Instruments

Instruments - Lessons

5 Tips for becoming a great violin player from our expert

violin

Have you ever listened to an amazing violin piece by Paganini, Beethoven or Mozart and wondered how the violinists got so good that they were able to perform these pieces flawlessly? Well, I can guarantee you that every member in the world’s greatest orchestras has spent thousands of hours taking lessons and practicing their craft. With bands today like Coldplay, Lana Del Rey and Adele using more and more string arrangements in their music, the violin has become a very popular instrument to learn.

So regardless of what style of music you’re interested in playing, all good violinists need to learn the basics like holding the bow and correct posture. These are great beginning points to get you moving onto more advanced techniques like vibrato, double stops and playing in different positions.

To get you started we had one of our expert teachers and NYC Ballet Orchestra violinist Laura Oatts give her top 5 tips for becoming a great violinist.

Laura Oatts

Laura Oatts, Violinist for the NYC Ballet and MTYH teacher

1) A little goes a long way: Every student should feel that it’s ok to practice only for a few minutes at a time, if that’s what gets them to take out their instrument every day. If you’re terribly busy, several minutes every day will keep building your muscles and help you build up stamina for longer practice sessions. Just playing the open strings or playing a very in tune scale is great practice for a beginner and will help them progress in the future.

2) Love what you’re doing: Love your violin – it’s a beautiful instrument and an amazing work of art to look at and admire. Also, students should constantly be listening to music they love, and learning how to play music they enjoy. Violinists can play both classical and pop melodies, so changing up styles is a good way to keep things interesting.

3) Bowing Technique: Long and full bows on the open strings for 5 or 10 minutes every time you practice. This exercise is for beginner and advanced students and works wonders for both. Always keep your eye on the bow and make sure that it’s staying straight. Keep the bow moving slow and steady the entire time. This can be done on one or two strings. Try to enjoy the vibration of the wood and the ringing of the strings.

4) Practice your pizz: See if you can play your scales or whatever piece you are working on using pizzicato the entire time. By dropping the bow every once in a while, playing pizzicato will help you focus on intonation and other aspects of the music like dynamics and rhythm.

5) Play with a buddy: There’s a new invention called a Bow Buddy, which is available on Amazon and several other music stores. It comes with two pieces, but I prefer the pinky piece. It’s 
the smaller of the two pieces and goes on the end of the bow and helps students learn to hold the bow correctly while they begin to build the needed hand muscles. It’s a fabulous tool and helps people learn so much quicker in the beginning if they have a “Bow Buddy”.

Hopefully you enjoyed these great tips for beginner students. Keep a look out for our advanced violin tips coming soon!

For lessons, visit our Violin Lessons Page

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Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons - Piano

5 Reasons Why You Should Play the Piano

ID-100620305 Reasons Why You Should Play The Piano

If you’ve come across this blog you’re probably already a music lover or someone who’s looking for that one reason to finally start learning an instrument. Here are a few great reasons why you should begin taking piano lessons immediately…

  • Playing piano is a major stress reducer: One of the things we hear most from our adult clients is that after a long day at the office, playing the piano at home has a real calming effect on their moods. Playing the piano can refocus your energy and help you become a more creative person. Listening to music can be totally soothing – but the act of performing it can take your mind away from that annoying day at work. Our younger students have experienced the exact same reactions to practicing their instruments. After a day of classes, tests and afterschool activities playing the piano or taking a piano lesson can help relieve anxiety and stress in children as well.
  • Playing the piano is good for your brain: Studies have shown that children who begin learning piano at a very young age have better general and spatial cognitive development than children of the same age who have not learned piano. Studying piano can also boost math and reading skills. In addition, taking piano lessons helps with concentration and can therefore improve a students’ overall school performance.
  • Playing the piano can help you become a great multitasker: Unlike any other instrument, the piano is unique because you are forced to have two totally different things going on with each hand at the same time. Your brain splits two very complex tasks, (reading treble and bass clefs) between the right and left hand. With practice, putting these tasks together at the same time makes for some really nice music and also trains your brain to focus on several things at once.
  • Playing the piano builds self- confidence: We’ve seen this many times with our students. After learning a piece from start to finish even the shyest student will have a feeling of accomplishment. It takes patience, hard work, determination and a love of music to learn the piano and finishing a difficult piece or participating in a performance is a real confidence builder for many people. Performing in recitals at a young age can help students become more comfortable speaking in front large groups and can help make them more confident in social situations.
  • Playing the piano is cool: Well it is… Discovering that you have a talent for playing piano is a great feeling. Sitting down and entertaining at a party or social event will always grab people’s attention and can possibly make you more interesting to others. If you’re not sold on this theory just ask a Billy Joel or an Elton John fan!

