The piano is one of the most widely played instruments in the world—and for good reason. The versatile instrument, which is capable of producing music with depth, power, and nuance, allows musicians to play either independently or with others. Despite the many benefits that the piano has to offer, a belief in the following seven myths about learning to play the instrument can hold students back from reaching their potential as pianists.
1. The myth: It’s too late in life for me to learn to play the piano.
The reality: Age should not be a factor in determining whether or not someone can learn to play the piano. While there are many developmental benefits to taking lessons as a child, learning to play the piano as an adult can be just as gratifying, and in some cases, perhaps even more so. Children forced to take piano lessons at an early age may become bored and frustrated, making them unwilling to pursue the instrument into adulthood. Conversely, adults who make the choice to pursue the piano later on in life may find more satisfaction in learning to play.
2. The myth: As an adult, I’ll never learn as quickly as a child could.
The reality: The idea that children can intrinsically learn to play the piano more quickly than adults is incorrect. Many experts agree that the age at which people learn to play the piano does not significantly impact their ability to develop this talent. More than anything, the chief factor in how quickly piano students becomes proficient is not the age at which they first receive instruction, but rather the level of commitment to regular practice that they have.
3. The myth: I only have a keyboard to practice on, so I’ll never become a great piano player.
The reality: For a beginning student, practicing at home on a keyboard is an acceptable alternative to investing in a real piano. The fundamentals of the piano can be learned on a keyboard, although students without one may miss out on the opportunity to experiment with the subtleties of tone that weighted keys afford. Students who own a keyboard can also supplement their practice by seeking out a piano available for public use in places like churches, schools, or rented practice rooms.
4. The myth: I could never find the time to make piano practice a regular part of my routine.
The reality: One thing that piano students of all ages need to become proficient at is dedicated practice. No matter how busy they are, piano students can find time to schedule a reasonable amount of practice into their daily routine if they are truly intent on becoming proficient pianists. Practice sessions do not need to be long if they are well-planned. Practicing a few difficult bars of a song or fingering techniques on an instrument in several 5- to 10-minute sessions over the course of a day can be just as instructive as sitting down to practice for 30 minutes, straight through. Shorter practice sessions may actually be more helpful, as they prevent boredom and allow players to notice small, but noticeable improvements.
5. The myth: My hands are too small to play the piano well.
The reality: People with smaller hands who have never practiced an instrument before may rule out playing the piano because they don’t think that the size of their hands will allow them to play some of the wider chords. However, big hands and long fingers are not necessarily indicative of a person’s potential to play well, as they do not necessarily provide a pianist with agility or technical ability. No matter the size of a pianist’s hands or fingers, they will still need to train their hands to attain a level of flexibility that allows for skillful play. While experienced players with larger hands may have an easier time reaching the keys in some songs, pianists with smaller hands are still capable of performing at a high level.
6. The myth: Practicing the piano means playing a piece all the way through, repeatedly.
The reality: There is a common misconception that the best method of practicing the piano is to play a single piece all the way through from beginning to end until it is perfect. However, approaching practice this way can cause new musicians to become bored and abandon the pursuit of the piano before they ever have the opportunity to play well. Instead, music teachers suggest that the best way to practice is to set small, realistic goals for a practice session, focusing on one section at a time. Experts also state that focusing on a song’s more difficult sections first can allow the piece to come together more efficiently while keeping students more engaged in practice. The brain is more likely to absorb new, shorter snippets of musical information when it isn’t overwhelmed by long, repetitive strings of notes.
7. The myth: I should never look at my hands while I play.
The reality: Some piano teachers insist that their pupils not look at their hands while playing in an attempt to teach them to play and sight read simultaneously. However, many other experts within the music sector disagree and argue that new piano students should be allowed to look at their hands while playing in order to help them visualize the music that they are creating. Looking at their hands can help students establish stronger muscle memory and form a deeper connection to the songs that they perform.
As children enter adolescence, they often have the opportunity to join clubs or participate in new activities that will introduce them to interests that can last a lifetime. Of the school activities that a child can join in on once they reach their high school years, marching band is among the most rewarding—and it gives kids the opportunity to learn many invaluable lessons that will help them grow into well-adjusted adults. Listed below are seven skills and lessons that an adolescent can learn by participating in marching band at school.
Joining marching band means holding oneself accountable for perfecting and memorizing music and drills, and showing up to rehearsals prepared and on time. Those who join marching band must develop self-discipline in order to succeed. They learn to make a commitment and take it seriously, as participation mandates that they put in the requisite effort to make performances sound good and to avoid letting down their peers.
