Tag Archives: music education

How to get kids interested in music Part 3 – Teenagers

If your child already plays but is finding it increasingly hard to stay interested, read our top tips for getting them to practice here.

If you’re still hoping to get a teenager to take up the opportunity to learn an instrument before adult life takes over, some serious inspiration is required! Young people aged 11-16 have many more pre-conceived ideas about music than younger children. Any barriers they create are normally driven by peer pressure and the need to fit in. Playing an instrument is often labelled uncool or swotty and it can be hard to keep up when what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’ changes daily.

Live music is probably the biggest inspiration so tickets to a favourite band are a good place to start. This can be very expensive however so if you can’t stretch to it, remember that local bands usually play covers and find someone who is playing music that your teen will enjoy. This often works out well as most musicians you will see playing in coffee houses, shopping areas and pubs/clubs are really approachable and would be very happy to have a chat about what started them off in music and offer some tips. If you’re in the North-East of England, check out On The Case Music’s Gig Guide.

Often, teenagers who take up an instrument are motivated by a desire to learn to play a particular song that they love. You can definitely implant this as a goal if you suggest it casually and/or respond positively if they mention it. Find an online video tutorial if you can which covers the song or artist they’re interested in and offer to rent an instrument or buy a cheap one so they can have a go. Or speak to a teacher about booking a starter block of lessons as a birthday or Christmas gift. If a teenager is going to start taking lessons, it’s really important to find a teacher who is sensitive to their student’s goals and knows how to keep them interested. Your local music shop will be able to help you with this.

If you already have instruments at home, it can seem most economical to try to push your child into learning one of those (especially if you’ve always had a vision of them doing so!). However, teenagers who don’t feel really connected to the instrument they play hardly ever continue long term. If they have a real interest in a particular instrument, try to accommodate it by borrowing or renting initially.

How to get kids interested in music Part 2 – Primary School

Remember that children aged 6-10 tend to have a very narrow view of what ‘music’ is. So far, they have really only experienced classroom singing and whatever artists you enjoy listening to at home. If you would like your child to take more interest in music, take time to explore different styles and different instruments with them and look out for what gets a strong reaction. As well as listening to classical, rock, pop, jazz, film and choral music, watch videos online of people playing instruments and name them together so your child starts to build a picture of how an orchestra, rock band and choir are built and which instruments make the sounds they are most attracted to.

Your primary school child is the perfect age to begin taking weekly lessons on an instrument so once you’ve identified the main candidates, see what opportunities are available through their school. There might be group lessons or a guitar/keyboard club, for example. Schools also increasingly offer ukulele lessons, steel pans and world drumming so listen out for what’s inspiring your kids at school and see if there is a ready made opportunity you can help them to make the most of.

All good music shops will be able to point you in the right direction for private teachers of many different instruments and be able to help you choose someone who is good with children. Often, teachers can offer taster lessons or a meet-up where you and your child can get to know more about them and the instrument they teach to make sure it’s the right one. Also, consider rental schemes through school or your local music shop if you are concerned about buying an instrument straight away. Many children dabble with several instruments before settling on the right one(s) for them.

Playing an instrument isn’t the only route into music. Your child might prefer to sing in a choir or join a stage school to explore their musical potential. Dance is another great creative outlet, and often leads to taking up an instrument later on.

If your children are interested in taking up an instrument and you have any questions or concerns, here at enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop we’re open 7 days a week and we’re always very happy to have a chat with you.

How to get kids interested in music Part 1 – Preschoolers

Many parents ask us how to bring music into their children’s lives from an early age so they are used to seeing and playing instruments and will be able to progress naturally to learning to play. Here are a few of our top tips for making music with very young children:

1) Buy small percussion instruments. Try to explore different methods of making sound such as shaking and banging. Also, vary the texture of the sounds so you have a mixture of instruments suitable for different types of music making.

2) Play along to a favourite TV theme tune together and choose children’s TV programmes which regularly contain a song and/or dance number to play and sing along to. Instead of just banging away, encourage your child to match the rhythm and dynamics (loud/quiet) of each song and to choose an instrument that fits it best. Or read a story together and use your instruments to make sound effects. Try to be imaginative and explore the different sounds you can get from each instrument!

