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.
- It’s unique. Not many people start out playing the viola, and so you and your instrument would be one of a kind!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Music to your Home (MTYH) has viola teachers available and excited to start teaching YOU today!
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Music has an indescribable power. It can evoke emotions within a moment, stir a memory with the strike of one chord and bring countless hours of enjoyment, love, laughter and tears.
That is why many people have a desire to learn a musical instrument, yet hold back because of one simple reason; age!
It is not just the upper age limit that can present presumed problems, many parents are keen for their children to start along their musical path, but wonder whether they are too young to get started.
As an experienced music teacher I am keen to share my knowledge and expertise with you as we focus on our burning question; is there an upper or a lower age limit to learning a musical instrument? Let’s take those age limits one at a time.
Is There A Lower Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?
Absolutely not! Did you know that you can help your child to take its first steps along its musical journey while it is still in the womb? It is strongly believed that playing music to an unborn child can have a positive impact, in fact, classical music is thought to even improve the intellectual ability of a growing baby, quite a thought!
Once your little bundle of fun has arrived, you will be keen to help that musical journey continue. Evidence suggests that until your child reaches nine years of age, there is a promising window for introducing a musical instrument. Many teachers will not take students until they are at least five years of age. However, this does not mean that your child cannot start to learn before that.
The best way you can help your child to start learning music before he or she reaches an age when they can attend professional music lessons is to expose them to as much music as possible. The aim at this age, is not to introduce them to instruments so that they will master them, but rather to help them develop a relationship and love of music. Even a toddler can fall in love with music!
While a traditional music teacher for a specific instrument may not take students that are very young, you may be able to find a general music class for babies and toddlers. The aim will normally be to help your youngster focus on the music being played, perhaps by swaying to the music, dancing with your baby in your arms or singing or playing music.
As the child grows, perhaps by the age of three, they may be able to attend more formal music lessons, again with a focus on music, rather than a specific instrument.
Once your child is five, they will now have developed a sub-conscious understanding of music, as well as a relationship with it. At this point, you will be in the perfect position to decide which specific instrument your child would enjoy learning. Giving music to your child is certainly one of the finest gifts you could bestow as a parent.
Is There An Upper Age Limit To Learning A Musical Instrument?
So we understand that there isn’t a lower age limit to learning music, but what about the upper age limit? I am going to give you the same clear answer as before; absolutely not!
Music is a gift, and anyone who is blessed with the ability to be alive should feel more than welcome to make use of it. That being said, you should be aware of a couple of crucial things you are going to need if you want to start your musical journey later in life.
Patience is a virtue! For youngsters, having youth on their side tends to speed up the learning process. Also, many have a natural musical talent which can be tapped into very well at a young age. Unfortunately, as the years creep up on us, so does the need for extra patience when embarking on a new venture. So long as you are willing to enjoy each step of the journey, you are going to do just fine!
Learning a musical instrument at an older age also requires a commitment to practice. When youngsters learn an instrument, they tend to be already in a learning system. Many are students at school or kindergarten and may also attend other extracurricular lessons. This means their brain is naturally in learning mode. For older music students, it is time to engage the learning part of your brain and give it enough opportunities to practice that progress will become satisfying.
Indeed being able to play a musical instrument is one of the life’s most enchanting pleasures. Remember, age is only a number, and should never be a roadblock in your quest to become a musician, why you can even use it to your advantage!
As one of the owners of Music to Your Home, I answer calls all day from potential clients looking for music lessons in NYC. I have a checklist of information I take from a new student that helps me match them up with the perfect teacher. But most people who call me aren’t really sure what to ask, so here are a few questions to ask to make your phone call with me effective and informative.
How many years has your company been in business?
Music to Your Home was started in 2003 by high school music teacher and private piano instructor Vincent Reina. Read more about Vincent and the Music To Your Home story here.
How do you hire your teachers?
Vincent and I go through stacks of resumes and hand pick each teacher. They all have a degree in music and many have continued their educations to receive Masters and Doctorate degrees. We personally interview each one of them based on our extremely high standards.
