Tag Archives: drum lessons

Managing Summer Music Lessons

violin teachers and lessons

As summer approaches, many students and parents have questions about managing summer music lessons. These include questions about changing schedules, vacation time, and practicing expectations. While your teacher is the best person to talk to about specifics, we aim to address your more general questions, or to help you decide which questions to ask. We also want to show you how summer music lessons can serve as a special opportunity for you.

 

Communicate with your teacher about scheduling

The most efficient means of managing summer music lessons involves communicating with your teacher (or your child’s teacher). Need a different lesson time over the summer? Going on vacation? Music teachers anticipate all of this, but let them know sooner rather than later. Contact your teacher as soon as you make plans or need a change.

Communicate with our office about extended breaks

It’s especially important to let our office know if you plan on taking any extended breaks, such as for a whole month or for the whole summer. If you take an extended period of time off, we will remove you from our calendar moving forward. Please contact our office at the beginning of the Fall when you plan on starting up again. We can’t promise the same time/day that you had, but we’ll do our best to work with your schedule for the Fall!

The rules of lessons still apply

It’s easy to fall into a “summer mindset” with music lessons, not applying the same rigor to cancellations and practice sessions as you would during a school year. Don’t fall into this trap! Teachers expect just as much over the summer. Plus, your music teacher is still running a business over the summer, and needs to be treated as such.

Use this as an opportunity

Many students, especially kids, are so scheduled during the school year, it can be difficult to fully dedicate themselves to music lessons. Summer allows a little more flexibility. Use it as an opportunity to get ahead in your music lessons so you can reach your goals that much sooner.

A lot of students also hope to audition for top bands, orchestras, or choirs when they return to school. If your child brings focus and discipline to summer lessons, they’ll be ready for these auditions in the fall. This is particularly important if a student plans to pursue music further, such as in college.

In either instance, take note of your goals or your child’s goals, and what it would take to reach them. Then, you and your teacher can make a plan based on your freer summer schedule.


It’s tempting to think that once the recital is over, once classes are over, then lessons are over for the summer too, or at least are more relaxed. However, summer is a unique opportunity for renewed dedication. Flexibility, time, and focus have great benefits for you or your child, so take advantage of them! Above all else, remember that managing summer music lessons is not so different from managing regular lessons. Keep that mindset, and you’ll stay on the ball through vacations, schedule upheavals, and pool-worthy weather.

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.

Kids Music Lessons and Classes

piano lessons philadelphiaPhilly Music Lessons is a family owned and operated music school located in the heart of Fishtown, Philadelphia. We offer private lessons (all ages), baby and toddler classes (ages 0-3), big kids music classes (ages 4 -6) and group lessons for kids (guitar, violin and voice).  We have a number of teachers with extensive experience working with children. We make sure to keep each lesson or class fun and entertaining, while providing the musical foundation necessary to learn at higher levels as your child grows. Students have the opportunity to perform in biannual recitals and shows throughout the year.

Contact Us to Get Started!

Big Kids Music Classes Ages 4-6

$15/class with monthly sign-up (trial class is half-price)
$20/class Drop-In
Saturdays at 11 AM (45 minutes), ages 4-6
Fishtown, Philadelphia
(610)451-7883

Join Here!

Xylophones and PianoCovering the fundamentals of piano (keyboard instruments), ukulele (fretted string instruments), and drums (percussion instruments), our music class for kids, ages 4-6 is a creative, group approach to learning music. Children have the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of music for $15/class (45 minutes each). The fundamentals they learn will pave the way for studying a variety of instruments. Core musical concepts will be explored through experimentation and social learning.

With small class sizes, there is ample room for discussion, questions, and spontaneity. Experimentation and fun are key, and curiosity is embraced. Subjects covered include how instruments work, note reading, ear training (pitch), time, and rhythm. How sounds are made (with strings and mallets inside of the piano for example) and how pitch changes are observed through play. Art is also used to reinforce concepts, illustrating notes, finger numbers, patterns, and more. Instrument making will engage children, bringing the learning process into the home through the collection of natural materials for production.

Each child will also be able to take home their own kazoo. Kazoos help strengthen connections between the voice and ear (pitch). Learning to make noise by following patterns on piano or notes on paper is a practice they can take home week after week. Encouraging children to hum while working with their favorite songs is a great way to build ear skills! If you are interested in classes, but can’t commit to our regular schedule, you can drop in to classes for $20 with notice (contact us here).

