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8 Gadgets Every Recording Studio Must Have

Recording studios come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It may be an amateur booth in your bedroom, a studio in your garage, or you may own and run a fully-fledged professional set up. Whichever it is, you can access the right kit to make it a functional and top-class recording space and purchase the gadgets that every recording studio must have. This might cost you a considerable amount, to begin with, but the pay off is worth it in terms of a quality finished album. Or if it’s a commercial studio, to attract higher-profile clients.

Recording

If you’re planning to buy some studio time rather than create your own space, this article will help you to understand what you need to look for when choosing your venue. And which add on gadgets may be useful in getting that perfect track.

Related:- How to Do Vocal Runs: 7 Simple Steps

What does every recording studio need?

While style and staff will be different from one studio to another, each will have many things in common. Alongside a purpose build, part of the makeup of a studio is its equipment. Most studios will list what they have on their website, so you can identify whether they’ll be able to provide what you need. Let’s begin by looking at the basics required to record your own music professionally.

  • Computer
  • DAW (digital audio workstation -the software used to compose, produce, record, mix and edit audio and MIDI)
  • An audio Interface
  • Microphones – usually a condenser is best
  • Headphones
  • Studio Monitors with isolation pads -if you have several you’ll need a gadget to manage these – more o that later
  • Cables (invest in some snake cables)
  • Microphone Stands
  • A pop filter
  • Mounts and shock mounts

These items will get you started. But there are many more gadgets that’ll prove invaluable in the process. You’ll soon want to move onto getting the following in your studio…

  1. Power Conditioner
  2. Microphone preamp
  3. Headphone amp
  4. Monitor and MIDI controllers
  5. Uninterruptible Power Supply
  6. Direct Box
  7. Master Clocks
  8. Signal booster

Creating a Professional recording studio setup

High quality professional standard equipment is what makes successful music stand out from amateur attempts. Let’s take a look at these eight gadgets in more detail to see what they do and how they might benefit you.

#1 A power conditioner

The electric currents running through your equipment aren’t smooth. They’ll be spikes and surges, manifesting in musical terms as a low-level electrical noise or minor interruptions. If this is something you’ve experienced, then it’s well worth getting a power conditioner to even this out. This is not the same as a surge protector, which prevents dangerous surges in electricity. Power conditioners are purely about the sound.

Music studio gadgets

Some of these gadgets may be new to you completely. Even if you’ve recorded tracks before, you may not have realised what some of the boxes and wires were.

#2 A microphone preamp

You’ve obviously heard of an amp, but what about a preamp? These are necessary when recording vocals. Mics give off a weak signal, so this little gadget is the go-between for your mic and the mixer. It’s less important if you use a condenser, but generally necessary for ribbons and dynamic microphones. You must get a good one – it can transform a poor mic if it’s good, but ruin even a good mic’s sound if it’s not. Find out some of the best preamps of 2020 in this article by Music Critic. It’s also worth getting a reflection filter fitted onto your mic.

#3 A headphone amp

While we’re on amps, we should mention the headphone amp. This translates the signal from your turntable, PC, or smartphone a higher to such a level that is can be recognised as sound waves by the speakers inside your headphones. This improves the quality, enabling you to hear and in turn perform, better. The caveat here is that a headphone amp is only useful if you’re using high-quality phones. If you have a cheap pair and a home studio setup it may not be worth the investment.

What equipment do you need for music production?

So what else will might you need for music-making and production in the studio?

#4 Monitor management and MIDI controllers

Monitors in the studio are speakers, not screens. And you need something with which to control them. This enables you to switch between multiple monitors, adjust levels and inputs gaining complete control over your entire monitor setup. If you have many instruments and backing singers in your recording, there will be monitors everywhere. Types of monitor controllers include compact, active, passive, intuitive, wired, Bluetooth and high resolution.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers on the other hand sequence music and play virtual instruments on your computer by sending data to the computer or synthesizer. This, in turn, regurgitates the signal and spits out a complete sound. This will, of course, be an important device in building your track, if you’re a vocalist needing virtual backing.

#5 An uninterruptible power supply

Known at UPS, these are by no means exclusive to the recording studio. They’re used anywhere you need a constant supply of energy in the event of a power failure. This is vital in a professional studio, as any interruptions could ruin that perfect take and lose everything you’ve done so far. And when musicians are paying by the hour, they don’t want to be delayed or have to repeat sections, because your kit wasn’t up to scratch. A power conditioner purely irons out the current, but can’t protect your supply in the event of a mains fail, so you should have both of these gadgets.

Related:- 5 Signs That It’s Time To Give Up On A Song

The best studio gadgets

#6 A direct signal box

Also known as a DI (direct insertion or direct injection) box, this is a kind of transformer and relates to the instruments you’ll be using in the studio (if you’re just covering vocals with backing tracks, give the direct signal box a miss). It reduces distortion, hum and ground noise by converting an high resistance unbalanced, instrument output signal into a balanced, low resistance input mic signal. In essence, this gives a better sound on your instruments. It then splits the sound from the jack to the audio interface. Musicians can also get direct signal boxes suitable for stage performance too.

Direct signal boxes are especially handy if you need to run cables over long distances, as the sound can often get distorted in the process. You can choose between a passive and an active box. The latter is pricier and runs off a battery, AC or phantom power, providing significantly improved sound quality. Passive boxes are great for home studios and can be plugged straight into the console. Many DI boxes are designed with specific instruments in mind, so it’s ideal if your studio has a few to choose from. And if you’re buying do some research on the best model for you

#7 A master clock

We’re not talking about the thing you hang on the wall. This is one of the high tech gadgets every recording studio must have. In the recording studio, we’re continually intermixing both analogue and digital inputs and outputs. A continuous analogue signal must be sampled at regular intervals. A master clock or ‘word clock’ provides this information allowing the sound waves to be reconstructed as an analogue signal correctly when required. The clock identifies when each sample should be recorded or replayed. Beyond this, it also identifies each encoded audio channel in multi-channel systems. And a master clock looks nothing like a traditional clock by the way!

Professional recording studio equipment 

#8 The signal booster

We’ve got into some pretty technical territory, but we’ll finish up with a more generically familiar device – the signal booster. Chances are you have one of these in your home if you live somewhere with an extended area of space.

