Music Lessons

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Guitar Lessons - Music Lessons

Buying an Electric Guitar for Lessons

When starting out with guitar lessons, it’s important to have a guitar of one’s own. While you may be reluctant to invest too much in a beautiful instrument, there are good reasons to splurge, especially if you imagine playing guitar for the rest of your life. Guitars are pieces of art which can be hung on a wall, and unlike cars, boats, and motorcycles, fine guitars appreciate in value as time passes, though you shouldn’t buy a guitar with the intention to sell.

Bargain Options

There are lots of guitars for under $500, perfect for beginners just starting in lessons. One of the best options is the Hagstrom Swede, rated so by users on MusicRadar.com. But also at the top of the list are cheaper alternatives made by classic guitar companies such as the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, made by Gibson, and the Squier Classic ’50s Vibe Telecaster, by Fender.

Telecasters vs. Stratocasters

If you know you want to take guitar lessons for many years to come, you’d do well to examine those made by Fender. Long has the debate raged between Telecasters and Stratocasters, but what’s the real difference between these two guitars?

Both have alder bodies and maple necks and are the same size, although the Strat has a headstock a bit heavier. As far as the pickups go, the Strat has a 5-way pickup selector switch, while the Tele has a 3-way, which means that there are more available options for tones on a Strat. And because the Strat has 3 single-coil pickups and the Tele has a Broadcaster pickup at the bridge and a custom one in the neck, the overall sound is different. Telecasters can be classified as twangier, while Strats are what you think of when you think serious shredding. Ultimately it comes down to which sound you prefer when you play them at the guitar store before you buy. You may be more into getting country guitar lessons, but if you like the sound of a Strat, go with it.

No matter what you choose, as you take more guitar lessons you’ll come to love your guitar and appreciate the beautiful music it makes.

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violin lessons nyc
Music Lessons - Violin Lessons

Music to Listen to Before NYC Violin Lessons

Lessons are crucial to playing violin confidently, but there are other ways you can boost your violin skills outside of that one hour a week.

The most obvious is through practice. Half an hour a day is standard, but if you find yourself only doing that a few times a week, the problem may be your schedule. Try to play at the same time each day to stay motivated. That way if you practice every evening at 8 o’clock, you’ll feel like you’re missing something if you don’t. Another good way to get in the mood for your violin training session is by playing one of your favorite movements from that violin concerto that’s been stuck in your head.

Listen to violin music

The best way to get excited about violin lessons in NYC is to have a piece you really want to play. For those of you unfamiliar with violin concertos, here are a few of the best:

Any of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Bach’s Violin Concertos in A Minor and E Major
Mozart’s Concerto 3 in G Major, No. 4 in D Major, and No. 5 in A Major
Louis Spohr’s Violin Concerto 8 in A Minor
Beethoven’s Concerto in D Major
Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor
Max Bruch Concerto No. 1 in G Minor
Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 in A Minor
Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major
Paganini Violin Concerto in D Major
Camille Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor
Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole Op 21
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major
Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D Minor
Dvorak Violin Concerto in A Minor
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major

Other Tips to Prepare for Your NYC Violin Lessons

This list of 16 concertos should be enough to get any young violin player interested in learning a specific piece of music. Parents reading this should help their kids stay motivated by buying this music and playing it in the car so that it becomes familiar. Once a piece becomes familiar enough to hum, you’ll be surprised at how much more your kids will want to practice. That allows them to create the very music they want to play, while staying relaxed and playing with emotion.

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Piano lessons NYC
Music Lessons

The 3 Dumbest Complaints People Make About Their Favorite Musicians

Everyone has a band or musician that they hold in higher regard than all other artists. You expect perfection out of this person who has touched your life with their music. We often get people coming to us looking for piano classes in the city (or any instrument, for that matter), wanting to emulate their favorite artists.

Inevitably, said artist will one day do something that shatters your illusion of them. Maybe they snubbed you for an autograph after you waited hours for them after their show, maybe you hear they’re collaborating with Nicki Minaj, or maybe they decide to make a country album when they’ve always been rock. Whatever the case may be, there are always three distinct complaints people have when their favorite artist, in their mind, screws up.

