Family Love, A Song That Inspires and Dedicates

Born in Kingston Jamaica, residing in Toronto Canada, Belinda Brady is a true artist whose roots are grounded in dedication and passion. Spreading her gift and talent by gathering her family to put together a song, Family Love was created and dedicated to her father. The reggae-pop sensation talked about her latest song in a video on her YouTube Channel (click here) describing how this remarkable song came to be. An 80s vibe beat got sent to her cousin in Jamaica and he was asked if he wanted to write to it. As the song got passed around from family member to family member, a beautiful song was created. Cousins, sisters, nieces, uncles and a Brady Bunch gathered together and wrote a song that can’t help but put a smile on a listener’s face.

“This song is dedicated to my father, his love for life, and his jolly sense of humour was not only infectious, it was copacetic. It is with unreserved honour that we dedicate Family Love to him and his work as a musician, a father, a family elder, and a man of love and faith,” said Brady in an article by the Jamaica Observer.

Words cannot replace the experience of listening to this song and so we invite you to click below and listen to “Family Love” yourself.

Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

What Do You Need For Online Music Lessons

The Pandemic has shown that Online Music Lessons Work, but what is needed to make sure that you get the most from your online music lessons? While there is a difference depending on what instrument you play, in general, the technology needed isn’t too expensive or complicated to set up and use. 

Let’s break this down into three steps

LIGHTS – finding a space that makes sense to have as a stationary setup for lessons

CAMERA – finding the equipment needed to make lessons as fruitful as possible

ACTION – other considerations before you log on for your music lesson

Light and Space

Looking around your home for a space that has enough room and is properly illuminated is important. Natural light is the best, but if this isn’t possible, getting some LED Ring LIght Clips for the computer will work. The main idea is that you want the instructor to see you. Make sure that as much of your body is in the frame as possible. Most instruments require attention to posture. If possible, make your practice space the same space as where you take your lessons. Having all required tools in reach during a lesson cuts down on time wasted looking for things, which gives more value and focus on what the instructor is getting paid to do, offering strategies to you to make you the best musician possible.

Camera and Equipment

When you have space figured out, the next task is to find out what equipment is needed to elevate your lessons. While it is possible to do lessons from your smartphone or tablet, these devices alone are not designed to deal with the acoustics of instruments. While there are options to purchase better microphones for smartphones or tablets, doing lessons on a computer is the better option. If you have a desktop or laptop, investing in an audio interface, a microphone, and headphones or stereo monitors is the ideal goal. 

A two-channel audio interface from Steinberg or PreSonus can cost around $150. This is a box that has inputs for microphones or instrument cables and a USB connection that runs from it to your computer. 

A microphone can differ depending on what you play, but for the most part, a Shure SM57 or SM58 would be a good choice. These microphones are the most common dynamic microphones and are found in most recording studios. If possible, having two microphones is best. This allows you to set up one microphone for your instrument and one microphone as a talking mic. Of course, if you are a vocalist or play a direct input instrument, you can get away with only one microphone. 

The last consideration is headphones or speakers. For the most part, having a set of open headphones is best. These type of headphones allow you to hear yourself which is fantastic if you play an acoustic instrument. There are various options between $100 to $300. The Sennheiser HD599SE are a great option. 

There are also package deals that will give you an audio interface, an entry-level microphone, and headphones. These can be found for around $350. You will also need XLR cables and a microphone stand which can vary in pricing but are not too expensive. Chances are you will be able to find used options.

Action and Other Considerations

With your space and equipment setup, it is time to focus on a couple of other items before starting your lessons. The first is your internet connection. If possible, go with a wired connection. This cuts down on weak signal issues and reduces the number of variables to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong connecting to your instructor. If this is not possible, being as close to your WiFi router as possible is the best plan. Also, if your home has other people using the internet, ask them if they can minimize their internet usage during your lesson. 

No matter what platform you are using, make sure you a familiar enough to be able to share your screen and participate on the whiteboard or chat. The ability to share screens is an important asset in online lessons. 

If you are wondering what apps or other digital tools are available, check out our blog on 5 Must-Have Digital Tools for Online Music Lessons

Now that you are aware of these tools and strategies, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

How To Start A Band

After doing online music lessons and setting up a perfect practice space it is time to put all those hours of practicing at home to use by starting a band. After all, for most, the idea of practicing individually is to eventually play with other like-minded musicians and perform or record music.

How to get started depends on your network, the opportunities presented in your local community, and what the ultimate goal of the band is. Is the band a passion project? Perhaps it is a creative outlet for original music? Is the purpose of the band to generate money? All of these variables will ultimately shape how the band is operated, who is in the band, and what the band’s ultimate purpose will be.