Like a mains fail with your power, a loss of internet signal can be catastrophic, losing your takes and costing you valuable time -and money. A weak signal is incredibly frustrating. So don’t take any chances. Even if your connection is usually strong, it just takes a local issue to knock it out. And you’ll get things done faster with a signal booster. It also goes without saying that you should get the best broadband available in your area.

The other possible ‘gadget’ we’ve not explored in detail is the DAW. This is because it’s not always a gadget, but rather integrated software. However, it is possible to buy a DAW in device form. According to Consordini, these are some of the best DAW software buys of 2020.

Avid Pro Tools

Apple Logic Pro X

Ableton Live

Image Line FL Studio

Cockos Reaper

Reason Studios Reason

Steinberg Cubase

PreSonus Studio One

The home recording studio setup 

In addition to these gadgets, you’ll benefit from using hardware including bass traps, diffusers and acoustic panels to dampen the sound and absorb unwanted extraneous noise. These are part of your kit, rather than being a gadget as such. Bass traps work a lot like acoustic panels, but unlike panels, they don’t just absorb the low-end frequencies in the recording area. Bass traps will make the low frequencies easier to control and recognize, creating a crisper, cleaner and more interesting layering of sound. If this is all a bit too overwhelming, you can purchase an all in one start-up production bundle for a few hundred pounds. You can find out more about building your own DIY studio in this article.

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How to Do Vocal Runs: 7 Simple Steps

Vocal runs are popular in contemporary music but have been around since the inception of gospel and jazz traditions. Many of the biggest names in pop, rock and R&B are expert in these skills and use them to make songs their own. It’s a surefire way to create a totally unique interpretation, even if it’s been sung many times before.

Vocal

This is often known as artistic licence or creative liberty – where you add in fresh elements to turn out something brand new that deviates from the norm. Watch this video to see how easy – or difficult – these Tik Tokers found riffs and runs!

What are vocal runs and riffs?

Vocal runs are fast melodic sequences ‘running’ up or down a scale. A riff is similar but lasts on average between two and four notes. They are musical enhancements used to add emotion and intensity, rather than purely showcase the voice (if used for the latter, the performance will feel quite empty and shallow).

The ability to sing up and down a scale, around the topline and over the melody, can have spine-tingling results. But how can you achieve these and what do you have to do to prep the voice?

What is the easiest way to do riffs and runs?

Some singers will sing runs and riffs instinctively, particularly if they’ve been exposed to them since childhood. If that’s not you and it doesn’t happen automatically, the easiest way to achieve them is to follow our simple steps to success.

#1 Learn the melody first

You have to know the rules to break them. So make sure you’re note-perfect throughout an entire song before messing about with it. This is important, as when trying runs for the first time, there is a risk of going off the pitch or clashing with the topline. Along with this, you should get to know the tempo and rhythm at al sections of the song.

We recommend you practice with a metronome at this stage. This will be key in slotting in your flourish, so it fits in a way that is sonically cohesive. If you have a very strong innate musicality this will stand you in good stead. But if not, it’s vital you have the basics down before moving onto advanced effects.

Related:- 5 Signs Of Creative Stagnation To Watch Out For In Music

Riffs and runs vocal training

So now you know your song inside out, what’s next?

#2 Become vocally agile

If you read our articles regularly, you’ll already know how important the foundations are. To develop any new technique, you’ll need to have worked on correct breathing as well as always warming-up and warming-down. Vocal runs require control and – usually – a good range. While it’s possible to produce them with a limited register, the more access you have, particularly to your upper range, the more room you’ll have to play around. You should also be used to sliding your voice up and down. So in practical terms, this means lots of scales, sirens and breathing exercises.

Riffs and runs exercises

You’ll need more than your basic exercises to get to grips with riffs and runs. Here are your next steps.

#3 Speed up your scales

Now it’s time to try those scales again, but much faster. You should build up speed gradually rather than suddenly to keep the clarity. As you get faster, the notes ‘run’ together as one. This is the start of your vocal runs. Try gradually slowing down too. You’re aiming to speed up and slow down at will. This adds to your vocal toolbelt in terms of what’s within your control and what you can do.

#4 Use Ng

It’s important to keep your vocals safe while you experiment. You can do this by practising your runs on an Ng sound. This forces your tongue up to your soft palate and protects the throat and vocal cords in the process. You don’t want to perform like this, but it’s a good technique to employ while you’re picking it up.

Vocal riffs and runs exercises: download and tutorials

This guide outlines simple steps. But if you struggle to pick up musical techniques by yourself, it can help to download vocal riffs and runs exercise programme. Or you can use a video tutorial like this one from Tyshan Knight to help you. These provide a more in-depth guide perfect for those who have less singing experience.

There are two routes to a run.

  1. You sing a run already created by another singer. This is just a case of listening and copying the movement of the notes and is a good way for newbies to get the hang of it. Try their runs very slowly, then use a metronome to gradually move up in speed.
  2. Craft your own. This may be off the cuff if you’re very experienced (more on the risks associated with that shortly). Or pre-prepared and possibly even written down, so you know exactly what notes you plan to hit and where you’re going with them. This is a useful way to approach it as an intermediate singer.

Crafting vocal runs

Your vocal runs must be crafted. If you go too far with them, you can end up oversinging (using runs, riffs, whoops and vibrato to excess). If you plan on making your own, bear this in mind, especially if going for an off the cuff approach.

#5 Understand pitching 

You will have already got to grips with the pitch of the song you’re singing. This will be your starting block for pitching your riffs and runs. If you plan on coming up with your own runs, it will help to be able to play your notes on a piano when experimenting. Here’s a guide for how to do this.

The best vocal runs

#6 Rehearse them to sound improvised

While many runs may sound improvised – and there is a place for that in live performance – it’s better to have rehearsed them thoroughly beforehand. You could even write down the notes once you’ve established them through some experimentation. Once you have an abundance of on-stage experience and have nailed this technique, then and only then, can you risk a little improv. So the trick is, to make them sound like they’re off the cuff, when in fact you know exactly what’s coming and what you plan to do (and so do your backing band/singers).

