Thursday, October 30, 2014

Playing well with others: How to find people to jam with

Whether you want to be in a famous band or just play a special song for a loved one, jamming with other musicians is a great way to learn and get closer to your goal. Once you’ve mastered a few easy songs on the guitar or gotten the hang of a basic drum beat, it’s time to start looking for other musicians around your level who are interested in playing music together.

Jamming is more about experimenting and learning than showing off, and this sort of open creativity can be really appealing and fun. Don’t wait until you’re “perfect”; even the most talented and accomplished artists have certain skills they want to improve. You’ll learn more and have more fun if you start sharing what you already know. So how do you find people to jam with?

Use your NMM & social networks
Are you looking for a drummer to jam with but you don’t know any drummers? Reach out to other musical friends and see if they can introduce you. Talk to your NMM instructor—he or she might be able to introduce you to another student with similar interests. If you’re looking to join a band or choral group, NMM has several teen bands and an accapella group you can get involved with, and we’re also looking to start some duo and trio groups in 2015. Throw up a post on Facebook or Twitter if you don’t know who to reach out to directly. You never know who will know someone who will be perfect for you!

Phone a Friend
Playing music with your friends is one of the most fun things you can do on this planet. When you’re jamming with someone you already know and trust, you feel more relaxed and more open to try out new ideas and let the creativity flow. If you have a friend who’s also learning an instrument, why not get together with your instruments and see what happens? Even if you sound terrible, you’ll still have a good time!

Hit the Open Mic Nights
Going to open mic nights is a great way to meet new musical collaborators. Play a few songs and see what happens! Or, if you’re feeling shy, you can go and watch the performers and chat with the ones you like after they play. A good open mic night should be a positive and friendly place where people at all levels have the chance to share what they’ve been working on, so you may see seasoned performers and total beginners all in the same night. Riverwalk CafĂ© in Nashua and Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry have regular open mic nights, as do many other businesses in the Nashua area.
By now, hopefully you have some good ideas that will help you reach out and find people to jam with! Remember to keep it fun and don’t be too hard on yourself, especially if you are just beginning. It’s totally normal to feel nervous about playing music with new people. There are plenty of seasoned musicians out there who still feel nervous when they walk into a room to play with new musicians for the first time. Once you start playing, your nerves will most likely melt away and you’ll leave every jam session knowing something new about your instrument, a song or music in general that you didn’t know when you walked in.
How do you meet people to play music with? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

Adapted from this article on takelessons.com.

Photos by Robyn Neville.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

5 Reasons to make music lessons a priority this fall

Fall is in full swing. Between school, homework, sports teams, and clubs there is an overwhelming number of activities that are clamoring for your child's time and undiscovered skills. Should you sign him up for soccer or piano lessons? Take him fishing or to the movies? How many activities can he participate in before he--and you!--burn out?
Given how busy our lives our, prioritizing activities can be difficult. Each activity has the potential to teach your child valuable skills, and may even turn into a career or hobby later in life.
If you're debating whether music lessons are worth your child's time and your money, here are five reasons that may help you make your decision.
Music educates the whole child - From day one, children learn notes, rhythms, melodies and scales. But, they're actually learning much more than that. They are learning to interact with other people and becoming better acquainted with themselves as well. Music stimulates the vestibular system, which helps all the senses coordinate with one another. According to Howard Gardner, who wrote Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, music may also be "a privileged organizer of cognitive processes in any subject, especially among young people." In other words, music education extends beyond music education. It affects a child's social behavior and success in other subjects as well.

Music helps children understand culture - According to Kimberly Balls, a junior studying music education at Brigham Young University, "Many of the songs that have stood the test of time are folk songs. They maintain the speech patterns, traditions and more of any given culture. The folk songs of different countries are as different as the countries themselves." Music from countries all over the world can be incorporated into your music education many ways whether you're a singer, dancer or tuba player.

