Joy Academy of Music is having a Christmas Recital and themed Jam Session on Sunday, December 17th at San Pedro Presbyterian Church (14900 San Pedro; see below for directions). A jam session is a gathering of musicians that may or may not have played together before. It is different from a concert in that it is more "off the cuff" and exciting and may include a lot of improvisation or jamming. In traditional piano lessons, you practice alone, you go to the lesson alone, and every once in awhile you perform a piece alone. There is nothing wrong with that, but those students often miss out on one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences they can have as a musician: PLAYING IN A BAND!
That is why I have brought in a few of my friends who are professional performing musicians in their own right to come and serve as a backing band for a bunch of songs that my students have chosen to perform. The theme is "80s and Beyond", so any song that is family friendly that premiered in 1980 to the present day can be played. Bring friends and family and come on out and hear some of your favorite Rock and Pop songs and support the local music jamming community! Dress is casual, but feel free to wear holiday colors (especially if you are performing).
We will be in the big main octagonal building in the "Fellowship Hall". Park anywhere that isn't covered parking (because that belongs to the office complex next door).
Here are Google Maps directions to the church:
What makes Joy Academy of Music the best piano lessons? THE DIFFERENCE IS IN THE FUN! We not only succeed in teaching students note reading, rhythm, proper technique, and all the other essential elements of music, WE ALSO HAVE A GREAT TIME! Musical computer games, iPhone games, board games, card games, synthesizer games, team games, race games, costumes, sound effects, game theme music, music videos, and a Piano Rock Band–just to name a few! At Joy Academy of Music FUN IS A PRIORITY.
And when it comes to music, WE HAVE ALL THE BEST SONGS, songs you can’t get anywhere else because we transcribed, wrote, or arranged them ourselves! Classical, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Funk, Dance, Electronic, Celtic, Folk, Contemporary Christian, Country; almost any style of music, you name it, we have it or we can find it! Original compositions and arrangements, professional backing tracks that make simple songs sound awesome, jam sessions with real professional performing musicians. And if you know a song you want to play but we can’t find the music, we can even transcribe it for you–so it sounds just like the real thing! We teach fun at all ages–ADULTS TOO! Enroll in lessons today by phone at (210)268-8373.
So you want the best group or private piano teacher in San Antonio TX–what now? There are so many piano instructors out there with so many different approaches. How do you choose the right piano lessons? How do you know what the right fit is for you or your children?
THE TEACHER MUST BE CONSISTENT
Learning to play the piano is like learning a new language. We all learned how to speak and read a language, most at a very early age. How did we do that? Consistent practice, repetition, and spending as much time as possible around others who already spoke the language. Piano instruction is the same. Piano is definitely a discipline. 90% of the required time is not spent at the lesson, but at practice outside of piano class during the week. My father used to tell me “anything worth doing is worth doing right”. It is not all about how long you practice, but HOW you practice. The reason most people are not successful at piano is because their teacher does not truly teach them how to read music, but allows them to cheat and take shortcuts to learn a song. Actual note reading rather than learning by position finger numbers or muscle memory is not properly emphasized. Add to that the fact that almost all of the commonly available piano method books out there also allow (and encourage) students to take shortcuts, and it becomes all the more important to find a piano teacher who will instill the correct habits from the beginning.
THE TEACHER MUST BE KNOWLEDGEABLE
If you ask children or adult piano students today what their favorite style of music is, you will either be greeted with silence (“I can’t choose, there are just so many”), or with a very long answer (“I like this, and this, and this…”). The majority of people today listen to a wide variety of music. That is why it is important to find a piano teacher who has studied and is well versed in many different styles of music. Classical music is great for developing proper technique, speed, agility and fluidity. Jazz, Rock, Gospel and Blues are great for learning to improvise and play by ear. Whatever your favorite style, it is important to find a piano teacher has the know how to teach you the skills you need to be successful.
THE TEACHER MUST BE FUN
Most people who study beginner, intermediate, or even advanced piano lessons do not plan to become a concert pianist, or even major in music. Most people learn music to have fun, and if it ceases to be fun, they will quit. The fact is, the longer you stick with piano lessons, the exponentially more fun it becomes. That is why it is so important to find a piano teacher who truly has a passion for music and enjoys teaching, and who is able to instill in their students that passion by making piano fun, even as a beginner.
“I love music, but I hate practicing!” (ever heard or said this before?) Have you tried piano lessons, but it just didn’t work out? You love music, but you or your children find the process of learning it tedious and boring, and finding or instilling the will to practice feels more like pulling teeth? If you have ever been in this situation, then you are a prime candidate for GROUP PIANO LESSONS.
GROUP PIANO IS FUN
Small group classes are a great way to learn music because there are so many more things you can do in a group setting than in a private lesson. Music is about sharing, yet the process of learning it usually involves being alone for long periods of time (at home practicing, or in the classroom with just you and the teacher). Group lessons are different because they allow you to share and interact with others while learning this inherently social art. The possibilities are endless for activities and games that, while helping to learn the elements of music, can also provide that crucial social element missing from private lessons. Group piano lessons are fun from the beginning because students learn not only solo pieces, but exciting ensemble pieces that they normally couldn’t play by themselves as a beginner.
GROUP PIANO ENCOURAGES PRACTICE
When students see others around them practicing and progressing to new songs, it motivates them to want to practice. I have found that a group atmosphere is often more beneficial and enjoyable for beginner to intermediate level students because they are motivated by their peers, but are also allowed to progress at their own rate. Just like sports, it is a team effort, and nobody wants to let the team down. When the team wins, everybody wins.
