Covid-19 has changed our lives so much, yet students, parents, and families still want a strong music education that will deliver.Continue reading
Peter has been a teacher and drummer for over 30 years. He has been teaching with Imagine Music Inc for over 10 years. I decided to interview Peter about drums lessons to inform anyone new to drumming what to expect.Continue reading
Why Learning Music Theory is Important
I have always enjoyed teaching theory. To teach theory, a music teacher will need to find creative ways to explain a concept so a student can understand. Most beginner students have a lot of questions about how music works such as how to read notes, how music is written, and what is a chord symbol. The list of questions is long; the answers can be complicated.
As the student progresses, a teacher’s knowledge and understanding of complex music theory is important. How do chords form? Why are there so many types of scales? How do you improvise music? How do you play different classical genres?
There are many ways to learn music theory by watching YouTube videos, reading theory books, or through websites. The best way to learn theory, however, is to take dedicated theory lessons. For most music students, I find that their questions can’t be thoroughly answered without a music teacher. Having a two way conversation through private or online lessons will assure theory skill is learned quicker. Most importantly, you will have confidence that the theory learned is correct.
A trained and experienced, music teacher is indispensable. Questions can be answered thoroughly by providing examples and notating on staff paper. A music teacher can also demonstrate the answer on your particular instrument or piano.
Most music teachers will usually use a dedicated theory course. This is a great idea! Not only is a theory course a great resource reference, but it uses written exercises that the student can do in class or for homework. In Alberta, accredited theory classes have an exam component and if completed well, the students can get credits towards their high school diploma.
There is a certain satisfaction and pride when a student truly understands musical concepts. I think this holds true for any student regardless of age or ability. Best of all, as music teachers, we know we’ve succeeded when we see the light on our students’ faces and they say “I get IT!”
Imagine Music Inc. has some of the best music teachers in Calgary who specialize in teaching music theory. We would be honoured to help you on your journey.
Keep in Shape For the Fall With Summer Music Lessons
Students work hard all year building up their music repertoire, learning new theory concepts, and keeping their fingers nimble.
They also keep their brain in shape with daily music exercise.
In May and June many students prepare for recitals, performances and possibly exams. Then summer hits, and they pause to do other things.
So what happens when we stop playing for a month or two? Usually when students start playing again they are slower to respond when they read music.
Advanced students can start up quicker than a new beginner or intermediate student. Usually, advanced students don’t stop playing for months as they want to keep their music in shape. However, a beginner or intermediate student can really feel the decline. To their teacher’s dismay, most beginners forgot important aspects on how to read music or count rhythm. Their fingers respond slower almost forgetting where to go with hand placement. Sometimes, it feels like starting all over come September.
There is an easy solution! Play your instrument 3 times a week. Play favorite songs or better yet, have a summer project song.
Having a music lesson periodically throughout the summer is also a great goal to work towards as it can help keep students on track. For those students taking exams over the summer, lessons are even more important. Summer music exams can be easier when it doesn’t compete with school work.
Covid-19 is still with us unfortunately but taking a few lessons in the summer can help students keep busy, keep brains exercised and keep fingers in shape.
Our teachers are here to help you over the summer.
3 GREAT TIPS for Improving Your Musicianship
In more than 30 years as a piano teacher, I have taught students with different physical and mental abilities, learning styles, and musical tastes.
In my opinion, music can be learned, played and enjoyed by anyone; all that is required is hard-work, perseverance and dedication!
Here are 3 GREAT TIPS as you learn to play music:
No matter what level you are at, using a metronome can be a useful tool. Playing in time and understanding the feel of rhythm is satisfying. Most students using a metronome for the first time get frustrated by it; often it is because they are out of time. The constant ticking can be irritating and confusing, but believe me, nothing is more satisfying when you master playing with a metronome. As a teacher, I’ve heard a lot of incorrect rhythms, but it amazes me how students can instinctively know when they are in or out of time. Tricks like writing in the counting, counting out loud, and clapping will help you play the rhythms in time. Eventually, you may hear and feel the rhythms instead of having to mechanically count it out.
Work on Technique
Playing scales, triads and arpeggio exercises may seem boring to some but these exercises have so many benefits for the fingers and body in general. Focusing on how your body and your fingers move correctly can teach you how to play with accuracy and minimal stress to the body. Using the metronome and playing technical exercises can elevate your musicianship with the ability to play faster and with better control.
Read Notes and
Get to Know Chords
Some students read a little music, some read quite well, and some play-by-ear who don’t read at all. I believe that learning how to read notes is a great asset. It opens your world to music that maybe too hard to learn by ear. I personally love learning arrangements by other musicians, taking their ideas and incorporating them into my own playing. A good piece of sheet music outlines notes, harmony and chord structure and shows you how these ideas were formed!
Should you Take Your Music Lessons to the Next Level?
Taking it to the next level means practicing more diligently and with focus.