Music helps establish group identity - Anyone who has watched a battle scene or sports movie knows this. It's the music that makes the scene. It brings everyone together and makes that stirring speech all the more inspiring. Participating in a choir, band, or piano duet can be a really special experience as well. Working with someone else to create music binds you together in a way that can't really be explained.

Music helps you express your feelings - One reason music is so powerful is that it has the ability to say things that you can't say in words. Some people have a difficult time expressing feelings and rely on music to help them sort through their emotions. I do this all the time. Whenever I'm stressed out, angry, sad or trying to make a difficult decision, I sit at my piano and pound on the keys for an hour or so. When I'm finished, I feel much more calm and able to tackle life's problems again.

Music is physical - Participating in music lessons provides many of the same benefits as participating in sports. Teamwork, discipline, focus, and fun are just some of them. Music lessons will also improve your child's thinking skills and physical coordination. It's not as physical as soccer, true, but it does require you to move around. Children need all the physical stimulation they can get, which is easily accomplished with singing and practice sessions. 

Your child needs more than the basics to be successful. A full and productive life also requires social skills, discipline, cooperation, and creative thinking--all learned from the training that music lessons provide. And there is one more benefit of music lessons: they can be really fun, not just for your child, but for the whole family. 




Monday, August 18, 2014

September is a great time to start music lessons


We've all been doing our best to ignore the ridiculous "back to school" ads that started in July this year. But with Labor Day less than 2 weeks away, there's no hiding from it anymore: The back-to-school frenzy has officially begun! This is an exciting time for kids, especially if they’re hitting a milestone, like moving up to middle school or high school. With the start of a new school year also comes the start of after-school activities and sports, so now is a great time to talk with your kids about prioritizing their list of desired activities and deciding what makes the most sense for your family's busy schedule. If your child has expressed an interest in music, or will be in a band or orchestra program in school this upcoming year, you might be wondering about private music lessons. But is September really a good time to get started? Definitely!
The Tampa Bay Music Academy blog posted an article about why September can be a great time to start lessons, and they bring up some great points! Here’s an excerpt from their list:
  1. Capitalize on the back to school spirit. Kids are excited about starting something new. It’s time for a change, and beginning piano lessons while back-to-school fervor is in full swing will help students begin with a positive outlook.
  2. Improve performance in school. Numerous studies show that music lessons improve student performance on standardized tests, especially in math. Music education is a great complement to traditional classroom learning, because it uses both the creative and the spatial-temporal parts of the brain at the same time.
  3. Build self-confidence. Just as sports can build self-confidence by helping kids learn to overcome challenges and develop new skills, learning a new instrument can accomplish those same goals. When a student successfully performs that difficult piece in his first recital, his confidence gets the same boost it does when his team wins the basketball game.
Continue reading the full article here.
Can you think of more reasons why now is the best time to get started with music lessons? Leave them in the comments!
This article was adapted from a blog post by takelessons

Friday, June 20, 2014

We're holding a "Summer Sizzle" Festival on July 20!

A day of music and family fun to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua


We're psyched to announce that we'll be hosting a “Summer Sizzle” event on Sunday, July 20, from 12 to 4 PM, at our Nashua location parking lot, 28 Charron Avenue. Summer Sizzle will feature live entertainment, face painting, bounce house, food, and a raffle with many must-have items, the proceeds of which will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua.

Live music will be provided by North Main Music’s student bands, some of whom are veterans of the Nashua area live music scene, having already performed at the Winter Holiday Stroll and Rock’n Ribfest, and the Boys & Girls Club chorus. The Nashua Silver Knights’ Sir Sterling will also be making a special guest appearance that day.

Raffle items will be announced the day of the event and all proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua, whose mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need them most, to reach their potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. 