2. Time management
Band practice and performances require a significant amount of a student’s time, and much of it occurs outside of regular school hours. To be in marching band means that students must learn how to manage their time effectively. Not only must they make room for the time-consuming demands of marching band, but they must also balance their schedule to accommodate standard responsibilities like homework and chores. A marching band member’s busy schedule can also teach organizational skills, which are an important part of learning how to keep responsibilities from falling through the cracks.
One of the best things about marching band is that the students who join already have a common interest: music. High school can be a difficult time for adolescents, and having friends who share the same interests can make a significant difference in their levels of happiness. Joining band is a catalyst for friendship, as students are together for long hours, continually working to create a unified sound. Spending a significant amount of time around one another in an effort to create music while traveling to other schools to spread team spirit helps students in band build strong relationships. Many former band students look back and realize that they met lifelong friends through these programs.
Being a part of team that works toward a common goal helps band students to feel a degree of confidence that can often be difficult for teenagers to find. Students who are constantly improving their skills as a musician in a setting where their instrument contributes to a larger objective can give them a sense of personal pride. Additionally, learning to be okay with making mistakes in front of peers and participating in large public performances can help teens overcome inhibitions and self-consciousness, leading to self-esteem that can be applied to other parts of their lives.
Participation in marching band requires teenagers to develop a healthy respect for themselves and for others. For example, band members must learn to give and take constructive criticism respectfully, for the good of the group. When the band leader or a peer tells a student that something about his or her playing style must be changed, the student learns to respectfully accept the criticism, understanding that it is an opportunity to learn, and is not a personal attack. Band members also learn how to be respectful during performances, especially at school games. These adolescents must adhere to a level of professionalism that often requires them to show restraint in instances when they would rather cheer and yell. This shows respect for themselves and for the decorum of their role in generating school spirit.
Band students are exposed to a wide range of new musical styles and skills, many of which are more difficult than any music that they have previously encountered. Learning to play these challenging new pieces of music helps band students learn the value of perseverance, and allows them to understand that learning to play music well is a skill developed through commitment and hard work. This aspect of marching band shows them that not giving up when faced with a difficult task can yield positive results.
Students in marching band quickly learn the value of working with others. Though each person’s contribution is important to the whole of a marching band’s sound, no one musician is more important than another. It differs significantly from the teamwork experienced by those who participate in sports, wherein the primary objective is to work together to take down an opponent. In marching band, the only competition is with the self, and everyone works together as a group to improve over time. Marching band also teaches adolescents to trust others in a team. Teens learn to march and move in unison, trusting that the people around them have practiced and that they won’t run into their peers when their faces are turned a different direction than their feet are moving. In this way, marching band teaches a valuable lesson in learning to rely on other people to achieve a common goal.
There are many reasons why a parent might encourage a child to pursue a musical instrument. Practicing music from a young age can lead to better performance in school, encourage the development of social skills, invoke higher levels of self-esteem, and teach children valuable lessons like patience and cultural awareness.
While the benefits to learning an instrument are many and the process can be stimulating, even the most enthusiastic young musicians may find that practice can sometimes seem less like an exciting challenge and more like a frustrating chore. To inject a little more fun into a child’s music routine, consider the following five tips.
1. Start out small
Young musicians may have a difficult time staying focused for 30 minutes on any task, let alone attempting to master an instrument that they are just becoming familiar with. To fight off boredom, parents should start practice sessions off small, with the first few lessons lasting no more than 10 to 15 minutes each day. As the child progresses and becomes more familiar with the instrument, parents can extend practice durations in small increments, allowing the child to work up to daily practices that last the standard 30 minutes. The point of this approach is to make sure that the lesson ends before the child becomes bored, encouraging him or her to associate music practice with the positive feeling of learning something new and having a good time.
2. Always work toward a goal
One of the most common reasons that new musicians of all ages start to feel unmotivated and bored when learning an instrument is that they do not set goals before practice sessions. The tedious nature of attempting to play through a single song can rob musicianship of its appeal, and the task then becomes one that the child dreads.
