Tag Archives: Drums

A Word on Drums for Kids

Drums for KidsWhy should you encourage your child to drum?

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!

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.

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 Tutorials and Technique Discussions

drum teachers and lessons for technique enhancement

Keeping in mind certain principles while exploring drum technique is key to avoiding injury and maximizing performance.

Basic Drum Stick Technique

Stay Loose, Avoid Injury, and Maximize Natural Motion with Rebound

Most drummers, beginners and experienced, struggle with stick technique. There are many different ways to hold the sticks and strike the drums. I’ve spent many years working on technique and have even had to relearn the fundamentals after a hand injury. Through these trials and tribulations, I discovered that there isn’t just one technique for holding the sticks. There are, however, certain principles that will make techniques more effective (and help you avoid injury): form should be comfortable and loose, motion should follow natural body motion, and technique should utilize the rebound of the drum or cymbal.

 

  1. Stay loose! No matter how you hold the sticks, you should never feel tense or stressed. I liken holding the sticks to holding a hammer and building a shed – If you grip the hammer too tightly, you probably won’t last a dozen or so nails. If you allow the hammer to do the work, you can swing that thing all day long. Drum instructors talk about the fulcrum of the stick. This is the area where the pad of your thumb and the first or second finger hold the stick. It should be around the bottom third of the drum stick. How you hold this point is dependent on your own physiology (more to come on this), and you should never grip tightly. The balance point should be relatively loose so you don’t create tension in your tendons.
Drum Tutorials

5 Examples of Fulcrum Hand Positions – Students may prefer different grips based on their physiology.

  1. Embrace Natural Body Motions. Think of a hinge on a seesaw – The wrist is a hinge, and your technique should use that seesaw motion to your advantage (I like to play with my wrist relatively flat). Regardless of your preferred technique, the wrists should be loose and doing most of the work. A lot of people focus on using the fingers. Fingers are important to technique – they allow you to play at softer dynamics and get a lot of snap out of your sound. However, you can do all of those things with wrist motion. If you are using your fingers, just make sure they don’t impede the motion of the stick – You never want to create extra fulcrums with your fingers. Make sure your fingers are in a natural and relaxed position to avoid creating tension between the tendons on the top and bottom of your forearm. Such tension can lead to injury.
Relaxing into Drum Form

Find the balance point (fulcrum), but stay loose and relaxed – Find an interplay of rebound and natural motion

learning drums and taking drum lessons

Notice the looseness in the wrist (seesaw motion) and fingers across multiple techniques.

  1. Rebound is Everything. Sticks are designed to achieve maximum rebound. This is why sticks taper towards the end and have a defined tip. Likewise, drums and cymbals also have substantial rebound. The degree of rebound varies based on tuning and cymbal weight, but you must always use it to your advantage. If you strike a drum or cymbal and don’t feel the stick flying back at you, then you aren’t loose or aren’t holding the stick at it’s balance point. Stick rebound is like dribbling a ball – You should always feel the power of the stick coming back at you after you throw the stick down at the cymbal or drum.

 

Summary

Your technique will be influenced by the size of your hand and fingers and will not look exactly like others’. Regardless, it should still follow the above guidelines. Constantly check that you are tension free, using natural body motion, and using the rebound of the stick and the instrument. If you are struggling, try practicing in front of a mirror to monitor the fine points of your technique.

 

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!

Just in! Ukuleles for Kids Classes

Learning Guitar Concepts on Ukulele in our Group Kids Classes

Good news! Our ukuleles just came in so we can start prepping for music class. Our Big Kid’s class starts April 4th. As of now, we’ve just got an 11 AM Saturday time. However, these small classes work much like private group lessons in that they can be scheduled based on group interest. We’d love to hold more times, especially an after-school weekday time with one of our guitar teachers. So, if you’ve been looking for something along these lines (perhaps as an alternative to private lessons or something to do after school), look no further and contact us with your availability! We’ll do our best to arrange a group. For group lessons, we don’t just do our kids music classes – we also arrange groups for teens and adults and offer classes as well (BYOB singing classes, Beginner Guitar, Folk Ensemble, Vocal Technique, and more).

