If you're serious about making video games, give Will Wright's Masterclass a try:

The Sims creator Will Wright teaches you his personal strategies to design fascinating games that engge players and enable their creativity.

Lessons include topics like: fundamentals of game design, generating game concepts, early prototyping, story and games, player psychology, visual asthetics, iterating and scoping, playtesting, sound asthetics, pitching ideas, understanding your platforms, system design, leadership and collaboration, and the future of game design.

In this article I will tackle both video game design and programming video games, as I have experience in both.

Best way to teach yourself game design?

This kind of goes hand in hand with any subject: Read! Read! Read!

I would start with these books:

Read them cover-to-cover, don't skim.

It sounds like simplistic advice, "Duh RJAG, duh!" but you'd be shockingly surprised to find out how little most people read. IMO, although I cannot prove this, I suspect the majority of online forums is composed of users who have only skimmed a handful of passing articles. Hell, even some threads on Reddit that get responses from users who stopped reading after half the title- and didn't even finish the TITLE, let alone the contents, before vehemently replying.

What helped me to learn game design the most is talking with other people who knew about game design. Kind of learning by beginning to understand how they think and perceive game design.

Having someone you can discuss design with is probably more important than anything else. Just as with any skill, especially a tech/science skill, a mentor is invaluable.

Of course, easier said than done.

Still- participating in conversations about game design can help, even if that isn't mentorship by an intelligent/experienced person...it's better than nothing!

Is it possible to make video games as an adult amateur without pursuing a degree?

As a person who designed a few indie games, I can assure you that experience beats a degree. Having a degree comes in handy when you start fresh from school, but if you don't do shit apart from studying (think designing games in your spare time, attending meet-ups, gamejams, etc), then you can have all the degrees that you'd like but you still won't get hired.

So focus on getting stuff done, like that project you mentioned, and getting contacts in the industry. That will eventually be a lot more useful.

I believe anyone can make games, even if you don't have any experience. You won't make Witcher 4 as your first game of course, but you can definitely make your own little indie games at home with a very low budget. If you choose the right tools, you can make small games entirely for free.

My recommendation for any beginner is GameMaker Studio 2. It's an excellent piece of software that allows you to code games with a very simple language (GML) while still being able to produce quality games. GameMaker is responsible for Undertale, Hyper Light Drifter, and Downwell, just to name a few.

Even if you're not comfortable with coding at first, you can still use their Drag and Drop system to learn simple game logic. It's recommended that you move onto GML coding as soon as possible though, since DnD quickly becomes limited.

There's a catch, though. GameMaker has a trial version, but you can't do much without one of their licenses, which can range anywhere between $40 and $1500. GameMaker also doesn't do 3D very well, so if you want to make 3D games you will have to try Unity or something more complex.

With that said, I'd recommend GameMaker anyway, because it's such a good starting point. Even if you start with GameMaker, it's easy to just move onto another game engine like Unity or Unreal once you're more experienced.

Is it realistic to make a game solo, without a team?

With enough discipline, dedication, drive, coffee, lack of sleep, lack of social life and a well-defined scope, making your own game is totally realistic.

There is only ONE bad decision you can make. And that's not starting.

If you're torn between two or more particular technologies, it's best to start with one than neither at all.

For ages I couldn't settle on either web-based technologies (what I already know) or Unity.

Identify what you know, establish creative constraints and build around that.

How the process for designing a game looks?

Process of Designing a game:

First off... what's this thing about? What's it trying to do? What's this thing's goal for the player? How does it make you feel? That's the theme, the core of all games.

  • Skyrim's theme: Being a Nordic Legend.
  • Breath of the Wild: Adventure.
  • Mario Odyssey: Moving around a 3D environment in fun, novel ways to find and obtain Moons to progress the game, so you can move through new 3D environments.

All these games built around that idea.

Design everything around that theme. The gameplay mechanics, the music, the art, the aesthetic, the story (or in some cases the story comes first, like in your case, and the game is designed around the theme of the story), the controls, the menus, EVERYTHING!

It's the designer's job to find the best way to give the player the experience that this game's theme is out to give. And to do that a great method is to look how other games, movies, tv shows, cartoons, animes, books, and other things managed to deliver this experience as well, so you can iterate on what they did and fit it into your game.

And there you go.

If you're starting with a story it's good to think to yourself "Should I even bother trying to make a game?" Different stories work better or worse in different mediums, and a question that should be asked is "Can this story be interactive?" If you're struggling with that, then maybe you should think about writing a novel or screenplay instead.

There's no hard-and-fast checklist of criteria that defines the experience of a game as 'working' or 'broken.' It's not like most software development because the end user's experience in a game is far more freely chosen and subjective than in software.

Just getting that expectation out of the way in advance. It's quite the obstacle to overcome.

As for the tactics of building a game around a story, your game's story can be broken down too. Identify the goals, obstacles, tactics, and expectations (correct or otherwise) of the stories (yes, plural) you want the player to see first - then expand them into a game.

Lead the player: Bait, intimidate, provoke, misdirect, and otherwise manipulate them through the game's mechanics or story. Know their wants and expectations, meet them or withhold them. Guide them, teach them the message through analogies of the same experiences that taught you.

Is it better to get a degree in game development or computer science if you want to create games?

Here's an answer from someone in the field who has worked with 4 types of people: non college background but with decent programming skills; non college background but "learned to code" in Unity; college background and invested in learning stuff; college background but just graduated due to the institution graduating anyone who just showed up to classes.

You CAN be a great programmer without having been to college / university. But it takes dedication and, for as powerful as Engines like Unity and Unreal can be in the hands of experienced people, they should NEVER be seen as the platform to LEARN how to code. That's the biggest issue we have with most people, having college background or not. A decent programmer needs to know memory management to say the least. Many, many things you'll only learns diving deeper.

I'd say that a good game coder can learn by him/herself by approaches like creating his/her own game engine (it can be a simple 2D but well structured one) and studying everything involved as the project goes. It takes less than six months if you are really committed. After that you'll rock using any engine.

The best programmers I've got to know either have no college background or dropped out. I dropped out as soon as I realized that the diploma would only be useful as an entry door to the field I was already established. BUT I had many years of programming background. Otherwise I would have stayed.

If you have a decent github profile with two or three small to mid size projects it serves you as a diploma. If you have a decent diploma it doesn't necessarily serve you as a decent github profile... But if you are not committed to studying alone or have no clue about what subjects you should master it actually would take less time to go to college and acquire a decent overall knowledge.

Last but not least: Regardless of where and how you study, learn by doing it, not by copying it. Read theories and implement 'em without over relying on copying other people's code. And be very careful when watching video tutorials created by people who got the results they wanted but have no knowledge of why and how they got there (aka copied code from several other tutorials and mixed together without really knowing what they were doing)

A general compsci degree will ensure you have a backup plan, because let's be frank here, the gamedev industry is an entertainment industry, and like all entertainment industries, the worker is there to get abused. If you have leverage over your employer-to-be and can tell them to fuck off because you have a 110k job lined up the moment you leave, you will do better than someone who doesn't have that threat.

And, if things don't work out, that's fine. You can always come back to it later. You plan on living another 60-70 years, right? That's a lot of time to eventually chase your dreams.

Should you get into game design or game programming?

I've heard almost as many arguments against becoming an animator, programmer, artist and so on.

I can't stress hard enough to do what you enjoy. Don't become a game designer is you want to program, and sure as hell don't study computer science if you want to become a game designer. Really, and this is just my opinion - the only point I agree with is the last. Game designers are not evaluated on the quality of their ideas. Many find it difficult to figure out that that there's a difference between an idea and a pitch.

Also remember that an education in game design can be applied to other industries. More and more companies are hiring people that are specialised in design (and game design) to 'gamify' their products. By studying game design at this point you're really not limiting yourself. For reference I'm in my final year of studying Game Design at a for profit university. I've already held a job at a pure game studio, and three jobs (two separate companies) as a "consultant" and designer gamifying existing software and products.

I'm lucky in that my location and my teacher give me a unique perspective of the industry. My university spans four locations around the world with my campus having the smallest game designer course. There's only ten of us in total, with one professor. Our professor comes from a strong background in the business side of game design, teaching us how to formulate, polish, and pitch ideas, and how to look at the psychological parts of game design. Contrasted to the other campuses, all they seem to learn is "How to use Unity" and "How to use Maya".

Remember that there is so much more to the industry than just design and development disciplines.

Would someone studying Computer Science have as much exposure to the game design industry? You would be far more disconnected from art and level design disciplines.

A good game designer should be able to understand the other disciplines such as (art, programming and qa) well like you said and most game design courses teach with those disciplines in concern. Most design programs will have students touching on all parts of the industry. Learning things from psychology (emotional engineering), to level design (prototyping games with architectural cut outs), presentational skills (Pitching to teams and clients). I see this understanding opening up more doors than being an expert solely in one field.

I can also argue that many people will hire fresh graduate designers. Though I live in a far less competitive region of the world. My main argument though is Computer Science / programming isn't the only way into the industry anymore.

Is modding a good gateway into game design?

Yes, it is, but you have to realize if you're mixing up "game design" and "programming".

Modding GZDoom may be excellent to learn game design (a subset of it, really); but is not a good one to learn how to program or how to use engines like Unity or Unreal.

Many people really want to get into game programming. So, first, understand what you really want to learn! If it is game design, go for modding (and do it in many games of different genres, not just one). If it is programming, go learn actual programming and forget about modding.

I believe modding is a great gateway into game design. As long as you feel like you're still having fun and getting good takeaways/experience from modding games you enjoy I would keep at it.

How long does it take to learn enough programming to code a game?

Matter of weeks to make a game. Matter of months to make a decent game. Matter of years to make a good game.

Is C++ the best language to start with gaming? I'm not sure that C++ is the best language to start making games. It's not the best language to learn programming either unless you're a "natural". Also I don't know if it's good to start learning two different things at once - programming and game development.

If you're serious about programming and game development I would suggest that you spend some time (months) getting familiar with your language of choice and various programming concepts, workflows.. Learn a bit about the bare metal too.

After that apply the knowledge you gained in making several short games - and make a sticking point in finishing at least one. You'll soon learn your strengths and weaknesses as a programmer.

Go back to study once more, this time a shorter period of time (weeks) then back to making games. Repeat this cycle until you're satisfied with your programming skills and your ability to finish a playable game. Don't limit yourself to only learning the language though - find some time for various famous programming books (OOP principles, Clean Code, Pragmatic Programmer, etc).

As for the language of choice I'd recommend C#. It's a very good first OOP language and as a bonus feature it's also a main scripting language for Unity - which is what you'll want to use as a solo dev.

Of course you could also start the hard way with C for a basic understanding of the machine, followed by C# or if you're masochistic with C++.

So I guess what I'm saying is that in order to become a game developer you'll first have to become a programmer.

For a simple game like Tetris or Snake, it could take as short as a couple of days, if you just try to learn Data Structures first then use a simple game engine like Unity so you don't have to worry about rendering.

Really, if you are just starting out don't focus too much on a specific language. Instead learn the fundamentals of Data Structures and Algorithms. Once you get familiar with it more, you will start to see games in a different perspective, in a way that you can try to break it down to its simplest form. Then learning the language is just learning the different syntax and structures.

Now for a time frame of learning Data Structures and Algorithms, I'm not too sure. I mean, I took a class for it which was 4 months for a semester. But it didn't really stop from there, I'm still constantly learning more ways of making certain algorithms more efficient and different ways to structure data.

Should you go to school to learn game design?

Do whatever the hell you want. Life is short, but think carefully and make sure this is something you really want to do. All of it. Draw up a plan with goals that will allow you to learn new skills in a manageable way.

Dedicate some time each day to learning code, designing systems and levels, messing around in 3d editors. Start taking your games seriously and make something that people will want to play. Set your sights way above Game Maker. Build a portfolio, read books, contact game designers in the industry and have something impressive to show them!

Books are so, so important. I don't mean game review websites. Develop an eye for good game design, what makes games successful, what types of games are feasible for one person to make. The most important advice I can give you is to treat this passion as a labour of love.

If you're not designing games that you or other people don't want to play, then you're wasting your time. The job market is brutal and the ratio of wide-eyed fifteen year olds who play videogames to actual work in the game industry is hugely disproportionate.

Are there are certificates in game design worth getting?

I'm going to say don't do it for the certificate. Outside of some specific companies with specific requirements (Cisco, Oracle), certificates are worthless in the eyes of an employer. A degree is what you want, and if you can't get a degree, at least get some formal education in computer science or the arts.

If you want to learn programming, learn programming. If you want to learn art, learn art. But please try not to confine your education to the curriculum of "game design" (whatever the school decides that is). Employers are usually looking for a strong portfolio in addition to a strong education.

I highly suggest getting a degree. At a community college this is usually an associate's degree. If you like game design, look for a degree in computer science. Talk to your advisor about a minor in art. Some colleges offer an associates in applied science, which is very hands-on and can help you start a portfolio while you're in school. Seriously, talk to your advisor.

I'm suggesting a degree because it's more valuable than a certificate in the eyes of an employer. If you're in the U.S., depending on your state, you can transfer credits to a four-year college if you decide to do so in the future.

Employers are more keen to candidates who are perusing a degree than candidates who might get a certification. See if the college offers online courses (most do), which don't require you to be at the college. My local community college offers courses with class once per week.

I initially wanted to get A+ certified, but quickly learned that the employers where I live simply don't care about certifications. My professors worked for places like Intel, the US Air Force, and one ran a small game company. Not a single one ever had a certification like what you're describing. I graduated with an AAS in IT, and later transferred to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor's in CS.

I worked for an IT helpdesk that handled hardware repairs on desktops and laptops- nobody, not even the manager, had A+ certification; I got the job because of my degree. Again, they didn't care about my lack of certification.

By all means, if you think the certificate will help you, do it! In fact, there are many game companies who care very little about education. As I mentioned before, portfolio is extremely important, but at the same time a good education is arguably just as valuable.

How to deal with having to learn so much in game development and feeling overwhelmed?

I run into this problem with pretty much every creative thing I want to take on. For me, at least part of it is a persistent perfectionist streak. I don't want to write crappy code, or make crappy music, or do crappy design work. I want to be jaw-dropping brilliant at everything first, and then make stuff. Naturally, I never get anywhere close to that. (And even if I did, I'd undoubtedly find myself bored. "I know how to do this already, why bother?")

I think the trick is to learn just enough to do something, and then have at it. Learn by doing. Remember that you're not building a bridge that might fail and kill a bunch of people; you're making a game. You're absolutely entitled to screw it up in the most outlandish manner possible. Perhaps it's even preferable to do so, given how much you'd learn, both about the process, and about yourself.

We all tend to get the "learn the rules before you break the rules" speech from everyone, but I would argue that that is the source of a lot of tepid, too-tentative, safe-as-houses creations. The more rules you learn, the deeper the groove of that way of doing things gets dug out in your brain, which makes you less likely to experiment with things outside your comfort zone, be it greatly or infinitesimally.

Personally there are a whole host of far uglier reasons why I struggle not to denigrate the things I create to the point of lunacy, but I don't have a chaise longue, so I'll spare you that litany.

Do you need to be a great programmer to make good video games?

A friend of mine is a professional indie dev and contractor; he showed me some of the code to a hugely popular survival game (I feel I can say that without narrowing the field) and let me tell you, it was a fucking nightmare. A nest of if statements handling inventory. Fucking gross.

But guess what? Not only did the devs make millions on it, but the consumer got their money out of it too.

In indie dev, just making something with unique ideas is vastly more valuable than proper architecture. This kind of advice will hamstring a lot more of the people that have the creative chops than it will help.

Can you make games on the side while keeping your day job?

I think it's very important to have something you enjoy on the side, as well as having a job. If your job doesn't offer that joy, keep developing games.

Ultimately, game development is no cakewalk. If you're really passionate about turning game development into a career, you will be motivated to put in the effort.

Finally, a suggestion. If you have very little time to spend on coding, then I would recommend making a transition to C# and Unity. C# is similar to Java, so you should pick up C# pretty easily. Why I suggest Unity/C# over Java is because Unity is a well established software designed for developing games with a massive community.

If you've been developing Java games in a framework like LibGDX or LWJGL, which force you to code most of it yourself, using a game engine like Unity allows you to quickly get that sense of accomplishment from seeing results.

A little anecdote of how game development can start as a hobby:

My friend Alonso Martin was working on Heart Forth, Alicia for many years as a hobby, always intending on releasing it for free. I bugged him lots about giving up on that and trying to sell the game, and at some point he decided to.

He built a Kickstarter, got 300 grand, and now works with composers and marketers and his game is coming to major consoles.

Anything can start as a hobby.

How my interest in game design started

So I'm assuming you want to go into game design?

A little background on me, I was drawing little sonic levels when I was five. I've posted on game design forums throughout my life, programmed several terrible little role-playing games in high school, and I have notepads filled with little ideas.

If you are anything like I was in grade 12, you already know something about balancing games, level design, game mechanics, and crave more. I think you should also have a look at some mechanics that are just for polish.

The major things I learned about game design is a game programming, shaders, animation, 3D modeling, texturing, sounds, how long it takes to create these assets, how everything comes together in a game engine, a workload wake up call, and finally you have to truly screw up one game as a large team once to understand how to really plan properly.

You need to understand these things, since game designer is basically a semi-management position. I will also warn you that for that reason no one usually hires a designer, instead they usually hire someone who works on the above, then those people already on the production team prove themselves capable of a design role before moving roles.

If you're seriously interested in investigative journalism, you should give Bob Woodward's Masterclass a try:

Watch, listen, and learn as Bob teaches investigavtive journalism in his first-ever online class.

Lessons include topics like: journalistic principles, finding the story, in-depth reporting, finding documents, finding sources, developing sources, building trust, conducting interviews, interview challenges, developing cases, writing the story, polishing and publishing the story, learning from mistakes, and the state of journalism.

How to become a journalist?

My best advice is practice and experience. Write, read, write, read. Join your high school or college newspaper, if it has one.

Read these books:

Or try to string for your small local paper. Then join your college newspaper. People will debate whether it's necessary to major in journalism. Some think it's a waste, but I think it's helpful because of the connections you make.

Get a couple internships under your belt in college, as it's another great way to get professional experience and make connections. Seriously, the best way is to just write as much as you can, and read stories from the best writers in the biz.

Do you need to go to journalism school to be a journalist?

No, but it will help a lot.

My experience in journalism school was a marginal benefit to my real-world experience. That is to say, very, very little of what I learned in journalism school actually applied to the work I do now. Maybe I took the wrong classes or went to the wrong school, or maybe I missed those critical courses by dropping out a semester or two short of a degree — hard to say for sure, but I’m skeptical.

My skepticism stems from working with fresh out of J-school grads, many of whom are very poorly prepared for the job but who are supremely confident in their under-developed abilities because their diploma says they know how to journalism. Many of these early 20 somethings, assured by their degree, are stubborn, have poor listening skills, and are exceedingly difficult to train.

The tools I use most frequently in my job were acquired either before j-school or on the job — how to pitch, how to distinguish between effective and ineffective in your own writing, AP style, a decent understanding of technology and secure communications, and an appreciation/understanding of ethics that I think can really only be learned from countless real-world trials with real-world consequences.

I would also add, the notions that journalism is dying and that there’s no job security and the pay is shit I think are largely myths. Sure, you can make more money in investment banking, but you can make an adequate/comfortable living in journalism.

Broadcast journalism producers in particular are in pretty high demand right now, as are audio/podcast producers. As for job security, at least from my perspective, it’s a little too secure. I’ve watched people who should have been fired continue working for months and even years after they should have been let go.

What are the pros and cons of being a journalist?

  • Pay can be low, demands can be high, good jobs can be hard to come by, deadlines can be a grind, and many will insist that they can do your job better than you. But I feel the pros are getting short-changed a lot.

  • As a journalist you get to be in the know. You get to ask lots of questions and get up in people's business, and they're generally okay with it. People will seek you out to tell you all kinds of interesting "news". You'll rack up a lot of twitter followers, a few gadflies, and possibly an enemy or two.

  • Sometimes you get the chance to meet (influential, famous, fun, etc.) people, or get access to cool places or behind-the-scenes scenes.

  • You get paid to learn about things that (hopefully) interest to you, and help explain them to others. Freelancing is usually an option for journalists.

  • And democracy, fourth-estate, and all that stuff too.

  • Journalism can be lots of fun.

Tips for teenagers and students who want to become journalists in the future

What advice would I give myself 5 years ago: READ, READ, READ, READ. Then when you're done reading, READ more. Then the next day, READ even more.

No matter what type of written journalism you want to get into, you will never become a better writer--and studies show this, several of them--if you don't read more than you write. Read everything, too--not just material in your field. Read comic books, fiction novels, magazines, books with collected writing from great writers.

Think about stories from a structural standpoint, not a sentence by sentence point of view. Many people can write good sentences, but that doesn't make you a good writer/journalist. Being able to tell a great story is more important.

Oh, and yeah, did I mention this: READ.

For every word you write, read 10-20. Currently, I'm at a weekly newspaper and write around 8-10, 600-word stories a week, so I try to read at least 60,000 words a week. And I've seen the improvement in my writing.

What's the difference between investigative journalism and stalking?

There are laws about where you're allowed to film, record etc, and depending where you are you often cannot do so without the subject's knowledge. Being a journalist also in no way makes you immune from harassment/stalking laws.

What people often think about is more like the kind of thing you see in fictional films rather than an actual journalist's day job! You might wait outside somewhere to try to catch someone for an interview/picture when they leave, but you'll only be interacting with them for a minimal time - and frankly most journalists have way too much work on to spend days on one subject!

How has investigative journalism changed since the Trump administration?

More money has flowed to investigative journalism since we started having Russians interfere with elections, special counsel investigations of our president who is engaging in unprecedented opacity, and flaunting of, for example the emoulments clause of the constitution.

