Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How Has Technology Changed the Way We Learn and Teach Music?

These days, you can learn practically anything you want online.  For music students and teachers, the resources include helpful videos, guides, apps - and of course, online music lessons! With so many resources at your fingertips, it's easy to find the best teacher, technology, study guides - whatever you need, wherever you live. 

Check out the infographic below, put together by our friends at TakeLessons, showcasing the ways technology has changed (and improved!) the way we learn and teach music for the better! 

How Has Technology Changed Music Lessons? [Infographic]

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why Learning Music With Others Is Better Than Going It Alone

This month's post is from our friend Christopher Sutton at Musical U

Who doesn’t want to feel close to their family and friends? The need to belong and connect with other people is one of the most important elements of living a good life.

Music can be a fun solo activity but it’s also an excellent way for us to connect with those around us. Learning music gives you a wonderful opportunity for creative self-expression and doing it in a group setting can be even more rewarding and beneficial to your wellbeing.

If you only ever make music by yourself you are missing out on some of the most enjoyable experiences the world of music has to offer - and although it may seem intimidating at first, the skills and memories you gain from making music with others will reward you throughout your life.

There are many ways to include others in your music learning. You might choose to take a group lesson at the local music school, finally start that band you’ve been dreaming of, find a new instrument teacher for lessons or join an online music community where you can get help with your training.

If you’re hesitant about whether you should learn music with others or try to go it alone, consider the following benefits of learning music in a group.

1. You Will Learn Faster

Music is learned more quickly when playing with others. You can be actively involved and contribute to the group. If you have a question, instead of spending valuable time puzzling over it, you can simply ask someone in your group. Similarly, you can help others when they have problems understanding something you know.

Learning music with others is also a way to receive personal feedback. The more ideas and responses exchanged between you and the members in your group, the better you understand the material and fill in your learning gaps. These benefits don’t just cover factual knowledge, they apply to your live music performance skills too!

In fact, getting feedback and support from others is one of the 3 most effective ways to get better results from your musical training.

2. Communicate Musically

When you are in a group environment, you get to work with all types of people. You learn and develop important skills in teamwork, cooperation, listening and concentration. You learn to understand your individual part, yet know when to adjust and work toward a common goal.

By working in a group, you tap into vital human connection. You get to make new friends who can motivate and inspire you. The ability to effectively communicate with others is invaluable, whatever you do in life.

These benefits have a specific musical impact: you learn to play music with others, trading musical ideas and synchronising beautifully in a way that only practising music in a group can teach you. Whether you plan to perform with a group or not you will become a better musician by learning in a group.

3. Develop Confidence

Confidence is a challenge for all musicians, but especially those who try learning music in isolation. Learning music with others boosts your self-esteem. Sharing ideas and turning negative feedback into positive change helps build confidence. You learn that nobody is perfect, and we can all improve.
Even if you don’t aim to become a professional musician, the ability to perform in front of others is an important skill. With encouragement from your teacher and other musicians, you can be at your top performance level.

One example of a friendly and supporting group learning environment is Musical U where you can develop your musicality surrounded by people just like you who will help you improve faster and have more fun along the way.

Of course the first person you should consider including in your music learning is an expert instructor. If you’re ready to find the right music teacher and get personal advice on perfecting your musical skills, check out The ZOEN. A live, online music lesson from The ZOEN’s experienced music teachers is only a few clicks away!

Making music in a group is the beginning of an exciting journey towards achieving musical understanding and gaining great skills in life. Have you joined a music lesson with others before? Where do you go to get valuable group feedback? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Christopher Sutton is the founder of Easy Ear Training and Musical U, where musicians can discover and develop their natural musicality. Born and raised in London, England, he lives with his wife and far too many instruments.

Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Tips for a Successful Online Flute Lesson

Preparation is key to getting the most out of your online lessons. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when you’re scheduled to have a live, online flute lesson.
  1. SOFTWARE: For ZOEN lessons, be sure you install Google Chrome as your web browser (download here).  The ZOEN videochat happens right in the browser and opens when you click on the link in your reminder email or from your dashboard.
  2. SPEED: Check your internet speed at  Ideally, your download speed should be a minimum of 5 mbps. Upload speed is even more crucial and usually where people run into problems: shoot for a minimum of 1 mbps upload.  Also, keep your connection free of other devices during your lesson, especially download or upload activity and if possible, use a wired connection instead of wireless.  
  3. COMPUTER: I find it sometimes helps to restart the computer a bit before the lesson – occasionally there’s some sort of glitch, and this can be very helpful for preventing problems.  Make sure no other webcam-related software is running.  
  4. POSITION: I like to do flute lessons standing up, so position the computer/webcam to the proper height for standing so your teacher can clearly see you as if they were standing in the room with you. 
  5. PREPARE MUSIC: Have your flute and sheet music set up and ready to go, with a music stand also set up near the computer at standing height.
  6. HYDRATION: Have a glass of water handy! Flute playing can be thirsty work – and flute tone can be impacted by dry mouth.
  7. BRUSH TEETH: Make sure there are no other food or drinks during the lesson. I recommend brushing teeth before your lesson to help ensure the longevity of your flute pads (in addition to cleaning the flute right after every lesson or practice).
  8. HEADPHONES: It’s great if you have headphones to eliminate echo and get better sound/bandwidth than computer speakers – some students seem to do fine without – but I find them helpful. If a parent or other additional person is listening in, you can use a headphone jack splitter.
  9. SHEET MUSIC: Let me know ahead of time about any music you’ll be using at the lesson. I own a great deal of flute music, and am regularly purchasing additional new music, and much that I do not own can be acquired through online download. In some cases, it’s permissible to scan your music in and email it to me as a PDF attachment. With online lessons, we will each need a copy of the music (unless it’s something we have memorized or that you’re learning by ear) – so communication on this is essential.
  10. INSTRUMENT: It’s also a good idea to check with a repair technician to make sure your flute is in good repair. With online lessons I can’t simply pick up your flute and try it myself to ensure that it’s working properly – so do be sure you know who’s recommended in your area and have annual check-ups as well as someone to check in with when something seems to not be quite right.
Going through this checklist for the first few lessons until the routine is established will help us both to make the most of your lesson time, and set you up for the best possible progress! I look forward to meeting you online!

Lisa Carlson is in demand as a teacher and performer both in her hometown of Montpelier VT and live online. Schedule your live online flute lessons with Lisa Carlson on the ZOEN