How long are the lessons?
Lessons are usually 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes. If there’s more than one child, we can tweak the length to make sure each child is getting sufficient time.
How do I pay?
You can mail a check to us or pay via credit card. We don’t ask for payment until after the first lesson.
What’s your registration fee?
Zero. Zilch. Nothing. No up-front fees. Ever.
Do I need to have my own instrument? Can you help me find one?
You definitely need to have your own instrument for the lessons. Our teachers simply can’t lug a keyboard or guitar amp all over the city. We can certainly advise you on the perfect instrument to buy for the young beginner, or for our already accomplished musicians we are educational partners with Steinway and have great incentives for our clients.
What about music? Do you provide?
Our teachers will decide what method books and materials are needed and we can have them shipped right to your door.
How are lessons scheduled?
We are here to accommodate you! Let us know what days and times work best and one of our teachers will contact you to schedule. We also provide weekend lessons.
What if I have to cancel?
We ask for 24 hours advance notice of a cancellation. If you give the teacher enough notice, you won’t be charged for a missed lesson. We do make exceptions if a student gets sick on the day of the lesson. We’d consider that an emergency and would not charge you.
I’m moving, can I continue my lessons?
Let us know where – we have teachers all over! If there’s not a teacher in your area, most of our instructors can do on-line lessons so you can continue studying with our NYC teachers!
Do you have a recital?
Yes! Our recital takes place at the end of the school year and all of our students are welcome to participate.
How are the lessons structured?
We don’t subscribe to one lesson plan. Our students are all unique and have different learning styles, so our instructors teach to the particular student. They will all learn how to read music at their own pace.
What if we want to try a new teacher?
Our teachers are the best in NYC and we’re happy to send a different teacher if you wanted to try out someone else.
Now that you have an idea of some questions to ask, give me a call to set up a private music lesson right in your home! 646-606-2515
So you’ve wisely decided to schedule your first in home music lesson. What took you so long? While your child is accessing a part of their brain they didn’t even know existed, you’ve been given the gift of time, so make good use of it!
Since you’re used to schlepping all over the city for various activities, here are some helpful hints to prepare you for in-home instruction.
Set aside a well-lit place in your house where the lesson can take place without interruption. A ringing phone, a TV, an oven timer, a conversation in the next room, or a barking dog become little distractions that are hard to ignore, especially when students are working on rhythms and counting. I’m not saying you need to replicate Abbey Road Studios, but you do need to create a nice, quiet comfortable space.
Speaking of dogs, if you own Cujo, please warn us ahead of time. Most of us don’t mind your pets but it’s always great to know what we are walking into.
Be ready. I keep a pen, pencil and my kids’ music books on the piano and 5 minutes before the teacher arrives, I ask them to turn on the lights and open their books. Yes, it actually takes my 8-year old twin boys 5 minutes to do that. I also remind them to go the bathroom before the lesson starts!
Have a chair for the teacher, a pen, pencil, metronome, tuner, picks, strings, music stand if needed, extra reeds, extra drum-sticks, and basically any materials required to maintain the particular instrument.
You’re paying for our time and we want to make each and every minute count for you, so make sure as soon as we get there your child is ready to learn and we’ll take care of the rest!
Images courtesy of worradmu & radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
5 Reasons Why You Should Play The Piano
If you’ve come across this blog you’re probably already a music lover or someone who’s looking for that one reason to finally start learning an instrument. Here are a few great reasons why you should begin taking piano lessons immediately…
- Playing piano is a major stress reducer: One of the things we hear most from our adult clients is that after a long day at the office, playing the piano at home has a real calming effect on their moods. Playing the piano can refocus your energy and help you become a more creative person. Listening to music can be totally soothing – but the act of performing it can take your mind away from that annoying day at work. Our younger students have experienced the exact same reactions to practicing their instruments. After a day of classes, tests and afterschool activities playing the piano or taking a piano lesson can help relieve anxiety and stress in children as well.