So the money to do a proper investigation might not have been there under Obama.

Weirdly the folks who hated Obama didn't fund investigation, because shouting jackasses on am radio seem to do the job much more efficiently with their target demographic.

Why are journalists writing clickbait headlines?

Sometimes journalists have to be bombastic in order to convince less sophisticated folk to sink into deeper more complex stories. It might surprise you to know the typical newspaper article is written at a fifth grade reading level.

Sometimes journalists have to be bombastic in order to convince less sophisticated folk to sink into deeper more complex stories. It might surprise you to know the typical newspaper article is written at a fifth grade reading level.

A blog post has lower information density and word complexity than that. And Reddit typically boils those down even further. So of course a journalist trying to reach the greatest number of people possible warning them about children being drugged in internment camps is going to use bombastic language in order to convince as many people to engage as possible.

When the issue is / CHILDREN BEING DRUGGED IN INTERNMENT CAMPS / easing off on the pedantic dial is probably worthwhile.

Is it difficult to become a nomad/international journalist?

The thing is that most of these things will be specific to the country you're going to. To be honest it comes across as a bit naive to think you'll just travel around the world and that your beat is 'anything international' - you do really need to put the planning in and get to know the specifics for each place.

No one can really do that for you. But for most countries, yes you will need a work/journalism visa for that country and you could get in trouble if you work on a tourist visa. It may be harder to get visas if you're not attached to a company/outlet, but again it's all dependent on where you're going.

You could get yourself in real hot water if you try to work as a journalist somewhere without the right visa, and it's better for you to find that out now than then. I think it's great you want to travel, but don't go into this unprepared.

Is it realistic to become a war reporter?

No responsible outlet should hire a rookie to go into conflict zones. You should have hostile environment training, bomb-ass insurance, and plenty of experience in lower-key situations. The reality is most people are going all in on this for all the wrong reasons.

Believe it or not, wars aren't actually for bored privileged young white guys to feel like they're living -- it's a whole lot of civilians getting fed a shit sandwich and the last thing they actually need is some rich kid with an SLR doing some on-spec wannabe gonzo shit for Vice.

Market yourself? I'd have another suggestion of what you might ought to consider doing with yourself. If you want bang-bang, join the army, or just seek therapy and skip the army step altogether. If you're serious about becoming a journalist, become a journalist.

Would a journalistic license help to fight against fake news and political propaganda?

I think it's a good idea and it would help, so long as this organization were self-policing and not in any way tied to the government or specific companies. Also, there'd have to be buy-in from much of the industry.

It would help people tell the difference between "real" journalists and "citizen" journalists. Anyone can commit an act of journalism, just like anyone could theoretically give solid legal advice. But a lawyer stands to lose a lot if he/she does something wrong and gets caught.

It would also force some organizations (ahem, tv news) and some journalists to unfuck themselves. Journalism is a competitive business that leads people to do things that are unethical. If you're in college you'd get an F or get kicked out of school. In the real world, nothing happens unless you're pulling a Jayson Blair. More journalists need to be responsible with their work, and right now there often aren't clear incentives to change their behavior.

Can you explain what was the deal with Panama Papers?

People who don't want their governments to know about their wealth need to do something with it that doesn't have their name attached. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate (Venezuela might kidnap your children if it knows you have a ton of money, or you want to hide it from your ex-spouse), but other reasons are not (tax evasion, money laundering, etc.).

But you have to do something with your money other than having a pile of cash, right? You still want to invest it in the stock market, use it as collateral for loans for your business, buy a yacht, whatever. So one thing you can do is open a "shell company" that doesn't have any real business activity or employees, just an organization on paper. Then you (the rich person) give your assets to your new company.

In Panama, the documents that set up your company generally didn't (maybe still don't?) need to list the name of the owner of the assets, just the name of the "President" and "Secretary" and that sort of thing. Those officers can be anyone, such as the lawyers who help create the new company. They agree with you to run the company at your instruction. This is exactly what was done by a law form Mosack Fonseca ("MF").

The Panama Papers consisted of a HUGE trove of documents from MF describing not only the presidents and secretaries of all these paper companies but also the true owners--the names of the rich people.

With these names released, and the other connections mentioned in the documents, the governments of the relevant countries could start investigating whether these people had properly reported and paid tax on the assets stuffed into these companies.

In several cases, prominent politicians were caught up in this mess, including the PM of Iceland, who I think later resigned. It can take a long time to sort through the data and investigate whether the arrangements were legitimate, which is the process we're in now.

What to do when journalism doesn't work out?

I know the feels.... I graduated from one of the top journalism schools in the U.S. and at the height of the economic repression, so finding a job at the local newspaper wasn't going to happen. I worked my way up in the Internet Marketing world, and still do a lot of writing and have writers under me that I have to edit.

I studied more photojournalism, and was hoping to take that route, but after college, with no money and no insurance, I had to give up that dream for a little while.

It seems like everyone I went to J-school with is not doing too much with their degree, but I've found stability in the Internet Marketing field and is still along the same lines of what I've learned from school.

Why are people saying that journalism is dying?

It's probably because it's not a very good "salaried profession" with decent healthcare, benefits, and the ability to retire one day.

I think this is why journalism is dieing, because the skill ceiling keeps increasing but not with pace of salary. Like we're expected to research, video, photo, write and speak and use social media for $15 an hour, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This makes the career a good starting point for young kids who focus on the fluff stories that get the clicks or even worse part-time reporters who don't know how to do proper research.

Another aspect is — Unless it's a national news story I've noticed is (1) most journalists feed entirely off of police reports ("police said..", etc) and (2) when the subject of the story refuses to comment, that's it, they don't dig deeper or start doing background research.

Stories were handled a whole lot differently in the 1970s and earlier when news editors were in competition with another and were able to pay more for talent.

If you want to become an investigative journalist you have to answer yes to all these questions

As a former aspiring journalist, these are some questions I considered.

  • Can you live with the ethical constraints of the media environment?
  • Can you work under the conditions of constant deadlines?
  • Are you a resourceful and independent person?
  • Are you thick-skinned enough to be rejected?
  • Are you willing to forgo a stable routine?

If you're saying now to any of these, choose a different profession.

The dark side of daying/marrying a journalist

My friend is married to a full-time pro journalist and she agreed to chime in here anonymously:

  • The hours are awful. Absolutely awful. Just.... for those of you who are married to a journalist (breaking news, politics, national), just be prepared to be a single parent. They just aren't around for much in the evenings. And they are always on their phones-- so it's like they're working all the time. Also-- your weekends are never free as they are always somehow working. And if you really want them to get away, you have to force them to go to boonies so that they can't check their email as often.

  • Everything is about their passion for their job. Which is great. They can go screw IT then. And if you question them about possibly just maybe changing their job, it's like asking them to commit murder. Forget it. Because when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. YAWN. Except your spouse has to make up for you.

  • The sex suffers too. To clarify-- I am married to his job. I'm a slave to his schedule. He wants to have sex with me when the kids are around, or I'm trying to sleep, or when we have like 4 different family members in the house because we never can get it on because he works during the magic hours. I'm so tired of being frustrated by this, but it's effing frustrating. So yes, I am married to his job as a result. He got upset when I told him I had to get new vibrators recently... because having two seconds of sex once a week is somehow good enough for him and it's astonishing how this isn't good enough for me? Huh. Don't see how that could be a problem.

  • He misses out on a lot of the kid stuff. Quite literally everything. Movie nights, game nights, making dinner eating dinner-- he just isn't there. Soccer ballet- forget about it. Most of the time he is working while he eats too, which is annoying. Way to teach positive screen time habits, DAD!

  • The pay is small. I make 50% more than him and 3X more than most journalists. This is a small thing if Number 3 was better, really.

  • They care about the job first. He doesn't give AF about how this effects my quality of life. Recently, I told him that I had to do this this and this, and he was like: "Oh, this too will pass." Wait a minute-- me working a 24 hour shift to compensate for your breaking news is somehow a temporary thing? Because I assure you, it is not. IT IS NEVER a temporary thing. IT IS PERVASIVE AND ALL ENCOMPASSING and it happens all the time.

  • They have odd hubris. He thinks he's smarter than me. In a way, I have to agree with this in part because somehow I got duped into marrying him. Jesus. But the assumption of stupid things that he gets wrong (just common sense stuff) vs. his random knowledge is just annoying.

So yes. I have lots of regrets marrying a journalist. If you are dating a journalist: be forewarned. The sex gets worse with age and they are just never around because news > your relationship. It may not happen now, but it will happen. And it will suck.

I think if he would go into PR-- where the hours are more regular-- it would be better. He's not an awful person. It's just that the job is not conducive to a stable family life or marriage. And his job was definitely not a big deal when we didn't have kids. And now that we have kids, divorcing a person because you hate his job seems really trivial.

Anyone looking into journalism should really take a moment and think to themselves whether or not it's worth it to get married and risk hurting your loved ones by constantly having to work. Whether or not you are willing to forgo having kids for your career or willing to change careers when you have kids. Because journalism regrets will sneak up on you.

I'm not the only spouse with this issue (so much wine to be had to bitch about this) so you should know the truth, even if it means that I have to write about it here.

How my journalistic studies went

Seriously. If you start working hard well before the capstone you can get a lot out of the program. BUT YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS. The program itself is not important. You have to write and make stuff and get internships and do things on your own time. I understand that compared to a major like Accounting you don't leave j-school with everything you need to fall into a job.

You can make a place for yourself in the field if you are really, really good, with or without a degree. And there are lots of degrees that are the same way. You're not going to get a job as an actor if you are a theater major but you were never in any shows or films besides the ones that were required. Some people never went to school for acting and are great at it, but so are some people that went to school. Who's to say the education was a waste if they got something out of it?

You can definitely get a more marketable degree for the money. But as far as preparation, if you were an average writer before, the coursework will help you improve. Arguably, if you were only an average writer before, you shouldn't be a journalist, but I believe in self-improvement and choosing your own path.

I improved my skills during the program to be sure, and I never would have tried a lot of the things I did without the prodding of my professors, who I probably never would have met if I hadn't at least started the program. There are days when I feel like my degree was a waste, but then I remember how before I got to school I didn't know how to take a picture or cut a video or write an enterprise story. I can do all those things now and I definitely wouldn't have been able to do it without some sort of instruction/feedback from a mentor, and good luck finding someone who just wants to teach you stuff for free. (I get that the internet is a thing but you need real relationships.)

I have a part-time job in a different but related field and I manage to find freelance opportunities. It's not everything I dreamed it would be, but fucking nothing is.

Just because you don't think a major is worthwhile for you personally is not the institution's fault. Sure you can get the equivalent experience another way, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't still offer the program for people who are willing to do it and think it will help them to build skills, even if you happen to think there are better options.

The skills, believe it or not, are transferrable. And just like you can (and should) develop journalism skills outside the classroom, you can just as easily learn to code, or read up on politics, or take on another interest that will help you in your career.

My tips for adult that want to become journalists without going to j-school

I majored in journalism and in hindsight, wish I had not. I didn't go to a great program, so bear in mind that a top tier J school - like any top school - has a much better chance to pan out some good connections, better training, and help you assemble a worthwhile portfolio to showcase. I think I fell out of love with the idea too late to switch majors, but I can trace a lot of it back to me being a clueless 20-year-old dumbass who didn't take school very seriously.

First, know that establishing a career down any artistic/creative avenue is not easy. I recall very vividly a day - sometime after the crash, when my reporting teacher penned an article in our city paper about the collapse of the journalism industry. His advice after we grilled him in class was: wait it out, go to grad school, good luck. There are no guarantees in life.

I was usually on the photojournalist side of the newsroom, but what helped me hit quotas was developing a lot of sources. On slow weeks I'd wander around town and pop into various offices to chat and see what was going on. Most of the time I was just looking for feature photos since I had already received assignments at the budget meeting, but I'd keep an ear out for good story ideas for the reporters too. Schools are full of cute kids and teachers who are trying new programs. High schools allow for more profile pieces on individuals or write-ups about things the theater kids are developing. Police and fire usually want to show off their new toys. City parks department usually are planting trees, fixing parks or working on something or other. Businesses are expanding or remodeling and love the free publicity. Churches are putting on bake sales or organizing mission trips. If there's an art gallery you can do a profile on one of the artists, they usually have colorful stories and make for good interviews.

That said, despite having a lot of sources and being known around town there were still weeks where I'd owe more photos than I had and be forced to submit something that I felt everyone knew was filler at best. So in my experience that feeling of "I'm a fraud!" is always lurking, it just gets a little quieter when you submit something you're proud of.

If you do go into a J school, the final return draws a direct line to the effort you put in. From my experience, journo grads were expected to know how to fill multiple roles for a media outlet, from writing and copy editing, shooting and editing video with narration, laying out pages and designing infographics, rigging SEO, even some work in marketing. Writing ability and "story telling" is an important foundation but only one aspect of the profession itself. No one skill is going to get you a job, no one job is going to focus on one skill, but demonstrating a bundle of skills will really help your chances. Even then, there are way more writers than jobs and the pay isn't going to blow you away, but if you're self-motivated there are many outlets for your work.

If you want to be a writer, start writing. Start a blog, pick something that you're really into and build a body of work. Read the AP style guide, get some text books on news writing and editing. You can pick up a lot of the base knowledge that a school would sell to you on your own. However paying for a school will give you access to an established organization, mentors, connections and structure to help you develop multiple abilities in tandem - all very useful. The choice depends on how you learn. I benefit from structure, but some people are very good autodidacts.

Some of the best journalists don't have degrees in journalism. If you really love it, do it. You'll find a way to make it work. If you try it and hate it, go to law school. You won't know until you try.

If you're seriously worried about the future of our planet our planet and the next generations of animals and humans, give Dr. Jane Goodall's Masterclass a watch:

Watch, listen, and learn as legendary naturalist Dr. Jane Goodall shares decades of her work and obervations.

Lessons include topics like Chimpanzee Behavior, Animal Intelligence, Humans & The Environment, Threats to Animals, Animal Cruelty, Climate Change, Water and Land Sustainability, Industrial Agriculture, Organic Farming, Food Activism, Advocacy Strategies, Communication, Global Change, and Reasons for Hope.

How can a person get involved in helping wildlife and conservation?

Just send out an email to various organizations (even game and fish) and say you are interested. A lot have sites that talk about the things they are already doing and ways you can get involved too. Do you have an audubon society around? They are great to get involved with as well.

How to get into conservation if you're still in school

Does your school offer any type of biology degree?Conservation training can be obtained by volunteering small amounts of time over several years. While it would be useful to enroll specifically in a conservation degree, you can likely enroll in a number of relevant courses by a different avenue. Yes, talk to your counselor and ask about courses in ecology, zoology, botany, etc., that you may have access to.

In the US, a lot of university classes for conservation also focus on plant life. Also, check out zoo science. It’s probably only a US major (it’s rare and still relatively newish) but you could always study abroad?

How does working in the convervation infustry actually look like? Are there any cerifications that you should get?

And can you make any money in this field?

First off, there is no conservation industry. An industry is something that makes money, conservation does not make money. As far as "certifications"- that sort of stuff varies heavily from state to state, and it's up to you to research how your state manages land and regulates the environment. If you want to make a career out of it, go to school and get a BS and MS in a geoscience.

Does your state's environmental commission test water? You could get a water monitoring certification.

The work is draining. I do things as a volunteer, and the amount of apathy I see from the general public and people working in local conservation departments is nuts. We had a highway put through a nature preserve with endangered species a few years back.

Earlier this year friend who is an biologist said "I know it's bad that it went through the preserve, but it's really handy having this connect everything". And that pretty much sums it up. You fight the good fight until your fight gets inconvenient for people, and then they stop caring about what you are fighting for.

The feds are basically not hiring at all right now in the U.S. they are just moving people internally, and most state agencies are in a similar boat so finding full time employment is pretty difficult and with the way the government is treating science and the DoInterior right now I don't expect that to change on a federal level anytime soon.

Does habitat mitigation help animals?

Even when it's done, mitigation doesn't move animals. Even if you create 1000 acres of habitat to replace the 10 acres you destroyed, you don't bring all the wildlife with it. Things that can fly will move in, and larger mammals too, but not all wildlife is able to move large distances to new habitat. All the insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and other animals with small home ranges will just be gone.

Another issue I have witnessed with mitigation, is that if you have say 1000 acres of good habitat. Just don't manage it properly. Then when you want to develop 100 acres of it, you say "You know, as mitigation, we will work to restore 100 acres of the property to good habitat! So now you have 100 acres of good habitat, 900 of shitty habitat, and 100 developed. Then you keep restoring part of it while developing the other part. Eventually you end up with 500 acres developed and 500 acres of good habitat right? Well, just wash, rinse and repeat. Let the 500 acres go to shit again, then say you want to develop half of it, and that you will restore the other half as mitigation. Everyone has forgotten that the site used to be 1000 acres at this point. And again, this isn't a made up hypothetical, it's something currently happening on a site I am working on.

Can ecology ever win against capitalism and economic growth?

It's not just about economic growth. The highway could have been moved a bit further north and still served it's purpose. One of the excuses for not doing so, was that it would cause urban sprawl, and destroy more habitat. The thing is, the area north is already developed with houses and corn fields. Nothing would have been lost.

And, not only did the highway go through a state preserved with a few endangered species, it also went through a private property that was found to have another, and now there is development happening in that area. The kicker is though, that the highway wasn't enough apparently. Now it's been decided that paved bike trail has to go through the area. Right over top of two areas that are known to be snake hibernacula.

Why moving animals from one place to another doesn't always work

It really depends on the species. There is a borer moth that requires Rattlesnake Master to live. Rattlesnake Master has been planted in prairies all over the place, but the moths are only found in the prairies that were never plowed up in the first place. Some of the best places to see them are where there are very small, only an acre or so, of prairie left over along side railroad tracks. The railroads came through first, and the farmers that came later didn't plow right up to them, and some things are hanging on. Their home range isn't very big.

There is even debate now about burn practices in prairie management. It's pretty standard to burn a whole prairie property in one go, or to split it into two parts, and do them subsequent years. But people are trying to get land managers to burn an acre or so at a time, to make sure that the insects have time to move back into the burned area from the surrounding areas. The 50 acre property I am doing turtle work on, has two small patches of bird-foot violets (I think I said prairie violets in a different comment somehwere) that are used by Regal Fritillary Butterflies.

If you burned both of those areas at the same time, the butterflies would be gone from the property, and there is no where else for them to fly in from. In the specific case of the butterflies, you may actually see them fly in to a restored prairie, but that can be a bad thing. They are attracted to all sorts of flowers, and will lay eggs on just about anything, but the caterpillars have to find certain species of violets. They won't eat anything else.

The violets are hard to cultivate though for introduction into recreated prairies. If you recreate a new prairie, you may very well see many of these butterflies fly into it if they are in the surrounding areas, but it's an illusion of persistence. They will lay their eggs on all the newly planted flowers, but the caterpillars will not find any of the violets they need, and the species will die.

Not only that, but I was recently told that there is evidence to suggest that recreated prairies around populations of these butterflies, can cause the populations to decline in the existing prairies. The adults leave the existing prairies, and fly to the new ones due to all the flowers, and then the caterpillars don't survive.

What can a software developer do to help the conservation of endangered species?

The only things I can think of off the top of my head are anabat and sonobat technologies. Bat biologists use the software packages to analyse bat calls picked up by remotely placed sensors. The creators of these technologies are avid bat conservationists, and may have something for a software engineer to do.

The other thought I had was to maybe go to a wildlife/conservation conference. There are dozens of these every year, and in addition to learning about the things that interest you, you could network with people in the field who may have a use for your skills. In any case, cheers for the interest in conservation, and good luck with your search!

Can climate change be reversed? How do you think it will all work out?

All numbers say we are beyond the tipping point right now. Right now, we are seeing the results of emmissions from 20-30 years ago. The shit will hit the fan in 50-100 years.

We started a chain reaction that we can only slow down. The more ice that melts less reflective the earth becomes warming the planet even more. Green house gasses trapped in the ice also are going to add to it. And the organic material trapped under the ice can add more gases.

Beyond sea level rise, harsher weather events will increase that could really fuck up growing seasons through droughts in some areas and wetness rotting crops in other areas. Then we got a potential for dormant pathogens defrosting and causing an epidemic. Then we'll have climate refugees, which will probably cause wars.

So my thoughts. It's gonna suck bit-time.

I think the human race will survive, though. Civilization as we know it will be changed forever however. Faith in geoengineering, CO2 scrubbers, or being able to build bunkers that withstand the true strength of nature is misplaced.

The summary is that due to the changes in the weather patterns and extreme weather events, it will become suicide to rely on food and supplies coming from far away, so you need to learn to grow your own food, make things from scratch in general, plant identification, and how to secure water for your homestead.

Due to heatwaves and more powerful storms, people will rely more on air conditioning, and with that higher demand for electricity and an aging infrastructure and possible damages to it, many will suffer and die from exposure. If you have young kids and are thinking about how the grandkids will live, you want them to be settled as adults as far away from the equator. Either go far North (Great Lakes/New England/Cascadia/Alaska/Sweden/Norway) or far South (Argentina/Chile/Tasmania/New Zealand). Preferably in a country with basic human rights too.

The rich citizens have bought islands, decommissioned nuclear silos, hydroponic systems. It will increase their chances of survival but only for the short term, before the poor will, figurively, eat them.

The rest of survival will come down to pure chance - what continent are you stuck on when air/sea transportation infrastructure finally crumbles? Can you run for miles if needed? Did you go to beg for water from the tanker with the first angry mob or the second angry mob where someone detonated a bomb?

My only hope is, if all of this happens, that humanity may come out a better version of itself. If they learn from history they could surpass us and come out better off. It will be our trial by fire.

How do you encourage sustainability in the workplace?

