Holiday Workshops – Learn Christmas Songs

Posted by in Updates and Workshops | October 22, 2013
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Holiday piano workshopsReno Tahoe Piano Lessons and Simply Music is offering a Holiday Workshop program to learn 4 foundation songs, plus Christmas carols.  This program is simple, fun, and allows students to actually enjoy playing music!

  • November 6th, 6pm to 8pm FREE workshop to Sierra Canyon Del Webb residents in Reno.
  • November 9th through December 7th, 10 am to 11 am, 4 Saturday mornings. Lessons are once a week for 1 hour.  $99 for the 4 weeks. Classes are for people of all ages. Children under 17 must be accompanied by parent.

So You Want to Play In A Band

Posted by in Inspiration,Updates and Workshops | October 18, 2013
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It is not as intimidating as one might think.

15-year-old level 3 Simply Music student Antoine ROCKED the house when he jammed for the first time with my band ‘the Smokin’ Rats’.

As Antoine stepped through the front door his eyes grew big as saucers at the sight of the set-up stage that he would be performing on. He was also wearing a grin from ear to ear and it took no arm-twisting to sit him down behind the keys.

“Okay gentlemen”(and I use that term loosely) I said, “let’s play a 12 bar blues in the key of C.” “Is that a quick to the IV?” asked Big Don the bass player. “Yes, Quick IV.” And the music kicked off.

There was nothing but grins and smiles as I looked around at the fans and band members. As we brought the song to a close the house roared with cheers for the kid playing the keys; there too was very proud smile on his father’s face.

Throughout the next three hours I coached Antoine on the craft of listening to what other musicians were doing, when to play, when not to play, when to get loud when to get quiet, when to play fewer notes rather than more, when to look up and around and get your cues from the faces of others.
I could tell that by the end of the evening he was on ‘cloud Nine’ just as I had been after my first time playing with other musicians in that kind of setting.

The first instrument that typically springs to mind when we think of playing in a band is probably guitar, and I concur with Ray Nelson when he says that there is no shortage of guitar players in the world – I’m even a member of that fraternity myself. The structure under which guitar is taught is one of chords, which equals accompaniment. Generally speaking a person will learn three chords on the guitar and then put a lead sheet (a song with its chords and lyrics) in front of them. They will strum one time and sing to the next chord change; them strum the next chord one time and sing to the next chord change; it is so easy and natural that it is almost thoughtless.

What is not so easy and natural on guitar, is training your fingers to switch chords and have every note ring true and clear. That takes time and perseverance.

Piano on the other hand is a delightfully different experience all together, because training your hand to play a chord takes very little time at all. It’s amazing to me that so many piano students never learn how to play chords and follow lead sheets, since that’s often all they would learn on guitar, and it’s probably easier on piano! It may take a few days if you have never even touched a piano, but if you have, learning to play a chord is almost instantaneous. No sore fingers from pushing your soft fleshy fingertips down on cold steel strings, no head scratching about whether your fingers are on the correct strings.

Now that you have put a week or two of practice and processing this concept on the piano you are ready to start playing along. You will be best served by playing along to the Simply Music CD or downloading a song you want to play. Be sure the CD is a bit louder than your sound and DON’T STOP PLAYING! Play Forward. (I usually teach The Rolling Stones song, Can’t Always Get what you Want. What a timeless message, everyone can relate and it is only 3 chords. It goes from A to D, A to D, A to D, A to D, until the time comes to play one B then a D and back to A to D….. Try it.)
You will quickly find you don’t have time to agonize over the last note that you missed or played wrong, it no longer matters, your brain wants to catch up and get out in front of the song.

When you get lost in the song you will be thinking ahead and listening for that part of the song that you are so familiar with and you know it is coming back around, it is there that you will jump back in to the song.

While you are waiting for the song to come around to where you are going to jump back in, you might have a BREAKTHROUGH.

What will be DIS-COVERED is…The song didn’t end just because you messed up! In fact most people who are listening will not even notice as long as you don’t keep playing the wrong chords.

When you get lost or you mess up, stop playing and listen for your point of re-entry. Don’t worry, the band “has your back” and music keeps rolling along.

Now when you have found your way back into the song, begin to notice and become aware of your contributions to the music and what means to support your fellow musicians. Listen for how the piano fills out the sound.

Keep it really simple and basic, play fewer notes and you will have a blast. Music comes alive and is magic when you begin to play with other musicians.

