Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support the widely-held idea that exposing infants and children to classical music can lead to an increase in their intelligence. However, research does indicate that listening to classical music can have a positive effect on many other areas of children's development.
Recent studies have suggested that young children who are exposed to classical music find it easier to concentrate, develop a stronger sense of self-discipline, are better listeners, and ultimately have a wider range of interest in music as they grow into young adults.
If you’re interested in introducing your child to classical music, these five popular and powerful pieces written by some of the greatest composers in history are an excellent place to get started.
1. Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
2. The Flight of the Bumblebee, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
3. Fur Elise, Ludwig von Beethoven
4. The Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
5. Clair de Lune, Claude Debussy
When parents encourage their children to take music lessons from a young age, the piano is one of the most popular instrument choices. There is no definitive age at which experts suggest children begin music lessons; young musicians only need to be large enough to reach the keys and have enough hand dexterity to manipulate them.
If you are a parent who is thinking about introducing your young child to music through piano lessons for the first time, there are certain things you will need to do in order to prepare your child and your home for the experience before the first class. Listed below are six things to do before your child attends his or her first piano lesson.
1. Invest in a piano for your home.
The first step that you can take to benefit your future music student is to purchase a piano for him or her to use. Ideally, this should be done months or years ahead of time so that your child can grow up around the instrument and develop a familiarity with it prior to learning to play.
At the very least, make sure to invest in a piano right before he or she begins lessons. While there are ways to obtain free access to a piano outside of the home, nothing will be as accessible or as beneficial to your child’s learning experience as having a piano to practice on in his or her immediate environment.
While a new piano can be a significant investment, there are many websites where you can find gently-used pianos for affordable prices. Once you’ve found a piano that suits your budget, make sure to get it tuned by a professional so that the notes your child plays as he or she learns are in key.
2. Create the ideal practice space around the piano.
Where you place the piano in your home will affect how your young music student feels about the act of practicing. Professionals in music education suggest situating your piano in an area of the home that is neither too isolated nor too close to distractions like a television or computer.
The area should be warm and welcoming with adequate lighting. It must also include all the equipment that your child will need for practice sessions, including music sheets, pencils, and a comfortable piano bench. The more positive the physical practice area is, the more likely your child will feel enthusiastic about practicing when the time comes.
3. Listen to music together.
Spending quality time listening to music with your child can help him or her to develop a positive relationship with it as they grow up. While they listen, try to introduce them to basic musical concepts like rhythm by having them clap along to the beat of a song with you.
It can also be helpful to look up exciting videos of piano performances on YouTube, such as those made by the Piano Guys, to give your child a visual of what it’s like to play the instrument. Having this kind of familiarity may help children feel more comfortable with the instrument when they begin their first lessons.
4. Help your child learn the ABCs.
If your child understands the alphabet by the time that he or she takes up piano lessons, that ability will help them to identify and understand the names of notes. The musical alphabet spans notes with names from A to G, and a child who can remember the order and recognize letters when written on a music sheet will be in a better position to learn.
It can also be helpful to teach your child how to distinguish between his or her right and left sides as way to improve his or her ability to interact with a piano’s keyboard. Helping your child become aware that he or she can mirror the action of one hand on a side of their body with the other will facilitate the development of better spatial awareness. Additionally, it will help him or her better understand directions given during lessons.
5. Have a discussion about lessons and expectations.
While your child may be excited about the prospect of learning to play the piano, it’s important that you as the parent communicate your expectations for him or her at the outset. Make sure that your child knows that learning an instrument will be a fun experience, but that it requires practice and dedication. Talk to your child about the importance of daily practice, and make a verbal agreement on how often, when, and for what minimum amount of time your child will dedicate him- or herself to the practice of the piano each day.
6. Have a meet-and-greet with the instructor.
When choosing a music instructor for your child, try to schedule a meeting with prospective teachers before you make a decision. Once you find the right instructor, make sure to discuss the goals that you would like your child to accomplish through lessons and get feedback on the best ways that you can foster your child’s musical development at home.
The guitar has captured the interest of both young aspiring musicians and older learners alike since it first gained popularity in its electric form during the mid-20th century. Arguably one of the most popular instruments in the world, some people choose to take up the guitar as a form of relaxation or creative expression, while others choose it because it allows them to entertain both solo and with other musicians.
