Pedagogy and Products October 17, 2015

Eat Well for Peak Performance. Ok, you’ve practiced until you have every note as close to perfect as you can get. You’ve gotten lots of rest and spent the day of your performance de-stressing and resting your voice. You’re ready to go onstage and give the audience your all—right? Maybe not, if you haven’t been paying careful attention to your diet. Musicians often seem to forget that singing or playing an instrument is exercise and can be as grueling as any physical workout, as evidenced by the sweat-drenched shirts of any performer after a show.

Registered dietitian Kathleen S. LaBella says that musicians have specialized dietary requirements with regard to building stamina, energy requirements, packed schedules, and increased energy requirements necessary for great performance, just as athletes do. However, with just a little attention to these tips, you will be filled with the energy necessary to give your audiences your best performance. The first requirement of a good nutrition program for a musician is carbohydrates, which provide the necessary fuel for those long gigs; since you may want to eat light on a performance day, it’s best to choose a simple carbohydrate in the form of a banana, other piece of fruit, or even a slice of whole-grain bread. Combine your carbs with muscle-repairing lean protein like chicken or tuna; or even a

peanut-butter sandwich. You may also want to choose a liquid meal such as a fruit and protein shake, which is light on the stomach and quickly digested. Whatever you choose make sure your pre-performance meal is low-fat and low-fiber to reduce the chance of cramping or bloating which can really slow you down.

Singers have some special needs, since they need to keep the vocal chords clear in addition to having the necessary nutritional fuel. Make sure you drink lots of fluids—water is your best choice, or watered-down juice if you want a bit of added sugar—not only the day of the performance, but for a day or two before so your chords are lubricated and your body is hydrated. Caffeine is no longer taboo as long as you are used to it, but make sure to keep your coffee or tea intake to two cups or less per day. If you perform at a restaurant and eat between sets, make sure to keep meals on the light side—salmon or other fish with a salad on the side.

After the performance, you may be starving, but if it’s late in the evening it's best not to choose a meal that is too heavy. Try a fruit and protein smoothie, yogurt and fruit, or even cereal and milk. Save that big meal for the morning after to refuel and get ready for the next evening’s performance. For more information check out Ms. LaBella’s website at

Making Theory Fun. Whether you are a music teacher with a classroom full of students, a parent, or a musician who wants to bone up on some theory skills in a fun and interactive way, you’ll want to check out the Music Learning Community. Used in conjunction with a midi keyboard, the program includes over 450 colorful, interactive games build essential skills in rhythm, pitch and melody, harmony, scales, intervals, chords, tonal memory, playback and understanding musical terms and symbols. It also works on an ipad, android tablet, or any smart phone with a flash player.

Helps improve sight-reading skills, theory test scores, and is beneficial for all vocalists and instrumentalists. Students can play the games at home, then take the quiz-level tests at the studio for a two-level program. Classroom music teachers can use the program with an interactive white board or in the computer lab for increased efficiency. Proven successful with special needs students and meets all state and national standards for music education. There are a choice of several memberships: a $19.95 per month studio membership (for up to 50 students); a school membership (contact the site for pricing information); and a $7.95 per month individual plan for parents/students. Check out all the details at

Teach Your Children to Be Money Wise. Your child has been practicing diligently and you have decided they are ready to step up to a better guitar or a professional-level clarinet; but, you might want to think twice before driving them up to the local music store and letting them purchase that fancy new Fender. Registered Financial Planner, Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya, says that children will appreciate that new instrument more if they pay for at least part of it themselves. According to Laroya, today’s youth often have a sense of self-entitlement and feel that they deserve nice things. However, you can nip this habit in the bud and teach your children some good financial habits which will benefit them life-long.

In a recent article published on the website Business Mirror, Laroya highlights four tips culled from smart parents when it comes to raising financially-savvy kids. The first is to help them come up with smart money goals. This means encouraging them to save up for part of the cost of that fancy new drum kit or open-hole flute. You can even set up a white board or computer chart to help them keep track of their savings, so they can monitor their progress. The second tip is to teach them to price shop for the instrument. Take them to several different locations to look for sales or do some computer price comparisons. Give them advice on the relative value of different instruments: are they cheap, needlessly expensive, or do they provide good value for the money. This will help them make educated choices when it comes time to make their purchase.

The third step is to help them find ways to earn the money they need. Don’t just give them a weekly allowance; pay them for specific chores, for good schoolwork, or even for keeping up with weekly music practice and good behavior at lessons. The fourth tip is to find some other outside jobs to earn extra cash. Take them into the office after school or in the summer and let them do a bit of filing or similar projects (both of my children worked in their Dad’s office during the summers, doing mailings, easy writing jobs, and circulation tasks). Students who are more advanced musically can even give some lessons to beginning students for a small fee. Put your heads together and see if you can find ways for your child to earn some extra cash outside of their normal home chores.

Another advantage of having your youngster pay at least part of the cost of that new instrument is that they will cherish it more and take better care of it, once they learn the true value of their purchase. Read the complete article here:

Keep up with blog posts by subscribing to our blog, or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+! Keep Learning, Kath


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