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

8:00:00 AM
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.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Difference Between a Treble Clef and an Alto Clef

8:00:00 AM

Treble and alto are terms used to describe pitch levels and clefs. The treble clef indicates notes that are in the highest part of the register. The alto clef indicates notes that fall below the general treble clef range. Alto clef often appears in viola music while the treble clef hosts a variety of instruments from flutes to trumpets. Treble and alto may also refer to a specific voice type.

Treble Clef

The treble clef appears in high woodwinds, brass, and vocal parts. An interesting characteristic of the treble clef is the curved loop that wraps around the G-line and the first space above the staff system. The treble clef loop always wraps around the second line in modern music; however, it is theoretically possible to move the position of the loop and change the names of the pitches in the treble clef. For this reason, the treble clef received the name the G-clef since it indicates where G is above middle C.

Alto Clef

The alto clef resembles a backward bracket. The middle of the bracket falls on middle C. In a true alto clef, middle C appears on the middle line. If the bracket moves so that the middle of the bracket falls on any line other than the middle line, it is technically a C-clef. There are several types of C clefs, including tenor, soprano, mezzo, and a general C-clef that may be positioned anywhere on the staff.

Treble Clef

The word treble by itself may refer to several aspects of a composition or piece of music. It can refer to the highest-pitched instruments or vocal part in a composition, the range of a child’s voice, or even the highest frequencies on your stereo equalizer. The one thing that the varying definitions of treble have in common is that it refers to something that is high-pitched. Sopranos and younger voices often sing in the treble range.

Alto Clef

The word alto itself may refer to an alto voice in a choir. It may also refer to the range that a particular instrument plays in relation to other instruments of the same family. For instance, the viola often gains the distinction of the alto of the string family since it plays in the middle to upper-middle part of the range. Most commonly, alto will refer to a singer who has a range of approximately A below middle C (A3) to the E on the top space of the treble clef (E4).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Didgeridoo Art Projects

8:00:00 AM

Didgeridoo art projects should serve to bring out your creative side. There are several options for creating art with your didgeridoo. You can paint, etch, burn or draw directly onto the surface of the instrument. You may also want to adorn the instrument with feathers or beads to create additional ornamentations on the instrument.


One way to decorate a didgeridoo for an art project is through the use of paints. Choose a theme, animal, or object and first sketch the image on the didgeridoo using a pencil. Once you are satisfied with the sketch, choose colors that work well on the didgeridoo. You can use oil paints to help create a luster and shine. For added definition, use a dark, preferably black color to outline the outside of your image. This helps to define the image and make it viewable over a larger distance.


Burned-in images are a great way to create images with an authentic look. Sketch your image onto the didgeridoo with a pencil so that you can erase mistakes if necessary. When you are satisfied that the sketch looks right, use a wood-burning pen to trace the sketch. This will make it possible for you to create an authentic burned-in look on your didgeridoo. Take your time selecting and sketching your image. Once you have started burning, you can’t correct mistakes.


Sand down the outside of the didgeridoo to make sure you have a smooth surface to work with. Using markers, begin drawing directly on the didgeridoo. If you are unsure of your abilities, start with a sketch and then color in the lines when it is finished. Drawing has the advantage of being very detailed and is a simple way to add interest to your didgeridoo. Avoid using a pencil for the final drawing since pencil can rub off fairly easily.


You may wish to create an etch in the side of your didgeridoo. If you have several varieties of chisels and experience using them, you can etch designs into the side of your instrument. You have to be extremely careful to avoid cutting through the hollow interior. However, once you have drawn the sketch of your etchings, the chiseling process will go much more smoothly. Sketch images of objects, or simply etch angular blocks and crevices into your didgeridoo.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Electric String Instruments

8:00:00 AM

Electric string instruments use electrical signals and amplifiers to increase an instrument’s volume and modify its sound. Composers from all genres of music have used electric instruments in their compositions. While electric instruments more commonly appear in rock and popular music, the classical composer George Crumb wrote a composition for electric strings entitled “Black Angels.” Electric string instruments are not the same as semi-acoustic instruments that use a mixture of sound boxes and electric amplification to create sound.