 For in-home lessons, visit our Piano Lessons Page

 Image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Inspiration - Instruments

Top 5 Rock Drummers

drums

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians? A Drummer. OK, it’s no secret among musicians that drummers get a bad rap – but Music to Your Home knows how valuable drumming is within a band and are here to dispel those myths and put to rest any notion that drumming isn’t as much a part of a band than any other instrument. We hope that you will also appreciate the level of talent our top 5 favorite rock drummers possess. So here they are in no particular order.

Ringo Starr makes our list because no matter what, when you are in the world’s greatest rock band you make the list. Yes, we know Paul played drums on many of their studio recordings, but we still highlight his skill because eventually all those studio versions were played live, and he nailed them. Each and every time. We’ve heard the story of how The Beatles stormed America, slayed it at Shea stadium, killed it on Ed Sullivan, etc. and Ringo was there for all of it.

 

Neil Peart’s drum kit alone should have its own place on our list, but a kit is nothing without an absolute master behind it. Neil’s command of his elaborate drum set is a thing of beauty, and to watch him work out such intricacies within Rush’s complex arrangements for any music fan is a thrill. His fills on Rush’s Clockwork Angels tour are off the charts good. It’s no wonder Rush is known as the musicians’ musicians. With a guy like that in your rhythm section, the musical possibilities are limitless.

Carter Beauford’s father was a jazz trumpeter, and Carter started out studying jazz, and it’s apparent when you hear him play. His fills are often melodic, and we found a cool example of him playing Dave’s guitar melody within the four minute and 30 second, yes, that’s correct, the 4:30 long intro to “Say Goodbye.” See if you can hear it too.

Keith Moon’s showmanship is unparalleled. He used his drum set not only to back up one of the greatest rock band’s ever, but it was also a prop, an extension of him and to watch him play is always entertaining. Beyond that of course, are his bombastic and energetic drum solos. Here’s an interesting listen for you, it’s Keith isolated drum track on “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

John Henry Bonham, the thundering powerhouse of Led Zeppelin – often imitated and never duplicated, though many of us have tried. The scope of his influence remains, and we’d be hard pressed to find drummers playing any genre of music who wouldn’t cite Bonham as one of their heroes. The proof is here. Turn up the volume and listen to this guy go for it.

 

There are so many more unbelievable drummers out there, yes, we’re talking about you Dave Grohl, Mike Portnoy, Charlie Watts, Steve Gadd and Roger Taylor among others. We hear you loud and clear and we think you guys are amazing. I’m sure all our readers have opinions too, and we want to know them. Feel free to attach some of your favorite solos or tell us about your ultimate rock drummer.

 

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Inspiration - Instruments

5 Easy and Iconic Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners

 

guitar

Playing the guitar should be fun right? If you’re the type of person we like to call a “strummer” and you’re not looking to rip a technical solo, then this list of songs is perfect for you. Most of these tunes use only 4 or 5 chords and are great for singing along to. This list is sure to impress your guests at your next BBQ.

Wish You Were Here- Pink Floyd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPL_SV3n7IU

This is one of my favorite songs to play especially on acoustic guitar. It has a very simple intro that can be learned by ear or the tabs can be found here http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/p/pink_floyd/wish_you_were_here_ver5_tab.htm . The rest of song uses C, D Am, G and Em. It’s a great song that everyone will like hearing, or you can just rock out alone in your bedroom…

Free Fallin’- Tom Petty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lWJXDG2i0A

This is such an iconic rock song. Practically everybody knows it. To play it in the same key as Tom Petty, put a capo on the 3rd fret and play D, A, G and you’ve got it. The entire song is basically just 3 chords! Singing it like Tom is another challenge and we’ll save that tip for another blog.

