Music Lesson Blog
In January and February many of our Champaign-Urbana music students who play piano, guitar, drums, violin, trumpet, flute, clarinet, sax and sing at the Champaign School of Music set music goals that fulfilled the criteria of a S.M.A.R.T. Goal— Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Many of their goals are now posted on the wall across from the office door. You can follow their progress by checking for dates and stickers next to the steps of each goal. Congratulations to the following students who completed their goals already:
Audrey B.—Performed Lightly Row on the violin at our Champaign School of Music April Music Get Together.
Denisse A—Performed Vivaldi’s 2nd Mvmt on the Violin at our Champaign School of Music April Music Get Together.
Dominic H— Performed on the piano at the Champiagn School of Music April Music Get Together.
Rafa B—Performed Twinkle Twinkle on Violin at Champaign School of Music April Music Get Together.
Daniel R.—Perform Seitz Concerto No. 5 on violin.
Mira E.—Perform “Etude” on violin.
Alana G. Finish Book 1 of Suzuki on violin.
Vivian D—Perform “Mineut 1” on violin
Joe E. Journey by Camel on piano
John R.—Finish a Beethoven Sonata on piano.
Lorenzo P.—Compose 8 measure song on piano.
Kayla Nicole E.—Sing “Speaking French”.
The preceeding was contributed by Marty Fort for the Champaign School of Music. Marty holds a Master’s Degree in Guitar and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Carolina. He has been teaching 20 years.
After teaching 20 years and working with over 1000 students, I honestly believe that every student is different. That’s the attitude we live by at the Academy and it’s part of the reason why we’re able to help so many students. As a result, some students will practice an hour a day, but many won’t and they should not be given up on. What if my parents had given up on me? My parents enrolled me in piano, guitar and violin from age 5-9 and at age 9 I said, “I NEED A BREAK!”. They never pushed me to practice and I still needed a break. At age 11, I saw Michael J Fox tearing it up on a mean guitar solo in Back to the Future, and I said to myself, “That’s what I want to do!”. I started lessons again and never looked back. The early years of piano, guitar and violin allowed me to have a head start in guitar. When I became serious this greatly benefited my progress. In other words: every lesson is an investment in your child’s musical future. Every recital is a monumental achievement that they may not appreciate for years. Lessons are like vegetables and I still don’t like to eat broccoli, but my wife doesn’t make cookies every night!
I know that a lot of children refuse to practice, so I ask you to consider the following: Don’t measure practice in hours. Measure it in “what” they will play for you. Go for quality not quantity. If they will play one 60 second piece every week or so, to show you that they’re learning, you’re doing the right thing. Students need their musical broccoli (lessons) whether they use it now or in the future. Just because your child isn’t practicing today, doesn’t mean they will not practice someday. We have seen remarkable transformations with students who go from 0 to 60 because they get inspired by a concert or movie, just as I did. Last December my 5 year old niece, Lilly, played Jingle Bells at her school’s recital. As her uncle and guitar teacher, my only goal with her is that she plays a song for me once a week. I don’t sweat the hour per day, I just want to see her LOVE music, love guitar and progress bit by bit.
This is the formula to success, so that when she is mature enough, she will have all of the right early training in place. But no matter the level of your child’s practice, if they’re not breaking their instrument and running out of their lesson, I assure you, they’re doing ok!
At the Champaign School of Music, we believe the same. We are delighted when our students practice consistently and daily however we do not believe that music is only for those elite few. Even minimal time spent at a child’s instrument lays the groundwork for many years of musical enjoyment. Encourage your child to play a song or part of a song or a lick or a melody line for you every week and you’ll see their skills and love of music grow bit by bit! We are looking forward to hearing our students perform at the Holiday Concert coming up!
Whether you are taking piano, voice, guitar, drums, violin, sax, clarinet, flute or trumpet lessons at the Champaign School of Music, recitals are an important part in your development. I am a big believer that to be a really great musician you must have consistent, gradual performing experience and it MUST be positive. If students are pushed to perform when they are not ready or put in a high pressure environment emphasizing perfection rather than growth and enjoyment, the negative affects can take years to undo.
At the Champaign School of Music we focus on creating Recitals, Concerts and Music Get Togethers that are growth promoting, fun, low-pressure and optional. If you or your child would like to perform in our upcoming Holiday Concert, here is what to do next:
1. Ask your teacher if you are ready to perform.
On Dec 5, your teacher will submit his/her list of students who have the desire and are readiness to perform in the Holiday Concert. Your teacher will help you decide if you are ready.
2. Continue Practicing and Practice performing your piece for friends and family.
If your teacher says, “Yes, you are ready”, then get started right away! When you perform at the recital, you really want to have something great to share with your audience. Continuing to refine your piece and practicing performing it will help you be ready on the day and leave you feeling on top of the world afterwards, not to mention— excited to begin preparing for the next recital 2 months away.
