Our seasonal recitals are a great way for students to get an opportunity to perform for friends and family! It’s also great for friends and family to get a chance to see the progress they’ve made since last time, whether they are 6 years old or 60 years old. Check out this video offering up highlights of every students performance from our Spring 2018 recital at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia!
Philly Music Lessons offers a wide variety of music instruction to all ages and experience levels. Specializing in guitar lessons, drum and bass lessons, and piano lessons Philly Music Lessons is your source for experienced and effective music education. Our instructors have experience teaching students of all experience levels from beginner through advanced. We are happy to work around your schedule and offer both in-home and in-studio music lessons. For more information please do not hesitate to call us or submit your questions using the contact form.
One of the core mission statements at Philly Music Lessons is that everyone deserves a chance to learn music. It drives us to make lessons available to many communities and families with varying income levels and schedules. That is why we offer the convenience of in-home lessons, as well as local studio lessons in Fishtown and South Philly, and why we offer financial aid discounts to low-income families.
To further expand opportunities for kids to learn music, we’ve started to partner with local schools, offering discounted private and group lessons during after school hours. Because our lessons are made available at an affordable rate, right on the school premises, it is much easier for kids to begin the process of learning music!
Engaging Students at La Salle through Music Performances and Presentations
We recently traveled down the road from our Fishtown studio to La Salle Academy, located in Kensington on North 2nd Street. Our teachers gave presentations to grades 3-8, showing them the basics of piano, guitar, violin and drums. Starting with the principles of technique and theory, our two multi-instrumentalist teachers, Sean Conlon and Emily Stewart, were able to give the kids a sense of what the beginning portion of learning an instrument really looks like. Our teachers performed solo pieces on each instrument, and followed with group performances to show how different instruments can come together to create unique styles and sounds. It was very inspiring for students to see professional musicians performing at an advanced level. We feel this experience gives them a sense of the hard work and dedication that goes into attaining such a level of musicianship.
With our presentations, children are better able to gauge their general level of interest in music. They may also be able to better determine which instrument they’d like to learn. We feel that starting a child off with an instrument that really inspires them is the best way to form a positive and lasting relationship with music. We hope these kinds of experiences at an early age will stick with them for the rest of their lives!
New Music Education Partnerships
Philly Music Lessons will be working to maintain and expand relationships with other schools in the city of Philadelphia throughout the 2018 school year. We feel our teachers have a lot to offer in terms of supplementing standard music education classes and providing individualized lessons to students who may not have access to them otherwise. As most educators know, there is no substitute for a great teacher.
Beginner voice students often ask this question. It feels reassuring to classify ourselves, to feel we belong somewhere. Plus, newer singers believe knowing your voice type gives them other information about their voice, such as their range. What seems like a simple question doesn’t have a simple answer though. To understand why, first learn what “my voice type” even means, why voice type exists, and why a singing novice might not be able to find their voice type.
What is Voice Type?
A “voice type” is the classification of voices based on certain qualities and characteristics of the voice. These characteristics include:
- Range: how high and low you can sing.
- Timbre: the “color” or quality of your voice.
- Vocal breaks: the shift in your voice between head and chest voice.
- and Tessitura: the part of your range you feel most comfortable singing in.
Men tend to have four options when it comes to voice type: countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. Women tend to have three options: soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto.
All of these variations depend on a number of physical elements just like they do in instruments. A cello has thicker strings than a violin, resulting in a lower range. Similar variations apply to the voice as well. Therefore, the variations in voice type depend largely on physical sex, but also on genre.
These identifications vary according to genre because different genres require different characteristics. A musical theater soprano may be considered a mezzo-soprano in opera because of the average range, tessitura, and timbre of the music.
Why Classify the Singing Voice
While some people like labels, others ask, “Who needs them?” There are pros and cons to identifying your voice type.
The number one benefit to knowing your voice type is for auditions. If you audition as a singer, the panel can get an immediate idea of your voice through your stated voice type. Why? Because the “rules” of voice type allow others to understand what characteristics your voice possesses.
Similarly, you can select music for yourself this way. If a song has a certain note you can’t reach, or spends a lot of time in a part of your voice you’re not comfortable with, you will know not to sing that song.
Identifying your voice type can become unintentionally limiting. Especially for younger or newer singing students, a voice type can make you feel boxed in to certain guidelines, discouraging you from exploring new songs.
Voice types are also hard to identify. The voice is a tricky instrument. It’s not like other instruments where you can see and feel exactly which notes the instrument can hit. Each voice is unique, and it can even change based on age, hormones, and more.
What’s My Voice Type Then?
Only a qualified voice teacher can help you identify your voice type. Even if you know your range right now, you may be able to extend it after learning different technical aspects of singing like posture, breathing, and more. And as stated above, no one element alone points to voice type. The subject is so complex, voice teachers have written entire books dedicated to it.
