Reopening Plans

We are planning to reopen our studio in August.
Online lessons & classes will continue in July.
Your Safety is Our #1 Priority
What can you expect in August?

For Music Lessons: Students will have a choice between online or in-person music lessons. Voice lessons will be remaining online until further notice.

For Music Together Classes: We will continue online classes and have outdoor classes (location and class times TBA).

– There will be a face mask requirement & your temperature may be taken.

– Team members must pass temperature checks & take health scans.

– There will be plexiglass barriers in the lesson rooms & office.

– We will wipe down the instruments & lesson rooms after every lesson.

– We will have the studio professionally cleaned regularly.

– We will use ClassDojo (a virtual reward system) instead of our bead reward program.

– We will not share materials (ie: bring your own headphones for group piano).

– Group piano classes will not have more than 5 students (as always). The pianos will be spread throughout our large room with significantly more than 6 ft of space between them.

America’s Independence Day

By: Ben Fraser

It’s crazy to think that July is already here and it’s almost Independence Day! This year’s 4th activities will be a little different, but there are so many things you can do safely in your own home, outside away from the crowd, or with a small group of people. When I think of celebrating the 4th of July, I think of good food, patriotic music, and games. It might be fun to try a few musical games! With there being so many patriotic and traditional folks songs, it makes the song selection easier. Some popular patriotic songs to use can include: “America the Beautiful,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Your a Grand Old Flag,” and the “Star Spangled Banner” to name a few. There are other songs that work well too like, “Born in the USA,” Party in the USA,” Living in America,” and “Kids in America.” A great game to play with these songs could be “Name That Tune.” This one is simple and easy where kids and adults can join in the fun and it gives there kids a chance to learn a new tune and work on those super, important aural skills. Another game would be Music Bingo, but with a patriotic theme. This game is so much fun, it just needs a little more arts and crafts attention. Make regular sized bingo sheets by googling blank bingo cards, copy and paste one example to Microsoft Word, and then print however many copies needed. Make an answer key card with the bingo card template and with all of the song samples. Have someone who is the “bingo host” play or sing an excerpt from each song and have fun! These are just a few examples of patriotic music games to play at home or with a small group, but the main thing is to have fun and be safe this 4th of July!

Best Throwbacks for the Summer

By: Ben Fraser

The summertime is about more than just swimming in the pool, going to a baseball game, and hanging out with friends, because now more than ever, we have to find other ways for entertainment. The summer of 2020 will be like no other summer, there’s no doubt about it, but there are many other things to do besides gathering with large groups of people. We can spend our time listening to music! There’s of course the top 40 of today’s hits that would be great to listen to in the summer, but I want to challenge you to expand your horizon and listen to some “throwback” classics. In the 1960s, surf rock was born and came from the rock of the 1950s (Elvis Presley) and became popular music to listen to especially in the summer. The Beach Boys are probably the most popular group who played surf rock. Some of their best songs that remind me of summer are, “Good Vibrations,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.” The 70s have some really good summer tunes too! The song, “Summer Breeze,” by Seals, and “Summer Nights” by Olivia Newton-John, or “In the Sun” by Blondie are some examples of good summer songs from the 70s. The 80s has some really fun summer music too! Popular music, or the genre “pop” music was born in the 1980s and tons of songs fell into this category and became a part of the pop culture in this decade. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Boys of Summer,” “Summer of ’69,” and “Blister in the Sun” are some really good jams. There are many other songs that don’t have the word “summer” in the title, but are really fun and energetic songs to listen to at home or sitting outside soaking up some sun. It can be fun to get out of your comfort zone and listen to some “new,” but totally old tunes. So, fill your summer with sounds and “good vibrations” from carefree times!

Multiple Instruments

By: Ben Fraser

Have you ever considered expanding your horizons as a musician? A great way to achieve this is by learning a new instrument! Doing so can change your perspective and give you a greater understanding of music than you could have imagined. Many people are discouraged from picking up and pursuing a new instrument. They fear that it will take away time from their primary musical endeavors, confuse them with an overflow of concepts, or simply spread their abilities too thin.

I am here to tell you that this is not the case. In fact, the truth is quite the contrary. Learning a new instrument will not only enhance your current musical abilities, but it will increase your overall passion for music. You will start to understand more elements of music and this fresh perspective will provide astounding insights into your musicianship. It will also improve your communication and collaboration with other musicians.

One example is a brass player doubling on multiple brass instruments. Not only will this increase their versatility, but they will be more informed and educated during ensemble performances. They will understand the orchestration and communication of instruments on a deeper level.

Another example is a vocalist learning to play piano. This newly learned instrument will help them enhance their practice. They can implement more complex warm ups and exercises. Also, this gives them the opportunity to accompany themselves when they do not have an accompanist.

A final example is a guitar player learning to play bass. This is a great combination because the instruments share four strings. Although there is much crossover, the two instruments have very different roles and ways of being played. When played together they form an incredible bond and become something more than themselves. One instrument informs the other. That is why knowing how to play both can greatly improve the performance of each.