Acoustic Instruments

Acoustic instruments use a chamber to resonate and amplify sound. They may be miked to make them act like electric instruments; however, a true electric string instrument is designed to function only with an amplifier. Without the amplifier, acoustic instruments still amplify their own sound. The electric guitar has metal strings and amplifiers while the acoustic guitar uses synthetic fibers as strings.

Magnetic Pickups

Electric string instruments have magnetic pickups that convert the string vibrations into electrical signals that travel through an amplifier. The advantage of electrical amplification means real-time performance effects, such as digital samplers and reverb that alter the instrument’s timbre, can be applied.

Electric Guitar

The electric guitar makes no sound without an amplifier. Magnetic pickups detect the string vibrations, sending them to the amplifier which translates them to sound. An electric guitar is the most popular electric string instrument, and there are several types of electric guitars that have as few as one string and as many as 12. Double-neck guitars also exist that convert the guitar into a regular guitar and a bass guitar.

Electric Orchestral Strings

Electric violins, violas, cellos, and basses function in the same way as an electric guitar. This is different from an acoustic violin that uses a microphone to amplify the sound. The electric string instrument lacks a sound-post or chamber to amplify the vibrations produced. The electric string instrument does not resonate due to the solid body. The advantage of these instruments is the ability to use a bow and play acoustic techniques, including pizzicato and multiple stops, with the ability to digitally manipulate timbre and apply electronic effects.

Electric Mandolin

An electric mandolin comes in several varieties. There are semi-acoustic electric mandolins that have a sound box plus electronic sound amplification. There are also fully electric mandolins that have a solid construction and use only electric amplification. The semi-acoustic is technically not an electric mandolin. This is true of all semi-acoustic instruments.

Steel Guitar

This type of electric guitar lays out flat on a table and the player uses a pedal and levers operated by his foot and knee to further manipulate the instrument’s sound. The player uses a metal bar that he moves up and down to shorten and lengthen the strings creating higher and lower pitches. Like all guitars, it is capable of chords and plucked by a pick or fingers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Early Childhood Music Jobs

8:00:00 AM
With an educational background in early childhood music education, wide varieties of jobs become available to you. Most early childhood education degrees permit you to teach children up to third grade. Each state is different, so make sure to check with your state's teaching requirements for teaching to be sure.


Orff-Schulwerk is a system of teaching children about music that uses dance, music, rhythm and instruments to engage the child. Composer Carl Orff developed the initial program to improve the quality of music education. Orff requires special training and courses in addition to a degree in early childhood music education. The training will qualify you to teach children from birth through middle school. The techniques learned find their basis in things that children love to do including singing, clapping and keeping rhythm.

Private Instructor

Private instruction doesn’t require a degree from a university, but having that education does lend you extra credibility. Private instructors may teach any age child in a variety of disciplines. Many teachers specialize in piano, music theory or a specific woodwind, brass or stringed instrument. If you have the ability to play an instrument, then it is possible to develop a lucrative career as a private instructor. Instructors typically put on recitals and teach one-on-one with students. With early childhood music, the parents often sit in on the lessons.

Group Classes

Group classes at community centers, in your own home or in local schools provide another avenue for early childhood music specialists to consider. When schools have to cut budgets, music is often the first course downsized. However, parents still understand the important of music training and often will enroll their students in an after-school program. Schools generally will work with independent music teachers to bring an extra level of education to their school. Contact schools in your area to see if any will work with you to teach after school classes.


With a degree in early childhood music, you may teach pre-school and elementary school students. There are several options for teaching including charter schools, private schools and public schools. Public schools generally have resources that are more reliable, while charter schools have limited funding based on fundraisers, student enrollment and government aid. Private schools have the most potential for finances since they generally rely on corporate sponsors. Contact your local school district to determine if any schools in your area are hiring.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Differences Between the Bass Clef and the C Clef

8:00:00 AM
Nickel horns have an additional element that brass horns do not have. This additional element changes the sound and malleability of the horn. There is great debate over which alloy is better for the construction of horns. The majority of horns are made from brass, but that doesn't mean there isn't a place in music for nickel horns. Nickel horns have a very specific tone that has its uses in specific types of music.