Still another reason that people choose to play the guitar over other instruments is because the guitar allows musicians the freedom to play and sing at the same time. There are few better instruments to learn to play for a musician who wants to sing along to music, but doing both at the same time can be difficult for beginners. Listed below are seven useful tips that can help new learners develop the ability to play the guitar and sing along.
1. Focus on your guitar-playing first.
Before you attempt to play and sing at the same time, you must first focus on developing the ability to play basic chords. As a new guitarist, your ability to recall the fingering for standard chord structures without much thought and to change quickly between these chords are the first steps in singing along to a song on the guitar.
2. Work with a metronome.
Keeping rhythm while performing a song is crucial to sounding natural—and it also makes singing along to the guitar easier. One way that guitarists can work on this form of timing during a song is to strum an easy pattern along to a metronome for about 10 minutes each day. If you’re committed to this practice, you’ll see a gradual improvement in your ability to play a song on beat over time—sometimes in as little as a few weeks.
3. Start simple.
If you’re just starting out, don’t choose a song that requires you to play advanced chords or sing complicated lyrics. Instead, you should look for songs with simpler chords and a basic rhythm that is well-suited to the beginning learner. Of course, you can develop the ability to sing and play any song with enough dedication and practice, but choosing a song that is overly complicated from the start can lead to frustration, which may take the enjoyment out of the experience.
4. Memorize the music and lyrics separately.
You should know the chords and the chord changes by heart before you sit down to sing along to a song. You can gauge your familiarity with a song by how well you’re able to play the chords while you’re distracted, such as when you’re carrying on a conversation or watching a TV show. Likewise, you should be able to sing the lyrics and the tune of the song from memory. The more that both elements of a song are second nature to you, the easier it will be to combine them.
5. Take it slow.
The excitement of learning to sing and play at the same time can cause some beginners to try and perform the song as quickly as possible at the start, but this actually does more harm than good. Start out slowly, learning to play and sing the correct parts one measure and lyric at a time—performing with speed will naturally come with time. People who rush through chords, rhythms, and lyrics to try and learn extremely quickly risk developing bad habits that can be difficult to break. It may even be a good idea to start out humming the song along with the chords instead of attempting to sing right away. Humming can help you figure out where the chord changes are in a song, since they don’t always line up with the syllables of the lyrics.
6. Change the key if you need to.
Though you can learn how to play a song in its original form, the notes may not suit the range of your voice. In this case, it’s important to remember that you can always change the key of the song to suit your range. This can be done by transposing the chord structure to a higher or lower octave using a transposition chart. Alternatively, you can use a capo, which allows you to play the original chords further up the neck of the guitar while changing the vocal register. Both ways of altering a song’s key have their advantages, so choose the method that you are most comfortable with on a case-by-case basis.
7. Put in a lot of practice.
As with any musical goal, learning how to sing and play the guitar simultaneously requires practice and patience. Don’t expect to be able to accomplish this feat right away, and try not to feel discouraged if you can’t master this new ability as quickly as you had hoped. It’s important to avoid rushing the process. In addition, recognize that even the most talented guitar-playing singers did not develop their abilities immediately. As a beginner, you should consider this goal a long-term project, and remember to take pride in your accomplishments when you master a song.
Though most music fans have a favorite genre of music, there are many benefits to listening to music styles from cultures unlike your own. Listening to music from different countries, even when performed in a language that you don’t understand, can help expand your perception of the world, bridge gaps between cultures, and even introduce you to a new favorite music style that you may not have otherwise discovered.
For those interested in learning about music outside of the western world, check out the following five international music styles that are widely enjoyed on other continents.
Already massively popular in its home country of South Korea, K-pop music has steadily gained a dedicated international fan base in recent years, including in parts of Europe, the Middle East, South America, and the United States. This upbeat music style is a blend of hip-hop, pop, and electronic music and is characterized by family-friendly lyrics with song hooks written to be blatantly catchy. K-pop music is almost always performed by all-female or all-male-fronted bands who release exciting, big budget music videos featuring extensive choreography and colorful, fashion-forward costumes. One of the first K-pop songs to receive widespread radio play in western countries was the song “Gangnam Style” by the artist PSY, who released the hit tune in 2012.
