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Your First Woodwind Instrument

Your first starter instrument…

 

So! You have just decided that you would like to begin learning your first musical instrument but have no idea where to start looking for your perfect starter instrument, how much to spend or what model to go with…

Here, our woodwind specialist Helen shares her top tips in shopping for your first flute, clarinet or saxophone.


Budget


Your first instrument does not need to break the bank. You need something that works, is light and is affordable.

Helen recommends the following (all prices are approximate):


Flutes

Trevor James TJ10X MK IV (£400)


Clarinets

Buffet B12 (£400)

 

Saxophones

Trevor James Classic Horn (£600)

 

Where do I buy them?


These instruments can be bought from any local music shop. Liverpool is filled with fantastic music stores such as Curly Woodwind, Dawsons, and Rimmers.  There is also High Notes and Harmonics in Crosby and Waterloo respectively.  You can also buy your instruments online from Ebay, Amazon or Gumtree but I would recommend trying these instruments out before you commit to buy!

 

I can’t afford the price of the instrument I would like. What should I do?


Most instrumental stores offer a rental system which allows the customer to pay a monthly fee and use the instrument on a monthly basis. These can range from £20 – £30 which is so much more affordable than splashing out hundreds of pounds to realise too late that you don’t enjoy playing the instrument!
In some instances, there is also a ‘rent to buy’ system in which you can rent for 6 – 12 months and if you really love the instrument and enjoy playing, you can settle the remainder price of the instrument and buy it as your own.

 

Next steps


Once you have decided on your chosen instrument and have booked in for a lesson, you can then explore with your teacher different music you would like to begin learning!

Helping your Child learn at Home.

So your child has decided he/she wants to take up an instrument.  Awesome! Like most parents you want to see your child do well and develop new skills. But what happens if you aren’t “musical” yourself?

Our teachers here often have had parents approach them, concerned that they would be unable to assist their child with music homework, because they don’t understand enough of what’s involved. This is perfectly valid concern, but not one that is impossible to overcome, if you’re willing to do a bit of learning yourself!

Practical

Often, when hearing the instrument being played at home, this is enough for most to assume your child is practising. Any good teacher will tell you it’s more than going through the motions that contributes to effective practise, and that, in particular, is a skill that really needs to be encouraged in children and young people – an objective self awareness that does not normally develop until young adulthood, and in some cases beyond.

Because practical performance is such a “present” art (in that, as a performer, you are giving something of yourself that you must be present for throughout, and the finished product is received live without the opportunity to correct mistakes) it is especially nerve racking for the learner. Commonly, children are scared or worried about being “wrong”. This can become consuming in the moment, to the point where mistakes are in fact more likely to be made, which in turn creates stress in the mind, and the whole practising and learning process becomes fraught and cyclically inefficient. One way this can be overcome is by creating a supportive learning environment. Simply by focussing on and encouraging more of the positive, and keeping criticism to the constructive kind can work wonders for the confidence. Most importantly, it is vital to reiterate and reinforce that mistakes are acceptable! Obviously I don’t mean “please learn your repertoire full of holes and inaccuracies”, but you cannot expect to run before you can walk. Part of the learning process is finding out what to avoid, and sometimes the only way to do that is to make the mistakes. Practise is NOT performance. It is the safe space in which you hone your skill. Just because somebody may be around to hear it does not mean you have to present your best work. If you can encourage this as early in the learning process as possible, you will hopefully have a happy and relaxed child who can focus on moving forwards instead of being held back by the idea that their errors are insurmountable.

Theory

As for music theory, this is often where most “non-musical” parents feel the most at a loss. If you don’t have any theoretical background, written music looks exactly as you would expect: A bunch of meaningless dots and squiggles on funny lined paper. That’s fair. If you want to get really involved, you could take theory lessons yourself alongside your child (it may even encourage you to take up that instrument!). Alternatively, try to verse yourself with at least the basics. There are a couple of resources you could use that I will link to at the end of this article. Yet another alternative is ask your child’s teacher what the crux of their homework is. Most would be happy to explain it as clearly as possible for you in order for their student to receive a good level of support outside of lesson times.

