The Easiest Instruments to Learn

There are a few things to consider when choosing which instrument to learn. The easiest instruments to learn are the ones they love to hear. Novice musicians can take lessons on several instruments. Electronic keyboards, djembe, recorders, and acoustic guitars are good choices. These instruments are all affordable. Also, each instrument is lightweight and small enough to pick up and carry. It will be easy to find a place to put the instruments. Figuring out how to play an instrument can be an exciting and rewarding experience. The ability to read music helps. But, even for a beginner learning to read music, it is possible.


If a piano is too expensive or large, an electronic keyboard might be a good choice. It’s all about learning the basics and then building on them. Learning to read music and play the right notes takes repetitive practice. But, piano students can begin playing entire songs in no time.


A percussive instrument, the musicians strike the surface. When it comes to technique, it doesn’t get any easier than this. If a full drum set is out of the question, a djembe is a good place to start learning. Djembes are small, lightweight, and portable. Playing a variety of sounds only takes a little practice. The djembe is popular in drum circles.


A recorder is often used to teach children music. There are no moving parts. Recorders are very affordable and lightweight. A typical recorder is about a foot long. To play it, musicians blow into the mouthpiece and cover holes along the instrument. Recorders produce excellent sound, very audible, with a decent range.

Acoustic Guitar

One of the most loved and popular instruments, the acoustic guitar is a good choice for many reasons. A decent guitar is inexpensive. It does not need any electricity. Learning the fingering for the notes and chords take a little time, but it can be done.

The most important thing aspiring musicians needs to remember is having fun! No matter the choice, students should be ready to learn and grow. The best choice is an instrument music lovers have always wanted to learn. So, whether it is an acoustic guitar, electronic keyboard, recorder or even djembe, aspiring music students should start learning as soon as possible and keep playing!

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3 Steps To Becoming A Successful Music Producer

In some ways, there is essentially one formula you can follow to be successful in almost anything. While the specifics of how to achieve each step may change, the steps don’t. The bottom line is, you generally won’t get paid to do something until you gain experience and in order to get that experience, you will often have to work for free or very little. The more you do something, however, the better you get at it and the better you get at it, the more you can charge for your services. Here are 3 steps to becoming a successful music producer.

Start at the Bottom

All bands know that a good producer can mean the difference between scratching out a living as a cover band and landing a fat recording contract. The problem is, most novice bands are looking for a seasoned producer while most novice producers are looking for a seasoned band. In truth, novice bands are the best prospects for novice producers. If a novice producer can take a novice band and help them develop a solid album, they will quickly find themselves gaining both a reputation and a burgeoning client list.

Work With Everyone

The more work you do for a wider range of bands, the better you get a producing. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a very specific style or sound that bands and musical acts can only get by working with you. In order to develop that style, however, you’re going to need experience in a wide range of genres. The more genres you are able to pull from to develop your unique style, the more desirable you will be to a wider range of acts. The best producers can produce country, jazz, hip-hop, pop and even classical albums with equal success.

Never Stop Hustling

One of the most critical mistakes most producers make is thinking that once they produce a few successful albums they can sit back and let the work come to them. The reality is, however, that the most successful people never stop hustling. They understand that not only is the industry constantly changing, but so are loyalties. Successful people count on very little except their own hard work.

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The Most Influential Musicians of the 2000s

The 2000s were a big decade for music. Whether you were a fan of rock, rap, or pop music, there were countless artists to please any taste. In this article, we’ll examine some of the most influential artists of the 2000s, looking at how they transformed their genre and made us all want to check out our favourite radio station.

Looking at rock music first, the 2000s saw the continued rise of alternative and the emergence of indie rock groups to the forefront of the genre. By far the most preeminent example of 2000s rock music was Green Day’s American Idiot. A rock opera centring on the apathy and confusion of a post 9/11 world, American Idiot catapulted Green Day back to the limelight after almost disappearing entirely from the music scene. Later artists also cite Radiohead as a major influence, pointing to the experimental art rock albums of Kid A and Hail to the Thief as pushing the boundaries of modern rock. Finally, teens who grew up during the decade will forever remember The Killers as the little engine that could, going from an obscure indie band to playing sold out shows in some of the world’s biggest arenas.

While rock music had several genre-defining hits in the 2000s, the rap genre quickly dominated music charts during the decade. Most music experts would agree that Eminem was the most important rapper of the decade. No matter where you went in the 2000s, it was hard to miss the influence of Eminem. Despite the focus of numerous controversies, Slim Shady raked in numerous Grammy Awards and even an Oscar for Best Original Song, securing his influence over future generations. Not to be outdone, Kanye West is another titan of 2000s rap music. Originally a producer of fellow genre behemoth Jay-Z, West secured his place in the pantheon of great rappers with his 2004 album The College Dropout, which was lauded for its fantastic production values.