Calypso music is native to the Caribbean islands and most prominently performed in Trinidad. First developed in the early years of the 20th century, Calypso is influenced by both West African rhythm and European folk music. It relies heavily on stringed instruments like the guitar and banjo combined with steady percussion from instruments such as maracas or tamboo-bamboos. The lyrics of Calypso songs originally served as a way of spreading current events throughout the island of Trinidad in the early 1900s, especially news that was political in nature. However, the political climate at the time that Calypso music was first established required musicians to deliver the divisive subject matter through carefully-constructed lyrics that were typically witty and rooted in satire. This lyrical tradition continues in the genre today. Though not technically a Calypso musician, the singer Harry Belafonte helped popularize the genre through the release of “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” in 1956.
The origins of qawwali date back more than 700 years to India and the south of Pakistan. Usually performed by Sufi Muslim men, the music is a tool through which the musicians, known as qawwals, can inspire congregations. It is a powerful form of music that incorporates poetic lyrics and percussive instruments like the harmonium, tabla, and dholak to move its listeners to a state of heightened spiritual union with God, or Allah. The typical qawwali ensembles includes one singer or pair of lead singers accompanied by a chorus of individuals who sing the song’s refrains and support the percussion with rhythmic hand-clapping. Though it remains predominantly religious in nature, the style has expanded beyond the devout Sufi demographic, in a manner similar to Gospel music in the United States. The late musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is considered to be the individual responsible for expanding the popularity of qawwali outside of its traditional roots.
A style developed in the northern African country of Algeria, raï combines popular western-style music with that of the nomadic desert-dwelling people known as the Bedouins. While early versions of this musical style incorporated flutes and hand drums, the modern iteration of the genre is heavily influenced by pop and dance music and features a wide range of instruments, from saxophones and trumpets to drum synthesizers and electric guitars. One thing that has remained unchanged about raï music from its inception through modern day is the blunt nature of its lyrics, which are sung in Arabic or French. Song lyrics address the ups and downs of everyday life in a direct and occasionally vulgar fashion, and singers sometimes improvise during performances in the way of American blues musicians. The most famous raï singer of today is a performer named Khaled, who is commonly known as “the King of Raï.”
Known alternatively as baile funk, funk carioca is a beat-heavy music style that developed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the 1980s. By bringing American funk music, hip-hop, and freestyle rap music together and combining them with older Brazilian songs, DJs in Rio de Janeiro created a new genre that became ideal for dancing and popular among the country’s youth. Lyrics in funk carioca music are known for addressing taboo subjects, including poverty, social injustice, sex, and the violence occurring within Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, or shantytowns. The melody of funk carioca songs is typically sampled from an older tune, and may be instrumental or feature rapping and/or singing, often in Portuguese. One of the more popular funk carioca-inspired artists to find success outside of the original fan base in Rio is the rapper M.I.A., who is not Brazilian but is heavily influenced by the style, as evidenced by many songs on her 2005 album Arular.
The former president of Dollar Financial Group, Don Gayhardt today is the CEO of CURO Financial Technologies Corp, a company that offers accessible financial solutions to underserved populations through brands like Rapid Cash, Opt+, and Cash Money. In addition, Don Gayhardt serves as the chairman of Music Training Center Holdings, LLC, an organization that gives children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the opportunity to take music lessons focused on a wide range of areas, including classes on subjects such as playing in a rock band.
When groups of children or adults form a band with friends or other musicians, the first performance can be an exciting yet intimidating prospect. Below are 10 useful tips to help musicians of all ages prepare for their band’s first public performance.
1. Practice more than you think you need to.
If your band earns a spot to give a performance, take the opportunity seriously. Make sure that in the weeks leading up to the gig, your band dedicates enough time to practice so that every member feels completely prepared when the day arrives. If you don’t take time to prepare, it will show in the quality of your performance, and you may not receive another opportunity to play at the venue. Practice until you feel completely comfortable with the show you’re scheduled to put on—then practice some more.
