10 Ukulele Songs to Learn this Summer

If you’ve been thinking about picking up a ukulele, there’s no better time to do so than now.

The ukulele is the ultimate sunshine sound.

It’s also fun, cheap, easy and portable.

Check out The Music Rooms choice of Ukuleles and come and join the jovial atmosphere at our very own Ukulele Club

Because it’s hard to frown when ukulele music is goin down!

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Ukulele Covers that you can even try at home…

#1 Riptide

Chords Here

#2 Hey Soul Sister

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 #3 Bad Moon Rising

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#4 Jammin

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#5 Breakfast at Tiffanys

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#6 Budapest

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#7 Somewhere over the Rainbow

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#8 Save Tonight

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#9 Lemon Tree

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#10 You Always Hurt the one you Love

Chords Here

 

The Mozart Effect: Classical Songs for your Baby

5 of the most soothing classical songs to calm your baby, and pave the way for a childhood filled with the joy of music.

baby sleeping

The Mozart Effect is a controversial theory. That is that researches now suggest that listening to classical music may, in fact, only provide you with temporary improved academic abilities.

What we do know about classical music however, and music in general, is that it has a unique effect on the brain development of babies. And an ability to calm them when little else will.

Here’s a small list of our favourites to get you started…

 

6 Ways to Encourage Music at Home

playing music to a baby

At a time when School budgets are being cut mercilessly and the funding for Arts is being classified as a luxury, it has never been more important than now to encourage music and creativity at home.

We know already that introducing music as early as possible in children brings nothing but benefits but with the inadequacy of Musical Education provisions it is now almost solely down to Parents to inspire the young musicians of tomorrow.

A recent case study of a struggling UK Primary School, which turned its results and reputation around through the incorporation of 6 hours per week of Music PER student, is a perfect example of how crucial Music is as learning and developmental tool.

I implore you… grab every melodic opportunity by the chord. Your children will thank you for it!

#1 Play Music Always – start when they’re still in utero and make it a lifetime habit! Classical music is known to soothe an unsettled baby. Which is reason enough on its own… but because music activates every subsystem in the brain it also has huge influences on language development and literary abilities, spatial reasoning and fine motor coordination.

#2 Attend Toddler Music Groups – If the joy of seeing your child laughing, stomping about and singing along with other children isn’t quite enough then consider also that this activity encourages self expression co-operation and stretches the imagination in ways that a toy or television programme could only dream of.

#3 Sing Loud & Freely – Encourage your child to let go of any inhibitions and sing from the heart. It may get a bit noisy but it is an awesome method of busting stress, amazing for building self esteem and a proven bonding technique for parent, child and siblings.

child dancing

#4 Dance Often – Dancing connects you to music in a physical capacity. It also inspires empathy, is a great form of exercise and allows children to become comfortable in their own skin.

#5 Teach through Song – Sing your way through the day if you can. You might find the same old nursery rhymes a bit tedious but toddlers and preschoolers LOVE repetition and it is also the key to learning generally. The act of frequent singing goes a long way to developing speech and if you really can’t cope with one more round of ‘Old McDonald’ make up your own songs to go with your daily routines

#6 Attend Live Music Events – Children respond differently to live music than recorded music generally. The act of being involved and immersed in music helps to form important social skills such as sharing and bonding, but importantly it will create memories that last a lifetime.

Happy New Year from The Music Rooms

We are SUPER excited about what lies ahead in this new year… but it would be wrong to move on without passing comment on what an absolute belter of a year we had in 2017.

And we really did! When we look back over the year it’s hard to believe that we managed to cram in so many amazing achievements…

#1 Amazing Students

It goes without saying that at The Music Rooms we teach some exceptionally talented young people. Our hard working students are what it’s all about and we are lucky enough to also see some of them achieve fantastic results in their music exams. Well done to each and every one of you… we couldn’t be more proud!

#2 Dedicated Teachers

And of course we have our amazing staff are to thank for bringing so much joy and magic to each and every lesson. We have a huge catalogue of very happy students at The Music Rooms and we couldn’t achieve this without your enthusiasm and dedication.

We have also been lucky enough to expand this past year and have had some more super talented teachers join our team. A huge Welcome to our newest members!

#3 Charity Gig

We delivered yet another knockout performance at our Music Rooms Charity gig. And with a record attendance too! This event is very close to the heart of The Music Rooms and could not be made possible without the relentless efforts of both students and teachers alike. Thank you to everyone who took part and made it such a brilliant night.

#4 The Voice Auditions

Testament to our success… In June ITV came to The Music Rooms to host auditions for The Voice UK. This was massively exciting for us… check out the new show which starts this Saturday 6th January!

