• For Parents, Jennifer Iovanne 16.10.2009 Comments Off on Making the Most of Your Lessons

    Learning an instrument takes consistent work, but it should also be
    fun and relaxing.  After playing a song, I’ve heard countless students
    remark that it “sounded better at home.”  Lots of people – kids and
    adults – tend to get a little self-conscious in lessons, especially
    early on.  The following tips are great ways to help you focus, relax
    and enjoy the process!

    1. Get to lessons a couple minutes early

    When folks are late, they tend to be frazzled, feel rushed and
    unfocused.  Aim to get to the studio a few minutes early – this is a
    great way to immediately feel more relaxed prior to your lesson!

    2. Wash your hands before your lesson

    Besides the germ-busting factor, washing your hands before each lesson
    will also help you focus your mind on the task at hand, and mentally
    prepare for a calming, fun, focused lesson.

    3.  Turn off the cell phone

    For 30 minutes, allow yourself to focus on develop your musical
    prowess.  Ignore the cell phone, try to put away any worries or
    concerns that are on your mind.  Let the outside world go and you’ll
    be more likely to connect with your instrument.

    4. Practice during the week

    For obvious reasons, the more prepared you are, the more focused and
    confident you’ll feel in lesson.  Consistent practice most days of the
    week is the best approach!

    5. Identify short and long-term goals

    This is great for kids and adults alike.  Your goals can be as
    specific or broad as you want — learn a particular song or genre,
    enjoy music, become familiar with chords, perform in a recital, develop
    a new hobby — and so forth and so on.  Reflecting on your personal
    motivation for being in lessons helps develop a positive, focused
    attitude in lesson and throughout the week with practicing!  If you’re
    not sure what you are looking for or how to get there, that’s okay!
    You can also work with your teacher to identify goals and interests.

    6. Remember that we’re on your side!

    Teachers aren’t just musicians — we are there to help you and
    encourage you. We want to help you succeed in your musical goals!

    ~ Jennifer Iovanne

    Find out about Guitar, Piano, Voice lessons and more at

    4/4 School of Music

    Guitar Lessons in Clackamas Oregon

    Guitar Lessons in Vancouver Washington

  • Rachel Nichols, Singers 03.10.2009 Comments Off on Breath in – Breath out!

    Breathing is an essential part of being able to sing correctly.  You may be thinking, “How hard can it be?  I do it everyday of my life!”  Well, the truth is our breathing habits over the course of our lives sometimes get very out of whack and we develop bad habits that can hinder us from being able to sing freely.

    When we are born we have perfectly operating lungs and breath function.  That is why a babies’ big tummy will move up and down as they breathe.  You can usually hear one tiny baby scream and cry over a large room of people (think church or graduation ceremony).  They have amazing projection and volume!  As we grow older we are told in school to whisper and to keep our voice down.  We also shamefully suck in our belly to achieve that much desired flat stomach.  Pair these habits with anxiety and stress and you have a type of breathing that will originate in your upper chest and shoulders.  Your breathing will be very shallow.  The initial step in learning how to form correct breathing habits is to recognize the incorrect patterns and try to understand and feel how our body is naturally supposed to function.  There is so much more space to utilize in our body for air then just our chest!

    Here are a few experiments to try…go ahead and inhale.  Take a really big breath!  Do this in front of a mirror.  What do you see?  Did you shrug your shoulders?  Did your chest puff up?  If so, your breath is originating in your chest cavity.  Now go lay down on your back on the floor.  Put your hand on your stomach and just relax and breathe.  What do you feel?  Do you feel your stomach moving up and down?  Do you feel yours sides expanding?  When we are in this position we have proper breathing technique.  Did you feel how relaxed your shoulders and chest felt?

    Our breathing muscle is called the ‘diaphragm’.  It is located in the area right underneath your lower ribcage.  Try to remember this…when you INHALE your stomach region should go OUT and expand.  When you EXHALE your stomach area should be pulled IN.  It is the opposite of what we usually do!  This is the natural breathing process so just relax and breathe!  Start paying attention to how your breathe when you sing, exercise, and go about your day because these basics on proper breathing aren’t just for singing but how you should operate daily.  Becoming aware of how your body functions, is the first step to altering and forming new habits!

    Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that will give you breathing exercises that will help your body develop techniques that will set your voice free!