1. Do you offer gift certificates? Yes, we do. See our Gift Certificate page for more details.

 

2. What age do you recommending starting children with lessons on an instrument? Age 5 on piano, under right circumstance (see question 3) but preferably age 6. Other instruments around 7 1/2 but younger, under right circumstances (see question 3).

3. How would I know if it is the right time to start lessons for my child?
Here are some positive signs. A child is not hyper active, will listen to instruction, likes learning new things and has shown an interest in music or a certain instrument. I have noticed that children who have been involved in pre-K, dance, martial arts, and other early forms of instruction, have normally done well.

 

4. What can the parents of young students aged five through ten do to help their children be more successful with their music lesson program? For the parents, getting involved and interested in their children's program is very important. Parents can instill a passion for playing by exposing their children to different types of music. They can also help by getting students into a planned practice schedule, at the same time each weekday and with a planned time for the weekend if different. Now this puts an emphasis on practice as a way of life, just like eating lunch, etc. It will become a routine. If you leave practice to chance, the practice will be less time, irregular and progress will suffer. Parents should be enthusiastic and supportive of the students efforts by listening to them practice and giving them compliments and encouragement.


Some real life examples

  • I remember a call I received from a parent of a six year old girl. I mentioned to this woman that she should participate in her daughter's session or at least be available for last ten minutes of lesson. I needed this time so I could review with her what her daughter was working on. In addition I would give her helpful ideas each week on how she could be of help to me and her daughter. She told me that another studio said just to drop of her daughter and come back in a half hour. My response was that this would produce poor results and I care too much about my students to suggest something that wouldn't help them. I learned long time ago that this method will not work for this age group and younger.
  • My first experience with this came from a girl who had just turned seven. The housekeeper would bring the student to the lessons each week and leave. Each lesson, the student would do poorly. After about five weeks, I asked the student what she does with her guitar in between lessons. To my amazement she told me that she puts it in the closet when she goes home and then takes it out when coming to the next lesson. I spoke to the housekeeper about this and her response was that mother works a lot of hours and does not have time to work with the child. I asked if she would help out but the housekeeper said it was not part of her job. I told the family that I could not help them under these conditions. It might possibly work in a few years when this child is older and could handle doing more on her own.
  • It took one more bad situation before I started requiring a parent's involvement. In this case, I had a seven year old boy that did not do well but his mother was available to discuss the problem. I asked what they do for practice. She said that her son practices in the attic and she really did not know what he was doing. We discussed some of the alternatives and the mother decided to bring the keyboard down from the attic on the third level of the house and have her son practice in the living room. The mother said she now knew when and how long her son practiced and if he was playing what she heard during the lessons or something else. Within a few weeks her son was doing much better. Parent involvement, encouragement, and having the proper practice environment are very important. The practice area should have a music stand on the piano, or a music stand of some kind for other instruments, and be a place without a lot of traffic and disturbance.

5. Do you offer private and group lessons? Only private lessons are offered to beginners. There are too many things that can go wrong at this stage and I want to be watching a student at all times to catch these problems. I do offer group workshops for intermediate and advanced students where the technical problems are not likely to happen. I will hear what is played and it is not necessary to see every little detail at this stage.

6. How long are lessons? I offer 30, 45 and one hour lessons for students up to age 14. I prefer the two longer lesson times for students 14 years and older. Older students can concentrate for longer and can do more work. Having the longer time to give students newer projects more often keeps the student more interested. The extra lesson time also gives me more time to explain the new assignments more thoroughly and check the prior lesson assignments more often.

7. Do you offer a trial lesson?
The answer is no and here is why. The usual free lesson is 30 minutes or less. You get some quick information and learn a few things. The problem is with no plan of future lessons you end up leaving the trial lesson without any book or reference material to practice. With very little or some mental information there would be very little motivation or excitement to play. The students I have worked with who have had these free trial lessons have told me it was more like an interview and they did not learn much. From my experience some of the students that started lessons with me just had a free lesson trial with another teacher. I know I would have wanted more from my first lesson than a few mental ideas and some chat. I would have been very disappointed to leave the lesson without books and much to do. My system of adding an extra free half hour to what the student has paid for gives a much better lesson experience to the student and myself. The student and I can enjoy the lesson without feeling the lesson was rushed. I learned a long time ago that the first lesson needs more time not less. Everything is new for both the student and myself and there is a lot to do.

