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    DIY Musical Instruments

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    Summer break is approaching rapidly. There will be camp days, beach trips, and lots of giggling children enjoying their summertime freedom.

    Just in case there are also moments when the words

    “I’m booored” slip out of your little ones mouth, here are a few ideas for some do it yourself projects. These are inexpensive ways to make musical instruments right now with objects usually found around the house. It’s guaranteed to keep those young creative minds busy.

    *Noise free home NOT guaranteed*

     

    42 Splendidly Creative Homemade Musical Instruments

     

    14 DIY Musical Instruments to Make Right Now

     

     

     

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

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    What A Spontaneous Jam Session Can Teach Us About Improv

    Sometimes the best music can happen inside a concert hall.

    And other times the best musical moments are unplanned.

    That’s what happened recently in Texas when an aspiring musician strumming his guitar outside a grocery store was joined by two strangers. A third stranger recorded their impromptu session and posted it on YouTube and Facebook. The rest is Internet history.

    The video is has since gone viral, boosting the popularity of the three men so much that they  were flown to Los Angeles to perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Not only were the three strangers reunited but they also were joined by rappers Trey Songz, Juicy J and Aloe Blacc.

    While the video is entertaining, it is also very educational. Improvisation appears deceptively simple but it is a very difficult skill because it requires music knowledge and creativity.

    Here are some basic improvisation tips we observed from the video:

     

    Wait: Notice how the singer in the blue jersey takes in the song before joining in. He may or may not consciously know it, but he’s listening to the song’s scale and the rhythms, figuring a way he can contribute.

     

    Simplify: You’ll notice that the guitarist’s song is more complicated in the beginning but when he is accompanied by other musicians, everyone works to simplify the song. Eventually, they all seem to agree on an ostinato – a brief, repeated pattern that is at the heart of improvisation. The ostinato the men create are the hooks: “I don’t know what you came to do” and “Tell them that I just don’t know.”

     

    Be Fearless: The creativity needed to improvise a song can be daunting. Musicians, however, need to be fearless and experiment with music-making. If your music education has been focused on scales and reading music, The Music Junction educators can work with you to enhance your improvisation skills.

     

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

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    What To Do When Your Child Wants to Stop Taking Music Lessons

    For every child who begs his parents to stop taking music lessons there are just as many adults who, years later, regret that their parents let them quit.

    So, what do you do when your child wants to stop? How do you find the balance motivating them to learn something that they might appreciate later in life and not having them dread touching the keys on the piano?

    Like many other parenting issues, the answer is not easy.  Still, here are some tips to dealing with the issue:

     

    Have An Exit Strategy: Talk to any entrepreneur, and chances are she has carefully crafted her exit strategy just as much as she has spent time thinking about her company’s launch.

    Parents also need their own version of an exit strategy for music lessons and communicate it clearly with their young musician.

    When your child approaches you about quitting you should already have an idea about how long you want music lessons to last.  Some parents require a year’s worth of lessons, hoping that the child will understand the fun and benefits of music in that amount of time. Other parents stand firm that music lessons will last throughout high school. Find a length of time that works with your parenting philosophy, your child and your beliefs the power of music education.

     

    Communicate: Does your child want to genuinely end music lessons or is he currently struggling through some difficult passages and techniques? Talk to his educator at The Music Junction and ask about any issues occurring during instruction. Sometimes some extra encouragement or added patience can solve the problem.

     

    Be Honest: As adults, we know the numerous benefits of exercising but that doesn’t mean we’re on the treadmill every day and eagerly sweating it out. Sometimes it is hard to find motivation.

    Your children have the same feelings.

    Acknowledge that practicing can feel tedious and repetitive at times and it’s fine not to love it.  In fact, famed cellist Yo-Yo MA once told the Washington Post about his childhood:  “I hated practicing! I spent more time thinking about practicing and dreading it than actually practicing.”

    As adults we understand that practicing makes us better musicians but children do not intuitively comprehend this concept. Help them make the connection.

    Make Music Fun: At The Music Junction we offer recitals as a way to make music fun and a social experience. Find other ways to achieve this goal. For the young child, that could mean setting up music play dates with children who are also taking lessons. For older children, that may mean finding music summer camps where they can make friends and become better players.

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

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    4 Tips To Conquering Nerves At A Recital

    Anyone who has studied at The Music Junction for some length of time has performed at a recital. We think it’s a great way to apply skills learned in class and help our students realize that music-making should be a fun, social act.

    We also know that recitals can make some students — from the young to the old — nervous. We’re here to help!

    Here are 4 Ways to conquer nerves at a recital:

    1. Accept the Fear: The body manifests fear in very specific ways that can affect a musician’s performance. Increased air pressure under the vocal cords can pose a challenge for a singer and stiffening of the body can make a pianist’s fingers less agile. If the fear sets in just before a performance the worst thing to do is ignore the feelings, says Voice Council Magazine:

    “One has to accept the nerves and the physical repercussions, and work within this state rather than trying to push it away. The more you try to block the nerves, the more they will affect you.”