Summer Sizzle is free and open to the public, so spread the word to friends and family! It is an outdoor event that will take place rain or shine. For more information about Summer Sizzle call us at 603-505-4282. For more information about the Boys & Girls Club please call 603-883-0523 or visit www.bgcn.com

Monday, June 2, 2014

5 Ways To Take Advantage of Summer Music Lessons

The long, beautiful days of summer are upon us, and it’s normal for students to feel distracted with family, friends, and activities. Continuing a practice and lesson routine throughout the summer months is extremely important for budding musicians, and summer provides a great opportunity for students to progress, try new things, and have fun! Here are 5 great ways to take advantage of music lessons at North Main Music this summer:

1. Flexible Scheduling - We offer flexible scheduling during the summer that can easily accommodate things like vacations, travel, sports, and camps.

2. Keep Up Your Momentum and Playing LevelYou’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and students who take extended breaks from lessons don’t just stop progressing - they regress significantly. A student who takes a month or two off usually takes 8 - 10 weeks to return to their previous level.

3. The Focus Factor - In summer, you can take the time to address and fix problems, explore new areas, and progress at a much faster rate!

4. Performance Opportunities - We’ve got all sorts performance opportunities at fun community events and festivals throughout the summer that our students can take advantage of!

5. Summer Camps, Groups, and WorkshopsFrom rock bands and summer programs to jam clubs and workshops, we offer a huge selection of fun activities to fill up your summer! Check out www.NorthMainMusic.com for details.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Importance of Mistakes and 5 Famous Rock & Roll Screw-Ups

As humans and musicians, we all make mistakes. Everyone from absolute beginners to high-level professionals are subject to the occasional mess-up and each of us reacts to our imperfections differently. Some musicians are able to recover and move on seamlessly from mistakes, while others allow slight errors to affect their confidence.
The way a musician thinks about mistakes has a huge impact on how they develop as a performer. When musicians are overly-critical of themselves, it can prevent them from being creative and venturing outside of their comfort zone. Mistakes are a necessary part of growing as a player, and without developing the ability to recognize and learn from our gaffes, we miss out on opportunities to improve.
Next time you misstep during a performance, think about what you can take away from the experience. Were there any nice moments or ideas you can use or expand upon in your next performance? What exactly caused the error, and how can you prevent it from happening again?
Remember, play the right notes, but play with feeling and with fearlessness. Focusing on soul and emotion is infinitely more important than focusing on perfection, and mistakes are an invaluable learning tool for any musician. Accept your mistakes as learning lessons, and know that you’re in good company. Some of the most famous acts of all time have messed up big time. From studio slips, to forgotten lyrics, to technical glitches, everyone deals with mistakes from time to time. Here are five of our favorites:
Van Halen - “Jump” (Live) - The synth track plays back in the wrong key during this live performance, resulting in 6 minutes of awful noise.

Paul McCartney - “We Can Work It Out” (Live)Paul messes up the lyrics not once but twice during this acoustic performance, restarting the song both times.

The Police - “Roxanne” The seemingly random piano chord at 0:04 and laughing at 0:06 were caused by Sting accidentally leaning on a piano during the recording session.


Billy Joel - “We Didn’t Start the Fire” Billy forgets some of the words of the second verse, and is forced to start the song over.

Led Zeppelin - “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You” Beginning at 2:20 you can hear a dim voice that is actually Robert Plant singing along with John Bonham’s drum track. There was no way to remove Robert’s voice from the tracks, so it stayed in.

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Insightful & Inspirational TED talks about music

No matter what your passion in life, TED probably hosts an intelligent — if not outright provocative — video on the subject. Considering that music exists as one of the essential pillars of human creativity, it comes as no surprise that the beloved lecture series frequently turns its stage over to some of music's great thinkers and performers. Professionals, students and fans alike can easily spend an entire day immersing themselves in all the relevant videos TED has to offer. The following, however, particularly stand out for their illuminating ideas about music and the human experience.

1. David Byrne: How Architecture helped music evolve
As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.


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2. Jose Abreu on kids transformed by music
Jose Antonio Abreu is the charasmatic founder of a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of kids' lives in Venezuela. Here he shares his amazing story and unveils a TED Prize wish that could have a big impact in the US and beyond.


