For time immemorial humans have classified music as one style or another. But it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that pop culture led to a proliferation of musical genres. Today, if we look at a genre like Electronic Dance Music, its sub-genres are so extensive that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the many different types, from ambient dub to UK funky. Not only do these different sub-genres sound different, but they inspire different kinds of crowds at concerts, with different activities typically associated with their music.
At a certain point, though, we have to wonder. Are these genres really worth of differentiation? Do kids taking guitar lessons really want to grow up to play Nu-gaze? Maybe. But it’s more likely that the media and record labels put adjectives on bands and artists in order to define and sell their music.
Genre as a Rule, and an Exception
That said, there are other bands who take a genre and completely own it, becoming representative of that kind of music. What would Heavy Metal be without Metallica, or Chillwave without Washed Out? Some of the best bands upend a genre by starting out as representing their genre, only to add more to their repertoire as they grow artistically. The result is that these bands expand the boundaries of what kind of music they (and their associated genre) can create and represent.
In this sense, genre can be a starting point, especially for young artists entering their first band, or taking more advanced lessons in NYC. Say, if you want to specialize in playing blues guitar, playing blues scales is a great way to begin. If you’re truly serious about being a blues guitarist and you find yourself in a band, releasing albums, there may come a point where you define your music based on what you perceive as the limits of the genre of blues, which to others may be far outside what they had previously considered representative of a style associated with pentatonic scales. But ultimately that’s what it means to be an artist—to expand boundaries and present different viewpoints. So keep playing, and don’t let genre dictate what kind of music you play, unless, of course, you’re just starting and you need a marker to begin.
So you’ve been taking lessons on the guitar for a few months now, and you’re finally starting to get the hang of things. You practice regularly, you’re careful about your technique, maybe you’ve even convinced your instructor to let you learn a few of your favorite songs.
However, there’s always an aspect to any instrument that nobody tells you about and you have to learn on your own. Here’s a few quick tips that will help you see drastic improvements.
1. Change you guitar strings regularly
Those strings get worn down from all that guitar shredding. Some people swear by changing the strings once a month, but if you manage to change them out once every 3 months or so, you should be fine. Learn how to do it yourself (it’s easier than you think!).
2. Warm up before you play!
Just like runners need to stretch before they hit the pavement, you should be warming up your fingers before you delve into your daily rundown of guitar solos. Go through chord progressions over and over to get your fingers loosened. My guitar teacher used to take the first 20 minutes of class warming up with chord progressions. Sometimes I wanted to hit him over the head with my guitar because of it. Now, I realize the value in it when I can stretch my fingers to hit the high notes.
3. Get some musical background
How can you expect to ever be an expert at something if you don’t know the basic knowledge behind it? Taking some music theory courses or reading some music history books will transform you from guitarist to musician. It’s going to take a while to get the ins and outs of it, but once you start to truly understand music, you won’t just be playing songs anymore.
4. Let other people hear you
I get it, playing in front of other people can be scary. Playing WITH other people can be even scarier. However, anyone who plays an instrument knows that everyone is always at different skill levels. Let people know you’re learning and are just looking ot jam, and get feedback from those who are willing to listen to you play. That is why you’re taking guitar lessons in the first place, right? So people can hear your wonderful music? Then get out there and share some tunes with the world!
5. Record yourself
Sometimes you just need to hear it for yourself. You can’t really know how you’re sounding if you’re focused too much on just trying to get through the song. Record yourself and play it back. It will be very enlightening. You can gauge if you speed up when you play (most of us do), how smooth your transitions are, if you’re playing the song the way you think you are in your head. Nothing helps improvement like personal insight.
If you live in New York and want to take guitar lessons, it’s probably to learn how to play your favorite songs. Right? But did you know that there are other benefits to guitar lessons? Learning about tonics, quarter notes, rhythm draw on different parts of the brain. A musical instrument can make you an overall better person, giving you and those around you greater happiness. Don’t believe me? Read on.
