Category Archives: Education

Using Amazon Echo as a musician or music teacher

There’s been a lot of noise around Amazon’s latest tech product, the $179 Echo. Most of the excitement is focused on how it can improve the user’s home life by performing voice-activated functions.  But there are a handful of ways the Echo can boost productivity for musicians.

Here’s a list of all the ways the device can help with your music career.

 

Amazon-Echo

**You can get a great deal on an Echo here.**

Listening

 

This one may sound obvious, but the benefit of having voice-controlled stop and start functions when listening back is revolutionary for musicians.

Musicians don’t just listen to music for enjoyment. They sometimes need to study music to get ready for a gig or analyze something for a student. Think about it, one of the hardest things about learning a tune is having to constantly put down the instrument or interrupt your work flow to set the tune up and run it again.

The Echo completely streamlines this clunky process. Simply instruct Alexa, the AI assistant which performs all of the Echo functions, to stop and start when yore ready or you want to move on to another tune. The Echo even has a search function, so you can even search through YouTube for tunes you need work on without getting up from your instrument.

 

Recording

 

If you are a performing or composing musician, you understand the importance of documenting ideas and using them later. Amazon Echo has the ability to record your voice, or whatever instrument you may be playing, so you can save it for later when you are ready to develop the idea further. Both the microphone and the speakers on this device are surprisingly effective considering the size of the device.

 

Tuning

 

One of the most impressive features of the Echo is its implementation of Alexa Skills. Alexa, the robot which carries out all the functions and takes her queues from the voice-over, has a range of built-in functions which lie in a drop down menu on the Alexa app.

Among the skills is a guitar tuner. From the other side of the room, the musician can demand to hear a perfect A from the speaker, just as they would from a guitarist in a band. It’ll be right every time too.

Here it is being used by someone for the first time. After instructing Alexa to enable the tuner, the user can be heard demanding what note he wants to hear. The Echo returns it four times.

 

My Metronome

 

My Metronome is another built-in Alexa skill. It keeps the tempo for musicians, holding from 10 to 300 beats a minute. To activate it, just tell her what you need by shouting: ‘Alexa, start My Metronome and 80 beats per minute,’ for example.

Of course, if you’d rather use your own, there are some great options here and here.

 

Lessons

 

One of the coolest things about Alexa is her ability to teach you how to play an instrument. There is even a built in app designed to help you learn how to play the piano. It is very simple, making it a great device for those who are beginners to playing music and children who have very little experience learning an instrument. It starts you off by teaching you simple notes and showing you where they are. Eventually, you will work your way to being able to play a duet with Alexa! The songs are pretty simple and mostly consist of nursery rhymes, but they can be a great primer for a student who is interested in taking piano lessons who’s parents are not sure if they are really going to be into it.

 

 

The Echo also has a built in function that will play back any note that you ask and can even play a series of notes, providing students with a reference point for a pitch when they are practicing. This means you can test out ideas ahead of time or even use the device as a means to improve your ear training by trying to sing the pitch before the Echo plays it. There is even a quiz on the Echo that you can use to work on your ear. It will play a note and you will try to guess what it is. This may seem like a skill you are either born with or not but the ear is something you can develop over time and, with enough work, you can almost give yourself perfect pitch.

Play-a-longs

 

If you are an improvising musician, you know one of the best ways to practice is to simply improvise. Of course, you can’t always call your friends to have them come over and play some tunes with you, so you need a solution. One way you can use the Amazon Echo to practice is to utilize play a longs. A play along is a recording of music that has your part taken out, so you can play as if you are playing with a band in a live situation. One popular version of these for jazz musicians is the Jamey Aebersold series. He has recorded thousands of tunes that students can practice over ranging from jazz to funk and RnB classics. Download them to your Echo and get started today.

Here’s an idea of the sound quality you can expect

 

Amazon Dot: A cheaper version of the Echo

 

The Echo sits a stop a cylinder speaker which is powerful enough to be used alone. But if $179 is too steep a price tag, the Dot is a great alternative. At $49, it’s considerably less expensive and performs pretty much all of the same functions as the larger Echo.

The only major difference is the lack of speaker. So if you have your own already, the dot may be the way to go.

Amazon-Dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Echo Show: The Echo with a touchscreen

A huge hook of the Echo is its voice-controlled function. In commercials it plays out very smoothly and it appeals to a lazier, Siri-obsessed generation. But some people would still like to have the option to control the device by hand.

 

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To accommodate them, Amazon recently released the Echo Show which combines the Echo with a touch screen for easy use. It’s the most expensive device in the range at $229. In essence, it looks like an iPad with a speaker attached at the bottom.

It can however be a great tool for musicians who are trying to learn lyrics. The Echo Show will display the words on screen. It’s also a great way to pull up sheet music to play along to with a tune running in the background for support

10 best bass guitars of 2017

When it comes to choosing a bass guitar, the options can seem endless. Acoustic vs electric? Fretless or fretted? There are thousands of ways to go, just like with most other string instruments. 

