OPTIONS FOR LEFT-HANDED GUITAR PLAYERS

If you have an inkling to pick up the guitar and shred with the best of ‘em, and you happen to fall into the estimated 90% of individuals born right-handed that is sweet news for you. Along with right-handed people, right-handed guitars far outnumber the lefty guitars of the world. But that is not to say lefty guitarists are screwed. 

First of all, if you are left-handed, yay for you for adding diversity to the world. Second of all, there are certainly left-handed guitars to be had. Thirdly, just because you are left-handed doesn’t mean you have to play a left-handed guitar. And finally, you don’t even have to play left-handed at all.

Four Options for Left-Handed Guitarists

 David cook

David cook

1. PLAY A LEFT-HANDED GUITAR

Duh! Need I say more? Well, I will. American Idol winner David Cook falls into this category.

 Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

2. Play a right handed guitar modified to play left-handed

Take a right-handed guitar and flip the order of the strings and then play the guitar as if it were a left-handed one. Dare I mention yet another Paul? A 15-year old Paul McCartney attempted to play a right-handed guitar as a right-handed player, but when he eyed a poster showing Slim Whitman playing left-handed he reversed the order of strings. 

 Paul Dexter

Paul Dexter

3. PLAY A RIGHT-HANDED GUITAR RIGHT-HANDED

Say what? It is more common than you might think for a lefty to play right-handed. Paul Simon is one such bloke, but there’s another Paul you may have heard of who falls in this category. Our very own Paul Dexter of Dexter Music fame happens to be a lefty who plays a mean right-handed bass. 

 jimi hendrix

jimi hendrix

4. Play an unmodified right handed guitar left-handed

Simply play a right-handed guitar, as is, in the left-handed position. (Did I just use the word “simply” in that sentence?) Well, Jimi Hendrix learned to do just this. He played both right-handed and left-handed actually. His dad believed playing left-handed was a sign of the devil and made him learn right-handed, but whenever dear old dad wasn't around he played the same guitar, without re-stringing it, as a lefty.  

A Right-Handed Guitar Player Can Play Left-Handed

Lefty’s aren’t the only one’s who can mix it up.  John Meyer is right-handed, plays guitar right-handed, but can also play left-handed. Right-handed folks just have an easier time of it, what with all the right-handed guitars in the world.

So What's the Point Here?

The point is, for the lefties of the world who wish to shred, you have options. So figure out what works best for you and get to practicing. Dexter Music Camp will be here before you know it!

Written by Jenna Dexter ®2015

DAILY INSTRUMENT PRACTICE TIPS FOR PARENTS

 instrument practice tips for parents - Dexter music

Getting children motivated to do their instrument practice can be daunting. As parents we have our hands full juggling work and home commitments. Our kids too, are almost as busy, with many after school activities requiring attention. In this hectic busy schedule we need to motivate ourselves first, in order to be of help to our kids.

Here are some tips to bring back the fun to practice. It does require a little effort on your part, but it will soon become much easier.

Action plan.

1. Set a Daily Practice Opportunity Time Slot

Work out with your child a time of the day for practice It needs to be the same time every day. From it as their "opportunity" to practice rather than it being a chore. The idea is to establish habit. You want them to be self motivated so they don't need constant reminding.

2. Focus on Quality Not Quantity

Explain that there is no set amount of time that must be completed. Together you want to find the quickest way to practice well. A short time of meaningful practice is what works best. You will find that by removing time limits your child will begin to practice more, not less.

3. Plan How to Practice the Instrument

Your child needs to know how to practice, a strategy, a simple method. Here is one that works and is easily explained to younger children. The child should play the piece through as best they can and identify the trouble spots. They then play those bars over a few times carefully and finally play the whole piece again.

4. Praise and More Praise

We all respond best to praise. The very best motivator your child can have is your approval. Compliment them on their playing, often. Praise them when they sit down to begin. Tell them how much you enjoy listening to their pieces. Make a big fuss.

5. Provide an Audience

When you can, give your child the chance to perform for you and other family members. Take older siblings into your confidence (they’ll love it) and explain the need for positive feedback! By giving them the chance to show off their skills, they not only feel special, but will want to practice in order to give a good performance.

6. Liaise With Their Music Instructor

Chat with their teacher often to get a feel for their expectations and suggestions. It allows you both to work together to achieve the best for your child. Also, review the quarterly DMA updates for each student. This tracks their progression, while usually offering additional at-home suggestions.

7. Reward Your Child for Practicing their Instrument

Some children respond to rewards and incentives. These can be useful. The most effective are ones which relate to their instrument or music in some form. (For instance, rewarding them with a trip to the music store for new strings, drumsticks, piano music for a new song, or a CD they want to learn a song from.)

