March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment


Going to a music school, students will hear different styles of music and the variety of ways instruments can be approached. They will see how different teachers deliver information and how students respond to their teacher’s instruction. There have been many times I’ve witnessed a student become interested in a song, a totally different instrument, or style of music, because they saw another student’s excitement or interest in it.

 Real World Experience 

Student recitals and competitions are opportunities that should be taken seriously, yet performing in nontraditional environments provides students with the experience of understanding what is required of a successful entertainer/musician.  Many times this will require the performer to think on his/her feet while calling upon total knowledge to make their performance a success. 

Preparation for Life 

Going to a music school asks the student to leave the familiarity and comfort of his/her own space and demonstrate to their teacher preparation, or lack thereof. Doing this helps the student begin to understand who they are and how they want to present themselves in life. This in turn helps them become better prepared for future life events like auditions, tests, and job interviews. It is true, students must prepare for a teacher who comes to them, but the security and comfort of being in their own environment eases the discomfort of admitting they may not have prepared as well as they should have. Or, if they have prepared perfectly, they miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to successfully perform in a different environment, possibly on a different instrument.

In Summary

There are many excellent teachers who travel to their students’ homes and provide excellent musical instruction, yet no matter how good the individual instruction may be, and even if the teacher holds recitals or periodic parties for their students, the benefits described above cannot be simulated. 

The greatest benefit of lessons in the home is the convenience it provides the parent. In today’s busy world, not having to drive one more place can understandably be very desirable. By comparison, I’ve never heard anyone say they’re going to have their sport coach come to the house to save time. It is commonly understood that to be successful and to realize the benefit of sports, the student/athlete must be around others. While it is not as commonly understood, many of the greatest joys of playing music come from sharing the musical experience with others. Attending lessons in a music school, not in a solitary environment like the home, is the best way to experience that joy.



March 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lately I have been hearing quite a bit of discussion regarding lessons taught in a music school versus lessons taught in one’s home. As a professional musician/teacher, having taught privately in homes and owning a music school, I have given this a lot of thought. Here are a few reasons why I believe lessons in a music school outweigh the benefits of lessons in the home. 


The greatest advantage in going to a music school is the opportunity to interact with, and be inspired by, other music students. When I went to a music school, I could always count on the good energy I would feel walking the halls and listening to all the other students working to get better. It never failed to make me want to work even harder.  Seeing and hearing others striving for similar goals showed me that I was part of a larger group of people who all wanted to speak and share the universal language of music. Short of this global thought, day-to-day, it is  great when parents and students use this time together to catch up before, during, and after lessons. I love when parents let me know students who met in our waiting room are getting together at home to jam and share what they learned in their lessons!


This word gets used in many different ways.  I am using it in the sense of how to interact musically (socialize) with other musicians. From their first lesson, students will begin hearing about “jamming” with others.  A good music school will provide multiple opportunities for students to play together. Teachers give instruction on how to successfully interact and help the students realize the power and fun of playing with others. Too many students who take lessons in the home never play with other musicians; therefore, they never fully realize the joy of making music as a group. Many student musicians,  because they’ve always played alone, or just with their teacher, are too nervous when given this opportunity.

 more to come…..

Community and Support

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

We began our music school with 2 purposes: 1. to provide music information and education to the people in our community 2. to provide a place where the people of our community, both young and old, could come together to play music and feel no sense of not being good enough, or that someone would mock them, because they didn’t have a particular skill level or ability.

Truthfully, for me, no. 2 always carried a little more weight than no. 1.  Obviously, the private lessons are our bread and butter, but the most satisfying part of being a teacher is is getting the students together, watching them become friends and becoming comfortable enough with each other that they are willing to go out on a limb to try to play something new and know they have the support of each other. Then, getting to watch the student’s reaction when they are successful at something they couldn’t do before and the confidence they gain from that realization,  is priceless.


A thought…

December 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

–  just because someone may be a good musician does not mean they will be able to teach. In fact, very often the best players are the least helpful teachers. Not because they don’t want to help, but because it may have been instinctual for them and they may not have had to create a process to gain the information that allows them to be a fine player. Like anything else, teaching is a skill and a good teacher will have, at some point, either to learn for himself or to become a teacher, consciously developed a process of gaining information and ability. As a result of this conscience development, the lessons can be clearly explained and there will be a system in place for constant improvement.

A few things to consider when deciding on a music teacher for you or your child –

December 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Not all music teachers or music schools are the same so here are a few things to consider when deciding on a music teacher for you or your child –

1. What is the goal of the lessons? To become a professional musician, excel at an arts school, casual fun or just basic exposure to be a well-rounded person

2. What are the credentials and experience level of the teacher?

3. Is the teacher a professional, performing musician who can offer guidance based on real world experiences?

4. Does the teacher have a plan to help you, or your student, make the most of the lessons and practice time at home?

5. Can the teacher observe the student and assess what will help that student reach his or her goals?

6. Will your teacher be able to connect you or your student with other students of a similar level so the skills learned in lessons can be put into practical use?

continuing our series on what to look for when buying an instrument – Piano/Electric Piano

December 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

PIANO / ELECTRIC PIANO: When looking at purchasing an acoustic piano the main considerations for most people is space. What size piano do you have room in your house for? There are 5 main sizes of acoustic pianos – spinet, console, studio, upright and grand. Because of space considerations the spinets are most common and are 36″ – 40″ tall, consoles are 40″ – 43″ tall, studios are 44″ – 48″ and uprights are 49″ and above in height. Grand piano sizes can run from 4′ 10″ – 9 1/2′.