Deciding on Musical Genre or Direction

As with many aspects of life, everyone has a different taste when it comes to music. When it comes to creating a band, the first decision to make is what style of music the band will play. This will help later on when trying to find musicians to play in the band. Depending on the genre, it will also have an impact on how big the band may be. If the main idea of the band is to play original singer-songwriter music, perhaps a duo of guitar and vocals would be suitable. If the musical genre is to be swing music, the band size can go from 3 to 21 musicians and more to cover the various instruments found in that band. Of course, it is also important to see if there are people playing the instruments you envision in your local community. This is not to say that you can’t have a choice of what instruments are in the band. For example, if you are looking to start a Jazz Band but there isn’t a drummer in town, having a jazz band without a drummer is perfectly fine.

Finding Like-Minded Musicians

A band without members that get along on a musical and personal level is heading down a path of frustration. This is not where music should be. As with a lot of activities in life, finding a person with the right attitude is important. Someone that is easy to get along with, isn’t defensive when it comes to pointing out musical choices, and has a positive attitude towards the direction that the band is going in. 

There also needs to be an understanding of what level of musicianship is needed for the band. Everyone strives to be the best they can be, but frustration can be minimized if there is a clear understanding of the level that a band is at when seeking band members. If a band is too advanced for a member, there is added stress for that specific member to keep up with the group. If the gap between the skillset of the member and the band is too great, everyone may get frustrated making band rehearsals less productive. 

The best way to find the perfect bandmate is through a personal network. See which friends or colleagues are musically inclined and have the same taste in music. When working together with familiar people, the stress and frustration of starting the band can be diminished. It may take an effort though to keep the stress diminished as the band progresses.

Another way to find musicians is through services like BandMix, social media platforms like Facebook, or even platforms like Craigslist. When posting on platforms it’s important to give a true representation of what kind of person you are looking for, the genre of music, the frequency of practices and gigs, and the location of band practices. Keeping the post positive in nature will attract more respondents. On platforms like Facebook, there will be local groups or pages which can be used to post on. This will get the message across to more like-minded musicians.

Personal Practice vs Band Practice

It is also important to point out the difference between personal practice and band practice. In a personal practice session, one focuses on enhancing the skills on an instrument which makes executing the required musical passage as smooth and clean as possible. During band practice, however, it’s about finding a cohesive way to integrate all members to do justice to the music that is being played. Oftentimes in an amateur band, time is being spent on playing elements to address the individual player rather than the group. For example, if a guitar player doesn’t know the position of a C Major Chord and has to stop the entire band to figure this out, it may be productive to the individual but certainly will not be productive to the other musicians that have to wait. 

Showing up to a band practice knowing your part will minimize frustration and maximize productivity during the band practice. It is important to be attentive, open-minded, and take notes during band practice. 

Finding Music To Play

Now that there are members in the band to play music, the next step is to find music to play. Depending on the skillset of the musician and the instruments in the band, there are some considerations to think about. If the band plays original music, a collaborative effort may be appropriate. Having songwriting sessions where the band makes a few decisions ahead of time will make practicing together more efficient. If the band plays mainly cover songs, it’s important to build a list of songs with reference tracks so that each member can have a chance to listen to the song. Musicians that mainly play by ear should have a clear understanding of structure in their head or on paper so that when it comes time for the band practice, time isn’t wasted on finding out what key a song is in and what the structure of the song is. 

There are also instrument-specific considerations. In general, horn players are more likely to be able to read music than guitar players. This may result in having some band members play from memory because they may not be able to read sheet music while other members may need to rely on sheet music. In the band practice session, having a discussion and making notes on the general structure of the song, who solos were, and what band member is in charge of musical decisions like cut-offs is important. When it comes time to play a gig, however, everyone should have an open mind and ear to react to unplanned circumstances. At times a song may have an extra bar in the first chorus vs the second chorus. If that extra bar is skipped by accident, everyone needs to have an understanding of the song to know that this happened and to move on in order to minimize the impact of this accidental situation.

Finding a Time and Space to Practice

As with many things in life, having a frequency and familiarity with an activity will contribute to the enjoyment and productivity of that activity. Band practices are no different. As creatures of habit, having a regular practice day and time is important. This can all be figured out through a few phone calls, text messages, or emails. Another idea is to use apps like WhatsApp and set up a group chat so that everyone can see and contribute to the conversation in real-time but when they are able to do so. Making communication as easy and efficient as possible will ensure that everyone can have a voice and get access to the information they need to show up prepared for practices and gigs.

Finding a regular space can be challenging depending on where you live. Ultimately a band member has a setup in a house that has the required backline for the band. However, if this isn’t possible the next step may be to seek out a practice space in a practice facility. In Toronto, one of the more popular and affordable practice spaces are the Rehearsal Factory and Lynx Music. In your community, similar practice spaces may exist. If however, they don’t, an alternative may be to approach a local church, community centre, or even a senior’s home. In the case of the seniors home and depending on the genre of the band, in lieu of paying money to rent a space, a senior home may accept a few free performances for their residence.