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3. Mark Applebaum: The Mad Scientist of Music
Mark Applebaum writes music that breaks the rules in fantastic ways, composing a concerto for a florist and crafting a musical instrument from junk and found objects. This quirky talk might just inspire you to shake up the "rules" of your own creative work.



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4. Benjamin Zander on music and passion
Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it--and, by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.


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5. Robert Gupta: Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity
When Robert Gupta was caught between a career as a doctor and as a violinist, he realized his place was in the middle, with a bow in his hand and a sense of social justice in his heart. He tells a moving story of society's marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails. 


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Now we want to hear your opinion! Are these your top TED talks for Music? Are there others you would add? Let us know what they are by leaving feedback in the comment box below and so we can connect with you in collecting the best resources for music teachers, students, and enthusiasts.


This article has been adapted from 20 Incredible TED Talks for Both Music Students and Lovers on the BachelorsDegree.org blog and Top 10 TED Talks for Music Education on the FunMusicCo.com blog.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Surprising ways music is good for your heart

Like most of us, you have probably felt a song pull on your heartstrings or maybe even felt your heart skip a beat at the sound of a particular melody. Countless love songs have been written about the heart—there’s even a band named Heart--to the point that for many people love and music are forever intertwined.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the holiday celebrated literally and figuratively with the heart, here are some interesting notes on how playing and listening to music actually has real health benefits for your ticker. So, whether you’re a musician or a music fan, turn up the tunes and give your heart some love.
A recent study found that listening to music for 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure. During the study, patients with high blood pressure listened to classical music, Celtic music, or Indian ragas for a half hour every day for a month, leading to significant drops in systolic blood pressure (the top number when your blood pressure is taken.) High systolic blood pressure increases heart disease risk. Always consults your doctor first for treatment options for high blood pressure, or any other health issue, but remember adding a daily dose of music can’t hurt!

Perhaps one reason music has the power to lower blood pressure is its natural stress-relieving ability. Music has actually been found to be more effective than prescription medications at reducing stress in patients before surgery. Next time you find yourself feeling stressed, try taking deep breaths and listening to your favorite song. De-stressing isn’t just good for your heart; taking time to relax can boost your immune system and help to clear your mind.

Musicians enjoy another heart benefit each time they practice their instruments. Though most instruments are not exactly a workout, playing music does burn calories and it’s certainly better for you than sitting on the couch watching T.V. Drummers burn the most, averaging around 200 calories per hour of playing. Guitarists and other musicians who stand while they rock out can burn from 130 to 200 calories per hour, while seated players only burn about 60 calories.

When you are ready to exercise, listening to music pumps you up and increases your stamina. Studies have shown many benefits to adding music to your workout, and regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve and maintain heart health. Remember to bring you iPod the next time you go to the gym! If you’re like many of us, and don’t particularly like to exercise, listening to your favorite music can help you stay motivated while you work out.
Now that you know how music is good for your heart, why not find a few more ways to bring music into your day? Here are a few ideas:
  • According to Nielsen, the average American watches about 32 hours of television per week. Instead of automatically reaching for the remote, turn on your stereo instead and enjoy the benefits of music.
  • Pick a soundtrack for your housework! Play your favorite album while you fold laundry or make a playlist you can put on when you work in the yard. Adding music to your daily chores will change your mindset and help your heart.
  • Have you always dreamed of playing an instrument but you never learned how? Now is always the best time to start music lessons! Learning to play will deepen your appreciation for music and give you a new way to experience your favorite songs.
  • Musicians, do you turn off your cell phone and your computer when you’re practicing your instrument? Many people don’t, and it can be very difficult to disconnect and truly focus on practicing. Remind yourself that your texts and emails will still be there later and give yourself at least 30 minutes of play without interruptions from technology.

How do you connect with music on Valentine’s Day or just any old day? Let us know in the comments!