You'll probably want to encourage PLA plastics for the gloves. PLA is biodegradable and compostable. The biggest problem is that it has a fairly low heat tolerance, starts to get soft in "hot car in the sun" types of temperatures.

Here's a UK provider of PLA food prep gloves.

Consider what are likely your managements' two bigger concerns than sustainability: consumer health regulations and money. You'll need to show that any changes you'd like to make wouldn't negatively affect the bottom line (much) and also won't bring down the wrath of the health inspector's office. They're not just going to take your word for it, since ultimately it's their ass on the line and not yours. You can get another job, but they'll be losing their own investment in the business.

If you can get them to agree to sustainability, you can also advertise it to customers, some of whom might be willing to pay a premium for foods from the "green" bakery.

Do you experience eco-anxiety and what to do about it?

Yes, of course. How could I not? The challenge is not to suppress your awareness, however. I think the challenge is to transform this anxiety into purposeful action. Be aware and active. Set goals and achieve them.

I spend time with quite a few ecologists and related professionals such as wildlife guides and wardens etc, mainly 40 to 50 years plus also some younger guys, several are highly regarded in very good positions, all of us have 20 plus years experience, across the entire group everybody has come to the conclusion that it is a silent spring type moment, ecological breakdown, habitat loss, pollution, insect loss, fungi, we have all seen such a biodiversity loss in our lives. It is shocking watching youngsters and the newly enthusiastic running around excited searching for rare examples of once common species.

Sure the U.K. is a crowded and developed place, and the story is very nuanced with improvements and stabilisation in populations due to targeted conservation work. Leaving climate change out of it, habitat loss, the impacts of water abstraction, drainage, pollution and agro-chemicals, and direct exploitation such as rhino etc, even just the impact of human disturbance at population levels we have reached all are having a vast impact. I find the eutrophication of plant communities from NOx and the general ease of tidying up mentality due to machines and herbicides is producing a bland uniformity with some very successful generalists and many of specialist species requiring successional stages and low nutrient levels in great decline.

How it effects you personally depends on personality type and choice, but I would say my peer group is very unhappy and struggling, but also plodding on!

Is hunting really good for conservation and wildlife?

As far I know, hunting is generally good in two ways.

  • It gets people to care about conservation & management. Nobody cared more than hunters when the wood duck was almost hunted to extinction- because hunters want to hunt wood duck! It's simple self-interest, but it's useful.

  • When predators have been removed, hunters are a tool for managing population of prey animals. Never as good as the predators, but better than nothing.

Trophy hunting of apex predators is not normally directly good for that animal. An apex predator's population size is already managed by food supply. Maybe if hunters only picked off the weak bears, but what trophy hunter goes after the scraggly sick one?

The main arguments "for" trophy hunting of apex predators that I am aware of are:

  • we need/want money
  • expensive tags bring money to conservation programs. As is sometimes observed, conservation is valued most by communities with the money to care. "The surest way to promote sustainable environmental policies around the world is to increase economic growth and the standard of living in poor countries."
  • lastly, using Africa as an example, some have argued that legal, managed trophy hunting of certain heavily-poached animals would make it economically worthwhile to heavily protect those animals from unmanaged poaching. Basically a lesser-of-two-evils.

Anyway, so in my opinion I'm not really in favor of trophy hunting, but if you're going to do it, charge a lot of money per tag.

Going further, I don't really believe hunting is "ideal" or "an absolute win". In a truly perfect world, all the wildlife would simply be left alone, and probably be the better for it.

But in our imperfect world, where we are actively screwing up the natural world, hunting can be a tool for the greater good to undo some of the damage.

The main challenge with hunters & prey species is some start feeling like easy pickings are their god-given right. They begin to push for reduction of the predator species in the misguided attempt to boost prey population. See Colorado Parks & Wildlife, for example, which is now killing lions & bears to boost mule deer, despite their own research showing it doesn't even work.

Example — Elk population in the US:

Elk herds are down in a big way, but they were way too large at the time wolves were reintroduced. Huge drops are very possibly just part of "return to normal".


Also, the trend reversed in 2015, which suggests we're nearing equilibrium (see any graph of attenuation https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/lalaonirina.rakotomanana-ravelonarivo/sg_attenuation.jpg and call the axis "Elk count" and "time")


How can WE make the world a better place?

At macro scale, at least 40% of western countries deny climate change. Climate change has a pretty strong lobby. In the end people want to eat meat, and want cheap consumer goods. How can we get people to care about Orangutans if people don't even care about their own future?

I agree capitalism is the culprit, but in the end it's US. What makes it not fatalistic is that we CAN change, in lue of corporations. We DO have choice. We DO have a voice. My problem is that often people hide behind the myth of determinism. When you put the responsibility outside of yourself then indeed it does become a deterministic problem.

Just to be sure, I agree completely that companies in the rule try to hide their wrongdoings and keep the consumer in the dark. I'm saying that that is to be expected under capitalism. And at the same time, consumers to some extent choose to, or like to be held in the dark. That way they feel they bear less responsibility.

Be positive though! One of the most valuable spiritual lessons I've ever learned is that the strength of my values is not proportional to the strength of my emotions. The amount I care about the environment is exactly the same regardless of my emotions. Whether I am angry or sad or happy, my stance on environmental issues remains constant and unwavering. I do not need to feel outraged in order to believe that something is wrong and should not be happening.

If you're serious about getting better at negotiating, try Chris Voss's Masterclass:

Career FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss teaches you negotiation strategies and communication skills to get you better results every day.

A downloadable workbook that beaks down Chris's negotiating tactics, plus examples of hot to use skills like mirroring, laveling, and more.

How to quickstart learning negotiating?

"Never Split the Difference" is a book I would highly recommend. The author did an AMA a couple of years ago here.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
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Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
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He covers a lot of techniques, but I felt the two main takeaways were:

  • That a negotiation is not as much about purely logical price points as you would think, and more about emotion and a desire to be seen from your own point of view.
  • Get the other guy to do the problem solving for you, but in a way that makes them feel in control (feeding back into item).

He did an interview in a podcast which covers a car buying example.

So he's making a really low offer to the car dealer on a very in-demand car. The dealer's point of view is:

"This is a very in-demand car that lots of people want and this guy is offering me peanuts. He's being a total jerk".

Rather than try to fight this viewpoint, the negotiator makes clear that he completely sees this point of view by repeating it back to him:

"I'm really sorry, this is such a beautiful car and worth so much more than what I'm offering, but I just can't manage $X. I'm really being a jerk here but is there any way you could manage $Y?"

How to get better at the art of negotiation?

Being willing to walk away with nothing has changed my life. I spent a long time with the wrong people and one day I realized that I would rather have nothing than belittle myself with people who aren't willing to compromise. I am willing to leave comfortable situations to ensure my happiness.

I've always felt a lot of this should be basic knowledge. Also when it comes to negotiating a salary or price of a car etc. Have a REASON why you believe the price you want is the correct price. Just saying u think I deserve this much of a raise or your only willing to pay so much for a car isn't a reason. Do your research and come up with a reason.

This is how I managed to turn a generous raise of 10% because I had a great year into a 25% raise. They said 10%, I said I wanted 40% and we settled at 25%. But I didn't just say I think I deserve 25%, I gave reasons comparing to the job market, how much I've helped the company save, what other jobs I can easilly get and how many offers I get every week.

I figure out what my line in the sand is and I do not cross it. Any time I compromise these values I am always unbelievably unhappy; it's more upsetting knowing that it's my own fault for not listening to myself.

Just like in business you want to have a well practiced elevator speech, in negotiating a price for an object you want to have some well practiced "go to" lines about the object. There's a lot of advice here about dollars but I say focus on the product and the value (features, benefits, advantages) rather than the dollars. Interlocutor makes dollar offer, you respond with well practiced line about the product, interlocutor increases offer, you respond with another well practiced line about the product, perhaps even in a well practiced sequence where your first comment is a fairly obvious observation like "object has been well cared for and is in nearly new condition" and you move on to less obvious details like "this was manufactured in Italy with old world craftsmanship, not like the cheap crap made in China these days...". Keep pointing out features, benefits, and advantages of your product until the offer gets up to where you need it to be.

Take it for what it’s worth, I’ve negotiated millions of dollars in deals over my career. I have read many of the suggested books mentioned above. In my professional opinion, there isn’t a better person to turn to for negotiation than Jim Thomas. He has a book called Negotiate to Win and it really gets to the heart of what’s important in a practical application.

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Negotiate to Win: The 21 Rules for Successful Negotiating
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Negotiate to Win: The 21 Rules for Successful Negotiating
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I’ve had Jim come and train my leadership teams at every business I’ve been a part of for the last decade and he is elite. Doesn’t matter if you’re negotiating over trinkets at the flea market or a major corporate acquisition, his method will deliver results.

How to negotiate a salary when looking for a job

A really important thing that you SHOULD do is treat it like a speech. And in a speech, you SCRIPT out exactly what you're going to say. And you stay on track or make adjustments to get back to track.

So write out exactly what you're going to say. Write an intro, how to segue into the ask. Write a list of achievements, certifications, whatever you need to justify your raise. And then write a list of references that got your back. And then of course you go into how much you're asking for. And then in summary, your ask.

Every step of the way should be scripted. You should practice it. Over and over until there are no UMS UHH. Anything. Practice it like your talking, not writing. Because many of us write more eloquently than we speak. You want to be natural.

You're going to script questions and answers as well. You're going to think about all the negatives, the shit you didn't get done, the sales target you didn't hit, etc etc. You do not need to be blindsided by questions. You don't need to be stumbling for words to questions you should already be prepared for. And of course if you have any sales target you didn't hit, any big problem that you see that can hinder your negotiation, that needs to be addressed by you. In your speech, in a salary negotiation they're not looking to praise you. They're gonna want to highlight your weakness. Their job is to pay you less.

So just like a fucking press release, if you address it first you get to SPIN it your way instead of being on defense.

For example: I didn't hit my target billability (target 90%, actual 85%)

Now let's tackle that head on. Jack, I know that 5% may not seem like a lot. But to me it's a fail. I look at it as something I will discuss with my immediate supervisors on ways I can improve my billability.

Instead of waiting til they bring up how important it is. Everybody has weaknesses, just gotta make sure we tackle em first.

I mean there's a million tips and tricks for negotiations out there. But I promise you, if you're not a natural speaker (most aren't), you're going to be nervous and lose your edge and leverage if you don't script it. When you have it scripted, you can calmly sit there instead of wondering what to say and what they're gonna ask. It's already stressful enough justifying yourself to your superiors. So mitigate it as much as possible!

You have to also understand your market value and capabilities of the company. Let's say, you work for the city and entry is a set rate so even negotiating can be problematic during hiring process if you don't have merit. Just because private pays more isn't a good reason but years of X experience validates my payraise.

A McDonald's likely won't budge because they know they can hire someone else for less money. Loyalty and great work ethic isn't an argument for some big retail giants. Upper management rather go through employees then pay deserved workers more.

You have to interview or know how much another company will pay you for the same or similar work. You need leverage when you meet with an employer. Saying so and so makes more than me looks poorly in the company's eyes. But knowing that Y company expressed interest in me and offers that or during the interview process knowing their competitors offers this salary and incentives gives you a stronger position.

Realize it can back fire by them firing you or not hiring you. You can always look for another job. You also need to understand that for every person who speaks out about wanting more money there are at least 10 people willing to accept your current salary with your qualifications or more.

Should you ever negotiate an entry-level salary?

Before you begin negotiating your salary and not to commit odd - ask about the salary usually practiced for the type of position you are applying. Then make a point on your daily needs: your new salary will of course cover them. So you know under what income you can not get off.

Let the interviewer broach the subject and make the first proposal. By doing so, you save valuable time allowing you to better understand your interlocutor and possibly discover the price he is willing to pay. Another advantage you will estimate better the challenges and responsibilities of the position and therefore the wage associated with it.

If the interviewer asks you what salary you are considering, never answer precisely before having a real job offer. Some recruiters still work this way: which one is the cheapest then he gets the job.

If the recruiter really insist, give him a salary range rather than a specific salary. If you have previously inquired about wages that prevail in the industry, you should achieve a realistic enough salary proposal.

Finally, remember this basic business principle: if you let your interviewer speak first, maybe they will offer you more than what you expected.

How to negotiate a raise and what to do if it doesn't work out

It doesn't always work out, but don't be afraid to back up your request either and change jobs if need be.

I went to HR at some point in the not too recent past. Market had changed for my role, and I had mentioned to HR that they had been underpaying me quite a bit in a private meeting, to the tune of about 20% less than market. I knew this since I would constantly be presented with roles via LinkedIn in that range. I told them I didn't expect them to increase my salary by that much, but even a 15-20% increase would be fair -- considering I really liked the place, and I felt the environment was more important to me than a large increase like that. I wanted them to meet me halfway so we could continue the relationship.

Long story short, raise time comes around many months later, and they gave me a cost of living increase of something like 2-3%. They also only gave me 1/3 of my bonus. So, I did what I had to do. I left the job, and got a 50% increase in pay. Considering I rarely feel comfortable about taking counter offers, and I didn't want to be continually ignored in the future going forward in a similar fashion, I decided to just move on.

Sometimes, it's best to move positions to get into the cash position you want to be -- so long as you can do the job, and do it well.

Negotiating a promotion or a raise in the eyes of a manager

I've been a manager once. And I wasn't very good at it. A shitty upper management situation, combined with not enough real power, and a really toxic corporate culture, plus failings on my own part (a general reticence to properly disciplining people under me, and a tendency to let too much slide) led to a really terrible first experience managing people. I've never done it since, and have no desire to do so. I hate corporate politics with a passion. These things should be obsolete.

I was managing a squad of geeks at an international ad agency. For the most part, the stereotype about techs not knowing what they were doing or were poorly trained or whatnot was generally un-true for my staff. The shitty attitude bit was definitely there, and I had had 1-2 lazy engineers, another that was really slimy (didn't trust him to save my life and I had to really watch him to make sure he wasn't looking at some gal's personal files), but really despite poor attitudes they were a group of really well-trained guys.

And there was one bright spot in particular: John(name changed). He had started out as a backend dev before I was told that he was being moved into my staff (in another really poorly designed management scheme, I had basically no say in who would be on my staff. If management wanted a guy hired into my staff, he or she was). After I got over the irritation of having a backend guy dropped into my staff, I realized that the dude actually really knew his shit. And he was definitely the hardest working tech marketer I had on my staff. He truly seemed to find a lot of joy in the work he was doing, and it seemed a lot like he was truly honored to have been put in with us "elite" guys that were doing high-end work - as opposed to some of the sullen neckbeard types in there.

Then I found out that when he came over to us to work, they gave him only like a 20% salary boost. My best tech, the guy that worked harder than anyone else, and seemed to really give a shit about his job was also my worst paid.

I went to management to try to get him a raise. I made my case about him being my best tech, and that he very much deserved to be making at LEAST the minimum tech pay. I was told that there would be no raise, and enjoy the fact that I was "getting him for a bargain." I think it was that moment that I was most disgusted working at a corporation.

As someone who has been promoted to the top of my title in 4 years for what is normally a 12-20 year progression, I can say that I'm always a little skeptical when it comes to promotions.

I've seen my own companies salary ranges/mid ranges so I know it's not out of line to request and have talked to my manager twice about getting me more in-line, but this post likely explains what is going on. Especially because I have made it pretty evident that I plan to advance my career outside this current position, but I basically have to wait for a position to open at my company or have another company take a shot, but IT Architecture is a hard sell getting someone to come in from the outside.

Though, I do have a couple other leads that I'm following up on as far as new opportunities. From a "rockstar" employee perspective, it isn't as easy as some like to think to go out and get those mega raises either, so being stuck in a position where we all know that you're worth more, but people can't do anything about it, really starts to become a demoralizing experience going in to work everyday and keeping up being a "rockstar."

How to negotiate apartment/house rent increase

In a negotiation, you need to know what your alternatives are, and what their alternatives are -- for the apartment in question.

What is the going rate for such an apartment in your area? If the typical $ rate is what they are now asking, and people are lining up reliably to pay that, you don't have much of a bargaining position.

If on the other hand, it's a stretch for them to be able to find someone to rent at the new rate, then you have some bargaining power.

Just because your rent has increased doesn't mean that it's out of line with market prices. Do some research to find out what the going rate is, and how strong demand is. Only then can you say whether it's reasonable or not.

"Doesn't hurt to try" is not useful advice.

How to negotiate a car purchase

The most valuable you are to the dealership is when you are actually at the dealership attempting to purchase a car. They know that the second you walk your chances of coming back drop immensely. The even joke about this, its called the "Be Back Bus". Being in the dealership asking to buy a car is when you ACTUALLY have the "most possible bargaining power."

Are you going to waste your own precious time sitting at the dealership going through paperwork knowing you are going to leave? (just to "stick it to him" after feeling slighted for whatever reason) And on top of that your big "play" against the dealership is sitting around waiting/hoping for their return call so you can further waste both of your time by immediately complaining to their supervisor about customer service from days ago and hoping/praying they give you a discount for it? (Again, complaining because you felt slighted that he asked about financing rather than skipping straight the OTD price)

That isn't how buying a car works and sounds more like the wet dream of some kid fantasizing about being an "alpha" on a power trip.

If they actually insulted you, have some dignity and go buy a car somewhere else. But I don't believe salespeople are sitting around insulting people buying cars from them. If you ask for OTD and they try to pressure you to get your "monthly budget" just stay firm and state that you only want to talk about OTD pricing. If they continue, tell them again that OTD is all that matters and if they aren't willing to give it to you, you'd like to talk to another salesperson. 9/10 they are going to give OTD. If not, then get up and go buy a car at one of the million other dealerships that are willing to take your business.

The above scenario will hardly ever happen though, because this notion on here that all car dealerships are cesspools is unfounded and 99/100 times you clarify that you want out the door pricing you will get it immediately.

It took me about two weeks to get to the no-shit "wheeling and dealing" part of buying our new Mazda. So practice your poker face, be deliberate, and do not get dragged in to something that you dont understand inside and out. Recognize the salseman's song and dance and dont fall for it.

You need to have a starting number and an ending number. Your starting number is a reasonable lowball offer that is still justifiable. It opens the negotiation. For this car, let's just call it 25,000, two thousand less than the asking. And let's call your top dollar 28,000 (your personal decision here). At 28,000 you're still going to pay about 2000 in sales tax depending on your state. I recommend making an excel spreadsheet with line items for the car's price, sales tax, title/license fee (which you should insist they eat. Tell them that "Mr. [Dealership Owner] will take care of that for us.").

All in all, this operation is 80% planning your strategy at home and 20% in person.

You go in with a plan, you execute it, they scoff at your numbers, you leave, they call you, you tell them you're free this week just call me when you can reach $X. Just when you're about to settle on the price, dont forget add ons like all-weather mats, free oil changes, and a Honda hat or coffee mug to remember this awesome experience and the salesmans' wonderful help.

The smartest buyers do a few things:

  • Visit multiple dealerships and then take the lowest price to the dealer you want to buy from and see if they'll beat it ("XYZ Dealer says they'll sell me this vehicle for this much, can you do better?") Make sure you're comparing similar builds. The sales manager WILL notice if you compare a base to a loaded, or anything different.
  • Wheel locks are unnecessary, tell them you're not paying for them and to take them off. They'll end up leaving them on and not charging you (watch the charge isn't moved elsewhere)
  • That's way too much for tint.
  • Be ok with not buying today. Every month there are new promotions.
  • Be ready to walk, they'll chase you.

How to negotiate the best possible price on a leased car

I wouldn’t advise solely negotiating the sale price on your lease. You can also negotiate the money factor (the interest rate for the lease). Most dealers aren’t going to offer you a lease at the “buy” rate. However, if you ask for it (and mention up front that your credit is strong), they may be willing to mark it up less. You can and should also negotiate your trade-in value if you are trading a car.

Many car buyers aren’t interested in selling their car privately due to the hassle, and potential for future issues from the new owner. If you’re trading for any reason you’ll want to negotiate that number as well as the sale price, and the money factor. The residual is set in stone. All leases have a “sweet spot” term length, in which the money factor and residual are fiscally most attractive for that particular car and trim level. This can vary from model to model, from trim level to trim level, and from month-to-month.

Typically the sweet spot is either a 33, 36, or 39 month term, but that is not always the case. A good dealer will work the lease for you using several different terms to confirm which term length equates to the lowest payment. The rate and residual can also vary between different lenders, but most dealerships will only lease cars using one lender. This is most often the bank owned by the manufacturer themselves.

An important reality to keep in mind when picking out a car, is that 99% of the time, when you go up in trim level, you go down in residual value. In the banks eyes, all of the extra bells and whistles (that come with a higher trim level) lose value quicker than a base model with no extras. If you find yourself stuck between two trim levels, it may make the most fiscal sense to pick the lower trim level and add a few extra options to get as close to the higher trim as possible.

It’s common to ask the salesman to work a lease using two different trims, and to make your decision based on the difference in payment. Ask yourself two questions: 1.) How long do you keep your cars? (If you’re going to drive it until the wheels fall off you have to buy it). 2.) How many miles do you drive per year? If you’re driving 20,000+ miles per year you’re not a good lease candidate. But, if you’re driving the industry average of 10-15k, and you like to get a new vehicle every 3-4 years, leasing might make the most sense.

Remember, cars are a depreciating asset, so renting them isn’t necessarily a poor financial choice. One last word of caution, dealers are pitted against each other daily, but if they are aware that you are planning to take their best quote and then drive to the next place, they’ll probably hold out on giving you their best deal. No business wants to be put in a position of “the biggest loser wins”, so-to-speak. Just pretend that you fully intend to purchase from one store, and if you aren’t satisfied with the deal, shop around. Your commitment to the deal is ultimately what will also secure your best deal, so be prepared to commit once you’ve found the store, salesman, and car that you like.

