Welcome to our Resource Page full of tips and info for musicians and music students.
“The Importance of Live Perfomance”
by John Baptista
performance can be overwhelming.
Sometimes every detail has been rehearsed and planned and yet when it comes time to get on stage nerves get the best of us. Don’t fret! Everyone experiences this at some point. Learning to channel this feeling helps us grow through music.
Taking slow deep breaths helps relax the body and focus the mind. Don’t wait until stage time to do this. Make relaxed breathing a part of your daily routine. Imagine yourself on an enormous stage and all you are doing is breathing. No tension, no stress. By visualizing being relaxed on stage you can teach yourself not to tense when the time comes. Mind over matter!
Performing often is also crucial to finding a quiet place on stage. Take EVERY opportunity to perform, there is no better teacher than experience. (Open Mic provides a weekly performance opportunity for students!) Even if you only know a few songs, feeling comfortable and confident in those tunes will make getting up in the future much easier. Your last chance to perform this year is at our first Student/Teacher Jam on Dec 30th.
Play with others! Many are intimidated by playing or performing with other musicians but getting on the bandstand is the way to getting better. Watch and absorb from more experienced players. Learn to ‘lay back’ and listen. Music is a language and playing with even one other person should be like a conversation. Speaking the language in real life musical situations will allow you to become fluent very quickly.
Finally, know how to be relaxed at your instrument. Here are some starting points, talk to your teacher about specifics on your instrument.
Singers – Find an open stance, feet shoulder length apart, knees slightly bent with arms hanging loose at your sides. Adjust your mic stand accordingly or hold the mic in a loose grip.
Pianists – Center yourself in front of the keyboard. Sit with shoulders relaxed and arms loose. Back straight but not tight. Locate the pedal with your right foot keeping your right heel on the ground.
Guitar/Bass Players – Let your instrument hang comfortably on the strap or find a good balancing spot while sitting. Don’t lean on the guitar, let it breathe. Keep your picking hand loose and don’t squeeze the instrument.
Drummers – Sit up straight and find your center of gravity, make sure you can comfortably reach all drums without straining. Hold the sticks lightly, no death grips!
About John Baptista
John has over 8 years of teaching experience, with Rick’s since 2010 plus more than 15 years of performance experience. A grad of Berklee College of Music with specialized training in Vocal Performance and advanced Jazz theory, John teaches all levels of Voice, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Music Theory. He also heads up our Jam Camp Program and runs our A Cappella group, “The Crescendorks” His honest dedication to his students and his craft inspire his student to reach higher.
“Tackling Stage Fright”
by Terry Doyon
Stage fright affects almost all musicians in one way or another. When I was a child, I could have played in front of anyone without batting an eyelash! But as I got older and self-critical, stage fright and all kinds of anxiety set in.
The first time I sang in public I was so nervous that I was visibly shaking and I could not feel my arms at all! For years and years I suffered with performance anxiety until the day came where I could not prepare enough for a very difficult piece I was going to play. I knew that I was going to make mistakes when I performed. It was like a new world; my stage fright was gone!
I no longer had anxiety because I gave myself permission to be human, to make mistakes, to make music rather than to create a “perfect performance.” I still struggle with it sometimes, but here are some other tips to help cope with stage fright!
1) Take deep breaths. This may sound simple, but taking deep breaths helps lower your blood pressure and your heart rate.
2) Sleep well the night before and do not consume any caffeinated products before performing.
3) Eat a banana! The potassium in the banana will help stop your muscles from shaking.
4) Create a safe place that you can close your eyes and retreat to before the performance: you can imagine a deserted beach, hollow tree, your grandmother’s house, or any other visual that you find comforting.
5) Focus on creating music and not on mistakes or what the audience thinks.
6) Remind yourself that this is something that you love to do.
7) Think positive thoughts about the performance.
8) Refuse to tear yourself down
About Terry Doyon
A notable graduate of Bridgewater State Univ., Terry teaches Flute, Voice, Sax, Piano and Music Theory and Composition. Besides teaching at Rick’s Music World, she performs as a pit musician throughout Mass & RI s well as a solo vocalist and choir singer.
Terry’s goal as a teacher is, “To help my students grow as both performers and musicians.” She welcomes any student with a ready-to-learn attitude!
“It All Starts With A Song”
by Grace Morrison
I started taking piano lessons when I was 5. It was an attempt to break me of my shyness, and it worked! We found a teacher I felt comfortable with and I was good at it. It came easy to me, and I fell into the trap that so many students fall into: I didn’t have to work very hard to be “OK” at it.
Eventually, I plateaued and became bored with piano (not practicing will do that!). Six years after starting lessons, I quit.
It wasn’t long after that that my world changed. A young band emerged with a hit called “MMMBop”. “Whoa, these boys are the same age as me” I thought. “I can do that!”
I decided then and there that I could write songs just as well as they could. I began writing that day.
It’s a funny thing, as soon as I found a song I loved and realized how it related to skills, I already had I began to flourish. I would play for hours every day. It was never enough. I started taking lessons again. Suddenly I realized how everything my teacher had been showing me could be implemented into songs I was writing and popular songs I wanted to learn.
My message to music students is this: find music you are passionate about. Music that gets your heart racing and makes you want to SING! Know that musicians you look up to are not “better than you,” they have simply harnessed their passion and never let themselves be “good enough.”
Did you learn something new this week? Incorporate it into your own song, then you’ll never forget it!
