Archive for the 'General' Category

First Rule of Guitar: Never Give Up

Guest post by Michael Andros

I picked up the guitar at 14, played in a band for 14 years, then quit.

Years later I picked it up again and have been going strong ever since. But the road to guitar greatness is littered with those who gave up.

Hopefully, my experience helps you avoid becoming a casualty on the guitar “battlefield.”

Let’s look at a four-pronged strategy to defeat the biggest causes of quitting — pain, boredom, and discouragement. We will exploit “beginner’s blush,” focus on the mission, explode plateaus, and “learn how to learn.”

How to Exploit “Beginner’s Blush”

The idea here is to harness the almost irrational, dopamine-induced optimism to push through the painful process of earning your “guitar fingers.” 

Commit to a few minutes of daily practice.  It doesn’t matter what you do. Play scales, practice chord changes. Anything. As long as you keep fingers-a-flyin’ on the fretboard you’re building beneficial callouses and hand strength. 

After the “beginner’s blush,” though, you might feel your enthusiasm start to circle the drain. Jolt yourself back to life by…

…Focusing on Your Mission

Post your goals up where you practice.  If becoming the next Gary Clark Jr. or earning a spot at Berklee School of Music twirls your bowtie, write it down and pin it up. 

Inspire yourself by listening to your favorite music. Or better yet, discover new music that feeds your curiosity and awakens your wonder.

There are ebbs and flows when learning something new. One very helpful skill is how to…

…Explode through Plateaus 

Every so often, it feels like you’re just treading water. You might even feel like you’re going backward. 

That’s actually a good thing. 

You see, your brain has two modes — the ‘focused’ mode where you ‘chunk’ new information into working memory, and the ‘diffuse’ mode, where you consolidate new information into long-term memory. It’s a necessary part of mastery. But your brain can’t be in both modes at the same time. 

So trust your subconscious. It’s working quietly in the background. Stick to your routine and you’ll eventually break out and find you’ve jumped to a whole new level of understanding. 

You’ll likely get a mini “beginner’s blush” out of it also.

5 Tips on “How to Learn”

Recent neurological research can help us here. These tips are based on the latest neurological findings on the art and science of learning, applied to music.

Tip #1: Learn a few chords and chord progressions.

People have built whole careers on just a handful of chords. It opens up thousands of song possibilities.

Tip #2: Train your ear.

Recognizing intervals is a great skill for composing and improvising. It’s also handy for understanding how songs are structured.

Tip #3: Change up where you practice.

Changing practice locations speeds long-term memory formation. Jimi Hendrix used to bring his guitar everywhere — even to the bathroom. This boosted his ability to recall ideas in a flash.

Tip #4: Vary your practice.

Instead of devoting whole sessions to one skill, deliberately practice several skills briefly. Play scales, then songs, then practice chords and progressions. Experiment with sounds. Train your ear. This kind of study is called “interleaving,” and it speeds learning. Also, favor short, frequent practice over infrequent marathon sessions.

Tip #5: Learn fast by playing slow(ly).

Accuracy matters. If you make mistakes, slow down. This quickly trains your muscle memory. It’s more costly to unlearn a bad habit than to pick up a good one.

With accuracy, speed will come.

Besides playing righteous Alex Lifeson solos, and searching for Tosin Abasi’s planet of origin, Michael Andros makes the complex clear as a direct-response copywriter for the audio/music and tech industries. Visit his site at

Sheet Music Plus Now Has 2 Million Titles for Sale Worldwide: Here Are Our Favorites

We now have more than 2 MILLION titles for sale worldwide!

Focusing on our mission to make the world’s music more playable, we’ve doubled our catalog in the last five years by forging critical relationships with sheet music publishers, creating pathways to sell and ship editions worldwide and aggressively expanding into digital sheet music available for instant download and printing.

We started Sheet Music Plus in 1997 with a commitment to serve musicians like ourselves with a full spectrum of sheet music, fast delivery and music experts filling our ranks in every department.

We’d like to celebrate this milestone by introducing ourselves (in alphabetical order!) and sharing some of our favorite items with you. These selections and more are 20% OFF through Tuesday, October 20, 2020 as part of our Sound of Sheet Music Plus Sale.