- Playing the piano is good for your brain: Studies have shown that children who begin learning piano at a very young age have better general and spatial cognitive development than children of the same age who have not learned piano. Studying piano can also boost math and reading skills. In addition, taking piano lessons helps with concentration and can therefore improve a students’ overall school performance.
- Playing the piano can help you become a great multitasker: Unlike any other instrument, the piano is unique because you are forced to have two totally different things going on with each hand at the same time. Your brain splits two very complex tasks, (reading treble and bass clefs) between the right and left hand. With practice, putting these tasks together at the same time makes for some really nice music and also trains your brain to focus on several things at once.
- Playing the piano builds self- confidence: We’ve seen this many times with our students. After learning a piece from start to finish even the shyest student will have a feeling of accomplishment. It takes patience, hard work, determination and a love of music to learn the piano and finishing a difficult piece or participating in a performance is a real confidence builder for many people. Performing in recitals at a young age can help students become more comfortable speaking in front large groups and can help make them more confident in social situations.
- Playing the piano is cool: Well it is… Discovering that you have a talent for playing piano is a great feeling. Sitting down and entertaining at a party or social event will always grab people’s attention and can possibly make you more interesting to others. If you’re not sold on this theory just ask a Billy Joel or an Elton John fan!
For in-home lessons, visit our Piano Lessons Page
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Have you ever listened to an amazing violin piece by Paganini, Beethoven or Mozart and wondered how the violinists got so good that they were able to perform these pieces flawlessly? Well, I can guarantee you that every member in the world’s greatest orchestras has spent thousands of hours taking lessons and practicing their craft. With bands today like Coldplay, Lana Del Rey and Adele using more and more string arrangements in their music, the violin has become a very popular instrument to learn.
So regardless of what style of music you’re interested in playing, all good violinists need to learn the basics like holding the bow and correct posture. These are great beginning points to get you moving onto more advanced techniques like vibrato, double stops and playing in different positions.
1) A little goes a long way: Every student should feel that it’s ok to practice only for a few minutes at a time, if that’s what gets them to take out their instrument every day. If you’re terribly busy, several minutes every day will keep building your muscles and help you build up stamina for longer practice sessions. Just playing the open strings or playing a very in tune scale is great practice for a beginner and will help them progress in the future.
2) Love what you’re doing: Love your violin – it’s a beautiful instrument and an amazing work of art to look at and admire. Also, students should constantly be listening to music they love, and learning how to play music they enjoy. Violinists can play both classical and pop melodies, so changing up styles is a good way to keep things interesting.
3) Bowing Technique: Long and full bows on the open strings for 5 or 10 minutes every time you practice. This exercise is for beginner and advanced students and works wonders for both. Always keep your eye on the bow and make sure that it’s staying straight. Keep the bow moving slow and steady the entire time. This can be done on one or two strings. Try to enjoy the vibration of the wood and the ringing of the strings.
4) Practice your pizz: See if you can play your scales or whatever piece you are working on using pizzicato the entire time. By dropping the bow every once in a while, playing pizzicato will help you focus on intonation and other aspects of the music like dynamics and rhythm.
5) Play with a buddy: There’s a new invention called a Bow Buddy, which is available on Amazon and several other music stores. It comes with two pieces, but I prefer the pinky piece. It’s the smaller of the two pieces and goes on the end of the bow and helps students learn to hold the bow correctly while they begin to build the needed hand muscles. It’s a fabulous tool and helps people learn so much quicker in the beginning if they have a “Bow Buddy”.
Hopefully you enjoyed these great tips for beginner students. Keep a look out for our advanced violin tips coming soon!
For lessons, visit our Violin Lessons Page
Today’s technology is playing a huge part in the way we find, hear, and even learn how to play music. iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify are all great ways for music lovers to listen to music and create diverse playlists, but for music teachers and students looking for opportunities to improve their skills and enhance their lessons, music apps have become very popular. Here’s a list of some cool free music apps that we’ve found to be very helpful and fun to use.