Elevating your casual lesson into something more serious means:
- playing scales and chord exercises with accuracy.
- learning proper sight reading skills.
- developing your ear with listening exercises.
- playing many pieces really well and sometimes memorized.
Worth noting, if you desire a musical certificate in your desired instrument, you need to complete “real” theory books and take the theory exam.
There are two main systems for music exams in Canada:
- The Royal Conservatory of Music is primarily based on classical music. https://www.rcmusic.com/
- Conservatory Canada includes both a classical and a contemporary music exam system. https://conservatorycanada.ca/
Both Exam Systems:
- offer exams for many instruments.
- have a syllabus and guidelines to follow.
- have certain music books that they like to use.
- can be used as credits for high school.
- have exams throughout the year in various cities.
It sounds like a lot of work.
Thank-goodness, there are music teachers out there to help you achieve these goals!
One of my long-time adult students just recently told me that his goal is to take a Level 5 Piano Exam.
I was thrilled. How exciting!
Exams are not just for the young. I am finding more adult student who want to work towards an exam. Doesn’t mean they’ll do the exam but, they will try to complete everything in that level. Overall, the end result is a better, more informed and well-rounded musician.
Most parents of kids who have trained for exams would say it is worth it. These kids are more focused, organized, dedicated, and are often high achievers in many areas, especially in school academics. Most importantly, they are busy working towards their future. They have learned how to self-manage their time, to take criticism, and how to fix their problems effectively.
So, should you take it up to the next musical level? Ask these two questions:
- Do you wish to increase knowledge and explore new musical concepts?
- Do you believe a challenge towards a goal would be a great way to measure growth and encourage persistence in learning?
If you answered “yes”, then give it a try.
We are here to help!
Summer Tips for Thinking Music
It’s here, the lazy days of summer! A time for doing other activities that you love to do. After all summer is short!
So how do you keep your fingers limber and your mind, musically sharp!
Here’s a few summer music tips I use to keep #thinkingmusic :
- Summer is the perfect time to learn that new song you always wanted to play. Just pick away at it slowly a few lines at a time. Then in your lessons in the fall, you can go for it!
- Play around on the BLUES. Learn the basic 12 bar blues form and improvise using the blues scale. No notes are needed, just play by ear.
- Have a summer only song . . . nothing too long . . .maybe something easier than what you usually play.
- Pick up a “how to play” YouTube tip on your instrument and implement it. Make sure it’s at your level and then have fun with it.
A Musical Refresh
I love spring. It is always a time for new ideas and fresh starts.
Imagine Music Inc. is celebrating its 25th year in business. It’s time for a refresh. It’s time for new growth.
As I think of what makes us successful, I remember all the Imagine Music families over the years. Many of our students continue to play and enjoy music well past university. We call this success! We even have generations of families take lessons from us. We’re proud of these outcomes in the last 25 years.
I reflect on where we are now, and the community of musicians we are now coaching toward musical growth and maturity. 2019 will continue to bring many influences on our youth. However, my hope for our students is to use music as a healthy outlet, just as I see our adult students playing music for relaxation and mind strengthening.
The refresh towards growth always starts with some small idea that, under the right conditions, blossoms into potential. We are excited to reveal both our new website and our blog “Think Music”. Our solid commitment remains the same.
Our business continues to positively coach and influence our students to
“Think Music” as a part of their life.
I love this the most about our business,
THREE Reasons Why Everyone Should Learn to Play a Musical Instrument
As a music business owner, musician and piano teacher for over 30 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many different students of all ages and learning styles. I see the benefits of learning music first hand as I’ve seen my students grow and develop over the years.
One thing for sure, music is a discipline. It is one of the few activities that expand the mind and gently works on physical dexterity. Both of which fosters patience and perseverance.
There is so much information on music on the brain tying in how learning a musical instrument makes use of both parts of the brain. This, in turn, boosts memory power, improves academic skills and makes you smarter.
What always amazes me is how new beginners start to comprehend musical concepts. Take the reading of music for example, as teachers we usually use rhymes and/or phrases to remember notes over time students begin to memorize these and rely on them less. Eventually the mind begins to recognize these notes and the student can play them without thinking too much.
I have seen music lessons do wonderful things for adults and seniors. Music keeps them sharp and inquisitive as they quest to understand – “How does this music work?” Take arthritis – learning piano or guitar keeps fingers and joints moving in ways that we don’t usually use them. I have many students with arthritis who continue to play piano as they are worried that their fingers and joints will stiffen up too much. Music lessons are a form of exercise to them.
Learning to play a musical instrument takes time. But, it is time well spent, given the lifelong gifts music can give. Patience and perseverance are qualities that we want in ourselves and in our children. Learning music teaches that. Students who must keep trying until they get it – don’t give up. This in turn, reinforces musical concepts, develops the mind, and provides self-satisfaction and enjoyment.
The result is a rewarded student playing a song that they can now enjoy!