Photos and Videos from Spring 2019 Recital Concerts

We had a fabulous set of recital concerts on June 8, 2019. Just over 60 of our students performed. It was a fantastic celebration of all the hard work, focus and practice of life skills through music.

Here’s some photo highlights. Photos by Miles Schiff Stein

And you can see videos here.

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.

Is it too early for my child to learn piano?

At what age can my child learn piano?

Is it too early to start music lessons?

The best part of our curriculum, the Musicolor Method®, is that it enables children 4 to 6 year olds to start exploring their natural curiosity and passion for music.  Most music schools and private teachers will not accept children under the age of 7 or 8. We can, and we have a proven system to do it with fun. By the time your child reaches the age of 8. When their peers are just beginning, he/she will already be playing, singing, reading and understanding great music.

Many parents want to start as early as two or three years old.  How do you know if they are ready?

There is a natural progression of childhood development.  Most kids are ready at around 4 years old. Sometimes a little earlier or later.  Here’s a few questions to ask.

  • Do they know basic colors?

  • Do they recognize and can name the letters of the alphabet?

  • Has fine motor skills developed enough?  Example: can pick up small objects or write their name legibly.

  • Can they count to ten?

  • Can they focus on a single activity for at least five minutes?

But will my child learn to read real music?

Yes.  The Musicolor Method® uses a phased learning process where the skills of making music are taught, only in a different order that other curricula.

We start with playing first.   On a parallel track, we begin introducing technical and theory elements.  After a student reaches a certain level of ability and confidence, we begin to gradually introduce elements of reading on the music staff.  This process can take months or years depending on the starting age of the child.

What we have noticed is that children learning with the Musicolor Method® from the age of 4, flow easily through the stages of development of a musician, artist and person.  We believe learning to make music imparts skills for a successful life. Music as personal development plus the enjoyment and artistic development that goes along with it.

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.

Black History Celebration Gig at local hospital, featuring Park Slope teacher Sean Spada!

Recently, one of our teachers, Sean Spada, had an interesting gig…at a hospital!  Held February 8 at Maimonides Medical Center, the event celebrated Black History Month, focused on highlighting influential women, and even featured some employees from the institution for the first time.

 

During the program, staff members represented influential women in the fields of civil rights, politics, literature, athletics, and science. The presentation honored a total of seven members of the black community from the 1940’s through today, including pioneers such as astronaut Mae Jemison and poet Maya Angelou, as well trailblazers like Rosa Parks and Shirley Chisholm.

 

Sean Spada

 

 

The celebration opened with a performance of the song known to many as the Black American National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by a choir from St. Mark’s Day School. Throughout the evening, songs by revolutionary artists like Whitney Houston and Nina Simone accented the presentation. Accompanied by Spada, artists N’Kenge and Natalie Renee concluded the night with their renditions of “God Bless the Child” and “Minstrel Man.”

 

Congrats to Sean Spada on being involved in such an awesome and meaningful event! Be sure to check out the full article at the Brooklyn Reporter.

http://brooklynreporter.com/story/maimonides-medical-center-honors-women-black-history-month/

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.

Holiday Sing-Along Party & Music Salon

All the students are doing fabulously well, and especially with their Christmas / Holiday songs.  Somehow having a hard time finding any Hannukah songs besides the Dreidel Song.  Anyone want to send me one?

Because our Winter Recital is not until late January, we have started a tradition of Holiday parties hosted at one of the student’s homes.  This is a great way we build community amongst our “music friends” as one of my little boys likes to say.

So check your inbox for the Evite from me.  Space is limited so we had to limit the amount of people.  As I currently have over 30 students weekly, there’s no way we could all fit in my home and we’re so happy that our student community has large lovely living rooms!

 

Summer 2012 Music Lessons still available

If you are interested in piano, guitar, strumstick, ukelele, voice, songwriting and music theory lessons this summer, there are still slots available.  The summer lesson schedule runs 6 weeks from July 9 through August 16 Monday through Thursdays.  There are morning and afternoon sessions.  Lessons are $60 each or $330 for the full 6 weeks.

Contact me if you are interested.

Winter Recital 2012 Success!

It was a great recital last Saturday at the Carroll Gardens Library in Brooklyn.  With 30 students performing and a house of over 100 guests, we had a lovely time and everyone did their best.  Thanks again to all the parents, grandparents, friends and family who came to show their support, love and appreciation of our young performers!  And special thanks to Jeff Schwartz and the entire staff of the Carroll Gardens library who graciously let us use their space and even set up the chairs for us!

 

Here’s some photo highlights.  Videos are posted here.

