Lessons

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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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Instruments - Lessons

6 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Could Rock An Instrument

If you’re trying to make it in the big city, Piano Lessons could be the difference between you booking a gig or going home empty-handed.

The city is full of incredibly talented people all vying for the same coveted jobs and positions, from acting, to finance positions, to political spots.  You’ll never know who might be impressed by your ability to play a musical instrument.

And it certainly came in handy for these famous names.  Not only does playing a musical instrument help keep your brain sharp, but demonstrating mastery of instrument shows dedication and commitment to something you voluntary chose to pursue.  You do it because you love it, and others take note of that.

So, if you want a leg up on your peers and maybe even wow your boss’s boss at a work retreat, get inspired by these multi-talented celebrities, who are well-known for various reasons, but harbor a love for music as well.

1.)  Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman can probably get a belly laugh out of you for his work in Tootsie and The Graduate, but he also knows his way around a piano pretty well.  He’s said he wanted to be a jazz pianist , and occasionally has sat down to play on screen.  Clearly, he’s someone who was always meant for the spotlight.

2.)  Meryl Streep

As if we needed more reasons to be in love with Meryl Streep, if you haven’t seen her 1999 film Music of the Heart, you probably didn’t know that’s she’s a very talented violin player.  Basically, what we’re saying is if you violin lessons in NYC, you’ll be the next Meryl Streep (sort of…).

3.)  Clint Eastwood

So if you really want to see an overachiever, look no further than Clint Eastwood.  Successful actor, professional piano player…oh wait, don’t forget to add professional composer to that list.

Yup, Clint Eastwood has done the soundtracks for movies like Million Dollar Baby and Flags of our Fathers. The man has superpowers.  Don’t worry though, we won’t hold it against you if you just choose to become a piano aficionado and maybe hold off on your career as a composer.  We know that’s a bit much.

4.)  Condolleeza Rice

Bet you didn’t expect a politician to sneak her way onto this list, did you?  Well, Condy’s actually quite the piano player.  She’s even played for the Queen of England.

We’re not sure why anyway would choose a life of politics over music, but hey, it’s not our decision. Condolleeza even had the chance to accompany renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the 2002 National Medal of Arts Awards.

5.)  Keanu Reeves

So if your child is absolutely hellbent on taking bass or guitar lessons in NYC, then let Keanu Reeves be the proof that hard work pays off and that knowing how to play an electric instrument is just as valuable as knowing an acoustic one.

Keanu Reeves was a member of the alternative rock group Dogstar from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.  Apparently, he even plans to get back into the musical swing of things in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3.

6.)  Ryan Gosling

Because the world wasn’t in love with him enough, Ryan Gosling formed a band called Dead Man’s Bones with his friend, Zach Shields.   The band sings love songs about ghosts and monsters.  So that’s pretty adorable.

But wait, there’s more.  Gosling and Shields played every single instrument on their album, because Gosling plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, and cello.

Take a look at him here crooning and playing piano alongside a children’s choir.  Amidst the witty banter he shares with the kids at the beginning, the smooth piano skills, and the deep, scratchy singing, I think it’s safe to say he’s cemented his place as the Male American Sweetheart for eternity.

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Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons - Piano

How to Get Your NYC Kids Excited About Piano Lessons

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!

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