Tag Archives: advanced

Cello Teachers | Fang Fang

Meet Fang Fang
Cello Teachers in Philadelphia
Fishtown Studio Lessons & Philly In-Home Lessons
Specializing in Classical
Beginners and Advanced Students

cello teachers fishtownWe’ve had some new additions to our cello teachers, and one of them is Fang Fang! Fang studied cello at Arizona State University and received her masters in cello performance. Her experience takes her from being a longtime student of cello herself to teaching and working in orchestras as an associate principal cello. She’s an expert in classical, with roots going back to lessons from her mother when she was 7. In addition to a career as a professional musician, Fang is also an accomplished teacher with award winning students. We managed to catch a snippet of her playing (video below). Also included is a piece performed at Arizona State (Sonata for cello in C major, op. 119 by Sergei Prokofiev).

Read about Fang Fang in her own words below.

I teach Cello and Piano. I have a Masters of Music in cello performance from Arizona State University. I have studied at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and received my B.A in cello performance in China. I began to play the piano when I was 5 years old, then began learning the cello from my mother when I was 7 years old. I am a professional cellist and have been working in various orchestras for the past 8 years as associate principal cello. In Phoenix, I played in the Scottsdale Philharmonic as principal cello. I have been teaching for 10 years, and have learned that patience and enthusiasm are necessary to keep students interested and eager to learn. I pride myself in finding the unique musical talents of each student, and finding ways to communicate with them on an individual level. One of my students in Eastern China was awarded the 1st Prize at a Cello Competition in 2011. My primary focus as a teacher is on classical music for the cello and piano. I am schooled in the Suzuki Method of teaching and find it to be an invaluable way of learning as a beginner.

Guitar Teachers for Beginner & Advanced Students

Meet one of our guitar teachers!

Guitar Lessons with Alejandro
Rock, Pop, Metal, Fusion, Jazz
Beginner and Advanced Studies
Also Teaches Drums, Bass, Piano
In-home or at Philly Music Lessons
Schedule a Guitar Lesson

Guitar LessonsAlejandro Torres-Giraldo is a grad from Temple’s music school (Boyer College of Music). He majored in jazz performance, but has a broad background in guitar and music in general. Alejandro has worked in metal, rock, and pop genres (his current solo work is a body of original electronic, indie dance music with a hint of R&B). Alejandro studied sound engineering as well, so his experience on the production end of things is also an asset for students interested in recording, production, and songwriting. Besides guitar (his primary instrument), Alejandro teaches drums, bass, and piano. Students looking to work across multiple instruments will be able to pick Alejandro’s brain and increase their understanding of music in a comprehensive way. Another bonus? He happens to live right down the street from Philly Music Lessons in our Fishtown/Kensington neighborhood! Besides teaching at our studio, our guitar instructors also travel throughout the city and along the Main Line for lessons. He’re is Allejandro’s bio below:

Alejandro Torres-Giraldo

I teach Guitar, Bass, Drums and Piano. I have taught a broad range of students including first timers, those at an intermediate level and more advanced students interested in refining methods and developing technique. I have an Associates Degree in Sound Engineering from the Community College of Philadelphia and a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Performance from Temple University. I’ve arranged and composed music for Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal and Fusion for the past 14 years while simultaneously performing and recording with various ensembles. Over the years, I’ve developed an extensive understanding and comprehensive knowledge of the language of music in various genres. As an instructor I can provide a unique approach to the instrument, focusing on technique and the best way to practice on your own, while catering every lesson to the specific needs of each student.

Alejandro’s Interview:

When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?:
I purchased my first guitar when I was 12, it was a Mexican fender. I wanted to learn some nirvana songs and start a band.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My personal goal as a musician is to never stop learning new concepts and improving technique.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
It was the concept of rootless voicings and how to tastefully apply them in a jazz setting.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
To treat improvisation as an extension of your subconscious, in other words to develop an emotional connection with what you’re trying to say melodically.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
My third semester during finals at Temple. The technical material was progressively getting more difficult.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
For my senior recital, I arranged all the music and composed two original songs. Also, I’ve played in several local bands performing all original music.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
Helping students wrap their brains around certain musical concepts is very rewarding.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
How to approach practicing in order get the most out of  it. Also, you’re never too old to learn how to play an instrument.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I have a souncloud page with original music called “Fightkid”. Outside of the occasional Jazz gig I play guitar in “LOUDS”, an original rock band based out of philadelphia.

