Category Archives: Top Ten…

How can I get my child to do their music practice?

Here are our 5 top tips to achieve regular and effective practice between music lessons…

1) Don’t set unrealistic goals.

10-15 minutes good practice 5 times a week will achieve a much better result than an hour crammed in before a lesson, or no practice at all because you can’t fit in a longer session around other activities. Without the pressure to set aside an enormous amount of time, children will often play for longer by choice (or by accident!) once they get into a routine of little and often.

2) Treat regular instrument practice in the same way that you treat other homework.

You wouldn’t let them off Maths homework would you? By treating music lessons with the same importance yourself, you are setting an example to your child. Even if you don’t play yourself, or them wanting music lessons seems like a bit of an unusual choice, by gently giving the message that you expect it to be taken seriously, you are giving them the best chance of making the most of the opportunity they have.

3) Make sure your child has all the necessary tools to work with.

If playing an instrument is a new venture, it is understandable to make a minimal financial investment until you are sure your child is committed to learning to play, especially if they tend to get bored with things. However, there are two things which are proven to improve the chance of them sticking to music lessons. A stand for their instrument so it is on display instead of hidden away in a case means that if they only have a few minutes to spare, it’s easy to pick up and play. It’s also less likely to be forgotten until just before the next lesson, or damaged accidentally. Also, a music stand will make it easier to practice in the correct position and achieve progress more quickly. It’s impossible to follow all of a teacher’s rules if you’re leaning over the bed or sofa to see your book!

4) Be aware of the reasons why your child might be avoiding playing.

It’s less likely that your child will stop playing because they dislike doing it and far more likely that other factors will play a part. The most common are peer pressure, other activities, reaching a point where it seems hard to progress (a plateau) and issues with the teacher. It’s very easy to get into a battle of wills over music practice but a quick chat to see if any of these are causing a problem is much more productive and less stressful.

Often, it’s simply the style of music being played that causes frustration. Most teachers are very happy to mix in modern pop and rock, jazz or other styles to keep things interesting. Don’t be afraid to approach them and ask.

5) Encourage involvement in group music opportunities.

Students who play in orchestras, jazz groups, rock bands and even sing in choirs have a better track record for continuing to play. Find out what activities are available at school or get in touch with your local Music Hub who will be offering all sorts of music groups for all abilities throughout your area. In North Tyneside, you can visit www.ntmeh.co.uk to see all the fabulous, free activities your child can enjoy.

12 Days of Secret Santa!

enjoymuzic’s 12 Days of Secret Santa is a collection of fun bran tub and stocking filler pressie ideas for all musicians and all budgets!

Day 1
£5.99 : The Bottle Axe – For every guitarist who enjoys a beer or two over Christmas. A guitar shaped bottle opener with its own gig bag!

Day 2
£3.49 : Chocolate Pianos – Everyone loves chocolate!  Mini Chocolate Grand Pianos in yummy Belgian Chocolate.  We’ve tested them! 😉

Day 3
£4.99 : Noisy Penguin – Silly, Christmassy and Noisy. Perfect for Christmas fun!

 

Day 4
Music Pencils – At 2 for £1, the perfect gift for any Christmas budget.

Day 5
£9.98 : Hotsticks Designer Drum Sticks – Cool drumming needs Hot Sticks and they don’t come much hotter than this!

Day 6
£4.50 or 2 for £8 : Band Keyrings – If you know someone who’s crazy about their favourite band treat them to an official bit of band merchandise.

Day 7
£7.50 : Black Music Stand – A substantial and useful music gift for under a tenner.

Day 8
£4.99 : Socks – Granny’s fave Xmas gift has had a makeover!

Day 9
£5.99 : Feadog Tin Whistle Gift Pack – Fab fun for any musician or beginner and it even comes with instructions.

Day 10
£7 : Scented Candles in a Music Tin – Perfect For Making A Cold Windy Evening Warm & Cosy!

Day 11
Pick Tins – Be a guitarist’s top pick this Xmas with these funky artist pick tins full of picks.

Day 12
Music Mugs – Every musician needs a music mug for the staff room, office or to brighten up their morning cuppa!

For all these and more great music gift ideas visit www.enjoymuzic.com or our Royal Quays store near North Shields.

Top 10 music blogs and review sites

1) If you play ukulele, check out this fab blog packed full of tips, tricks and reviews by the well-known ukulele author and teacher Brett McQueen. http://www.ukuleletricks.com/blog/

Being the online presence The Guitarist magazine, it seems only natural that Music Radar would host some of the best guitar resources online, including these two….

2) Learn something new and improve your technique at http://www.musicradar.com/guitartechniques

3) Don’t buy an expensive piece of kit until you’ve read the reviews at http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/guitars

4) Everything you need to know to be a healthy and happy gigging musician from http://www.musicianwages.com/

5) Everything from creating a fab website for your band to tips on dealing with an agent http://www.musicthinktank.com/ deals with the big issues of the day affecting both professional and amateur band members.

