• Buyers Guides, Guitar, Ryan Casperson, Video 12.05.2013 Comments Off on Should I buy a left or right handed guitar?

    Here is video that will walk you through making a good decision about choosing a left of right handed guitar if you are a lefty.

     

    Should I buy a left or right-handed guitar?

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  • Music Schools 12.05.2013 Comments Off on Directory of music schools in other parts of the world

    If you don’t live in an area where there is a 4/4 School of Music, you can try http://www.littlewebdirectory.com Look in Education and then Music School.

  • Uncategorized 21.04.2013 Comments Off on Music Lessons outside of Seattle, Portland or Dallas

    If you are looking for music lessons outside of the Seattle, Portland or Dallas area, please check out MusicLessonTeachers.com . They are a great resource for private music teachers all over the country!

  • For Parents 11.03.2013 Comments Off on New 4/4 School of Music Now Open in Bellevue!

    We are very excited to announce the opening of our newest school in Bellevue, WA.  Here is a link to the info page.  http://www.44school.com/washington/bellevue.html

    The address is:

    1504 145th Place S.E. Suite #5
    Bellevue, WA 98007

  • Uncategorized 15.01.2013 Comments Off on New Bellevue School Open!

    Here is a link to our new guitar lessons page for the Bellevue 4/4 School of Music!

    http://www.44school.com/washington/guitar-lessons-bellevue-wa.html

  • Guitar, Ryan Casperson 28.11.2011 Comments Off on The Shape of Your Pick Matters!

    Earlier, we discussed how the thickness of your pick can impact your playing. This time, let’s take a look at the shape of the pick.

    Rounded Tip Picks: These picks don’t "bite" into the strings and as a result, work great for strumming. The pick can glide over the strings without getting stuck on any individual string. The drawback is that picking individual strings becomes more effort.

    Pointy Tip Picks: These are preferred by players who like to play fast, intricate lines. The point can "stick" to the string and greatly increase your accuracy and speed when alternate picking, string skipping, or tremolo picking. Fast players prefer these greatly!

    Large Pick vs. Small Pick: This is a point of debate, but my opinion is that the larger the pick, the more you need to control. While it is easier to hold on to a larger pick, getting it to move fast takes more effort. The small "Jazz" picks are more maneuverable and once you get used to them, I find it hard to use anything else.

    Having problems holding onto your pick while playing? Try using picks with either raised writing or holes through it. If your favorite pick doesn’t have either, try drilling a couple holes yourself (or use a hole punch if you’re strong enough!). There are glue-like products you can put on the pick to make it stickier, but I think that would really be the last resort. Who wants to clean glue up every time they play guitar?

    Of course, there is a right pick out there for every player, so try them all out and find yourself the perfect pick!

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  • Bass, Guitar, Ryan Casperson 19.11.2011 Comments Off on Thin, Medium or Heavy Guitar Picks?

    There are lots of different kinds of picks. Finding the right pick for you can make playing much easier!

    Thin picks are great for strumming chords. They bend against the strings while you strum and have very little resistance. The downside to thin picks is that they bend and have very little resistance! This means they aren’t very good for doing fast single note runs. If your style is mostly playing chords, this could be a good fit.

    Medium picks still have some give when you are strumming, but work much better for hitting individual strings. These are great when you are strumming chords as well as picking some individual notes out of them.

    Heavy picks don’t have any give at all and that is exactly why they are perfect for fast picking. If you want to shred and play the fast lead parts, heavy is the way to go!

    Besides how stiff a pick is, there are other factors you may consider. Larger picks are easier to hold on to. Smaller picks are more maneuverable. Sharp picks can dig into the string faster, and dull ones have a much more rounded tone. Try them all and find the one that’s right for you!

  • Rachel Nichols, Singers, Voice 09.05.2011 Comments Off on So You Want to Sing Better?

    So you want to sing better?  But do you ever get overwhelmed with where to begin?  As a voice teacher I encounter new students who feel so inundated with information that they have a hard time focusing on just a few key elements of singing.  The good news is that there are little things you can do RIGHT now that will make a huge change in the way you look and sound!  So here they are…really put your full attention into these simple, yet vital exercises and hear your voice transform!

       1. OPEN YOUR MOUTH

    Sounds silly doesn’t it?  Of course we open our mouths when we sing but surprisingly enough many of us barely do.  Even when we talk we hardly open our mouths!  When our mouth is restricted and closed up the vowels sound incorrect, we can’t understand the words, and the notes will sound like they are stuck in your throat.  We need to over-pronounce and over do it! Since we are not usually people who talk with a WIDE-open mouth, I tell students that if you feel funny trying to sing this way than you are most likely doing it right!  When you over-pronounce and open up the sound can come forth in much clearer and stronger tones.  Plus we can hear the words of the song better!  Not to mention you look great too!

       2. BREATHE IN THE RIGHT SPOTS

    Pay attention to where you breathe in your songs.  Many times when we slow down and listen we find that we are taking a breath in the middle of a word!  We wouldn’t do that when we are talking in conversation so let’s try not to do it when singing.  A PHRASE in music is just like a sentence that we say.  We want to try to make it to the end so the phrase feels and sounds natural.  There are of course some exceptions to this rule when you have a very long musical phrase.   So always look for comas or rests.  These are great places to sneak in a breath!  Taking a breath in an awkward spot can make the song sound “choppy”.  So pay closer attention to where you take those much needed breathes.

       3. EXPRESS YOURSELF

    When you are singing a happy song why don’t you smile?  When you are singing a dark, emotional song why are you smiling?  It is important to express yourself and put emotion into your face and eyes!  This isn’t just for actors or those who sing musical theater!  When you open up your eyes and eyebrows, and put expression into your checks and mouth, you sound engaged and interesting!  People are drawn in to what you have to say.  Even if you have an amazing voice yet look dull and bored, people will not enjoy listening to you or looking at you.  Put your mind, body, and emotion into the story of the song.  Whether it is happy, depressed, or fun…go there and your voice will follow!  This will also help number 1 become easier!

    When I have had students implement these simple techniques they are always amazed at how much louder, clearer, and confident their voice sounds!  So give it a try and start somewhere so your voice can soar!

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  • Guitar 26.04.2011 Comments Off on What is a "Capo?" And do I need one?

    A "Capo" is a clamp that can be put over any fret of your guitar. Wherever you set it, that fret now becomes "zero" and you play your open chords relative to that. So if you have the Capo on the 1st fret and play an E Major chord, what you are actually playing is now one note higher (F Major). If you used the A, C and D shapes,  you would actually be playing A#, C# and D#. Using a Capo is a very easy way to play in different keys without having to learn a bunch of new chords.

    One famous examples of Capo use is "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles. George Harrison clamped his Capo on the 7th fret of his guitar and used D, G, A7 and E chord shapes "relative" to the Capo. The result is that the guitar sounds very bright, happy and uplifting which adds to the optimistic message of the song. While the Capo is often used to "cheat" difficult chords, it can also be brilliantly used to aid creativity and explore new terrain on your guitar.

    Do you need one? That depends. Some styles of music rely heavily on Capos (Country, folk, pop) and there will be songs that you might want to play that can only be done correctly using one. A lot of times you can get around needing one if you are good with your "Bar Chords," but the Capo sure would make things easier. They are also a lot of fun to play around with, even if you know tons of different chord shapes. And they aren’t very expensive either (around $5- $20 depending on which style you get) so you don’t have to invest much to give em a try!

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