Lessons

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Kids’ Favorite Music Infographics

guitar lessonsKids love music. It’s a great way to have them learn responsibility (through daily practice), art (by learning about their music) and joy (by actually playing). Our music teaching lessons are perfect for kids because our teachers are professionals who know how to engage kids and make them excited about playing.

To prove our point about how kids love music, we asked a couple of boys who take piano lessons on the Upper East Side, aged 10 and 12, to choose their favorite music infographics and why. Here is what they said.

1. How Guitars Work

I liked how this infographic shows how guitars make music. Before I saw this, I didn’t know how guitars worked.

2. Guitar vs. Violin

I liked this infographic because it shows the details about each part of the violin. It also shows how different guitar and violin are.

3. Electric Guitar Timeline

I like how it shows the evolved electric guitars. They really changed a lot since 1931!

4. Complicated Guitars

I liked how this one because it shows all the parts that go into a guitar. It’s complicated.

5.Piano Teacher Facts

I liked it because it talks about teaching to play the piano and how piano teachers are.

6. Guitar Parts

I liked this one because it shows what each part of a guitar is used for and how different guitars look.

7. The Piano’s Evolution

This historical infographic shows the evolution of the piano, all the way to synthesizers and piano boxes.

8. Violin Sizes

This infographic shows that violins come in different sizes. My little brother would have to use a 3/4 size violin.

9. The World’s Most Expensive Guitars

This infographic guitars are really expensive yet people have bought them. The most expensive ones belonged to musicians like Jimi Hendrix.

10. Air Guitar

I liked this infographic because it shows what musicians do to entertain their audience. It also shows that air guitar is a sport.

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Lessons

What is the Best Beatles Album?

Amazingly, neither John, Paul, George or Ringo ever took drum, guitar or piano lessons. Harrison took sitar lessons when in the mountains of India, McCartney hired a private music teacher as an adult, and Lennon picked up Donovan’s clawhammer technique. But for the most part, these four musicians created some of the world’s best music simply by learning the basics on their own and practicing a lot. For being so famous and so good, it’s amazing that they learned music by teaching themselves.

For most people, however, it’s much more difficult to sustain that kind of determination and practice. And eventually they learned from each other, and from playing together for hours every day in Hamburg, where they used to perform in the Red Light District. It was after this two-year stint that they came to the world’s attention and went on to record some of the best albums in Western music. Out of all of The Beatles records, it’s hard to pinpoint a certain album that’s the absolute best. Let’s take a look at some contenders.

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

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This album features some of the most famous early Beatles’ songs that helped inspire Beatlemania, such as “I Should’ve Known Better,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The pop-melodies on this record blend elements of folk and rock ‘n’ roll to create an early Beatles classic, defining the best of their teeny-bopper period.

Rubber Soul (1965)

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This is the album I like to think of as firing off the classic Beatles era. With “Norwegian Wood” and “Michelle,” here the Beatles take on different sounds that move away from the pop they were traditionally associated with, and toward the experimental songs of later records. On Rubber Soul, we have a record that shifts through different moods and subject matter to create a complete and total work of art.

Revolver (1966)

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A continuation and further exploration of darker subject matter, this album was named the best album of all time in the hardcover book 1000 All-Time Top Albums. The opening tracks, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Taxman,” set a standard that the rest of the album lives up to musically. More rock-heavy than Rubber Soul and diverse than their previous work, here the Beatles began to explore and define a new genre: psychedelic rock.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

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Typically regarded as the best Beatles album, and the best album of all time, it’s easy to join in with the critics and make the case for this record as the best of the Beatles. With tracks like “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” it’s easy to see why. But what makes this album so esteemed is its use of wide influences, ranging from vaudeville to a self-referential take on the pop of their early music. Altogether, Sgt. Pepper can be construed as the first concept album, and it’s one that’s delightfully easy to listen to.

The Beatles (White Album) (1968)

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Perhaps the most divisive album this band ever made, both according to critical reception and the general attitude within the band at the time, today The White Album has many more fans today than it did in in 1968. At that time world politics were reaching a new pitch. Many critics wrote that the album deliberately avoided seriousness and instead reached for pastiche as an easier way to make a record. But songs such as “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Hey Jude,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” strike a melancholy chord that is hard to ignore. It’s as though the Beatles as well as the rest of the world knew that their days of peace were gone, and they were about to define a new era. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that this album helps to write the definition. This is my personal favorite.

Abbey Road (1969)

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The best-selling Beatles album and perhaps the one with the most iconic album art, this record was the last recorded before the band’s dissolution, though Let it Be was released later, the following year. Although critical reception was at first largely negative, considering the use of synthesized tones on the album, today it is the most popular Beatles album. Classics such as “Something” and “You Never Give Me Your Money,” are just a couple of the most recognizable songs on this album, which seems like it is composed entirely of singles when we listen to it today.