#5 Future Star

In September we gained a future star student… and Rodneys World shone even brighter. Congratulations to Rodney and Sinead on the birth of beautiful baby Lucas. What a cracker! We’ll keep a special spot reserved in Junior Jammers just for him 😉

#6 New Branch

And then we grew our premises too… a shiny new Music Rooms branch based in Coleraine. We have been so excited to expand our network of schools across Northern Ireland and share our passion for learning and teaching music. A huge thank you for all the support we received on our new venture.

#8 Christmas Single

And what an incredible ending to such a wonderful year?! Our very own Music Rooms Christmas Single. We had SO much fun recording this. And we even managed to make the News!! What a proud moment for the whole team 🙂

 

2017 has been awesome. Keep up the amazing work everyone! And thank you again for making The Music Rooms such a joy to be a part of 🙂

Music for Happiness

As we make the move into winter… with shorter daylight hours and less sociable weather conditions, it is important to remember the things that help to keep our spirits up during these cold, dark months.

music for happiness

 

There are many of us who struggle through the colder seasons, and scientific evidence suggests that higher production of the hormone melatonin, due to minimal daylight exposure, actually causes lethargy and symptoms of depression.

Most people who have experienced the Winter Blues will be aware of the basic lifestyle habits that can help to alleviate these symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

It also goes without saying that Music as a remedy to any bleak period in life can work wonders to improve your frame of mind. Studies have officially found levels of the mood-enhancing chemical dopamine to be up to 9% higher in response to periods of peak musical enjoyment.

With this in mind, The Music Rooms has compiled a list of 5 fundamentals to boosting Happiness… with the added benefit of how and why you should incorporate music into these daily practises

#1 Direction & Productivity

Set goals, write lists, be productive either within your career or personal life… listening to classical music or music without lyrics can actually improve productivity, making repetitive tasks more enjoyable. And in noisy open-office environments, music has proven as an escape with overwhelmingly positive results on workload.

music for work

#2 Awareness/ Mindfulness

The addition of music to your meditation or mindfulness practise can help you to stay focused, while simultaneously helping you to connect with music as a source of strength and energy. Music can be a powerful way to experience the present moment. Allowing you to dilute your stress levels.

music for mindfulness

#3 Keeping Active

Health and fitness are common mood boosters. But exercise in either Summer OR Winter can require some serious motivation… and what better way to motivate than by listening to music. Upbeat tempos can also distract the athlete from their bodily awareness, allowing the body to push itself physically further.

music for exercise

#4 Resilience & Bouncing Back

If you’re going through a tough period it can be difficult to see a way through it. When your brain is struggling to switch off and relax… Music, at a very basic level, is an excellent distraction. And at a more advanced level, music as a form of therapy can help you to regain a sense of connectedness emotional awareness.

music for resilience

#5 Trying New Things

Practising and making music can be a more powerful anti-depressant than prescribed medication or even a regular therapy alternative. Keeping the brain active and stepping outside of your comfort zone is another great distraction and the progress and feelings of achievement gained from a new skill such as music are unsurprisingly beneficial for shifting your frame of mind from negative to a more positive focus.

beginners guitar

Why not test it out for yourself?! Try listening to upbeat or ‘happy’ music everyday for at least a week and take note of any changes you experience in your mood.

Check out our Music for Happiness playlist. It makes us feel pretty chirpy anyway 😉

Awesome Halloween Music

halloween music 2

20 of the VERY BEST Halloween songs to add to your Halloween Music Playlist.

Pumpkins are carved. Faces are painted. Apples… bobbing. Tricks are prepped and treats are by the door.

Something Wicked this way comes… and we Dare even the Scroogiest of Halloween Scrooges not to do a little BOO-gy to some of these fright night classics.

Halloween Music at it’s absolute best…

PLAY ON SPOTIFY

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr

Thriller – Michael Jackson

People are Strange – The Doors

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

This is Halloween – Marilyn Manson

Lotion – Greenkeepers

Cry Little Sister – The Lost Boys

The Killing Moon – Echo & The Bunnymen

Aisha – Death in Vegas

Never Let Me Down Again – Depeche Mode

1979 – The Smashing Pumpkins

Halloween – Misfits

Heads will roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Dark Night – The Blasters

The Unheard Music – X

Bela Lagosis Dead – Chvrches

Frankenstein – Tokyo Police Club

Poison – Alice Cooper

Rock & Roll Queen – The Subways

 

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. Voices Whisper in the Trees, Tonight is Halloween!

 

 

 

 

 

The Music Rooms Top Female Musicians

Recently I watched a documentary called So, which band is your boyfriend in? about the imbalance of gender equality in Music. 

