11 Steps to becoming a better musician and practicing the right way!

We are well into the new year at Monument Square Music School.  Music lessons are going great and students are practicing hard for recitals and other performances.  Whether you play drums, voice, guitar, violin, cello, sax, flute, trumpet or any of the other lessons that we offer at Monument Square Music School, practicing a musical instrument is tough business! These tips can make it easier and more fun…

1.) Practice slowly. If you can’t play a song perfectly you’re practicing it too fast.  You’re probably playing the same mistakes over and over again and your “muscle memory” is memorizing all those mistakes that you’re making.  You might even learn the song after a while, but it will take longer and you will probably make a lot of mistakes.  You can fix this by slowing it down dramatically!  Don’t speed up until you can play the song perfectly and effortlessly at a slow tempo.

2.)  Practice effortlessly.   You should always be relaxed when you play or sing.  Unnecessary tension can make playing an instrument more difficult.  Certain things are impossible to play if a musician is too tense.  Relaxing will help rhythm, accuracy, and sound.   Jazz pianist Kenny Werner wrote book on effortless practicing and performing called Effortless Mastery.  This is a great book for older students.  Here’s a link for that book.. http://kennywerner.com/effortless-mastery.

3.)  Practice small sections or “chunks” of a song. Don’t just run the song from top to bottom every time.  This is especially useful for longer, more difficult songs.  If a song is hard enough, and you are making a lot of mistakes, break it up into small sections or chunks.  After you master a small chunk of the song move onto the next chunk.  When the second chunk is mastered combine the first and second chunk. Keep progressing through the song like this and you’ll have the song mastered in no time!

4.)  Start a practice journal.   Buy and a notebook and start keeping track of your practices.  Jot down the time you start and finish, and what you worked on during the practice session.  This will help keep you on track and motivate you to practice consistently.

5.)  Set long-term and short-term goals.   What do you want to accomplish with music lessons?  Do you want to play for friends and family? Join a rock band? Play in an orchestra or chorus?   No goal can be too big or small.  People take music lessons for many different reasons.  It’s just nice to have something to work towards.  Writing down your goals will help keep you focused.  Short term goals can be more along the lines of preparing for a recital next month, or learning your songs for the week.

6.)  Don’t be afraid to review old songs.  Make “review songs” part of your daily practice.  I don’t know why some students are hesitant to go back and play songs that they know and love!  It is definitely not a waste of time. Take 10 minutes a day to review and you will become a better player.

7.)  Space out practice sessions. Practicing through shorter and more regular time intervals improves concentration and reinforces new skills and material. Shorter periods also can be more convenient.  Everybody’s different and some people have no problem concentrating for long periods of time. However, many students are much more comfortable with 10 minute practice sessions 2 or 3 times a day.

8.)  Have a comfortable practice environment.  I know that sometimes it’s impossible to have the ideal practice space, but if you can improve your environment it can make practicing more enjoyable.  Put up a cool poster or inspiring picture. Make sure the room is neat and tidy (if that’s what you prefer). It’s also a good idea to find a space that is private and quiet!

9.)  Record yourself playing/singing.  You will probably find ways to improve by listening to yourself perform.  Simply buy a cheap recorder and keep it handy near your practice area.  Ipods/smartphones have recording apps installed in them.  A recorder is also a great tool for those of us that compose.  It helps to jot down your ideas quickly!

10.)   Listen to music for motivation.  Listening to a great CD or going to see an amazing concert can be motivation to hit the practice room!

11.)  Have fun!  Focus on the interesting sounds you are creating. Improvise freely. Learn your favorite tunes. Play along with recordings. Play with other musicians. Compose your own music. Your enthusiasm will reflect in your playing.

Happy New Year from Monument Square Music School!

Music Lessons for the New Year

The Monument Square Music School has kicked off the New Year and new semester in a great way – with many new students for private lessons to welcome to our school, new talented instructors joining our faculty, and of course we can’t forget to mention the adorable, new little faces in the Kiddie Music Time group class for ages 1-5! The first class was lots of fun and we are still accepting registrations for this semester…so it’s not too late to sign up the kiddies for a music education class full of song and dance!