AMY, General Manager

Amy, General Manager, Sheet Music Plus



I have fond memories of playing through the duets in the Album of Flute Duets with my amazing flute teacher, Patty Lazzara.  Making music together with others has brought me joy throughout my life.

Album of Flute DuetsFlute Music by French ComposersJazz & Blues Play-Along Solos for FluteTwenty-Four (24) Flute Concert Studies

ARI, Marketing



All Star (As an English Madrigal” is so fun to perform because you get the early 2000s nostalgia combined with the unexpected twist of a revived musical style. All that glitters truly is gold.

All Star (As an English Madrigal) – Smash MouthWhiplash – Hank LevyCreep (arr. Richard Salt) – Radiohead

BEN, Marketing

Print music was a disruptive force in its origin. The printing press was the internet of its day, and the music that was printed changed the world and brought art to the masses. In that vein, I selected titles that are my favorites for their creative synthesis of repertoire, artwork and binding. The books in the Liederprojekt series were created to promote children singing music with texts, illustrations and “sing-along” resources to compel children to sing.

Liederprojekt: Die Liederbuch-Kassette. Wiegenlieder, Kinderlieder, WeihnachtsliederThe Berlin Flower Diary of Clara SchumannTristan und Isolde WWV 90. Autograph: National Archive from the Richard-Wagner-Stiftung Bayreuth – Wagner

CRAIG, Catalog


The Opera Aria Anthology is a 4-volume collection (Soprano, Mezzo, Tenor, Baritone) that I compiled and completed in 2005 while working for EC Schirmer in Boston. These are a good source for late 20th-Century American opera arias – a genre frequently called for in auditions.

Opera Aria Anthology, Vol. III: TenorMass in B minor BWV 232 – BachTwo Rossetti Songs: No. 2 Remember – Chatman

ELIZABETH, Marketing

Songs and Hymns of Piwnica pod Baranami contains some of the best-known and most beautiful songs from Krakow’s Piwnica pod Baranami. During its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, Piwnica pod Baranami was the most renowned political cabaret in Poland and one of the best and most influential artistic groups in the country, and it all started because a group of young artists simply wanted a way to express themselves and perform together under an oppressive regime. I fell in love with Piwnica pod Baranami when studying abroad in Krakow, and I turned it into the focal point of my undergraduate thesis a few years later.

Songs and Hymns of Piwnica pod BaranamiFür Elise WoO 59 – BeethovenAll-Night Vigil (‘Vespers’) – RachmaninoffWaltzing Matilda (arr. Stephan Koncz)

GREG, Catalog


As a drummer, Stick Control was the first book I picked up when I started learning Jazz. It was a game changer for me as it took me though an insightful journey of rediscovering the rudiments that underlie every drumming technique. Improving stick control had a real impact on my play style and greatly contributed to my love for drums as an instrument.

Stick Control for the Snare DrummerDrum Standards – Classic Jazz Masters SeriesDonna Lee – Parker

HELENA, Customer Service



It took several weeks for me to get that solo in “Maggie May” down cold, but my teacher and I played it loud and proud when I mastered it. We also sang along loudly, much to the consternation of the other students taking lessons.

Maggie May – StewartWish You Were Here – Pink FloydHal Leonard Mandolin Method, Book 1

NAOKO, Catalog

For the Star of County Down” is both a slow, lyrical piece and an upbeat dance piece that kids actually love. My students used to always ask for it and self-organize to play it together after school – including on Google Hangouts! It incorporates various tempo changes, triplets, and meter changes, and every instrument gets a piece of the melody at some point. A review from a 6th-grade boy upon sight-reading this piece for the first time: “IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!”

For the Star of County Down (The Gallagher Gal) – MondaySix Suites for Violoncello Solo (S. 1007-1012) – BachSonatas for Piano and Violoncello – Beethoven

RACHEL, Product

The songbook for The Little Mermaid is the first piece of sheet music I picked out and purchased for myself. I wanted to perform in a showcase my choral director held, and I wanted to pick out something new that I loved, “Part of Your World.” Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were a vital part of the Disney Renaissance and my childhood. I still love singing their songs and introducing them to my niece.

