Winter Recital Concerts

You can see the joy on their faces and it's awesome!

Excitement is building for the two Winter Recital Concerts coming next week. It's a massive undertaking to produce these concerts and I appreciate your support. Here's some reminder details.

Date Time and Location

  • Where: St. Francis Xavier church - corner 6th Ave and Carroll St
  • When: Saturday, January 26, 2019
  • Time: 10:30 am OR 2 pm

Registration Of Performers Closes Today at 5pm

Reminder to register today as we need to start printing programs and certificates.

Structure Of Recital

If this is your first recital, here’s how it’s structured. After a brief introduction, I gather all the performers and teachers onstage and hand out achievement certificates for all performers. We take a big “class photo” and stand powerful and strong in our “power poses.” It helps overcome the jitters of getting up in front everyone as we are all together looking out at you, our loving and supportive audience.

Your Teacher Will Support Your Child

Then we follow the program and I introduce each performer. Your child’s teacher will greet them, support and assure them. Also, they’ll make sure they have their correct starting positions on the keys! They will also stay near for emotional support.

Video Recordings on YouTube

I will record video of each child. We’ve been pretty lucky with having decent quality in the past -though, I can’t guarantee it! I post these on our YouTube channel with first names only. Let me know if you do NOT want a video taken.

Support All The Performers

Please plan on staying for the entire concert. It’s important to show your love and support of all the performers, not just your child. I know a few of you have told me of scheduling conflicts, so please be discreet if you have to leave early.

Thank you for being part of our musical community!

Photos from our Holiday Party / Music Salon 2018

Park Slope Music Lessons Holiday Party Music Salon

Each year, I host a Holiday Party and Music Salon for our music students at one of our student’s homes. It’s a great way for our youngest and shyest to get over their fears of performing in front of others. And every year it gets better. It also gives a chance for new friendships to be be born and our Music Mentors and Mentees to hang out, each some treats and play for all of us. Wonderful.

Here’s some of the highlights.

This is why you should not learn to read music first

This is why you should not learn to read music first

Should All Music Students Learn to Read Music?

As a music teacher, I’m often asked about reading music.  Some parents want to know,”Will my child learn to read music?”  These are usually parents who have had musical training and see the benefits of being able to read music from the last 1000 years of music literature!

Music notation is an incredible invention.  It is so concise, brief and elegant in it’s description of what would have been a lost experience.  But that’s the problem.  It’s so concise and symbolic, you need years of training, practice and conceptual development to simply read music.  It’s well worth the effort though.  Learning to read music unlocks the doors to vaults and vaults of incredible music by the masters from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Stravinsky to Bernstein to Miles, Bird and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to name just a few.

But My Favorite Rock Star Can’t Read Music

Others want to know if they “have to learn to read music.”  This is usually from parents who struggled with reading music and really did not enjoy the process.

I can see both points of view.  While yes, there is a great value in learning to read music, many of the greatest musicians cannot read standard music notation.  Paul McCartney is just one example.  And no one would ever claim Sir Paul is not a “real musician” or songwriter.

The Old School Traditional Way

Traditional music teachers often start with reading music. They want to do this because it is teacher-centric. It’s easier for teachers as there’s so much music written with traditional notation.

Music notation is over 1000 years old!

Ye Olde Songs…yawn

So, often, this old school, easy way for teachers, is also focused on older music.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, if you want to connect with younger students, you need to find a common ground.  You need to connect them with their music.  No, you can’t start immediately on the latest songs on the radio.  But you can accelerate the learning to get to that goal much quicker.

 

This is why you should not learn to read music first
This is an example of Bach’s handwritten notation from back in the 1600’s!

 

Accelerate Learning Techniques for Music

At Park Slope Music Lessons, we feel that to present the written music first is backwards. It’s like teaching grammar rules before even learning to say hello!

Our curriculum, the Musicolor Method®, works by giving students an experience of playing first, while building up technique and then gradually presenting the language of music through games and activities. It’s much more entertaining and twice as effective!

By empowering children of all ages to immediately start playing, there’s a huge boost of confidence.  Emotion is part of all learning.  How do you feel if you don’t get it?  Dumb?  Confused?  Frustrated?  But what if you could learn to play a simple song within the first five minutes of your first lesson?

