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6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Posted on 5 December, 2015 at 0:55 Comments comments (0)

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter


Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.


Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.


Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good


As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.


Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”


We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.


Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.


But life doesn’t work like this.


Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.


Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”


Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.


Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.


Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?


Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”


Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.


Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.


Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?


Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”


It’s not easy failing, is it?


That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.


It’s terrifying.


We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, “You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”


But we do it anyway.


And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”


We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.


What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.


Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.


What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.


Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”


Jealousy is a strong emotion.


When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.


Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.


The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.


These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

How to tell if your Child is Musically Gifted

Posted on 24 November, 2015 at 6:10 Comments comments (0)

Step 1


Watch your toddler as he moves. According to an article in the "Digest of Gifted Research" published by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, musically advanced toddlers tend to have a rhythmic way of moving. They might tap their toes, sway or walk in time to music. When you play music together, your musically gifted child will naturally beat a drum in time to the tune or tap a tambourine on beat. According to KidsHealth, the average child can keep time sporadically as he gets closer to age 3, whereas a child with natural musical talent will demonstrate this ability prior to age 3 -- and keep time more often than not.

Step 2


Listen to your child when he talks about what he hears. Musically gifted children are often more aware of sounds than other children. Your child may talk about noisy cars, flowing water, music coming from the neighbor's house, or music you play in the car.

Step 3


Test your toddler at home by playing music for him. See if he notices when an instrument is out of tune. You can also play or sing a simple song -- and make a mistake in the melody. A musically gifted child is likely to notice when something is wrong. Ask your child if he can repeat a tune he hears; young children with musical talent can often catch onto a melody easily -- or effectively mimic the sounds of instruments they hear in a tune.

Step 4


Encourage your child to play instruments. For example, demonstrate how to play the piano -- and then give her some time at the piano to see if she tries to reproduce a melody or beat she hears. She might even surprise you and come up with something wonderfully original!

Step 5


Evaluate your child with the help of a professional. You can ask a local music teacher to evaluate him, or if you live near a university with a music program, call and see if someone there might evaluate your talented tyke. If your child is particularly talented, you might want to enroll him in music lessons -- and eventually apply to a school that specializes in gifted children.


How Music Helps Children

Posted on 12 November, 2015 at 10:40 Comments comments (0)

Between Football and scouts, your school-age kid's schedule is loaded with fun activities. If you're on the fence about adding music classes to the list, take note of the benefits that come with signing your little one up for violin or piano lessons. Maybe she won't be the next Beethoven, but she may have an easier time learning math, practicing good manners (including patience!), and becoming a team player. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a group based music education.


It improves academic skills.


Music and math are highly intertwined. By understanding beat, rhythm, and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns. It seems that music wires a child's brain to help him better understand other areas of math. As kids get older, they'll start reciting songs, calling on their short-term memory and eventually their long-term memory. Using a mnemonic device to do this is a method that can later be applied to other memory skills. Musical instrument classes also introduce young children to basic physics. For instance, plucking the strings on a guitar or violin teaches children about harmonic and sympathetic vibrations. Even non-string instruments, such as drums and the vibraphone, give big kids the opportunity to explore these scientific principles.


It develops physical skills.


Certain instruments, such as percussion, help children develop coordination and motor skills; they require movement of the hands, arms, and feet. This type of instrument is great for high-energy kids. String and keyboard instruments, like the violin and piano, demand different actions from your right and left hands simultaneously. Instruments not only help develop ambidexterity, but they can also encourage children to become comfortable in naturally uncomfortable positions. Enhancing coordination and perfecting timing can prepare children for other hobbies, like dance and sports.


It cultivates social skills.


Group classes require peer interaction and communication, which encourage teamwork, as children must collaborate to create a crescendo or an accelerando. If a child is playing his instrument too loudly or speeding up too quickly, he'll need to adjust. It's important for children to know and understand their individual part in a larger ensemble. The Music Booth Academy offers general music education classes, in which teachers split students into groups and assign each child a task. Whether a team is responsible for choosing instruments or creating a melody, students work toward a common goal.


It refines discipline and patience.


Learning an instrument teaches children about delayed gratification. The violin, for example, has a steep learning curve. Before you can make a single sound, you must first learn how to hold the violin, how to hold the bow, and where to place your feet. Playing an instrument teaches kids to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals, such as performing with a band or memorizing a solo piece. Private lessons and practicing at home require a very focused kind of attention for even 10 minutes at a time. Group lessons, in which students learn to play the same instruments in an ensemble, also improve patience, as children must wait their turn to play individually. And in waiting for their turns and listening to their classmates play, kids learn to show their peers respect, to sit still and be quiet for designated periods of time, and to be attentive.


It boosts self-esteem.


Lessons offer a forum where children can learn to accept and give constructive criticism. Turning negative feedback into positive change helps build self-confidence. Group lessons, in particular, may help children understand that nobody, including themselves or their peers, is perfect, and that everyone has room for improvement. Presenting yourself in public is an important skill whether you become a professional musician or not. This skill is easily transferrable to public speaking, and of course once a child is advanced enough, she'll possess musical skills that will help her stand out.


It introduces children to other cultures.


By learning about and playing a variety of instruments, kids can discover how music plays a critical role in other cultures. For instance, bongos and timbales may introduce children to African and Cuban styles of music. Although the modern-day violin has roots in Italy, learning to play it exposes children to classical music popularized by German and Austrian musicians. Versatile instruments, such as the violin and piano, can accompany a wide repertoire of styles, including classical and jazz (which originated in the American South). It's important to familiarize children with other cultures at a young age because this fosters open-mindedness about worlds and traditions beyond the ones they know.


How to choose the right instrument

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What to Consider When Selecting an Instrument


Ultimately, the instrument you and your child choose should depend on a number of factors. Here's a list of questions to consider before bringing home a new music maker:


Is your child excited about the instrument? Does she like the way it sounds and feels?


Is the instrument too challenging or is it not challenging enough (for both you and your child)?


Does your child's temperament match the instrument?


Can you afford the instrument and the maintenance that comes with it?


As a parent, do you like the sound enough to listen to your child practice it for hours at home?


Is your child specifically interested in a particular music style? If so, factor that into your instrument choice, as some specifically cater to certain styles. For instance, a violin player will have a hard time fitting in a jazz ensemble.


Experts don't always agree on which instruments are best for big kids to learn, but many music teachers do agree that it's hard to go wrong with the piano, percussion (like the drum or xylophone), recorder, guitar, or violin.