Ever wonder what you really sound like? Many musicians can attest to having practiced countless hours preparing for a performance or recording session, thinking things were sounding great, only to have the recording indicate otherwise. Sometimes, the sounds we have in our heads don’t match what’s coming out of the instrument. The same can be said for watching the video of a performance. All those things are we not aware of—unflattering grimaces, twitching legs, blank stares, and other quirks—are painfully obvious only after the fact.
The good news is that there is a simple and effective solution for matching your internal sense of what you are doing with how you are actually coming across, and it is as easy as the press of a button.
The reason for recording or videotaping yourself is quite simple. It is the most efficient, direct non-biased feedback you can get. Colleagues, producers, teachers, and friends tend to color their feedback with all sorts of non-productive messages you have to sort through. A recording device has no such baggage. It will never lie to you, it will never play mind games with you, or inject its own opinion. It is an exact mirror of what you present to it, and I believe is an essential tool for a musician of any style.
In many ways, a recording is the best teacher and coach you’ll ever have. There are a few techniques I’ve come across over the years and hopefully these tips will be helpful, but really all you have to do is press Record to get started!
Get Over the Loathing
The very first and most difficult part of this process is what I call “getting over the loathing.” Most musicians don’t really care to hear audio recordings their own playing, especially raw audio.
Without the benefits of production, mixing, and editing, raw audio can be an unpleasant experience. I’m not a psychologist so I cannot offer any other words other than, you’ll need to get over it ASAP because the benefits far outweigh the initial discomfort. That polished final product is not for you, the musician. That’s for your public. Sure, listening to a final recording can be useful for future projects, but it’s not the same as listening to raw audio/video used as a preparation tool.
Since there are endless recording devices out there, including mobile phones and tablets, I only recommend that you keep it simple to operate and that the device has reasonably good sound quality. These days, that’s easy to find. You just want something that requires no setup and is easily portable.
What to Record
Here are four common circumstances for which audio or video recording can be used as an incredible tool for honing.
- routine practice
- preparing for a recording session
- preparing for a video shoot
- preparing for a live performance
In routine practice, an audio recorder can be a great way to get immediate feedback about any dimension of your playing, from scales, to individual musical phrases, to whole pieces, and programs, to superficial issues such as nail noise, foot tapping, string noise, and heavy breathing. If you’re an arranger or composer, it can be an invaluable tool for getting perspective and flushing out ideas. This sort of recording targets music in the preparation stages and acts as a tool for finding and resolving problem areas. Recording is a tool for refinement of phrasing, dynamics, tempo.
If I’m working on a phrase, I’ll isolate the section, press Record, and repeat the phrase a few times before stopping the recording. I will then listen immediately and evaluate. I’ll immediately notice problem areas.
You want to target chronic problem areas, not random mistakes. For example, if you’re playing a string instrument and you notice that a shift is creating an unnatural pause in the phrasing or that the first note after your shift is consistently out of tune, you’ll want to take note of that and focus on that spot. If you’re a vocalist and notice that your diction is always unclear on a certain word, this will be an area to practice immediately.
So to summarize, you’re really using the recorder in a surgical way to evaluate details of your playing. As the piece of music develops, you can record larger sections.
Preparing for a Recording Session
The difference between recording in routine practice and recording for a recording session is that you’ll actually be practicing putting down takes for the session and evaluating the material you’ve put down. And you’ll also be practicing how you put it down.
Practice recording as you would in the studio in terms of pace and how you plan to lay the tracks down. Everyone has their own method, but here’s an example just for reference.
When recording whole solo pieces or guitar parts in a studio, I like to put down three or four takes, then perhaps a couple of little patches (or punch ins if I need to). In preparation, at home I would practice the way I was going to record. By doing this, you’ll become very familiar with areas that might give you a problem in the session, and you’ll also get an idea of what your stamina is like. As you may already know, recording sessions can be a lot of work and require lots of concentration and sometimes stamina as well.
I make the distinction of recording in a studio because these days, so many of us have home studios. Since you’re not paying for studio time at home, one doesn’t have to think too much about efficiency or budgets, but I will tell you this. The problem with home studios is that because of the freedom it allows, we often get caught up combining practice and recording. I’m sure there are those who would argue with me, but I don’t consider the two the same. Every time I’ve been caught up in that trap, I’ve always gotten less that the best results because my recording sounded lacked polish, confidence, and consistency. So even for those who have home studios, consider separating your practice and the “official” recording. Use the portable recorder for your practice room, and once you get the mics set up, turn off your mental practice switch and get into performance mode.
Some prefer many, many takes, and others limit whole takes and then do sections. Personally, I like to do no more than three full takes, assess, then do sections if needed, so this is how I practice recording myself at home. If you detect that over the course of several takes, a section keeps sticking out as a problem spot, you know what to work on. You must be realistic and give these sections your full attention. Believe me, they are not going to magically disappear in the studio. If anything, you’ll be under greater pressure. What you practice is what you’ll get, period.
Preparing for a Video Shoot
Preparing for a video shoot is sort of like preparing for both a recording session and a live performance. You need to pay attention to both the audio and the visual aspects. Again, the more you do it, the better. Please don’t be one of those people who says, “I don’t care what I look like, as long as it sounds great.” If you have that attitude, then there’s no point in shooting a video. You may not care what you look like, but I assure you that the people watching on YouTube do.