Take a look at our videos, and the rest of our site.  You will see we have helped so many kids here in Brooklyn and now around the world learn to make music in a manner more organic, fun and fast.

Life Skills Through Music

And that leads to building life skills transferrable to school, work…everything!

Can special needs children learn to play an instrument?

Music lessons for special needs children?

If you ask the average music teacher about special needs children as students, you may get a blank stare. There isn’t much literature focused on this. Children with special needs may include those with learning disabilities, developmental issues, as well as those on the Autism spectrum.

At Park Slope Music Lessons, we’ve had several students with special needs. Our Musicolor Method® has proven to be a great way for these children to learn music where other teachers/methods have failed.


Can a special needs student learn to play piano?  

Absolutely!

“I still can’t believe you got my son to play with all 10 fingers in a single lesson! He is so excited and practicing every day on his own. Our previous teachers were all trying to get him to play one finger the whole time. He was bored and frustrated!”
Parent of a 5 year old student

Take a look at some of the videos of our past recitals, music salons and read our blog posts.  You will see we have helped so many kids learn music in a way that is fun, fast and supportive.  It doesn’t matter if your kld is or isn’t a prodigy, we make learning music an organic process.  And it all activates life skills that are transferrable to school, work and life!

How we use the Musicolor Method to teach special needs children to make music with fun and ease.
Musicolor Alphabet Cards, one of many physical games/tools we use to teach abstract concepts of music

If you have any questions about your child and their specific issues, feel free to contact us.

Why I want my student’s “desk” as big as possible

Did you ever go to a library or coffee shop just to have a bigger desktop?  There’s something so spacious and freeing about just having more physical workspace right in front of you.

Last week, I visited several co-working spaces in New York City just for that reason. Having a bigger desktop is incredibly freeing. It opens up your thinking.

And it’s the same thing with your internal mental workspace.  Years ago, I came up with the metaphor of the mental desktop.  This is how I imagine each child learning.  As I begin teaching a 4-year-old, they can only retain one note at a time in their mental workspace.

Over time, we begin chunking that into two and three-note phrases.  Over time, we begin expanding their “mental desktops” to be able to hold complete phrases and sections.  It is incredible to witness!

Each child’s progress is individualized.  

There are no hard and fast rules of how many days or weeks it will take to expand from two notes to two measures.

But sometimes we overestimate how much a particular student can retain.  Sometimes the student will shut down and not want to do anymore.  They’ll refuse to even try!  Other times, it’s as if we’ve gone backwards.

I’ve had some parents complain about their kid’s slow speed in learning how to read music.  But it’s similar to learning to read words.  You can’t skip ahead.  That will only lead to confusion, frustration, and overwhelm.

The core principles of the Musicolor Method include a 7 step framework of teaching and learning.  The first is the Growth Spiral. Every organism in the universe follows this spiraling outward from a central core.  You can see it in the petals of a flower, microscopic cells and the macroscopic like the cosmos.  It’s how growth happens, physical and mental.  You can’t skip from the inner to outer rings.

Another principle is called the Stepping Stone Principle.  Imagine you are trying to cross a stream.  Your guide (the teacher), picks a path and even lays out some stones for you (the student) to cross over.  If the stones (lessons) are too far apart, the students falls in the water.  Some may even get swept away or drown.  Putting the stones too close leads to boredom and perhaps the student also gets stuck there.

These principles are not something taught in music education programs.  It’s my distillation of what I have learned from other effective mentors and reflection on my teaching experiences.

So what if your child is not progressing to your expectations?

Well, the first question to ask is:  Are they practicing every day?

Practice is a learned skill.

You need to teach them how to practice.  It’s not about cramming.  It’s creating a routine that then becomes a habit.  We are all made of our habits, good and bad.  Learning to practice takes effort at first, but quickly becomes a routine.  It’s all about finding even five minutes at the same time every day.  This makes it easier.  Brushing your teeth was not something you just did on your own.  Your parents taught it to you.  It’s the same with music.

If practice is happening, then most issues dissolve. But please be patient.  If your child seems to be going slower than their friends, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.  Skipping ahead will only make things worse.  Trust the process and practice.

