upper east side piano lessons
Lessons

Avant-Garde Piano Lessons on NYC’s Upper East Side

The rapidly changing Upper East Side

When I’m on the Upper East Side, I’m surrounded by culture. All of the museums, the park, the old brownstones, it’s no wonder I chose from this neighborhood. Though over the past few years, I’ve started to notice a shift in the establishments in the neighborhood, a tendency toward a more avant-garde styling. Maybe it’s because of the 2nd Avenue subway, or maybe it’s because now the Upper East Side is cheaper than many parts of North Brooklyn, but there’s change in the air, especially with regard to art and music.

It makes sense that the Upper East Side is finally getting an influx of artists. New York is the Paris of the 21st century, slightly past its Golden Age, but still a premier place for bohemians; you could draw the analogy that with such an influx of artists, the Upper East Side is like Montmartre of a hundred years ago.

Piano lessons a hundred years ago

In the 1890s, Erik Satie befriended Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, two of the greatest Impressionist composers, soon after Satie composed his famous Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes. As you probably know, Impressionism was already an established painting style so that the paintings of Manet and Monet were quickly giving way to the Post-Impressionism of Cezanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Music typically follows behind painting and writing in its move toward new movements so it took another twenty years for these composers to incorporate the Impressionistic style into their work.

In the 1910s Satie was enrolled in Vincent d’Indy’s Schola Cantorum de Paris, studying counterpoint in his daily piano lessons. This was not Satie’s last foray into the baroque, either: in 1923, the Beaumont fete, known as the Bal Baroque, used Satie’s music as well as Picasso’s costumes to commemorate the ancien regime and the new restoration of an organ. Satie’s music is also called neoclassicism, for how it draws on order, rhythm and contrapuntal technique. The pared down instrumental forces in this musical style are a reaction against the Romanticism of the 19th century, whose absolute music lacked a musical narrative; while much of the neoclassicists’, such as Stravinsky’s and Satie’s music represented a story.

Although classical music is very different today than it was a hundred years ago, we have not lost our ties to tradition. While certain elements are rejected as stodgy, others are borrowed from older eras for being ahead of their time. The Upper East Side is a great place to feel history as well as the advancement of a new era, and that’s why Upper East Side piano lessons are the best in the city right now.

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Instruments

Why You Should Learn to Read Music

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

Modern musical notation

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

Reading music to improve your style

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

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Instruments

Why Violin Teachers Matter

violin lessons nyc

The worst violin teacher

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

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

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

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

Forgiveness after violin lessons

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

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Inspiration - Instruments

The Best Cafes in the UES

The Upper East Side is a great place to hang out on an Indian Summer day. Quiet streets, lots of bars and restaurants, Central Park and Museum Mile? With so much to do between guitar lessons, it’s nice to find a quiet cafe to sit in. And while nothing beats pure practice, sometimes reading a book on guitar theory can help you better understand the science of music as well as re-motivate you to get back to playing. Try a cup of coffee from any of these five best Upper East Side cafes before your next strum.

DTUT

Also known as Downtown Uptown, this coffee shop has a great bean source and friendly baristas that serve tasty sandwiches. Their book-laden shelves and plush old-school furniture offer a great ambience during a round of macchiato and chocolate fondue, or while you sip a beer or glass of wine in the evening and classic guitar solos play on the speakers.

DTUT is located at 1744 2nd Ave between 90th and 91st Streets.

Birch

Known for their strong cold brews, Birch on the Upper East Side is a great place to drop in for a quick cup on your way to work or before your next guitar lesson. A few sips of this iced coffee and you will be cruising up and down the fretboard. They’re open every day from 7am to 8pm. You can also find Birch on the Upper West Side, in Flatiron, and on 7th Ave, off 14th Street.

Birch is located at 134 1/2 E62nd st.

East Harlem Cafe

best coffee in ues
Technically it’s not the Upper East Side, but we felt like this local hot spot deserves a mention. Their coffee, pastries and sandwiches are some of the best in the area, and the work vibe attracts a lot of young people. Bring Fretboard Logic and buckle down for an hour with a hot cup of joe and a red velvet cupcake!

East Harlem Cafe is at 1651 Lexington Ave., at the corner of 104th.