My story of negotiating a car deal

I bought my first car since I graduated college about 10 years go. I had a hard number for my total cost out the door, and gave that to them and let them figure out if they wanted the sale or not. They did, so they made it work with a "dealership discount" line item that I knew they were losing most of their profit on, to where the interest I pay over time almost cancels it out.

Anyway, they brought me a checklist with like 50 items to initial, meaning that I was accepting the car and terms at the state it was in. Everything seemed fine, stuff like "engine is running satisfactorily" and "body is in acceptable condition" which for a 2 year old car it was all basically like new, at least to me who had never had a car close to this young. But there was one item I didn't understand right away, "all 4 tires match" and so I didn't check it. I hand it back and he goes to sign it as well and then stops with "oh wait, you missed this one" and I asked what it meant, he said that by signing I was accepting that the tires didn't have to all be the same exact tire.

I said "well I DO want them to all be matching, since that is something on the list."

He kinda scowls, then says he will be right back, he is going to go check if they match. He comes back and says "they're all brand new, but it is in fact two different tire brands on the front and back but they're functionally identical and just really tried to get me to sweep it under the rug. But I just said "nah, I want them to match." So he writes that down in the pre-agreement saying he will do that work in addition to like 2 or 3 other very small things they were planning to fix as well.

I sign and we drive off. I bring it back a few days later to get the work done by their service department, and I ask the service tech if he can put the tires he takes off, which are both brand new complete with the little fuzzy tire hairs, in the trunk once he swaps them. He says sure, and that's how I ended up with a car I really wanted way below KBB complete with 2 free tires up front.

But I also opted out of the "services" they offered besides GAP, so when a pothole popped a tire like a week later I was forced to pay out of pocket for the new tire. I did that so I still had a set that matched for putting on the front once the current ones wear down. Luckily it didn't crack the rim.

If you're serious about learning photography, give these Masterclasses a try:

Annie Leibovitz's iconic photographs have appeared in museums, books, and magazines from Vanity Fair to Rolling Stone—and now she’s your instructor.

Learn Annie's creative process and be inspired to try new and practical photography techniques.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and additional resources.

If you're into adventure photography, world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin will be your teacher. Join him on location for a photoshoot with his climber friends Conrad Anker and Bree Buckley.

From selecting the right gear to telling stories through images, Jimmy Chin teaches you how to plan shoots, capture the best shots, and edit in the studio.

A downloadable book accompanies the class with photography and supplemental learning material.

What equipment should a beginner get?

Don't get too much gear. If you got a flagship phone, you can use that and get great looking pictures!

You don't need a DSLR to be an awesome photographer, unless you're into shooting sports or something niche like that.

The best camera for most people:

Sony Alpha ILCE-6000L/B a6000 Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens Bundle with Accessory Bundle (Black)
268 reviews
Sony Alpha ILCE-6000L/B a6000 Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens Bundle with Accessory Bundle (Black)
  • BUNDLE INCLUDES: Sony Alpha a6000 24.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens, 64GB SD Card, 40.5mm 3-Piece UV, CPL, FLD Filter Kit, 12-inch Spider Tripod, Two Batteries and a Dual Charger Pack, Digital SLR Camera Bag Bundle, and HDMI to Micro HDMI Cable
  • FEATURES: Super fast auto focus with 179 AF points and 11FPS. High resolution shots with 24MP APS-C sensor and ISO 100-25600 for low light photos
  • CONNECTIVITY: Instant sharing via smartphone with Wi-Fi and NFC

Best Rangefinder camera:
Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera-Silver
253 reviews
Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera-Silver
  • 24.3MP X Trans CMOS III APS C sensor with no low pass filter and X Processor Pro
  • 8 way focus lever plus the number of focusing points has been expanded from 49 in previous models to 91 (up to 325 points)
  • Built in ISO dial, incorporated into the shutter speed dial and operating temperature is 0 degree Celsius to 40 degree Celsius (+32 degree Fahrenheit to +104 degree Fahrenheit); Operating Humidity: 10 to 80 percent (no condensation)

Best street photography pocket camera:
Ricoh GR III Digital Compact Camera, 24mp, 28mm f 2.8 lens with Touch Screen LCD
76 reviews
Ricoh GR III Digital Compact Camera, 24mp, 28mm f 2.8 lens with Touch Screen LCD
  • 24 MP CMOS Sensor with accelerator unit helps achieve remarkable image quality; 3 Axis; 4 Stop Shake Reduction ensures sharp images even in lower light conditions; It is also compatible with multi tone 14 bit RAW image recording
  • 3 inches Air gapless Capacitive Touch LCD Screen makes controlling the GR III event easier with complete menu control as well as focus and shutter release;It is confirmed that a USB connection can be established between the camera and the following OS's; Windows 10(FCU, CU) (32 bit, 64 bit), Windows 8.1(32 bit, 64bit), Windows 8(32 bit, 64 bit), or Windows 7(32 bit, 64 bit); Mac macOS 10.14 Mojave, macOS 10.13 High Sierra, macOS 10.12 Sierra, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, OS X 10.10 Yosemite
  • The GR III features a hybrid AF system combining a contrast type AF mechanism superior in focusing precision with a phase detection type AF mechanism assuring high speed focusing operation; Taking advantage of both mechanisms, it assures faster, more responsive auto focus operation

Best entry-level DSLR:
Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera with 2 Lens NIKKOR AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Dual Zoom Lens Bundle with 500mm Preset f/8 Telephoto Lens and Accessories (22 Items)
60 reviews
Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera with 2 Lens NIKKOR AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Dual Zoom Lens Bundle with 500mm Preset f/8 Telephoto Lens and Accessories (22 Items)
  • 24.2 Megapixels DX-Format CMOS Image Sensor | EXPEED Image Processing System | Image sensor in the D3500 is approximately 15x larger than those used in typical smartphones for sharper, clearer photos with richer details
  • Capture Full HD 1080p Video at 60/50/30/25/24p instantly and effortlessly | 5 FPS Continuous Shooting | Broad ISO Range of 100-25,600 | 11 Point autofocus (AF) system spread across the frame, and fulltime AF locks onto your subject and keeps it in focus | Works with Nikon's snapbridge app for sharing photos with a compatible smartphone or tablet and for operating the camera remotely via Bluetooth

Best semi-serious DSLR:
Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera with 18-140mm VR + Tamron 70-300mm + 32GB Card, Tripod, Flash, and More (21pc Bundle)
11 reviews
Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera with 18-140mm VR + Tamron 70-300mm + 32GB Card, Tripod, Flash, and More (21pc Bundle)
  • This Al's Variety Camera Bundle Includes 58mm Wide Angle And Telephoto Auxiliary lenses W/ 67-58 Adapter Ring , 67mm 3pc Filter Kit (UV , CPL , FLD) , Wireless Shutter Remote , 67mm Tulip Threaded Lens Hood , Camera wrist Grip , Deluxe Camera Gadget Bag , 50 inch Professional Tripod , Digital Slave Flash , Lens Pen , Lens Blower + Nikon Original Battery, Charger , Eye Cup , Neck Strap , Lens & Body Caps + 1 Year Seller Supplied Warranty :
  • Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera Body (Import Model)- 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor , EXPEED 5 Image Processor , 3.2" 922k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD , 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps ,Multi-CAM 3500FX II 51-Point AF System , Native ISO 51200, Expanded ISO 1,640,000 , 8 fps Shooting for Up to 100 Frames , Multi-CAM 3500FX II 51-Point AF System , SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , 180k-Pixel RGB Sensor and Group Area AF
  • Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens - F-Mount Lens/DX Format , 27-210mm (35mm Equivalent) , Aperture Range: f/3.5 to f/38 ,One Aspherical Element, One ED Element , Super Integrated Coating ,Silent Wave Motor AF System ,VR II Image Stabilization , Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm , All-in-one zoom spans wide-angle to telephoto

Best high-end DSLR:
Currently on Sale −6%
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Kit
353 reviews
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Kit
  • Up to 7.0 frames per second continuous shooting speed
  • 61-point AF system with 41 cross-points for expanded vertical coverage
  • ISO range 100-32000 with 50-102400 expansion. Providing approximately 12 stops of dynamic range, even in low light

Best underwater camera:
Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera with Deluxe Accessory Bundle – Includes: SanDisk Ultra 64GB SDXC Memory Card + 2X Seller's Replacement Batteries with Charger + Adapter Tube + Much More
41 reviews
Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera with Deluxe Accessory Bundle – Includes: SanDisk Ultra 64GB SDXC Memory Card + 2X Seller's Replacement Batteries with Charger + Adapter Tube + Much More
  • 12MP BSI 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor; TruePic VIII Image Processor
  • Olympus 4x Optical Zoom f/2 Lens; 25-100mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • 3.0" 460k-Dot LCD Monitor; Water, Crush, Shock, Freeze & Dustproof

Best overall camera on the market:
Sony a9 II Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Body FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Zoom Lens ILCE-9M2 + SEL24105G Bundle with Photo Video LED, Monopod,64GB Card, Software, Deco Gear Backpack & Accessories
  • Mastered for professionals: 24.2MP Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor w/ integrated memory | Up to 20fps Blackout-free continuous shooting with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second | Fast 693 phase-detection AF points wide 93% frame coverage | Silent, vibration-free, anti-distortion shutter up to 1/32,000 sec. | Up to ISO 204,800 w/ Wide dynamic range, 14-bit uncompressed RAW | Enhanced BIONZ X image processing engine | 5-axis IBS in-body image stabilization, 5.5 step shutter speed advantage
  • Full-frame 4K Video w/ full-pixel readout and no pixel binning | 3.69-million-dot, continuous view Blackout-free Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF w/ 100% frame coverage | 3-inch 1440K-dot tiltable LCD screen with touch control | Evolved AI Autofocus with Real-time AF Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for human, animal and Touch Tracking for movie | Wireless PC Remote (tethered) shooting | Multi Interface Shoe w/ digital audio delivers high quality sound | Long lasting Z battery extended shooting time

Best rangefinder for people with money:
Currently on Sale −5%
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera (Black)
4 reviews
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera (Black)
  • 24MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Maestro II Image Processor
  • Optical 0.73x-Magnification Viewfinder

Best overall pocketable camera:
Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII RX100M7 Premium Compact Camera DSC-RX100M7 Enhanced Bundle with Triple 3X Battery Pack + 64GB Memory Card + Deco Gear Travel Case Accessory Kit & Photo Video Software
20 reviews
Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII RX100M7 Premium Compact Camera DSC-RX100M7 Enhanced Bundle with Triple 3X Battery Pack + 64GB Memory Card + Deco Gear Travel Case Accessory Kit & Photo Video Software
  • Pro features in a to-go package utilizing technologies developed for Sony’s a9 full-frame mirrorless camera | The RX100 VII is the perfect companion for all enthusiasts looking to capture the best shot. Pro-level features for both still shots and movies will meet the demands of professional photographers, creators and vloggers.
  • a9 level speed performance with up to 60 AF/AE calculations per second and 20fps blackout-free shooting with AF/AE tracking | Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals | New 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor and ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm F2.8 – F4.5 Large Aperture High Magnification Zoom Lens

Cheap tripod that I always have in the trunk of my car:
Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod and Ball Head Combo for DSLR
1,416 reviews
Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod and Ball Head Combo for DSLR
  • Rapid stability center column
  • Reversible locking center column
  • Durable flip leg locks

So how do you get good at photography?

Learning by watching tutorials and observing others is enormously helpful, but there's no substitute for experience. I'm still a budding photographer myself but I've learned that you improve the most from the thousands of little lessons you pick up from taking many, many, photos in all kinds of situations. And then review them and reflect on what you like and what was bad. And do it again. And again. And eventually you hone your craft slowly but surely.

Marc Levoy, former Stanford professor, has his Photography class that he taught at Google available online.

Stages of becoming a real photographer

The more you research, the more you learn and devote to photography, the more of a photographer's mindset you'll be. If you're looking for a great education resource to help you get better, I definitely recommend CreativeLive.

Free online seminars from the best in the biz, changed the way I shoot and view the craft. Drastically affected my shooting style and my eye for sure simply by teaching to hone in on your motivations and don't play footsie with photography.

Everyone looks at their work and has moments of doubt. Another photographer said to me the other day: "I used to look up to a ton of photographers whose work I really admired and think 'wow, how amazing!' and now once I know how to take those shots I don't think they're amazing but I've found newer, better idols."

Photography is a great self-discovery art. All the different mediums, genres and styles give us a myriad of ways to make photography our own. With all those options, who has time to bemoan their own work? (... woah. I just wrote what I really needed to hear for myself.)

Don't focus on the gear too much

Gear scoping is an easy trap to fall into starting out. I was totally there myself for a while. Best advise I can offer is to just get rid of all the extra gear. Keep your camera and a nice lens with you at all times. Yes yes have the tripod, extra battery, external flash, etc. on the side. But just for everyday travel, keep it as simple as possible. I used to keep all my gear in a bag and carry it all with me everywhere. Who needs a battery charger with them at all times? No. Just no.

Anyway, once you've cut down on the gear you carry with you, focus on improving the shots you're taking with just that one lens. Learn your camera. Learn the lens. Know their limits, and once you start to feel the limits you'll be ready to upgrade. More importantly, you'll understand why you want to upgrade. I started with a Rebel Xsi. Jumped to a 7D. And finally jumped to a full-frame 5dm3. I used to have 5 lenses. Now I have 1. I personally feel my photography began to improve only after I stopped focusing on what new gear I could get, and started focusing on what I could do better with what I had.

Also, about the editing and crying - totally been there too. For me it was photographing my niece and her friends playing. They'd run around and play and I would have my camera on rapid-fire mode capturing every single blurry footstep. Then I'd have 2k+ shots from a 10-minute time span of kids running in a circle.

What a waste of time, attenuations, and what a waste of my life missing that moment by sitting there shooting instead of participating. So what I started doing was putting my camera down and watching them play. I started seeing a pattern in the chaos and I can now anticipate their play, and just prepare for a shot. Instead of spray-and-pray with 2k shots, I can now predict, rapid-fire off 5-10 and call it a day.

What materials should you use to learn photography?

Most instructional material are very technically oriented - how to get soft water, how to achieve focus isolation, how to dial in ISO, etc etc. these are mechanical exercises. they are merely auxiliary to the image making process. and something you can pick up on-the-fly.

What i suggest is finding material just about compositional/design/visual ideas.

Then start looking and tons and tons of images to identify and rationalize why you like certain photos. or what makes other photos bad.

That'll help internalize key elements that you can use when you take photos. (merely understanding the dry, mechanical relationship between aperture, shutter, and iso doesnt lead to good images.)

And then pick up something on post-processing too because in the digital world it makes a huge impact on finished results.

I'd recommend getting your work critiqued and seen by different people. That's a great way to improve your skills.

Remember the adage 'garbage in garbage out'.

Environmental conditions, namely light amount and quality, largely determine what you're working with and usually no amount of post-production can overcome it.

For instance, I live in Spain which has harsh light, the 'golden hours' are even more crucial to use to get good light for landscapes/architectuals.

Also dirty, dusty lenses/filters. Try clone-stamping your way out of spots on faces.

Learn how to present your photography and limit which photos you post

This is probably the most important tip that I can give to you.

I'm going to be blunt and say that you should never post any of your mediocre photos. Only post your best work. I guarentee that although no one looking through your photos will tell you directly, you will be judged on the worst photo that you post. You can connect this to point number 10, so when you are looking to post your photos, ask yourself "How appealing is this photo?"

  • If your photo is out of focus, you should probably avoid posting it.

  • If your photo is boring, you should probably avoid posting it. (Ask yourself: What makes this photo special? Is it just a picture of a park bench slightly to the left with an out of focus background? You probably don't need to post that)

  • If your photo is blurry, you should probably avoid posting it.

  • If your photo has poor lighting, you should probably avoid posting it.

  • If your photo generally just has bad photography technique, you should probably avoid posting it.

  • And please don't post similar photos from different angles. In most circumstances, the audience doesn't need to see every single way you photographed something. I know it can be hard to decide between two or three similar photos, but if it ever comes down to that, just flip a coin.

Obviously, there are exceptions to these rules. But seriously, control the temptation to post every single photo you take. We ALL take blurry/out of focus/boring photos, but that doesn't mean we have to post them.

How to learn film photography

My first recommendation is to read up a little on basic photo tips (rule of thirds, composition, etc.). They are some great simple "rules" to help improve general picture taking. Second step, find a camera. Since you're a beginner, I'd recommend a 35mm film camera. Those are the most common and most friendly to beginners. You can get fancier ones or simple ones, and to really get the feel for film, I recommend the simple ones (you'll have to load the film yourself, wind it after each shot, and rewind it back into the cartridge when you're done).

I have the Pentax K1000, which is a great beginner film camera. It has a battery-driven light sensor that will help you shoot more balanced images, and all the littls stuff you need. Should be able to find it or a similar style 35mm camera on ebay or craigslist. Obviously then you'll want a lens. If it comes with a lens, great, if not, I recommend a 35mm or 50mm if you're interested in street/portrait photography, a wide angle (10mm to 24mm lenses, where 10-18mm is considered ultra wide angle) for anything from landscape to urban, or a zoom lens (let's say above 150mm) for zooming, sports, etc. (Note: the mm in lens is different from the mm in the film.)

Then, finally, you want film! r/analog and r/AnalogCommunity are great places to look into more technical stuff. The latter is a community and their posts discuss photography tips/techniques more than r/analog. You can find all sorts of 35mm film out there. Black and white (BW) is a great start, especially if you want to learn to develop it yourself. Color also is fun, then you can find wacky films (I've shot color infrared, which is a pain and I don't think available anymore, sadly). Good beginner film should be cheap, like under $10 per film roll (about 24 shots).

As for developing, start with a pro developer, not some CVS or corner pharmacy. The Darkroom is a good developer, and they do both C-41 (color negative) and E-6 (slide film) properly. I only know this cause color infrared requires slide film processing, and some local developers might say they do E-6 but don't really do E-6. Anyway, that's getting into technical mumbo jumbo. For now, you really just need a camera, a lens, and some film. Youtube videos should help you with loading the film, winding it, and unloading it when finished.

Is a photoraphy degree worth it?

NO! I have a photography degree and I went to a good school for it. You can basically self learn everything in photography, but there are some things that will be much easier to learn in school and there is information and projects that you will not persue unless a school forces it on you.

Looking back I would have focused some time towards learning about becoming an entrepreneur and operating a sucessful business. Unless you are looking to work for slave wages, good jobs in photography are pretty exclusive. Self employment is the easiest way to make a career of it.

Will a photography degree benefit you as a photographer? I'd say absolutely. Will you be a successful photographer because of a degree? I'd say absolutely not.

BTW. Narrowing your focus is the way to make a career of it. I don't know of many pros who are a jack-of-all-trades.

I'm assuming you're fairly young and still just kinda browsing around degrees as though they lay out your career path. as a proud art major working in a field completely unrelated to art, let me just get out of the way the fact that the degree does not matter at all, unless you're getting in to a technical field requiring any of the STEM degrees.

Most jobs that pay fairly decently just require a degree, and they don't care what your grades are.

The art degree is pursued for your own edification or because it's easy or because it's fun or any combination of those. get your photography degree - you'll make the world a more interesting place by virtue of being one of the few photography majors out there. odds are you'll probably end up working in an office sooner or later that pays better than photography. you might pursue it professionally for a while, but like most, you'll probably eventually end up pursuing it as a side job to supplement your income (and/or because you still love doing it).

Personally, i recommend getting an art degree only if you feel like it'll make you a more rounded out individual. but take classes outside of your degree. it'll encourage you to think more critically about all sorts of subjects and that makes your art more interesting as a side effect.

What to do if you lose motivation to shoot pictures?

Take a break! Nothing wrong with that. Just because you're a photographer doesn't mean you have to shoot every single day.

I've learned to face this like nature's seasons. there are times for growth and times for withdraw, and I just go with them. even when I'm at my lowest (like when the very idea of picking up the camera seems like a burden) I know that it's only a matter of time before the cycle turns around again.

The truth in it is that there are a lot of ugly parts to doing your passion in any field. Give one to me and I can tell you a part of it the majority hates.

A lot of photographers, for example, find much more joy in taking photos and being out. What they don't like is criticizing their own work daily. It's stressful, and can be very draining to look at how your work you spent a lot of time on, isn't that great.

Sometimes the turn is caused by seeing and taking inspiration from other artist's work, sometimes by reading about equipment and techniques, other times by finding new locations to shoot at. there's aways something. I just try to understand and respect the bad moments - and wait, kwowing that they'll eventually pass.

I was a photography major in a program that pushed fine art with little technical instruction and found myself flailing because I couldn't reliably achieve what I envisioned. What ended up happening to me was that I scraped by with mediocre work, graduated, and put my camera down for 8 years.

Do not do what I did.

My vision and skills declined. I recently picked the camera back up and am pursuing it with a passion I haven't known in a long time, but I lost eight years of practice. Think of what you could become with eight years of shooting and creative exploration.

Maybe you do need to step back a bit, but don't desert it entirely. Examine what moves and drives you. Think about what excited you when your passion was still strong. Maybe use some of your skills in other pursuits. Maybe finding a collaborator would help.

How to learn to shoot and retouch fashion shots?

Even if you don't have a whole team, working with only with a make up artist that can guide you with styling and good taste, will empower you a lot. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK: online, real life, vernissages, nightlife, shows, walks.

That would set you up in a basic scenario in which they 'look like fashion'.

But you don't want to 'look like fashion' you want to 'be fashion', so next:

What do you know about Fashion? Why do you want to shoot Fashion? What constitutes a Fashion Photography? Do you know Fashion history? ie, do you know who Diana Vreeland is? (related to two of the magazines you mention.) Do you follow fashion constantly, love the magazines etc? (www.fashioneditorials.com helps a lot). That will put you in context and that way you'll be the same as every other.

But you don't want to be the same as 'every other', you want to be 'unique'.

