Music Lessons - Online Music Lessons

The Benefits of Online Music Lessons

Online music lessons are becoming a good alternative to face-to-face tutorials. Sure, you can find some tutorials on YouTube. However, such tutorials might not be tailored to meet your specific needs. With online lessons, you get a personalized solution to all your music learning needs. You’ll get a one-on-one lesson with an expert teacher through various mediums. This could be through a video call on Google Hangout, Skype, and Apple Face Time. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. You can access online music lessons for as long as you have the interest to learn. Whether you are a seasoned professional or beginner, there is something about these lessons that will suit your needs.

Here are the benefits of taking live music lessons online:

  • Convenience

You can take online music lessons without leaving your home. All you need is a computer with internet connection and your instrument. You will arrange with your instructor when you should log into your FaceTime or Skype account to start your lesson. When you take your lessons from home, there is no need for commuting to and from the class. The scheduling is all about you and what works best for you! It’s even better if you are a parent so you can plan your music lessons around your children’s activities.

  • Freedom to select a teacher

With online lessons, you can get the teacher specializing in the exact thing you want to learn. This is because of the variety of instructors offering live online music lessons. Once you get one, your teacher will make a lesson plan. This will be specifically targeted at your goals and level of expertise. Who knows, you might even get help or advice outside lesson hours through email or instant message!

  • Extensive resources

When you have an online music teacher, you will be guided on the proper software and tools. With these, you are free to continue learning even when you are online. There are many websites where you can get the information you need. Your instructor will be able to guide you on where the best information is. Your instructor should be able to quickly address lesson problems or mistakes by directing you to online messages. When you do it online, you have the freedom to choose the materials that match your interests. You can, therefore, learn more and at your own pace. Online music lessons are available around the clock. Your online music teacher should help you know exactly how to get the maximum benefit out of them.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Learning music online is a sure way of saving you lots of money. Online music teachers charge less than they do for one-on-one lessons. You save the money you would have used commuting to and from music classes. After all, you are learning music from the comfort of your home. Also, you don’t have to buy expensive learning materials or get supplementary equipment from the music school. Computers have microphones and built in webcams so you won’t pay extra buying more equipment.

What are you waiting for? Get set up today at www.musictoyourhome.com!

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Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Viola Lessons

8 Reasons to Choose the Viola

Carrie D.

MTYH Viola teacher Carrie D. has been playing viola since age 6, and she’s pretty passionate when it comes to all things having to do with this cool instrument.  Here are her thoughts on why viola is a great choice for your musical journey:

Want to play the violin but can’t sing that high? Want to play the cello but don’t feel like lugging it around? Here’s a solution for you: viola!

A violin and viola look pretty much the same, so what exactly is the difference? Kindly referred to as a “larger violin” or “smaller cello,” the viola is the perfect choice for many reasons.

 

  1. It’s unique. Not many people start out playing the viola, and so you and your instrument would be one of a kind!
  2. Because the viola is “in between” a violin and cello, it comes in many sizes and lengths for all types of people, tall or short.
  3. Violists get to play violin music, cello music, and our own music. Because of this, you will learn how to read many different clefs, giving you the upper hand in future music theory classes.
  4. Being able to perform a wide variety of instruments’ music also means violists are adept at playing many different genres of music. Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, rock and roll, Broadway, and much more!
  5. Composers today love to write for the viola, and the “new music” scene is an ever-growing part of the current musical community. Some of these pieces may even include electric viola.
  6. Beautiful things are associated with the word “viola:” Viola (the flower), Viola Davis (the actress), Viola Thompson (the baseball player), and even a character named Viola from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.
  7. While lots of musicians are focusing on playing the melody out front, violists get to play the harmony. They are good at supporting and helping other instruments, proving us to be true team players! This also makes the viola a great instrument for people who are shy and like to blend in.
  8. Music to your Home (MTYH) has viola teachers available and excited to start teaching YOU today!

 

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Old & Young Learning The Guitar
Music Lessons

Is There An Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

Music has an indescribable power. It can evoke emotions within a moment, stir a memory with the strike of one chord and bring countless hours of enjoyment, love, laughter and tears.

That is why many people have a desire to learn a musical instrument, yet hold back because of one simple reason; age!

It is not just the upper age limit that can present presumed problems, many parents are keen for their children to start along their musical path, but wonder whether they are too young to get started.

