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Guitar Lessons - Music 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!

guitar lessons nyc

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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Music Lessons - Violin Lessons

The Best Violinists of All Time

nyc violin lessons

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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Guitar Lessons - Music 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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Music Lessons

Why Mozart Matters For NYC Piano Lessons

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Mozart is one of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known. A piece from his Magic Flute opera was incorporated onto the Voyager Golden Record, which was sent into space in 1977 to represent the different forms of life that exist here on earth. The movie “Amadeus,” based on Mozart’s life won Best Picture at the 1984 Oscars. You can still hear Mozart’s music scattered throughout pop culture. Mozart’s legacy is still so prevalent that you might be surprised learning certain pieces were composed by him almost three hundred years ago!

Wolfgang’s Piano Lessons

A prodigy from the age of three, Mozart started playing the piano from the age of four. Little Mozart watched his father give his sister piano lessons, which were actually clavier lessons, and he would stand on tiptoe to play when they were finished. Leopold, his father, taught him to play minuets and would end his lesson after a half hour despite little Mozart’s desire to keep playing.

At seven, his father took him and his sister on a Grand European Tour to show off their family’s exceptional talent. Mozart musical memory was so good, that at 14 he heard a sacred piece of music performed in the Vatican, which not even the choir was allowed to practice beforehand because of its sanctity. After the performance, Mozart ran home, and copied out all of the notes from memory. The next day he heard it again, fixed some small errors in his manuscript and hid it in his hat.

When word got out that a boy from Salzburg had a version of this music, Pope Clement requested to know how he had found it. He called the choirmaster to examine the manuscript and confirm that it was accurate. Of course, it was and when Mozart said that he’d written out the entire piece from memory the Pope was so impressed he gave the young boy a gold medal and made him a Knight of the Golden Spur. Mozart loved music so much that he focused all of his energy into learning it by heart.

Why Mozart Matters Today

As Mozart continued to play and compose, he incorporated the contrapuntal complexities of the Baroque era from masters such as Bach, into a new milieu, with refined clarity and harmonious tonics to define the Classical style. Mozart wrote all kinds of music: opera, symphonies, sonatas, solo concerto, chamber music, masses and dances.

All of this genius came at a price, however; Wolfgang gave up an ordinary childhood, much like Michael Jackson did, to pursue music and become one of the greatest of all time. He died young, in his forties. His friend Joseph Haydn said that the world would not see another musical genius for at least a hundred years.

Not everyone can be like Mozart, but one thing’s for sure: if you can get excited about your NYC piano lessons, it makes it a lot easier to practice every day. Try listening to Mozart so that you can ask your piano lesson teacher to help you play select pieces!

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Music Lessons

Violin Lessons in NYC Make a Difference

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Even before Antonio Stradivari made his first violin, violin lessons consisted of teaching the student proper technique and guiding him through more difficult pieces of music. Today, lessons may be in a different language, but not much else has changed.

Violin lessons primer

There are four strings on a violin: the G, D, A, and E. It can be plucked or played with a bow, played solo or with an orchestra. And because of its loud sound, the violin is the instrument that carries themelody in groups of musicians.

Otherwise known as the fiddle, the violin comes from a family of stringed bow instruments, originally from Persia. The first violin strings and bows were made of horsehair, and today’s horsehair bows show the legacy of those original violins. Although violins had their heyday in the baroque era, today the violin is making a comeback, and is used to play jazz and pop as well as classical music.

Violin lessons are good for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. But for those starting out, who aren’t sure if they want to keep playing violin, it’s a good idea to rent an instrument first. Keep in mind that violins come in different sizes for children and adults, so it’s good to have the person playing nearby for a fitting. Once you have an instrument, call our violin teachers, who have dozens of years collectively under their belt. They have played all over the world in different settings and venues and know how to play in a variety of styles.

Fundamentals of violin

As in playing any instrument, it’s crucial to have the fundamentals in place before progressing onto different and more complicated pieces. Good posture, square feet placement, and holding the instrument upright are important to reaching the next level of playing. This is why violin lessons are so important—instructors help students get into the right habits early on. Another potential pitfall young violinists face is resting the neck of the violin in their palm, which prevents proper fingering.