 

Private Music Lessons

Starting at $25 for 1/2 hour
By Appointment, all ages.
In-Home Lessons throughout Philly & The Main Line
Fishtown Studio Lessons
(610)451-7883

Schedule a Lesson

Ukulele, guitar, voice, violin, piano, cello, flute, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet lessonsStarting with kids ages 4 and up, private music lessons are available for guitar, piano, ukulele, bass guitar, upright bass, drums, flute, voiceclarinet, violin, cello, saxophone, trumpetbanjo, and trombone.  Lessons begin at $25 for a half hour in our Fishtown studio (view our rates for more information). Our teachers work with kids of all ages and skill levels, making sure to keep the lessons fun and exciting. Our goal is to inspire a life-long passion for music just as our first teachers did for us! For in-home lessons, our teachers travel throughout Philadelphia, the Main Line and Lower Merion. If students have an interest in taking lessons with friends or family members, we also offer joint music lessons! Please ask about our rate difference for joint lessons of at least 2 or more children.

 

Baby and Toddler Music

$10/class with sign-up (monthly)
$15/class Drop-In
Tuesdays, Wednesdays 10 AM
Wednesdays 11:30 AM
Select Saturdays at 10 AM
Ages 0-3 yrs (Families and caregivers welcome)
Fishtown, Philadelphia
Stroller Accessible!
(610)451-7883

Join Music Classes

babies and toddlers play songs fishtownJust a walk from anywhere in Fishtown, Kensington or Northern Liberties, these music classes are a unique way to meet and play with others in the community. Fishtown is just off the Girard or Aramingo exit from I-95, or a quick spin through the city for Philly families. Tots gather weekly for sing-alongs, movement and other musical activities specially made for babies and kids. Children will have the chance to learn songs together and explore a variety of kid’s instruments: jingle bells, the piano, shakers, and more. Little babies usually enjoy sitting in mom’s lap as they listen, observe, and learn. Toddlers tune in each week to familiar friends, songs, and beloved routines. Three year olds lead, participate, and add both spontaneity and creativity to classes. Providing energetic vocals and guitar, our teacher plays plenty of classic and new children’s songs (with rhymes, hand games, and playful lyrics). These are the kinds of classes that will kick off your day with good cheer! Weekday music takes place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 AM and Wednesdays at 11:30 AM. Weekend music times are indicated on our calendar (typically 2-3 Saturdays per month).

Classes are $10 each when you sign up for the month (with flexible make-up options on Saturdays and select weekdays). We also welcome occasional visitors (drop-ins) for $15/class! If you want try out a class before signing up, you can always contact us to attend your first class for free.

 

Beginner Violin, Guitar, and Voice Classes

$15/class with monthly sign-up (trial class is half-price)
$20/class Drop-In
Summer classes begin in June
Multiple Times
All ages (age groups: 4-6 yrs, 7-10 yrs, 11-14 yrs, 15-19 yrs)
Fishtown, Philadelphia
(610)451-7883

Join a Class

music classes fishtown phillyOur teachers have created group classes for some of the most commonly learned instruments. Taught by our violin, guitar and voice teachers, classes focus on propelling complete beginners forward to a place where they can begin to play songs together. Students will learn their preferred instrument among peers, and can gain performance experience with recital opportunities. At $15 each, classes are organized into age groups and arranged based on availability and instrument. Classes can occur on weekday or weekend mornings, afternoons, or evenings (contact us to find out more). Our next launch of classes will be for the summer months, set to begin in June. Classes take place throughout the summer and can be extended into the Fall based on group interest. For students with irregular schedules, drop-ins can attend classes for $20 each.

Students will need to bring their own instrument. If students do not have a violin or guitar, Philly Music Lessons offers beginner violin rentals, and we can also make suggestions as to where you can rent or purchase a decent instrument.

What To Expect – Drum Lessons

“What To Expect – The First 6 Months of Drum Lessons”

By Tom Cullen

Drum Lessons in Philly for Beginners

Drum Lessons for Beginners

So you’ve decided to take some drum lessons. You’re probably wondering what to expect – How often will I have to practice? How long until I begin to see results? The answer to those questions is, well . . . another question. What are your musical goals? All goals are met by a series of smaller goals, and you will have to decide how important progress is to you. Drums can be one of the most difficult instruments to master, but they can also be very easy and fun to play. Most drumming in the music we hear is comprised of just a few, very basic ideas. These basics can be learned within a 6 month period.