If your teacher feels that it would be best to wait, don’t worry! The Champaign School of Music has fun, growth promoting performing opportunities every 2 months so you will have plenty of chances in the future. Tell your teacher that you want to perform at the next one and as soon as you’ve both determined which piece you’ll do, start practicing and practice performing!
3. Arrive at least 15 min early on the big day!
Our Holiday Concert will be held at the Twin City Bible Church at 806 W Michigan Ave, Urbana, IL. Arriving 15+ minutes early will give you time to:
Holiday Concerts are always festive and fun so wear your Reindeer sweater!
Last month I talked about two of the most common causes of hand pain for guitar players. Here are two more, complete with solutions!
Reason 3. You’re playing too much!
This is especially true for adults or even teens who are putting in hours and hours a day. A practice regimen that extensive is great for students who have been taking lessons for a substantial amount of time. However, it’s way too much for beginners and I’ve seen a lot of adults over do it. An hour per day is plenty of practice time for teens and adults, and for young children 15-30 min per day is a good goal to strive for. Also, remember that you don’t have to practice seven days a week. It’s actually healthy to take one day off!
Reason 4. You’re pressing too hard.
Have you ever caught yourself typing on a computer and realized that your shoulders are really tense and raised high?
That’s because you’re typing too hard and you don’t even notice. The same thing happens with the guitar (or any instrument). You’ll just be playing right along but using 4-5 times the force necessary to make the sound come out.
The solution: When you play, press as light as you can. This seems like a very obvious answer. But it will be a real challenge for you at first to do so consistently. When you play scales, chords or single notes, you must play as light as possible and train your hands to always use light pressure. You will hear a lot of dead buzzing sounds when you do this at first; but in time, you’ll get the hang of it.
Reason 5. Your wrists are out of alignment.
If you’re bending your wrists too far in either direction, it’s going to strain the tendons in your hands and cause hand pain.
The Solution: Be sure to speak with your Champaign School Music teacher and even check out Aaron Shearer’s Classic Guitar Technique book if you are having hand pain. His sections on mid-range alignment for the wrists (and other parts of the body) are an outstanding resource that will help you become pain free.
Final Solution: Regardless of what instrument you play, if you have pain of any kind, be sure to talk to your Champaign School of Music teacher. We’re here to make your experience pain free and fun!
There are a lot of misconceptions about taking guitar lessons. One of the biggest...
you have to "toughen” up your fingers and fight through the pain. In my opinion, this is totally untrue.
In this two part series, we’ll explore four sources of guitar playing hand pain and provide solutions for stopping it.
Reason 1. The guitar is not set up properly and the action is too high.
Reason 2. Playing on steel strings instead of nylon.
This is a very common problem. Steel strings are hard on adult hands and especially tough on children’s hands. A better choice for children and some adults too is nylon strings. These strings have the same texture as fishing line and the touch is very soft. It will not make marks on your fingers and it will reduce finger pain by almost 100%. If your guitar action is already low, check out whether you have nylon or steel guitar strings.
Tune in next month for part two with additional reasons (and solutions) for hand pain, so that we can get you on the right track! As always, be sure to consult your Champaign School of Music teacher with any questions about how to alleviate hand pain on any instrument.
Read this to learn how to help youself or a child overcome performance anxiety.
Whether you play guitar, piano, violin, drums, clarinet or sing, these tips from CSM faculty Ms Corrin will certainly help you perform at your best on the day of the recital!
We all get nervous before a performance, but there are things we can do and steps we can take to combat these qualms and give a good performance anyway. The first thing we can do is use visualization, the second is to remember to breathe, and the third thing is to practice every day.
How do we visualize? Well, you can sit in a chair and close your eyes. Imagine yourself at the concert, instrument in hand, walking on stage. Next, imagine playing your piece from beginning to end. If you come across any mistakes while you are visualizing, you can fix them in your mind, and keep going over your piece until you can imagine it all the way through onstage with no mistakes. Then bow, look at the audience, smile and walk offstage, all in your mind's eye.
Remembering to breathe is crucial. When we don't breathe our hands get tight and everything we do feels forced and uncomfortable. When you find yourself tight and short of breath it is already too late because it is next to impossible to get back to breathing normally 10 minutes before you go onstage. Try taking 5 deep breaths at the beginning or end of your daily practice. Then, two to three hours before the concert, start paying attention to your breathing. Make sure it stays regular, even if you have to really focus on it to keep it that way.
The third thing to do is to practice every day. And specifically practice towards memorization. Practice so that your muscles know what they are doing. Stage fright is a problem of the mind, not the body. The body has adrenalin, the mind does not. I have performed in plenty of recitals where my brain totally freaked out and went away, but my fingers knew where they were supposed to go, and so in those moments, I could keep playing until my brain came back. That's why we say knowledge alone is not enough, but paired with 10,000 repetitions, you will develop great ability. Practice until you can't get it wrong!
Nerves and anxiety can seem tricky to deal with, but if you try out these suggestions you may find yourself having a wonderful experience onstage!
"Talent is not inborn, it must be developed"
I hope that you have found the last 7 weeks of blogs on Early Childhood Music Education and Development enlightening and practical as you seek to provide the best parenting and opportunities for your child. As an Early Childhood Music Specialist and Enthusiast, I'm taking this blog to jump up on my soap box and share with you why I am so passionate about Early Childhood Music Education and why the Champaign School of Music will be offering FREE Music Together® Classes as an introduction to our BRAND NEW Family Music Classes for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers called MUSIC TOGETHER®.
1. Happy, Musical Children CAN grow into Happy, Musical Adults
As I mentioned earlier, it has always seemed strange to me that we perceive children to be musically gifted but somehow think that we, the adults, often are not. Especially as research shows us that Music Aptitude is evenly distributed throughout the population, giving 84% of us average to high musical aptitude at birth. Why this discrepancy?
As children we enjoy music immensely, we participate in it by bobbing and dancing and cooing and singing. We are fascinated by instruments and a variety of sounds. When I watch a baby toddler or preschooler making music in the Music Together classes I teach in Chicago, their faces become alive with pure delight. Their eyes are bright, their smiles large, and they are bouncing around energetically. Wouldn't it be incredible if our happy, musical children could grow into happy, musical adults who enjoy participating in music and can do so confidently?Children who participate in Music Together classes throughout their early childhood will have the opportunity to achieve this!
2. Birth to Age 5 is the Best time to Develop Your Child's Talent
Though musical skill is something you can develop into old age, the "sweet spot" of time to begin developing it is between birth and 5 years old. This is when a child's musical potential is the most malleable and open to influence. Developing musical aptitude during this "sweet spot" will empower them to achieve their highest potential later on. By age 9 a child's neurological pathways are well on their way to maturing and though they may continue to gain skill, their aptitude stabilizes. Like muscle strength, musical aptitude atrophies if not properly enhanced and exercised. Wouldn't it be incredible to see our children achieve the music potential they were born with! Music Together classes empower a child to achieve his potential.
3. U.S. Children can enjoy the same Musical Development as Children from other more Active Music Making Cultures.
In ideal conditions, most children can achieve basic music competence - sing in pitch and keep a steady beat - around the same time they are achieving competence in language and gaining control over their bodies - around age 3-4. However, because our culture's lifestyle does not, generally, include active music on a daily basis, many US children are developmentally delayed in music by 2-5 years. A recent research study showed that 50% of elementary children ages 5-10, in the United states, could not find their singing voices! Wouldn't it be great to give our children the opportunity to achieve basic musical skills as soon as they are capable - at 3-4 yrs? We have such a wealth of opportunity, through Music Together, to change that.
4. It helps your child achieve their potential in many other areas of Life!
In addition to musical skills, early childhood music education helps to develop a host of other essential skills such as motor skills, reasoning skills and logic skills. A 2 year preschool study done in Bridgeport, CT showed that children who participated in 2 years of Music Together classes showed statistically significant gains in the areas of cognitive, language and physical development as well as social and emotional vs the control group who were not given the opportunity to participate in music classes for 2 years. Our children have the potential to excel in every part of their lives. Music Together classes can help them!
Last week, I enjoyed a conversation with a mom of one of our 5 year old piano students. After I complimented her on his flawless recital performance, she listed off every early childhood musical activity he had been involved in since birth and concluded by saying, now, not only does he love making music but he is incredible in math and easily memorizes.
SO - I am passionate about excellence in early childhood music education, and specifically Music Together classes, because it empowers chidren and gives them opportunities to:
A quality early childhood music program will stimulate your child's inate music intelligence and enable him to make the connections necessary to fully enjoy and realize his talent in later years. However, there is so much you can do at home. Here is Part 2 of: 4 Easy Ways to Nurture Your Child's Musical Talent at Home!
3. Dance and Make Up Movements or use the simple moves you learn in class. Children love to move and bounce to music. If they are too little to walk, you can bounce them on your knee, rock them in your lap, pick them up and sway or dance around the room. This will be lots of fun as well as teach them about space, weight and different qualities of movement such as bouncy and smooth. Do not move their legs or their arms for them. This will interfer with their ability to feel and interpret the music. If they are older, you can sit facing and holding hands while rocking to the side, play patty cake, stomp feet, dance, twirl, gallop, hop, etc. There is no end to the options and again they will be delighted to suggest the next move. Your class teacher will model a variety of movements that you can incorporate in your play at home.
