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    Keep on singing!

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    Have you ever said these words? “I’m not a good singer”, “I just can’t sing”, or “You don’t wanna hear me sing”. Perhaps you’ve been known to say, “I sound great in the shower.”
    Somewhere along the way in our lifetime we get separated into categories of great, average, and terrible singers. This creates confidence or complexes for us at a very early age.
    There are so many factors that contribute to being a good singer, ranging from bone structure to posture and breath support. Some things are just genetic blessings but MOST of the traits of a good singer can be taught and learned.
    That’s great news!
    Check out this article which reveals some scientific reasons why just maybe you should keep on singing.

    http://www.interlude.hk/front/science-great-news-people-cant-sing/

     

     

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    The Positive Effects of Singing For Those Who Stutter

    What do B.B. King, Mel Tillis and American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos have in common?

      

    If you said they were singers you would only be partly right.

     

    They also live with a speech impediment: stuttering.

     

    You wouldn’t know it if you only heard them belting out beautiful tunes. Their stuttering seems to miraculously disappear once they begin to sing. This “miracle” has intrigued scientists and speech therapists who want to help people work through their impediment.

     

    Here is what they discovered:

     

    • Talking ignites activity on the left side of the brain while singing sparks the right hemisphere. In short, stuttering is a problem that originates from the left hemisphere.

     

    • Singers tend to know all the lyrics to the song they’re singing and don’t have to search for the right words to say. Word retrieval may be another cause of stuttering, according to The Stuttering Foundation.

     

    • Other activities such as whispering, speaking in unison, and blocking out their own voice also makes the stuttering disappear.

     

    We included a video of Mel Tillis early in his music career to show you the remarkable difference talking and singing has on those who stutter. In this clip, you’ll see Tillis talk to host Porter Wagoner and the audience. He stutters a few words that causes the audience to laugh. It is a brief moment but it’s a bit heartbreaking. Wagoner assures the audience that “He has a little speech defect that doesn’t bother your singing at all or writing at all. You’re fine man.”  Those are some wonderful words of encouragement and, of course, Tillis sings with his deep, beautiful voice and just wows the crowd.

     

    Based on our limited knowledge, there is no cure for stuttering. However, various therapy options are available, including singing, to make the impediment more manageable. If you or your child stutters talk with your doctor about voice lessons. You can foster your love of music and build confidence while overcoming a personal challenge.

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Can Children Take Voice Lessons?

    When it comes to singing, so many myths abound. Some people believe that singing is an innate skill and others claim their singing success lies in “using” their diaphragm.

     

    Another persistent myth is that children should not take voice lessons.

     

    We’re not sure about the origins of this myth but whoever created it certainly has never visited an elementary school classroom where songs are often integrated into the curriculum. And this person certainly has never visited a playground, where high octave screaming is a regular occurrence.

     

    So, what do we think about the myth that professional training will lead to “vocal abuse” in children and cause deterioration of their vocal cords?

     

    Our response: If you’re with a voice instructor who treats every student the same — young and old — then you’re with the wrong instructor. A good, responsible teacher tailors your child’s education to his abilities and desired outcomes. A voice coach should never push your child to sing with strong intensity, sing excessively or do overly challenging vocal ranges.

     

    The Music Junction co-owner Charissa Vaughan-Wheeler has been taking singing lessons since she was 4 years old and believes in learning to sing the right way from the start.

     

    “Of course singing incorrectly for a long time can cause damage to any voice, young or old,” Vaughan-Wheeler says.  “Kids can sing incorrectly whether they do it in front of a teacher or singing on their own – I would feel better if the teacher was monitoring.”

     

    For more information vocal abuse visit this website. To get another teacher’s perspective, read this Huffington Post story.

     

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    Music Worth Noting Pt. 5

    Honoka and Azita

    Big sister Honoka and little sister Azita have been playing the ukele since they were 8 and 4 years old, respectively. Their commitment to their instrument has made them in-demand performers of their home state of Hawaii and have enabled them to travel to Japan to tour. Their videos are so enjoyable to watch because you have a wonderful beach backdrop that complement their immense skills!

     

    They Might Be Giants

    Before they were known as the duo that created the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, They Might Be Giants was a quirky band that was a hit with the college scene. In the early 1980s they made a telephone line available to fans who could hear new tunes for free, which became known as dial-a-song. The line, and its tunes, remained in existence until 2006. Now it’s back and ready for the Internet Age! In preparation for their new album “Flood,” They Might Be Giants will make a new song available every week on its website along with a new phone number — (844) 387-6962 — and an email subscription service. What do you think of the song?