Brass Horn Elements

Brass consists of a combination of copper and zinc. Depending on the type of brass, there will be different proportions. In yellow brass, there is a combination of 70 percent copper and 30 percent zinc. While in gold brass, which is less common, there is 85 percent copper and 15 percent zinc. The difference in properties affects both the color and the sound that the instrument will produce.

Brass Horn Acoustics

Horns made from the more common yellow brass will provide a sound that is strong, penetrating and rich. This type of brass is preferable in orchestras where the horn section must be powerful and capable of cutting through the entire ensemble. Gold brass produces a metal that is almost red in color. Gold brass is less commonly used and produces sound suitable to lyrical solo playing. The gold brass emits a sound that is warm, soft and is less brilliant than yellow brass.

Nickel Horn Elements

Nickel horns differ from brass horns in the construction of the alloy that is used to make these horns. In a nickel horn, a small portion of nickel is added to the brass mixture to create a different texture that is harder to manipulate. This makes it more difficult to create and repair nickel horns since the materials are less pliable and not easy to work with. The nickel horn consists of 65 percent copper, 20 percent nickel and 15 percent zinc.

Nickel Horn Acoustics

Nickel horns are rarely used since they don't produce the typical horn sound that we are accustomed to hearing. They have a very loud and expansive sound that is more fitting to a marching band than an orchestra. The sound also has very few layers to it and emits a strong tone with a limited amount of external artifacts. This creates a clear tone that is more typical of a trumpet than a horn.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Lip Sync

8:00:00 AM
Knowing how to lip sync will make it possible to prerecord your concert and not have to worry about making mistakes in a live performance. It isn't too hard to learn to lip sync, but there are some special considerations and techniques that can make this a more enjoyable experience for you. Generally, professionals will avoid lip syncing, but sometimes, especially with complex electronic music, lip syncing should be considered as a viable option.

Breathe properly as if you were actually going to sing, from the diaphragm and out through the mouth. One of the biggest issues with those who lip sync is that they do not breathe correctly. Because they aren't actually singing they think this practice works. However, the audience will pick up on your lack of breathing and it will make the performance less believable.

Play a recording of the song you will lip sync too. Write down the lyrics and memorize those before doing anything else. You can memorize lyrics by writing the lyrics out several times, taking the information into smaller sections or by reciting the lyrics from a sheet and removing one word at a time.

Sing the song properly, by actually singing the lyrics and the notes. Memorize what it feels like to actually sing the music. Make sure you stay in rhythm with the music. You have to prepare to lip sync as if you were preparing to actually sing.

Practice singing without actually sounding the words. You should breathe properly and expel air from your lungs and mouth. Form each word by saying the words under your breath or by simply making the motions you would make if you were actually singing. Since you have practiced singing this song, you should be able to do this well.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Differences Between French Horn and Trombone

8:00:00 AM
Trombones and French horns have several common elements. They are members of the brass family, use a mouthpiece to create sound and have a wide range of notes available to them. The differences make them suitable for different uses in an orchestra, band or solo venue.


The main mechanical differences involve the use of a slide versus valves. The French horn uses rotary valves to change pitches. When a valve is depressed, the airflow changes direction and travels through tubes. The length of the tube changes the pitch. In contrast, the trombone has a very simple slide system. Instead of tubes, the instrument lengthens and shortens through a series of seven different slide positions that correspond to the seven valve combinations.


Both instruments can descend to the low E below the staff. However, the French horn can go an extra octave and a fifth higher. This puts the French horn in the same range as the trombone and trumpet combined. This extensive range makes the French horn the uniting factor between the high brass and the low brass.


French horns have a clear, mellow and limber sound, while trombones are commonly metallic, brassy and forceful. The difference is not always easy to describe, but most people will immediately tell the difference between the two when they hear them. The French horn valves create a stronger, clearer and more precise sound than the trombone. The trombone is certainly capable of playing fast passages, but the slide use makes it more difficult.


