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January 2017  

A monthly newsletter to inform

and entertain our friends

5 Tips to Keep Your Music Student Practicing


The biggest struggle of music lessons is usually the enforcement of practicing. Many parents expect a student to be drawn to the instrument enough to practice on his or her own. This is frequently not the case and can set up faulty expectations. Learning music is WORK, and kids rarely do something that feels like work. Practice needs to be enforced just like homework, housework, sports practice, and other responsibilities for a love of music to be cultivated.  Here are a few tips to ensure your student gets the most out of music lessons.

1. Set up a scheduled time every day for practice. If several days go by after the lesson, it will be much harder to remember the details and tips that the teacher gave to help with practice.  With every passing day of zero practice, it gets more and more difficult to break back into it and practice becomes more of a struggle.

2. Don’t miss lessons. Momentum and consistency will help drive a student forward and feel good about the process.  Frequent missed lessons (for any reason) diminish the student’s feeling that music is fun and important and slows down their progress.

3. Express any concerns you have to your teacher.  A good teacher is able to address issues of lost interest, slow progress, or being to strict or too relaxed for you and your student. An experienced teacher has many tricks up his or her sleeve to help you and your student keep moving forward with music.

4. Listen to lots of music that features the instrument your child is studying.  It’s important for the student to see the end result of their work, practice, and weekly lessons. Listening to a wonderful performance can inspire practicing, more listening, and more enjoyment.

5. Don’t just quit. There WILL be a time when your student doesn’t like lessons, doesn’t like practicing, doesn’t like the teacher, and wants nothing more to do with the whole experience.  This is a normal part of the cycle and can be overcome with some work and attention to this by the parent and the teacher.  When these hurdles are conquered, the student frequently has a new excitement for playing and making music. To get to the peaks, you have to work through the valleys. 







The violin first emerged in northern Italy in the early 16th century especially from the Brescia area. Many archive documents testify that from 1485-95 Brescia was the cradle of a magnificent school of string players and makers, all called with the title of “maestro” of all the different sort of strings instruments of the Renaissance: viola da gamba (viols), violone, lyra, lyrone, violetta and viola da brazzo. While no instruments from the first decades of the century survive, there are several representations in paintings; some of the early instruments have only three strings and were of the violetta type.


Because documents show that the Brescia school started half a century before Cremona, it is debated whether the first real violin was built by Andrea Amati, one of the famous luthiers, or lute-builders, in the first half of the 16th century by order of the Medici family.

The oldest surviving violin, dated inside, is the “Charles IX” by Andrea Amati, made in Cremona in 1564, but the label is very doubtful. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an Amati violin that may be even older, possibly dating to 1558 but also this date is very doubtful. One of the most famous and certainly the most pristine is the Messiah Stradivarius (also known as the ‘Salabue’) made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 and very little played, perhaps almost never and in an as new state. It is now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford. (Courtesy of CMuse)



All students are invited to participate in the Illinois Music Association Contest to be held Saturday, May 20th and Sunday, May 21st at Richard J. Daley College located at 7500 South Pulaski Road in Chicago. We have enjoyed sending students to this event for years, and generally are very pleased with the professional manner in which the contest is conducted and the fairness of the event, especially for young beginning students. Teachers and Parents must fill out entry form and return by 1/28/17. This deadline will not be extended. Review the registration form for fees and details.












Over 100 recital videos are now on YouTube! Visit "Sweet Sounds for You" to see you and your friends performing at past recitals!


Recital videos are also available on facebook!


We are pleased to send you this monthly issue of our newsletter. It is our way of saying that you are important to us and we truly value your business. Enjoy!
Coming Attractions:




Spring Recital

March 4, 2017



IMA Prep and General Recital

May 13, 2017





Tips for Joining Your First Jam Session


One of the best ways to improve your musical skills and boost your stage confidence is jamming. If you’ve never joined a jam session before, it’s easy to feel like you’re either not ready or not “good enough” (or both!). However, participating in a jam session doesn’t require you to have 10 years of experience or to be a musical expert. In fact, anyone with an instrument can jam.

Here are a few tips to ensure your first jam session is a fun and rewarding experience.


1. Choose the right players.

One of the main goals of jamming is for everyone to grow together. It’s important to practice with people who have a playing level similar to yours. Otherwise, you’ll risk turning your jam session into a frustrating event where one player constantly chases after the others and slows down the group’s progress.


2. Respect others while jamming.

Don’t be a diva – this is not only rude, but it also annoys other musicians. Jamming isn’t about showing off or competing for that #1 spot. Rather, it’s about nurturing and supporting each other.

Respect people during their solos if you want the same respect in return.


3. It’s OK to not play in every song.

There will be songs you don’t know or like. Instead of judging others’ taste or playing wrong chords and lines, take a break. Sing along, drink some water, tune your instrument, and just enjoy watching others play.


4. Know the key and its scale.

Always make sure you understand the songs’ chord progressions. In general, jam songs consist of just 3 or 4 chords, which is perfect for beginners. Avoid selecting songs with too many chords that no one knows.  


5. Let the song leader lead.

Relax and follow the song leader to wherever he or she wishes, even if it means changing the tunes and lyrics. The whole point of a jam session is to experiment and have fun.


6. Listen as much as you play.

Jamming requires teamwork. It’s essential to make others sound better, not just yourself. You will learn to appreciate others’ playing and learn a few things from listening to different sounds that don’t come from your instrument.

Knowing when to play and when to listen is what keeps everyone together.


7. Welcome mistakes.

In many ways, jamming is about trial and error. It should be a positive experience rather than a grudging one. Try not to beat yourself up if you hit a few wrong notes. A jam session is the perfect place to make mistakes – you should become comfortable with them.

Moreover, most of the time, nobody will realize you’ve messed up unless you stop playing because of (what you perceive as) a mistake.


8. Set goals for the next jam session.

After your first jam session, it’s a good idea to start preparing for your second one. The key is to identify any gaps that need to be bridged. Was there a tune you couldn’t play? Learn it. Was your playing too fast or too slow? Adjust your tempo.

Establishing clear goals helps keep you on the right track and gives everyone a reason to look forward to the next session.


Jamming is one of the best ways to enhance your playing skills and create a bond between band members. That said, understanding the “do’s” and “don’ts” to follow when you’re joining a jam session will take you a long way. We hope your first jamming experience will be a fun and fulfilling one! (Courtesy of Making Music)



6 Ways to Protect Your Instrument from Damaging Winter Chill


1. Get a Hygrometer

If you’re concerned about humidity, get an accurate hygrometer in order to monitor relative humidity.

2. Humidify

If your home or studio falls below about 20 percent humidity, consider using a room humidifier. Of course, this only works while your instrument stays in the room.

3. Case Closed

Your case is your first line of defense. Leave your instrument in the closed case as much as possible. It slows down changes in temperature and humidity. A padded case cover may help even more. Don’t hang your violin on the wall or store your cello in a cello stand. Home heating dries out the air inside your house. Furthermore, ambient air movement circulates the warm air around your instrument, drying it further.

4. Case Humidifiers

A case designed to keep water out will be fairly good at keeping humidity in. Case or instrument humidifiers are popular with some players. A new generation of humidifiers filled with hydrogels that release vapor very slowly need filling less often. But remember, stability is the goal and once you open your case, you’ll be abruptly introducing a moist instrument into a dry environment.

5. Don’t Overdo It

Over-humidifying is worse than not humidifying at all.

6. Acclimate

Arrive well before you play. Let the instrument acclimate in the case for a while, and then crack the lid and let it sit for a while longer. (Courtesy of Strings Magazine)


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