Every exercise and song you play today, do with metronome.
Try different speeds too and note what was challenging or easy.
Every exercise and song you play today, do with metronome.
Try different speeds too and note what was challenging or easy.
But what’s going to happen with your music?
While some of you will be looking forward to a break, others will be looking forward to having more time to practice.
This Article is for all of you and contains links and suggestions suited to your practice ideals for this holiday season.
Taking A Break?
Of course that’s fine and for some those of you who have been working very hard on your music it could be the best thing for your progress.
However, for others, the decision to take a break may be forced by circumstances – either you are going away and won’t have your instrument or space to practice and/or you have to meet many social engagements and just won’t have the time.
It’s always a good idea to acknowledge your reasons or circumstances for not being able to practice and to be honest and real about it. (Reflective writing is always good for this.)
If you won’t be practicing but want to stay in touch with your music, I suggest you read this article which is full of recommendations for inspiring music reading, dvd’s and listening.
If you can’t take your instrument with you but still desire to keep your music learning going, this article has suggestions of how you can accomplish that.
Keeping The Routine Going?
If keeping your regular practice routine during the holidays is what you wish to do, the only advice I would give you is to cut yourself a bit of slack.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially if you are out of your ordinary work or day-to-day routine.
I am sure there will be at least one or two social engagements and you just may feel different as those around you begin to wind down.
Use your Practice Diary to keep track of your learning and perhaps set yourself some achievable goals for this short period and if you’re having trouble keeping up the routine, this article is sure to help you.
Practicing Like Mad?
Some of you may have a lot of music work commitments to meet and will have to put in some extra hours of rehearsal and practice.
Others of you will just want to take this opportunity of having more time, to practice more.
Again, don’t be disappointed if you don’t meet your expectations of learning. We can only learn as fast as our brains and bodies allow us to.
Also, (and this may seem obvious) try not to get sucked into any excessive partying.
That can be a stressful situation.
Whether you have an impending music exam or performance, there are times when there is a lot of pressure to learn.
So, how are you going to deal with that?
Even if you have whole days in which to practice, you can only learn as fast as your brain and muscle processes allow you to learn.
So here’s a few tips which can help you get through (and hopefully succeed) in those times of high pressure.
My situation at the moment is that I have about five new songs to learn for the Band (rehearsing tonight) and a gig on Saturday night which I need to be in top shape for.
I therefore, have to prioritise the learning for the gig because it’s important to me that every public performance I do, I do my best. However, there is an impending gig for the Band and there’s a lot of learning to do there as well!
Your priorities may be different to mine in the same situation. What is important is that you are honest about what is most important to you (not anybody else) and focus on preparing your work in accordance with that.
Sometimes it will be a close call but the work you do for one performance will invariably benefit the other performances too.
2. Practice Other Skills
Yes, you need to practice the pieces you will be playing but it’s also very wise to keep up the technical work, even if you are pressed for time.
This article outlines all the other exercises that are good to practice in order to support a successful performance.
3. Break It Down
When you look at all the activities you have to accomplish in a week, it can seem daunting. You may even feel like you don’t even know where to start, or have the feeling that all those tasks will be impossible to get through.
But when you look at what you have to do day by day, and just try to accomplish those tasks, those tasks seem much more manageable.
The same is true for a stressful music workload.
If you can, look at what you need to accomplish by the end of the week and plan out, day-by-day, using your Practice Diary, what you are going to do to meet those tasks.
Think about how much practice time you will have and plan what you will do in those practice sessions to get the maximum benefit.
A lot of time can be wasted with unplanned and unfocused practice. However, with knowledge and planning on how to practice, you have much more of a chance of meeting your goals.
This article on time management has a great tip in the last video which I use all the time now and it works!
If there is really too much on your plate, there are several ways you can handle it:
In other words, try to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you are going to let yourself and/or others down. It’s just much simpler and better to be honest and let others know where you are at.
For example, shortening the form, or taking out some movements, or playing songs you already know.
In performance, always take the options you are most confident with.
Ok, well now I’m going to take my own advice and it’s off to the practice room!
This week has been interesting indeed.
I enjoyed working on the rap for the choir and can see that there is even more to explore here.
It’s fascinating and complex as much as it’s simple. So now I have a new appreciation for writing rap lyrics.
Choir was good and I realized that it’s so important to be able to hear ones part and to pitch your notes.
It helps to listen to my part each day and will need to do that each day this week because we are recording next week – that will be interesting indeed.
I have found a nursing home to do a short jazz set, so now just need to find a date that I can do, most likely after Christmas.
