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.
The standard Western-style orchestra was first assembled in Italy around four centuries ago, but today, orchestras are found all around the world. Listed below are six components of orchestras that allow these large groups of musicians to produce the beautiful, harmonious sound they’re known for.
The average professional orchestra employs 40 to 80 musicians, and each section of instruments in the orchestra has its own hierarchy among the players. Violins are divided into two sections—first violin and second violin. The leader of a section is called the principal and is responsible for demonstrating technique for the rest of the musicians in the section. The principal also plays any solos for his or her specific instrument. Principals act as a motivator, mediator, and teacher, and are the point of communication between the conductor and the section.
At the head of all section principals is the orchestra’s concertmaster, a position that is always held by the principal of the first violin section. The concertmaster not only plays all violin solos within a piece, but also makes sure that all instruments are tuned prior to a performance. He or she also ensures that all members of the strings section observe the correct bowings within a piece. This creates the strings sections’ characteristic cohesiveness, and allows all players to play in unison.
The only person in the orchestra higher than the concertmaster is the conductor. Conductors did not have a role in early orchestras, but today all of the United States’ most accomplished philharmonic and symphonic orchestras rely on them to lead. The conductor uses his or her arms and hands to express directions to the players, allowing musicians to know how loudly and quickly to play, as well as when to cease playing. He or she is responsible for selecting and interpreting music for the orchestra, and balances the sound as the piece progresses. The guidance of the conductor allows musicians to work together as a unit in order to create a flawless, unified sound.
The percussion instruments are typically situated at the very back of the orchestra, furthest from the conductor’s podium. The percussion has the widest variety of instruments of the five sections, and consists of any instrument that can be struck by a stick, beater, or the hand. It also includes instruments that must be shaken or rubbed to produce a sound. Standard instruments in this family include the drums, xylophone, timpani, gongs, and cymbals, among others. The role of the percussion in an orchestra is crucial, as this group sets the rhythm for the rest of the musicians to follow.
While the piano, organ, and harpsichord are often considered members of the percussion section in the orchestra due to their ability to provide rhythm to the music, they are more accurately identified as keyboard instruments. While this section is not present in all orchestras, it has become more common to see them onstage with the more traditional instruments in recent years. They are also positioned toward the back, near the percussion section.
Musicians who play brass instruments are usually seated in front of the percussion section. The brass section contains the loudest instruments in the orchestra, including trumpets, horns, tubas, trombones, and bass trombones. The instruments in the brass section may vary depending on the style of music and the interpretation of the conductor. As the name suggests, these instruments are fashioned from brass pipes formed into shapes that produce different sounds when the musician blows into them through a mouthpiece. Because of their capacity for volume and the bright quality of their sound, brass instruments often make ideal solo instruments in upbeat, exultant moments within a composition. It is important that a conductor takes care to correctly lead the brass section within a piece so that its commanding sound does not overpower the others.
The woodwinds section is a diverse body of instruments played by musicians sitting in the middle of the orchestra, in front of the brass section. Flutes, piccolos, oboes, clarinets, bass clarinets, and bassoons are all common woodwind instruments. All produce a pleasant, consistent sound when played together, though each instrument differs in range and pitch. The musicians’ use of breath to play these instruments allows them to create diverse sound effects, including vibrato, staccato, and legato phrasing. Woodwind instruments with a higher pitch, like the flute, most often follow the melody of a piece while the lower-toned woodwinds, like the bassoon, more often play supportive parts that contribute to the harmonies in a song.
The strings section makes up the largest portion of the orchestra, with two or three times more musicians than the other four. However, the strings section generally features just four types of instruments. The strings section sits at the front of the orchestra, with the violins to the conductor’s left, the violas in front, and the cellos and double basses to the right. The violin and the viola produce higher musical tones, while the cello and double bass produce low ones. The members of this section are often responsible for taking on the bulk of the melody within a song. The violin group within the strings section is arguably the most prominent and renowned of all the orchestral instruments, and is featured prominently in orchestral compositions. Apart from the standard four instruments, the strings section on occasion may also feature a harp or guitar.
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.
Although the popularity of classical music has declined among the general population in recent generations, its profound influence on all genres of modern music is undeniable. In fact, much of today’s music incorporates stylistic elements of composers who broke barriers and set musical trends far ahead of their time.
To better understand the impact of classical music, music fans should learn about the following four men considered to be among the most timeless and influential composers in history, along with the contributions they made that drove the progression of music forward:
1. Johann Sebastian Bach
A German composer in the baroque style, J. S. Bach was known in his own time for his abilities as a harpsichordist, an organist, and as an organ repair specialist. Today, however, he is considered by many to be the greatest composer of all time. Though his contemporaries considered his pieces to be slightly outdated, later composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, and Schumann acknowledged his genius and drew inspiration from his work.
