Articles & Blogs

Articles & Blogs

Tips For Young Musicians on How to Prepare for a Recital Performance

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Performing at a recital can be great fun, but it can also be very stressful. Good preparation can help reduce your stress and make your recital performance more enjoyable for both you and your audience. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your big day. The “Milestones” are what you want to be able to do at that time. The “Goals” are what you want to start working on.
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The Reasons You Still Can’t Play Piano

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1. You Don’t Have Goals. It’s hard to know if you are improving if you don’t have a standard for measuring progress. Tangible, specific, time-sensitive goals are the key to improvement in any endeavor. As a piano student, there are number of areas that might demand your attention. Posture, finger placement, dexterity, right/left hand coordination, pedal technique, knowledge of music theory all advance at different rates for different players. A documented game plan for improving your skills in each area is essential for improving your overall skills as a pianist. Add specific, tangible milestones and timeframes to your online practice log or good old fashioned paper journal (you have one of those, right?) and hold yourself accountable for achieving them.
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Introducing Quarterly Progress Reports

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Over the past few years, many of our parents have asked for some type of report indicating the progress of their student. With over 500 students at NFSM, this was one of those things that was easier said than done. We have been working hard in trying to put a system in place to get periodic feedback about your students from their teachers to help you track their progress and have a more involved role in supporting them as student-musicians.

We have put a new progress report system in place and we wanted to share with you how it works. These progress reports will be completed every quarter. The progress reports act as quick snapshots on how the student is doing.

BEHAVIOR – We ask the teachers to let us know of the student’s behavior in lessons. A mark of 10 denotes Excellent behavior while a mark of 1 denotes very Poor behavior. (NOTE: If you see a 1 for this item, chances are the teacher meant 1 as in no problem and it actually should be a 10.)

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher. Find out what the behavioral issues are so you can help resolve the issues. One solution we have used for younger students in the past is the gold star system. Each lesson the student is prepared and has good behavior, they would get a “gold star” drawn on their lesson book by their teacher. After achieving a certain number of gold stars, the parent would buy them a small toy or gift. You can replace gold stars with every completion of a book, where the student gets a toy after completing each book. Motivation is key.

PRACTICE – There are no shortcuts to becoming a proficient musician. Sometimes people are born with natural talent and above average intelligence/attention span that can help that student progress faster than normal. However, no matter how much natural talent, all students must practice in order to become proficient and advance. A mark of 10 denotes that the teacher sees remarkable results from the student’s consistent practice where as a mark of 1 denotes that the student has poor results and either does not practice consistently or needs better practice habits.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher about proper practicing. The teacher will be able to tell you what they need to practice and how often and how long the student should practice. Students are to keep notebooks where teachers can mark what they need to work on so even non-musical parents can find out what pages have been assigned.

PREPARATION – In childhood we learn that preparation is a very necessary life skill. This portion is similar to the practice section except that it is more detailed in that the student has completed their assignments/homework on a regular basis and comes to the lessons prepared with their material. A mark of 10 denotes that the student consistently is prepared for lessons by completing their assignments on time and bringing their material/books for lessons.

WHAT YOU CAN DO? Make sure your student is completing their assignments. Teachers jot down assignments in the student’s note book so they know what to work on. As a parent or guardian, please make sure they complete these assignments or practice in between their next lesson. Also, teachers will tell you when it is time to get the next book for the student, please do not delay on this and order/purchase the book right away to make sure the lessons aren’t stalling.

PROGRESS – All students progress at different rates and there is no real standard for growth. We want to see that the student isn’t stalled and working on the same material week after week. Through hard work and practice, students should continuously progress. A mark of 10 here means that the student is progressing at an excellent rate. A mark of 1 denotes that the student has not progressed at all and is basically repeating the same lesson.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Talk to the teacher about ways to help your student progress more. It could be due to lack of practice, motivation, or something else. The teacher will have potential solutions based on the specific student.

PARTICIPATION IN EVENTS – Though it is not mandatory to perform at NFSM events, we do encourage students to do so. Goal setting is one of the most efficient ways of progressing. We offer many events such as recitals, open mics, karaoke events, community performances, ABRSM exams, NFMC Festivals, NFSM Practical and Theory Assessments, and more programs throughout the year. A mark of 10 here means that the student does participate in different events and a mark of 1 means that student does not participate in any at all.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Have your student participate in an NFSM Recital, Open Mic, or other event. NFSM Practical Assessments, Open Mics, and Recitals are great for first timers.

COMMENTS: We leave an empty area at the bottom of the report for teachers to comment more in depth about the student, where they excel and where they need more work. Most teachers will not go too in depth if the student is doing well so don’t be alarmed if there aren’t many notes here.

These progress reports are generally completed for students that are younger than 18 and have been with their current teacher for at least 2 months. If you have any specific questions about the progress report you receive for your student (including any difficulty in reading it) please see the teacher at your student’s next lesson for clarification.

Why Take Guitar Lessons?

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With the invention of the Internet, guitar lessons have become less and less popular. We hear more and more stories about people who just taught themselves how to play the guitar by watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject matter. This is especially true for guitar.

So why take guitar lessons? Read More

Music and Genetics

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This is the classic debate of nature versus nurture. Are our musical traits found in our DNA? We all know that music is universal and doesn’t take any requirement but only from the satisfaction of listening, enjoying, and understanding. A study from the University of Helsinki Department of Medical Genetics has shown that infants are naturally interested in music from their musical receptive skills in early ages. This only implies that infants process musical patterns just as quickly as adults. Read More

3 Steps to Become a Better Violinist

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It is the common belief that it takes about five years of intense study to become a great violinist. The violin has become an intimidating instrument to take up because of how much dedication the instrument requires. However, here are a few tips that could get you to your goal of becoming that violinist you’ve always dreamed of becoming at a much faster rate.
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Summertime Is A Great Time To Improve Your Music Muscles

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In the summer months around Alpharetta, Milton, and Roswell, music lessons students might be tempted by the great Georgia weather and family vacation plans that take them outside of the North Fulton area to let their practice routines lapse and normal schedules get interrupted. This is especially true for young music students, who are often on vacation with their families between June and September. Many music teachers, too, move to a lighter or alternate lessons schedule in the summer while the bulk of their students are away or taking a break.
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Piano Lessons Make You Smarter!

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There are numerous benefits to taking piano lessons, but recent studies have shown yet another benefit to learning the piano.
In a study conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Schellenberg presents data that supports how the many aspects of playing the piano can contribute to boosting a person’s IQ. The study tested children’s IQs after nine weeks of piano lessons versus children who didn’t take any piano lessons. The results showed that the young students who took piano lessons increased their IQ by almost three points compared to those who didn’t take piano lessons. Read More

Matilda’s Cottage: An Artistic Backyard In Our Own Backyard

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Situated just south of downtown Alpharetta on Highway 9, Matilda’s Cottage is a happy jumble of color and “rural chic” charm. The gallery was originally established in the late 1990’s by MJ and Mark Potter as a collaborative retail space of art, antiques, and funky junk shared by local entrepeneurs who rented rooms in the house. Over time it has become more of a pure art gallery, though hardly a traditional one. The converted first floor of the cottage houses a joyous cacophony of impressive creativity, with paintings, iron sculptures, hammered metal installations and other pieces spilling merrily from one room to the next.
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Is a Good Voice Something You Are Born With?

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Natural talent cannot be ignored. Some of us are born with an innate sense of rhythm or a naturally excellent voice. Others of us are born without this. Either way, voice lessons can help improve the students’ singing, no matter what category they fall into. Even singers with a natural voice benefit from taking voice lessons. Read More