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Philly Music Lessons specializes in connecting students of all ages and skill levels with great teachers in the Philadelphia and Main Line areas. We encourage our teachers to cultivate unique lesson plans based on the interests, needs, and learning styles of each individual student. Their expertise ranges from classical to jazz, to contemporary and other niche styles on all instruments and voice. We offer lessons and group classes at our Fishtown and South Philly studios. We also teach in-home lessons throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area, including the Main Line.

How it works:

Just contact us! Once we know your scheduling needs, we set off to connect you with one of our teachers whose expertise matches your goals and interests. After finding a teacher whose availability syncs with yours, we set up a trial lesson at one of our studios (Fishtown or South Philadelphia) or in the comfort of your own home. We also offer in-home trial lessons. Trial lessons are half-off so you don't have to commit to the full-price or a long-term lesson plan. If you enjoyed your lesson, just let us know!

More on how it works
  • Piano Lessons

    Whether you want to learn how to read music, or just play along with your favorite songs, our teachers will take a customized approach, and create the perfect lesson plan for you.

  • Guitar Lessons

    Our teachers design fun and creative lesson plans specifically for you. Chords, soloing, improvisation, and theory are all taught in a progressive and easy to understand manner. We offer personalized guitar lessons for all ages, styles and skill levels.

  • Drum Lessons

    We can help beginners quickly learn the basic patterns and techniques to back up a band. Once you've got the basics, we'll help you learn interdependence and the advanced techniques of the masters.

  • Violin Lessons

    Our violin lessons will give you the proper technical foundation to make the violin sound warm and beautiful, while learning to read and interpret music at the same time. Our string teachers have degrees from various music programs throughout the country and are great with beginners and advanced students alike.

  • Voice Lessons

    Whether you're a complete beginner, or have been singing for years, voice lessons can be an eye opening experience. Learn proper breathe control, body alignment and vocal placement to maximize the potential of your voice.

  • Cello Lessons

    Learn the fundamentals of bowing and fingering to get a beautiful tone out of your cello. Our string teachers have degrees from various music programs throughout the country and are great with beginners and advanced students alike.

  • Upright Bass

    Increase your knowledge of upright bass (double bass), or learn this string instrument as a beginner. Our teachers offer lessons to children and adults alike. We teach the basic skills, such as rest stroke and bowing, which apply to studies in jazz, classical, bluegrass and more.

  • Bass Guitar

    Bass guitar is the foundation of a band. Working from tabs or standard notation, beginners will be able to follow along with their favorite songs in no time. More advanced students can learn theory and how to construct bass lines.

  • Ukulele Lessons

    Great for tiny fingers! The Ukulele is a fantastic first instrument for kids and budding musicians of all ages. Our lessons will teach you the fundamentals of any string instrument, while exploring styles and strumming patterns unique to the ukulele.

  • Flute Lessons

    Learn how to read music, proper breathing technique and the standard repertoire, all while gaining the skills necessary to perform in an orchestra or ensemble.

  • Trumpet Lessons

    Learn how to read music, proper embouchure and breathing techniques, all while gaining the skills necessary to perform in an orchestra or ensemble.

  • Sax & Clarinet Lessons

    From beginners to advanced, we will teach the fundamentals of playing woodwind instruments, including proper breath control, tone and technique. Advanced students can learn jazz theory, dixie land melodies, and more in depth orchestral pieces.

Our Teaching Philosophy

We strive to hire great teachers. Our core instructors have backgrounds in a variety of musical styles - jazz, classical, bluegrass, rock, blues, and more. With methods ranging from ear-training and intuitive playing to advanced studies in notation and music theory, our lessons provide thoughtful and fun guidance. A broad range of experience allows our teachers to creatively prepare students for performance, collaboration, composition, and more.

Schedule A Lesson Now!

The Fall Recital is Coming!

ethicalContinuing our tradition of student recitals, don’t miss out on hearing all the talent pouring out of Philly Music Lessons at our Fall Recital this year! The big day this season is Saturday, December 8 and it is again being held at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia, right on Rittenhouse Square.

Open the public, this event will showcase students of all ages performing their best and favorite works. Not only is it great to hear so many songs as an audience member, but it’s also a crucially important skill for any musician to learn how to manage public performance!