Standard techniques on both instruments include tonguing, slurring, flutter tongue and glissandos. However, the French horn is capable of placing the hand in the bell to create sharp accents and stopped horn effects. The trombone has several mutes the French horn may not use, such as the plunger mute. The trombone’s slide also creates effective glissandos between notes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Getting a Good Deep Sound Tuning Your Drums

8:00:00 AM
There are several methods available to deepen the sounds of your drums. Tuning can certainly make your drums sound lower, but changing the drum heads may provide you with the deep, rich sound you are looking for. Drummers use a tuning key to loosen and tighten the tension in the drum heads. By doing this, they are able to achieve generally high or low sounds. While you can't tune a drum to a specific pitch, it is possible to get a general tuning of the drum by listening closely.


Preparing to tune your drum heads requires determining the precise sound you want to get out of your drums. If you only want to change the pitch of the drum to get a lower sound, you can simply apply proper tuning methods to lower the pitch of the drum. However, if you are looking for a lower and thicker sounding drum pitch, you will need to consider purchasing additional drum heads. Listen to recordings of drum players and find a sound you like. This will help you adjust the drum to your needs.

Figure Eight 

Tune the top and bottom heads by dividing the drum into eight equal parts as if you were preparing to slice a pizza. The drum will have eight tuning pegs located around the top, so this will not require much effort. Start with any peg and turn it a quarter of a turn with your tuning peg key. Then jump to the peg on the opposite side and do the same. Continue this process until the entire drum has been tuned to the general pitch you want. Tap in the center of the drum to determine the pitch.

Fine Tuning 

Tap near each peg on the drum and listen to the pitch. When tapping, use the area directly in front of the tuning peg. If both pitches match on opposite sides of the drum, move to the next peg to the right. If they don't match, continue to adjust the tuning until each side sounds the same. These minor adjustments will help to ensure the entire drum is tuned evenly and will help to give you an even and consistent sound across the drum. Make sure to do this with both the top and bottom heads.

Head Choice 

Rather than using a standard drum head, you can purchase oil filled drum heads. These drum heads install just like any other drum head, but they are filled with a small membrane of oil that slows the vibration, creating a more robust sound. You can choose from varying thicknesses of drum heads. You should choose a drum head based on how penetrating you want the drum to be and how deep you want the sound. The smaller drum heads will provide a thinner sound, while the thicker ones will provide a rich and full sound.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Games to Help Children Learn Musical Notes

8:00:00 AM
Children often learn best when education combines with entertainment. Several games involving music notes are available for children to play to increase their knowledge of music. Most gamed require two or more children. A few games require just one child. Learning music is great for teaching children to develop spatial reasoning.

Note Name Competition 

The note name competition is a game that involves two groups of students. Divide students into two groups; each group will select one student from each group to represent the team during each turn. The teacher will write the names of 12 pitches horizontally below the bottom of the musical staff. The students must not look while she is writing the pitches. When the students turn around, they have to write in the notes as quickly as possible. The first student that writes in all of the pitches correctly will win. The other student continues to write pitches until confirmed that the first student won.

Clef Games 

The clef game will initially teach the students the names of the notes on the staff. For the treble clef, have each student come up with an acronym for the names of the lines and spaces on the staff. One possible acronym is “Each Great Brain Dreams Fine.” Have the students come up with an acronym for both the bass and treble clef. The students may work in groups or by themselves. The group or individual with the most creative acronyms will win. To make this more entertaining, give the students construction paper, glue and markers to create presentations.


In Musical Bingo, the teacher creates enough cards for each student to have their own or share. Each card is a 4-by-4 matrix. The teacher must draw 16 pitches from the 18 available pitches between the bass and treble clef. Each box consists of a staff and a note. The children must place a token on a note whenever called. Four in a row wins and they should call out Bingo to have their answers checked. The teacher should call out pitches in this order: pitch name, clef type and line or space. For instance, “B is in the treble clef and on a line.”

