Inspiration

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Adult Music Lessons - Guitar Lessons - Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts

The “Should Syndrome” And Learning To Play Like a Child

Rianne M.

There exists in my adult students a special phenomenon that I have affectionately labeled The “Should” Syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome include excessive self-doubt, narrow judgment regarding what is going well with their playing, and when their frustration is at its peak, passive aggression toward their teacher when she tries to give them a compliment.    It is always interesting to note the difference in attitude between the kids I teach and the adults I teach. Some of the adults enjoy music as much as the kids do, but there is always an air of self-consciousness about their age and what they don’t already know (read: what they “should” already know by their age). Mistakes in lessons are immediately followed by apologies. Comments are made about how they may be “too old” to still be trying to learn this. They lament, “I would be good at this now if I had just started playing when I was young.” Etc., etc., etc.

Kids, on the other hand (especially the younger ones), rarely apologize or even acknowledge their mistakes. An eight year-old who gets a new guitar rips it out of the delivery box and immediately starts banging on it and sliding his fingers around the fretboard, experimenting with the different sounds even though he doesn’t know anything about the instrument yet. This is because he is too busy being interested in this new, alien thing in front of him than he is with what the world’s expectations of him regarding that thing are. A thirty-eight year-old often comes to their first lesson waiting for instructions and not doing anything until the teacher instructs them to, for fear of looking silly. Ultimately, this is not such a bad thing, but they don’t feel free to experiment and connect with their guitar on their own level because this way might not be the “correct” way.  I see this in my more experienced adult students too, as well as my musician colleagues. Once you’re older, your personal responsibilities and psychological demons start to cloud your connection with your art. As adults – both beginners and professionals – we are all familiar with the following scenario:

It’s a weekday afternoon and I need to squeeze in some practice time in the only free hour I have today. As I pick up my instrument, I remember for the third time that the rent is due tomorrow and I’m still waiting for that one check to clear. There’s nothing I can do about it now, but it’s still bothering me. I begin to warm up by playing some scales. As I play and some notes don’t come out as well as I would like them to, I begin to tense up my hands and body. Then the tension makes it even harder. I watched a YouTube video of a ten year-old prodigy playing faster-than-lightning this morning. I’m at least a decade older and I can’t play these scales nearly that fast. My mistakes don’t just feel physically uncomfortable now. I feel silly for making them, as if someone is in the room with me and judging me for being a bad person.

Speaking of being a bad person, I got into a fight with my significant other yesterday and said some mean things, and along with the rent, that’s on my mind too. I look at the clock and I have half an hour left. I still feel silly about those mistakes with my scales, but now it’s time to move on to the pieces I’ve been working on. I still don’t like my sound right now, but I know I have to get this work done.

The phone rings as I’m ten minutes into working on this piece. There’s an issue with a project I’ve been assigned to at work and I need to put down my instrument and go to the computer to solve it. I could fix it later, but my boss will probably want it done right now, and I don’t want to look bad. I’ll need to practice everything another day, even though my sound is still not great and I only have a few days before my next lesson. When will I ever sound like that kid in the video? What am I even doing with my life?

Young children don’t go through this thought process when they play. Children do not have all of the subconscious biases about how the world “should” be, like adults do. They do not separate the everything in their environment into strict categories, like adults do. They do not have a defined idea of who they are yet, so they do not exclude possibilities and pursue their interests without hesitation. (A friend of mine who teaches elementary school told me a story about how on the day before winter break, she had her students cut out and color pictures of holiday objects. The choices included Christmas trees, menorahs, etc. When a boy from a Jewish family chose a Christmas tree, she inquired as to what made him choose Christmas symbols rather than Hannukah ones. The boy stared at her, puzzled by the question, and said “I just think that the tree is pretty”. What many adults would assume he “should” choose did not even occur to him!)