6) If you enjoy supporting new artists and want to know about the next rising star before everyone else, surprisingly one of the best places to be is the BBC! http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/introducing

7) Stay in touch with the Classical music scene at http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music – CD reviews, performer interviews and brilliant snippets of trivia.

8) All the latest gossip from the Jazz world http://thejazzbreakfast.com/

9) Although it’s the blog of Alex Ross (the music critic at the New Yorker), http://www.therestisnoise.com/ also features reviews of the most influential productions and performances happening around Europe, as well as fascinating articles about musicians old and new.

10) http://www.soundonsound.com/ is one of the most informative music technology websites with an active and friendly forum for all your questions on set-ups, recording and software.

Top 10 tips for choosing a flute

1) If you have a flute teacher already, get some advice.

Your teacher can tell you which brands of flute would best suit your style of playing and also how quickly they expect you to progress. Remember though, your teacher wants the best for you and may be inclined to be idealistic – this often means suggesting flutes which are outside of the price bracket you are ready to commit to if you haven’t been playing long.

2) Try before you buy.

Even if you don’t play at all yet, you can gain something from just holding different flutes and taking into account the different weight and balance. If you already play, the tone quality and the action of the keys will be more pleasing on particular instruments. This is not a very exact science so you need to be prepared to listen to your heart as well as your head to get the right flute for you.

3) Does silver content really matter?

YES! The silver content isn’t there to make it look pretty, it drastically improves the tone of the flute. Any silver is a bonus but look out particularly for a silver-plated head joint in cheaper instruments or a solid silver one in more expensive flutes. The John Packer JP011 student flute is the only one on the market to offer full silver-plating at a beginner price.

4) Consider the pros and cons of second hand flutes.

You may be able to get a better quality flute by buying second hand. However, even if you buy from a shop, pre-owned instruments don’t always come with a warranty. The set-up on a flute is very delicate and the keywork or pads can become worn. Don’t buy second hand in a private sale unless you can take someone with you to try the flute who already plays well and would be able to spot any issues.

5) The technical stuff.

The standard requirements for a beginner flute would normally be:

– Closed hole (solid keys instead of rings with holes in the middle called ‘open hole’).
– Split E Mechanism (or ‘mech’). This just refers to the way of playing some of the notes and is by far the most common set-up on beginner instruments.
– Offset G key. The G key sticks out and is therefore considered easier for beginners to handle. Inline G is not a complete no-no – just make sure it’s comfortable and easy to find.
– C foot joint (rather than a ‘B’ foot).

6) Look out for Rental Schemes.

Many music shops offer instrument rental so you can learn for a while before you commit to buying your own flute. If you rent your flute from enjoymuzic, we deduct the amount you have already paid if you decide to buy at the end of your rental. Ask your local store if they offer any similar incentives.

7) Don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can afford.

Everyone with an interest in music will have an opinion on the flute you choose but as long as you and your teacher are happy with it, all that matters is that it suits your CURRENT needs. A well regarded budget brand flute will take you to around Grade 5 (approx 4-6 years) and will last longer if you don’t plan to take exams.

8) What age can my child start playing the flute?

This depends, in part, on the height of the child and the length of their arms. Around 8 is the minimum age that many flute teachers will consider. However, if your child is petite for their age or you are planning to start younger then you can go for a curved head flute. This will bring the keys closer to them and is normally sold with a straight head to move onto as they grow.

9) Don’t get bogged down by ‘what-ifs’

What if I don’t take to it? What if my child progresses past the quality of the flute I buy? What if…. A well kept flute will always fetch a good second hand price. Whether you sell because you stop playing or to contribute to an upgrade, you will often find your teacher or school know someone who is in the exact position you’re in right now and will be glad to buy from you.

10) Don’t skimp on the accessories.

A flute is a big purchase and it’s understandable not to want to spend loads extra. However, keeping your flute properly on the inside and outside will have plenty of long term benefits. Ideally a flute mop or pull-through to clean the inside after playing and a silver polishing cloth for the outside will get you started. Also, if you don’t already have one at home, a music stand is essential to help achieve the correct posture while playing. On the flip side, don’t let anyone sell you any ‘extras’ you aren’t sure about unless you know exactly what it’s for and can see how you will benefit from using it.

And finally….

If you’re not sure, ask.

In a good music shop, you should feel able to keep asking questions until you feel confident about your choice. If you aren’t sure or you don’t feel your questions are being answered, walk away and try another store or sleep on it to give yourself time to digest all the info.

Top 10 Most Annoying Christmas Songs/Hits

Following our Top Ten Favourite Christmas Tunes, here’s the ones we can’t stand!  How about you?

