• Guitar, Practice, Ryan Casperson, Tools 27.01.2011 Comments Off on Top 4 Tools For Practicing Guitar!

    In the olden days, the only high tech tools people had to learn their favorites songs on guitar was their record player and their ear. Today, the options for guitar players are endless! Here are my top 4 choices.

    image

    1) Guitar Pro 6 is a Guitar Tab player for Windows/Mac/ and Linux that boasts being "A tablature editor, score player and backing band all in one." When you download GuitarPro song files (from sites like Ultimate-Guitar.com), you usually are given music for all the parts of the song, including melody, drums and bass! You can speed up or slow the playback so you can practice at slower speeds while you are learning the new tune. While its price tag of $59 may seem a bit high, the accuracy of its transcriptions and the massive song library online more than makes up for it. And the songs you download (after you bought the software) are all free. This is really helpful for guitar students! Visit their website to learn more: http://www.guitar-pro.com/en/index.php

    2) Power Tab is a free tablature editor and score player that is very similar to Guitar Pro. You really can’t beat free! However, while Power Tab also has a very extensive online song catalog, the accuracy isn’t quite as consistent as Guitar Pro. Luckily you can listen to the tab’s playback and hear if its right before you invest time studying it. There often are several different versions for the same song, so try the ones rated best first. Power Tab also is an older program and I haven’t seen any updates for it in years but the good news is that it’s already a solid program and doesn’t need any extra frills. You can learn more or download for free here: http://www.power-tab.net/

    3) The Tab ToolKit from Agile Partners is perhaps my favorite app for the iPad, iTouch and iPhone. This app lets you open Guitar Pro and Power tab song files right onto your device! I don’t usually practice in front of my computer, but my phone is always with me. The price tag of $9.99 seemed high to me at first for an app, but when you compare it to the $59 you would pay for Guitar Pro, it is almost a no-brainer! The only drawback is if you only have WiFi internet, you can only access new songs when you are at a hotspot (or on your home wireless network). But once you download a song, its there until you erase it. So you can quickly build an impressive tab library right on your device. Learn more here:  http://www.agilepartners.com/apps/tabtoolkit/

    4) The Tascam CD-GT2 allows you to slow down difficult songs, loop sections or eliminate unwanted parts that are getting in your way. What I love about the CD-GT2 is that it focuses on a musicians most powerful tool: their ear! It can feel overwhelming to sit down with a song and try to figure it out on your own and that is where slowing and looping can really help. Take something that sounds relatively simple, loop it, slow it, and have patience! Figure out small parts. This is how so many guitar masters have learned their craft. Have your teacher help get you started. It’s extremely satisfying when you figure out a part on your own. You can learn more here:   http://tascam.com/product/cd-gt2/

    Have fun and practice hard!

  • Jennifer Iovanne, Practice 12.01.2010 Comments Off on Tis’ the Season (for colds and flus…and lessons!)

    Occasional flu and cold symptoms are inevitable for most of us, especially during the colder months.  Added to the normal responsibilities of school and work, feeling under the weather can leave us with little energy leftover to practice music.  By all means, take a few days off of practice when you’re sick.  But what should you do when you feel well enough to get back into the swing of things? Here’s a few tips, whether you’re a piano guru, a guitar shredder, or a vocal star!

     

    • Wash your hands before lessons!  This is always a good idea, whether
      you’re sick or not.  Preventative care is an awesome way to help avoid
      spreading germs!
    • Aim to practice as regularly as possible – the more consistently you
      take time to rock out on your instrument, the easier it is to keep
      progressing and make learning fun!
    • Get plenty of rest – the more rested and relaxed you are coming to
      lesson, the easier it is to focus and think happy thoughts!

    For voice students, there’s a few other tips to follow:

    • Don’t over-sing.  Yes, it’s tempting to belt out your favorite song
      another 4 times, but doing so can inhibit recovery from colds.  When
      your vocal chords are swollen, keep vocal use in check.  It’s worth
      it!
    • Don’t sing too loudly, too quietly or too high.  Again, be as kind to
      your voice as possible.  Keep the singing range from venturing too
      high, and avoid volume extremes on either end.  Whispering is actually
      pretty tough on vocal chords, believe it or not.
    • Drink lots of liquids.  Water, hot herbal tea are especially great.
      Even when I’m healthy, I drink at least 10 cups of water a day.
      Staying hydrated is really important to the voice!
      Stay healthy in the new year, and keep rocking!

    Voice Lessons in Vancouver, Washington

    Voice Lessons in Clackamas, Oregon

  • Jennifer Iovanne, Piano, Practice 29.07.2009 Comments Off on Making the most of your piano practice

    As with any instrument, practice outside of lessons is very important for continued progress.  For most kids, parental encouragement and support is necessary to ensure practicing is done regularly throughout the week.  During the school year, aim to build practice sessions into your child’s regular schedule – or into your own schedule!  During the summer, take extra measures to keep practice sessions fun, exciting and productive – Rachel’s article below is a great resource in ideas to help stay engaged during these summer months!  Want other ideas on how to help yourself (or your child) make the most of their practice outside of lessons?

    First, be sure to review the weekly lesson log – these are passed out to piano students in each lesson with information on pieces to practice and other things to work on during the week.  Be sure to practice assigned material – it is also great to spend some time just playing around on the piano and making your own music, but don’t sacrifice one for the other.

    Come to the piano as relaxed and focused as possible.  Try to eliminate distractions and other noise if possible – TV, conversations, etc.   For a lot of students, having a cool drink at the piano and taking a moment to take a few deep, relaxing breaths can help to focus the mind and encourage creativity!  Think of “putting away” any frustrations or worries you may be holding, and let the piano be a place where you can stop multi-tasking and let yourself be in the moment as completely as possible.  The more you can encourage your child – or yourself – to treat practice sessions as fun AND productive, the better.

    If you or your child gets discouraged in piano lessons, remember to think of progress in baby steps — no one became a piano virtuoso overnight!  Encourage progress and acknowledge frustrations but don’t let them stop you.  Each practice session helps build a stronger, more confident piano player – keep it up, you CAN do it!

    ~ Jennifer Iovanne

  • For Parents, Practice, Rachel Nichols, Summer 07.07.2009 Comments Off on Make Practice Fun During the Summer!

    The sun is out and the weather is beautiful!  It can be so hard sometimes to stay inside and want to practice your instrument during an amazing Seattle summer.  That is why we should make our learning in the summer interesting!  Here are a few ideas to “spice” up your practicing.

    Get a new book full of fun and entertaining songs you have always wanted to learn…Start a jam session with a friend…Go to a concert that will inspire you…take your instrument outside (to a park, to the backyard, ect.)…set new goals.

    Here is a great website that has free sheet music of your favorite TV shows and movies!  Use this site to help fill up the summer with exciting new songs!

    http://muzika.50webs.com/sheetmusic.htm

    Make music a part of your summer!