What We Learned From Going Virtual

As we prepare to return to the Shed for in-person lessons, we look back at the last year and what we have learned.

First and foremost, we learned that our students and parents are incredibly dedicated and adaptable. We switched to a completely virtual operation in a matter of days and our students responded with understanding, compassion, and appreciation to help make the best out of an unfortunate situation. There are a few things from our virtual stint that we should all take with us for the rest of our musical journey, whether as teachers or as students.

Communication Is Key
Many teachers and students have been much more communicative with eachother this year. Students have sent mid-week updates, videos of practice sessions, and even just “Hey, check out this band I discovered today!” This communication is very effective in not only building a relationship with your teacher, but receiving feedback and tips during the week in between your lessons.

Parent Involvement
With lessons taking place at home, parents have had a chance to get a closer look at how a lesson works and to be more hands-on in their child’s learning. The life of a parent is a busy one, but a little time spent helping with music practice can go a long way. One of the best ways to reinforce learning is to teach someone else what you’ve learned. Having your child teach you what they learned in their lesson can be fun and a great way to develop a more complete understanding of the material.

External Resources
Not being in the same room for lessons led us to adapt our teaching styles and include the use of many external resources like metronome apps, online music theory games, different method books, sheet music PDFs, YouTube videos, and so much more. There are 10,080 minutes in a week and your lesson takes up 30 of them – use some of the remaining ones to explore some other outlets and then discuss with your teacher and ask questions about what you have learned. Remember, if you have internet access then you have access to the collective recorded knowledge of the entirety of human history, inlcuding that of the greatest musical minds to ever live – use it!

While we can’t wait to get back to the Shed and see your faces(or at least your eyes, for now) in person, we will still be offering virtual lessons for the foreseeable future. We have “Hybrid” lesson times that can be in-person or virtual, as well as some “Virtual Only” lesson times. Remember to reach out to the front desk about whether or not you’d like to return to in-person lessons in May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Shedding!

 

In Person Lessons Resume 5/1

We are VERY excited to announce that all of our teachers will be fully vaccinated and returning to in-person lessons on 5/1! There are two exceptions, Drew will be spending time with his family during May and returning on 6/1, and Hoberdan will continue to teach virtually from Brazil indefinitely. 

Please let us know if you would like to return to in-person lessons by 5/1. You are welcome to continue with virtual lessons as long as you want, and some of our teachers will have dedicated virtual teaching days. You can view our current availability on our website here.

One year ago today, we transitioned to entirely virtual lessons, and we can’t thank you enough for your patience and dedication during this period. The decision to return to in-person lessons is not something we take lightly, and we are doing everything we can to ensure your safety when we return. Things will look a little different, and we will be taking the following precautions initially.

Masks required for all teachers and students

Temperature checks at the door 

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in each room 

No students or families allowed to wait in the lobby 

HEPA Air filtration machines in each room and lobby

Plexiglass shields for voice students

We look forward to seeing you soon back at Guitar Shed! Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Keep Shedding!

Parker chats with Chris Ladd from ChordBank on the “Top Teachers” Podcast

Parker sat down with Chris Ladd last week to talk about music, teaching, and running a business. Watch the interview below!

 

Record Yourself!

Getting the most out of practicing goes beyond the time spent playing your instrument. Recording yourself and watching afterward can be a very eye-opening experience! Playing an instrument occupies a lot of mental bandwidth. It’s hard to truly assess yourself when you are trying to pay attention to your technique, your posture, your tempo, reading music or tabs, playing the correct notes, playing the correct rhythm, playing with beautiful tone, using the fingering your teacher taught you even though it’s harder than playing it “your way”, that impossible section that’s coming up that you mess up every single attempt, your neighbor’s dog that has been outside barking for the last hour, and everything else that our brains focus on besides the task at hand. When you watch a recording of yourself you get a much clearer picture of what you actually sound like, what your technique looks like, if your rhythm is steady, etc. because you get to sit and analyze from a third-person perspective.