In the history part, what's your take in photography History? do you know the key players? Can you shoot in Avedon Style? Erwin Blumenfeld, Irving Penn, Lartigue, Leiter, Munkácsi... Lindbergh/Newton.. Juergen Teller, Alex Saladrigas, Meisel... etc etc get monographics, go to exhibitions, read, see who they worked with, analize their photography, angles, cuts, style, etc

Socially, what moves you? This is quite important in modern fashion, it's not just Pictorialism.

Honestly, all this is more related to 'art direction' than to photography itself, so if it really bothers you, maybe start a AD master? or help out art directors and set designers to learn? It's a steep curve if you start from scratch!

What are the best photography Youtube channels?

How my story with photography started

I went from film to aps-c to full frame to M43 in my professional life. Despite my affinity for FF cameras, the shots and video I'm taking with my M43 setup are the best I've taken and it's not even close. Has nothing to do with the equipment: it's just that it's easier to take everywhere, and is capable enough of doing what I want. I put the time in, and I've got 15 years of experience to draw on now.

Never lose sight of the fact that YOU are the most important factor in how your photos/video turn out. If a shot didn't come out the way you wanted, ask yourself what you'd need to make it work, and learn from that. Print your favorites out, hang 'em up. Give them as gifts. Surround yourself with your art: explore the medium.

Sometimes the answer to getting better shots is equipment, but most of the time it's missed settings or something you can easily correct in the future. Just keep shooting and never stop.

I joined a local photography club so I could stretch myself a bit with the competitions and be forced to try new things. I gradually realised I was losing interest because I was concentrating on taking photos that would do well in the competitions and half the time, they weren't the pictures I actually wanted to take.

If you're serious about becoming a magician, give Penn & Teller's Masterclass a try:

World-renowned magicians teach trick psychology, buildable techniques, and the perceptual tools that astonish audiences.

A downloadable companion book accompanies te class with supplemental information and illustrated step-by-step guides to performing magic tricks.

What equipment do you need to start with magic tricks?

Here are some must-have products that any magician should have:

The single best book for learning card tricks

The first three volumes of this book will guarantee you a small career. No need to look for anything else.

Card College is the Bible of card tricks.

Vol. 1 has all the basics, and gives the most solid foundation I know. I would even say after learning the basics in vol 1, one has such a good basic skillset, that the "big tricks and sleights" can be learned somewhere else.

The "big tricks" like triumph and "big sleights" such as the classic pass are not in vol. 1, but in later volumes.

Even though Card College 2-5 is excellent for those things as well, let's say you want to learn the Zarrow Shuffle in detail. Card College will give you very good instructions, but cannot shoe all there is to it, since it is not a Zarrow Shuffle book. Maybe you aren't that interested in the other things in that books. It would be better to invest in a Zarrow shuffle only book, in that case.

I am not at all recommending against vol. 2-5. I just think vol. 2-5 aren't beginner anymore, and at that stage (after reading vol. 1) one can consider what way one wants to learn more advanced things.

What are some of the best card tricks?

Card to impossible locations are my favorite. I really don't like math tricks or long card tricks or production of poker hands etc. I respect the skill involved they just don't interest me.

I like card to impossible locations, like lemon, wallet, unzip pants..(mac king has brilliant video of this, plus beginning of trick his hilarious because of the volunteer)

Ambitious card routines, Torn and restored.

A lot of these seem like they would be hard but really most of them are even easier than a lot of the more complex tricks that just aren't as 'big'.

I like to do a version of Miracle Princess (most people seem to know it as Mira-bill, but the trick itself is older). As far as I know it started with Mr. Fingers, aka Irv Weiner. I use a memdeck, so I only have to see one card before the reveal. Same trick otherwise.

I settled on my method to memorize a deck a long time ago (by watching Derren Brown with that woman on the expensive pier). Then I decided I didn't want to waste my time memorizing any deck, and built my own. Then memorized it. I still remember the deck that started it all. My mnemonics are exactly Derren Brown's. A few years later I found out about Juan Tamariz.

And I'm a big fan of Tamariz. I'm more into mentalism than magic, so although I study his books (and I do have all of them on my shelf, well marked up from multiple readings), my interest is actually in a totally different direction. I don't use his methods at all, but I do use some of the effects he gets out of his method, if that makes sense.

For a beginner, what should you focus on first? Card magic or cardistry?

Whatever tickles your pickle. When I started out I did magic, just basic magic with cards. As Zach Mueller did, I switched over to cardistry simply because people only cared about the trick, not appreciating the skills the magician has. I know that doesn't answer your question but starting out with some basic magic and getting familiar with cards will help to ease out the transition to cardistry.

I'd start with some basic magic first. If you like it move on to cardistry, or the other way around.

What's the easiest cool magic trick you can learn quickly?

Try the "Turn water into wine" trick.

Can you learn magic from Youtube?

I’m honestly not sure how serious everyone is about magic around here but I was pretty into it I would practice for hours a day and watch hours of tutorials for tricks and lots of them are simple in theory, but tricky in practice. Some simple in both. Take hand sandwich for example, this trick is dead simple. I’m sure someone “created” this trick at some point, but the fact is, just by watching someone do the trick, you can figure it out with ease.

Yes, there are people who bought the cds and then posted the tutorial they learned, which is slimy. But if you simply figure out the trick on your own I really don’t think that’s a terrible thing. That aside there’s so many “basic” tricks with learning on YouTube. All these super complex tricks are hard to master and the reactions aren’t that amazing honestly. (Oil and water for example. Hard to master, not terribly impressive.)

Hand sandwich and another variation of that get the absolute best reactions ever, and they take about 5 minutes to learn, and just a bit more to master. I’m a fan of this. Maybe I’m not normal but idk, I’m a fan of simple, solid tricks. That said I hate people blatantly stealing tricks and never watched those videos. I used to watch Disturb Reality, The Card Trick Teacher, and 52 Kards and such. They teach stuff that’s been around for awhile, and some new stuff, but I honestly believe they have quality tricks and techniques worth learning.

How to learn the lingo Penn explains the tricks with?

It kind of depends on the act. Sometimes he mentions magicians that created or were known for an act or illusion. Sometimes he mentions a type of prop (thumper, invisible deck, shell, etc) as it's enough to say how something is performed, or at least the key component. Sometimes he mentions a type of move or style of act. Sometimes he just outright says it. "If we looked at the cards, would we know how you did it?" and that's all that's needed. You may not always get the full answer but most times just watch as Penn says something with a lot of emphasis.

You can also read Reddit, they talk about the illusions a lot. So if you don't catch it, you can ask one of the posts with magicians discussing it and we'll likely steer you in the right direction.

Are magic tricks protected secrets?

No truly great magic trick is secret for one reason - they are all patented.

While there are exceptions, loop holes, and litigation is messy and largely unsuccessful, it is still common to patent magic tricks. Keep in mind that most magic acts can and are classified as performance art, and are afforded the same protection as your favorite musical artist (though proving infringement is much more challenging).

As to where to look patents up, Google it.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_rights_to_magic_methods

How to become a professional magician

Sounds cool. Hire a good graphic designer, student even, to create a cool identity so when you hand over a business card or your website, people think, "this guy is legit". Even better if it's not some run-of-the-mill boring minimal generic looking webpage.

Connect with some film student at local college to do a short docu on you. Plan out what you want to demo, see Blaine's first video, doesn't have to be a long movie. Let it be front and centre of webpage.

Some if not most people will hire based on visual impression. Also, flyers at places where people attend parties, see if you can advertise there and/or build a relationship with a banquet hall for eg. so they call you for weddings - be a part of the package.

See if clients can give you testimonials to put on your Youtube channel.

How to entertain people with magic

Do whatever makes the show the best for the audience. If having a stooge in the audience is more entertaining for whatever reason, go for it. The people pay to watch a good show, the method in which you deceive them is something they would never know about, so the method could be a rubber chicken concealed in your sock that somehow achieves a levitation, the ridiculous method isn't what the spectator cares about, it is the effect! Some methods may give more of a headache than others, stooging is one of those methods, you need a reliable assistant that can be at every show, etc. That could be bothersome to someone performing daily. Also, whenever money is handled, it makes friendship with whomever somewhat weird in my experience.

People may say it is rude to the audience because you are taking their opportunity to be on stage, well if you are performing for 200 people, for 45 minutes, probably 1 or 2 volunteers a trick, 7-10 volunteers are around the average. so having one stooge and the rest be real, wouldn't change things by a huge enough degree for me to have an issue with it. I've been to around 70ish magic shows, I've only been a volunteer for about 3 or 4 of them. I was just as amazed as I would've been onstage those 66 times.

Are there any ethical concerns when it comes to magic shows?

I'd argue that a magic show is different from a play/movie/etc in the fact that fictional stories don't try and pass themselves off as real, and everyone (or at least the vast majority of people) know they aren't real. Stories aren't entertaining people by deceiving them, they're entertaining them by giving them a story. Even in "true story" fictional stories, the entertainment doesn't come from deception. Whereas the entertainment from magic comes from deceiving them.

I think a lot of people just see plants as "cheap" because it's easy to do. For me, I think it depends on context. If you have a plant that you're using to "read minds" then yeah, I think that's kinda cheap, but at the same time, it's probably not going to be a very good trick since most people will assume that's what happened and won't really be fooled. If you have a plant to help in your trick of sawing them in half, then I think that's perfectly fine. The trick isn't centered around them being a plant.

Despite that, I don't think there are any ethical concerns. Magic is based around deception. No one is actually using telekinesis or mind-reading powers or teleportation or whatever else. It'd probably make the trick shittier, but if using a plant is unethical because it's deceiving people, then all magic is unethical.

Do you prefer coin tricks over card tricks?

The trick and effect must be super original for me to get excited. Otherwise I just don’t care.

In my mind, Coin magic is less customizable than Card magic so I inevitably lean toward Cards. Coins have limited options: Disappear, levitate, jump from one place to the other, transform into another object or grow bigger/smaller, multiply, torn and restored...

That’s pretty much it.

Cards can do all those things + the ability to utilize pictures, become a canvas for anything, they have more space for uses... and probably a ton of other throngs that I can’t come up with lol.

They both can be used in conjunction with other effects but cards just have more customization options.

On the other hand, when people see cards they immediately think “oh here we go... some lame magic long counting card trick” but when they see a coin they don’t get to associate it with magic. So that’s cool.

Do you think Quentin Coldwater is a good magician?

By the end Quentin is on par with Mayakovsky in terms of ability. He just wasn't there yet when Mayakovsky was breaking him down, and of course Mayakovsky knew nothing about Fillory. Further, Mayakovsky has seen what happens when a magician gets too big a head. It's his style to ensure his skraeling understand that they know nothing. So Mayakovsky's assessment is hardly fair.

Quentin has done things either on par or beyond Mayakovsky:

  • In restoring Alice - this is a unique feat, universally agreed to be impossible.
  • In creating the portal - again; unique by human standards as far as we know; other humans transport themselves, they don't create fixed portals.
  • His various feats inside Fillory - keeping in mind that it's when he's at his most adrenaline filled and confident that he has flashes of genius and ability that desert him in his downtime, when he's got more time to worry about his inadequacy.

All of this at - what, less than half Mayakovsky's age, with fewer resources and less time spent with nothing but practice and books for company? Q is a top-tier magician, he's just hobbled by his neuroses when he's got time to be distracted by them.

The thing about the magicians though is that they're all brilliant; preternaturally so. If they weren't magicians, and didn't end up burnouts or suicides, but found some other outlet - they'd be the sort of person most people haven't heard of. The ones too good to piss away time on TED talks showing off how brilliant they are. Or the ones you read referenced in textbooks constantly, the foundational modern masters of a field, but whose own work you'll never need to read because it will always be beyond you and the needs of your own work.

Every single Brakebills alumni is that good. They could all be Mayakovsky-tier; or at least Dean Fogg. They just don't care to. As with the way their lives could have gone before Brakebills, you still get lazy or burnout or nihilistic or hedonistically distracted or neurotically damaged magicians and they form the mediocre class - but that's just habit, not ability. So trying to quantify power levels of the magicians is somewhat of a lost cause - in some field or another, one will always scare the others with their brilliance, if they put their minds to it. Q's brilliance is simply habitually not used, under-recognized and under-rated.

How does the "Any card at any number" trick work?

The easiest explanation is that he has another trick planned and he switches tricks if the placement isn't right. This sounds hard to do but he can choose a couple different cards by making people count from the bottom or from the top or making people count by twos so it probably happens more often than you'd think.

He obfuscates the odds a bit in that video but in reality if you're only counting from the top you have a 1 in 52 chance, choosing which way to count you're at 2/52 and if you go down from there it turns pretty manageable.

There are lots of little stories and weird math tricks a good magician could pull off as a reason to pull a card ("You chose 3? You chose 6? Alright 3 times 6 is 18 so count down 18 cards from the top"). The second performance in that video (assuming no plants) is almost certainly down to luck.

The first one is a little more suspicious to me because it's televised and prearranged so I'd say there's a good chance one of the men involved in the trick is a plant. Maybe he got lucky and it worked out just right but that seems a bit unlikely. I'd like to see more videos of him performing the trick not just two where he gets it right I'd expect a lot more variation if we watched more of them.

Remember social engineering isn't as real as Derren Brown pretends it is or at least not to the extent where you can make someone think of a specific card in a deck like that.

How to deal with "forgetting" new tricks

I definitely fight this problem a lot. Related to this problem, I'll practice some difficult new stuff, and when the opportunity comes I'll chicken out and fall back on old favorites.

To combat "forgetting", I'm getting organized with spreadsheets of categorized effects I like/want to do. I'm trying to make my practice time a little more organized by running through each effect once a week.

My practice time tends to be kind of lazy, but I think I can still watch TV and practice the important points of some tricks, working my way through the list.

How long does it take to become good at magic?

Some kids these days are really good at it, and even so, it took them awhile to "get it". I'd say minimally a year to be comfortable.

I'm far from talented, but should be pretty average, from your examples it took me a year at least for all the shuffles you mentioned, and at least two years for my doubles.

Not to scare you off, but the whole appeal to magic is the practice itself. If you do not enjoy the practice, perhaps you aren't really interested in magic.

Well there is a simple way to find out if you have become decent at those, perform them. If they entertain people, yes.

Although I would say you should add a couple more sleights to what you are practicing, because those shuffles will automatically get practiced a lot when performing most tricks, and as long as the cards aren't flying everywhere its not absolutely crucial to get a perfect riffle shuffle..

I would add the top palm to what you are practicing. Maybe spread cull too.

How real is Justin Willman’s “Magic for Humans” on Netflix?

I'm inclined to believe that a majority of these "magicians" that interact with strangers have opted to used trained actors for their entire performances. Just like many of the big youtube pranksters. They get the exact reaction they are looking for and it requires much less editing/actual talent. I've seen a few reactions from his participants and they seem extremely fake to me.

It’s totally fake! In the man disappearing bit, upon first viewing I was totally enthralled... upon making my wife watch it with me, it became immediately obvious that the entire thing was staged... all on screen were actors. Watch it again, you’ll see. They’re all straight out of central casting. Someone put out a call for hipster millenial park-goers and this was the result. 100% staged, beginning to end - won’t be watching more.

I think I have PTSD afer watching this one.

How my story with magic started

I found Penn and Teller's Fool Us on Netflix and was FASCINATED with the card tricks and similar sleight of hand, small scale tricks.

When it comes to "magic" there seems to be various resources ranging from videos to books so I found a bunch and started slowly learning.

If you're serious about learning to play basketball, you should give Stephen Curry's Masterclass a try.

In 17 lessons, Stephen teaches perfect shooting mechanics, ball-handling drills, scoring techniques, and game film analysis.

The class also comes with a downloadable workbook with lesson recaps, workout plans, and supplemental materials.

Quickstart into learning basketball

My suggestion would be to dial up Youtube and watch as many read and react videos as possible. You'll find some Rick Torbitt(sp?) videos on there and watch all the layers that you can. You'll start to get a feeling for how a team of 5 players should move depending on what is going on.

Once you feel you have a good understanding of that, youtube some 4 out motion offense to see the similartiies with 4 perimeter players and a post player(some big slow guy will always be posting up right in front of you in middletown, usa basketball). You can learn a shit ton by watching motion offense videos.

Pro tip: Get 2 high-quality basketballs. Look up Steph Curry's pregame dribbling drills. He does a bunch of variations of two ball drills. And he does single ball variations. Master them how he does.

Then... Find a court, friends, practice partners and... play!

You might need some decent basketball equipment too:

How to learn basketball as an adult

I used to play a lot when I was a kid on an amateur level, but then because of college and work, I stopped.

I started playing seriously again at the age of 31 --- having never ben good in any true sense of the word. My first season was HORRIBLE. I didn't even know how to dribble more than three steps properly, much less shoot with any accuracy.

Some people are gonna hate on the "paid programs" because you can find a lot of stuff for free on YourTube (which, you DEFINITELY can and I RECOMMEND you use free stuff as much as possible, btw). But most of my improvement came from having a set workout.

Once the season ended, I dropped the cash for "Elite Guard Training" by Taylor Allen. It's designed for point guards, but I play center since I'm a bigger guy... I figure if I'm a center who can do all the point guard stuff PLUS rebound and putback, then I'd be the "Hakeem Olajuwon" of my league!

After a month of doing the drills every day I saw a HUGE improvement, and started scoring more consistently. By the time the next season rolled around I had SO many more touches on the ball (and more points scored) because they realized I wasn't a clumsy doofus any more 😛

Once I got good at shooting and driving, I started using "Ball On String" By Jesse Muench for handles drills. It really boosted my confidence for when I had to bring the ball down the court... and they're quick, easy drills and fun once you get them down! I'd suggest dropping the cash for both programs, as they're REALLY worth it (IMO). But remember, you get exactly what you put into it, so if you half ass on the drills then you're not going to get as great results as you would if you practice game-speed/intensity.

The thing that helped me was just playing pick up games casually with my friends. If you have good friends they would teach you the rules and give you tips. And then after you play for a couple of months you can learn to dribble better the basketball and also to shoot from your wrist that is very important for a shooter because you have more space to shoot over taller defenders.

PS, I'm not affiliated with either of those programs.

How to learn to watch basketball and learn the rules

Here's my advice, get really into 1 team, to the point where you know most of their bench players. You know what Curry, Thompson & Draymond bring, but what about Rush, Igbodala, or Mcadoo?

The Big Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons is a great read, especially for the hstory. Super funny too.

Podcasts are great as well, I like Dunc' On with Nate Duncan, Nba Lockdown and The Bill Simmons Podcast. Also there are probably 5+ local podcasts for your favorite teams.

Then finally, if you can afford it, The League Pass, it allows you to watch way more games than would normally be possible. It's how I was able to get more into Toronto and other Eastern teams.

They also have the ability to buy single games, that's how I tested it out. I watched a Spurs v. Pacers games on a Tuesday afternoon and then I was hooked.

The service has it's downsides, be sure to look into before you make the plunge.

Also, read up on terms you hear a lot like Setting a Screen, Pick n Roll, Pick n Pop, Goaltending, Double team, Post up, etc.

You'll learn bit by bit, good luck.

Consistency and conditioning when playing basketball

While it is true that consistency is key to shooting well, having good form is also extremely valuable. Look at guys like Tony Allen, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah... all of those guys either have weird forms, or some big flaw in their form. And guess what? They're all known as bad shooters. I'm a Bulls fan, and I've seen videos of Noah swishing midrange shots in practice over and over again. Yet, when game time comes, having such a weird release is a big negative, because it's as if everything has to be just right for the shot to go in, and under game conditions, you're more tense, tired, etc.

I've worked hard at perfecting my form, and it has paid big dividends for me, in many ways other than just becoming a great shooter. Not only does it give you confidence, but when people see a great shooting form, THEY have more confidence in you. Also, your misses don't seem so bad, lol.

This doesn't mean you have to become a robot, just get the basic fundamentals down.

Check out their shooting playlist:

Tips for a skinny player to bulk up

Five real meals a day. Eat. Even if it's shitty weight, it's weight. Run at least two miles a day. Wrok out.

Eventually you'll get lean weight, and then you can work on your inside game, post production. Then you can work on your outside game, shot selection. Then you can work on your outside to inside game, such as slashing and cutting.

How to teach kids to play basketball

One of the best advice I can give you is have your kids play one on one a good chunk of practice. Why? Builds confidence in your players, conditioning, and teaches players to play different defense styles. In the game, it is about match ups. I'll take my 5th best offensive guy against your 5th best offensive guy because my guy has practiced scoring, in better shape and is confident in scoring unlike your 5th guy who just passes to the best player at practice.

I feel like you should put at least some emphasis on winning. Desire to win needs to be ingrained in players from a young age, or you'll end up with players who don't have a passion for the game. The best practice breakdown would be man-to-man, dribbling, and shooting. Teaching kids how to set screens and box out for rebounds will also set them up for success down the road. When coaching youth teams one of your primary goals should be to set them up for a successful future in the sport.

I'm not saying that you need to berate them if they don't win, I'm just saying it would be beneficial to add some incentive to winning. My middle school coach used to take us out for pizza after a couple wins. I didn't win a lot in my high school basketball career, and that fueled my fire even more. The difference between my teammates and I was that they didn't care that we continuously lost. They didn't grow up with a passion for winning like I did, and now that I'm a decent player it makes things even more sweet for me. I feel extremely fortunate that I grew up playing in an atmosphere that pushed me to strive to be a winner.

How to develop better foot work and play light on your feet

Stay on your toes and have a bounce in your step. It's all about the calves.

Personally I can't recommend jumping rope enough, as well as wall jumps. By bounce in the step I mean not landing hard on your feet flat footed. Only half your foot should touch the ground at once when you're staying light on your feet. It doesn't have to be exaggerated, but a majority of pressure should be on the ball of your foot and your toes.