Again, the best way to find your voice type is to sign up for voice lessons today and learn all about your voice. Your voice type will reveal itself to you after developing a solid technique. And remember, it may take some time, but the process of discovery will be a lot of fun along the way.
Our recitals are an important part of what we do at Philly Music Lessons. Performing is a crucial aspect of music making, and these public events give students the chance to show their stuff twice every year!
Enjoy this highlights video which gives you a small bit of every performer from our most recent Recital this past December!
Introducing a fantastic new addition to our teaching staff: Navid Kandelousi
I started my musical journey at the age of six by studying violin with both Iranian and Russian teachers. In 1999 I was invited to join the Iranian National Orchestra as a violin soloist, a position which I held until 2006 when I left Iran for Italy. I studied western classical music at the Verdi Conservatory in Milano, Italy and at the Moscow Violin Academy in Russia. In 2009, I was invited to join the Gateway Symphony in New York City and the International American YPHIL Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. I have mastered virtuosic skills on a great breadth of instruments including the Violin, Setar, Taar and Kamanchah, in addition to experience with piano, tonbak, santour and gheychak. Throughout my professional career, I have collaborated with numerous prestigious Persian ensembles such as the Iranian National Orchestra, the Orange County Orchestra, and have performed all the great composers internationally across Europe, Asia and America in venues such as Lincoln Center, Juilliard Music School, Albert Hall, Kennedy Center, Sydney’s Symphony Hall and Vahdat Hall, while winning numerous music and violin awards. My teaching background includes work at the Yamaha School of Music, Suzuki Violin School, and Master Classes in Kamanchah, Taar and Setar at the Julliard School. I received a scholarship from Maestro Daniel Philips in Queens College of Music 2012-2015 and recently attended the Silk Road Global Music performance with Maestro Yo-Yo Ma in Kennedy Center!
When did you begin playing Violin, and why?
I started in music when I was 6 years old, and I chose the violin at 8. I picked the violin because I fell in love with the sound it made the very first time I heard it.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I play Taar, Setar, kamancheh, and Tombak. These are all Persian instruments that I have been playing for many years along with my violin – they are also mostly from the string family.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
As a violinist, I would like to continue performing solo concerts! As a teacher, I want to be able to show my students everything I’ve learned. Most of all, I hope to become a better person in my life and enjoy music as much as I can!
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
My understanding of violin technique really clicked when I heard the Paganini caprices performed by Shlomo Mintz. What a beautiful performance!
What is your favorite piece of music from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Paganini Violin Concerto No.1
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
My most challenging moments are always learning new, difficult pieces with a teacher. It can be so hard in the beginning, but it always gets better!
What is your biggest musical achievement?
Finding the best friends and music lovers in my life
Favorite thing about teaching?
I love giving a lot of examples during my classes when I am teaching!
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Practice slowly and correctly and every day!
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc.
I am also very involved in Middle Eastern folk music!
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Gift Certificates from Philly Music Lessons
The holidays are nearly here! Help someone pay for the lessons they’ve been dreaming about for months. We have affordable private lessons in-home or at our studio in Philly. Music gift certificates make unique presents for all ages, while allowing you to support Philly musicians, educators, and the arts. Nourish someone’s creative pursuits, or encourage a new passion this year!
Great Gifts Under $20:
- Half-Priced Trial lessons – You can give someone a single music lesson on their instrument of choice for as low as $17.50. Lessons start at 30 minutes, with both in-home and studio options. We also offer 45 minute and 1 hour trial lessons at half price. Our teachers provide instruction on guitar, piano, drums, bass, upright bass, violin, cello, viola, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, flute, voice, ukulele and more! View our Rates for more information.
$40 and up:
- 2 + Lessons starting at $52.50 (first lesson is still half-price). Request to purchase any number of lessons to help someone out with their musical studies.
- 1 Month of Lessons starting around $120 (includes 1 at trial rate). Exact price depends on lesson duration and location.
- Season Package of Lessons (10 lessons) – 10% off 10 lessons. Rates vary depending on duration and location. Starting at $315.
- Voucher for Music Instrument Rentals (3 month minimum) – Price varies depending on instrument and size. Rentals start at $69 for the 3 months. Guitars, violins, cellos, uprights, brass, and woodwinds.
Private instruction at Philly Music Lessons begins at age 4, and caters to all ages and skill levels. Where we teach.
How it works:
- Fill out the form below or Email Us with any questions.
- We’ll get back to you within 1 business day.
- After confirming your order, an invoice will be emailed to you.
- The gift certificate can be emailed to you as a printable pdf (preferred method), or a gift card can be mailed
- The gift recipient can contact us at any time after the holidays to redeem their gift certificate.
- We will work directly with the gift recipient to find a teacher who can cater to their individual interests and can work with their schedule.
“Sing from your diaphragm!” This phrase is almost mythical in the world of voice lessons. Somehow this concept has passed on to students who haven’t taken a single voice lesson, yet even students who have taken years of voice lessons may not know what it means. It doesn’t help either that some teachers say you should sing from your diaphragm while others say you shouldn’t. Who is right? And if you should, how do you do it?
