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    Happy Valentines Day

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    Here’s a clip of American Idol runner up Melinda Doolittle singing “My Funny Valentine”. She is one of the most exceptional talents the show has ever seen. This year 2016 marks the final year of American Idol after a 15 season run. Cheers to the show that made us all think we could be stars and cheers to all the lovers out there this Valentine’s Day.

     

     

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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/

     

     

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

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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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    Are Voice Lessons The Most Cost-Effective Type of Music Instruction?

    When you think about music education do you think of children playing the piano or violin or do picture children singing do-re-mi?

    Chances are it’s the former.

    It’s an unexplained bias in Western culture that a solid music education must include a musical instrument.

    British music journalist Helen Wallace noticed this too and wonders why, in an era of reduced budgets for art instruction, so many people are advocating for the most expensive type of music instruction.

    “The fact is that every child already has an instrument, cost-free: their own voice,” Wallace writes in Classical-music.com, an online publication of BBC Music Magazine. “If half the meagre resources currently available were spent on expertly-led choral singing in primary schools, every single child could experience music of a quality, variety and sophistication impossible to achieve with a motley collection of instruments played by children in the early stages of mastering them.”

    Wallace has a valid point about cost.  Musical instruments designed for beginning learners cost at least a few hundred dollars. Parents eagerly scour Craigslist for pianos hoping to find a deal and, in another country, people work tirelessly to create instruments from landfill materials.

    We’ve researched and tried to discern if there are unique benefits of instrumental instruction as opposed to vocal education but we could not find any information. It appears that any type of music instruction offers great benefits to children.

    We offer piano and voice lessons at The Music Junction and see the benefits in both types of education. We also think that the most valuable type music instruction is the one that inspires you and makes you excited to practice be it voice or piano.

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

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    Why You Hate The Sound of Your Own Voice

    We recently learned that people are more forgiving of our out-of-tune singing that musicians who play other instruments. Now, science is proving again why we might the worst judge of our own voice.

    The truth is we hear our own voice differently from everyone else.

    Do you remember the first time you heard your own talking or singing voice in a recording? It could be a recital video or simply a voicemail message. Chances are you were surprised about how high it sounded and you didn’t like it. Also, there’s also a good possibility that no one else seemed surprised by your tone.

    A recent SciSchow segment on YouTube explains why. Host Hank Green says that when other people listen to us, our sound travels through air into the ear drums into the inner ear. However, when we talk we are hearing our sound from two sources – through our ears and in our head. When we talk, “the voice bounces and transmits vibrations directly into our inner ear.” These vibrations are conducted through — quite literally — our flesh and bones creating a lower frequency. That is why we are always astonished about the highness of our pitch.

    Eventually, we get used to the sound of our own voice if we hear it enough times so not every playback of audio will be cringe-inducing. With some voice lessons from The Music Junction you will learn not just how to tolerate your own voice but enjoy 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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    4 Ways to Protect Your Singing Voice

    When instrumental musicians struggle with their sound they can buy new strings, order more reeds or grease their gears.

    When a singer struggles with her sound, fixing the problem is not as easy. Consistent strain on vocal cords can cause damage and create nodules, or polyps, to form. Although benign, the nodules can lead to bleeding when they are not properly rested, which then causes scarring. Vocal cords that are scarred sound more hoarse and are more prone to cracking.

    A cracked voice, however, is not the fate for all singers. Properly managed and maintained vocal cords can provide a singer with a lifetime of beautiful sounds.

    Here are our 4 tips to protecting your singing voice:

     

    1. Healthy Lifestyle: Like everything else in life, a healthy lifestyle reaps many rewards. If you want to give your vocal cords a long life then stay away from smoking and drugs and opt for a healthy diet that includes drinking lots of water and aerobic exercise.

     

    2. Rest When You’re Sick: Just as your body needs to rest when you’re sick, so does your voice. If you must sing while sick, schedule several days of rest soon after so your vocal cords can begin healing.

     

    3. Warm-Ups and Cool Downs: Just as a runner stretches before and after a race, singers must also get their vocal cords warmed up and ready to perform. A voice coach can work with you on tailoring a set of exercises that works best for you.

     

    4. Technique: A good voice coach — including someone from The Music Junction — will work with you to understand how your voice works and the proper techniques for singing including understanding how to breathe and how to use your diaphragm. We like this piece of advice from voice trainer Judith Farris on the benefits of a properly coached voice.

    “In singing, if one’s breath is balanced, it is nearly impossible to have any kind of strain on the vocal apparatus, and the easiest and most beautiful sound is achieved,” Farris told Theatre Communications Group. “ Thus obtaining a correct vocal technique is the key to the prevention of vocal problems. The vocal cords themselves are muscles. Athletes and dancers know that any muscle that is used correctly gets stronger with use, not weaker or injured.”

     

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

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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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    How to Compliment a Child: “You’re a Hard Worker” versus “You’re Smart”

    Parents and Teachers all agree that they would like children to correlate their success at school to how much work they put in.  So that, for example, a child who fails a spelling test will think “I didn’t study hard enough, I’ll work harder next time.”

    But often when our children fail a test they think “I failed so I must be a bad speller.” or “I must be stupid.”

    You can see how important it can be to encourage children to value their effort, instead of feeling inherently smart (or not smart) regardless of their effort.  This was the basis of a study done by Carol S. Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

    In the experiment Dweck has conducted, two groups of children were asked to put together a relatively easy jigsaw puzzle.  After completing the puzzle, the two groups received different compliments. Every child in the first group was told: “You’re very smart, well-done”. The children in the second group were told something like: “You’ve put a lot of effort and thought into this, well-done”.  And then, they could choose another puzzle that was either harder or easier than the first. In the group that was complimented for smartness, 70% of the children chose the easy puzzle. In the other group, which was complimented for investment, 70% of the children chose the difficult puzzle, which, they were told, was also more interesting.

    Teachers at the Music Junction utilize this important tool when working with our students.  Students are rewarded for effort by logging their practices between lessons and receiving sticker rewards based on how many practices the student achieved that week.  We encourage our piano and voice students to achieve their full potential, instead of general benchmark goals that are the same for everyone, so that the focus is on doing your best.  Private piano lessons are particularly helpful to illustrate how hard work correlates to success.  The more time a student puts into learning a piece of music, the better they sound – and vice versa.

    At the Music Junction recitals, we reiterate to the student how their effort in preparation directly relates to their performance.   If the student is able to play their recital piece perfectly almost every time in the days leading up to the performance, they have a good shot at playing it perfectly at the recital.  If the student is always playing or singing their song with some mistakes in the days leading to their performance, they are about 100% guaranteed to have a mistake at the recital.  Of course, we created a nurturing environment at our bi-annual Music Junction recitals, where making a mistake should not feel like a tragedy.  But emphasizing the student’s control over how well they play in their performance by how prepared they were in advance is an important lesson to the child that when you work hard, you can achieve more.

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    We can see sound!

    Through the science of cymatics, we can not only hear sound, we can actually see it.  In this video, Evan Grant demonstrates the science and art of cymatics, a process for making soundwaves visible.

    This is one image of what Beethoven’s 9th Symphony looks like through a cymatic device:

    Cymatic image of Beethovens 9th

    Useful for analyzing complex sounds (like dolphin calls), the science of cymatics can also make complex and beautiful designs.

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