Students are grouped into two sets:

Set 1: 1:00
Set 2: 3:00

Admission is $10 (Unless of course you are one of the performers!)

Fretting Hand Technique Exercises

lessons_mainline_webIn this article, I’m going to present a number of technique exercises that will help you to play single note melodies, as well as chords with your fretting hand. The exercises will all be single note picking, but the principles of stretching and strengthening your fingers will apply to all aspects of your playing. It’s advised that you read my article on fretting hand technique to supplement these exercises. The principles in these exercises are borrowed from a great book called Guitar Technic by Roger Filiberto. You should pick it up if you have the chance!

 

Basic Principles to Remember

  1. Always press down right behind the fret to get the cleanest sound, not too far behind the fret and not directly on it.
  2. Press down behind the fret with the very tip of your finger.
  3. Keep your fingers curved.
  4. Fingers that are not playing should remain curved and ready to play at any time.
  5. Economy of motion: move your fingers as little as possible to get the job done. This will pay off huge dividends later when increasing the speed of these exercises.
  6. Keep the pad of your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck, always facing away from you.
  7. Curve your wrist as little as possible.
  8. Palm of your hand facing up, perpendicular to the neck.
  9. Keep your knuckles apart from each other. This stretch is important when playing chords.

 

Practicing alternate picking with your right hand for all of these exercises (down-up-down-up). The x followed by dashes means to hold down that finger throughout or until the dashes end. Continue all the exercises to the low E string to make sure you cover each string.

Also, if any of these exercises are too hard to do in the first position, you can move them up the neck to any position that’s doable for you. The frets get smaller as you get higher on the neck, so it requires less finger stretch to do the exercise as you get to higher positions.

 

Ex. 1.1

    (hold down first finger down)

    x – – – – – – – – – – – – –   x – – – – – – – – – – – – – x – – – – – – – – – – – – –

E|–1–2–1–2–1–2–1–2—————————————————————

B|———————————1–2–1–2–1–2–1–2——————————–

G|—————————————————————1–2–1–2–1–2–1–2–

D|———————————————————————————————

A|———————————————————————————————

E|——————————————————————————————— (continue to the low E string)

 

Ex. 1.2

    x – – – – – – – – – – – – –  x – – – – – – – – – – – – – x – – – – – – – – – – – – –

E|–1–3–1–3–1–3–1–3————————————————————

B|——————————–1–3–1–3–1–3–1–3——————————

G|————————————————————-1–3–1–3–1–3–1–3–

D|——————————————————————————————-

A|——————————————————————————————-

E|——————————————————————————————-

 

Ex. 1.3

    x – – – – – – – – – – – – –  x – – – – – – – – – – – – – x – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

E|–1–4–1–4–1–4–1–4————————————————————–

B|——————————–1–4–1–4–1–4–1–4——————————–

G|————————————————————–1–4–1–4–1–4–1–4–

D|——————————————————————————————–

A|——————————————————————————————–

E|——————————————————————————————–

 

Bending the Wrist and Straightening the Fingers

You may notice that these exercises are harder as you get closer to the low E string. That’s because your fingers have to reach further. The natural tendency is to bend your wrist to compensate for the added difficulty. A small amount of bend is natural as you get towards the lower strings, however, make sure to not over bend which can lead to unnecessary tension and injury.

In order to keep your wrist as straight as possible, you can gradually straighten out your fingers as you approach the low E string. This technique can also help to mute unnecessary strings.

 

Here are  couple more exercises that use the basic principles from above to utilize all the fingers.

 

Ex. 2.1

 

    x – – – – –  x – – – – – –  x – – – – – – x – – – – – – x – – – – – – x – – – – – –

E|——————————————————————————–1–2–3–4—

B|—————————————————————–1–2–3–4——————

G|————————————————-1–2–3–4———————————-

D|———————————-1–2–3–4————————————————-

A|——————1–2–3–4—————————————————————–

E|–1–2–3–4———————————————————————————

 

And then come back down…

 

Ex. 2.2

 

E|–4–3–2–1———————————————————————————–

B|——————4–3–2–1——————————————————————-

G|———————————-4–3–2–1—————————————————

D|————————————————–4–3–2–1———————————–

A|——————————————————————4–3–2–1——————-

E|———————————————————————————-4–3–2–1—

 

There is a pretty big leap in difficulty from the first series of exercises to the second. I’m presenting these as examples in order to apply the principles of correct fretting hand technique. For a more graduated course I highly advise purchasing Mel Bay’s Guitar Technic by Roger Filiberto. This book presents the exercises in a graduated manner, allowing you to slowly work up to the harder ones.

Fretting hand technique can be difficult in the beginning, but practice with the fundamental techniques in this article, and you’ll begin to see results in no time! Chords, scales, melodies, and solos will all be easier to play when you practice with intention. And remember, it’s always best to practice every day than to try to squeeze in a big practice session once or twice a week. This especially applies to technique practice where muscle memory is extremely important. Spread your practice sessions out over the course of the week for the best results.

Moveable Chord Forms on the Guitar

 

In this article, I’m going to discuss some basic chord shapes on the guitar in open position and show you how to turn them into movable chord forms. It is recommended that you have a basic understanding of open chords and are able to switch between them fluidly before trying the methods discussed below.

 

What is a moveable chord form anyway?

A movable chord form is a chord played with no open strings, that can be moved up and down the neck. You will maintain the basic shape of the chord no matter where you play it. However, the letter name of the chord will change as you move (the terms chord “form” and chord “shape will be used interchangeably throughout this article). It is important to know the root note of the chord so you can determine what chord you’re actually playing as you move the form. Knowing the notes on the guitar will help you.

The most popular moveable chord forms are often referred to as “barre chords” on the guitar, because they require you to create a “barre” across all six strings with the 1st finger on your fretting hand. Your first finger is essentially acting as a capo, so that you can move chord shapes up and down the neck freely. If you’re not used to barring with your 1st finger, this can be difficult in the beginning, but stick with it, and soon your barre chords will sound just as good as if you were playing with a capo! Here are some technique exercises that will help you stretch and strengthen your fingers to make playing barre chords easier. You can also read my article on fretting hand technique to supplement the exercises.

 

What Chord Forms Can I Move Around the Neck?

Well, the real answer is all of them! However, we’re going to start with some of the basic major chord shapes, because they are the theoretical foundation for every other chord. The five shapes that we’ll discuss in this article are often referred to as the CAGED chords, named after the chords that these shapes make in the open position.

The most popular movable chord shape is the E shape, so we’ll start there for the purposes of this article.

 

Let’s Start Moving Some Chords Around!

image3

Here is the basic E major chord shape in the open position, the one that we all know and love with the standard fingering:

The key to turning an open chord form into a movable chord form is to first learn how to play the chord in the open position without using your 1st finger. We have to free up your 1st finger in order to create the barre that will enable you to move the chord shape up and down the neck.

Here is the same E major chord with a different fingering which frees up your 1st finger:

image2

Now that your first finger is freed up, you’re ready to turn this shape into a movable chord form! Barre your first finger behind the nut of the guitar by laying your entire 1st finger across all six strings. This will give you a sense of how this chord shape will feel to play once you move it. Now slide everything up one fret and you get an F chord shown below:

image1

It is important to know that the lowest root of this shape is located on the low E string. So when you’re in the open position it creates an E major chord (the letter name of the chord is always named after the root note). Because E and F are on half step away from each other, when you move the shape up a half step, the same chord form becomes an F major chord. If this is confusing to you, please read this article on the musical alphabet and how it can be applied to guitar.

 

Continuing Up the Neck

Let’s move this same shape up the neck one more time. The F major chord is in first position with it’s root on the F note located on the first fret of the low E string. If you move up a whole step to the third position, then the root changes to a G, making the new chord a G major.

image4

This can be continued all the way up the neck, until the notes start to repeat at the 12th fret. In this way, you can play all 12 major chords with the same chord form! Knowing how to play movable chord forms on the guitar will open up a whole new world of possibilities playing all over the neck, instead of just staying in the open position. Knowing how and when to use these chord forms will also help you begin to understand the fretboard and it will serve as the foundation to learning your pentatonic scales and basic music theory on the guitar.

In the next article, we’ll talk about how to do this with the other four major forms in the CAGED system.