Handling the bow is just as important. The bow typically goes left to right, which is called a down-bow. Inverting bow-strokes, i.e. sliding down when it should be up, is another common problem beginners face. But with violin lessons these potential pitfalls can easily be corrected. The bow should also slide smoothly along the strings and not bounce over them, which can cause harsh, scratchy sounds. These mistakes and others like them can be easily avoided by booking booking a lessons today.

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Music 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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Piano Lessons

Why Choose Piano Lessons in NYC

Gould, Chopin, Brahms: the greatest pianists of all time have always had private musical lessons, either at home or at an academy. When these students began playing piano in their childhood, a teacher or mentor often taught them the basics, cultivating their love for piano, before they went on to teach themselves more advanced music principles. But not all of us are Glenn Gould, and even when we approach a level of mastery, it’s great to have someone who can guide and shape us to become the best pianists we can be.

Becoming a Master Pianist

To learn to play the piano is easy, but to become a pianist who plays concerts is very hard. It requires thousands of hours of practice before you can consider yourself an expert. Practicing by yourself without the weekly guidance of one of our teachers will delay your expertise. To find out what you are doing wrong in order to improve and see faster progress, work with our professional piano teachers. With lessons in New York City at your door, you will learn everything from technique to arpeggios and concert pieces, much faster than if you taught yourself.

What Piano Lessons Teach

When you book piano lessons in NYC, you can learn how to warm up your hands in order to build strength in all of your fingers. You may already know how Chopin used to bend his wrists forward and backward before playing, or that you should let your arms hang by your side before hitting the ivory. But more subtle nuances, such as setting your hands the right distance apart, and pressing the keys with the right force, are harder to master without piano lessons. You may remind yourself to keep your wrist above your hand and your elbows six inches from the body, but it’s easy to slide back into bad habits without the guidance of a piano lesson instructor.

Making Music Fun

One of Chopin’s greatest interpreters, Alfred Cortot, was well aware of the difficulty young students face in practicing: the weight of their arms. Playing for hours at a time can be painful for younger students, which is why he advocated that the seat be modified to the height of the player to avoid unnatural angles and uncomfortable positions, the bane of piano students for hundreds of years. Our piano lesson instructors are aware of the historical resistance by youths against their professors, their distrust of daily practice, and tendencies to dislike being forced to do what is good for their musical careers. That’s why we work hard to make piano lessons better than the other guys—we’re dedicated to making music fun.

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Piano Lessons

Bach: A Profile From Your Fave NYC Piano Lesson Teachers

Bach is widely considered to be the greatest classical composer of all time. Mozart gets a lot of street cred and Beethoven’s riffs are pretty famous, but in terms of true originality and genius, Bach trumps them all.

Born in Eisenach, a town in today’s central Germany, Bach received piano lessons, (which were really organ or harpsichord lessons) from his brother, father and second cousin, who were all musicians. He became an organist after his preliminary education, and worked hard to learn his craft. During his 20s he began to write what would become known as The Well-Tempered Clavier, one of the most influential works in Western Classical Music.

Bach incorporated Italian styles of composition from famous violinists such as Vivaldi and Corelli into his music. Solos during orchestral movements were new at the time, and Bach used these techniques to his advantage. He bounced around German cities such as Weimar and Kothen before settling in Leipzig.

At this time Handel, (you know, Ha-lleluJAH) was very famous. He was born just 80 miles from Bach, and traveled all over the continent, performing and eventually settling in London. Bach and Handel were supposed to hang out in Germany but it never happened.

Bach became a Cantor in Leipzig, which meant that he had to write and perform cantatas for every feast day and every Sunday. He wrote a new one every week for three years. These eventually led to the Mass in B Minor, akin to Metallica of the 18th century in intensity, and all about the glory of God.

When Bach was older, his national fame led him to Potsdam, where the German king, Friedrich II, lived. He challenged Bach to improvise something on his piano and Bach played a nasty fugue and totally impressed the king. Kind of like the rap battles of today, organ battles were common in the baroque era. Pretty cool to think that Eminem is the inheritor of a tradition that began with a dude named Johann.

But after he died, Bach fell into relative obscurity. Composers thought he was old-fashioned. Eventually though, he came back. Beethoven loved Bach and called him “the father of harmony.” In the 20th century, certain advertisers used his music to make his work more famous than it ever has been.

Now we’re not saying that we can make you the next Johann Sebastian Bach, but we sure can teach you how to play his music when you sign-up for lessons on the piano.

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Piano Lessons NYC
Music Lessons - Piano 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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Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Piano Lessons

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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