Tag Archives: jazz

Bass Instruction at Philly Music Lessons

bass lessons bass instructionAn Introduction to Bass Instruction

What should you expect when beginning bass lessons? At Philly Music Lessons, we have bass instructors who specialize in both upright and electric bass, and will help students learn to play and understand the music they love. Whether they have some level of experience and want to continue to grow as a bassist, or are just starting out on their musical journey, our teachers can help identify their needs and goals. While we work toward fulfilling these goals, our teachers will provide the appropriate bass instruction for any level of student.

For Beginning Students

A beginner bass student can expect to learn the basics of his or her instrument. This includes how to tune it and where to find the notes. Students will also learn the fundamental techniques of playing, such as:

  • fingering the electric bass
  • bowing the upright bass
  • major and minor scales
  • time signatures
  • chords and arpeggios

Depending on the goals of the student and teacher, students can learn to read traditional notation, tab, or both. In addition to one-on-one guidance during lessons, teachers will show the student how to practice effectively on their own in a way that enforces good habits and develops a steady sense of time. Together, the student and teacher will lay out fundamental skills while also learning songs to keep the lessons fun and engaging.

For Intermediate Students

An intermediate level bass student will expand on the fundamentals to explore the specific styles of music that they enjoy playing and develop their ability to write and play their best bass lines.  At this level, students will study the role of the bass in an ensemble within various genres, and learn to use their knowledge to play collaboratively with others. Advanced playing techniques that may be more genre specific such as picking, slapping, and playing chords will be studied.

The student should also expect to study more advanced concepts in music theory such as jazz harmonies and playing in advanced time signatures. Improvisational soloing in various genres will be studied theoretically and practically. A fantastic tool for this is transcribing solos from the great players of the past! You can learn so much about the music theory and creativity required to make a great improvisation by carefully looking at what has been done before.

Musical instruments can be expensive and complicated investments that can feel daunting for people who are just starting out, but our teachers are there for our students every step of the way! Our instructors can help the student put together a bass rig with the perfect tone, features, and budget for their needs, as well as help them learn how to properly maintain the instrument throughout their studies. Students of all ages and ability levels will find Philly Music Lessons a fabulous place for growth that fosters a talent that will stay with them for a lifetime. We can help guide bassists of all kinds through the most important years of their development!

Guitar Teachers

Hey there, Neema! Welcoming you to our wonderful collection of guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons.

guitar teachers philly

With interests in blues, jazz, and rock, Neema teaches guitar lessons at Philly Music Lessons. He is also a great teacher for piano, bass, and drums, having a solid, well-rounded musical background. Currently, Neema is pursuing a degree in guitar performance from The University of the Arts. You can check out Neema playing a piece on electric guitar, following the short bio and interview below:

I teach Guitar, Piano, Bass and Drums. My first musical experience was singing, then playing hand drums while I was young. I have formal training in guitar from University of Houston and Berklee College of Music after high school. I am currently studying guitar performance at The University of the Arts. I have very many goals for my life and one of them is to continue teaching music. I have been teaching for 4 years now, and I consider myself to be a professional educator. My strength as a teacher is to quickly identify how the student needs to learn to best show him or her the steps to success. I also have experience with group lessons in guitar and piano. I love to teach songs, riffs, scales, proper technique, proper theory, and how to get the most out of your practice. It is very important to play music everyday and to have discipline in your practice. Recording yourself, listening back, and planning what to do for the next day are all good practice habits. I practice jazz and classical guitar at least 3 hours a day.

When did you begin playing guitar, and why?

I first started to play the guitar on September 1, 2008. I’m from Houston Tx, and when Hurricane Ike landed ashore, I was safely in College Station Tx at a friends house. He had a guitar, and I played a Cold Play song. I always wanted to learn to play the guitar, and I did!

What are your personal goals as a musician?

My personal goals are to perform my own songs with a band, be a successful song writer and performer and to become a top entertainer!

Do you have a memory of a time when a music concert or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?

The first time I had a click that maybe music and sound could be the story of my life was when I was a kid singing a song on the radio and my brother told me I sounded exactly like the lead singer.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) or current teachers?

The piece of advice that stuck would have to be “play that tune all day long.”