Playing an Instrument Should be Fun

Playing an instrument is a skill which can bring you and your child lasting pleasure and enjoyment. It is meant to be fun. It is meant to be joyful. Motivate them by encouraging their natural playfulness, in making up tunes and experimenting with sounds and harmonies. Continually offer your support and words of encouragement. Our modern kids want to play modern music. Being able to play the latest pop song to their friends may prove to be the best motivator of all!

LEARNING AN INSTRUMENT: INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL MOTIVATION

 Motivation to learn an instrument - Dexter music Lessons orange county

We believe there are two types of motivation involved when learning an instrument- Internal and External. Many people wish their parents would have pushed them harder to continue their piano lessons when they were young. This is external motivation, and we believe there is good cause for external motivation, especially for young kids that can’t yet see the value of hours of practice to gain a skill worthwhile. At the same time, Internal motivation is really what it takes after a student “clicks” with their instrument, and helps them take their skill to higher levels.

Benefits of External Motivation

There are many benefits of external motivation especially when you are young. The main reason that motivation from a parent or teacher is great is because it requires that you stick with something that you might otherwise opt to abandon. Kids are fickle and are prone to ceasing any activities that require them to invest effort over an extended period of time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to learn to play an instrument like the piano. Parental motivation can cause them to commit to learning something that they would regret quitting down the line.

Additionally, external motivation tends to push you to go further with an instrument than you might on your own. A parent or teacher will encourage you to go to the next level. You might be content to just keep playing the piano in a messing around kind of way but that external motivation will teach you skills and move you to a more advanced level of playing.

Benefits of Internal Motivation

In contrast, internal motivation is more difficult to maintain. You’re always going to have competing interests, especially when you are young. Trying to stick with one thing, like playing the piano, isn’t easy. But it does have its benefits. A major benefit is that you’re going to enjoy the experience more. People who are forced to play the piano don’t derive the same sense of enjoyment from it that people who love to play will get from the experience. Even those people who feel proud of their accomplishments don’t necessarily enjoy playing if they’re told they must from an outside source.

An additional benefit of internal motivation is that you are more likely to excel at the instrument if you are driven to get better at it because you really want to do so. A parent or teacher can push you to taking that next level of instruction but they can’t make you want to do well. That sense of striving must come from within. If you have internal motivation, you’ll want to do better and practicing will be a joy.

In Summary

The reality is that there are accomplished (and happy) piano players who fall into each of these camps. It might be best to have a combination of the two sources of motivation. An internal drive can be supported by the encouragement of a parent or teacher so that you can do your best at what you want to do.

BUYING A GUITAR, BASS OR DRUMS

 Tips for buying a guitar, bass or drums - Dexter Music Lessons Orange County

Tips for buying a guitar, bass or drums - Dexter Music Lessons Orange County

Many Resources for Buying an Instrument

There are countless resources online and at a local music store for buying these instruments. When it comes to brands, styles, etc., there are almost no wrong or right answers. We are here to help select a good instrument for you or your child. Feel free to talk with your Dexter Music instructor at your next lesson, or call our office and we can help you through the process.

Know What You Want Before Stepping into a Music Store

One thing to consider, is a novice walking into a Guitar Center can be like a 16 year old walking into a car dealership with a bag of money. Most music stores sell on commission, and even those that don’t are still very much trained to promote the “house” brand, or a brand that they get special financial considerations on. It is best to know what you want before you walk in, to prevent being steered into something better for the store, than for you or your child. We can discuss this with you and let you know what you should be looking for.

We will be further updating this page with a list of actual instruments that work well in different price ranges for different styles of play. 

BUYING A PIANO OR KEYBOARD

 Tips for buying a piano or keyboard - Dexter Music Lessons Orange County

Consider a Keyboard for a Beginner

If you are on the fence about buying a piano, we recommend starting out with a small keyboard for your lessons until there is some progress made. This is unless you really know you want a piano for the furniture aspect as much as for the instrument itself.

Beginning on an inexpensive keyboard works fine for the beginner. In the last five to ten years, the technology has progressed to the point that even a $200 keyboard found at Costco or Target will work just fine for beginning lessons. They will usually come with a simple pedal, which will be your sustain pedal, though that isn’t even needed in the beginning. These less expensive keyboards will not likely have the same 88 key range that a piano has, or larger digital pianos, but that is also not needed at this stage.

Digital Pianos

If you get into the $800 to $1500 range, you can find digital pianos which are closer the look and feel of a piano. The keys are weighted, so they feel more like a piano, and they sit directly on the floor, rather than a cheap stand. They seem more like furniture.

Traditional Pianos

If you are sure you want a real piano, there are limitless options. New pianos can be very expensive, but modest uprights can be found affordably. The sound of an upright is smaller and less impressive, and the argument could be made that a nicer digital keyboard would be a better choice if you are going for a big grand piano sound. This is entirely subjective, however.