All this Beatles talk makes us want to listen to—or play—our favorite songs. Thing is, because the Beatles never took music lessons, their songs aren’t composed of simple chords, but are variations, making them notoriously more difficult to play. That said, you may need some guitar lessons to play your favorite songs. What are they? Which album are they on? Feel free to let us know in the comments. And remember that unless you’ve got the dedication of a Lennon, McCartney, Harrison or Starr, it’s time to learn how to play the guitar.

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Lessons

Channeling Emotion Into Music

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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Lessons

How to Play Beethoven Like a Pro

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.

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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.

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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.

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Fur Elise

Moonlight Sonata

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!

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Lessons

Guitar Lessons For the Best Solos of All Time

When it comes to playing guitar solos, it helps if you know your way up and down the fretboard. But that doesn’t mean a beginner can’t learn these classic solos, through a lot of practice and training.

And even if you can’t play the entire solos, learning the structure of how they work and isolating some of the scales used can be great practice for beginners. If you really like the song, ask your guitar teacher to go over it with you in your next guitar lesson. You may be able to learn the chords, and play it on your own in a more simplified version.

The best solos of all time can be pretty subjective, but there are some that cap any list. Here are our personal favorites. Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree!

7. Truckin’, Grateful Dead:

Jerry Garcia could shred, and this is living proof. Even if you can’t get the solo down, the opening bass line is a fun lick to learn.

6. November Rain, Guns ‘n’ Roses:

This solo immortalized Slash. It takes the song to another level.

5. Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd:

This Floyd track is classic. It certainly isn’t the most difficult to play on the list, but it’s unforgettable nonetheless.

4. Fade to Black, Metallica:

This solo is super gnarly, and pretty difficult. But if you’re dedicated enough, you can at least pick up the intro. And man, if you learn just one song to make you a bada** guitar player, use your guitar lessons for this.

3. Crossroads, Cream:

Based on the old blues song by Robert Johnson, Clapton’s solo does the original justice and then some. Definitely one of the tougher solos on this list, but overall, an amazing one to learn if you can get the hang of it.

2. Pride and Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan:

Stevie’s tragic end cemented his legacy as one of the best guitar players of all time. This song isn’t his most difficult to play (you’ll thank me for that), but it is one of his most enduring and popular. Take a stab at it and appreciate Texas-style blues.

1. All Along The Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix

What would a list of the best solos of all time be without homage to the late, great Jimi? The best guitar player of all time, no one has ever played like him since. That said, the difficulty of trying to play like Jimi has its own rewards which will make you a better guitar player in the long run.

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Lessons

What Do Musical Genres Really Mean?

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.

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Instruments - Lessons

Guitar Lessons: Some Quick Tips for Big Improvements

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Instruments - Lessons

The Best Violinists of All Time

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Paganini, by Ingres.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.

What makes a great violinist? Just like most things in life, it helps to practice a lot. Once you have gained enough confidence from your violin training, you should have a broad capacity for bowing, dynamics, sound and color. It may take years, even decades, but if you really love violin, you can start offering violin lessons of your own, and maybe even start composing and aiming to topple the big names, three of which are featured below.

Violin Practice Makes Perfect

Paganini is considered one of the best violinists of all time. Why? Because he was so well-practiced. Talk about violin lessons: Paginini used to play ten hours a day. When he died, many assumed he was supernatural, and thought he would have extra cartilage in his fingers; however, the cartilage in his hands was worn down, much like that in a marathon runner’s knee, from playing so much. He is known for having never missed a note on his Guarneri violin, made in 1743, and for playing his entire Caprices on one string. Here’s one of his most famous ones:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Corelli was born in 1653 and is known for having influenced a number of violin techniques, such as posture, bowing form, and fingering. He was known for despising high notes, and for rarely playing above the D string. In one famous anecdote, Corelli refused to play an overture that included an altissimo A in Handel’s oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Truth. He was offended when the composer, 32 years his junior, played it anyway. Bach was heavily influenced by Corelli too.

http://youtu.be/1t8aLJcL7J4

The Perennial Four Seasons

Vivaldi is another great baroque violinist, and today is probably the second most popular baroque composer only to Bach. In fact, Bach drew upon the bright melodies of Vivaldi’s concerti, of which The Four Seasons is a prime example, in his St. Matthew’s Passion, St. John’s Passion and cantatas. Bizarrely, despite Vivaldi’s fame while alive, after his death his work passed into obscurity. It was not until the 20th century that a resurgence in popularity for Vivaldi arrived.

Hopefully, listening to these amazing compositions will inspire you to continue with your NYC violin lessons, or to start them if you haven’t already!

