By: Renee Bordner
NWE Music Studio Director
As the studio owner, as a piano teacher and as a mom I am often asked when is a good time for someone to start music lessons. I am often asked if a child is too young or a senior citizen is too old. I am happy to address this question here but if you have additional questions, please contact me directly. I am happy to discuss your specific situation and help guide you in deciding what is best.
For me, the answer is very simple. If someone is excited and interested in learning then that is the perfect time or age to learn. Students are never too old! Sometimes students are too young for private one on one lessons and may be more appropriate for a group music and movement setting. I do suggest starting very young students off with shorter lessons and an instructor who specializes in working with beginner students.
We do not have set semesters and required numbers of lessons for students for these very reasons. Not all students' needs and interests fit neatly into semesters and lesson packages. I feel it is best for a student to start lessons when they are ready and interested even if it is in the middle of an academic grading period.
Another question I am often asked is how long of a lesson should my student have. I typically recommend a half hour lesson for a beginner student and then increase the lesson time after a student shows signs of readiness. To me signs of readiness include when a student says things like, "But wait I want to show you this!", when a student is still asking more questions that are relevant to the lesson even after the lesson is over or when a student simply does not have enough material to practice throughout the week. In our Frequently Asked Questions section of our website, you can also see our team's recommendations on lengths of lessons. http://www.note-worthyexperiences.com/faqs.html these recommendations are truly recommendations and not set rules for our students. I always suggest discussing increasing lesson lengths with your instructor to weigh the benefits and discuss expectations.
I am also always happy to discuss lesson plans, lesson readiness and goals for students at any time. Feel free to reach out to me to chat further.
By: Renee Bordner
NWE Music Studio Director
My friend, Christina Granahan, wrote this piece about how creativity accesses all three centers of intelligence. Please take the time to read her article https://christinagranahan.com/category/blog/. By now, all of us have heard that listening to music is "good for you" and "therapeutic". Reading Christina's article may help you understand how and why music benefits us humans. Feel free to send us your thoughts on the article and tell us how music affects you.
By: Renee Bordner
NWE Music Studio Director
If you are reading this blog you more than likely already have a connection of some sort to Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio. You probably enjoy live music and more than likely know a musician who has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus. If any of these resonate with you, please keep reading. If not, please visit another one of our blog articles.
I have been playing music for over 40 years. I LOVE music and the artists who create the music. I have a passion for teaching music and I have a passion for helping musicians. I believe that the world truly needs music more now than ever. I know that music has helped humans through countless difficult times since the first music was ever composed.
This past March as restaurants, bars, churches and large performance venues closed, so did performance opportunities for musicians. As weddings and other religious ceremonies were postponed, so were gigs for musicians. This summer and early fall as restaurants, bars and worship spaces slowly reopened, many performing opportunities for musicians did not resume. As people started having small weddings (and other religious ceremonies) many musicians were not rehired to perform. (While it is frustrating, I certainly understand that if I were getting married and only allowed 10 people present at the wedding, I would have selected my spouse, the officiant, our parents and siblings to attend.) Unfortunately, some of the restaurants, bars and even a local church are no longer open. For the places that have reopened they are not able to open at their full capacity. Most do not have the same budgets for live musicians. As a result, many musicians are looking for alternative venues and income sources in the interim since it can take years of work for a musician and or group of musicians to develop a fan base at a venue.
I know that this pandemic has affected absolutely everyone in very different ways. I want to be sensitive to all those who have and are suffering. These challenges that musicians and small business owners are facing have been weighing heavily on my heart since early March. I sprung into action this spring with many creative ways to encourage people to support small businesses and musicians. As we settle into the fall routines and prepare for winter knowing that COVID 19 is still present and will be for a little while longer, I am attempting to find additional creative ways to support these people who are so very important to us. The very people who bring the music we love into our lives. In searching for creative ways to support musicians, I found many articles on the internet that stated to purchase their merchandise and songs. I am biased but I also believe that registering for lessons is a fantastic way to support a musician. But I was searching for something with a little more to share with all of you. I discovered this blog post by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers that I thought was helpful as his suggestions are all FREE! I know that not all of his ideas apply to helping our music instructors at our studio, but there are some great tips here. Take a moment to read his blog and then take a few more moments to do a few! Your favorite musicians will appreciate you.