Then if it is decided to enroll for lessons some studios have an enrollment fee close to the price of a half hour lesson. I do not charge an enrollment fee.


CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR COMPLETE ARTICLE ON WHY TRIAL LESSONS FAIL.

8. How long does it take to learn an instrument? This depends on a few things. The instrument. Some instruments are easier than others and it also depends on the students practice, ability, and age if very young. On several instruments, some easier adult songs can be started at around four and a half months of lessons for students ten and older. The younger students normally take a little longer. That would be about the same for drums.

9. How much practice is recommended? After the second or third lesson, the practice time should be a minimum of 20 very condensed minutes a day which adds up to two hours and 20 minutes a week. This is the minimum amount of time a student should practice. After the minimum time the more a student practices the faster they will progress and the more they will be able to do.


10. How many lessons a week do you recommend?
One lesson a week will be enough for most people. I have had students who have taken two lessons a week on the same instrument and others who have taken two lessons a week on two different instruments. Students who want to play professionally or enjoy playing and have a lot of time to practice are other students who have taken more than one lesson a week. Others have been students who are in the last six months of high school who are going to major in music in college. They want to be better prepared and in a better position entering college. Another situation is for a student that is very interested in playing but needs more help.

11. Do I need an instrument?
The answer is yes. For each day a student does not practice after the lessons, the more they will forget. Also a person can't develop the dexterity and the knowledge of their instrument unless they have one to practice on in between lessons.


12. What do I need to get started with piano lessons?
If the instrument needs to be purchased to start the lessons a determination would need to be made whether to buy a piano or keyboard. If a keyboard is decided on this is what I would recommend; A minimum of 61 keys (a full keyboard has 88 keys). The keys should be full size. The width of a white key should be 7/8" wide plus or minus 1/32". Keys should be touch sensitive and weighted. A sustain pedal should be attached directly to the keyboard or it can be connected through the connecting jack or some other means. It is important that the keyboard has its own speaker system to amplify its sound. If you already have a keyboard that has less keys than 61 keys and have had it too long to return for an exchange, we could use this keyboard until you are ready for lesson material that you can't play on it. I have noticed that the average time a person can use a keyboard with less than 61 keys would be about 10 months if they did not have any prior music knowledge. We could extend this time a little by working with other than the regularly scheduled material if needed. The difference in price between the smaller keyboard like 37 and 49 key keyboards and the 61 key keyboard is in the $25.00 to $50.00 range.

13. Is there anything other than an instrument needed to get started?
Most lesson material will be available for purchase when you come in for your lesson. If anything else is needed, I will inform you of that during our telephone conversation at the time of enrollment.

 

14. How do I get started? Call the studio, and we would discuss if you had any prior music background, and if so what it consisted of. Next I would work towards assessing what your needs are and what you want to accomplish with the instructions. After your needs are evaluated, I will make recommendations and give you some idea on what to expect as a beginner. If you have had a musical background or have special requests I will give you a more thorough analysis. Then If you decide that it's time to enroll with me for lessons, I would fill out the enrollment form and go through the things you should know about over the phone.

15. What should I bring to lesson? The instrument you want to learn to play, with the exception of the piano, keyboard and drums. Any prior music books from lessons you had on any instrument. Also studio address, phone number and directions if you need them. In addition, a method of payment for lessons in check, cash or Zelle if needed. My studio is very well equipped with all but your personal instruments for your use.

16. Does knowledge of one instrument help with learning another instrument? Absolutely, if you learn how to read music correctly you can apply it to any other music instrument. When students take lessons from me, learning to play another musical instrument will be a fraction of what it took to learn the first instrument. The music notation system can be used on another music instrument. Learning where the notes are can be learned from a teacher or from a method book that has a chart of where the notes are. The musical terms, theory, etc. are all mostly the same. Any string dexterity developed from one string instrument can be used on a different string instrument. The same for playing an instrument that uses a reed or cup mouth piece. Those techniques can be used on another instrument that uses reeds or cup mouth pieces.

17. How important is talent?
Effort is the biggest asset. Many of my average students became much better than a lot of talented students I have had. TALENT IS 90% EFFORT!