I finally caught up with my harp teacher who I haven’t seen in over a year, and it’s such a beautiful instrument.
At first I was thinking that I wouldn’t remember anything, but I was surprised at how much came back so quickly.
I must say I feel a bit guilty that my guitar has fallen to the side, so will try to make an effort to practice this weekend.
I’ve been busy on design and construction and the house is a demolition site and inbetween I’m wrapping presents!
Sometimes I marvel at the things I take on!
Signing out for a good nights sleep.
It was good to work on the lyrics for your rap last week and here is a recording of them…
Of course, we wrote the lyrics and recorded them in the same session, so they do need work in delivery but I really like them because they have a message and it’s a message that strongly comes from you – that’s authenticity and you know how much I think that is an important quality in music!
I know you will have no problem with the recording if you do the practice you intend to do.
You are so right. You need to know your part so well, it becomes a part of you too! With music, you will get out as much as you put in. Do the work and you’ll be fine.
I’m excited about working on the Jazz gig and delivering it at the nursing home. They will love it and it’s a great way to get performance confidence. So yes, let’s do it after Christmas.
I love the fact that you are picking up your harp again. If you have worked on music it does seem to stay in your body memory, so I’m not surprised you remember as much as you did. It must have felt good to play it again.
As far as guitar goes, just keep chipping away. You’re doing great and learning a lot of instruments at the moment anyway, so go easy on yourself!
You also seem happy to be doing the building work. I think we can all take on a bit more if we love the things we are doing.
That’s why I think that if you can follow and do the things that make you feel happy, life is more than a pleasure!
www.jango.com offers a range of services but by far the best one is their radio stations.
If you like a particular artist, it will put together a special playlist for you with that artist as well as similar music from that genre.
This is a great way to find new music.
Go there and give it a go. I guarantee you’ll love it!
FoxTab MP3 Converter is a free downloadable program. It converts all popular audio formats including (converted from MP3): *.mp2, *.mp3, *.aac, *.au, *.ogg, *.ape, *.flac, *.aiff, *.m4a, *.mpc, *.ac3, *.wav, *.wma1, *.wma2
Free YouTube Download allows you to download YouTube videos, single videos as well as whole collections. I’ll definitely be using this one!
Adobe Audition and Audio Performance is a try before you buy audio program, which allows you to do post-production work on tunes you record or lets you restore sound quality to music and video. Very handy for those old files you have converted, such as my 20+ year old demo tapes!
Virtual DJ is a music mixing application for Mac Computers. It allows you to use your laptop as like a traditional vinyl mixing deck and the Home edition is completely free to use for no commercial usage. So good for practice!
TunePrompter makes creating your own Karaoke videos easy.
It’s absolutely free and you can create your videos, export them to iPod, iPhone, QuickTime or AppleTV format (which TunePrompter automatically does for you) and then burn the results to disc.
You need Karaoke tracks of your favorite songs to load into TunePrompter. But you can easily access these at http://www.karaoke-version.com/
Corripio is helps you to manage your music library as well as find new artwork and lyrics to all your songs. You can customise Corripio to make it work for you.
If you haven’t been able to find the right music recording and production program yet, try MixPad. It let’s you mix multiple audio tracks together quickly and easily.
It’s always important to work on your aural skills as a musician. Here is a site with loads of programs and games to help you sharpen your hearing.
Yay! Finally an app to help you improve your music reading.
And this one’s for the more advanced reader of music.
I have been thinking about writing an article on transcribing for quite some time now but whenever I have come to do it, it has proven almost as hard as transcribing itself!!
Transcribing is the act of writing down music that you hear.
Many musicians use this technique in order to learn songs, improve their ears and theoretical knowledge, find out how other musicians interpret music and a lot more.
Learning to transcribe and the act of transcribing can take a lot of time and patience but is worth every ounce of this for what it can deliver to your musicianship.
Finally, I am biting-the-bullet, so to speak – which is also the same way I feel when I set out on a transcription project – but it was an incident which brought me to this point.
Myself and another band member had to transcribe a song for the Band to perform, however, when we got together for rehearsal the results we came up with were completely different.
How could this be? We both had ears, surely there was only one definitive answer to what was going on in this song.
I was perplexed until I got together with this person and realised we had heard the same thing but our approaches to transcribing were different.
He was right and I was right, we just had to put our work together to get a good chart.
Let me explain….
When I learned to transcribe the first thing I was taught to listen to was the bass line.