Meet Frank Velardo, our Guitar Teacher

guitar lessons

Guitar Teachers at Philly Music Lessons

Introducing Frank Velardo to our pool of talented guitar experts. Looking to take lessons for blues, jazz, or rock? He’s your guy.

Frank is a fellow former jazz performance mate from Joey’s days at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Thus, we’ve been rubbing guitar elbows with Frank in the music scene for years! From jazz sets at Book Space, Chris’s, and Caribou Cafe (to name just a few), to sharing a bass player on more than one occasion, we’ve gotten groovy to the guitar licks of Frank plenty of times. In addition to being a master of his craft, Frank’s also an awesome teacher. And he looks like George Harrison.

Frank’s Bio:

I teach Guitar, Bass, Piano and Ukulele.  I am an accomplished musician, composer and educator versed in many contemporary styles. I have been studying blues  and jazz based music for many years now and have developed an authentic sound that stands prominently among my idols. I play in  several Philly based groups as a sideman, and I also lead my own  project. In 2010 I graduated from Temple University with a degree  in jazz performance, and in 2012 I released my first collection of original music, The Ardvark Felon.

Here’s our interview with Frank:

When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?:

I took my first piano lesson when I was 9, but my mother had shown me a few things before that. I got serious about music when I started paying the guitar. I was 12 years old. I started playing guitar because I wanted to be able to play “Good Riddance (TIme of Your Life)” by Greenday.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
Like with anything else, there are short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal could be something like learning a new song or copying a solo. A long term goal is something like being able to identify the chord changes of a song without having to struggle over it, or learning how to play jazz. My long term goals with the guitar is to be able to play every “idea” that comes to me while improvising… oh yea, and to have fun! 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?:
I was working on being able to hear a continuous stream of 8th notes in my head. I thought it would help my jazz playing. It’s a concept call “Forward Motion”. Hal Galper, jazz pianist and educator coined the term and wrote a book on it. I spent years doing exercises and practicing. It finally clicked one day while I was watching TV. I was just sitting there, not trying, but then I could suddenly hear the notes in my head, and feel where my fingers had to be to play them. It was exciting!

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Be stubborn. It sounds cliche but “sticking with it” is really the key ingredient to success in music, because if I would have quit back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
Working on time/rhythm. It’s still a challenge, and I’ve improved in that department a lot over the last 5 years.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I’ve practiced to the point where the guitar is no longer an obstacle in conveying my emotions or “saying what I need to say” through music.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
It forces me to be patient and understanding. I enjoy playing the support role and, I like watching students connect the dots. I’ve had a lot of great teachers over the years so I feel it’s important to keep that tradition going.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
If you have a guitar, don’t wait for the first lesson to take it out of its case! Don’t be afraid to mess around with it. There’s nothing that you can do that will jeopardize your ability to improve if you start playing before the first lesson. Teachers like to see that you have take some initiative with your learning.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I play every last Tuesday of the month at Jose Pistolas at 15th and Spruce with my trio. I also play in a blues band called the Downtown Shimmy. I have a calendar of show dates on my website www.frankvelardomusic.com I also have some original tunes and photos posted.

New Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith | Philly Music Lessons

Philly Classical Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith

Classical Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith

Philly Music Lessons Additions | Classical Guitar Teachers – Please welcome our new and incredibly versatile guitar, bass, ukulele and banjo teacher, Phil Smith. Phil is a music producer, composer, guitarist, and teacher with a rich background in many different musical styles. He has a B.M. in Classical Guitar from the Oberlin Conservatory, and has extensive performance experience in Rock, R&B, Pop, Gospel, Latin, and World Music. As a producer he has recorded and written with many of Philadelphia’s finest musicians and artists. Phil says the following about his passion for music and teaching:

“My head is constantly filled with music, and my days are usually spent making that inner music come to life. It’s a joy to guide others into their own discovery of music, and it’s my duty as a teacher to equip students with skills (both technical and theoretical) that make playing music joyful and effortless.”

