Piano Lessons
Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons

5 Tips to Get You to Practice Your Instrument

If you really want to get yourself into a routine and stay motivated while practicing your instrument, then it’s best to have a solid plan. The following are five tips to keep you going:

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What is the best age to start music lessons
Instruments - Lessons - Piano

What is the best age to start music lessons?

Many people ask us “what is the best age to start learning music?” Honestly? The answer varies from person to person.

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Lessons

4 Ways to Set Up An Amazing Practice Space

Learning an instrument can be one of the most rewarding skills you will ever achieve. Being able to play piano, guitar, violin or any other instrument will provide you with a lifetime of creativity, stress relief and enjoyment. But before you start with your music lessons there are a few steps you should take to set yourself up for success.
Any great teacher will tell you the most important thing while learning an instrument is practice time. Regardless of the instrument you’re  learning, practice is needed to work on the technical aspects of playing music. Each instrument comes with its own unique set of techniques that will need many hours of practice for you to truly make progress. So having the right instrument and rehearsal space are essential while you are learning. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1.  Sanctuary. Pick a quiet spot to learn music in your home. Your practice space should be private and away from any distractions so you can focus on learning your instrument. Many of our NYC piano students have limited space so we recommend keyboards and wearing headphones if your space is occupied by others. This has worked out really well for students in this type of situation.
2.   Lighting. Make sure the lighting is sufficient for reading music and seeing your instrument properly. I’ve seen practice spaces in basements with bad lighting which caused the students to struggle to read notes and see their fingers. This type of situation eventually makes practicing an uncomfortable task.
3. Instruments. There are many cheap instruments on the internet like  keyboards, violins and woodwinds. These instruments generally don’t last very long and most of them sound terrible. It’s a smarter choice to buy or rent  a better quality instrument from a reputable dealer. These instruments will last longer and sound better. Having a good quality instrument will help  motivate you to practice longer and more frequently. Plus, your ears will appreciate hearing a well made instrument.
4. Other essentials. Having a comfortable chair will have a huge effect on how long you end up practicing. You are more likely to stay there if you feel comfortable. Keeping a pencil and paper handy will be convenient when its time to work on theory or make notes in your music. Keeping a metronome in your space will also help when its time to practice tempo and rhythm.
Having all of these things ready to go will definitely increase your motivation and help keep practice time something you look forward to on a daily basis.
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Instruments - Lessons - Perfomance

What are the benefits of playing in a recital?

 

What are the benefits of playing in a recital?

When students perform in a recital in front of friends, teachers, and family, they provide great entertainment value to the audience. However, recitals benefit the participants too. Here are some of the benefits of playing in a recital:

  • Having something to work for

NYC Piano Teacher Alex C. post performance with two of his students

Something will change in you when you hear that you will be performing in a recital. Apart from the sense of urgency and nervousness, there is a deadline. If you don’t know the value of a deadline, ask working people who have to deal with one almost daily. When you have a recital to look forward to, you start practicing more often. Wether you are taking online lessons or in home music lessons, your sense of urgency to get the song right is a great motivator! You are willing to absorb information more than ever before. Once the recitals become routine, you are likely to keep working just as hard after the recital because you’ve enjoyed the rewards of your efforts.

  • Gaining performance experience

When you perform in a recital at a young age, you gain valuable performance experience. If it is your dream to be a professional musician, you will certainly need to get lots of live shows under your belt. It takes a few things to get used to performing in a live setting. It’s not easy to perform in front of people. You need lots of practice. When you are new to recitals, performance anxiety will be the order of the day. However, the more you perform in front of an audience, the easier it becomes. You learn how to play through a mistake or take a gracious bow or smile at the audience. That way, you are gaining very valuable experience to use for future performances.

