Today I am going over counting and reading rhythms. Keeping rhythm is one of the most important aspects of performing. Rhythms helps shape a piece and can make or break a song. Many beginners are not used to counting and can sometimes feel over whelmed but it is not as tricky as it looks. First, I will start out with note and rest values and then I will move on to reading rhythms. Continue reading
I know that learning to read music can seem intimidating, but it is very simple once you get the hang of it. This is one of the largest milestones you will face when learning to play an instrument. Knowing how to read a piece of music is essential in any ensemble you plan to join. It is difficult at first, but it gets easier as you go along. Once you have learned the notes and how to decipher the clefs, you have overcome the hardest part of your journey. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed when you are just beginning. It may be a little frustrating at first but eventually it will become second nature. Let’s go over a few of the basics of reading music. Continue reading
Picking an instrument is one of the hardest things a beginning musician will do. Most people already have a few instruments in mind but narrowing it down to just one can be difficult. The first thing I suggest you do is make a list of instruments you are interested in. Just think of all the different instruments you like and write them down. After you have them written down, put them in categories depending on whether they are brass, woodwind, or percussion. Those are the three main types of instruments you will pick from in most ensembles.
Woodwinds include clarinet, flute, saxophone, oboe, and a few others. Most woodwinds require a reed for the instrument to play, though some, such as the flute, do not. Brass instruments are trumpets, horns, euphoniums and baritones, tubas, and trombones. Percussion includes drums, bells, xylophone, triangle, etc. A few ensembles have stringed instruments like violins, guitars, and cellos but these are mostly orchestras. LMU does not have an orchestra, but if you are interested in learning guitar, you can take lessons.
Once you are able to pick what type of instrument you want to play, next you need to find a specific instrument. In percussion you will be required to learn a variety of instruments but in woodwinds and brass, you need to find one you can focus on for a long period of time. When I started band in fifth grade, I played clarinet mostly because my cousin had one to give me. But I also enjoyed playing it and I was able to apply what I had learned on clarinet to saxophone. Many people pick clarinet anyway because it is one of the most common beginning instruments along with flute and trumpet. For most people there are three deciding factors that go into picking an instrument: natural ability, price, and likeability.
Natural ability does not mean you can pick the instrument up and start playing like a professional. It simply means that you can make a sound when you blow into the instrument. It also means you can adjust to the embouchure comfortably. I personally cannot stand the way the embouchure of brass instruments feels. I, in turn, have many friends who play brass that cannot stand the way a reed feels while they play. Yet others, myself included, cannot keep their hands steady to play percussion instruments. Before you pick out your instrument, make sure you have had a chance to play it. Most places that sell instruments will give you this option. I would not buy an instrument if I had not had a chance to play it. How else will you know if you will be comfortable playing it? So when you are trying out instruments, keep in mind which feels most natural when you play.
Some people will argue that price comes first. I do not because there is no sense in paying a dime for something you can’t make a noise on. However, it is a close second. Clarinets, flutes, and trumpets are the cheapest instruments, ranging from a few hundred to a little over a thousand; that is one of the reasons they are the most popular beginning instruments. If I had to guess, I would say the tuba would be the most expensive. I have seen tubas range all the way up to ten thousand. Most tuba players I have known usually play a school instrument. Instruments are usually ranked student, intermediate, and professional. A student instrument will be much less than a professional. However, you need to be willing to pay a few hundred for a good instrument.
Likeability is the third factor that comes into picking an instrument. When I say likeability, I mean preference. Which instruments do you like the best? Which one do you think has the best sound? There is no point in paying for something you cannot play, but there is also no sense in paying for an instrument you hate. I guess you can say that these two factors revolve around price. I would also keep in mind that many programs have a few instruments available to play. These are usually the most expensive instruments. So check to see if the program you are interested in can provide an instrument if price is an issue. When you are making a list of instruments you like, try not to stray too far from it. If you have written mostly woodwind instruments, try to stick to mostly woodwind instruments. Also keep if you specifically chose one instrument, there are a few different types of one instrument. For example I play tenor sax but there is also an alto sax and a soprano sax. I play clarinet but there is also a bass clarinet.
These are three critical factors that go into picking an instrument. I put price in the middle but in some cases, such as playing a school instrument, it can be less of an issue. I recommend choosing something you can dedicate yourself to beyond anything else. That way you will most likely stick with it. Of course, that does not mean you cannot look into playing other instruments. I have found that many clarinet players later pick up saxophone and many trumpet players later pick up euphonium. In the end, you just have to pick what you like the most.
