Posts Tagged ‘music class Boulder’

Bass Player Needed!

May 13, 2010
Adam Buer, Bass Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Adam Buer

By Adam Buer, Bass Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Bass player needed:  the three most common words on music store bulletin board postings.  Very often people are under the assumption that playing bass is much easier than playing guitar.  Afterall, bass players only have to worry about playing one note at a time while guitarist are playing 3-6 note chords.   Just about every band has a bass player so it’s important to address the importance of the instrument.  In larger bands, if one instrument gets lost and stops playing often, no one notices.  If the drummer or the bass player get lost EVERYONE notices.  One professional bass player understood his role perfectly when he told me “Musically speaking, I am the earth…and everything is built on top of what I play.”  Sure, he was a little odd, but I understood what he was saying. It’s easier to sing, play, or dance when the lowest sounding notes are confidently played.  Furthermore, this bass pro was the kind of player who played the same 1 or 2 lines over and over throughout a song.  One of the difficult things about doing these kinds of bass lines is that it has to be perfect every time or listeners will notice a mistake instantly..

Beginning rock and roll guitarists sometimes start by playing simple chord progressions with the root note only and call this the “bass line.”  Once that is mastered, we add the 5th and octave notes to form a power chord.  Therefore, the beginning guitarist is under the impression that bass is easier than guitar because their only playing 1 note instead of 3.  Then, I point out to them that good bass players “connect the dots.”  What I mean by “connecting the dots” is that bass players need to learn how to add notes in between the basic roots of the chords.   For example, if a guitar is playing from a G chord to a C chord, the bass player can see the G and C on the neck as dots that can be connected with an A and a B.  Once their bass teacher helps them with an appropriate rhythm, they can figure out their own bass line with the pattern G, A, B, C.  Rhythm is a very important aspect of writing bass lines because the C must almost always be played at the exact moment the guitar switches to that chord.  Listening to bass lines and learning basic scales and arpeggios with your instructor is the first step in being able to create your own unique bass lines.

Sure bass players aren’t usually as successful as guitarists playing solo, but they are usually more successful than guitarists finding people to play with.  Again, every band needs a bass player and they are  rare in number compared to guitarists.  You don’t necessarily need to choose between bass and guitar either.   Many great bass players I’ve known also dabble with guitar chords.   If you are interested in playing bass I encourage to give it a try.  It has it’s unique challenges, but is well worth the effort.  Bass players are the earth…musically speaking.

Performance “Do”s and “Don’t”s

April 30, 2010
Alaina Ferris, Voice & Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Alaina Ferris

There were many times in my performance career when I was thrown onto a stage without ever being told what to do. However, there are a lot of things to consider before and after you perform. Stage fright is a natural part of performing, but it can be assuaged with proper preparation. Take the time to read through this performance checklist. Hopefully it helps you with your next performance!

  1. Arrive ahead of schedule!
  2. Make sure you have all of your materials.
  3. Be sensitive to dress codes.

Approaching the Stage

  1. Make sure you have all of your materials in your hand, before you go on stage.
  2. Bow and acknowledge the audience.
  3. If you have not been announced, say your name and the piece you will be playing.
  4. Take your time! Tune your instrument, arrange your music, take a few deep breaths. Do not begin playing until you are ready.

During the Performance

  1. Attitude not only shapes how you play, but affects the engagement of the audience. Be positive. Be willing to talk to the audience. Different kinds of songs require different approaches and attitudes. Determine your attitude before you perform the song. Is the song light and playful? Is it quiet and contemplative? How can you reflect the song’s mood in your physical performance?
  2. Never be ashamed. Mistakes are part of any performance. Do not point them out to the audience. Accept them and let them become part of your playing.
  3. Inclusive Awareness: Be aware of the audience without letting it affect your concentration. Nervousness is natural. The best way to combat it is to be aware of it without letting it stop you.
  4. Be patient with your performance. Space and silence are equally as important as every note you play. Do not rush through the piece.

Performing with a Band

  1. Always acknowledge your musicians! If the song features a solo, announce the solo before or immediately after the piece.
  2. During the solo, look at the soloist!
  3. Name all the musicians in the band again before or immediately after the last piece of the show.
  4. If you are playing with an accompanist, announce them at the beginning of the performance.

After Your Performance

  1. Bow, collect your materials, and walk off stage.
  2. Learn from your experience, let it inform the choices you will make in the future, but accept your mistakes and do not dwell on them.

