Online Music Resources
Laura Hoesly – Whether you’re about to go into your first year of beginning strings, about to start AP Music Theory, or just wanting to know a little bit more about music, there’s something here for everyone–all you need is a screen and an internet connection.
First things first. I know this is a list of online resources, but I have to get this out of the way. There are tons of companies and professional musicians on the web offering their set of violin lesson videos for only $69.95. Tons of them claim to have Special Knowledge you can only get from buying a subscription, or their DVD set, or whatever it is. And something like this can be tempting–after all, there’s nothing you can’t learn from YouTube, right? Right?!
Music is an apprenticeship art form. There is no replacement for real, live, one-on-one instruction. (Zoom can work in a pinch, but in-person instruction is really best.) Music lessons with a private teacher are a fantastic way to get better at your instrument, no matter your goals. It’s okay if you don’t want to become a world-class soloist–most teachers are super kind and will help you do whatever it is you want to do, even if your goal is just to feel more confident in orchestra class. But music lessons are all about instant feedback. No matter how good the pre-recorded video lessons may be, the teacher in the video can’t reach through the screen to fix your elbow for the millionth time–only a real in-person teacher can do that.
If you’re in need of a private teacher this summer, look no further than KC Strings. We have fantastic teachers here in our studio, which is connected to the shop! Also, we have a great list of recommended teachers, sorted by both location and instrument so you can find the right teacher for you. We also have some articles about the benefits of private lessons for students (and adults!) and how to choose the right teacher.
Theory. (Cue groans.) Love it or hate it, it’s essential to music students at all levels. Here are a few of my favorite resources for practicing music theory skills.
I love uTheory. I recommend it to every musician I know. Created and developed by Greg Ristow, an associate professor of conducting at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory, uTheory offers fantastic video lessons and skill exercises. There are lessons on rhythm, ear training, scales, triads, and more. I love the lessons because they’re videos interspersed with exercises so you can practice each new skill as you learn them!
All the lessons, videos, exercises are free, but with a limit of 10 per day. If you’re finding that 10 exercises a day isn’t enough, you can get a premium subscription with unlimited lessons a day for just $5.99 a month. I love the site, and I think it’s well worth six bucks a month. (Also, the uTheory team has a really interesting podcast called Notes from the Staff! Ba dum tss.)
Musictheory.net is another great free tool for practicing music theory skills. It’s great for repetitive practice of skills like note identification, which is super handy if you’re just starting to read music and need to memorize where each note is on the staff. (Or if you already read music and you’re learning a new clef!) Basically, if you need to drill something over and over and over again, musictheory.net is your go-to.
Each exercise is highly customizable. You can choose your clef, range, accidentals (sharps or flats), audio.. basically anything you can think of. This is a great way to practice identifying notes on the staff, key signatures, chords (hint, hint, AP Music Theory kids). And the website is totally free! Musictheory.net also has an app called Tenuto that functions exactly like the website, but is not free. I have the app and love it, because I can just pull it up for my students that are mixing up the lines and spaces on the staff and have them practice note identification for a few minutes. Again, Musictheory.net is free, and Tenuto is $3.99 wherever you get your apps.
As you enjoy this last month of summer, you’re probably having no trouble at all keeping up a regular, structured practice regimen between your lessons.
Ha ha. Just kidding. Me neither.
Practicing is a huuuuge topic that I’ll be tackling in future articles, so stay tuned for that. But briefly, I’d like to talk about an awesome practice journal app called Andante.
I love Andante. It was created by college student and violinist Miles Vinson to help with his own practicing. Prior to finding Andante, I’d been looking for years for a practice log app; and let me tell you, this is IT.
Andante is perfect. It’s beautiful, streamlined, and very user-friendly. Its primary function is to log practice sessions in real time, which you do with a timer. Basically, you start a session, and it starts a stopwatch. Within the session, there are a few helpful tools: a tuner, a metronome, a timer, a mic button to record your playing, and a place to write any notes about that practice session. These tools might seem simple and straightforward, but are indispensable to any musician’s practice sessions.
Once you’ve finished practicing, you can rate your mood and focus for that session, which is really helpful for figuring out when and where you practice the best. The app also has a stats page where you can see a log of all your sessions as well as charts of all your stats. It’s a great way to see how effective your practice really is.
In music, the tempo marking andante means a walking pace. As all musicians know, getting better at your instrument is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about keeping a consistent pace over a long period of time in order to reach a goal. And for many of us, that looks like structured, meaningful daily practice. Andante is a fantastic tool for staying motivated during practice with helpful tools in and out of practice sessions. Oh, and it’s also totally free. Just one completely optional, one-time upgrade of $4.99 for Andante Pro.
Andante doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles, because it doesn’t need them. It has all the tried and true essentials for effective practice. Beautiful, intuitive, and incredibly effective, Andante can help you improve by leaps and bounds.
AT A GLANCE
MUSIC LESSONS: There is no online substitute for a real, live teacher. You can find great in-person teachers here at K.C. Strings, as well as recommendations for a teacher in your area. And be sure to check out our other articles on the benefits of private lessons and how to find a teacher that’s the right fit for you.
MUSIC THEORY: uTheory is a great way to learn music theory with videos and exercises, and Musictheory.net is best for drilling music theory. Both are free, with some caveats–uTheory limits you to ten videos or exercises a day; Musictheory.net’s mobile app is not free.
PRACTICE TOOLS: Andante is an essential for any musician who wants to practice more regularly, intentionally, and effectively. It’s not just a practice journal, but has great tools like stats to analyze and make plans for how to practice as you move through your music study, as well as a metronome, tuner, and timer. Andante is wonderful, and free.
Good luck, and happy learning!
Laura Hoesly is a K.C. Strings sales associate and blog contributor. Laura is also a cello performance BM student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory.