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New Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith | Philly Music Lessons

Philly Classical Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith

Classical Guitar Teacher: Phil Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What is your biggest musical achievement?:

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

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

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


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

Baby & Kids Music Classes

Fishtown Music classes

Baby and Kids Music Classes in Fishtown!

NOV. SIGN UPS!

SATURDAY DATES: Music Classes on November 8th & November 22nd 

The next make-up and drop-in Saturday music classes will be held on November 8th at 10am and November 22nd at 10am. Hope to see some faces both familiar and new! Please let me know if you plan to attend.

SATURDAYS:

  • Drop-ins $15/child
  • Sign-ups $10 (NEW! Sign up for 4 Saturdays)
  • First-timers FREE!

In addition to scheduled Saturdays, there are regular weekday music classes. These classes take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. Weekday classes are sign-up focused, with a routine that grows with the group week after week.

WEEKDAYS:

  • Sign-ups $10/class
  • Drop-ins are welcome at $15

Drop-ins, please be sure to text or send an email if you plan to visit.

Reserve your spot! Classes are kept small (capped between 6 and 8 children with a few spots for drop-ins). Our weekly 45 minutes is sing-along oriented, and introduces babies and toddlers up to 4 years old to music through movement, rhyme, sharing, singing, and playing. Children explore musical instruments, experiment with “performing” (such as during our “5 Little Monkeys” number), and practice basic solfeggi at the piano. Some of our most seasoned students have even started learning notes.

Thanks to everyone who has made this October full of good times! See you next week.

Claire “Coco”

Phillymusicbabies@gmail.com
(215)520-1772 (email or text to drop-in to classes)

learn piano, guitar, drums, upright bass, and more

Private Music Lessons for Kids

P.S. For sign ups, priority will be given to those who have been attending classes in October. The rest will be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis. Pllease let me know a.s.a.p. if you’d like to keep your spot for November!

 

Check out more about our classes, visit Philly Music Babies’s website here and visit Phillymusiclessons.com/babymusic
You can also check out our video!

 

Specials and Discounts:
For families currently taking private lessons, for adults or children, your babies toddlers and little kids can DROP IN to classesat $10.

Try classes for FREE if you haven’t yet been to Philly Music Babies.

Hey Alumni! Those of you who have already completed a month’s sign up of classes are welcome to drop in to any Saturday class for$10!

Can only make Saturday music classes? We now have a new option for you to sign up for a “floating” weekend pass. With a minimum of 4 classes, you can attend Saturdays for

Reminder! Baby Music Classes Begin!

music classes for babies and kids

Toddler Music Classes in Fishtown. Weekday mornings. Sign up with Philly Music Lessons!

Beginning Sept. 16th – TOMORROW!

Music Classes in Fishtown continue! Sign up.

Hello all of you music lovers! Just a reminder that music classes will start up again tomorrow. Classes this Fall will be held on Tuesdays at 9am and 10am and Wednesdays at 10am. You can email, call or text to sign up for monthly sessions at $10/class. Let me know your time and day preference (and alternative availability). I’ll be scheduling to ensure classes are lively and fun, yet small enough to keep our class sizes intimate and interactive. Classes will be held so long as there are at least 4 children per class. As always, remember there are flexible makeup options in the event you and your child have to miss a class.

Can’t sign up? Feel free to DROP IN this Fall at $15/class – please email phillymusicbabies@gmail.com, or call or text (215)520-1772 to check class availability before stopping by.

Keep in touch by following Philly Music Babies on facebook and Phillymusicbabe on twitter. There you can find class scheduling, updates, and Saturday makeup/drop-in class announcements!

Thank you, hope to see you!

Claire “Coco”

P.S. If anyone can’t make the regular weekday times, I would like to offer a drop-in Saturday class this coming weekend and/or the following. Please email me with interest.

Check out our websites for more information: Phillymusicbabies.com andPhillymusiclessons.com

Toddler Class – Taking Turns with Music

During my music classes, I find it nearly impossible to skip the routine turn-taking activities. I know I’ve strummed the guitar a bit too long when I start to see little eyes wandering! Of course these introductory sing-alongs are the staple of any music class – they have an immediate appeal and are crucial to the class routine. But no matter how enamored a child is when they hear those chords on guitar, their little attention spans are ready to explore the next thing after about 3 – 4 consecutive songs.