Interval Game 

The interval game is for advanced students. Teach the students about the chromatic scale and instruct them on the difference between major, minor and perfect intervals. Do this by writing a complete chromatic scale on the board and then showing them the difference between a minor second and a major second. Continue to explain each interval. To play the game use two groups of students and ask them to name the note that is an interval above or below a note. For instance, give them the note A and ask for a perfect fifth above A. First student to get the answer right wins.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fun Activities to Do in a Marching Band Saxophone Sectional

8:00:00 AM
A marching band sectional rehearsal can be fun and still be productive. A section leader can play several games with his group to help improve issues specific to a saxophone player's technique. Any activity that is part of a saxophone sectional should be specific to the instrument and help improve the player's individual skill. Playing games unrelated to music should be avoided as they waste the band's time.

Scale Contests

Have someone act as the time keeper. Each player in the sectional has to play all of their major scales as quickly as possible without mistakes. The goal should be to play all 12 major scales in under 60 seconds by the end of the year. Sixty seconds might not be possible for a brass player, but it is definitely possible for a saxophone player. The winning saxophone player should receive some sort of award from the section leader. Work with your band director to see if it is possible to get a coupon or gift card for the player with the fastest scales in a month. This is a great productive exercise as it will increase the technique of every player in the group.

Breathing Games

Have every saxophone player stand up and play an Eb on the top space of the staff. Ask them to hold the Eb without taking a breath. When a player has to breathe they must sit down and wait for the contest to end. The last person standing will win the contest. As preparation for the contest, talk about proper breathing from the diaphragm and explain how proper breath control will enable players to get a more consistent and higher quality sound. This exercise will help players increase their lung capacity and it is always fun to see who is the last one standing. Sometimes, the smallest player can have the biggest lungs!

Memorization Contest

Make a copy of each saxophone player's music. With a highlighter block out a section of the music and then make a copy of that piece. Then, make another copy with even more of the music blocked out. Do this with two more copies until you have a total of 4 progressively fragmented pieces. The goal of this game is to help performers try and memorize their music. The final piece should have about 75 percent of the music blocked out. See how many players can play the entire piece from memory. If you find one of the copies is too difficult, then take a step back and let the players play a more complete version.

Accuracy Contest

Start with the entire saxophone section standing. Give them a piece that the group is having some trouble with. Have them start playing and instruct each player to sit down as soon as they make a mistake. The last one standing wins. The benefit of this game is that those that are having trouble playing a part get to listen to those that know how to play the part. This will help them figure out the rhythms of the piece and improve their ability to play. A follow-up to this exercise is to have all of the players clap the rhythm of the piece without playing it. Often, it is the rhythm and not the notes themselves that cause performers issues.

Labeling Activity

Pass out a sheet with a picture of a saxophone and a line pointing to each part. Ask each player to complete the worksheet by filling in the parts of the saxophone. Once everyone is complete, go around the room and ask each player to identify a part and discuss its function. This exercise will ensure that all players know each part of their instrument.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

F Style Vs. A Style Mandolin

8:00:00 AM
For centuries, mandolins have appeared in small ensembles, folk singing and even within the troupes of troubadours of the Middle Ages. These poet-composers used lutes and mandolins and performed songs that dealt with themes of love and religion. A mandolin is a soprano lute -- the highest member of the lute family of string instruments. F-style and A-style mandolins are descendants of the original mandolin, which was an Italian instrument.


F-style and A-style mandolins came into existence in the early 1900s. The Gibson guitar company invented both styles. The F-style, or Florentine mandolin, was the first version to be created; the A-style came shortly thereafter, to accommodate different types of music. The mandolin has existed for centuries, but these new and novel types of violins are better suited to playing in ensembles and as solo instruments. Part of the string family of instruments, the newer F- and A-style mandolins are American inventions.


Players may stand to play F-style mandolins, with an added strap attached to the scroll and base of the instrument. However, they are most comfortable when seated, as the curvature of the instrument rests comfortably on the leg. F-style mandolins all have F-holes, similar to a violin. These holes affect the sound production and create resonance within the instrument. The F-style mandolin has a brighter sound than an A-style mandolin.


Most A-style mandolins have a round sound-hole instead of the F-hole found on the F-style mandolin. While the round sound-hole allows for more sustaining power, it does not have the volume and power of an F-hole -- although some A-style mandolins have the F-holes as well. These mandolins are typically less fancy than F-style mandolins, making them less expensive. In contrast to the F-style mandolin, the A-style mandolin is usually played when the musician is standing, as the instrument does not rest comfortably on the leg.