2. Establish a set of pre-show best practices.
Before you take the stage, your band needs to get focused. For this purpose, it can be useful to have a pre-show ritual to help clear the mind of any nervousness and put you in the right mindset to perform to the best of your ability. Your pre-show routine can consist of any activity that makes you feel relaxed and ready to put on a great performance. Whatever you choose to do before your band takes the stage, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. In addition, getting enough sleep before the performance will ensure you’re rested, refreshed, and ready to shine.
3. Look the part.
Every eye in the audience will be trained on you and your band during the performance, so it’s important to go onstage showing that you take your music seriously by dressing for the occasion. The correct attire will differ depending on the genre of music you play, but the important thing is to dress in a way that makes you feel confident and demonstrates that you’re invested in your music and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to share it with the audience. In addition, try to coordinate your outfit with your bandmates. You don’t all have to wear the same thing, but sharing a similar style will make you appear more cohesive and professional.
4. Give yourself enough time for a sound check.
You should arrive at the venue early enough that your group has time to warm up and make sure that all of your equipment is functioning before the show begins. Warming up during a sound check before the show will also give the audio technician at the venue time to set volume levels before the audience arrives, allowing your band to sound balanced when you first take the stage.
5. Have a strong stage presence.
Stage presence is a key part of how the audience perceives your show. If you seem reluctant or low-energy, they are likely to respond less enthusiastically than if you show a strong stage presence. Many musicians even choose to develop an onstage persona in order to feel more confident in front of an audience. Simple actions that can improve your stage presence include standing up straight, moving around the stage instead of staying in place, and interacting with the audience throughout the set.
6. Interact with your bandmates on stage.
Another way that the audience perceives the energy onstage is based on how often and how well you interact with the other members of your band. It may sound strange, but this aspect of your performance is something that should be practiced during rehearsals. Engaging with your bandmates throughout the set shows a connection that the audience will respond to, and will help your performance seem more authentic.
7. Play through your mistakes.
Mistakes are bound to happen, especially during your first gig when nerves are running high. The important thing to remember if someone in your band makes a mistake is to keep playing. Don’t stop in the middle of a song because of a mistake. Push through the stress that you may feel and don’t let it affect the rest of your set. To help your group learn from the mistakes that you make, consider recording the performance so that you can revisit it later and evaluate what needs to be improved. However, if you choose to do this, don’t forget to also notice what the band did well and give yourselves credit.
8. Enjoy yourself.
No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your performance, make sure that you enjoy the experience as you show off your hard work and have a good time on stage with your bandmates. When you have fun doing what you love, it shows. The audience will know you’re enjoying yourselves, and may be more inclined to enjoy listening to your performance in return.
Singing is a musical hobby that can have an incredible impact on your mental and physical health. Vocalists often benefit from advantages like an improved immune system, better posture, sounder sleep, lower stress levels, and increased mental acuity. Singing can be especially beneficial for those who choose to sing as a member of a group. Joining a choir can be an excellent option if you want to improve your vocal abilities in a social atmosphere.
If you’re thinking about joining a choir for the first time, here are six things you’ll need to do in order to prepare for a successful audition that earns you membership into your ideal choral group.
1. Before you begin:
Make sure you’re taking care of your voice.
Voice care needs to be a priority for all committed singers, so if you’re thinking about joining a choir, you should start by taking simple steps to maintain your vocal health. Small actions that have a big impact on the health of your voice include drinking plenty of water, limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you consume, avoiding cigarettes and spicy foods, and setting up a humidifier in your home. Additionally, make sure to always perform warm up exercises before you start singing in order to stretch out your vocal cords and the muscles surrounding the larynx. Doing so is a key part of protecting your voice from injury.
Find a group that suits you.
All choirs are different, so make sure that you research and explore the opportunities available in your area before choosing a group to join. There are choirs open to members based on age, as well as groups open to singers based on gender, while others are co-ed and/or all ages.
If you have an idea of what kind of music you would like to sing, make that the primary focus of your search. If you’re interested in timeless classical music, consider a choral society or symphony chorus. Singers who are drawn to show tunes and pop-influenced numbers may be well-suited to a show choir. For those who seek a more improvisational, energetic experience, a gospel choir may be the best fit. If you’re unsure of what kind of music you’re most interested in singing, consider attending a range of local choir performances to help you decide.
2. Prior to the audition:
Select the right song to perform.
