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Advice for Upcoming Musicians

It’s always rather overwhelming when starting a new instrument. Perhaps you’re even wondering what to do next with your instrument. Everyone needs inspiration from time to time so here, I have a few suggestions for pieces (to learn and to teach) as well as advice for beginners entering the world of music.

s Piano is one of the most popular instruments to learn and play and my personal favourite instrument. When I teach piano, I always start by teaching the notes. I start by teaching the first three notes beginning with the famous Middle C, D, and E. After three notes, I give my students a piece that utilises those notes in order to retain it in their memory. Usually, I give them the ubiquitous “Hot Cross Buns.” It’s simple, memorable, and efficiently uses the first three notes. Since the first three notes are the easiest, I give them the next note, and then a piece that uses the four notes that we learned. We would slowly work our way up to the last note and start playing pieces that use all of the notes.

Learning all the notes can be overwhelming, not just for piano, but more instruments like guitar or violin. I always urge my students to quickly memorise the notes and they often have a hard time doing so. To me, the best way to learn something is to play a game with it. There are plenty of resources online that I like to use during my lessons in order to make the lesson both educational and fun.

As for starter pieces for all instruments, you can’t go wrong with “Rain, Rain, Go Away” or “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Pieces like these use a wide variety of notes from C to B but luckily, they stay in one octave so it’s not too complicated. If my students are looking for a challenge, I ask them what pieces they would like to play and usually, they would choose Disney songs. Let it Go, A Whole New World, and more are often quite popular among children and they love learning them. Disney songs are usually not free to use online so you do have to pay for them but I find that playing pieces that you are passionate about will only help you to grow in your instrument. Whenever I played pieces I detested, I seemed to only hate my instrument even more.

When your students start becoming more advanced, teachers often start scrambling to find pieces that would challenge their students. If you would like a challenge, try the famous “Minuet in G” by Bach. Bach is known to be deceptively simple. Although the piece looks straightforward and easy enough, there are a lot of tricky steps to be aware of. Those can only be conquered through repetition with the left and right hands, if you’re playing the piano.

Every pianist has probably played Haydn’s sonatinas, Chopin’s nocturnes, and a multitude of Bach. Those are the staples when it comes to piano but if you’re anything like me, you’re always striving for more. You want something more unique or special. Perhaps you can try “The Enchanted Nymph” by Mischa Levitzki although it is quite a challenge. Despite the challenging technicalities, the piece is gorgeously composed and definitely gives off the impression of a mystical, outwardly world filled with Pre-Raphaelite maidens and forest fairies

If you’re up for a challenge and your instrument is the violin, I would suggest Georg Phillip Telemann’s Fantasias for solo violinists. Obviously, some of the Fantasias are on a higher difficulty scale than others but are doable. Once learned, you probably will come to appreciate the beautiful melodies as well as the fluidity among the pieces.

For all instruments, a good strategy to start on is scales. Not only is it knowledgeable to memorize all your scales, but also improves your dexterity whether you play the clarinet or violin. I’d always recommend starting off with the major scales, simply because they’re often easier than minors, harmonic minors, naturals, etc.

Some other strategies (when starting an instrument as a beginner) include setting a goal and being consistent with your practice times. For example, for day one, just focus on learning all the notes. The next day, review the notes since there is a big chance that you might have forgotten a few and so on. As a beginner, I’d suggest setting at least 30 minutes for practice and practice for at least four days a week, if not all seven days in order to be consistent.

If you’re playing instruments like the flute or violin, it’s best advised for you to practice in front of a mirror to see if your instrument is parallel or your bow is straight. For all instruments, it’s recommended for you to record yourself. When you’re hearing yourself play, it might not seem so bad but once you hear the recording, that’s when you hear all the little mistakes you make. From there, it’s much easier to correct your errors and perform better next time.

In conclusion, learning a new instrument is certainly not easy. It requires a lot of patience and determination but if you put in the right amount of effort and have the passion for music, you can conquer almost anything that comes your way through hard work and practice.

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