Watch for habitual ticks or odd facial contortions. Know your good and bad angles! Everyone has them.
Watch your video without the sound and assess just the visual aspects. Record from different angles. You’ll very quickly figure out what looks good and not. Record from various distances. On the formal shoot, your videographer will probably be using more than one camera. If you know what looks good in advance, you can direct him so you don’t waste time in the editing phase.
Use your practice videos to help you decide on what vibe you are looking for in the final product, how you want it to be produced, etc. You are, in fact, preparing to make a film. In terms of the audio, you can work with the recorder as in preparing to record audio. However, for video, your audio editing will not be as detailed, especially if the video is of you playing. Try to imagine larger sections and remember that since it will be video, the viewer will be taking in both audio and visual.
Preparing for Live Performance
In preparation for live performance, video recording can be quite helpful. Again, you want to mimic recording what you’ll be doing, so recording sets or entire programs is helpful. Practice your pacing between pieces.
Are you allow sufficient time before starting new pieces or giving pieces enough time to “settle” when finishing? Are you doing weird things between pieces? Are you taking too long to tune? Are you tapping your foot loudly or grunting or counting out loud as you play.
Turn the sound off, and watch yourself for a few minutes. What does it look like? One of the most talented students I ever had was giving his undergraduate recital and decided he was going to pick his nose between pieces! He was completely oblivious to what he was doing, and frankly, his odd ticks, movement, not to mention the nose picking, detracted greatly from the performance.
First and foremost, you have to get past “the loathing” as I like to say. Most people really don’t like hearing their own playing, especially without the benefit of reverb, mixing, editing, etc., not to mention friends and colleagues telling you how wonderful you sound.
Well, you’ll need to get over “the loathing” ASAP. As a serious player, you have to know what the “raw product” sounds like and get an idea of what needs to be improved, reworked, left alone, etc. etc. You must switch hats from the player to the producer. The more you record yourself, the better you’ll get at laying the emotional reactions aside and the more you’ll want to use this tool to hone down your playing.
Remember that you’re the only one hearing or viewing these work recordings. You are the sausage maker, so only you know what went into the process. The final polished product is for others to enjoy. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can improve issues once you get that objective feedback. AND if you have aspirations of recording, you’ll get very good at knowing what sounds good and what doesn’t. When you get into the studio there will be no unpleasant surprises waiting for you upon playback. Decisions about takes and production will come much more quickly.
- Construct a show box guitar. Cut a circle out of the middle of an empty shoe box using scissors. Cut six rubber bands so that they can be stretched out to their full length. Press brass fasteners into the shoe box, placing six on the top and six on the bottom of the box. Stretch out the rubber bands, one at a time, tying them onto the fasteners. Cut a toilet paper roll in half, and slide in underneath the rubber bands below the hole. Discuss with your child how the sound is made inside the guitar, and how the ancient peoples may have created the first guitar.
- Construct a paper plate maraca. Color the front sides of two paper plates using paints, markers or crayons. Once the plates are dry, fill the bottom of one plate with 1/4 cup of dried beans. Place the other plate on top of the first, and staple around the outside edge. Place the staples close together so that the beans do not fall out. Discuss with your child where the maraca came from and how people may have invented it.
- Construct an oatmeal container drum. Paint the outside of an empty oatmeal container. Once the paint is dry, place a 8-inch square of wax paper on the top of the container. Stretch a rubber band over the top of the wax paper, securing it to the container. Discuss with your child how the ancients might have thought of the design for the drum.
Singing should be as natural as talking.
Think about it… Your speaking voice is smooth and connected, never requiring strain, and always seeming natural. That’s how it should be even when belting out vocals. You need a balanced vocal mechanism. That means having:
- Proper Vocal Cord Closure – no air leaking out when making a sound
- A Level Larynx – making sure it doesn’t rise too high
How do you achieve this?
I know, I know…this isn’t the magic bullet you’re hoping for…
(but wait… because I do have a shortcut to success I share below)
Breathing and vocal exercises are key to being able to hit the notes you want without strain.
By doing these exercises you help to strengthen your vocal cords and work more efficiently when it sings.
Steady air flow is very important when singing higher. It may seem weird, but it’s true.
Not Too Much Though
That doesn’t mean you should force too much air through your body – that has the opposite effect of what you want: added resistance and pressure.
Contrary to what you might think, you actually need less air to hit high notes, not more.
Straining or breathing to heavily will cause your larynx to go higher and your voice to crack – we’ve all been there when trying to belt out those high notes.
But You Still Want Enough
On the opposite end of the spectrum, too little air won’t give you enough power.
You need to learn how to work your diaphragm when breathing. You should feel your stomach rise, then your chest.
Stand up tall and straight then try saying “ha” a few times in short, powerful bursts.
That’s the feeling of breathing and speaking with a supported voice.
Another way to avoid using your throat (as opposed to your stomach) when singing is to push your stomach out (so it sticks out more). It’ll help you fill your lungs with air and use your diaphragm.
All About The Mix
So if you don’t want to use too much breath, and not use your throat as much, but kind of use it, and not your chest, but also kind of from there…..
What do you do??
You need to learn to use your mix voice (which is a voice that combines your head register/voice, with your chest register/voice – hence, mix voice).