As already mentioned, the most important thing to do to help your child is foster an environment that is a safe space for them to practise. Speaking from personal experience (both as a child and as a teacher), whilst it might be tempting to poke a little good natured fun at some of those dodgy notes – even if your kid has an awesome sense of humour, I would strongly advise against it, especially at the early stages of learning , as it draws unnecessary attention to errors and reinforces the idea that they must be dwelled upon.

You don’t need to be “musical” in order to provide all of the things mentioned here – support and encouragement are all that’s needed.

Resources:

The AB Guide to Music Theory (parts I and II), is the ABRSM’s textbook for theory.  If it’s something you’re willing to do, the book can be a little dry, but has all the information, concisely laid out, but is perhaps better for the older learner.

Flash Cards are a great way to get your child’s brain working!  Sometimes we learn best by repetition as well as understanding, so these are a wonderful way to physically have something you can use at home.  Click here for a selection of available flash cards.

This website uses mostly American terms, but is a great free resource you can brush up on either for yourself or with your child.  There are lessons and exercises, in notes, rhythms and chords amongst other things – check it out here:  www.musictheory.net

Singing Lessons with Prelude

Singing LessonsIf you’re thinking about singing lessons, sometimes the idea of standing in front of someone and singing can be daunting.  Here at Prelude we take the time to make sure you’re comfortable and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on you! The easiest thing about learning to sing is you don’t have to spend hours shopping around for a new instrument – you can simply turn up and you’re ready to go.

Of course, there’s more to it than simply opening your mouth and letting sounds come out.  Much like any other instrument, you need to be able to use your voice with ease and without discomfort.  Very often signers in the early stages of their training tend to find extremes of their ranges difficult and sometimes even painful to reach.  With the correct training and regular practise those difficulties can be quickly overcome.

Here at Prelude our teachers will be with you every step of the way, guiding you through your lessons with technical exercises and constructive criticism.  We will also give you easy ways to practise at home, meaning you can take as much as possible away from your lessons allowing you to improve at a steady rate.

Continue reading to see some basic tips for singers.

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Guitar for Beginners – Liverpool

This image shows an acoustic guitar being played - check out Guitar Lessons with Prelude School of Music.The guitar is a versatile, affordable and fun instrument for beginners – including children and adults alike. Within a few weeks of starting to play the guitar, you could be playing along to simple versions of your favourite songs – and very quickly after that you could be playing in a band with friends, and making your own music.

If you’ve already bought, or want to buy, a guitar, you’ll know that there are loads of different types and options out there. These include electric, steel-strung acoustic, semi-acoustic, nylon-strung classical, 7-string, 12-string, and bass guitar – and that’s without going into the many different manufacturers and models that are stocked by music shops. Quite simply, without a bit of knowledge you could be caught out, and find yourself with a poor quality instrument that makes you not want to practice. While there are many merits to cheaper instruments, they can make things difficult when starting to learn since the poor build quality makes everything feels like a chore.

This blog post focuses on a few tips for beginners just getting started who are interested in the acoustic guitar, including buying your – or your child’s – first guitar, and fun ways to start learning quickly.

Read on to see some of our favourite tips for beginners on the acoustic guitar.

Learning the Piano with Prelude

Learn Piano at Prelude School of Music - this image shows a man playing the piano with natural lighting.At Prelude, piano teaching isn’t limited to classical music. We spent some time last weekend listening to the fantastic Kyle Landry – if you haven’t heard him before, we highly recommend you give him a listen.

Kyle combines classical training with a love for music from films, games and musicals. In his YouTube videos, you can see how he combines excellent technique with great arrangements and song choices.

Read on to see Kyle in action…

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Welcome to Prelude School of Music!

Music Lessons at Prelude School of Music

Prelude School of Music is a new music school in Liverpool that builds upon the many years of experience of its tutors. It offers a central location for individuals to be able to take music lessons on the instrument of their choice.

We plan to update this blog with lots of interesting and useful content for people looking for music lessons in Liverpool.

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Prelude School of Music