  • Getting inspired by advanced performers

In many recitals, more beginner students are placed closer to the beginning with the more experienced coming at the end. That way, you get to watch the more advanced students do their thing. As a beginner, you see a great performance and discover that you are capable of playing like that too. All you need is some more time, practice, and energy. You will definitely leave the stage psyched to do exactly what you saw the seniors do. With time, your motivation will increase even as your performance skills improve.

  • Celebrating after an MTYH Recital

    Gaining a great sense of pride

This is perhaps the most important benefit you will get out of recitals! You have definitely worked very hard taking lessons in your home and faced the worst of your fears. How would you feel when the applause and smiles finally come from the audience? You will wish this magical moment of the recital lasts forever. Like most students, you will feel special, accomplished, and appreciated for all your hard work. It’s a moment like this that makes it worth the effort. This is when you are likely to psyche yourself up for the next challenge. When you enjoy this at a young age, you become more fearless. Your self-esteem will be boosted like never before. You will definitely look back when you are older and more successful with a smile that you were able to accept this awesome challenge.

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Lessons

The Benefits of Online Music Lessons

Online music lessons are becoming a good alternative to face-to-face tutorials. Sure, you can find some tutorials on YouTube. However, such tutorials might not be tailored to meet your specific needs. With online lessons, you get a personalized solution to all your music learning needs. You’ll get a one-on-one lesson with an expert teacher through various mediums. This could be through a video call on Google Hangout, Skype, and Apple Face Time. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. You can access online music lessons for as long as you have the interest to learn. Whether you are a seasoned professional or beginner, there is something about these lessons that will suit your needs.

Here are the benefits of taking live music lessons online:

  • Convenience

You can take online music lessons without leaving your home. All you need is a computer with internet connection and your instrument. You will arrange with your instructor when you should log into your FaceTime or Skype account to start your lesson. When you take your lessons from home, there is no need for commuting to and from the class. The scheduling is all about you and what works best for you! It’s even better if you are a parent so you can plan your music lessons around your children’s activities.

  • Freedom to select a teacher

With online lessons, you can get the teacher specializing in the exact thing you want to learn. This is because of the variety of instructors offering live online music lessons. Once you get one, your teacher will make a lesson plan. This will be specifically targeted at your goals and level of expertise. Who knows, you might even get help or advice outside lesson hours through email or instant message!

  • Extensive resources

When you have an online music teacher, you will be guided on the proper software and tools. With these, you are free to continue learning even when you are online. There are many websites where you can get the information you need. Your instructor will be able to guide you on where the best information is. Your instructor should be able to quickly address lesson problems or mistakes by directing you to online messages. When you do it online, you have the freedom to choose the materials that match your interests. You can, therefore, learn more and at your own pace. Online music lessons are available around the clock. Your online music teacher should help you know exactly how to get the maximum benefit out of them.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Learning music online is a sure way of saving you lots of money. Online music teachers charge less than they do for one-on-one lessons. You save the money you would have used commuting to and from music classes. After all, you are learning music from the comfort of your home. Also, you don’t have to buy expensive learning materials or get supplementary equipment from the music school. Computers have microphones and built in webcams so you won’t pay extra buying more equipment.

What are you waiting for? Get set up today at www.musictoyourhome.com!

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Inspiration - Instruments - Lessons

8 Reasons to Choose the Viola

Carrie D.

MTYH Viola teacher Carrie D. has been playing viola since age 6, and she’s pretty passionate when it comes to all things having to do with this cool instrument.  Here are her thoughts on why viola is a great choice for your musical journey:

Want to play the violin but can’t sing that high? Want to play the cello but don’t feel like lugging it around? Here’s a solution for you: viola!

A violin and viola look pretty much the same, so what exactly is the difference? Kindly referred to as a “larger violin” or “smaller cello,” the viola is the perfect choice for many reasons.