To make practice more enjoyable, parents should help children choose goals before every session, such as perfecting a specific, difficult measure of music within a song. To help make this approach entertaining, parents can try using the “three penny” trick to allow the child to keep track of his or her progress during practice. Three pennies are first placed on the left side of the music stand. When the child plays through the difficult measure of music perfectly, he or she then moves one of the pennies to the right side of the stand. The child attempts to play the measure perfectly two additional times, but if at any point he or she makes a mistake, all three of the pennies must be moved back to the left side of the stand. The lesson can be complete when all three pennies have been moved to the right side of the stand, indicating that the measure has been played through without error three times.
3. Incorporate prizes
Using rewards as incentive to accomplish a task is an approach used widely in Western culture, from adult workplaces to children’s classrooms. Reward systems may be applied in the case of music practice as well. While some people see rewards as bribing a child to act a certain way, the use of prizes when a child is learning to play an instrument can improve self-esteem, encourage more effort, and instill greater contentment in the overall process of learning to play. This is best achieved if parents set reasonable, specific goals and abide by consistent rules during the process.
Parents who choose to use a rewards system should consider creating a chart used to account for the number of practices completed or specific music goals achieved. This way, the child can monitor his or her own progress, and learn that rewards come with time and hard work. Examples of good choices for prizes include special privileges like skipping a chore, getting extra time playing video games, picking out a small, inexpensive toy, or enjoying a special occasion such as a sporting event or a day out at the zoo.
4. Take it somewhere new
Adherence to the same routine day in and day out can make any task less enjoyable, and music practice is no exception. A simple way to make time with an instrument more fun for children is to occasionally encourage them to practice in a new space. Consider setting up your child’s music stand and any other necessary supplies in a different part of the house than usual, such as the backyard. The novelty of a new practice space can jumpstart a practice routine that has become monotonous and renew a child’s commitment to learning the instrument.
5. Show interest in their progress
Practice is usually a solo activity, but a parent who takes the time to act as an audience during practice and make encouraging remarks can do much for a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Parents can take this effort a step further by asking their child to demonstrate how to play a note or a chord on an instrument, thus allowing the child to have fun teaching the adult. Being asked for a small lesson reminds children that that even though their progress may be slow, they are still developing a special skill that they can share with others.
Studies have shown that music can have a positive impact on a child’s development as her or she grows, improving skills such as spatial reasoning, literacy, social abilities, and empathy. In addition to encouraging personal development, music also has the potential to create stronger bonds between parent and child. To gain these benefits through musical exploration, consider participating in the following five activities with your child.
Take music lessons together
Learning to play an instrument with your child can be an engaging way to establish a common interest. Your son or daughter’s age and physical dexterity will dictate which instruments he or she is capable of playing in the early years of life. However, once your child reaches the age of 10 or so, he or she will generally be able to take up any instrument.
Because children and adults have different needs when learning to play music, you may not be able to attend the same lessons as your child. However, practicing together at home after separate lessons can create a sense of mutual support, as you’ll both understand the difficulties of working to develop a musical skill. Additionally, playing music together may improve your relationship with your child, as research shows that musicians who play in tandem experience positive feelings toward one another during the performance.
Attend a concert
Bringing your son or daughter to a concert can be an excellent way to foster his or her passion for music while also spending quality time together. There are concerts for literally every genre of music, from classical to R&B and everything in between. It’s your decision when your child is old enough to attend a particular show, but some venues may not allow young kids. Because attending concerts requires a certain level of maturity, taking your child to a performance shows that you trust him or her, and it often creates memories that will last a lifetime.
If you decide to go to a concert as a family, keep in mind that you’ll need to prepare in order to make the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. Before you go, establish a meeting place in case you and your child are separated in the crowd, go over any rules of behavior, and purchase earplugs to protect your child’s hearing from the loud volume of concert music.
See a musical
If a concert doesn’t interest your child, consider taking him or her to the theater to see a musical production instead. Like concerts, the theater is an adult experience that children can feel excited to be a part of. It’s also an excellent way for you and your child to spend quality time together. As an added benefit, exposure to musicals and live theater in childhood has been shown to improve literary knowledge and increase feelings of empathy and tolerance in children. Classic kid-friendly musicals include Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Annie, The Lion King, and Oliver!, among many others.
It’s important to remember that unlike many concerts, a theater production requires a child to be completely quiet and sit still for a prolonged period of time. To avoid disturbances and complications, be sure to talk to your child ahead of time about what is expected of an audience member. Children should also be well rested and fed before attending a performance.
Toddlers and young kids may be exclusively interested in rhymes and ditties like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or songs they hear on TV shows. However, when your child reaches an age when he or she can appreciate music with more nuance, considering sharing your favorite songs with him or her. According to a study published in 2014, listening to music as a family strengthens bonds, can improve the overall wellbeing of family members, and contributes to the development of a collective identity.
