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Tips

Vocalist master class

A group class which meets once per week for 45 minutes to practice songs for each other and the teacher and to give and receive feedback. Location and time TBA. Cost: 30 per class.

Basic voice diagnosis

A one time only session that allows you to identify the unique strengths and challenges in your singing voice. The singer will be provided with a fill report and exercises tailored to help him or her meet his goals. Cost: 30 for 30 minute session

Self accompaniment boot camp

Is your goal to prepare songs to play with piano or guitar? This class will teach you the skills needed to juggle both. In this 10 week session we will practice:

  • accompaniment of a teacher or other singer
  • basic accompaniment patterns
  • tips and tricks to ease into juggling singing and playing
  • ways to maintain singing technique while playing

At the conclusion of the class the student will be invited to participate in a local performance opportunity organized by the teacher. These sessions can be booked at the individual’s discretion. Cost: 200 per session

Harmonizing, sight-reading and ear training boot camp

Do you need to work on matching pitch while singing? Do you want to learn to harmonize or sightsing? This 45 minute class is for you! In this 10 week class we will:

  • practice singing patterned exercises designed to improve pitch
  • learn solfege
  • sightreading short musical phrases
  • practice singing chords
  • work on songs that have harmonies
  • practice writing and improvising harmonies to melodies

This will include homework and other resources. Cost is 250. This is a group class. Time and location TBA. Class is limited to 5 people.

Audition and Performance Boot Camp

Do you have a special audition or performance coming up?

We can help you get ready for everything from college auditions to community theater or even working on that special song for your spouse on your wedding day! The audition prep course is a five week intensive program that teaches:

  • stage presence
  • expression and acting tools
  • basic vocal technique
  • dealing with nerves

In addition, the teacher will provide structured homework and feedback on practice videos throughout the week as well as resources on vocal technique and acting skills and information about performance opportunities in the area.

Each session is 30 minutes and can be booked at the students discretion. Payment is due at the time of the first session. Cost: 120 per session

3 singing habits that keep your voice healthy

Singers, Please Belt Responsibly!

Many singers want to keep their voice in tip top shape in order to retain range, flexibility and power. No one wants to hassle of a fatigued voice or worse, vocal damage, right before a big performance! Aside from rest, hydration and good ole’ singer’s tea, here are some vocal techniques you should be practicing right now to make sure your voice stays healthy and strong.

  1. Work on developing your head voice, particularly before learning to belt or attempt other singing “stunts”. Many singers want to achieve powerful sounds, especially in the age of Adele and Demi lovato. While there is certainly nothing wrong with belting (safely) or singing in your chest voice, you want to make sure you develop your head register to ascertain that your vocal cords stay flexible and agile. This will prevent fatigue, and allow the singer to reach higher notes, as well as transition smoothly through their range and riff with ease. Please belt responsibly.
  2. Proper breathing is key to fueling your sound and releasing tension in the voice. When the muscles surrounding the larynx are oxygenated and the singer is taking nice low breathes and slow exhales, any tension is more likely to be released, resulting in a relaxed and free sound. The singer is also less likely to be contorting muscles around the jaw and throat to control poorly executed breathing patterns and stop a heavy onslaught of air through the vocal cords. A relaxed voice is a healthy voice.
  3. Forward resonance is important for taking pressure off of the vocal cords if the singer is trying to achieve a louder or more controlled sound. Forward resonance will naturally carry the voice out into the room in a way that is effortless and effective.

Use these three tips to achieve a healthy and beautiful singing voice today!

How to raise a music prodigy

Recently I was invited to write a blog entitled “How to raise a music prodigy”.  While the cringe-worthy title has some obvious pitfalls, let’s examine the reasons behind it for a moment.

It was immediately clear to me that the person extending this invitation was not a music teacher, but a well-intentioned marketing representative eager to please parents.

Well, I’m here to tell you there are no shortcuts to success in music.  Shocker, right?  It’s about practice, plain and simple.  True some people are more naturally gifted at others at certain skills such as sight reading, pitch matching, vocal tone, and others but anyone can learn.  Really. Let me revise that- Anyone can learn IF they put the work in.  Reading a buzzfeed article is not going to help the vast majority of children write their first symphony at age 9 like Mozart did sit down.  Let’s be real-it takes work.  Prodigies are the incredibly rare exception, not the rule.  No bulleted list is going to change that.