Students warm up before the music recital
Students warm up before the music recital
Music Students of Park Slope Music Lessons
Lining up to receive award certificates
Giving out awards
Everyone comes onstage
Students at Winter Recital 2012
Winter Recital 2012
Strumstick student Felix
4 year old Felix on Strumstick
Evan & Sienna perform What A Wonderful World
Evan & Sienna perform What A Wonderful World
Ryan performs Katy Perry's Firework
Ryan performs Katy Perry's Firework
Ava performs Lightly Row
Ava gets prepared to play Lightly Row
Stella & Tellulah perform Adele's Someone Like You
Stella & Tellulah perform Adele's Someone Like You

 

 

A Typical Music Lesson – My Approach to Teaching

4 hands are better than 2!

Apologies for the site being down all of last week.  But we’re back!  Here’s a quick update and enjoy the week off for Thanksgiving!

 

As many of you know, in each of my lessons, my aim is to address 3 main areas: repertoire, reading and music theory.

Repertoire

This is building up a collection of pieces that your child can play from memory and perform in public.
It allows us to work on technique and bring music to life whilst giving a great confidence boost and joy in playing. This material I often present using my own color notation which enables your child to learn a piece as quickly as possible and then memorize it. Many of you are using Suzuki material for this repertoire whilst others are working on a combination of Suzuki with jazz, blues, pop and world music.

Reading

To  learn to read music is truly a great skill. To be musically literate opens a whole door to deeper appreciation. Reading music is not as difficult as it seems, but requires a steady practice diet.   I will usually not start this until we’ve been playing a repertoire of about 7 to 10 songs.  I use a proprietary method of notation to get them up to speed quickly with simple and then complex pieces.

Music Theory

This is the nuts and bolts of music. We get under the hood and see how music is structured and built through games, exercises, composition, dictation and listening.  It makes music fun if you know the how and why. It also changes your listening and deepens your appreciation of music. It can be quite abstract at times which is why we have many many activities and games built up over a long period of time.

Listening

I realize not everyone has a massive music collection at home and I’m often asked, “What should we be listening to?” I’ve recently written a series articles for Jill Simeone’s lovely parenting blog Cozy Owl which address, Early Childhood Music, Essential Listening and Music for A Road Trip.

In the near future, I’m hoping to post playlists of Music Every Child Should Hear via this site.

 

NOTE: Winter Music Session

The winter music session is starting on Monday November 28 and will run until February 11.  I will be sending out invitations for the limited openings available to those on the waiting list.   If you would like to join the waiting list, please go to the contact page and click the link.

How To Read Music: Rhythm using Stick Notation

When teaching to read traditional music notation, I separate the 2 parts of pitch and rhythm.  Rhythm is easy to teach using stick notation.

[update-12-3-12] Stick notation is taking traditional notes and removing the note-head.  The note-head is the round dot at the bottom of the stick.  The dot is placed on the 5 lines of the staff and depending on where it is, tells us which pitch to play.  By removing the note-head, we focus only on the rhythm.

The use of hand movements, words and sounds enable us to get the music in our body, mind, eye and ear.  Multiple modes of experience!

This method is created by Michiko Yurko and you can find her and her books/games/workshops at MusicMindGames.com.

Here’s a little video I made with the help of Ava.

Music lessons & effects on the brain

EVANSTON, Ill., July 21 (UPI) — Musical instruction can “prime” the brain to improve human skills in language, speech, memory and attention, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Northwestern University found the effects of musical training on the nervous system can build meaningful patterns important to all types of learning, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers studied music training’s effect on neuroplasticity, defined as the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life… read the rest at UPI.com

And here’s a snippet regarding the same study from The Sun UK.

Dr Nina Kraus, who headed the research at Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “The beneficial effects confer advantages beyond music. This argues for an improvement in the quality and quantity of music training in schools.”

Musical training has long been linked to intellect. But until now experts believed it was because children who played instruments were more likely to come from wealthier backgrounds where they got extra help.

The study showed musical training benefited children from all backgrounds.

It claims music “stretches” the brain by forcing it to recognise pitch and rhythm.  Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3062237/Learning-music-will-make-you-cleverer.html#ixzz0vNLGNKsP

And another take from the journal Nature.

We can hardly be surprised, meanwhile, that music lessons improve children’s IQ7, given that they will nourish general faculties such as memory, coordination and attentiveness. Kraus and Chandrasekaran now point out that, thanks to the brain’s plasticity (the ability to ‘rewire’ itself), musical training sharpens our sensitivity to pitch, timing and timbre, and as a result our capacity to discern emotional intonation in speech, to learn our native and foreign languages, and to identify statistical regularities in abstract sound stimuli…Read this  full article

Winter Music Recital is Saturday January 30th, 2010

The recital will be open to the public at the Pacific Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday, January 30, 2010.  It was the first of the Andrew Carnegie libraries to open in Brooklyn in 1904 and features a lovely third floor light-filled auditorium with windows.

Special thanks to librarian Salvador Salame for the space.