Many students are getting ready to audition for music high schools and colleges in the Fall and wondering what the audition will be like. Auditions can go very well as long as you are prepared. Although auditioning for a panel of judges can seem intimidating, the auditioners are usually very friendly and supportive. Remember that you are auditioning to study music, if you were perfect at everything in the audition you wouldn't need to go to school! Before your audition make sure you collect as much information as possible about what will be required. Below are some additional best practices to follow:
Do What You Do Best- If you're great at playing country music.. play a country song, or if you're great at playing R&B music, go with that. Unless the audition guidelines explicitly say you have to play a certain style of music don't play a song just for the sake of it's style or complexity. Do what you do best and you will shine.
Read The Guidelines- Make sure you come prepared with exactly what you are supposed to. Be sure to bring extra copies of the sheet music you are playing from.
Prepare Early- Don't wait until a week before the audition to pick your piece. If you leave months to prepare instead of weeks you won't have a thing to worry in the audition room and can focus on playing musically rather than worrying about the notes or lyrics.
Dress Nicely- Wear something comfortable that also makes you look professional. For most auditions you can't go wrong with black slacks and a nice shirt.
Arrive Early: Make sure you arrive with plenty of time to get settled and warm-up.
Poker Face- Don't assume what the judges are thinking based on their reactions during your performance. Often times the judges try to stay very neutral in their reaction so as to be fair in the process. They may be only say a few words, even if they were completely blown away by your performance.
If you don't know exactly what is required at the audition, these are some common tasks you will be asked to perform at an audition.
Performance Piece- One to three pieces that showcase your talent. If you are asked to play more than one song, make sure they are different tempos or styles.
Improvisation- You will usually be asked to improvise over a blues form. If you aren't familiar with improvising, practice playing or singing the blues scale in different keys, then changing around the order of the notes. If you are singing, remember you don't only have to you scat syllables, you can also pick a word or phrase sing over.
Sight reading- You will often be asked perform a sight reading exercise. You will usually start at a very basic reading level and be asked to proceed to more advanced reading exercises until your level is determined. Get an exercise book at home to practice out of. For singers, learning solfege can be very helpful.
Listen and repeat- You may be asked to repeat a melody that's played to you or repeat a rhythm that is tapped to you. You can practice these exercises with your teacher.
The Science of Soundproofing: Simple Tips for the Musician’s Home
Whether you’re married to a musician, raising one or are a musical master yourself, the noise of even a well-played instrument can impact your roommates, neighbors, or family. Even playing all the way across the house may not be far enough to muffle the sound, and things could be a lot worse if you’re in a small condo. There has to be a way to strike a balance between peace and quiet and the sound of music. Luckily, soundproofing a room — or even a few — can be a fairly simple DIY project to save not only your eardrums but also your sanity.
Not sure where to start? Not to worry! This how-to guide will give you three easy steps to soundproof your space. Plus, learn to transform a guest room into a home recording studio.
Soundproofing a Room in Three Easy Steps
Simple Soundproofing Step One: Mind the Gaps
Take a look around the room and keep an eye out for any gaps in door and window frames. A lot of sound can escape through even a small gap.
Reduce door gaps: Adding a door sweep on both the inside and the outside of the door can help reduce sound travel.
Cover the windows: You can hang thick curtains over windows, or seal leaks with budget-friendly foam weather stripping or professional-grade acoustical sealant.
Line heating/cooling ducts: Don’t forget to line your heating and cooling ducts with soundproofing duct liner to further reduce noise.
Simple Soundproofing Step Two: Reduce Reflection
Did you know that sound, like light, reflects? Sound can bounce off of any number of surfaces, which can propel the notes and beats of an instrument pretty far. If the room you’ve chosen as your practice area has any hard surfaces, like granite countertops, hardwood floors or even just plain old walls, sound will reverberate until it runs out of energy, which means it can hit multiple surfaces over and over again.
Bring in some textiles! Cover the floor with carpeting or thick rugs, and even consider hanging some material from the walls.
Install soundproof materials: There are all kinds of soundproofing materials out there, some more effective — and more costly — than others. You can install soundproof curtain around the perimeter of the room, tack up vinyl or install acoustic insulation.
Avoid cheap alternatives: Considering a cheaper option like adding mattresses or egg crates to the walls? Skip them. Not only are they unsightly, but they are ineffective, as well.
Simple Soundproofing Step Three: Modify Your Space
Let’s say you live in a 1,000-square foot loft downtown and want to be sure your evening jam sessions don’t disrupt the neighbors. Being a good neighbor might mean you have to make some adjustments on your end.