1. Their newest album sounds nothing like their old stuff

Nobody wants to sit around doing the same thing over and over his or her whole life. Routine can be good, but not when it pigeonholes you into a lifestyle that you don’t enjoy.

You don’t want to be forced to churn out the same work for the rest of YOUR life, so why should your favorite artist?

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This guy is NOT happy about whatever he is being forced to do.

Eventually, people want to take risks. They want to go in a whole new direction, despite what people are telling them is the right thing for them to do. Nobody ever remembered the person who never progressed as a person and artist. If you’re expecting your favorite band to never branch out and explore different genres, then you’re eventually going to get bored of them, and so will everyone else. It’s up to the band to continually “wow” their audience, reach new fans, and explore their own capabilities.

2. They got too popular

It’s never a band’s goal to do underground shows its whole life in the hopes that they never play to a crowd larger than 100 people. If your favorite band or artist sees success, than that means that they are doing something right, and other people are lauding them for it.

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Mumford and Sons seems to have gained some steam since 2007

Yes, you might have to catch them at a larger venue next time they come around, but remember that this is probably what they wanted in the first place. When you start taking piano lessons in NYC, isn’t your ultimate goal to, one day, dazzle Carnegie Hall with your musical gifts?

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This could be you.

Getting popular is entirely different than “selling out.” Selling out entails abandoning your original creative ideas as a band in favor of what someone tells you to do so you’ll make money.

However, there ARE bands whose goal is just to make money, and its unfortunate to realize that your favorite band was one of them. But getting popular for making good music is an entirely different issue. Be happy that the music you fell in love with is also resonating with such a large body of people. If you’ve ever told someone to listen to that band or artist, their ensuing fame is all your hard work paying off.

3. They don’t care about their fans

It’s easy to think you know an artist or band on a personal level when you connect so deeply with their music. It’s hard to make the distinction that, in reality, you know absolutely nothing about the person behind the music. It’s also hard to accept that they are, in fact, human. Just like you.

piano lessons nyc

Beyonce loves a good bargain at WalMart, just like the rest of us.

It’s easy to write off an artist forever if you meet them and they’re not-so-friendly, or you hear about their insane antics in a news article or magazine. But you can never truly know what they experienced to lead up to that event. Magazines need stories and will spin them whatever way they need to sell papers. Maybe your favorite singer was having a horrible day and simply didn’t want to be bothered. You’ll never know.

Drawing a line between a person and the way they portray themselves through their art is the toughest part of being a fan, and it’s hard to not take a bad interaction personally. But, just like every other human on the planet, they have pressing concerns that stem beyond their job. The only difference is they don’t get to have a bad day without someone posting about it all over the Internet.

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Music 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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Guitar Lessons - Music Lessons

Guitar Lessons: Some Quick Tips for Big Improvements

So you’ve been taking lessons on the guitar for a few months now, and you’re finally starting to get the hang of things. You practice regularly, you’re careful about your technique, maybe you’ve even convinced your instructor to let you learn a few of your favorite songs.

However, there’s always an aspect to any instrument that nobody tells you about and you have to learn on your own. Here’s a few quick tips that will help you see drastic improvements.

1. Change you guitar strings regularly

Those strings get worn down from all that guitar shredding. Some people swear by changing the strings once a month, but if you manage to change them out once every 3 months or so, you should be fine. Learn how to do it yourself (it’s easier than you think!).

2. Warm up before you play!

Just like runners need to stretch before they hit the pavement, you should be warming up your fingers before you delve into your daily rundown of guitar solos. Go through chord progressions over and over to get your fingers loosened. My guitar teacher used to take the first 20 minutes of class warming up with chord progressions. Sometimes I wanted to hit him over the head with my guitar because of it. Now, I realize the value in it when I can stretch my fingers to hit the high notes.