3) Draw on any experience you have yourself, even if it’s a little while ago! If you can sing or play, make time to do this so your child gets used to seeing it. Your first instinct will probably be to keep small children away from an expensive instrument but instead, teach your child to handle your instruments gently, even if they’re too young to play it.

4) Many people are surprised to find that you can introduce children as young as 2-3 to a simple instrument like the ukulele. Ukes are cheap, very easy to learn and great starter instruments for all the family to learn together :-).  For more info on starting to play the uke read our blog here.

5) Most areas have music groups and classes aimed at very young children and their parents. If you’re in the North East, Sweet Symphony School of Music and Piccolo Music are great places to start making music with your children.

Why not pop into enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop and see our great selection of percussion and ukuleles?

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.

North Tyneside Music Hub Raffle Results

Thank you sooo much to everyone who bought and sold raffle tickets to support North Tyneside Music Hub. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back because we raised nearly £1000!!!

The winning tickets are:
1st: 1365 (Electric Guitar Package – claimed)
2nd: 0834 (£25 Shopping Vouchers – claimed)
3rd: 1108 (£25 Shopping Vouchers)
Congratulations to all our winners 🙂

North Tyneside Music Education Hub (NTMEH) offer brilliant music opportunities to young people across the county including orchestras, choirs, steel pan bands, training bands and loads more. Most of these activities are free of charge which is why every penny we raised is so important. If your children would like to get involved, you can find out more at http://www.ntmeh.org.uk/.

As the guitar package was donated by enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop and the shopping vouchers were kindly provided by the management at Royal Quays, the full amount of your donations will go towards supporting music for young people.

Thanks again for your support!

NTMEH Concert

Which is the right size violin for my child?

Violins are one of the hardest instruments to size correctly. Ideally, we love to see you in store with your young violinist so we can measure them up and give you complete confidence that you’re buying the right size violin. However, if it’s a surprise, we understand that’s not always possible. Here are a few things you can do to give you a great chance of choosing the right size AND keeping a fantastic present secret until the right moment:

1) If your child is renting or borrowing a beginner violin from school already, tell us what size it is when you come in, or bring it with you. There is usually a little tab on the case with the size on and many brands have it inside too.

2) It’s a great idea to ask the violin teacher whether they think the current violin will be the right size for a reasonable length of time. You don’t want to buy one and then find the teacher recommends moving up to a bigger size next term!

3) Come up with a sneaky way of measuring your child’s reach (pretend it’s for their school uniform!). If you do manage to do this, the perfect position is with the arm stretched out ahead, palm upwards, from the crease of the shoulder to the base of the middle finger.

We offer a great selection of student and intermediate Stentor violins in store and also on our website at http://www.enjoymuzic.com/acatalog/buy-violins.html

Girl Playing Violin

Learning music is cheaper than you think!

This time of year is a worry for many parents whose children are fired up with the idea of starting to play an instrument. There’s no need to spend a fortune however. Here’s a quick idea of the starting prices for beginner instruments at enjoymuzic this year. And remember, a bit of friendly advice is free so if you have any questions before you buy, just pop in!

Ukulele packages from £16.99
Recorders from £3.50
3/4 Guitars from £34.70
Flute & Clarinet outfits from £120 (or rent for just £36 for 3 months!)
Trumpet outfits from £135 (also available to rent)
Violin outfits from £79.99
Touch Sensitive Electronic Keyboard outfits from £139
Digital Pianos outfits from £324

There’s loads more to see instore and we’re open every day!

Check out our more detailed tips on buying a guitar, choosing a beginner flute or which ukulele to buy!

Can I photocopy music?

What Is Copyright Image

In these days of digital downloads, scanning and photocopiers, I am often asked whether it’s OK to make copies of music. Teachers, choir leaders and students often run into this problem. We understand it can be a contentious issue as the price of printed music keeps escalating and paying audiences continue to dwindle so here’s a few quick FAQs for you…

– Copying for performance purposes:

1) Owning one copy of, for example, a choral piece does NOT entitle you to make copies of it since the price is based on the cost of publishing etc for that one individual copy. If your group intends to perform a work, you must either buy or hire enough original versions to support your performance. This also applies to downloads where you must pay for the number of copies you intend to use.

