the right pick

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Today’s blog I would like to get into the plectrum. There are so many different shapes, sizes and materials used in plectrums that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. I spent over a year honing in on what pick worked best for me and now that I’ve chosen it I feel my playing is much more consistent. As a Melbourne guitar teacher I see students struggling with their tone and I feel the pick has a significant effect. I usually recommend a medium to hard pick as the soft ones are really only good for strumming and strumming is only one portion of guitar playing. I find with a hard pick I can diversify through licks, strums and solos without changing picks halfway through. A firm pick means your accuracy will improve as your string strike will be more definitive. A great practice technique I teach my guitar students is to try angling a pick to get a “feathery” sound when strumming. This slight angle on the pick means you are using a broader edge of the pick and get a rounder sound off the strings. Don’t just grab the nearest pick to you for practicing your guitar. Experiment with what pick best serves you and your playing. To find out more about picking techniques get in contact with us for your first Melbourne guitar lesson!

 

 

Effective piano practise: recording yourself

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Piano students sometimes come to me with the question “I am practising every day but I don’t feel like I’m getting any better.” One of the first things I will suggest is to record yourself while practising. In today’s age of smartphones and personal devices it is easier than ever to hit record and record yourself without any hassle. When I was growing up we didn’t have smartphones (remember the Nokia 3210 anyone?) so it was little harder to try to and record ourselves, but we managed.

Recording your piano practise is such a great habit to get into. It’s a way to get outside of yourself, and listen objectively to how you sound. While you’re in the moment and playing you tend to hear things in a less than objective way – it’s strange how the mind perceives our sound as being very different when we’re playing vs when we’re listening back to our recorded selves.

You will find you are far more able to identify weaknesses in your playing, including timing issues, technical problems or dynamic range for example if you listen back to the recording.

So what to record? Anything is fair game really. You might even record your piano lesson with your Melbourne piano teacher. Record some exercises/studies you are working on, or perform a piece as if you would to a live audience. But remember, the first time you hear yourself you will surely cringe, so be prepared for that! After a while that passes and you become used to hearing yourself playing. If you’re curious about some more technical approaches to recording your practise, check out this interesting article on the subject.

Call us today and get 20% off your first piano lesson!

Electric or acoustic drum kit – which is best for the beginner?

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Parents of young drum students eventually have to face the question of what kind of drum kit to buy for their child. Asking your Melbourne drum teacher for advice is a must. There are so many options available these days, which is great, but it’s also easy to get lost in the options and not know where to start. When it comes to buying a new drum kit, you need to ask yourself a question. Will you be able to tolerate the volume of your child practising every day (drums are obviously very loud)if you buy an acoustic set? If the answer is no, and you’ll more than likely end up going crazy from the noise and in turn never allow the student to practise, then you should look into an electronic drum kit. These days you can get a really decent electronic drum kit for a beginner for less than $500. I will say for sure that they are not quite as good as an acoustic kit for developing technique on, but they are virtually silent, and if it means you’ll let them practise where they otherwise couldn’t then that is the best option for you.

Here’s an electronic drum kit we’d recommend if you’re thinking of heading down that road.

Or if you’re sure an acoustic kit is the best way to go, take a look at this one. Both are budget models that will help the beginner get underway.

Our Melbourne drum teachers can help you get started with the basics, assist in buying a suitable drum kit, and take the music student all the way through exams (if that is of interest) or whatever musical outcome the student desires. Call us today for 20% off your first lesson.

5 tips to become a better guitarist

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We all like lists that are concise and to the point. So here it is young guitar warriors, my 5 tips to becoming a better guitar player. For Melbourne guitar student’s progress to your musical goal is sometimes hindered by the anxiety of being overwhelmed. There is so much to learn and master on the beautiful piece of wood with six strings that to acquire it all seems too vast for you. But don’t fear, listen to your Melbourne guitar teacher and try making this top 5 tips part of your daily practice. Here they are in no particular order:

 

1: Practice with a Metronome

  • By having a strong rhythmical sense you will always be welcomed on the band stand. You will find it is crucial to your sight reading and chord changes too!

 

2: Listen more intently

  • By engaging your ears in your practice you will learn to love what you are playing. It could be the Hippie in me or the fact it was drilled into me at Music college but ‘Love every note’

 

3: Learn all scales and modes intervallically

  • You don’t need to know thousands of scales and modes but you should know your ones inside out. Play them ascending, descending and with steps and leaps.

 

4: Learn the notes on the fretboard

  • Yes I know it’s a strange piece of wood but it does have meaning and patterns. Learn the notes by studying the visual map and doing note recognition exercises.

 

5: Record yourself

– We have a wonderful way of tricking ourselves for self-protection or self-validation. Skip all this emotional nonsense and record your playing and listen back with a critical and open mind. You will ear where your practice needs to be focused.

 

Listening skills

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For many of us keen to start vocal lessons in Melbourne the interest was sparked by listening to a certain record or seeing a great performance. A common trend that I’ve noticed is many students only listening to a handful of artists. By narrowing your listening like this you are not allowing other influences to broaden your musical palate. There are many apps on the market today that allow music to come to your computer or smart phone instantaneously and at little cost. Spotify and Pandora are two that I utilize for broadening my musical base. At Music College at least two required subjects were listening or aural skills based. We would be trained and tested on historical music traits as well as report on live ensembles we attended. This focus and analysis on music allowed for greater musical appreciation. I implore all Melbourne music students to set your ears loose on genres and musical styles that perhaps aren’t in your well grooved musical niche. Like the taste buds, variety is exciting and revealing so don’t just snack on toast

The Holidays

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The holidays were here again and the usual problems for music students came bubbling to the surface. Trumpet teachers often sight a lack of practice as the biggest downfall to a student’s progress. This seems fairly common to all endeavors as you only get out what you put in! Over the Easter Holiday break many families are on the road or overseas enjoying a well earn’t break. For music students this translates to weeks without their instrument. I’m a strong advocate for practicing daily however how can we do this when the instrument isn’t physically with us? Here are a few tips to keep your musical juices flowing anywhere, anytime.

Try taking some sheet music with you and reading it without your instrument. You will find your brain still engages with the notes and you may find you can sight sing the notes. This also works for sight reading rhythms. Your Melbourne trumpet teacher can give you many rhythm exercises on sheet music that you can clap, tap or sing. Try utilizing that amazing piece of technology in your pocket- your smart phone. The plethora of great aural training apps and rhythm apps available at the online store means that you can take your studies anywhere you go. Lastly, lets use this extra downtime to actually listen to music. Find new songs that interest and excite you. By stimulating the ears you will come back after the holidays with a fresh enthusiasm for your trumpet music lessons.