Why We Recommend Piano As Your First Instrument

Are you thinking about learning an instrument? If so, the piano might be the perfect choice for you. Not only is it versatile and relatively easy to start learning, but it can also be a great gateway to learning other instruments. Here’s why:

1. It Teaches Key Concepts
One of the great things about the piano is that it teaches key concepts that can be applied to other instruments. Things like chord progressions, scales, and improvisation can all be learned on the piano. So even if you decide to switch to another instrument later, the skills you learn on the piano will still be useful.

2. It Develops Your Ear
Playing the piano can also help you develop your ear. As you learn to recognize different intervals and melodies, you’ll be able to identify different sounds more easily. This can be a great way to improve your overall musicianship.

3. It Teaches You About Music Theory
The piano is also a great way to learn about music theory. You’ll learn about different scales, chords, and progressions, which can help you understand music on a deeper level. Plus, you’ll also learn about rhythm, which can help you when you’re playing other instruments.

4. It Helps You Understand Other Instruments
Finally, learning the piano can help you understand other instruments. As you learn about the keyboard, you’ll gain an understanding of how other instruments work. This can help you when you’re learning a new instrument, as it will make it easier to understand the basics.

At Highland Music Studio, we have experienced teachers who specialize in piano instruction. They can help you develop your skills and reach your musical goals. Plus, they’ll make sure that you’re having fun while you learn. So if you’re looking for an instrument to start with, the piano is a great choice. Not only is it fun and relatively easy to get started on, but it can also be a great gateway to learning other instruments. Contact us today and let us help you get started on your musical journey.

What to Do When You Struggle to Practice Your Instrument

Practicing your instrument can be hard. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to practice something that you don’t always feel like doing, especially on days when you’re feeling tired or uninspired. But it’s important to keep in mind that practice is essential if you want to keep improving. So if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to practice your instrument, here are a few tips to help you get back on track.

1. Set Goals
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to practice is to set goals. This can help you stay focused and motivated, and it can also help you measure your progress. Start by setting small, achievable goals, such as practicing for a certain amount of time each day or learning a new song every week.

2. Break It Up
It can be overwhelming to think of practice as a single, long task. To make it more manageable, try breaking it up into smaller chunks. Not only will this make the task less daunting, but it can also help you stay focused and motivated.

3. Take Breaks
Taking breaks can also help you stay motivated. Whenever you feel your motivation slipping, take a break and come back to it later. This will give you a chance to recharge and refocus.

4. Get Support
It can also be helpful to get support from family and friends. Ask them to encourage you to practice and give you a pat on the back when you reach your goals.

5. Find Inspiration
Finally, it can be helpful to find inspiration. Listen to music that you enjoy, watch videos of musicians who inspire you, and try to find creative ways to explore your instrument.

At Highland Music Studio, we have amazing teachers who are dedicated to helping you reach your musical goals. They can provide you with support and guidance, and they’ll make sure that you’re having fun while you learn. So if you’re struggling to get yourself to practice, don’t give up. Use the tips above to help you stay motivated and keep improving. And if you need extra help, contact us at Highland Music Studio and let us help you get started on your musical journey.

Why Music Together® Classes are MORE than JUST MUSIC!

As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life. And one of the best ways to do that is by introducing them to music! At Highland Music Studio, we offer Music Together classes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers aged 0 to 5. These classes provide a fun and engaging way for your child to explore the world of music and benefit from its many positive effects.

So why should you take your newborn, toddler, or preschooler to Music Together classes at Highland Music Studio? Here are just a few of the many reasons:

1. It’s Fun
Music Together classes are a lot of fun for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. It’s a great way for them to explore music in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Plus, it’s a great way for them to bond with their parents and other children.

2. It Improves Motor Skills
Music Together classes can also help improve your child’s motor skills. As they explore instruments, clap along to the beat, and dance, they’ll be strengthening their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

3. It Enhances Language Development
Music can also help your child develop language skills. As they sing along to songs and explore the different sounds of instruments, they’ll be strengthening their verbal communication skills. Plus, music can also help them develop their listening skills.