Like most studies, music has its own specific vocabulary. For example, a scale is made up of individual notes, or degrees. The first degree is the tonic, also known as the tonal resolution. In a C scale for example, the tonic is C. Based on a note’s distance from its tonic, it will sound good or bad. The fifth note is known as a dominant, and is second in importance to the tonic. When you move from any tonic to that tonic’s dominant note, it will always sound good. In a C scale, the dominant note is G. In a D scale, the dominant note is A. On guitar, a C chord is composed of a tonic note, dominant note, and mediant note, the third note in a scale, in this case an E. Therefore, in relation to any tonic, the third and fifth notes will always sound good. Figuring out which notes work for which tonic is an exercise in math.
A quarter note is one quarter of a whole note. While some musicians refer to a quarter note as a beat, this isn’t always the case, since a beat depends on the time signature. For example, any time the signature is other than 4/4, a quarter note is not a beat. There are also eighth notes, sixteenth notes, even 32nd notes, if you’re playing a gnarly guitar solo.
Get rhythm, when you get the blues. I.e., dance. According to Wikipedia, rhythm is a “movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions.” In terms of guitar lessons, I think of rhythm when I think of strum pattern. Up down down up, down up down up, up up down, the variations are many.
When I took guitar lessons in NYC, my teacher would tell me to open up every practice session with five minutes on chord changes, five minutes on scales, and five minutes on strum patterns before moving into the meat of my practice. With that in mind, I would try to focus on strum rhythm by playing with a metronome. This can also help the timing of scales and chord changes and will make you feel more comfortable playing in front of people and with others if you want to join a band one day.
Music may not make you smarter, but it definitely doesn’t make you dumber. If you’ve ever felt tears in your eyes or gotten chills while listening to music, you know its power. Feeling down and being able to play your favorite song is a sure-fire way to forget your problems. When it comes down to it, learning how to play an instrument is part of what makes someone well-rounded, no matter if you’re covering music theory or trying to dance to a beat.
Everyone has a band or musician that they hold in higher regard than all other artists. You expect perfection out of this person who has touched your life with their music. We often get people coming to us looking for piano classes in the city (or any instrument, for that matter), wanting to emulate their favorite artists.
Inevitably, said artist will one day do something that shatters your illusion of them. Maybe they snubbed you for an autograph after you waited hours for them after their show, maybe you hear they’re collaborating with Nicki Minaj, or maybe they decide to make a country album when they’ve always been rock. Whatever the case may be, there are always three distinct complaints people have when their favorite artist, in their mind, screws up.
1. Their newest album sounds nothing like their old stuff
Nobody wants to sit around doing the same thing over and over his or her whole life. Routine can be good, but not when it pigeonholes you into a lifestyle that you don’t enjoy.
You don’t want to be forced to churn out the same work for the rest of YOUR life, so why should your favorite artist?
Eventually, people want to take risks. They want to go in a whole new direction, despite what people are telling them is the right thing for them to do. Nobody ever remembered the person who never progressed as a person and artist. If you’re expecting your favorite band to never branch out and explore different genres, then you’re eventually going to get bored of them, and so will everyone else. It’s up to the band to continually “wow” their audience, reach new fans, and explore their own capabilities.
2. They got too popular
It’s never a band’s goal to do underground shows its whole life in the hopes that they never play to a crowd larger than 100 people. If your favorite band or artist sees success, than that means that they are doing something right, and other people are lauding them for it.
Yes, you might have to catch them at a larger venue next time they come around, but remember that this is probably what they wanted in the first place. When you start taking piano lessons in NYC, isn’t your ultimate goal to, one day, dazzle Carnegie Hall with your musical gifts?
Getting popular is entirely different than “selling out.” Selling out entails abandoning your original creative ideas as a band in favor of what someone tells you to do so you’ll make money.
However, there ARE bands whose goal is just to make money, and its unfortunate to realize that your favorite band was one of them. But getting popular for making good music is an entirely different issue. Be happy that the music you fell in love with is also resonating with such a large body of people. If you’ve ever told someone to listen to that band or artist, their ensuing fame is all your hard work paying off.
3. They don’t care about their fans
It’s easy to think you know an artist or band on a personal level when you connect so deeply with their music. It’s hard to make the distinction that, in reality, you know absolutely nothing about the person behind the music. It’s also hard to accept that they are, in fact, human. Just like you.
It’s easy to write off an artist forever if you meet them and they’re not-so-friendly, or you hear about their insane antics in a news article or magazine. But you can never truly know what they experienced to lead up to that event. Magazines need stories and will spin them whatever way they need to sell papers. Maybe your favorite singer was having a horrible day and simply didn’t want to be bothered. You’ll never know.
