Category Archives: Music genres

Five of the best resources for music teachers

Music education in schools isn’t what it used to be. With seemingly endless cuts to funding for teacher programs, many parents are opting to get their kid’s music education outside of school through private lessons. Even if you teach music in a school, there is a good chance that you supplement your income by teaching private lessons outside of the school.

Teaching privately is interesting because there is no set standard for curriculum like there is in the schools. You can teach each student differently based on their individual talents and their overall goals. Every great teacher is looking for new resources to help them better their teaching style and their own skills as a musician. Here are five of the best resources for music teachers to help you.

Virtual education

 

Video chat apps like Skype have made it easier to communicate over long distances. Video chat has made it easier than ever for teachers to reach students. Your student-base is now the entire world instead of just your immediate area. It also gives students the ability as a teacher to seek out specific teachers they want to work with.

Outside of real time interaction, another benefit of online lessons is that you can pre-record lessons and put them online. Once online, they can be downloaded and watched over and over again by students, meaning you can be teaching multiple lessons at the same time. A great way to get started is to upload a couple of simple lessons to YouTube to help create interest.  Tablets like Amazon’s Fire HD make these easily digestible for students and allow you to film from anywhere.

Books

 

Traditionally, books have been the music teacher’s greatest aid. Their education value is the same when consumed in digital form and, if you’re teaching kids, you’re more likely to captivate a tech-savvy student’s attention by pointing them to an online version.

Almost every hard copy book is also available in Kindle format or through another device.

Mobile Apps

 

There is a mobile application for just about everything, including music education. Whether you use an Amazon Kindle, an iOS, or an Android device, there are hundreds of apps available to help you educate you students more effectively. The best part is that many of these application are available at no cost

Among the most popular is iReal book which contains an online catalogue of  thousands of jazz standards. Amazon’s Echo series – which includes the Echo, Dot and Echo Show, also come with built in guitar tuners and metronomes.

There’s more on how to use the Echo as a musician or teacher here.

Speak to other teachers

 

There’s a lot to be said for reaching out to the community of music teachers near you or beyond to find out how they’re aiding their careers. Whether you’re considering teaching a new instrument or if you need advice, there are a number of great forums like the National Association for Music Education where you can turn to for tips.

The Music Teacher Chatboard on teacher.net also provides a safe place for teachers to trade advice or thoughts.

Recording Devices

 

Whether it be a full on recording studio or just an HD camera set up in the corner, it is a good idea to have a way to record the lessons you are teaching.

You can give these recordings to your students and they can review them later. Doing this makes it easier for them to remember everything you went over in the lesson. On top of that, you can review the recordings to see how you can improve as a teacher.  Just as athletes review game tapes, it can sometimes make the difference between a student progressing past a difficult obstacle or staying stuck behind it.  If you don’t want to tape something on camera, recording it on a voice recorder might be a suitable and cheaper alternative. Click on the highlighted words for great options on both.

Have you considered an Amazon Echo? Check out our post on using an Amazon Echo to practice Music.

 

Ten best violins for beginners

They say that everyone should learn to play a musical instrument at some time in their life, even if it’s just a simple one like the harmonica or ukulele. But if you are interested in playing beautiful classical tracks, you need a classical instrument- and you could hardly do better than to choose to learn to play the violin. The violin is a versatile and time-tested musical instrument that can play anything from whimsical folk tunes to awe inspiring classical compositions. Here’s a survey of the ten best violins for beginners.

  1. Mendini 4/4 MV300 Solid Wood Satin Antique Violin with Hard Case

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This 4/4 (full size) antique style violin features a hand carved top of solid spruce with maple sides and back. The maple fingerboard pegs, chin rest, and alloy tail make this violin a great choice at $59.99.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Windsor MI-1006 Full Size Violin with Case

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This spruce top violin with ebony colored fingerboards and tuning pegs comes complete with its own carrying case, rosin and horsehair bow. It is a great bargain at $39.00, a price low enough to trust with young learners.

 

 

2. Mendini 4/4 MV500+92D Flamed 1-Piece Back Solid Wood Violin

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A relatively upscale item, this full sized Mendini features a solid, carved-by-hand maple back, spruce top, and inlaid purfling. It comes with a string tuner and metronome, and 2 wood bows made with unbleached Mongolian horsehair for $139.99.

 

 

 

 

4. Cecilio CVN-300 Solidwood Ebony Fitted Violin

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This full sized Cecilio violin features an ebony fingerboard, tail-piece, chin rest, and 4 detachable nickel plated tuners. It comes with a chromatic tuner, hard case, lesson book and 2 bows made with unbleached Mongolian horsehair for just $129.99.

 

 

 

5. Mendini 4/4 MV400 Ebony Fitted Solid Wood Violin with Hard Case

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This full sized 4/4 violin features a maple back and sides with a spruce top and a beautiful varnish and inlaid purfling. This high quality product can be yours for just $89.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Bunnel Basic Clearance Violin

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Don’t be fooled by the name of this high quality violin- the Bunnel Basic is an excellent violin at a fair price. It is among the highest rated violins on Amazon and comes with a full 45-day guarantee of satisfaction. It comes fully assembled and ready to play after unboxing at a price of $199.99.