As an experienced music teacher I am keen to share my knowledge and expertise with you as we focus on our burning question; is there an upper or a lower age limit to learning a musical instrument? Let’s take those age limits one at a time.

Is There A Lower Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

Absolutely not! Did you know that you can help your child to take its first steps along its musical journey while it is still in the womb? It is strongly believed that playing music to an unborn child can have a positive impact, in fact, classical music is thought to even improve the intellectual ability of a growing baby, quite a thought!

Once your little bundle of fun has arrived, you will be keen to help that musical journey continue. Evidence suggests that until your child reaches nine years of age, there is a promising window for introducing a musical instrument. Many teachers will not take students until they are at least five years of age. However, this does not mean that your child cannot start to learn before that.

The best way you can help your child to start learning music before he or she reaches an age when they can attend professional music lessons is to expose them to as much music as possible. The aim at this age, is not to introduce them to instruments so that they will master them, but rather to help them develop a relationship and love of music. Even a toddler can fall in love with music!

While a traditional music teacher for a specific instrument may not take students that are very young, you may be able to find a general music class for babies and toddlers. The aim will normally be to help your youngster focus on the music being played, perhaps by swaying to the music, dancing with your baby in your arms or singing or playing music.

As the child grows, perhaps by the age of three, they may be able to attend more formal music lessons, again with a focus on music, rather than a specific instrument.

Once your child is five, they will now have developed a sub-conscious understanding of music, as well as a relationship with it. At this point, you will be in the perfect position to decide which specific instrument your child would enjoy learning. Giving music to your child is certainly one of the finest gifts you could bestow as a parent.

Is There An Upper Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

So we understand that there isn’t a lower age limit to learning music, but what about the upper age limit? I am going to give you the same clear answer as before; absolutely not!

Music is a gift, and anyone who is blessed with the ability to be alive should feel more than welcome to make use of it. That being said, you should be aware of a couple of crucial things you are going to need if you want to start your musical journey later in life.

Patience is a virtue! For youngsters, having youth on their side tends to speed up the learning process. Also, many have a natural musical talent which can be tapped into very well at a young age. Unfortunately, as the years creep up on us, so does the need for extra patience when embarking on a new venture. So long as you are willing to enjoy each step of the journey, you are going to do just fine!

Learning a musical instrument at an older age also requires a commitment to practice. When youngsters learn an instrument, they tend to be already in a learning system. Many are students at school or kindergarten and may also attend other extracurricular lessons. This means their brain is naturally in learning mode. For older music students, it is time to engage the learning part of your brain and give it enough opportunities to practice that progress will become satisfying.

Indeed being able to play a musical instrument is one of the life’s most enchanting pleasures. Remember, age is only a number, and should never be a roadblock in your quest to become a musician, why you can even use it to your advantage!

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Music Being Played in NYC Subway
New York City

How NYC’s Music Scene Has Changed In The Last 20 Years

New York City has long been known for its thriving music scene. Some of the biggest bands in the world came out of New York City, and many bands see playing at Madison Square Garden as a career highlight.

NYC’s music scene is still very strong. With that said, it has gone through a lot of changes in the last 20 years. Here are a few of the ways in which New York has changed:

NYC And Hip Hop

New York City was once one of the most significant cities in the world of hip-hop. A lot of hip-hop artists were able to rise to prominence after successfully releasing mixtapes to the NYC audience.

Now, however, hip-hop doesn’t have the strong presence that it once did. That doesn’t mean that hip-hop has faded away; it is just that other cities are currently a lot more important to hip hop than NYC is.

The Closure Of Important Clubs

A lot of bands became famous after playing some of the Big Apple’s biggest music clubs. CBGB’s might be the primary example of this; the club was strongly associated with bands like The Ramones.

Because of rising rent prices in New York City, a lot of these clubs have had to shut down. Many of the most influential music venues in NYC have had to shut their doors.

Many bands set out with the goal of playing these special venues and were never able to reach that goal.

The Internet

A decade or two ago, a lot of musicians felt like they had to head to a city like New York to make it big. For example, the famed artist Bob Dylan left small-town Minnesota behind to make a career for himself in NYC.

Thanks to the internet, it isn’t necessary for musicians to leave their home to start a career. Instead, a lot of musicians can kickstart their careers online.