What it Means to “Sing From Your Diaphragm”
The short answer to the question of “who is right,” when it comes to whether or not you should sing from your diaphragm is – both teachers are right! Obviously that requires a longer answer though.
Here is your diaphragm. As you can see, it sits right below your lungs. Think of it as an upside-down bowl-shaped muscle. Because of where it sits, when your lungs expand (when you breathe in), the diaphragm flattens out to make room for the now larger lungs. When your lungs contract (when you breathe out), the diaphragm curves up again. You can see this motion here.
Students often get lost right around now because what isn’t agreed upon is whether the diaphragm is a voluntary or involuntary muscle. In other words, do we move it consciously like our arms and legs, or does it move on its own like our hearts? For singers, this is largely irrelevant. Why? Because the point of a “diaphragmatic breath” is not whether or not we can move our diaphragm. It’s whether we can take an ideal breath to create a steady release of sound for singing. Therefore, focusing on the diaphragm itself misses the point.
Instead, students of singing should focus on how to feel their breath lower in their body, as opposed to breathing high into the chest. This is why the phrase “sing from your diaphragm” may be helpful for some students and teachers; it creates the imagery of a low breath and a steady release for some people. For others, it creates too much focus on something other than the task at hand.
So in short, you should think about singing from your diaphragm if it’s helpful to you. Any one of the following exercises can also help you “sing from your diaphragm” without the terminology.
Exercises to Sing From Your Diaphragm
The Milkshake Breath – When we drink a big, delicious milkshake from a straw, that milkshake goes right to our bellies. We can think of breathing in the same way. Imagine your favorite flavor of milkshake. Then, pretend to hold it in front of you and drink it all in. In this scenario, the milkshake will be your breath, and your goal is to fill your breath all the way to your belly. You can even put your hand on your belly if that helps you place it. If you don’t drink milkshakes, you can imagine whatever drink you’d like – as long as you’d normally drink it through a straw!
The Balloon Breath – When a balloon expands, it expands all the way around, not just to one part of the balloon. It does, however, start at the bottom of the balloon. Our lungs, ultimately, are like this as well. We want to use all of our abdominal muscles to create a steady release of the breath while singing, so we want to inhale with that in mind. Take a breath while imagining your torso is a balloon, and your goal is to fill up the whole balloon, starting from the bottom up.
Dog on a Hot Day – Have you ever seen a dog on a hot day, its tongue sticking out and its whole body working to breathe? We can use this for singing, too, although our breaths should concentrate on our belly. Stick your tongue out for an added tongue stretch, then release short breaths from your abdomen like a dog would on a hot day. This is a great exercise to introduce the release of breath along with the inhalation of breath.
The Snake Sound – To start working on the release of breath along with the intake, breathe in on four counts. Then immediately release the breath on a steady “ss” sound for eight counts. The “ss” sound should be strong but not forced, smooth and not jagged. This will encourage your body to release air as a stream rather than all at once, which is vital for singing.
There are numerous other exercises you can use to learn how to sing from your diaphragm (if you choose to think of it that way). These are my favorites because they all come with an organic understanding of how breath works without trying to manipulate our breath in other ways. Feel free to find your own creative ways to take lower breaths, too! Just make sure that no matter which exercises you use, you don’t do too many at once. These exercises can over oxygenate you and make you dizzy if done too many times, especially without practice. Try two or three a day at first for maybe a minute, tops. A little effort will go a long way to getting you towards diaphragmatic breaths in no time.
Students Showing Off Their Skills
Taking lessons and practicing is something that all musicians have to spend most of their time doing, but it all pays off at the performance. Just this December we returned to the Ethical Society of Philadelphia for our largest recital yet. We featured students on piano, violin, cello, saxophone, voice, and guitar for a fantastic afternoon of music making. Our recitals provide our students with the opportunity to show off their skills to friends and family alike. Not only is it a great time for everyone involved, but it’s a crucial experience for becoming a well-rounded musician.
The wide diversity of genres and styles reflects the amazing diversity and talent of all of our students. From Beethoven and Saint-Saëns to The Beatles and Coldplay, enjoy this musical cross-section of our Philly Music Lessons family. We’re so glad to have seen so many people at our recital this past fall, but in case you missed it, here’s a little something to give you an idea of how talented our students are!
Check out one of our new violin teachers, Alexandr Kislitsyn, perform “Meditation”, by Jules Massenet. Impressive tone! Melts me with beauty.
Alexandr attended the Novosibirsk State Conservatory where he received his B.A. in violin performance. He then went on to get his masters in violin performance from Temple University. With international performance experience at a high level, Alexandr is a great teacher for advanced violin students pursuing a classical path.
Check out Phil playing “Lagrima” and “Marieta”, by Francisco Tarrega. Phil studied classical guitar at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is one of our advanced guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons. He also teaches rock, pop, and production.