Our Spring drum class (Rhythm and Beats), our Ukulele Class, and our Music Exploration Class have sadly ended for the season. But its not quite over yet! Students of our drum class, along with those taking private music lessons, will perform for our Spring 2016 Recital, starting at 1:30 PM, this Saturday, May 14th. Come on out and see what we’ve been doing over here at Philly Music Lessons! Visit us at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square for an afternoon of violin, voila, voice, piano, guitar, and more. This recital is open to the public and costs $5 per person above the age of 12 (students attend FREE).
We wanted to show prospective students what their first year of lessons might look like. Our guitar teachers have individual approaches, and books are only portion of what goes on. However, books are a great foundational tool where progress can be easily observed, and they provide a good way to show a range of beginner skills. We took a look at one of the most common beginner guitar books students might encounter (Mel Bay’s Modern Guitar Method 1) and made video samples of various stages. This Mel Bay book, which can be used for both teens and adults, teaches modern guitar method – a good basis for rock, blues, and jazz (classical method involves its own separate techniques).
This video features the last song in the book, “Southern Fried”(page 47). With a steady amount of practice, students might expect to complete this first book in about 6 months – so this is what you’ll be playing!
As the final piece of music, “Southern Fried” follows many songs, exercises, diagrams, and practice rituals for guitar, all of which slowly build skills to the level exhibited. The content of this beginner book includes an introduction to proper form, musical notation explanations (strokes of the pick, time signatures, the staff, and the notes themselves, etc.), basic tuning methods, beginner duets, chords in various keys, and chromatics. Stay tuned for more samples!
Kids with an interest in drums can get a taste of what its like to take drum lessons in group classes starting April 2nd (Saturdays at 4 PM, 6 weeks). With Julius Rivera as our instructor, children ages 4-6 will explore basic drum concepts through group exercises, revolving around tub and tube drumming. Tonal tubes and tubs are a great way to convey rhythm to beginners through feel and play (think Blue Man Group). In addition to tubs and tubes, the real drum kit will be used as a basis for teaching drum terms and techniques applicable to beginner drum lessons. Julius’s style includes high-energy games that reinforce rhythm, tempo, and time. This a hands-on, collaborative approach to experimenting with drums that will tap into creativity, physicality, and imagination.
One of the stars of the Muppets is a character named Animal. Animal is a drummer, who many would argue, embodies the general perception of a drummer in the U.S. He is wild, impulsive, and intense. This perception is not always based on how the world’s best drummers actually are, but more on the energy that they bring to musical groups and events. I hope to present a picture of some of the skills needed in order to become a great drummer / musician / person and how learning these skills can create rich learning experiences for children.
Drumming is not really wild – it just feels that way…
The world’s best drummers do not hit the drums randomly or haphazardly – they are very calculated and deliberate. In order to play their instruments well and to find new ways to be expressive during performances, they have to practice and train. Great drummers don’t tend to be like sprinters in a race, they tend to be more like marathon runners who take their training and preparation seriously. Like runners, drummers have to learn how to relax while moving, to learn how to breathe well while remaining active, how to use healthy postures, and how to get lost in their activity so that they are not “thinking” about it – but instead doing it with an automaticity that enables them to reflect on other things while they are being active. Drumming like many other physical activities can be very intensive at times – however, great drummers learn to be aware of their bodies and avoid becoming injured in spite of an increase in the intensiveness.
Drumming is natural…
There are many individuals who see a person playing a drum set and immediately think to themselves, “I would never be able to do that! It requires too much coordination – and I can barely clap on rhythm!” I would argue that when discussing who can drum, we enter a Nature vs. Nurture discussion. I firmly believe that more people in the U.S. do not feel comfortable drumming or using rhythm because of our cultural experiences related to rhythm. Throughout the world, there are toddlers and small children playing syncopated rhythms with ease. Is it because their genes predispose them to rhythmic intelligence or is it because they were exposed to seeing adults exhibiting behaviors and began to learn how to do what the adults around them were doing? What were some of the things that your child was exposed to and how has this exposure affected what they can do – the skills that they have?
Clearly, any art form requires an investment of time and benefits from guidance from experienced professionals; however, most children are naturally drawn to hitting a cylinder with their hands or with sticks. I would argue that it is as natural for people to drum as it is for us to run, but that our cultural experiences affect our exposure and comfort with drumming. It seems to move away from being an activity that you can engage at your own level into a skill that you either can or cannot do. It is similar to a person who enjoys drawing (and has a natural impulse for it) being discouraged from drawing because they don’t draw well enough to meet another’s standards or a person being discouraged from dancing because they cannot execute the dance move as expected – we often prioritize a person’s ability to perform over their desire to do something that they enjoy and that makes their lives richer (and could become something that they would be better at with time and work).
Great drummers listen well and express themselves appropriately…
Drums are very powerful instruments – an average person can create deafening sounds without the need for electricity. So, drums should be treated like other powerful things – tools, money, the stove, etc. You can hurt and offend people with loud erratic drumming. Most professional drummers tend to have a low tolerance for loud erratic drumming. They understand that it is possible to create something beautiful and enjoyable with a little bit of effort. The experience could be compared to watching a child color outside of the lines in a coloring book. Most adults will (at some point) draw attention to the lines of the picture and encourage children to use the lines to guide their coloring rather than disregarding them. Great drummers learn to be considerate to listeners by adjusting the volume of their drumming to a level that is appropriate to the occasion. A person who knows how to control their volume, but chooses not to, is being immature and inconsiderate of the listeners and musicians that they may be performing with. Showing off at the expense of the success of the group is seen in most social situations. Learning to be considerate to listeners and other musicians is a skill that demonstrates and fosters maturity in individuals of all ages.
When a drummer becomes aware of ways to channel these powerful instruments, then they can begin to dance musically. They can learn basic steps / movements and then they can add expressive touches and / or improvise something that is complimentary to the song. The great drummer dances with the other musicians – this sometimes leads the musicians to perform things that go beyond what was rehearsed. As a drummer, I have often been inspired to do something that was not rehearsed during a performance and responded to other musicians who began to do something that went beyond what was rehearsed.
Is drumming on buckets the same as playing Guitar Hero?
Although it may seem as though drumming on a bucket is similar to playing a musical video game, the skills introduced and reinforced are dramatically different. A video game introduces and reinforces the skill of pushing the appropriate buttons when prompted by the game. When a person is actually playing an instrument, they learn to repeat particular movements in a specific order in order to produce the musical sound. The sound produced is consistent when the movement / behavior is exhibited (muscle memory). For example, if you play a C note on an acoustic piano, it will create a sound – that sound will not change. However, it is possible to produce different types of sounds using devices that can be connected to instruments. Guitarists often use foot-switch pedals in order to change sounds. There are skills required to use them effectively – a video game does not introduce or reinforce these skills.
Drumming on buckets is not equivalent to playing instruments, but it does offer transferrable skills. One skill that is introduced and reinforced with bucket drumming is awareness of hitting versus not hitting. In visual art, artists learn to become aware of negative space. In drumming, not hitting the drum can be seen as a musical negative space. You don’t hit the drum in order to create the quiet portions of a rhythm – instead, you resist hitting. This silence / break in the rhythm is as important as the hits. In fact, intentional breaks are what separate an intentional rhythm from haphazard noise. This awareness is necessary for playing any instrument – to play or not to play… SELF CONTROL
Another skill that can be learned from bucket drumming is the skill of experiencing a repeated pattern becoming the foundation for song. Many popular songs have 4 or more chords that are repeated. The melody of the song is performed on top of this repeated pattern. After a child / person learns to perform a rhythm, it is important for them to learn how to relax into the rhythm so that they can continue to repeat the pattern while other performers do something different that is complimenting the rhythm. RELAXING
Finally, bucket drumming offers opportunities for creativity. Once a child has learned how to relax into a rhythm/ song, then they can begin to explore being creative. They can try to develop their own “new” rhythms and they can begin exploring ways of complimenting rhythms with other patterns or with improvisational breaks. CREATIVITY
In summary, Drumming teaches countless invaluable skills. A child who learns how to drum, doesn’t make noise, they make art!
We’ll continue our weekly Wednesday gatherings at 10 AM. Please get in touch if you plan to attend as a regular that day. It helps us to keep loose track of numbers so we can maintain intimate classes. Currently, Wednesdays are almost full! But the good news is (especially for those still taking multiple naps), we have a new baby music time starting in February at noon on Thursdays. Join us in Fishtown for some weekly music, ages 0-3 years.
If you haven’t yet stopped by for a class, you can give it a whirl for free your first time. Come, test the waters and make sure its a good fit! These are casual, weekly music classes, where babies as little as 4 months sit in mom’s, dad’s, or caregiver’s, lap while Coco leads the classes on guitar and vocals. For the toddlers, circle games, props, and a variety of musical instruments offer engaging musical exploration. Traditional kids songs become recognizable to weekly kids, allowing them to learn and eventually sing along with our tunes. They also gain a wealth of neighborhood friends! Over the months, new songs are introduced slowly to expand their growing musical ears. Our classes tend to be small, anywhere from 5-10 kids. To keep it this way, we ask that you try to RSVP by emailing coco (especially for our scheduled Saturday music classes), as weekends can get busy in the winter.
Class News, Punch Cards, Schedule for Nov. Music Classes, Saturday Dates.
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
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.
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.
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!)
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!
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!
“Music enhances the process of learning. The systems it nourishes, which include our integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities, are shown to be the driving forces behind all other learning.”
— From Empathy, Arts and Social Studies, 2000; Konrad, R.R.