Tom Brady watches game film, because it’s hard to focus on your throwing mechanics when a 300-pound behemoth is trying to take your head off. Jerry Seinfeld listens to his live sets after doing stand-up, because it’s hard to focus on your pacing and delivery when you’re in the middle of entertaining a room full of people. When you allow yourself to take a step back and evaluate your own work after the fact, you get a more complete picture of what you do well and where you have room to improve.

Attached is a short clip from a practice session where I work on a G Major Scale/Arpeggio run. I noticed right away that my left-hand pinky finger was being a little unruly(what else is new) and I got off tempo from the metronome a few times. Take a look!

New Original Music From the Guitar Shed Family

One of the proudest moments a music teacher can have is to hear a student come into their own as a musician and compose original music. This past weekend, two long-time Guitar Shedders, Jillian Loux and Jeremiah Andrews, released a collaborative EP titled, this is it. Jillian’s voice meets Jeremiah’s production to create a unique blend of songwriting styles and musical genres. Both young musicians shared a role in the songwriting and instrumentation. You can listen to the EP here on Spotify under the name ‘Jillian Loux’.

Another long-time student, Sean Farrell, also released a solo EP a few months ago under the name, ‘Sean Jane’. Sean’s first release, Departure, incorporates his blues guitar influences along with hints of pop and rock. Check out the EP on Spotify here.

 


 

 

Teachers, Desmond Myers and Brandon Marsolo have recently released singles of their own, and Parker has a full length album on the way. Stay tuned for a Guitar Shed Playlist featuring the music of our students and teachers!

LANTA GRAS: Your Friendly Neighborhood Non-Profit

For the last few years, we have been teaming up with Lanta Gras to provide music lessons and instruments for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to get them. Lanta Gras is a local non-profit organization based in Kirkwood whose mission is to build community and provide opportunities for children through the common bond of music. They have provided over 30 students with scholarships and have goals to sponsor 20 more in 2021!

Every year, Lanta Gras hosts a Mardi Gras-themed parade that features floats and live music, and it brings the whole neighborhood together in celebration. Obviously, things are a little different this year and the celebration will be held remotely throughout the week of February 8th-13th. Local homes and businesses will be decorating, scholarship students will be showcased on Lanta Gras’s social media pages, and local restaurants will feature New Orleans cuisine. Make sure you drive past Guitar Shed and take a peek at our decorations!

Last summer, we held our first annual ShedFest fundraiser where Guitar Shed teachers performed live virtual sets and raised over $2,000 for Lanta Gras. We’re keeping our fingers crossed in hopes of having an in-person event this year.

We look forward to many more years of partnership with Lanta Gras and hope to be back to singing in the streets for next year’s parade!

 

Check out the websites for Lanta Gras and this year’s parade for more information:

www.lantagras.com

www.lantagrasparade.com

5 Ways To Ensure A Good Recital Performance

-Brandon Marsolo

  • Choose the right song.

When giving a performance, you will want to choose songs or pieces that are of the right difficulty level. Something that showcases your talent and what you have been working on, but something that is within your current ability to perform. There is nothing wrong with practicing and trying to learn songs that are a bit of a reach for your current skill level, but those belong in the practice room, not on the stage.

 

  • Be prepared.

Stage fright tends to be a direct byproduct of unpreparedness. Those feelings of “What if I mess up?”, and “What if I can’t hear myself?”, and all the other self-doubt that can come with performing can be mitigated with preparation. Kobe Bryant(R.I.P.) used to say that his unwavering confidence in himself came from knowing that he was as prepared as absolutely possible for each game. Increase your confidence by preparing properly: Practice your piece sufficiently. Warm up on the day of the performance. Before the recital starts, go walk around the stage for a minute and get comfortable up there. Ask a teacher or a more seasoned performer any questions you might have about how the recital is going to happen. The fewer surprises during your recital, the better.

 

  • Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

People come to your recitals for one reason: to support you. There is no need to stress out about being perfect, looking perfect, impressing anyone, or any other extra pressure that you might put on yourself. The audience is on your side. They want you to succeed and they want you to enjoy yourself. The vast majority of the world has never gotten on a stage and performed for people, so simply showing up is an accomplishment in itself. 