This is the most important part of working out what the harmony is doing because it provides you with the root note on which the rest of the chord is built.
In this blog, I have written about basic harmony, however, this is only the beginning of where chords can go and there are a myriad of different sounds and flavours you can add to them.
Also, as spoken about in this article, there are also some very common and repetitive harmonic progressions, so hearing the bass line also provides you with a clue to what the chords are going to be.
I am good at hearing bass lines, so my basic chords were correct.
The guitarist, who also transcribed, only transcribed his part, which was obviously based on the chords, but which didn’t necessarily give the correct root notes and chord names, therefore chordal notation for the other instruments (bass and piano) was incorrect.
What his transcription did provide me with, however, was the missing “flavours” of the chords, e.g. flat 9’s, sharp 11’s etc.
When we got together, I was able to improve upon the basic harmony of my chart by figuring his chords into mine.
When I explained to him what I had done and what he had done, he realised that it was important to notate chords based on the root notes and would do so from now on.
But because he had trained his ears, always to pick up on the “added” notes, he was quite easily able to get them, whereas I had more difficulty.
It was therefore a pleasure to work together to get the right answers.
So, the moral to this story is…. Well, there is a few morals:
There are several ways you can go about transcribing music (as illustrated above).
Here are a few tips:
If you are a beginner at transcribing
Start by doing some ear training. This means learning to hear a pitch and sing it or play it on your instrument.
There are a few programs out there to help you do this that you can research. Meanwhile here are a couple to get you started.
If your ears are happening
The next step is learning how to transcribe.
As I said, I always start out by working out:
Start by choosing relatively easy songs. You will get to know what these are as you experiment.
This website also has some good suggestions.
If you want more detailed transcriptions, i.e. written on the stave, you will need to learn how to notate music, and especially rhythm dictation.
This should really start with learning to read music, just the same way we learn to read and write our language.
Again, you will have to be patient with this process but the key is just to enjoy it.
Please refer to this article if you are a beginner and learning read music.
If you don’t want to learn to read and write music, you could always choose from a number of notation programs where you can play the music into the computer and it will notate it for you.
However, sometimes this notation isn’t as clear and simple as it could be so I would recommend you take it to someone who knows music and who can help you to edit it.
After all, here you are, sharing my thoughts on music practice and learning, and hopefully gaining some useful knowledge.
YouTube has become a tool I use on a daily basis to help inform my teaching and illustrate various points for students.
I use it to help students to find good tutorial videos they can study at home to make practice more interesting, for resourcing useful information to accompany my articles and for sharing tutorial information with my blog audience, such as the videos that help to explain how to use the Practice Diary.
To me, YouTube is a virtual library where I can access information and entertainment on anything I need in the comfort of my own home.
However, for many other people, YouTube has become even more than that.
Here are some statistics illustrating the power of the “Tube”.
Anyone can upload a video on YouTube and instantly access this mind-boggling potential audience.
Let’s have a look at some of the musical success stories of YouTube:
Probably the most successful musical YouTube story is that of Justin Bieber.
No, I’m not a fan but you have to admit that from watching this, the boy’s got talent.
This video currently has over 36 million views.
After he was spotted here by a talent scout, he was introduced to Usher and the rest, as they say, is history.
Meanwhile, here’s someone who has a remarkable ability, was spotted on YouTube and is now touring his music around the world.
Check out the updated version… Same song, but better video quality.
And lastly, someone with a different approach to the YouTube video, Dondria.
This is what she’s up to now.
So, if you are interested in uploading a video featuring you and your music, what would be some of the key points you need to think about?
Don’t Get Fancy
I think one of the most striking things about all these first YouTube videos was that there was no major production in them.
This is probably one of the key points a talent scout is aware of because a basic, not-so-great quality video shows the absolute truth about the performers ability.
I always tell my singers to record themselves on the lowest-tech equipment they can find because if you can make yourself sound good on that, you can sound good on anything!
When researching this article I found it so refreshing to see the raw talent of these artists because straight away, their authenticity shone through.
So, this is the next thing you need to consider when capturing yourself for YouTube and that is simply to be yourself and let your personality shine through.
All these performers were doing just that which is another quality the scout will be looking for.
Make Sure You Know Your Material
Sometimes when I visit one of the forums on learning music, there are singers who have put their performances on YouTube wanting criticism.
The one criticism that comes up almost always is that they don’t know their material well enough.
This should be the number one consideration when you are presenting yourself and your music in any way to the world.
The least you should do in order to come across as professional, is to know the song.
