The Best Way To Practice

The Best Way To PracticeBeing instructors, we are often asked what the best practice methods are. What practice methodology will yield the best results? How can I most efficiently improve my skills? Simply put, what is the best way to practice?
We’ve assembled our 5 top tips for maximizing your practice time, and most quickly becoming the best player that you can be. Hopefully you can use these in your practice regiment and become a better player.
 
1) Play for fun
What we tell our students here is, “don’t practice, just play”. In other words, play for fun. If you play for the joy of playing, you’ll play more often because you’ll be less frustrated trying to learn a specific song or technique. Sure, you’ll need to practice up on those things you want to learn, but just playing for the joy of playing itself will make you a better, more happy musician, and you’ll see that you will progress more rapidly because you are playing more often.. because it’s fun!
2) Play often in small increments
The key to learning is playing… often, but not necessarily a lot. How? Practice new techniques often but in smaller increments. For example, it is much more effective to practice something 5 minutes at a time six times a day, rather than 30 minutes in one setting. To encourage this, keep an instrument close at hand; for example, for guitarists or ukulele players, keeping your instrument in the living room will enable you to pick it up often and strum for a couple of minutes at a time several times throughout the day. We feel that playing often for short periods is without a doubt the best way to practice.
3) Don’t look at your instrument when playing
A key to learning your instrument well is to not look at your hands while playing. If you make a mistake, look and correct, but then look away again. After all, do you play with your eyes? Watch videos of live performances of some of the greats, and you’ll see that, for the most part, they focus on their audience and not their instrument. One exception is that when guitarists switch position (i.e. move from the 3rd to the 10th fret) they do a quick look as they move their fretting hand. Practicing by not looking at your instrument, which is the best way to practice, will make you a better player.
4) Focus on technique, not speed
For those looking to develop speed on their instrument, start slow with proper technique, and as you increase speed focus on keeping the same technique. We often see players change their technique as their speed increases. This is an area where an instructor can really help. They’ll point out what’s going on, and help you to maintain proper technique as your speed increases, resulting in better results as your speed increases.

The Best Way To Practice

An instructor can help students keep proper technique while developing speed.

5) Record your progress
We see students once a week, and really notice the progress. The students themselves don’t notice progress as much, because it happens incrementally, often daily. When learning something new, record a video of where you’re at on day one, and assuming you’ve worked on it daily, watch the video a week or two later. You’ll be amazed at your progress!

Those are our 5 tips on the best way to practice. We hope you can use them and become a better player yourself!

NHTunes Music Studio is located in Manchester, New Hampshire, but if you are not local to us, we also offer online lessons via Zoom. Our lesson prices are very reasonable, and our instructor team is the best around. We teach all ages and skill levels from beginner to advanced players. Read more about our lessons HERE.

Scheduling a Music or Voice Lesson Is Easy!

Thinking of beginning music lessons? Scheduling a music or voice lesson with NHTunes is EASY with our online scheduling system. Our integrated scheduler allows you to select the exact day and time for your lesson – all in 4 easy steps – without a phone call or e-mail!

Start by visiting our website’s homepage, and select your lesson type from the “Lessons” drop down menu on the top menu bar (just under our logo). In this example, we selected ‘piano’:

Scheduling a Music or Voice Lesson Is Easy!

You’ll be brought to the piano page, where you click the red “Schedule A Piano Lesson” button, which will bring up our online scheduler:

Scheduling a Music or Voice Lesson Is Easy!

At this point, select whether you want a 30 or 60 minute lesson (note that 60 minute lessons are discounted 10%). In this example, we select the 30 minute option:

Scheduling a Music or Voice Lesson Is Easy!

Now, you are presented with the available day(s) and time(s) for the lesson type you selected. Simply select the slot that works based on your schedule and pick “Continue”. You’ll enter your information and payment will be processed via PayPal (please note, you do not need a PayPal account to check out, you can use any major credit card).

Scheduling a Music or Voice Lesson Is Easy!