Part of J. S. Bach’s fame is due to his profound exploration of the baroque style. His compositions incorporated more notes, deeper harmonies, and more advanced technical command than any composer up to that point. He was also very prolific, writing more than 1100 works. His best-known pieces include Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Arioso, and the Brandenburg Concertos.
2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart was an Austrian child prodigy who began studying music at age 3. By age 6, he was composing his own pieces on the harpsicord and touring to perform them around Europe. In addition to the harpsicord, the young Mozart played the organ, viola, and piano. He was famous in his own time for the dramatic complexity of his work as well as his mastery of every musical style, including symphony, concerto, chamber music, and opera.
Like Bach, Mozart stretched the limits of the musical style of his time and brought enriched melodies, harmonic clarity, and perfect form to the art in a way that no previous composer had. In his operas especially, Mozart was able to conjure a depth of emotion in music using elements like tension and shifting key centers. Of his more than 600 works, some of his most famous are Requiem, Symphony No. 40, and the opera The Magic Flute.
3. Ludwig van Beethoven
The compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven mark a turning point in the classical style. In his work, Beethoven expressed a fierce originality and wrote music that met his own standards, rather than those of patrons, wealthy courts, or religious entities. His pieces pushed through boundaries set by standard classical form and played a significant role in ushering in the new age of romantic classical music, which was powerfully emotional and rejected the rigid orderliness of earlier iterations within the genre. His greatness is amplified by the fact that he continued to compose music despite a condition that caused his hearing to deteriorate drastically during the last three decades of his life.
Beethoven created lengthy compositions that were louder and more dramatic than anything previously written. His piano concertos and sonatas, for example, broke new ground, taking full advantage of the instrument’s newly expanded keyboard. His works include some of the most iconic classical music of all time, including the Fifth Symphony, Sonata No. 14 (known as Moonlight Sonata), and Bagatelle No. 25 (known as Für Elise).
4. Frederic Chopin
Born in the early 19th century to a middle-class family in Poland, Frederic Chopin demonstrated his virtuosity early, playing piano adeptly without any formal lessons as a child. When he composed and published his first piece at the age of 7, he drew comparisons to Mozart and would later receive private music lessons from Polish composer Joseph Elsner before attending the instructor’s Warsaw Conservatory. There, Elsner encouraged Chopin to reject traditional playing patterns in favor of pursuing his own original style.
Unlike the composers mentioned above, Chopin was singularly devoted to the pursuit of piano, and while he created the majority of his works for solo piano, he also created a number of concertos and sonatas. His legendary improvisational style was simultaneously tender and frantic, with his feet appearing to constantly be in motion while playing. In fact, he is credited with the first consistent use of half and quarter pedaling.
Chopin’s complex harmonic methods and poignantly reflective melodies influenced many late 19th- and 20th-century composers. Some of his most famous works are Nocturne in E-flat major, Funeral March (also known as Prelude in C minor), and Revolutionary Etude.
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.
Smartphone and tablet applications are playing an increasingly significant role in the modern classroom. The technology allows students to learn in an interactive way that differs drastically from the traditional methods of studying textbooks and listening to lectures. As with many of the standard school subjects, children can learn music though quality apps. Listed below are six excellent smartphone and tablet apps that teach kids about music.
Great for ages 4 and up, MiniPiano is available on both the Android and iPhone, as well as the iPad and iPod Touch. This app converts the device’s screen into a virtual touch piano, with 128 different midi instrument sounds for the user to choose from. Depending on the screen size of their device, children may be able to use five to 10 fingers at a time to play a song. Tunes created within the app can be recorded and exported as a WAC or AAC file or used as a ringtone. Overall, MiniPiano is a simple app for learners of all ages to navigate and encourages students to experiment with notes and simple songs.
2. Crayola DJ
Crayola DJ gives children the ability to mix their own music on an interface that resembles a colorfully designed, kid-friendly DJ setup. By following a simple tutorial, children learn to use 90 different musical tracks in five genres of music to create their own songs. Eight additional buttons provide DJ effects like tempo sliders, crossfaders, and other sounds to add to a child’s mixes. Users can also place their fingers on the app’s turntables to scratch while their songs are playing.
In addition, Crayola DJ offers a game mode where children can DJ in front of a virtual crowd to earn points. The app is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 10 and is available on both Android and Apple products. Crayola DJ is a winner of the Parents’ Choice Fun Stuff Award and was given a seal of approval by the National Parenting Center.
Featuring an intuitive, wordless user interface, Loopimal relies on animations of animals like birds, sloths, octopi, and pigs to teach kids aged 4 and up about music composition, melody, and rhythm. By rearranging a sequence of shapes below an animal’s picture, children can create loops of musical tones and make the animals dance. Multiple animals and their loops can be grouped together to create multi-instrumental songs. There are no right or wrong answers in Loopimal, and the app is meant to encourage creativity and musical experimentation. All music within the app is played in the key of C-major. Loopimal is compatible with Apple products.
4. JoyTunes Recorder Master
JoyTunes Recorder Master is a fun game with an interactive component that goes beyond the screen. Taking advantage of the fact that many kids are taught to play the recorder in school, the app requires kids to play their instrument to control the game. Different stages within the game require students to practice different techniques and skills on their recorder, including timing, higher-lower tones, finger placement, and breath control, in order to complete levels. The app features more than 100 levels and also includes an in-app virtual recorder that children can play if they don’t have access to a real recorder of their own.
5. Music with Grandma
Music with Grandma invites children to explore a broad range of musical education topics through games, educational videos, and interactive virtual instruments. Guided by the Grandma character, the user works their way through seven different games that teach different music skills. The games include activities like matching a sound to the instrument, connecting a maze of musical notations, and even a “find the note” game that teaches kids to identify notes on a music staff. Music with Grandma was designed for young musicians aged 6 and up, and requires some literacy in order to benefit from the more educational content. However, younger kids can easily play along with some support from a parent.
6. Monster Chords
Monster Chords is meant for children interested in learning to play the guitar or ukulele. Like JoyTunes Master Recorder, Monster Chords requires a child to play his or her instrument in order to interact with the app. It’s designed to make practice more enjoyable through games. Throughout the app’s 30 levels, children attempt to lure shy, friendly monsters out of a dark forest by playing chords in time with the app’s music. When the child plays the right chord, the monsters move closer to a campfire, while mistakes cause the monsters to retreat back into the forest. Songs that Monster Chords users learn to play include familiar classics like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” along with some of the app’s more modern, original compositions. The game is available for both the iPhone and iPad for free in the app store, though parents must pay a monthly fee to unlock the higher levels.
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.
The question of why music was first invented has yet to be answered, but its effect on the development of human culture cannot be denied. Music helps us communicate, provides an opportunity for creative expression, and has the ability to bring large groups of people together, regardless of their differences. Listed below are six inventions that changed music throughout history and shaped the art form that we know today.
1. The prehistoric flute
First on the list are the prehistoric flutes discovered only five years ago in a cave located in southern Germany. These instruments, carved from mammoth ivory and bird bone, are estimated to be over 40,000 years old, making them the oldest instruments ever found. Open at both ends, the flutes feature finger holes that would have allowed an early human to produce musical notes.
This instrument is important for its likely use as an early form of recreation and entertainment, or as a part of religious ceremonies, as well as the possibility that it helped advance the social bonds of early humans. Thousands of years later, yet still far in our past, humankind would develop primitive instruments such as rattles, scrapers, and bull-roarers before creating the more refined and complicated instruments we know today.
2. The octave scale and notation
Though many ancient civilizations developed their own musical scales, the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras was the first to develop a near-perfect, mathematically-based scale that consisted of tones and “hemitones”—what we know today as an octave scale. Though it isn’t clear who first added to this early musical theory to develop an initial form of musical notation, this achievement is also often credited to the Greeks. They would influence 6th century philosopher Boethius to develop the letter system of notation using the letters A through G that we are familiar with today. Together, these inventions enabled humans to record and distribute compositions, allowing original compositions and musicianship to spread farther than it ever had before.
3. The piano
The invention of the piano was a vital development in the history of music, as it gave composers of the time the ability to work within a range of notes much more vast and complex than those provided by the harpsichord, the piano’s predecessor. This keyed instrument allowed musicians to play in accompaniment with other instruments or to perform solo pieces, and became a central part of entertainment both in the home and the public sphere in the Western world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though it is not the primary form of entertainment that it once was, the piano and keyboard continue to be some of the most popular instruments for people to learn to play.
4. The metronome
Though small in size, the metronome has a significant impact on a musician’s ability to play in time with a song. Musical performances require a musician to interpret notes, play with emotional focus, and keep time all at once. A metronome allows individual players as well as composers directing a group to stay on beat and thus deliver a measured, impactful performance. Early experiments with metronomes were first conducted in the late 17th century, but the tool was not employed by any of the iconic classical composers until Beethoven. The metronome is still used today by amateur musicians as well as in major recording studios to help music professionals create the perfect sound.
5. The microphone
Humans had been working toward voice amplification since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but a workable version of the microphone did not appear until the late 19th century. Its effect on the history of music was significant because it allowed people to hear music not only louder, but with a greater degree of detail than ever before. Its central use in musical recording had a direct effect on the eventual ability of people to listen to music anytime, anywhere.