Really, this does seem obvious but you’d be surprised and although I am tempted to post an example right here, I don’t want to single out any one person.
Lastly, be aware that there are talent scouts out there, most likely sifting through the millions of videos uploaded onto YouTube every day, right now!
This gives you a great opportunity to get noticed and perhaps even signed (if that’s what you want) but it also means you may only get one chance for that attention.
Therefore, post your video with the knowledge you have done your absolute best in the performance.
If you haven’t done as much as you could have done and you know you can do better then wait until you have captured something you are happy with.
Doesn’t it therefore make sense that the fitter our bodies, the easier, better and more enjoyable it will be to play music?
Unfortunately, fitness is something that many musicians don’t take into account.
It is understandable that practice and gigs take priority in a busy musician’s life and sometimes there may not be room for thinking about exercise.
But let’s have a look at the benefits to be gained if physical fitness becomes part of your music-training regime. They include:
Long hours of sitting or standing in the practice room can cause injury, especially through incorrect posture.
In this article we looked at the importance of maintaining good posture.
A big part of this is core strength. For it is the abdominal muscles that have a big part to play in supporting weight so that stress isn’t transferred to the skeleton, particularly the spine, which can be injured as a result.
When you think about what kind of exercise to do in order to prevent injury, it’s best to concentrate on the muscles you use least.
“most musicians do not use the shoulder muscles that squeeze their shoulder blades together much, but in contrast use their arms in front of them for many hours, so eventually the shoulders can become rounded forwards and risk pinching the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder joint itself.” http://musiced.about.com
It’s therefore best to choose exercises that will concentrate on strengthening the muscles between the shoulder blades rather than focussing on the chest muscles.
Heart disease and diabetes
These are two illnesses are becoming ever more prevalent in our society as we move around less and consume food which is not nutritionally balanced.
Heart disease is actually caused by a build up of fatty deposits in the arteries of the heart. These deposits calcify and can eventually constrict the flow of blood to the heart and deprive it from oxygen.
This can cause at least, shortness of breath and at worst, death.
Please watch this short video in order to gain more insight into this problem and how to prevent it.
Diabetes is a disease we have all heard about but some of you may not really understand what it is.
This short video explains this disease, how to detect it, treat it and prevent it.
Exercise that increases the heart rate is great for preventing both of these diseases.
Strengthening exercise such as push ups, sit ups (especially beneficial for wind players and singers) and exercises using weights increases the size of the muscle fibres which in turn helps them to store products such as glycogen and oxygen which is an important fuel for muscles.
When we perform cardio exercise together with endurance and strengthening exercises it also increases blood vessels in the forearms and hands.
This increase of blood vessels helps to transport fuels such as glycogen to the muscles we use to play our instrument and results in better performance.
“As part of my PhD studies, I ran exercise classes for university level music students.
There were two groups of students, one doing training with higher weights and less repeats of each exercise, while the other group did lower weights and higher repeats of each exercise.
Exercises were focused on ‘core’ strength muscles including spinal postural muscles, abdominal muscles, shoulder blade and specific shoulder muscles that are generally under-worked in the musician population.
The exercise classes were run twice weekly for 6 weeks, and even in this short time frame results showed clear reduction in injury severity and frequency, and reduced exertion in terms of how long they could play for.
Many of these musicians felt that their playing performance also improved substantially as a result.” Bronwen Ackermann, www.musicphysio.com.au
What Kind Of Exercise Should I Do and How Often Should I Do It?
The most important thing about exercise is that you enjoy it. Obviously, if you don’t, you will lack motivation, which can be difficult at the best of time.
When you do begin exercising, it’s a good idea to consult with a physiotherapist or trained exercise physiologist to discuss what would be best for you.
However, exercise programmes such as pilates, yoga, body balance and stretch are a popular choice because they are designed to work a number of muscles in the body and not overwork any particular muscle group.
Choosing to do one of these exercise classes a week is a good idea.
For cardio exercise you could take a long walk, run, ride your bike or do a class at the gym.
You could consider a team sport such as soccer or basket ball, however, I am always weary of these because of risk of injury to hands or fingers!
If you are a social person, the gym can be a great place to meet new people and have fun with others.
If you prefer to do things solo, kill two birds with one stone, put on your headphones and go running. Investing in some good shoes and learning about running technique is something you should do if this is your desired path.
Swimming is a fantastic way to gain cardio fitness while working the shoulders and there is little risk of injury.
There are of course many more options and you should try to mix up the kinds of exercises you do.