     

    Alex Boye

    It is hard to top the sheer awesomeness of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” But if you’re an aspiring singer trying to get noticed, recruiting some older people who love to dance and poke fun of themselves is a good start. Couple that with a spot-on rendition of the song, and you’ll achieve viral video fame. Seriously, how wonderful are these dancers? According to Boye’s YouTube pages that actors range in ages from 65 to 92. Collectively, they have 500 children, 1,200 grandchildren, and 250 great grandchildren.

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    If You Don’t Use Your Singing Voice You Lose It

    We know that a lack of exercise can weaken leg, arm and back muscles and affect an athlete’s performance. Now science has shown any significant break in singing can affect the quality of a singer’s voice.

     

    Calling it a “use it or lose it” phenomena, researchers from Northwestern University and University at Buffalo gathered three groups of singers—kindergarteners, sixth-graders, and college students—and asked them sing back a musical sequence they has just heard. Researchers noticed overall improvement from kindergarten to eighth-grade in singing accuracy or, in other words, the ability to sing on pitch. The adults, however, did not fare well. On some of the tests, they scored just as high as the kindergarten groups, thereby showing a regression in ability.

     

    Why did the adults get worse over time?

     

    Steven Demorest, professor of music education at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, and his colleagues believe that we become less musical over time. Singing is encouraged early in our lives, from educational songs that we sing in  elementary school to the middle school choir that’s open to any and all students. Yet, researchers fear that over time, our voice becomes judged and we’re told quite bluntly that we’re tone deaf or we don’t have it, as if singing were some innate talent. So, we stop singing and, with lack of practice, our realize our own low expectations.

     

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

     

    Singing is “a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly,” Demorest says.“Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing.”

     

    So, go ahead and sing. Keep singing because, with time and guidance, you will get better.

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Make A Dream Come True

    Savannah Wheeler is one of our favorite music artists at The Music Junction. She is a talented folk artist with a beautiful singing voice who has the ability to make us feel peaceful and at ease. And she also happens to be the sister of Music Junction owner Charissa Vaughan-Wheeler (Really, they look so much alike you would know they were sisters right away!).

     

    Savannah recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her first professionally recorded EP of original music. For the last six years, she has pushed her talents and tapped into her raw emotions to come up with a collection of songs she calls “Annie’s Dream.”

     

    Savannah writes on her Kickstarter page: “Annie is my alter-ego.  She embraces her emotions.  She feels it, she shows it, she shares it, she let’s it fuel beautiful music and soul-bearing lyrics.  Please help me to share these songs with the world.  YOU are the main ingredient in making this project successful. Thank you for your support!”

     

    Savannah wants to raise $6,000 by March 5. If she doesn’t meet her goal, she does not get any of the money. As an extra incentive, she also has a special promotion that lasts until Thursday, February 12: Los Angeles residents who donate at least $25 will receive homemade apple crisp, it’s a special recipe by Savannah and Charissa’s grandmother. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

     

    In a campaign like this any amount you can give matters. $25 matters. $10 matters. Yes, even $5 will make a difference! We hope you can find a way to give. Yes, we’re biased and want to see Savannah’s dream come true.  But we’re also biased in that we love really good music and want great talent to find a larger audience.

     

    You can listen to Savannah’s impressive SoundCloud page and can like her Facebook page.

     

    Thanks for helping!

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Idina Menzel’s Super Bowl Performance

    We started this blog nearly two years ago to show the value of music:  how it can bring joy to our lives, make our brains better “machines” and serve as a form of therapy for people with debilitating diseases.

     

    And yet, one of the most viewed pages on The Music Junction website is our post about Idina Menzel’s Oscar performance! Although we stated our admiration for the singer, the post mentioned the problems with tempo and pitch and anytime someone did an Internet search of the Broadway actress’ singing problems our website appeared.

     

    Eventually, passing judgment on Menzel became a thing.

     

    The harsh criticism Menzel faced was never warranted. Being a musical theater performer is vastly different than being a pop icon. In theater, acting is first and the voice serves the character. People are comparing her to those in the recording studio trying to be perfect.

     

    As gracious artist, Menzel responded to her critics quite tactfully: “There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical. … Performing isn’t only about the acrobatics and the high notes: It’s staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit.”