Prior to the invention of the microphone, people needed to see music performed live in order to enjoy it. Additionally, the use of the microphone in concert venues allowed small groups of musicians to put on a show of a size and volume that before was only attainable by large orchestras on naturally amplified stages. In modern music, microphones allow musicians to create complex works of art full of nuance to deliver a more powerful performance to their listeners.
6. The electric guitar
The most recent invention to make this list is the electric guitar, which changed the direction that modern music took by providing players with an energetic, exciting new sound. The electric guitar was invented in 1931 and came accompanied by an external speaker that received the vibrational input from a pickup inside the guitar, turning the vibrations from the strings into the characteristic sound we all know today. Jazz and blues players of the mid-20th century first adopted the instrument, ushering in a new era for both genres.
In the 1950s, the fledgling rock and roll scene would adopt the electric models developed by Gibson and Fender to create a new genre of music that set the stage for popular music today. It became the trademark instrument for a long list of guitar legends, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. The electric guitar continues to be a favorite among youth in Western culture and remains central to the creation of popular music.
Music is one of the world’s most important, unifying art forms and activities. It brings people together from all cultures, ages, and backgrounds, and has the power to improve the lives of those who engage with it in simple yet significant ways. Listed below are four ways that music can improve everyday life.
1. Stress and anxiety regulation
Recent studies by the American Psychological Association (APA) have shown that stress levels are higher than they have ever been. In addition, stress appears to grow in scale with each passing year. In the United States, the top causes of stress include work pressure, money troubles, health crises, and problems in relationships. Anxiety and stress are noted to be the root cause of up to 60 percent of diseases and illnesses, and are known to increase an individual’s risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
No matter the source of the stress, professionals in the psychological community suggest that playing or listening to music may help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety by lowering the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in the brain. Scientific studies have revealed that music is able to reduce feelings of anxiety in pre and post-op surgery patients, decrease feelings of overwhelm in busy nursing students, and also reduce stress and emotional upset in patients living with cancer.
Listening to calming music during stressful times can lead to a more relaxed state of mind, leaving people better equipped to deal with challenges as they arise.
2. Improved memory and productivity at work
Many people look for ways to improve their job performance, whether motivated by a personal desire to excel or through incentives like higher pay. An improvement in job performance may allow people to receive the kind of praise and recognition from their manager that allows them to feel more fulfilled in their careers, and therefore more content, both on the job and at home.
Incorporating music into a work routine has been shown to help employees focus better, improve memory, and learn new tasks faster. Listening to music on headphones can help employees tune out the many distractions of a busy office, make a repetitive task seem more engaging, and even stimulate a release of dopamine that keeps the mind motivated and on task.
People who are looking for a way to improve and increase their professional output should consider making music a regular part of the workday. One study suggests classical music for jobs that require attention to detail, pop music for data entry professionals or people who are on a deadline, ambient music for work that involves solving equations, and dance tunes for tasks that rely heavily on problem-solving or proofreading.
3. Increased sense of empathy
Empathy is the character trait that allows us to relate to one another. It is loosely defined as the capacity to understand and respond to the feelings of other people—in other words, the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. At the most fundamental level, empathy is what connects us as human beings. It’s necessary for establishing the strong, close relationships with family and friends that we humans need to be happy and fulfilled.
Studies of children as young as elementary school age have indicated that participation in music programs with others resulted in an advanced ability to recognize and respond to the emotions of their peers. This effect was determined, in part, to be the result of young students having a shared experience that mandated the participation of all group members. The study also showed that these children had an increased ability to cooperate and practice patience; these abilities contribute to the formation of better social relationships.
Others studies on this subject show that people who listen to music rather than play it may also see empathy gains. In one study, the area of the brain associated with empathy lit up in test subjects when they were told that a piece of music was composed by a human, but did not light up when subjects were told the piece was written by a robot. Professionals believe that our empathy may be heightened when listening to music due to the fact that we are inclined to try and understand the meaning or intent behind a musical composition when we hear it.
4. Better physical health
Few factors are as important as physical health when it comes to maintaining a happy life. Whereas being healthy allows you to focus on all the things that make life worth living, struggling with health problems can make everything seem difficult and less enjoyable.
Professionals suggest that music may be able to help people maintain better physical health in surprising ways. Music that plays at a rate of 60 beats per minute can cause the listener to become more relaxed, with a reduced heart rate as well as a drop in blood pressure. In addition, some studies show that prolonged exposure to upbeat dance music may increase levels of antibodies in the bloodstream, strengthening the immune system.
Music further encourages good health through its ability to motivate people during exercise. Those who listen to their favorite songs during physical activities reportedly feel less fatigue, as they tend to focus more on the songs rather than any exhaustion they feel. Staying motivated and sticking to an exercise regime is a crucial component of a long-term plan to stay healthy.