The First 6 months of Drum Lessons

The first thing you’ll learn is how to play rhythms between the right and left hand clearly. In order to do that, you will learn how to properly hold the drumsticks. How the drumsticks are held will effect a range of things from, speed, sound, comfort and even avoiding minor injuries (that’s right, you can hurt yourself!). To get a good feel for handling the sticks, you will need a consistent practice of 15-120 mins a day. Working on control of the sticks will also give you an introduction to reading music. Learning to read will begin to feed your imagination with a vocabulary of rhythms and stimulate creative ideas. Learning the language of rhythm helps us to understand and decipher the music we enjoy listening to.

After about 6 weeks, you will begin coordinating your feet with your hands. This is usually done by adding the bass drum, which is played by your foot using a pedal device. You’ll be doing 3 things at once. At this point you will also be learning the basic concepts of drumming, common in most of the music we hear.

The first concept is unison. Unison is when two parts of the drumset are played together at the same time. The next idea is “2 over 1”when one drum plays two notes and the other drum plays one. The final concept is the single stroke. The most common use of the single stroke is during a drum fill, but single strokes happen more often than we notice. They usually occur between a cymbal and snare drum or a cymbal and bass drum during the song’s “groove”.

Most drumming you hear is that simple! The trouble for most students is accepting that learning an instrument is a process (remember, all goals are met by a series of smaller goals?). If you make practice a part of your weekly routine, progress will be natural and easy to see and hear. If you follow your path consistently, and with the help from the right teacher, the first 6 months of drum lessons will allow you to play most of your favorite music.

Of course, after that, there is still much to learn. For example, though basketball is a simple sport consisting of 3 things (dribbling, passing and shooting), the best basketball players have perfected these techniques with strength, style and finesse. Perfection is a process, full of trial and error. Playing drums is a craft. Over time you will “sculpt” your own style and sound to where it becomes a direct extension of your musical ideas. Possessing the basic building blocks of drumming will allow you to pursue your own, original take on the instrument. Don’t forget – you get in what you put in.

“I would like students to understand that the learning process takes time. Practice as slowly as possible, because the slower you practice, the faster you learn.

-Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (The Guinness Book of World Records Most Recorded Drummer of All Time)

Drum Teachers at Philly Music Lessons

Meet one of our Tried-and True Drum Teachers, Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen - Drum Lessons in Philadelphia

Tom Cullen – Drum Lessons in Philadelphia

We have two drum teachers at Philly Music Lessons. Both Temple grads of the Boyer College of Music, these guys are experienced performers and teachers. Tom Cullen and Alex Maio have been with us since the beginning – since before we started interviewing teachers about their own experience and interests! Thus, we have some fresh new thoughts from them. Here is Tom Cullen’s interview:

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My main goal as a musician is to be able to express myself without limitations. I’m on an endless path to be able to channel all the musical ideas in my head through my instrument. My other goal is to make others feel what I am feeling. I want my music to effect people emotionally and hopefully even make them want to move and dance.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
I remember when the Moeller Technique finally clicked for me. I was studying the technique for months with no real sign of it improving my playing. Until one night all the hard practice paid off. It happened on a gig. I placed my hands over the tom-tom drum to play a fill and the idea came out effortlessly. After that night playing fast and playing fluidly was never an issue. But I learned the biggest lesson of all that night. Consistent hard work really does pay off. It can be hard to see the path at first but with the support of a good teacher, it can be a fun a very rewarding journey.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Several teachers have told me to ‘never stop learning’.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
The most challenging moments I’ve ever had learning an instrument were when I tried to teach myself. When studying with a teacher, there were always challenging moments. Trying to teach myself – there is no comparison.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I guess that would be when my band iNFiNiEN was ranked the ‘Top 5 Live Bands of 2013’ by The Buffalo News. The reason it was a big deal is because the other 4 bands were really famous. Such as The Flaming Lips and Jane’s Addiction. So to be held in the same regard as those bands was a big honor.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
My favorite thing about teaching is when a student works hard and meets their goals. It’s a very rewarding feeling being able to share my joy of drumming with someone else and have them benefit from the knowledge I’ve acquired.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
Be patient and be consistent. Listen to the opinions of others but also trust your intuition. And never compromise your integrity. And be sure to never confuse integrity for arrogance.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I have always been involved with many musical projects ever since I was young. I like to surround myself with creative people, so I always happen to find myself in the mix. I’m busy doing shows and recordings with all kinds of artists all the time. Besides those projects, I have an original band called iNFiNiEN that I am very passionate about. I also recently began setting up a recording studio and learning how to be an engineer. I hope to record all 0f my own projects in the future.

