Archive | October, 2015

Punch Cards, Baby & Tots Music in Fishtown

View this email in your browser

Class News, Punch Cards, Schedule for Nov. Music Classes, Saturday Dates.

Fishtown Baby MusicPhilly Music Babies

The concept for Philly Music Babies has always been to find ways to engage children with music early on. Beyond being a place for toddlers to meet their first friends, music classes are actually developing strong musical ears too! Its becoming more and more well known that music exposure of all kinds for babies (even infants) nurtures language and brain development, circuiting crucial musical foundations like pitch, pattern, and even executive skills. Music aptitude, a child’s musical potential, develops until about the age of 9, and is heavily based on environment. Thus exposure at home, in music classes, and to various styles of music in early childhood all influence an individual’s capacity for music. If you haven’t yet seen it for yourself, group music classes really do have an effect on your child’s brain – they contribute to a whole bunch of positive social and cognitive effects (and they’re fun!).

For those who have been with us for a while now, its been great to watch your children change and grow over the months! The solfege time at the piano that has become a part of your child’s lives and minds is creating powerful musical relationships. Though they may be too little for structured music lessons, they are certainly gaining a musical foundation that will no doubt benefit them in all walks of life.

Those still thinking about music lessons or classes, you can try out a Philly Music Babies class for FREE! Its a great morning outing for kids anywhere from 4 months to 3 years old. Babies and tots will quickly settle into being part of a community. As they start making social connections, they’ll learn a whole lot about themselves and others. Of course, they simply love to hear the “Wheels of the Bus” week after week, month after month, even if it might seem repetitive to us adults.

If you’re past the music class age and don’t know what to do, don’t fret! Many teachers feel there are benefits to waiting for private lessons until children are about 4 years old. So if you think you’re somewhere in between, just keep on singing! They’ll get there soon.

 

Upcoming Classes:

This coming weekend there is a Halloween class! Most of you have reserved your spot in the 10 AM. If you want to attend, please get in touch. There is also an 11 AM class for weekday makeups, newcomers, and old friends. Looking forward to seeing all the costumes!

Additionally, there will be some special events happening near our space at 2111 East Susquehanna Ave (Philly Music Lessons). By My Side is having theirfirst annual Fall Festival in the NKCDC Garden from 12-4 on Halloween. Be sure to stop by and see whats happening. Jacelyn Blank will be hosting a children’s book reading during the event around 2 (I’ll be contributing some complementary guitar sounds and songs for the story hour).

New Musical Props:
In addition to our regular circle activties, you can look out for some new solfege props (do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do) in November. We’ve been doing the C major scale on the piano at the end of every class, and some little guys have really started to sing along! We’ll be incorporating some music bean bags to explore basic melodies, and using our solfege words and new body signs, we’ll reinforce musical relationships.

New! Punch Cards are Here.

Punch card packages, $15 Drop In, Free First Time

Join us in Fishtown for weekly music classes! To start out, try a class for free. Then, you can either attend as a drop in for $15, or purchase a punch card.

November Schedule:
Wednesdays 10 AM and 11:30 AM

Saturdays in November:
14th, 21st @ 10 AM

2 Punch Cards Options:

  • Baby Music Lover 5 Classes for $50
  • Mega-Fan 12 Classes for $100

2 kiddos? Second child is half-off (Free under 6 months!)

Buy a Punch Card Now!

Punch Card Details:
Having a sweet spot of around 8-10 kids per class has enabled us to have intimate, engaging classes. It has also allowed me to guarantee fairly stable class sizes and helps people meet up with their regular music class friends. That said, moving from a month-to-month sign up to a punch card system is a little bit scary! But I’m hoping we can make it work. Here’s how:

When you purchase a punch card of 8 classes or more at $10/class, you’ll still “sign up” for a time and day, but this will be very flexible (honor code based). Of course, if you ever need to come to an alternate day or time due to an appointment, nap issue, or anything else, by all means, do not hesitate to do so! Again, this is just to be sure we have some idea of class sizes and so people can get to know each other over the weeks.

With the new punch cards, there will be no makeups, as you can miss class when you need to! However, you’ll get bonus points if you attend all of your classes in any month (1 free class/month of awesome attendance).

If you have credits leftover (makeups from your monthly sign ups), they will be applied towards your punch card, or you can still feel free to use them as is (on Saturdays or by dropping into any class that is available). From now on, you’ll know exactly how many classes you have left by looking at your card. The card can be kept safely at class, or you can take it with you. Payments can be made with me during class (square reader or cash with email receipt). And if you’d like to go the super easy route, I can send you an invoice for your punch card, and you can pay ahead online. Your physical punch card an be picked up at class or stored at our space at 2111 East Susquehanna Ave. Drop-ins can continue to pay cash with our drop-in envelopes.

We’ll be keeping an eye on class size (especially weekends), and will open alternative time slots if necessary. We hope you’ll join us!

Happy Music-making!
Claire, “Coco”

email here
Philly Music Babies
Philly Music Lessons

Music classes for babies and kids in the Fishtown, Northern Liberties, East Kensington, Port Richmond Area. Private Lessons for all ages throughout Philly and the Main Line – guitar, violin, cello, piano, drums, bass, ukulele, and more!

Ethical Society Recitals, Rittenhouse

Philly Music Lessons at the Ethical Society
Fall Recital 2015
November 21st, 1 PM
Recitals on RittenhouseIt’s become somewhat of a tradition to have our Fall recital on Rittenhouse Square. The Philly trees have ushered in the Fall, and the park is starting to show signs of the holidays by the end of November. This will be our first recital at the Ethical Society. Equipped with a stage and abundant space for an audience, we’re excited to bring families and teachers into a new venue to support the accomplishments of our students.

The show is a great way for students of all ages to see various skill levels in action, and to put their practice into context. The project oriented learning required for recital performance will no doubt push participating students to higher levels. For this reason, recitals are something we encourage all students to consider, no matter their age or reason for taking lessons. In the past, Philly Music Lessons recitals have embraced true beginners to advanced students studying anything from classical music to pop composition. Thus, our recitals are often diverse and present a wide range of musical styles.


Join us for our Fall 2015 student recital at the Ethical Society this November:
Saturday, November 21st, 2015 @ 1:00pm

Technique Can Free You To Be Creative

Technique is a topic that comes up a lot in lessons, and rightfully so. Having proper technique will allow you to move around your instrument with ease. But most importantly, technique is the bridge that connects your ideas to reality. Bad technique will slow, or block the flow of ideas, whereas good technique will let them flow freely.

Yet with all of the known benefits of proper technique out there, I still find that a great deal of musicians overlook technique, or even worse, completely disregard it. Either they see it as unnecessary, an old manipulation device for creative control, or just too difficult to master. None of these are true. In fact proper technique can be quite easy to incorporate with patience and dedicated, routine practice. 

Technique is learned in an almost mechanical way, based on muscle memory. If an individual has been playing for a long time with bad technique, it can be annoying to break bad habits. Although it can be frustrating, you’ll be happy with the changes you’ve made.

It’ll take a small amount of focus. Practicing proper technique only needs to be done for 15-30 mins a day on a regular basis – All you need to do is put in the time each day and move on. Don’t worry about incorporating the new technique into band practice or performances just yet. Let the technique work for itself rather than forcing the use of technique. Within a few months time, you will see radical improvement, and if you allow your practice to take effect over time, the metamorphosis will happen naturally.

Good technique will do a number of things to improve your playing and songwriting. It’s going to improve the richness of your sound by allowing you to play the instrument the way it was designed to be played. For example, claves are a percussion instrument. There are two wooden cylinders about an 1″ in circumference and 6″ in length. They are played by palming one clave and striking it with the other clave. If either of the claves are held too tight or struck with too much force (or not enough force), the true sound of the instrument will not be obtained. You will lose out on the intended tone and sustain of the instrument. Improper technique of a clave would result in the same sound and feel of banging a wooden table with a bat. But, if that is your desired sound and feel, by all means, go ahead and hit record!

Technique can improve your songwriting by allowing you to play intervals, chords or rhythms that were previously impossible to play. Proper technique will also eliminate the possibility of injuries sustained from playing an instrument incorrectly. Other benefits include strengthening your ability to perform under pressure.

Having good technique requires you to be relaxed and at ease. When you step on stage you will be comfortable and confident so that you can do your best. You will also have a greater stage presence. The audience sees everything and they are very tuned into your body language. You don’t want to appear stressed, but comfortable and in control of the situation.

Music is a craft, an art, and also a science. Hundreds of years of documented research has gone into the field of technique for musical instruments. When craftsmen design and build instruments, they use a specific framework of scientific calculations. On the other side of the blueprint, there are specific instructions for how to use the instrument to obtain its desired effect.

Again if you want to play the piano with your feet, don’t let anyone kill your dreams – be an innovator. But don’t ask your teacher why you can’t play harmonic minor scales at 100 bpm or play first inversion major 7th chords. You don’t want to play guitar, and after several years say, “Hey, I’m really thrilled about how much worse my playing and songwriting has gotten over time!” No. We all want to get better at the things we do. The same way a runner wants to go farther and longer, even if it is to break his/her own record.

So make sure to speak with your teacher about learning proper technique. Listen and trust his/her wisdom and experience. You’ll be glad you did.

Guitar Teachers

Hey there, Neema! Welcoming you to our wonderful collection of guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons.

guitar teachers philly

With interests in blues, jazz, and rock, Neema teaches guitar lessons at Philly Music Lessons. He is also a great teacher for piano, bass, and drums, having a solid, well-rounded musical background. Currently, Neema is pursuing a degree in guitar performance from The University of the Arts. You can check out Neema playing a piece on electric guitar, following the short bio and interview below:

I teach Guitar, Piano, Bass and Drums. My first musical experience was singing, then playing hand drums while I was young. I have formal training in guitar from University of Houston and Berklee College of Music after high school. I am currently studying guitar performance at The University of the Arts. I have very many goals for my life and one of them is to continue teaching music. I have been teaching for 4 years now, and I consider myself to be a professional educator. My strength as a teacher is to quickly identify how the student needs to learn to best show him or her the steps to success. I also have experience with group lessons in guitar and piano. I love to teach songs, riffs, scales, proper technique, proper theory, and how to get the most out of your practice. It is very important to play music everyday and to have discipline in your practice. Recording yourself, listening back, and planning what to do for the next day are all good practice habits. I practice jazz and classical guitar at least 3 hours a day.

When did you begin playing guitar, and why?

I first started to play the guitar on September 1, 2008. I’m from Houston Tx, and when Hurricane Ike landed ashore, I was safely in College Station Tx at a friends house. He had a guitar, and I played a Cold Play song. I always wanted to learn to play the guitar, and I did!

What are your personal goals as a musician?

My personal goals are to perform my own songs with a band, be a successful song writer and performer and to become a top entertainer!

Do you have a memory of a time when a music concert or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?

The first time I had a click that maybe music and sound could be the story of my life was when I was a kid singing a song on the radio and my brother told me I sounded exactly like the lead singer.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) or current teachers?

The piece of advice that stuck would have to be “play that tune all day long.”

Whats your most challenging musical moment?

The first time I picked up the guitar. And the hardest thing will be the next thing I play, because I am always trying to challenge myself.

What is your biggest musical achievement?

Music itself is a reward, so just the act of playing music is an achievement for me.

Favorite thing about teaching?

Teaching is always earning me experience with new people with different backgrounds. It’s rewarding to teach music, to talk about music and always to play music. 

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?

Many people think they can’t play music, like its something out of reach. I would like to share with those people that they can and should learn music. It expands the mind, you become smarter, and even begin to solve life’s most difficult problems better.
Currently I am looking for a band and I’m writing my own songs and lyrics.

 

New Cello Teachers – Yeliza Aleman Gaetan

Yeliza Cello Teacher

Yeliza is the kind of person that can put you at ease from the first moment you meet her. She’s incredibly professional, but also relaxed and exudes positivity. This is the combo you want in a music teacher. She’ll offer students the discipline needed to learn an instrument, as well as the encouragement and light heart to wade over challenges along the way. In talking with Yeliza about future workshops and programs at Philly Music Lessons, I learned quickly how passionate she is about teaching. Though she teaches all ages, her and I have been excitedly planning our Spring Strings 2016 workshop for kids ages 4 – 5 and 6 – 7. I loved her reference to the early cello training workshops that inspired her in Puerto Rico. In these classes, as well as many beginner cello lessons for young kids, its common for students to start out on cardboard instruments, which they have spent time making themselves. This, she explained, teaches students how to care for their instruments, earning the opportunity to play on the real thing (On top of that, getting to craft a cardboard cello is pretty fun!).

Starting out the workshop with this mindful approach speaks a lot to the importance of patience and respect when you’re learning music (muscle memory comes in due time, just as getting to handle an expensive object like a cello comes with learning how to respect and care for instruments). It also speaks to Yeliza’s understanding of how to teach kids cello in a fun and creative way.

In private lessons, Yeliza offers excellent guidance for beginner and advanced students of all ages. With the Suzuki Method as her primary teaching tool, Yeliza offers violin lessons as well as cello. She also offers instruction for voice and piano too. Being bilingual, Yeliza teaches music lessons in Spanish as well.

Here’s Yeliza, playing Bach:

You can read more about Yeliza in her own words below (from our Teachers Page profiles):

I teach piano, violin, cello and voice lessons. I am 23 years old, and I was born in Puerto Rico. I came to the United States 4 years ago. I am bilingual, and I know the Suzuki Method in Spanish and English. I began playing the cello when I was in 7th grade in Puerto Rico with Professor Fermin Segarra. I also have an extensive background with the violin, piano and voice, having sung in multiple choirs throughout high school and college. After I graduated from Escuela Libre de Musica de San Juan, a school specialized in music, I went to the Conservatory of music of Puerto Rico for 2 years to focus on Cello Performance with Professor Luis Miguel Rojas. Afterwards, I transferred to Temple University to finish my bachelor’s degree in Performance with Professor Jeffrey Solow. This is my senior year at Temple University. I utilize the Suzuki Method with most of my students because I find it to be the most logical and progressive method of teaching. I was one of the piano, violin and cello teachers for children ages 4-18+ years old for two years in a specialized program at the Conservatory of Music. I am planning to stay in Philadelphia to build my studio with students of all ages.

Keep reading for a brief interview with Yeliza:

When did you begin playing cello, and why?

I started playing the cello when I was 12 and it was the best decision that I made in my life. I do not regret any moment that I spend with my cello making beautiful music.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?

I play violin, piano and sing, as well. Piano was my first instrument growing up which gave me a very good foundation for reading music and understanding harmonic and melodic relationships in compositions. It also helped me better understand the string instruments that I would gravitate towards later in life. I began learning the violin shortly after the cello. They are very different instruments, despite being in the same family, but there are certain techniques which apply to both. As forvoice, I’ve sang all of my life. I’ve had three years of formal training in private lessons and have sang in choirs throughout middle school, high school and college.
 
What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My personal goal is to conduct the best piano, violin, and cello lessons that I can and teach my students everything that I know. I want my students to have the same passion that I have for the music and teach them how to transmit it onto the instrument.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
 Two things one was vibrato and second one was shifting. For vibrato I remember my professor singing to me ” Shake the maraca” because that is the same motion that you do when you are doing vibrato. And thanks to the professor that I have now I really understand shifting and how the motion works of my left hand.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
I remember the first time that my first teacher told me that we need to separate each hand and after you practice them separately you can then put them together. When you practice that way, it speeds up the learning process. Practice everything slow then it will be easier when you take it in fast tempo.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
The most challenging moment was when I moved to Philadelphia to study with Jeffrey Solow. He changed all of my technique. It was like starting with the basics again; Frustrating in the beginning but definitely worth it in the end.
What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I recently won a competition in Temple University, and I played in a concert the Elgar Cello Concerto. That was my biggest achievement up until now. But I am working very hard so that this will be the beginning of even bigger achievements in my musical career.
Favorite thing about teaching?:
To see the progress of my students and know that I am passing my knowledge on to the next generation.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
Never give up! Music is a very complex , but is totally worth it.

