Summer break comes with schedule and routine changes for students. There are many questions about continuing with music lessons over the summer, going to summer camps, and practicing over trips.
If you plan to be in town for most of the summer, it can be beneficial for your student stick with music lessons throughout the summer or attend a music camp likeCreative Arts Camp. Any time a student spends away from an instrument will be time they have to spend regaining their skills when they start back-up.
If you are going to be traveling or in day camps all summer students can maintain their current skills by practicing their past year's material. Make a list of 5-10 of their favorite songs and encourage them to sit at the piano once a day to review. This is a great time to memorize familiar repertoire.
If you decide to stick with lessons over the summer it's nice to take on special projects. If there's a more difficult your child has been dying to learn you could decide with your teacher to stop working out of the book and work on 8 bars of that song every week. If your child enjoys composing music, your teacher can help your child compose their own song and even record it. This is also a great time for your child to get together with friends and play as a band.
Many parents ask what they should do about music practice when they are on vacation. The answer depends on the nature of your trip, how long you will be gone, and your child's preference. If you are going on a short vacation where you will be busy everyday it's most likely best to take a break from practice. Sometimes a week's break can be good for a practice routine, and your child will come back with more inspiration and focus.
If you are going on a trip where you'll have more free time it can be fun to bring along your instrument. This is a nice opportunity to go over old favorite songs, have sing-a-longs, or learn new fun songs. When I was a child I would take my flute on camping trips with my family and play out in the grass by the lake.
There are many great music summer camps for kids. Unless it's part of their school curriculum, most kids don't get a great number of opportunities to play their instrument in a group. Summer camp is a great chance for them to learn to new material and experience the joy and power of playing as part of an ensemble. They'll also build new friendships along the way and be inspired by kids with their same interests.
Here are some cool gadgets for practicing away from home:
VOX amPlug ($39.00)- This nifty device creates the sound of a guitar amp, but through headphones. It plugs into your guitar and then directly into headphones. Using this will give a much more rewarding sound than practicing an electric guitar with no amp.
Roll-up Piano - There are many models of the foldable piano, they are very easy to transport. Note that these pianos are best for beginners only playing a few notes at a time. The keys don't actually physically push down so it is more to practice finger positions. These pianos can be very fun and useful for beginners.
Drum Practice Pad ($15.00-$50.00)- Practice pads are great to bring along to practice rudiments and snare patterns. Foldable drums sets with practice pads are also available.
In a music lesson, students receive many new tools and skill building techniques. The sooner your child practices after a lesson, the easier and more productive the whole week of practicing will be.
Students should aim to review lesson material with a parent for 3-5 minutes the SAME day as their lesson. This will solidify all the instructions from the lesson - including technique, dynamics, new material, and special areas to work on. Students will also be more likely to start practice earlier in the week with a chip of practice already out of the way. Here are some fun ways to build lesson review into your routine:
Have your child give a "mini-lesson" to a parent or sibling using all the new information they learned from their music lesson. Kids love to teach their parents and give them their own assignments.
Film your child and give them a pretend news interview on their music assignments.
Have your child play their music pieces, and try to guess what they were assigned.
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!
Do you ever hear a song on the radio and wish you could play it? Now you can in a matter of minutes. Looks at the easy piano songs below and play the notes in each chord.
1. Shape of You - Ed Sheeran (4 chords!) Shape of You repeats the chords Cmin, Fmin, Ab, and Bb for the whole song. Each chord gets 2 beats. Notes in Cmin chord: C-Eb-G . Notes in Fmin chord: F-Ab-C Notes in Ab chord: Ab-C-Eb Notes in Bb chord: Bb-D-F
2. Mercy - Shawn Mendes (4 chords!) Mercy repeats the chords Emin, G, Bmin, and A until the bridge. At the bridge the chords change to G, Bmin, D, A. Then back to the original pattern! Each chord gets 2 beats for the whole song.
Notes in Emin chord: E-G-B Notes in G chord: G-B-D Notes in Bmin chord: B-D-F# Notes in A chord: A-C#-E Notes in D chord: D-F#-A
3. 24K Magic - Bruno Mars (3 chords!) 24K Magic repeats the chords Emin7 and Am7 for the whole song except the prechorus. Each chord gets 4 beats. At the prechorus, the chords change to C and Em. The C gets 2 beats, the Em chord gets 6 beats.
Notes in Emin7 chord: E-G-B-D Notes in Emin chord: E-G-B Notes in Am7 chord: A-C-E-G Notes in C chord: C-E-G