Used Pianos

Used pianos can be very risky. A well taken care of piano is a great find, but an old piano will often need hammers, strings and wood work. This will often add hundreds or even thousands  of dollars to the cost. Buying a used piano from a dealer will usually have these things taken care of, but ask about the history and any work that has been done since they took it in.

We would personally prefer a used Yamaha or Steinway to a new “budget” brand piano, but then that is just an opinion as well.

There are countless resources online, and we are working to provide some additional links for your convenience.

5 BENEFITS OF MUSIC EDUCATION

By Espie Estrella, About.com Guide

Learning to play a musical instrument offers a lot of benefits. I personally believe that if there’s one thing you should learn in your lifetime, it’ s how to play an instrument. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Playing A Musical Instrument Makes You Smarter

Many studies have been conducted on the effects of music to the brain. Scientists say that children who are exposed to music, or those who play an instrument, do better in school than those who don’t. Recent research suggests exposure to music may benefit a child’s reading age, IQ and the development of certain parts of the brain. Adults can benefit from learning to play an instrument too because it helps the mind to be alert and remain active eventually helping to sharpen the memory.

2. Playing a Musical Instrument Teaches Discipline

Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak another language and it can be challenging at times. One of the qualities musicians possess is discipline. You have to be disciplined in order to master playing your instrument. You have to set time each day to practice, practice and practice some more.

3. Playing A Musical Instrument Relieves Stress

We all have days when we are so stressed out and we just want to take a break from it all. Have you ever noticed that when you hear soft, soothing music you feel more relaxed? Playing an instrument can do that and more, especially if you’re the one playing. Music is one of life’s simple joys; it helps calm the mind.

4. Playing a Musical Instrument Gives a Sense of Achievement

If you’re a beginner learning to play your first piece, it can be frustrating. But once you’ve mastered it, the satisfaction you’ll feel is priceless. Never mind if it’s just a simple piece, believe me you’ll never forget the first piece you’ve mastered. You are one more step closer to achieving your goal and that is certainly something to be proud of.

5. Playing A Musical Instrument is Fun

Sure it can be a lot of hard work but there is no denying playing an instrument is fun. Once you get better at it, opportunities will arise for you to share your newly learned skill with your family and friends. Who knows, you may also consider playing professionally in the future. Playing a musical instrument opens up a lot of good possibilities that will surely enrich your life.

MUSIC LESSONS GIVE KIDS A SMALL IQ ADVANTAGE

 Music lessons makes kids smarter- Dexter Music Lessons Orange County

Researchers have debunked the much-publicized idea, known as the Mozart effect, that listening to classical music improves children’s ability to reason about spatial relations and other nonverbal tasks. Learning to play a musical instrument or to sing, however, may indeed give youngsters an intellectual edge over their peers, a new study suggests.

Studies on Music Student IQ

Six-year-olds who took weekly piano or singing lessons throughout the school year exhibited an average IQ increase of 7.0 points, says psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Other 6-year-olds who either took weekly drama lessons or received no extracurricular lessons displayed an average IQ rise of 4.3 points, Schellenberg reports in the August Psychological Science.

The small, but statistically significant IQ advantage for music students became apparent from standardized intelligence tests administered at the start and end of first grade. The apparent benefit of the musical training showed up on the test’s verbal and nonverbal sections.

For his study, Schellenberg tracked 132 first graders, who were randomly assigned to one of the four groups. Teachers at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music provided the free piano, singing, or drama lessons. Extracurricular activities such as chess lessons or science programs, in which none of the 132 students was involved, may also nudge IQ upward, Schellenberg theorizes.

The children’s scores on a standard academic achievement test further reflected a musically inspired advantage.

Music Lessons and Cognitive Development

“Music lessons involve experiences that could have a positive effect on cognition, particularly during childhood, when brain development is … sensitive to environmental influence,” Schellenberg says. For instance, musical training requires kids to pay attention for long periods, to read notation, to memorize extended passages, and to master fine-motor skills.

A different benefit emerged for the kids given drama lessons. According to parents’ ratings, those children improved their social skills by the end of first grade, whereas the rest showed no such changes.

The additional IQ boost reported for children who took music lessons is so small that it probably wouldn’t yield any dramatic upgrades in their school performance, remarks psychologist Ellen Winner of Boston College.

“We cannot say from this study what aspects of music education led to this modest improvement in IQ,” she adds. Further investigations will be required to explore the influence on intelligence of specific facets of music training. Winner also notes that the IQ disparities Schellenberg measured could derive from differences in how well the music teachers and drama teachers inspired their students to learn.

Ongoing Study on Music Education and IQ

Winner and neurologist Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard Medical School in Boston are looking to resolve some of these issues in an ongoing long-term study that’s tracking the brains and intellectual development of children as they learn to play musical instruments.

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Check out this cool video on what happens in the brain when a musician plays an instrument.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Science Service, Inc.

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