If you choose to join any chorus other than a community choir, you will likely need to audition for a spot in the group. For your audition, you’ll want to prepare a song that highlights the strongest aspects of your voice. For example, if you’re most comfortable using your middle voice as opposed to your chest or head voice, look for songs that allow you to predominantly rely on that aspect of your vocals during the performance.
In addition, make sure that your arrangement isn’t too long. It’s better to demonstrate your abilities powerfully and succinctly than to sing too long and risk an audition host asking you to end your performance. Whichever song you choose to sing, make sure you devote plenty of time to practice so you feel well-prepared on the day of your audition.
Familiarize yourself with sight reading.
Though select choirs still teach songs by rote, many more require members to have a basic ability to read sheet music. In some cases, sight reading will be a required part of the audition process, so make sure you know whether or not it will be expected of you ahead of time. There are many books, websites, and online courses that can help you learn how to sight read. Two resources online are www.sightreadingfactory.com and www.thepracticeroom.net.
3. The day of the audition:
Dress correctly for the occasion.
Once you’ve secured an audition with your chosen choir, make sure that you show up on time and in clothing that demonstrates your professionalism. First impressions are important, and showing up in a professional outfit will help put the focus on your singing rather than on your wardrobe. A good rule of thumb is to show up to an audition dressed as you would for a job interview.
Don’t let a mistake stop you.
During an audition, there are two things that you shouldn’t do. The first thing you need to avoid is apologizing for your performance. Do not enter the audition room with excuses, and don’t verbalize your own critiques of your performance afterward. Telling an audition host that you didn’t give your best performance due to poor warm-up habits or a cold will not bolster his or her opinion of your audition, nor does it project confidence.
The second thing you want to avoid is stopping mid-song if you make a mistake. Mistakes are common during auditions because singers are often nervous, no matter how many times they’ve practiced. If you hit a wrong note or forget the words to the song you’re performing, focus on moving forward and recover confidently to show your ability to bounce back from an error.
Being a professional vocalist is the dream of many amateur musicians around the world. While many people who are interested in this pursuit have a natural talent for singing, it takes more than a lovely voice to turn this dream into a reality. Listed below are 10 qualities and characteristics that every aspiring vocalist should have to reach the professional level.
Enthusiasm for learning
Aspiring vocalists who aren’t willing to learn and develop their singing abilities are unlikely to find success in the music industry. While a singer may get lucky and earn a job by relying on his or her natural talents, vocalists tend to benefit more from an education in proper vocal technique and music theory. It’s recommended that people who are committed to forging a career as a professional singer take lessons from a vocal coach or study music at an institution of higher education.
A great ear for pitch
You can’t be a great singer if you lack the ability to sing in tune. Accomplished vocalists have an excellent ear for pitch, meaning that they can perfectly match the pitch of a tone that they hear—singing a note that is neither flat nor sharp. Though some singers are naturally gifted with an ear for music, others who wish to be professional vocalists can enlist the help of voice teachers to develop the ability to consistently sing notes in the correct pitch.
Excellent breath control
Singing well requires more than the ability to sing in the right pitch. A professional vocalist must also work to develop excellent breath support to sustain strong, clear notes without faltering. Breath control can be developed when a vocalist trains in breathing techniques and correct singing posture, as well as through extensive practice.
An ambitious attitude
Professional singing is not for those who are afraid to take risks or ask for what they want. Vocalists who find success tend to be “go-getter” types who seek out opportunities to perform, rather than waiting around for gig offers to find them. Most singers will not find success without an ambitious attitude and the courage to ask for chances to sing.
Receptive to new ideas
Even when aspiring vocalists train extensively in their craft, it’s still important that they stay open to learning new things and entertaining new ideas while working in the industry. When performing, singers need to work with other musicians, and having a narrow-minded view of the genres and styles that you will perform can severely limit professional opportunities. Vocalists at the professional level should experiment with different styles of music to be more versatile and have the capacity to work with musicians from all areas of the industry. This will increase their chances of finding success.
Open to criticism
No matter how much natural talent you have, you should always remain open to feedback. The opinions of professionals and other well-intentioned people who take the time to listen to your demos can help you gain new insights on the strengths and weaknesses in your performance. Though not all criticism is warranted or worth paying attention to, professional vocalists must learn to recognize constructive criticism and apply it in order to make themselves even better performers than before.