Redemption Song- Bob Marley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFGgbT_VasI

This is an extremely powerful song. It has a short and simple intro that can be found here: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/b/bob_marley/redemption_song_tab.htm The chords are crafted in such a way to create an emotional atmosphere for anyone listening. The best part is any beginner can master this one. It’s also another great song to sing along to without worrying about complicated chord changes.

Strong Enough – Sheryl Crow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiYE5e8gXRY

Sheryl Crow is an incredible composer. This song uses a few basic chords. The verse and Chorus is D, G, Bm and A with a bridge using Em, Bm C and A. Not really a lot but another easy and fun song to play. If you’re not a girl, go find one to sing this with and you’ll be in business.

Wonderwall- Oasis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hzrDeceEKc

Here is a song that is known internationally. Everyone has their opinions about Oasis but no matter what they are, there is no disputing the popularity of this song. The acoustic guitar strumming the intro is so recognizable but easy to play. Throw a capo on the 2nd fret and play Em, G, D, and A and that’s basically it. The chorus uses C, D and Em. There are some extensions to these chords, but for a beginner the basic forms will work nicely. This is a song that everyone will love to sing along to.

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Instruments - Piano

Top 5 Easiest Rock Songs To Play On The Piano

nyc piano lessonsPlaying the piano is a skill that takes years of practice, dedication, and desire. Our students study every type of music during their piano lessons including classical, jazz and pop music. If you are just getting started with your piano lessons and are looking for some instant gratification, you need to take the time to practice and be patient.

With all of our NYC piano lessons, we aim to focus on small achievable goals, starting with the easiest songs to play on the piano. Other students that are enlisted in online lessons, might have a different set of goals, depending on the lesson schedule.

To get you started, here are some easy rock songs to get you ripping up the keys in no time!

1) “Let It Be” by the Beatles


Everyone knows and loves this one. This song has 4 chords that you can play. Learning this tune is a rite of passage for every budding piano player.

2) “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon


Here’s an easy piece to play and fun to sing along with. There are a few simple chords and once you learn it you’ll be playing one of rock’s most iconic piano licks!

3) “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd


Well – you’d be wise to avoid this song if you’re hanging out with Neil Young, but do play it if you want to impress your southern friends. It’s another iconic piano riff that’s easy enough to play.

4) “Hey Jude” by the Beatles


Yep, another Beatles song, but are you surprised? It’s easy, it’s awesome, and one of their biggest hits. Play this tune at a party and enjoy your rockstar moment.

5) Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue


This is great piano riff that was written by Crue drummer Tommy Lee. Learn how to play this and you might be able to date Pamela Anderson….

Well, here are five classic and easy songs to get you started on your musical journey, but don’t forget to keep practicing. Rock on!

Are You Ready To Learn The Piano?

Whether you’re in the New York City area or ready to learn by your computer, be sure to contact us to see how we can get you started with the piano.

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Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons - Piano

Playing Beethoven’s Fifth Next Piano Lesson

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.

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Instruments

Why You Should Learn to Read Music

Imagine taking piano lessons and not reading music. While guitar tabs work pretty well for guitar lessons, it’s a little different taking instructional piano tutorials without sheet music. On a stringed instrument, you can name the string and where to pluck it, and this is how the earliest musical notation evolved in Sumer, in 2000 BC. But as musical instruments advanced, so did musical notation. By the time of the Byzantine Empire, notation had improved to the point of using a system based on differential, that is, according to the rise or fall of a pitch. But the lack of an absolute system led to the emergence of the modern staff notation we know today.

Modern musical notation

Guido d’Arezzo lived in the early eleventh century in northern Italy. He was a Benedectine monk who recognized how much difficulty singers had remembering Gregorian chants. Around 1025, he created the “ut-re-me-fo-so-la” mnemonic and the four line staff. This led to the standardization of melody, but it took another few hundred years for rhythm to be accounted for through standardized note lengths, and another nearly three centuries for the use of regular measures to come into play.

Reading music to improve your style

Today’s notation includes many different notes about how to play a piece, from tempo to expression and dynamics. These words above the staff can make for large differences in how the same piece can be played if only the notes and rhythm are followed; they allow for a personal touch on each note. Glenn Gould was very well known for playing Bach in a very individualistic style, so much so, that after Gould, it was hard to play certain Bach pieces in any other way. Indeed, Gould claimed that he often studied piano by reading sheet music instead of playing it. It also helped that Gould could memorize on sight, but hey, if he didn’t know how to read music, he might never have become as good as he was!

