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Lessons

What is the Best Beatles Album?

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

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

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

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

Rubber Soul (1965)

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

Revolver (1966)

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

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

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

The Beatles (White Album) (1968)

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

Abbey Road (1969)

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

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

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Lessons

Channeling Emotion Into Music

If you’ve ever felt alone, sad, or angry, you probably remember it as a time of silence. On the other hand, think of your best times, when you felt happiest, like you could do anything. Was music playing?

I’m not surprised if you’re nodding. Not only does music make us feel good, I know from experience that when I’m feeling particularly stressed or upset, music can help me channel that negativity into something beautiful. While listening to music can make you feel better, it’s not a total remedy for depression. Playing music is, however, especially when you’re improvising with other musicians. The act of creating is pleasurable in and of itself, and can help create meaning in the life of the depressed.

I’m not saying it’s easy to pick up my guitar and strum a chord or pick the strings when I’m down, but the simple act of creating music leads me to forget what’s been on my mind as my focus moves to my timing and chord progression.

If you want further proof, just watch the video below. Just a few months ago Anna Clendening was bedridden with anxiety and depression. Now she’s playing ‘Hallelujah’ onstage in front of millions! Chances are she used music as an additional therapy to get her out of bed and onto the stage. Check it out below. I bet her performance gives you chills.

Music can be very powerful as a mood enhancer and therapy. If you or anyone you know is depressed, ask them if they’ve been listening to much music lately. Even better, if they play an instrument, ask them if they’ve been playing recently. If your child doesn’t get excited over much or has a tendency toward depression, think about starting them on NYC guitar lessons. Our teachers are pros at getting kids excited about making music. And when you’re excited, it’s hard to stay upset.

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Instruments

Classical vs. Acoustic Guitar For Lessons

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Whether you’re starting NYC guitar lessons or you’ve been taking them for a while, you may be thinking about getting a new guitar. A few weeks back we guided you through the best options for electric guitars, but if you want to stay traditional, you have two main choices.

Classical vs. Acoustic

Classical guitars are the original guitars. Their necks are thicker, they use thicker nylon strings, the neck meets the body at the 12th fret (so fewer chances for solos), and their bodies are slightly smaller. Acoustic guitars have thinner, steel strings, the neck meets the body at the 14th fret, and their bodies can be much larger for a bigger, more resonant sound.

Typically classical guitars are used to play classical music, while acoustic guitars are better for folk songs, rock, and blues. Classical guitars can be cheaper than acoustic, so in a sense they can be good if you haven’t yet taken NYC guitar lessons and you don’t know if guitar is something you want to stick with for a long time.

Fingerpicking Styles

Fingerpicking has a lot of styles, though it’s traditionally associated with classical guitar, since in the days of yore, plectrums, or picks, didn’t exist. In most fingerpicking scores, the finger is indicated by letters that refer to the Spanish word for finger, p being thumb, i for index, m middle, a for ring, and c or e is pinky. Traditional classical styles include: i-m-i-m-im; i-m-a-i-m-a; p-a-m-i-p-a-m-i.

North American fingerpicking styles typically use the thumb to play the three bass strings and the other fingers to play the higher strings. The result is a bluesy sound that has its roots in African-American blues players trying to imitate the ragtime sound popular at the end of the 19th century. Today, it’s almost a standard style for acoustic guitar fingerpicking.

Ultimately, the kind of guitar you choose will impact how the kind of music you play. Having taken NYC guitar lessons in the past will definitely help you if you’re looking to buy your first guitar or your second!

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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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News

The Swingaroos at The Metropolitan Room, July 6

 

Piano Lessons NYC

 

  • WhenSunday, Jul 6, 2014 9:30 PM (Doors open at 9:00 PM )
  • Ticket Price$15.00  $115.00
  • Door Time: 9:00 PM
  • Show Type40s
  • Restrictions: 2 Bev Min
  • Purchase TicketHere!

Go to http://metropolitanroom.com/event.cfm?id=155230&cart for more information.

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Instruments - Piano

What’s the Right Age to Start Piano Lessons?

We all know Mozart started playing piano around the age of three, but if we suspect our children aren’t musical geniuses, what’s the ideal age to start them on lessons?

Firstly, bear in mind that Mozart came from a musical family. His father was a composer and taught his older sister how to play the piano, or the 18th century equivalent, the harpsichord. All this music around young Mozart kept him intrigued. It was only natural for him to imitate his big sister by thumping away on the piano when he had the chance.