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This isn’t something that tends to be at the forefront of our minds… after all we see plenty of Female artists dominating the charts, don’t we? Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Adele… surely this is static proof of gender balance?!

If you scratch the surface, however, there is in fact a somewhat grim layer of sexism enveloping the music industry even today.

In a study conducted by Female Pressure an international collective of female artists, women comprise only 9.3% of artists listed on music label rosters.

This shocking data, if accurate, suggests that female presence in music is hugely overshadowed by male presence, to the sum of over 90%!!!

As a small show of solidarity to Women in the Music Industry… and in homage to our own female music teachers and students here at The Music Rooms, we have composed a list of our Top Inspirational Women in Music, in no particular order. 

 

Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice)

London born Ellie is the front woman (guitar & vocals) of the alternative rock group Wolf Alice. 

“There are and always has been a number of women in rock music to look up to and admire, but not nearly enough and I do feel we still have a long way to go in encouraging young girls to pick up a guitar or drumsticks and get involved in rock / alternative music.”

 

female musician

 

Haim 

This 3 piece band of American Pop Rock Sisters insist that… “We’re a band. Not a girl band!” 

Bjork

Icelandic artist Bjork has been described by some as a restlessly experimental creative force. 
She has recently written an open letter addressing the sexism she claims to have received, stating that female artists are criticised if they don’t “cut our chest open and bleed about the men in our lives.”

 

Sinead O’Connor 

Irish singer/ songwriter Sinead is said to have cut her hair off in response to male record executives who’d been trying to goad her into wearing miniskirts, into appearing more traditionally feminine.

 

Patti Smith

Nicknamed the “godmother of punk” and famed also for her work in Poetry and influences on bands such as U2 and Garbage. Admittedly not overly zealous about the feminist movement Smith says… “As far as I’m concerned being any gender is a drag”

 

Sleater Kinney

American Rock trio Sleater Kinney are renowned for their feminist and left-leaning political views.

“Culture is what we make it/ Yes it is/ Now is the time/ To invent it”

 

female musicians

 

Emily Haines (Metric)

Lead Singer, songwriter and keyboardist of the Canadian Rock band Metric.

 

“sadly I think it continues to be the case with women where as an artist you are only going to be compared with other women”

Sia

Australian singer-songwriter, producer and music video director… Sias refusal to be critiqued on her appearance has seen her perform live on Late Night with Seth Myers, lying face down on a bed as Lena Dunham danced around the stage.

 

Shirley Manson (Garbage) Singer, songwriter and lead vocalist of the rock band Garbage. Manson is known for her feminist views and rebellious attitude…

“I think any woman that breaks conventional rules, stereotyping, is fighting the good fight,”

 

Hats off to ALL Musicians. Men, Women, Children. Because gender equality is not a Woman issue, it’s a Human issue.

 

Guitar Tips For Beginners

From Hendrix to Van Halen… Guitarists are the ultimate musicians to strive towards.

beginners guitar

The appearance, the lifestyle, the talent and the ease with which the play. All things which inspire many to pick up a guitar in the first place.

But the beginning is a far cry from the blues of B.B. KING.

There are many things to consider before embarking on this musical quest. We’ve listed some of the most crucial below…

#1 – Getting the right size Guitar is an important place to start, especially for a child. If your guitar is too big your muscles will already be overworked just from stretching the arm over the guitar. This will make it considerably more difficult to practise playing chords.

#2 – Tuning your Guitar before you begin is just good sense, particularly for beginners. Playing on an out of tune guitar isn’t exactly motivating as you’re unlikely to recognise any improvements. Electronic tuners are inexpensive to buy, although it is a good idea to train your ear for perfect pitch if possible.

#3 – Like anything that involves exercising muscles, warming up is necessary. All guitarists do this, professionals included. Ask your tutor to run through some simple exercises you can practise at home or find some online.

#4 – It’s always beneficial to have professional lessons when learning to play the Guitar. But practicing ONLY in your lesson will make for extremely slow progress. For best results it is ideal to practise at home for at least 30 minutes per day.

#5 – Learning Guitar Theory is often considered the boring part… but it would be a mistake to avoid it. Learning your theory will teach you to understand what you’re playing and hearing. You will progress at a faster pace and also have the ability to write your own Music.

#6 – Every guitar player is guilty of wanting to play the songs they love the most. But practising the same songs repeatedly and avoiding fresh material, will stall the learning process. It is good practise to try your hand at playing new songs every couple of weeks. It might be helpful to keep track of your progress using a log. Ask your tutor to provide one of download a template for free online.