Though your child may not take to your preferred artists or genres, showing them music they have never experienced before encourages musical exploration and allows them to begin developing their own musical tastes. As your child grows older and develops independent musical interests, spend time together listening to his or her favorites. You may not enjoy this music as much as your child does, but showing an interest in his or her preferences can strengthen your relationship. Additionally, listening to your child’s preferred artists can help you keep track of the kinds of messages they’re getting from the music they listen to when you’re not around.
Incorporate music into daily life
The best way to experience music with your children is to make it a standard part of everyday life from an early age. Regular exposure to a wide variety of songs can help your child develop connections in the brain that set him or her up for a lifelong appreciation of music and all the benefits it has to offer.
To incorporate music into your family’s daily schedule, put it on at home any time the circumstances allow. Play music while you cook dinner, while you’re doing chores, and even when it’s time for bed. Create a playlist or CD to listen to when you’re in the car together. In every instance, be open about your own love of music to inspire your child to find joy in it as well.
Music education articles and blogs espouse the benefits of learning to play an instrument at a young age. We know that musicianship aids in brain development, empathy, and the development of social skills, and may set young students up for a lifetime of positive response to music in many forms. What is less publicized is the many ways in which picking up an instrument for the first time later in life can bring joy and excitement to the lives of adults. For those who are thinking about pursuing the dream of learning to play music as an adult, here are seven tips that will help you make the most of the experience.
1. Open your mind and be teachable
After years of developing professional skills and learning life lessons, it can be difficult for some adult beginners to play the role of student again. However, if you want to grow as a musician, you must make sure that you put yourself in a teachable mindset. Seek out an accomplished instructor whose skills are demonstrably better than your own, and allow him or her to guide you through the process of learning to play. Closing your mind to learning from another adult will only hinder your ability to make progress and ultimately, frustrate you further.
2. Know what you enjoy
One advantage that adult beginners have over their younger counterparts is that they have had a much longer period of time to develop personal music tastes. As an adult who wants to learn an instrument, you should go into the hobby knowing what type of music you like, and let that knowledge guide you toward choosing an instrument that really speaks to you. The more that you enjoy an instrument, the more likely you are to follow through with lessons and practice, thus increasing the likelihood you will become proficient. Do yourself a favor and spend more time thoughtfully choosing the type of instrument that you want to play and less time cycling through different options just to find one you think you should play.
3. Apply self-discipline to your practice
Another advantage that adult beginners have over young beginners is that as a whole, adults have a more developed sense of self-discipline, which allows them to persevere independently though difficult periods of instruction. Make sure to remember the value of self-discipline if you reach a point in your lessons where you are struggling to improve and feel tempted to give up. Hold yourself accountable for routine practices and know that, with enough practice, you are capable of success. Self-discipline will also be important in your ability to make time in your schedule for practice alongside the demands of work, family, and social life.
4. Set realistic goals
While certain beginners may have a more natural ability to play than others, it’s important for all adults to pursue a new instrument with a realistic goal in mind. Go into the process of learning an instrument knowing that the goal will take ample time and effort, and even then you should not expect to become a virtuoso. The more flexible you are about your goals, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the progress that you make, and the more enjoyable that learning an instrument will be.
5. Understand the necessity of patience
In conjunction with setting realistic goals, it’s important for adult beginning musicians to never underestimate the role that patience plays in the process of learning music. It’s important to remember that fundamentals are not beneath you as an adult learner. People of all ages need a strong foundation on which to build their musical proficiency. Additionally, recognize that there is no way to speed up the process of learning, and don’t feel defeated if your progress is not moving along as quickly as you would like. Don’t worry about struggling with concepts, and don’t give in to fear of failure. Give yourself time to grow into your abilities, and celebrate every musical milestone of your success along the way.
6. Find likeminded people to practice with
Children often learn instruments in group settings, and the community element of that experience can have a big impact on their enjoyment of the process and the development of new skills. When you’ve practiced enough to feel comfortable with your basic abilities as a musician, consider seeking out other amateur adults in group music workshops or local jam sessions to further your abilities. Playing with others not only teaches you the nuances of working together as a group to produce a sound, but it also can provide a reassuring sense of community and an opportunity to make new friends.