It’s always refreshing to start a New Year.  It’s a time to make new beginnings and a fresh start.  Many of our new students are taking a risk and trying something new, something that they’ve always wanted to do.  Music lessons are  rewarding in many different ways.  Learning an instrument is difficult and not for everybody, but the accomplished feeling and the joy a student experiences when they master a concept, learn how to read music, learn a new song, have a great performance, or even compose a new song is priceless!  Music is difficult to master, but it is a skill that a great student will retain for life.  It could be compared to becoming fluent in another language, becoming a master in a martial art, or becoming an amazing dancer.   It takes time, and practice, and hard work, but nothing worth getting is easy!  The joy of progress is something that our teachers get to see over and over again, and probably why we love to teach in the first place.  We are grateful to have a chance to pass on our knowledge and talents to students, and love to musically serve the Leominster/Fitchburg/Sterling area!  From all of us at Monument Square Music… we would love to wish you Happy New Year!

Music Lessons in Leominster, Fitchburg, Sterling, Lunenburg MA

**Hello dear music loving friends! ‘Tis the Holiday season and what better gift to give your children/loved ones than the gift of…MUSIC. Monument Square Music School has excellent teachers  for ALL different instruments and styles.  How about a singing lesson for an interested child, or guitar or drum lessons for the rocker kids out there?  or..  Maybe a couple of  piano lessons for a spouse or loved one who has always wanted to learn to play the piano…  We will assist you in getting the right teacher and even help you find the best instrument.  Music lessons can have a huge impact on a child’s life and we feel like there’s no better gift to give!

 For the kiddies ages 1-5, who are sometimes a little too young to take private lessons, we offer our great program “Kiddie Music Time” – group classes fun-filled with dancing, singing, and playing instruments to introduce children to the joy of music at a young age! Time and time again, children who attend these group toddler/young children classes, go on to become fantastic musicians.  They develop the skills of rhythm and pitch to the point where music is a very natural thing for them.  This is such an important part of school, because if the Kiddie Music Time Students want to take lessons when they are a little bit older we can send them to teachers with all the skills they need! This improves our school, and it improves the Leominster, Fitchburg, Sterling, Lunenburg MA music scene, which is always our goal in the end anyways! The new semester is starting in January… contact us for more information or sign up TODAY!
Gift Certificates are available through mail or e-mail, or you can make an appointment to drop by the school, check out our facilities, and pick up a gift certificate!  We are DEFINITELY looking forward to the next semester!

Getting ready for Spring semester music lessons in Leominster

We are gearing up for the next semester at Monument Square Music.  There is a lot of stuff going on.  We introducing new teachers for flute and drums. Eastman graduate Judy Brady is teaching flute, and Berklee Graduate and drummer for  hip-hop band Hoodie Allen, will be on the drums!  These musicians are both great players/teachers and you can find out more about them on our faculty page.

We are also introducing a weekday class to our Kiddie Music Time program.  Starting on January 9, we will be adding weekly, Wednesday 10:00 am classes.  We will continue our Saturday 11:15 am class as well.  Give us a call or register online!   We have four classes left in our current Kiddie Music Time class and tomorrow we start holiday music! Fun stuff!

 

 

New teachers and grand opening!

Wow, what a busy week! Between getting ready for our grand opening, teaching lessons, preparing for the first kiddie music time class, promoting, and playing gigs it has been absolutely crazy.

We are excited about our new faculty members: trumpet teacher Staffan Jonsson and sax/woodwinds teacher Chuck Langford.  You can read their bios on this site and we will be telling you more about them later, but for now I will just say…   These guys are serious players!  Quality instructors will make a huge improvement in the Leominster music scene and that is always our goal! You can see Chuck play along with bassist Bob Simonelli and myself at our grand opening on Thursday night, October 4 from 6-8pm.   I hope some of you will come check it out!

Joe Mazzarella

It’s time for Kiddie Music!

Calling all music lovers! Looking for parents that want to introduce their children at a young age to the art of music, and the fun and joy that comes along with it! Monument Square Music’s new program, Kiddie Music Time, is going to be a wonderful bonding time for children and their parents as they will sing along with classic and brand new children’s songs. The kids will play with instruments, dance, and play various musical games. As a songwriter, I am very excited to venture out and start writing fun and lively kids songs for the children to learn and enjoy. I also plan to implement some Latin rhythms and lyrics into some of the songs and activities to widen the cultural learning experience. I look forward to starting our program in October 2012. I hope to see you there!

Stephanie Rogers

Announcing the Opening of Monument Square Community Music School

Monument Square just got some new sounds. Opening its doors for its inaugural semester, Leominster MA’s brand new Monument Square Community Music School is now in session.

Monument Square Music provides educational opportunities to music-lovers of all ages including, private lessons and  “Kiddie Music Time” group classes for toddlers and young children. Our instructors teach a variety of instruments, styles, and techniques. There’s something for everyone!