What are some instruments you would like to try? Comment and let me know if you plan on learning an instrument! As always, like my post and check back every other Wednesday for a new one!
I love music. I love singing, dancing, playing and listening to music. Almost all of us love music. There are many people who take their love of music and make it into a career. These people are professionals and they get paid to do what they love. But you do not have to be a professional to learn more about music. If you have ever thought about playing an instrument, or if you just want to understand more about music in general, I can help. In this series I will focus mainly on how to play an instrument and how to read music since I have dedicated a good portion of my time to instrumental music. I play mainly saxophone and clarinet, but my advice in this series can be applied to pretty much any instrument. So if you are ready to take your passion of music to the next level, keep reading.
How to Begin
I know that many students at LMU are not music majors. But one great thing about LMU is that you do not have to be a music major to join the choir or band. We have a community band and a community choir that both welcome musicians of all ages from the surrounding counties and musicians from different departments at LMU. Don’t know how to play an instrument or sing? You can take lessons from the staff for one credit hour if you are interested in learning. You do not necessarily have to take lessons, but they are extremely helpful, especially if you are just a beginner. If you are a beginner, your lesson will mostly consist of learning to play your chosen instruments, but as you go on, you will focus on more nit-picky things like dynamics and entrances. I strongly suggest beginning with lessons since a professional or even an amateur that can give you great advice and can even help you pick an instrument
Pick an instrument
From here, I will mostly talk about band since I have never been much of a singer. However, many aspects that are applied to learning an instrument can apply to choir; reading music, for example, is fairly useful in both band and choir. I recommend you do some research on instruments you are interested in before going out and buying one; they’re not cheap. I am not saying you can’t learn different instruments later, but in the beginning, you should focus on one. I am not going to go too much in depth over picking an instrument right now since my next post will cover all you need to know.
As you can guess, practice is essential to music; it is essential to just about anything, really. When you are first learning to play, you will have to practice reading music, counting music, embouchure, instrument fingerings, and even breathing. You should practice at least an hour a day but as you progress, you might need to lengthen your practice time so you do not fall behind. I know it sounds like a lot, but once you get in down, it becomes second nature. Then real practicing can begin! I will give you tips in practicing later on in the series.
Show up to Rehearsal
Now that you’ve got your new instrument and you have had a bit of practice time, and you’ve (dare I say it?) gone to a few lessons, you can join band! Don’t be scared to just come to practice; we don’t bite! You can come to concert band on Tuesdays from 6 p.m.. to 8 p.m. for some music that is more on the classical side. You can come to pep band of Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. if you want to play at basketball games. Or you can come to jazz band Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. if you are interested in Jazz.
Of course you are welcome to come to all three; we would love to have you. The series does not end here, it’s just beginning. You may have some instruments in mind, but you will not get far in practice if you do not know how to play your part. There is more that goes into playing an instrument than you know. When you see your favorite musician play he or she makes it look easy but trust me, it takes hours of practice to perfect a piece of music. Making it look easy comes after you have spent weeks preparing to play it in front of an audience. Learning to play an instrument, no matter what you pick, will not be an easy task. So if you are interested in learning how to play an instrument, keep reading!
Are you thinking about picking up an instrument? Comment if you have any questions and keep reading to learn more! Remember to like my post and check in every other Wednesday for a new one!
For those of you out there who do not know, I am part of the Zeta Tau Kappa (ZTK) sorority at LMU. I pledged ZTK the spring of 2012. Our colors are purple, blue, and white and our mascot is a bunny. I decided to pledge because I was interested in becoming more involved with my school and with my community. If there are any ladies out there who are thinking of pledging a sorority, I highly recommend ZTK. Of course, the lovely ladies in Kappa Pi Omega and Delta Theta Sigma Sorority are also part of the excellent LMU Greek organizations. In this post I want to share with you some reasons I decided to pledge Zeta Tau Kappa.
One of the main reasons I pledged was to get more involved in the LMU student body. My sophomore year, I realized that I was not involved in my school as well as I should be. I was involved in band but that was pretty much all I was involved in. So I decided to look at some other organizations. One day, I happened to stumble upon an all-Greek event in front of Liles Hall. I asked a few of the ladies there about their Greek organizations and they all gave me the dates of their open rushes. I attended all of them to find out what organization I would fit in with best and found that out of all the sororities, I fit in best with Zeta Tau Kappa. When I pledged ZTK, I immediately became more involved at LMU; I helped promote other organizations such as Green Dot, and I helped with our sorority events like movies nights in the museum and Zombie tag! If there is anyone out there who feels like they are not involved enough with campus life, then I suggest checking out the sororities and fraternities on campus. They will help you get on the right track!