So, go for it! Pick up that instrument you’ve always dreamed of playing! There is nothing to lose.

Music and Intelligence

By: Ben Fraser

It has long been said that music can enhance our intellectual abilities. That performing, practicing, and even listening to music can increase our intelligence. Performing can help improve skills like memorization, adaptation, and hand-eye coordination. Practicing develops mathematical skills, reading ability, abstract thinking, and the skill of learning new concepts. Listening can improve interpretation skills and auditory discrimination. And we’ve all heard of the “Mozart Effect.” This is the idea that listening to classical music can increase our intelligence, especially in children. Whatever way you use it, music can be an effective tool for cognitive improvement.

There has been extensive research done on the association between musical training in childhood and cognitive performance in adulthood. The positive relationship is significant and grows as the duration of practice increases. Memory, attention to detail, verbal understanding, perceptual processing, fine motor skills and overall intelligence improve through playing music. These skills are engaged and sharpened through the practice of a musician and transfer over to more general, non-musical abilities. Improvement of general skills and intelligence through musical education has been referred to as the “far transfer effect.” Strong connections are seen in mathematics, spatial recognition, non-verbal abilities, memorization, reasoning and problem solving.

One study was completed on 144 kids at age six. They were given an intelligence test at the beginning and end of 1 year of music class. It was found that the children had great improvements on their test compared to a control group of children who did not take the music class. Another study assessed the IQ scores of 106 children between the ages of nine and twelve. Half of them were trained in music and the other were not. The study clearly revealed that the students with musical training scored higher on their IQ tests than the others.

With plentiful evidence supporting the correlation between musical exposure and higher intelligence, I would recommend everyone to introduce their children to music. Put them in music lessons, listen to music with them, and play music with them. Not only will they enjoy the process, but it will greatly benefit their intellectual abilities throughout their lives.

The Healing Power of Music

By: Ben Fraser

Considering the current pandemic, the world needs music more than ever. Music can be a great tool for healing, recovery, and regeneration. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to use music, whether you are playing or listening, to help you through these difficult times. There are many ways music can be utilized to heal including: fostering creativity, relaxing the nervous system, expressing emotions, creating connections, introducing mindfulness.

Music is an excellent way to foster creativity. Whether you are composing, performing, or listening, it gives you a chance to connect with your creative side. Creating new melodies, lyrics, and harmonic structures are prime examples of creative activities. By doing this, you give yourself a sense of accomplishment and increase your overall positivity.

Relaxing the nervous system is another benefit brought to us by music. Scientists have successfully measured the positive impacts of music by using standardized psychosocial stress tests. Because so many of our bodily functions operate rhythmically, or bodies will automatically respond to external rhythms.

Often, people need a method for expressing emotions other than through speech. Music can help you do exactly that. Some examples include beating a drum to release anger, playing a sad song on piano, or triumphantly blowing a trumpet! These are all great channels to express emotions in a beneficial way.

The connections made through music are another undeniable benefit to speak of. These connections can be from artist to listener, between musicians, composer to performer, or a person to song. The act of playing with music with others creates a very strong connection. Mutual performers need to agree on the music, synchronize tempo, lock in harmony, and start and end together. Connections can be an important step in healing and recovery.

Finally, music helps us maintain mindfulness. When playing or listening to music, we are truly in the present, not thinking about our past or future. To perform or practice well, we need to focus on tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, and musicality. There is hardly any time to stress about regrets or uncertainty. While listening to music, it can make us more mindful by distracting us from intrusive thoughts.

If you are ever in need of healing, I highly recommend music as tool for recovery. It can help you more than you may expect.

Two Week Music Challenge

By: Ben Fraser

The current stay-at-home orders seems to be bringing out the creative side in people across the globe and it has challenged people to take time to do things they typically would not have time for. I would like to challenge you to listen to a different piece of music each day with or without words for the next 14 consecutive days. It may be easier to find a piece of music based on your mood each day, or you can follow a day-to-day advised selection like the one I provided below. It can be difficult to choose a song without a narrow list to choose from, because there are so many choices and that can be overwhelming. The last part of the challenge is to keep a daily log of how you feel after listening to each song. Music has a way to make each of us feel a different kind of emotion and I believe music has the power to change our moods too. For example, let’s say you are having a bad day and nothing seems to be going right. You decide to listen to music at the end of the day and you choose from one of your favorite bands or artists. By the end of the first song, you are already feeling better, because it took your mind off of your frustrating day and took you to a happier place. There are many other examples of music altering moods, and I’m sure you can think of a time music changed your mood too. I think this challenge can be a fun experience and something to look back on when you think of the year 2020. This chart below can be used as a guideline for this 2-week long challenge!