7. Remember that you’re never too old to learn
Never think that you are too old to pick up an instrument for the first time. While music may be easier for a child to learn in some ways, there are many qualities exclusive to the adult set that make pursuit of an instrument much simpler. As an adult, you are much more likely to understand abstract concepts, more likely to stay committed to learning an instrument, and more likely to truly appreciate the skill, because no one is forcing you to learn. Stay focused and enjoy the process without giving your age a second a thought.
No matter what sparks your initial interest in playing music, making the decision to take up an instrument can be a rewarding experience that comes with many personal benefits. To take advantage of everything that musicianship has to offer, you must make sure to persevere through the more difficult aspects of practice. Listed below are four common reasons that can cause you to give up on learning before you’ve truly developed a musical talent, as well as tricks to help you avoid these pitfalls.
1. Choosing the wrong instrument
Choosing the wrong instrument is one of the most surefire ways to diminish the likelihood that you will follow through on your musical goals. It is unwise to select an instrument simply because it is accessible, seems simple, or is one that a friend plays. These reasons are not likely to encourage long-term pursuit of the goal.
Instead, choose an instrument used by players in the genres of music you enjoy. With an appreciation for a musical style at the root of your decision, it’s also important to keep other factors in mind, such as whether you want to play with other people or whether you want to sing while you play. If you’re social and would like to eventually be able to play in a group, consider accompaniment instruments like the bass, mandolin, or violin. If you prefer to play solo, consider an instrument that can carry a song independently such as acoustic guitar or piano. These two instruments will also serve you well if you want to sing along with your playing, as they work as standalone and supportive instruments to accompany a voice.
2. Setting your expectations too high
Setting goals is an important part of learning to play an instrument. However, setting your goals and expectations too high may result in disappointment, and may ultimately lead you to give up the practice. Assuming that you will be able to play an instrument well, quickly, and without ample practice will frustrate you when the reality of the process sets in, and it can lessen the enthusiasm you feel for playing your instrument.
To prevent this kind of dissatisfaction, set smaller, achievable goals, such as learning a scale over the course of a few weeks instead of expecting to master it in a day. Understand that developing an ability to play music takes time and dedication, and that your work in learning to practice may not immediately seem as though it is paying off. You need plenty of patience and regular, efficient practice if you want to become adept at playing an instrument; talent can’t be developed otherwise. Work toward small goals and appreciate each achievement you make along the way, focusing on the long-term payoff of diligent practice.
3. Studying with the wrong music teacher
Though many people attempt to teach themselves through books or online videos, having a music teacher comes with advantages that other instructional resources do not offer. If you do choose to attend lessons with a music teacher, keep in mind that no two instructors are alike, and he or she should be the right fit for your learning style. Studying with the wrong teacher can lead to discontentment with your lessons and less desire to practice, which may threaten your commitment to mastering an instrument.
Online resources like www.takelessons.com will allow you to browse piano teachers near you and read more about their experience. Recommendations for piano teachers can also often be found at your local music store. If you begin lessons with one teacher and find that he or she does not provide enough encouragement or support to meet your personal needs, consider looking for a new teacher. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way toward helping a new music student make progress, and having a positive experience during your lessons will make you more inclined to enjoy learning and persevering through the difficult parts of practicing music.
4. Selecting an instrument in poor condition
If the instrument that you buy or rent to practice on is not of a reasonable caliber and condition, you will not enjoy learning to play. Cheaply made instruments do not produce a high-quality sound and are often much more difficult to play than well-made ones. Likewise, a well-made instrument that has not been taken care of or has suffered extensive wear may not function the way it was meant to, thus hindering your ability to learn on it.
If you are serious about learning to play, consider making an investment in an instrument of good quality. Doing so will spare you the frustrations that accompany the purchase of an inexpensive one, which often discourages players from wanting to practice and may lead to abandonment of the art. Practicing an instrument for the first time is already a challenging process, and beginners don’t need the extra burden of learning to play on a subpar instrument to further complicate the routine.
Children who study music from a young age are poised to gain many benefits from the experience, including better language development, improved spatial-temporal skills, and higher test scores. If your child expresses an interest in music, you can help him or her develop a stronger curiosity and love for the subject using these helpful tips:
1. Expose your child to music from a young age.
By making music part of daily life, parents can significantly influence their child’s ability to appreciate all that music has to offer. Playing music for children in the car, singing with them, and giving them the opportunity to watch musical television shows are all excellent ways to introduce music in a fun and stimulating way. Parents can also make early music discovery an adventure by working with their children to create musical instruments from ordinary household items like pots, pans, pans, and spoons, or by going to the library to check out CDs with kid-friendly songs.
