Taking Care of Your Hands

Posted by on November 26, 2013 with 0 Comments

Take Care of Your Hands When You Practice

If you have started studying music, one of the most important things you need to start doing is taking care of your hands. No matter which instrument you have decided to study, each of them presents a challenge to your hands and your fingers.  Also, if you don’t take care of your hands properly, you’re going to limit yourself in terms of what you can learn and what you can do on your instrument. Continue Reading «Taking Care of Your Hands»

7 Tips for Teaching Yourself To Play Guitar

Posted by on November 25, 2013 with 2 Comments

Learning any new skill can be as challenging as it is rewarding. While it might feel like certain people were born with innate talents, the truth is at once comforting and intimidating. True skill is the result of hard work and a lifelong commitment to learning. With dedication, you can teach yourself almost anything.

Playing the guitar is one of those skills that might seem daunting to learn, but there are quite a few long-term benefits to enjoy after you’ve adopted the proper mindset. Below are seven practical tips to help you learn the guitar in no time.

7 tips for teaching yourself guitar Continue Reading «7 Tips for Teaching Yourself…»

Filed Under: Guitar

How to Encourage Children to Practice their Instrument

Posted by on November 14, 2013 with 5 Comments

The ability to play a musical instrument is a gift that can last a lifetime, but sometimes children can view practice as a chore that takes a lifetime. It’s important for them to view practice as an enjoyable learning experience instead of a mandatory work session. There are many things parents can do to encourage children to practice their instrument of choice and instill a love of music.

Choose the Right Instrument  Encourage Children to Practice their Instrument

It should go without saying that your child should play the instrument they are interested in. Work with your child to make the right choice, but do keep in mind that some instruments may be difficult for children to play. For instance, the violin requires a certain degree of technical skill and large instruments like the tuba are simply too big for smaller children. You can talk to your school band director or music teacher for ideas. Some may let your child try an instrument out before you decide to move forward with lessons.

Set up a Place to Play

It’s best to have a place set aside for music practice, one that’s free of clutter and distractions. A pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is more conducive for creativity than a dark basement or messy bedroom. Make sure there’s a good light source and your child has everything he or she needs to practice, such as a music stand and all related musical equipment. You don’t need to get a construction estimation for a whole new room, just work with what you have.

Stick to a Schedule

If children adhere to a regular practice schedule, it will become part of their routine and will be easier to stick with. Determine the best time of day.  All children are different; some may prefer to practice in the morning before school, some may prefer after dinner.  Even if they only have 10 minutes, make sure to get it in. It’s better to have a short session every day than a longer session only a couple of times a week. This helps children form a better connection with their instrument.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Try to be present when your child practices and express interest in what they are learning. Praise them for every step forward and encourage other family members to applaud your music student’s efforts. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and gives the child a sense of pride. On the other hand, keep any negative comments to yourself. It takes time to master an instrument, and your child’s teacher will help him or her with any problems that come up. There will be ups and downs, and your child may get discouraged at times. Just remind your child that her time and effort will pay off.

Don’t Bribe, but Do Reward

Avoid things like sticker charts that make music practice seem like a chore. Instead, reward your child for a job well done by taking him to see a musical performance of their choice. Concerts, musicals or even live music at a restaurant are all things your budding musician will enjoy. Make music fun, and your child will be more likely to stick with it and enjoy playing for a lifetime.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and percussionist, specializing in marimba. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

How to Find Places to Play Your Instrument

Posted by on November 8, 2013 with 0 Comments

How to Find Places to Play Your Instrument

If you are studying music performance, you know how important it is to play your instrument for an audience, especially on your own. It can be intimidating to find these opportunities when you don’t have a lot of experience, but it is not impossible. Here are some surefire ways to find that solo gig you’ve been searching for.

Cello Player


Set Yourself Up for Success

To find performance opportunities, you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to be findable and easy to get in touch with. If you haven’t already, now is the time to build up your presence online. At the minimum you should have a Facebook page, but a Twitter account isn’t a bad idea as long as you keep on top of it. Connect with other local musicians or venues where you’d like to play.

On these social accounts, be sure to advertise the fact that you are seeking performance opportunities. Mention that you could play for local businesses, weddings and other events.

Set up a website where you can share your music on a platform like SoundCloud or Bandcamp. You can do this for free or, if you have a little money to put into it, buy your own domain name and tie it in with your account. You can use this website like a portfolio of your work.

Next, make yourself some business cards. You can get them printed someplace like VistaPrint or buy a kit to print them yourself.  Be sure to give them out at any opportunity. The more people who know you are looking for gigs, the more people are keeping an ear open for opportunities.


Play for Your Community

Many small or even mid-sized businesses that serve the public would jump at a chance to have a musician playing at little or no cost. Check with local coffee shops or other small, casual restaurants to see if they ever feature live music or would consider it for an evening.

Remember that it doesn’t hurt to start small. Get creative and volunteer at a nursing home or rehab center like 12 Keys Rehab. Your act of goodwill could end up in the local newspaper, showing that you’re caring and not just out there to make money.  At the very least, playing well and being reliable improves your track record, and will lead to wider exposure and bigger opportunities.

You’ll be surprised at how good you feel playing for people who normally wouldn’t get to hear music. I’ll never forget the time I was playing at a nursing home, and a deaf woman put her hands on the marimba to feel the vibrations. When she started to smile, a huge wave of emotion hit me as I knew I brightened her day. To this day, it’s one of the highlights of my career.

Other good places to start looking for opportunities could include your local library, church or community center.  Look for advertisements asking for musicians for different events. If you’re really enterprising you can even contact them regarding upcoming events and ask if they need some live music. Look for festivals and street fairs in your area, find out if there will be live music playing, and learn how you can get involved.

Start Small 

Go into this to better yourself as a musician, not to try and make money. Sure it’s nice to get a little extra cash on the side, but you’ll have a much more enjoyable time if that’s not your main goal. The more you play in front of people, the easier it becomes, and you’ll find out you’re not nearly as nervous when it’s time for your huge recital or other serious event.

Most importantly, have fun. Don’t go so overboard on searching for the perfect gig where it becomes a chore. Be creative, and you can find some great places to play, giving you new fans and followers.



Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and percussionist, specializing in marimba. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

The Growth of Music Therapy

Posted by on November 1, 2013 with 0 Comments

The Growth of Music Therapy

If you’re a music student, you probably already know that this form of artistic expression has the power to change your mood and offer a different perspective. That reality has helped propel the rise of music therapy, a technique often used for people who are suffering with conditions like trauma, autistic spectrum disorders and chronic pain.

If you’ve ever listened to a favorite song after a bad day and felt noticeably better afterwards, that’s a small but powerful example of how music can help. In the same way people might feel soothed after swimming in therapy pools, music can comfort the body and the soul while easing the mind. Continue Reading «The Growth of Music Therapy»

Filed Under: Music in the World