#7 Listen to other singers 

Often the best way to pick something up is to see it in action and to some degree, copy. The caveat is, you must only imitate those who are very good at what they do! With that in mind, we’ve compiled some videos of great songs and singers featuring impressive vocal runs.

Related:- 5 Signs That It’s Time To Give Up On A Song

Songs with vocal runs

You might be curious to see and hear some of the best vocal runs out there. And this forms one of your steps to success. There are so many great singers from which to take your cues. Here are just a few and some great songs you might like to try out with some vocal runs of your own.

Feeling Good by Nina Simone 

Let’s begin with a classic. Many female singers have taken inspiration from the likes of jazz heroines like Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. They’re also handy case studies for those with lower voices, proving that you don’t need to have a whistle register to be able to pull off amazing runs.

Dangerous Woman by Ariane Grande

This is a great one to watch because it’s totally stripped back, leaving nothing but Ariane’s incredible vocals laid bare. The a cappella version of Dangerous Woman really enables you to hear the mechanics of those runs and how perfectly on the note and in time Ariane is at all times.

All of Me by John Legend

As John accompanies himself, he has room for a whole lot of licence when playing live. Some of his riffs are almost imperceptible as his style is so smooth and fluid. If you play an instrument this will be a great help in allowing yourself plenty of room to manoeuvre. If you’re using a backing track or performing with other musicians, just be sure to stick within the tempo of the song and you’ll be fine.

R&B vocal runs

More emphasis is placed on the vocals than the lyrics in this genre. So it’s a great area of study for the singer wanting to understand runs and riffs.

7 Days by Craig David

Not all vocal runs have to be big and dramatic. This enduring hit from Craig David demonstrates a gentler approach to the technique, that’s hugely effective in a very different way.

Fallin’ by Alicia Keys

It can be useful to watch live performances, such as this one by Alicia Keys at the Apple Music Festival, especially if you plan to vamp your runs. There’s a huge amount of vocal dynamics going on in this piece, as she goes from loud to soft and back again, as well as adjusting the tempo.

Georgia On My Mind by Usher

This may not be how you’re used to seeing and hearing R&B singer Usher, but this cover of the Ray Charles hit is a great showcase for his beautiful runs and riffs. Hopefully, you’re now inspired to get started experimenting with some vocal runs of your own. Not only do they create a great ornamental effect in your sets, practising them helps increase your vocal flexibility. If you’ve ever felt intimidated at the prospect in the past or are unsure where to start with riffs and runs, follow these 7 steps and you’ll be crooning like Mariah Carey in no time

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5 Signs That It’s Time To Give Up On A Song

Every songwriter Time has had the experience of getting sucked into a creative rabbit hole while working on a specific musical idea. If we’re lucky, momentary frustration leads to creative resourcefulness. Sometimes a great song is waiting for us at the end, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. In many instances, it’s best to quit working on an idea before we invest too much time into it.

Time

We can then save our time and energy for better songs. The hard part is knowing exactly when to stop and why. Every songwriter’s process is different. If you are in one of these situations while working on a song, it might be time to move on to something else:

It’s not memorable

If your idea doesn’t have staying power with you, then it has little chance of resonating with your audience. For some artists, this means putting the work into creating infectious melodies and beats. For others, it’s about crafting unique production aesthetics and meaningful lyrics. But regardless of your identity, if your idea doesn’t stick with you after you work on it, it could be a sign that it’s not worth finishing. If you haven’t done the hard work of nailing down what makes your music unique and memorable, it’s worth thinking about as you try to separate ideas worth pursuing from ones you shouldn’t.

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You wouldn’t want to listen to it

If you wouldn’t want to listen to your idea, there’s a good chance others wouldn’t want to either. Your idea might be technically brilliant, masterfully performed, and even obnoxiously catchy, but that doesn’t mean it’s listenable. Defining what makes music listenable deserves its own blog. But think about what it means for you by nailing down specific features that draw you into other artists’ music. If you’ve been toiling over an idea for weeks, months, or years and it’s still not something you find yourself wanting to hear, it’s probably time to give it up.

It doesn’t go anywhere

One of the most frustrating songwriting scenarios is the dreaded verse, bridge, or chorus that never quite resolves or develops into something bigger. If you’ve managed to write one great section of a song but can’t seem to build it out into a finished idea, it makes sense why you’d want to keep working on it for as long as it takes. Unfortunately, songwriting isn’t something where artists can simply exchange their time for good ideas. Your idea could lead to a dead-end no matter what you do. Before you waste too much time on something, try to think critically about what you’re doing by asking if what you’re working on has the potential to become a finished song or not.

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It feels forced

There’s a massive difference between putting the hard work into your songwriting practice and forcing ideas to become finished songs. Believe it or not, the creative process is actually quite a fragile thing. By rushing or forcing ideas, they’ll end up suffering for it. If you don’t have the attention span or inspiration to work on an idea, consider hitting the pause button on it and picking it up later. If it still feels like you’re forcing the work when you pick things up again, it’s most likely a sign that you’ve got a dead-end idea on your hands.

You dread working on it

Songwriting isn’t something any of us will feel 100% excited and enthused about all of the time. But it’s a bad sign if the thought of working on a specific song fills you with dread. Creating music takes a great deal of innovative and problem-solving energy. Yet, it gives musicians something powerful in return. Making music is instantaneously fun and creatively rewarding for songwriters throughout most or all parts of the creative process. Yes, there are often times when the rewarding side of music takes a back seat while working on something tricky. However, if you’ve never felt genuine joy creating a piece of music, it could be because the music just isn’t worth paying attention to.

Giving up on an idea goes against what many musicians are taught, which is the idea that if we just keep going, we’ll succeed. In reality, we only have so much time and energy to devote to our music, so letting go of ideas is crucial for making time to focus on songs that have the most potential.

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5 Signs Of Creative Stagnation To Watch Out For In Music

There comes a point in every serious musician’s career when creativity, fun, and inspiration are hard to come by. The causes of creative stagnation are different for each of us, but all music-makers experience it eventually. Some musicians are able to spot a lack of ambition or inspiration in their creative lives.

creative

Others slowly sink into ruts without realizing it. If you can easily spot one of these red flags in your music career, it’s likely you’re creatively stuck and need a change.