Thank you for your continued support of our Note-worthy Experiences Family.
By Renee Bordner
In light of the current events and the issue of racism in this country that is being highlighted right now, we have compiled a list of resources to learn about and support Black artists, particularly Black musicians.
Where to donate
Here is a list of organizations and nonprofits that support Black artists:
The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts has additional information and resources:
Black musicians in music history
Root of African American Music:
The Evolution of African American Music:
Black Composers Who Made Classical Music History:
African Heritage in Classical Music:
Russell Thomas on Diversity, Activism, and Blackface in Opera:
The Birth of American Music Podcast:
Black composers in American Classical Music:
Where to shop
Black owned music and book shops:
By: Renee Bordner
Dear Note-worthy Experiences Family,
Thank you for your patience in these very uncertain times.
As a small business owner and a musician, I have been overwhelmed with your support. Thank you.
Our mission today is the same as when we started and that mission is to provide our students with meaningful musical learning opportunities. However, these opportunities are now occurring with social distancing.
Below are some thoughts on how we can improve our students' musical experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.
Our instructor, Leonardo, suggests calling the practice sessions "rehearsals".
We are discovering that if a lot of people are using the home wifi the more issues we have. I am asking my family to limit their wifi use when I am teaching in hopes to help our lessons go more smoothly (and to encourage them to take a screen break).
If you are using a free version of Zoom, the time limit is 40 minutes. For our students who have lessons longer than 40 minutes, we are able to work around this by having two separate sessions with a 5 minute snack and water break in between.
For younger and beginner students, it is useful if a helper is nearby to help spot incorrect notes, hand position, etc.
We are trying hard to keep our families up to date through our mass email distribution list (Constant Contact) and social media. Please refer to these sources for updates.
If your family has an Apple product - encourage your child(ren) to try GarageBand.
Please encourage your kids to go back and play their favorite songs.
Encourage your child(ren) to put together family recitals and family sing alongs. Make movies of your children playing to send to those who you are socially distant from.
Encourage your child(ren) to write music. They can start with a topic, lyrics or just their favorite note combinations and rhythms. Here is a link to free printable staff paper https://www.printablepaper.net/category/music
If your child(ren) are bored with their same music and would like some fresh fun music to try, check out supplemental library at the bottom of their home page. Many of these books can be ordered on Amazon too. https://pianoadventures.com/
Did you know that there is an app for your children's Piano Adventures Books? https://pianoadventures.com/resources/piano-adventures-player-app/
This is my favorite link for printing free piano and guitar music at each level.
This game is highly recommended by several students and our instructor, Kailey
Our instructor, Maria, suggests http://www.themusicinteractive.com/. It’s GREAT for practicing note reading, and fun too! It has all 4 clefs. Makes “drilling” music notation fun. Only available for Apple devices.
Sheet Music Direct is offering a free for one month promotion (however I hear that you need to pay to be able to print music and it is not free after one month.)
Stay tuned to our group emails and social media as we have added enrichment classes for our students. We are offering Advanced Theory with Daniel, Songwriting with Kailey (both are good for students in level 1 or up, and fun for kids to do in online groups). We are also offering Practice Hotline Tips with Jay and Audition Prep with Nina.
If your family would like extra lessons with your current instructor, or another instructor, just let us know. All of our instructors have additional scheduling flexibility currently. Unfortunately, all of our instructors' rehearsals and performances have been cancelled. Some events have been cancelled through September.
The vendor that I use for the Practice Club Trophies is currently closed due to COVID-19. When they reopen, I am optimistic that I will be placing a large order of customized trophies for our 100 Consecutive Days of Practice Club Winners. I also will order trophies for our students who complete 200, 300, etc. consecutive days of practice. These students will also be invited to a VIP Ice Cream Party at my home (when we are allowed to socialize again). To make tracking our students' practice easier, you can use this tracking sheet: Download PDF.
We have a FREE music trivia family fun night scheduled for next Thursday! Think Disney name that tune!
Please stay tuned for more information about a FREE Faculty Recital or maybe even Recitals to raise money for a local relief fund.
The April Youth Open Mic Night at Serendipity has been cancelled.
Our Final/Round 2 of the Scholarship Competition will occur with modifications.
Our Honors & Senior Recital is cancelled.
I have a message out to Piano Guild Headquarters on their status of our 2020 Auditions. I also have a message out to our Judge. Auditions will occur with modifications.
Thank you for your support during these uncertain times!
What people are saying about online lessons with Note-worthy:
"I'm surprised how well the technology worked--not just from a logistical point of view, but for delivering a very constructive lesson. I didn't have doubts about the ability to teach, but I thought perhaps on our end it wouldn't feel 'real.' But it certainly did!"
-Jeanette from Natick
By: Maria Price
Whether or not you celebrate any of the upcoming holidays, the end of the year is a great time to reflect with your student about his or her musical journey so far, and set goals for the year ahead. It may also be a great time to ask if your student is ready and willing to perform for friends and family, to show what pieces they have learned or the progress they have made.
Below is a list of some musical accessories that can greatly enhance your student’s home practice and lesson time. Other items are there just for fun!
I also encourage you to check out local brick-and-mortar music stores like Leonard's, Johnson String, Spencer Brook Strings, and Strike Up the Band. These places have great selections of sheet music and also fun music-themed accessories and gifts. Plus, you’ll be supporting small businesses in your area.
-- ALL INSTRUMENTS --
Lesson Notebook - This is a system that I use with my students. I encourage other students and instructors to give it a try!
I ask all my private lesson students to keep a small notebook like this one in their case. Ideally, it would be small enough to fit in their case or their case pocket. This allows me to write down what we covered in the lesson, and to write down their practice assignment. It is beneficial to me as a teacher, as it allows me to keep track of my students’ progress, and it is beneficial to the students, as they will be able to remember exactly what to work on in the time between lessons. They can also use it to log their own practice time and playing goals. Parents can also check their students’ notebooks to see what they are currently working on. The notebook is also a great place to put stickers, which I use with some of my younger students.
The notebook doesn’t have to be the version in the link above. Any small notebook you have around the house is fine. They can choose one for themselves to make it more personal and fun!
Music Stand - A music stand is extremely important for at-home practice. Many students start with a cheap foldable wire stand, but those can be extremely flimsy and can hardly hold anything more than a few sheets of paper. The stand in the link I’ve given is portable, but also very sturdy. Here is another great option that many of my students use. If you’re looking for a professional-quality music stand, the Manhasset brand will not let you down! (not as portable, although I have brought it in the backseat of my car at times for gigs!)
Electronic Tuner - Great for home practice for all instruments, but especially for strings students who can tune independently, or are learning to tune. This is a solid brand at an inexpensive price. However, if your student has a device he or she regularly uses like a smartphone or tablet, you can download a free tuner app. The one I use is called Tuner Lite by Piascore, but there are many similar ones out there.
Metronome - Essential for all musicians! Playing in time to a steady beat helps with rhythm, temporal awareness, and ensemble skills. While Korg is a very reliable brand, free metronome apps are also widely available for smartphones or tablets. You can also simply Google “Online Metronome.” I use an app called Pro Metronome (Free Edition).
If you like the look of an old-school metronome (which has appeal as a decorative item), you may want to get one like this.
NoteSpeller Books - I highly encourage these books for my private lesson students. They are workbooks that include lots of exercises meant to increase skills of reading music notation. Every week, I assign a few pages from the workbook for the student to fill out. I’ve noticed that it really helps students improve their music reading skills.
NoteSpeller for Violin
NoteSpeller for Viola
NoteSpeller for Trumpet
-- TRUMPET --
Trumpet Stand - This is the best $25 I’ve spent in my 20 years playing trumpet. This fits in the bell of the trumpet and the legs fold out. Students can place their trumpet on the floor during lessons, band rehearsals, or practice time. It avoids students trying to balance the trumpet on its bell (which never stays upright and could lead to a trip to the repair shop to get some dents out!), placing the trumpet on their chair (also a risky move), or on the floor (asking for trouble!)