#7 – Practise playing songs at a slow pace. Playing too fast too soon will only lead to sloppy form.

#8 – Learning to play any instrument can be very frustrating, but it is also incredibly rewarding. You will need an abundance of patience. Keep in mind that is never a quick process. Don’t expect miracles… but progress WILL come with persistence.

#9 – For young beginners especially, incorporating a reward into the practise can be encouraging and relieve any build up of frustration. Speak to your tutor about designating 5-10 minutes of the lesson to playing an electric guitar, freestyling and generally blowing off a bit of steam.

For more advice on taking your first steps towards playing the Guitar contact The Music Rooms for a chat.

The Benefits of Music Lessons

Everybody knows that learning to play an instrument is hugely rewarding not to mention fun… but what about the other benefits of music lessons?!

playing the violin

… and there are MANY!!! We have listed just a few of them for you here…

#1 Academic – Research has found that practising to play an instrument increases IQ, creativity and the potential to develop in linguistics.

The brain is forced to work harder and this reflects in the development of skills in other areas too.

#2 Social – Group music activities create a sense of community. It also encourages team work and acceptance of cultural diversity.

#3 Patience – Learning to skilfully play an instrument takes time and discipline.

In a world where so much gratification is required instantly… it is important to teach children that patience, in music and in general, is most definitely a virtue.

#4 Self Confidence – Since there are no shortcuts in music lessons, students learn to accept criticism constructively and then experience the joy of improvement.

A sense of security in themselves is cultivated which translates to life as self-confidence.

#5 Illness – Music is, by nature , relaxing and has been proven to lower stress hormones.

It is an excellent combat for anxiety and depression in children, which are both sadly on the rise.

Not only can music lessons help target mental illness, they can also help to alleviate the trauma of some physical illnesses too…

guitar lessons

The benefits of music lessons are endless. What are you waiting for? Sign your little one up now!

 

Putting ‘Charity’ into our Music Rooms’ Charity Gig – Why? Part 2

Thanks for all the lovely feedback on part one of my blog. Aside from some (to be anticipated) cynicism from our local maestros, I think everyone got my point. I started a music school to try and give everyone with a love/desire or passion for music the opportunity to pursue it and I wanted to give them opportunities that I didn’t have. Opportunities to learn outside of the box and develop, by playing along with others. Our charity gig supports both of these ideas and makes them a reality.

Bringing charity into the ‘gig’ aspect made sense for me and my former business partner, John, when we first birthed the idea five years ago. Initially our motivation was a staff member who’s beautiful daughter was born with spina bifida, undetected in any pregnancy scans. We approached him and he said he wanted to give the money to the ward in the royal Victoria hospital that saved his daughter’s life. With the money we bought portable dvd players for all the beds in the ward so that the kids of the ward, who often endured some lengthy stays in hospital, had something to help them pass the time.

Fast forward the clock four years. I’m sitting in the Allen Ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital with my baby girl and a nurse brings in a DVD player. My daughter Mary loved her wee dvd player at home and we quickly rigged it up. I suddenly realised where that DVD player had come from.

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I filled with emotion and was bursting with pride all at the same time. Not because of something I’d done, because of something every single person had done by purchasing a ticket and attending the event that night.

Everyone knows the story of what eventually played out with my beautiful baby. Many of you have walked the journey with me, cried with me and supported me immeasurably. Last year’s charity gig was in her memory. It was the only focus I could use to effectively get through the night without a complete breakdown. This year she will be remembered too as we support two charities, one that gave her a life fit for a queen – The NI Children’s Hospice and one that would have given her every opportunity possible had she lived beyond 27 Feb 2016 – The RNIB.

Not many people know, Mary was registered blind. Seems crazy that she loved her DVD player and we often debated the subject with the doctors but her diagnosis was complete blindness. The Music Rooms have for the past six years worked very closely with the RNIB and seen first-hand the opportunities they give to children and adults with partial or complete sight loss. The NI Children’s Hospice is a ‘must’ for children and the families of children with life limiting illnesses. Mary spent her final days here and we spent many happy times here as a family throughout her short life as she was given respite. This year we are supporting both these wonderful charities through our ticket sales and raffle on the night.

Isn’t it amazing that the proceeds from the charity gig back in 2012 eventually came back full circle? I am not going to try and distance myself from this event being personal. It always has been for me. Yet this isn’t a plea or a cry out for sympathy. This is the reality of how supporting these events can actually make a difference. Your support last year made the lives of some extremely sick children a lot better. We have booked out the whole theatre this year. Help us fill it. In return we will give you a night to remember.

For tickets visit www.wegottickets.com/event/401548 or call the Braid on 02825635077.