The best way to praise your children

The best way to praise your children

Take a look at these two sentences.

1) “Great job, you must be really smart.”

2) “Great job, you must have worked really hard at this.”

So similar but a vast difference in results.

 

If you say “Great job, you must be really smart,”

the child hears,

“Oh you think I’m brilliant and talented.  That’s why you admire me and why you value me. I  better not do any that will disprove this evaluation.”

It leads to a “fixed mindset.”

Whereas focusing on the process of growth leads to greater perseverance, grit and focus.   This comes from the research in the 1970’s by Stanford professor, Dr. Carol Dweck and has influenced so many others including Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth’s work on Grit.

When Alejandro was still small, I used to habitually say, “Good job.”  And I noticed over time, a fixed mindset was starting to set in.  If the task did not come quickly and easily, he wouldn’t persist or even attempt to try.

After I learned about Growth Mindset, I quickly shifted how I  praised and it began to change.  Thankfully, it seems to have been corrected.

It’s the same in music lessons.  I have become aware of seeking to praise the process and effort.  Over time, you will begin to notice how your child reacts differently.

I tried to read Carol Dweck’s academic works, but found them very dry.  This video is a much simpler, easier and fun way to learn more.

 

This Will Make Your Kids More Successful In Life

This will make your child more successful in life

When I was a kid, I felt like loneliness was my best friend.  It’s not like I wanted to be around him.  He just clung to me.

We were the only Asian family in an all-white neighborhood in a suburb of New York City.  The typical question was,

“What are you, Chinese or Japanese?”

 

As if those were the only two options.

 

“I’m Thai, Chinese and Korean.”  I would try to explain.

 

This answer was usually met with bewildered stares and silence.  Mind you, this was long before kimchi tacos,  Pad Thai noodles and Sriracha hot sauce were even a blip on the radar of the general public.  Heck, most people hadn’t even heard of sushi back then.

My New Best Friend

Somewhere along the way, though, I discovered music, who quickly became my new best friend.  It was through music that I began to feel less alien, foreign and an outsider and more like “just one of the gang.”  Through the bonds of shared passion for Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, I found new friends.

 

Music was the social lubricant and the universal language of our tribe.

 

I was 14 and teaching myself to play guitar.  I needed to get better fast!  Thus, I began to learn how to learn and how to practice.

 

I dove deep into technical exercises and repetition.  I studied the form and structure of music.  And I improved rapidly.   I began to realize that I could improve my results by focusing on the things that gave me better results and leaving the rest behind.  This was before I had ever heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  By focusing on that high leverage 20%, I was able to improve much more quickly.

 

One day I realized something profound.

 

Practicing what I already know is a waste of time.  I need to practice what I don’t know to improve!

 

The Practice of Practice

Now, I am a professional music teacher, and I strive to teach the practice of practice to all my students.

Last week, I held a Parents Curriculum meeting where I shared my core belief:

 

“Learning a musical instrument is one of the best paths for personal development.”

 

It requires knowing how to study, learn and focus.  These skills affect everything in life.  Cultivating these skills will transform your child’s life forever.

Most people, kids included, will enthusiastically start a project like learning an instrument with great enthusiasm and a lot of willpower.

 

But there’s a problem with willpower.

 

It’s limited.

 

Many world leaders, CEO’s and military commanders know about decision fatigue.  It’s been proven-  there is a finite amount of decisions you can make in a day.

 

It’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday.  He saved his decisions for designing life-changing products.   It’s why President Obama didn’t choose his meals.  (I don’t know about Trump.)   Why waste limited resources?

 

It’s the same thing with practicing, and the good news is that you can design a practice routine.

Many successful people have a morning routine.   New parents are familiar with creating a sleep routine for their infants.

 

It’s the same with practice.

 

By creating a practice routine that is at the same time everyday, in the same location, you begin to cultivate a habit.  Willpower is required at first, but then it becomes a trigger that sets the  routine in motion.

So take some time to consciously design a successful practice routine for your child that then becomes a daily habit.  It will transform your child’s life and make your kids more successful.   And, through the shared love of music, it may even open doors of friendship, too.

