Tag Archives: music teachers

Partnering with Local Schools – La Salle Academy

Music PartnershipsLa Salle Academy: Expanding our Teaching Partnerships

One of the core mission statements at Philly Music Lessons is that everyone deserves a chance to learn music. It drives us to make lessons available to many communities and families with varying income levels and schedules. That is why we offer the convenience of in-home lessons, as well as local studio lessons in Fishtown and South Philly, and why we offer financial aid discounts to low-income families.

To further expand opportunities for kids to learn music, we’ve started to partner with local schools, offering discounted private and group lessons during after school hours. Because our lessons are made available at an affordable rate, right on the school premises, it is much easier for kids to begin the process of learning music!

Engaging Students at La Salle through Music Performances and Presentations

DSC_0047 (1)We recently traveled down the road from our Fishtown studio to La Salle Academy, located in Kensington on North 2nd Street. Our teachers gave presentations to grades 3-8, showing them the basics of piano, guitar, violin and drums. Starting with the principles of technique and theory, our two multi-instrumentalist teachers, Sean Conlon and Emily Stewart, were able to give the kids a sense of what the beginning portion of learning an instrument really looks like. Our teachers performed solo pieces on each instrument, and followed with group performances to show how different instruments can come together to create unique styles and sounds. It was very inspiring for students to see professional musicians performing at an advanced level. We feel this experience gives them a sense of the hard work and dedication that goes into attaining such a level of musicianship.

DSC_0052 (1)DSC_0043 (1)With our presentations, children are better able to gauge their general level of interest in music. They may also be able to better determine which instrument they’d like to learn. We feel that starting a child off with an instrument that really inspires them is the best way to form a positive and lasting relationship with music. We hope these kinds of experiences at an early age will stick with them for the rest of their lives!

New Music Education Partnerships

Philly Music Lessons will be working to maintain and expand relationships with other schools in the city of Philadelphia throughout the 2018 school year. We feel our teachers have a lot to offer in terms of supplementing standard music education classes and providing individualized lessons to students who may not have access to them otherwise. As most educators know, there is no substitute for a great teacher.

 

New Trombone, Trumpet Teacher

We’re so happy to have a new great teacher on board. Larry (new trumpet/trombone teacher) shared some great advice about learning music. You’ll read his words of wisdom, personal stories, and a bit about his background in the interview and bio below:

trombone and trumpet teachers

Larry Toft teaches Trombone and Trumpet at Philly Music Lessons

Meet Our New Trumpet and Trombone Teacher

Larry Toft
I teach trombone, baritone horn/euphonium, and trumpet. I’m a full time teacher and performer in Philadelphia and obtained my BA in Music Education from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music. I have over 15 years of teaching experience, and I currently teach at 3 schools in the Philadelphia area on a weekly basis. I enjoy performing and teaching many styles of music such as: classical, jazz, salsa, blues, reggae, r&b, funk, and folk music from Balkans. I enjoy designing lessons around what the student wants to learn as well as establishing basic brass techniques in regards to tone production, rhythm, and harmony.
When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?: I started at age 9 when I was in the fourth grade. There was a brass ensemble playing music for everyone in the school to try and get students excited about playing music. I remember the trombone player piqued by interest by playing low splatty notes and the melody to “The Imperial March” from Star Wars.
What are your personal goals as a musician?: To be well versed in all styles of music and to make people forget their troubles and dance/listen/enjoy!
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?: I remember the first time I was able to produce a clear, resonant tone on the trombone. This ability, for some, is one of the most challenging aspects to a brass instrument. Also, being graceful and fluid on the slide of the trombone. This really helps with precision and accuracy of notes in particular passages.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?: It’s only music. Wrong notes have never severely injured anyone. Be adventurous! Take risks! This can open your ears and mind to new, exciting possibilities.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?: Learning how to improvise. This concept, in the beginning, was very foreign to me. Once you become familiar with how chord and harmony structures work, it starts to fall into place.
What is your biggest musical achievement?: Besides being able to succeed as a performing musician who is well versed in many styles, I think performing with other notable musicians such as Johnny Pacheco, Jimmy Heath, Lalo Rodriguez, Jon Faddis, Johnny Rivera, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Coleman,
Michael Ray, and Freddy Bell
Favorite thing about teaching?: Seeing the progress of the student and having them discover that moment when it starts to click for them.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?: Enjoy the process. Be patience and persistent and the rewards will pay off.
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any): West Philadelphia Orchestra (Balkan/Gypsy Folk music), Red Hot Ramblers (Trad/Hot Jazz), Cultureal (Reggae), various Salsa ensembles, New Pony (New Orleans/original funk/blues)

Group Music Lessons for Kids

piano lessons for kids

private music lessons or group classes

Kids Group Music Lessons in Philadelphia – Children are born interested in music.  At Philly Music Lessons, we often receive inquiries as to whether or not its possible to start very young kids with music lessons (I mean your toddler who is unusually obsessed with guitar, or your 4 year old who wants nothing more than to perform like a rockstar).  Our answer to this is of course, YES, it is possible!  The trick is finding a method and teacher that jives with your child’s personality and goals.  So, how best to approach finding the right music lessons?