Avoid shared walls: Play your musical instruments in a room that doesn’t share any walls with your neighbors or position yourself closer to the outside walls.
Add a false ceiling: You can consider adding a false ceiling to give some relief to the upstairs neighbors and replace your hollow doors with solid, heavy core ones. If you hit a major chord and notice some shaking picture frames, vases or other objects, remove them or secure them.
Consider a shed or garage: If you live in a 2,000-square foot house and want to keep your drums from waking the baby, consider moving your equipment to the other side of the house, going out into the garage or renovating a tool shed in the backyard.
Setting Up a Simple Studio in a Small Space
Why settle for just playing around when you can really tap into your musical genius with a home studio? If you’re into composing, playing and recording, you might be ready to turn that unused guest room into a simple recording studio. Along with our other soundproofing tips, which will keep noise from escaping, you’ll also want to focus on acoustic treatment options so the music that stays in sounds the best. Single set-up studios can be simple and more cost-effective, but you’ll want to consider these tips and tricks for keeping your sound just right:
Cancel feedback from electrical equipment by putting items like amps as far away from microphones as possible.
Don’t completely eliminate all sound reflection: Leave a few spots open and treat them with diffusers so the natural frequency of your music isn’t lost.
Think about highand low-end sound absorption: Most of your reflection treatments will tackle the high frequency reflections, but you’ll want to install a few bass traps in order to dampen the sound for lower frequencies.
Plan for power: Be sure to have plenty of outlets, and make sure all of them are the right wattage for your equipment.
Think seasonally: When the July high temperatures hit, will the sound of the air conditioning clicking on and blowing into your studio become background noise?
Arrange it right: Even if you’re playing solo, be sure to arrange your studio to accommodate the number of musicians who could play at one time in the space. If you host other artists down the road, this will make it easier to plan out and arrange your recording stations to maximize the best sound for the number of people who will be there at once.
Maximize your equipment: When dealing with small spaces, you also should examine how to maximize your equipment so that you have more room and fewer things for sound to bounce off of. It’s time to embrace the digital age! You can use digital instruments to keep the clutter to a minimum and, when appropriate and affordable, try using compact equipment.
Music is an incredible hobby for some, and a way of life for others. Not only will soundproofing your home help keep the peace in your family and with your neighbors, but it will also teach you some of the more scientific elements of sound and music that you may not experience just by playing an instrument. Whether to please your landlord or pacify your family, soundproofing can help you get more in touch with the instruments you love to play and the music you love to create.
Here’s a guest post from our friends over at ZingInstruments.com who are almost as obsessed about music as we are!
Have you ever felt raw emotion from listening to a piece of music? Or smiled at a long forgotten memory when a song comes on the radio? Music is a massive influence in all our lives; with over 50% of us saying we hear music every single day, it’s not surprising that it can affect us.
Here are 4 surprising ways that music can change the way you think!
Emotion A fair few people I’ve met have admitted to crying at the song ‘Fields of Gold’. Is it the lyrics about memories and forgotten friendships? Is it the slower tempo and soft notes? Who knows, but music is a huge catalyst for emotional thinking. Women in particular have been shown to use music more for mood management.
Mood management can be used for several tasks; motivation for exercise, focus for studying, crying over heartache etc. Using music can guide the brain into thinking a certain way, useful if you know how to use it.
Sports Do you plug in some earphones while completing your morning workout? You and quite a few others. But does it really help? The answer is a resounding YES. Studies have shown that listening to certain pieces of music can actually change how you think. Usually the faster paced music can alter the brain’s perception of fatigue. Basically put, music tricks your body to go a little longer and faster!
Music can change the way you think about succeeding in sport. Listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ conjures up pictures of Rocky doing an awesome workout. Surely you would want to emulate him (minus the beating)?
Memory Using music to help with recall is a popular theory that studies are trying to prove. Research has found that text with rhythm is more likely to be remembered. Familiarity with the song can also improve memory. Therefore, if you have positive thoughts about a certain piece of music, why not try listening to it while needing to remember something.
If you need to study for an exam, listening to your favourite piece of music can help embed the knowledge in your head. Sing the lyrics to yourself while in the exam and hopefully something will come back to you!
Cognition and Personality Music and cognitive abilities have been studied for decades. Can music affect the way our brains process information? Research has found that music can increase cognitive abilities; however, personality is the biggest reason for this.
People who want to take music lessons early in life benefit from increased cognitive abilities. Music may change the way you think about the world depending on your personality. A more open person may find music changing their perception of the world. If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘stop and smell the roses’; music could help you get to this nirvana of thinking.