When you’re practicing it’s a good idea to start your vocal runs or exercises in your middle range, and gradually move higher and higher.
Also, try singing the word “yawn” in a high register.
Take note of the position of your mouth when you begin to say the word in each vocal range you use.
That position is exactly how you need to position your mouth to hit that particular note.
Warm tea or liquid can help relax your throat and vocal cords, so try to keep some handy when practicing.
And remember – it’s not all about reaching higher and higher and straining your voice when you’re trying to hit high notes.
So avoid this tendency at all costs when you’re practicing.
Some Breathing Exercises to Try
In case you didn’t know, using staccato (short, accented notes) makes it easier to hit high notes.
Unfortunately most songs are sung in legato (melodic and long phrases that tie together).
So with this exercise you’ll start by doing staccato notes and gradually transition to legato, all while moving higher along the vocal register (i.e. using higher notes/pitches).
What to Do:
- You’ll be singing the words one-two-three-four-five-four-three-two-one up and down a musical scale
- Start with staccato (short bursts)
- Once you’re getting good with hitting high staccato notes, start making them more legato (flowing together)
- Once you’re comfortable there, move up higher in pitch.
Of course, this requires a lot of practice time and work. No one said it would be easy But once you do this over and over again, you’ll notice a big improvement in your ability to hit higher notes.
But who wants to wait forever? We wanna reach higher notes now, am I right?!
There is a wonderful sequence in the film The Red Shoes where the prima ballerina is uncontrollably nervous before the performance begins and says to the director, “I don’t remember the opening steps. I can’t visualize them without the music” And the director replies, “Well since you are undoubtedly going to hear the music when you start to dance, there is nothing to worry about.”
Another story: Myra Hess, the famous classical pianist of the mid twentieth century, told of how each time she performed, her nerves threatened to undo her—right up until the time she sat down at the piano.
But after she launched the piece into the first opening measures, a calm came over her, as the beauty of the music had her in its spell.
So many fine musicians keep their talents hidden because of what they would describe as uncontrollable nerves, which create enormous stress just contemplating performance. But these feelings are normal, and everyone feels them—even artists at the highest levels. You can overcome them too.
Let’s take a look at where these jitters come from, and then explore some ways we can prepare so that these issues do not limit our performances, or our enjoyment generally of making music.
Many of our fears stem from early experiences (e.g., playing at teachers’ end of year recitals where we were embarrassed by how we played). Or from noticing how when someone walks into the room while we are practicing, we tighten up and can no longer connect with the music.
One thing we can be certain about is that nerves are experienced by every performing artist: the Shakespearean actor, the stand-up comic, the public speaker, and every musician.
Wherever there is an audience, make room for a whole panorama of uncontrollable sensations.
Musicians reach for the many books available now, which talk about the inner game of performing (much like a tennis match) or the books that describe how Zen and meditation can put you in the “zone.” Many musicians take beta-blockers or other drugs, if they need even more intervention.
If we could all be sure that this time would be a wonderful performance—everything we hoped for—we would relax. But we don’t know the outcome, we only know that wewant this time to be the best time, the most extraordinary performance of what we are about to do. What pressure, to try living up to that!
Even some people who love to perform can get so nervous that they will throw up before the performance, each and every time, and then go on stage and play beautifully.
Consider the mother of a lovely young flutist who remarked to me how her daughter always asks her serious questions just before she is about to perform, such as, “How did our dog die?” or “What happened to Grandpa?” Then, the inevitable tears flow, and she is ready to go onstage and play her heart out.
We are all a myriad of different personalities. That is why at student recitals, we hear some students play their pieces very nicely, while some play even better than usual because the presence of an audience brought out the excitement rather than the fear in that particular student, while the next student may have to deal with a musical train wreck.
Few musicians seem to actually have been taught how to prepare for performance, so perhaps the following suggestions may be useful.
1. Limiting Surprises
Let’s limit our surprises. The presence of an audience, whether one or two people or a roomful, will bring heightened awareness. This is perfectly understandable because while performing, there is a lot going on in our brains besides the music we want to play.
Your mind suddenly becomes crowded with inner and outer stimuli. You will become aware of physical sensations of nervousness, and also you will find that you have a new set of ears. Now, as you play, you will be listening to yourself as if you are part of the audience too. You become very critical of your performance. Expect to feel this way. It is natural, especially for first performances.
May I speculate that after a few such occasions, you will feel more prepared and not surprised by anything you might hear, see, or feel.
How can you be expected to play when you have all these new distractions? Tell yourself it is not about you but about the music. The audience really wants to listen to the music. They are rooting for you to turn in an enjoyable performance. Nobody except you is asking for perfection.
However much you have practiced your repertoire, it will never feel as if it was enough. Expect that too. It is probably not true, but then again, is there ever a time musicians feel that they have practiced too much?
Let’s talk about practicing.
Since you will never be sure you really “know” the piece unless you are playing it, you will find yourself at the piano, or your other instrument very often.
At those practice times, play it slowly twice for every time you play it up to tempo. What you are trying to achieve here is “finger memory” or “muscle memory.” It will happen by lots of repetition, and it is something you will need to depend upon.
We are not talking about playing from memory here, because lots of musicians nowadays use their music.But the piece still has to be yours, and so right now, we are focusing on the muscle memory.