There are still a lot of talented people creating music in NYC. However, fewer talented people are motivated to head out to NYC. A lot of people feel like they can accomplish the same kinds of things without having to leave their home.

Changes To The Radio

The radio market has changed dramatically since radio first took off. There has been a great deal of consolidation. A handful of companies now controls most of the radio stations in the country.

This has made it a lot more difficult for artists to break out on radio. If someone at Clear Channel doesn’t like an artist’s music, they are not going to play it. They are only going to play the things that they enjoy.

This has caused a lot of people to stop trying to infiltrate the radio scene. Instead, artists are trying to forge out their careers for themselves.

New York City isn’t necessarily the best place for a project like this. Even if you’re an established musician, being in NYC means that you are going to be a small fish in a very big pond.

Instead, artists are focused on the markets that they can crack. Some artists are trying to build careers for themselves in cities that are smaller, but still very music-focused, like Nashville. Others are primarily concentrating on winning over an internet audience.

The value of being in New York doesn’t want it used to be. A talented band in New York isn’t any more likely to succeed than a talented band in Iowa. In this day and age, both bands have about the same chance of success.

A Focus On Fundamentals

A lot of people have focused on how the music scene in NYC has deteriorated over the last few decades. It is important to remember that the music scene has also strengthened in some ways.

One of the most positive things in the NYC music scene today is the focus on fundamentals. A lot of young musicians aren’t playing by ear or figuring things out as they go like The Ramones did. Instead, these musicians are mastering the instruments that they play.

A lot of students have received music instruction from a very young age. These students have used that instruction to create impressive and incredible music of their own.

It is clear that the NYC music scene has changed dramatically. Some of those changes have been very positive, while others have been fairly negative.

While not everyone loves the ways in which New York has changed, people are always going to appreciate the city’s contributions to the music scene. If you can become a success in a city like New York, then you are going to be able to become a success no matter where you are.

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Musical Thoughts - News

Top Musicians The Industry Lost In 2016

2016 has been quite a tough year for music lovers worldwide since it has witnessed the loss of many top musicians. The year started with the exit of David Bowie, a music maestro in January and much the subsequent deaths of other legends including Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Prince, and others.

Here is a look at the top musicians the music industry lost in 2016 and left us with just beautiful memories.

1. David Bowie

On January 10th, music maestro David Bowie died at age 69 following a long struggle with cancer. Bowie earned fame for such hit songs as Modern Love, China Girl, Under Pressure, Changes, Heroes, Space Oddity, and much more. Bowie was not only a successful musician but also an accomplished actor with roles in movies such as Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

 

2. Prince

On April 21st, the Purple Rain hit-maker known as Prince died at his Minneapolis recording studios aged 57. Throughout his distinguished career, Prince won various accolades and awards including 7 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award for Happy Feetís The Song of the Heart as well as an Academy Award for Purple Rain.

3. Frank Sinatra Jr.

On March 16th, Frank Sinatra passed away at age 72. Frank Sinatra Jr. was the son of Frank Sinatra who was yet another legend. Sinatra Jr. also had an accomplished music career of his own and had a decent career run appearing in close to 20 shows including Family Guy.

4. Leonard Cohen

On November 10th, Canadian musician Leonard Cohen departed aged 82. Leonard was a Grammy Award winner and an accomplished poet and songwriter too. He was best known for his song Hallelujah.

 

5. Sharon Jones

On November 18th, Sharon Jones died in New York aged 60 after struggling with pancreatic cancer. Sharon was an accomplished American soul and funk singer. She was also the lead singer of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.

6. Bobby Vee

On October 24th, Bobby Vee also known as Robert Tomas Velline died aged 73. Bobby gained fame in the early 60ís with hits such as Take Good Care of My Baby.

7. Greg Lake

On December 8th, Greg Lake, an accomplished British songwriter, musician, and singer passed away aged 69. Lake died after struggling with cancer. 21st Century Schizoid Man and In the Court of the Crimson King are some of the songs he will be best remembered for.

8. Leon Russell

On November 13th, Leon Russell, an American pop star died aged 74. Leon had earned quite a reputation as a studio pianist back in the 1980ís. As a studio musician, producer, and songwriter, Leon has collaborated with Ike & Tina Turner, The Ronettes, Sir Elton Jon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and many more.