     

    That’s why we were really looking forward to the Super Bowl. We so wanted to see Menzel ace her performance.

     

    So, did she hit the high note (an F for those who are curious)? No, she didn’t. She started off lower than expected. Did her notes go sharp at times? Well, yes. But she also sang beautifully and with such energy that we are glad she silenced many critics that night.

     

    Congratulations Idina, and thanks for the Web traffic!

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Music and the Super Bowl

    While talk of Super Bowl XLIX has been dominated by the softness or firmness of the footballs (a.k.a. deflate-gate), we prefer focusing on the music.

     

    As musicians, the Super Bowl halftime show intrigues us but we know it’s filled with hits and, well, some really bad misses. Yet, we can sympathize with the entertainers; bad acoustics prompt many to lip-synch while there is an expectation to do an over-the-top performance with pyrotechnics and it is hard for any one singer to please so many different generations that tend to watch the one of the biggest athletic games in the world.

       

    This year, Katy Perry will be the featured act at the halftime show and we hope her performance will land her in the “hit” section. She certainly is capable of a creating a show-stopping spectacle and no one is expecting her to sing live.

     

    Online news site Vox, has collected some of the best and very worst halftime performances, which made for an entertaining piece for us.  We had forgotten about some of these concerts and loved watching them all over again, even the so-called bad ones.

     

    Here is what stood out for us, according to Vox’s ranking of best to worst:

     

    • #1 – Beyonce should rack up extra points for actually singing in the show or at least doing such a good job at lip-synching that it looks like she’s performing. Did she ever breathe hard during her performance?

     

    • #4 – Vox explains U2’s performance as “a medley of songs meant to function as hugging America after what had been a very rough 2001.” Seeing the names of those who died during Sept. 11, it is hard not to be emotional.

     

    • #7 – Given negative attention Michael Jackson attracted in the last years of his life,  it is easy to forget about his immense talent. While he clearly lip-synched his performance his dancing was impeccable. Also, who else can remain perfectly still for a minute and still enrapture the audience?

     

    • #16 – We did not know that ‘90s boy band New Kids On The Block, ushered in the concept of a concert for the halftime show. Before 1991, halftimes shows were performed by marching bands.

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    The Positive Impact Show Tunes Have On Alzheimer’s Patients

    We already know how much listening to music can benefit Alzheimer’s patients thanks to the documentary “Alive Inside.” Now, new research shows that singing show tunes can boost brain function for a disease that is cruelly known for mental deterioration.

     

    In a study led by George Mason University in Virginia, a group of patients living in care facilities were exposed to a singing program for four months, belting out tunes from “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Sound of Music” and “Pinocchio.” After the end of the evaluation period, the patients scored higher on cognitive and drawing tests than those who had just listened to music. The singing group also reported a higher satisfaction of life.

     

    “The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging,” neuroscientist Jane Flinn who led the study told The Guardian.

     

    Why show tunes?

     

    Well, researchers did not find a link to the specific benefits of singing musicals over any other genre of music. Still, these songs – most of which were performed decades ago – might be easier for Alzheimer patients to perform. They are most likely to remember the words to these songs and revive memories of their life, Flinn said.

     

    This is also further proof of the benefits of music for those who play and sing. Remember, just listening to music is not enough.

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    The Benefits of Singing in the Shower

    Some people start their day with a cup of coffee while others read the newspaper. Still more, check their social media accounts. Do you know the best way to start your day is to sing in the shower?

     

    According to Music.Mic, singing releases endorphins and oxytocin to the brain, which heightens your sense of pleasure and reduces anxiety. Singing is a great way to mentally prepare for a stressful day that may be filled with a demanding job or pressures from balancing your work and personal life. According to one of our latest blog posts, singing may be more beneficial than yoga.

     

    As Music.Mic points out: “Those who sing are far less stressed, and that means their hearts do better in the long run.”

     

    If you live with other musical people and can entice them for a group sing-along, you are in a better situation. Those who participate in group singing, such as  choirs, have raised immune competence meaning they are less likely to catch the next cold or flu that is spreading.

     

    Also, the shower is a great place for everyone to sing because ceramic tiles do not absorb sound, making your voice bounce in every direction, according to Ryot. That adds power and volume to even the weakest singer.

     

    So release those inhibitions (who cares what your family members think) and start belting out your favorite tunes.  Your body will thank you for it!

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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