That’s it, with just 4 easy steps you’ve just scheduled your first lesson! You’ll receive an e-mail confirmation of your lesson at the time of scheduling, and a lesson reminder 24 hours in advance of your lesson.

Like we said, scheduling a music or voice lesson with NHTunes is EASY with our online scheduling system!

If you have any questions, or run into issues with scheduling, you can call us at 603-660-2208, or contact is HERE.

 

How Much Should I Practice?

How Much Should I Practice?

Don’t necessarily ‘practice’, but just ‘play’ for fun and you’ll improve!

One of the most often asked questions we receive from someone starting to learn an instrument is, “how much should I practice”? While there are many opinions on this topic, we’ve found that it’s not how much you should practice, but rather how often.

Practicing many times a day, in short increments, is much more effective than practicing once a day for the same amount of time. For example, you’ll learn more quickly by practicing 6 times a day in 5 minute increments rather than once a day for 30 minutes. I began this practice regiment years ago, and rarely play for more than 5 minutes at any one time (unless for pure pleasure). I’ve found that I learn much more quickly using this method.
Here are some tips for incorporating this methodology into your practice routine:
  • Make sure your instrument is within reach of where you normally hang out. For example, keep your guitar in the living room. An instrument within reach will get much more use then one that is, for example, kept under the bed in its case. It’s ideal if you happen to work from home, but if not there should be some evening time to work in some shorter sessions.
  • Play for fun; don’t think of each session as “practice”. If you just pick up your instrument and play for fun, you’ll continue to learn without the stress of having to learn a particular piece.
  • Use a metronome to measure progress. If you are looking to increase speed, use a metronome to see your improvement, otherwise you may become discouraged thinking that you are not improving. Use it once every couple days, and you’ll be amazed that a speed that seemed hard a few days ago is now actually pretty easy!How Much Should I Practice?
  • Play things that are ‘easy’ for you every once in a while. Playing an instrument should bring you joy, and there isn’t a lot of joy if you’re always playing things that are difficult. From time-to-time, play things that just make you happy, and you’ll be less frustrated overall and enjoy the instrument more.
  • Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get to practice every day. Adults have many responsibilities, and you may find the occasional day or two where you get little to no practice time. Stick with it, and in the long run you’ll see yourself improving and find success!

So, if you’re wondering “how much should I practice”, playing often, for shorter increments is one practice method that we have found to be very effective in making steady progress while learning an instrument.

Check out our instrument lessons, both in-studio and online. Our studio is located in the Manchester NH, mill yard.  You can check out our instructor team HERE.

What To Expect at your first Ukulele Lesson

first Ukulele lessons

We teach ukulele to students of all ages and skill levels!

So you’re thinking about taking ukulele lessons, but are a little nervous about what to expect at your first ukulele lesson. Well, relax and read the next few paragraphs; we think you’ll see that ukulele lessons are fun, and (thanks to our patient instructors) not as intimidating as they first appear.

When you arrive for your first ukulele lesson, you may first be shown around the studio, and then introduced to your ukulele instructor. Your instructor will likely ask you questions regarding your general music background; for example, have you learned an instrument or sung in a choir before? Do you have any experience performing in front of people? What are your goals for your lessons? These questions will help the instructor to format the lessons based on your individual experience level and goals.

Then comes the fun! It’s time so play!! Well… almost. If you are new to ukulele, your instructor will teach you to tune your instrument. Tuning can be a daunting task initially for beginners, bit with a little guidance and practice, it becomes quite easy.

Finally, it’s time to play! Adult lessons focus on learning chords, strumming, and (after a couple of lessons) learning songs. Learning to read is optional, and quite honestly many accomplished ukulele players have never learned to read traditional sheet music (you’ll be learning to use chord and lyric sheets as that’s how in the future you’ll learn new songs). For younger students, learning to read sheet music will be incorporated along with chords and strumming, as learning to read traditional sheet music will be important if they decide to pursue a music career.