9. Glenn Frey

On January 17th, Glenn Frey who was a co-founder of Eagles died aged 67 years due to health complications since he was suffering from pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time. Glenn was a guitarist and a co-writer of some of the greatest hits of all time including Hotel California and Desperado.

 

10. Mose Allison

On November 15th, Mose Allison, an accomplished American jazz pianist passed away aged 89. Allison became famous for playing an interesting mix of modern jazz and blues, playing the piano and singing too.

11. Maurice White

Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind, & Fire passed away on February 4th aged 74. Maurice has battled with Parkinsonís disease for a long time before his death.

12. Pete Burns

Pete Burns, the Dead or Alive singer died on October 23rd due to a heart attack aged 57. Pete was a controversial pop star that participated in the reality show titled Celebrity Big Brother.

13. Phife Dawg

On March 23rd, rapper Phife Dawg also known as Malik Taylor died at a very young age. Phife was just 45 at the time of his untimely death. He was a co-founder of the legendary hip-hop group known as A Tribe Called Quest.

14. Paul Kantner

On January 28th, Paul Kantner, a rhythm guitarist and vocalist died aged 74 due to multiple organ failures. His hits such as Somebody to Love and White Rabbit deserve a special mention.

15. Merle Haggard

On April 6th, Merle Haggard died aged 79. Haggard was best known for songs such as Workiní Man Blues and The Okie From Muskogee. Haggard has over 35 number 1 country hits in his illustrious music career.

It is quite clear based on the long list of musical artists who have passed away in 2016 that this year has been the most tragic yet, musically speaking. The 15 artists featured on this list were truly astounding and contributed greatly to the world of music, each in their special way. Each of each of these musicians have also inspired us to teach music lessons to an entire new generation of future artists. What is left is for us to cherish their music because if we do that, we can be sure that their spirits live on among us.

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Piano Decorated With Christmas Lights
Holiday Music

Top 15 Christmas Songs You Can Play On Piano

The festive season will soon be here and whether you are looking to entertain your guests or you have a piano recital coming up, it is time you started learning how to play different songs on the piano.

The 15 songs discussed below are excellent choices that you can include in your repertoire. You will discover that most of the Christmas songs here are rather easy to learn, but if you do get stuck, you can ask your piano tutor for help.

 

Here are 15 Christmas songs to play on the piano

1.     We Wish You A Merry Christmas

One of the easiest Christmas songs that you can learn to play on the piano is “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” It is fairly easy to learn because it consists of a verse then chorus then verse then chorus. It is also a wonderful song to encourage family members or guests to sing along.

 

 

2.     It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

You should really take the time to learn how to play this song since it is quite open and rubato. You can try to play it in several different ways using different tempos. You can even try out a totally different swing/up-tempo version.

3.     Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Frank Sinatra did manage to capture this glorious melody back in the 1940’s. Once you start playing this simple Christmas piano song, you will become accustomed to playing 7ths, octaves, and other intervals that require you to jump and stretch your fingers.

4.     Silent Night

This amazing Christmas tune is a classic that only uses the white keys on the piano. It is great for practicing using a foot and pedal considering that it is an a legato song. For instance, you can practice picking up the foot on those long phrases.

5.     Jingle Bells

If you are looking for the most famous Christmas songs of all times, it would have to be “Jingle Bells.” When you are playing this very famous tune, you should try thinking about the actual jingle bells to ensure that your rhythm stays in time or you could simply practice the song with a metronome.

6.     12 Days of Christmas

While this song might seem like a complicated song because of its many verses, you can easily nail it if you put in the practice since it has just 3 main chords.

7.     Do You Hear What I Hear?

If you would like an amazing song to practice call and response with, you should definitely go for “Do You Hear What I Hear?” In the song, the left hand actually echoes what the right hand is doing during the rhythmic patterns and melody.

 

 

8.     Jolly Old St. Nicholas

If you want a choice of song that consists of just a few notes and is easy to learn, you should choose “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” You can even try changing the dynamics to make the song even more interesting.

9.     Deck The Halls

“Deck The Halls” is an easy piano song you can easily memorize. It starts off with a very catchy hook and then repeats it thrice. “Deck The Halls” is yet another amazing song that you can sing along to with family members or a group of guests.