Continue reading for a full interview with Phil, where he explains his musical history, how it applies to his teaching style and his personal growth as a producer, composer and performer:

When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?:
I started playing guitar at age 9. I had recently quit violin, which had temporarily ruined the joy of music for me. But luckily when I was young I became obsessed with my mom’s record collection. I had been listening to a lot of Beatles, Eric Clapton, and Fleetwood Mack, and then one day we saw a guitar at an auction and I coerced my parents into getting it for me. The rest is history!
What are your personal goals as a musician?:

My personal goal is simply to make excellent music and get better and better. That can mean making more moving and convincing records, writing better songs, playing guitar with more ease and expressiveness, or helping other people do those same things. Cross-pollination is also important to me. I want to bring the same sensibilities and skills that I use when playing Bach to the world of pop music, and when playing classical music I want it to groove like my favorite rock records. And I definitely want to leave my mark on the world by making amazing records and putting on great shows!

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I have many….but I’ll name one. My best friend in college was an outstanding jazz pianist. We used to jam together constantly, and I was often a little timid because I had nowhere near the level of harmonic knowledge that he had. But through our playing together he taught me the art of being a “baller,” meaning, playing whatever came to me with complete confidence, effectively blasting through layers upon layers of self-consciousness. Being completely okay with playing wrong notes and sounding “bad” is the quickest way to liberate your inner voice as a musician. Just learning how to get into a creative flow can speed up the development process exponentially. If you can tolerate a year or two of sounding so-so but being fearless about it, before long you will sound fluid and creative and great!
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Just after college I took some lessons with a world renowned Polish guitar player named Lukasz Kuropaczewski. He taught me EXACTLY how to practice in order to MASTER pieces. It’s a really simple process….Just go very very slowly, work on every single measure of music many times, eventually tying everything together, and make sure that the hands and body are ALWAYS relaxed, secure, and comfortable. It’s time consuming, but suddenly very hard pieces of music can become really easy to play. The key also is to only repeat good habits….If a passage of music or an exercise is too difficult, you need to slow down or break it down into smaller chunks until it is easy to execute….only then should you start repeating, and never speed up until it is easy to do so.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:

Studying classical guitar at the college level was very hard, and there were many times that I wanted to quit. I would often procrastinate or not practice enough and feel like I wasn’t making any progress. But i stuck with it! These things take time.


What is your biggest musical achievement?:

It’s hard to say and depends on the era. In high school I got an amazing opportunity to go on tour in the west coast and to Germany with members of Frank Zappa’s band. I was OBSESSED with Frank Zappa in high school, and that was pivotal for me and felt like a big achievement at the time.

My senior recital as a classical guitarist was a huge achievement because I proved that I could perform at a really high level, even after having slacked off for a lot of my Senior yearn college.
I’ve been recently making some recordings, both of my music and others’, that I’m very proud of. I feel that I’m starting to come into my own as a producer and mixer. Not a lot has been released yet though. By biggest achievements are yet to come!

Favorite thing about teaching?:
I really like the feeling of progress. When a student is on a roll, and they’re practicing, and i see consistent improvement week to week it excites me. Also, sometimes lessons may be stagnating, and then there’s an “aha” moment, where the student or I discover a new technique or idea that suddenly propels everything forward.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
Be Patient, Go SLOWLY, and DON’T QUIT (unless you decide, after long hours of contemplation and many heart to hearts with family and friends, that you simply don’t like music enough to want to learn how to make it.)
Also, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift ARE NOT the paradigm! You don’t have to be a star by the time you’re 16, or 18, or 25, or even 35! In music you can hit your peak at ANY AGE. Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa when he was 65. Remember the tortoise and the hare? etc. etc.  you get the point….


Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I’m currently working on numerous projects with Tony Moore, Pablo Batista, George Spanky McCurdy, and Junius Bervine. We are in the midst of opening a new studio. The company is called “The Breed” and we’re about to usher in a new era of live recorded music in Philly!!! (that’s just excitement, not hubris ;))
And I’m always working on my own compositions under the name “Laughing and Screaming” and plan to release some new music soon.