Our seasonal recitals are a great way for students to get an opportunity to perform for friends and family! It’s also great for friends and family to get a chance to see the progress they’ve made since last time, whether they are 6 years old or 60 years old. Check out this video offering up highlights of every students performance from our Spring 2018 recital at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia!
As summer approaches, many students and parents have questions about managing summer music lessons. These include questions about changing schedules, vacation time, and practicing expectations. While your teacher is the best person to talk to about specifics, we aim to address your more general questions, or to help you decide which questions to ask. We also want to show you how summer music lessons can serve as a special opportunity for you.
Communicate with your teacher about scheduling
The most efficient means of managing summer music lessons involves communicating with your teacher (or your child’s teacher). Need a different lesson time over the summer? Going on vacation? Music teachers anticipate all of this, but let them know sooner rather than later. Contact your teacher as soon as you make plans or need a change.
Communicate with our office about extended breaks
It’s especially important to let our office know if you plan on taking any extended breaks, such as for a whole month or for the whole summer. If you take an extended period of time off, we will remove you from our calendar moving forward. Please contact our office at the beginning of the Fall when you plan on starting up again. We can’t promise the same time/day that you had, but we’ll do our best to work with your schedule for the Fall!
The rules of lessons still apply
It’s easy to fall into a “summer mindset” with music lessons, not applying the same rigor to cancellations and practice sessions as you would during a school year. Don’t fall into this trap! Teachers expect just as much over the summer. Plus, your music teacher is still running a business over the summer, and needs to be treated as such.
Use this as an opportunity
Many students, especially kids, are so scheduled during the school year, it can be difficult to fully dedicate themselves to music lessons. Summer allows a little more flexibility. Use it as an opportunity to get ahead in your music lessons so you can reach your goals that much sooner.
A lot of students also hope to audition for top bands, orchestras, or choirs when they return to school. If your child brings focus and discipline to summer lessons, they’ll be ready for these auditions in the fall. This is particularly important if a student plans to pursue music further, such as in college.
In either instance, take note of your goals or your child’s goals, and what it would take to reach them. Then, you and your teacher can make a plan based on your freer summer schedule.
It’s tempting to think that once the recital is over, once classes are over, then lessons are over for the summer too, or at least are more relaxed. However, summer is a unique opportunity for renewed dedication. Flexibility, time, and focus have great benefits for you or your child, so take advantage of them! Above all else, remember that managing summer music lessons is not so different from managing regular lessons. Keep that mindset, and you’ll stay on the ball through vacations, schedule upheavals, and pool-worthy weather.
Why flute? This is a funny question—As a flute player myself, I sometimes think back to when I decided to play flute for the rest of my life: I was in 10th grade and driving home from a flute lesson with my mom when I had this overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t just stop playing flute. Obviously I had already been thinking about what I was going to do in college, but at that moment, the notion that I could stop playing music made me so sad that I knew I had to study flute for the rest of my life.
In orchestral music, we get to play all sorts of characters, from birds (composers love to portray birds with flute) to hope, wind, light, or mythical creatures, and that is barely scratching the surface! I had a wonderful teacher in college who pointed to my flute and said “this isn’t a flute.” I looked at him and thought, “Oh no, he thinks my flute is the silver equivalent to a plastic whistle. Or maybe, he’s just gone crazy” He pointed and said again “This isn’t a flute—it is the mist on a mountain top, it is the wind on a summer evening, it is rage, it is pure joy—this is whatever you make it.” Now on some level I knew that—people had been telling me from a reasonably young age that I was good at the musical stuff not written on the page, but never in my life had someone so clearly pointed out the possibilities of playing this instrument. What I love about flute and playing music using wind (or breath) as the mode of sound production is how expressive one can be while literally taking deep—and often calming breaths. I love the many colors one can find in the flute sound with careful study. Most of all I love playing all of the different characters. I love applying narrative to music, and I have the most fun when I’m playing a character with my flute.