Because of this openness, children have an extreme advantage when it comes to learning anything, and they absorb information like a sponge. The advantage to starting to play music when you are younger, then, is not because people eventually become “too old” to learn – the advantage lies in the fact that the more time you spend studying music when you are a child, the more time you’ve spent building a connection to music without ever questioning your worth at it or having to deal with adulthood’s endless distractions. This connection causes a snowball effect of positive experiences, which slowly creates a positive self-image regarding music for an individual once they have reached adolescence and eventually, adulthood. By this time, they are not trying to learn music – they are a musician.

What is the solution, then? Obviously, we cannot do a System Restore on our minds to make ourselves stop thinking like an overly self-aware adult.

Recognize that even if the voice inside your head has some unhelpful things to say, you can learn to silence it and just enjoy the music. Think about all of the things that you enjoyed as a little kid with unbridled passion and how you approached those things. Have fun and stop the adult voice in your head that says your picture is “wrong” because you didn’t color in the lines. Play like a child…

Rianne M. is currently giving guitar lessons in NYC to adults and children, and occasionally blurs the line between them with her teaching styles.  Contact us today to schedule a lesson with her!

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flute lessons
Flute Lessons - Inspiration - Music History - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Nature

From ancient bird bones to concert halls. Unlocking the mystery of the Flute.

The oldest instrument in the world is the flute; to be specific, a couple of 42,000 year-old bird-bone flutes found in a cave in Germany. The last few centuries have transformed the Western concert flute from a hollow stick or bone with holes in it into a shiny, intricately wrought metal tube with a complex mechanism of keys, springs and rods. However, the musical character of the flute is still closely tied to its history as a ceremonial instrument and with the natural world of wood and bird-bones from which the earliest flutes were fashioned. With its shimmering tone and ability to play very high and very fast, the flute can evoke the calls of birds, rolling hills and soaring skies, while it’s dark and smooth low register conjures up an air of mystery and ritual.

It’s an amazing feeling to play an instrument with such deep history, but that’s only part of the flute’s story…

Over the last century there has been increasing interest into the sound-world of the flute beyond its beautiful and rich tone. When I first began delving into this world in my early years of college at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and more recently at the Manhattan School of Music, I was astonished by the variety of possible sounds: the low beat of a distant drum, the sound of a passing jet, gentle rapid fluttering (the sound of amplified hummingbird wings?), very high whistling, the crisp POP of popping corn, a train horn, a siren… the list goes on (and beyond easy comparison with environmental sound). These sounds are known as extended techniques, and the flute has one of the most diverse ranges of extended techniques of any instrument.  Extended techniques have been increasingly explored by performers and used by composers over the last century because as well as being fun sounds in themselves, they broaden the expressive possibilities of instruments. If you think about it as an artists’ paint palette, extended techniques have broadened the color range of instruments from the primary colors of traditional tone to a vast range of mixtures and shades.

As well as expanding the expressive potential of instrumental music to fit with our ever-changing world, extended techniques can be extremely useful practice tools. An important reason for learning music is that it sharpens our ears and it teaches us to listen. However, the attention to detail necessary for productive practice can be frustrating for students, and this is where extended techniques can be very helpful. Incorporating extended techniques into learning an instrument can re-introduce the freedom of play into a context that can quickly become obsessive and un-creative. Sometimes when that high note just won’t come out the way we want it, rather than repeating it over and over and becoming annoyed and disheartened, playing a few multiphonics (for example) can help press the re-start button: refreshing the ear, re-connecting with a spirit of experimentation and in this case approaching the issue of air-speed (the problem behind the troublesome high note) from a totally different angle.

Learning an instrument is many things, and it is something different to everyone, but without a doubt it should be fun and creative! The best music comes from a place of imagination as well as great technique!

Andrea W. is now available for flute lessons in your home or online.  Contact Music To Your Home to schedule yours with her today!

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Inspiration - Music Lessons - New York City - Performance - Trumpet Lessons

A trumpet player living the NYC Dream: An Interview with David N.