The fingers need to know where to go once we put them in motion, with limited input from the brain.
3. Listening to Your Inner Ear
Now, we need to focus on the important aspect of the performance itself—assuming you have practiced the piece to your degree of satisfaction—what is most important now, once you begin, is to focus on what you want the music to sound like. How you want to present each phrase. Listen to your inner ear tell you what to do with the phrase line, the dynamics, the timing.
Never, and I mean never, ask yourself “What’s the next note.” Why? Because you haven’t the time to answer. The hand, being quicker than the eye, will have passed that beat long before your brain has conjured the answer.
Your fingers are in control of the notes. They have gone over them again and again, like the little mouse who has discovered the correct path in a maze and practices that path over and over. Your mind is no longer asking what notes, but how the notes should sing out.
4. Keeping the Beat
And now, we know that the most important thing you as a musician can do is to keep the beat. Never correct a wrong note! While we practiced, we did not allow wrong notes to remain uncorrected, but performance is not the time to practice.
Playing a wrong note and then correcting it, does not erase the note we did not want…and it actually creates a more difficult problem. The correction will add another beat to the measure and that will upset the rhythm. This is much more difficult to recover from. Our goal is never to disturb the beat, which our audience has been figuratively tapping their feet to since we began playing.
Remember, the steady beat will hold the whole piece together, but it is not easy to train yourself to not react, so I am going to suggest that as you practice for performance, you must train yourself not to react to anything extraneous—from the wrong note, to the cough in the audience, to a camera flash going off, or a fire engine whizzing by.
Train yourself not to react if a dog or a cat was to jump in your lap. Imagine that happening, and you force yourself to keeping going. A wrong note may throw you off for a while, but you will get back on track. It may take a measure, but as long as you account for each beat in the measure, the mistake will not disturb the music. It is amazing how quickly a wrong note is forgotten when a musician keeps going and maintains the integrity of the rhythm.
5. A Few More Tricks
And now some actual tricks that are helpful.
Many musicians practice the opening measures of the piece over and over. It helps them feel confident that they can “launch” the piece, which is after all, starting from a point of complete silence.
Along the same lines is memorizing the beginnings of each new section so that if for some reason you do get a little lost by your error, and worry that you will not get back on track, you can always jump ahead to the next section and resume as if nothing happened.
Just as the opening of the piece requires a few strategies for complete confidence, so too is the end of the piece in need of special attention. It just seems to be an unspoken fact that a lovely performance often gets a little “undone” as the musician approaches its final lines. Does the performer relax? Or, on the contrary, does the performer tighten up? Whatever the circumstances, a few strategies are in order.
Practice the endings over and over as you did the beginnings…but this time, also practice a little arpeggio and chord in the piece’s key, so that if you have a slip that seems hopeless to continue from, you can always default to the arpeggio and final chord in the key. Voila! You have come to the end. Without the final beat ending in the “home” key, your piece will never sound finished.
Also using a previous strategy of playing the ending over and over, as you did the beginning measures, so that when you get to the final lines of the piece, you can put your fingers in “automatic pilot” mode, if you feel yourself tightening up.
When you are approaching a passage that is tricky, complicated, and you feel yourself tightening up as you get close to it because it has always given you trouble even though you have practiced it again and again …hands apart and together… say to yourself, “Okay fingers, do your thing” and disengage your mind from the mechanics of those measures. In other words, think of something else or say to yourself, “My fingers know this, I will just let them play.” You will be amazed how your fingers can do it, while you in your distracted state are wondering “How is all this possible?”
A fine violinist when asked what he does when he approaches a formidable passage of devilish finger work, said, “I usually think of bagels and lox.” You get the idea.
There is also a matter of playing on strange instruments (pianists especially) or unexpected settings—more of those surprises we were talking about. Practice playing on a chair that is too high and also one that is too low, so you can somehow make the adjustment and know you can play even in that situation.
Also be sure to have a rehearsal in the clothes that you are going to wear. A performance is not the time to find out that your clothes are too tight, too revealing, or your shoes are pinching or too high.
In the final analysis, performance is about sharing your music with others and not a judgment of you as a human being. You are playing a piece you love, and you want the audience to experience the beauty of it too.
Be proud that you are able to make music and give such extraordinary pleasure to others.
Bravo to you for doing this.
- Without a doubt, nothing else matters for a singer with a bad voice unless she has millions of dollars in marketing money and an incredible auto-tune program. A strong voice is essential to becoming a singer. Singers need to be able to project without shouting, as this not only sounds bad but damages the voice. Singers need to possess a wide range as to accommodate different pitches that come in different parts of songs. Singers need to know from where and how to sing, such as from the diaphragm and not the throat. Singers need to be able to control their breaths within pauses in phrases, as not to disrupt the flow of a song or have their voice trail off at the end of a phrase.
- An effective performance requires extra effort. Singers need to be able to use their dynamic voice to display the array of emotions different songs ask for. Great singers can bounce back and forth from sad ballads to upbeat dance songs. Part of the reason why people call Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul” is that she puts so much emotion into her performance; just listen to “Respect.” This is important in a recording situation, but especially important when singing on a stage. A singer needs to be able to entertain the audience. Even the greatest singer in the world could put on a bad performance if no emotion or personality comes through in the vocals. Audiences crave authenticity and can spot a fake a mile away.
