When choosing the right teacher for lessons in NYC, it’s important to choose right the first time. You don’t want to waste time building a relationship you’ll outgrow, or worse, find yourself dissatisfied with your teachers’ methods. But if you follow these three tips you’ll be able to know that you’re getting a piano teacher worth your time and money.
Classical piano training
First of all, make sure that your piano teacher has been classically trained. Many of the teachers at this company have studied at elite institutions such as Juilliard, Columbia University, and the Manhattan School of Music. Some of our piano teachers have played around the world and performed with internationally recognized musical groups. The bottom line is that they’ve spent decades refining their craft, so that teaching it comes naturally to them.
Teachers with a musical passion
It makes a big difference when you have a piano teacher who loves music as their passion, who has spent their entire life cultivating an understanding and love for piano. Other piano teachers who have a side gig teaching English or doing something else, and continue teaching piano just to make an extra buck are definitely worth avoiding, since they won’t be able to take your progress seriously.
It goes without saying that when your piano teachers are classically trained and love what they do, they can also read music fluently. This is crucial for helping you to play more advanced pieces, for teaching you how music works and helping you gain greater proficiency during your piano lessons overall. Being able to sight read allows you to understand musical theory, which is crucial to becoming an advanced musician. If you don’t know how to read music, or if you eventually stop piano lessons and forget how to read music, it’s easy to plateau as a musician, so that all of the hard work and practice you put in over the years falls away, taking you to the point of where you were a few months after you first started piano lessons.
A piano teacher who meets the above three criteria is the kind of piano teacher to keep working with for years. You won’t outgrow your relationship despite how good you become. When you choose piano lessons with Music to Your Home, you can expect some of the best teachers in NYC.
People with perfect, or absolute, pitch are one in 10,000, which is pretty rare considering lefthanded people are about one in ten and you don’t see them everyday. Much like those with lefthandedness, people with absolute pitch are not smarter than those without; however, they do have a propensity to be more gifted in certain areas. Let’s put it this way: perfect pitch is not necessary to be a musical genius or to even excel in the piano, though it can certainly help being able to recreate a note without a tonal reference. Research shows that those with perfect pitch are better at transcribing music than those without, but those without are better at recognizing musical intervals. Mozart had it, which helped him compose, and some experts argue that Beethoven had it too, but it’s hard to know with certainty.
How to improve your pitch
Perfect pitch may be nice to have for those lucky few, but the rest of us have to content ourselves with humming, singing and dancing. When you’re doing any of these three activities, it’s basically impossible to be sad. Granted, if you’re blue, it can be hard to just get up out of your chair and start to dance or start singing pop standards, but if you warm up by humming, you’ll find that not only will your mood improve, you’ll also warm up your singing voice.
Start by humming high, and move lower once you feel like your pitch is right. Most people start humming too low, and wind up causing unnecessary tension in their vocal chords. Once you’ve identified your pitch with a hum, it’s much easier to start doing vocal exercises that help you focus on enunciation and phrasing. Throw in a little do-re-mi-fa-sol-fa-mi-re-do and in a few weeks your pitch may not be perfect, but it will definitely be a lot better than before. Who doesn’t want a beautiful singing voice to pair with their piano or guitar?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Music isn’t rocket science.
That said, it’s not exactly something you can pick up and learn in a few weeks. It takes studying. It takes dedication. It takes lots and lots of practice.
Have you ever wanted to learn an instrument, but keep putting it off because the time isn’t right? Do you have a son or daughter who you want to teach discipline and self-motivation to? Do you just want to impress all your coworkers at the next holiday party with your incredible oboe skills? (Maybe not…)
Guitar and Piano Lessons are just the beginning
The first step is getting your hands on an instrument, but learning to play goes beyond that, too. You need to understand music as a culture. The different genres, the major players, the major news in the industry, any information you can get your hands on. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to become a master of your craft.
That’s what we’re here for. We want you to learn with us in real life and in virtual life. Taking piano lessons is a great stepping-stone, but if you want to hear live jazz on a random weeknight, where can you go?
When the music instructor leaves your place, you should have an outlet to continue honing the skills you were taught and learning more about those not yet covered.
The Internet is an absolutely amazing resource, and a great tool if you ever get stuck on a particularly difficult part of a song. For example, check out this guy who will teach you how to write a melody that goes with a chorus. This comes with the caveat that watching Youtube videos is NOT a substitute for live, in-person lessons. Youtube is a great resource to expand your musical knowledge, but you can’t interact with Youtube the way you can with an instructor.
Or this little girl absolutely killing it on the guitar. If you ever need inspiration to practice, take this girl’s video to heart.
The Internet is a place where you can take what you’ve learned and find the resources for real life application. Combined with the NYC guitar lessons or piano lessons you’re taking, it’s like having thousands of teachers at your fingertips.
Make music your best friend
Don’t let the learning stop when the lesson ends.
At Music to Your Home, we’re obsessed with music. We’re so obsessed with it we’ve made it our livelihood, and we want you to get obsessed with it, too. There’s more than enough blogs out there addressing things like music reviews, or where to catch some great live music. However, if you want a music outlet you can trust, while still learning the craft, then we’re the place for you.
Check back here a few times a week to see what we’re cooking up, be sure to follow us here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/musictoyourhome, and here on Facebook: www.facebook.com/musictoyourhome, so you’re always up on the latest news. If you’re looking for inspiration to finally learn the ins and outs of music, this is the place to start.
Just take that first step.