Music To Your Home is proud to work with the best and brightest music teachers NYC has to offer, and David N. is no exception.  He holds degrees from Juilliard, New England Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music.  An impressive resume is one thing, but beyond that, David is a passionate teacher and all around nice guy with great advice for trumpet players.
1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting trumpet lessons for their children?
David: When I started out playing trumpet, my parents were nothing but supportive. I showed interest in music at an early age, and I think my parents knew to nurture that as well as let me know that it would take some work on my part to learn to read music, to play the trumpet, to perform in front of people, etc. Music is a hard but very fun topic to learn at an early age because I think while progress can’t be technically “measured”, there certainly is an aspect of tangible knowledge the student will learn that they can then put to use on the trumpet or whatever their instrument is. Music truly teaches the student much more than just how to play an instrument and notes on a page, and I think the awareness that music can teach discipline, creativity, and can support a social environment is very important.
2) How you inspire your students?
David: To me, inspiration comes from listening to other people play music. I’ve found that while providing a solid base knowledge of instrument fundamentals, music theory, and other skills that pertain to ones musicianship; exposing a student to different types of music, art, etc. helps. I always ask my students, “What type of music do you listen to?”, and “Have you ever heard music with trumpet in it?” I feel that by finding music that they can now strive to play really ignites the student’s drive to want to work to a particular level.
3) What is the youngest trumpet student you have taught?
David: The youngest students I have taught have been around 6 years old.
 
4) How much daily practice time does it take to become a good trumpet player?
David: While trumpet is a difficult instrument to learn, I think that a solid and focused 25 minutes a day can really put the student into a disciplined mindset to make consistent progress.
5) What is your favorite book to use with beginner trumpet students?
David: The Standard of Excellence books are great beginner material, and for my more advanced students, the Rubank book or the Arban’s are typically the life-long study material for trumpet players.
6) What do you love most about teaching trumpet lessons in NYC?
David: In the past three years of living and teaching in NYC, I have met some unbelievably bright students. I think being exposed to what NYC has to offer culturally (music, art, dance, education, etc.), really puts some students on a higher creative level. Being able to go see world-class musicians in Lincoln Center, the West Village, all over the city; really ignites the students inspiration to want to progress to that higher level.
7) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
David: My most memorable teaching experience was when I was on faculty at the Torino Jazz Festival Juilliard Jazz Workshop. The first day, I was greeted by about 12 trumpet students who were eager to take me to coffee, and hear about NYC, jazz, my inspirations, my influences, etc. After a week of meeting with them 8 hours a day and coaching an ensemble, they were then told they would be performing at the final day of the Torino Jazz Festival on the main stage. Watching them perform one of my pieces was an incredibly humbling experience, and afterwards being thanked so sincerely was truly an amazing feeling.
8) When and where was your most  memorable performance?
David: In 2011, I performed at the Panama Jazz Festival with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Nerves aside, the feeling of walking onstage greeted by over 10,000 audience members was truly the most overwhelming feeling I’ve had performing. Afterwards we were approached by interviewers, and audience members who wanted autographs. It was really a feeling of love that came from the audience that I had never felt before.
9) Who are the trumpet players that have inspired you?
David: Everyone who has ever played trumpet before me, and after meeting so many musicians, trumpet players, and most importantly, friends; in the past 10 years of going to college, and living in NYC. They are the ones that inspire me.
 
10)What is your favorite piece to play on the trumpet?
David: My favorite experience playing music is playing music of my peers. It’s truly an honor to be playing with such amazing composers and players, and have access to their creativity while we try and make music together.
11) What do you love about NY and being a musican in NY?
David: Since I first learned about jazz, living in NYC has always been a dream of mine. While living in NYC as a musician isn’t the easiest lifestyle, the inspiration all of us get here is second to none. Being able to see and hear and meet, and even play with these musicians who I have listened for years, is truly inspiring. The culture in NYC is so forward-thinking and it’s a daily inspiration to be around like-minded people.
When he’s not gigging or making records, David teaches trumpet to students all over the great city of NY.  Contact us to schedule a private trumpet lesson with him today!
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Inspiration - Music Lessons - New York City - Performance - Piano Lessons - Piano Recital