Whats your most challenging musical moment?

The first time I picked up the guitar. And the hardest thing will be the next thing I play, because I am always trying to challenge myself.

What is your biggest musical achievement?

Music itself is a reward, so just the act of playing music is an achievement for me.

Favorite thing about teaching?

Teaching is always earning me experience with new people with different backgrounds. It’s rewarding to teach music, to talk about music and always to play music. 

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?

Many people think they can’t play music, like its something out of reach. I would like to share with those people that they can and should learn music. It expands the mind, you become smarter, and even begin to solve life’s most difficult problems better.
Currently I am looking for a band and I’m writing my own songs and lyrics.

 

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.

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!

Meet our Voice Teacher, Hayley Cass

Introducing New Jazz, Blues, and Soul Voice Teacher, Hayley Cass

Voice Teachers

Hayley Cass – Voice Lessons in Fishtown

We’re so grateful for our newest addition to the group of vocal teachers at Philly Music Lessons! When I first met Hayley, I was immediately struck by her positive energy, enthusiasm for music, and ability to inspire. She not only has a passion for music, but also a genuine desire to share that passion with others. Its clear that her goal is to help people find their own voice and experience joy in music. I almost signed up for lessons right then and there!

Her talents can be heard around Philly and beyond in her band, Red Martina. Hayley writes for the group while also contributing lead female vocals. We’re looking forward to seeing this talented act move up in the world of hip-hop and soul. They’re worth checking out! Here’s some material from their newest release:

When we chatted, Hayley told us about her own experience learning music. She’s an experienced teacher and is psyched to share valued insights from her own training. A true believer that anyone can find their voice through technique, exploration, and practice, Hayley is a great vocal teacher for all ages and styles of singing. Read more about Hayley in her bio and interview below:

Teacher Bio:

I teach voice, piano and composition. I started singing at a very young age and was always involved in church choirs and bands, as well as school chorales, competitions and a cappella groups. Although I attended Penn State University for science, I took many music courses. I have been trained by talented and prestigious music teachers outside of schooling and have used my background to pursue a full-time career in music. I have recorded two albums with my band, Red Martina, and have performed shows consisting of much of the music I have written. I am primarily a blues, jazz and soul singer and love to write songs on my free time. Much of the time, the songs that I write are used in Red Martina’s music and (with the help of my band members) we work together to make the songs come to life. I am excited not only to teach students and help them grow but to learn with them, as well. Schedule a Lesson

Hayley’s Interview

When did you begin singing, and why?:
I started singing before I can even remember. I always remember listening to my dad play blues and jazz guitar while I went to bed as a kid and I’d just sing a long until I’d fall asleep. I might have even been singing before I could speak but you’ll have to ask my parents about that! I then started singing and playing piano in church and Sunday School plays and my love and passion for music continued to grow. I started studying piano around 6 years old under a fantastic pianist in Warwick, New York and was lucky enough to learn piano ranging from classical and jazz, theory, and the importance of discipline. I don’t think there is a reason to why I “started” singing and playing. It is and has always been a part of me that is an expression of myself. Music has a way of taking over the soul and, for me, all else just falls into place.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
I am currently the lead singer in a band called Red Martina and we have been working hard to do an international tour. I am lucky enough to have a great support system and we are always working very hard to create music that resonates with those it reaches. I wish to continue polishing my craft as a vocalist, composer, and musician and to never give up even when it gets tough!

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
 Yes! I’ll never forget when a vocal teacher of mine in college told me to “drop your birdcage”. It’s a breathing and diaphragm technique that helps with control of the breath and overall vocal delivery. I’ll never forget it! I remember exactly where I was when it “clicked” too! 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
 While it may have not been a “teacher” per say, everyone in life can be a teacher if you let them. A friend gave me advice a few years ago that just stuck with me. A lot of times, things may be fearful, such as learning something new, trying something for the first time, or going to a place you’ve never been. Yet, instead of going into that experience with fear, go into it with love. Be excited, and don’t forget its okay to make mistakes. If you find that you have the passion for whatever it is you want to do, its normal to be scared, but don’t give up! The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground. 

