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3 Reasons Why Your Child Must Take Piano Lessons
Instruments - Lessons - Perfomance - Piano

3 Reasons Why Your Child Must Take Piano Lessons

Between baseball, soccer, karate and cell phones, our children’s schedules are packed with  fun activities. If you were on the fence about adding piano lessons into the weekly grind, here are a few reasons why piano lessons might be an important activity for your child to be involved in.

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Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons - Perfomance

A trumpet player living the NYC Dream: An Interview with David N.

Music To Your Home is proud to work with the best and brightest music teachers NYC has to offer, and David N. is no exception.  He holds degrees from Juilliard, New England Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music.  An impressive resume is one thing, but beyond that, David is a passionate teacher and all around nice guy with great advice for trumpet players.
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10 Reasons Why Music Lessons Are Highly Effective- An Infographic
Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons - Perfomance

10 Reasons Why Music Lessons Are Highly Effective: An Infographic

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Piano Lessons
Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons

5 Tips to Get You to Practice Your Instrument

If you really want to get yourself into a routine and stay motivated while practicing your instrument, then it’s best to have a solid plan. The following are five tips to keep you going:

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What is the best age to start music lessons
Instruments - Lessons - Piano

What is the best age to start music lessons?

Many people ask us “what is the best age to start learning music?” Honestly? The answer varies from person to person.

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Lessons

4 Ways to Set Up An Amazing Practice Space

Learning an instrument can be one of the most rewarding skills you will ever achieve. Being able to play piano, guitar, violin or any other instrument will provide you with a lifetime of creativity, stress relief and enjoyment. But before you start with your music lessons there are a few steps you should take to set yourself up for success.
Any great teacher will tell you the most important thing while learning an instrument is practice time. Regardless of the instrument you’re  learning, practice is needed to work on the technical aspects of playing music. Each instrument comes with its own unique set of techniques that will need many hours of practice for you to truly make progress. So having the right instrument and rehearsal space are essential while you are learning. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1.  Sanctuary. Pick a quiet spot to learn music in your home. Your practice space should be private and away from any distractions so you can focus on learning your instrument. Many of our NYC piano students have limited space so we recommend keyboards and wearing headphones if your space is occupied by others. This has worked out really well for students in this type of situation.
2.   Lighting. Make sure the lighting is sufficient for reading music and seeing your instrument properly. I’ve seen practice spaces in basements with bad lighting which caused the students to struggle to read notes and see their fingers. This type of situation eventually makes practicing an uncomfortable task.
3. Instruments. There are many cheap instruments on the internet like  keyboards, violins and woodwinds. These instruments generally don’t last very long and most of them sound terrible. It’s a smarter choice to buy or rent  a better quality instrument from a reputable dealer. These instruments will last longer and sound better. Having a good quality instrument will help  motivate you to practice longer and more frequently. Plus, your ears will appreciate hearing a well made instrument.
4. Other essentials. Having a comfortable chair will have a huge effect on how long you end up practicing. You are more likely to stay there if you feel comfortable. Keeping a pencil and paper handy will be convenient when its time to work on theory or make notes in your music. Keeping a metronome in your space will also help when its time to practice tempo and rhythm.
Having all of these things ready to go will definitely increase your motivation and help keep practice time something you look forward to on a daily basis.
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Instruments - Lessons - Perfomance

What are the benefits of playing in a recital?

 

What are the benefits of playing in a recital?

When students perform in a recital in front of friends, teachers, and family, they provide great entertainment value to the audience. However, recitals benefit the participants too. Here are some of the benefits of playing in a recital:

  • Having something to work for

NYC Piano Teacher Alex C. post performance with two of his students

Something will change in you when you hear that you will be performing in a recital. Apart from the sense of urgency and nervousness, there is a deadline. If you don’t know the value of a deadline, ask working people who have to deal with one almost daily. When you have a recital to look forward to, you start practicing more often. Wether you are taking online lessons or in home music lessons, your sense of urgency to get the song right is a great motivator! You are willing to absorb information more than ever before. Once the recitals become routine, you are likely to keep working just as hard after the recital because you’ve enjoyed the rewards of your efforts.

  • Gaining performance experience

When you perform in a recital at a young age, you gain valuable performance experience. If it is your dream to be a professional musician, you will certainly need to get lots of live shows under your belt. It takes a few things to get used to performing in a live setting. It’s not easy to perform in front of people. You need lots of practice. When you are new to recitals, performance anxiety will be the order of the day. However, the more you perform in front of an audience, the easier it becomes. You learn how to play through a mistake or take a gracious bow or smile at the audience. That way, you are gaining very valuable experience to use for future performances.

  • Getting inspired by advanced performers

In many recitals, more beginner students are placed closer to the beginning with the more experienced coming at the end. That way, you get to watch the more advanced students do their thing. As a beginner, you see a great performance and discover that you are capable of playing like that too. All you need is some more time, practice, and energy. You will definitely leave the stage psyched to do exactly what you saw the seniors do. With time, your motivation will increase even as your performance skills improve.

  • Celebrating after an MTYH Recital

    Gaining a great sense of pride

This is perhaps the most important benefit you will get out of recitals! You have definitely worked very hard taking lessons in your home and faced the worst of your fears. How would you feel when the applause and smiles finally come from the audience? You will wish this magical moment of the recital lasts forever. Like most students, you will feel special, accomplished, and appreciated for all your hard work. It’s a moment like this that makes it worth the effort. This is when you are likely to psyche yourself up for the next challenge. When you enjoy this at a young age, you become more fearless. Your self-esteem will be boosted like never before. You will definitely look back when you are older and more successful with a smile that you were able to accept this awesome challenge.

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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 - Instruments - Lessons

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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Inspiration - Instruments - 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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