The Little Mermaid – MenkenFirst 50 Songs You Should Play on UkuleleThe Hamilton Mixtape – Miranda

RYAN, Customer Service



I got to play the part of Freddie in a production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in college. Hamming it up in songs like “Great Big Stuff” and “Love is My Legs” was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage, no question!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Yazbek

STEPHIE, Marketing


Halfway through music school, I decided to take a break and moved to Brazil for a while. Although I wasn’t there primarily to study music, I couldn’t help falling under the spell of Brazilian music. “Ciranda das Sete Notas” was one of my favorite discoveries.

Ciranda das Sete Notas – Villa-LobosPiano Works, Vol. III: Songs without Words – MendelssohnFractals – AlexanderJazz Variations for Solo Bassoon – Larsen

TANNER, Web Development




When you need a good pick-me up, just play some Happy!

Happy (from Despicable Me 2) – Pharrell

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho

William Chapman Nyaho

While teaching at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 1991 to 2002, Ghanaian American pianist William Chapman Nyaho was struck by the utter lack of available piano scores by composers of African descent. To the extent that he could find any at all, they were mostly out of print or in manuscript form.

Shortly thereafter Nyaho found himself wandering the exhibition hall at an MTNA conference. He asked publisher after publisher for music by Florence Price. Publisher after publisher responded, “Who’s that?” Nyaho told them that she was an African-American composer and was told time and time again, “We only have Scott Joplin,” with the excuse being that there didn’t seem to be any demand for Price’s music. Nyaho replied, “The chicken or the egg: which comes first?”

Continue reading ‘Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho’

Frank Sikora’s Jazz Harmony: The Best-Selling Practical Approach to Jazz Now Available in English

“There is no truth in theory – only in music!”

Frank Sikora

That’s Frank Sikora‘s creed.

Frank Sikora is also in charge of the theory department and the Master’s program in Jazz Composition & Arrangement at the University of the Arts Bern and is the author of a best-selling and widely acclaimed jazz theory book, Neue Jazz-Harmonielehre, that is now available in English: Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach.

While this coincidence might seem puzzling or even contradictory at first, it is exactly what lends Sikora’s approach the nuance and balance to successfully bridge the gap between theory and practice. In Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach, Sikora sets out to mold musicians who can adapt to anything, regardless of how novel and unexpected it may be. To achieve this, he establishes a close relationship between theory, the ear and our instrument, forging a dialogue between theory and spontaneity that helps musicians connect with music both intuitively and analytically.

Continue reading ‘Frank Sikora’s Jazz Harmony: The Best-Selling Practical Approach to Jazz Now Available in English’

New Instrumental Play-Along Series for Young Musicians from Editions Marc Reift

Editions Marc Reift, founded in 1983 by noted trombonist and conductor Marc Reift and offering a wide selection of music for bands, orchestras and solo instrumentalists, has two series of repertoire books with accompaniment CDs that are designed for young musicians.

Melodies for Beginners (Level 1)

The new Melodies for Beginners collection from Editions Marc Reift allows young beginners to build up a small repertoire of short, simple pieces. Arranged into several volumes for both solo instrumentalists and small ensembles, these Level 1 books are useful for small concerts or auditions.

Continue reading ‘New Instrumental Play-Along Series for Young Musicians from Editions Marc Reift’

Let’s Begin to Ring Again! Hope Publishing Handbell Choir Selections: Fall 2020

A message from Brenda E. Austin, Handbell Editor at Hope Publishing

Hello friends!

Brenda E. Austin

Have you noticed how grumpy many people are today? I sure have. I believe with all of my heart, that is in part because no one has been to the symphony, seen a broadway show, sang in their church choir or rang in a handbell festival in months and months. Our souls are crying out to be part of a musical experience again.

There are so many challenges facing us today. We need to keep the safety of our communities as our top priority. With that being said, I believe that we also need to consider our spiritual and emotional health as well. Where and when it is possible to do so safely, let’s begin to ring again. It may look different from what we “normally” do. But, what would it look like to ring today? Ringers wearing masks, each ringer at their own table or music stand at a safe distance from one another, no shared equipment. Perhaps ringing outside?? What are the possibilities?

Wishing you well!

