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How To Keep Music Going when Lessons Stop

Karaoke Machine Note #1: How To Keep Music Going when Lessons Stop

Copyright 10/2011 by

When I was teaching music in both the classroom and small groups, my students all wanted to learn music. My problem was not keeping their attention, but making sure they approached learning systematically, so as not to interfere with each other's learning, and so that they would build a solid foundation and have a sense of ongoing accomplishment.

Keeping a student engaged generally meant giving the student the means to individually try to play or sing, and just a little well-timed guidance. The more a student could perform as an individual, both for himself/herself, and at times for others, the more the student progressed.

One important ingredient of keeping a student's learning momentum going was a repertoire selection that would develop music skills gradually and logically. This was usually a matter of selecting age-appropriate and grade-appropriate repertoire and materials.

But after an age- and grade-appropriate repertoire selection, a student needs a teacher.

Unlike just listening to a recording and trying to imitate, one way to turn a recording into a personal tutor is to slow down that recording to a tempo the player can match, while keeping the pitch correct for the voice, instrument, or sheet music key. This is the way a teacher will teach.

Pitch and tempo control may be found on a karaoke machine, for vocal students, or on a TASCAM trainer, for either vocal or instrumental students. Both types of karaoke machines can cancel the vocal line, so that a performance with recorded accompaniment may be tried.

A karaoke machine is a reliable way to keep up interest during practice, and provide an always-available teacher of the ear when a live teacher is not available. There is always a successful sound model showing the way, keeping not only the performance going, but also the vision of what the performance should be like.

Age-appropriate karaoke music and affordable karaoke machines which change pitch are available at, as are more expensive karaoke machines which offer tempo control as well, a necessity for effective instrumental practice.

Graded vocal and instrumental sheet music with CDs, and an affordable karaoke-type machine that will change not only pitch but also tempo (a TASCAM trainer) for either vocals or instruments, are available at