THIS ALSO APPLIES TO MAKING HANDWRITTEN COPIES!

2) Anyone may copy individual pages for the purpose of performance to avoid difficult page turns. It is considered best practice to destroy these after the final performance.

3) If you own an original copy of a piece, you may make one enlarged copy for the purposes of easier viewing.

4) Many people assume you can photocopy music which is out of print. However, the copyright still rests with the original owner and as they may have chosen to cease production for a variety of reasons, the only legal way to access out of print works is to contact the publisher who will tell you whether copyright still exists. The publisher will either then agree to print it and give you a price, tell you why they can’t or give you express permission to make a certain number of copies.

– Copying for education purposes:

1) Educators may NOT use their own arrangements of copyrighted music. Many teachers will find this surprising, however since the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 came into being, the right to do so has been expressly prohibited. There are some very limited exceptions covered by strict Music Publishers Association guidelines but these don’t really allow for performance of works without express permission from the publisher. This normally doesn’t include just simplifying or transposing music providing the original character is maintained. If in doubt, check with the publisher.

2) Educators may copy fragments or pages of music for use in the classroom or use in exam questions. Whole works may not be used in this way without the prior permission of the copyright owner who can usually be contacted via the publisher. The exception to this is examinations which involve performance of a work for which a legitimate copy must be used.

3) Large ensemble works which are only sold complete (ie: the instrumental parts are not available to purchase separately) may be copied provided the total amount of photocopies does not exceed the equivalent of a quarter of the number of parts originally purchased.

– Sampling

Another similar topic which is increasingly relevant is that of sampling other composers’ work and the rules are very similar to the copyrights for whole works. If the sample is recognisable as part of an already published work (whether it is several bars, a few seconds or less), you may only use it with the express permission of the copyright owner. This also applies to lyrics.

Further reading:

Music In The Digital Age : Allen Bargfrede & Cecily Mak Hal Leonard
http://www.enjoymuzic.com/acatalog/Music-Law-In-The-Digital-Age-9780876390993.html

The Music Publishers Association http://www.mpaonline.org.uk/

 

This information is correct as of 26/07/2014. However, as things are always subject to change, the one main rule of thumb is if you aren’t sure, ask the publisher or copyright owner.

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.

What is a Metronome? (And why do I need one?)

A range of Wittner Piccolo Metronomes.
A range of Wittner Piccolo Metronomes.

A metronome is used to help a musician to play on the beat and keep the rhythm and speed of the piece steady and consistent. You can also use it to tell you how fast the music should be played.

There are two main types of metronome and it’s important to choose the one that will be best for you…

Traditional Metronomes:

These metronomes are normally a pyramid shape and can be made of plastic or wood. They operate on a mechanical system like a clock pendulum with a weight which you manually adjust up and down to change the speed. The Wittner branded ones tend to be more reliable like these funky coloured Wittner Taktell Piccolo Metronomes or the more traditional Maelzel Pyramid Metronome, like this mahogany coloured one. For a cheaper alternative, try the Cherub metronome range.

Great if..
You play a static instrument, like piano.
You find watching the backwards and forwards motion helps you to play in time.

Not for you if…
You want to carry your metronome with you to lessons or rehearsals.
You find the weight hard to adjust and prefer buttons!

Digital Metronomes…

Digital metronomes are much smaller than a traditional one and are normally significantly cheaper. You control the speed of the beats with buttons and they often perform other useful functions too. Make sure you hear this type of metronome before buying since the noises they make vary from a simulated ticking to beeps which can be rather annoying.

Great if…
You need it to be small and portable.
You play an instrument which requires a tuner, since many brands offer a metronome/tuner combo, like this Planet Waves Metrotuner.
You are on a tight budget.

Not for you if…
You find a visual aid useful in addition to hearing the beat.
You don’t like gadgets!