GROUP PIANO GETS RESULTS
Once you truly learn the language of music, it provides a lifetime of enjoyment. Who wouldn’t like the ability to play any song they wanted, whenever they wanted? But so many students quit before they even get started. They struggle with learning all the mechanics of music and never get to the enjoyment part. When students are practicing and having fun from the beginning, they are more likely to stick with piano. Music is also taught as something to be shared, and learning in a small group environment teaches the students to be more open and less shy about performing, building confidence. Playing together with the group during ensemble time also helps students immensely with rhythm, which is often one of the most difficult aspects of music.
So you think you have chosen the best group or private lesson piano teacher. But what method book do they teach from? Does it matter? Should choice of method book factor into your decision when choosing piano instructors?
DIFFERENT METHOD BOOK–DIFFERENT APPROACH?
Go to any music store and you will see many different piano method books. Many purport to offer different approaches to learning beginners, intermediate, or advanced piano lessons, but almost all have one thing in common: they actually make it harder for children and adults to truly learn staff note reading. This may seem to be a rather bold statement, but let me explain. The goal of most students (especially beginners) is to learn songs as quickly as possible–the quicker they learn the song, the more enjoyable it is. Most method books realize this and are supportive of this goal because the quicker students get through their book, the sooner they will need a new one. In order to facilitate this common goal, they put extra things such as excessive finger numbers or rote hand positions which allow students to cheat when learning songs by not truly reading the notes. Students don’t have to learn the actual names of the notes because they are told what position their hands should be in and what finger should be used. But if you ask the student to look at a song outside their method book that is not in the usual hand position and doesn’t have lots of finger numbers, they struggle because they never truly learned how to read in the first place.
TEACHING STUDENTS TO READ PROPERLY FROM THE BEGINNING
Whenever I get transfer students, I always have to spend quite a bit of time reviewing remedial note reading. Most teachers do not take the time early on to emphasis true note reading, and their students pay the price down the line. But if you start a student out from the very beginning memorizing the notes of the staff properly, it will pay dividends for them down the road as they truly master the language of music. They will learn songs quicker, and practice sessions become more like “play” than “work”. It may take a little extra time in the beginning, but students will more than make up for it later when they soar ahead in leaps and bounds. Piano becomes exponentially more fun when a student can just walk into a music store and sit down and play a piece of music with little effort, and a new world of enjoyment opens up to them.
THE BEST METHOD BOOK IS YOUR OWN METHOD BOOK
In an early attempt to make sure that my students were not cheating or cutting corners when learning their pieces, I used to take a black sharpie and cross out all the finger numbers and hand positions on each page in their book before giving it to them. After tiring of this tedious and time-intensive task, I resolved to write my own method book and have never looked back. I take comfort in knowing that my students don’t just learn to speak the language of music, but can truly read and write and understand it. They are not just learning a few songs to impress their friends, but rather a skill that they will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives.
“I can’t help my child with piano lessons–I don’t know anything about music!” As a San Antonio piano teacher, I have heard that statement more times than I can remember. While it can be useful to a beginner piano student when their parents have previous experience in music, there are many things a parent can do to help their child thrive at piano lessons–even if you don’t know a single thing about music.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
The best thing you can do as a parent to help your student progress at piano is to make sure that they practice regularly. Think of music like learning a new language. Learning a new language takes constant repetition. Memorizing new words, their meanings and how to pronounce them does no good if you don’t do it regularly. In order to become fluent at the new language, you have to use it often or you forget everything you just learned. The same applies to learning the language of music. How often you practice is often more important than how long you practice. Although longer practice sessions are beneficial, if you have the choice between a few long sessions, or many shorter sessions, go with more often. Practicing often, even in smaller increments, helps reinforce what you just learned and ensures that you remember it. Try to set aside a regular time everyday for your child to practice piano (before or after dinner for example). Start a solid routine NOW and it will definitely payoff in the future.
A LITTLE PRAISE GOES A LONG WAY
ANY PROGRESS IS WORTHY OF A REWARD (HUGS AND PRAISE CAN GO A LONG WAY)! Once a regular practice routine has become a habitual way of approaching new music or difficult passages, most of the basic concepts of how to read, learn, and play music will be mastered. Don’t let watching the clock be the measure of a good practice session, try saying that each song must be played 3 times with the rule that it doesn’t count unless it sounds better than the last time it was played. My goal is not to teach one piece at a time, but rather to teach students how to learn; to acquire practice techniques that can be applied to any music (with the assignments for the week serving as current examples of how to learn a particular concept used in that particular piece of music). I am laying the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment in music. After this foundation is firm, students will be able to explore their own individual interests: jazz, rock, blues, classical, praise and worship, gospel, etc., while using the same practice techniques mastered during this piano study. All musical questions should have been answered by me during the lesson, but any questions which come up during the week may be written in the book or on a note, or shoot me an email. I am happy to answer questions that might come up during practice. Please be specific. Children’s overly broad statements such as “I don’t understand” are best answered by backing-up in the book one page at a time, until there is no difficulty playing a song. Then resume forward motion in the book until the current assignment is reached. “This is too hard” really means, “this is new”, and will be “easy” (meaning “not new”) by next week.
DON’T GIVE UP!
All the best things in life require perseverance. Every student comes across a song that gives them trouble or that they don’t like. Hang in there and don’t let them quit! Even finishing songs they don’t like will give them a strong sense of accomplishment (a life lesson that applies to anything they choose to do). When they move on to a new song they do like, you will often see a 180 degree change in their energy level! Music is a discipline, but it gets exponentially more fun the longer they stick with it. Once they truly learn to read the language of music fluently, their confidence will truly blossom and practice sessions will turn into jam sessions and what used to sometimes feel like work will just be “playing”!