 

  • Own the stage.

This one took me a long time. I always viewed recitals as these very traditional demonstrations that needed to be serious and intense. You walk out, you take a bow, you play your piece, you take another bow, you walk off. Unless you’re auditioning for the ASO or something, I would highly recommend a looser approach to performing. When you take the stage, take a minute to get your bearings. Look around the audience and make eye contact. Adjust a chair or stand if you have to. Something like cracking a quick joke to the crowd can instantly set the room at ease and make for a more relaxed performance. Don’t take yourself too seriously!

 

  • Have fun and be yourself.

I don’t know how many hundreds of times I have played music on a stage for people, but I know that the gigs that last in my memory are not the ones where I gave a flawless performance, but the ones where I enjoyed myself and made a connection with the audience. When you learn to set aside the external pressures and just go up and be you, you tap into what it really means to be a musician. After all, if it’s not fun, why would we do it in the first place?

Winter Recitals Past and Future

The Winter Recital is always a big day for Guitar Shed. It marks the end of the year and a chance for our students to showcase what they have been working on before we take our Winter Break. Since the recital is typically close to the holidays, relatives are often in from out of town and everyone is flush with the holiday spirit. Our first Winter Recital was back in 2015 at Red Light Cafe. At that time, Guitar Shed had 3 teachers and just a handful of students. In the years since then, we have been hosted by new venues, like City Winery and Eddie’s Attic, added over a dozen stellar teachers to the Shed family, and seen hundreds of incredible student performances. The end of the year always brings with it a chance to look back on the year and recognize growth, as well as to look forward to a fresh start with new goals in the coming year. 

While this year’s Winter Recital will be a little different than those of years past, we hope that all of those same sentiments of family, joy, growth, and optimism for the future will be present as we broadcast our students’ virtual performances. We look forward to another great recital and another great year ahead! 

The Importance Of Active Listening

How can you become a better musician besides spending hours and hours practicing? Practicing is definitely the most important part of improving your skills as a musician, but there are other ways to grow and progress besides playing your scales and working on songs. Listening to music, and a wide variety of it, is incredibly important in becoming a more well-rounded and knowledgeable musician. I try to listen to an album every day. Sometimes it’s on in the background while I cook dinner, or go for a walk, but whenever I have the time I prefer active listening. To listen actively is to focus completely on the music with the purpose of further understanding it. There are different levels of listening and, like playing your instrument, it requires practice. So how do you actively listen? What are you listening for?

If this is new to you, listen for different instruments. Is there guitar in the song? What about drums? Do you hear harmony in the vocals? As you get more advanced, listen for the basic structure. What is the meter? Is there a chorus that repeats multiple throughout the song? Most pop songs have a bridge, a one-time section that provides contrast to the verses and choruses. Eventually, you can start listening for chord progressions and compositional techniques. In what mode is the melody? Does the song use tall chords(commonly referred to as “jazz chords”) or regular triads? Are there any key changes?

As you begin to listen actively, you notice similarities and differences between different songs and genres. This simple practice can change the way you listen to music and allow you to appreciate your favorite artists on a different level.        

, , , Fall Student Showcase – 10/18
Announcing our Fall Virtual Student Showcase!
10/18 – 6 pm – deadline to submit 10/14

All performances will be broadcast on our Facebook Page. Below are some guidelines for submitting your performance.

-Please keep videos under 2 minutes
-Have your teacher send you an accompaniment track to play along with if necessary
-Dress up, play outside, set up a mini-concert hall, play with family members, get creative, and have fun with it!
-Make sure the video is well lit and the performer is clearly visible in the frame
-Upload your video to YouTube (if you are unable to upload the video to YouTube send us the file and we’ll upload it)
-Join the watch party and share it with friends and family

Uploading your video to YouTube
1) Under Audience – click “No, it’s not made for kids” (this makes it possible to add the video to our playlist)
2) Visibility – click unlisted
3) Email the link to [email protected]