    2. Practice, Practice, Practice: Accepting nerves does not mean they cannot be overcome. Knowing the music goes a long way to feeling confident performing in front of others. In addition to consistent practicing at home, work with your instructor to ensure that the assigned piece is at an appropriate level — something that is challenging but not overly difficult.

    3. Dress Rehearsals are Key: Turn the living room into a performance space and invite mom, dad, sister and brother, even the beloved family pet, to a special performance.  Make the performance as real as possible, including walking on stage and bowing, even wearing the performance outfit, advises NPR.

    4. Wishing you Success: The Music Junction community, and many other music schools, offers a positive community. Realize that everyone in the room wants the best possible performance from every musician and everyone is rooting for each other.

    What do you think of our suggestions? Do you have any tips or routines that work for you?

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

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

    See Our Rates Contact Us 

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

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    5 Tips to Singing the National Anthem

    Two hundred years ago today, Francis Scott Key witnessed British soldiers firing on Fort McHenry as they tried to gain entry into Baltimore during the War of 1812.  American soldiers, however, remained fearless and defeated the British. To celebrate their victory they hoisted the U.S. flag and seeing those stripes and stars inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    Since then, the song has been immediately cherished by the country, proudly sung during the Civil War and as act of patriotism in the days after September 11.

    As much as the song is beloved by millions, the national anthem poses some problems for singers. It is one of the most challenging songs for a singer due to its high notes, lyrics that use antiquated words and wide-ranging melody. In fact it’s common for a singer to feel honored and utterly frightened upon being asked to perform the song publicly.

    In honor of the 200th anniversary, we are offering some tips on how to successfully sing the national anthem.

    1. Learn what the song is about and what the words mean, says the National Association for Music Education. The song was written 200 years ago when people spoke differently and it’s easy to butcher the lyrics if you don’t know the definition of “o’er” or the meaning of  “rampart.”

    2. Now that you know what the song is about, sing with meaning. In so many ways, singing is like acting. You cannot just recite the words, they have to be sung with emotion.

    3. Start the song slightly lower than your normal range to avoid singing out of your range when the song’s high notes approach, advises singer John Legend.

    4. This is a song to honor your country, not to show off your vocal talents. Unless you have the vocal range of Whitney Houston (see video above) most singers are criticized for excessive embellishments and flourishes. Just keep it simple.

    5. Remember that other people like singing the song too. If you have ever attended a sports game you’ve seen a lot of people singing along, proudly taking off their hats and placing their hands over their hearts. If you improvise too much the crowd won’t be able to follow along with you causing them to lose interest or be unhappy with your performance.

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

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    4 Ways to Get Your Child to Practice Music

    The study of music provides so many benefits it just makes sense to bring voice and piano lessons into your child’s life. So, you select the right teacher — ideally someone from The Music Junction — as well as buy or rent a piano.

    Your job, however, is not done. The day will come when your child has to practice and doesn’t want to. We’ve all been there. At some point every young musician will throw a tantrum or give attitude about practicing at home. The allure of toys and cartoons can sometimes overpower the wonderful ivory keys on a piano.

    Don’t give up. We have some advice:

     

    1.  Practice Regularly — Get your child in the habit early that practice should happen every day or every weekday, says Baltimore Symphony Orchestra violinist and mother Ellen Pendleton Troyer.  Eventually, this will feel like a normal routine, just like brushing their teeth and getting dressed. Troyer also recommends experimenting with morning, afternoon and evening practice sessions to see the time of day that works best for your child.

     

    2.  Don’t Put The Instrument Away — Keep the fall board up and leave the music sheets out, says NPR. You might be surprised to see your child play a few notes, even when it’s not time to practice. Your young musician may not be practicing music assigned by the instructor but he will be improvising and learning something truly important, that music can be fun.

     

    3. Make It Positive — Granted, it’s not always easy to figure out what is fun and positive for your child. Sometimes, it’s receiving praise from learning a song and other times it’s being rewarded for practicing a certain amount of hours. Some parents have found success in breaking up the monotony of rehearsing with some silliness ( i.e. have them practice while will standing on one leg) and others have realized that their children are more engaged when they have a say in music selection. Find the tactic that works best with your parenting philosophy and your child’s personality.

     

    4. Be Involved — Even if you don’t know how to play or sing music, there are many ways you can be involved. Keep your young musician company as he or she practices. Also, offer words of support when your child becomes overly frustrated with a difficult passage and be there to congratulate her when she successfully finishes a song.

     

    Have you found a successful tactic? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.

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

    See Our Rates Contact Us 

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

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