Michelle Ingkavet Photography

Music education instills compassionate confidence

Park Slope Music Lessons Spring 2015 Recital

I believe music education is vitally important as it teaches one of the most important skills of childhood…confidence.  But it’s not the egotistical, brash arrogance posing as confidence that is plaguing our society.

Rather, we parents want our kids to be a clear channel for intuition and spirit developed by learning the laws of the Universe so perfectly exemplified in music.

We are all vibrating, resonating beings.  Let’s lift ourselves by resonating with the highest vibrations!

Come join us

This Saturday, June 10, 2017, we will host our Spring concerts at the Park Slope Library on 9th Street and 6th Avenue.

We have an 11am show and a 2pm show in the lower level auditorium.  Free and open to the public.  Come check out what your kids and neighbors have been working on for the last few months.

We have a diverse and eclectic music program including everything from Bach to Beethoven, Folk Songs to Lady Gaga, classic rock to the blues, original compositions and songs and, of course, music from Disney’s Moana.

Spring Recital is June 10, 2017

Students receive award certificates – Photo by Ted Ely

It’s less than a month to our Spring Recital.

Public performance is a huge growth opportunity and an essential skill for success in life.  I’ve heard many adults say how public speaking is at the top of their fear lists.

It was mine too!

Back when I was an awkward kid, somehow, I knew that if I could get over my fear of speaking or performing in public, I would have an easier time in life.  Through repeated practice in jobs, gigs and performing, I somehow got better.  Eventually, to my sheer amazement,  I even got a job as a host for MTV with a daily audience of millions!

Over the last ten years, I’ve seen many of my students blossom from shy wallflowers to starring in school plays – from unable to take a bow to belting out pop songs at the top of their lungs – from hiding behind their mother’s legs to standing confidently in front of a middle school interviewer…

Our recitals have played a huge part in your kid’s lives and I am immensely proud to be a part of this magical journey.

If you have never been to one, they are warm, family-friendly affairs where your children can grow.  I’ve considered moving to other venues, but the intimacy and community aspect of the library space is exactly what we are after.  A safe space.

So be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.  You can see previous videos here.

Spring Recital

June 10, 2017 – 11am or 2pm

Park Slope Library, 9th Street at 6th Avenue in the lower level auditorium.  Wheelchair and stroller accessible.  There is limited seating, so arrive early.

Please email me and let me know which time you would like to have your child perform.

Summer Lessons

You can sign up for lessons here – choose your dates & teacher and it will send a request for booking.

Songwriting Workshop

Please email me directly if you would like to enroll in the songwriting workshop.    Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30pm.  Ages 7+

Fall Deposits

As we have long had a waiting list, you will need to put down a $100 deposit/student to hold your time slot with your teacher.  This ensures you will continue beginning Friday September 8th, 2017.

I will be sending invoices for the Fall deposits shortly.

Please let me know if you will NOT be continuing so we can release your time to others.

Teachers

We now have 5 teachers in total!  Adam Holmes, Luba Mirzoyev, Frannie Brodeur, Sean Spada and myself.  We posted some new videos on Facebook of Sean and Adam recently.  You can see all the bios here. 

FaceBook page

Please like us on Facebook, leave a review and check out some of the new videos there!  

It’s a pleasure and honor to work with you and your children. Thank you for letting me, and all of our teachers, be a part of your world.

best,

Andrew Ingkavet

Owner, Teacher and fellow Park Slope parent

How to ensure your child’s success?

How to ensure your child's success-

What can we do to help our children become successful?  It’s a question that reverberates deeply in every parent.

[box] “To give our kids the best possible potential for a successful life, we need to teach and model for them how to work well.” – Cal Newport[/box]

The summer I was 10 years old, I would ride my bike every morning to my local public library.  There, I would greet the librarian, Mrs. Mascolo, and take home a stack of books: everything from mysteries to biographies, science fiction, and history.  

For most of the day, I would be hidden among the leaves, high up in my backyard willow tree, diving into worlds far beyond my backyard.  

There wasn’t much else to do in my suburban town.  

To me, the book was the ultimate escape. I could sit reading in the tree all day, until Mom would cry out, “Andrew!  Dinner time!”