As I think back even further to the events that led me to start the flute it all was so arbitrary: I went to Colonial Williamsburg with my family for a few days in the summer before my 5th grade year—I don’t know why I was intrigued so much by this fife I found in a shop, but I was and part of me wonders if I would be here today writing this article without that first seemingly nebulous push. This is just my story and when it comes down to brass tacks, every musician has his or her story. What we all have in common is the universal choice that we make. Every musician has made a choice to put in the careful hours and become what he or she is today. There is some turning point that presents an instrument to a person and then a choice that doesn’t seem at all like a choice but just something that you do. This might be yours for flute.
I don’t think I can ever say to someone “you should play flute because of ____.” There is never enough time and never language specific enough. Most students know flute is for them after listening to it. If they hear something that they like, I do my best to help them put what they like into words, and then we set off together after that sound. Playing flute is not the be all and end all for everyone, but for those who want to enrich their lives with a musical instrument—it is a great choice.
5 Underrated Instruments for Your Child to Learn
Whether your child wants to join their school band or orchestra, or if you want your child to take private music lessons, it can be difficult to select the right instrument. Oftentimes, students and parents alike only consider instruments that are popular, age appropriate, and/or affordable. While this criteria is reasonable, there are a number of underrated instruments for your child to learn that are also age appropriate and inexpensive.
Take a moment to consider these instruments and their benefits.
A lesser known string instrument, the viola closely resembles the violin in every way it counts. In fact, many viola players are able to use their skills to play the violin later on. How? Not only are both of these instruments held and played the same way, they share three of the same strings. While the violin has one higher string, the viola has one lower string.The main difference between the two instruments is the clef they use. Violists are the only instrumentalists who regularly use the alto clef. Therefore, those who play the viola tend to have phenomenal music reading and music theory skills. Although the viola is often neglected for its popular sibling the violin, it’s one of the best instruments for your child to learn from an educational and opportunity standpoint. Less competition amongst violists means more opportunities to play.
While trumpets are well-known instruments, they are not well selected by kids looking to learn an instrument for the first time. This could be because trumpets are considered one of the most difficult instruments to play. Not only does it require good breath and finger coordination, it is a loud instrument. Furthermore, trumpets are often given the melody, making precise intonation important. If a trumpet goes out of tune, everyone will notice. This makes it a great instrument for your child to learn if they enjoy a challenge or being the center of attention.
The trombone – even less popular than the trumpet – offers a number of advantages to your child. Like many of the instruments on this list, less competition means your child will have more opportunities to play the trombone. The trombone has the unique benefit of being valuable to just about every kind of music group as well. They’re heard in bands, orchestras, symphonies, jazz bands, and so on. While the trombone can be a difficult instrument to care for, it can be a good opportunity for your child to learn about the importance of maintenance and respect for valuable items.
Considered one of the oldest woodwind instruments, the flute is an easy, affordable, and versatile instrument for your child to learn. It is considered versatile in terms of both portability and usage. Learning the flute allows students to pick up other instruments later on as well, such as the piccolo or the saxophone. Its ease and pleasing tone make it a good instrument to develop your child’s confidence and foundational understanding of music.
The clarinet is often neglected over its more popular counterpart, the saxophone. Few people realize the similarities between these two instruments, but a soprano saxophone even looks similar to a clarinet. However, the saxophone is considered easier to play than the clarinet, meaning the clarinet offers an educational advantage to your child. Furthermore, just like the viola to the violin, students who learn the clarinet can easily learn the saxophone later on. Switching the other way around, however, is more challenging.
Every Student Is Unique
It can be difficult to choose an instrument for you or your child when you’re just starting out, though we hope you will seriously consider these underrated instruments for your child to learn. Each one offers unique benefits to the player, and by virtue of being underrated, your child will often have more opportunities to play as a result. This could include special bands or orchestras, competitions, or even scholarships. No matter what instrument your child chooses to play though, we hope they enjoy a lifelong relationship to music!
