Click here to read a good article on Jazz for students by Elyssa Milne

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Reblogged from Izzie Chea

Adolescence is a time of great change, both, physical and emotional. The adolescent singer is especially vulnerable when his or her voice changes seemingly overnight. As the young singer approaches and pushes through puberty, his voice may drop an entire octave. This puts him in an awkward and self-conscious position when participating in voice lessons or choir. Rather than shy away from participating, it is best to take the challenge of strengthening his voice through the change so that he comes forth from this temporary phase even better equipped than before.

Here are four strengthening vocal exercises that can help power a male or female adolescent singer through those difficult puberty years.

Sirens. This exercise is a staple in building the chest, midrange, and head voices. A siren can be done at the beginning of each voice lesson, in each of the student’s ranges, including their low, middle, and high range. The siren in head voice is especially helpful for young men to help strengthen their falsetto.

Fifth Descending Passages. I find fifth descending passages to be an effective exercise to strengthen the developing voice. Starting on “do” then jumping to a long “sol— fa-mi-re-do” gives the adolescent singer a solid foundation in their chest or midrange voice to sustain their breath up to and past the new break in their voice. This exercise allows the singer to power through the register bridges as the adolescent voice adjusts to its new sound.

Octave Jumps. Octave jumps are an exercise in diaphragmatic breathing, accuracy of notes, and confidence. As the young singer learns to take in a breath that will sustain a large jump into the high register, they notice the confidence it takes to aim for accuracy. Most young singers will have just enough air to squeak out the octave but not enough to sustain the jump back down. The exercise is begun on an A3 or A below middle C to A4 sung twice, then back down to A3 sung twice, with the following syllabic enunciation: “YAH–AH-AHH–AH-AHH.” Continue this exercise ascending chromatically until the student has achieved their desired range.

Staccato Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do. As the adolescent singer works through their register bridge, accuracy is difficult to achieve. Staccato exercises are helpful in coordinating epiglottis opening and closing, forcing the young singer to listen carefully to guide the voice in the right direction. As Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do is a simple melodic line, focus can also remain on vowel and tonal quality in addition to accuracy. This exercise furnishes the adolescent singer with the tools to sing with greater flexibility, as is necessary for the maturing voice.

A special word of note: Adolescent voices are constantly changing. Whatever exercise works one week, may not work the next week. Persistent practice will be the key in developing the student’s voice, as singing is a “use it or lose it” skill. The more frequently the adolescent singer practices, the greater chance that they will emerge from their teenage years with a round, healthy, well-developed singing voice.

Sound Off: What exercises helped get you through your adolescent singing years? Is there a technique you are willing to share that worked for you?








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Concert Time!

Right Note  Once again it is student concert time.  A great event that enables students to show off what they have learned and also for them to learn new skills.  Mark your calendars – Sunday, March 29 at 3:30.  Please check your email for further details.

There will be a silver donation held at the concert with all monies received going towards the Special Olympics!  “Special Olympics Ontario is dedicated to enriching the lives of people with an intellectual disability through sport.”

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Music and the child with ADHD

Here is one Mom’s strategies to use music to help her ADHD child succeed.  Click on the following link to read more.

How Music Unlocks the ADHD Brain

Learning an instrument helped my son increase his attention and boost his performance. Here’s how you can use music to give your ADHD/LD child a leg up, too.

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5 Numbers You Need to Make Your Kid a Good Musician- and Printable Practice Charts

The following is reblogged from Heather of Moderately Crunchy.

Keeping kids motivated during the winter semester is an uphill battle, and we need parents to help!

Here’s the hard truth: not even Yo-Yo Ma can make a child an excellent cellist with one lesson per week. (Sub in whatever instrument your kiddos play in that analogy). My job as a music teacher is to teach your child how to practice because- you ready for this?- your child will never learn an instrument unless they practice at home.

Sooo… how much should your child be practicing? How often should he practice and for how long?

Well, I’m glad you asked! I wish I could say I was basing this on hard evidence and studies, but I’m not. This is my personal and professional opinion, based on my combined experience in both music and psychological development.

Here are the 5 Practicing Numbers You Need to Know~

~ 5 Days a Week

Kids do best when they practice most days. Consistency lends itself to progress, and it also helps cut down on the practice battles. When practicing is a part of the daily routine, kids push back less. In our home, we take practice breaks on lessons days and on Sunday.

~ 10 Minutes Per Year of Age, Per Week

I recommend that my students practice a minimum of 10 minutes per year of age per week. For example, my four year old has to practice a minimum of 40 minutes a week. I would expect a ten year old to practice a bare minimum of 100 minutes a week. Bare minimum.