Today there are so many ways to escape.  

I doubt I would have spent so much time reading books if I had the options available today.  Every kid has a “pocket computer” that can instantly look up anything, listen to music, “talk” to just about anyone, watch movies, videos, take photos, and play games.  

It’s a blessing and a curse.

As a parent, I love the ability to “find my friend” and track my son’s location.  I can instantly message him and send automated reminders for appointments with the orthodontist.

But these options have made a problem.  A problem of focus.

With the lure of instant gratification, our attention has become shallow and scattered.  (Note the rise in cases of ADHD.)

In his book, Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World, author Cal Newport states

“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”  

Faster…But Better?

To be a contributing member of society today, one needs to achieve mastery of multiple areas.  As the pace of innovation increases, we need to learn new skills, behaviors, and tools that didn’t exist a few years ago!   

And to do this, we need to learn “how to learn.”  We need to develop the muscle of concentrated focus.  It’s a skill that is not inherent.  Simply clearing away the noise is not going to make you a master of focus.  It’s a skill that needs to be cultivated, honed, and practiced.  

10,000 Hours

Perhaps because I was bored and lonely in my teens, I spent hours and hours practicing guitar. I felt like I had to “catch up” to all the other prodigies who started when they were 5 years old.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was engaging in the “10,000 hours” rule that Malcolm Gladwell describes in his fascinating book, Outliers – The Story of Success.

The basic idea is that it takes a long time, about 10,000 hours, to achieve mastery in anything.

The Zen of Practice

Studying a music instrument is like a zen practice on the art of practice!  It cultivates attention skills required for deep focus.  In psychology terms, they call it deliberate practice: repetitive performance of intended cognitive or psychomotor skills.  

This is what will set apart your child for their future life success.

Deep work is not an inherent ability but a skill that needs to be practiced.

You can’t multi-task your way to mastery.  

Multi-tasking is not a real thing.  

Studies have shown that you are not actually doing more than one thing at the same time, but rather jumping between two or more things quickly.  This results in a slow-down and lowering of quality of attention.   So when you want to get things done, you need to go into the world of Deep Work.

Success is not about innate abilities / talent, but rather skills of focus, courage, action, and perseverance.  

So the next time your child sits down to practice, take a moment to be fully present.  Listen deeply, observe, and praise something specific.  Your gift of attention and focus is a reward in itself.  You are showing, not telling, that this is important and a priority.

And you are showing your child the path to mastery and success in life.

 

Note:  also see the excellent TED Talk and book by MacArthur genius award winner Angela Duckworth.

[box] “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint The greats were great cause they paint a lot Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands Ten thousand hands, they carry me” – 10,000 Hours by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis [/box]

“There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 rule that I talk about in Outliers…practice isn’t a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I’ll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.”  – Malcom Gladwell Business Insider

 

Ukulele for kids: what size should I get?

What size ukulele for my kid?

There are several sizes of Ukulele.  This instrument, from Hawaii, has had a major resurgence in the last decade or so.

(If you’ve never heard of Jake Shimabukuro – just google him now.)

And why not?  It’s so fun!  And portable!

Plus you can get a really nice one for less than $100.

The four most common sizes of Ukulele are

  1. Soprano
  2. Concert
  3. Tenor
  4. Baritone

There is another now called the Bass Ukulele which is a whole new animal.  It is only possible because of some special string technology.  More on this in a future post/video.

For most kids under the age of 10, the best size is the soprano.  Not only is it small, it’s the most affordable.

I definitely recommend this one from Kala 

I had one and recently sold it to a 6 year old student

And here’s what I got now:

Recital Awesome-ness January 2017

Elias performs Heart and Soul at the Winter Music Recital January 2017

Wow, what a great set of concerts we had on Saturday!

Life Skills

It’s truly amazing to see what our kids can accomplish with some directed focus, guidance and perseverance.
These skills translate into wonderful life success skills and you may already notice them surfacing in areas like school, sports and homework.

But, I think this photo truly captures the spirit and essence of what our recitals at Park Slope Music Lessons are all about.
Can you guess what it is?
Elias performs Heart and Soul at the Winter Music Recital January 2017 Elias with his Dad perform Heart and Soul with a surprise support guest little brother Gabriel.