10.     Away in a Manger

If you want a song that’s easy enough to play on a piano, you should consider choosing “Away in a Manger” since it uses just 8 notes using only the right hand. You can try pushing yourself by playing it using only your left hand.

11.     Let it Snow

If you are in the mood for a popular jazz Christmas tune, you should go for “Let it Snow.” The song is great for practicing held half notes in the bass and 8th notes in the treble clef.

12.     Walking in a Winter Wonderland

You should not be intimidated by this Christmas tune. To memorize it, all you have to do is start by learning the melody and subsequently adding in the chords using your left hand. With enough syncopation practice, you will be playing the song flawlessly in no time at all.

13.     The First Noel

This is a truly amazing holiday song you can use to practice holding notes in the bass with the melody in your right hand. You should try to practice balancing the two out together.

14.     Frosty the Snowman

If you are looking for the perfect holiday song for children than “Frosty the Snowman” would have to be it. To really nail down the melody, you should practice one phrase at a time. Once you master the song, you can have some fun by singing along as you play.

 

15.     Hark the Herald, Angels Sing

“Hark the Herald, Angels Sing” is a lovely Mendelssohn Christmas Carol great for practicing technique and phrasing. Once you master the song, you should consider trying to sing along with it or even adding a simple instrument such as a trumpet, clarinet, flute, or recorder in the mix.


If you would like to learn how to play Christmas songs on the piano, you will find the 15 songs discussed here being excellent choices. If you would like to learn how to play these Christmas songs on the piano, be sure to Contact Us today!

Comment Below: What’s you favorite Christmas song to play on ANY instrument?

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Music Lessons

Looking for music lessons? Here’s what to ask me.

As one of the owners of Music to Your Home, I answer calls all day from potential clients looking for music lessons in NYC. I have a checklist of information I take from a new student that helps me match them up with the perfect teacher. But most people who call me aren’t really sure what to ask, so here are a few questions to ask to make your phone call with me effective and informative.

music_to_your_home_1174

Tracy & Vincent Reina

How many years has your company been in business?
Music to Your Home was started in 2003 by high school music teacher and private piano instructor Vincent Reina. Read more about Vincent and the Music To Your Home story here.

 

How do you hire your teachers?
Vincent and I go through stacks of resumes and hand pick each teacher. They all have a degree in music and many have continued their educations to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees. We personally interview each one of them based on our extremely high standards.

 

 

How long are the lessons?

Lessons are usually 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes. If there’s more than one child, we can tweak the length to make sure each child is getting sufficient time.

How do I pay?
You can mail a check to us or pay via credit card. We don’t ask for payment until after the first lesson.

What’s your registration fee?
Zero. Zilch. Nothing. No up-front fees. Ever.

Do I need to have my own instrument? Can you help me find one?
You definitely need to have your own instrument for the lessons. Our teachers simply can’t lug a keyboard or guitar amp all over the city. We can certainly advise you on the perfect instrument to buy for the young beginner, or for our already accomplished musicians we are educational partners with Steinway and have great incentives for our clients.

What about music? Do you provide?
Our teachers will decide what method books and materials are needed and we can have them shipped right to your door.

How are lessons scheduled?
We are here to accommodate you! Let us know what days and times work best and one of our teachers will contact you to schedule. We also provide weekend lessons.

What if I have to cancel?
We ask for 24 hours advance notice of a cancellation. If you give the teacher enough notice, you won’t be charged for a missed lesson. We do make exceptions if a student gets sick on the day of the lesson. We’d consider that an emergency and would not charge you.

I’m moving, can I continue my lessons?
Let us know where – we have teachers all over! If there’s not a teacher in your area, most of our instructors can do on-line lessons so you can continue studying with our NYC teachers!

Do you have a recital?
Yes! Our recital takes place at the end of the school year and all of our students are welcome to participate.

How are the lessons structured?
We don’t subscribe to one lesson plan. Our students are all unique and have different learning styles, so our instructors teach to the particular student. They will all learn how to read music at their own pace.

What if we want to try a new teacher?
Our teachers are the best in NYC and we’re happy to send a different teacher if you wanted to try out someone else.