Description of Our Big Kid’s Class:

This class is a step between our baby and toddler music classes and private lessons. Small group instruction for kids ages 4-6 uses ukuleles and xylophones to playfully teach music. Classes are made up of between 5-6 children. Through guided exploration, children learn notes, listen with their ears, and practice basic technique. Songs are used as learning tools and interludes between activities. Curiosity and experimentation are encouraged.

*People often ask us, what age is good to start children with private lessons? Every child is different! Some kids might be interested at an earlier age than others. Typically, we suggest waiting until your child is at least 4 years old. We do, however, teach children younger if there is a strong interest. Instruments like piano and drums are easier to start with than guitar, and ukuleles are a good way to work up some of the strength required for guitar technique.

Philly Music Lessons student performances!

Student Performance

Cello and Guitar Performance at Philly Music Lessons

The Importance of Student Performances – We returned this December to the Church of the Holy Trinity, where students performed their best. Playing in recitals is voluntary, but we always encourage students to take part. Its an opportunity for both teachers and students to focus on skills, master new material, and see a piece through to the end. It is also a time to experiment with performing in front of an audience. This kind of challenge gives students a unique sense of confidence. Recitals are also be a great way to practice playing live (work out those butterflies!). Ensembles and duets sharpen musicianship and enable students to gain group experience. Even though they can be a bit nerve racking, recitals tie together concepts in ways that go above and beyond the private lesson. So students, pat yourselves on the back! We know its not easy to get on stage, and we’re all so proud of the work you’ve done.

Into the Performance Archives – For some, this was their second or even third recital. For others, it was their first. Looking back it is incredible to see the progress of those who have returned (even since the 2014 Spring Recital). First timers, you’ll be able to look back at these performances in the future and say, “Hey, look how far I’ve come!” Part of why we keep an archive and write the recital review is so that students can analyze, critique, and appreciate their progress.

Our Fall 2014 Recital Review – This year, the cello made its first appearance. We had a few returning duos and some new – The Glew brothers performed a Coldplay song on cello and guitar, and two adult students played duets from the Mel Bay guitar books. New teachers contributed to the recital as well, including string teacher Veronica Hudacek, and piano teacher Meredith Ferro.

Lilly Huber opened the recital on the piano. Her teacher, Meredith Ferro, has been working with Lilly following classical piano methods, focusing on proper technique and note reading. Lilly played “Minuet in G”, and “Falling Leaves”. Her graceful performance was filled with ease – an ease that has grown since last recital!

Another one of Meredith Ferro’s piano students, Elim Savage, went next. Elim, a beginner, is among one of our youngest students (just 4 years old!). With his first piano lesson just a few months prior, Elim bravely performed “Hiking” with his teacher, followed by a great first-time solo performance of “The Rainbow”. Good Job Elim!

Then, Colton Moran came to the piano. Colton has been a student of our teacher, Alex Maio. This was his first time playing in a recital. Playing with both hands, a feat for a beginner piano student, Colton performed “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick” simply and sweetly (just in time for the holidays!).

Ally Altshuler played us three songs from her growing repertoire: “Bravery at Sea”, “Waltzing Elephants”, and “Animal Band”. Ally and her teacher Joseph Primavera have been working on some pop tunes, while also studying note reading and beginner piano technique. Last Spring, Ally sang and played piano at the recital – Ally, its amazing how far you’ve come in just half a year!

Addie Dash has been working on some pop pieces with her guitar teacher. She chose to play a mellow, acoustic version of “Firework” by Katy Perry. As she and Joe work on guitar technique during lessons, Addie also works on songwriting. Exploring composition, melody and lyrics, Addie wrote an original tune – she played “Black into Light” at the recital. Good job Addy!

Gabe Moran was up next, bringing our attention to the drums. Gabe is a drum student with Alex Maio, and this was his first recital. He kept the beat while playing an 8 bar jam accompanied by some blues guitar from Joseph Primavera. We can’t wait to see Gabe play again with other musicians, as he’s clearly ready to back up his first band!

Jack Hirsh and Joe played “The General”, by Dispatch. Jack has been learning tablature and working on his fret board skills. Jack did a great job with the complicated finger work during the opening of this song. While playing some solid rhythm guitar throughout, Jack also sang the chorus with Joe. Last year, Jack played piano in the recital. He studies both piano and guitar during lessons. Bravo to a first time guitar performance!

Hayden Dash, a piano student with us, played “Best Day of My Life”, by American Authors. Thanks for bringing spunk and personality to this piece and to the recital! Its nuts to think it was only one year ago Hayden played this beginner’s classic (with equal energy!).

Jacob Altshuler played “The Man”, by Aloe Blacc. Jacob started guitar lessons with Joe not too long ago as a beginner/intermediate for his age group. Jacob has worked from guitar books, but has mainly been working with tab recently and right hand picking technique. We enjoyed Jacob’s song choice and his picking skills!

Duncan Glew played a duet with his cello teacher, Veronica Hudacek. Together they played”Etude #5″, by David Popper. Duncan is an intermediate cello student. He produced smooth and clear notes as he performed this classical piece for the audience.

Next, Duncan accompanied his brother, Finn Glew, as they performed “Viva La Vida”, by Coldplay. Finn sang and played guitar. As this was Finn’s first vocal performance, its clear these two are just scratching the surface of their musical collaboration! We hope to see more of this duo at the next recital.

Jessica Lydon has been an adult piano student with Philly Music Lessons for a few years. With an interest in learning chord melodies for popular songs, Jessica has been working on the song “Mad World”, by Tears for Fears. She performed this Donnie Darko tune for us on the piano.

Phyllis Farquhar and Joe Stanczak followed Jessica’s performance with two guitar duets. Phyllis is a beginner guitar student, and Joe Stanczak an intermediate. Both taking lessons with Joseph Primavera, these two played “Ballad”, and “Pretty Pickin'” from the Mel Bay Guitar books. There’s often no better way to make note reading come to life than in the form of duets. Often times, teachers will offer accompaniment for such practice, but we love when our students create their own ensembles.

Joe Stanczak, though a long time guitar student, recently began taking voice lessons with one of our teachers, Marcelle McGuirk. In order to improve vocal technique and better understand the mechanics of singing, Joe has been focusing on vocal exercises. He and Marcelle have begun applying a technical singing practice to his interest in classic rock. Coordinating guitar and vox together, Joe performed “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who for the recital – a first-time vocal performance!

Henry Corkran, who studies guitar with Joe, played “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. Way back when, Henry was just beginning to scratch the surface of all the great classic guitar riffs from artists like Pink Floyd and Zeppelin. Its clear Henry’s grasp of the fret board is moving along!  Onward, to mastering more great electric guitar lines, Henry!

Derek Mansen, an advanced student studying jazz guitar, performed “Play it Pretty”. He’s been dissecting some chord melodies during lessons with Joe, tapping into theory along the way. Tackling these advanced pieces fosters a thorough understanding of the fret board and scales, and requires mastery of tone and form. Derek played this piece smoothly and evenly.

Alana Gardner closed the show with her heart-felt performance of “Come Home”, by One Republic. Performing on piano and vocals, Alana showed off her singing skills again! Alana has been translating pop music into solo performances, accompanying herself on piano. As a supplement to her lessons, Alana has experimented with recording. Recording, like recital performance, challenges students in a unique way. We’ve got some of Alana’s first recordings here.

To Our Students – When you’re in the thick of learning an instrument, its easy to forget that there was a time when you didn’t know anything about music – when your fingers were sore from holding down a single string, when you couldn’t yet hear intervals, when you didn’t know the names of the notes, or how to make a decent sound come from the strings or trumpet. Taking time to look back will remind you of the process and how far you’ve come. May these reflections inspire you as you continue into the future! As you watched everyone perform this past Fall, with students from ages 4 and up, perhaps you were inspired by those who are just a little further along than you. I know there were some little ones in our audience who were surely doing the same, waiting for their turn in the spotlight!

Fall 2012 Recital

Here’s a little montage from our Fall 2012 Recital.  Thanks to everyone who came out for making it such a great success!

 

Performances in order of appearance:

Philip Dilgard-Clark – “Smoke on the Water”
Ian McGrath – “Let It Be”
Julia Dickman – “Firework”
Philip Johnson – “Dust in the Wind”
Aliyah, Debbie and Teyah – “Be Alright” and “Rolling in the Deep”