Practicing is the hardest part about playing piano. But if you don’t practice, it’s pretty obvious, and your music lessons just don’t go as well when your teacher can tell that you don’t care. In my experience, I’m most excited to practice when I can get excited about what I’m playing. Beethoven’s Fifth, for example, is probably one of the most awesome pieces of music in the history of the world. In fact, the seventy-five minutes it takes to play the Fifth were what inspired the length of CDs. If you were working to play that during your piano lessons, how could you not be excited about practicing?
Watch how this guy does it:
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
When the Fifth was originally performed in 1808, it was not a critical success. The orchestra played so poorly that Beethoven apparently had to stop the performance! Granted, the orchestra had only had one rehearsal, but the cold auditorium and the length of the performance, a four hour long concert during which the Sixth Symphony was played first and the Fifth during the second half, made the audience even less responsive. A year and a half later, a review of the published Fifth appeared in which it called the piece one of the most important works of music of the time. The time being during Napoleon’s occupation of Vienna. Supposedly, the famous first four notes represent Fate knocking on a door. How cool is that?
The Fifth Symphony’s Impact
Needless to say, Beethoven has been revered through all stages of rock ‘n’ roll, from “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry, to “A Fifth of Beethoven,” the classic disco tune from “Saturday Night Fever.” To really get excited about your piano classes, it’s best to play something you recognize, and when you choose to play Beethoven’s Fifth, you’re choosing one of the most recognizable pieces of music the world has ever known.
The Upper East Side is a great place to hang out on an Indian Summer day. Quiet streets, lots of bars and restaurants, Central Park and Museum Mile? With so much to do between guitar lessons, it’s nice to find a quiet cafe to sit in. And while nothing beats pure practice, sometimes reading a book on guitar theory can help you better understand the science of music as well as re-motivate you to get back to playing. Try a cup of coffee from any of these five best Upper East Side cafes before your next strum.
Also known as Downtown Uptown, this coffee shop has a great bean source and friendly baristas that serve tasty sandwiches. Their book-laden shelves and plush old-school furniture offer a great ambience during a round of macchiato and chocolate fondue, or while you sip a beer or glass of wine in the evening and classic guitar solos play on the speakers.
DTUT is located at 1744 2nd Ave between 90th and 91st Streets.
Known for their strong cold brews, Birch on the Upper East Side is a great place to drop in for a quick cup on your way to work or before your next guitar lesson. A few sips of this iced coffee and you will be cruising up and down the fretboard. They’re open every day from 7am to 8pm. You can also find Birch on the Upper West Side, in Flatiron, and on 7th Ave, off 14th Street.
Birch is located at 134 1/2 E62nd st.
East Harlem Cafe
Technically it’s not the Upper East Side, but we felt like this local hot spot deserves a mention. Their coffee, pastries and sandwiches are some of the best in the area, and the work vibe attracts a lot of young people. Bring Fretboard Logic and buckle down for an hour with a hot cup of joe and a red velvet cupcake!
East Harlem Cafe is at 1651 Lexington Ave., at the corner of 104th.
Corrado Bread and Pastry
Corrado is a great place for a respite after a long day of practicing guitar. Their pastries are world-class, perfect accompaniments to a delicious macchiato. Right near Hunter College, this cafe also attracts a very international clientele. Of course, they have baguette sandwiches and a variety of non-caffeinated drinks too.
Corrado is at 960 Lexington Ave. on the corner of 71st St.
This cafe is definitely on this list for tea. With a wide variety of loose leaf green and black teas, that’s not to say that their coffee is anything less than amazing. You can buy any one of their many coffees by the pound and take it home to keep you company during your next round of guitar-picking blues.
Java Girl is located at 348 E66th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.
New York City kids — they’re a breed of their own. For better or for worse, they grow up seeing and experiencing more culture and diversity at every corner than many other people will in their entire lives. From the second they touch pavement, New York City kids are bombarded with sights and sounds unrivaled by any other city in the country — maybe even the world. One of the most unique of these experiences is the wide variety of music they’ll hear. Whether it’s passing through Grand Central Station and catching the tunes of one of the many locals showcasing their talents in the terminal or attending a free concert in the park in the summer months, music is readily available to New York City youth!
Of course listening to music is a lot less daunting (and tedious) than spending hours learning to play, so don’t be discouraged if and when your kids are resistant to learn. When it’s time to enroll your kids in their NYC piano lessons (or any other instrument they want to play!), there are a handful of ways you can get them pumped to get started. Try these ideas to get your NYC kids excited about piano lessons!
Buy Tickets to the Orchestra
One of the best ways to encourage your kids to get excited about learning music is to expose them to people who have an immense passion for it — so much so that they do it for a living. New York City offers so many opportunities for your kids to see some of the best, world renown musicians that they won’t get anywhere else! Take them out for a night to the orchestra, and let them see the glamour and excitement of the orchestra; expose them to a formal side of music and give them insight on how the musicians onstage got their own start. If they can think that their own piano lessons can help to get on a grand stage one day, they will be more excited to learn! Try a night listening to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra or the New York City Symphony and tell us if you don’t have a blast!