Now that you have an idea of some questions to ask,  give me a call to set up a private music lesson right in your home! 646-606-2515

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Musical Thoughts - Piano Lessons

Picking the Right Small Piano For Your NYC Home

id-100249788With many of our piano students living in NYC, I thought it would be useful to talk about finding the right instrument for your city apartment or home. For many of our clients finding enough space for a full size piano can be a real challenge. Here are our recommendations for pianos that will fit in tight spaces.

  • The Williams Allegro Hammer Action Digital Piano: This is a great piano for extremely small spaces. It’s a digital piano so it’s lightweight and easy to move. It can also be put away whenever extra space is needed. I have played this piano and can say that for an entry level keyboard its sounds are very rich and the hammer action of the keys is excellent for an entry level digital piano. Make sure you buy a keyboard stand and have a stool of appropriate height for practice time. The other advantage is that you can plug headphones into it for late night practice sessions.
  • Essex EUP-108C: Let’s talk about acoustic pianos… Whether you are a professional pianist or a child taking piano lessons for the first time, there is nothing like playing on a real acoustic piano. This Essex model piano is one of the most compact and well-made instruments I have seen. The piano is affordable, well designed, plays well and sounds excellent. I had the pleasure of playing one recently and for such a small piano the sound is very big. This piano can fit into very small spaces and as far as pianos go, its super lightweight so it’s easy to move around if you have to. The piano also has a very stylish look that will fit well into any Upper East Side or Tribeca apartment. The best part about this piano is that it’s made by Steinway and Sons so it has all the latest engineering enhancements from their amazing development team at a fraction of the cost of an actual Steinway. This is definitely a great instrument for beginner piano lessons.
  • Boston UP-118E PE: Here’s another great little piano. This one is slightly larger than the Essex but still small enough to fit into almost any room. The design of this instrument is definitely more traditional but the sound and performance is just as good – if not better than the Essex. Also made by Steinway, you are getting the same standards that has made that company famous for many years. Although this piano has a small footprint it is definitely a little heavier than the Essex so moving it around is slightly trickier. Any beginner student or professional would be very happy to own one of these instruments even if space was not an issue.
  • Yamaha M560: This is a really nice piano. It’s definitely compact, so for apartments or small rooms it’s a great instrument. It’s really well made, sounds excellent and in my experience Yamaha pianos are real workhorses and can take a lot of abuse. It has a different sound than the Essex and Boston but all 3 are great when it comes to that experience. The design is very traditional and somewhat ornate. It’s not my favorite piano ascetically but a great instrument nonetheless. The Yamaha is close in size to the Boston but will still fit nicely where space is limited.
  • Steinway 4510 Sheraton: This is my personal favorite of the small pianos. It’s actually smaller than the Yamaha but in my opinion has a bigger sound. It’s also super cool looking and will basically match any décor your home or apartment has. You can use this for beginner piano lessons in your home or it can be used professionally in the world’s best recording studios. It’s compact but maintains that authentic Steinway and Sons sound. The action on this piano is super quick for an upright as well. It’s also handcrafted in the same factory that Steinway grand pianos are made using the same process and craftsmanship. When you sit down and play this you can see it’s solid, sturdy and well-built but extremely artistic and visually appeasing at the same time. You can tell something extra went into this design. If I were learning how to play the piano this instrument would definitely keep me motivated to practice and constantly create.

If you’re someone who is looking for a piano in NYC or anywhere else and have limited space these are my top choices. Choosing the right piano can absolutely make a difference in how you play, practice, learn and create music. These are all winners in my opinion.

Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Guitar Lessons - Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts

When the guitar teacher becomes the student, and other insights from one of our Rock Gods.

Music to Your Home is lucky to be able to work with musicians from around the world, and Alejandro M. comes to us with words of wisdom from Argentina.  Currently he’s a professional guitar player and teacher living the dream and gigging all over NYC.

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Alejando M.

 

1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting guitar lessons for their children?
Alejandro: I’d very much encourage them to do so! Music is a form of expression and a language that allows children to pour out feelings they might be too shy to share otherwise. Once they learn how to play, music is something that will accompany and grow up with and in them throughout the years.
 
2) Why do you think guitar lessons are so popular?
Alejandro:  Perhaps because guitar is a bit more accessible than other instruments. In the sense that with a few weeks practice you might be playing a first round of songs already. As opposed to violin or saxophone for example, that, while amazing instruments, they can be somehow more challenging. We can’t avoid mentioning that the guitar is the instrument most showcased in billboards, commercial adds, etc. being widely associated with pop/rock icons. That weighs in too on some level.
 
