Renting vs Buying a Musical Instrument

shutterstock_354354143For some instruments, like electronic keyboards for piano students, purchasing is usually best.  Please follow this link for advice on Choosing an Electric Keyboard.  However, for instruments like cello, violin and school band instruments, renting is often a perfect option.

Below are tips from music educator and multi-instrumentalist, Chad Ellis:

Should I rent or buy?

Your son or daughter saw someone at church, on television or the internet playing an instrument and wants lessons! Excited to sign them up for their first lesson you suddenly realize that you need to get them their instrument that they are interested in. Online sources or stores promise a great deal on instruments, but you are unsure exactly what brand or in some cases what size to get.

One thing to consider when buying an instrument is that younger students may change their mind on which instrument they want to stick with, which is very normal in the beginning stages of music development. (It is important to note that though the student may change instruments the information obtained will transfer over from each instrument.)

Rather than investing in a new instrument, I would highly recommend renting one first for a few months. The benefits of renting one are:

  1. It allows you to test the student’s interest in the instrument before committing to buy one.
  2. There are often rent-to-own options, so rent can be applied towards buying the instrument.
  3. For some instruments the students need to be tested for the proper size. Stores that offer instrument rentals have the know how in determining the proper size for the student. As the student grows, they can easily switch to renting a larger instrument.
  4. Places that offer rentals usually have high quality beginning instruments which is important for the student.

For any questions or for referrals to local stores offering rentals, please feel free to contact us.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Music Reading Tips for Beginning Students

The ability to read music is a valuable skill for any music student.  When learning to read music, beginning students become familiar with individual notes and symbols and learn how to play them on their instrument.  Music students also learn how to recognize patterns and shapes of the melodies written on the page.  It is important for parents to help beginning students with music reading during their practice at home.

To practice individual notes, you can ask your child to name the notes of the song he/she is working on and show you how each note is played on their instrument.  Flashcards are another great way to practice notes and music symbols.

To help students work on identifying musical patterns, you can ask your child to describe the music as the notes move higher, lower or stay the same.  For a fun activity, have your child draw the melody using ups and downs like a roller-coaster.

 

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Advice for Choosing an Electronic Keyboard

Electric piano close up

An electronic keyboard is often the perfect choice for a beginning piano student.  Compared with upright or grand pianos, keyboards are more affordable, take up less space, and have technology applications that are appealing to students of all ages.  Below are tips for purchasing a keyboard provided by music educator and pianist Theresa Gigante:

  1. A keyboard that has weighted keys mimics the feel of a real piano and allows students to play loud or soft based on the amount of force they put onto the keys.
  2. An 88 key full-size keyboard is the best; however, it is completely acceptable for a beginning student to use a keyboard with around 66 keys.
  3. The ideal setup for a keyboard is to have a proper stand, music rack and seat for the student.  Having this arrangement will foster correct technique and facilitate practice at home.
  4. A sustain pedal can often be purchased as an optional accessory for an electronic keyboard.  Having the sustain pedal will enhance the sound of the student’s playing, even at the beginning level.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Five Benefits of Performing at a Recital

Secondary Student Playing Violin

  1. Strengthen Your Practice Routine.  Preparing for a recital provides additional motivation that encourages students in their daily practicing.
  2. Build Confidence.   Even though performing in front of an audience can cause some butterflies in the stomach, the accomplishment of a recital performance (and the audience’s applause) builds confidence.
  3. Express Yourself.  Performing a song in a personal style or interpretation expresses to the audience how a performer feels about the music.
  4. Accept Mistakes.   No one is ever perfect in a live performance (even professional musicians make mistakes) and with each recital experience students learn that the overall performance is what matters and not a wrong note here and there.
  5. Earn Recognition.  Music students practice regularly every week.  Recitals are an opportunity for family and friends to recognize the hard work and effort that has been put in by the student.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

What can I expect at my first voice lesson?

Every voice lesson is different based on the unique style of the voice teacher and is tailored to the individual needs of the student. In general, voice lessons usually consist of two main parts: vocal exercises and time devoted to working on songs.

Most voice lessons will begin with warm-up exercises. The teacher will lead the student through exercises that move higher or lower in the voice student’s range. Students focus on different breathing techniques and pronunciation of different syllables and sounds. The exercise session is not only important for warming up the student’s voice, but also learning new skills that will carry over into the songs that the student is singing.

The second part of the lesson is usually spent working on songs. Many students will have specific songs and genres that they will want to learn. The voice teacher can also suggest appropriate songs that will fit with the student’s skill level and vocal range. During this part of the lesson students will work on learning the lyrics and melody, as well as techniques that will improve how the student sings the song.

For information about voice lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call  (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.