Corrado Bread and Pastry

Corrado is a great place for a respite after a long day of practicing guitar. Their pastries are world-class, perfect accompaniments to a delicious macchiato. Right near Hunter College, this cafe also attracts a very international clientele. Of course, they have baguette sandwiches and a variety of non-caffeinated drinks too.

Corrado is at 960 Lexington Ave. on the corner of 71st St.

Java Girl

This cafe is definitely on this list for tea. With a wide variety of loose leaf green and black teas, that’s not to say that their coffee is anything less than amazing. You can buy any one of their many coffees by the pound and take it home to keep you company during your next round of guitar-picking blues.

Java Girl is located at 348 E66th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.

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Instruments

This Is How Hard Is It To Become a Professional Violinist

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

High-Intensity Practice

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

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

Violin Love Outweighs Tough Competition

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

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Lessons

Best Places in the Upper East Side To Watch Piano

piano lessons upper east sideThe Upper East Side is typically more associated with art museums than piano lessons. But now that so many young people are moving back uptown to escape the high rents of Brooklyn, the Lower East Side and the East Village, music is springing up all over the place.

Brandy’s Piano Bar

This well-kept secret hosts performers every night of the week after 9:30 pm in what is a lot like an old time saloon. With no cover charge, there’s a 2 drink minimum per set, so it’s more affordable than other live music venues in the neighborhood. Watch how these professionals play piano and incorporate what you learn before your next piano lessons.

The Carlyle

This historic hotel has music nights throughout the year. Front row seats can cost a little more than general admission, but the quality these performers is akin to a private concert at Lincoln Center. Nightly jazz seated at the bar has a $15 cover charge, a pretty good value to see the Chris Gillespie Trio. Bemelmans Bar is named after the illustrator of the famous Madeline books, who also painted the interior.

The Armory on Park Ave.

Most of us think of Lincoln Center across the park when it comes to great classical music, but The Armory has teamed up with that bastion of culture to bring the Berlin Philharmoniker to NYC’s Upper East Side. On October 7th and 8th, they’re going to perform Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion for their U.S. premiere. The Armory also plays host to art installations as well as contemporary masters: The xx played a show there a few months ago. The only potential problem is getting tickets! There’s limited availability for the October performance, so if you want to go, call now.

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News

Alex Cough @ The Somethin Jazz Club Monday, August 18

Dear friends,

If you’re free this upcoming Monday, I have a performance that I’d love for you to attend. I’ll be returning with my trio to Somethin Jazz Club, where I’m in the process of laying down the foundations of my personal compositional and improvisational style. I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful partners in this endeavor and this time around will be no exception, as I will be joined by bassist Danny Weller and drummer Jay Sawyer. We’ll play a mixture of my own material and some choice selections from the Great American and Jazz songbooks.

I hope you can join the three of us and watch this process unfold.

Somethin Jazz Club is located at 212 E. 52nd Street (on the third floor). There IS a $10 cover along with a $10 drink minimum. We play two sets, from 9pm till 10:45pm. Once again, the show is this coming Monday, August 18th.

All the best,

Alex

P.S. If you want to REALLY be in the loop, please click the link below to follow me on Facebook!

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Lessons

10 Best Rock Albums 2010-2014

It seems unfair that we have to wait until the decade is over to get a comprehensive review of the best music that has come out over the past ten years. It all seems pretty arbitrary, you know? I mean, let’s say you’re a fifteen-year-old living in NYC’s Upper East Side and you start guitar lessons mid-decade. This year, in fact. Chances are you were probably inspired by some favorites of yore. But after a couple of years of guitar lessons, you may want to play newer music, start your own band, and learn the best of what’s going on in the scene. This could help you draw from the contemporary greats and make your own music. That’s why we decided to create this list, so you don’t have to wait another five years before a comprehensive review of the decade’s best albums. Who knows where you’d find your influences by then. Anyway, this list intends to show you some of the more popular (and hidden) rock gems of the past five years. Perfect for playing at your next guitar lesson.

10. The Black Keys, El Camino

best albums 2010-2014
This band has been around for at least the past decade, though with 2010’s Brothers and 2011’s El Camino they hit their breakthrough, their moment of Late Night shows and Grammy wins. Their influences are bluesy, garage band-y, and pure American rock. Definitely a band worth listening to.

