How My Day Job has Helped My Music Career

Well friends, I have officially worked as a bank teller for a year. While that milestone is not a huge deal, it is something to remember. I have learned a lot in my year as a bank teller, and a lot of it will help me as I grow my music career.

Hannah B Flute | How My Day Job Has Helped My Music Career

Some of the lessons I’ve learned are obvious: be a nice person. Others are not so obvious. Either way, I am going to talk about how my day job has helped my music career.

In some ways, being a teller is a lot like being a private teacher or independent musician. You have to work with people, and you learn a lot while doing it. So, here are the biggest things I have learned as a teller that I will use in my music career.

1. Be Nice to Everyone.

It doesn’t matter what career you choose, you need to be nice to everyone. This is especially true when you are first starting out. People know people, and they talk. While this isn’t always the case in banking, it is definitely the case in the music world.

There are a lot of musicians out there vying for the same opportunities as you. One bad impression could cost you a job. So be smart when you make connections. Just be a nice person.

It will make every part of your life easier, not just your career.

2. Know that You Won’t Please Everyone.

There are some people that you just can’t please. They want things done a specific way or by a specific person. That happens in both banking and in music.

I’ve had customers wait on another teller because they liked how s/he processed their transactions. I’ve had other musicians complain about a music group was being ran. Being a people pleaser is not always a bad thing, but it also won’t always be successful.

There are going to be times when a customer, client, or colleague will not stop complaining. It could be about a huge problem, or it could be negligible. Just remind yourself that you can be the nicest person in the world, but you still won’t please everyone.

3. Focus on the Task at Hand.

When you are working with other people, you need to focus on what you’re doing. One of the tellers at another branch was so engrossed in his phone that he didn’t pay attention when cashing what was a fraudulent check.

If you are rehearsing without a conductor, you don’t have anyone there to keep you all on track. That’s your job as a group.

When a customer comes up to you, or you have to teach a lesson, focus on that thing. Yes, emergencies do happen. It’s okay to step off to the side to take care of something. But not only is it unprofessional to lose focus, it is also rude.

4. Be Flexible.

Sometimes, you luck out and your schedule doesn’t change at all. You know what you have to do and when you have to do it. But a lot of the time, you have to be flexible. Rehearsals get cancelled, you get called to take a gig last minute, and you need to be flexible.

Things change, and people change. You might be prepared to have a lesson with a particular student, but the that student doesn’t show up. One day at work, you might be asked to come in early or stay late.

Be prepared for change, and be willing to go with the flow. Not only will it make your life easier, but it will make people want to work with you more.

5. Appreciate Time Off.

Since I have a full time day job, I have to utilize my off time to practice, write for this blog, and work on other parts of my music career. Luckily, I do get all federal holidays off (and with pay), and I love having that extra day to dedicate to music and blogging.

When you work as a musician, it’s also important to take advantage of your time off. Catch up with family and friends, find a hobby, or just enjoy not working.

I know that musicians don’t always have time off, but try and give yourself a little vacation every now and again.

So…

I have learned a lot more through banking, like what to look for on a check (perfect for private teaching), but I wanted to focus on some of the bigger lessons. If you have learned anything in your day job that helps you as a musician, let me know in the comments!

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Should You Have a Website?

The internet is amazing. You have access to a world of information, all at the tap of a button. You also have the ability to reach reach people all over the world, all at the tap of a button. That is why you, yes, YOU need a website…and a blog.

Should You Have a Website? | Hannah B Flute

I have been blogging for about five years now, and it has helped me grow not just as a writer but also as a musician and teacher. A blog allows you to share updates with students and followers.

You don’t need to have a super fancy website, but you should have some basic information. Your website is where you can direct potential clients and students. Today’ were going to talk about websites and blogs, and why you need one.

Why Do I Need a Website?

With the growth of the internet, a website is becoming more and more important each day. Your website is a business card, a portfolio, and a storefront all in one.

When networking, either online or in person, you can refer people to your website. You can upload recordings and other materials to your website. Even though you aren’t a “store,” you can still sell yourself with a website.

As a musician, you are your product. You want to show the best side of yourself and show your various offerings. If you teach, create a page where people can learn about your lessons and studio. Composers can create a page with all of their music: sheet music, audio and video recordings, etc.

Performers can upload photos and videos of performances as well as audio clips of their playing.

Your website is a one stop shop for all things you.

How Do I Create a Website?

Websites are surprisingly easy to create. Web editors like WordPress and SquareSpace let you make a website in just a few hours.

All you need to start is a name for your website, ideas for what to include, and just a bit of time.

I personally use WordPress, and I love it. I can use the WordPress app to update my site on the go. If you buy your own domain and web hosting, WordPress also lets you use plugins which have different features that can help improve your website speed and security, or even add different forms and themes to your site.

Other website makers have different options, so you can choose what works for you. However, I can’t recommend WordPress enough. If you’re hesitant about spending money for a domain (like example.com) and hosting, you can start with WordPress.com (the free version of WordPress), and move your site later.

