Parents, if you’re looking to buy your student a new guitar, or guitar pedal, or drum kit, or whatever you may be in the market for, we want to help you make the right decision! Looking into musical instruments can be overwhelming. And that’s just for me, as a musician! If you’re newer to music and don’t know a whole lot about instruments, it may seem impossible to find the right choice out of so many options. So today, I’m happy to share with you a few questions that can help you narrow down what to look for.
Should I buy a new instrument or a used instrument?
Parents Often ask “So my daughter is really interested in music but I’m not sure if she’ll stick with it. We want her to have a nice guitar, but we may not want to spend a whole lot on it if she’s not interested after a few months. What should we buy?” If you’re new to music and not sure, used gear is great! You can find a decent quality guitar at a lower price if it’s used. This way your student gets a quality instrument to warm up to and you don’t have to break the bank hoping they don’t get bored with music.
Now for more experienced musicians looking for an upgrade, new is a good option but not the only option. You might find great deals with used instruments or gear that are in great condition. Make sure you get what you want in an upgrade, but keep your options open.
What do the reviews say?
Reading reviews online is a bit subjective. Music gear connoisseurs might be picky and use a lot of their personal opinions. “I don’t like the sound” “the tone is terrible” “I was unimpressed”. You might come across a few “bad” reviews. What you really need to look for in a review should focus on durability. If 3 out of 5 reviewers say that “the guitar won’t stay in tune”, that’s a quality problem that you want to avoid.
Look through reviews that comment on the instrument/gears functionality (does it do everything it says it will?), and durability (will this item last a long time?).
Will you use it every day?
Your student may want seven tom drums for their kit, or a fancy new guitar pedal that makes their guitar sound like a rainbow- but is this gear necessary? A great way to tell if you should invest in more music equipment is to ask- “Will you use it everyday?” A guitar tuner pedal- yes! You tune your guitar everyday. “Seven more tom drums?” if you’re not using all the pieces of your drum kit currently, You don’t need more.
Do your favorite artists use it?
Now here’s a goofy question. But it’s a good question for the musician who’s really starting to hone in their craft. We all have favorite artists. And most the time, we’re trying to sound a lot like them- stylistically, getting the same vibe, stuff like that. The best way to sound like them- is researching what they use!
Now you don’t have to go out and buy the exact same amp, or keyboard your favorite artists use. But if all your favorite guitar players use an Ibanez guitar, you might consider getting one for yourself
More than anything else, your opinion matters! Who cares what the reviews say, which famous person uses it, if your student likes the way it looks, sounds, and overall likes it- it’s a good choice! I’m not saying this is the only factor, but it is the most important one. When you want your kiddo to play it everyday, you want them to like it.
Buying new music instruments can be a bit like buying a new car- you want something that’s the right choice, but also one you’ll like. If you’re still shopping around, and could use some help, give us a call here at Littleton School of Music.
At Littleton School of Music, our number one priority is music lessons. We want to provide you with the best music lessons. So if that means helping you pick the right instrument for the job, we’re happy to help.
We’ve all heard the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the forest with no ears to hear it, does it make a sound?” You are a great musician but do you feel like your shows might resemble this tree? Don’t be discouraged! Your fan base is larger than you know. The reason they’re not at your show may just be that they didn’t know about it.
With Littleton School of Music’s Top Hits of the 80’s show right around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to not only help our students, but to help any musician that is trying to have the best gig possible. So here are some great tips to ensure your music doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
Start promoting from day one
It’s nearly impossible for your fans to drop everything they’re doing to go to your show. Promoting the day of will never work. Give your audience plenty of notice. Tell them about your show a month or more in advance so they can pen you into their schedule. Say something like “Hey! My band just booked a gig at The Toad Tavern in Littleton. The show is on September 30th. You should come check it out. It’s going to be so much fun and a lot of great music!”
All too often I hear students say, “Well I didn’t want to invite them because they don’t listen to my type of music”. That’s not true! Invite everybody you know. Your show is about so much more than music. A live performance is exciting to anybody and you never know who will show up and enjoy watching you rock on stage.
Use social media
Your friends list on Facebook is probably longer than your contacts list in your phone. This is a great way to reach over 100 people instantly and tell them about your rocking event. Make an exciting post that gives all the details of your show.
Don’t just rely on the Internet to invite everybody. Take some time to personally invite people over the phone or with a personal message. Maybe your band is going to play one of their favorite songs. The only way they’ll know that is if you tell them and invite them!
The cool thing about being in a band- is that you’re in a band! You’re excited to jump on stage and rock out. When promoting your show don’t hide that! Your genuine excitement about the show will show people how much fun they’ll have if they go.
A concert is like a party. Do you want your show to be a huge awesome party? Make it one! But to make that happen, you’ve got to have guests. Your show is only going to be more awesome as you invite more people. And if you want to stage dive, you better make sure you’ve brought enough fans to catch you. Don’t be a tree falling in the forest. Be loud and make sure everybody you know hears you!
Today we’re talking about rhythm! The one thing that universally pulls music together! Wow! Music is a culmination of so many great things working together- tone, pitch, emotion, creativity. But rhythm is the one piece that changes a bunch of sound, into an organized piece of music. So no more to wait- here we go.