Pro Metronome: The name says it all. This is basically a must have for any professional musician, teacher or student. There are many metronome apps to choose from, but the reason I like this one is that it’s extremely user friendly. The beats are loud and can be heard clearly. Changing tempo and time signature is simple and the app also has a mode for subdividing beats. This will help you learn to keep perfect time anywhere you play or practice.
piaScore: This is an amazing app for reading scores. It’s like carrying an entire music library in your pocket or bag. The app comes with over 70,000 free scores alone. The scores are extremely clear and easy to see, especially if used with an iPad. Pages can be turned with a simple swipe or gesture. This app comes with several great tools already built in such as a metronome, tuner and a recorder. These are just a few of the neat things this app can do.
Music Tutor: Here’s a nifty app for improving your note reading in both treble and bass clefs. Identifying notes is made into a timed game. Playing with this app a few times a week will definitely get you memorizing notes on and off the staff and improving your overall reading in a fun way. By incorporating this app into a lesson, teachers are adding technology in a fun way that adds a new dimension to students’ learning and helps keep the lesson fresh and exciting.
Ear Trainer Lite: This app is an educational tool designed for musicians, music students and anyone interested in improving their musical ear. It has exercises covering intervals, chords and scales. The Lite version comes with 32 exercises while the full version has over 200. Ear training is an essential skill all musicians need to work on and this app will surely help.
Multi Track Song Recorder: This is a premier 4 track recording app. According to its description, MTSR Pro allows you to record up to 4 tracks with a simple and easy to use interface. It’s designed with a simple tape recording style and includes many features for creative and more advanced music recording. This app allows you to write and record music from anywhere and also lets you export songs via Dropbox, Email, SMS, and iTunes. So basically many of the capabilities of Garage Band except it’s free to all users.
Epic Tune: I’ve probably used this app a thousand times. Its just another handy tool every musician should have. There are plenty of options for tuners out there, but this one is simple to use, accurate and extremely versatile. The tuner is chromatic and can help tune all types of instruments including guitars, woodwinds, violins and pianos. “If it can sustain a tune the epic tuner can tune it”.
These are just a few of the amazing tools being offered for musicians out there today. The best part is they are all free!
Unlike the guitar, saxophone or piano, when it comes to singing, your body IS your instrument. And we all know that taking care of our bodies is not only paramount to living a healthy life but also helps you sing to your full potential. So when it comes to the idea of little kids starting voice lessons there’s a bit of confusion so allow me, someone who started formal singing lessons at 5 years old and with not a nodule in sight, to clear up any misconceptions.
Let’s begin by saying that most likely your 6 year old isn’t chomping at the bit to sing Italian Art Songs. If they are? Cool, we’ll cover that so read on. They probably enjoy singing the soundtrack to the latest Disney hit or Taylor Swift song. Either way, professionally trained voice teachers know that working with voices that haven’t matured yet require tapping into a skill-set and repertoire that accommodate an undeveloped body and mind.
Our philosophy is pretty simple, we think kids playing music, any kind of music, is igniting that part of the brain those newspaper articles are always talking about, so we’ll teach any song a kid wants, and we’ll show them how to sing it in such a way that they are laying the groundwork for correct vocal technique while having fun! Yes, it’s possible!
The first song I learned how to sing was the theme to Sesame Street. My teacher knew I loved it, it was simple, familiar, and I enjoyed practicing it every day. I eventually moved on to show tunes, ran through the Les Miz book, the Rogers & Hammerstein classics, discovered the Tapestry record, was introduced to Italian Arias and opera, fell in love with jazz, all the while rock and folk rested closely in my heart. But the point I’m making is that every genre I sang as I grew up, I was always using proper technique because my teachers recognized the right repertoire to suit my age and growing body.
Kids today have shows like The Voice to inspire them- and that’s amazing, but some of those contestants have no formal training and are actually straining their voices pretty badly. You can hear a lot of them “sitting” on their vocal chords, putting all that tension on the throat where it doesn’t belong. That’s the damaging stuff we are avoiding with proper coaching.
So are we looking to have your six-year old work on their belly breathing and tongue position? We’ll get there over time, but for now that child will enjoy singing their favorite songs while the seeds to formal training are planted. And you can rest easy knowing they’ll be no permanent damage in sight for your young musician.