If creating a website is intimidating, there are plenty of resources out there, or you can even hire someone to help. I love creating websites, so if you need help (a little or a lot), let me know!

Should I Pay for a Website?

In the beginning, not necessarily. If you want to think long term, or you want a more professional look, then definitely. You wouldn’t walk into an audition in torn up, old clothes. Many people will get their first impression of you on your website, so you want your website to look good.

If you’re on a budget, then you can give a free website a go. I had my blog and website for a few years before buying my own domain name. That allowed me to get the feel of running my own website without having to worry about paying for it. Then I transferred my website and domain to a paid hosting plan.

If you’re new to the whole thing, consider using a free website for awhile. But its never too early to invest a bit of money into your website. Some website hosting costs as low as a few bucks a month. With the holidays slowly approaching, maybe add web hosting to your wishlist.

But I’m Not a Writer!

That’s okay! You don’t have to be a writer to have a website or a blog. There are writers and editors out there that can help you create the website of your dreams. If you’re strapped for cash, some allow payment plans, or you can bargain some of your services to help them.

As a musician, you could record background music that a writer could use in a video. You could create a jingle for the writer to use to market themselves. Or, you could even find a writer looking to learn your instrument, and you could give them lessons.

I wasn’t always a writer, but now that I have been blogging for years, I am able to create written content that can reach more students. Creating a website and blog is not easy. It took me a lot of time to figure out what pages I needed. I have tons of archived blog posts with horrible writing.

Just as with music, writing takes time to perfect. It takes practice.

Related: How Often Should You Blog?

A Worthy Investment

A website and a blog are both investments, whether you spend money on them or not. Yes you can get a website up and running in less than a day, but you will then have to continue monitoring your website, replying to comments, and sharing your content with potential clients and students.

If you’re currently in college, that can make things even more overwhelming. Now, this isn’t a sales pitch (*side eye* I think this might be a sales pitch). I just want you to think about your career for a minute.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you want to perform? Teach privately? Work for yourself in any capacity? A website will help with that.

If you will be teaching K-12 music, then you might not need a website, but in most other cases, it will be helpful.

You can start small.

You can start for free.

A website will change the game.

So…

Do you have a website/blog? Do you use it? Are you happy with it? Do you want a website? Would you want to create your website or leave it up to someone else?

Let me know in the comments!

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What is Music Cognition?

Musicians today are quite lucky. There are many different paths that we can take with music. We are not “stuck” with just teaching and performing anymore. Music cognition is one of the up and coming fields that musicians can go into.

Hannah B Flute | What is Music Cognition?

I have become really interested in music cognition, and yes, music and science DO mix! In this post, I am going to talk about the basics of music cognition, share some of my favorite resources, and answer some questions you might have.

Music cognition is a relatively new field, but it is growing. So, here’s what you need to know about this awesome subfield of music!

What is it?

Music cognition is actually an interdisciplinary field. It combines music with music theory, psychology, neuroscience, physics, computer science, linguistics, and more.

The specific fields involved can differ depending on what you want to learn about. Some research is based more in computer science where as other research might be more based in psychology.

Music cognition scientists ask questions like: why does music make us feel one way? What are the benefits of studying a musical instrument? How can we improve as musicians (from a scientific standpoint)?

A lot of what music cognition scientists do depends on what they want to research specifically. You might be more interested in music and movement. Or you might prefer to study why we feel certain emotions when listening to music.

While music cognition is a small field, it is by no means narrow.

Can I Major in Music Cognition?

You can! There aren’t many programs in the United States, and most are at the graduate (doctoral) level. But you definitely can get a degree in music cognition. You can start by majoring in music as an undergraduate. Study music performance, music education, music theory…whatever else interests you.

I got my bachelors in flute performance, and I am planning on getting my masters in flute performance, too. But, I am also currently looking at getting a PhD in music theory/cognition (most programs are combined).

Major in music at the bachelors and/or masters level, that way you can be prepared to study music at the doctoral level if that interests you.

You by no means need a doctoral degree to work in music cognition, but you will get more experience, and you will have more job opportunities.

My Favorite Resources

If you want to start looking into music cognition, there are a couple of awesome books you should check out.

The first music cognition book I read was “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks. This book share some very interesting cases where peoples’ relationships to music change all because of a change in their brains.

Sacks talks about people who experience seizures, triggered by or involving music. A man struck by lightning later has the sudden urge to learn all of Chopin’s works on piano. And there are tons of other cases where music changed people’s lives.

Another book that I am currently reading is “This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel Levitin. This book is a bit more technical than “Musicophilia,” but it is still worth reading. So far, it talks about pitch relationships, music and emotion, and why we love music (organized sound).

If you can’t wait to get a book, then I would also suggest checking out the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. They have an entire page of resources that you can check out. These include other music cognition organizations, other related websites, and even a list of music cognition labs around the world.

Will I Be Pursuing Music Cognition as a Career?