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3. Get some musical background

How can you expect to ever be an expert at something if you don’t know the basic knowledge behind it? Taking some music theory courses or reading some music history books will transform you from guitarist to musician. It’s going to take a while to get the ins and outs of it, but once you start to truly understand music, you won’t just be playing songs anymore.

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4. Let other people hear you

I get it, playing in front of other people can be scary. Playing WITH other people can be even scarier. However, anyone who plays an instrument knows that everyone is always at different skill levels. Let people know you’re learning and are just looking ot jam, and get feedback from those who are willing to listen to you play. That is why you’re taking guitar lessons in the first place, right? So people can hear your wonderful music? Then get out there and share some tunes with the world!

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5. Record yourself

Sometimes you just need to hear it for yourself. You can’t really know how you’re sounding if you’re focused too much on just trying to get through the song. Record yourself and play it back. It will be very enlightening. You can gauge if you speed up when you play (most of us do), how smooth your transitions are, if you’re playing the song the way you think you are in your head. Nothing helps improvement like personal insight.

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Music Lessons - Violin Lessons

The Best Violinists of All Time

nyc violin lessons

Paganini, by Ingres.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.

What makes a great violinist? Just like most things in life, it helps to practice a lot. Once you have gained enough confidence from your violin training, you should have a broad capacity for bowing, dynamics, sound and color. It may take years, even decades, but if you really love violin, you can start offering violin lessons of your own, and maybe even start composing and aiming to topple the big names, three of which are featured below.

Violin Practice Makes Perfect

Paganini is considered one of the best violinists of all time. Why? Because he was so well-practiced. Talk about violin lessons: Paginini used to play ten hours a day. When he died, many assumed he was supernatural, and thought he would have extra cartilage in his fingers; however, the cartilage in his hands was worn down, much like that in a marathon runner’s knee, from playing so much. He is known for having never missed a note on his Guarneri violin, made in 1743, and for playing his entire Caprices on one string. Here’s one of his most famous ones:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Corelli was born in 1653 and is known for having influenced a number of violin techniques, such as posture, bowing form, and fingering. He was known for despising high notes, and for rarely playing above the D string. In one famous anecdote, Corelli refused to play an overture that included an altissimo A in Handel’s oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Truth. He was offended when the composer, 32 years his junior, played it anyway. Bach was heavily influenced by Corelli too.

http://youtu.be/1t8aLJcL7J4

The Perennial Four Seasons

Vivaldi is another great baroque violinist, and today is probably the second most popular baroque composer only to Bach. In fact, Bach drew upon the bright melodies of Vivaldi’s concerti, of which The Four Seasons is a prime example, in his St. Matthew’s Passion, St. John’s Passion and cantatas. Bizarrely, despite Vivaldi’s fame while alive, after his death his work passed into obscurity. It was not until the 20th century that a resurgence in popularity for Vivaldi arrived.

Hopefully, listening to these amazing compositions will inspire you to continue with your NYC violin lessons, or to start them if you haven’t already!

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Guitar Lessons - Music Lessons

The First Step in Becoming a Guitar God

 

Getting guitar training is the first step in becoming a guitar god. Well, after you buy a guitar. The next part, the key to getting really good at guitar, is practice. Guitar lessons offer a mentor and way to stay on track. Think of each lesson as a weekly test that will keep you determined to impress your teacher. Your guitar lesson instructor can correct any mistakes you may be making, and challenge you to learn harder songs and techniques. After that hour of guitar lessons, it’s on you to love your instrument and play every day, to prepare for next week.

Guitar Gods of the Past

To give you an idea of how past guitar gods have made reached the pantheon, look at Eddie Van Halen. He used to strap his guitar around his neck and sit on his bed playing for hours at a time. When other kids were going out to party, he was practicing. That’s dedication. Eventually he become one of the world’s greatest.