New teachers! Jenn Amell, Guitar and Piano

Jenn_piano_guitar

Schedule a Lesson

Meet Jenn Amell. Jenn teaches guitar and piano to beginner and intermediate students. Her guitar focus is on pop, rock, and punk. On piano, Jenn specializes in teaching classical, but also loves working with pop music and show tunes. An excellent teacher for kids, she can bring a beginner through basic piano technique, introducing them to classical fundamentals. Kids who have an interest in playing pop, rock, or punk can explore chord progressions, strumming patterns, finger plucking, and more. Jenn also teaches adults who are at the beginner to intermediate level, offering instruction for playing pop music, as well as classical.

Read more about Jenn in her bio and the interview below:

I am a piano/guitar teacher. For the last fourteen years, I have been playing piano, as well as guitar for the past nine. Music is a chord struck deep in the heart, and it is a special passion of mine to pass on the skills necessary to experience such a visceral medium. Playing an instrument is one of the greatest meditative practices. On top of that, it stirs the brain and body into healthy action, allowing for better coordination and muscle memory.

Some of my best experiences have come from playing music, whether in a room full of friends singing and banging on drums, or alone strumming on the guitar. I have been fortunate enough to work with some great musicians in the Main Line and Philly areas including Nicholas Brower of Good Shirt Productions and fellow Philly Music Lessons teacher, Jennifer Pague, of Vita and the Woolf. Additionally, I also have an affinity for punk music and have put together a small lo-fi EP (Distant Milk) of ambient punk for my project, ‘Future Seer’.

Via all these good musical experiences, I have developed a teaching strategy that focuses on equal parts theory and improvisation. I mostly teach piano in a classical style, but would love to work with those who want to play pop or show tunes. As for guitar, my experience lies in rock, pop, and punk music, with a strong emphasis on strumming patterns and chord progressions. I accept students of any age from beginner to intermediate levels.

When did you begin playing piano/guitar, and why?:
I began playing piano at age eleven under the tutelage of Janet Ables. My mother inherited an upright player piano from her father and I can remember sitting at its keys and plunking out Chopsticks or The Spinning Song. When I showed an affinity for the piano, my mother decided to get me lessons, which continued throughout middle school and high school. As for guitar, I was first introduced at age fifteen by my church’s youth group, the leader of which taught me some chords and let me play on the worship team. I think I gravitated toward piano and guitar because of the therapy it offered. Playing either instrument calmed me then and continues to do the same now.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
Music has always been a kinetic, visceral experience for me. It makes me happy, and because of that, it is a compulsion— in the best way. So, I’d say my personal goals involve playing for my own enjoyment and passing on any knowledge I’ve gained to others who want to experience that same happiness and compulsion.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?:
I can definitely remember times when the piano or guitar mystified me. How did they work? How could others make them sound so beautiful? I’m sure the same feeling came from learning a song on the piano, but I specifically remember learning my first chord (G) on the guitar. I had a feeling like, “Oh, so that’s how it’s done!”. Although the mechanics of playing either instrument become more knowable, music itself still holds a very exciting mystery.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
My mom and I often talk about the symbiosis between all the artistic mediums. I love literature (having studied it in university) and have found many striking similarities between music and writing. One particular passage really inspired to me from Anne-Marie Macdonald’s novel, Fall On Your Knees. In the scene, she is describing an opera singer: 

“It’s nothing to do with the words, which are in a foreign language, or the story, which most people don’t know. It’s because a real and beautiful voice delicately rends the chest, discovers the heart, and holds it beating against a stainless edge until you long to be pierced utterly. For the voice is everything you do not remember. Everything you should not be able to live without, and yet, tragically, do.”

I also love Brian Eno, he’s full of good advice.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
Oh, I have them all the time! Music is supposed to be challenging, otherwise it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I guess completing my EP for Future Seer was my biggest musical achievement. It was super fun and I hope to do another one soon. I am also so happy to be in any way involved with Vita and the Woolf. They’re a great local Philly band reaching for high heights.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
I love teaching children, especially when they put two musical concepts together and finally understand them. Their smiles are genuine and you know that something unlocked in their brains.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
My best advice is twofold:
1. Be patient.
2. Practice as much as you can.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
Distant Milk, Future Seer (2015) – solo project including piano, synth, guitar, vocals and audio production.