- World-famous singers continue to take lessons and train their voice throughout their lifetime, in order to better themselves and keep their voices intact and at their best. Prospective singers should devote themselves to their craft just as tenaciously if they expect to get better or potentially make a career out of it. Singers should take private voice lessons and participate in choirs and other singing situations. If possible, singers should seek degrees in vocal performance and familiarize themselves with music theory, in order to learn the ins and outs of melody and harmony. As singing professionally is a hard field to break into, singers need to have perseverance and be willing to handle criticism and rejection. Singers should possess good networking skills and make friends in the music industry to score opportunities.
Physical and Virtual Space
- Launch your business with a storefront and an online platform such as eBay or Craigslist to reach the greatest number of potential customers. According to the 2014 global report by the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, eBay ranked eighth in online visitors and Craigslist was 11th. When deciding the size of your first brick-and-mortar site, consider your merchandise volume and whether you’ll offer instruction. For example, The Music Store in Mesa, Arizona, says it started with 2,000 square feet for three instructional studios and its merchandise. To focus your customers’ attention on the instruments, “Musical Merchandise Review” suggests a mix of ambient and accent lighting.
Riding Merchandise Waves
- Consider the effect of changing musical tastes and technology on demand for certain instruments when you plan the initial inventory. According to NAMM, sales of acoustical guitars have grown approximately 36 percent, or $141 million, since 2009. The 2014 NAMM global report noted a 4.6 percent drop from 2012 to 2013 in electric guitars, which translates to a decline in amplifiers and guitar strings. The report ranked disc jockey gear, keyboard synthesizers and electronic player pianos as the top three products that saw sales increases in 2013. The continuance of school music programs will ensure continued demand for band instruments. Whatever instrument families you choose, include sheet music in your merchandise.
Power in Numbers
- Join a buying group — the Independent Music Store Owners Association, Independent Music Merchants Group or the Alliance of Independent Music Merchants, for example — to lower your inventory costs. Beyond the purchasing power you gain through membership in these associations, they also channel ideas, information and suggestions. Groups such as NAMM or the Music Distributors Association provide members information on instrument wholesalers and distributors. As a member of NAMM, you can access business resources such as closed-end consumer financing for keyboard purchases, private-label consumer credit cards and leasing or purchase plans for schools.
Be Social and Educational
- To announce your grand opening, post a short video of your store’s interior, its merchandise or instructions for playing a featured instrument on your website and other social media platforms. NAMM recommends that your store offer services such as on-site repairs and loaner instruments for customers. Private classes for specific instruments can draw customers to your store.
5. Stone Temple Pilots
Could grunge grow outside of Seattle? That was the question in 1992, when San Diego-based rockers Stone Temple Pilots arrived with their ‘Core’ album, leading the second wave of grunge. The brutal lead single ‘Sex Type Thing’ introduced the band and vocal style of Scott Weiland. But it was the second song ‘Plush,’ with its memorable rhythmic guitar lines that truly established the band. Though they would evolve into a more straight-ahead rock band over time, the ‘Core’ and ‘Purple’ records had songs firmly implanted in the grunge sound.
After forming in Seattle in the ’80s, Soundgarden finally broke through with the 1991 single ‘Outshined,’ followed by the spirited follow-up ‘Rusty Cage.’ Blending in some of their punk roots, Soundgarden provided a frenetic interpretation early on before settling into a moodier, more trudging sound. Singer Chris Cornell shined on such hits as ‘Spoonman,’ ‘Black Hole Sun,’ ‘Fell on Black Days,’ and ‘Pretty Noose.’ There’s no doubt Soundgarden deserves their upper echelon ranking in the Top 10 Grunge Bands list.
3. Alice in Chains
Was there a more impactful partnership in the grunge scene than Alice in Chains guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell and powerhouse frontman Layne Staley? The pair’s harmonies were unmatched, with Staley delivering the extra punch when things got really heavy. ‘Man in the Box’ put them on the musical map in 1991, and by the following year, they spawned the grunge masterpiece, ‘Dirt,’ which featured such classics as ‘Would?,’ ‘Rooster,’ ‘Them Bones’ and ‘Angry Chair.’
2. Pearl Jam
Formed after the demise of Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam emerged from the ashes to soar with 1991’s ‘Ten’ album. The rhythmically heavy ‘Alive’ set the tone for the group, while the hard-hitting ‘Even Flow’ cemented their status as a band to be reckoned with. And by the time ‘Jeremy’ commanded MTV’s airwaves, everyone knew Pearl Jam. The ‘Vs.’ and ‘Vitalogy’ albums kept the grunge vibes going, and the band is still one of the most successful touring acts to this day.
It’s hard to argue against Nirvana as the No. 1 act of our 10 Best Grunge Bands list, as they essentially put the genre on the map with their 1991 classic, ‘Nevermind.’ But things didn’t stop with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ as ‘Come As You Are,’ ‘Lithium’ and their ‘In Utero’ favorites ‘Heart Shaped Box’ and ‘Rape Me’ are as good as they come in the grunge world. Sadly, we lost Kurt Cobain in 1994, but the fact that the band reached iconic status speaks to the quality of the music and their dominance in such a short timespan.