Joy!

Look at all that joy!  And how fun is it that Gabriel was so moved that he had to join them on stage!  After all, what good is music (and life) without joy?
Music is fun.

Music is social.

Music is therapeutic.

Music is all of these and more!

Grit

I’m so proud of all our students.  Please tell your children how much you appreciate all the courage and hard work that happened this week.
(And continues every week in the lessons and practicing.)

Be sure to praise specifically the effort and the work – not just a vague “good job!”
This is a key component of grit, which I’m sure you have heard lots about.
If not, check out Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED TALK or her new book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Videos of Recital Performances

I’ve uploaded all the videos to our YouTube channel here.
Plus you can always see them at our website under the Videos link.

I’ve included videos by students who could not attend but wanted to document their progress at the lessons.

Here’s Alejandro performing his original song For All The Days.

 

 

Morning recital students - we also had an afternoon show!
Morning recital students – we also had an afternoon show! Photo by Aehee Kang Asano.

Thanks for letting me be a part of your child’s musical magical adventure!

best,

Andrew
P.S. We’ll have a lot of photos soon.  Our photographer is busy editing and as soon as I get them, I’ll start sharing.

Winter Music Recital at Park Slope Library January 28, 2017

winter music recital 2017

Tomorrow is our big day.

We have two concerts scheduled at the Park Slope Library at 9th street and 6th Avenue.

  • 11:30 am
  • 2:15pm

As we have grown, we’ve had to create two separate concerts as the auditorium would not fit us.  Plus, I’m afraid of tiring out our audience with multiple renditions of Hot Cross Buns! 🙂

We’re going to have some great music – everything from folk songs to classic rock from Deep Purple and the Police to newer hits by Rihanna, Broadway show pieces, classical sonatinas and original songs.

Here’s Oliver practicing for the recital as he discovers a new sound he can use!

Mastery

All music should be memorized.  This is all about creating mastery.   With exception of lyrics and duets.

Stage Jitters and Power Poses

It is normal to be nervous and anxious.   One of the most amazing discoveries in the last few decades is the idea of the power pose. It has been proven in scientific studies that by holding the body in a confident pose, you can create the feeling of confidence.   And it only takes 2 minutes! Check out Dr. Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk or her new book Presence.

So when I talk about Power Poses on Saturday, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Get There Early

Another way to alleviate anxiety is to get there early.   It gives time for your child to acclimate to the new room.   He/she will also be able to warm up a little on the keyboard as I set up the equipment. Certificates I print out Award Certificates for each and every performer.

I bring up all the kids to the stage at the beginning.  Please be on time!

This allows for

1) the realization that it’s not so scary on the stage – you’re already there!

2) a wonderful photo opportunity of the entire group

3) a chance to recognize all the hard work and effort of our children

Seating

We usually set up a rug in the front for children to sit together.  We try to reserve chairs for elderly and pregnant parents first.  If you need to ensure seating for a family member, get there early.

Audience Expectations

We are here to support our kids.  Please give them your full attention. Please refrain from talking, texting or leaving early.   No matter how polished or unpolished the performer is, we need to applaud the effort.  It takes massive amounts of courage to perform in public.  Through repeated practice, we can overcome our stage fright.

 

What will my child learn in their first piano lesson?

Park Slope Music Lessons

When you’re searching for a music teacher for your child, you want to get a feel for the teacher.  What is a lesson like?  What’s their philosophy?  What can I expect?

We have taught hundreds of kids in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn over the last decade.  The secret to our success is in the fun we bring to the lessons right from the start.

If you hated piano lessons when you were a kid, this is not your old lessons.  It’s a complete reversal.  We work using a child-centric approach.  What would a child love to learn in a first lesson?

By focusing on fun while sneaking in technique, we can build technical facility in our students very quickly.  Within 15 minutes, they will be playing a song using all 10 fingers.

Here’s a video of just one part of our first lesson.  We use the Musicolor Method® which was created right here in Park Slope, Brooklyn and is now being taught by teachers all over the world.  For more info, check the website for Musicolor Method here.