 

  1. It’s unique. Not many people start out playing the viola, and so you and your instrument would be one of a kind!
  2. Because the viola is “in between” a violin and cello, it comes in many sizes and lengths for all types of people, tall or short.
  3. Violists get to play violin music, cello music, and our own music. Because of this, you will learn how to read many different clefs, giving you the upper hand in future music theory classes.
  4. Being able to perform a wide variety of instruments’ music also means violists are adept at playing many different genres of music. Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, rock and roll, Broadway, and much more!
  5. Composers today love to write for the viola, and the “new music” scene is an ever-growing part of the current musical community. Some of these pieces may even include electric viola.
  6. Beautiful things are associated with the word “viola:” Viola (the flower), Viola Davis (the actress), Viola Thompson (the baseball player), and even a character named Viola from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.
  7. While lots of musicians are focusing on playing the melody out front, violists get to play the harmony. They are good at supporting and helping other instruments, proving us to be true team players! This also makes the viola a great instrument for people who are shy and like to blend in.
  8. Music to your Home (MTYH) has viola teachers available and excited to start teaching YOU today!

 

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Old & Young Learning The Guitar
Lessons

Is There An Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

Music has an indescribable power. It can evoke emotions within a moment, stir a memory with the strike of one chord and bring countless hours of enjoyment, love, laughter and tears.

That is why many people have a desire to learn a musical instrument, yet hold back because of one simple reason; age!

It is not just the upper age limit that can present presumed problems, many parents are keen for their children to start along their musical path, but wonder whether they are too young to get started.

As an experienced music teacher I am keen to share my knowledge and expertise with you as we focus on our burning question; is there an upper or a lower age limit to learning a musical instrument? Let’s take those age limits one at a time.

Is There A Lower Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

Absolutely not! Did you know that you can help your child to take its first steps along its musical journey while it is still in the womb? It is strongly believed that playing music to an unborn child can have a positive impact, in fact, classical music is thought to even improve the intellectual ability of a growing baby, quite a thought!

Once your little bundle of fun has arrived, you will be keen to help that musical journey continue. Evidence suggests that until your child reaches nine years of age, there is a promising window for introducing a musical instrument. Many teachers will not take students until they are at least five years of age. However, this does not mean that your child cannot start to learn before that.

The best way you can help your child to start learning music before he or she reaches an age when they can attend professional music lessons is to expose them to as much music as possible. The aim at this age, is not to introduce them to instruments so that they will master them, but rather to help them develop a relationship and love of music. Even a toddler can fall in love with music!

While a traditional music teacher for a specific instrument may not take students that are very young, you may be able to find a general music class for babies and toddlers. The aim will normally be to help your youngster focus on the music being played, perhaps by swaying to the music, dancing with your baby in your arms or singing or playing music.

As the child grows, perhaps by the age of three, they may be able to attend more formal music lessons, again with a focus on music, rather than a specific instrument.

Once your child is five, they will now have developed a sub-conscious understanding of music, as well as a relationship with it. At this point, you will be in the perfect position to decide which specific instrument your child would enjoy learning. Giving music to your child is certainly one of the finest gifts you could bestow as a parent.

Is There An Upper Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?

So we understand that there isn’t a lower age limit to learning music, but what about the upper age limit? I am going to give you the same clear answer as before; absolutely not!

Music is a gift, and anyone who is blessed with the ability to be alive should feel more than welcome to make use of it. That being said, you should be aware of a couple of crucial things you are going to need if you want to start your musical journey later in life.

Patience is a virtue! For youngsters, having youth on their side tends to speed up the learning process. Also, many have a natural musical talent which can be tapped into very well at a young age. Unfortunately, as the years creep up on us, so does the need for extra patience when embarking on a new venture. So long as you are willing to enjoy each step of the journey, you are going to do just fine!

Learning a musical instrument at an older age also requires a commitment to practice. When youngsters learn an instrument, they tend to be already in a learning system. Many are students at school or kindergarten and may also attend other extracurricular lessons. This means their brain is naturally in learning mode. For older music students, it is time to engage the learning part of your brain and give it enough opportunities to practice that progress will become satisfying.