The Nature of the Job
- A job as an assistant to a rock star is essentially a job as a celebrity personal assistant. As an assistant you are responsible for taking care of all the details of your boss’ professional life so he can focus most of his energy on what he does best — making rock music. Your duties as a personal assistant might include keeping your boss on schedule, arranging childcare for his kids, looking after his pets and ordering meals. Anything that makes your boss’s life run smoothly may be in your job description.
Requirements for the Job
- Personal assistants to rock musicians are required to be discreet. You’ll likely be asked to sign a nondisclosure form that means you are bound to secrecy about his personal life. Sharing stories about your employer with unauthorized people could not only lead to termination, it might also land you in legal trouble. Assistants are also required to be flexible, resourceful, highly organized and strong communicators. According to the Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants, the best preparation for the job is to gain experience as an administrative assistant and work your way up to the executive level. Working for a CEO can give you a preview into what working for a celebrity might be like. The association also recommends that you watch “The Devil Wears Prada” to get an idea of the pressures you may have to endure as a celebrity personal assistant.
How to Find the Jobs
- Working in public relations, or for talent and casting agencies, are good ways to hear about job openings for personal assistants to rock stars and other celebrities. If you meet the basic qualifications to work as a personal assistant, register with an employment agency that specializes in celebrity personal assistant jobs. Because of the need to maintain privacy, the job listings may be somewhat vague. For example, a prospective employer may be listed as a “Grammy-winning rock star” whose identity you will not learn unless you are selected for an interview.
Salary and Perks
- According to an October 2014 article on the “The Hollywood Reporter” website, celebrity personal assistants average around $80,000 per year. However, salaries vary widely, and because most sign celebrity assistants sign nondisclosure agreements, the data are underreported. For some assistants, the benefits of the job are what really make the work rewarding. According to a 2007 article on the ABC News website, some assistants report receiving year-end bonuses equal to their salary as well as high-dollar gifts such as new cars. The opportunity to travel the world and have a front-row seat to the celebrity lifestyle are attractive perks as well.
Music Therapy is an allied healthcare profession that uses music to help people reach non-musical goals to improve their lives. Music Therapists work with many people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and in many settings. All types of music, music experiences, and ways of using music are utilized to help patients or clients reach their goals.
- Learn about Music Therapy. You can find out more information about music therapy by speaking to a local Music Therapist, searching for a Music Therapy company, or going to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) website. It is important to have an understanding of what music therapy is before starting. In general music therapists are eager to speak to people about what they do and are excited at the prospect of new music therapy students. If you are having trouble finding someone to talk to, contact the American Music Therapy Association and they can help put you in touch with someone, hopefully someone in your area. Also, do some reading on your own to feel out if this is the right field for you.
- Do a school search for Music Therapy. As of 2009, there were 72 schools in the country that offered a baccalaureate degree in music therapy. Degrees are offered on all levels of higher education (bachelor, master, and doctoral). It is important to find the right fit because the programs can be very different from school to school. Talk to the professors, current students, and past students to get a good feel of the focus and quality of the program. It is important to find what works for you as all programs are not created equal.
- Go to school. To become a music therapist you first need a bachelor or master’s equivalent in music therapy. This will take anywhere from two to four years. It is a big commitment, however, it is worth it if music therapy is where you belong.
- Complete a music therapy internship. A 1040-hour (6 month) internship is the next requirement. There are internships all across the country that are approved by the AMTA you can also do an internship with a site that is associated with your school. Internships are offered in many populations, settings, age groups, and abilities. There are so many options and you get to apply so you have the ability to focus on what is important to you.
- Study for and take the Music Therapy Board Certification Examination.Passing the national examination will earn the credentials of MT-BC (Music Therapist- Board Certified). The examination, currently, is multiple choice, four-hours, and you get the results directly after. Depending on your state, there may be a licensing process in addition to the national examination.
The demand for soundproofing tools and techniques is continuously rising. The need of acoustic panels or sound panels is obvious too. This mechanism is getting popularity day by day through various applications in different industries. It is not limited to the music recording studios or cinemas now. The requirement of sound proofing at homes or workplaces created a big market for the wall acoustic panels. In this modern era, the manufacturers are focussing towards the fabrics sound panels as these are the first choice of every buyer.
Use of Fabrics Sound Panels:
The acoustic treatment is essential for the people who are living in a high noise level area. The use of fabrics on the surface of acoustics panels and traps became popular for its design characteristics. It really enhances the beauty of the interior which is a contemporary urge.
The manufacturers are now able to deliver custom shaped and various sized panels as per the need of the buyer. Personalisation in terms of the colour shades also counted as an advantage. Mean while, the design and colour schemes of the products does not affect its performance. The buyers have to check the functions of wall acoustic panels through analysing the technical specifications and cost of the product.
Applications – These items are being used through several settings effectively. The requirement remains different so the manufactures get miscellaneous orders. Both in residential and industrial means these products are being used worldwide. Ranging from home cinema rooms to conference halls, these are compulsory for noise control. It is placed in the office or workplaces where a calm environment counts productivity. And in the radio stations or recording studios, you can’t think excluding it. Generally, the auditorium, theaters, clubs, etc like entertainment venues feature this technique. Nowadays, this soundproofing technique became more dynamic through churches, restaurants, and in production units.