3) What is the right age for a child to start taking guitar  lessons?
Alejandro:  I’d say after 10 years old. 
4) How much daily practice time does it take to become a good guitar player?
Alejandro:  There are no magic formulas. All the guys that play guitar really well, or any other instrument for that matter, it’s because they spent time with it. In that sense, I always tell students that it’s much better to practice maybe 10, 15 minutes every day, or every other day, rather than sitting down one day before the lesson and go for hours. Of course, the more time, the better. It’s a skill and needs to be developed regularly.
 
5) Do you incorporate finger exercises and note reading into your lessons?
Alejandro:  Definitely. Technique exercises are fundamental to begin gaining control over the fingers and have them do what you want, not the other way around. Note reading is also a very important aspect of my lessons but unless we’re aiming for classical pieces, I like to introduce the music notation system once we’re already playing some songs. Starting with a lot of theory from scratch in guitar for popular tunes can sometimes turn a bit overwhelming and non musical, in the practical sense.
 
6) What is the most popular style of music your students ask to learn?
Alejandro:  Generally Rock/Pop.
 
7) What do you love about teaching guitar lessons?
Alejandro:  What I love the most is to watch how the student make progress – that can be very satisfying. And I also love the fact that I’m learning too. When you see someone taking their first steps with the guitar, in a way, I rediscover things and look at them from another perspective. When you don’t know, you associate things differently and arrive to different places, right or wrong. Places that perhaps after playing for 17 years I wouldn’t have thought of. 
8) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
Alejandro:  Seeing former students that now have grown up, formed their own bands, performing live, writing their own songs, making their own records and their own musical statements. That’s the full circle, right there.
9) When and where was your most memorable performance?
Alejandro:  The last concert I did in Buenos Aires, in a theater, before moving to NYC. And the first here in New York as well, both very emotional milestones in my career.
 
10) Who are the guitarists that have inspired you?
Alejandro:  Many. But if I had to pick two, I’d go with Wes Montgomery & BB King.
11)What is your favorite type of music to play and what is your favorite guitar.
Alejandro:  Definitely Blues. My favorite guitar is the Fender Telecaster 72′ Custom Series. Or most of the hollow body ones.
12) What do you love about NY and being a musican in NY?
Alejandro:  From the city itself I love the diversity, the melting pot aspect of it. And as a musician I believe that being among such talented people, in every field, you inevitably become better. My songwriting grew a lot in the 4 years I’ve been living here. As an artist you’re a sponge that absorbs everything in your surroundings, and this is a very rich environment to be in.
Alejandro is available for guitar lessons in NYC.  Call us to schedule yours!
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Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Saxophone lessons

The Saxophone: Not just a Shiny Noisemaker!

Jim

Jim P.

Recently, Music to Your Home interviewed Jim P, one of our saxophone teachers and a current gigging musician all over NYC.  Jim indulged our curiosity about his experiences with teaching, playing, learning and inspiring his students. His philosophies on teaching sax lessons in NYC are not to be missed, so read on:

1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting saxophone or other woodwind lessons for their children?

Jim: I would say this about any instrument really, but take the plunge! How often does your child get one on one attention from a highly trained professional working in their field?

I also like the idea of mentorship when it comes to learning music. Having somebody to look up to, imitate, and question is really important. I know the student-mentor relationship has been and continues to be integral for me as I master my craft, and I want to share that experience with others, as well.

2) What is the best woodwind instrument to start young students on?

Jim: This is a really good question – For flute and clarinet players, students should start on their instrument of choice, but for saxophone players, there is some discussion. I know my teachers started me on clarinet before switching to saxophone, because the clarinet requires more technique and control. I also understand the argument for starting students on sax right away – if that’s the instrument they want to play and it’s going to keep them interested and involved in music, then maybe it’s right to skip the clarinet and go right to sax. I think it’s okay to start a young student on saxophone, especially if they’re getting a dedicated lesson time once a week.

3) What are some obstacles that saxophone or clarinet students face when learning how to play and how can they be overcome?

Jim: I think a lot of it is just patience – with yourself and with the instrument. When you pick up a woodwind for the first time it can feel very awkward. You’re shoving a hunk of metal and wood and rubber into your face and it has all these buttons and levers and you can’t see what you’re doing with it.