Indeed being able to play a musical instrument is one of the life’s most enchanting pleasures. Remember, age is only a number, and should never be a roadblock in your quest to become a musician, why you can even use it to your advantage!

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Music Being Played in NYC Subway
New York City

How NYC’s Music Scene Has Changed In The Last 20 Years

New York City has long been known for its thriving music scene. Some of the biggest bands in the world came out of New York City, and many bands see playing at Madison Square Garden as a career highlight.

NYC’s music scene is still very strong. With that said, it has gone through a lot of changes in the last 20 years. Here are a few of the ways in which New York has changed:

NYC And Hip Hop

New York City was once one of the most significant cities in the world of hip-hop. A lot of hip-hop artists were able to rise to prominence after successfully releasing mixtapes to the NYC audience.

Now, however, hip-hop doesn’t have the strong presence that it once did. That doesn’t mean that hip-hop has faded away; it is just that other cities are currently a lot more important to hip hop than NYC is.

The Closure Of Important Clubs

A lot of bands became famous after playing some of the Big Apple’s biggest music clubs. CBGB’s might be the primary example of this; the club was strongly associated with bands like The Ramones.

Because of rising rent prices in New York City, a lot of these clubs have had to shut down. Many of the most influential music venues in NYC have had to shut their doors.

Many bands set out with the goal of playing these special venues and were never able to reach that goal.

The Internet

A decade or two ago, a lot of musicians felt like they had to head to a city like New York to make it big. For example, the famed artist Bob Dylan left small-town Minnesota behind to make a career for himself in NYC.

Thanks to the internet, it isn’t necessary for musicians to leave their home to start a career. Instead, a lot of musicians can kickstart their careers online.

There are still a lot of talented people creating music in NYC. However, fewer talented people are motivated to head out to NYC. A lot of people feel like they can accomplish the same kinds of things without having to leave their home.

Changes To The Radio

The radio market has changed dramatically since radio first took off. There has been a great deal of consolidation. A handful of companies now controls most of the radio stations in the country.

This has made it a lot more difficult for artists to break out on radio. If someone at Clear Channel doesn’t like an artist’s music, they are not going to play it. They are only going to play the things that they enjoy.

This has caused a lot of people to stop trying to infiltrate the radio scene. Instead, artists are trying to forge out their careers for themselves.

New York City isn’t necessarily the best place for a project like this. Even if you’re an established musician, being in NYC means that you are going to be a small fish in a very big pond.

Instead, artists are focused on the markets that they can crack. Some artists are trying to build careers for themselves in cities that are smaller, but still very music-focused, like Nashville. Others are primarily concentrating on winning over an internet audience.

The value of being in New York doesn’t want it used to be. A talented band in New York isn’t any more likely to succeed than a talented band in Iowa. In this day and age, both bands have about the same chance of success.

A Focus On Fundamentals

A lot of people have focused on how the music scene in NYC has deteriorated over the last few decades. It is important to remember that the music scene has also strengthened in some ways.

One of the most positive things in the NYC music scene today is the focus on fundamentals. A lot of young musicians aren’t playing by ear or figuring things out as they go like The Ramones did. Instead, these musicians are mastering the instruments that they play.

A lot of students have received music instruction from a very young age. These students have used that instruction to create impressive and incredible music of their own.

It is clear that the NYC music scene has changed dramatically. Some of those changes have been very positive, while others have been fairly negative.

While not everyone loves the ways in which New York has changed, people are always going to appreciate the city’s contributions to the music scene. If you can become a success in a city like New York, then you are going to be able to become a success no matter where you are.

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Inspiration - News

Top Musicians The Industry Lost In 2016

2016 has been quite a tough year for music lovers worldwide since it has witnessed the loss of many top musicians. The year started with the exit of David Bowie, a music maestro in January and much the subsequent deaths of other legends including Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Prince, and others.

Here is a look at the top musicians the music industry lost in 2016 and left us with just beautiful memories.