4. Use a Song Book like a Story Book. If your CD is accompanied by a song book, use it as a story book and follow along as you listen to the music. Look at the notation, talk about the pictures that accompany each song, utilize some of the suggestions for at-home adaptations of the song. Over time it is likely that your child will page through the book on their own and sing the songs that go with each page. They may even put the book on the piano and start "playing" the songs. Whether their rendition is accurate is not important. What is important is that they are making connections between the notation on the page and the song it represents. Its very much like "reading" a favorite book to a teddy bear: the internal connection between page and content is a signifiant pre-literacy milestone.
Remember, that you can use the songbook like a story book as part of your bedtime ritual too. Page through it, singing one or two favorite songs and then end with a lullaby. This will help end your child's day with a sense of loving closeness.
Share some of your favorite At-Home Music Activities by commenting on this blog!
Find additional information on the philosophy & method of our brand new Early Childhood classes at: www.MusicTogether.com
Lucky is the child who's parent enrolls him in a quality Early Childhood Music Program in Champaign Urbana. A quality early childhood music program will stimulate your child's inate music intelligence and enable him to make the connections necessary to fully enjoy and realize his talent in later years. However, attending music class once or twice a week can only achieve so much. Imagine the result if the only exposure your child had to language during his formative years was in a language class once or twice a week.....What an awful thought!
As a parent you are very keen to model and communicate with your child verbally. Through you and your families' modeling, communication and non stop encouragement your child's language aptitude grows and gradually she assimilates her native tongue. You can do the same with music. Through modeling, communicating and playing musically with your child, not only will her aptitude grow and she will gradully assimilate the musical language, you and her will form a strong bond that can encompass the whole family. Here are 4 Simple ways that you can playfully empower your child's musical abilities and create a strong bond within the family.
1. Listen to high quality children's music as a family (as well as high quality adult music) while in the car, during play time, as background music for dinner and so forth. High quality children's music will simulate high quality adult music but in a format that is more easily accessible to children. It will include music that, in music lingo, combines a variety of tonalities such as major, minor and dorian as well as various meters such as duple and triple. It will include a variety of styles, dynamics and tempos and, very importantly, be in a pitch range that children can vocalize to. One good example of this is: Music Together's Family Favorites. Its won 31 awards for excellence in music education.
2. Sing Together whether you can sing in tune or not! Your child will clue into your enthusiasm and modeling not your accuracy in pitch! Sing with the CD or turn it off. Choose songs that are adaptable to every day situations and make up your own verses. Your young child will be delighted to help you create new lyrics and his older siblings will provide a steady stream of suggestions should your ideas slow. This is part of the play. Words can be silly and nonsensical. Your child will laugh and so will you. Again, you don't need to be a lyricist to create new verses. Your Early Childhood Music class teacher will model how to do this by incorporating your child's ideas in class. Finally, sing to your child as they go to sleep. They will enjoy going to bed much more when you start with a song!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog coming this Friday, Mar 2! In the mean time, share some of your favorite At Home Music Activities with us!
Find additional information on the philosophy & method of our brand new Early Childhood classes at: www.MusicTogether.com
There are many parallels between how your child learns to talk and how she or he learns to sing. These processes happen organically. Although it takes several years for a child to move from babbling to saying words to speaking two-word sentences, she passes through all these stages in a seemingly effortless way; she seems to know how to teach herself these skills through imitation and practice.
At first many of her efforts are difficult to understand: "dog" may sound like "daw", for example, and grammatical errors are common. But gradually, by about the age of three or four, your child's speech becomes both intelligible and correct.
It's important for parents to recognize that musical growth also occurs in stages. Children pass through a "music babble" stage in which their movements and sounds don't necessarily seem truly musical - they are off the beat and not quite in tune. Over time, through observation and imitation, your child gradually aligns her music expression with the on-beat and in-tune models she experiences.
You, as the parent, instinctively translate your child's language attempts and offer a lot of support. Your child says "Ba," and you may ask, "Do you want a bottle?" You help shape your child's language experience through your interest and invovlement. But you may worry that you won't know how to recognize or suport emerging music behaviors.
It's simple!: the best way to support musical growth is to engage in music activity. Keep encouraging and celebrating your child's efforts, even though it may take a while for his music potential to develop. Remember that a certain amount of physical maturation - and a lot of playful "practice" - is necessary before your child can learn to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm.
With our brand new Early Childhood Music Program - Music Together®, your child can attend class for three full years before cycling back to repeat his first song collection. Children typically experience two or three song collections per school year, learning from fifty to seventy-five songs in that time. This continued exposure to music-making provides plenty of opportunity for the playful exploration and experimentation that lead to learning. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to participate in our program however, next week, we'll explore the most important things you can do at home to nurture your child's music talent and development.
Find additional information on the philosophy & method of our brand new Early Childhood classes at: www.MusicTogether.com