9. The National, Trouble Will Find Me

best albums 2010-2014
Want to learn soft, fingerpicking melodies? The National’s 2013 album is another addition to an already robust discography of somber love songs and reflective rock. If you’re unfamiliar with this band, take a listen and choose your favorite song to play at your next guitar lesson.

8. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City

best albums 2010-2014
This band graduated just a little farther uptown than the Upper East Side, from Columbia. Their smart, unexpected lyrics are rich and deep, and their melodies are poppy and fun. Since their debut in 2007, they’ve been critically acclaimed, but last year’s Modern Vampires kept them as one of those bands that has to be mentioned when talking about the best of our era.

7. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

best albums 2010-2014
Kurt Vile’s (see below) former bandmate, Adam Granduciel has done well with the project the two founded together back in 2008. 2014’s Lost in the Dream will surely be in the top 10 of most critic’s best of lists this year. The long guitar solos are reminiscent of the ’70s rock that produced so many strong singles, but when you listen to the album all the way through, you’ll see it’s so much more.

6. Bon Iver, Bon Iver

best albums 2010-2014
Though the 2011 record is a follow-up to 2007’s debut For Emma, Forever Ago, it won the Grammy for Best New Artist. With good reason. The band’s name, which comes from the French for “good winter,” is reflective of this album, whose soundtrack you would play waking up in midwinter in a wood cabin as you boil water for coffee and enjoy a breakfast, watching the snow fall. Talk about passion, not only can Justin Vernon sing, he’s a helluva musician.

5. Kurt Vile, Waking on a Pretty Daze

best albums 2010-2014
Philly-raised Kurt Vile has been making music on his own since he was 17. Now in his mid-30s with a wife and daughter, 2013’s Waking on a Pretty Daze was his breakthrough. Though it wasn’t as commercial as other albums on this list, it signaled the arrival of an accomplished guitarist, who we can probably expect many more melodic and lyrically simple albums from.

4. Beach House, Teen Dream

best albums 2010-2014
The third album by this female-led duo is a masterpiece. The soaring voice of Victoria Legrand matches the hazy, dreamy melodies her guitarist Alex Scally plays. Somewhere in between the sounds of beachy surf and the ambient waves of an acid trip, this album is a great place to start if you want to explore this band’s discography.

3. LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening

best albums 2010-2014
The final album from James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem joins the immemorial ranks of those produced by bands that ended their careers too soon. Though much of the music on this album is not guitar-based, it’s worth including on this list because of its dance and electronic influence on subsequent records in rock music.

2. Tame Impala, Lonerism

best albums 2010-2014
This Australian band found success in the U.S. with their psychedelic 2012 album, though they’ve been well known for a while down under. Reminiscent of the classic Beatles, the lyrics and melodies on this album are wide-ranging and diverse, including comments on the passage of time and the deceptive nature of perception. A great band to listen to and learn from.

1. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

best albums 2010-2014
The third album by this Quebecois band was a major success in 2010. It won Album of the Year at the Grammys and helped establish them as one of the best bands around. While their self-referential Reflektor album in 2013 was also a critical success, it was The Suburbs that set the bar highest and made it hard to beat.

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Lessons

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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News

KROM is coming to New York and Chicago!

News from KROM:

Screenshot 2014-08-05 13.17.34

In New York, we are thrilled to be playing the opening night ofSubCulture’s annual Pianofest onSeptember 10th! SubCulture is a state-of-the-art new theater in Manhattan, and this two-week festival will be celebrating piano music of all genres.  We will be performing in a triple bill with New York pianist Danny Fox, and renown organist Cory Henry (of Bruce Springsteen, P. Diddy, and Snarky Puppy fame among others).  SubCulture is located at 45 Bleecker Street, and the show is at 8:00 pm on September 10th.  CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.

And in other news, we are FINALLY coming to the Chicago area to play a CD Release Concert! We will be performing for the first time at the Sherman Avenue Theater in Evanston onSaturday, October 4th at 7:00 pm. The theater is located at 1702 Sherman Ave in Evanston. We will be playing music from our latest album, as well as a lot of great new songs.  CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.  Chicago friends please spread the word :).

We will also soon be releasing some new videos, so to stay posted you can always check www.kromtrio.com or like our Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/kromtrio.

 

NEW YORK TICKETS

CHICAGO TICKETS

WWW.KROMTRIO.COM

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