Fans of pop music could also find artists they enjoyed in the 2000s. Former NSYNC singer Justin Timberlake is regarded by most critics as the defining pop star of the decade. Timberlake’s hits such as “Rock Your Body” and “Cry Me A River” lit up dance halls and clubs throughout the early-2000s. Fans of country-pop could turn to Shania Twain for more than their fill. Twain’s 2002 album Up! was certified 11x Platinum by the RIAA, cementing her position on the Queen of Country Pop.

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The Influence of Jazz on Other Musical Genres

Director of the Jazz Orchestra and Ensemble, Alan Durst, defines jazz as “America’s original art form, the baseball of music.” Famous saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins describes jazz as being “the art of improvisation and reaching people with spontaneous music.” It is this spontaneity and improvisation of America’s original art form that is present in much of modern music. Aside from electronic dance music, the influence of jazz is present in other genres of music.

Anyone who has been to a live concert of jazz or pop music can recall the improvisation that the musicians have used to extend or vary a part of a song already familiar to the audience. Sometimes, a lead guitarist may improvise, lengthening his usual role in a musical piece using rhythmic, harmonic and melodic tools employed in jazz. In other instances, an additional musician who is not part of a group will explore a particular theme of the musical piece with altered chords and chordal complexity.

Because improvisation is an individual expression, many artists enjoy incorporating elements of jazz in their music when they appear before audiences, or when performing with other musicians. This improvisation with jazz draws in the audience, providing them interaction with the musicians. Jazz influence on a musical piece lends it “newness” as a result of jazz’s defining component of spontaneous improvisation. The incorporation of elements of jazz into musical pieces gives a variety of rhythms to them. The swing rhythm of jazz is the most famous as it been both adapted and transformed. This syncopated rhythm has been altered to fit favourite musical pieces and modified into the shuffle groove, used in blues because it moves the emotion of the piece forward with an energy that is infectious. Creative musicians have also incorporated Latin rhythms with those of jazz in original ways.

Such hard rock musicians as Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young and groups such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin extended their musical performances with a mix of jazz improvisation. Often a single musician in concert would create material on stage and play spontaneously for an unplanned amount of time. Jazz has even extended its influence to Hip Hop. Hundreds of rhythmic accompaniments are woven into the backdrop for a hip hop artist’s text. Research has shown that rhythmic backdrops have been created from the music of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and George Benson hundreds of times.

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The Legacy of Records

The recent interest in records may have come as a surprise to most. After all, the LP was a system of music storage that seemed to have been made obsolete multiple generations back. The transition from record to the cassette tape to digital files to streaming suggested a clear path towards music as a convenience.

Some would say a new generation seems to crave a connection with retro ideals that predate their births. But there’s more to it than that. Records provide a means to connect with music in a tactile and analog manner that’s not present in more recent formats. Just as importantly, records allow young people to connect with the musicians and fans that preceded them.

It’s been over 70 years since the creation of the first LP, but it’s hard to understate how revolutionary the format was for the music industry. When Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor was stamped on the first LP, it signified the first moment where people could listen to extended selections music without having to attend a live performance.

While we often talk about the ways that the digital model has democratized access to music, the LP was in many ways more revolutionary. An art that was gated by the price of travel tickets, geography, and the limited space in a theater was now theoretically accessible to anyone in the world.

It’s true that LPs weren’t the first musical recording format in existence. Wax cylinders created by Thomas Edison first pioneered the process in 1877. But earlier recording devices only allowed up to three minutes on any side. With the LP, entire albums could be constructed. In the years to come, this would form the whole model for the musical process, and in the decades since, a musician’s output has been defined by their albums. It’s a model that’s remained even as music moves to a purely digital format.

Perhaps it’s the alchemical process that goes into LPs that make them such powerful artifacts. The British Phonographic Industry estimates that original vinyl sales have increased by nearly 2000% over the course of ten years. To some, it signifies a pushback against the notion of music as a utility. While streaming services like Spotify provide an all-you-can-eat buffet of music, the LP is something else entirely. It’s a conversation directly between artist and fan, printed on 12 inches of flat wax.

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How Alternative Music Changed the Music Industry

While alternative music has proven to be a wildly popular and enduring art form over the last 28 years, alternative bands who built their sound around challenging and experimental musical forms were once anything but mainstream success stories. Here are just a few ways that alternative music has changed the way that we listen to rock and pop, and why its influence will likely be felt for generations to come.