Writing the same songs over and over again

If you can’t help hitting repeat when it comes to your creative process, stagnation is probably to blame. Some of us get into the habit of writing the same music for months or even years because it feels predictable and safe to do so. But as we all know, predictability and safety aren’t helpful when it comes to making meaningful music. Making the conscious effort to let curiosity and risk shape your creative process will help you if you’re unable to write something truly new or different.

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Not invested in getting better, feeling unchallenged

One hopeful, beautiful thing about making music is that we are always capable of writing a better song. It’s a challenge that fuels my work and motivates me to write whether I’m feeling creatively inspired or musically bored. If you’re constantly feeling unchallenged and lack the desire to get better, you’re at a serious point of creative stagnation and need to make big changes to stay in the game. Make music long enough, and you’re bound to experience heartbreak and disappointment. But instead of letting this fact beat you down, focus on what moves you in the process of making music. Rather than settling for OK, strive to create music that got you interested in doing this in the first place.

Feeling disconnected from joy and curiosity

Without a strong emotional pull towards creating and performing, musicians will find it hard to make progress in their careers. To put it a simpler way, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Writing, playing shows, releasing music, and touring should all be fun, emotionally rewarding activities in your career. Yes, there’s a massive amount of work that goes into maintaining a music career. But if there’s nothing fun or instantly gratifying about it, you’ll need to change things around to get back to the point where you love what you do again.

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Viewing music-making as an obligation and not as something rewarding and energizing

Most non-musicians would be shocked to learn how much tedious administrative work goes into sustaining a music career and that the vast majority of un established and small artists take on duties like booking shows, planning tours, and promoting music themselves. It’s natural to view these things as chores but if the thought of writing songs or playing shows fills you with obligatory dread, something big needs to be addressed in your music career. Whether the project you’re playing in just doesn’t do it for you anymore or you need to take a break from making music and performing your own work, serious changes need to happen if you want to keep making music.

Not having access to new opportunities after years of work

Have you been hard at work for years and are faced with the same opportunities and limitations you found when you first started? There’s a good chance creative stagnation is to blame. Music is a brutal industry to compete in. Yet, if your music is solid and you’re working hard, you should access to more shows and fans over time. A lack of music opportunities could be because you’re creatively stuck and unable to make work that resonates with people. This can be a hard pill to swallow. However, committing to dropping everything in your music career to focus on creating the best work you can may help.

Feeling creatively stagnant isn’t something you should feel bad about. We’ve all been there before as musicians, and those who haven’t will at some point. Rather than accepting defeat and waiting for inspiration, you can diagnose the problem and work towards a solution.

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4 Types Of Content Musicians Can Video Streams

For the past few weeks, we have seen many weekly live video streams by different musicians, producers, and record labels. However, video streaming should not just be about live music.

video

It offers many other opportunities artists can utilize! So, in this blog post, I would like to highlight four ways musicians can use video streaming services:

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1. Teach a workshop

Teach your fans some tricks of your trade. This includes showcasing your instrument techniques, talking about how you wrote a song, or screen sharing some music production sessions. You get to create an exclusive atmosphere by teaching a workshop to your fans. All in all, teaching a workshop is a very effective way to create an engaged and meaningful conversation with your fans.

A great workshop idea is to break down one of your songs and discuss the composition, arrangement, and recording phases. You could even charge fans for this event, and this could help you generate some extra revenue.

2. Showcase the studio

Another exciting content idea is to show what’s behind the scenes during the recording in the studio. Show your fans your favorite microphones, guitars, pianos or amps, and walk them through the studio! The more people will be exposed into the creative process of a song in the making, the more they will be connected to you and your music.

If recording sessions are more of a private process for you, you can also showcase a mixing or mastering session. A mixing session could especially be interesting as you can provide a sneak peek to a brand new song. This way, you can highlight some behind the scenes action while also create anticipation with a new song teaser.

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3. Stream the rehearsal and jam session

Another great idea is to stream your band rehearsals in real-time. Depending on how the rehearsal goes, this might even end up feeling like a little show, but in a really raw way. The point is to be as sincere and authentic as possible. So this could work really well as engaging content.

Also, you can have guest musicians sit in during a rehearsal, or better yet, set up a whole jam session. This way, you can drive the audiences of the guest musicians to your stream, which could mean more engagement, and potentially more fans.

Maybe it’s knowing that some mistakes could be made or witnessing a new song in the making, but there is something really exciting about broadcasting your rehearsals in real-time to the fans. Regardless, for a band to share a rehearsal with their fans is a pretty powerful way to make them feel like they’re in the same room.

4. Do a Q&A session

Q&A sessions are excellent as they literally drive the conversation with your fans. Q&A sessions are usually open-format in terms of question content, so you get to show who you are as a person to the fans, share stories, and really create an intimate atmosphere with them. You might also talk about the meaning behind a song lyric, the story behind recording an album, or your experiences during the making of a project.

You can also charge for your Q&A sessions, rather than making it available to the general public. Charging fans a small amount and taking questions from them personally is totally a fair exchange that many artists participate in.

Final Words

Video streaming is a great opportunity for many musicians these days to engage with their fans and make some extra revenue. It’s best to keep the general tone of the video streams ‘light’ and not polished. It should not feel like a production, or rehearsed. In fact, the more real and sincere the content is, the more engagement and responses it receives.

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5 Tips For Livestreaming Musical Concerts

From packed arena tours to modestly attended open mic nights, the ways we used to share musical performances with people were events most of us took for granted. But now that the vast majority of shows have been put on hold, musicians and audiences crave musical connection and meaning through live performances like never before.

musical

While digital concerts can’t replace the real thing, they’re your best shot at keeping in touch with fans and maintaining an income through live music right now. These five tips will help yours look and sound professional, and make an impact on your audience.

1. Check your internet connection and turn notifications off

Let’s begin with the easy stuff. You’ll need a strong and uninterrupted internet connection to livestream your performances. A spotty internet signal will result in poor image and sound quality for your shows, or potentially the unintended and premature ending of a performance long before you planned to wrap up. Also, turn off the notifications on your devices. A phone call, for example, can embarrassingly sink your live-stream if you’re recording it on your phone. These are easy problems to solve, but not addressing these live-stream basics can severely impact the quality of your shows.