While the ability to take constructive criticism as a vocalist is important, so too is an innate self-assurance and belief in your singing abilities. Confidence about your talents will not only help you more readily accept criticism, but will also reduce pre-show anxiety and help you project self-assuredness during performances, leading to better reception from audiences. Overall, professional vocalists must learn to love their own voice through self-acceptance and extensive singing practice.
People who become professional singers have self-discipline. A vocalist must be strongly committed to regular practice and maintain a strict voice care regimen to ensure that they keep their vocal cords in good condition. A standard voice care regimen should include warm-ups before every singing practice and performance, keeping the vocal cords hydrated, getting enough sleep, and avoiding harmful substances that irritate the throat tissue, like cigarettes.
The ability to work in a team
Vocalists do not work alone. Being a singer requires collaboration with a wide range of music industry professionals, including instrumentalists, songwriters, technicians, and producers. To function effectively in their role, vocalists must value teamwork and be respectful to the people who help them give great performances.
No matter how much talent vocalists have, they should not expect to find success without hard work and time. Patience is a necessity for anyone who wants to sing professionally, as progress often goes slowly. The important things for all aspiring singers to remember are to keep the vocal cords healthy, continually look for ways to improve, and to enjoy themselves along the path to success.
While many people take up an instrument and learn how to play it purely for their own enjoyment, some choose to take their love of music to the next level by performing for others. However, being a great performer requires a level of confidence that playing as a personal hobby does not. If you wish to feel and appear more self-assured when you play for others, these are the best tips for developing greater confidence as a performing musician.
Recognize that confidence is made, not born.
The first step to building confidence as a performer is to make sure that you’re not framing the idea of confidence in your mind as something that you either “have” or “don’t have.” Confidence as a musician is actually something you either choose to create for yourself, or you don’t. Confidence is not an inherent trait that some musicians are blessed with and others are not. Anybody can build more confidence in themselves as a performer if they are committed and put in the necessary work.
Identify your strong points and areas that need improvement.
To build confidence in your performance abilities, you first need to recognize your strengths. What aspects of your abilities as a musician do you already feel good about? Maybe you have a talent for being expressive when you play, or you’re gifted at sight reading. Perhaps you’ve mastered a very difficult strumming or bowing technique on your instrument. Acknowledge that there are some aspects of your performance to be proud of before turning your attention to the areas that need improvement. When evaluating which aspects of your performance could use some work, try not to think of them as flaws, but instead consider them as opportunities for growth. Practice positive self-talk when working on these aspects, avoiding unsupportive thoughts that are critical and self-defeating.
Over-prepare for your gigs.
There’s one element of developing your confidence as a performer that should go without saying: you need to play at public shows. Playing for family and friends is a great start for musicians who are just getting into the practice, but eventually you will need to play a gig in front of strangers. In these instances, if you want to project confidence, it’s important to be more prepared than you think you should be. Practice often and practice effectively. Don’t run mindlessly through entire songs, but rather take your time, going over the more difficult parts of a song repeatedly until you can play every part of the piece seamlessly. Consider splitting your practice time into multiple, smaller blocks of time in order to keep your focus sharp and your interest alive. Confidence as a performer partially comes from knowing that you practiced enough and have the ability to play a song perfectly from beginning to end.
Be aware of your physical appearance.
Apart from being very familiar with the music that you’re playing, another way to be confident as a performing musician is to make sure that you physically appear self-assured. This means dressing for the part and maintaining the right posture. On the day of a performance, make sure you wear clothes that reflect your commitment to your music. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to wear something expensive or formal, but remember to dress well, in clean clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Additionally, make sure that your posture on stage is straight and powerful. Not only will having great posture show the audience that you believe in your own abilities, but it also can have a positive effect on the way you feel mentally.
Spend time around people with similar skill levels.
Many professionals suggest that aspiring performers spend as much time as possible around musicians who are more experienced than themselves. While this is good advice for the purpose of improving your technical skills on an instrument, it can take a toll on your confidence if you constantly find yourself surrounded by people more advanced than you are. Balance time spent with more accomplished musicians by dedicating some of your time to people with abilities similar to your own. Jamming with musicians at a comparable level of accomplishment is not only fun, but it can also take the focus off technical skill-building and help you feel more self-assured when playing with other musicians.