10 Reasons Why Music Lessons Are Highly Effective: An Infographic

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Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts - Viola 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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Inspiration - Musical Thoughts - Piano Lessons

8 Questions About Piano Lessons Answered by One of Our Experts

13873140_1191854087501350_5915102465032288443_nOne of our favorite NYC piano teachers, Rita R. answered some often asked and important questions about piano lessons, her teaching philosohpy and favorite musical moments.
1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting piano lessons for their children?
Rita: Piano lessons are a great way to introduce children to music and deeper understandings of history, culture, and expression in a way that is fun and interactive. Their appreciation for music will stay with them for the rest of their lives and they will grow in every way!
2) Why do you think the piano is such a popular instrument for very young students?
Rita: The piano is a very visual and tactile instrument. Very young children can develop their fine motor skills as well as their ear. They can distinguish different sounds, high and low, patterns and string it all together to make music.
3) What are some obstacles that piano students face when learning how to play and how can they be overcome?
Rita: Many students struggle with not understanding right away, or having a harder time multitasking (thinking about finger patterns, hand shape, rhythm and notes all at the same time), but we work on those things all the time by taking each component and working on it separately, and going at the pace of the student. I tailor every lesson to the student’s interests so that they can progress and enjoy musicmaking.
4) How much daily  practice time does a beginner need to realize steady progress and become a proficient player?
Rita: Daily practice is very important, but the amount is less important than the point of practice. Every practice session should have a goal, even if it’s tackling only one tricky measure. If it takes 5 minutes or 30, it’s still an accomplishment. Practice goals are more important than setting a time.
5) What benefits can come from learning the piano?
Rita: Piano gives an understanding of music, history, and art. It helps students in multitasking, working in an intelligent and time-efficient way, and handling projects easily. Music helps in recognizing patterns, fine motor skills, work ethic, and most importantly gives students an outlet for expression.
6) What do you love about teaching piano and being a performer?
Rita: I tailor my lessons to my students, and the more I teach the more I learn about my own approach. I also really enjoy working with students of all ages – every student brings their own interests and personalities, and we end up learning from each other. It is also a privilege to pass on what I have learned from my own teachers and mentors. As a performer, I enjoy sharing my connection to the music with my audience, and it’s an amazing experience.
7) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
Rita: The moment when a student realizes that they can do what the music is asking is always memorable!
8) When and where was your most memorable performance?
Rita: My senior recital and my Masters recital were both big events because they signified a culmination of my own understanding of music and style, helped by my wonderful teachers. They were also jumping off points for my future performances.
To study with Rita, contact Music to Your Home today! 646-606-2515 or visit our piano lessons page
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Guitar Lessons - Inspiration - Music Lessons - Musical Thoughts

When the guitar teacher becomes the student, and other insights from one of our Rock Gods.

Music to Your Home is lucky to be able to work with musicians from around the world, and Alejandro M. comes to us with words of wisdom from Argentina.  Currently he’s a professional guitar player and teacher living the dream and gigging all over NYC.

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Alejando M.

 

1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting guitar lessons for their children?
Alejandro: I’d very much encourage them to do so! Music is a form of expression and a language that allows children to pour out feelings they might be too shy to share otherwise. Once they learn how to play, music is something that will accompany and grow up with and in them throughout the years.
 
2) Why do you think guitar lessons are so popular?
Alejandro:  Perhaps because guitar is a bit more accessible than other instruments. In the sense that with a few weeks practice you might be playing a first round of songs already. As opposed to violin or saxophone for example, that, while amazing instruments, they can be somehow more challenging. We can’t avoid mentioning that the guitar is the instrument most showcased in billboards, commercial adds, etc. being widely associated with pop/rock icons. That weighs in too on some level.
 
3) What is the right age for a child to start taking guitar  lessons?
Alejandro:  I’d say after 10 years old. 
4) How much daily practice time does it take to become a good guitar player?
Alejandro:  There are no magic formulas. All the guys that play guitar really well, or any other instrument for that matter, it’s because they spent time with it. In that sense, I always tell students that it’s much better to practice maybe 10, 15 minutes every day, or every other day, rather than sitting down one day before the lesson and go for hours. Of course, the more time, the better. It’s a skill and needs to be developed regularly.
 