2. Make instruments readily available at home.
Kids may also become excited about pursuing music if they are free to explore a variety of instruments in their home. Therefore, parents should leave an instrument, like a guitar or drum, on display where their child can easily pick it up. A piano can be especially beneficial for early music exposure at home, as children can generally begin to experiment with the instrument once they are physically big enough to reach the keys and develop the hand dexterity to push them down.
3. Look into private music lessons.
If a child shows a specific interest in music, his or her parents should consider enlisting the help of a professional to foster that passion. While a teacher’s qualifications are important, his or her ability to interact positively with a child on a personal level is vital. To find a music teacher who specializes in instructing kids, parents should consider soliciting recommendations, holding interviews, and attending recitals held by prospective teachers to determine whether or not the instructor will be a good fit for their son or daughter.
4. Give your child a special practice space.
Children who commit to an instrument may be more motivated to practice if they have a designated space in which to do so. Ideally, the practice space should be situated in a quiet, organized area where siblings, television, and other distractions cannot intrude. It is also a good idea to equip the practice space with pencils, music stands, paper, and other tools that young music students might need.
5. Incorporate practice into your child’s daily routine.
To encourage musical development, parents should make practice part of their child’s daily schedule. Parents can make this time more appealing by scheduling pleasurable activities around the practice session. For example, kids could enjoy snack time before practice and play time afterwards.
6. Be supportive under all circumstances.
Parents should always visibly support their child’s efforts regardless of his or her level of musical ability. For example, if a child wants to showcase a newly developed talent or practice a song, parents need to devote their attention to the performance and make honest, encouraging remarks. It can also be helpful for parents to regularly ask about how their children’s lessons are progressing and check in with them at regular intervals about their interest in music.
Additionally, when a young music student reaches a milestone such as memorizing a new song or performing in a recital, parents should find a way to celebrate their child’s accomplishment. Doing so may help children stay motivated to continue their studies when the lessons become challenging.
7. Don’t try to control your child’s musical progress.
Parents who see true musical potential in their children may be tempted to force them to practice longer hours or study an instrument that doesn’t interest them. However, experts suggest that it is better in the long term to let a child’s talents develop naturally, and most recommend that parents support their child’s decision if he or she wishes to switch instruments or focus on an activity outside of music. Creating an understanding environment where a child feels comfortable pursuing his or her own individual interests is ultimately better for the child’s healthy development.
The guitar is among the most widely-played instruments in the Western world. Since it first gained popularity with the advent of rock and roll in the middle of the 20th century, countless aspiring musicians have sought out the guitar as a means of artistic expression.
Those who are ready to make a serious commitment to this six-string instrument may consider buying a guitar of their own for the first time. Listed below are four common mistakes everyone should avoid when buying their first guitar.
Buying a guitar that’s too cheap
If you’re serious about learning to play, you should set aside at least $200 to buy your first guitar. No matter which style of guitar you’re looking to pick up, an investment of at least $200 will generally provide you with an instrument that has a respectable sound and a playability conducive to new learners. Making room in your budget for this minimum expenditure is much more likely to help you obtain a guitar that is fun to practice on, has a good tone, and doesn’t go out of tune too quickly.
On the other hand, as a new player, you should be wary of buying an expensive guitar until you’re truly committed to learning how to play. At a certain point, a guitar’s quality will not make you sound any better, unless you have achieved a certain level of skill. Spending an exorbitant amount of money on a first guitar is therefore usually unnecessary.
Buying a guitar with the wrong sound
Though some music professionals argue that new players should hone their early skills on an acoustic guitar, others suggest that this can be demotivating for some people. The first guitar that you buy should be one that’s suited to playing the style of music you’re most interested in. Those who want to play old school country or folk music may find that the acoustic guitar works out best. If you’re particularly interested in learning to play rock, pop, or heavy metal, an electric guitar might be the better choice. And if you’re more committed to learning jazz or the blues, you may get more enjoyment out of a hollow body or semi-hollow body guitar.
No matter what version of the instrument you settle on as a new guitarist, you should make the decision based on your own interests. If the sound coming from the instrument doesn’t move you, you likely be less motivated to continue practicing.