Ring with 6: Year-Round

Arr. Martha Lynn Thompson

Martha Lynn Thompson adds another set of six settings to her highly successful series of Ring with 6 collections. Each arrangement uses 14-22 bells and is easily playable by six ringers. Three pieces have optional handchimes. A “Bells Used Chart” for each piece provides suggested assignments. No four-in-hand ringing is required but, because some ringers have more than two bells, it is necessary to have a table or a place to put the additional bells. Three of the hymns are suitable for general occasions, one is appropriate for either Palm Sunday or Advent, and rounding out the collection is Natalie Sleeth’s beautiful “Were You There on That Christmas Night?”

Continue reading ‘Let’s Begin to Ring Again! Hope Publishing Handbell Choir Selections: Fall 2020′

Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020

A message from Joel Raney, Composer & Choral Editor at Hope Publishing

Joel Raney
Joel Raney

I know that these days many of us are searching for ways to keep our singers engaged without gathering. Here we feature several of our most popular titles that have part-dominant rehearsal tracks available for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, as well as stereo accompaniment tracks. Whether you’re doing a virtual choir or some sort of limited socially distant singing, these tools are a terrific way to help singers learn new music at home on their own.

Stay strong and safe!

In Christ Alone with Cornerstone

Arr. Joel Raney
SATB Octavo
Instrumental Parts
Performance/Accompaniment CD
Voice-Dominant CD

Listen & follow along with the score

Originally, this appeared in Joel Raney and Lloyd Larson’s best-selling Lenten cantata, Hope in the Shadows. This medley pairs the popular Keith Getty song with the praise chorus “Cornerstone” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Continue reading ‘Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020’

Publisher Focus: Jubilate Music Group

Guest post by Morgan Roberts, Director of Production, Sales & Marketing for Jubilate Music Group

Jubilate Music Group is the culmination of many years of various developments in the lives of several individuals and the music print industry. These developments led to the consolidation of three separate and distinct music publishing catalogs, each with its own individual history: Alfred Sacred, Jubilate Music, and H.W. Gray. The result is Jubilate Music Group, an eclectic stylistic blend of sacred and secular choral, vocal, handbell, and instrumental publications for adults and children.

Alfred Sacred – Jubilate Music – H.W. Gray

As a result of the consolidation and acquisitions described in this blog, Jubilate Music Group also contains the sacred compositions from the historic Belwin-Mills and Gordon V. Thompson catalogs plus the entire Brodt Music Publications and Good Life Publications catalogs. From Handel, Hopson, and Hayes to Puccini, Penderecki, and Purifoy…Jubilate Music Group catalogs contain a combined 150+ years of rich music publishing history. When considered retrospectively, the changes and developments that came together to ultimately create Jubilate Music Group make its birth true to the meaning of its name:

“A song of joy and triumph”

Continue reading ‘Publisher Focus: Jubilate Music Group’

How to Play the Electric Guitar: Songs, Techniques, Effects, and other Beginner Fundamentals

Guest post by JBostian

Music making is more accessible than it has ever been. In fact, there has been a significant rise in searches for music creation software and instrument sales in the last couple of months.

Anyone from beginners to virtuosos can now make a record of their own from the comfort of their homes. Now, what if you don’t know how to play an instrument? As we’ve already tackled in our article on learning how to play guitar, you can learn how to play all on your own through diligent practice.

If you’ve already read that article and are looking to add a little more oomph to your guitar playing, then you may want to consider the electric guitar. To help you out, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to play this instrument. Read on if you want to learn more about the basics, effects pedals, and easy songs you can start playing!

Continue reading ‘How to Play the Electric Guitar: Songs, Techniques, Effects, and other Beginner Fundamentals’

A Four-Part Journey through Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

Guest post by Curran Mahowald, a choral singer who participated in Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 in May 2020

Eric Whitacre

In the spring of 2020, Eric Whitacre assembled his sixth global virtual choir to premiere his new piece, “Sing Gently.” Following a series of virtual rehearsals led by Whitacre himself, 17,572 singers from 129 countries submitted videos of themselves singing their individual lines.

From there, a team of film editors and audio engineers from 59 Productions and Floating Earth assembled the individual submissions into one final virtual performance:

Here is what it was like to contribute my voice to that video.

Continue reading ‘A Four-Part Journey through Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir’

About Take Note:

Thought-provoking articles by musicians for musicians, music lovers or those that want to learn more about it!

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