Bronwen Ackermann recommends“that you should try and exercise at least twice a week, and each of these sessions should last at least 45 minutes.
If you are recovering from an injury, or working on a specific problem (such as muscle imbalances), you will usually need to increase the frequency of exercise, but may need to do shorter sessions.”
I hope you enjoyed this Article and it has inspired you to add to you quality of life and music.
Please leave me your comments!
It’s definitely no secret that Jazz is a huge inspiration in my musical life.
However, mention that word to a lot of people and the response is quite the opposite.
I understand how this could be because a lot of the Jazz music that you hear can be quite “heady”, seem to lack feeling and unfortunately, at times, seems to involve an element of showing off.
These traits are quite the opposite of what Jazz music is truly about.
The history of Jazz is incredibly rich with contributions from a wide variety of amazing musicians and composers.
What I wish to do in this short article is introduce you to the truth behind Jazz music and let you listen to some of it’s real representatives, both past and present.
One film (or series of films) I couldn’t recommend enough is Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary.
Here is the introduction that will give you an idea and hopefully whet your appetite to explore this phenomenal Art.
Here is a beautiful interview with Duke Ellington, again featured in the film.
And here, another small part of the film explaining the how the Jazz “feel” came about.
Talking here is one of Jazz’s living legends, Wynton Marsalis. He is a wonderful teacher and trumpet player.
If you are interested in finding out more about these films and even purchasing them, click on the icon below.
If you’ve read “My Life In Music”, you will find out that what I imagined for myself in music didn’t eventuate the way I had planned.
However, the life I am living now is what I wanted, perfect for me, and something I could never have imagined the pathway to all those years ago.
I think this is often what happens when you “follow your bliss”.
You may start out with a particular idea about where you want to be and how you want your life to look, but if it’s not really right for you, life will take you to a place where you can be a lot happier through a series of “happy coincidences”.
All you have to do is try to find what feels right for you and try to follow that feeling at every turn. (Not always easy, I agree!)
Many people begin their music career with a desire to be famous, mostly because they want to be seen, heard and loved.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be famous to possess or develop these qualities in your life and you can achieve this through a career in music in many other different and rewarding ways.
This Article aims to get you to think about options you may not have paid much attention to but which could work out well for you.
Many of these involve developing more than one skill, that of playing music, however constant learning is what keeps life exciting!
I had never even considered a teaching career and in a way, it found me.
I love it and there are many ways you could love it too.
For many musicians who begin teaching, this line of work can seem difficult or not rewarding.
Much of the time this is because they haven’t studied how to teach which is another skill (and I would even go so far as to say, art form) in itself.
If you want a career in teaching, especially if you are going to do it privately, find a teaching course appropriate to what you wish to do.
This will make your job easier, rewarding, even exciting and ensure you have many students.
This is an area I could definitely begin to move into (when I feel I have the time to do more study).
There are many kinds of music therapies and you can practice them privately or in the hospital and mental health system.
Here is a short vid to help you understand what music therapy is and to see it in action.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much demand there is for newly composed music?
Here is a list of what I can think of:
And I’m sure there is a lot more you could add to this list.
I think some people shy away from composition because they think that it is hard to get into, however, as you can see, I am sure the demand is high.
You just need to know how the industry works, you need to love composition as well and learn to use the latest score and recording technology etc.
There are courses you can look into to study these aspects of composition.
Again, this video may help you decide your direction in music.
Theatre production is a major entertainment niche and theatres need musicians.
This can be a difficult area to break into but once you are in, there is a very good living to be made if you enjoy the lifestyle.
If you would like to ask any questions about this or read some great articles I would suggest going to this website.
Again, this market, especially at the top can be quite difficult to break but it doesn’t mean you can’t.
In order to be a session musician you need to have good reading skills and understand several different styles of music.
You can listen to Oli’s interview for a good story of how he came to carve a career for himself in this capacity.
Meanwhile, you may be interested to watch this.
There are several ways a producer contributes to the creation of music.
Producers have a good ear for instrumentation and production (lots of experience in the recording studio and in composition).
Ideally, a good producer would also have a good understanding of people in order to direct a musician to give their best performance.
There are many different shades and variety of producer, including someone who makes beats and dance music for DJ’s.
A good understanding of the recording studio and how to use it is part of the job.
Also, a savvy business nature is very helpful!
The options outlined in this Article are only the tip of the iceberg of what is possible for you in music.
It’s worth exploring what turns you on and taking steps to learn the skills necessary for that trajectory.
Please leave a comment and let me know if there’s anything you would like to add to this article.