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Instruments

Why Violin Teachers Matter

violin lessons nyc

The worst violin teacher

When I was a kid, I used to take lessons for the the instrument, the violin, where I went to school. Thing was, my teacher was the worst. Her name was Ms. Ruby and she was this little angry woman who wore her hair in a bun with bristly strands sticking up. She’d spent her whole life teaching violin after she tried to make a career out of playing. It still burned her that Juilliard rejected her application. She was a real stickler for dedication to the instrument, since she’d never had enough to make it. So if we ever forgot our instruments she took it as a personal affront and she made us write out the word ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ throughout the entire period.

One day I forgot my violin and wrote ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ forty-one times. The next time I forgot my violin I thought about the first time I’d done it and I was dead set on writing ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ more than forty-one times. I wrote it forty-four times that day.

The next time I forgot my violin Ms. Ruby was in rare form. While I set out to write ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ forty-five times, Jimmy was acting a fool. Jimmy who was the class clown. He played the flute. He was making obscene gestures with it and Ms. Ruby got so mad, the veins on her neck stood out and we all thought she was going to send Jimmy to the principal to be expelled. Instead she just left the classroom. We didn’t know what to do. It was like we were free, but we weren’t quite sure if we were really free. This girl named Shawna told Jimmy he was really in trouble when she came back. Then Jimmy started to yell at her. And just as pandemonium was set to break out, Ms. Ruby walked back in and it was dead quiet. She said she’d had to leave or else she would’ve strangled Jimmy. She wasn’t joking.

I hated Ms. Ruby, too, of course. By extension I hated taking violin lessons. I didn’t learn anything I wanted to. I always thought of my violin as a burden, as something I had to learn. Until I graduated from fifth grade and I didn’t have to take a musical instrument any more.

Forgiveness after violin lessons

After Ms. Ruby, I could never feel the same way about violin lessons. It wasn’t until recently that I started to play guitar and understood that it wasn’t the violin’s fault; it was Ms. Ruby’s. Having a great teacher makes all the difference in how you practice and get excited about violin lessons.

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Inspiration - Instruments

The Best Cafes in the UES

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.

DTUT

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.

Birch

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

best coffee in ues
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.

Java Girl

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.

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violin lessons nyc
Instruments

This Is How Hard Is It To Become a Professional Violinist

It all starts with the violin. If you live in NYC, you have access to one of the best Philharmonics in the world. The New York Philharmonic is the oldest in the U.S., founded in 1842, and today they have won twelve Grammys. If you’re growing up as a kid in NYC taking violin lessons, you have some really great examples to follow.

High-Intensity Practice

If you continue with your violin lessons for a few years, you’ll start to get good. If you combine that with a serious passion for the instrument, your chances of becoming a professional violinist increase dramatically. It all comes down to how hard you practice, not when you started. Even though the Suzuki method advocates that the younger kids start the better chances they have, those who begin playing violin after grade school can definitely still become pros. They may be intimidated by how younger kids show superb talent but a lot of the time, these prodigies are forced to practice between two and three hours a day for years in order to further their chances of playing professionally and wind up playing like machines, without the deep, resonant feeling originally intended for the music.

If you’ve started violin later, you can still play professionally, you just need to catch up by practicing more. It can be hard to practice more than four hours a day, but studies show that the more you practice the more you will be willing and want to play. Professional violinists practice sometimes more than eight hours a day. That’s what you have to look forward to if you’re really serious about making a career out of playing violin.

Violin Love Outweighs Tough Competition

Once you have those thousands of hours of practice under your belt, you still have to beat out the competition. Usually only three or four seats open up every year across the U.S., with hundreds of people trying out. One wrong note immediately disqualifies you, and that’s not all. You can play the violin perfectly, but if your playing lacks a certain emotion, a certain feeling for the piece, that will separate you from the best. It can be nerve-wracking playing this way, even before you’re playing on a stage, but it’s part of the game. If your playing can stand out during an audition, your chances of moving on to the next round will improve. And while competition can be stiff, sometimes playing to beat friends for a seat in an orchestra, if you love violin, if it’s part of your essence, then you have to keep playing.

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