When I was a kid I took lessons in NYC. I learned all the basics and I wasn’t half bad. I would play for my parents, who would watch me move from the songs I was learning to a freestyle, bow-rubbing frenzy. Honestly I didn’t practice enough, but I did get used to my violin for about twenty minutes a day.
I liked violin well enough, and my violin lesson instructor was very skilled. She knew how to get me excited about going home to practice, but something was off. I didn’t love playing violin.
By the end of the year I told her I wanted to switch instruments, to something louder and more vivacious. I wanted a brass or a woodwind instrument. I decided on clarinet. My teacher protested, saying that if I quit now for another instrument I’d never come back. She gave me an old LP that describes the tragedy of a young girl switching instruments for louder better, more interesting instruments. The girl moved through the entire orchestra, only to give up entirely on playing music.
Sure enough, the wet reeds and the honky blow of clarinet disappointed me too. By the end of the following year I had dropped it too. It wasn’t until years later that I picked music back up. I realized that what I had really wanted the entire time was to play guitar. I took guitar lessons and found that because I was able to play songs I recognized that weren’t just nursery rhyme songs like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’ I could get excited about practicing every day.
Seven years later I still take guitar lessons in NYC. I only wished I had started playing guitar when I was younger by being honest with myself, and thinking more about what kind of music I liked, rather than the kind of music I was supposed to play.
Violin wasn’t right for me, but that’s not to say that it isn’t right for others. Playing Bach or Vivaldi on violin requires more skill than strumming three chords on guitar, and for that reason, I imagine it to be much more rewarding. The advice I want to give is: Be honest with yourself when deciding what instrument you want to play. You’re going to have to stick with it for a while.
Whether you’re starting NYC guitar lessons or you’ve been taking them for a while, you may be thinking about getting a new guitar. A few weeks back we guided you through the best options for electric guitars, but if you want to stay traditional, you have two main choices.
Classical vs. Acoustic
Classical guitars are the original guitars. Their necks are thicker, they use thicker nylon strings, the neck meets the body at the 12th fret (so fewer chances for solos), and their bodies are slightly smaller. Acoustic guitars have thinner, steel strings, the neck meets the body at the 14th fret, and their bodies can be much larger for a bigger, more resonant sound.
Typically classical guitars are used to play classical music, while acoustic guitars are better for folk songs, rock, and blues. Classical guitars can be cheaper than acoustic, so in a sense they can be good if you haven’t yet taken NYC guitar lessons and you don’t know if guitar is something you want to stick with for a long time.
Fingerpicking has a lot of styles, though it’s traditionally associated with classical guitar, since in the days of yore, plectrums, or picks, didn’t exist. In most fingerpicking scores, the finger is indicated by letters that refer to the Spanish word for finger, p being thumb, i for index, m middle, a for ring, and c or e is pinky. Traditional classical styles include: i-m-i-m-im; i-m-a-i-m-a; p-a-m-i-p-a-m-i.
North American fingerpicking styles typically use the thumb to play the three bass strings and the other fingers to play the higher strings. The result is a bluesy sound that has its roots in African-American blues players trying to imitate the ragtime sound popular at the end of the 19th century. Today, it’s almost a standard style for acoustic guitar fingerpicking.
Ultimately, the kind of guitar you choose will impact how the kind of music you play. Having taken NYC guitar lessons in the past will definitely help you if you’re looking to buy your first guitar or your second!
The blues evolved from the fields around the Mississippi River, from the songs slaves used to sing while they dealt with the hardships of their lives. But by the early 20th century, these songs transformed from vocal gospels to instrument-heavy licks and musical phrases. You can play the blues during your guitar and piano lessons in NYC, and also between lessons at home, thanks to online videos and tips like this one.
The 12 bar blues makes use of three lines of four bars. At the end of a series of 12 bars, there’s usually a turnaround, often the four notes leading to the resolution chord. So if your chord progression is AAAA/EEAA/DEA—, the dash is a resolution of four individual notes leading to the root chord, in this case, A.
Blues on Guitar vs. Piano
Is it easier to play blues on piano or guitar? This is a complicated question. While piano is easier in some respects, guitar has its own reasons for being tricky. On piano one hand usually plays a melody or chords while the other plays another. While the piano is linear and more expansive, when it comes to blues, it may be easier to transpose the sequence of notes up and down the fretboard than play multiple chords with two different hands. Or maybe not. Below is a video that can help you prepare for your blues piano lessons. After some practice tell us what your experience was like in the comments.