Goof Around at Home
Whether they’re NYC kids or not, kids are kids nonetheless. And that means that they want to have FUN! The only way your kids are going to assume that their piano lessons aren’t another homework assignment is if you make them fun to begin with. Let your kids tickle the ivories and create a song of their own making — and then you do the same. You’ll also show them that you’re willing to be silly and have fun, and that’s always a great example to set from the get-go! Try this before they start their piano lessons and during them, so it mixes up the formal training with some fun. Your kids will get better at learning and start building on their new knowledge without even realizing it! Remember: Music should be an expression of a person’s own creativity, not a chore you have to do — so don’t make it seem like that and you’re golden!
Hire a Private Tutor
One of the most daunting things about learning anything — whether it’s music or math — is doing it with about 20 other kids. The pressure of standing out in a group or being too shy to ask for help can impact both your child’s learning experience and how much he/she will enjoy it. Both of these problems can be easily resolved with private music lessons. Obviously we’re big believers that this is the best way to learn music, but it’s also because we, as instructors and musicians, enjoy that one-on-one time we get with our pupils. There’s just nothing like passing on the gift of music and getting to witness that first moment when one of our students lights up because he or she hit the right notes in the right order. What a magical experience it is! Private lessons is also a unique bonding experience for teacher and student, and just as we fondly remember our first music teachers, we strive hard to make learning music an enriching experience so that our students will have those same memories to cherish for years to come!
Do you have any useful tips to help your kids to get your kids excited for piano lessons? Share them with us in the comments below or via our social media channels!
Alright, alright, you know what day it is. As if the red and pink balloons and hearts all over the place didn’t give it away already, we wanted to make sure you knew that it that it was Valentine’s Day!
All clichés aside, we really do love this day. We despise the fact that Valentine’s Day has become all about whether you have a significant other to celebrate it with or not. It’s a day about love and celebrating all of the love you have in your life — not being reminded of whatever it is that you don’t have. And as music teachers, we love Valentine’s Day even more for all the great love songs that have been created over the years that celebrate love the way it’s meant to be. So whether you’ve got big plans or are kicking back with a rom-com tonight, make sure you take a moment to listen to some great music (that just so happens to be about love) — it’ll be just the thing to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. Here are our top 10 picks of the most romantic songs of all time (in no particular order, of course). Make sure you share yours with us in the comments!
1. Forever and For Always, Shania Twain
A modern classic for sure, there’s just something about a country girl singing a love song that we can’t resist. All the 90’s kids will appreciate this sweet country-pop ballad!
2. Wicked Game, Chris Isaak
Is that Elvis? No! It’s the equally heart-melting voice of Chris Isaak. Who ever said that love songs were only happy and sappy? This sensual number [and its singer] is one of the most underrated in the love song category.
3. Push, Sarah McLachlan
While she’s plenty well-known for her tear-jerking “Angel”, Sarah McLachlan has penned, played and sung one of the most beautiful love songs you’ve probably never heard. No sad animals here!
4. God Only Knows, The Beach Boys
Okay, now who doesn’t love The Beach Boys? How can even resist the melodies and sweet harmonies of the original heartthrobs?! You can’t, that’s how. A list about the top love songs wouldn’t be complete without a Beach Boys number.
5. Just in Time, Nina Simone
There’s something about a jazz singer singing a love song that makes you feel like they’re truly singing the language of Love. And no one could convince us of that better than the legendary Nina Simone and her classic number.
6. Halo, Beyoncé
You had to have been living under a rock five years ago to not have been swept away by one of Beyoncé’s most popular ballads. Her incredible vocals, beautiful harmonies and instrumentals are the perfect combination to bring to life the lyrics penned by Ryan Tedder, songwriter and lead band member of OneRepublic. Tell us this isn’t a love song for the books.
7. The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra
You didn’t think we’d have a list of the most romantic love songs of all time and not have at least one of Frank Sinatra’s beautiful ballads? Every note that came out of this man’s mouth was the epitome of love, and this one is one of our particular favorites.
8. Let’s Dance, David Bowie
Another one of those atypical songs that is equal amounts of sensuality as it is love, this one will speak to all those 80’s kids out there. Get up and dance!
9. Perfect Day, Lou Reed
Ah, Lou Reed — no one can sing so fondly about a simple day and turn it into one of the best love songs of all time. That’s what love will do to you!
10. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
This list would just be incomplete without this iconic love song that was not only originally sung by the incredible Dolly Parton but also by the unforgettable, late Whitney Houston. This pick just gives us the chills, and we love both versions equally because when it comes to a great love song, there’s just no picking favorites.
So, what did you think of our list? Did your your top love song make it on the list? Tell us in the comments and happy Valentine’s Day from the team at Music To Your Home!