There you have it, music can change the way you think. It can make you sad, happy, focus. Use music in various ways to help you in day to day life.
Starting piano lessons? Using a keyboard is a fun and effective way to learn piano. Many piano players opt to buy a digital keyboard over an acoustic piano for convenience, space, affordablility, and easy transport. When buying a new keyboard, there are several important factors to consider.
Sounds- Some keyboards offer 100's of different sounds such as organ, clavinet, wurlitzer, and even drum grooves to play over. Think carefully whether or not you will actually use these sounds. If you are a classical pianist you will probably only have the need for a very good piano sound.
Action- Action is how the weight of the keys feel when you press them down. Some keyboards have keys that are "weighted" and others do not. If the keyboard does not have weighted keys, the keys will press down with very little resistance, which will not feel like the sensation of playing a real piano. Keyboards that are "touch resitant" are not weighted but will recognize when you are playing in different velocities.
Size- A full size piano has 88 keys. Keyboard typically come with 88 keys, 73 keys, or 61 keys. Any of these sizes are fine for a beginner, once you get smaller than 61 keys it starts to become hard to play with both hands on the keyboard. For more advanced classical music it is helpful to have a full size keyboard.
Polyphony- Polyphony refers to the number of notes a kyeboard can play at the same time. Some low cost toy keybaords can only play one at a time. Greater polyphony allows smoother and more natural transition between notes. Digital pianos usually come with polyphony of 32, 64, 98, and 128. Click here to read more on polyphony.
Speakers- Some keyboards feature built-in speakers and others can only make sound by plugging into a separate set of speakers. You will get better sounds by plugging your keyboard into high quality speakers but it is more convenient and affordable to use the built-in speakers. Almost all keyboards with built-in speakers have the option of plugging into alternative speakers.
This is a great keyboard to learn piano on while having access to many of the technology featutes of a full-featured digital keyboard. This Casio features 600 sounds to choose from and a 6 track recorder.
This keyboard gives you the most bang for your buck. It is a superior keyboard for it's price point and is suitable for a performance setting. Many musicians prefer this keybaord over more expensive models because of it's light weight at just under 25 lbs.
This keyboard has excellent action that comes very close to the touch of a real piano. The CP40 has a superb piano sound and is a great choice for someone only looking for great acoustic piano sounds. This product lacks in competitive organ, clavinet, wurlitzer sounds.
The Nord Stage is the Ferrari of performance keyboards. The Nord Stage is well worth the money for anyone looking for a library of excellent sounds. The Nord is ideal for playing funk, soul, R&B, and electronic music with its wealth of very quality instrument sounds such as electric piano, organ, and Wurlitzer. Note that this product comes in smaller sizes.
Kara Kulpa talks about using imagination to engage preschoolers in fun and dynamic music classes.
Kara Kulpa is a Boston based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a degree in Music Therapy. Kara is the Outsourcing Director for Preschool Music Programming, Preschool Music Enrichment, and Preschool Music Teachers at Jammin' With You!
JWY!: What got you started in teaching preschool and kids music classes? KK: I have a degree in music therapy and practiced for awhile before I moved to Boston. I met Josh at Jammin' With You! and he got me started doing JamBaby classes. I thought it was so fun! I then taught a JamKids class at Beaver Summer Camp for 3-5 yrs olds and had the time of my life. I decided from that point that this was what I wanted to do.
I began booking preschool music classes all over the Newton, Natick, Sudbury, Framingham, Brookline, Wellesley, Weston, Needham, and Wayland areas. One aspect of my education that helped me a lot with successful classes, is the behavior management techniques I learned through being a therapist. Before the students can enjoy the music, you first need to engage them, and keep their attention. It takes a specific skill set it takes to get 15, four-year-olds focused on you. You’re not performing for them, you’re playing with them.
Watch Kara Kulpa at Beaver Summer Camp!
JWY!: How do you use imagination in your music classes? KK:The engagement with imagination is something that sets Jammin’ With You teachers apart from run of the mill teacher. Imagination is systematically taken out of us as we get older. We think of things as more and more specific and lose a little imagination. There’s a lot more room for creative thinking when you're kids. For example, I know I'm handing out scarves but I need to train myself to show that I’m actually handing out ice cream, maybe even broccoli flavored ice cream. The kids will be right there with you, being silly and imaginative.
JWY!:What are the different programs you bring into schools? KK:In a daycare setting we bring a combo of JamBaby and JamKidscurriculum. We’re getting up and moving around, working on impulse control, learning colors, and incorporating curriculum in fun and engaged way. If the students are learning about nature in class, the teacher will sing a nature song where the students can apply their new learning. We also use transitions between songs to reinforce learning, for example asking for only the green shakers when cleaning up. We're globalizing learning throughout each step of the class.
JWY!:What is one of your favorite songs to perform with kids? KK: There are so many songs I love to do, but one of my favorites is "I'm Just a Cowboy". When I do this song, I set it up by saying “We’re gonna go on an adventure, does anyone wanna go?” "We might encounter some things that might be scary, but we are not scared, show me brave faces!" "We’re not even afraid of rattle snakes. Can I hear, rattle snakes?" I shake bag of shakers and we pretend they are rattle snakes then pass them out. "Everyone hold onto your reins!"
Throughout the song I add in different imaginative concepts. We pretend we're coming into town, and we wave and say "howdy ma'am". Then we merge onto highway and pretend we're going faster and faster. The possibilities are endless!
Check out Kara's demonstration of I'm Just A Cowboy!
Jammin’ With You! uses music as a creative tool to help children stay connected to their inner artist. JWY! creates music-driven adventures led by expert teachers, playful and innovative teaching approaches and a commitment to bringing the arts into the lives of families everywhere. Bring Jammin' With You to your school!
It’s a fact-music lessons tend to be on the pricey side. Whether you’re the parent of a budding musician or someone who wants to learn their favorite song on the piano, funding a musical passion can be a challenge. Lessons are necessary to progress and grow as a musician, so how can you make it work? The infographic from Take Lessons below gives some great ideas on how to make small adjustments that can lead to big rewards. For example, carpooling to work can save you tons in gas money allowing you to take music lessons instead!
Play these Billboard Hits on piano, guitar, and ukulele today! Read the chord descriptions below and get playing!
1. Shape of You - Ed Sheeran (4 chords!)
Shape of You moves between the chords G, Am, Em, C. Each chord gets 1 bar (2 half notes).*
Notes in Dm chord: D-F-A Notes in Gm chord: G-Bb-D Notes in Bb chord: Bb-D-F Notes in C chord: C-E-G
Shape of You is in the meter of 2/2, meaning each bar gets 2 half notes. Once you are comfortable playing the chords, you can add the riff in the chorus. The riff alternates between the notes D-F-D, and repeats for the whole chorus. *The chords are transposed up one half step from the original key, for easier playing.
2. Attention - Charlie Puth (4 chords!)
Attention moves between the chords Dm, C, Am, Bb. Each chord gets 4 beats.
Notes in Dm chord: D-F-A Notes in C chord: C-E-G Notes in Am chord: A-C-E Notes in Bb chord: Bb-D-F
Attention uses an eighth note bass pattern, arpeggiating the notes of the chord. If you're playing piano, try incorporating the bass pattern in your left hand after you feel comfortable playing the chords.
3. Now Or Never - Halsey (4 chords!)
"Now or Never" moves between the chords C, Em, C, and Am. Each chord gets 4 beats. *
Notes in D chord: C-E-G Notes in F#m chord: E-G-B Notes in E chord: D-F#-A Notes in Bm chord: A-C-E
Throughout Now Or Never, Halsey uses an effects pedal on her voice to manipulate her tone into an "other-world" sound. A popular vocal effects pedal for vocalists is a TC Helicon. *Chords are transposed down one whole step from the original key, for easier playing.
Jammin' With You is proud to offer piano lessons, voice lessons, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, drum lessons, and flute lessons in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Gowanus, South Slope, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Boerum Hill, and Clinton Hill . JWY! has an all star list of Brooklyn teachers - this week we get to know piano teacherBelen Cusi!
Belen is a multi-lingual pianist, singer and composer by way of Argentina and Texas. She has an album under her belt, and has appeared in multiple commercials, including a McDonalds commerical. Her musical background, combined with an extensive foundation of personal development and peak performance coaching have combined to allow her to teach with passion, perception and effectiveness.
JWY: What got started in music?
BC:I started playing classical piano at 8-years-old and continued with lessons until age 21. I went to BU for journalism, but realized I couldn't give up playing piano and connected with local piano teacher and music producer Tim Lukas at Blink Music. I began singing and studying songwriting and composition. Soon after this, I began to work on my first album, "Closer".
JWY:How did you come to be featured in a McDonald's commercial!?
BC:I model and act for agency in Boston and was connected through to the commerical. I've also done print work and a few German films.
Watch Belen in a McDonald's commercial!
JWY:What made you want to teach music?
BC:I really enjoy working with kids, and wanted to find a way to give back and share my love for music. During the 5 years Ispent at Blink Music I began teaching children piano and voice - I fell in love with it.