Drawing a line between a person and the way they portray themselves through their art is the toughest part of being a fan, and it’s hard to not take a bad interaction personally. But, just like every other human on the planet, they have pressing concerns that stem beyond their job. The only difference is they don’t get to have a bad day without someone posting about it all over the Internet.
Lessons are crucial to playing violin confidently, but there are other ways you can boost your violin skills outside of that one hour a week.
The most obvious is through practice. Half an hour a day is standard, but if you find yourself only doing that a few times a week, the problem may be your schedule. Try to play at the same time each day to stay motivated. That way if you practice every evening at 8 o’clock, you’ll feel like you’re missing something if you don’t. Another good way to get in the mood for your violin training session is by playing one of your favorite movements from that violin concerto that’s been stuck in your head.
Listen to violin music
The best way to get excited about violin lessons in NYC is to have a piece you really want to play. For those of you unfamiliar with violin concertos, here are a few of the best:
Any of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Bach’s Violin Concertos in A Minor and E Major
Mozart’s Concerto 3 in G Major, No. 4 in D Major, and No. 5 in A Major
Louis Spohr’s Violin Concerto 8 in A Minor
Beethoven’s Concerto in D Major
Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor
Max Bruch Concerto No. 1 in G Minor
Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 in A Minor
Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major
Paganini Violin Concerto in D Major
Camille Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor
Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole Op 21
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major
Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D Minor
Dvorak Violin Concerto in A Minor
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major
Other Tips to Prepare for Your NYC Violin Lessons
This list of 16 concertos should be enough to get any young violin player interested in learning a specific piece of music. Parents reading this should help their kids stay motivated by buying this music and playing it in the car so that it becomes familiar. Once a piece becomes familiar enough to hum, you’ll be surprised at how much more your kids will want to practice. That allows them to create the very music they want to play, while staying relaxed and playing with emotion.
New York Opera Exchange Presents
May 7, 9, 10, 16 at 7:30PM
May 11, 18 at 3:00PM
Verdi’s La Traviata
sung in Italian with English supertitles
Featuring the New York Opera Exchange Orchestra And MorDance
Conducted by David Leibowitz
Directed by Jennifer Bushinger and Justin Werner
“Transported to the rubble of post-Mussolini Italy, Verdi’s timeless romance tells the story of an Italian royal turned courtesan and the American soldier she loves so much she has to let go.”
Church of the Covenant
310 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
$30 in advance and at the door.
$10 student rush at the door.
May 7, 10, 16
Violetta: Nadia Petrella
Annina: Kendra Berentsen
Flora: Rachael Braunstein
Alfredo: Jonathan Tetelman
Germont: Charles Hyland
Gastone: Victor Starsky
Baron Duphol: Nicholas Wiggins
Dr. Grenvil: Colin Whiteman
Marchese D’Obigny: Javier Ortiz
Giuseppe: Jon Olson
May 9, 11, 18
Violetta: Samantha Guevrekian
Annina: Amanda Matson
Flora: Ann Louise Glasser
Alfredo: Kyle Van Schoonhoven
Germont: Isaac Grier
Gastone: Joseph Palarca
Baron Duphol: Nicholas Wiggins
Dr. Grenvil: Colin Whiteman
Marchese D’Obigny: Javier Ortiz
Giuseppe: Jon Olson
Covers (May 8)
Violetta: Jessica Thompson
Annina: Julie Norman
Flora: Katherine Wiswell
Alfredo: Lindell O. Carter
Germont: Roberto Borgatti
Gastone: Adam Fieldson
Baron Duphol: Stephan Holden-Corbett
Marchese D’Obigny: Blake Burroughs
Giuseppe: Brandon Martin
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One of our amazing teachers, Alon Nechustan, will be playing with his jazz quartet on April 26. Be there!
Where: Why Not Jazz, 14 Christopher Street, New York, NY (right off 6th Avenue), downstairs
Who: Featuring Alon Nechustan, Greg Ward, Francois Moutin, and Shareef Taheer – a fairly international band
Price: $12 tickets
They will be playing both a new and old selection from Alon’s upcoming new album.
View more info on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/238911636309999/?notif_t=plan_admin_added