NYC guitar lessons are super helpful when you have questions about technique, when you think you’re doing something wrong, or when you want to learn a new song or style of playing. Sometimes playing really slowly, making sure you hit all the right notes, or making sure that your strum pattern is perfect and everything else is right is the best way to practice by yourself. Listening to your favorite guitar solos can inspire you to learn them, bringing out your love for music even more and making it easy to practice guitar for half an hour a day. You can find tabs for solos and your favorite songs online. Also try to listen to classical music, to appreciate the foundation for awesome riffs and sick solos. Eddie Van Halen was a student of classical piano before he ever picked up a guitar. Reading music can help too.

Different (Guitar) Strokes

Stevie Ray Vaughan—a blues guitar god—didn’t know how to read sheet music. Then again, he also had cocaine and whiskey for breakfast during his later years—not exactly a role model. Some guitar gods reach their status through a natural amount of talent. Music theory is also important, and because of its difficulty, it’s a great subject to explore with your mentor during guitar lessons.

Another guitar great who played as much as he could was Jimi Hendrix. He couldn’t afford guitar lessons, since he was so poor growing up in Seattle, so he took guitar lessons from blues masters. Jimi is perhaps best known for how he used distortion so originally. He was also famous for doing crazy tricks while performing, like biting and smashing his guitar. Some people say that he was sloppy, that he would take tabs of acid and put them in his headband, so that while he performed his pores opened and he became high. But one night he was challenged to play sober, and he played the same way to a standing ovation. Because his hands were so big, he was able to use his thumb over the fretboard to fret the lower E string, thereby creating melodies that are otherwise difficult or impossible to play. Though this technique existed before Jimi, in the early days of blues guitar, it was probably he who popularized it.

Guitar Lessons are Still Your Best Bet

Keep in mind that a lot of the guitar gods who didn’t take guitar lessons were troubled souls who often died young. Who knows—maybe it was easier for them to follow a path of destruction without a guitar mentor to guide them along the way.

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Music Lessons

Why Mozart Matters For NYC Piano Lessons

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Mozart is one of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known. A piece from his Magic Flute opera was incorporated onto the Voyager Golden Record, which was sent into space in 1977 to represent the different forms of life that exist here on earth. The movie “Amadeus,” based on Mozart’s life won Best Picture at the 1984 Oscars. You can still hear Mozart’s music scattered throughout pop culture. Mozart’s legacy is still so prevalent that you might be surprised learning certain pieces were composed by him almost three hundred years ago!

Wolfgang’s Piano Lessons

A prodigy from the age of three, Mozart started playing the piano from the age of four. Little Mozart watched his father give his sister piano lessons, which were actually clavier lessons, and he would stand on tiptoe to play when they were finished. Leopold, his father, taught him to play minuets and would end his lesson after a half hour despite little Mozart’s desire to keep playing.

At seven, his father took him and his sister on a Grand European Tour to show off their family’s exceptional talent. Mozart musical memory was so good, that at 14 he heard a sacred piece of music performed in the Vatican, which not even the choir was allowed to practice beforehand because of its sanctity. After the performance, Mozart ran home, and copied out all of the notes from memory. The next day he heard it again, fixed some small errors in his manuscript and hid it in his hat.

When word got out that a boy from Salzburg had a version of this music, Pope Clement requested to know how he had found it. He called the choirmaster to examine the manuscript and confirm that it was accurate. Of course, it was and when Mozart said that he’d written out the entire piece from memory the Pope was so impressed he gave the young boy a gold medal and made him a Knight of the Golden Spur. Mozart loved music so much that he focused all of his energy into learning it by heart.

Why Mozart Matters Today

As Mozart continued to play and compose, he incorporated the contrapuntal complexities of the Baroque era from masters such as Bach, into a new milieu, with refined clarity and harmonious tonics to define the Classical style. Mozart wrote all kinds of music: opera, symphonies, sonatas, solo concerto, chamber music, masses and dances.

All of this genius came at a price, however; Wolfgang gave up an ordinary childhood, much like Michael Jackson did, to pursue music and become one of the greatest of all time. He died young, in his forties. His friend Joseph Haydn said that the world would not see another musical genius for at least a hundred years.