About Grace Morrison
Grace is a music graduate of UMass Dartmouth and has special training in Somatic Voice Work®. She teaches voice, piano, guitar, ukulele and songwriting. She has over 15 years of teaching experience and is an acomplished musican and songwriter with 17 years of professional performance experience. She has been a teacher at Rick’s Music World since 2007.
The Hub of My Music World
by Matt Borrello
Music, and the people I have met through music, have brought an immense amount of joy into my life. Rick’s Music World has certainly served as the hub of this joy.
I got my first real guitar there when I was 14 years old and started taking lessons immediately. In just over a year I was playing with other kids my age who had been playing much longer and performing in front of a large audience at a high school talent show. A month later I attended my first Thursday night Open Mic at Rick’s. That’s when things started to really pick up. Knowing that there would be a chance to perform every week gave me something to look forward to and work on. It boosted my investment in learning my instrument and finding my voice. Music also became a central part of my social life.
I began teaching at Rick’s in 2010 during my sophomore year at Northeastern. It was a natural fit. Teaching has continued to be rewarding to me and has nursed my enthusiasm for music of all kinds. In teaching there is always learning, so showing others how to play makes me look at my own craft. I am forever grateful for the positive and nurturing educational community that Rick’s Music World continues to provide to aspiring musicians.
In closing, here are a few tips from jazz pianist, Thelonius Monk. In 1960, 23 pieces of advice given by Monk at rehearsal were then jotted down by sax player Steve Lacy. I was clued into “The Monk Notes” by fellow teacher Louis LeCicero. These words have stuck in my head and I think of them every time I play or listen to music. Here are my favorites:
“A note can be as small as a pin or a big as the world.
It depends on your imagination.”
“Just because you’re not a drummer,
doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.”
“What you don’t play can be more important
than what you do play.”
“Whatever you think can’t be done,
someone will come along and do it.”
About Matt Borrello
Matt has 8 years of teaching experience. He teaches guitar, bass and harmonica and is one of our beloved Jam Camp Coaches. He’s a grad of Northeastern University with special training in music theory and musicianship and is an award-winning songwriter. He performs throughout the New England region and beyond and you can often catch him performing at our Open Mic on Thursday night.
by Dave Chronister
Consistent practice time, a good practice environment plus focus on what to practice are crucial to learning and playing a musical instrument. Listening to a variety of music is also a very important part of learning. The best musicians in the world are always listening and learning!
Even if it’s a couple of songs each day, treat the listening time as you would practice time. Make sure there are no distractions. Try using a good pair of headphones, and no watching the song video while you listen.
First, listen to the song from beginning to end. Then listen again and focus on one instrument. Try to sing the part of the instrument you are focusing on.
A simple example would be to sing the bass line from “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. If the song has a horn arrangement, be able to sing it. The drum groove and drum fills, the lyrics to a song…learn to sing them
individually. To sing a guitar or saxophone solo, you will probably need to listen to the song quite a few times, but with practice it will get easier.
Singing parts of a song will help you understand how different instruments phrase and articulate notes. It will help you rhythmically and melodically, too.
Try to work some listening time into your practice schedule and see what
happens! Have fun!
About Dave Chronister
Dave teaches drums -all levels and has been a respected and well-loved teacher at Rick’s since 2008. He’s got over 15 years of teaching experience and over 30 years as a professional musician. He’s performed for 25 years with the premier Boston band, Night Rhythm
MARK’S “TOP 5 TIPS”
TO MAXIMIZE YOUR PRACTICE TIME
by Mark Carvalho
Nearly everyone has heard the expression that “practice makes perfect”. This is especially true when it comes to developing our skills as musicians as we reach for that next level and ultimate mastery of our instruments. Remember, music should be fun and can be extremely rewarding, delivering a great feeling of accomplishment. Here’s my Top 5 Tips to help you achieve your musical goals and dreams …faster!
- Set aside “ME” time Practice time is really “Me” time. (aka Music Excellence) You have musical hopes and dreams and this is your time to work toward them. Find a time for practice each day that works best for you and ask your family to respect it. Any practice is worthwhile, but time specially reserved for interruption-free practice is golden!
Remember its better to practice daily for 20 minutes than to practice for an hour one day and then not practice for the next two or three days. Daily and consistent practice is key to making progress on your instrument.
- Quiet space It’s a noisy, distracting world we live in, but finding that sanctuary for practice time will multiply productivity and help you focus.
- Warm Up To begin practicing correctly you should always try to warm up first. It may be by practicing scales or by playing a favorite piece of music or song. This helps limber up fingers and joints. Vocal warm ups protect your voice and help you extend your range.
- Practice slowly and in sections If you climb a mountain, do you run? No way! You tackle a section at a time. Music is the same. Try practicing your music line by line or phrase by phrase. It’s easier to process and produce when there is less music being processed at a slower rate of speed. This way it’s easier to hear mistakes and correct them.
- Don’t Quit, Reboot! Struggling with a particular piece of music or section of a song? Sometimes you just need to take a break and start fresh. Don’t let frustration steal your dreams. Just reboot!
“Remember, above all, music is about having FUN— enjoyment that can last a lifetime! Lets Play!”
About Mark Carvalho
Mark teaches guitar, bass and ukulele and has been a highly dedicated teacher at Rick’s Music World since the opening of the Raynham store in 2001. He plays professionally in a number of local and Boston bands and has opened for such groups as The Byrds, The Ides of March, Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter.