Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Music needs purpose

"Music's at its best when it has a purpose." Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder (born Edward Louis Severson; December 23, 1964) is an American musician, singer and songwriter best known as a member of the rock band Pearl Jam, with whom he performs lead vocals and is one of three guitarists. He is known for his powerful baritone vocals.

Source: Wikipedia



Monday, 12 September 2016

Singing Tips for Beginners


Singing tips for beginners


If you are new to singing then it is important that you get some good advice so you know what areas to focus on first. Here are some singing tips for beginners to give you a great start….

Vocal warm ups

Before you begin your singing it will be very helpful for you to do a vocal warm-up. This will allow you to sing with more freedom and will help you to sing for longer without fatigue. Just as a professional athlete will do some stretches before starting their training, it is important to warm-up your vocal chords by doing certain exercises such as lip trills so that when it’s time to sing you are in top condition.

Find you singing range

When you start singing you will want to know what your singing range is. This is simply the highest and lowest notes you can sing. Knowing what your range is will help you to find songs that suit your voice. The bbc have a great resource to help you with that here.

Make recordings of yourself singing

What you hear when you are singing is not what other people here. This is because when you sing/or talk, your ear is stimulated by the internal vibrations from the bones in your neck and your head and this will lead your to think your voice is a bit deeper than it actually is. Most people who hear a recording of them talking or singing for the first time are a little shocked because their voice is a couple of notes higher than they thought it was. Listening to yourself sing is a good way to objectively judge your singing so you know what areas you need to improve.

Listen to singers you admire

Not only can you pick-up some great tips from watching some of your favorite singers such as how they present themselves on stage and some of the singing techniques they apply, but you can often get inspired by their music and it make you want to get out there and sing yourself.

Vary the volume as you sing

Singing a song all the way through at the same volume can sometimes be a little boring and robotic. If you emphasize certain words in a song it can help to bring more emotion to the song and make it more interesting to the audience.

Decide on face-to-face lessons or a singing program

The best way to accelerate your singing ability to get some tuition. A singing coach will be able to teach you how to perform the different singing exercises properly and lay-out a clear plan for you to follow so you make progress a lot quicker than if you are learning on your own. The best choice is to get a good private singing teacher as they can offer you immediate feedback and tailor make the lessons for your needs. It is not always cost effective and convenient to hire a coach so the next best choice would be one of the singing programs there are available to download onto your computer. Some of these are taught by world class singing coaches who have taught some of the top singing stars and feature a step-by-step plan to bring beginners up to advanced level singers. 

Practice

Perhaps the most important singing tip is the last on the list. The more you practice the quicker you will improve and you will find that the more you put in the more you get out. Making singing practice a habit is what is going to give you the voice you want in the long term! It is better to practice for 20 minutes every day rather than 2 hours once a week.

Credits: Singing Perfection

Monday, 5 September 2016

How to Learn Guitar, Tips for Beginners and Intermediate Players


GUITAR TIP #2


Learning the guitar is a goal for many people, but far too few ever turn the dream into a reality. Some are unable to spend the time it requires to meet their short-term goals, and they become frustrated and eventually don’t pick up their guitar again. Others reach a point where they no longer progress as quickly as they would like, and their enjoyment of playing begins to fade. While it’s true that learning to play the guitar takes some time and effort, the learning process can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. All it takes are some goals, some practice, and a bit of help along the way. Whether you want to be more musical, sing and play along to songs with friends around a campfire, perform in front of an audience, or sell millions of albums and tour the world, it all begins by playing with just six strings. Take a look at these tips and get started on becoming an awesome guitar player in just a few easy steps. 