Mentor someone who is just starting out.
Just as there will always be musicians who have more experience than you, there will also always be less experienced people who can benefit from your advice. Acting as a mentor to a budding musician will give you the opportunity to do something positive for another person while also receiving a confidence boost. By helping another person develop his or her talent, you can reflect on the knowledge you have accumulated and reinforce fundamental concepts in your own mind, which may give you more faith in your own abilities.
Keep thorough track of your progress.
If you’re aware of how far you’ve come from the point where you started, you’re more likely to appreciate your current abilities. Keep your practice sheets and make recordings of yourself as you continue to develop your skills as a musician. As time passes, you’ll be able to return to this evidence and use it as a reference to comprehend the extent of your accomplishments. Appreciating your growth as a musician will help you gain confidence and inspire continued progress.
Science has shown us that music has many positive effects on people from a mental, social, and even physical standpoint. To enjoy the benefits that making music has to offer, many people consider taking lessons on popular instruments such as the guitar, violin, or piano. However, they often forget that one of the most incredible instruments available to them is, quite literally, right under their nose. Singing provides many surprising benefits, including the seven listed here.
1. Singing lowers stress levels
It is commonly known that playing or actively listening to music can promote a general sense of well-being. However, those who sing gain the added benefit of releasing muscle tension. Singers who learn correct vocal techniques learn how to control and relax different muscles during their performance, which provides them with the ability to release muscle tension. This can lead to deeper physical relaxation in the body overall and diminish feelings of stress. Research also indicates that the act of singing reduces the level of cortisol in the body—a hormone directly correlated to elevated stress levels.
2. Singing can create stronger social bonds
Besides putting vocalists in a more relaxed state, singing with others can activate areas within the brain linked to empathy and help people become more in tune with the thoughts and feelings of others. When singers perform with other people, they tend to experience positive feelings toward those in the group, especially when the music requires the performers to synchronize. Interacting vocally with others can create more powerful social bonds and establish greater intimacy between individuals, leading to stronger friendships and reducing feelings of loneliness.
3. Singing is good exercise for your lungs
Some people may be surprised to learn that singing can actually be a form of exercise. When employing proper technique, singers engage their core, using the abdominal, intercostal, and back muscles to push air out and upward from the diaphragm. Singing is also excellent exercise for the lungs, and it may help to alleviate medical conditions related to the respiratory system. When using proper technique, the diaphragm is activated, and performers are able to breathe more deeply than they would even when intentionally taking deep breaths. The byproduct is an increase in airflow to the lungs, which makes the organs healthier and may help combat the effects of illnesses such as asthma or bronchitis. As an added benefit, singing exercises the facial muscles, which can provide the face with a more toned appearance.
4. Singing can fight depression
While the act of singing is not considered to be a stand-alone treatment for depression, researchers believe that it can have a positive impact on the mood of people who live with this draining mental condition. Singing releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, a hormone that reduces anxiety and promotes feelings of trust. It also increases the amount of serotonin and endorphins in the body, both of which contribute to an elevated mood and feelings of happiness. Singing may also help people with depression to feel less isolated and encourage a more positive mental state when undertaken in a group with other vocalists.
5. Singing strengthens your immune system
As previously mentioned, research has shown that singing can lead to reduced levels of cortisol, which translates to a lower degree of stress. Less stress in the body can also mean lower blood pressure, less tissue inflammation, and higher oxygenation of the blood. In addition, some studies suggest that singing may raise levels of cytokines in the blood, which play a direct role in the ability of the immune system to fight off illnesses. All of these factors together contribute to the belief that singing may help keep vocalists healthy.
6. Singing can lead to better sleep
Scientists say that singers who regularly perform a specific set of vocal exercises can tone the muscles of the throat and palate, which may lead to reduced incidences of snoring and sleep apnea. Disorders such as sleep apnea have the potential to not only contribute to the development of diabetes, obesity, and heart problems, but also interrupt individuals’ sleep cycle, preventing them from sleeping fitfully. According to some researchers, singers who spend only 20 minutes per day engaging in a series of specialized vocalizations can significantly reduce the occurrence of snoring in less than a month, leading to better rest and overall health.
