Free Online Masterclass

Spring brings opportunities for new growth. Though this particular time is not normal for any of us, music matters more than ever. I’ve taken all my teaching online and found my students to be collaborating, creating, and progressing in new ways.

So, why stop there?

On May 17th, I’m offering an online masterclass, free and open to any flute player who wants to join, anywhere they may be.

Want to participate or know someone else who does? Please see below for the flyer, or click here for the pdf.

Online masterclass flyer
Free Online Flute Masterclass with New England Conservatory trained, pro flutist Elizabeth Erenberg All ages and levels Performer slots reserved for first registrants SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020 4:00-6:00pm EST Zoom link to be sent upon signup Pre-registration required at http://www.tinyrul.com/flutemasterclass

How to Take Music Lessons Online

“You give lessons online?” a kid asked me this week when I was giving a demo at a local school. “But how does that like, work?”

With the right technology, online music lessons are not only possible but a terrific alternative to driving long distances and having parents wait in the car or elsewhere. In the few years I’ve been doing it, my students and I are able to conquer physical distance with the help of the internet. If we can do it, so can you.

The changing landscape of education has made online learning is growing in popularity. Using the internet allows for flexibility in time, location, and choice of instructors. Studying with a teacher across the country is now literally within arm’s reach and without the cost of airfare. 

My 15 years of being a music teacher have taught me all the ways that students can learn to play an instrument. In the past several years, homeschool students have become my most appreciative ones because they can study with me from anywhere. From teaching online music lessons, I’ve learned that the internet is one of the best ways to incorporate music study into students’ lives.

How can learning an instrument be done without hands-on instruction or in-person demonstrations from the teacher? These are legitimate questions for those who might want an in-person teacher to help with social interaction and hands-on guidance. 

Even though online learning has numerous advantages, it can also present obstacles when technology becomes more of an enemy than a friend. Here are the top five ways to turn those challenges into opportunities, so that music can be something every homeschool student will enjoy learning. 

  1. Have backup options for technology 

If you live in a place with spotty wifi, or your live video keeps freezing or crashing, things can understandably get frustrating. There is a way to overcome these pitfalls. The best way is to have backup plans for all technology used. 

For live video lessons, I’ve found these apps to be the most trustworthy: Zoom, FaceTime, Appear, Messenger and Skype. These are generally all free, and if one crashes, you can easily switch to another on the same device.

If your video works but your sound does not, have a phone handy so you can speak voice-to-voice while having the visual through video. Zoom is particularly great for setting up conference lines that everyone can call into. It is also great for screen-sharing.

When your wifi is spotty, have a smartphone handy so you can use your data if necessary. 

  1. Be in the right space

For music lessons, choose a space that is quiet, has good lighting, and also has room for the student to move around comfortably in the camera’s view. The student’s posture, how they hold the instrument, and other factors like their embouchure or bow position are very teachable in an online format when visual and verbal elements work together. 

  1. Have the right tools

Have copies of sheet music on both ends of the line. Send scanned copies of the pieces to the teacher (and vice versa) via scanner apps like Genius Scan

Have a metronome/tuning device that is not an app, but rather a separate, individual device you can buy in your local music store or online. I recommend having it be a metronome and tuner in one so that you keep everything consolidated. 

The reason for the metronome/tuner device (not an app) is to prevent distraction. If you are already using your device for the lesson, have the metronome/tuner be a separate entity. When using it in a live video lesson, the teacher can use their device to demonstrate the correct tempo and intonation, and the student can use theirs to emulate it. That will prevent any delays in the video from disrupting the communication. 

  1. Utilize additional technology to simulate in-person experiences 

The Acapella app is a great way to collaborate amongst multiple people over large distances. SmartMusic is a great way to help the student with guided, accompanied practice. 

  1. Communicate in between lessons 

Choose teachers who are willing to communicate via email or phone on the side to answer questions and go more in-depth into a topic. Write down any questions for the teacher, and make audio recordings to send to them in between lessons.  

If live video lessons just aren’t an option, pre-recorded ones are a good alternative. There are numerous platforms through which you can get pre-recorded and high-quality lessons on any instrument.

At the end of the day, personalized and quality music instruction is what transcends time, space and the interwebs. Make your student level up on all areas of life through the study of music, and use the ever-growing online resources to do so. 

Have more questions or ideas about online music lessons? Let’s talk.

5 ways to motivate summer practicing

Lounge on the beach or practice scales couped up at home?

Tough choice…not.

Summer is on the near horizon, which means music students, who are also regular students, are getting ready to throw their papers in the air and run wild.

Just because summer is the one time you can actually soak up Vitamin D the natural way and get your sanity back from the long winter months doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice progress on your instrument. You CAN enjoy your break while also continuing to improve your musical skills.

