Stef Emery – Voice, Guitar, and Violin Teacher

voice, violin, guitar, lessons, music, philadelphia
Voice, Guitar & Violin

Stef Emery

Berklee College of Music

Rock, Pop & Blues

I teach Vocals, Guitar, and Violin. I grew up playing the violin and the piano, and played in school orchestras through high school. I then began to play the guitar and really started focusing on my voice and songwriting. I went to college at Berklee College of Music for Violin Performance and there learned Jazz and Blues styles on Violin. I began to gravitate more towards Rock and Blues styles and became more and more interested in being a singer-songwriter. I have studied violin privately with teachers from Julliard, Berklee and other universities. I took private vocal instruction from a professional Opera singer who switched her focus to Rock and Pop styles. I began teaching all three of my instruments in college and have been teaching now for 13 years. I perform locally with my band and have recorded one full length album and am working on our next. I teach all ages, and love focusing on Rock, Pop, and Blues styles. Many of my vocal students also play guitar, so we work on coordination between playing and singing at the same time and even songwriting. My teaching style for vocals has a strong focus on finding your voice in chest and mix voices, learning how to project and belt and achieve a full body sound. I love to instill a strong sense of technique, feel, and confidence in my students, and most importantly I want them to have fun! Music lessons are about learning, obtaining goals, and gaining confidence in yourself. I strive to make all of my students well rounded musicians, encourage creativity and live performance, and help to start their musical journey in the most positive and encouraging way possible.

When did you begin singing, and why?

I began singing in Junior High, right around the same time I started learning how to play the guitar. I had been playing the violin since 4th grade and guitar was a very easy next instrument to learn for me since being so familiar with string instruments already. I quickly began wanting to learn how to play and sing guitar at the same time, looking up chords for songs and singing the melodies over them. I then began writing my own songs for both vocals and guitar. I knew then that singing was definitely a passion of mine and that I would continue to learn and eventually perform live shows.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Violin was my first serious instrument, which I started playing around age 10. I played in school, in the orchestra, along with group lessons. I played through high school in symphony orchestras and chamber orchestras and added on private lessons with a teacher who studied at Julliard. I went on to study at Berklee College of Music, where I dove head first into learning about jazz and improvisational techniques for violin. I played in ensembles and learned that there are so many musical styles beyond classical music for Violin. Eventually I made my way back to Pennsylvania where I continued to study music in school and took more private lessons and started teaching private lessons.
Guitar started for me around the age of 13. I learned classical, rock, and some blues techniques through private lessons. I learned that I loved playing rhythm guitar, mostly because it was my preferred choice of accompaniment for my singing and songwriting.


What are your personal goals as a musician?

I have many goals at the moment! First off, I have been teaching music lessons for 13 years with no plans of stopping! It is truly the most rewarding job I have ever had. It is a pleasure to teach people what I love and feel so passionately about. Secondly is performing with my band, La Capitana. We perform locally and are really trying to break into the music scene in Philly and beyond! Third, which also pertains to my band, is music licensing. We are actively trying to license our music for TV and movies.


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

I can remember struggling with some rhythms while learning a tough song on violin when I was younger. My private teacher at the time really drove home the importance of counting and breaking down beats into the smallest rhythm values needed. It truly was something so simple, but something a lot of other school teachers really graced over. It was definitely one of those moments where things just clicked and I felt like any rhythm I faced was actually now a fun challenge to figure out!


What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
I had a great private Voice teacher that taught me that everything you do should start small and grow bigger. When you’re struggling with say a phrase, or pushing too hard with your voice, you learn to scale back, pinpoint the issue, and try again small and gradually build until you’ve actually built the strength to do it correctly. Not to get frustrated, but to really zone in on what the problem is and fix it. That is something I always remember and try to instill in my students.


What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I would say my most challenging moment learning an instrument would be when I had to learn extremely challenging classical music for violin. The fast bowing for complex rhythms, the shifting into higher positions, and keeping a smooth sound all at the same time proved to be very challenging! But with practice and patience any challenge is able to be overcome!


What is your biggest musical achievement?
My biggest musical achievement so far was when my band’s song was played on a major TV Network (Fox Sports for a UFC fight!). When I got that royalty check in the mail it was one of those moments when you think, all the hard work is starting to pay off! And you realize that writing music can really be a serious profession.


Favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is seeing students succeed at their goals…they put so much time and work into learning something and when you see something click inside them, and they get so excited, it really makes you feel like you’ve done your job.


What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
I’d say be patient and persistent. Learning music is like learning a whole other language…it takes practice, patience, skill, determination, and dedication. If you can pair all of those qualities together and hone your craft you will feel so good when you start seeing the milestones you achieve!


Personal music projects:
My band La Capitana! We are a Garage Rock / Bluesy style band based right here in Philly. We have played venues such as The TLA, The Milkboy, Boot & Saddle, and festivals such as Bethlehem Music Fest. We have one full length studio album and are working on our next effort, and as I mentioned already, we are excited to be getting some of our music placed on TV and in movies with music licensing!

Philly Music Lessons specializes in connecting students of all ages and skill levels with great teachers in the Philadelphia and Main Line areas.