Another reason I pledged was to get more involved in my community. If any of you need some more community service hours, pledging a sorority or fraternity is the way to go. Sororities and fraternities both do a good deal of community service throughout each semester. ZTK volunteers at the animal shelter, with the girl scouts, and during Christmas stuffing boxes full of toys, clothes, and toiletries for low income children in the surronding schools. The ZTK Christmas child is my favorite thing we do. I feel better around the holidays when I am assured that I helped at least one family have a good Christmas. Before I pledged ZTK, I had a lot of trouble trying to find community service hours, but now I get more than enough!
If you decide to pledge a sorority, you will befriend some of the greatest people at LMU. I love getting together with my sorority sisters for meetings, open rushes, study sessions, events and anything else we might do. My favorite event we host is Zombie tag! I will admit that pledging can be very tough and there were some days I thought I might quit, but I am glad I stayed with. When you become part of a sorority, you become part of something better and bigger than yourself. I think our sorority quote embodies that thought the best: individually unique, together complete. We are all unique as individuals but when we join together, we complete are own personal talents. We push each other past our limits and accomplish things we would have never dreamed of. For me, joining a sorority is one of the best decisions I have ever made during my time at LMU. These girls are true sisters and have supported me at my lowest times.
I understand that Greek life isn’t for everyone, but don’t just assume that you are not cut out for it. My freshman year I thought I would never pledge. I wish I had looked into pledging sooner. So if you are not sure, just go to an all Greek event or an open rush. You will never know if you don’t give it a shot! As I said before, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. So get out there and see if there is a sorority of fraternity you might be interested in pledging!
Are any of you readers interested in pledging? If you want some more information just leave me a comment and I will be sure to help if I can, even if you don’t want to pledge ZTK! Remember to like my post and check back with me every other Wednesday for a new post!
So I was trying to save this to do after the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie came out but I just cannot contain my geekiness. Now, I am giving Michael Bay the benefit of the doubt here because I am pretty hyped about this movie! I am still a bit iffy after my disappointment in Transformers, but I have high hopes for TMNT. I have deeper roots with this franchise than I think a lot of people my age do –I don’t seem to have too many friends that like TMNT. So, in this post I thought I would share why I love this never-ending series.
I got started on the Ninja Turtles at a very young age. I can still remember watching the Nineties TMNT movie series with my older sister and cousin when I was around 5. I was actually kind of afraid of these turtles. I guess the puppetry animation kind of scared me, but I liked it better when I got a bit older. Even today, these turtles are probably my least favorite besides the Next Mutation series, which I like to forget ever existed. I like the 90s film series, but I just don’t think it’s the best portrayal of the original comics–but then again, neither was the 1987 series. I’ve also realized over the years that this franchise has a talent for targeting a generation, and I guess I was born a little too late to fully enjoy this particular series; it did start two years before I was actually born!
The 2003 TV series is the series I relate to the most. I can still remember waking up early every Saturday morning to watch this with my sister. I was about 11 when this series came out, so I followed the story lines better than I did with the 90s series. I like that this series is a little more serious and better mirrors the original Mirage Comics turtles. These turtles also have more complex personalities, while in the earlier series I feel like the turtles have nearly identical attitudes. Aside from these few details, these are the Ninja Turtles I claim as my own. As I mentioned earlier, this franchise is great at targeting certain generations, and these turtles were better targeted at my generation. Not to mention it had the best intro! Here it is if you want to listen to it; I recommend you do.
I have watched some of the new Nickelodeon series and I like it for the most part. I like to catch when it’s on, and for me it’s a close second to the 2003 series. While I was too young to fully appreciate the 90s series, I sometimes feel that I’m a bit too old to fully enjoy this series. One thing I do not like is the new catch phrase, booyakasha, which I can only assume is some variant of boo-yah. It is not that I completely resent the word, I just wish they would use the cowabunga catch phrase once in a while. However, I will admit that I prefer this animation over any of the other cartoons. I like that in this series I can tell the turtles apart even if they aren’t wearing their mask. I feel that giving each turtle a distinct appearance helps add to their own individual personalities.