Fun Accompaniments

Posted by in Inspiration,Updates and Workshops | October 18, 2013
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The Circle of Life, from the Lion King, is a popular song for students to learn and is a rewarding project to practice the accompaniment skills from Simply Music. Click here to practice along with the three projects that are part of this great program.

Teacher of the Month

Posted by in Inspiration,Updates and Workshops | October 18, 2013
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It was an honor being selected as Simply Music’s Teacher of the month in September. Valerie Cotta interviews me where I share how Simply Music has transformed my guitar playing and my success in being a piano teacher. Hear the interview here.

15 year old Reno Tahoe Piano Lessons Student Rocks the House

Posted by in Learn how to play piano | June 18, 2013
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15 year old Antoine is a level 3 student who jams with ‘the Smokin Rats’ on Friday night and ROCKS the house.

As Antoine stepped through the front door his eyes grew big as saucers at the sight of the set-up stage that he would be performing on. He was also wearing a grin from ear to ear and it took no arm-twisting to sit him down behind the keys.
“Okay gentlemen”(and I use that term loosely). I said, “let’s play a 12 bar blues in the key of C.”  “Is that a quick to the IV?” asked Big Don the bass player.  “Yes, Quick IV.”  And the music kicked-off.

There was nothing but grins and smiles as I looked around at the fans and band members.  As we brought the song to a close, the house roared with cheers for the 15 year old kid playing the keys, including a very proud smile on his father’s face.

Throughout the next 3 hours, I coached Antoine on the craft of listening to what other musicians were doing, when to play, when not to play, when to get loud when to get quiet, when to play fewer notes rather that more, when to look up and around and get your cues from the faces of others.

I could tell that by the end of the evening he was on “cloud nine,” just as I had been after my first time playing with other musicians in that kind of setting.
It is important to remember that every musician (who plays with others) has a “first time” and other band members recognize this. Therefore it is a thrill for them to be a part of indoctrinating a new musician into the world of playing music.

So to all my students: please take me up on my offer to come and play a few songs with the band.  That is where music really comes alive.

Classes Available in Reno Location & Skype

Posted by in Updates and Workshops | June 18, 2013
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As of the end of June, Reno Tahoe Piano Lessons will no longer have a Truckee location.  All classes will be given at our Reno location at:

5365 Mae Anne, Suite A2 ( just a 25 minutes drive from Truckee).

Classes are also available to clients nationwide through Skype.

Video: Playing a Real Song

Posted by in Inspiration,Tips | June 18, 2013
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One of the hardest things for a lot of people is to turn lessons into “real” songs. The problem, more often than not, is how you define a “real” song.

Below is link to a 37-minute video about how to arrange your lessons into a real song made by guitar instructor, Griff Hamlin. Though Griff is playing a guitar, the lesson is still applicable to piano students. The goal here is to see how to take what you already know and apply it so you can make music with it.

Note to students: This video is required watching.

Click on the image to view the video:

New Level classes began June 1

Posted by in Updates and Workshops | June 18, 2013
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The next Level 1 classes will begin the end of July. New classes begin every 6 weeks where we specialize in teaching adults and seniors. Sign up today!

Ribbon cutting ceremony March 19th

Posted by in Updates and Workshops | March 1, 2013
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Tahoe Piano Lessons is proud to announce that the Nevada Chamber of Commerce will be initiating our business’ ribbon cutting ceremony and business mixer on March 19th at our Reno studio, from 5-7pm.  Please stop by if you are in the area.

New classes and Free Workshops

Posted by in Updates and Workshops | March 1, 2013
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New Classes:

  • Level 1 class for Beginners of all ages:  9am on the first 4 Saturdays in March at our Reno studio.
  • Level 2 class for Advanced adults (for students with an extensive background in playing and reading):  10am the first 4 Saturdays in March at our Reno studio.

Free Sessions & Workshops:

  • Free Introductory Session:  find out why this method produces extraordinary results and why it is truly a breakthrough in music learning.  11am the first 4 Saturdays in March at our Reno studio.  Call to reserve a spot – seats are limited.
  • Free Workshop: learn to play a song in one hour.  12pm on the first 4 Saturdays in March at our Reno studio.  THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO FIND OUT IF THIS METHOD OF LEARNING IS FOR YOU.  Call to reserve a spot – seats are limited.
  • Free Strings Workshop in APRIL:  Guitar, Mandolin & Banjo for beginners in strings.  April 9th at 11am at our Reno studio.  Please call to reserve your seat.