Musical Uses

F-style and A-style mandolins have different uses in music. Typically, an F-style mandolin player plays bluegrass music, a type of country music with American roots. It is similar to jazz music, in that the instrumentalist often plays solos and improvises on a chord progression. The A-style mandolin appears in Irish, folk and even classical music. The nature of the instrument lends itself to quick strumming and playing light, delicate melodies.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ethiopian Instruments: Guide to the Most Commonly Used Instruments

8:00:00 AM
Ethiopian instruments provide music for entertainment, spirituality, celebration and ceremonies. There are four main instruments used in Ethiopian music. Most of them allow the instrumentalist to sing and play at the same time. Much of Ethiopian music is secular music to entertain and relieve the tension of the participants.

Washint: Ethiopian Flute

This unique instrument is played mostly by peasants, shepherds and cow herders. Blowing through the end and using the finger holes to create individual tones sound the instrument. Made from bamboo, the instrument is extremely durable and resistant to inclement weather. In many performances, the flute is the only instrument used in conjunction with voice.

Masïnqo: One-String Violin

The masïnqo is a single string violin that is played with a curved bow. The right hand manipulates the string while the left hand holds the bow. This instrument creates its sound with a box at the base of the string that serves as a resonator. When the string is bowed, the vibrations from the string travel to the box and create the sound that is produced. The instrumentalist will often sing and play the instrument at the same time.

Kirar: Lyre

The kirar, also known as a krar, is commonly decorated with beads. It's a six-string lyre that is used in Ethiopian music. The six strings are plucked in the same manner as a harp would be with the left hand. The right hand and leg serve to support the instrument and provide balance. As the instrument plays, the instrumentalist will often sing folk melodies. This instrument functions by itself or in combination with other instruments and singers to provide enjoyment and entertainment. The instrument makes use of extreme ornamentation based on simple folk melodies.

Käbäro: Ethiopian Drum

The käbäro is an instrument used in Ethiopian drumming. Commonly used in ceremonies and celebrations, it is classified as a membranophone.


Membranophones receive their name for their membranes that stretch over each end of the drum. This particular drum consists of an animal hide stretched over a conical shaped drum. This instrument is a hand drum about the size of a bongo. Because of the nature of the instrument, the performer is able to sing and play at the same time. Drums are typically used to keep tempo, create the rhythm for dance, and provide a meditative outlet for performers.

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Make It as a Musician

8:00:00 AM
Making it as a musician requires determination and persistence when other musicians have given up and taken other jobs. A daily commitment to practice routines, an eye for recognizing opportunity and the ability to book concerts and get paid for your work are just a few of the daily tasks musicians must complete. You must know how to promote your work and sell your services. When just starting out, finding a way to support yourself may be difficult, but there are many avenues to help provide a stable income while your fame as a musician rises.

Creating a Music Website

Create a music website that includes video and audio of your performances. Think of your website as a chance to showcase your talents to potential fans and venues which may wish to hire your services.

The Mailing List

Use a mailing list and include a sign-up form on your website to keep people notified of your upcoming concerts and activities as a musician. Send out a monthly newsletter to keep fans coming back to your website and interested in your music.

Business Cards

Make business cards with your name, email, contact phone, and instrument specialization. If you teach, include that information as well. Distribute the cards at concerts, conventions and to local businesses.

Music Distribution

Create a recording of your music and distribute it to an online retailer. There are several companies that will distribute your music to major companies for a percentage of your profits.

Promotional Performances

Perform for free at first to get a name for yourself and build a resume. Offer your services to hotels, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.


Sell merchandise at your concerts to help bring in additional income. If you are playing for free to get started, this is a great way to bring in a little income and gain the support of your fans.

Music Distribution

Distribute your recorded CD to radio stations along with a press release, high-quality photo of you or your band and contact information.