Step 1: Getting to Know Your Guitar

guitarThe first thing you need to do is to get ahold of an acoustic or electric guitar. Before investing in an instrument of your own, see if a family member or friend has a guitar that they would be willing to lend you until you are ready for a guitar of your own. This also provides an opportunity to get him or her to teach you a few chords to get started!
You should also decide whether you want to begin learning and playing with an acoustic or an electric guitar. Many people start on an acoustic guitar and then move on to an electric once they have learned some of the basics. Nearly everything you learn on the acoustic will carry over in some way to the electric. Generally speaking, acoustics are cheaper and don’t require an amplifier, are more portable, and the heavier strings require more pressure to play, so beginners develop greater hand strength while they are learning finger positioning, strumming, and basics such as notes and chords. Electric guitars produce a wider range of sounds and tones and may be better suited to the types of music you want to play. A music store salesperson can help decide which type of guitar is best for you, based on your tastes, preferences, and budget.
Buying the cheapest guitar in the shop is generally not the best way to select an instrument. Often times, you get what you pay for, but you don’t need to buy the most expensive guitar before you even get started. The temptation with beginning guitar players is to buy the guitar that looks the coolest or the guitar that his or her favorite guitarist uses, but this can be a mistake, because at the end of the day, neither you nor your audience will really care what your guitar looks like—all that really matters are the sounds and music you produce, and it is the characteristics and quality of the guitar, not its looks, that determine how it sounds. The best thing a beginning guitar player can do is talk to other guitar players, to learn and benefit from their experience. When it comes time to purchase your first guitar, you should set aside about an hour or more to try out several guitars and get advice from the sales assistant. He or she has likely helped many beginners select the guitar that is best suited for them and would be able to make good recommendations based on your discussion. Pay attention to how the guitar responds to your hands, attach a guitar strap and stand up to see how it feels, how it is weighted, how your fingers feel as they glide along the neck. The guitar that best responds to your playing is likely your best choice. Most beginners find it easiest to learn to play on a guitar with a relatively low action – which means that the strings lie quite close to the neck of the guitar – because not as much pressure needs to be applied to press down the strings.
Once you have a guitar that suits the style of guitar-playing that you want to master, you needto learn to identify the notes on the fret board and get used to some basic picking and fingerin gtechniques. In the standard tuning, the open strings beginning with those closest to you represent the notes E, A, D, G, B and E. Other notes can be sounded by pressing a string down just behind mthe metal fret and plucking the string. Frets further down the neck, closer to the body of the guitar, produce higher notes than those closer to the guitar head.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Equipment

In addition to choosing the right guitar, there are many types of equipment that a guitar player uses every day. The type of strings you use, the thickness of the guitar picks you play with, the length of your guitar strap—all will contribute to your sound and influence your playing style.
One invaluable piece of equipment is a guitar tuner. Until you have trained your ear to properly tune your guitar, a tuner is essential for ensuring that all of your strings are tuned to the correct pitch, so that the notes you play are the ones you should be hearing. Even after you have trained your ear, most if not all guitar players use a tuner before and during their performances, to ensure that they are in tune.

Step 3: Scales, Arpeggios, Chords and Rhythms

chordsNow that you are comfortably handling the guitar, it is time to get familiar with the range of sounds that you can produce. Most importantly, you need to get an idea of which notes sound good when played together or in quick succession.
A scale refers to a grouping of notes. You may have heard of the two most common scales: major scales (which tend to sound happy and lively) and minor scales (which tend to sound sad). Playing a particular scale determines which notes are correct and sound good when played together.
A group of notes played and held together is a chord. A group of notes played in succession and held to ring out is an arpeggio.
Learning scales and how to read music might seem boring at first, but they are invaluable for knowing which notes work and which won’t when you are playing or composing your own music. Taking the time to practice these patterns gives you the knowledge and a solid foundation for understanding how to approach improvising searing lead guitar solos or creating your own catchy riffs. Similarly, learning to strum with different rhythms can make even the most basic chord progression sound original.

Step 4: Experimenting with New Techniques

The guitar is a fabulously versatile instrument. The basic strumming and picking techniques that are taught in beginner courses will allow you to become a competent guitarist, but to be truly great, you need to break out from repeating the same songs and progressions and begin to experiment with improvisation. Improving your dexterity is essential to becoming a great soloist, while all electric guitarists need to know their instrument’s pickup controls and work out how they can emulate the over-driven, grungy, clean, or smooth sounds that appear on their favourite records.
Any good lesson can provide you ideas and approaches to the guitar playing that you hear in your favourite music, to take your own playing even further. The ideas and techniques demonstrated form the basis for your own musical experimentation and exploration. From there, the sky’s the limit to the types of sounds you can create and the feelings and expressions that will leap from your strings.