Week 1
Monday -Modern song (last 5 years) with no words
Tuesday – Slow tempo classical song in major key (before 20th cent.)
Wednesday – Soft rock song of choice
Thursday – Upbeat tempo 80’s pop song
Friday – 1940’s – 1950’s love song
Saturday – Classical song in minor key (before 20th cent.)
Sunday – Song used in popular T.V. show from 1990’s

Week 2
Monday – British rock song from 1960’s
Tuesday – Modern song (last 5 years) with words
Wednesday – Fast tempo classic rock song from 1970’s
Thursday – American folk song of choice
Friday – Song that you often hear at a wedding or celebration
Saturday -Song from any opera in 18-19th cent.)
Sunday – Ask a friend to send you a song they listened to recently

Online Music Lessons

By: Ben Fraser

If you’re trying to improve yourself musically, private lessons are an excellent way to achieve that goal. There is much to be said about following the guidance of a trusted instructor and committing to a regular routine of music education. Having a musical mentor can provide inspiration, motivation and the much-needed discipline to become the musician you want to be.

But what if you are unable to physically meet with a music teacher? Whether it be distance, occupation, schedule, or even illness, what if some obstacle prevents you from attending music lessons? What should you do then?

The answer is quite simple. Try online music lessons. There are lots of great platforms to facilitate lessons via smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Notably, Zoom has proven itself to be a worthy platform for the task. You simply sign on at the time of your lesson and enjoy all the benefits of a private lesson from the comfort of your own home. All you need is an internet connection for a real-time interaction with a qualified music instructor. And it feels as if you’re practically in the studio with them!

There are also some added features with online lessons. By using “screen-sharing,” a teacher can instantly pull up relevant documents, videos, and games in the lesson. Whether it’s a chord diagram chart, note-learning video, or music theory game, you and the instructor have access to a multitude of resources at your fingertips. Online lessons also increase the tendency for at-home practice. Not only does it get you in the rhythm of playing music at home, but the online format creates more reminders for you such as assignments and lesson overviews through email.

So, if you’re thinking about music lessons but don’t have the time or ability to make it to a music studio, I would recommend online music lessons. They have proven to be impactful and highly effective. Keep practicing!

New Orleans Flavor and I Don’t Mean the Food

By: Ben Fraser

Holidays are some of the best occasions for celebration, and where there is celebration, there is music. Music makes people feel a certain way and people often tend to feel happy and joyous during the holidays. Mardi Gras is approaching and is most famously celebrated in New Orleans. When I think of New Orleans, I almost always think of Cajun food, the infamous Mardi Gras parade and partying, and last but not least, the iconic jazz music that makes the big New Orleans southern tradition come alive. The food isn’t the only thing in New Orleans that has flavor! Jazz is an American treasure that still lives on today and other genres of music have branched from its strong roots. Some iconic artists who started a name for jazz are Louis Armstrong (a New Orleans favorite), Ray Charles, Miles Davis, and Frank Sinatra. These artists have made some great music that is still played and performed around the world. Songs like “What a Wonderful World,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “Hit the Road Jack” are some great jazz standards that any jazz musician should know and the beginner to intermediate student can learn. These songs are so catchy and a lot of fun to play.

Jazz music is played from the soul and often artists will improvise and have fun with their music. Students who learn jazz songs can learn to improvise too and learn this style to help ease anxiety and become more comfortable with performing! Unique chord structure and unique voicings can be learned through jazz music along with embellishment and flare. Voice students can learn the same concepts, but learn to sing with a fuller, more relaxed sound. Jazz is what celebration is all about and when there is celebration, there will always be music!

Valentine’s Day Music

By: Ben Fraser

Valentine’s Day is the next major holiday after Christmas in the new year and recognized by many people from young to old. It is probably safe to say that most think of heart-shaped chocolate boxes, flowers, jewelry, and Hallmark cards on Valentine’s Day, but also love songs come to mind. Music is a way for our minds to focus on the present moments we share with each other and set our minds in the appropriate mood. A romantic candle-lit dinner on Valentine’s Day at your favorite restaurant almost always has love songs playing in the background to make that romantic dinner even more special and to set the mood!

Valentine’s Day music doesn’t only come in handy for adults on February 14th, but it is also a great way to teach young students a little bit about the history of music. There are countless love songs that come from all over the world and still linger in our pop-culture especially during this time of the year. Some classics include artists like Frank Sinatra who carried the famous love melodies of jazz throughout the 1940s and later. Shortly after, came Elvis Presley in the 1950s who stole many hearts all of over the world with his soulful voice and dashing good looks. Students who aspire to learn jazz guitar or a brass instrument, for example, would benefit from studying Frank Sinatra’s music and there are so many fun songs to choose from like “Fly Me to the Moon” or “Funny Valentine.” Elvis Presley sang some lovely love ballads like the classic, “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” or “Love Me Tender.” Both songs would be great for voice students or for students who study voice along with an accompanying instrument like a piano for example.  There are countless love songs to choose from throughout history and continue to hit the top 40 today. Next time you think of Valentine’s Day, don’t forget that the music sets the mood.