You can shop around for a better deal if you like, but the brand I recommend is K&M.
This is my #1 recommendation for my trumpet students!
Trumpet Practice Mute - Insert into the bell and the sound is GREATLY reduced. Helpful if your student wants to practice something like scales or fingerings but doesn’t want to disturb anyone.
TRUMPET LESSON BOOKS/SONGBOOKS
(This list is by no means exhaustive. I encourage you and your child to use this as a springboard to find method books or songbooks that work best. I encourage students to have at least one “serious” method book for their lessons and one “fun” book to keep them motivated to play.)
My First Arban’s Book - Best for students in grades 4-8. Great book for scales, exercises, warm-ups, duets, and pieces.
The Arban’s Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet - THE trumpet book for intermediate to advanced high school students.
The B-flat Real Book - Best suited for high school students who are interested in pursuing jazz seriously
The Big Book of Christmas Songs for Trumpet - for fun! Beginner to Intermediate
Easy Duets from Around the World for Trumpets - Beginner to Intermediate
The Big Book of Disney Songs for Trumpet - Beginner to Intermediate
-- VIOLIN/VIOLA --
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth - After a lesson, rehearsal, or practice session, it’s important to wipe off the violin or viola. Wipe off any sweat from your hands, and also wipe off the rosin from the strings. It’s great to have a cloth like this in your case.
Everest Shoulder Rest - This is my favorite brand of shoulder rest. If you are looking for an upgrade, this is a fantastic brand! Just make sure you get the appropriate size (½, ¾, etc.) Many of their shoulder rests are adjustable, so if you currently have a ¾ size violin, it will be able to adjust to accommodate a full size violin as well.
Bow Hold Buddy - For beginners, or older students who may struggle with bow hold. If your child needs or wants a little extra support with the bow hold, this tool is great! It does require loosening the screw and removing the frog of the bow, so I usually put it on for students during lessons. Otherwise I recommend that it be put on carefully by an adult. Comes in a variety of colors!
BowRight - This device fits onto the violin and helps to keep the bow straight and parallel to the bridge. If your student is struggling with keeping the bow straight, this might be a worthwhile purchase for home practice and developing good habits.
BowRight (¼ - ½ size)
BowRight (¾ - full size)
Practice Mute - a very inexpensive practice mute. Place it over the bridge to dull the sound. This helps to cut down the volume and resonance. Great if your student wants to practice without disturbing other people, or if they are a bit self-conscious about their practicing and want to sound quieter. Note that the link is for a full size (4/4) practice mute.
VIOLIN LESSON BOOKS/SONGBOOKS
For private lessons, I use the Suzuki method. These are great books for developing technique through enjoyable repertoire that gets progressively more challenging. As a supplement, here are some suggestions for developing technique, or just to have some fun with practicing.
(This list is by no means exhaustive. I encourage you and your child to use this as a springboard to find method books or songbooks that work best. I usually encourage students to have at least one “serious” method book for their lessons and one “fun” book)
Easy Violin Duets for Beginner to Intermediate Players
101 Christmas Songs for the Violin (Beginner to Intermediate)
101 Disney Songs for the Violin (Beginner to Intermediate)
101 Hit Songs for the Violin (Beginner to Intermediate)
101 Movie Hits for the Violin (Beginner to Intermediate)
Christmas Melodies for Violin Solo (for Intermediate Players)
Easy Songs for Shifting in the First Five Positions - for students who are learning how to shift on the Violin
Solos for Young Violinists, Volume 1 - for intermediate players
Written by Maria Price, Violin/Viola/Trumpet/Ukulele Instructor at Note-Worthy Experiences.
Choosing repertoire for competitions can be tricky, and requires a different criterion than choosing repertoire for auditions and juries/examinations. It is important to first understand the difference the requirements for competitions versus the requirements for auditions and juries. Where juries and auditions are geared towards evaluating the skills and technique or the student, competitions also look for the virtuosity and performance quality of the musician or student. The below article from the Music Lesson Resources website covers everything you need to know about choosing repertoire for competitions. Follow the link below:
By: Margie Meacham
Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician, is recognized for discovering the relationship between the length of a string on an instrument and the pitch that the string produces. He believed that this correlation was part of a harmonic relationship that connects everything in the universe, which he called “The Music of the Spheres.” While Pythagoras didn’t have the benefit of today’s brain imaging technology, he just may have been right.