Beautiful Tone, Beautiful Heart!
Suzuki-Style Violin Class for Ages 3-5
“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Saturdays at 11 AM at Philly Music Lessons
October 1st – November 19th
$198 for 8 classes
(Includes a 3 month violin rental fitted for your child’s size at the first class)
Though many different curiosities are piqued when children come into our space and see instruments on the walls and in our practice rooms, violin seems to be of particular interest over and over again! Thus we’ve decided to offer a Suzuki-style violin class for kids ages 3-5. With a violin rental embedded into the cost, kids have the opportunity to experience the Suzuki method and other violin group work intended to introduce young bodies and minds to the violin. Read more about our kids violin class here!
Music Exploration Ages 3-5
Tuesdays at 4PM
October 4th – November 22nd
$128 for 8 classes
Our music exploration class is an intro to music beyond baby and toddler classes. Kids will explore ukuleles, their voices, piano techniques, and percussion patterns to gain experience with string instruments, solfege (ear training), and rhythm training. This class lays the groundwork for private lessons in a variety ofinstruments and is simply a fun way to explore music! Each class concludes with an art project that will reinforce a new concept each week.
Baby and Toddler Music Classes Ages 0-3
Ongoing Weekly classes at 10 AM Wednesdays and Saturdays
First time FREE! $10 drop in all September
Mommas, daddies, nannies, grandparents, and caregivers can join other families in the Fishtown area for weekly music classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 AM. Babies just a few months old will enjoy classes as much as the toddlers. All classes are drop-in this September, with a special rate of $10 per class (normally $15). Come October, we’ll be moving to a monthly sign up (10 kids max, unlimited makeups) to encourage regular friends and faces, and to allow groups of babies to grow and learn together!
May weekday music classes for babies and tots (ages 0-3) are on Wednesday mornings at 10 AM at our Philly Music Lessons studio. This month, we have some space for newbies! If you’ve been waiting to try out a class for FREE, come on by starting next week. We’re located down the street from the Soup Kitchen in Fishtown. We welcome Philly families from Fishtown, East Kensington, Northern Liberties, Port Richmond, and beyond to come make friends and music. If you can’t make our weekday classes, join us select Saturdays and Sundays this month (May 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd). Check our calendar to make sure classes aren’t full!
If you’re dropping in ($15 per class) or attending for your first time (FREE), you can just show up so long as classes are not labeled “FULL” on our calendar. However, if you have the time, we always appreciate the heads up! Email us here if you’re popping in. Package holders are always welcome!
5 Class Baby Music Lover Package – $10/class for regulars
If you plan to come to music classes regularly, it might make sense to get a package. You can buy a package in person, at class (cash, check, or credit card), or we can email you an invoice so you can pay in advance online. Please note: there are a limited number of packages issued per class, as we like to keep class sizes relatively small. Packages can be issued for either Wednesdays, Saturdays, or Sundays.
Expiration Dates for Packages/Punch Cards
5 class packages/punch cards expire within a time frame that allows you to miss roughly two scheduled classes on our calendar. For example, Saturday classes are usually scheduled 2-3 times per month. Your punch card will expire 3 months from your purchase date, allowing you around 7-9 class dates to choose from. You can check our calendar to get a feel for typical class schedules.
See you all soon,
Life at Philly Music Lessons Post-Baby and Toddler Music?
Some of you have been with us for almost 2 years now! Its amazing how time has flown, how much everyone has grown, and how much we’ve all come to love our classes together. Please stay in touch with us through our school’s main newsletter, where we announce new classes for ages 3 and up. Here you’ll also find out more about private lessons, recitals, and other events going on at the studio. For instance, this Spring we’ve been holding classes where baby and tots alumni have gotten the chance to reconvene with old friends in a musical way – Keep an eye out for new Fall class offerings!
Suzuki Style Group Violin Class Ages 3 & 4
Feel free to get in touch with us now if you’d be interested in a group Suzuki-style violin class for ages 3-4 starting September 2016. Small-sized violin rentals will be included.