By the way, Mozart, even with his extraordinary talent, was forced and physically threatened by his father to practice for long hours on the piano throughout the night from a young age.  He was then dragged from court to court to play in front of foreign dignitaries and royalty.  Of course he was wildly successful and talented, but talk about parental pressure.  Not exactly a normal childhood.

Music doesn’t have to be tedious or anxiety provoking to be helping the child progress.  In fact, this is the second thing that bothers me about the elusive instant musical prodigy article.  The children in our society and particularly this demographic are so incredibly overbooked they don’t have time to be kids.  And they put so much pressure on themselves to be successful.  The majority of psychological research agrees-children learn best through play and through exercising that creative muscle-the imagination.  Frustration, in large doses because of cortisol release and its destructive effect to the neuronal synapses, impedes learning and can often turn children off from lessons, making practice a chore.   Dopamine, the pleasure chemical in the brain, also helps the brain to learn and grow.  In young brains the movement and visual centers are the first to mature before the areas associated with language and judgment and critical thinking.  We can access these more adult brain centers by using activities that draw upon children’s strengths so as to effectively teach them and limit feelings of overwhelm.  So it goes to follow that learning experiences should be presented in a pleasurable way, correct?  But schools are cutting recess and forcing kids as young as five to spend more time sitting at desks

Most of my lessons with children are playtime (with a hidden emphasis on learning): music games, silly made up songs on the piano,  movement experiences for young singers, and other opportunities to learn through play.  Once I had a parent ask me why she didn’t hear her daughter playing constantly on the piano during lessons.  When I told her we were making up words using notes in the musical alphabet, I got a funny look in return.

Trust me, a positive music experience is so much more valuable than one based on impossible standards of achievement.  Support your child’s need for play in music.  Society doesn’t need more overbooked children trying to be prodigies, we need more music lovers.

Trouble reading notes? Try these tricks!

Oftentimes I come across students, especially younger students who have some difficulty reading music at first. Here are some of my suggestions for at home practice:

  1. Make it a fun, multi-sensory and colorful learning process! I use pipe cleaners, play dough, crayons, songwriting, games, rhythm sticks, stickers and more in my lessons with kids. Why? Because it’s fun and because it’s memorable. Also because it works with many different learning styles. They’ll remember they made a quarter note out of a pipe cleaner and played it on rhythm sticks more than that they saw it in a piano book and were forced to play it seven times.
  2. Repetition, variation and patience. Is key. Especially with young kids. Show them all the f’s on the piano, ask them to count the f’s, ask them to write f on the staff, ask them to color in all the fs on the music. You get the idea.
  3. Recognition is easier than recall. Matching notes to their names is often an easier way to learn at first than pointing to a note on the staff and asking the student to name it.
  4. Start small. Start with learning just a few notes at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed. The c 5 finger scale is a good place to start.
  5. Give them motivation. Choose music they like, show them videos of pianists playing their favorite songs. There are many “beginner note” versions of popular songs out there on the web. You can use these in addition to their books. Token systems work well for some kids too, for example, sticker charts.
  6. Blow up! Not literally. Blow sections of the music up. Print or write measures bigger on individual sheets for kids and adults who have trouble seeing the patterns in the notes.
  7. Emphasize directions in music over and over and many different ways. “This note-does it step up or step down?” “Show me where you play high notes on the piano” “the music goes up on the page” “do we go forwards or backwards through the alphabet here?”
  8. Make a list or chart of questions to help the student sequence putting his or her hands on the piano. Have them write the answers on the page as they go.

For example:

-the notes are in which clef?

-which hand do I start with?

-what is the number over the first note?

…and so on

Hope that helps! Just remember: anyone can learn!

Music and The Brain

LEARNING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CAN BENEFIT YOUR BRAIN IN SO MANY WAYS!  HERE ARE JUST A FEW:

  • Improve literacy/reading fluency
  • Increase spatial awareness
  • Improve focus
  • Improve motoric coordination
  • Improve sequencing skills
  • Raise IQ
  • Improve multi-tasking skills
  • Help you with skills needed to learn a foreign language

Each month, we will be featuring an article that discusses the benefits of learning music for your brain.

Music Lessons are correlated with improved grades! Perfect for back to school season!

Reach out to us today for lessons!