If you’re a music teacher, you’ve definitely had the experience of your students not practicing. Have you ever had an experience where your students said they practiced, but they obviously didn’t get any better? Both cases happen far too often. You may have tried everything to get them to practice including stickers, accountability charts, getting […]
If you’ve never taken music lessons before, you may have no idea how long lessons should be. When signing up for lessons this is one of the most common questions I hear. In the end, the most important part of lessons is what happens when the teacher is not there. That’s right, practice. Does it really matter then how long each lesson is and how often they should happen? Yes, it definitely does.
Long gone are the days of writing music out by hand. With a few exceptions, most music is written on a computer. It’s easier, faster, edits are quicker, and you don’t have to worry about someone not being able to read your handwriting. Are you a composer? If so, you probably have a favorite program already that you swear by.
If composing isn’t your thing just yet but you would like to get into it, then it’s important to know what’s out there in terms of software. There are some similar products out there, but they definitely aren’t all priced the same.
Can you learn music as an adult? Of course you can. It’s not a question of is it possible or not, the question is how to you learn music as an adult. That’s a very different question that deserves some attention.
Learning to play a musical instrument isn’t a skill that most people learn very quickly. It’s a complex fine motor skill that takes years of concentrated practice to become proficient. Children that acquire this skill almost always have a parent or two that help them stay with it for many years. Skilled musicians have added up hundreds, often thousands, of hours of practice over the years. As an adult you need to realize this, and you need to be ready for some work.
Music lessons are not enough for your child to learn an instrument. Some people have the misconception that if they get their child music lessons, then magically they will learn how to play a musical instrument. If you get your child a tutor for math, they should come out knowing how to do math better right? Sure, that’s why you get them a tutor, but music lessons don’t really work the same way. In order for your child to succeed, you need to take a hands on approach to the lessons.
In the 90s my parents bought some software that was connected to our computer that taught me the basics of piano. I never took actual lessons until high school, but the lessons on the computer were fun and started me in the right direction. That was 15 years ago, and now there is some amazing software out there that can help you or your students towards your goal of learning how to play piano. Most of the software out there is best used in conjunction with piano lessons, but if price is an issue, a lot of this software can help a beginning student through the beginning stages of lessons.
When I started to really get into practicing piano, I bought hundreds of CD’s full of piano music. I had this desire to hear what was out there. I would listen any chance I would get. I was always reading as much as I could, and if there was ever a time that I heard of some music I wasn’t familiar with, I would get out there and buy a few more CDs.
I didn’t know what the staples of the repertoire were. I just bought everything. I would have a loved to have a simple list of pieces I should go listen to. So that’s what I’m trying to create here.
Unfortunately, playing by ear is really hard for a lot of classical musicians. It’s something that they don’t typically learn. They can get by without it. If they do practice ear training, they try to improve their ear by repeating interval drills over and over again. Is it possible to get a good ear this way? Well, yes. Very few people actually see this type of ear training through to a point that they can play music competently by ear though.
If you want to have an amazing ear, why not follow the lead of people that have amazing ears. Most people with great ears didn’t learn by drilling intervals all day. They learned by doing. They practiced playing by ear or transcribing music.
Generally I believe that it’s a good idea to work on more than one piece of music at a time. Working on a lot of music helps to vary your practice and keep your attention focused. It increases enjoyment, and it’s also very helpful for learning many different styles. With that being said, there comes a time for most musicians where a deadline is coming up and they just need to learn one piece as quickly as possible.
Typically you don’t want to rush learning music, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice. If you had just a couple of weeks to learn a piece of music that normally takes you months, what can you do to maximize your practice time and still have the piece learned well at your deadline?
If you’ve read around the internet, including this blog, muscle memory for musicians often gets a bad rap. It’s the worst kind of memory. Muscle memory causes memory slips, and you should never rely on it. It’s a horrible no good very bad thing! Avoid it at all costs.
None of that is true. Muscle memory is actually needed more than any other type of memory. It’s just easy to acquire.