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2. Prioritize delivering professional sound

In today’s music-hungry world, fans will forgive the sound quality of your digital concerts not being up to par. But if you’re serious about making an impact through livestreaming performances, the attention you put into delivering professional sound will go a long way. The mic on your smartphone, tablet, or computer isn’t good enough to present the music you’re playing in a clear and compelling way, and winging it with the bare minimum of sound equipment means that critical parts of your music won’t make it to the speakers of your listeners. But with minimal equipment and a little planning, anyone can live-stream with professional sound.

3. Recognize that you’re not playing on stage

Shredding in your living room isn’t the same as shredding on stage. The livestreaming format is much different than in-person shows, so tailor your performances accordingly. For example, most performers don’t engage with audiences in venues. However, digital concerts are great for answering your fans’ questions, playing their song requests, and speaking with them directly. Although livestreaming is for musicians and audiences who are separated, there’s an inherent intimacy in the nature of these shows. Acting aloof or unavailable won’t help you connect with listeners.

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4. Perform in clean, engaging settings

At risk of sounding like your Mom, I need to tell you that no one wants to see your messy room during digital concerts. In fact, no one wants to see your poorly lit or boring space for these kinds of shows either. It doesn’t take much thought or effort to create an interesting setting to perform in. It could be in your backyard, an interesting room in your house, or a backdrop that you dream up yourself. Aim to livestream in settings that reflect and support your identity as an artist.

5. Focus on making your performances special

What makes live music special to you? You might not be able to transport the same energy, theatrics, settings, and surprises that shape the in-person music experiences you love, but trying goes a long way. If your digital concerts can lift spirits and inspire people during this time, your audiences will remember you for it. So whether it’s going the extra mile through an unexpected collaboration, backdrop created by a visual artist, or dramatic announcement shared over livestream, making your digital concerts special is a huge factor in whether these performances will end up being successful or not for you. Just like conventional shows, the more effort and planning you put into digital concerts, the more you and your fans will get out of them.

Like everything in music, it takes practice to get livestreaming right. But those who put in the effort have the chance to earn money and comfort audiences during a challenging time.

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How to Rap for Beginners | Learn How to Rap Fast

There is far more to being a rapper than writing rhymes and spitting them out. Breath control is essential, as well as diction, flow and timing. Rapping isn’t exclusive to men either as many female rappers, especially in the UK, are beginning to make waves.

Rap

We’ve got some great tips to help you learn to rap, as well as some advice to help you rap faster. The hardest part is usually getting started so let’s look at how you can get into rapping.

How do you get into rapping?

Nothing is stopping you from learning how to rap. All it takes is a bit of courage and a love of hip-hop music to find the motivation to be a rapper. It isn’t easy and just because you can sing doesn’t mean you can rap. The same goes for those who can rap as it won’t guarantee you’ll be a good singer.

Different rappers have their own distinct style and flow. Some are lightning-fast whereas others like to draw out their words. Some are more melodic and some like to focus more on wordplay. Think about the rappers you like and what makes them unique. This will help you find your own style as a rapper.

How to rap

  • Listen to hip-hop
  • Rap with rhythm and flow
  • Learn your favourite rap songs
  • Go outside your comfort zone
  • Find your attitude
  • Rap acapella
  • Work on your diction
  • Play with dynamics
  • Freestyle rap
  • Write your own rhymes

Does rapping have to rhyme

Like poetry, it isn’t essential for raps to rhyme. However, it definitely helps. Many rappers judge their abilities by how well they rhyme. This isn’t just having similar sounding words at the end of a line or bar. This includes layering multiple rhymes and poetic techniques in a single delivery.

However, with rapping being so diverse, there is no real limitation on whether you actually have to rhyme or not. If it sounds good then there’s no problem!

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How to be a rapper

1.  Listen to hip-hop

If you’re looking to learn how to be a rapper or simply want to improve on the skills you already have, then you aren’t going to do it well without listening to hip-hop. Whether it’s Eminem, Drake or Kendrick Lamar, there are countless incredible rappers that you can look to for inspiration.

Whilst hip-hop is very male-dominated, there are some incredible women who have made a name for themselves. Female rappers such as Lauryn HillMissy Elliott and Little Simz are great examples for any girls looking to rap.

It’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the culture and the different sounds of hip-hop and rap music to understand the influences and foundation of this particular genre.

How to rap on beat

2. Rap with rhythm and flow

It’s important to remember that rapping is much more than just saying a few words that rhyme, it’s just as much about the rhythm. A great way to get the feel for rhythm in hip-hop is by focusing on just the instrumental of the song. You’ll start to get a sense of how the words fit into the beat.

The foundations of rhythm in rap are the syllables in your lyrics. Treat each syllable of a word as a beat to be synchronised with your instrumental. If your lyrics contain too many syllables then you won’t be able to fit it over the beat that you’re rapping over. This can push rhymes out of place or make your flow sound forced and unnatural.

With words that contain multiple syllables, some are emphasised and others that are not. When pronouncing words, we naturally emphasise a stressed syllable. It is good to identify the stressed syllables in a word as they are the most effective part of a word to use for rhyming.

What is flow in rap?

Flow is the relationship between the rhythm of your delivery and the rhymes you use. Every rapper has their own flow that can vary across different tracks. There is no right or wrong way to flow as a rapper. All you need to focus on is being authentic and sincere. Originality is also very important because ripping off another rapper’s flow isn’t going to win you any points.

3. Learn your favourite songs

Listen to your favourite rappers and learn from them. Practising their lyrics will help you find a flow to rap with and also teach you about rhyming. If you can learn your favourite songs to a point where you can deliver them a cappella then you will find it much easier to take the next step towards writing and performing your own rhymes.

4. Go outside your comfort zone

You might find yourself drawn to a certain style of rap, whether that’s Atlanta trap, New York boom-bap or anything else. However, it is good to go out of your comfort zone and discover other forms of hip-hop. This will prevent you from sounding like your simply imitating a specific style. You will also become a more well-rounded rapper and also open your mind to new styles and flows.