~ 15 Minute Practice Sessions

It takes time to warm up and start “thinking musically”. Kids do their best learning as they get into the practice session. With that in mind, practice sessions should be a minimum of 15 minutes long. As tempting as it may be to throw in a five minute mini-session to round out a practice week, it’s not productive time.

~ 1 Year Per Level

Parents often ask me how long it should take to get through one level of books. Many method books are formatted to get through in one year or less. If your kid is languishing in a level for two or three years, it may be time to re-evaluate either your practice schedule or interest level (or maybe, possibly your instructor, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

~ 30, 45, 60 Minute Lesson Times

Many students start out with a 30 minute lesson time and get stuck there. Beginners do well with 30 minute lessons, but intermediate students need a 45 minute long lesson. Advanced students need a 60 minute lesson and may even need lessons more often than once a week. If you’re unsure what level your child is at, ask your instructor.

Do you need to shake-up your practice routine to get through winter? I’m sharing my studio practice charts in an instant download with you. I love practice charts that can be used for long-term goal setting (ie. more than one week). For practice charts to work well, follow these steps:

Establish an incentive. In a perfect world, all kids would practice for the sheer love of music. You can get your kids there, but it’s going to take some prodding along the way. Set an overall practice chart goal and then pick a prize at the end. I use a treasure box full of candy and small toys in my studio. You can also try going out for dessert, choosing a family outing, or extending a privilege as rewards.

Use it! Once you’ve chosen your chart and an incentive, post the chart in the open and refer to it daily. If you forget about the chart, your kid will forget about practicing.

Keep it up. Fill out the chart, reward with the incentive, then immediately start a new chart. This is how good habits form.

In this download, you’ll find:
Punch Cards (similar to an old-school lunch ticket)                                                                           Race Game Board (looks like a board game)
Blackout Bingo Cards
Race to 1000 minutes (race car themed with tens charts)

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Music Apps for the iPad

Music Apps for the iPad.  A great list from  Leila Vis.

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How to Warm Up Your Voice


Love the info graphic!

Originally posted on Sara's Music Studio:

Vocal warm ups are an absolute must in my studio. Warm ups give us the opportunity to check in with our instrument to make sure it’s working properly. Students spend approximately 1/3 of their lesson time working on warm ups and vocalises, some of which might sound a little “odd” (see “Vocalises Do Not Always Sound Pretty“).

My favorite analogy to use with students is one about running. A runner wouldn’t launch into a cross-country trek without warming up their muscles first. The same goes for singing. It’s important to warm up our vocal folds before we sing. Warm ups let us “stretch” our instrument before we use it, and they can also serve as a diagnostic tool to let us know how our voice is feeling and functioning that day.

Not sure how to warm up your voice?

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The Practice Abacus

Wendy has posted a do it yourself craft that will help students have a visual tool for their practice sessions.
Check it out at this link.

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How to Read a Fake Book


Next step- improvise over the chords!

Originally posted on Take Note:

By Kevin Harper

History of Fake Books and Lead Sheets

Imagine this: you’re a famous jazz player; you’re busy on the road going from gig to gig. One day you come up with a great tune and want to write it down and orchestrate it for your ensemble, but orchestration takes a long time. So instead, you write down the melody and then write out the general chords and any potential rhythms. When you read it during the gig (for the first time no doubt!) you and your bandmates have a general outline of what needs to happen – everything else is improvised. Because improvisations are different everytime, writing down the “correct” way of playing any tune in the old days was impossible.

As jazz grew in popularity, everyone wanted to hear all the popular songs, but the problem was that many of these tunes were hard to find or…

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Making Memories for a Positive Performance


Steps to successfully prepare for a memorized performance.

Originally posted on 88pianokeys:

IMG_2720 Last spring’s recital had a beach theme–can you tell?

Apparently I’m not the only one scarred by a horrendous memory black out during a recital. Riding home with fellow adjudicators from a nearby Federation of Music Clubs Festival, I discovered that others have endured unforgettable and traumatic experiences where the memory bank crashed during an important performance. As I’m preparing my students to participate in a local Federation festival that requires memorization, it’s critical for me to equip performers for NOTHING but a successful experience. I do not wish to pass along my personal past performance scars to anyone.

Playing for an audience is already risky but playing from memory for others including adjudicators could be equated to walking a tightrope.  If performers are going to tip toe on that high wire, it’s important that a safety net is below ready to catch them when, not if mistakes occur and…

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