Step 5: Find Your Style

Once you have become an accomplished guitarist, it is time to develop your own style. What kinds of music do you want to play? What kinds of music do you enjoy listening to? Whether you are a lover of blues, jazz, hard rock or classical music, you can use your guitar to create the kind of music you enjoy playing and the music your audience will enjoy hearing. 

Step 6: Putting It All Together

bandThe most important thing you can do is PLAY! Pick up your guitar and start playing notes and chords together without thinking about what you are doing or stopping for mistakes. Try to recreate a melody you heard earlier in the day or find the notes and chords that express your current mood. Play along with and learn songs that you normally wouldn’t listen to. Put on a symphony or concerto and learn how to play a clarinet solo on your guitar. Mute the sound on your tv and try to compose music to fit the images and stories shown. Inspiration for your playing can be drawn from virtually anything, and challenging yourself to use your guitar in new ways will greatly improve proficiency. At this stage, playing from your heart can be just as important as what your hands are doing and what knowledge and theory you are drawing from while you strum the strings.
One of the most important things you can do is play with other people. Find friends who also play instruments and learn some songs together, jam and improvise some melodies, and draw inspiration from each other.
But all of these—your musical feel, your technique, and your knowledge—all contribute to your performance and will both consciously and unconsciously inform your playing, so it is important to plan your learning along the way.
Once you have warmed up and had some fun exercising your creative side, you should take the time to exercise your analytical side by learning more about your guitar and the larger world of music at large. By simply playing, you will begin to just know what chords work together, but it is the expert guitar player that has an understanding of WHY they work. This knowledge is often what sets the great guitarists above the others, and having a comprehensive and effective learning program at your fingertips can greatly enhance your playing.
Credits: Udemy Blog

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Piano Tips - 5 Common Practice mistakes and How to Correct them

Keyboard Tip #2




Mistake 1: Not actually practicing

Both kids and adults lead busy lives, and consequently it’s easy to make the mistake of not prioritizing piano practice, or making it a secondary priority relative to other tasks / activitiies. We all go through periods where we struggle to find time to practice, but once you being to really enjoy playing, practice time becomes something to look forward to. Try to allocate a certain time (or times) each day when practice is part of your routine (much like brushing your teeth).

Mistake 2: Setting keyboard up in a location that is ‘out of sight’ (and therefore ‘out of mind’)

Setting the keyboard up in a back room you rarely go into, or worse, putting the keyboard away in a cupboard with the intention of getting around to practice one day soon is not the way to encourage the habit of practice in your home.
Instead, set the keyboard up in a prominent position such as the living room or dining room, where it is easily accessible and where the mere sight of it will serve as a reminder to do your practice.

Mistake 3: Practicing for long sessions

Much like pruning hedges, little and often is the key. Even professional musicians who practice 6-8 hours per day do not remain at the piano / keyboard for more than 40 minutes in any one sitting. They take regular breaks and come back to different aspects of their practice for each relatively short session.
For most piano students, a reasonable amount of practice is around 30 minutes per day, and for adults, doing this in one sitting may work. For some students, especially kids, 1-2 short sessions of 10-15 minutes per day is usually much more effective.
Whatever your circumstances, the rough guide is to only practice (in any one sitting) for as long as you can before you start to become mentally tired.

Mistake 4: Practicing what you already know

It may be fun to play through songs or chords you are already familiar with, but what are you really learning?  Many students get excited with they feel like they have just made some progress  in their piano practice, and so they continue to play what they just learned rather than make the effort to learn something new and uncertain.  This is often followed by boredom and discouragement.  Make it your goal to try something new during each practice session to keep things interesting.