Adapted from this article on takelessons.com/blog.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Habits of Excellence in Music

Welcome to the North Main Music blog! Through this blog, we’ll be sharing with you tips on improving your musical performance, instrument maintenance, and interesting articles we have discovered that discuss issues around music education and how music impacts our everyday lives.
Seeing as it’s the start of a new year, and many of us begin a new year with a resolution, often to break a bad habit or adopt a new one, this first blog post is about some of the habits of excellence that can lead anyone to greatness in their music studies. Enjoy! And as always, we welcome your feedback and comments.


HABITS OF EXCELLENCE IN MUSIC


Madi C. Pineau at Fall 2013 student concert. Photo: Sid Ceaser.
Are you driven in your musical pursuits? Do you love to excel? Whether we’re practicing or performing, all of us musicians are striving for excellence. But do music students always understand what excellent musicianship entails?
After years of striving for excellence in my own music career, working with top musicians, and observing incredible musicians, I realized that there are universal habits that enable people to achieve excellence in music. As Aristotle would put it, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." 
I’ve seen time and again that when we embody these habits in our study of music, excellence becomes our ‘default setting’ in rehearsal and on stage. These habits are not traits that a select few are born with--they are habits that anyone like you and me can cultivate.
1.     Have the end in mind. Everything begins with the end—the goal or the vision you want to fulfill with your study of music. If you don’t know what the end is, then there’s no way of getting there, is there? It’s important that you form clear goals of what you want to accomplish with music. What is the end you envision? What are your personal goals and dreams for yourself? Your dreams remind you of exactly what you want and can drive you to practice every day.
2.     Play/sing what you love. When you do something you love, it’s like you have unlimited fuel that keeps you going—day after day. What types of music, or specific songs, do you love to play? If you’re not sure what music you love yet, then what is something you are most eager to try at the moment? Your passion and interest are fuels that will drive you towards excellence.
3.     Work harder than anyone else. I don't know of anyone who has achieved excellent results who hasn't worked hard for them. A big component of excellence is hard work. Sheer, unadulterated hard work. We can streamline processes, choose effective strategies and steps, but ultimately the hard work will still have to come in. Fortunately, if you are doing what you love (step #3), work wouldn't even be work at all.
4.     Make use of every moment. Every moment counts. Excellent people know that time is highly valuable. There's this quote by Donald Trump that I love. He said that time is more precious than money, because you can earn back money, but you can't get back time. That is absolutely true. So try to maximize every moment. If you have some pockets of time, take out your instrument and practice.  Note that this habit doesn't mean practicing 24x7. Making use of every moment also refers to knowing when to rest and rejuvenate when it's needed, because this will help us walk the longer mile on the path of excellence.
5.     Take action to achieve your results. Achieving excellence in your musical studies means being a proponent of action. Whatever we do or don’t do will determine how much we can grow or succeed as musicians. If we want to attain excellent results, we need to take the equivalent actions to reach the results we want. So, instead of just thinking about practicing, pick up your instrument and do it. Don’t just dream about playing in front of an audience, sign up to perform at a North Main Music student concert, or seek out an open mic night near you.
6.     Continuously upgrade yourself. Learning to play music never stops. There is always something we can do to become better. Excellent musicians are always learning, reading, exposing themselves to new knowledge, new people, new contexts and honing their skills. We need to always be leveling ourselves up to achieve excellence. 
7.     Ask for feedback. No matter how much we practice and try to improve, we will have blind spots, and we can’t improve on things that we are blind to. Asking for feedback from your instructor and peers is an effective way to improve. Sometimes you’ll get feedback that is predictable, but other times it won’t be, and often times it will lead to an epiphany on some level.
8.     Positive attitude. It takes time and diligence to acquire the skills of an expert performer, and all of us deal with triumphs and stumbles as we progress. Remember to stay positive by setting specific goals, maintaining a degree of detachment, and fueling your motivation.


Adapted from 7 Habits of Excellence on www.themusiciansway.com/blog and 7 Habits of Highly Excellent People from www.dumblittleman.com.