Music has been proven to have powerful effects on the mind and body, improving our senses and abilities in many ways. Tuning into certain songs can influence a surrounding environment by creating a sense of calm, motivation, or positive mood. Songs with higher frequencies can be energizing to those experiencing low energy levels and can increase overall productivity. Studies have shown that listening to music can raise serotonin levels while lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which results in higher immune functioning and lower levels of depression. A particular study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing describes how patients suffering with chronic pain showed better physical and psychological symptoms when they listened to music for an hour each day of the week, verses patients who weren’t exposed to music.
Some other benefits include increased memory capacity, creativity, and ability to focus. Musical training at a young age has the potential to change brain functionality and structure when practiced over a long period of time. It strengthens the regions of the brain involving language skills and executive function. Researchers have found that in those who began taking music lessons before age 7, the volume of brain regions related to hearing and self-awareness tend to be larger. This hints that early musical training could potentially be used as a therapeutic tool. It gets the creative juices flowing as well, as a study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests. This study demonstrated that moderate levels of ambient noise improved creativity by increasing processing difficulty, thus engaging the abstract processing sectors of the brain. This encourages individuals to tap into the so called “zone” or flow state that leads to more creative ideas.
Learning a new instrument maximizes cognitive function and memory retention by utilizing both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, while physically developing fine motor skills and sharpening auditory perception. When children learn to play an instrument, their multi-sensory processing skills improve, sharpening their ability to hear sounds otherwise undetected. This encourages “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, translating into better academic results. A peer reviewed academic journal, PLOS ONE, reports that children who have had three or more years in musical instrument training performed better in auditory discrimination tests and fine motor skills than those who didn’t learn an instrument. These children also performed better on vocabulary tests and in assessments involving visual analysis. Music is a terrific opportunity for children to express themselves creatively while picking up a new skill. It could be much more than this though, according to researchers, who suggest that musical training could also serve to hone their mental energies.
“Music does something beyond our understanding. We can call it an endorphin release or a distraction, but it goes much deeper than that. Somehow music just does us good. And the good it does was just proven to be better.”
~ Michael Huckabee, professor and director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Division of Physician Assistant Education
September 2015 – New Sign Ups, Saturday Dates, & Schedule Updates, CLASS THIS WEEKEND! 10 AM Aug. 29th
September 2015 Baby & Tots Music Classes
Class News, Dates, Sign-Ups for New Students, & Sat Aug 29th @ 10 AM Reminder
Hello! Next week begins our September series. Sign up now for a new month of weekly classes at $10/class – $50 for September ($20 for the weekend pass). If you’re looking for an occasional visit, you can always email with interest and drop-in for $15(limited space, so please check in advance by emailing here!). In the meantime, don’t forget to stop by and try your first Fishtown music class FREE! There happens to be one this Saturday at 10 AM (August 29th). Please give me a heads up if you’d like to join us this weekend.
Here is a list of September’s class dates and times:
This month, there is a class every week – if you miss any, join us on select Saturdays for makeups! If you have any questions about missing classes, please feel free to get in touch. We aim to be as flexible as possible with all types of schedules. Weekday makeups are currently on SATURDAYS or either of the Wednesday times (makeups remain valid throughout the year). Keep track of dates and schedule changes on our calendar.
Wednesdays at 10 & 11:30 AM, (0-3 years)
September 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23th, 30th
Saturdays at 10 AM (0 and up)
3 Year Olds at 11AM on Select Saturdays in October:
We’re looking to start a new Saturday class in October for 3 year olds. The Saturday 10 AM class is open to all babies and kids (a few months old and up – we’re flexible with ages and welcome older siblings anytime). However, a number of our little guys would like to continue building upon some of our songs and activities with a little more musical teaching. We have a few more spaces to fill before it becomes official! Please EMAIL if you’d like to add your name for October (Limited to 8 kids).
Weekday Evening Music?:
Some people have been looking for a later evening class for babies and their families to get to sing music after work hours. I’d love to offer this if there is enough interest, so please let me know.
Thanks for singing with us throughout the summer! Looking forward to getting to know all the new babies and toddlers from the neighborhood this Fall.
Philly Music Babies (check us out!)
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!
|Sign Up for Weekly Classes|
(in person with our handy-dandy drop-box & DROP IN envelopes, or pay with a card):
Attention! We have a new, easy drop-in system! If you are dropping in, you can pay your $15 rate at the beginning or end of class. Because I’m often doling out stickers or otherwise busy with the bubs, I have created some new DROP-IN ENVELOPES for you to leave payment in our cash drop-box. Just fill out the envelope info, insert your exact payment (in cash), and drop your payment into the slot. Our payment drop-box is on the wall by the bathroom. Cards will also now be accepted through our reader, in-person, with me, Coco if you don’t mind the wait!
Sign up Payments
(in person, cash or check, with SIGN UP envelope or online via your emailed invoice):
If you are signing up for the month, we prefer payments online once your spot has been confirmed via email (please email firstname.lastname@example.org with sign up requests). We love this method, as your payment registers directly into our system, which tracks attendance, makeup credits and payments in one place. If you would like to pay in person, you can also fill out a sign up form at class, and we can manually input this as well. Free floatin’ cash will not be accepted!