Music May Be Our Native Language
Multiple studies in neuroscience and psychology suggest that infants demonstrate an innate ability to respond to music and suggest that, from a processing perspective, “spoken language is a special type of music.” Anthropology suggests that human language and music have a “shared evolutionary history,” demonstrating that as human language evolved, our musical expression evolved along similar lines. This observation originated with Darwin, who suggested that the first humans may have communicated in song, rather than in spoken language as we know it today.
It All Starts With Vibration
Vibration generates waves of high and low compression. Human brains interpret waves that fall between 20 to 20,000 Hz as sound. The vibration, typically carried by the air, enters our ear, eventually stimulates the auditory nerve, which sends a signal to the brain. Here’s where the fun begins: the more generalized sounds that we experience throughout the day are processed primarily in the auditory cortex, where specialized neurons have been tuned to specific frequencies through experience.
But music isn’t just a single sound; it’s a complex weaving of sounds, mixed with rhythm and sometimes language. Using brain imaging technologies, including fMRI and PET scans, neuroscientists have discovered that music engages multiple parts of the brain:
It is this powerful, widespread, and instantaneous effect on multiple parts of the brain that may explain the powerful ways that engaging with music enhances seemingly diverse brain functions. Playing a musical instrument enhances key cognitive functions, including problem solving, memory, planning, attention to detail, and emotional intelligence. Perhaps the best example of how frequent, disciplined playing of music affects these skills is Albert Einstein, who was an accomplished violist and often played his instrument to sort out difficult problems. Listen to just how accomplished he was in this rare recording of him performing.
Our Brains Are Predicting the Next Note.
During our workshop, Essentials of Brain-Based Learning, we investigate the predictive power of the human brain. This predictive capacity is believed to be a key factor in our survival as individuals and as a species. It also is a key part of the learning process and explains why stories are so powerful for engaging learners and changing behavior.
Your brain is constantly performing complex predictive calculations, based on sensory information and memories of experience. This pattern recognition plays out in our ability to read music and convert the written notes into specific movements of our bodies that generate sounds at specific pitches, volumes, durations, and rhythms. Even an untrained brain responds almost immediately to music and begins to predict the next note before it is even played. Watch artist Bobby McFerrin demonstrate how his audience predicts the next note in his performance without prompting.
Applications for Talent Development
As talent development professionals, we need to broaden our view of music and think of it as a core information processing skill, rather than an aesthetic “nice to have” pastime. Engaging with music can help your audience:
Margie Meacham is an adult learning expert with a master of science in learning technologies and more than 15 years of experience in the field. A self-described “scholar-practitioner,” Margie collaborates with like-minded instructional designers to find practical applications of neuroscience to instructional design. You can follow Margie on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or visit her website at www.learningtogo.info.
By Renee Bordner
Attention all students, parents and instructors!
Are you interested in increasing your productivity? Are you interested in increasing your happiness and personal satisfaction? While I cannot make you more productive, efficient, or happy I can help you learn a little bit more about yourself and your way of thinking.
Carol Dweck's research has been out for several years. A few years ago, all of the local public school faculty members were asked to read her book AND attend training workshops. Teachers and coaches around the globe are talking about growth versus fixed mindset.
Personally, I truly believe that Carol Dweck's philosophies on Growth and Fixed Mindsets are accurate. One could say it is like the old saying, "Bloom where you are planted" but add your own fertilizer!
I read and listen to a lot of material about how to motivate and inspire students. I found this video today and I just wanted to share it with you. I like this one as it is shorter than many, it is animated AND it has a music example in it.
If you find this video useful, check out more information about Ms. Dweck's research. If you find another resource that you find helpful please share it with me as I enjoy learning about teaching, motivating and inspiring others.
Renee Bordner is the Studio Director of Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio, the Chair of the Sudbury chapter of the National Piano Guild, and a private piano instructor.