4. It Enhances Cognitive Development
Music can also help enhance your child’s cognitive development. Listening to music can help them learn patterns and sequences, which can help them become better problem-solvers. Plus, playing music can help them develop creative thinking skills.

5. It Can Help with Bonding
Finally, Music Together classes are a great way to bond with your child. You’ll be able to sing, dance, and explore music together, which can be a great way to create a special bond between you and your child.

At Highland Music Studio, we have experienced teachers who specialize in Music Together classes. They’re knowledgeable and passionate about music, and they’ll make sure that your child is having a great time while they learn. So if you’re looking for a great way to bond with your newborn, introduce them to the wonderful world of music, and enhance their development, Music Together classes at Highland Music Studio are the perfect solution. Contact us today and let us help you get started on this amazing musical journey.

Why Should You Start Music Lessons in 2023?

2023 is the perfect year to start music lessons! At Highland Music Studio, we have amazing teachers who provide a comprehensive and fun learning experience. So if you’ve been thinking about picking up an instrument for a while, there’s no better time than the present. From the thrill of playing your favorite song to the satisfaction of perfecting a difficult piece of music, learning an instrument can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, music lessons can help you reach your goals.

But why should you consider music lessons in 2023? Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should start music lessons this year.

1. It’s Good for Your Mind and Body
One of the best reasons to learn an instrument is that it’s good for your mind and body. A study conducted by the University of Vienna showed that playing an instrument can help improve cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. Not only that, but playing an instrument can also help you relax and reduce stress.

2. It Improves Your Coordination
Learning an instrument is also great for improving your coordination. Playing an instrument requires the coordination of your hands, feet, and eyes, which can help you become more agile and coordinated. That’s not to mention that playing an instrument can help you improve your posture and hand-eye coordination.

3. It Enhances Your Creativity
Playing an instrument can also help you become more creative. Not only will it help you explore and express your emotions, but it can also help you develop a unique style of playing. This will make your composition and improvisation more interesting and unique.

4. It Teaches You Discipline
Learning an instrument also requires discipline. You’ll need to practice regularly if you want to master an instrument. This means that you’ll have to set aside time each day to practice and perfect your skills. This can be a great way to develop discipline and help you become more organized.

5. It’s Fun
Finally, learning an instrument can be a lot of fun. You can explore different genres of music and find the one that’s perfect for you. Whether you’re into jazz, rock, pop, or classical music, there’s an instrument and a style of music for everyone.

At Highland Music Studio, we have a wide range of teachers who specialize in various instruments and styles of music. They can help you develop your skills and reach your musical goals. Plus, our teachers will make sure that you’re having fun while you learn. So if you’ve been thinking about taking music lessons, there’s no better time than 2023. With our amazing teachers and comprehensive learning program, Highland Music Studio can help you reach your musical goals and have a lot of fun in the process. So don’t wait any longer. Contact us today and let us help you get started on your musical journey.

Recital Preparation

by: Konner Scott

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Just recently, Highland Music Studio had our Winter Recitals. (It was an exciting, fun-filled weekend, and we were genuinely impressed by the talent and passion of our students!) Every recital season brings me back to the recitals I used to participate in many years ago, and the feelings of nervousness and dread begin to creep back up again.

Some students are natural-born performers; I was not one of those. Because recital performances did not come naturally to me, I can identify with my more shy and introverted students who are terrified to get on stage. Here are three of my favorite tips for nervous students pre-recital:

Take Deep Breaths!

It sounds cliché… but it works! Taking a few deep breaths in a row can calm a spinning mind and lower your heart rate. Making yourself take a couple deep breaths before you get on stage- or right before you start playing- can help mitigate the nerves and give you more peace and ease as you begin your routine.

Play Slowly

When you’re nervous on stage, you’ll automatically play faster than you normally do, whether or not you realize it. By making yourself play about 20% more slowly than your natural inclination, you’ll likely even out and land at the proper tempo. This will also give you more time to think and prepare for new sections as you’re playing.

Don’t Over-Practice!