Not everyone can be like Mozart, but one thing’s for sure: if you can get excited about your NYC piano lessons, it makes it a lot easier to practice every day. Try listening to Mozart so that you can ask your piano lesson teacher to help you play select pieces!

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Music Lessons

Violin Lessons in NYC Make a Difference

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Even before Antonio Stradivari made his first violin, violin lessons consisted of teaching the student proper technique and guiding him through more difficult pieces of music. Today, lessons may be in a different language, but not much else has changed.

Violin lessons primer

There are four strings on a violin: the G, D, A, and E. It can be plucked or played with a bow, played solo or with an orchestra. And because of its loud sound, the violin is the instrument that carries themelody in groups of musicians.

Otherwise known as the fiddle, the violin comes from a family of stringed bow instruments, originally from Persia. The first violin strings and bows were made of horsehair, and today’s horsehair bows show the legacy of those original violins. Although violins had their heyday in the baroque era, today the violin is making a comeback, and is used to play jazz and pop as well as classical music.

Violin lessons are good for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. But for those starting out, who aren’t sure if they want to keep playing violin, it’s a good idea to rent an instrument first. Keep in mind that violins come in different sizes for children and adults, so it’s good to have the person playing nearby for a fitting. Once you have an instrument, call our violin teachers, who have dozens of years collectively under their belt. They have played all over the world in different settings and venues and know how to play in a variety of styles.

Fundamentals of violin

As in playing any instrument, it’s crucial to have the fundamentals in place before progressing onto different and more complicated pieces. Good posture, square feet placement, and holding the instrument upright are important to reaching the next level of playing. This is why violin lessons are so important—instructors help students get into the right habits early on. Another potential pitfall young violinists face is resting the neck of the violin in their palm, which prevents proper fingering.

Handling the bow is just as important. The bow typically goes left to right, which is called a down-bow. Inverting bow-strokes, i.e. sliding down when it should be up, is another common problem beginners face. But with violin lessons these potential pitfalls can easily be corrected. The bow should also slide smoothly along the strings and not bounce over them, which can cause harsh, scratchy sounds. These mistakes and others like them can be easily avoided by booking booking a lessons today.

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Music Lessons

Guitar Lessons Are Worth It

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Private lessons on the guitar are fun because you can play covers of a lot of songs. It makes practice a lot easier when you like the music you’re playing. If you it’s rock ‘n’ roll you want to play, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Elvis have songs that you won’t need many guitar lessons to play.

Early guitar lessons

The guitar has been around for a long time, in different incarnations. From the lute to the electric, there are many different styles of guitar and guitar playing. Our guitar teachers know them all, from finger-picking to flamenco, and they also know, from the first few notes or chords you play, how much you’ve practiced in the week since your last lesson. Half an hour a day is a good start for most beginners.

Guitar lessons begin with the basics of how to hold the instrument and how to strum. Keeping time is one of the most difficult parts of playing guitar, especially when you don’t know how to read music. This is where it really helps to have guitar lessons, because it is difficult and often frustrating to work with a metronome to get your playing to sound really good. It’s kind of like singing and hearing how you sound, which if you want to play rock music, is closely tied to guitar lessons—how you hear yourself is not how everyone else hears you. That’s why it’s nice to have a guitar instructor guide you to play properly, in terms of timing, strumming and fingering, the same way you might be encouraged to sing higher or lower to be more in tune with the song you’re playing.

Playing guitar like Slash

This is a process, as is learning the chords that make up a lot of simple songs. Many famous songs are easier than you thought—”Free Falling,” by Tom Petty, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” either the Guns ‘n’ Roses version or the Bob Dylan version, and “I Should Have Known Better,” by the Beatles. The easy songs are mostly three chords and after a few lessons in your New York City home, you will be able to play them!

All the greatest guitarists in modern history became so good thanks to practicing a huge amount. Slash, from Guns ‘n’ Roses, used to practice 12 hours a day, dropping out of high school to pursue his dream. Rumor has it that Jimi Hendrix used to play until his fingers bled. Not all of us can do that, though, which is why if you live in New York or New Jersey it’s so important to have lessons.

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