Favorite Ninja Turtle
Obviously, I just cannot write about TMNT and not tell you who my favorite turtle is. My favorite has always been Donatello (the purple one). I love that he’s intelligent and is always inventing something that almost always saves them in the end. And he has the coolest mask, who doesn’t love purple? I may be just a tiny bit biased because Donatello is also my favorite Renaissance artist. Michelangelo is a close second just because he’s so funny and carefree. Who doesn’t love Mikey?
I could go on about this for several pages, so I won’t go into the 1987 TV series because I’m not that familiar with it. I also will not go into the original 1984 comics either, even though I think it is just awesome. I will tell you they all had red masks in that series. I also won’t talk your ear off about how awesome or bad the new movie is since I haven’t seen it yet, but I have to say that those are some epic turtles. If I was afraid of the 90s turtles I can only imagine how terrified kids are going to be of these turtles. There’s part of me that wishes that the newest turtles looked like they do in the Out of the Shadows game; I think Mikey’s adorable in this game.
Okay, I have officially had my little geek party. I hope there are a few other turtle geeks out there who understand my dilemma or even a few readers who can respect it because they have their own personal geeky overturns. But no one can deny that this series is outdated. TMNT has been remade more than any other franchise I can think of (though I am sure there are several others). There are several generations that can relate to this series and that is what makes it so successful.
What’s your favorite TMNT series? Do you have a favorite turtle? Are you excited about the new movie? I would love to hear from you if you want to drop me a comment. Remember to like my post and don’t forget to check back with me every other Wednesday for a new one!
So for the last few weeks I have been dealing with a severe case of writer’s block. Lately I feel like nothing I have been writing is going anywhere. Sometimes I want to give up, but writing is a vital part of life for me, so that is not an option. I feel like I am finally getting back on track now by helping my friends edit some of their stories and essays, and reading a few new books. I love writing, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes it can be stressful. For me, this has been my longest period of writer’s block. In this post I am going to share a few tips that have gotten me through the past few weeks.
Free writing is nothing new. You just type or write for ten to fifteen minutes about anything you want, and the best part is that you do not have to worry about grammar. I, like many other writers, suggest you free write at least once a day. However, it can be a great resource to turn to during times of writer’s block. Several people have told me that they can’t stand to free write because they find it hard to think of a prompt under a time limit. If you are one of those people, I suggest you find one item in your house a day to write about. That way you do not have to worry about thinking of something to write about. I have also had a few people tell me they do not like free writing because it is boring. I agree that I do not write my most exciting material while free writing, but I have had several great stories stem from free writes.
Listing is similar to free writing, but I think it is a bit easier. Listing is pretty much how it sounds: you simply make a list of your ideas. When I list, I make note of names, settings, animals, and anything else that may pop into my head. I do not recommend listing on your computer because you may not always have your computer as soon as an idea pops into your head. I like to carry a notebook or notepad around with me so I can write down ideas as soon as I think of them; that way I won’t forget them. Sometimes when I do not have my notebook I will text ideas to myself.
Reading is another great way to get over writer’s block. As with free writing, reading is something that should be a staple in every writer’s life. When you read, you will not only come up with more ideas, but you will also pick up on other writing styles. This will improve your own writing style. If you do not want to read another book at the moment you can find a few short stories to read, or you can even reread a few of your favorite chapters from some of your favorite books. I, for one, reread my Harry Potter books all the time!
Sometimes the best thing to do is take a deep breath and think about what you are doing. Meditating will help you put aside any stress and help you think more clearly. When I say meditate, I do not necessarily mean to sit with your legs crossed for an hour. Meditating is something that will help you think. For some people, exercise is the best meditation. For others it is finding complete silence. For me it is long walks in the park or anywhere there is nature. There may be others who disagree with my definition of meditating but as long as it clears your mind, I do not think it matters.
This is my advice to you: even in dry spells, keep writing. I know it can be depressing when it feels like a story isn’t going anywhere, but do not give up. Sometimes the stories you feel are not going anywhere end up being the best. So free write, read, think, send yourself text messages; do whatever it takes. I love to write too much to give it up! It is embedded in my blood by now. For me, this blog has been a lifesaver in these past few weeks. It has helped encourage me to write even in my lowest days. So if you think you are up to it, start a blog; it helps!
Have any of these tips helped you? Do you have advice of your own? Either way I would love to hear from you! So leave me a comment and remember to check back every other Wednesday for another post!