Each child is a different type of learner.  For instance, one type of kid might really enjoy note reading and the patterns inherent in music.  They will be able to easily sit though lessons and practice, while truly enjoying learning note names and instrument fingering. Another kid might be drawn to the lyrical and expressive qualities of music.  Their ear will guide them in understanding songs.  Experimenting during lessons may be key. If your child is the animated performer, she or he might be better off focusing on favorite and familiar songs rather than getting bogged down immediately by technical music instruction.  Whatever type of child you think you have, it is important to pay attention to their interests and style.  So explain to your prospective teachers what your child likes, and they can develop music lessons around what makes your child tick.

We keep an eclectic stock of gifted teachers on staff, coming from all musical backgrounds and walks of life.  Some have children themselves and understand the quirks that go along with these little personalities! Some are simply talented at creatively teaching kids music.  Our teachers can bring fun to just about any learning material during private lessons, and make it a point to incorporate student interests into the learning process.  Whether it be piano lessons, drum lessons, or guitar lessons, all of our teachers understand how to adapt their methods and instruments for little minds and hands.

While plenty of kids show interest in taking private lessons, others that are clearly drawn to music may not be ready for the one-on-one.  That is why we have decided to offer small group classes for kids!  Group lessons are a great way to introduce music in a casual, friendly, social, and spontaneous, environment.  While our group classes are truly relevant to all ages (adults welcome as well – duos, trios, quartets, rock and jazz bands) we’ve created this particular set of classes with 4-6 year olds (preschoolers – kindergarteners ) in mind.   After a group of between 3 and 5 children is established (please contact us if you are interested in setting up a group lesson) lessons can be scheduled on a regularly occurring, weekly basis. Throughout the weeks, our teachers will use creative methods to engage the group.  By introducing song, dance, and movement, these classes become a lively and active environment for exploration.  Broadly touching on many fundamental musical concepts and dabbling with various instruments, group lessons can also be more directed to the set interests of the group (i.e. vocals, guitar, or piano).  These group jams are a great stepping stone to more advanced lessons, which can be continued in group form or as individual lessons throughout the years.

 Take Group Music Lessons

 

Intuitive Playing for Children

play, intuition, and ear

Teaching Children Music

If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.

—Shin’ichi Suzuki

 

Introducing music to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  It sharpens the senses and relaxes the mind.  The benefits of building a strong musical foundation will be revisited throughout life.  In a post-war Japan, Shin’ichi Suzuki used music to renew a sense of beauty into people’s lives after the devastation of World War II.  The Suzuki method was developed to encourage playing in a natural way, by feeling rather than intellect.  He believed that creating the ‘right environment’ would foster excellent character in his students.  Song-playing is encouraged rather than technical exercises, with a heavy emphasis placed on learning by ear.

Each student contains unique pathways to learning.  If the initial learning experience is approached with intuition, curiosity, and trust, the student will have more fun and will be drawn to the instrument more naturally.  A student must first reach an appropriate level of maturity to play in order to retain focus, with a genuine interest in exploring sounds.  The act of play should be free and easy, where the posture is supported yet relaxed.  Eventually, a communication emerges between student and instrument.  Effective lessons should instill confidence in the student and be part of a fun, rewarding experience.

As a teacher at Philly Music Lessons, I’ve found that young beginners learn most effectively when they are introduced to brief recognizable melodies.  Using short repetitive phrases, their ears begin to pick up on tonal patterns while the movements of their fingers become absorbed in muscle memory.  It’s amazing to see the light bulbs go off when a student learns how to play one of their favorite songs.

Intuitive playing emphasizes process over repertoire driven results.  Students should enjoy their lessons, while the teacher should make sure students develop a solid feel for rhythm, melody and harmony.  Learning in the spirit of lighthearted exploration is the surest way to achieve success at the piano and begin a lifetime appreciation for music.