Friday, 4 November 2016

Caring for your musical instruments

It is a well-known fact that taking care of a musical instrument is essential for when learning to play the instrument. The proper care of musical instruments will help to maintain  the quality of their musical output.

Musical instruments vary in their size, usability and manufacturing material. Depending upon these characteristics, the methods applied to take care of different instruments do of course differ.

Caring for wind instruments

Wind instruments can be played by blowing air through their channels.

  • Do not pick up wind instruments by their keys. Ensure to hold the instrument at the two ends when removing it from its casing and the same care will need to be taken when replacing the instrument back after its use
  • The channels in wind instruments tend to catch moisture from the air that is blown through them when they are being played. The moisture can affect the internal surface of the instrument and create cracks
  • When cleaning the instrument, use clean, dry cloth
  • If an instrument requires assembling before usage, be sure to clean the joints prior to the assembling
  • Try to take your instrument to a repair workshop to ensure that the instrument is perfect and in working order
  • Clean and wipe the mouthpiece of these instruments immediately before and after using them

Caring for brass instruments

The popular use of brass instruments is usually within a band.

  • Brass instruments are generally easily dismantled. However, if you a certain cork is tight, do not force the screws of the cork to open - it’s best to ask for some professional help
  • Once dismantled, these instruments can be washed with some warm water to remove dust particles inside the instrument. Be sure to use a soft cloth to dry the instrument. You may dry the instrument thoroughly in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight
  • Take care to grease all the valves of the instrument with a special valve oil prior to reassembling the instrument
  • Avoid using any chemicals to shine your instrument as they tend to leave a sticky residue on the surface of the instrument

Caring for key instruments

Key instruments are primarily played with the help of the black and white keys and foot pedals.

  • Ensure you are protecting the keys by covering them whenever the instrument is not in use. You can use plastic coated pads as instrument covers
  • Over a period of time, the dust will accumulate on the keys. The dust should be wiped clean with a soft dry cloth
  • If the keys are sticky or jammed, it is recommended that you seek a professionals’ help

Caring for string instruments

Common string instruments are guitars, violins, violas, bass etc

  • Always use a clean dry cloth when cleaning the instrument
  • It is essential that you apply a fresh coat of varnish and wood polish for wooden surfaced instruments
  • Replace strings gradually so not to reduce the strain on them
  • When hanging an instrument with 2 bow strings, make sure to use the one opposite to the chin rest
  • Always follow the user guide issued along with the instrument

General caring needs of musical instruments

Below are some suggestions applicable to any type of instrument. If they are followed correctly, they will help maintain the monetary value and quality of your instrument.

It is advised to keep musical instruments away from extreme temperatures such as excessive cold air, direct sunlight and artificial heat. Make sure to sure your instrument in a cool dry place when it is not in use.

If your instrument needs a repair. If you neglect your instrument it will give a degraded emission sound or a buzzing sound.

To prolong the life of your instrument, it is beneficial to invest in a superior quality protective case; avoid using bags to cover instruments. Also, be sure to return the instrument to its case after every practice or performance, cleaning it beforehand.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Whether learning a musical instrument is due to pursuing a career or for personal fulfillment and recreation, one to one tuition will greatly benefit a new music student.

Working with a private tutor can help a student keep up with peers in a group setting. Each child learns at a different pause and because of the different aspects of performing an instrument, children will progress at varied paces, which is why one to one tuition can be the way forward.

Private lessons can also help minimise frustration when learning. Some may give up learning an instrument because of frustrations, however, with one to one tuition, the teacher will be patient and is there to guide the learner through every step of the way.

Children will learn more quickly the fundamentals of playing. Solid foundations are built for the child to continue learning, playing and succeeding. They will build confidence and, ultimately, won't give up.

They will also learn how to practise and perfect their new found skill - something which will be vital in later life. It is important they practise at home so they are progressing much quicker rather than coming back to private tuitions and possibly forgetting what they have learned if there are gaps between lessons.

Lastly, it's easier to stay motivated with private tuitions. Instructors are knowledgeable about different music literature and styles and can help the student discover what new music to learn and what goal to pursue next.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Sing Lessons vs Vocal Lessons FAQs

We're covering some FAQs regarding singing lessons and vocal lessons below.

What is the difference between singing and vocal lessons?

It is mainly semantics. Those who are just starting out in singing will ask for singing lessons, but those who teach singing will often call themselves voice teachers as they will teach you how to master the use of your 'instrument', which is your voice.

If I've taken time off singing, could I get anywhere if I start up again?

Sometimes, because of like choices, adults with an abundance of talent and music training might stop for a while. This could easily be due to a number reasons - either personal or not having much luck in the industry. However, because the foundation is there, it is easy to pick it up again and get a good sound together. It may also prove to be a benefit as it could mean that a performance is more emotional due to all of that life experience.

Should I take lessons if I only want to sing as a hobby?

This is entirely dependent on your personal preference but if lessons make you sound better and singing makes you feel good as well as making those that enjoy hearing you sing happy, put it in your life.

How can I tell if my child needs voice lessons?

Many children and teenagers will start to sing naturally because they have an impulse. A great place to develop a young singing voice is in a choir. They will learn fundamental musicianship, harmony, counting, and staying tune.

However, if there aren't any choir opportunities nearby, you may want to get them into voice lessons that are gentle and fun, using a combination of pure singing and easy pop singing. They will develop good habits but stay interested!

Progress Academy offer both singing and vocal lessons!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Latest News from Progress Academy

A lot has been happening at Progress Academy - and we thought that now would be a good time to tell you all about it...

In January, Steve and Gaz attended the NAMM Show in Los Angeles - the largest music trade event in the world. This was swiftly followed by a hugely successful showcase event carried at at St. Paul's Church in Birmingham. This saw over 35 students performing in front of a crowd of well over 120 people.

In March, Steve toured all over the world demonstrating the new Marshall Code series of Amps.

Closer to home, one of our brightest students - Beth Ford - performed at The Symphony Hall in Birmingham... at the tender age of just 15!

In April, The Voice visited Progress Academy to check out students for the upcoming new series, while Universal and Polydor Records came for a secret scouting event where they talked to and watched 10 of our best students perform.

Finally, Gaz is part of the Natal Drums team organising the drumbeat UK event. This is a world record attempt of 1001 drummers playing together. You can find out more at

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

How Do I Choose Which Musical Instrument to Learn?

Learning to play a musical instrument will be one of the greatest things you could ever do for your mind, as well as for yourself. Regardless if you are a beginner, playing in a band, or are a skilled individual, the process is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun!

If you're starting a clean slate and do not know what you want to play, it is good to know that anything is possible

Choosing a variety

The instrument that is a popular choice for beginners is the piano. This is mostly because it is really simple to see the music. It is also featured in many different cultures and styles of music, both piano and keyboard.

Piano variations you may be able to add to your skills include:

  • Accordion
  • Harpsichord
  • Organ
  • Synthesizer
Guitar can vary from classical to death metal, learning to play the guitar can open up many doors into different musical styles. The guitar is another popular choice amongst budding musicians and first-timers. Pinning down the basics of guitar can lead you onto other instruments to add to your six-string canon:

Mastering percussion is all about keeping the time of most music groups. In most bands, this will come in the form of a kit drum, whereas there are other combos which will feature widely in a variety of instrument that can be hit on with mallets, sticks or hands.

Other percussion instruments include:

  • Bells and Cymbals
  • Congas and Bongos
  • Drum set
  • Glockenspiel
  • Timpani
  • Vibraphone