To try to help narrow down your search, here’s a list of the ten best bass guitars of 2017 as voted by beginners and pros. If you’re still stuck by the end, check out the bassist at the bottom of the article as he compares a $100 instrument to a $10,000 one and see if you can hear the difference. 

1. Goplus Electric Bass

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Goplus Electric Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This full-size electric bass guitar comes with a rosewood fingerboard, a high performance-to-cost ratio, ships fast, and is teacher-approved for beginner bassists. Owners say it plays well and is lightweight so easy to carry around. Not bad a bad option for anyone thinking of taking up the instrument, it’ll only set you back $69.99.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Goplus Electric Bass Guitar Here <<

2. Full-Size Electric Bass Guitar Starter Beginner Pack

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Full-Size-Electric-Bass-Guitar-Starter-Beginner-Pack-with-Amp-Case-Strap-Black-Package-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This full-size electric bass comes with an amp case and cable. It’s finished in a sleek black sheen and is teacher-approved to be an outstanding starter bass. It’s available for $129.95.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Full-Size Electric Bass Guitar Starter Beginner Pack Here <<

3. Dean E09M Edge Mahogany Electric Bass Guitar

 

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Dean-E09M-Edge-Mahogany-Electric-Bass-Guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bad boy has a 34-inch maple wood neck and rosewood fretboard with abalone fret dot inlays. The passive dean soap bar pickup delivers both volume and treble control. Vintage styling, adjustable intonation, and die-cast tuners make this a complete package for $136.85

>> Get a Great Deal on the Dean E09M Edge Mahogany Electric Bass Guitar Here <<

4. Fender Vintage SS Modified Squire Special Jaguar Bass

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Fender-Vintage-SS-Modified-Squire-Special-Jaguar-Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This candy apple red classic design features an Agathis body, maple wood, medium jumbo frets, and a precision bass pickup. It is equipped with a single coil Jazz Bass pickup, master tone, and double volume control. Plus it boasts the iconic Fender name. It is available for $199.99.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Fender Vintage SS Modified Squire Special Jaguar Bass Guitar Here <<

5. Ibanez GSR200SM 4-String Electric Bass Guitar

 

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Ibanez-GSR200SM-4-String-Electric-Bass-Guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This offering from Ibanez is finished with a natural-wood grey-burst veneer. It has a spalted maple top and a mahogany body. Musicians love how light this bass is. They also vouch for its playability and the deep palette of sounds it can produce. The Ibanez and its 22 rosewood frets are available for $249.99.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Ibanez GSR200SM 4-String Electric Bass Guitar Here <<

6. Fender Vintage Modified Squire Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Fender-Vintage-Modified-Squire-Jaguar-Special-Short-Scale-Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This silvered champion comes in an Agathis body type, with c shape maple neck in a 9.5 radius and 20 medium jumbo frets. It is equipped with a single coil Jazz Bass pickup, master tone, and double volume control. It is available for $199.99 and also comes in the famous Fender candy-apple red. Beginners love its short scale which makes it easier to learn upon and some even prefer it to more expensive guitars from other brands, namely Ibanez.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Fender Vintage Modified Squire Jaguar Special Short Scale Bass Guitar Here <<

7. Silvertone LB11 Bass Guitar

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Silvertone-LB11-Bass-Guitar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This liquid-black finish bass guitar from Silvertone comes complete with everything you need to get started including an instructional DVD, amp, a carrying case and all the connective equipment. It is available for $199.00 and is billed as a beginner’s product so seasoned bass players shouldn’t expect any miracles from it.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Silvertone LB11 Bass Guitar Here <<

  8. Fender Squire Bronco Bass

 

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Fender-Squire-Bronco-Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic black and white body style, die-cast tuning pegs, Agathis body, and c-shape maple neck. It also features a 2-saddle chrome bridge, volume and tone control, and a specially designed single coil pickup. It is available for $149.99. Popular among non-serious players and pros alike!

>> Get a Great Deal on the Fender Squire Bronco Bass Guitar Here <<

9. Dean Acoustic-Electric Bass

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Dean-Acoustic-Electric-Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This classic black bass guitar comes with a 34-inch mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard and pearl dot inlays. It also features a passive Dean preamp with treble and volume controls. It starts at  $179.00. Musicians love the smooth acoustic tones the Dean achieves and appreciate its size.

>> Get a Great Deal on the Dean Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar Here <<

10. Fender Squire Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV String

 

Best Bass Guitars of 2017 - Fender-Squire-Deluxe-Active-Jazz-Bass-IV-String

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This top of the line beginner’s bass guitar is sleek in all black. It features a basswood body with a polyurethane gloss. It is available for $349.99.

As you can see, there are more than a few options. Still stuck? Check out this bassist as he compares a $100 bass to one which costs $10,000.