Your Music Habits

In judging when to start your child’s piano lessons, consider how often you play music in your home. How does your baby respond? By dancing, laughing and raising his arms in glee? If yes, do you or the baby’s other parent play piano or violin, actively practicing? It’s better if you do, since kids love to imitate. It’s a great idea to start your child’s piano lessons around the age of three or four if music is already a large part of your lives.

If it’s not so much, but you want to see it as such, think about taking your kids to group classes while they’re young. For children under the age of three, these usually require parents’ involvement. Often by the age of five, kids are ready to learn an instrument with the violin or piano lessons. By age seven, it’s okay to start guitar lessons.

How to Get Kids to Practice

The hardest part about getting kids to appreciate their violin or piano lessons is to get them to practice on the regular. Try rewarding them with a treat like ice cream or soda for every half hour they practice. Private piano lessons can be a good addition to lessons at school, where kids can’t always get the individual attention they might need.

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Instruments

Guitar Hacks to Make Your Lessons Easier

The best and hardest-to-stomach teaching you will learn from guitar lessons is that practice is the best way to get good at guitar. But while scales and chords are all well and good, we wondered if there were any quick guitar hacks to make you a better player, or at least impress your teacher during your next guitar lesson.

Guitar Hacks

Here’s a video that shows some cool tricks, like tuning your guitar to an open chord, and sharpening picks on a rug.

If you feel like some of those tips were above your head, keep reading. The best thing to do to start your practice routine is to start with scales. By getting them out of the way first, you can reward yourself by playing a song after. It’s crucial to play with a beat, even when you’re picking scales. Make sure to alternate the direction of your pluck. Plucking down makes a different sound from plucking up, and if you only pluck in one direction, you will have trouble going the other way in the future.

Getting Guitar Fundamentals Right

Perhaps the most important scale to practice for your guitar lessons is the pentatonic. Once you learn that, you can isolate pieces of it to solo. Try to learn it in different keys, and move it up and down the fretboard to familiarize yourself with the different sounds you can make.

When learning songs, play the recorded version of the song you’re learnign while you strum to listen to how it’s played. You may hear certain melodies you hadn’t before. Also check to see if there are video performances on Youtube of that song. Watching how your favorite guitar player can help you learn certain tricks.

It may be tempting to speed through a new chord progression or scale while you learn it, but it’s much more effective to slow down and make sure you nail what’s giving you trouble. If you still have difficulty, ask your teacher for extra tips at your next guitar lesson.

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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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News

Alon Nechushtan’s Venture Bound CD Release and Tour

 

East and west coast tour with my project ‘venture bound’ , starting in June. Check out the tour dates here!

beside his home base in New York City – June 18th Cornelia Street, he will be in New Jersey, Boston, Virginia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

See the online flyer here.

Catch Alon Nechustan touring with the band:

-Fanwood NJ June 14th,
-Jazz Museum of Harlem,NY June 21th
-Charlosville Virginia,VA, June 28th,
-An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD, June 29th
-Los Angeles,CA, July 10-12th
-San Francisco July 13th,SF
-August 10-20 Israel Tour, ISR

RELEASE DATE : JUNE 14 2014

Each new album by Alon Nechushtan offers a fresh glimpse at his diverse and complex musical personality, which seems to be able to encompass a vast, cross-genre richness, which eventually becomes his very own. The most amazing quality of his is that he always sounds as if he already played this or that specific sub-genre for years, whereas in fact a comprehensive knowledge of his output so far reveals that he is probably one of the most chameleonic Jazz musicians around. But regardless of the specific musical environment Nechushtan selects as his weapon of choice at a specific moment, he is always honest, both with himself and the listener. The quality of players he selects as his partners, the wonderful technical qualities, the incredible melodic wealth and above all the ability to communicate with his fellow musicians and his public alike are a direct result of this honesty. Nechushtan’s music is always an amalgam of influences: first and foremost Jewish music in all forms and shapes, but also the endless varieties of the Jazz Art Form, which together create the new “Jewish Jazz” phenomenon, This album,although less obviously connected with the Jewish context and emphasizing the Jazz tradition and its contemporary state of affairs, is nevertheless an integral part of his continuous musical journey, which is always fascinating and heartwarming.

 

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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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