Other considerations before purchasing the piano: the condition of the finish on the case. If the finish is to badly checked, the piano may have been standing near a window, and the mechanical parts may have been affected unfavorably. Open the lid on the piano and look at the condition of the hammers, see that they are all there, if they are worn or have been reshaped. Check that they all work, if there are deep creases in the hammers or if there are signs of moth or mouse damage. If the piano has a “musty” smell – pass on it right away – this could be a sign of mold – which is not only unpleasant, but it can be a danger to your health. Open the piano completely, including the bottom board, usually held into place by two metal clips. Examine for insects, mouse droppings, small piles of sawdust – if any of these things are present the piano may have termites. Check if hammers strike all of the strings of all notes. Inspect the strings for even spacing (no strings should touch each other) and proper alignment with the dampers. Check bass strings to hear if they are “tired” and totally devoid of tone. Look at the inside of the back wall, the soundboard and inspect for large cracks. Small cracks are not desired but they are not serious. If it’s badly cracked it may tonally deficient. Look everywhere for signs of rust or moisture. Check tuning pins. They may be loose, some may require oversized pins, some may require new pin block. Avoid any piano with pins showing evidence of having been pounded. Listen for vibrations or rattles. How is the volume of the piano? Check the action – does it respond properly to your touch? It may be worn out rendering the piano useless.

As always, having the instrument checked by a technician is best.

The main consideration for buying an electric piano is to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. If the goal is to play like a true pianist, an electric instrument with weighted keys like a real piano is necessary. Students learning and practicing on an unweighted key instrument can be surprised at the difference in strength required to press the keys on a real piano. If the goal is to have some fun and experiment, an instrument with unweighted keys can be fine.

continuing our series – What To Look for in an Instrument – Guitars/Bass

December 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

ELECTRIC/ ACOUSTIC GUITAR / ELECTRIC BASS: The easiest thing to check on an electric instrument is the electronics. Plug it in and try each switch, knob and pickup to make sure they function as they should. It will be obvious if they are not working. For someone new to musical instruments the difficult part to evaluate is the neck. You always want to make sure the neck is straight, doesn’t bow in or out and the intonation is true or can be corrected to be true. Intonation is when you play an open string tuned to a certain pitch and then press down at a fret and that note is in tune, as well. If the intonation is off, the fretted note will be out of tune. If the intonation is off, it doesn’t mean the guitar is a bad purchase. Guitars can be adjusted, called a set-up, to put them back in proper intonation. A qualified repair technician is generally your best bet for doing this work for you. If you are looking at buying a guitar from a private party ask if they will let you take the instrument to a music store where the technician can look the instrument over and give you an honest evaluation of whether or not it is a good purchase. This may cost a few dollars for the technician’s time, but it could end up saving you more money down the road by helping you avoid a bad purchase.
Acoustic guitars should also be looked over by a technician to make sure the bridge is glued down properly and the neck is true or can be set-up.

A Series About What To Look For When Buying an Instrument…. and a Bit About Where

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s start by saying we understand good deals can be found through person-to-person buying and selling, but it is always safer to buy from a reputable dealer because you have somewhere to go if the item turns out to not be what you thought it was. A good music products retailer will want your return business and will work to make sure you have a good product you are happy with. Buying from a local dealer as opposed to over the internet is also encouraged. Not only do the tax dollars you spend with local retailer go back into your community, but the salesperson is a part of your community and will want to make sure you get the best possible deal so you will not only encourage others to shop with him or her, but to ensure he or she feels good when they run in to you outside the music store. It creates a win-win situation for you, the customer, and the sales person.   

DRUMS: The two most important questions to ask when looking at purchasing a drum are – is it round and is the bearing edge even all the way around? If these two items check out then you will be able to put good heads on it and tune it. If these do not check out, heads will not fit properly and you will not be able to tune it and have it sound the way you want it to. You may be asking yourself, “how do I know if it’s round and what is a bearing edge?” If you are looking at purchasing your drums from a reputable dealer, you shouldn’t have to worry about these things because the dealer should have checked them out. Outside of the odd manufacturing defect, new drum sets will come from the factory round and cut evenly, but used drums are where you have to look out for these things.

The easiest way to check the roundness of a drum yourself is to put a brand new head on it and see how it sits. Is the rim of the head touching the side of the drum at any point? If you spin the head does it continue to touch the drum at the same point or a point directly across the drum? If so, the likelihood of the drum being “out of round” is strong.  It’s impossible to get a drum back completely round so I would avoid buying a drum like this. A completely round drum will allow the drumhead to sit on top and spin with a fair amount of ease without rubbing the sides of the drum too much.  

The bearing edge is the most important part of the drum because it is the actual part of the drum the drumhead touches. How rounded or sharp a bearing edge is has tremendous influence on the sound of the drum. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to check. First, simply take the head off the drum and run your finger around the drum at its highest point and see if it feels even. If it had dips, pieces of wood chipped out or is cut unevenly the drumhead will not sit completely even and could cause trouble with tuning. If you have the time to do a better evaluation, take the heads off and set the drum on a flat surface and set a light down inside the drum. If the bearing edge is perfect no light will show between the flat surface and the drum. Odds are you will see some light, spin the drum and see how much light comes through at different points. There will almost always be a small amount, which can be tolerable, but if it’s extreme and different all the way around, the drum will not tune and it is not recommended you purchase a drum like this.

The other considerations are the hardware on the drum. The hardware consists of the metal, moving parts. You should try all these parts to make sure none are stripped and they tighten down correctly. If one or two of these do not work correctly, it is not a deal breaker on buying the drums because these can often be replaced easily. Check that the parts are available before buying just to make sure.

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