Mistake 5: Failing to revise pieces to maintain a repertoire

Having made the above point that just playing through material you already know and can play easily can be a ‘cop-out’ that is not really piano practice, the opposite is just as common for some students. It may surprise you to know that many students, once they have learned a piece, are disinclined to  ever play / practice it again, instead preferring to always push ahead to the next new piece. 
This addiction to completing lessons / levels is, for some students, part of the appeal of Musiah’s online piano lessons. But it can lead to a scenario where students are unable to play anything for family / friends / visitors because the student has not yet finished the piece they are currently learning, and they have forgotten much of the pieces they have learned recently because they have not made a point of going over them occasionally to maintain a repertoire of say 5 songs they can play upon demand.
So there is a balance to be reached here. At least once a week, allocate some time for ‘refreshing’ your memory by revising some of the pieces you have already learned – not so you can get out of practicing / learning something new, but for the specific purpose of maintaining a repertoire that will enable you to share what you have learned with others.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Drum Tips #2


 Proper Posture For Drummers – How To Sit 

The drummer’s posture can make the difference between sounding good or bad. 

There are four basic things a drummer needs: proper sitting posture, proper kit set up, proper drum tuning, and have correct stick grip - it all matters!

Not only will you perform better, you will feel like you have more energy, as well as more freedom to the kit. It will open up new doors you thought you never had, allowing you to move around the kit a lot easier, and with more ease. In addition, you will find after a gig, you will feel a million times better, as opposed to being achy, sore, and extra tired! So what is the proper posture for a drummer then?

Sit Up Straight

It may seem all very basic, but it is important to know! Basically, you have to sit up straight. Slouching on the drum throne is the worst thing a drummer can do. Look at your back when you play, is it straight up? You may notice you have a slouch, or curve in your back. Playing like this for extended periods of time will cause harm and a lot of unwanted stress on your lower back. Try sitting straight up on you drum stool for a show, and you will notice the difference right away. Now it may be hard to get this at first, naturally you will want to slouch, however try to counter that. Force yourself to sit with better posture, eventually it will come as second nature. If you look at any professional drummer, you will notice how they are all sitting up right, and not slouching.

Sit At The Right Height 

Correct posture does not only mean sitting up, there is much more. For example, how high do you set your drum stool? This is very important, as it is connected to how much endurance and strength you have on your foot pedals. Every drummer is a different size, so I can’t give you a certain number of inches; however, I can guide you in the right direction. Generally, you are going to want to have enough room to make a powerful kick, keeping in mind comfort and immovability. Adjust your drum stool so that with your feet on the pedals, your knees make and angle of 90-110 degrees. Another way to look at it is this: make sure your thighs are sloped downwards towards the floor a little – not too much though! Having too much a slope will give you a lack of power. If they are angled the other way, you will have to use a lot more energy to kick your bass drum!

Relax Your Arms

Now that we have your upper and lower body correct, let’s figure out your arms and hands. Basically, you want to relax! If you find yourself struggling to keep your arms up, let them down a bit. You want to make sure your arms and hands are as comfortable as possible. So no more struggling with your elbows, trying to get them to stay up. As for your hands, same idea. Make them as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Make sure you maintain the proper stick grip! Never sacrifice stick grip for comfort!

Follow these basic guidelines next time you sit at your drum kit and you will be surprised on how much you improve. Not only will you feel better while you play the drums, but also when you get off the drums as well! These are all very much common sense; however there are still drummers that ignore these simple rules. This is one of the things that separates the professionals from the garage drummers!


- Source, Rock Drumming Underground

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

VOCALS TIP #1

Vocal Care Ten Commandments

by Ken Henson, Founder, The Bangalore Conservatory

For singers, vocalists and leaders who use their voice for communication, which certainly almost all of us, the care of the voice is essential to effective communication. There are some very basic principles for taking care of the voice. Some are obvious. Some are not so obvious.

The most common vocal pathology is called the voice nodule or node—a buildup of scar tissue on the vocal folds themselves. Nodes can be caused by a number of factors or behaviors. We will break them down into the Ten Commandments of Vocal Care.

1. Thou Shalt Not Yell

For soft-spoken CEOs this may seem like an unnecessary recommendation. But most of us undergo a strange transformation in the appropriate setting, a sports event, like a live cricket match or football game, or, for some, even seeing a friend we have not met for years. Others only require an overwhelming anger (maybe over a referee’s call you disagree with), or intense pain or interaction of some kind. The adrenaline kicks in; excitement takes over, and… Bam! Pow! Ouch! Waddayamean Foul!? The voice rises in pitch and volume and our normally calm, subdued communication becomes very loud. This may be fine if your life is made up of moving from one cubicle to another, chatting online, writing, or otherwise not speaking. But for the speaker or singer, yelling can be a disaster! You can actually do lasting, permanent damage to your voice with one bout of yelling (permanent in the sense that it will be with you for life unless you undergo surgery and some form of vocal therapy). So, just don’t yell.