Types – Ceiling, floor, and wall acoustic panels are the three basic variants available in the market. All of them feature essential characteristics to assist in the soundproofing projects. Different size and shapes are also manufactured these days. It helps in meeting all kinds of requirements through more accurate coverage. Also these products classified through their thickness and capabilities. The right amount of thickness is required to absorb certain sound energies in the room.
While buying these products, you will find a range of solutions and manufacturers. You have to decide your budget, requirements and colour preferences first.
- Consider coverage if your instrument(s) is your livelihood. After all, a professional musician can’t perform without his guitar or her flute. Make sure the policy provides coverage worldwide.
- Check your homeowners policy to determine whether it will cover expensive instruments. Most homeowners policies don’t cover all things that can happen to your musical instruments. These policies aren’t designed to protect professional quality or rare equipment.
- Select an all risk policy that covers your instrument in almost all circumstances. The coverage may also include reimbursement for renting an instrument while yours is repaired in much the same way that auto insurance covers the cost of a rental car.
- Have your instrument appraised if it is unique or expensive. The cost of this vital step will be more than covered if your instrument is damaged or stolen. Keep a copy of the appraisal in a safe place along with a picture and any other documentation you need in case you have to file a claim.
- Insure instruments for replacement value rather than for what you paid several years ago. Like everything else, the cost of a good piano or drum set is rising.
- Buy from a company that specializes in musical instrument insurance. Check at a local musical instrument retailer for names and phone numbers of insurers.
- Develop a repertoire. As a cabaret singer, you will need to be able to sing between three and four hours of solid music each night. But you must know much more than those three to four hours of music. You must also have enough “spare” repertoire to mix up each show, to respond to requests and have songs available for special occasions. As a cabaret singer, you will need to be able call a song to celebrate anything from 21st birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries, to bat mitzvahs and Christmas. You’ll not only need to know the words to songs, but also the keys you sing them in so you can call them out to your accompanying musicians.
- Find a mentor in a successful performer. The most effective way to learn the art of cabaret singing is to work or play with other successful cabaret singers. If you can’t work with them, take the time to watch as many experienced performers as possible. You will gain performance experience, develop your repertoire and build a valuable Rolodex of venue managers and musicians.
- Develop your promotional materials. Cabaret singing is a business, and you provide a valuable service to venue owners by attracting people to their establishments. Treat it like a business and establish a marketing plan and budget. You will need business cards, a mailing and e-mailing list, and a website. Create a demo recording to showcase your vocal talents. You will need to create a social media presence, too.
- Market yourself to venue managers. Call the venue, or visit in person and ask who books the entertainment. Tell them you’d like to book your act. If they don’t know who you are yet, you should have some promotional material you can get in their hands quickly. Set a fee that is agreeable to the venue management, yet still adequately compensates you and your musicians for their time, including travel, setup and tear-down times. You may want to identify whether the venue is a union establishment or not. Many hotels in some areas only hire union musicians. If this is the case, you may need to join a musician’s union to play.
Like all good parents, you want your children to have the best life they possibly can and that means through such acts as getting a good education, eating nutritious food, and maintaining healthy savings. On top of the basics, creativity and fun have their place in raising a well-rounded child. And one great way to introduce your children to being open and creative is to get them involved in music. Children who learn and enjoy music from an early age are much more creative and receptive to ideas. However, lessons can sometimes feel like a chore, so it’s useful to find ways to be encouraging about the magic that is music well learned and beautifully played.
Making Music a Daily Feature
- Integrate music in your children’s daily activities. If you want your children to be musically talented or interested, involve them in music at all times. Have music on in the car, in the kitchen, when eating dinner, all the time. Constantly having music playing is a very good way to integrate music into their lives.
- Make music from everyday things. If you are cooking with your kids, use the wooden spoons and upturned bowls to make up a song while you bake. If you’re out playing sport together, use the sporting gear to make musical sounds. Find music in the ordinary so that children can see how easy it is to make music a constant part of their lives.
- Make music all about fun. There are many ways to help your children see how enjoyable music is.
- Take your children to a gig when they are a little older.
- Go to music concerts especially made for kids. Many top and local artists will throw an occasional show at which they do numbers for kids. Some musicians always play for kids. Look online and in local papers for events.
- Go to open air and outdoor musical festivals. Children love the freedom of being able to run about freely while music is playing all the time. Take along a rug, a picnic, some toys and make a day of it.
- Integrate music and craft. Have children make their instruments first, then prepare a tune on them together afterward.
- Teach your children about some of the most inspiring musicians of all time like Bob Dylan; play music from your top favorite artists of the past through to the present, to help give them a broad grounding in many types of music.
- Include classical music experiences with fun activities like playing a board game (without lyrics, it won’t interfere with thinking) or when you’re all resting together as a family.
- Bring music into your children’s lives very early on. If you leave it late, they may struggle to get involved with music or may be less interested in just enjoying listening to it.
- Make use of technology such as MP3 players, tablets and the like to play music anywhere, from a picnic to bath time. The portability of music has never been easier––imagine what people from the past would think about our ability to carry entire orchestras around with us whenever we wish!