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Instruments - Lessons

The First Step in Becoming a Guitar God

 

Getting guitar training is the first step in becoming a guitar god. Well, after you buy a guitar. The next part, the key to getting really good at guitar, is practice. Guitar lessons offer a mentor and way to stay on track. Think of each lesson as a weekly test that will keep you determined to impress your teacher. Your guitar lesson instructor can correct any mistakes you may be making, and challenge you to learn harder songs and techniques. After that hour of guitar lessons, it’s on you to love your instrument and play every day, to prepare for next week.

Guitar Gods of the Past

To give you an idea of how past guitar gods have made reached the pantheon, look at Eddie Van Halen. He used to strap his guitar around his neck and sit on his bed playing for hours at a time. When other kids were going out to party, he was practicing. That’s dedication. Eventually he become one of the world’s greatest.

NYC guitar lessons are super helpful when you have questions about technique, when you think you’re doing something wrong, or when you want to learn a new song or style of playing. Sometimes playing really slowly, making sure you hit all the right notes, or making sure that your strum pattern is perfect and everything else is right is the best way to practice by yourself. Listening to your favorite guitar solos can inspire you to learn them, bringing out your love for music even more and making it easy to practice guitar for half an hour a day. You can find tabs for solos and your favorite songs online. Also try to listen to classical music, to appreciate the foundation for awesome riffs and sick solos. Eddie Van Halen was a student of classical piano before he ever picked up a guitar. Reading music can help too.

Different (Guitar) Strokes

Stevie Ray Vaughan—a blues guitar god—didn’t know how to read sheet music. Then again, he also had cocaine and whiskey for breakfast during his later years—not exactly a role model. Some guitar gods reach their status through a natural amount of talent. Music theory is also important, and because of its difficulty, it’s a great subject to explore with your mentor during guitar lessons.

Another guitar great who played as much as he could was Jimi Hendrix. He couldn’t afford guitar lessons, since he was so poor growing up in Seattle, so he took guitar lessons from blues masters. Jimi is perhaps best known for how he used distortion so originally. He was also famous for doing crazy tricks while performing, like biting and smashing his guitar. Some people say that he was sloppy, that he would take tabs of acid and put them in his headband, so that while he performed his pores opened and he became high. But one night he was challenged to play sober, and he played the same way to a standing ovation. Because his hands were so big, he was able to use his thumb over the fretboard to fret the lower E string, thereby creating melodies that are otherwise difficult or impossible to play. Though this technique existed before Jimi, in the early days of blues guitar, it was probably he who popularized it.

Guitar Lessons are Still Your Best Bet

Keep in mind that a lot of the guitar gods who didn’t take guitar lessons were troubled souls who often died young. Who knows—maybe it was easier for them to follow a path of destruction without a guitar mentor to guide them along the way.

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Lessons

Guitar Lessons Are Worth It

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Private lessons on the guitar are fun because you can play covers of a lot of songs. It makes practice a lot easier when you like the music you’re playing. If you it’s rock ‘n’ roll you want to play, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Elvis have songs that you won’t need many guitar lessons to play.

Early guitar lessons

The guitar has been around for a long time, in different incarnations. From the lute to the electric, there are many different styles of guitar and guitar playing. Our guitar teachers know them all, from finger-picking to flamenco, and they also know, from the first few notes or chords you play, how much you’ve practiced in the week since your last lesson. Half an hour a day is a good start for most beginners.

Guitar lessons begin with the basics of how to hold the instrument and how to strum. Keeping time is one of the most difficult parts of playing guitar, especially when you don’t know how to read music. This is where it really helps to have guitar lessons, because it is difficult and often frustrating to work with a metronome to get your playing to sound really good. It’s kind of like singing and hearing how you sound, which if you want to play rock music, is closely tied to guitar lessons—how you hear yourself is not how everyone else hears you. That’s why it’s nice to have a guitar instructor guide you to play properly, in terms of timing, strumming and fingering, the same way you might be encouraged to sing higher or lower to be more in tune with the song you’re playing.

Playing guitar like Slash

This is a process, as is learning the chords that make up a lot of simple songs. Many famous songs are easier than you thought—”Free Falling,” by Tom Petty, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” either the Guns ‘n’ Roses version or the Bob Dylan version, and “I Should Have Known Better,” by the Beatles. The easy songs are mostly three chords and after a few lessons in your New York City home, you will be able to play them!

All the greatest guitarists in modern history became so good thanks to practicing a huge amount. Slash, from Guns ‘n’ Roses, used to practice 12 hours a day, dropping out of high school to pursue his dream. Rumor has it that Jimi Hendrix used to play until his fingers bled. Not all of us can do that, though, which is why if you live in New York or New Jersey it’s so important to have lessons.

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