Posts Tagged ‘boulder singing’

Choosing the right teacher for YOU

February 22, 2015


by Heidi Ames

There are so many music teachers out there! How do you even begin the process of choosing the right one for you or your child?  If you don’t have any experience in music this part may seem fairly simple. Just call up your local music studio and have them choose one for you or choose one from their online list. Done. Unfortunately many new students don’t know the importance of taking the time to find the right teacher. Here are some helpful DO’s and DONT’s when selecting a teacher:

DO…interview your teacher. Don’t hesitate to ask about a teacher’s background and experience. It is very important to get a solid foundation from someone who can spot and fix tension issues immediately, otherwise bad habits may become ingrained which are then difficult to correct later on. Also, when you progress on your instrument you won’t need to find another teacher later on or be “passed up” to a teacher with more experience.

DO… sit in on a lesson. In many cases teachers are okay with potential students sitting in to observe their teaching style. Don’t be afraid ask!

DO… a trial lesson or two. This way you can get an idea of how you without making a commitment to weekly lessons. Music teachers are used to doing one-time lessons and there are no hard feelings if you decide it’s not the right fit. Good teachers want what is best for you anyway.

DO…ask yourself what you would like to get out of lessons and express them to your teacher. Having realistic goals in mind before getting started is essential to your success. Music lessons are one of the best investments you can make so spend some time getting clear on what you would like to get out of them. If a teacher doesn’t feel they can get you where you want to be they will tell you, but only if you ask!

DON’T… stay with a teacher with whom you do not feel comfortable. You should feel that you can communicate freely with him/her and not afraid or embarrassed to make mistakes for fear of how they will react. Your teacher should be able to make you laugh at least once during your lesson!

DON’T….study with a teacher who does not have training in the musical style you are interested in studying. If you want to be a jazz pianist and your teacher only knows how to play Beethoven you might run into some problems. There are specialized methods for jazz/rock training that many classical musicians have never studied. However, many of the best teachers in any musical style do have a foundation in classical training.

DON’T….stay with a teacher if you are not learning from them. You should be able to see some results in your playing within a couple of months and feel inspired to practice. Your teacher should be genuinely interested in your success and it will be reflected in your playing.

I hope you found this list helpful! Of course there are many factors involved in selecting a teacher and this list is only a starting point. If you have any more ideas, please comment below.

Heidi Ames teaches piano and voice at The Lesson Studio.

Carrie Newcomer

October 24, 2010
Kristin Vredevoogd, Voice and Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Kristin Vredevoogd

By Kristin Vredevoogd, Voice and Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio

I had the wonderful opportunity this past Saturday to attend the concert of an artist I’ve recently been introduced to.  Carrie Newcomer is a Quaker folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist.  She has twelve albums out, the most recent one called Before and After.

Carrie Newcomer has a warm, relaxed, and smooth voice.  What truly impressed me about Carrie is the authenticity of her voice.  She’s putting herself out there, not at all trying to sound like anyone other than herself.

Carrie’s also an inspirational songwriter. Carrie also gave a writer’s workshop the afternoon of the concert.  I wish that I had the forethought to have gone to that.  Her concert and music definitely inspired me to do more songwriting of my own.

The subjects of her songs are about every day joys and challenges we all face.  Her music is very natural, flows beautifully, and is easy to relate to.  At the concert I bought her album titled The Gathering of Spirits.  The track I’ll Go Too is my favorite.

I had the opportunity to speak to Carrie after the concert.  What an approachable and genuine person.  I look forward to listening to and collecting all of her c.d.’s.

If you’re looking for a refreshing sound and a new artist, I recommend Carrie Newcomer.  Check out her website at to listen to some of her music, find lyrics and choral arrangements of some of her songs, and to see her travel and workshop schedule.

How to Take Care of Your Voice

April 6, 2010

By Paul Perry, Voice Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Paul Perry, Voice Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Paul Perry

As soon as spring break began I lost my voice and couldn’t get out of bed for 3 days.  As someone who teaches voice and yoga, this is no bueno.

So what to do?  The first thing you should do when you are sick (especially as a singer or someone who relies on the use of their voice-so almost everybody) is drink lots of water and sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep.  Seriously, most of us do not get enough rest.   Our voice is quite small, delicate, and easily affected.  One thing I do is drink tea with honey, and I do not skimp on the honey…a good tablespoon per cup.  It is a natural lubricant and besides the natural healing properties, it tastes great.  I recommend anything herbal (with hibiscus and rose hips), or green, though I also love black teas.  When I am ill nothing is quite as comforting as Good Earth original tea…and eat what you can, Carrot Ginger soup or Pumpkin curry soup are two of my favorites when I am sick and they are easy on the throat.

So sleep, hydration, tea, honey, and soup, and your voice should be happier soon…

Songwriting – Helpful hints

March 9, 2010

By Ayo Awosika, Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Ayo Awosika, Voice & Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Ayo Awosika

Once a month, songwriters will gather at The Lesson Studio for a Singer Songwriter Class I host that focuses on sharing ideas, songs, and lyrics. As songwriters, one difficulty we face can actually be a lack of ideas. Where does our inspiration come from? Our own experiences? A fictional character or story? Some days ideas flow out of us like they were just waiting to be released, and other times it feels like we can’t find any words to express the things we want to.

I once took a Songwriting course with wonderfully talented songwriter Mark Simos (written for Allison Krauss among others) and he introduced me to the concept of object writing; an exercise for songwriters that is not only beneficial, but can be essential to our writing process. The way that object writing is usually presented for songwriters ( e.g. in Pat Pattison’s books – if you haven’t checked them out, do!) is as a technique that teaches us how to focus, be more detailed in our writing, engage and utilize our senses, and be free while keeping ourselves within a few guidelines.

Here’s what you do. Sit down with a pen and paper (or laptop if that works better). Pick a subject – it could be anything from a dirty sock to a piece of fruit. Set a timer for say, 5 minutes. Remind yourself of the 5 senses (sight, taste, touch, sound, smell), and write freely for 5 minutes everything you can think and feel about that subject. Don’t censor yourself! Even if your mind begins to wander and through free association you begin to write about another topic (ex. Dirty sock -laundry detergent – a teddy bear – cuddle -a warm bed – taking a nap) that’s ok! Let it happen. The idea of this exercise is to be in the moment; you may do 100 object-writing exercises that you never look at again – but you will have learned much from the repeated process.

It works best as an early morning exercise, stimulating and engaging our writing mind for the rest of the day. Mark refers to it as “morning pages” (much like the well-known morning process from  the book “The Artists’ Way”)


The key things to remember:

–  Stick to a strict time limit. Do not allow yourself to write more or less than the time that you allot even if you feel like you need to.

–  Don’t write in any verse forms, or with rhymes – just allow yourself to free write. The idea is to come up with material that may or may not be used later.

–  Remember to use your senses so you are describing all aspects of the object.

–  This is fun! It’s not about using this exercise to write your next hit song, (although it could be!)

Happy Writing!