5) Do you incorporate finger exercises and note reading into your lessons?
Alejandro:  Definitely. Technique exercises are fundamental to begin gaining control over the fingers and have them do what you want, not the other way around. Note reading is also a very important aspect of my lessons but unless we’re aiming for classical pieces, I like to introduce the music notation system once we’re already playing some songs. Starting with a lot of theory from scratch in guitar for popular tunes can sometimes turn a bit overwhelming and non musical, in the practical sense.
 
6) What is the most popular style of music your students ask to learn?
Alejandro:  Generally Rock/Pop.
 
7) What do you love about teaching guitar lessons?
Alejandro:  What I love the most is to watch how the student make progress – that can be very satisfying. And I also love the fact that I’m learning too. When you see someone taking their first steps with the guitar, in a way, I rediscover things and look at them from another perspective. When you don’t know, you associate things differently and arrive to different places, right or wrong. Places that perhaps after playing for 17 years I wouldn’t have thought of. 
8) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
Alejandro:  Seeing former students that now have grown up, formed their own bands, performing live, writing their own songs, making their own records and their own musical statements. That’s the full circle, right there.
9) When and where was your most memorable performance?
Alejandro:  The last concert I did in Buenos Aires, in a theater, before moving to NYC. And the first here in New York as well, both very emotional milestones in my career.
 
10) Who are the guitarists that have inspired you?
Alejandro:  Many. But if I had to pick two, I’d go with Wes Montgomery & BB King.
11)What is your favorite type of music to play and what is your favorite guitar.
Alejandro:  Definitely Blues. My favorite guitar is the Fender Telecaster 72′ Custom Series. Or most of the hollow body ones.
12) What do you love about NY and being a musican in NY?
Alejandro:  From the city itself I love the diversity, the melting pot aspect of it. And as a musician I believe that being among such talented people, in every field, you inevitably become better. My songwriting grew a lot in the 4 years I’ve been living here. As an artist you’re a sponge that absorbs everything in your surroundings, and this is a very rich environment to be in.
Alejandro is available for guitar lessons in NYC.  Call us to schedule yours!
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Inspiration - Musical Thoughts - Piano Lessons 2

Find Your Inner Peace. Play piano.

piano lessons nyc

Why do we spend all those hours practicing and learning how to read music? Well, I guess there are a lot of reasons we take piano lessons or lessons on any instrument for that matter.

 

For most of us, we started learning an instrument because our parents forced us to, or it was just another activity we couldn’t wiggle our way out of at school. But for some people, learning an instrument is a great outlet for creativity and an opportunity to tap into our talents.

 

Some of us love the challenge of sitting at the piano and reading a new piece of music for the first time. Maybe it’s a song you heard on the radio or in a movie or perhaps it’s something you grew up listening to. Being able to recreate that sound and moment in time can be a very rewarding experience. Music has a way of bringing back emotions we felt at certain times in our lives. Being able to create those moments yourself, without the help of itunes is very empowering.

 

Playing an instrument and making music in general can be an amazingly peaceful experience if you want it to be. I have played piano since I was 9 and learning those notes at the beginning was tedious to me. It took me about 4 years of constant reminding from my parents to practice until I realized I actually had a talent! So after all the hard work and practice I found that learning new music and even playing old songs became much easier and enjoyable.

 

For young students, playing the piano can have advantageous effects on the development of the brain and can also help build self-confidence. Those same effects are realized by adults too, but as an adult I find now that sitting at the piano and playing the songs I like is a major stress reliever.

 

No matter how long or stressful your day might have been, if it was the late subway, the long commute, the snoring guy on the bus – sitting and playing an instrument can take you away from all the things in your life that are causing you anxiety, even if it’s only for a few minutes. So next time you’re feeling stressed, find your favorite sheet music, sit down and play and try to find your inner peace.

 

Namaste

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