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
 Getting into the recording studio for the very first time and singing on a microphone through a PA system. I had never heard my voice other than acoustically and it was so tough for me to get used to it! The microphone can also serve as an instrument if you know how to “work it” properly and in vocals it’s important if you’d like to perform.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
 Writing and recording two albums with my band and performing to a sold out show for our very first live performance (my very first time singing and performing my own music). I am definitely proud of myself for remaining diligent with my work and continuing to live my dream when others have told me to give up. It has been tremendously gratifying to see my growth as a singer, composer and performer over the past few years. Also, one of the happiest moments for me was singing my brother and his wife’s First Dance at their wedding. It was incredibly beautiful and I’ll never forget it.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
 I love teaching for so many reasons. I’ve had great teachers and I aspire to be like them as I grow in my teaching personality and technique. I hope to coach my students to truly find the fire within themselves and help them discover what they’re capable of. When students can take home with them something new and make it come to life in their own image, it brings such delight and wonder.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
 It’s much easier to give up when you get frustrated and just walk away. In those times, that is when you slow it down. I mean REALLY slow it down. Relax and let yourself actually FEEL the music. Almost like a meditation, it becomes you. 

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
 I am primarily with a band called “Red Martina” and we have released two full length albums and a live studio session album. It has absolutely changed my life and I couldn’t be any happier. You can check us out on Spotify, Bandcamp,Pandora, iTunes, Youtube and other sources where you can find music online these days. Our debut record is called “Intransit” and our sophomore record is called “Come on Home”. It’s definitely worth listening to

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.

Rittenhouse Square Music Recitals

recitals, musical performances, philadelphia, students, teachers, lessons

The Church of the Holy Trinity – Student Recitals

Philly Music Lessons | Student Recital, Rittenhouse Square

Come support local educators and join families, students, teachers, and those from the community at the Church of the Holy Trinity for another Philly Music Lessons recital. This year, with even more students in the lineup, you’ll be in for a treat as beginner to advanced students perform their best.

On December 6th at 3pm, stop by to hear cello, violin, piano, voice, drum, and guitar students perform in a gorgeous 19th century church on Rittenhouse Square. Tickets are $5 at the door for non-performers. Families and friends of students, and anyone living in the greater Philly community are welcome to join us!

Hope to see you there!

Here is a piece about the last season’s recital:

This past Spring, we held our recital once again at the Church of the Holy Trinity off Rittenhouse Square. We had fallen in love with the space and its acoustics during our winter show, and so we jumped on the opportunity to perform here again. The sanctuary of the church is full of natural reverb and boasts historic and architectural beauty to complement its top-notch acoustics. The church also sits center to many of the areas where we teach lessons, making for a fun day trip for the Main Liners, and a short rendezvous for the local Philly folks. Its not often students get to perform in such impressive spaces, and so we hope to bring everyone back again next recital!

Since the debut of our student recitals in the Fall of 2013, Philly Music Lessons has been hiring teachers to offer a broader selection of instruments. While we can’t wait to showcase our new violin, cello, and flute students this Fall, we were proud to have some electric bass this time around! And so that’s exactly how we kicked off the Spring show:

Jeremy Watts and Brandon Watts had been taking lessons with our own Donnie Felton for just a few months.  Traveling to our Fishtown studio week after week, the Watts brothers had been exploring R&B, combining a natural ear for music with their new-found technical comprehension of note reading and chord changes. The young duo (accompanied by their teacher on drums) killed a rendition of “Red Baron”, by Billy Cobham. If you aren’t familiar, “Red Baron” is a jazz-fusion tune from 1973. Its a song that requires a lot feel n grooviness, which Jeremy and Brandon surely brought to the table. As the brothers played together on electric bass and piano, improvisation on the keys was a highlight, in addition to the strong sense of rhythm provided by the bass. There’s nothing like opening a performance with this old-school tune and a family band!

This was just the beginning of a very cool set-list made up of original compositions, classical piano works, familiar modern pieces, some jazz/blues improv’ from an advanced jazz guitar student, and more. Someone even mastered a classical piano rendition of the theme song from the old nintendo game, Zelda (my personal fav)!

This Fall, we’re looking forward to having another great mix of instruments and an equal the variety of musical disciplines from our students. See you at the next recital!