Getting Serious About Learning Music
- Ask your children what they’d like to learn by way of singing or playing an instrument. Enjoying music is one thing, but being able to play or sing the song is a special feeling. Don’t let your child miss out on that, as being musically attuned is one of the most enjoyable things you can do to refresh your mind, reduce stress and just have fun in general. If your children are invested in the music choice, they are more likely to want to keep up the lessons.
- Take your children to a reputable and certified music school. Music lessons for children are a great way to get your children involved, as they’ll be around other students of their own age and will have access to quality teaching. Look for a place that employs teachers with specific training in teaching children, as they’ll be receptive to making the experience interesting and enjoyable as well as focused.
- Music is a potential career in the future for your child; music lessons are a huge part of the future learning environment for your child.
- Consider sending your child to music school for children for a day or two, just to see how they take to it. More practical and enjoyable, most children enjoy music school over normal education, as the tutors keep the tasks varied and fun.
- A summer camp focused on music is another excellent option for children to be completely immersed in all things musical, along with lots of other fun activities.
Using Practice Sessions
- Learn with your children. Of course, if your child is going to learn, you have to learn too. It is your role to help them revise what they learn in music school, to make sure that they can do some additional learning with you in the house when they come home. It’s vital that your children feel like you are invested in their hobby too. If your child was to play for a sports team, you would be determined for them to enjoy themselves and succeed––music is just the same.
- Avoid turning music practice into a nasty chore. Constant yelling and nagging to do music practice can soon turn both child and parent off the whole music lessons idea. Instead, aim for a calm environment that encourages music practice.
- Ask gently if your child is doing the music practice needed to learn the next piece, prepare for a music exam, etc. without turning it into a do-or-die situation. Tension associated with practice will only make it seem more like a chore and less desirable to children.
- Provide a comfortable learning environment at home. Back up the quality of the lessons with good home space for doing music practice. Some things that can help include:
- Setting up a comfortable and quiet area away from others for music practice. Siblings and pets can be unhelpful distractions, so a quiet spot is very helpful.
- Keeping all electronics off and out of sight. The less distractions, the better.
- Providing appropriate seating or other support. If your children feel comfortable and relaxed, this frees them up to concentrate on the music instead of complain about the hard seating or cold room!
- Be prepared to listen if your children complain. There are likely ways that you can alleviate the complaints, such as changing teachers, rearranging a schedule so that things aren’t so rushed or finding more interesting music to play, etc. Even if it means switching from violin to electric guitar, remember that it’s still music.
Here are some of the different ways that chords relate to each other. If you are building a chord progression,improvising over one, or developing a part based on a progression, these principles will help you develop a sense of inevitability or “gravity” to make the progression seem natural. Additionally, keeping these principles in mind can make moving between chords easier and more intuitive to play and to remember.
A target chord is the next chord you will play. By anticipating the chord, you can consider how to lead up to in a way that makes the motion seem natural.
An approach chord is the chord immediately before a target chord. So, when you are considering a pair of chords and how they connect, the approach chord is first and the target chord is second.
A passing chord connects two more prominent chords in a progression, and it might draw notes from outside the scale, such as chromatics. For example, in a C major progression, you have the IV going to a V chord, F major to G major. You might slip in an F# major passing chord between them to spice things up.
Approach and passing chords are analogous to approach and passing notes in counterpoint.
Parallel chords share the same root repeats but a different quality. For example, you could go from a C major chord to a C minor chord, for from a C major triad to a C7 chord. This is the subtlest change between chords, as it maximizes the number of common tones.
A common tone between two chords is a note (or set of notes) that is the same in each. For example, going from C to F, a C major triad is C E G, and an F major triad is F A C. They both have the note C. This means that if you use the C in the same octave for both chords, they will sound more closely related. If you don’t, the target chord will sound like disjunct move.
This brings us to a general principle of chord motion: voice leading. Smooth voice leading means that the chords prioritize the use of common tones and the shortest possible interval motion from the approach chord to the target chord. In some schools of thought, chords are either considered “voice led” or not, meaning whether or not the motion is “smooth.”
Note: Smooth doesn’t necessary mean “good.” Sometimes, you want to have disjointed chords banging around. They won’t sound related or flowing naturally into each other, but that might not be what you are after.
A modulation is a chord progression that changes key. It is like shifting gravity to a different planet. There are various kinds of modulation. You can simply jump in. A subtler, sneakier form of modulation is to use a pivot chord—that is, a chord that is present in both keys. It is a moment of harmonic ambiguity, and its presence will smooth the transition.
Say you are in the key of C major and you want to modulate to the key of D major. Notes of the chord E minor are present in both keys (E G B), so you can use that chord as the pivot. It would sound relatively natural and smooth to go from E minor (which is both iii of C and ii of D) to A major (V of D) to D (I of D). If you just went from a C major to an A major triad, without the pivot chord, it would be a more jarring shift.
Honorable Mention: Picardy Ending
A Picardy ending is when you end a piece that’s in a minor chord instead on a major chord. This was a common early classical convention. Some people feel that they spoil a beautiful minor mood out of a desire to play to the masses, in a desire to have a happy ending, but I see them more as an after dinner mint that lets you walk away refreshed, or a parting smile that reminds us that we’re all here for the joy of it, rather than to wallow in our suffering. In that spirit, I include its mention here in order to end the article similarly on a happy note too. Why not.