We encourage holding off on private lessons until at least 4, but we also know every kid is different! If you’re thinking music lessons, you may consider setting up a trial run (suggested for no more the 30 minutes for young kids), so you can see how your child would do with music lessons at any age.
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.
Hey there, Neema! Welcoming you to our wonderful collection of guitar teachers at Philly Music Lessons.
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.
Yeliza is the kind of person that can put you at ease from the first moment you meet her. She’s incredibly professional, but also relaxed and exudes positivity. This is the combo you want in a music teacher. She’ll offer students the discipline needed to learn an instrument, as well as the encouragement and light heart to wade over challenges along the way. In talking with Yeliza about future workshops and programs at Philly Music Lessons, I learned quickly how passionate she is about teaching. Though she teaches all ages, her and I have been excitedly planning our Spring Strings 2016 workshop for kids ages 4 – 5 and 6 – 7. I loved her reference to the early cello training workshops that inspired her in Puerto Rico. In these classes, as well as many beginner cello lessons for young kids, its common for students to start out on cardboard instruments, which they have spent time making themselves. This, she explained, teaches students how to care for their instruments, earning the opportunity to play on the real thing (On top of that, getting to craft a cardboard cello is pretty fun!).
Starting out the workshop with this mindful approach speaks a lot to the importance of patience and respect when you’re learning music (muscle memory comes in due time, just as getting to handle an expensive object like a cello comes with learning how to respect and care for instruments). It also speaks to Yeliza’s understanding of how to teach kids cello in a fun and creative way.
In private lessons, Yeliza offers excellent guidance for beginner and advanced students of all ages. With the Suzuki Method as her primary teaching tool, Yeliza offers violin lessons as well as cello. She also offers instruction for voice and piano too. Being bilingual, Yeliza teaches music lessons in Spanish as well.
Here’s Yeliza, playing Bach:
You can read more about Yeliza in her own words below (from our Teachers Page profiles):
I teach piano, violin, cello and voice lessons. I am 23 years old, and I was born in Puerto Rico. I came to the United States 4 years ago. I am bilingual, and I know the Suzuki Method in Spanish and English. I began playing the cello when I was in 7th grade in Puerto Rico with Professor Fermin Segarra. I also have an extensive background with the violin, piano and voice, having sung in multiple choirs throughout high school and college. After I graduated from Escuela Libre de Musica de San Juan, a school specialized in music, I went to the Conservatory of music of Puerto Rico for 2 years to focus on Cello Performance with Professor Luis Miguel Rojas. Afterwards, I transferred to Temple University to finish my bachelor’s degree in Performance with Professor Jeffrey Solow. This is my senior year at Temple University. I utilize the Suzuki Method with most of my students because I find it to be the most logical and progressive method of teaching. I was one of the piano, violin and cello teachers for children ages 4-18+ years old for two years in a specialized program at the Conservatory of Music. I am planning to stay in Philadelphia to build my studio with students of all ages.
Keep reading for a brief interview with Yeliza:
I started playing the cello when I was 12 and it was the best decision that I made in my life. I do not regret any moment that I spend with my cello making beautiful music.
I play violin, piano and sing, as well. Piano was my first instrument growing up which gave me a very good foundation for reading music and understanding harmonic and melodic relationships in compositions. It also helped me better understand the string instruments that I would gravitate towards later in life. I began learning the violin shortly after the cello. They are very different instruments, despite being in the same family, but there are certain techniques which apply to both. As forvoice, I’ve sang all of my life. I’ve had three years of formal training in private lessons and have sang in choirs throughout middle school, high school and college.
Meet Jenn Amell. Jenn teaches guitar and piano to beginner and intermediate students. Her guitar focus is on pop, rock, and punk. On piano, Jenn specializes in teaching classical, but also loves working with pop music and show tunes. An excellent teacher for kids, she can bring a beginner through basic piano technique, introducing them to classical fundamentals. Kids who have an interest in playing pop, rock, or punk can explore chord progressions, strumming patterns, finger plucking, and more. Jenn also teaches adults who are at the beginner to intermediate level, offering instruction for playing pop music, as well as classical.
