Ready to Learn. It’s that time of year again. Music teachers around the country are gathering children together to let them try their hand at various band instruments in order to figure out just which one will not only spark their interest, but fit their abilities as budding musicians. However, deciding which instrument your young musician is going to take up is just the first step in the process. In order to facilitate learning there are several accessories you will need to purchase to help ensure success. Thanks to the editors of Making Music Magazine, however, an article in the September/October issue entitled “6 Must-Haves for Back to School Music Lessons,” is packed with tips on just what items to purchase, along with helpful links to make your online shopping easier. Here’s a summarized list of a few of the things your child will need.
Instrument care kits. Teaching your child to properly care for an instrument is crucial to their success as a musician. This is important whether you buy or rent the instrument, because if you buy, you are making a healthy financial investment and you want to insure years of playing success; if on the other hand you rent the instrument, you want to avoid paying any additional fees should your child change their mind about playing or if you want to later purchase your rented instrument. Brass, woodwind, and string instruments all require special cleaning and care; your local music store can help you purchase exactly the right supplies and equipment to suit the instrument you choose. Furthermore, they can provide you with tips for care and cleaning. Taking good care of an instrument contributes to good tone and keeps young players from getting frustrated.
Music Stand. While you can get a simple wire stand for a very low price, my suggestion is to avoid this option at least for home use. You will find that these stands do not hold up to regular use and are likely to fall over when used outdoors. We here at Falls Music School use the standard black professional music stands from Manhasset but if the price for these is prohibitive (they range from $35.00-$55.00 depending on the model) you can find similar stands from companies like Peak or Musician’s Gear that are both sturdy and some that even fold for easy transport to school and concert sites. While colored stands may be attractive to youngsters, most teachers will prefer solid black; so unless you want to purchase one stand for home and a second one for school you should probably stick with that option.
Tuner & Metronome. Both of these tools are essential for efficient practice and playing, since they keep students on track when practicing and help budding musicians develop a good sense of pitch. Luckily, there are now several two-in-one tuner/metronomes, meaning there is one less piece of gear to purchase. There are a wide variety from which to choose including metronome-only models from Korg, Seiko, and Tama; as well as combination models from Korg and D’addario.
Name Tag. Once you’ve invested your hard-earned cash in the instrument, you want to make sure it stays with your child when traveling back and forth to school and to off-site concerts. For this reason, make sure you attach a name tag to your child’s instrument case. Websites like Music & Arts and Musician’s Friend will offer a wide variety of colorful and even instrument-specific tags especially for this purpose.
Method Books. Your child’s teacher will be able to tell you exactly which method book to purchase as well as any additional repertoire which may be needed. Once you know which books to purchase, simply head to your local music store which should have them in stock (having already corresponded with neighboring school districts). If you prefer to shop online, websites such as Hal Leonard , Stanton’s, and Sheet Music Plus (there are many others as well) can offer you the same selections. Just make sure you pay extra for a speedy shipping option to ensure that your student is not the only one to show up at band practice without the correct music.
Instrument Starter Packs. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of purchasing individual cleaning and care items for your new instrument, companies such as Giardinelli have starter packs which contain all the necessary items to take good care of your instrument. Websites like Music & Arts have a selection to fit most needs. Starter packs are also available for non-band instruments such as ukulele, guitar, and banjo.
For more detailed information on anything featured in this excerpt, check out the entire article along with links at www. http://makingmusicmag.
Switch it Up. Rock and Roll musicians are always looking for the best method to switch between amps, effects loops, cabinets, mics, preamps, or combinations of each. Thanks to several product advancements from Radial Engineering Ltd., a full line of power tools is now available to help you do the job right. There are a variety of models to fit any needs: the Switchbone™ ultra-quiet, class-A circuit with silent switching technology, transformer isolated output and phase reverse; the Headbone™ TS/SS/VT guitar amp head switchers which permit toggling between two heads on one cabinet.
Other models in the line include the Big Shot™ ABY, a true-bypass passive ABY switcher with transformer isolation to eliminate hum and buzz and polarity reverse to phase match amps; the JX44™ which permits switching between four guitars, and up to four amps and two FX loops, and is available with an optional footswitch to permit control of complete setups for live performances. Also available is Model JD7™ Reamp amp switcher which allows the user to combine up to seven amps and features a built in Reamper and JDI direct box, two effects loops and more for excellent sound quality. Last in the line is the Bones Twin-City™ ABY, a compact switcher with active buffers and Drag control load correction; features of this model include pop-free FET switching, transformer isolated output to eliminate buzz and hum, and a polarity reverse to phase match amps.
Check out customer testimonials and get full product details on these switches and the company’s full product line by clicking on www.radialeng.com.
Good Singing in Any Style. While Bel Canto classics, arias, and art songs are the core of any good vocal program, today’s students often want to sing the hits from Broadway or even popular songs from their favorite radio artists. Until now, many voice teachers have been at a loss when it comes to finding techniques or programs which stress the good singing techniques that preserve the voice and produce a healthy sound when attempting to teach repertoire from the popular canon. Thanks to a partnership between NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) and Rowman Littlefield Publishers, a new series of vocal pedagogy books along with a series of online resources titled “So You Want to Sing” has been created to fill this void.
The first book in this new series was authored by Karen Hall, Associate Editor of the NATS publication Journal of Singing, and is entitled “So You Want to Sing Music Theater: A Guide for Professionals.” Other books in the series will cover subjects such as jazz and blues. The focus of these books is to draw teachers away from some of the long-held teaching techniques which have been passed down over the years from studio to studio and toward some of the newer performance practices and techniques which are needed to successfully sing popular repertoire. According to the author, one of the best ways to do this is to help vocal coaches explore these less-familiar genres and help encourage students to sing them in ways that are stylistically appropriate, yet incorporate vocal techniques which promote healthy singing.
The authors of the new books have based their teaching techniques on good science which has disproven some old theories such as the one which states that techniques employed by Broadway singers and others who employ techniques which characterize popular repertoire, such as “belting” harms the voice. When popular repertoire is taught well—which means in combination with standard techniques such as developing and maintaining a healthy “head voice” and learning the standard breathing techniques which are key to any good vocal training program—students can be free to explore what Hall calls Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) without fear of causing permanent harm to the voice.
The support of NATS in the sponsoring/publishing of these new pedagogy books is a crucial factor in attracting teachers to adapting these newer techniques. In the past, Hall says that NATS has been somewhat resistant to techniques outside of the non-classical methods. This is where science comes in to play, by providing solid evidence that the techniques used for learning contemporary repertoire can coexist with the development of a healthy singing style which preserves the voice and causes no long-term damage as previously believed. In other words, different is not necessarily unhealthy—just different. This allows singers more freedom in choosing repertoire and gives them opportunities to explore different singing styles, making them more versatile performers and perhaps even open them up to additional job possibilities.
Each book in the new series will be written by an acknowledged expert in the corresponding musical field, and will contain two chapters contributed by guest authors. Book two in the series, “So You Want to Sing Rock ’n’ Roll” is already completed, under the guidance of author Matthew Edwards, assistant professor of voice and voice pedagogy at Shenandoah Conservatory. The third book in the series is titled “So You Want to Sing Jazz” by author Jan Shapiro, chair of voice at Berklee College of Music. Thanks to this new series, singers will no longer find themselves confined to only one genre of music and will be free to explore the musical world around them. For more information on the “So You Want to Sing” series check out the complete article in the September/October issue of Journal of Singing (Volume 72, No. 1) at www.nats.org or place an order for the first book in the series by contacting www.jwpepper.com, www.amazon.com, www.rowman.com. or your favorite music distributor.
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