For in-home singing lessons, visit: http://www.musictoyourhome.com/voice-singing-lessons-nyc/
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer, and for some, that officially ends their music lessons. Why? We still can’t figure it out!
The warm weather brings us all outdoors, but when it’s time to cool off, we can send our kids in to watch television, or to practice music. The idea right now of spending another minute indoors seems daunting. But let’s all remember that it does in fact rain during those hot months. And with the sun beating those dangerous rays on us, everyone needs a break. And that’s when practicing an instrument is going to keep the cobwebs out of those growing brains.
With summer also comes no homework, no after-school activities, no big projects and no reading logs to sign off on. So playing music is a great way to help your child keep some of the discipline they’ve maintained throughout the school year. With less distractions from other activities, a child can hone in on the skills they’ve been learning all year without feeling like they need to rush through practicing.
Summer is also a great time to introduce your child to an instrument they’ve expressed interest in playing at school. Their band, chorus or orchestra experience will be so much more rewarding when they are able to keep up with their peers.
Sending your child to sleepaway camp? Pack their instrument and some sheet music. Many camps have talent nights or even “house bands” that kids can participate in.
So just because the mercury has risen, don’t throw away all those hours of hard work. Encourage your child to keep at it and I promise you, one day, they will thank you for it.
So you’ve finally decided to give yourself or your child the opportunity to learn how to play the piano. Good choice! The amount of benefits that come from taking music lessons is endless, but we can talk about those in another blog. This article will answer some of the common questions we get before someone begins lessons and will also identify the things you need to get the most out of your lessons.
Your first piano lesson should be a very fun and exciting time. You are about to learn how to create music, and most likely this is something you or your child has been expressing interest in. You’re also about to meet your new piano teacher. Hopefully this will be a person you will spend many years learning from and building up a great relationship with.
A few things that you will need before your teacher arrives
If you are taking lessons in your home then the most important thing you will need is a working piano or keyboard. If you have an acoustic piano, its best to have the instrument tuned by a professional piano technician before your teacher arrives. This will make playing on the instrument a lot more enjoyable to listen to. If you are learning on an electronic keyboard, we suggest that the keyboard has at least 61 keys and that all of them are working. Also, the room that the instrument is in should be a quiet place with no interruptions or external noise. This will give you the best chance of keeping your focus on the lesson.
What will I learn at my first lesson?
At your first piano lesson your teacher will assess your current musical skills. Some beginner students have already tried to learn on their own using tutorials or playing by ear, but for the most part, beginner students have no experience whatsoever. Your teacher will go over the very basic techniques about how to play the piano including correct posture, hand position, finger curving and wrist placement. Most teachers will use a method book such as the Alfred or Bastien beginner methods. These books have detailed sequential exercises that help with all of these techniques. An introduction to the keyboard will be given pointing out the patterns that the black and white keys create and of course the introduction of middle C is always an important first lesson staple. After a brief overview of the keyboard, simple rhythms are usually taught. The quarter and half note generally show up during the first lesson and the first few songs learned will be composed of these rhythms. Another important first lesson skill you will learn will be finger numbers. This is so important because it’s something that never changes and will help a lot as you advance in your method book. Depending on the length of your first lesson this is a lot of material to absorb for one week.
What do I do after my first lesson?
When your teacher leaves, you will have an assignment book with detailed notes on exactly what things you need to practice for the week. Generally there is a small amount of writing (theory) that will help you understand musical notation but for the most part you will be getting familiar with the keyboard and setting up your hand and finger positions.
How long until I can see results?
This is a very common question we get. The answer is very simple. That is up you or your child. Practice is the main factor when making improvements at the piano. If a daily practice schedule is set up, then the skills learned at the lessons will improve consistently and progress will be quick. The same goes for not practicing… results will be slow to none if practice is not consistent.
Hopefully this sheds some light on what to expect in the beginning of your piano journey. Remember to practice and have fun!
For piano lessons in your home, visit: http://www.musictoyourhome.com/piano-lessons-nyc/