Once you can learn a few chords and some basic strumming, your instructor will pick a song that is appropriate for  your skill level. The goal is a song that you’re both familiar with, and would love to learn to play. Of course, based on your skill level your first few songs you work on may not be the songs of your dreams, but the goal is to get there.

If you stick with ukulele lessons, you’ll see the following happen:

  • You’ll be able to strum along to relatively simple songs within just a few weeks.
  • You’ll learn to download and play songs, for the most part, on your own.

    first Ukulele lesson

    Learning to play the ukulele is fun!

  • Your fingers will quickly develop ‘invisible’ calluses, and the discomfort from playing will go away.
  • Your ear will develop and you will hear music differently than before. You will understand pitch better. You’ll be able to better distinguish individual elements in music.

When do all these great things happen? It varies on the individual; their background, their natural abilities, and the amount of time they spend practicing. Regardless, we see improvements in all of our students. Of course, not everybody is a Jake Shimabukuro, but everyone can learn to play ukulele, and the speed at which they learn is based on how much time they spend practicing.

Last but not least, an incredibly important element of general musicianship is performing skills. For this reason, we hold bi-monthly recitals, and we hope to see most of our students (especially younger ones) participate in these free recitals. Although many students find performing initially a challenge, after a couple of performances it becomes less stressful, and more fun! Students that have performed in several recitals often look forward to future events, whereas at first they dreaded them.

We hope that, after reading this, you have a better idea of what your first ukulele lesson will be like should you decide to start. If you’re interested in scheduling a lesson, either in-studio or online, you can do so below. You can see our instructors HERE.

What To Expect at your first Guitar Lesson

First Guitar Lesson

We teach students of all ages and skill levels!

So you’re thinking about taking guitar lessons, but are a little nervous about what to expect at your first guitar lesson. Well, relax and read the next few paragraphs; we think you’ll see that guitar lessons are fun, and (thanks to our patient instructors) not as intimidating as they first appear.

When you arrive for your first guitar lesson, you may first be shown around the studio, and then introduced to your guitar instructor. Your instructor will likely ask you questions regarding your general music background; for example, have you learned an instrument or sung in a choir before? Do you have any experience performing in front of people? What are your goals for your lessons? These questions will help the instructor to format the lessons based on your individual experience level and goals.

Then comes the fun! It’s time so play!! Well… almost. If you are new to guitar, your instructor will teach you to tune your instrument. Tuning can be a daunting task initially for beginners, bit with a little guidance and practice, it becomes quite easy.

Finally, it’s time to play! Adult lessons focus on learning chords, strumming, and (after a couple of lessons) learning songs. Learning to read is optional, and quite honestly many accomplished guitarists have never learned to read traditional sheet music (you’ll be learning to use chord and lyric sheets as that’s how in the future you’ll learn new songs). For younger students, learning to read sheet music will be incorporated along with chords and strumming, as learning to read traditional sheet music will be important if they decide to pursue a music career.

Once you can learn a few chords and some basic strumming, your instructor will pick a song that is appropriate for  your skill level. The goal is a song that you’re both familiar with, and would love to learn to play. Of course, based on your skill level your first few songs you work on may not be the songs of your dreams, but the goal is to get there.

If you stick with guitar lessons, you’ll see the following happen:

  • You’ll be able to strum along to relatively simple songs within just a few weeks.

    first Guitar Lesson

    Learning to play the guitar is fun!

  • You’ll learn to download and play songs, for the most part, on your own.
  • Your fingers will quickly develop ‘invisible’ calluses, and the discomfort from playing will go away.
  • Your ear will develop and you will hear music differently than before. You will understand pitch better. You’ll be able to better distinguish individual elements in music.

When do all these great things happen? It varies on the individual; their background, their natural abilities, and the amount of time they spend practicing. Regardless, we see improvements in all of our students. Of course, not everybody is an Eddie Van Halen, or an Eric Clapton, but everyone can learn to play guitar, and the speed at which they learn is based on how much time they spend practicing.