JWY: How do you get started teaching beginners on piano?
BC:I like to use the Piano Adventures lesson book series to start lessons. This is the same book that I began with, and it's fun for kids while leaning towards classical themes. I keep kids engaged and busy throughout the lessson. If my student's have interests in other genres, I bring songs they love to supplement our lesson material.
Belen is available for Brooklyn piano lessons in Park Slope, Gowanus, South Slope, Carroll Gardens,Red Hook, Boerum Hill, and Clinton Hill, as well as Long Island. Sign-Up For Lessons With Belen!
Jammin' With You is proud to now be offering voice lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, and flute lessons in the towns of Norwell, Cohasset, Weymouth, and Hingham in South Shore. JWY! has an all star list of new South Shore teachers, and it's time to introduce them. This week we get to know vocal teacher Allyson Lynch!
JWY!: How did you get started in music?
AL: I’ve been singing my whole life. My mom jokes that I learned to sing before I learned to talk. Growing up I was involved in music class and drama club, and got hardcore into it in high school. My South Shore
highschool had an amazing music program and that's where I decided I wanted to go to music school. I went to college at theHartt School of Music, where I studied classical voice.
JWY!: What is your favorite show that you've been a part of?
AL:One of my favorite shows was when I played Jo March in Little Women. It's a powerful part, and was very meaningful to me at the point in my life when I played the part. I talk more about this role in my article How Theater Changed My Life.
JWY!: Can you talk more about being a "crossover singer"?
AL:I started out as musical theater singing, using very belting singing. As my voice matured and I sang more in chorus, I realized how much easier it was on my voice to sing classically. In my senior year of high school, I changed mind to study classical voice. Because I am still a young singer, the majority of professional work has been musical theater. As I get older I will take on more classical singing roles.
Having experience with musical theater and classical singing is very helpful in relating to my students. It has helped me connect with students, and find path to using excellent classical technique technique and applying it to popular styles.
JWY!: How do you approach vocal lessons with beginners?
AL:Many of my students are young singers under the age of 13. When I have a new singer, I ask a lot of questions, to figureout where they are and what their goals are. We study the difference between everyday breathing and low full breathing, body and vocal warm-ups, basic ear training, and solfege. As students advance, I introduce more complex warm-ups and difficult repertoire.
My lesson approach sets students up to be good auditioners. Many of my high school students are involved in multiple auditions throughout the year, and I want them be as successful as they can in every aspect of auditioning.
JWY!: What made you want to become a teacher?
AL:I was a performance major in college, I got engaged senior year of college, and my very first job was a teaching job 4-7 yr olds. I love working with singers individually on their voices and helping them get where the want to be and learns songs they love. Teaching has been the most amazing experience to connect students one on on and help them to reach their goals.
Jammin' With You is proud to now be offering music lessons in the towns of Norwell, Cohasset, Weymouth, and Hingham in South Shore. JWY! has an all star list of new South Shore teachers, and it's time to introduce them. First up - Brian Mullen!!
JWY!: How did you learn to play drums?
BM: Before formal training, I was self-taught by imitating what was being played on the radio. In high school I participated in concert band, jazz band, marching band in my high school. I got into Berklee College of Music and began formal instruction. Being a self-taught drummer has given me helpful insight into understanding my students. I aim to get students playing grooves to songs they love as soon as we can, and build in reading, theory and technique as we go along.
JWY!: What was it like being a professional musician in Nashville for 10 years?
BM: It was a great experience! When I first arrived in Nashville I began establishing myself as a drummer by playing Downtown Broadway. I played a wide range of music and bounced around every honky tonk in the area.
After networking with other artists in the area, I started to do session work. I worked at studios all around Nashville and recorded with many artists, some of whom were featured on MTV, CMT as well as shows like “American Idol”, “The Voice” and “Good Morning America”. I also began touring with several different groups. I only have 5 more states to go until I've toured in all 50 states. Living on a bus, and out of a suitcase is not always all it's cracked up to be. But it's all worth it to get that rush, playing in front of 5,000 people and seeing everyone moving and grooving. No matter what the audience size, performing is a lot of fun and I would like to help other people to experience it.
JWY!: When teaching a drum lesson, what are the first things you teach your students?
BM: I like to find a song a student loves and break it into pieces. We learn a few rudiments, and techniques, and start playing different pieces of the groove. Before long, the student is able to play grooves along to full songs.
What did you want to become a music teacher?
BM: I've been on the road for a long time and want to share my love for music with younger musicians, and spend more time with my wife and two year old son. I believe learning music is energizing and therapeutic. Music has brought such joy to my life, and I want to share it with my students.