Buying your first guitar secondhand
As stated before, making a minimum investment to obtain a quality guitar makes a big difference when it comes to playability, and therefore can have a significant impact on whether you’ll continue to practice the instrument over the long term. One of the best ways to get more value for your money is to purchase a guitar secondhand, but some professionals advise inexperienced players to avoid this. Used guitars can be damaged in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and make the instrument unpleasant for novice musicians to play. Worn-down frets, buzzing strings, high action, cracks, and bent necks can all go unnoticed by the untrained eye, and all have the potential to make the instrument challenging to practice on and therefore less enjoyable.
If you feel compelled to purchase your first guitar secondhand, make sure to bring along an experienced guitarist who can assess the quality of the instrument before you purchase it.
Buying a guitar without the necessary equipment
There is a list of supplies that you’ll need to buy along with the instrument. First, plan to buy a physical tuner, rather than relying on a smartphone app to help you tune your guitar. While apps are helpful in a pinch, physical tuners are more accurate and will make a guitar sound much better. Buying several guitar picks can also be useful for new musicians during practice.
Another non-negotiable item that all new players need to buy is a case for their instrument. A good case offers protection that will help keep your guitar in good condition when you’re transporting it from location to location. A case also provides a safe place to store the guitar at home when you’re not using it.
When you’re shopping for your first guitar, ask for professional advice from the salespersons at the store. Many associates at guitar and music shops are trained to help customers find the instrument that best suits their level of ability, and they’re usually happy to give advice on the right equipment to purchase along with a new guitar.
Learning to play an instrument can have a significant positive impact on the lives of children who play them. Studies show that students who study music have better language processing skills, perform better on math tests, and even have IQs that are several points higher than those students who do not actively pursue musicianship.
To learn to play an instrument well, it’s important that students find a skilled music teacher to guide them through the process. Listed below are seven important characteristics that the best music teachers tend to possess.
They have a genuine love for music.
This characteristic is a must-have for music teachers of all disciplines. The people who make the best music instructors aren’t just passionate about the specific genre of music that they teach, but have a love and appreciation for the subject as an art form. Having a proficiency within music alone will not inspire students.
Children respond to those who show genuine enthusiasm for the subject. The joy that a teacher feels for music should be evident in all lessons that he or she teaches, rather than only in the lessons that are the most exciting. This can be especially helpful in motivating younger students to practice and become more engaged with their lessons.
They show a high degree of patience.
To be an effective music teacher, one must be people-oriented, possess emotional intelligence and have a large capacity for patience. Students will develop their musical abilities at different rates, and not all of them will grasp important concepts right away. Great instructors are able to listen to students as they play and expediently identify any key problems that hold them back from progress.
Not only that, teachers must be capable of providing critiques that help students overcome challenges. An excellent music teacher also remembers that mastery of an instrument or musical concept requires repetition. He or she is also happy to provide support for and belief in students of all levels of ability.
They know the value of fundamentals.
Excellent music teachers never forget the importance of the fundamentals. Both in technique and theory, skilled instructors understand that training in and reinforcement of fundamental elements like breathing, hand positions, and posture must be maintained as a student becomes more and more familiar with his or her instrument.
They also understand the role that fundamental music theory concepts have in the way that children understand, relate to, and personalize music as they become more proficient. Skilled music teachers never forget the relevance of these core lessons and are not afraid to return to them when necessary, no matter how much progress has been made.
They get to know their students.
As all children are different, they will all respond differently to music lessons. A talented music teacher recognizes the need to accommodate their individual needs. Great teachers show personal investment in their students as musicians and as people, and let all students know that they care about their progress.
The best instructors communicate with students about the struggles and successes that accompany learning an instrument. They also help to develop reasonable goals for each child to work toward at a pace that suits him or her based on the student’s personal musical ability.
They’re lifelong learners.
An excellent music teacher knows that practicing music is a lifelong pursuit. They seek out opportunities to improve their own abilities in addition to their students’. They listen to new styles of music and are not afraid to ask questions or take lessons from their peers. Effective instructors are also not afraid to share this insight with their students and promote the idea that people at all levels of proficiency can look for ways to improve their performance.
They communicate well.
Music is full of complex concepts that can be difficult to explain. Great music teachers learn how to teach tough subjects in a way that is concise and leaves plenty of time for students to have actual practice with an instrument during the lesson.
Many of the most effective music instructors give short, clear explanations for difficult subject matter and then rely on the music to speak for itself. At the same time, music teachers must be approachable, talented listeners who students feel comfortable coming to with questions if any part of a lessons seems unclear to them.
They know that if they’re doing the job right, they’ll eventually no longer be needed.