Last but not least, an incredibly important element of general musicianship is performing skills. For this reason, we hold bi-monthly recitals, and we hope to see most of our students (especially younger ones) participate in these free recitals. Although many students find performing initially a challenge, after a couple of performances it becomes less stressful, and more fun! Students that have performed in several recitals often look forward to future events, whereas at first they dreaded them.

We hope that, after reading this, you have a better idea of what your first guitar lesson will be like should you decide to start. If you’re interested in scheduling a lesson, either in-studio or online, you can do so below. You can see our instructors HERE.

Three Essential Guitar Buying Tips

Are you a beginner or intermediate guitarist shopping for a new instrument? Here are three essential guitar buying tips to help you make the best shopping choice.
 
‘Cheap’ Is Very Seldom ‘Good’ – What may look like a bargain is usually a waste of money. Set your budget appropriately; a decent beginner guitar will run between $300-$500, and a good guitar for a seasoned player $500-up. Spending $100 on a guitar is usually a waste of money. You may need to save more, but in the end it’ll be well worth it. I tell my students of a guitar I saved for when I was 16 and making $2.65 an hour… A new 1979 $485 Fender Stratocaster. Well, 40 years later I still have that guitar, so the time I spent saving paid off!Three Essential Guitar Buying Tips
Try Before You Buy – Each guitar has its own personality and ‘feel’, and the more experience you have playing the more this becomes apparent. You may save a couple of bucks shopping online, but my advice is to head to your local music store and try the guitar(s) you are interested in to see how it feels. Stores will usually set up the instrument so it’ll play well, so you’ll have a good picture of how it plays, feels, and sounds – things that aren’t possible with online shopping. I’ve made the mistake of purchasing an expensive guitar online that I thought I would love, but in reality I never did like how it played.
Shop Used – There is nothing at all wrong with purchasing a quality used instrument from a reputable shop. It may come with a couple of nicks or dings, but you’ll save a lot of money (maybe up to half off!) and in the end you’ll add more nicks and dings yourself! If you’re fortunate enough to have a music store nearby there’s a good chance there are a lot of used instruments there, so shop around. In the end, it’s much better to get a better quality used instrument than a new one of inferior quality.

Well there you have it; three essential guitar buying tips for those in the market for their first (or an upgraded) guitar!

If you’re looking for guitar lessons, NHTunes offers both online and in-studio learning options! Our instructors will work with adult beginners to get them started off right, and with more seasoned players to teach them theory, or learning the fretboard and soloing. Our lessons are reasonable priced, and you can sign up for a single lesson with NO registration or sign-up fees!

The Best Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners

Why do we feel that NHTunes offers the best online guitar lessons for beginners? NHTunes has been teaching online for years now, and our excellent staff of instructors can help you to fulfill your dream of becoming a guitarist! We’ll work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Our instructors have years of teaching

experience, and the educational background to teach you to play the correct way.

Here’s why we feel NHTunes offers the best online guitar lessons for beginners:
  • Lessons: Our lessons are real-time one-on-one with a qualified and passionate instructor, who will provide helpful real-time feedback. Our lessons can be tailored to your learning style and goals.
  • Instructors: We have a fantastic group of instructors who love to teach! All of our guitar instructors have a BA in music, and years of teaching experience. They’ll teach you at a pace that is comfortable for you. They’ll make sure you know what to work on between each lesson.
  • Experience: NHTunes has been teaching online guitar lessons for years, so our instructors have learned to modify their teaching style to best suit the online experience. Our music studio has been open for over 10 years.
  • Cost: Our 30 minute private lessons are priced at just $29.50! Our hour-long lessons are discounted 10%. There are n
    The Best Online Guitar Lessons for Beginners

    If taught correctly, online lessons can be as effective as in-studio.

    o registration or sign-up fees, and you can book lessons per diem as your schedule allows! Our convenient online scheduler makes scheduling your lessons a breeze!