Other Considerations

There are some other considerations when it comes to starting a band. At the top of the list may be how finances are handled. If the band has members that do music as a hobby, creating a band fund where everyone pools money to operate the band may be the best way to go. There will be expenses associated to running the band which everyone could share. In a band that has a mix of hobbyist and freelancing musicians, it is important to recognize the various reasons why a member is in the band for. The hobbyist may not care about making money from gigs but the freelancing musicians rely on money being generated. Having an understanding ahead of time for this scenario will help create an environment of positivity. 

It may also be important to record a demo and post it through a social media platform. This will help when approaching venues to play in and can create a community of fans around the band. Loyal followers will be important to make the gig a rewarding experience for both musicians and audiences. Of course, the first fans of the band may be the family and friends of the musicians. Having a social media presence will help expand on this familiar fan base to get the music out to more people who may not have a direct connection to the band members. 

Finding gigs when the band is ready will become an important part to keep the band evolving. Utilizing a personal network is again beneficial. Perhaps there are band members that work for a company looking for a band for their next employee picnic. Maybe a neighbourhood is putting together a local community event and would like to involve local members as part of their entertainment. Being on the lookout for music festivals and Rib Fests is a good next step, but more preparation to approach a more formally structured event is needed. A website and social media channels may be required to showcase videos of the band which can be sent to event organizers. There are also platforms like GigSalad which can help in finding the right gig for your band.

Now that you are aware of these tools and strategies, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

Do Online Music Lessons Benefit Me and Are They Helpful?

As a parent of a 7 year old and a private trumpet teacher, I wondered if online music lessons are a viable option or a complete waste of time? Looking at this from both perspectives I can honestly say that with the proper equipment and teacher, not only do online music lessons work, they are in some ways better than in-person music lessons.

What matters more than anything is taking the time to set up your environment for success. It starts with having a dedicated space for music lessons. The mindset of the student and teacher need to be aligned with each other and last, there is a technology component that needs to be considered.

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of what is that makes online music lessons better in some ways, let’s compare in-person and virtual lessons

What’s The Difference Between In-Person and Online Music Lessons?

There are some obvious differences between the two and ultimately as THIS ARTICLE points out, when deciding the most important aspect is weighing out the pros and cons for your situation. The best pro for in-person lessons is the ability of the instructor to listen to tone production of the instrument. The natural tone produced by the instrument can tell a well-trained instructor a lot about how the student is playing on an instrument. While this is the strongest reason to pick in-person over online, an instructor can find ways to overcome this obstacle.

Where virtual truly shines is the convenience aspect for both instructor and student. As an instructor, having access to all the virtual tools, PDF music, and other resources is extremely helpful. Not all books are digitized and not all resources an instructor has are available. For the student the best feature is that you don’t have to pack up and go somewhere for a lesson. Spend more time practicing and less time commuting.

Do You Need Special Equipment?

Depending on your instrument you will need to invest a bit of time and money for a well functioning setup. With the exception of drums, the more common instruments benefit from a USB Microphone attached to a computer, for example a BLUE YETI microphone. Much like a high quality screen, a high quality microphone is the starting point of capturing audio. 

The best device for lessons is a laptop or desktop computer. Smartphones and tablets are able to be used but make adding microphones and communication challenging due to small screen sizes. 

The last component is a good stable internet connection. For households with multiple devices and users, it’s recommended that when music lessons are happening, other members of the household use the internet connection in a conservative way. Planning ahead and downloading an episode from your favorite Netflix TV show helps. 

Is Virtual Good for Students?

This question does depend on the student and the instructor. Setting the technology piece of the equation aside for a minute, setting up a path to success for online lessons requires a bit of planning ahead. Make sure that the environment for lessons is consistent. Mentally it helps to always have music lessons in the same spot of the house as it tells the brain that it’s now time for lessons. Having a clutter free space with minimal distractions will maximize the time of the lessons. If possible, do your lessons where you practice.

The instructor will play an important role in making the experience good for the student. A good instructor will have a proper setup for the lessons including a talking mic, a mic for the instrument, the ability to properly use screen sharing, and a way to engage the student to keep the lesson on track to success.

The other benefit with online is that the student and teacher can now share recordings of each other in between lessons. While every instructor policy is different, this new way of keeping in touch is convenient for both parties and can help in keeping on track. 

As with most things in life, virtual is not always a good fit for everyone. Some instruments do require more consideration than others when it comes to deciding if online music lessons is a good fit or not. Ultimately there are ways to make music lessons work online from a technology standpoint, so all that is left to do is thinking about the personal preferences when making the decision to have lessons in-person or online.

Now that you are aware of the differences between how you take your lessons, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG to get tools that will help you with your practice sessions and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.