18. Do I need to have the ability to pick out melodies and/or have good note sound recognition?
These abilities would make learning to play easier but most people improve on these skills as they continue to take their lessons. Playing a musical instrument does not rely on these abilities alone. Most students learn to play a musical instrument by reading music. If music is taught correctly (and generally it's not), you can play the music that you want to learn just by reading from the sheet music. This works like reading words. You can get books about any subject that you want to read. Music works the same way.


19. Can anyone learn to improvise?
Most people can be taught to improvise with a teacher skilled in this ability. Many teachers will not offer this service. Some people have a little ability on their own prior to being taught improvisational skills. The student should be able to learn improvising by working with the right teacher and keeping in mind that talent is ninety percent effort.

20. Can a friend come to a lesson? I would not recommend this during the first two months of lessons. A well-behaved friend coming to a lesson now and then is usually fine. I try and take time to meet and talk to them at some point during their time here. I want them to feel welcomed

 

21. Do you accept disabled students or those who are mentally slow learning? Yes, I develop a customized plan and approach for what I feel is needed with each student that has special needs. Traditional instructional methods alone are generally not going to be the most practical approach to teaching these students how to play a musical instrument. Alternative material, format and approach may be needed. My very patient, friendly, and caring way is a big help for the students. Depending on the students' situation, some instruments could be a better choice over others.

 

22. As a teacher, what do you find is the students biggest problem? The biggest problem I see is that students do not pay attention to detail of what they are told. I explain the best way to study the mental work and the best way to practice the physical playing. Some students can lose up to 90 percent of what they are told. They just don't work on the lesson material as instructed. When I see they are not paying attention to detail, I constantly review the instructions. Students are holding themselves back due to the time lost on ineffective practice. They generally improve as I keep after them and encourage them to pay more attention to detail.

The best example I remember, was with a female English teacher from Teaneck who was in her mid thirties. I had given her a very specific project with her guitar lessons. This project had very specific instructions. She continued to have a problem with this particular item for seven months. I would ask her to show me how she was doing the assignment at times and I would see it was not being done correctly. I would review the instructions of how to practice the assignment again. Finally, one day seven months later she did the assignment correctly. I was very happily surprise and I asked her what she did differently that week. Her response was that she decided to try the way that I suggested. I was very surprised that she was that honest. This is an extreme case, but this is a problem with most all students to some degree. I tell my students it would be like needing medication for a medical problem and then taking only part of the medication and expect to get better. I remind my students the kind of effort you put in will dictate the kind of results you will end up with.

 

23. What are a few of the other problems that can hinder a student's progress? (a) Playing to fast before they understand what they are doing, (b) ignoring the timing and (c) playing without working out the proper counting of note values. I tell them to work out the count measure by measure, phrase by phrase and section by section. Most times the students want to play through their music without putting in the mental labor that would be needed. If the students would take the time to understand and play through the music with the proper approach, they should be able to play though the music material level of what they have been taught without help.

What I have experienced is students play through the music without understanding the proper note values and counting correctly on a constant basis. This includes students with several years of lessons and for all ages. Students do not like playing wrong notes but wrong counting and timing does not seem to bother them. I tell the students if they are not playing the proper time or counting correctly they will be playing the wrong notes, because they would be in the wrong place in the music. The mistakes would be noticeable to them if they were playing with other musicians that were playing correctly. Anyone that plays or understands sports would understand the importance of timing.


I teach the Guitar | Bass | Piano | Violin | Trumpet | Flute | Clarinet | Saxophone | Viola | Cello |
| 4 -string Banjo | 5-string Banjo | Mandolin | Harmonica | Ukulele | Drums | Trombone | Flugelhorn | |Cornet | Organ | Accordion | Dulcimer | and others...

The musical styles taught are:
Rock | Blues | Funk | R&B | Rockabilly | Jazz | Classical | Folk | Country | Bluegrass | Reggae | Gospel | Metal | Latin | Brazilian Style | and more... I also train in Theory | Harmony | Improvising | Arranging | Music Transcription | and more...



Lessons Taught 7 Days By Appointment
Home Lessons Available

 

Hours - BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: Monday through Thursday are 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. | Friday hours are 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM | Saturday hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. | Sunday hours are 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Absolutely no visits without appointment.

 

Gift Certificates Available

 

Do you see the dedication that I put into this website material? This is what you will get from my lessons. I work like no effort on my part is totally good enough for my students.

 

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Bergenfield, New Jersey
201-385-2525
info@gregmadisonmusic.com