How to get better at no-look passes

To get better at no look passes, you just have to have a good court awareness and know where your teammates are and where they will be. It seems like your problem is not fancier passes but your predictability and your lack of court awareness (I say this because you have a lot of turnovers that I'm guessing come from bad passes).

If you're not 100% confident that your pass will make it to your teammate, don't pass it. Once a defender knows you telegraph your passes, he will take advantage of this and come for you the whole game.

What's the deal with playing angry basketball and players talking trash?

There's a difference between playing angry and playing with a chip on your shoulder. Playing angry leads to reckless play, where playing with a chip drives you to play with more grit, hustle, and intensity. Play intense, don't play angry.

For the love of god, don't talk trash if you can't back it up. If there's trash talking going on, don't hop in on it if you can't hold your own, you're just going to make a fool of yourself.

I used to talk a lot of trash in high school. Getting into the opponents head gave me another edge during games

Do coaches value good defense even if you lack good offense?

When I started playing my defense outshined my offense. I play small forward so I needed to find a way to score effectively and I worked on my inside scoring ALOT and it improved greatly, and now I am branching out to mid range shooting and then eventually 3 point shooting.

So the answer to the question is, yes, coaches do value good defense BUT I suggest you start working on one offensive skill and perfect it so you have an option on the other side of the court, and then once you gain enough confidence on the offensive end you can try new things.

How to beat defenders taller than you in 1v1 basketball?

You want to force him to a post up position, and when that opportunity comes, you have to use your legs and shut down one of his legs by lining one of your legs up behind his leg preferably the same leg as the one your trying to shut down, after that push with your torso and keep pressuring with your hands, this should keep him at bay.

How to learn to play in the post

I learned how to post up just for the fact that I know people are more used to guarding guys who just dribble and hoist up shots. Not only will they not know how to properly defend, but you'll tire them out. That's the key to beating quick guards who can shoot (cough Steph Curry).

And for 3s people tend to think more points=better shot. But I always tell my nephews that the best points you get are at the rim or at the ft line.

Stop overthinking and play basketball.

How my basketball story started

I was born in the US, but grew up and live in London, so I go back quite often. The average level here is obviously not as good because its nowhere near as popular, but the guys that are into it are generally really committed. My experience of playing pick up in the US is that you guys are generally more athletic and more 'obsessed' with individual skills/3 pointers, whereas here its more 'European' (even though there are obviously the guys that want to show off too) like passing and people try harder when defending.

When I was 10 I wanted to play basketball so bad but I was skinny and bullied as well. I had to pay my lunch money to play with the “good kids”. I was mocked and teased for my play.

I spent everyday after school playing in my driveway by myself shooting until my hands were numb. I walked to every and any park and played anyone I could. I sucked for years, but there was improvement.

Flash forward to when I was 15 playing in an adult rec league and I dropped 33 points with a game winner. After the game a group of the guys from the other team asked me what college I played for... I was 5’11 170. I didn’t even play high school ball.

I have won 3 adult rec league city championships since 15 and I cherish them for life.

Sitting at 34 with a bad back and bad ankles I fucking miss basketball, I miss it more than anything....yes you can get better all on your own and it’s up to you on how far you go. There is no substitute for hard work, as I aged I routinely beat better players and teams with hustle and determination. Ball away my friend.

If you're serious about learning to play tennis, I recommend this awesome masterclass from Serena Williams.

Video lessons with Serena cover everything from core techniques, pro-style fitness drills to improving your mental game. The class is paired with a 15-page workbook to help you add power to your serve and hit more aces.

How to start playing tennis

  • Decide that you want to play tennis. Duh!
  • Find a teacher to take tennis lessons
  • Find a court where you can practice
  • Find groups/friends to play with
  • Buy some decent equipment!

Getting better at tennis requires practice and finding a practice partner is very tough. Clubs should put together lists of people looking to practice, not just play, with other people and make practice items like cones, and poly drops available for use for free (maybe checked out like a library). No instructor/coach required.

How to quickly improve your tennis game

I play as often as I can with different players and skill levels. I've been playing doubles with 4.0 and 4.5's and know that the only things that are keeping me in the game is my forehand, volleys, and running. My first serve to their backhands get demolished so I know that I need to up my pace and placement. My backhand returns get picked on so I know that I need to work on that technique. And overall, my fitness level can be better.

I try to keep it simple and work on these points of the game. There are so many things to work on but my weaknesses get exposed by people who can play a good solid game that are smart enough to expose my weaknesses.

And I definitely like to take a step back and play against "weaker" players because even hitting slower pace balls are key to getting better technique and footwork.

Simply playing matches is S-L-O-W growth change if you're working on your backhand, serves, or volleys, even on proper footwork and timing. Unless someone is somewhat naturally athletic, only practice, and ideally good coaching, if one can afford it, will make improvement with any kind of satisfying speed.

Just playing matches is a formula for staying at the same level for a very long time. I do agree matches are necessary, otherwise why practice at all, and how would you gauge the effectiveness and success of the practice, if not in competition on the court? Improvement and winning by improving is the goal, of course.

The key to success is practice practice practice as in any area of life, but latent tennis ability is especially strongly correlated with all-round athleticism. If you are a good athlete you can get really good at tennis extremely fast. I've known great athletes who invest a lot of time and coaching money in the sport eclipse me (player of 12-13 years) in less than 2 years despite starting later in life.

What I've got: Spinny kick serve that I've been relying for my first that hits to the backhand on both ad and deuce side. Works at lower levels but gets killed at higher levels when facing people with better backhands or can run around it although that's super rare.

What I'm working on: Better serve technique to improve the power and consistency of my first serve. Working both sides of the box. Mostly this is for the ad side since it's far better to hit to the middle in doubles. In practice, I focus on my toss into the court, hitting it at the top of my reach, and ensuring I really get up and at the ball using my lower legs. The serve placement is mostly just muscle memory and feel for me.

Is it possible for a new adult player to become professional?

For every single one of these players that make it to the pro tour, there's another five thousand tennis juniors who had everything lined up perfectly and couldn't make it.

Parents had enough money to fund tennis; are willing to sacrifice their careers and marriage; found not a good coach, not a great coach coach, but an EXCELLENT coach; born with a body impervious to injury; extremely talented/athletic; had enough diversity and quantity and quality of hitting partners; born with good proportions and body type that helps with playing tennis.

Unless you grew up playing a lot of junior tournaments at the sectional/regional/national level, and knew mostly tennis players throughout your life, most people don't realize what a big world tennis actually takes place in.

Here's the thing: becoming "pro" at anything, is about how many open pro slots there are, and then fitting into one of those slots.

If you're a computer programmer, there's something like 400,000 jobs available in the US alone. So you only need to be the 400,000th best to be a pro, and probably make $60k+.

If you're an NFL player, there's 46 players on the active roster * 32 teams = 1500 players who make at least $420,000 per year, plus probably thousands of other pros in Arena Football, NFL Europe, etc.

In tennis, it's been said that around 100 players worldwide can make a living as a touring pro. It's so hard to be top-100 in the world at anything, especially a sport with worldwide popularity and high salaries at the very top, with most top players starting at age 5 and being homeschooled or at a tennis academy shortly after turning 10.

So the short answer is no. As an aside, the 10,000 hours idea is a joke to sell books. The Beatles weren't The Beatles because they played on stage longer than other bands, they were The Beatles because their group had three genius talents who'd been surrounded by music since they were kids ... the 10,000 hours helped but there was a huge amount of development before that.

How to improve your match game and tournament play

It's like dating.

The first date both you and the girl (yes, that pretty girl across from you who you like is nervous too). We're all nervous.

You go on enough dates, you get comfortable and start showing signs of your true self--you get better and grow confident. Hell, the girl might even start to take you seriously.

Why were you stressing? Lack of exposure.

Same thing here.

You play enough matches in exactly the competitive environment you want to succeed at and you'll become comfortable. It won't be a moment's notice; however, I guarantee you that you will start to grow. How fast? Depends solely on you.

Meanwhile in matches, focus on the moment of the ball impacting your strings and racket head. That's all that matters at that moment.

If even a sliver of doubt enters or you sense yourself tightening up, that's okay. Just towel up, grab a drink or bounce the ball like Djokovic a bit. Give yourself a breathe of air whatever works for you.

Try not to evoke those doubtful thoughts which can build false beliefs about yourself. Say "I am fucking good." when that little doubtful voice pops up in your head. Fend it off. Make it a habit. You don't have problems, you lack experience. Why you gotta make it personal against yourself? No judgment.

Point is, gotta allow ourselves to try (whether that's fail/win that's fine, that's not the end game) ; however, at the end of the day this is about growing as a person, as a competitor and as a man.

Play tournaments, play points with serve even when practicing, any aspect you can think of that resembles your matches.

Just a personal example: I was crushed and even began to victimize myself in high school varsity due to not being able to cope with the pressure. I actually didn't make it on the team the first try but that gave me a hunger. Come sophomore year, I told myself Idgaf. I'm definitely gonna leave it all out on the court for my coaches to see. Worked my ass off the previous summer with private coaches and court time.

We had a challenge system in place to keep our team competitive and fight for seeds.

Definitely helped me mentally adapt and allowing myself a scenario to be uncomfortable helped me grow the most (and quickly).

Our #1 singles was a top ranked junior out of Europe so also set real expectations for yourself too lol.

How to improve your mental game

Don't "try" to snap out of it or do anything which drags you even further out of the zone. You gotta play enough matches and practice enough that you reach the point where you can literally play totally with the subconcious on the court. The best matches I ever played were where I was totally in the zone - you almost can't even remember the points happening. When you play in that state results come easier and stuff like people watching can't matter, like you physically can't even notice them. It's easier said than done though because even when I was playing a ton I would still come out of the zone sometimes (and that's when I'd be screwed).

And the best general improving tip is to just keep entering tournaments, over and over, and that's the best tip any junior or rec player can ever have other practicing a lot. Nothing improves your play more than playing lots of tournaments. Your match play improves a shit ton!! Not crappy friendly matches with no mental stakes, but actual tournaments with stages and finals - even crappy local/regional tournaments help a lot if you never played any before!! I always tell this to people who ever say stuff like how do I improve lol, so sorry if it's a boring answer, but it's so true.

Tips for a shorter tennis player

If the person is a great server, don't be afraid to guess where they're serving, often turns out better than you would think.

Hard flat serves should be bunted back with a slice, let the momentum do the work for you concerning depth.

Generally a tall player will be bad at low/high backhands, or low/high forehands. Figure out what it is and your most consistent shot to hit to it. Force them to try and rally with it.

Depth is everything. Tall players can be pushed deeper into the court than they would like to and then finished off with a drop shot. AVOID GIVING APPROACH SHOTS AT ALL COSTS, the last thing you want is a competent tall player at the net.

Besides that just make sure you're in good physical shape, as a shorter player you have an easier job being an effective retriever. I play an all court style and I have very good, consistent groundstrokes from all heights and depths. The way a shorter player can beat me is by limiting my aggression with good topspin that pushes me deeper into the court, and by just making me hit one more ball than I feel I should.

Focus on improving your footwork, presuming you're playing threee setters, endurance will be much less of a factor, assuming you both have a basic level of fitness, however if you have proper footwork you can maximize your consistency while minimizing your energy expenditure, which leads to the effortless look players like Federer are known for.

How to play against a "pusher" player

Basically in tennis you want to be looking for that chance to MOVE IN and attack by finishing the point as close to the net as possible, whether it's an aggressive approach shot or a volley - you must limit the area of play for your opponent. Contrarily, you want to increase your area of play by giving yourself as much court to hit into as possible, In order to do that you must keep the ball deep. Pusher's are THE HARDEST players to beat because they get every ball back and are technically sound on both the forehand and backhand.

For you to beat a pusher, you must at least be able to keep the ball in play of both sides. Then it becomes a case of finding which shot will produce either 1.) the most short balls or 2.) the most errors. You can do this by ruining there rhythm and mixing it up. During the rally, try to hit a deep, high ball (backhand is generally weaker for most players so try there first) and then a deep low ball (like a slice where they must change grip to get under the ball). Try and find a balance of deep shots of varying height from both sides that will produce one of the two opportunities. Once you've found success, you can then try draw them in with a short slice forcing them into the net while having to hit a ball with enough height to clear the net. Here, you can test their volley and your passing shot/lob. Then it's just rinse and repeat.

If you're advanced, the same still occurs only I'd be aiming deep and for the corners. Once you get the short ball, the whole court is in play so I'll always try for the short angle (if there's enough height to hit down on the ball), drive deep and hard down the middle (because their next shot would be defensive and have no angle) or to the open court moving inwards looking for the put-away volley. If they play a short slice, you must also try and play the slice back to keep the ball low, keep the net as an obstacle and to force them to hit up, giving you more chance to play an effective volley.

Pusher's generally have weaker volleys and if you can consistently draw them to the net and produce an error from them - keep doing what works. However, encouraging a player to the net is a matter of policy is incorrect as that is prime position to close out the point - especially after setting yourself up from a good approach shot.

A low slice away from the player is your best defense against a lob. It forces the player to prepare for the shot as they're moving to the ball while the low trajectory of the slice makes it difficult to get under the ball effectively. This shot should produce a mediocre lob for you to put away.

To counteract a passing shot, drive hard and deep down the middle. You will draw either an error or a weak return, without any angle, for you to put away.

You just have to stick to the basics, and SLIGHTLY adjust your gameplan. If you're thinking someone's a pusher, that means they aren't putting you under any pressure with their shots. So instead of trying to force winners, just rely fundamentals. Slow the pace of your shots a little, and focus on building points SLOWLY, but in the same way you normally would. It's always tempting to want to be overaggressive vs them but that's what they're counting on to win (errors creep in when you take risks).

Pushers at low level tennis aren't gonna be hitting good shots very often, and give you a lot of leeway to hit mediocre shots. You should rarely feel under pressure against a pusher. So really it's kinda relaxing to play them, just be patient and build points SLOWLY. If you don't self destruct with some stupid overaggression, then it'll come down to who trades shots better. And a tennis player is defined by the level he/she can trade at. Just trade with them until you can end the point normally, if they end more points than you in a neutral game then you just need to improve. Bad pushers will get stomped by patient, higher level players.

The problem comes when that "pusher" can consistently hit good shots off of your safer shots, or in other words can attack well too! Then they're just a better player haha. But when that happens you're playing at a higher level of tennis and need to practice some more to catch up.

How to learn playing left-handed if you're right-handed

I'm a righty myself, but I can play decent left-handed rallies. I noticed that I've been able to pick it up much easier, since I already knew how to play right-handed, so I think you'll learn it relatively quick. What has helped me is that when I started playing lefty, I held my racket higher on the grip (somewhere around the place your non-dominant hand is if playing a double-handed backhand), so that I didn't have to use a lot of force which made me able to focus more on the feeling of hitting lefty.

Besides, it also could take some strain of you arm since you're not used to using it that way yet. But I think within a few months you'll could be hitting some nice rallies with your friends and family and if you want to, it's very doable to play competitive again. Remember, it's going to be hard at first, but just keep playing and you'll get there eventually.

It's just going to be really, really difficult, and slow. If you can put yourself through the ringer of playing sloppily for months and months before you get comfortable, then yes it's possible. Basketball players learn to play with their left all the time after being right-dominant for years.

I would also consider you trying to use your left hand for everyday activities just to increase your dexterity with it. If you can hit a ball against your garage or side of the house on the brick wall, jsut doing the motion a few hundred times a day will help you a lot.

I tried it due to a worsening wrist injury. I only tried it for about 4 weeks. It was weird at first, of course. I went down from a solid 4.0 level to like 3.0.

Service was bad. Surprisingly, my backhand with the left arm was in some ways better than my regular backhand! I would approach the ball well on that side, since I am used to hitting on that side.

I wanted to continue, but my patience (or lack thereof) got the better of me.

How to get started in giving tennis lessons

If you're knowledgeable enough now you could start giving lessons, though if you really want to be able to charge a decent amount and ensure you're teaching students the right way, I'd suggest getting PTR or USPTA certified. It doesn't cost a ton, is pretty easy to get your certification, and having it gives you an additional credential and resources for attracting clients.

When I was in uni (I was 18) my local club, where I played, paid me to work with the little kids at school holidays “camps”. Basically the kids would come every day for a week.

They’d need a heap of coaches for this, more than they had. So employed a few of us to work with the littlies. I had friends I played with who did similar programs at different clubs, so know it’s a common thing here in Australia. I had to get my working with children certificate and a police check obviously

So yeah, maybe sus out, or even market doing something in the holidays also. Big market

How my tennis story started

I'm going to share my experience with starting tennis at a late age. I come from a tennis family so I was exposed to it my whole life, started hitting for fun in eighth grade and started playing matches soon after.

It wasnt until going to high school where I started group lessons, and those don't help much when you're only hitting 2 hours a week.

Starting junior year I began to train intensely. Private and group lessons with a fantastic coach and top 20 players from my region and I improved the skill part of my game immensely. I continued this until college and am on a weaker D1 team.

While it is clear I am up to par skill wise with all my teammates, my mental side of the game lacks compared to all of the ones who started young. That is what you miss the most, you learn so much from playing, how to construct and react to points. How to deal with mental stresses, you just see the game differently with the time put in.

I'm currently improving much faster than my teammates, but I have a lot of mental catch up necessary to be able to consistently beat them.

I think time playing with consistent technique and strategy is a crucial thing for development and is what makes the difference at this level, from what I have seen.

Because I have improved so much in the past ≈2 years, my game has changed dramatically. I have had to relearn what works best for me in matches as my game developed, and you do not have the time for that while refining your strokes. The time I spent switching from a western (extremely western) to a semi western forehand meant that I wasn't playing matches and wasn't developing the strategic part of my game as much, when all I was doing was drilling for 10 or so hours a week.

I have had to reshape my game as I have become physically and technically able, especially as a late bloomer physically. When you have the consistency down at an early age you do not need to focus as much time on technique (drilling) and can instead gain a lot of experience from match play, and then your will improve your game to a bigger scale as you physically mature, while keeping much of the same technique or habits.

I wasn't talking about being a mentally weak player in an anger sense, instead like tennis IQ. I'm not sure if this makes sense for what you said though.

While it is certainly easier to learn something when you're younger it is never too late to do so. The key is regular practice. If you can set aside 15 minutes a day to practice you will start to see yourself improve at a decent pace. Just make sure that during your practice time you're actually practicing something you have difficulty with, and not just playing something you've already mastered.

Also seek out some good videos or advice from someone that can show you proper technique (holding the bow, findering positions, etc.) It's much easier to struggle learning technique the right way first than it is to correct bad habits down the road.

If you're serious about learning the violin, I whole-heartedly recommend Itzhak Perlman's masterclass:

This masterclass obviously won't teach you how to play. It will inspire you and show you what the mindset of a professional musician is like. And that's worth priceless.

  1. Get a teacher and schedule lessons.
  2. Let the teacher help you find an instrument.
  3. Buy books and accessories according to what the teacher tells you to buy.
  4. Set aside about 15 minutes a day for practice. You will need to gradually work up to 30-60 minutes by the end of the first year, so make sure you have time to do that, even if it means cutting other activities to make time.
  5. Continue lessons at least until you have a good command of the fingerboard and have learned vibrato and advanced bowing techniques.

I play simply because I enjoy it. I started playing flute in band in 6th grade and have loved music ever since. A couple years ago I started thinking about learning to play but my hand problems stopped me. I've now been having lessons again for about 2 years and love it.

I just play for fun, hoping I can start on "real" music by the end of the year. I know I'll never become amazing as I just don't have that kind of talent and time to put into it but I really do love music, so why not?.

How to start learning the violin

Start by finding a violin teacher. Let them help you find an instrument. Your best option is going to depend on your location and other factors, so you need help from someone accustomed to helping beginners get everything they need. Sometimes, it saves time and hassle if not money to know what you will need before you start making purchases, and you will need a few other things besides just the violin, depending on how your teacher does things.

Also, there are a lot of gimmicks out there marketed to beginners that they don't need, and without talking to a teacher first, you might buy something that will ultimately be useless to you.

Attempting to learn alone makes things slower and more difficult and due to divided attention and muscle memory development will eventually result in bad habits and a dead end. You limit yourself by not taking lessons.

Multiple lessons each week is overkill and not productive. Beginners usually take lessons once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. You need time to practice between lessons or else there is nothing to be gained from the next lesson.

It is better to take lessons first than it is to seek them later. The most readily-available free resources online and even many of the paid resources are full of incorrect information that you don’t have the background to recognize for what it is. When people try to learn as much as they can before seeking violin lessons, the violin teacher still starts at the beginning and ends up moving slower to fix bad habits and misconceptions. The result is an unquantifiable waste of time and money.

You should not start with an electric violin, and most teachers won’t agree to that. It is too forgiving in tone for you to learn proper bowing technique. The same is true of a practice mute, but slightly less so. A violin through the walls of an apartment sounds similar to a TV in terms of volume. Your neighbors probably watch TV without thinking about whether it disturbs you. As long as it isn’t an unreasonable time of day, don’t worry about your violin disturbing them.

My studio is surrounded by apartment complexes and shares a wall with one of them. I never get complaints. My students get compliments from those who hear them play as they are leaving, and I pick up students because they hear others learning and want to learn, too. One of my students lives in a different apartment complex from where my studio is. Granted, she is more advanced, but her neighbors downstairs actually asked her to play loud enough to be heard. Your living situation is probably not the issue you assume it to be.

Practice scales ... every day! Slow and careful scale practice will revolutionize your intonation.

That, and record yourself practicing in short bursts - only record a few measures at a time, or another manageable selection. It’ll be easier to hear intonation errors on a recording of yourself as opposed to listening as you play - doing this will make it easier to hear and correct intonation errors on the fly.

Do you really need a teacher to learn playing the violin?