1. David Bowie

On January 10th, music maestro David Bowie died at age 69 following a long struggle with cancer. Bowie earned fame for such hit songs as Modern Love, China Girl, Under Pressure, Changes, Heroes, Space Oddity, and much more. Bowie was not only a successful musician but also an accomplished actor with roles in movies such as Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

 

2. Prince

On April 21st, the Purple Rain hit-maker known as Prince died at his Minneapolis recording studios aged 57. Throughout his distinguished career, Prince won various accolades and awards including 7 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award for Happy Feetís The Song of the Heart as well as an Academy Award for Purple Rain.

3. Frank Sinatra Jr.

On March 16th, Frank Sinatra passed away at age 72. Frank Sinatra Jr. was the son of Frank Sinatra who was yet another legend. Sinatra Jr. also had an accomplished music career of his own and had a decent career run appearing in close to 20 shows including Family Guy.

4. Leonard Cohen

On November 10th, Canadian musician Leonard Cohen departed aged 82. Leonard was a Grammy Award winner and an accomplished poet and songwriter too. He was best known for his song Hallelujah.

 

5. Sharon Jones

On November 18th, Sharon Jones died in New York aged 60 after struggling with pancreatic cancer. Sharon was an accomplished American soul and funk singer. She was also the lead singer of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.

6. Bobby Vee

On October 24th, Bobby Vee also known as Robert Tomas Velline died aged 73. Bobby gained fame in the early 60ís with hits such as Take Good Care of My Baby.

7. Greg Lake

On December 8th, Greg Lake, an accomplished British songwriter, musician, and singer passed away aged 69. Lake died after struggling with cancer. 21st Century Schizoid Man and In the Court of the Crimson King are some of the songs he will be best remembered for.

8. Leon Russell

On November 13th, Leon Russell, an American pop star died aged 74. Leon had earned quite a reputation as a studio pianist back in the 1980ís. As a studio musician, producer, and songwriter, Leon has collaborated with Ike & Tina Turner, The Ronettes, Sir Elton Jon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and many more.

9. Glenn Frey

On January 17th, Glenn Frey who was a co-founder of Eagles died aged 67 years due to health complications since he was suffering from pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time. Glenn was a guitarist and a co-writer of some of the greatest hits of all time including Hotel California and Desperado.

 

10. Mose Allison

On November 15th, Mose Allison, an accomplished American jazz pianist passed away aged 89. Allison became famous for playing an interesting mix of modern jazz and blues, playing the piano and singing too.

11. Maurice White

Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind, & Fire passed away on February 4th aged 74. Maurice has battled with Parkinsonís disease for a long time before his death.

12. Pete Burns

Pete Burns, the Dead or Alive singer died on October 23rd due to a heart attack aged 57. Pete was a controversial pop star that participated in the reality show titled Celebrity Big Brother.

13. Phife Dawg

On March 23rd, rapper Phife Dawg also known as Malik Taylor died at a very young age. Phife was just 45 at the time of his untimely death. He was a co-founder of the legendary hip-hop group known as A Tribe Called Quest.

14. Paul Kantner

On January 28th, Paul Kantner, a rhythm guitarist and vocalist died aged 74 due to multiple organ failures. His hits such as Somebody to Love and White Rabbit deserve a special mention.

15. Merle Haggard

On April 6th, Merle Haggard died aged 79. Haggard was best known for songs such as Workiní Man Blues and The Okie From Muskogee. Haggard has over 35 number 1 country hits in his illustrious music career.

It is quite clear based on the long list of musical artists who have passed away in 2016 that this year has been the most tragic yet, musically speaking. The 15 artists featured on this list were truly astounding and contributed greatly to the world of music, each in their special way. Each of each of these musicians have also inspired us to teach music lessons to an entire new generation of future artists. What is left is for us to cherish their music because if we do that, we can be sure that their spirits live on among us.