When faced with the nerves of an impending recital, it’s tempting to go into hyperdrive mode during your last few practice sessions. I usually recommend to my students (as long as they’ve done the work in advance) that they should practice a little bit, to keep their pieces fresh and ensure they’re prepared, but to not overdo it. You don’t want to exhaust yourself before the performance, and your pieces will have more life and energy if you haven’t beaten them into the ground before the recital!

The Complexity of Music: Broad & Narrow Understanding

by: Konner Scott

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Imagine explaining music to somebody who was unfamiliar with the concept. Where would you even begin? Would you explain the nature of creating patterned sounds that resonate with the human brain? Would you talk about the cultural impact? Would you dive deep into Western music theory and discuss chords, intervals, and rhythm patterns?

At face value, music seems like a relatively simple concept, but once you start examining the scope, breadth, history, and psychology, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s a mind-blowingly expansive field, and no one individual can master it all.

For those with a passing interest in music who want to explore it more deeply, wondering where to start their learning can be overwhelming. In most cases, people tend to let their passion take the driver’s seat. For example, I have an adult student in his 60’s on the verge of retirement who adores classic rock music. Looking for a new hobby to fill his time, he’s decided to pick up guitar and learn how to play some of his favorite songs.

Similarly, you’ll often see students gravitate towards the genres, learning styles, instruments, and concepts that most deeply resonate with them. Some students will choose to hyper-focus on a single narrow subject (for example: becoming a progressive metal rhythm guitar virtuoso). Others will begin with a cluster of interests (perhaps writing and composing pop songs), and let the web stretch out and broaden as they develop more interests and proficiency. Maybe, after learning to write reasonably professional pop songs, they might explore some rock music styles and infuse it into their sound.

My personal philosophy when faced with this sort of decision paralysis is: go where your heart leads you! People tend to be the most successful and content when pursuing things that spark their interest and passion. If you’re a metal musician through and through, then getting a master’s degree in 16th century lute music may be a daunting and torturous task. Just because something exists within the field of music doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for all musical people.

Find the specific thing you love about, and pursue it relentlessly. You’ll find deep meaning and satisfaction by doing do!

Musical Bonding

by: Konner Scott

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Despite what you might assume about someone who teaches music for a living, I tend to be quite introverted in my daily life. I experience a lot of anxiety surrounding social interaction- particularly with people I don’t know very well or I’m just meeting for the first time. As I’ve gotten older and had more opportunities to practice engaging in novel social situations, I’ve improved, but the anxiety and self-consciousness still follows me.

I’ve noticed that there’s one place where this feeling seems to dissipate: when I’m at a concert for an artist I really like. In those moments, I’m so caught up in the power of the music- and the excitement of seeing a performer whose music means so much to me- that it becomes much easier to turn to the person next to me and engage in conversation. (It also helps that the crowd around me is there for the exact same reason I am!)

In fact, it’s something I don’t even really think about. I’ll often get so swept up in the moment that, almost reflexively, I’ll turn to the stranger next to me and say some version of “oh my gosh, this is (insert song name here)! I love this song!” It’s often a gateway to further conversation- and if not, there’s an unspoken camaraderie in our mutual appreciation of the experience at hand… and I’ve found the rare rude response or odd look doesn’t pack the same punch in that setting.

At this point, I’m fortunate to have a number of friends I’ve either met in the crowd at a show, or spoken to after a show of my own. There’s an advantage to being a performer in this situation, too. If you do your job well, people will come up to you and engage you in conversation. No opening line necessary- your music will do the work for you!

Next time you feel like you need a new friend, find an artist you like and go to one of their shows. The barriers to social interaction will seem much lower!

Deliberate Creativity and Organic Creativity in Songwriting

by: Konner Scott

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When trying to come up with a new song idea, there are thousands of different strategies I can employ. However, the bulk of the time, I find myself gravitating to two specific techniques that work well for me.

The first strategy is: start writing and see what comes out. No, really, that’s it. There’s no big secret or hidden tool. I just start playing guitar and piano, singing some random gibberish, and if I’m lucky, somewhere along the way, I latch onto something worthwhile. If I have enough sense, when a good idea emerges, I’ll grab onto it and let it carry me forward.