Teach Music Lessons

Teach privately to help supplement your income. You can advertise at local universities, colleges, grocery stores, coffee shops, public and private schools.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Foundation Courses in Music

8:00:00 AM

Musicians typically complete several courses designed to build a solid foundation in advanced instrumental techniques. These courses serve as the basic core curriculum of any music student’s study. Through these courses, students learn how to analyze, interpret and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for music. Musicians and non-musicians benefit from these courses by learning about music mechanics and becoming more well-rounded musicians and patrons.

Ear Training

Ear training teaches students to identify musical elements quickly. All students enrolled in a university or conservatory music program are required to take ear-training courses. Ear-training courses are designed to help the student develop the ability to sight-sing music and aurally identify intervals, scales, chords, and progressions. The final semester of theory usually requires students to dictate a four-part harmony. Students develop their ears through classes that meet several times per week. They sing melodies from the literature and tap rhythms that progressively become more complex.

Music Theory

Music theory teaches the written elements of music and helps students interpret music. Music theory is typically a two-year program that teaches students the elements of tonal harmony and then in the final segment teaches 20th-century music. Every musician is required to take theory, whether studying music history, performance, composition, or education. Music theory is the basis for understanding the structure behind musical systems. Students are required to identify the written component of the same elements learned in ear training — intervals, scales, chords, and progressions.


Counterpoint teaches students to compose music and write chord progressions. Counterpoint loosely translates to “note against note.” In counterpoint, students learn how to combine two-, three-, four-, and five-part harmony in a way that creates multiple independent musical lines. Students learn to write melodies that are both balanced and adhere to standard chord progressions by learning voice-leading principles. This subject is usually reserved for advanced composers and musicians. Not all schools require music students to take counterpoint, but usually, it is a recommended elective.

Music History

Music history courses teach identification of literature and composers. All students of music must take basic courses in Western art music. From Ancient Greece to modern times, students learn about the composers, musical works, techniques, styles, and social significance of each time period. Students are usually required to identify by ear works from specific time periods including title, date of composition, and composer. This information serves as a general overview of music so that students have a broad understanding of the music they will perform.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Famous Classical Music Components

8:00:00 AM

Beethoven was one of the most influential Classical composers. Classical music is comprised of several components that influence the overall form, structure, and characteristics of the music. Music has been evolving since the early Middle Ages. Classical music may use two different spellings, with each indicating a different type of music. Classical music with a capital “C” refers to a specific time period of music created between 1750 to 1820. Classical music with a lower case “c” refers to all western art music. Because of this confusion, the terms “western art music” or “serious music” are often used to describe classical music from more than one time period.


Harmony is the vertical component of music. It is responsible for the chords created in harmony. The major difference between classical and popular music is the use of harmony. Classical music will use complex chord progressions to create complex musical sonorities while popular music concentrates on common chord progressions. A typical classical piece might have seven or eight different types of chords per phrase. In contrast, a popular piece might only have two or three types of chords. Most musicians will study harmony to analyze and gain a greater understanding of the music.


Melody is the horizontal component of music that we typically refer to as a tune. The melody is the most recognizable part of any composition. In classical music, melodies are complex and borrow pitches from keys that are closely related. In this sense, a composition written in D major will borrow notes from other keys. Borrowing helps to add variety and an element of surprise to the composition. Melody can be broken down into smaller components called motives. Motives are small musical ideas that help to build melodies. A common motive is the simple 4-note opening statement from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.


Timbre is an essential component for composers and orchestrators. It described the tone color of each individual instrument. Each instrument has its own characteristic sound and produces a timbre that adds color and variety to a composition. Composers will make use of several different-sounding instruments to create new combinations of sounds. Timbre occurs most notably in orchestral scores that combine brass, woodwind, string, percussion, and keyboard instruments to create the overall symphonic texture.


Form is a critical component of classical music. Without form, music would lose its direction and become an amorphous and undefined mass of sound. Form helps to create compositions in which melodies repeat themselves in logical ways. Even compositions that are through-composed, in which no section repeats, will include repetitive motifs to help add structure to the composition. Letters indicate specific repeated sections. For instance, a composition labeled ABA will have two repeated sections at the beginning and end of the piece and a new, related section in the middle.