Yes! Get a teacher before an instrument. Let them guide you to an instrument and tell you what you need to do to get started, how and what to practice, and so forth. Suzuki books are not the Suzuki method. They are collections of music used in the Suzuki method, but they are not the whole method or even all of the music. The method itself is what Suzuki teachers learn, and Suzuki lessons are more expensive than traditional lessons because you have two lessons a week (one individual, one group).

Suzuki is really intended for very young children. There are adults who learn from it, as parents doing Suzuki lessons with their kids, and there are teachers who draw concepts from Suzuki or use Suzuki books to supplement what they teach. It's not a good choice for someone who is 17 and on their fifth instrument. You don't typically choose your own method, anyway. You choose a good teacher from whatever your community offers, and your teacher brings a method, or more likely a mixture of methods, that fits well with their overall teaching philosophy.

How long should you practice the violin as a beginner?

Beginners can sometimes only go ten minutes before they start to hurt or feel tired. With previous experience and probably already hardened fingertips from the guitar, you can probably push that a little further, maybe 20-30 minutes. In a few months to a year, you might be able to get to or past an hour, depending on how often you play. If you ever want to be in a community orchestra, you're going to want 90 minutes worth of endurance, at least, just so you can make it through a concert. More serious violinists practice for 2-4 hours at a time.

I have had pain in my neck, shoulders, lower back, abdomen, elbows, wrists, hands/fingers, legs, and chest/lungs after playing the violin. It really all depends on where you tend to have tension when you concentrate, and I'm naturally a rather tense person with a bad habit of holding my breath under pressure. Some people never have any pain, and it's not really supposed to hurt.

I broke my collar bone several years ago, and I had an injury to my wrist a few years before that, both on the left side. I feel strain sooner than other advanced and professional violinists do, but I can play for nearly two hours before I start to feel any strain. You are trained to stop when it starts to hurt, unless you're in a performance and can't do that, so I don't get to the point of being sore the next day or anything very often. I did two gigs in a row yesterday and feel fine. Take breaks and drink water and it's not a big deal, but push beyond that point and you can hurt yourself. Nothing about that is unique to the violin, but holding a violin is very unnatural, so we violinists are very prone to injury and so just talk about it more than other musicians.

How difficult it is really depends on your motivation. If you won't be happy if you don't get quick results and easy progress, you're looking at the wrong instrument. You want to be able to play things after a "given time," but how much time are we talking about, and what type of music are we talking about? For simple folk tunes, you need several weeks to establish the basics. For popular tunes, two or three years, and for classical, four or five years. To be able to play at a level where other people actually want to listen to you, we're talking something like five years, and it will be 10 to 15 years (if you ever get there at all) before anyone would be willing to pay you to play.

Most of the professional violinists you hear have been playing for a very long time and took private lessons for over a decade. However, you can have a lot of fun from the beginning as long as you can be content with the learning process. A lot of would-be violinists quit because they don't want to put in the necessary time to learn how to play or they try to cut corners only to hit a wall and quit out of frustration when they realize they will have to go back and learn what they skipped before they can move forward. It does take a lot of time and effort and a commitment to practicing efficiently as well as listening and studying carefully, but if you are truly motivated to play, those things shouldn't be deal-breakers for you.

What's the best way to teach violin playing to my children? When should they start?

If the interest comes from the child they are absolutely ready. If the interest comes from mom and dad but the goal is to take advantage of the developmental benefits of studying a musical instrument at a young age, the child might still be ready, but that depends on the child and also on the willingness of the parents to be involved.

Children do not usually practice on their own until they are at least 12 years old with at least two years of experience. Five year olds will not be successful in learning to play the violin if they are simply told to set a timer and go practice in their rooms. It doesn't matter how much they want to play the violin or whether or not they like practicing. They don't have the maturity to manage their time or to take responsibility for their own training, and their brains are not in the right stage of development to fully understand the value of exercises.

Also, to a child, "practice" spent alone in a room for a designated amount of time starts to feel like time out, a.k.a. punishment, and that kills all of the child's motivation to play. If a child that young practices at all, they will play a piece from beginning to end, and whether it was error-free or not, they will tell you they are done. They don't understand that what they did was not practice, and when that stops working for them, they won't understand why they are stuck on the same assignment week after week until they get frustrated and ask to quit.

You have to go to lessons with your kid, take notes, and then when it's time to practice, you need to sit with her and tell her how to use every minute of her allotted practice time. I know parents who actually get a violin for themselves and learn right alongside their child.

Size cannot be determined by age, and brands are not a good way to select violins. A violin has to be setup professionally, not sold as it comes in the box from the factory, so you shop by source and trust that reputable sources will only carry reputable brands. The way to find a reputable source is to find the teacher before the instrument, not the other way around. There are size charts that differ a bit from one brand to the next and from one shop or studio to the next. The measurements can be helpful information, but it's best to actually hold the violin and see what fits.

What to do when you're really bad at first when trying to play the violin?

I hope this helps: Next time you think "I won't be a great violinist," your next thought should be "Yes, I will" ... because who the fuck cares? If thinking that you'll never be great discourages you then think that you will be great.

I'm not advocating this as a general mindset (i.e. - "If you don't like it just don't think about it.") But the fervor with which we embrace the whole "realistic" I-will-never-be-good-because-of-12-year-olds is way too pessimistic for my taste (and I'm the biggest pessimist I know). When you watch a little kid play masterfully, you should be learning from his/her technique with the goal of catching up and improving your own.

Any chances that you have of being great are slowly being suffocated by self-pity. Keep practicing, keep trying hard, learning, and improving. If you end up being great, then great. If not, then you either die playing or give up violin entirely---either way you won't care about being great anymore. 😉

Is learning the violin really THAT hard?

Violin players especially sometimes exaggerate the instrument's difficulty. Call it defending our turf, or a conflict of interest, or some cognitive bias defending our sunk cost, but there's a lot of bad habits that result in worse tone and thus playing at all proficiency levels, especially with bowing. Unless you're super diligent and self-aware (or practicing in front of a mirror a lot), you'll either never notice or not have the motivation to change your technique because you're satisfied with how you sound now. But this is the same with all instruments.

Bad habits that are hard to catch include: moving your elbow too much when bowing, not bowing perpendicularly to the strings (this is a really common issue and particularly challenging for many to solve even with instruction), bowing at locations on the string not suited for the music (i.e. legato or staccato), using locations on the bow not suited for the music, too much or too little pressure, not using enough/using too much bow-length, holding the weight of your violin too much with your arm, etc.

I think most people argue that it's a gentler learning curve to "sound good" as a beginner guitarist, but there's a much steeper hill for "sounding good" as a violinist because there's so much that can go wrong.

After a while of practice, you don't need intense attention to what your hands are doing for violin, just like with guitar. Learning how to bow or where to place your fingers is just like learning how to pick or change chords. Maybe it's more nuanced for violin, but it's not necessarily completely different.

What about left-handed players?

What's the deal with left-handed violins? Why is it so hard to find them? Can I play if I'm left-handed?

It's not just violins. It's actually all instruments except those commonly used outside the classical world. The guitar and other instruments that come in left-handed versions are the exception to the norm. Concert halls don't buy left-handed and right-handed pianos. They don't re-arrange the percussion section for their left-handed players. The hand placed closest to the mouth on a wind instrument is the same regardless of which instrument you play, and all the flutes point the same direction. To put this all on the violins is inaccurate and unfair.

The orchestra is about equalizing sections, and separate is not equal. A stage full of violinists all playing different directions wouldn't work. If left-handed players bowed backwards to compensate, their articulations would be backwards, and the music would sound weird. If they bowed up and down as written, they wouldn't be able to share stands with right-handed players. Since they make up 50% of the orchestra because of the higher proportion of lefties in orchestras compared to the general population, we would have to either decrease the size of the orchestra or increase the size of the stage so that everyone could have enough space to have their own stand and not hit the people on either side with their bow. We could pair stand partners based on handedness instead of skill, which would make dividing parts and choosing section leaders more difficult. Some school orchestra conductors will have one or a few left-handed violinists sit in the back of the orchestra because their hands are tied by parents and administrators who don't get it, but that makes them look ostracized. A left-handed violin's sound holes face the wrong way, so left-handed players sitting with right-handed players are playing to the wall and so can't actually be heard. We could make all lefties second violinists and put them on the opposite side of the stage as some orchestras do with their seconds, but that wouldn't be a fair way to choose who should be a first and who should be a second. You couldn't rotate first and second parts across the stage, either, because that would mess with acoustics. Basically, nothing about the structure of the orchestra would work, anymore, and since it took us 500 years to get here, we can't just decide to change it.

The alternative would be a brand new design, different from what we currently call a left-handed violin, with a reverse-weighted bow and the strings in the same order as a right-handed violin but the shoulder rest and chin rest formed to fit the right shoulder. That way, articulations would be correct with reverse bowing. However, technique would be vastly different. All right-handed violinists would have to seek right-handed teachers and all left-handed violinists would have to seek left-handed teachers. In studios with only one violin teacher, the studio would have to discriminate against students who didn't play the same way as the teacher.

Making all violinists play the same instrument, regardless of handedness, really is the best solution we have. The fact that you are personally not interested in playing in an orchestra is irrelevant because your likely classically trained teacher will come from that background, which means they won't know how to teach you to play in reverse.

There's a rumor (probably exaggerated) that Paganini had trouble perfecting his bow hold, so he walked around with a stick in his hand everywhere he went for two years. I had a particularly difficult time with my bow hold. I did with my pencil hold, to, so I think it just takes longer for me to learn such things. I really did walk around with either a pencil or my bow in my hand for several hours at a time, using tape to force my hand into the right position, until it finally felt natural.

By the way, I'm right-handed. I have had numerous issues with my left hand in learning to play the violin. Once I got the bow hold right and learned about placing my bow and balancing the speed and weight, everything sort of fell into place on that side, but the left hand was a completely different story. Every finger has to be able to move independently from the others. You know how your ring finger and pinkie probably like to move together? If you want to be a violinist, you have to break yourself of that. Otherwise, if you play a fourth finger note followed by a second finger note, you'll have an extra third finger note that will sound unintentionally every time. When I'm tired, I still struggle with that one, and I've been playing for 25 years. You have an advantage because you've had a lifetime of strengthening the fine motor skills in your left hand. And that's just one example. Harmonics were also incredibly difficult for me because I couldn't keep my left hand steady enough at first. So were double stops and fast passages because I had to train my fingers to move quickly and in sync with my bow. Then there were the injuries. I have injured both my right hand and my left bad enough to harm my ability to play. I can compensate when my right hand is injured. When my left hand is injured, I have to either opt for an easier piece or cancel altogether, due not to pain but to lack of dexterity. I have such a high pain tolerance that I auditioned for an orchestra - and made it - the day after I broke my collar bone and tore my rotator cuff.

Nothing about playing the violin feels natural. Holding the bow is extremely difficult, regardless of which hand you use to write. About half of my students either refuse to give it the attention it needs because it is so difficult, or they actually cry about it. Since I'm not a particularly tough teacher, I often end up crying with them. If you're wanting easy and fun from the beginning, you're looking at the wrong instrument. It's going to be two or three years of building the basics before playing the instrument is actually fun. A good teacher can motivate you and make the lessons fun, but the actual playing and practicing is hard, tedious, frustrating, uncomfortable work. It is incredibly rewarding, but you'll never get there if you don't do it with proper instruction and an instrument that is set up properly, and that means you're going to have to accept that the idea of the violin being designed for right-handed people is a myth. The fine and gross motor skill requirements for each hand are about equal. If you're left-handed, you'll have more trouble with the bow. If you're right handed, you'll have more trouble with the fingerboard. It's an ambidextrous instrument, and even ambidextrous violinists have to use their fingers in ways they have never been used for any other task. It's not easy for anyone.

You might find it interesting that there was a study published in 2012 about handedness as it relates to various skills. One of the skills tested was music. It turns out that there are significantly more left-handed musicians - and specifically left-handed violinists - than what you would expect given the proportion of musicians to the general population. Your left-handedness is not a handicap, and you don't need any special accommodation to play the violin. You just need the determination to learn to play it.

Tips for people who are already playing guitar and want to switch to the violin

This is not to discourage you. If you want to learn violin, you should. But you don't really seem to have any idea what you are getting yourself into.

Left hand position on the violin is significantly harder than it is on guitar. Your eyes have to be focused on other things when you play, like reading music and synchronizing bow usage with your section leader, so you have to blindly find finger placement on a fingerboard that doesn't have any frets, anyway.

String crossings on the violin have to be nearly as smooth as if you were playing on just one string, so you have to prep your fingers in advance. Your left hand has to anticipate what the right hand will do for the next note and move into position without losing the placement of the finger you are currently using. Your fingers fall between strings almost as often as they fall on them, and there is this weird thing with color choice where you have to decide between multiple possible fingerings for the same phrase based on the tone and expression you want as well as the most efficient approach to transition from the phrase before and to the phrase after.

Violinists spend a significant amount of time pouring over their music with a pencil just to annotate their preferred fingerings and bowings. As a member of an orchestra, you often do it before you have even learned to play a piece, which means you need enough ear training to be able to "hear" the music in your head even if you have never actually heard it with your ears before.
On a guitar, you can place your finger anywhere you like in the space between two frets and get the same sound. On a violin, there is a very exact place, about the size of the head of a pin, on which your finger has to be centered. You can place your finger, then roll it around while you bow without actually moving the contact point, and get at least three different pitches. The placement has to be absolutely perfect or you will be completely out of tune.

Learning to play the violin takes a lot of effort and a good teacher. It also takes a lot of time, and meanwhile you are going to need some more realistic goals. It will take you at least ten years of serious lessons and regular practice to be able to pass an audition into your average university orchestra, and that is still assuming that you are an above-average violin student.

People who are not children when they start learning violin and do not intend to be non-traditional college students are much better off forgoing any college-level ensembles and instead taking their time and perhaps joining a community orchestra later, maybe even after retirement.

What injuries can you get while playing the violin?

Repetitive strain injuries are most common. That happens when you subscribe to a "no pain, no gain" philosophy. Pain means you are doing something wrong or have done too much. Either way, it's time to stop, not push through the pain. Hyperextensions, sprains, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis are also possible. If you already have a tendency toward it and don't take care of yourself and your joints, it can make arthritis worse. Neck and shoulder strain occur if the chin rest/shoulder rest combination is wrong for you. If you really overdo it, you can do damage to your rotator cuff. On the other hand, if done correctly, the violin can be good physical therapy. You just have to be careful and do as your teacher suggests. Too many beginners want to just play through familiar music. They don't want to do exercises, and they don't want to stop and work on a trouble spot in the music. It's the careful, repetitive focus on one skill at a time that helps build your skills without putting you at risk, so it is important to discipline yourself enough to do that.

The first thing you should do if you want to learn to play the violin is to find a qualified teacher. Violin shops typically have lists of teachers or provide violin lessons. There are also directories online, but I don't know of any that actually check a teacher's credentials, so you will need to do that yourself. I'm in the minority in that I don't necessarily believe a violinist must have a degree to be a good teacher for a beginner, but they do need to have taken over a decade of private lessons themselves and have a record of continued performance experience. Even if your teacher is not primarily a performer, it is the act of preparing for performances that keeps his or her skills sharp.

Local teachers are better than online teachers, but if you can't find or can't afford a local teacher, online is an option. You need a teacher who does live lessons over Skype or exchanges videos with you. If "online lessons" means a series of videos with no interaction or evaluation with the teacher, that's not a good substitute for in-person lessons. Once you have a teacher, you can ask their advise on where to get a violin. They will know the local market better than anyone you find here, unless you find a violinist who lives in your community. Renting is usually better for beginners. Make sure the rental program gives you credit toward the purchase of an instrument.

More reasons why learning to play the violin by yourself is not a great idea

The problem with something like that is you are still working through it by yourself. You aren't getting any feedback, and there are two problems with that. First, the violin doesn't sound the same to the person playing it as it does to the person listening to it. Even professionals often have someone else listen to them play because feedback from someone they know and trust is the only way they can get a sense of what their audience hears. Sure, you can record it, but recordings just aren't the same as hearing it live. Second, there is so much to do when you are playing the violin. Without someone to spot you, it is incredibly easy to develop habits that will at some point prevent you from acquiring new skills and not even know until you reach that impasse and the habit is already cemented.

There are a lot of resources out there that are misleading, confusing, or just wrong in the way they present information for those learning to play the violin. Unfortunately, those tend to be the ones that use the most clickbait and otherwise have managed to find their way to the top of search results. There are a handful out there that aren't bad in the quality of information they provide, but they tend to have another problem. They are poorly organized.

You have various topics, but they are not in any particular order, and the order matters when one thing should be built on another. Even if someone could build an accurate, perfectly organized, comprehensive website or app or YouTube channel and somehow build in enough cautions to stop and check that you are doing things correctly and not developing bad habits, it still wouldn't come anywhere close to what a teacher can do for you because it would have to take a cookie-cutter approach. Musicians can't be turned out through such a method.

The result would be a programming of people as if they were computers to replicate the appropriate sounds at the appropriate time, which is not the same thing as playing music. Musicians are able to go beyond what is written on the page and tap into expression if not improvisation skills to make the music their own. They learn to do that by going through a customized experience that takes their strengths, weaknesses, and interests into account. The only way to have such an experience is if someone (i.e. a violin teacher) who knows how to get where you want to go designs it for you and then helps you stay on track.

My studio provides exchange lessons. You correspond by video recorded offline instead of having a live lesson, so you can get direct feedback. You won't make progress as quickly because your feedback will be after the fact and your lessons will cover less material. You will also have to be committed to practicing regularly without having a lesson at the same time every week to hold you accountable. And if there is a problem with your instrument your teacher won't be able to do much but tell you to take it to the shop. But they cost less than what is typical of a more traditional arrangement and you don't have to schedule them and so can move at your own pace.

Any tips on bowing technique and strokes?

You have to start with your bow in a different place, both relative to the string (sounding point) and the bow stick (bow placement), for every different kind of bow stroke. You have to have a perfect balance between weight and speed to get the desired tone, and you have to have the right amount of hair in contact with the string. You have about ten different bow strokes, each of which can be varied with accent marks, dynamics, and bow placement indications like "sul ponticello" and "sul tasto."

As a result, you really have more like forty different bow strokes. About half of those can be further complicated with double stops, drones, chords, and bariolage. Détaché can feel like a different stroke if playing pickups or tremolos. Actually, pickups feel backwards no matter what stroke you use. There is also something called a lift, which is basically two notes in the same bow direction that, other than a difference in the heavier articulation with a down bow than an up bow, sounds like you changed bow direction.

If you get into fiddle techniques, depending on style, you might learn chops, birling, or bow trebles. String crossing is a significant challenge on the violin all by itself. Plus, you have to learn some French and Italian. Learning what the words mean, as opposed to just memorizing the terms, gives you a much better idea of what you will have to do. In addition to your bow strokes, you also have pizzicato, snap pizzicato, left-hand pizzicato, and col legno. In other words, there are a lot of different ways to get sound out of your violin.

Is it possible to be a completely self-taught violinist?

There is no such thing as being self-taught. To teach is to impart knowledge. You cannot teach what you do not already know. If you watch YouTube videos, the people in the videos are your teachers. If you read a book, the person who wrote that book is your teacher. The knowledge came from them, not from you, and it is absurd and arrogant to take credit for it, even if they give you permission to do so right in the title. In addition to that, there is no such thing as a single, comprehensive resource for everything you can ever possibly want to know about the violin. There will always be more to learn and more to play. Most of those videos are not presented in a logical sequence so that you even know how to learn the right thing at the right time, so you start to think that how much you can play is what counts when that says nothing about how well you can play. When you finish the books or videos, you move to something else, but you have no sense of difficulty level or what skills you need to learn next. Instead, you just aimlessly wander to the next tune, but learning to play a new tune doesn't make you a better violinist. If your repertoire isn't shaped with a purpose, then you won't continue increasing your skills.

Music is not something we do in isolation. We use the work of those who came before us, those who made instruments, developed the techniques to play the instruments, and wrote the music. All of that comes from outside of us, and we cannot both access it and cut ourselves off from it at the same time. If you insist on learning on your own, you are cutting yourself off from the very traditions that made the instrument and the music you wish to play what they are. It's ballroom dancing without a partner, and it looks and sounds silly to anyone who knows what ballroom dancing is. You might be able to impress people who don't know what it is with your moves, but you won't be doing it right, and you will never be accepted by those who are doing it right.

Because you do not yet play the violin, you're not qualified to determine whether the source you are learning from is a good source. There are a ton of books and videos out there from people who claim all sorts of credentials that are really just absolutely terrible, and you have no way of knowing if what you have chosen to use is one of those. It can also be said that teachers can be bad and you not know it. I'm sure you can probably find some other threads here where it was revealed that some teacher out there has some really bazaar idea of how to do something, in some cases to an extreme that the OP was urged to find a different teacher. However, unlike online where any information about the source you are evaluating is just as suspect as the source itself, in real life you can ask questions from other local violinists, schools, violin shops, and others who have a stake in the local industry. Local musician circles tend to be small, and we have long memories of what we have seen and heard. I recently received a referral from one of my adjudicators from a contest when I was a child and was shocked that she even knew who I was, let alone believed it appropriate to give someone my name. Out there, people know who I am and can confidently tell others what I can teach them. In here, or if I post a video on YouTube, you can't tell if I am who I say I am, or if I'm just really good at editing videos and memorizing scripts so people think I know what I'm doing. The internet is no more reliable for truth and knowledge than those supermarket tabloids, and if you put stock in it for anything you want to take seriously, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Is it a good idea to learn the violin after learning the piano?