2. Thou Shalt Relax

Your voice can actually be damaged simply by having too much strain over a period of time in the muscles which control your vocal production. Your voice must be relaxed in order to function properly.
F. Matthias Alexander was an actor who went to a number of doctors and specialists because his voice was always hoarse and in pain after an acting performance in a play. Sometimes he would cough up blood. No one could help him, and he finally helped himself by looking in the mirror and little-by-little, eliminating the strain he could see when he spoke. His vocal problems were solved just by relaxing. He developed the Alexander Method as a result of his experience.
Many voice problems can be solved with this simple dictum, Relax!

3. Thou Shalt Not Smoke

This may seem obvious, but some people do not realize the damage done to the voice by smoking. It is important to remember what smoking is—inhaling burning ashes. It should be obvious to everyone that doing such a thing can damage the voice over time. Add to this the contents of tobacco based cigarette or pipe or cigar smoke, which includes Nicotine (an insecticide), Cyanhydric Acid (used in the gas chambers by the Nazis in WWII, and in some biological weapons today), Acetone (a solvent), and dozens of other fatal chemicals, and you have a very effective mix for vocal damage (not-to-mention heart disease and cancer). The negative impact of second-hand smoke is well established. The best thing to do is just avoid smoking, or being around smoke entirely. If you work in an environment that ignore the laws in many countries against smoking in the work place, CHANGE JOBS.

4. Thou Shalt Avoid Glottal Plosives

A glottal plosive (sometimes called a glottal stop) is produced by the percussive closing of the gap between the vocal folds. In a gentle way you produce a glottal stop, or glottal plosive every time you say “uh-huh”, or any time you produce “fresh vowel”. A speaker or singer places the voice under excessive pressure to produce sounds louder than normal speech. Therefore the glottal plosive can be very dangerous during times of performance if not handled carefully. Vocal nodules can result. The smooth, or simultaneous attack, when the air and the vocal sound enter smoothly and together, is the best method to avoid the potentially destructive glottal plosive.

5. Thou Shalt Not Cough Nor Clear Your Throat

I know what you are thinking: “How can I decide not to cough?” The problem is a cough or clearing of the throat causes an extreme glottal plosive. The trick is to try to clear the blockage from your throat or bronchial tubes without engaging the voice. Like some people do in order to prepare to expectorate . .. you can force air through the system without making a vocalized sound.
Also, when you get an upper respiratory infection (after you have seen a doctor), you should use the cough syrup, which has both an expectorant and a cough suppressant. The expectorant helps your body clear the junk from your lungs. The cough suppressant helps you save your voice.

6. Thou Shalt Not Get Sick

The instrument you use to do your job (your voice) is inside of your body. The condition of your body affects your voice. You must prevent illnesses if you want to keep a performance schedule. The following is a brief list of illness prevention habits:
  • Wash your hands often. Most respiratory illnesses are passed from one person to another via the hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, about seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night (see commandment seven).
  • Eat a variety of whole foods (see commandment 8).
  • Exercise—and not just vocal exercises (see commandment 9).

7. Thou Shalt Rest

If you are trying to lose fat and go on a strict diet and exercise plan, you will lose about fifty percent more fat if you sleep seven-and-a-half hours than if you sleep only six-and-a-half hours. If you are trying to gain muscle and have an eating and exercise plan you will gain fifty percent more muscle. Your immune system rebuilds that last hour of sleep. You are less likely to develop one of those URI’s described in Commandment Six if you get a good night of sleep.
Sleep is essential for brain health. Recent research indicates sleep and dream times are the opportunity for the brain to process experiences from the day, to clear out unhealthful chemicals from the stresses of the day, and to store memory and seek creative solutions to problems. It is in the seventh/eighth hour of sleep your body repairs itself from the damages created by normal living and environmental exposure. Your voice needs that recovery.