As children approach two, it seems they are eagerly awaiting opportunities to test their social skills (and observe others).  My class involves many turn-taking opportunities, as I found this is where I see toddlers feeling most proud and engaged with others. There are activities that we do, which require each child to wait as others take turns in the spotlight. For example, “Where is [child’s name]” is sung while each child hides behind one of our scarves. We also take turns learning the C major scale on the piano, one itty-bitty finger at a time.

These are the things that are most readily remembered week after week (and garner the most excitement). These activities are an opportunity for children to observe other kids as they try out new skills. With the social support of the group, I’ve seen children gain confidence through a new found bravery from trying new things. They also feel a sense of accomplishment. These communal experiences are in line with the social needs of toddlers. I find it enriching to the social fabric of the class, as each child is encouraged to take risks and express themselves.

Here are just a few of the songs and activities we do in class:

“Old McDonald” – We spend time in between repetitions, naming farm animals and their sounds. I try to encourage the little ones to participate during class through our familiar song collection. Many children are shy at this age, but are surely paying attention and learning from the ballsy ones! I’ve also observed how quickly a child warms up over the weeks.

“Ba Ba Black Sheep” with a variety colors – A favorite among so many toddlers!

Warm ups with fun sounds and movement – We explore our vocal chords together, using motions and body language to emphasize the difference between high and low notes. We also get our rhythm going by patting our bellies and clapping.

“4 Little Monkeys” – Of course we can’t get away with a class without doing “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” (because its pretty much everyone’s favorite). But, “4 Little Monkeys” is also awesome – maybe anything with monkeys is fun! This one involves swinging arms and an alligator that inches toward each child during the repetitions.

“5 Little Firemen” with rhythm sticks – This is a new one that has become one of my favorites. Each round adds a “Whoosh!”, and there is a lot of steady repetition, with dynamic pauses, making it a great rhythm exercise for toddlers.

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with turns – We do this one in the form of a round sometimes, but the most popular version with the kiddies is the one where a scary animal comes! They love it (we all get to yelp). The tots love taking turns on my lap while we row with the sticks.

There are many more songs that we do and instruments that we play. As I’ve mentioned before, these classes are great for any age. I find that it is best for children 0-2 years old, especially if you’re signing up for multiple weeks. Toddlers are very focused on routines and repetition, whereas a 3 or 4 year old may get a little tired of the same old thing.  That said, we’ve had some older children stop by for the day who had a great time! So we really do welcome all ages, especially for drop-ins. Babies do equally as well as toddlers. They are always very happy to have the lively stimulation and weeks to perfect sitting skills, new sounds, and internalizing rhythm and language.

For older children (3-5 years), we are currently gathering interest and names so that we can put together a class for older children (which would involve instrument making, song improvisation, and more technical concepts).

If you haven’t tried out a class, you’re welcome to contact us to set up a time when you can drop in to a class for free. If you’re looking to sign up, our August music classes are just about done (one more week!). September classes will begin on the 16th, and will take place mornings at 9am and 10am. Currently, we are offering Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (classes will be held based on demand). Keep an eye out for Saturday classes as well! Follow Philly Music Babies on Facebook for class updates and Saturday class announcements. We happen to have a Saturday class on the 30th this month at 10am. You can also find Phillymusicbabe on twitter or text me, Coco, to check class statuses the day of (in case you plan to drop-in).

Happy Singing to you!

Music Production and Recording Opportunities

Music Production and Recording for Philly Music Lessons Students – Hey, all of you advanced Philly Music Lessons students (and interested beginners)! Have we told you yet that you have the opportunity to explore production and recording with us?  Since our beginnings, our studio has been the home of a number of local recording and mixing projects. In addition to contributing to album releases, we have also produced demos for college auditions, and have guided many students with their own recording and production interests. Now, with our new school in Fishtown, we have a greater capacity to teach recording and music production. We want to offer exploration for those interested in learning how to produce, record, and mix their own music.

Many of our advanced students may be interested in exploring the medium of recording as a tool.  Playing live is one way of applying newly acquired knowledge, but recording can also be a way to hone your skills.  The technical and playback aspects of recording can sharpen one’s ear and understanding of music.  While playing live trains musicians to play together and communicate musically, recording can challenge and improve one’s technical proficiencies.

Some of our students have polished original works, incorporating lessons into their songwriting.  With home recording becoming more accessible than ever, students composing original music will be delighted to learn the fundamentals of working with recording equipment and programs.  Home recording is a great way to apply your studies to real projects.  It is also an opportunity to create a body of work for demos, bands, auditions, and more.