Tom Cullen’s – Bio

I teach Drums and Piano. Music is my life. On any given day I am performing, teaching, recording, rehearsing or writing music. I began playing and studying drums at a young age and continued my music education all the way up to college. I have 2 music degrees from Bucks County Community College and Temple University. I’ve been teaching students of all ages for close to 10 years. Instead of a hard lined curriculum I approach each student individually and establish personal goals. I teach with an open mind, patience and care. Lessons are fun and informative. I am a versatile player with years of experience and knowledge. I can teach you any style or technique you wish to learn. Schedule a Lesson

 

More About our Drum Lessons in Fishtown & Philly at Large.

Spoken like a true musician, Tom brings up some very good points about hard work. To be a drummer at the level that Tom plays takes an incredible amount of practice and dedication. Drums have a lot to do with muscle memory, so even if you have a ton of natural rhythm, there is still plenty of room to dig further. Continuing to master techniques and patterns will enable you to play fast, fluidly, and creatively on the spot. While drums embody one of the most basic musical concepts (rhythm), they also have the potential to be incredibly intricate, complicated, and expressive (such as in Birdman, where the entire soundtrack was created by a single jazz drummer!!). Drums are a great instrument for beginners, but can also take you far into a world of endless rhythm patterns and musical applications (making beats, playing jazz, backing rock bands, making movie soundtracks, and more). We’ll have more from Tom about what to expect when taking drum lessons soon!

Private In-Home Lessons in Lower Merion: Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Rosemont

In-Home-Lessons-in-Lower-Merion

At Philly Music Lessons we believe that in-home lessons are vital to parents who want to give their children the gift of music, but have very busy schedules.  You can’t beat the convenience of having one of our professional and dedicated teachers come directly to you.  All you need is an instrument, and the instructor will provide everything else necessary for the lesson.  We’ve been teaching guitar, piano, drum and bass lessons in the Greater Philadelphia area for over 5 years, and getting to know the students and parents in each town has been a pleasure for all of our teachers.  In-home lessons seem to create a bond between student and teacher that doesn’t exist in the more sterile atmosphere of a music school.  Over the years we’ve had teachers who have been invited to their student’s birthday parties, graduations and bat mitzvah’s.

I have personally been teaching in Lower Merion, right outside of Philadelphia, since Philly Music Lessons began.  Some of my first guitar and piano students were in the Rosemont, Haverford and Bryn Mawr areas.  Many of them attend some of the local elementary and high schools such as Harriton High School, The Haverford School, Haverford High School, Coopertown Elementary and The Shipley School.  Our convenient and affordable in-home lessons have enabled countless kids in the area to learn music in the comfort of their own homes!

Montgomery and Delaware counties also offer a whole host of colleges and universities, just a couple miles from the West Philadelphia border, including Haverford College, Bryn Mawr University, and Rosemont College.  A lot of college students think that it might be too late to start playing an instrument, but we have a lot of dedicated, beginning college students, who have shown a great deal of promise.  Also, if you are already intermediate to advanced and trying to continue your musical studies throughout college, we have teachers who have been playing professionally for years who can help you get to the next level.

In-Home Music Lessons in Bala Cynwyd, Narberth and Ardmore

In-Home Music Lessons in Ardmore, Narberth and Bala Cynwyd

Philly Music Lessons is happy to offer private, in-home guitar, piano, bass and drum lessons to areas all along the main line in Delaware and Montgomery counties. Our professional and dedicated teaching staff can come to you, so you don’t have to take too much time out of your busy schedule. Our in-home rates are not much more than our studio rates, and the convenience of having a teacher come to your home can make all the difference in you or your child sticking with a weekly lesson schedule.

Most of our teachers spend at least one day out near City Ave and Lancaster Ave, and it has been a pleasure for all of us to get to know the students and parents in the surrounding areas of Philadelphia. It is important for Philly Music Lessons to bring our passion for music to students from all walks of life.   You’d also be surprised at how often the parents of our students sit in on lessons, see the benefits of music firsthand, and actually end up taking lessons themselves!