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Piano Decorated With Christmas Lights
Holiday Music

Top 15 Christmas Songs You Can Play On Piano

The festive season will soon be here and whether you are looking to entertain your guests or you have a piano recital coming up, it is time you started learning how to play different songs on the piano.

The 15 songs discussed below are excellent choices that you can include in your repertoire. You will discover that most of the Christmas songs here are rather easy to learn, but if you do get stuck, you can ask your piano tutor for help.

 

Here are 15 Christmas songs to play on the piano

1.     We Wish You A Merry Christmas

One of the easiest Christmas songs that you can learn to play on the piano is “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” It is fairly easy to learn because it consists of a verse then chorus then verse then chorus. It is also a wonderful song to encourage family members or guests to sing along.

 

 

2.     It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

You should really take the time to learn how to play this song since it is quite open and rubato. You can try to play it in several different ways using different tempos. You can even try out a totally different swing/up-tempo version.

3.     Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Frank Sinatra did manage to capture this glorious melody back in the 1940’s. Once you start playing this simple Christmas piano song, you will become accustomed to playing 7ths, octaves, and other intervals that require you to jump and stretch your fingers.

4.     Silent Night

This amazing Christmas tune is a classic that only uses the white keys on the piano. It is great for practicing using a foot and pedal considering that it is an a legato song. For instance, you can practice picking up the foot on those long phrases.

5.     Jingle Bells

If you are looking for the most famous Christmas songs of all times, it would have to be “Jingle Bells.” When you are playing this very famous tune, you should try thinking about the actual jingle bells to ensure that your rhythm stays in time or you could simply practice the song with a metronome.

6.     12 Days of Christmas

While this song might seem like a complicated song because of its many verses, you can easily nail it if you put in the practice since it has just 3 main chords.

7.     Do You Hear What I Hear?

If you would like an amazing song to practice call and response with, you should definitely go for “Do You Hear What I Hear?” In the song, the left hand actually echoes what the right hand is doing during the rhythmic patterns and melody.

 

 

8.     Jolly Old St. Nicholas

If you want a choice of song that consists of just a few notes and is easy to learn, you should choose “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” You can even try changing the dynamics to make the song even more interesting.

9.     Deck The Halls

“Deck The Halls” is an easy piano song you can easily memorize. It starts off with a very catchy hook and then repeats it thrice. “Deck The Halls” is yet another amazing song that you can sing along to with family members or a group of guests.

10.     Away in a Manger

If you want a song that’s easy enough to play on a piano, you should consider choosing “Away in a Manger” since it uses just 8 notes using only the right hand. You can try pushing yourself by playing it using only your left hand.

11.     Let it Snow

If you are in the mood for a popular jazz Christmas tune, you should go for “Let it Snow.” The song is great for practicing held half notes in the bass and 8th notes in the treble clef.

12.     Walking in a Winter Wonderland

You should not be intimidated by this Christmas tune. To memorize it, all you have to do is start by learning the melody and subsequently adding in the chords using your left hand. With enough syncopation practice, you will be playing the song flawlessly in no time at all.

13.     The First Noel

This is a truly amazing holiday song you can use to practice holding notes in the bass with the melody in your right hand. You should try to practice balancing the two out together.

14.     Frosty the Snowman

If you are looking for the perfect holiday song for children than “Frosty the Snowman” would have to be it. To really nail down the melody, you should practice one phrase at a time. Once you master the song, you can have some fun by singing along as you play.

 

15.     Hark the Herald, Angels Sing

“Hark the Herald, Angels Sing” is a lovely Mendelssohn Christmas Carol great for practicing technique and phrasing. Once you master the song, you should consider trying to sing along with it or even adding a simple instrument such as a trumpet, clarinet, flute, or recorder in the mix.


If you would like to learn how to play Christmas songs on the piano, you will find the 15 songs discussed here being excellent choices. If you would like to learn how to play these Christmas songs on the piano, be sure to Contact Us today!

Comment Below: What’s you favorite Christmas song to play on ANY instrument?

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