7. Singing improves cognition for those with certain ailments
Some studies suggest that singing may contribute to improved cognition and higher levels of happiness in people with dementia. While none of the study results indicate that singing can prevent the disease altogether, there is research to suggest that it may slow the advancement of cognitive problems related to old age. Among the other cognitive benefits of singing is its potential to help patients who have experienced a stroke to learn how to regain the ability to speak. Many people who have had a stroke cannot speak in sentences, but retain the ability to sing words. The medical community is using this discovery to develop new therapies to help people who have had a stroke learn to talk again.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of classical music or are just beginning to learn about the genre, one of the best ways to experience it is by attending the symphony. If you plan to attend your first symphonic concert, you should keep the following tips in mind to enjoy the best possible experience.
Show up on time
At a symphonic performance, showing up on time generally means arriving at least a half an hour before the show is scheduled to begin. Arriving 30 minutes early will give you enough time to explore the concert hall, find refreshments, pick up a program, and find your seat before the show begins. Conversely, showing up late to the symphony often means that you will be required to wait in the lobby during the show until an usher can find an appropriate point in the program to lead you to your seat.
Don’t leave your cellphone on
A symphonic performance is an immersive experience, but audience members can easily become distracted and unable to focus on the show when those around them use cell phones and other electronic devices. To avoid the risk of spoiling the performance for yourself and others, turn your cell phone off completely before the show begins, and check for messages during intermission, if needed. If you are a professional who works in emergency medicine or need to have your phone turned on for any reason, many concert halls are happy to have an usher hold your device for you and quietly alert you in the event that you receive any urgent calls or messages.
Do wear comfortable clothes
Traditionally, symphony musicians have been required to wear formal black tie or white tie dress. The audience, however, is free to dress in any manner they choose, in most cases. While the dress code may vary depending on the standards set by individual concert halls, many establishments simply suggest that guests wear clothing that is comfortable. Many people see symphonic performances as a special occasion and an opportunity to dress in more refined clothing than usual, with many opting for business casual or cocktail party-style dress. Always check with the concert hall ahead of time in order to ensure there are no specific clothing requirements. Otherwise, you should dress in clothes that make you feel positive and that will not be uncomfortable to sit in for several hours.
Don’t distract others from the performance
Once a performance begins, it is crucial that audience members refrain from any activities that may cause a disturbance or distract other patrons. The acoustics of most symphony halls are designed to naturally amplify the sounds of the instruments. An unfortunate side effect is that the acoustics may also make even the smallest sounds seem much louder than normal. While the musicians are playing, you should try to avoid coughing, unwrapping candy or cough drops, singing, humming, or frequently shifting in your seat. Above all, it is of vital importance that you refrain from talking during a concert, even at a whisper. Talking is considered to be poor manners and is disrespectful to both the musicians playing the instruments and the audience members around you.
Do clap at the appropriate moments
The first time you attend the symphony, it can be challenging to try to identify the appropriate moments to clap. In general, applause is expected only after the completion of a full piece of music, which can be difficult to discern, as most full pieces are broken down into smaller segments known as “movements.” During a performance, there may be a quick break of 15 to 30 seconds between each movement, and the audience is only expected to clap after the last one, when the piece truly ends. You may be able to identify when to clap by following along with these movements in the symphony program. If you remain unsure of when to applaud, it is best to follow the lead of the other patrons and join in with the rest of the audience after the applause begins.
Don’t take pictures during the performance
While this is not always the case, most concert halls ask guests to leave their cameras and video cameras at home. Using a camera or a recording device during the performance takes you out of the moment and prevents you from enjoying the music the way that the conductor intends. It can also be yet another distraction to those around you.
Do take advantage of intermission
When the concert has an intermission, you should take the opportunity to use the restroom, speak briefly to others, and purchase refreshments. Using these 15 to 20 minutes wisely will reduce the likelihood that you will need to get up from your seat during the second half of the performance. Additionally, it will mentally refresh you so that you are better able to concentrate on the rest of the concert. Be on the lookout for signs that the intermission is nearing its end, such as flashing lobby lights or the doors to the concert hall being reopened. Make sure to head back to your seat as soon as you see these signs out of respect for the performers and the other audience members.