The Musicolor Method® was originally designed for young children, even preliterate ones.  But it has been used successfully with older students as well even teens and adults.  For the older students, we just explain that these are finger exercises in disguise and the sooner you master them, the quicker we’ll be playing your favorite Taylor Swift, or Imagine Dragons or Stevie Wonder song…whatever.

We’ll be posting videos of all of our teachers soon.  Until then, be sure to register for a free phone consultation to discuss your child’s specific needs, desires and their music experience level.

Brain scans show marked difference before and after music lessons

There has been a lot of attention towards the affects of music instruction on brain development. But I think this is the first time I’ve seen actual scans of the brains of young children.

Fibers belonging to the greater forceps pre-musical training are observed (A, B, C). Fibers belonging to the same patients after 9 months of musical training are observed below (a, b, c). Credit: Radiological Society of North America

Studies have already shown that learning music can be beneficial to children with brain development disorders like autism. Researchers from the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City wanted to understand more specifically what changes happen in the brain due to musical instruction.

“When a child receives musical instruction, their brains are asked to complete certain tasks. These tasks involve hearing, motor, cognition, emotion and social skills, which seem to activate these different brain areas.These results may have occurred because of the need to create more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain,” explained Dr. Dies-Suarez.

See full article.

 

 

music lessons for kids 4 years old and up in Park Slope

How old should my child be for private music lessons?

As parents, we want the best for our children and we are usually anxious about getting it right.  Here in Park Slope, we all know the competition for preschool, day care and elementary schools begins at birth!

You can usually get a sense of your child’s interest in music by around the age of 2 or 3.  They will be singing along with songs in the car or asking you to play a certain song over and over again.   And at some point, they may even ask you,

“Can I learn to play ____?(guitar, piano, flute or whatever).

So when should we start getting our kids into a private music lesson?

As a private music teacher and parent, I recommend the following.

Try out a mommy-and-me type class first. 

My son enjoyed the Music Together classes on the corner of 1st street and 6th avenue though he was usually more interested in putting away the instruments than actually participating!  We also had a lovely time with Juguemos A Cantar, a Spanish language program that includes lots of music and playtime.

There are so many sing-along programs available where general exposure to music,  singing and dancing take place in a group environment.  This is great for toddlers from 6 months to around 3 years old.

Listen To Music In The Home

This seems rather common sense, but you can definitely expose your child to some great stuff.  Be sure to try and include a variety of music.  Also, be aware that certain music and lyrics may not be age-appropriate the same way you do with movies and television.   Folk and classical music are good choices for toddlers.

Take Your Children to See Live Music

Seeing and hearing live instruments is an amazingly different experience than just listening to recordings.  And, because so much of our listening experience is now mediated through compressed audio via streaming services, we really miss out on the true experience of sound.   All the major music institutions in our fine city have programs for children.  PS 321 has long been hosting a wonderful series of concerts for children organized by Simone Dinnerstein, a world renown classical pianist.  Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM and don’t forget the fine performances of students at Juilliard, NYU, Mannes and Manhattan School of Music.  We have no excuse!

Fine Motor Skills

By around the age of 3 1/2 or 4 years, most children have developed fine motor skills to the point where they can write their name legibly.  They may be able to spell it forwards and backwards.  They usually can say the alphabet in proper sequence.  And, they usually start to develop the ability to focus on one activity for a longer period of time, say 5 to 10 minutes.  At this point, we can start to work with a child on piano /keyboard.

Why start with piano/keyboard?

The piano is a very visually and logically designed interface.   It doesn’t require a lot of technical exertion to produce a pleasing sound.  Modern digital keyboards can fit into any sized apartment and have volume controls as well as headphone outputs!   (We have some recommendations here.)

By starting with the piano/keyboard, we can also visually explain abstract concepts of music like pitch being high or low, and the relationship between the pitches as spatial relationships between the fingers and keys.  Using a well-design curriculum like the Musicolor Method, we can coax our young preschoolers to producing quite complex and beautiful music in a relatively short period of time.

Why not violin?

Violin, though often touted as a great beginning instrument, has the challenge of no fixed pitch.  It requires tuning and the ability to play in tune – intonation.  This can drive lots of people crazy hearing a squeaking, out of tune Twinkle Twinkle over and over again.  Piano, or digital keyboard, has the advantage of fixed tuning.  An acoustic piano is tuned by a professional once every 6 to 12 months and that’s it.  Parents don’t have to fiddle with the tuners.