What is rhythm?
Rhythm is the pulse of music. It’s a repeating pattern. When you’re listening to a song, and tapping your pencil along with it- that’s rhythm! Or driving around using your steering wheel as a drum- rhythm! Some people claim to have no rhythm- and that’s untrue. We all follow rhythm in our daily lives. Walking, one foot in front of the other is a steady, even rhythm. Even a person who’s not very musical knows the ABC’s and that pause after the letter G is a rhythmic pause. You just sang the ABC’s in your head didn’t you?
What is common time?
To help us get a grasp on rhythm, we’ll use what’s known as common time. Common time is when a song has 4 beats per measure, also known as 4/4 time. So with each rhythmic note, we’ll only count up to 4!
Whole note (1 2 3 4)
A whole note is names this because it lasts for a whole measure. If we were to count out loud and clap our hands to the beat we’d only clap on one.
Half notes (1 2 3 4)
Half notes last half as long as whole notes. Instead of clapping only once per measure, we’d clap twice per measure. We’d clap on the 1 and the 3 of a measure.
Quarter notes (1 2 3 4)
Quarter notes are the most common pulse you’d feel in a song. We count them and clap them at the same time 1-2-3-4. Easy enough right? Everybody can count to 4!
Eighth notes (1+2+3+4+)
You’ve probably seen the symbols for eighth notes before. Here’s our second level of counting! Eighth notes are worth half of a quarter note and counted/clapped by using the word “and” in between every number.
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
Yes! We say “and” after 4 as well! “And” is symbolized by a tiny plus sign in between each number.
Sixteenth notes (1e+a2e+a3e+a4e+a)
That is a mouthful! How do we say it?
1-E-and-AH 2-E-and-Ah 3-E-and-Ah 4-E-and-Ah
sixteenth notes are worth half of an eighth note, which means there are four of these for every one quarter note!
Ok, so this was just a quick introduction to rhythm. There is so much more to rhythm! But don’t let it be daunting or scare you. You’ve got rhythm in you! Every time you play your instrument you’re using rhythm even if you’re not thinking about it. Every time you sing along with a song or tap your foot to a song- you’re using rhythm already.
If you want to learn more about rhythm, and you’re in the Denver area, or Littleton area, call Littleton School of Music! We teach musicians of all ages and skill levels and we can help you learn rhythm, or even just help you learn your favorite song! Mention this blog to get $25 off your first month of lessons! Call us today at 303-972-7625, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or learn more here on our website.
Earlier this week I began practicing a new instrumental tune. I found the music straight out of the official book and immediately started hammering out different sections of the song. Now I LOVE guitar, and I’m not one to give up. But I started becoming frustrated. Frustrated that even though I was playing the notes exactly how they were on the official music, it still didn’t sound as good as the song itself.
In that moment I set down my guitar, opened up Youtube on my phone and watched this video of the artist performing it. Instantly my stress and worries washed away! Watching the artist play the tune answered 20 of my questions within 10 seconds of the video. I picked up my guitar and started copying what the artist did, with the exact same notes from before. Each note sounded better than before!
So in my case, I was trying to play a finger picking song without a thumb pick. But in watching the artist and copying what he was doing, it magically fixed the song. I don’t always choose to play songs exactly the same as the artist. When I do, it’s important to know how the artist performs it. If you or your band are working on a song and are going for a particular genre or feel, here are some tips on how to sound like your favorite musician.
How the artist performs the song is just as important as learning the notes. Yes you can learn all the drumbeats but maybe it doesn’t sound right? Does the drummer play softer or louder? Joe Satriani uses a lot more legato so trying to straight pick his songs will make it more difficult and just not sound the same! And if you’re going for the classic Nirvana grunge sound, well- strumming wasn’t their finest science. Go a bit crazy!
Ok, so you don’t need the exact replica guitar of Eric Clapton and yes Neil Peart’s drum kit is gigantic. You don’t need the same exact gear but knowing what the artist uses helps! Do they play guitar without a pick? Does the drummer play with brushes and only two toms? Changing small details could change the entire song. And if you want to sound like your favorite musician, copying there gear will get you sounding like them immediately.
Feel the music
Most importantly, feel the music. Every song has an emotion behind it, it’s your job to capture that emotion and amplify it to the world! If you’re playing a soft loving lullaby, jumping around stage is just giving it the wrong vibe! Likewise, don’t sit in a chair smiling while playing the soothing sounds of Metallica. Get up, put your rock face on and head bang a bit! The better you connect with a song and convey it’s emotion, the better you’ll play it.
When you want to sound like your favorite musician, you’re not trying to be a replica of Van Halen, or Kurt Cobain. But sometimes the song you’re writing calls for that vibe. Or maybe you’re covering a song and haven’t asked yourself, “How does the artist play it?” You’ll certainly add your own twist and make it unique to you! So if you’re working on a song and it feels a bit bland, spice it up like your favorite rock stars would!
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Our blog for parents is brought to you from the creative minds of our staff who are also parents and understand how you think. Read here for tips on what kids say, what other parents say, or to learn more about our school and how we can serve you, too.