This strategy is very hit-or-miss. Sometimes the idea isn’t very good, and sometimes, even if it is, I don’t execute well on this. The advantage to this method, though, is that I’m able to generate a bunch of songs very quickly without a lot of forethought. It’s great songwriting practice.

Additionally, I often come up with ideas, themes, and stories that would never have emerged in a more formal creative process. Some of my best songs and some of my worst songs have come as a result of this method.

The second strategy is: I sit down and just brainstorm ideas, then write them down. I’ll usually come up with a short phrase (“Bottom of the Waterfall”), followed by a brief description (“a song about a relationship that seems to be going well, but everything’s about to go south and neither party realizes it”).

This method is nice because it’s very consistent. In one sitting, I can generate 10-15 ideas, and then just pick the best and go from there. By the time I start writing, I already have confidence in the idea, and a general sense of how to construct the song and tell the story. This strategy takes more time, though, and the songs tend to be a bit more predictable and- dare I say it- formulaic.

Which method do I prefer? I honestly can’t say. They both have their place, and both strategies have been instrumental in my development as a songwriter. I genuinely believe that without having both the spontaneous approach and the meticulously planned approach in my back pocket, I would be a much worse songwriter. There’s a time and a place for each… and a million other ways to write a song, as well!

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

by: Konner Scott

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Last week I went to see the original “Avatar” movie in IMAX with some friends. I hadn’t seen it in about 15 years, and wow, the visuals and special effects have held up over time. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I highly recommend the film if you’ve never seen it.

At one point in the film, the protagonist- Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine chosen to visit the newly-discovered planet- is attempting to learn the language of the Na’vi, the apex alien species that inhabits the planet of Pandora. He had one quote during this process that really stuck with me.

“The language is a pain, but… I figure it’s like field stripping a weapon. Repetition, repetition, repetition.”

I think the memorability of this quote for me lies in the simplicity. I have a tendency to overcomplicate things when I’m trying to learn something new. For example, if I’m trying to improve my gospel piano repertoire, I’ll take on way too many chords & progressions at once, and then get frustrated and give up.

Thinking back on the biggest successes in my piano chord journey – the chords I still gravitate towards with composing or improvising – they all share a common thread. They’re not wildly complex, flashy, or overwhelming. Some are more involved than others, but the commonality lies in my approach: I just played them a million times, in a million different ways.

I played them around the circle of fifths. I played them chromatically. I played them within a ton of different chord progressions. I spent time improvising and intentionally trying to work them in to my improvisation.

After enough time, they stick with me. I have those tools in my toolkit, and I can use them at will. All it takes is time and consistency. Repetition, repetition, repetition!

This is a great philosophy when trying to learn chords, a new piece, melody lines, etc. Just do it a million times! You can mix it up. You can try it different ways. You can play it upside down, backwards, and underwater. Keep the content of what you’re trying to learn down to a manageable level, but then try to learn and play it as many ways as possible, as much as you can. After enough repetition, you’ll have it down. It’s only a matter of time!

Chaos Vs. Order: Why We Find Music Meaningful

by: Konner Scott

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One of the great mysteries of life is WHY exactly we find music so powerful, meaningful, and emotional. How can an arbitrary mash-up of different sonic frequencies cause thousands to gather for live shows, help save people from the brink of mental collapse, and be a unifying force amongst almost ALL of humanity? (Seriously- how many people do you know who just “don’t like music” at all?)

My personal theory is that music mimics the meaningful elements in life: chaos & order; yin & yang; structure & deviation. Meaningful situations in a person’s life usually sit at the intersection of these two opposing forces. People tend to be the most invested in pursuits that are structured enough to make sense and provide some level of familiarity and comfort, but novel enough to keep things interesting and provide a new challenge.

As far as I can tell, the best music universally incorporates this philosophy as well. We need some sort of patterned beat (for the most part- there are always exceptions, of course!) and consistent key & chord progression, but the parts of a song or composition that truly move us are the moments that deviate from the specified order in a creative, deliberate, and masterful way.

Of course, there’s only so much of this philosophy that can be put into words. My intuition suggests the depth and richness of the structure of music runs much deeper than can be articulated. Once again, if patterned sounds can be universally meaningful and emotional across time and throughout all of humanity… that must mean something!