Due to your piano experience, you can probably pick up a violin and figure out how to get something recognizable out of it with very little effort. That's not the hard part. Neither are any of the skills you will ever need to play. The hard part is patience and control. If I want to make a sound on a piano, all I really have to do is press a key. Now, there is skill involved in learning to press the right keys at the right time and using finger patterns that make doing so efficient, but no one has to teach you how to get sound out of a piano. With the violin, on the other hand, there are at least 100 different ways (I've never bothered to count and would probably leave something out if I did) to get sound out of it, most of which are just subtle differences is in the weight and speed of the bow that produce very different results. Sometimes, you encounter problems you have never had before, too. Today, I assume because of weather and not feeling so well, I was having a terrible time with my cello. I was getting a harmonic out of the C string, so it was sounding an octave higher than it should. I know how to fix that problem, but when I focused on other things, it came back because apparently this is a bad day for me to be playing the cello. Such things will still happen to you after you have been playing for decades, and it will drive you nuts. If you don't like solving problems, nearly every practice session will be nothing but endless frustrations. The real reward of playing the violin comes after the struggle.

In addition to that, there are things we do on the violin that are unique to the violin, so you have no piano context to understand them. We also have things that we use the same name and symbol for but execute very differently. Our slurs blend into each other in a way the piano simply cannot replicate. A lot of my violin students who play piano want to separate the slurred notes or use a different technique called a hook instead. Then when we break that habit, they get all confused again when we really do hooks because to them, combining slurs with staccatos is an oxymoron they just can't get their head around.

Piano does give you some theory advantages, though, and it will be easier for you to read chords and double stops because you will already be accustomed to that, whereas novice musicians starting with the violin are not. Use those advantages, but don't make the mistake of thinking that your theory advantages translate to technique advantages because they don't. You really need a teacher to help you with the technique, or else what you can do now, messing around and getting simple tunes out, is about the limit of your skill level. You might be able to play something more advance, but it will be messy and uncontrolled and other skilled musicians won't really be able to play with you as a result. That's when "self-taught" violinists often discover that they aren't as good as they thought, when they attempt to play with violinists who have been trained.

There are methods out there, especially non-classical, that have you playing along with recorded accompaniments immediately. Jazz Wizard has you improvising immediately, but that particular book series is really best done alongside another beginner book series because it brushes over some things. Playing with others is not the end of technique development, so asking how long it will take you to get there doesn't actually tell you anything about how "hard" it is to learn to play the violin. Playing with others is actually sort of a class of skills all by itself. Once you get past the basics of getting sound out of the instrument, you really need education in both playing alone and playing with others, and a program too heavily focused on either solo or ensemble work will make you weak in the other if you aren't supplementing it somehow. That's one reason that private teachers play duets with their students and encourage them to join youth or community orchestras while school orchestra programs encourage private lessons.

Can you learn to play the violin with no past music experience?

I wouldn't recommend it. Start with guitar first or something else. Check out my article on learning the guitar.

If you already played another very similar instrument, namely viola, there wouldn't be a problem. If you played cello or bass, you might be able to figure it out with a few crash courses in the differences in technique. If you played anything else, you would progress faster but would still need regular lessons. With no musical experience, you shouldn't try it. I know that's not what you want to hear, but those who try to learn violin on their own do more harm than good. I've seen it way too many times, and it would be downright careless to suggest you can do it.

Holding a violin is unlike anything else you have ever done in your life. There are professionals who do it incorrectly or push themselves too hard and end up with career-ending injuries, and they have professional training. Without it, you are playing with fire. Then there is the fact that trial-and-error is a very slow process for learning. You will make much more progress and be less likely to quit with proper training. If you can't afford that now, see if you can get a local teacher to give you less frequent lessons or look for group lessons. If you still can't afford it, you are better off waiting until your circumstances change than trying to learn on your own. Free lessons, whether online or from someone you know, are free for a reason. If someone can't make a living playing or teaching the violin, they aren't qualified to teach and they will teach you bad habits that will severely limit your progress. You won't know it until you hit a wall, and then it will be too late.

I am a bit concerned with the fact that a one hour lesson costs more than what you paid for your violin. A useable violin costs about $300. Anything less than that usually requires a lot of repairs, often more than $300 worth of repairs in your first year, which is why you are better off spending more in the first place. If it were a car instead of a violin, it would be the kind that is so cheap you would rather walk than risk it falling apart or blowing up with you in it but don't want to repair it because doing so costs more than a new-to-you car in much better condition than the one you have. If the return policy from wherever you purchased it allows you to do so, send it back for a refund before you get trapped in the money pit it will inevitably be.

Should Chinese violins be avoided?

I disagree on avoiding chinese violins. I have one made by Ling Zhen Hua and it sounds fucking awesome (to me) and much better than others ive tried costing many times what mine cost. Also, i think violin is the toughest instrument out there (highly biased) and a instrument for a real man, a balanced man. It takes more patience, determination and sheer effort, as well as consistency for the violin than almost anything else.

Combine grounded intellect with violin playing chops and you will be able to mentally and physically seduce any woman you like. Violin is tough to pick up though, and the older you are the harder it is. I'd strongly suggest a tutor to get you started. As for student violin's, you can get some pretty decent ones for around $500.

Any less usually means it's harder to actually make it sound good, and will only deter your playing and practice. Also, hiring/renting is also a good idea and usually much cheaper. I used a really cheap chinese violin learning, then used an old violin that belonged to my teacher throughout my highschool years playing in orchestras and chamber music/trios etc.

I didnt touch the violin for a long time since i stopped having lessons as i had no violin, but then i finally bought one that i liked and could afford in my early 20s. Once you get a little better after a few years, you can look to go into the $1500-3000 category. A lot of people think i am just a gym bunny full of aggression and no tenderness since i am a strength and conditioning coach.

Tips for people who are thinking about quitting playing the violin

Do you really want to quit?

Or are you quitting because you think you should?

You might lose motivation to practice without losing your love of the instrument. That's normal. A lot of people love to play but hate to practice. You need to find practice that works for you. If you are bored or frustrated, practice isn't productive. The point is to remind yourself that you actually like playing the violin before you put it away, so that whatever frustration you feel about that thing you can't get isn't your last thought in practice and so isn't associated with the instrument itself. Play something you passed a long time ago or something you really enjoyed, no matter how simple, and force yourself to do so without judgement. I know it sounds impossible when you're in this mindset of being overly critical of yourself, so turning that off so you can enjoy playing is itself a skill you have to practice. Once you can do it, it will help your perspective significantly.

You don't think you are as good as you should be and therefore feel that at this stage of your life, you should focus your time on education and career goals instead of a hobby that you don't feel you can justify. I'm going to give you that justification. Do you know what work-life balance is? I took a graduate level class in it as part of my MBA program because the people in charge of that program believed it was so important that they required us to take an entire class over what is really a very simple concept.

See, no matter how hard you work and how well you manage your time and how productive you are as a result, your work literally has no purpose if you never reap the benefits. There is no point in burning yourself out to make money you don't have time to spend and advance in your career but have no time for friends and family to celebrate your accomplishments. You have to make time for things that are important, and ultimately, your career is only a means to an end. What that end is varies from person to person, but everyone needs a sense of purpose for their own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. So playing the violin takes up time. You need to make time for something you are passionate about.

Are you familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Read the top of the pyramid sometime. Creative pursuits are a need, not a want. You can't be truly fulfilled without them. Now, maybe for some, CS is a creative pursuit and they can be happy with that, but I don't believe this would be a struggle for you if that were true. I think for you, CS is about esteem and music is about self-actualization, and the reason you are struggling is that you actually need both.

So, rather than quitting, why don't you consider competing only with yourself? Find fulfillment in each new milestone you pass, regardless of how long it takes to get there. And if you have to practice less or progress at a slower rate to find work-life balance, be content with that. The violin is a lifelong pursuit. There is always more to learn and more to play, so you will never be satisfied if you focus on what you cannot do. Instead, learn to enjoy what you can do.

Why learning the violin by yourself might be a bad idea

It is extremely important, if you care about your health as well as your violin-playing skills, that you do not try to learn to play the violin on your own. It will lead to bad habits that will hold you back and set you up for injury. Playing the violin is just as much a physical activity as it is a mental activity, and you have to be aware of what every muscle is doing and establish proper form. Nothing you have learned from playing the piano will transfer.

You also need daily practice, at least five days a week, for the skills you acquire to stick. If you can't manage that, progress will be slow to non-existent because every time you pick up the violin will feel more or less like the first time, and you'll just be spinning your wheels and not really accomplishing anything. If you don't have time for one lesson a week, you don't have time for five practice sessions a week, which means this might not be the right season in your life to tackle the violin.

If what you are actually saying is that you can't set aside the same block of time every week, maybe because of rotating shifts or other responsibilities that don't allow for a consistent schedule, there are ways to work around that. Try video exchange lessons (i.e. online lessons without live meetings with your instructor but with ongoing direct feedback from your instructor) or find a teacher who is ok with the sporadic appointments.

Violins should be purchased by source rather than by brand. Rent or purchase from a shop that specializes in bowed string instruments (generally called a violin shop rather than a music store) and is owned by or employs a luthier who can make sure the instrument is setup properly before you buy it.

Music stores and online retailers tend to sell instruments as the manufacturer ships them in the box, without a luthier inspecting and adjusting them. The manufacturers of even the best beginner instruments are not going to be taking the time to check the setup in the same way a luthier will, nor can they control things that might need adjusting after the instrument is shipped. When you get a violin from a business that doesn't specialize in them, they will charge you as much if not more than a violin shop, and then you have to take it to a luthier and pay for the setup.

Think of it kind of like how you need to have your piano moved and tuned by people who know what they are doing. Buying a violin by brand without concern for the source is equivalent to having your piano moved by a company that moves furniture and then expecting to not have to tune it when it arrives.

Is learning the violin more difficult than learning other instruments?

It's not more difficult than all other instruments, but the violin family as a whole involves more diverse tasks for each hand than a lot of other instruments. This means that you have to limit yourself to simple folk melodies while you build the skills to play more complex pieces. Some adults aren't ok with that and project their own impatience on everyone else. They don't like the slow learning process and so assume that no adult or perhaps even no person would actually enjoy it. Then people who have never even tried get wind of it and the trials of learning to play the violin get inflated.

Here's what's actually true:

People of all ages can learn to play the violin, but it's time consuming. Children and retired adults often go further because they have more time, but in my experience young adults initially learn faster than any other age group.

There are no prerequisites to playing the violin. Who cares what you are used to.

It takes a lot of work, but everything builds on what you already know. By the time you get to the really hard stuff, it will just be about taking the next step, and you will be so committed if you make it that far that you will no longer care about how hard it is.

The violin is an expensive instrument to learn, own, and maintain. However, there are violin shops that make it easier for you, if you have one locally or can find one online that serves your region. If you can get a rental program that gives you credit toward owning an instrument and takes your old instrument in trade toward upgrades, it will reduce your expenses significantly.

You will need to take lessons, and you will need to set aside daily practice time, or at least five days a week, because even as a hobby, violin skills don't stick if you only play sporadically.

If you're serious about learning how to sing, I recommend you check out this fabulous masterclass by Christina Aguilera:

  1. Buy a solid book on theory and practice.

  2. Matching pitch. Play a note and match it with your voice.

  3. Work on your breathing and posture. http://youtu.be/PJzflvDTWno

  4. Understand your vocal range and vocal register. http://lifehacker.com/find-your-vocal-range-in-2-minutes-with-this-video-1652758850

  5. Practice. Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. Sing while doing house chores. Go to Karaoke. Join a choir. Try out different types of music and singing styles but be careful not to stretch your vocal range too far out of its comfort zone because you can damage your voice.

  6. Get on Masterclass.

Quick guide on learning how to sing

The great news here is that you have the ONE THING you need to be a good singer: interest.

Pitch, like everything else, is a learned skill.

Lessons can help you learn how to optimally use your voice. Yeah, some people might have some sort of structural situation with their body that impacts certain aspects of their voice for the better (like it would be hard to be a professional basketball player if you were 4'9"), but in general, it's ALL LEARNED.

Even people who are considered to be "magical geniuses" like Mozart just appear to be that way because of very intense training from early childhood, or have musical parents (which often translates to early exposure and training). As a person who had neither of these things, and had to learn it all myself, I can tell you that it 10000% can be done.

For fun, here's some interesting info. A recent study of people with "perfect pitch" revealed that every person with "perfect pitch" had some sort of training as a young child. Also, people born in countries with tonal languages (where pitch determines the meaning of words) were even more likely to have perfect pitch. Also, studies have been done in which 100% of the subjects were able to gain perfect pitch of individual notes within 1 1/2 years of only being taught to hear chords. The study was done on children, but adults can definitely learn to match their voices to the center of a pitch.

Professional voice lessons will totally help you. If you can't afford them, look around in your city for the best choir and talk to them about options. Singing in a really good choir can also help! You're taught to listen and match pitch to the piano/orchestra and the people around you.

As for the quality of your voice, a professional can help you to find the special aspects (everyone has them). It took me a long time to realize that my voice wasn't bad, but actually was really pretty. I was wanting it to be a belty broadway voice (which I've learned to do in short stints), but that my real skill is in light, beautiful and technical singing. I also have a much higher range than I thought. Now that I'm not trying to belt out a show-stopper all the time, I can focus on the stuff that I can excel at and I'm loving it!

Welcome to the singing club! We're glad to have you here!

What books about singing would you recommend?

Advanced Harmony: The author gives his students tips on the styles of composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as post-tonal composers up to serialism. He also gives better instructions in some areas of tonality where I think Aldwell and Schachter are missing. Again, this text is somewhat old and does not even go back to the mid-20th century, it does not include jazz.

Harmony and Voice-Leading: Essentially a basic text for harmony in most universities and conservatories today. The only issue I have with this book is that it is sometimes a bit too complex and difficult for many to understand. That said, it is a book to learn how to write parts; it doesn't really focus on many other kinds of harmony, including keyboard harmony, and it doesn't go beyond tonal harmony in its instructions.

Melodia: Unlike most other authors, Cole and Lewis start early on with modulation on related keys with a step motion, and then with modulation on more foreign keys - again with a step motion. Only then do they begin to introduce jumps to the student, who will experience the singing accidentals within a single key.

A Handbook of Diction for Singers: An amazing book for diction in the "big 3" singing languages; although written from the perspective of an American English speaker, it is still easy to use by other English speakers.

The Study of Counterpoint: Before students try their hand at writing parts and harmony of the keys, I think it is important to master the genre counterpoint. This is a text that has been used for hundreds of years, and learning from Fux you read from the same text that Leopold Mozart taught his son.

How you can teach yourself to sing

  1. Singing in the car is amazing. First-rate way to warm up, learn music, and practice exercises. If you have access to a DAW (even Garage Band is great) and the capability, you can even cut together compilations of the stuff you wanna practice. Karaoke tracks, exercises, even affirmations. =)
  2. Recording yourself is a MUST. It kinda blows my mind that singers at the turn of the century got so good without readily accessible recording technology. Ultimately, the point of training is to exercise deeper levels of control over your tone in a variety of contexts, and hearing what other people hear through recording yourself is absolutely invaluable to that.
  3. Normally I wouldn't advise this, but if you're not on an aggressive performing schedule, I would push and fuck around with my voice in ways that I'm sure most voice teachers would hate, but it really taught me to use my breath in the aggressive, unchained way that you need to be able to do to really do anything impressive.
  4. I copied the CRAP out of singers I liked. My voice worked with Queen tunes, so I just set out to imitate Freddie. Got good enough that I sang for a Queen cover band for a while and got asked to do a show where I'd get to play him (that ball is in the arranger/producer's court at the moment).
  5. Challenge yourself. Do stuff that seems hard or uncomfortable. I'm a guy but I used to like to try and sing Whitney Houston songs in the original key. Sounded like shit, but I did it, and I think it helped.
  6. Basically, just sing a lot and pay attention to what you like and don't like about your sound.

How can somebody who hasn't sung in their life learn to sing in tune?

Just play a note on the piano, and try to reproduce the note perfectly (use a tenor to see if you're hitting the right note). When you'll get use to, try to play random combination of notes on the piano then try to reproduce it. Do it every day, and you'll be amazed by the result, you'll be absolutely on pitch.

I used to do that, now i have a good sense of pitch, i can tell if i'm hitting the right notes and if i'm off of tune. I even kinda memorized the note and can approximatively guess a note that I sing by a semitone.

Can you learn singing well without real-life lessons?

Here's my take on this. If you want to improve your singing without personal voice lessons, I recommend joining a choir with a strict choir director. They will pull you out and tell you what you need to do to sing safely like aligning and lessening throat singing.

If you want to pursue singing, then you should get a personal vocal teacher so they can teach you. Sure online videos can help, but learning singing in real life is better.

I highly recommend a teacher because reading can only do so much. You have to be extremely careful because nodes are not hard to get. With that said, go to singwise.com. Karyn is a badass who knows all the science behind it, and she even has a youtube channel with a lot of material there. She also gives skype lessons so theres that.

Again, please be careful, and also do not raise your larynx when you raise your pitch. I am currently recovering from nodes because of that right now. Discover the laryngeal tilt and develop healthy head voice musculature, and do not press your phonation. Basically, just read everything on singwise.com. Every last bit. And then see if a trained singer can give you pointers in person for free every now and then. Good luck!

How to know if you're tone-deaf

It's actually called amusia.


Take that test and find out if you're amusic/ actually tone deaf.

If you're not you can definitely learn to sing. I think what the person above you is saying is that, EVERYONE (unless you have amusia,) can sing on key - however only certain people have a voice that people would enjoy listening to. And to be honest I don't agree with that sentiment, as long as you don't sound like you've smoked 50 packs of cigs a day and have no teeth, then you're going to find people who will enjoy your singing/ unique voice. Just maybe don't put all your eggs in the singing as a career basket.

What kind of singing registers are there?

Vocal science says that there are three registers; fry, modal, and whistle/flageolet. Fry is achieved by bringing the arytenoid cartilages together in a way that compacts the vocal cords and allows tiny bubbles of air to escape. Modal is the "natural" phonation method, whereby the singer lengthens the vocal cords and thins the edges of them that meet each other more as the pitch climbs higher.

Flageolet/whistle is when the singer stiffens the cords and blows through them like a whistle. Registers within modal (falsetto, chest, head, mix) are simply the result of singing with a piece of proper modal phonation missing or incomplete. Chest is a failure to thin the contact point of the vibrating cords while still achieving full adduction. Falsetto is incomplete adduction. Mix and head would be variants of these two factors combined.

Your concept of it is really really common though, and is a perfectly reasonable way to learn how to sing. Voice is full of weird shit like that. Lots of mental concepts that have no basis in the science but work anyway to get students making attractive, healthy sounds. As I learn more about voice science, though, these shorthands start to make a lot more sense.

The reason the concept of blending registers works, for example, is that most people have a much easier time creating a relaxed vocal tract when singing with incomplete adduction, so the idea of gently pulling an adducted chest voice into a relaxed falsetto (or pulling a relaxed falsetto down into a chest sound) is often a great way for a student to fully "get their cords together" without tensing up as they climb higher.

How to improve you're singing when you've stopped progressing

You hit a roof. Same thing is happening with my guitar playing right now. I just feel like I'm doing the same things over and over again, and I'm not actually getting better. And it really sucks. And the worst part? The only solution is to keep at it. You've just got to keep going to your lessons and keep practicing. It sounds like you've already gotten a lot better. Give it another six months and you're going to realize you're way better than you were half a year ago, and nearly unrecognizable from the way you were when you first started.

I would recommend going to a vocal teacher if you really want to bring your singing to the next level. Again, to reference my guitar playing, I did the same, and it really helped me out. Still, it won't be an immediate thing, but if you do decide to get a teacher, you should see results pretty quickly, especially if you're in a rut right now.

Don't be so hard on yourself. The fact that you know the areas you need to improve on and even an idea on whats hindering you and how to fix it means you're already on your way to getting better at singing. But, and sorry if it sounds like I'm nagging, that desire to achieve a certain level of singing before you go to a teacher is something that is holding you back. Why? Because, chances are, you'll never achieve that 'certain level'.

Whenever you get to the level you were aiming for originally, you'll say 'I can get a bit better' or 'I'm still not good enough' and you aim for a next level on your own. Rinse and repeat. What you've got to realize is there are very few professional vocal teachers out there who haven't experienced just about every level of student, from full blown operatic singers who just want to fine tune a few things, to beginners who can't sing in anything other than the chest.

You already have an advantage over them, what with being able to sing in different registers and do a smooth bridge. While it's up to you to decide what you want to do, I would highly recommend just taking a lesson or two to see what the teacher is like and to get some feedback. And if you like it, great. If you don't, then there's no need to keep on with that teacher. You can find a different one or continue with singing by yourself. Food for thought.

Here's some helpful things I learned along the way:

  1. Sustain vowels only.

  2. Practice producing consonant sounds with as little tension as possible.

  3. Singing the right note is more important than timbre.

  4. Sustain the note a little longer than you think you need to and don't let the pitch fall off at the end.

  5. Also males have a harder time because their voice changes. Im in my thirties and it still seems to get deeper every year.

My story of learning how to sing

I was trying to hit on a girl who was going to choir. She said it's a beginners choir and the choir master would tell me how to sing, so it didn't matter that I had never sung before.

So we arrive, I do the tryouts with the choir master and she says this:

That was horrible. Sorry, you have a nice voice actually, but this was just terrible, you didn't hit a single note. You don't really have any talent either. I could work with you because of the voice, but this was just really bad.

This mixture of "nice voice" and "my ears are bleeding because you sang so wrong" continued for the next 5 minutes. Weird lady, I thought.

Yes. I checked the clock.

I ended up falling in love with her best friend, who also loves singing. I downloaded some app which teaches you relative pitch, and a tuner app to practice the solfege. After 3 months practice I signed up for singing lessons and got far enough now with half a year of practice that I can at least sing along right-ish.

Yes you can learn how to sing. Just practice every day. It does get easier and better. But you have to do it consistently.