The 1980s and the Commercialization of Rock Music

Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, rock music was synonymous with the ethos of countercultural ideology: From Elvis Presley to The Beatles to The Who, rock musicians rejected the values of previous generations in order to create new and exciting musical forms. By the 1980s, however, major labels became little more than risk-averse marketing arms of huge corporations, and in order to make label shareholders rich, popular rock music had to consistently appeal to huge marketing demographics.

The profit motive of major record labels slowly but surely changed the career arcs of many top musical acts: Bands who wanted to get ahead in the music industry no longer dressed or spoke like Frank Zappa or Jimmy Page; hoping that glamor and beauty would translate into profitability, major labels began insisting that musicians dress and behave like fashion models rather than bohemian artists. Bands desperate to build a career in the music industry were only too happy to acquiesce to demands made by their labels, and a once-vibrant art form quickly began to stagnate.

A Musical Revolution Forms in the Shadows

To reach the top of the charts, musicians in the 1980s had to create slick and stylish music videos for MTV, and the airwaves became saturated with musical acts who emphasized style and chart success over substance and experimentation. The age of concept albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The Dark Side of the Moon” was effectively over; labels wanted chart-friendly singles and snappy music videos rather than long-form artistic masterpieces, and bands who didn’t walk the corporate line soon found themselves without label support or financing.

In reaction to the slick, corporate sound of 1980s rock music, however, independent record labels became a driving force in providing “alternative” music to diehard music aficionados, many of whom grew up listening to the heady sounds of their baby boomer parents’ record collections. Instead of using MTV to reach their audiences, independent labels used college radio stations to introduce a new generation of listeners to acts like REM, Dinosaur Jr, and The Pixies. Through this “alternative” form of rock music, created in large part as a counterbalance to the shallow corporate rock and pop of its day, the early promise of rock music as a countercultural force had finally come full circle from its golden age in the 1960s and 1970s.

The 1990s: Alternative Rock Goes Mainstream

The sounds promulgated by college rock acts like REM and The Pixies were soon adopted by a young band from a rural Washington State called Nirvana, who would go on to redefine rock music as a cultural force in the 1990s. Backed by Geffen Records on their major label debut “Nevermind” in 1991, Nirvana stormed the charts by combining the raw and unfettered sound of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with the melodic sensibilities of The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

To a seasoned music fan who didn’t know any better, Nirvana would have appeared to be a band from the 1960s in all but age. Seemingly overnight, the band obliterated the viability of 1980s corporate rock as a chart-topping force; in the wake of Nirvana, bands stopped dressing like hair-sprayed mannequins and started running their guitars through distortion pedals and Marshall amplifier stacks. The music industry saw that rock was headed in a new direction, and bands like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots soon joined Nirvana as staples of MTV programming playlists the world over.

In a post-Nirvana world, rock music has been irrevocably changed as a popular art form. Indeed, if alternative musicians like Kurt Cobain had not upended notions about the commercial viability of unorthodox rock music in the 1990s, the musical landscape that we know today would likely be a vastly different and far less interesting place. For rock fans, Nirvana may just be the band who saved music from itself; for that, all music fans should be eternally grateful.

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Getting Started with Sound Mixing

To some musicians and music fans, sound mixing seems like a deep science that takes years to learn. Others view it as having a remarkable sense of artistry for audio. Both notions have an element of truth, but it’s also important to realize that anyone can mix and master sound with the right tools and knowledge.

Mixing Basics

It’s fine to start out on low-cost equipment to learn the basics. But if you plan on being a professional producer you will need to invest in quality equipment, whether you go the digital or analog route. Mixing is about using volume levels, an equalizer (EQ), compression and a wide variety of effects including reverb and delay. You should also learn about balance by experimenting with panning tools.

Planning a Recording and Mixing Project

Prior to starting a recording project, it’s helpful to plan your mix on paper, by drawing channels and identifying if they are used for voice, instruments or effects. Think of a mixing board as simply multiple channels with the same controls so that it’s less overwhelming.

When recording vocals pay close attention to microphone placement. Sometimes it takes time to place the microphone where it needs to be to capture sound accurately. The input volume is crucial to avoid distortion later in the mix. It helps to build a general mix as you add new sounds. But keep in mind that a large part of mixing is making slight adjustments to controls. The more sound you add, the more you have to adjust the mix since new sounds can drown out earlier sounds.

Knowing how you want the finished product to sound is essential, but many times this thinking evolves in the studio based on both its features and limitations. Never assume your first rough mix is the final product since you need to listen to mixes on various speakers before mastering. The fancy monitors in a recording studio aren’t going to sound the same as how music plays back on a home stereo or smartphone. Ultimately, mixing music is both an objective and subjective art.

The key to becoming a professional producer is to be dedicated to using quality equipment and listening carefully. You can learn more about mixing and mastering at Ask.Audio Academy.

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