5. Find your attitude

Having confidence in yourself and your lyrics will help you connect emotionally to your song. The easiest way to build confidence with your vocals is to just enjoy the experience. You will find this helps you engage with your audience and put on a better show. The more you practice the easier it is to enjoy yourself and this will also help you to memorise your lyrics and relax.

Rapping is about attitude and performance as much as it is about technique. To give a stand out performance you have to be able to feel the music throughout the whole of your body. If your brain and body are not in tune with the beat, it’s safe to say your rapping will look and feel stiff and unnatural.

One of the most common reasons for this is often from overthinking, such as trying to make sure you stay on time or not being confident in your own words. Learn to be in the moment and deliver your best performance when it matters.

6. Rap a capella

Try and rap a capella once you have learnt how to rap to a beat. This will not only improve your confidence but if you can rap without any aid of a backing track then you know you have mastered rhythm and staying on beat.

Learning to beatbox is also a great tool to help learn rhythm. It’s a great technique you can use in your performance alongside rapping and help you connect with other rappers.

7. Work on your diction

It’s no good mastering a good rhyme if you’re unable to rap the words effectively. Emphasise the consonants – don’t try and rap the way you would normally talk. Keep your words clear and sharp. Remember the rhythm is more important than rhyme. If you’re freestyling, don’t stop if your words don’t rhyme. If you keep on beat then everything will be fine, as the rhythm will help you get back on track. It’s ok to think about your next line but remember to still give 100% to the line you’re currently rapping.

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8. Play with dynamics

Having complete control of the dynamics of your voice will help you deliver the right message in your song. Intonation (the rise and fall of your voice) and pitching are powerful ways to change the meaning of your lyrics. Take one of your bars and try playing around with how you deliver it. Think about the following line as well and how your dynamics relate to it.

Delivering one line more softly allows you to make the next one sound harder. Compare this to a constant dynamic that won’t allow for any significant changes in your delivery. This can make your rapping sound boring.  By switching up your dynamic you can put more emphasis on important lines and make a bigger impact.

9. Rap with emotion

Learning how to embrace the power of emotion is vital for giving your audience a convincing performance and conveying the lyrical content. Emotion is characterised by your tone of voice, which is conveyed through changes in pitch, volume, speed etc. Focusing on the emotions of your lyrics will help you deliver the message to your audience more effectively.

A good technique to practice is to identify the emotion connected to a keyword in your rap, then try and act out this emotion whilst saying the word.

10. Freestyle rap

Freestyle rapping is essentially improvisation with words. Unlike soloing where you only have to focus on notes, freestyling requires a focus on notes and lyrics. This presents an extra challenge that can put many people off. However, it is well worth learning to freestyle as it will make you a better rapper.

Put on an instrumental and take some bars to get some lyrics in your mind. Try using a website like RapPadto help you come up with ideas on the fly.

Exercises to rap faster

Rapping as fast as possible is something many rappers try as a way to challenge themselves. Some rappers make this a part of their style and might say as many words in 16 bars as others will in a whole song. Here are some exercises you can use to rap faster.

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How to Make Money from Your Music on SoundCloud

SoundCloud is notoriously popular among independent artists. The platform helps indie artists upload, stream, and make money on their original music. Savvy users can even connect distributors and online stores to their SoundCloud to make more money.

money

Every musiciandream is to make money from their craft, and SoundCloud helps independent artists on their way to do just that. This article gives a full breakdown of the best ways to optimise your earning potential on SoundCloud. 

Can you make money on SoundCloud? 

Independent artists across the board have been able to make money on SoundCloud since 2018; when SoundCloud Premier was re-launched with a revised set of rules 

The monetisation programme existed before 2018 but was an invite-only beta until the programme was changed a couple of years ago. The new, revamped SoundCloud Premier has become much more inclusive and allows any indie artists who self-upload tracks to make money on SoundCloud. 

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How do you qualify for monetisation on SoundCloud? 

You’ll have to tick a few boxes to qualify for monetisation on SoundCloud. To start with, you need to be signed up to SoundCloud Premier to start making money from your music.  

To be eligible for SoundCloud Premier, you need to be:

  • 18 years old or above 
  • An independent, original creator 
  • A Pro or Pro Account SoundCloud member 
  • An artist who has at least 5,000 plays in the past month from SoundCloud monetised countries
  • An account holder with no copyright strikes 

How to monetise a track on SoundCloud 

Once you’ve signed a SoundCloud Premier agreement, you can submit a request to monetise your tracks on the platformIf you’re approved, a blue icon will appear beside your content.  

When you’ve got your account approved, you can monetise multiple tracks on your SoundCloud account at once by following these steps: 

  1. Step 1

    Go to your tracks page and select all the tracks you want to monetise.  

  2. Step 2

    Press the “Edit tracks” button and click “Monetisation.” 

  3. Step 3

    Double-check your metadata is correct and then press the “Enable Monetisation” button. 

  4. Step 4

    Press “Save, and you’ll be notified in 24 hours whether your monetisation request has been approved. 

How many plays do you need on SoundCloud to get paid? 

You’ll need to be signed up to SoundCloud Premier to get paid on SoundCloud. To go Premier, you need 5000 plays in the SoundCloud approved countries listed below. 

SoundCloud monetisation countries  

To sign up for SoundCloud Premier, your tracks need to be streamed in SoundCloud’s recognised monetised countries. These are currently the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. 

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Where SoundCloud monetised tracks are available to stream 

Once you monetise your track on SoundCloud, your song will be made available to stream in all countries. Just double-check your SoundCloud track settings and ensure you haven’t enabled geo-blocking if you want your tracks to be streamed everywhere.  

SoundCloud monetisation free 

If you want to make money on SoundCloud, you’ll have to part with some of your own money first. Sadly, there’s no way to access their monetisation for free – subscribing to a Pro account alone comes with a monthly charge. 

Like with a lot of audio streaming platforms, selling your music on SoundCloud has a catch: the platform will keep a share of the revenues from your sales. Singers and musicians who monetise with SoundCloud Premier receive a 55% net revenue. This means that for every song you upload or own the rights to, you will earn a 55% share of the profit, while SoundCloud will keep a 45% cut.  

Your income on SoundCloud is also affected by the platform’s revenue. How much you get paid will depend on how much SoundCloud makes from advertising and subscriptions, as it’s these schemes that fund the SoundCloud Premier programme. If SoundCloud doesn’t perform well and their income dips, so will yours. 

How does Soundcloud make money? 

As SoundCloud’s performance and revenue will directly affect your income, it’s worth knowing how the platform makes its money. SoundCloud operates a freemium basis, meaning its core streaming is available free of charge to its users.  

If people can listen to your music for free, you might wonder how you can make any money on your tracks. The SoundCloud Premier programme is funded largely by premium features and advertising, meaning that – although fans can access your music for free – the platform can still make a profit and pay you revenue on your songs. 

Premium features like SoundCloud Go and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited require a subscription fee. The income from this, and from collaborations with big companies and brands to run ad campaigns, turn over a profit for SoundCloud and allow them to pay artists who upload tracks to the site. 

How much money do you make on SoundCloud per play? 

The revenue you make on SoundCloud depends on more than just your plays, so it’s hard to determine how much money you’ll make based on streams alone.  

Your income will actually depend on SoundCloud’s performance each month in terms of advertising and membership subscription, rather than how many times your track is played. Whether people engage with the ads on SoundCloud (which they won’t if they have an ad blocker on) will affect how much you earn, and this means your revenue can fluctuate.  

A rough ball-park figure for how much existing artists have been paid per play on SoundCloud is in the region of $2.50 – $4.00 for every 1000 streams.   

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What is a Recording Contract in Music?

Music Recording Contracts have been around for decades yet they’re still an important part of how the music industry functions. They are always extremely important though when it comes to legally forming an agreement between an artist and a record label.

Recording

It’s a very common question ‘What is a Music Recording Contract?’ so here’s our short answer followed by lots more in depth detail. Essentially, it’s an agreement between and artist and a record label stating the label’s ownership over a music recording. It also covers their licensing rights in the promotion of the record.

Getting signed to a record label is a the end goal of mosts singers and musicians, so let’s explore music recording contracts in some more depth.

Music recording contracts explained

As well as being an agreement between and artist and a record label stating the label’s ownership over a music recording, the contract may also include something called the label’s licensing rights over a song.

What are ‘licensing rights’? Well, if a label has the licensing rights to a music recording, it means that it owns a share in the copyright of a song, so it earns money whenever the song is used anywhere (for example, if it’s used in a TV advert or on the radio).

For many years landing a deal with one of the big names in music management was the only route to a chart-topping career. Is that still the case for emerging singers and songwriters in 2020? It’s tricky to attract A&R attention and even harder to get signed. Do you need a record label to succeed.

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What is a record deal?

A music recording contract is also more commonly known as a ‘record deal’. You may have heard that record deals sometimes scam musicians, whilst some labels have taken a seemingly large percentage of the revenue away from artists, there are ways that, as an artist, you can avoid these pitfalls. One way to avoid this is to ensure you have good advice both legally through a solicitor and business wise through a music manager.

Different types of music artist recording contracts

#1 License deal

This is where an artist licenses a record label to manufacture, distribute and sell a recording that already exists. This is common when, for example, an artist has a song recorded and ready to go but needs the record label to help package and sell the music.

#2 Exclusive recording contract

In this type of deal the record label exclusively manages the music recorded by the artist during the length of the contract. After the duration of the contract is over, the label is provided with the right with an option to renew the contract for further periods of time. A record label will exercise the option if the first album is enough of a success. Normally one album is recorded during this contract term.

In this deal the label usually puts in a significant investment of time and resources into the artist. This could even cover the costs of recording videos, marketing and promotion.

What is a 360 deal in the music industry?

#3 360 Deal

In a 360 deal, the artist agrees to allow the record label to make money from not only selling recordings of the artist (like in an exclusive recording contract) but all other areas of activity where the artist is involved.

Typically these would include royalties from ticket money, merchandise or even written publications that the artist might produce (like an autobiography).

Music production contract

#4 Production deal

In a production deal, the artist doesn’t have a direct contract with a record label, rather, with a business that makes recordings. The recording company then licenses or assigns those recordings to a label.

The business (normally a production company) will generally expect exclusivity from the artist. During the term of the contract, the production company will develop the artist by recording multiple tracks and will then push their artists to the bigger labels, in the hopes to achieve a licensing deal

Typically, in this type of deal, the artist may enjoy greater creative freedom and have more focus come from the owners of the production company. Most production deals are 50:50 net profit deals though which means that the artist only receives 50% of net profits.

#5 Development deal

This is where a record label gives an artist the opportunity to record a number of singles or demos rather than an entire album. After judging the success of these singles, the label will then decide whether to extend or end the relationship with the artist.

This type of contract provides the artist an opportunity to impress the label in order to secure a full exclusive recording contract, however the fees payable to the artist are often limited and may only cover recording costs.

How long does a music contract last?

Typically exclusive recording contact terms last for a fixed period of 12 months. During this period you’ll make your first album, which may then be followed by further option periods, also usually of 12 months.

During this period, the record company has the option to extend the contract if they wish.

How much do record labels pay artists?

Once the record label recoups the artist’s advance, the artist will then start receiving royalties based on a percentage agreed at the start of the contract.

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What percentage will the record label contract give?

Songwriters and publishers receive the most royalties out of all the people involved in selling recording music. They usually split royalties they receive from labels – their combined share can range from 5% to 25%, depending on the specific deal.

Labels pay songwriters and publishers mechanical royalties for every unit sold while broadcasters and venues pay the performance royalties for TV or radio airplay and live shows.

Record producers are usually paid upfront either by artists or their managers. Producers can also get percentage points off album sales, which normally a small amount (around 3%).

Artists on major labels usually receive around 10% to 15%. Artists’ managers usually take 20% as they help finance or develop the artist’s project.

If, for example, an individual is both a performer and the songwriter of the record, a higher percentage will usually be calculated for that individual. Again, it depends on the deal.

Major record labels vs independent record labels

Traditionally, a major label is a label that owns its distribution channel. This means that they distribute music internally rather than externally.

Independent record labels are small companies that produce and distribute records, but aren’t affiliated with (or funded by) the three major records labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group.

It is important to note that some independent labels sign dual-release agreements with major labels if they have a significant number of successful artists. Over time though, major labels can fully or partially acquire independent labels completely!