I have been doing home visits throughout Lower Merion to the Bala Cynwyd, Narberth and Ardmore areas for over 3 years now. Two days a week I cross City Avenue near St. Joseph’s University in West Philadelphia and teach guitar and piano lessons to students in the area. It’s always nice to take a drive and get out of the city for a while. The site of the old Barne’s Foundation, the Merion Botanical Park and Belmont Park are all welcome sights along the drive. As I leave Bala Cynwyd and Narberth via Montgomery Avenue, I pass Lower Merion High School, where some of my students in the area attend, and eventually end up in downtown Ardmore where I can stop for a bite to eat.

Ardmore is a little gem of a town right outside of the city limits of Philadelphia. I’ve become familiar with it over the past couple years because I’ve worked out the Milkboy recording studios quite a few times. Aside from teaching private music lessons, I am also a recording engineer. I teach regular workshops and recording classes at the Hill School in Pottstown and have helped them build up a state of the art recording facility. Before the studio was built up, we used to record the choir in Ardmore, so the students could get a feel for what it’s like to be in a professional studio and so they could have an album at the end of the year to give to family and friends. We also have a fully equipped recording facility at our studio in the Fishtown and Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia.   We believe that recording can be an incredibly useful tool in furthering one’s musical understanding.

Music Lessons for Kids in the Art Museum Area

music-lessons-for-kids-fairmount

Due to the recent influx of new families to the Fairmount and Art Museum area’s of Philadelphia, we’ve been doing a lot of home-visits there lately.  We have students as young as 3, taking lessons on guitar, drums, piano and even ukelele.  Parents are always encouraged to join in on the fun!  For students this young it is very important for the parents to be supportive, and learn along with the child to help reinforce early concepts during the periods between lessons.

As a former resident of the Art Museum area, it’s always a pleasure to revisit during the work week.  From Center City, I usually get there by driving down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, past the Rodin Museum, the new Barne’s Foundation and the Free Library of Philadelphia; one of the most memorable drives in all of  Greater Philadelphia.  Our student’s locations range from right near Fairmount Park to around Girard College all the way down to Spring Garden Street and the Philadelphia Community College.  During a break in the day, the variety of restaurants and cafe’s around the old Eastern State Penitentiary keep me busy before my next group of lessons.

Although our Fishtown studio is close enough for parents to get there in a flash, they usually choose In-Home lessons in the Art Museum area.  The option for a teacher to come directly to you is invaluable for parents balancing a family and work duties.  During the warmer months when the kids start to get a little antsy to play outside, the Art Museum area also offers a good number of parks where guitar lessons can take place, including Matthias Baldwin Park and Clemente Playground.

Music Lessons in Fishtown and Northern Liberties

music-lessons-fishtown-northern-liberties

Our studio is located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, just northeast of Northern Liberties and South Kensington, and only a stones throw away from Center City and the Art Museum area.  We’re only a block from the Front and Berks El stop, right near Palmer Park.  I’ve lived in Fishtown for over 3 years now, and it is amazing to see how much development is happening along Frankford Avenue and Girard Avenue.

Just a couple blocks toward the Delaware River from the studio is where William Penn signed his famous treaty with the Native Americans at Penn Treaty Park.  This has been the site of some amazing daytime music festivals, including the Fishtown Shadfest, as well as a couple photo shoots for some of my various musical projects.  Fishtown has quickly been developing a thriving music scene, with a growing number of venues for not only indie bands, but some more well established acts, as well.

We have a couple teachers who do In-Home lessons for Piano and Drums in the Northern Liberties area, as well.  Located just south along the Delaware River from Fishtown, Northern Liberties, over the past decade, has developed into one of Philadelphia’s most thriving restaurant and entertainment districts.  At the heart of the neighborhood is the recently developed Piazza and Liberties Walk along 2nd street, and Liberty Lands Park along 3rd street.  Liberty Lands Park was the site of a fellow musician’s music festival called Realize Philadelphia, amongst other spring and summer activities.

I love going to the Market at the Piazza in the warmer months, where you can pick up anything from amazing custom arts and crafts, to some well curated thrift finds or just a pair of sunglasses.  The free parking just north of the Piazza is also a huge plus.  As more families move into the Northern Liberties and Fishtown area, we are happy to provide quality In-Home music lessons at an affordable price.