Get a Great Deal on the Fender Squire Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV String Guitar Here <<

 

> Check out 10 Best Bass Amps of 2017<<

 

Not a guitar person? Check out some Beginner Drumsets

Music education non-profits: Who they are, what they do, and how to get involved

Many music education non-profits are working hard to ensure that the world of music stays alive. It’s crucial that they get the support they need to allow today’s talented young musicians to be free to pursue their gifts.

Ear Candy Charity

Ear Candy Charity is a music organization in Arizona whose primary focus is on music programs for children. This is a very hard thing to find nowadays so it’s amazing to see that there are some non-profits with a clear focus on helping kids discover the many joys of music.

The National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts provides support in a range of creative spheres including music. The simple fact that they want to help children study and learn music in a proper manner is certainly a commendable thing.

VH1 Save The Music

VH1 Save The Music is a very interesting nonprofit, especially since its primary focus is on instrumental music. Its focus is specifically on public schools and the children who attend them who are in dire need of encouragement.

Mr. Holland’s Opus

This foundation does something very special. They collect used instruments, and then they donate them to schools. Nothing is more important than preparing the new generation, and that’s exactly what the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation does.

Fender Music Foundation

The Fender Music Foundation awards instruments to various music education programs across the country including public schools. It’s an incredible operation which has already supplied thousands of kids with access to instruments they may never have otherwise experienced.

Tipitina’s Foundation

Tipitina’s Foundation is a local non-profit focused mostly on the idea of supporting the music community in New Orleans and Louisiana, both of which have distinguished music personalities.

To get involved in any of the great organizations listed above, all you have to do is to check out each and donate as much or as little as you want. You will get to support the artists of the upcoming decades, so it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of!

Advice for new music school graduates: First steps in launching your career

Congratulations, you’re a graduate. After competing with thousands of others to land a spot at your chosen school, you’ve finally obtained that coveted degree that will help launch your career. But after all the glitter from commencement parties and graduation gifts settle, many music education grads find themselves at a loss over how to start the next phase. It’s a common feeling that overwhelms beginners in pretty much every industry so don’t panic, you’re not alone. Here’s a simple list of helpful tips and advice for new music school graduates to help guide you through the often daunting career search.

Know (roughly) what you want 

The trick to kick-starting your career is honing in on what exactly where you think you may want to begin. After four years in a specialized school, chances are you have a pretty good idea what makes you tick by now. Focus on your skills but don’t ignore the things you dislike – it’s better to identify any potential problems in a career path before venturing down the wrong one.

Don’t know what you want? Don’t panic! 

There’s a lot to be said for trial and error. You may have started school with the intention of launching your own band or act and left sold on the notion of teaching. The great news about studying anything to do with music is that it’s mostly all connected and skills can be easily transferred. Be brave enough to explore an option that may never have crossed your mind before. It may end up becoming the thing you love  most and could lead to a long and successful career.

Seek advice

Talking to as many people as possible can be one of the most valuable ways to form a decision, so don’t be shy to ask for advice from anyone you feel could be qualified to give it. Don’t limit this to just the music industry, but seek expertise from anyone you think might be able to shed light on your search. The more you listen the more you learn about a variety of careers. Don’t be frightened if one person doesn’t give you the answer you were hoping for – not everyone’s experience is the same.

Pick a place 

Picking a city, state, country or even continent is a great place to start. Maybe you can’t find your dream job  straight away but honing in on one spot could help you lay the groundwork for the beginning of your career. If you narrow your search to a place where there is a good enough range of opportunities, you may find yourself having more success. Be sure to do your research and don’t look for possibilities where they don’t exist.

Plan ahead 

The trick to landing a job to move on to straight after graduation depends on how prepared you are. The most organized students will start looking for opportunities a year before commencement. This can feel like a daunting task when coupled with the mountainous workload expected of you in your final year, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do both at once. After all, one job done well is better than two that are barely finished.

Internships and apprenticeships are often a great way to line up real opportunities for after graduation. If you’ve had a good experience somewhere on a more casual basis, ask if there are any role vacancies or spots to fill around the time you’re due to leave. Often these more casual roles turn into a permanent position if it’s a good fit.

Be honest 

If you land yourself a job interview or audition (yay!), don’t be tempted to bluff your way through it. Sure, there are moments when a little optimistic up-selling is needed, but it’s important to know the difference between having confidence in your ability to adapt to a role and having genuine concerns that its requirements may be beyond you. If something feels like it’s beyond your reach, think about the skills you may need to handle it and if your experience matches up. If not, is there a way you can get yourself there? If all else fails, honesty is always the best policy.

Have a little faith 

You’ve come this far, what else can you achieve now? It’s daunting to leave a world of funded programs with dedicated tutors and constant support. Believe in your talents, whatever they are, and try to embrace the new normal. Being able to transform your passion and talent into a career is something many people only ever dream of. Be grateful to have found what it is that you love and persevere in the knowledge that you’ll soon figure out where you need to be and how to get there.

As Stephen Henderson, the 2017 Juilliard commencement speaker told his wide-eyed audience this year: ‘The ecstatic exhilaration shared with everyone who believes in you back then is back again.’