What do you need to get started with your lessons? A laptop or table with an internet connection (in a pinch, some students use their smartphone!), and a guitar. That’s it!  We use Zoom for our lessons. If you haven’t used Zoom before, the first time you log in you’ll be prompted to download the software… it only takes a minute to get going.
Are you ready to begin your musical journey? Here’s how to get started:
  1. Schedule a single lesson below (our private half hour lessons are just $29.50).
  2. You will be contacted by a studio representative with a Zoom link for your lesson.
  3. After your first lesson, if you find the lessons and your instructor to be a great fit and would like to continue with your online guitar lessons, you can schedule your next lesson with your instructor.
We also offer online instruction in VoicePianoUkulele, and Band Instruments.

So there you have it – why we feel that NHTunes offers the best online guitar lessons for beginners. If you have questions, feel free to call us at 603-660-2208, or use our Contact Us page.

You can see more about our guitar lessons HERE.

If you are an absolute beginner, what can you expect at your first lesson?

  • We’ll help you to tune your guitar and show you how to use a free tuning app. Tuning is tricky and can take a little practice, but we’ll walk you through it and make sure you’re comfortable with the process.
  • We’ll explain the different parts of the guitar and how to hold it when you play.
  • We’ll teach you how to hold the pick and how to strum properly.
  • We’ll get you started with learning a few chords. We’ll show you the correct way to play the chord, which involves technique with your wrist, palm, and fingertips.
  • We’ll talk about practicing, and maximizing your practice time with the most efficient practice strategies.

When you leave your first lesson, you’ve reviewed the above and you can practice the chords that you’ve been shown. Once you learn a few chords, you can begin working on some real songs, and we have plenty of ‘beginner’ songs that we can give you! Most adults are working on songs within just a couple weeks of beginning their lessons! For adult beginners, we recommend THIS book.

The Easiest Way to Learn Barre Chords

What’s the easiest way to learn barre chords? Barre chords can be challenging for beginner and even intermediate guitarists. Most players who are struggling with barre chords think that they don’t have the strength to play them cleanly, but many times, it’s simply due to bad technique.
This video will demonstrate to you what we think is the easiest way to learn barre chords, and get started in general with bar chords. This is the method that I like to teach my students.
Basically, you’ll start with an ‘Em’ chord, but fingered with fingers 3 and 4 (rather than the usual 1 & 2, or 2 & 3). Just remember to leave your first two fingers open, as you’ll be using them for the barre chord. In the video you’ll notice that when I’m playing the ‘Em’ chord my thumb is at the top of the neck just like any other open chord. Barre chords are different; with bar chords your wrist is bent, and your thumb is squeezing the back of the neck. Watch the video:
So you’ll see in the video that there’s two positions for your chord hand:
  • Open chord which has your thumb hanging over the top of the neck (and the palm of the hand is flush on the back of the neck)
  • Barre chord which has your thumb is in the middle squeezing and your wrist is bent.
The Easiest Way to Learn Barre Chords

With open chords the thumb hangs over the top of the neck

Now, we’ll take the ‘Em’ chord that we’re playing and slide up to the fifth position (which means your first finger will be used to barre the fifth fret). Watch the video to see how the fingering hand position shifts from ‘open chord’ (thumb on top) to ‘barre chord’ (thumb in the middle of the neck and wrist bent) as you are making this move.
You want to practice this to the point that both the open and barre chords ring ‘clean’ (i.e. with no muted strings). This will take some practice but with a little work it’s definitely doable. If you’re having trouble getting the barre chord clean, try using your middle finger and hold it over your first finger (which is doing the barre) to give it more strength (see the video).

While barre chords can certainly be challenging, we think this method may be the easiest way to learn barre chords out of the gate.

