violin will test even the most accomplished performers. You can’t hide if you make a mistake as a soloist.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Virtuoso Guitar Techniques

8:00:00 AM

Guitar techniques make it easier to play quickly and efficiently. Virtuoso guitarists have complete control over their instruments. They know the right technique to use for each situation and can switch quickly and seamlessly between several different techniques. To become a virtuoso, you must first master the traditional method of guitar playing, then learn to play the advanced techniques comfortably. Any serious guitarist must learn virtuoso techniques to play at a high level.

Alternate Picking

The typical guitarist will play the guitar using only downstrokes or upstrokes. This is perfectly normal, and an acceptable way of playing. Virtuoso players also know how to quickly alternate the stroke so that they are using a mixture of down- and upstrokes. This technique allows players to perform extremely quickly since they don’t have to wait for their arm to return to the original starting position. To perform this accurately, you should use the tip of the pick to increase your speed.

String Skipping

String skipping produces a sound that utilizes the individual qualities of each string to play a melody over a wide interval range quickly. For instance, the lowest and thickest strings on the guitar have a darker quality, while the higher strings have a light and thin quality. By skipping between strings, the guitarist gains the characteristics of each string in a single melody and greatly increases the distance between pitches. This technique creates large melodic leaps in the melody, since moving from one string to the next creates a significant change in pitch. Without the string-skipping technique, the guitarist would have to jump from one end of a string to the other.

Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is very similar to strumming on the guitar, but it allows the guitarists to play sections extremely quickly. The technique requires the guitarist to be able to use both hands equally well. Unlike strumming, with sweep picking, you want to make each note clearly heard. In a strumming technique, one hand will hold down the strummed pitches firmly, creating a blurred effect. With sweep picking, you still hold down the pitches, but you must immediately let go of each pitch when articulated. This creates the independence of each pitch and allows all of the notes to sound clear.

Economy Picking

Economy picking uses a mixture of alternate and sweep picking to play even faster than with either technique by itself. With alternate picking, the hands are moving up and down regardless of the string. Economy picking uses the style of picking that is most useful for the particular section played. For instance, guitarists use the alternate picking technique as long as the music stays on one string. The moment they switch to another string, they switch to sweep picking, then continue with alternate picking.


“Guitar Techniques”; Michael Mueller; 2008

Friday, November 4, 2016

Clarinet Games to Improve Technique

8:00:00 AM
The clarinet is a great instrument with many possibilities for games. Playing games on the clarinet in groups or as an individual is a great way to make practice enjoyable and conducive to advanced learning. Whether you are playing the clarinet in high school, college or professionally, these games will help to improve your skill on the clarinet.

Break Game

The clarinet break game helps a clarinetist learn to go over the break. With this game, a player has to compete with another player to see how many times she can go smoothly over the break. The first person to make a mistake loses the game. Practice this game by selecting one player to go first. Have her start on an A in the middle of the staff and play quarter note slurs up to C. If she is successful, she has to do it again until she makes a mistake. Adjust the tempo depending on the ability of the players.

Scale Competition

There are 12 major scales and 12 minor scales, not including their enharmonic equivalents. (Enharmonic scales are scales that sound the same but are written differently, such as C-sharp and D-flat.) Players should attempt to play all of their scales from memory as quickly as possible. One person should be responsible for timing the players and keeping track of the times. Keeping a record of the best overall time is a great way to motivate players to improve. Individuals may play this game to attempt to beat their own records.


Improvisation requires a pianist to play chords. Alternatively, you can purchase a CD of chord progressions or have members in your section play a series of chords for the soloist to improvise on. This will require you to write out the chord progressions and print parts ahead of time. The soloist should have the score that shows the chord progressions and should be asked to improvise on top of the chords. One student should judge the competition and reward the winner.


Pass-out is a quick game that may be played individually or as a group. Individuals will simply record their best times and keep track. In a group setting, all of the players should start standing up. Each player should play a single note on the clarinet and hold the note as long as possible before running out of air. When a player runs out of air, he must sit down and wait for the others. The last person standing wins the competition. To make it more interesting, one person can set a timer, and you can keep track of the best time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chorus and Vocal Evaluation Checklist

8:00:00 AM

Chorus groups receive evaluations on several factors and not all of them are musical. Performing is more than just getting the notes right and producing a technically perfect performance. Whether you are involved in a solo performance or performing as part of a choir, knowing what the adjudicators are looking for will help you get a high score on the performance.

General Information

General information is going to include the group or performer’s name, date, location, and basic contact information. This is a standard section completed ahead of the performance. The performer or group will then submit several copies to the judges so that they can take individual notes and come up with a blind collective score.


The repertoire includes all of the works in the concert if it is a performing group. If the evaluation is for a soloist, they may be required to list everything that they performed within the semester. If this is the case, the judges may choose any piece from the repertoire list. Often a soloist is only required to sing two pieces and they may not have to sing the entire piece. An ensemble will typically put on an entire concert.


Diction is very important for singers. Many people mistakenly believe that if you have a voice you can sing. While this is true on some level and nobody should be discouraged from singing, professional singers have a higher standard. Articulation and clarity of the words are very important for a singer. Singers spend years learning how to properly pronounce words so that they are clear and audible. The judge will grade the singer or group on how well they articulate words.


The appearance of the group is another important factor. As performers, singers are expected to dress the part. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt to an audition is highly inappropriate and may even get a singer removed from a studio. Appearance goes along with professionalism and singers need to dress the part. Performers are not just heard, they are also seen, so appearance is important.


Finally, performers are graded on overall musicianship. This includes the ability to accurately interpret phrases, rhythmic precision, and how well they interpret the intent of the music. This is mostly subjective, but judges with years of experience are able to accurately assess the performers’ level of musicianship.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How to Make a Halloween Song

8:00:00 AM

Halloween music should be creepy and in a depressed key. There are some simple ways to achieve this if you have basic knowledge of music and talent for creating melody. If you have no experience writing music, you will want to study music theory first or try creating a song based on a pre-existing melody. For instance, you could use the famous song “Are You Sleeping” and simply change the lyrics so that it reflects a macabre theme.

Step 1 — Start by creating the lyrics for your song. Aim for four sentences of approximately four to eight words. Writing about bats, ghosts, vampires and ghoulish creatures is a good place to start. If you have trouble coming up with lyrics, take an already existing set of lyrics and just change keywords to something that fits with a Halloween theme. You won’t be able to publish this content, but you can develop greater skill working with pre-existing lyrics.

Step 2 — Notate a melody in a minor key that fits with your lyrics. If you don’t know how to notate your melodies, then use a tape recorder to record yourself singing the lyrics. Play the recording, think about parts needing improvement, and edit as necessary. Continue singing the lyrics with the melody until you are happy with the results. When you settle upon a melody, memorize it. Alternatively, if you used a pre-existing set of lyrics from Step 1, you always can just sing the song to the already existing melody. Some good melodies to use are “Ring Around the Rosie,” a song already entrenched in macabre themes, or “We Three Kings,” which already is in a harmonic minor key.

Step 3 — Record your Halloween song. If you have any friends that are musicians, ask them to help you with your song. When recording your song, look for a quiet area in which you will not be disturbed. Use a cardioid microphone, since those will make your voice sound warm. Experiment with the correct distance to hold the microphone to get the best sound.

Step 4 — Download and install a free audio editor like Audacity. Import your song by dragging the audio file into the program. In the “Effect” menu, use the “Reduce Noise,” “Normalize” and “Compressor” options to finalize and master your song.

Study music theory if you are serious about learning to write music. Lyrics don’t have to fit a rhyming scheme, but they should lend themselves to creating suitable melodies. You can give your song away for free on social media sites or keep it within your close network of friends and family. If you have borrowed copyrighted material for your song, make sure you have the appropriate permission by contacting the original author.