 

 

 

7. Ohuhu Full Size 4/4 Natural Acoustic Violin Fiddle

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An excellent starter’s violin made from quality composite wood and a hand carved glossy finish. It comes with a black carrying case and is suitable for persons of any size. It is available for just $39.99.

 

 

 

 

8. Stentor 1500 4/4 Violin

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This high quality journeyman’s violin is fully hand crafted with a solid spruce face, a solid maple back and sides and full ebony fittings. It also comes with a professional hard case. This high quality classical instrument is $186.49.

 

 

9. TMS 4/4 Full Size Natural Acoustic Violin Fiddle with Case

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A top quality young beginner’s violin, the TMS is well crafted and full size with natural color and a beautiful varnish finish. Specially crafted composite wood makes this violin inexpensive to produce and therefore inexpensive to own- making it ideal for young learners who want the look and feel of a high quality instrument- without the responsibility. The case is hard on the outside and soft on the inside to protect the instrument during travel and storage. It is available for just $39.95.

 

10. Cecilio CVN-200 Solidwood Violin with D’Addario Prelude Strings

 

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This full sized solid wood violin strikes a resonant tone with its solid wood construction, maple back, sides and neck, all natural varnish, and inlaid purfling. It features a maple fingerboard, chin rest, and four nickel plated tuners that are completely detachable. It is available for just $99.99,

Interview with an artist: How Brandon Mills overcame PTSD through music

Not all musicians forge their careers out of unbridled ambition. For some, the road to a full-time job in the industry happens by accident, chance or fate.

New York-based folk pop artist Brandon Mills didn’t always have his sights set on it. For him, it took tours of Afghanistan and Iraq in one of the deadliest divisions of the Marine Corps to discover his calling.

Today he lives with two roommates in a four-bedroom apartment in Harlem and is about to launch his third album, the first he has ever shared with anyone. It is the product of a bluegrass-infused upbringing in Kentucky, solemn solitude with his guitar in the chaplain of army base camps and a reluctant, years-long struggle with PTSD.

‘I’ve found a lot of healing and empowerment through music,’ Brandon tells Music Education Madness.

After a brief childhood fling with the saxophone, the now 32-year-old had a casual relationship with the guitar until 2004, when he was deployed to Afghanistan with an infantry unit. Three years later, he was in Iraq with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, a revered Special Forces unit. It was there, between his field missions, that Brandon would sneak into the chapel to play a lonely guitar that had been left out after prayer services.

‘It was a distraction and it was equally an important to use as a tool to process what was going on. Things that I couldn’t say to anybody, things that I couldn’t even express vocally, I could put in songs. It was the war, loss, life and all the challenges of war that are hard to talk about.’

He played and wrote alone, occasionally watching the permanent administrative staff on the ground pick up the prized guitar for a light-hearted jam session.

‘The military looks at any vulnerability as weakness and there’s a functionality to that, so I get it. [But] it meant I didn’t share my feelings or talk about much of anything. The guys that were on base all the time, they were just practising and having a good time [when they played]. I didn’t know them very well but it seemed like a different thing.’

In 2008, Brandon left the Marines and was suddenly aimless. He traveled the world with charities in an attempt to occupy himself, all-the-while trying frantically to keep the creeping clutches of post traumatic stress disorder at bay.

‘I was in complete denial that I had PTSD. I was stubborn and hard-headed, hard-hearted and hyper vigilant once I got out. It was a part of my brain that I couldn’t turn off. It’s a hard thing – we have a mission and we’re good, gifted at it and then we get out and there’s no more mission and we’re at a loss.’

He settled in Hawaii in 2010, taking a well-paying job as a private contractor. It was this, with its six-figure salary and easy-lifestyle, which finally laid bare his crisis.

‘I had a lot of money but not a lot to do. I thought it was everything I’d ever want but I wasn’t happy, so I prayed. I had to experience that financial security to realise how empty it was, for me,’ he says. emphatically.

A year later, he ditched it to move to Harlem and start courses in audio engineering, music production and sound design at the City College of New York – ‘an amazing program’.

Now, Brandon plays small gigs at independent venues across the city and subsidises his life by with bar-tending  and catering (‘I actually love it. I love serving people’.) Last year, he opened for Jason Derulo at Times Square. When he can afford to pay them, he likes having support on stage in the form of other musicians. Otherwise, it’s just him, his Martin D- 28  and a harmonica which he uses nostalgically to inject the soul of that Kentucky childhood into performances.

As he prepares for the launch of his third album, he is grateful for his winding path to full-time music.

‘The freedom I have is remarkable. To do what I love and get paid for it…’ he tails off.

In addition to shopping around for a label, Brandon hopes to kick-start a music program to support other vets through PTSD.

For more about Brandon’s music, visit his website here

 

Related: BEING BLUE PART 1 – A STORY ABOUT GROWING UP TO DRUM FOR THE BLUE MAN GROUP

Learn more about a career in Music Therapy Here