The Easiest Way to Learn Barre Chords

With barre chords, the thumb is in the middle of the neck pinching with the first finger in front

Want to learn to play the guitar, or to better your skills – and from the comfort of your home? Our experienced instructors can help! We teach all ages and experience levels, from absolute beginners to advanced players. Our lessons are real-time, and not ‘canned’ or pre-recorded videos. Our instructors will provide immediate feedback which will help you to quickly become a better player.
Our 30-minute private guitar lessons are just $29.50, and there are no registration or other fees! Schedule a single lesson below with our convenient online scheduler, and you’ll be send a link for your lesson within 24 hours!

Online Guitar Lessons – All Ages & Skill Levels

If you’re looking for online guitar lessons, you can trust the professionals at NHTunes. We specialize in private, real-time online guitar lessons with qualified instructors who love what they do! We teach students of all ages and skill abilities, from absolute beginners to seasoned players looking to learn the fret board, or improvise.

Why choose NHTunes for your online guitar lessons?

Online Guitar Lessons

  • Our lessons are real-time with a professional instructor who will teach you the correct way to play – and the easiest way to get started.
  • Our instructors have years of experience teaching, as well as the educational background needed to teach guitar AND music theory. They are patient, and will teach you at a speed that makes learning comfortable.
  • We’ve been giving online guitar lessons for years, and we try to make the online experience as productive as in-studio (minus the drive time!)
  • Our private real-time lessons are competitively priced at just $29.50, and you can book a single lesson with NO additional fees! Hour lessons are discounted 10%.
  • You can schedule your lesson online below using our convenient online scheduler, picking a day and time that works best for you.
Online Guitar LessonsAll you need to get started with your online guitar lessons is a laptop or tablet with an internet connection (in a pinch, you can even use your phone!). We use Zoom for our lessons. If you haven’t used Zoom before, the first time you log in you’ll be prompted to download the software… it only takes a minute to get going.
So, how do you get started?
1) Schedule a single lesson below (our private half hour lessons are just $29.50).
2) You will be contacted by a studio representative with a Zoom link for your lesson.
3) After your first lesson, if you find the lessons and your instructor to be a great fit and would like to continue with your online guitar lessons, you can schedule your next lesson with your instructor.
We also offer online instruction in Voice, Piano, Ukulele, and Band Instruments.

NHTunes is your best value for real-time online guitar lessons! Schedule your first lesson today using our convenient online scheduler below.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us HERE, or call us at 603-660-2208.

Microphone Polar Patterns

Microphones can have different pick up (or ‘sensitivity’) patterns based on the mechanical setup of the microphone (also called ‘microphone polar patterns’). The most popular patterns are cardioid, which is mostly front addressing, hypercardioid (or supercardioid), which is a bit narrower than cardioid with a little sensitivity towards the rear of the microphone, figure eight, which records equally on each side, and omni, which has is equally sensitive in any direction. 

Example of popular microphone polar patterns:

Microphone Polar Patterns

For most applications, a standard cardioid polar pattern is desired, as it will accurately record the sound source when front addressed, and as

Microphone Polar Pattern

AKG C4000B is a versatile microphone

such minimize the room’s effect, and other ambient sounds. Most vocal and general purpose microphones are cardioid for this reason. The other pattern types are generally desired for a specific recording application; for example, an omni pattern is great as a center microphone when recording an orchestra, capturing a nice image of the musical performance as well as the ambiance of the hall. A figure 8 may be used between two closely spaced acoustic guitarists.

Some of the more expensive microphones have built in switches that allow you to select the polar pattern. I find that 99% of the time my microphones with selectable patterns are set to cardioid, unless I have a unique recording application, but when that occurs I will admit that the selectable pattern feature comes in handy! For example, three vocalists huddled around one microphone can definitely benefit from a wider cardioid setting rather than a narrow one. The AKG C 4000B dual-diaphragm condenser transducer with has selectable cardioid, omnidirectional, and hypercardioid microphone polar patterns, is a versatile microphone that, based on it’s selectable patterns, can be used for many applications (another great option is the AKG C414, with 5 selectable patterns!).

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