At this time, the plan is yes, I will be pursuing a career in music cognition. I have always loved music, but I never really felt that interested in private teaching or performing. I said I wanted to teach privately, because “that’s what musicians do.”

But I also have other interests that music cognition would let me explore, like foreign languages and neuroscience. In fact, there was a short period of time during middle and high school when I wanted to become a neurologist.

The preteen in me is beaming right now.

What Should I Major in as an Undergrad?

If you are interested in music cognition, definitely major in music. You could major in general music, performance, music education, or some other field of music.

Most schools don’t have an undergraduate major in music cognition. Majoring in music will prepare you for graduate music study, and it can also make you more marketable later on.

For example, if you major in music performance then go on to get a degree in music theory and cognition, you can get a job teaching theory, cognition, and applied music.

So get your bachelors in music, then consider getting a masters, because some programs also require that, then you can get your PhD in music theory and cognition.

What are Some Good Minors or Second Majors that would Benefit Students Interested in Music Cognition?

If you want to pursue a minor or a second major, choose something you are already interested in. I minored in Spanish, which was something I liked anyway. And it just so happens that it will help me in my career.

If you can’t decide, then you might consider choosing a language, biology, physics, psychology, or English. Foreign languages will help if you want to study music and language, but they will also help you in graduate music school. A lot of graduate music degrees require reading proficiency in a foreign language, so get started sooner rather than later.

Biology, physics, and psychology are all good choices, too. Studying a science will give you research experience early on. Biology will open you up to the body and the brain. Physics will allow you to explore pitch and frequency. Psychology will allow you to study the brain and the mind.

English is also a good minor or major, because it gets you to read and to write. Reading and writing are huge in any research field. You have to be able to read other studies and write your own papers.

So…

There is a lot more to the field of music cognition than I could list here. If there is anything specific that you want me to cover, let me know in the comments!

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Rapid (5 Minute) Warm Ups

If you are like most musicians today, you have a lot going on. Sadly, we don’t always have hours to practice. We also don’t have tons of time to warm up be it for a practice session, rehearsal, or a performance.

Hannah B Flute | Rapid Warm Ups

That’s why I have experimented over the past year with different warm up ideas and have found what works for me. Today, I am going to share some rapid warm ups with you for when you don’t have much time to practice.

Now, you can spread these warm ups out over more time, but they can be done in five to ten minutes if and when necessary. So, let’s get into the rapid warm ups.

Harmonics

The flute, like other instruments, has what is called the harmonic series. I won’t get too technical here, but the harmonic (or overtone) series is where you have a fundamental (think low C) and then there are overtones on top of that fundamental.

If you play a low C (C4) and over blow, you will get the C above that (written C5). Over blow more and you will get a G5. Again, over blow, and you will get a C6. Then E6, G6, Bb6, etc.

Trevor Wye has a great exercise for harmonics in his tone book, but if for whatever reason you don’t have that book, you can create your own exercises by overblowing and hitting different harmonics.

Playing harmonics helps prepare the lips and the ears for playing the flute. You can really feel how fast you have to blow and at what angle in order to hit notes throughout the range of the flute. If you are short on time, stick to just harmonics on low C. But if you have a bit more time, play harmonics on low C#, D, Eb, etc.

Related: Scientific Pitch Notation (C4, etc.)

Long Tones

Long tones make most flutists feel one of two ways: love or hate. They are great for improving your tone, but they can be a bit boring. I mean, you are playing one note for as long as you can.

But there are many things you can do to make long tones more interesting. Adding dynamics, changing the tone color, and adding or subtracting vibrato will switch up the sound, and you can still get your long tone practice in. No more lying to your teacher.

You can also experiment with different intervals. Instead of just playing chromatically, try using the whole tone scale, or go down or up in minor or major thirds.

This will also help “speed” up your warm up, because you are cover multiple flute playing basics with just one exercise.

T&G 17 Daily Exercises

Taffanel & Gaubert to the flute is like butter to bread. I love alternating between exercises 1 & 2. They are a great way to practice scale patterns in all of the keys.

The exercises also cover the entire range of the flute, so it cuts down on time playing scales each day. Yes, you should still play scales, but in a pinch, these exercises are a good substitute.

The other exercises are also good, and you can choose one or two to fit your needs for that particular day. If your copy of T&G has been left untouched, I suggest you pull it out, because it really is that important.

Scales (In Context)

If you still have time to warm up, I recommend playing the scale(s) associated with any etudes or repertoire you are working on. Not only does this help prepare you for playing that etude or piece, but it can also get you to practice your scales.

When you have a piece in a particularly tricky key, or if you have a more difficult run based on a scale, use that scale to warm up for the real thing. If the piece is in a minor key, play the relative major and all three minor scales.

Pieces with key changes are also good for this. Play all the associated scales for your piece. That way, your fingers will be warmed up and ready to play in the appropriate keys.

So…

All of these warm ups together do take longer than each on their own. Determine your goals for the day, and choose the warm up that will best prepare you for your practice.

Did I miss any warm ups? What do you do when you are short on time to warm up? Let me know in the comments!

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