1) All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
I want you to get them as well – so I can knock them out for you!!
2) Driving home for Christmas
3) Santa Baby
4) Last Christmas (I gave you my heart)
5) Lonely This Christmas

6) When We Collide – Matt Cardle
7) There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma – St Winifred’s School Choir
8) Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby
9) Earth Song – Miichael Jackson
10) That’s My Goal – Shayne Ward

Top Ten Christmas Songs/Hits

Which Christmas songs give you that warm, fuzzy, festive feeling and which ones make you long for Boxing Day? Here are our favourite Xmas songs and also our favourite Christmas No.1 singles…

1) Step into Christmas
2) Do you hear what I hear?
3) Walking in a Winter Wonderland
4) Do They Know It’s Christmas?
5) Fairytale of New York

6) Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
7) I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
8) I Have a Dream – Westlife
9) Mad World – Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules
10) MoonRiver – Danny Williams

This is just our opinion – tell us what you think or treat yourself to a nostalgic look at the Christmas No.1 list.

Take a look at… The Christmas songs we REALLY hate – oh dear!!

Top ten guitar accessories (part two)…

More top tools and gadgets to help you always sound your best and perfect gift ideas for your favourite guitarist.  If you haven’t seen part one yet, here it is… Top ten guitar accessories (part one)

6)  Capo – barre chords made easy!

Play in any key whatever your ability. Cover all 6 strings to change the pitch and make it more suitable for singing or playing. There are loads of different styles and price brackets of capo. We love the ‘quick change’ designs.

7)  Fast fret – for ease of movement!

Don’t get stuck to your fretboard! Keeping your fingerboard well maintained with Fast Fret will improve your speed and make your playing smoother and more comfortable. All the best guitarists use it – give it a try today and feel the difference!

8)  Music Stand – seeing your music makes it easier to play!

It’s easy to ‘get along’ without a stand for your music. However, being able to put your tutor book in a comfortable position AND maintain a good playing posture can catapult your playing forward.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a music stand. Our range start at £8.99.

9)  Foot stool – great posture starts at the bottom!

Guitar footstools are aimed at Classical or Spanish guitar players and if you have a nylon string guitar with no strap, a foot stool will make you much more comfortable when you play. However, if you need a bit of extra support, try a footstool with your steel string or electric guitar to take the pressure off your neck and shoulders and help you to position your wrist better.

10) Slide – sustain & glide!

If you’re a country or blues music enthusiast, a good slide is essential. If you haven’t used one before, a glass one is lighter and easier to control but for full-on resonance, a metal guitar slide is ideal for intermediate and advanced players.

If the guitarist in your life has all these accessories (and more!), have a look at our great range of gifts for guitarists for some brilliant birthday and Christmas ideas.

Top ten guitar accessories (part one)…

The top tools and gadgets to help you always sound your best and perfect gift ideas for your favourite guitarist.

1)  Tuner – because your guitar won’t sound right without it!

Unless you’re one of the 1 in 10,000 people who have perfect pitch, a tuning device is essential. Strings stretch and contract while you’re playing and also with changes in temperature so even if your guitar is tuned once a week by a teacher, you should ideally tune every time you play. If you’re using learning aids with a backing CD, your guitar needs to be bang in tune to sound right, even if you’re hitting the correct notes! This also applies if you play with other people, either in a class or a band.

Tuning with a tuner is easy, particularly with one like the Snark clip-on tuner which has a nice, easy-to-follow display.

NB: Many people use the ‘fifth fret rule’ so your guitar will sound ok. However, if your guitar is never checked on a tuner, you still risk snapping a string through over-tightening.

2)  Gig bag – because your guitar deserves protection!

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a carry bag. How much you choose to spend will depend on the value of your guitar. We prefer bags with a side opening zip (less chance of damage to the tuning pegs!) and back-pack straps make it easy to carry. We offer a budget price TGI student guitar gig bag and also a more padded version.

3)  Stand – got 5 minutes? Spend it playing your guitar!

One of the main reasons people don’t play their guitar is that they feel they must set aside a long period of time for practice. However, if your guitar is standing safely and easily accessible, you can achieve a lot in short bursts of 5 – 10 minutes. Also, guitars tend to get left out anyway and being knocked over whilst leaning against a wall or sofa is the biggest cause of damaged instruments.

There are many styles of guitar stand including lightweight (ideal for taking to gigs and also in smaller spaces), stands with a backrest and we even offer the Hercules guitar hanger to store your guitar on the wall!

4)  Pick selection – different pick, different sound!

The pick you choose will depend what music you want to play. A harder pick will make a louder, brasher sound whereas the thinner ones create a gentler tone. The different gauges also feel different in your hand, so your grip is a factor too. Musician and Band or character picks make a great gift for a guitarist.

Guitar picks are pretty cheap, so grab a few different ones and see what works best for you!

5)  Strap – for posture, support and character!

Your guitar strap is a great accessory as the price range and variety of designs is enormous. From bands and artists, to cartoon characters, slogans, leather, suede – they all do the job, although a little extra padding is a great idea if you play a lot.

See our selection of guitar straps, from less than £6.

Click here to see part two…