Summer for musicians is a bit of an anomaly to other academic subjects. Most “normal” people close the textbooks and get outside. Musicians, however, still need to keep up their work in order to move forward at a good pace. That can be challenging without performances and lessons on the calendar regularly. So what’ s the secret?

Here are the top five ways to motivate summer practice:

  1. Change up the music

    Always wanted to try jazz improvisation? Or learn your favorite folk tunes? Summer is a great time. Without the pressure of performances on a regular basis, you can pick different music than would normally be assigned to you. Use the long, hot days to dream and experiment.

  2. Go back to basics

    No need to coup yourself up in an air-conditioned (or not air conditioned) room for hours when you could be enjoying your time in other ways. Getting through your basics every day keeps them fresh while also allowing you to spend less time practicing. Scales are the perfect example. Want to keep them in your fingers while still catching enough waves? Make them your first priority and you’ll start to learn them quickly.

  3. Structure your time

    Make your practice schedule consistent. The best way to do so is to pick the same time each day to dedicate to playing. The best time varies for each person, but consider playing first thing in the morning before the rest of the day’s fun activities. Then, you’ll feel accomplished for getting your practicing done and will be inclined to stick to the same schedule each day.

  4. Make rewards out of it

    If you memorize your scales or learn an entire new piece, take yourself out for ice cream. Once you accomplish a goal you’ve set for yourself or your teacher has helped to set for you, make yourself feel the positive impact of it. Spend a little extra time swimming or go to an amusement park. Parents can be helpful motivators for these rewards.

  5. Lighten the load

    No need to overload yourself with tons of new things just because you have more time. Maybe just focus on one or two pieces, or your scales, rather than a whole new repertoire. Remember, summer breaks are important for everyone’s mental and physical health, and to help you be refreshed to jump back into learning fulltime once fall comes. And don’t worry, it will soon enough. 

How Playing a Wind or Brass Instrument Can Help Asthma

I’m no doctor, but sometimes I know a thing or two about a thing or two. This topic is relevant for anyone who suffers from asthma or similar breathing conditions.

cough coughparticularly any of my students who have decided to stop lessons because of asthma.

Here are scientifically proven ways that playing a wind instrument helps to curb asthma symptoms.

  1. Increased lung capacity
    Studies show that playing a wind instrument can make the lungs hold up to 30% more oxygen. That can reduce the need for an inhaler and give the player better function overall.
  2. More control over breathing
    WindPlays says: “The primary physical sensation felt by most asthmatics is a “constriction” of air flow, and a smooth and constant airflow is one of the most important traits for any woodwind or brass instrument.” 

    Breathing to play a wind instrument also strengthens the diaphragm, which in turn allows the person to control the speed, capacity, and timing of their inhale and exhale.

  3. Reduced number of asthma attacks
    Playing wind instruments makes for stronger and more capable lungs. In turn, this will lead to better breathing well after you put the instrument away. Musicians like Kenny G can attest to the power of playing a wind or brass instrument with asthmatic conditions.

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you a bridge. Just continued music lessons.

5 social benefits of music lessons for homeschoolers

Studies are showing more and more academic, cognitive and intellectual rewards of music lessons. For all kinds of students, but particularly homeschoolers, music lessons help with social development.

Here are the top 5 ways music lessons help with social development.

  1. Communication

Learning the mechanics of an instrument and musical concepts are done best with instruction and guidance from a teacher. Communicating with a teacher to understand concepts is a great way to develop social skills. Good music teachers help the student learn the basics, but great teachers engage them on both intellectual and social levels, in turn promoting their interactive skills.

  1. Teamwork

Playing music is sometimes most rewarding when done with other people. Practicing and playing alone have various therapeutic effects and also can promote self-discipline, but most students light up when they can play with others. My students love working towards a goal of playing their piece with piano or collaborating with their peers to play duets and trios, etc. In addition, they enjoy working toward playing in a large ensemble such as a band or orchestra.

No matter what the ensemble is, everyone in it matters. Music, therefore, can help homeschoolers learn teamwork like sports can, but in even deeper ways.

  1. Self-esteem

Playing music well can work wonders for kids’ confidence.

Performing in front of an audience is one of the riskiest activities for a music student. When it’s done well, it can have lifelong benefits to their self-confidence, which will translate in many forms from public speaking to interviews and more.

Some studies have shown that reading music is more challenging than reading a foreign language. Mastering reading of notes and rhythms gives kids a tremendous sense of pride and ability to speak the “universal language” that is music.

  1. Exposure to other cultures

When music becomes the story of history, that’s when it transcends just notes and technique.

Various composers old and new represent world history and many different cultures, eras and historical events. What better way to learn about the world than by playing the music written during the times and places that shaped it?

  1. Positive self-expression

The artistic parts of being a musician benefit a developing person’s social interactions. Happiness and enjoyment translate directly into interactions with others, often easing anxiety and promoting positivity.

 

These are just a few ways that investing in music lessons can benefit a homeschooler’s social development. Do you know of others? Contact me.