The ultimate mark of a truly excellent music instructor is someone who is working toward the goal of rendering him or herself obsolete in a student’s musical journey. Great teachers do their jobs well, and help students to achieve progress that allows them independence and creative self-expression within their music.
A talented instructor is able to recognize when it’s time for advanced students to move forward, and helps them to develop a solid foundation of skills that will serve them well as they continue their musical journeys.
While the most popular musical instrument to play changes each year, certain instruments remain perennial favorites among music students of all ages in the United States. Aspiring music students can learn more about the history and technical aspects of the three most beloved instruments in the following.
The guitar has established itself as one of the most widely played instruments in modern-day America, and its influence can be seen in a diverse range of musical genres. A versatile instrument, the guitar offers many style of play, ranging from rock and roll and country music to classical and jazz.
Historians believe that the earliest ancestor of the guitar first appeared in Spain in the early 1500s, although the modern version familiar to us today did not appear until the late 1800s. The early “guitarra latina,” as it was called, had a waist that was much less pronounced than today’s guitar and a much narrower body with a deeper sound made by plucking four courses of strings tuned to C, F, A, and D. By the end of the 1700s, the guitar had six single strings tuned to E, A, D, B, G, and E, which is today’s standard.
Guitars are made in both acoustic and electric varieties, each with its own set of subtypes. The most common four types of guitars are the nylon string and steel string acoustics, the hollow body, and the solid body electric. The nylon string guitar is almost singularly used to perform classical and flamenco pieces, while the invention of the steel string acoustic gave rise to the less technical, but more nuanced play patterns employed by artists in musical genres such as jazz and the blues. The creation of the hollow body electric had a particularly significant impact on jazz guitarists, who used the instrument’s amplified volume to make themselves better heard among the many other instruments at play in jazz ensembles. When the solid body electric guitar was invented, musicians were able to create the signature sound that characterizes rock music. The solid body electric guitar is the most popular form of the instrument among young musicians today.
The piano is a foundational instrument that professionals say children can begin to learn before the age of 6, provided that they have finger dexterity and their hands are sufficiently large enough. Around 21 million Americans play the piano, and its versatility allows it to assume the lead or fade into the background of songs that span a wide range of musical genres.
Some may be surprised to learn that the piano is a string instrument. The strings are encased within the instrument’s body and resonate when struck by hammers connected to the movement of the keys. As a result, it is also considered a keyboard instrument and was preceded by the invention of the clavichord in the 1300s, followed by the harpsichord in the early 1500s. The first true piano was invented by Italian harpsichord producer Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori in 1698, and it subsequently shaped much of the writing and playing styles of composers in 18th century Europe. Although some adjustments have been made since Cristofori’s early invention, such as increased string tension that significantly improved the instrument’s dynamic range, the modern piano is strikingly similar to those played in the 1700s.
The piano exists in three primary styles: upright and grand, which are acoustic, and digital pianos, which are electric. The upright piano has shorter, vertical strings compared with the grand piano, which has long, horizontal strings. The hammers in an upright piano are reset using spring-based mechanisms, whereas the hammers on a grand piano are reset by gravity, which makes each piano’s keys feel different to the touch when played.
Drums are among the world’s oldest instruments, and they continue to draw the interest of musicians of all ages. The drums play a crucial supporting role in the sound of any band and are even used as a therapeutic tool to foster positive social and emotional development in children with disabilities.
The earliest discovered drums date back thousands of years BC. The drums were fashioned from objects such as tree trunks, gourds, or shells covered with a thin membrane comprised of reptile or fish skin, and were played with the hands. Later versions of the drum contained membranes made from the skin of mammals and were played using sticks. Along with its recreational value, drums also provided early populations in Sri Lanka and some African countries with a means of communicating over a distance as early as 1000 to 500 BC. The first snare drum was developed in the mid-17th century, and by the early 19th century drums were incorporated into orchestral compositions. By the 1930s, the world was familiar with the four-piece drum kit that set the stage for many starter drum sets that new musicians are familiar with today.
While there are numerous types of drums that vary in popularity from one country to another, the one most commonly used in the United States is the drum kit, which in its most basic form consists of a snare drum, bass drum, several tom-toms, and a collection of cymbals. Although cymbals vary based on a drummer’s needs, a kit typically has a single cymbal along with a hi-hat, which is comprised of two cymbals connected by a foot pedal that allows the cymbals to crash together and come apart in time with the beat of a song.