Read more about Jenn in her bio and the interview below:
I am a piano/guitar teacher. For the last fourteen years, I have been playing piano, as well as guitar for the past nine. Music is a chord struck deep in the heart, and it is a special passion of mine to pass on the skills necessary to experience such a visceral medium. Playing an instrument is one of the greatest meditative practices. On top of that, it stirs the brain and body into healthy action, allowing for better coordination and muscle memory.
Some of my best experiences have come from playing music, whether in a room full of friends singing and banging on drums, or alone strumming on the guitar. I have been fortunate enough to work with some great musicians in the Main Line and Philly areas including Nicholas Brower of Good Shirt Productions and fellow Philly Music Lessons teacher, Jennifer Pague, of Vita and the Woolf. Additionally, I also have an affinity for punk music and have put together a small lo-fi EP (Distant Milk) of ambient punk for my project, ‘Future Seer’.
Via all these good musical experiences, I have developed a teaching strategy that focuses on equal parts theory and improvisation. I mostly teach piano in a classical style, but would love to work with those who want to play pop or show tunes. As for guitar, my experience lies in rock, pop, and punk music, with a strong emphasis on strumming patterns and chord progressions. I accept students of any age from beginner to intermediate levels.
When did you begin playing piano/guitar, and why?:
I began playing piano at age eleven under the tutelage of Janet Ables. My mother inherited an upright player piano from her father and I can remember sitting at its keys and plunking out Chopsticks or The Spinning Song. When I showed an affinity for the piano, my mother decided to get me lessons, which continued throughout middle school and high school. As for guitar, I was first introduced at age fifteen by my church’s youth group, the leader of which taught me some chords and let me play on the worship team. I think I gravitated toward piano and guitar because of the therapy it offered. Playing either instrument calmed me then and continues to do the same now.
What are your personal goals as a musician?:
Music has always been a kinetic, visceral experience for me. It makes me happy, and because of that, it is a compulsion— in the best way. So, I’d say my personal goals involve playing for my own enjoyment and passing on any knowledge I’ve gained to others who want to experience that same happiness and compulsion.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?:
I can definitely remember times when the piano or guitar mystified me. How did they work? How could others make them sound so beautiful? I’m sure the same feeling came from learning a song on the piano, but I specifically remember learning my first chord (G) on the guitar. I had a feeling like, “Oh, so that’s how it’s done!”. Although the mechanics of playing either instrument become more knowable, music itself still holds a very exciting mystery.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
My mom and I often talk about the symbiosis between all the artistic mediums. I love literature (having studied it in university) and have found many striking similarities between music and writing. One particular passage really inspired to me from Anne-Marie Macdonald’s novel, Fall On Your Knees. In the scene, she is describing an opera singer:
“It’s nothing to do with the words, which are in a foreign language, or the story, which most people don’t know. It’s because a real and beautiful voice delicately rends the chest, discovers the heart, and holds it beating against a stainless edge until you long to be pierced utterly. For the voice is everything you do not remember. Everything you should not be able to live without, and yet, tragically, do.”
I also love Brian Eno, he’s full of good advice.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
Oh, I have them all the time! Music is supposed to be challenging, otherwise it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I guess completing my EP for Future Seer was my biggest musical achievement. It was super fun and I hope to do another one soon. I am also so happy to be in any way involved with Vita and the Woolf. They’re a great local Philly band reaching for high heights.
Favorite thing about teaching?:
I love teaching children, especially when they put two musical concepts together and finally understand them. Their smiles are genuine and you know that something unlocked in their brains.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
My best advice is twofold:
1. Be patient.
2. Practice as much as you can.
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
Distant Milk, Future Seer (2015) – solo project including piano, synth, guitar, vocals and audio production.