8. Thou Shalt Eat Well

I have read entire books that argue that carbohydrates are evil if you want to lose weight. I have read many more articles that indicate if you want to be strong and fit you HAVE to eat carbs. I have read articles that argue you should avoid fruit (carbs) but include veggies (more carbs). Others that argue you should avoid veggies and just eat fruit and nuts. I have read you should avoid meat, and also that you cannot have a balanced diet with sufficient protein without some lean meat. What is the truth with all of these contradictory claims? The truth is what your mother probably taught you:
• Eat your fruit and vegetables.
• Include good sources of protein like eggs (egg whites) and fish and lean meats.
• Eat often, like five times a day.
• Avoid eating the last hour or two before you sleep or before speaking/singing engagements or performances.
• About an hour or so before a performance, eat a good healthy snack.
• Have a little protein every time you eat.
• Avoid foods with processed or simple carbs.
• Avoid fried or fat-loaded foods.
• Avoid sweets, cakes, and processed biscuits.
• Never, or, at least, almost never, drink sugary soft drinks.
• Avoid juice, unless the whole fruit is thrown in (extra fiber to mitigate the sugar spike + vitamins).
• Include nuts, legumes and whole grains in your mix every day and, if possible, almost every meal and snack.
• Include low or non-fat dairy.
In order to maintain this eating plan, you may have to prepare your own meals and snacks and take them with you to work. So, do it!

9. Thou Shalt Exercise

I am not aware of any research-based evidence that connects exercise and vocal performance health. My experience has been that if I exercise on the day of a major performance, my voice is much more responsive than if I do not exercise. My over-all fitness level has an impact on how well I handle the energy output requirements of a long performance or speaking or teaching engagement.
Aerobics, high intensity interval training, walking, & weights, resistance training—probably all are necessary for optimal long-term health. Do your research before you start an exercise program, but START if you have not already. If you already exercise, study to make it as effective and efficient as possible. Choose a program that works for you and that you can stick with.
Exercise will improve your voice and help you endure the physical rigors of performance.

10. Thou Shalt Vocalize Daily

If your job requires you to speak every day, GREAT! If you have breaks when your voice is not used for official purposes, you must create situations and contexts in which you vocalize as would be required for a presentation to a large audience. Running through a set of vocal exercises, vocalizes, like “lips”, or making sounds like a siren with your voice, taking your voice through its full range of capacity at full volume, any variety of relaxed, wide-ranging vocal exercises will help you develop and maintain vocal health.
Think like an athlete. Your concert or meeting, or speaking engagement is like a marathon. You have to train for it. Train well.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


Before You Play

  • Having a good instrument (either an acoustic or electric guitar) is important. Ask your teacher if you want advice on what instrument/brand/model to purchase.
  • Know the parts of your guitar; the head, body and neck. Make sure all the strings are there before play.
  • Use a comfortable stool or a chair (without arm rests) that has no hindrances.
  • Hold your guitar correctly – sit up straight, hold the guitar against your stomach and chest, make sure the thinnest string (No.1) is closest to the ground and the thickest string (No.6) is closest to the ceiling.
  • Make sure your guitar is tuned properly to EADGBE (top to bottom) – an easy way to remember it is Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually or Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears! You can use an electric tuner, tuner apps or a piano/keyboard to tune your guitar correctly.
  • Make sure you use a pick (or plectrum) – Hold the pick by grasping it perpendicular to your fist between your index finger and your thumb.
  • Make sure you have a notepad and pen/pencil handy in order to make quick notes or jot down ideas/questions.

Starting to Play 

  • Don’t hold the guitar or pick too tight as this can cause discomfort and problems while playing.
  • Read the music before you begin so that you know what is to be played.
  • Use a metronome is important as this will help you play the exercise or song in the intended tempo. You can begin slowly and pick up the speed once you are more confident with the song.
  • Practice the warm up exercises, scales and songs that your guitar teacher has asked you to.
  • Play for shorter durations on a regular basis to get your fretting hand used to the finger pain. Regular play will create calluses on your fingertips and reduce the pain.


Remember, it is better to practice 20 minutes everyday than for 2 hours once a week.