Growth mindset and brain development

By starting your child in music lessons at the age of 3 or 4, you are helping them with so many life skills.  There have been so many studies about the positive effects of music on brain development in young children.  And now, further studies are showing the positive effects of participation in formal private music lessons.  These studies are showing that music, above all other activities, fosters the very skills that are needed for success in life.  These skills include focus, persistence, discipline, public performance, practice skills, study skills, problem solving as well as the ability to listen, harmonize and blend with others.

A Focus on Life Skills

It is with this life skills focus that I established Park Slope Music Lessons.   I had studied to be a music teacher at NYU on a special scholarship back in the 1980’s.  However, I was soon pulled into many other adventures of life including becoming a writer, producer and VJ for MTV, back when they still played music.  Teaching music as a full-time focus didn’t happen until my own son began asking for music lessons.  It was then that I started to search for a teacher.  I was surprised that almost no one would accept a 3 or 4 year old student.

They all said “Come back when he was 7 or 8.”

A Homeschool Project Expands

That’s when I started my own homeschooling project that blossomed into both a new curriculum and music school.   Today we have 3 teachers, including myself, two of whom will actually come to your home for lessons.

I hope to work with you and your child one day soon.

Inside a music lesson – it’s more than just sitting on the piano bench

Our music lessons are fun!

We not only want our students to learn how to play songs.  We also want them to understand the concepts of music theory which make it easier to transfer to other instruments.  Many of our students have started at the keyboard and then added other instruments like ukulele, guitar, recorder, flute and lap dulcimer to name a few.

In our Musicolor Method® curriculum, around the 3rd or 4th lesson, we introduce solfeggio, which was invented over 1000 years ago in Italy!  How crazy amazing is that?  Somehow, the French word Solfége has become more widely used.  Most people just know of it from the movie the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews teaches the children to sing using do – re – mi – fa – so, etc.

In our lessons we use the syllables, along with hand signs invented in the 1800’s by John Curwen along with the positions created by Zoltan Kodaly in the last century.  If you’ve never heard of them, it doesn’t matter, but they are iconic figures in music education.

Each student begins to use the solfege along with the hand signs to learn every new song going forward.  It helps to internalize the music through multiple modes:  visual, aural and kinesthetic.  And…it’s fun!

And they each go home with a fun poster to help them remember this along with some fun facts.

Here’s Lilah learning the first phrase of the old folk song Lightly Row.

 

Spring Music Recital June 18 2016

SPRING MUSIC RECITAL in park slope

A super Spring Music Recital is headed your way. We’ll have 26 of my students performing uplifting music from Beethoven to Katy Perry to Andrew Lloyd-Weber to the Beatles to music from Hamilton and beyond!

  • Saturday June 18
  • 2pm -3:30pm(?)
  • Open to the public
  • Park Slope Library
  • 6th Avenue at 9th Street
  • Lower level auditorium – there is wheelchair ramp and elevator

Summer Music Lessons 2016 in Park Slope Brooklyn

Park Slope Summer Music Lessons 2016 (2)

 

Park Slope Summer Music Lessons 2016 (2)
Learn ukulele, guitar, piano and general music using the Musicolor Method®

The summer semester will run for 6 sessions from

June 29 – August 11 (no lessons the week of July 4 through 8).

Here’s the options.

Piano Using The Musicolor Method®

  • Ages 4 and up
  • 30 Minute private lessons
  • Including all materials, books and sheet music
  • First 2 lessons are trial lessons at $65/each
  • Subsequent summer lessons are $59/each payable in advance

You will need a keyboard or piano – here’s some piano and keyboard recommendations.

Guitar Using the Musicolor Method®

  • Ages 7 and up
  • 30 Minute private lessons
  • Including all materials, books and sheet music
  • First 2 lessons are trial lessons at $65/each
  • Subsequent summer lessons are $59/each payable in advance
  • You need to bring your own guitar – here’s some guitars for kids recommendations.
Please contact to set up a call to discuss your child in detail.