Some independent labels are started and sometimes run by artists on major labels, but are still fully (or partially) owned by the major label. These labels are great for bigger artists to discover and promote newer smaller artists.

The main thing though about record deals is that the major labels are brilliant for doing all the complicated stuff behind the scenes and making people aware of your music and your brand. It can really help you build a fan base and encourage more people to discover you as an artist.

The huge advantage of Major Record labels is they can have you represented globally. With experts in each territory across the World who are able to tap into different markets and bypass any cultural differences.

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How to Read Music, Sheet Music and Music Notes

Learn how to read music, sheet music and music notes so you can instantly sing or play a tune. It’ll put you ahead at auditions and make rehearsals smooth. It’ll enable you to compose your own unique melodies, follow harmonies and understand song structure.

read music

Don’t get left behind in this competitive industry. Read our guide on becoming proficient with the basic technicalities of music.

How to read music, sheet music and music notes 

It’s never been easier to learn skills at home by yourself, and DIY on coaching. YouTube, PDF guides, apps and podcasts have made self-development a cinch in all areas of life. And this includes music. Musicians have always been good at learning by themselves though. So many renowned artists are self-taught on the guitar, piano, drums and for singing. Without lessons, they learned to play ‘by ear’, picking up the notes, chords and harmonies required by listening to others and experimenting.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters only ever took one drum lesson. He taught himself percussion by playing punk rock and then picked up the guitar using his basic drum knowledge. This unusual approach created some equally unusual riffs that became a signature for his world-famous band.

Is it hard to learn to read music?

So is it hard to learn music and should you even try? Is it better to learn by ear? Well, the answer to this depends on how you’re wired as an individual. For some learning by ear is actually much harder than learning the music formation and notation. And this is down to your brain. You may have heard people speak of ‘left brain’ and ‘right-brain’ people. You’ll fall into one category or another, based on which side you predominantly use (a bit like being left or right-handed). Those with a stronger left brain tend toward being good at reading and learning music. Whereas right-brained people will usually find it easier to pick up songs by ear.

This, of course, has a major impact on whether it’s hard to learn to read music. If you have a talent for maths, you’ll likely be better at it too. But anyone can learn to read music. It’ll just take some time, effort and patience.

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How to read music notes for beginners

Let’s take a look at the terminology specific to reading music, as we’ll be referring to these technical terms throughout the article.

The manuscript is the sheet on which the music is printed. It will contain the symbols described in this section.

The Staff is a set of five lines and four spaces on which the notes are written.

The Treble Clef is the top staff in a piece of sheet music.

The Bass Clef is the bottom staff.

The Bar line indicates measures of time. Music is broken down into bars.  A double line shows a change of time signature or the end of a section. A bold double bar line shows the end of the piece.

The Time Signature is shown as two numbers on the staff, one above the other. This may be something like three/four time or four/four time.

There are also some Italian words you may find on the page. Adagio means slowly, Andante means at ‘walking’ pace, Allegro means fast, Pianissimo means softly, Fortissimo means loudly and Crescendo means building in volume. More words are used in general music theory, but these are the most common ones to be found on sheet music.

Sheet music symbols

There are symbols that appear on the staff. How high or low they appear indicates the pitch. Even if you can’t read music, you can get a rough idea of where a song is going, by looking at the way they go up and down on the staff. The symbols themselves represent the timings of the note (how long or short they might be) and have their own names. The most common of these are:

Breve – a double whole note

Semibreve – a whole note

Minim – a half note

Crotchet – a quarter note

Quaver – an eighth note

Semiquaver – a sixteenth note

Demisemiquaver – a thirty-second note

There may also be a symbol beside the note.

Flat – looks like a lowercase b and lowers the pitch of a note by a semitone.

Sharp – looks like a # and raises the pitch of a note by a semitone. Any note that is not flat or a sharp is ‘natural’.

Rest – indicates a period of silence, with additional information for how many beats that silence should be.

Music notes names

As well as having a name to refer to the length of the note, each note will also be named by its pitch. The musical alphabet is made up of seven notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, and any of these can be made sharp or flat, to add more variation and depth to the sound.

There’s a commonly used and easy way to remember the note names on the staff using one word and a simple sentence. Running from the bottom line to the top line, the bulbous part (or head) of the notes that sit on the line itself are E, G, B, D, and F.  This is remembered with the phrase: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Meanwhile, the notes that sit on the spaces between the lines spell out the word FACE – F, A, C, and E.

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How to read music notes for singing

Perhaps the most famous example of learning the notes for singing comes from the legendary film The Sound of Music. Maria, the lead character in the movie, teaches the children to sing, by using – a song. While it’s an oldie and somewhat of a cliche now, it’s still a useful way to begin as a singer. In the video, the alphabetical note names C, D, E, F, G, A and B, are substituted for Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti.

Among musicians, musical notes are often referred to as ‘the dots’. Take a copy of the sheet music if you’re asked to bring your dots to an audition. This is common in musical theatre and cabaret. Sheet music is usually required because it’ll be played for you by a pianist.

How do you read sheet music?

The tricky part is putting it all together and at the speed of a song. You’ll need to recognise the note’s pitch and duration, as well as making a mental note of the time signature, bars and any extra symbols such as rests, flats and sharps. If you play the piano, you’ll need to follow both the treble clef (played with the right hand) and the bass clef (played with the left hand) at the same time. Once you’ve spent a lot of time looking at and reading sheet music, you’ll get faster and faster at this. It takes time to soak up what’s effectively a new language. Take it really slowly at fast. If you’re struggling with picking up the basics, take a look at this guide.

How to read sheet music for guitar

Guitar music is a little different in that it’s notated in its own way, contrary to standard sheet music. You’ll hear people refer to the tabs. A guitar tab – or tablature – is a way of writing music specific to this instrument. It shows the chord progressions on a kind of chart. This provides more of the information you need without anything that would be surplus for a stringed instrument. You can still play the guitar from sheet music and if you play as part of a group, it might be better to follow a manuscript so you can see what everyone else is supposed to be doing too. However, if you just plan on playing the guitar alone, learning the tabs might be better for you and faster than learning full sheet music.