When it comes to blues on the guitar, the fact that you have six differently tuned strings makes it possible to create the same chord in a number of different ways. Depending how you transpose a chord on the fretboard and how you play it, each version will sound slightly different. On a piano, the same chord is played the same way up and down the keyboard.
Another difficulty of guitar is the different sounds you can make, such as slides, hammer-ons, and bends, all of which are frequently used in blues, and which can be hard for beginners to get used to. Because blues is based on certain patterns, it’s probably easier to learn to play them on piano, since the notes are all linear and can only be played a fixed number of ways. Perhaps this is why blues has flourished on guitar, since it allows so much variation, from the way strings are picked to the pressure you place on each string, to the different sounds you can make by manipulating or tuning each string.
Piano Harder Classically
That said, piano offers more opportunity in classical music, since the majority of classical music is written for piano, and can be very complex. Difficulties arise from the music itself rather than the instrument, as in the case of guitar as you will see in certain bar chords. Here’s a video for beginners to gain a sense of whether they want to play the blues at their next guitar lesson.
Let’s start out by saying that Ludwig Van Beethoven was one of the world’s most talented pianists and composers. Almost everyone on the planet has heard one of Beethoven’s piano pieces or symphonies at some point in their lives, and if you’re looking to take NYC piano lessons, you probably know him even better. Although Beethoven was considered a musical genius he spent thousands of hours practicing his piano skills as a child and even had many piano teachers including another famous musical genius – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
So how can you learn to play Beethoven the right way?
Step One: Find the right instructor
Besides having a piano and two hands, the first thing you need is a great teacher for your NYC piano lessons. A great instructor will start by teaching you how to read notation on both treble and bass clefs. Next you will need to learn your finger numbers and rhythms. Scales and arpeggios will also help build good finger technique and strength. A little sight reading every day will also help you read all those amazing Beethoven scores a lot faster.
Step Two: Start small and grow
Once you have completed a good method book like Alfred or Faber, its time to move on to some simple classical pieces. One of the books we use for NYC piano lessons is From Bach to Bartok volume A., which features some really easy pieces by Beethoven.
By learning a Bagatelle or German Dance by Beethoven you start picking up excellent musical techniques like dynamics and articulation that will eventually lead you to bigger more famous pieces like Fur Elise or the Moonlight Sonata.
Step Three: Practice, Practice, Practice
Keeping to a steady lesson and practice schedule with your piano teacher is always the best way to achieve the most results when trying to learn to play like a pro. At the beginning, a thirty minute practice session will help you play those simple Beethoven pieces nicely, but when trying to learn some of the great piano Sonatas – one hour a day is best.
Hopefully, listening to these masterpieces by Beethoven will inspire you to continue or start with your NYC piano lessons and get you playing like, well, Beethoven!
P.S. the girl playing the Moonlight Sonata is one of our students!
If you’ve ever felt alone, sad, or angry, you probably remember it as a time of silence. On the other hand, think of your best times, when you felt happiest, like you could do anything. Was music playing?
I’m not surprised if you’re nodding. Not only does music make us feel good, I know from experience that when I’m feeling particularly stressed or upset, music can help me channel that negativity into something beautiful. While listening to music can make you feel better, it’s not a total remedy for depression. Playing music is, however, especially when you’re improvising with other musicians. The act of creating is pleasurable in and of itself, and can help create meaning in the life of the depressed.
I’m not saying it’s easy to pick up my guitar and strum a chord or pick the strings when I’m down, but the simple act of creating music leads me to forget what’s been on my mind as my focus moves to my timing and chord progression.
If you want further proof, just watch the video below. Just a few months ago Anna Clendening was bedridden with anxiety and depression. Now she’s playing ‘Hallelujah’ onstage in front of millions! Chances are she used music as an additional therapy to get her out of bed and onto the stage. Check it out below. I bet her performance gives you chills.
Music can be very powerful as a mood enhancer and therapy. If you or anyone you know is depressed, ask them if they’ve been listening to much music lately. Even better, if they play an instrument, ask them if they’ve been playing recently. If your child doesn’t get excited over much or has a tendency toward depression, think about starting them on NYC guitar lessons. Our teachers are pros at getting kids excited about making music. And when you’re excited, it’s hard to stay upset.
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