Our modern culture in a lot of ways is centered on ease of use – if we can’t operate a new phone or app within two minutes we give up. Saxophone, and other woodwinds, they’re different. They take patience and perseverance. You have to pace yourself, and give yourself time to grow and learn.

4) How much daily practice time does a beginner need to realize steady progress and become a proficient player?

Jim: The short answer? About 15 minutes. With beginning students, getting acclimated and adjusted to the instrument is essential, and usually about 15 minutes of daily, uninterrupted, focused practice will help with that acclimation and learning the fundamentals of playing. There is also a lot going on with the muscles of your face and hands as you start a new instrument, and you don’t want to over extend yourself.

Depending on the student and their goals on the instrument, 15 minutes can expand into longer periods in the first weeks or months. Personally, I think about my own practice from a more goal-orientated perspective, but for a lot of students, timing their practice is very helpful.

5) What benefits outside of music can come from learning the saxophone?

Jim: Well I was talking about the patience aspect earlier, and I really think that’s huge. When I pick up a horn it can be very meditative for me. Working slowly on difficult passages, while it stresses some people out, really helps me to slow down and think about my problems methodically.

Beyond that, I mean you could go through a ton of benefits that studies attribute to studying music. Improved test scores and all of that. Problem solving skills, motor skills, spatial skills, learning a new language, they all come into play when you’re learning music, and in real time. To me, when people talk about that stuff, what they’re getting at is that studying music (or really any other art) helps you to become a more complete person.

6) What do you love about teaching and being a performer in NYC?

Jim: My favorite part about teaching and playing in New York is the people that I meet and work with, without a doubt. The people I know on Music To Your Home’s teacher list are great examples – Lena H. (woodwinds), Manuel S. (piano), Daan K. (guitar), Tim T. (drums), Owen B. (woodwinds). These men and women aren’t just formidable musicians, but amazing and inspiring people to be around. Honestly, they are the reason I work so hard to be the best musician and person I can be.

7) What was your most memorable teaching experience?

Jim: I was working with a student when I lived in the Midwest. He and I basically started together while he was in middle school, and we had a really good rapport all the way through high school. When I moved to New York we stopped working together, but we kept in touch. When he did his first solo recital as a high school senior he wrote a very heartfelt thank you to me in the program – knowing that I couldn’t be at the performance and that I would probably never read it myself. An old professor of mine actually sent me a picture – I’m not actually sure that the student ever knew I read his thank you. I think about that to this day, and how much of an impact a teacher can have on his or her students, and vice versa, and how cool that can be.

8) When and where was your most memorable performance?

Jim: This is a really difficult question – the “big” performances either featuring my music or at important venues or with important people, they’re memorable in their own way, but the performances I really cherish are the times that the music was really happening.   I remember one time specifically, we were playing with this jazz-funk band at this dive – and for whatever reason, the whole band just clicked. We opened up to all these new territories and opportunities; it was like everything was brand new. It was really a beautiful moment. And even though we were on this little stage with only a handful of people in the audience, everyone was laughing and smiling by the end. Those are the moments I really live for as a performer.

9) Who are you musical influences?

Jim: I probably have too many to list. For jazz; Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Warne Marsh, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, and Mark Turner are just a few of my favorites on a long and ever-growing list.

For more rock or funk influenced music (because I end up playing a lot of it) I look to Maceo Parker, Lennie Pickett, John Scofield, and Kenny Garrett for inspiration.

saxophone10) Do you have a preferred woodwind method book for beginner students?

Jim: The Standard of Excellence series by Bruce Pearson or the Rubank books are my favorite methods for people just starting out. There are some great jazz methods by Lennie Niehaus and Jim Sniedero I really like once the student has some faculty on the instrument.

I also use a lot of my own material in my teaching – not only do I work on pedagogical material for all my students’ benefit, but I like writing stuff for individuals as well. I think about teaching – especially one on one lessons – as a two way street. There are a lot of ways to solve a problem; why not cultivate an individual’s problem-solving capabilities instead of just telling them what’s “right” and what’s “wrong?” In this way, we’re learning how to be human beings and artists instead of just pushing buttons on a shiny noisemaker. Plus it’s just way more fun.

 

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