The Little Things

April 22, 2010

By Mike Gersten, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Mike Gersten, Woodwinds Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Mike Gersten

You may be familiar with the expression “it’s the little things that count”.  In track winners can be decided by a tenth of a second; in baseball an inch can decide whether a pitch is a ball or a strike; and being just a little out of tune can turn an amazing performance into a catastrophe.  When it comes to practicing and taking care of a woodwind instrument it is the little things that make all the difference.  This Sunday I’ll be doing a woodwinds workshop at the lesson studio and I’ll be talking about little things we all can do as woodwind players to help make us better players.  Here is a little preview:

We all know that we need to practice in order to get better, but no one has a lot of time.  By using certain practice techniques you can maximize the efficiency of your practice sessions.  Now, I won’t tell you that you’ll be able to learn a very difficult piece in five minutes.  This isn’t a late-night infomercial.  However, I will say that these techniques will help you learn to play the music well in the quickest way possible.

What good is knowing how to play your instrument if you’re instrument doesn’t work?  You’re instrument should run like a well-oiled machine.  After all, your instrument is a machine with you as the motor.  We will discuss how to take care of your reeds, keys, and pads so your instrument will sound its best and you can avoid hefty repair costs.

In addition to these topics we will talk about listening to music and anything you else you want!  Feel free to bring your instrument and any music you are currently working on or have questions about.  Please call The Lesson Studio to reserve your spot as space is limited.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s FREE!  See you there!

Can You See What You’re Playing? And I’m not talking about the notes on the page.

March 9, 2010

By Hollie Bennett, Intern at The Lesson Studio

You know you’re a true music nerd when you start finding all the similarities between everything you do or see and how it could relate to music. And you know you’re especially bad when you just see something and bam! Now that you watched that special on the Discovery channel about outer space, you know how you can explain vibrato to the twelve year old. But really, finding those parallels between, let’s just call it this for fun, the “real world” and the “music world” can help you understand exactly what you’re doing even more than before.

Imagery is such a staple part in music, at least for me. Hearing a piece of music that really attaches itself to me makes me feel in colors, imagine stories and truly understand the emotion that the composer or performer was trying to convey. Part of me thinks that as a musician that is your true purpose in life is to tell the story, show the audience what is happening, even if you don’t know, you need to show that you do. Sometimes doing crazy things like pulling out your box of 64 Crayola crayons that you haven’t used since the fourth grade and literally coloring your music the color that you thinks conveys each part of your piece can do wonders. Even making up words to go along with what you’re playing or seeing a story that can play out in your head can get the emotional and expressive side to connect with the technical of your playing.

One of my favorite topics to bring up to students is the Olympics. I’ve probably been driving my students crazy trying to convince them to watch everything from figure skating to the super-g to curling. The parallels between musicians and athletes are really interesting to me. How much work each party puts into perfecting their own craft is mind blowing: hours in practice versus hours on the ice or snow. You can find so many similarities. Figure skating spins and trills is one of my own teacher’s favorite analogies. You can also think of the idea of balancing between technique and musicality as the way a speed skater like Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski balance around their turns with speed skating. So go out and try to find those parallels and start imagining them will you play. It might just help even more than you’d think!

Winter/Spring Semester Registration Begins

November 12, 2009

On Monday, November 16, 2009, The Lesson Studio (TLS) will begin its Winter/Spring Semester registration!

The dates for our Winter/Spring Semester 2010 are: January 9 – May 21, 2010

TLS has instructors for guitar, piano, voice, drums, bass, violin, viola, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, tuba, euphonium, ukelele, oboe, cello, flute, mandolin and banjo! We also offer music therapy, a free workshop series, and summer music camp. We have an in-store drop-off/pickup for instrument repair. Included with your semester tuition are weekly instruction with the teacher of your choice; supplies including weekly goal sheets, staff paper, CDs, and music charts; assistance from three administrative staff people; free Wi-Fi in the reception area; 10% off coupon for a local music store; and best of all, an end-of-semester recital! Our Fall recital is held at the Old Main Chapel at CU and our Spring recital is held ON STAGE at the Boulder Creek Festival!

If you are a current student, be sure to let our staff know if you prefer the same day/time or a new time slot for your music lesson. If you are new to The Lesson Studio, please call 303-543-3777 for your FREE CONSULTATION today!

As always, please visit http://www.thelessonstudio.com for more information.The Lesson Studio logo