I Am Done Playing The Piano

I am done playing the piano

I have a confession to make.

I used to work at Applebee’s.

Man, it feels so good to say it out loud.

Anyhoo, it was actually a pretty fun job. I made a lot of friends there and learned a lot about people.

I learned a very valuable lesson while working there too. It is actually the answer to one of our most Frequently Asked Questions about the piano and piano lessons.

FAQ #2: When Am I Done Taking Piano Lessons?

This is a short story about one of my Applebuddy’s. I honestly don’t remember her name so let’s call her Sarah.

Sarah had just started working at Applebees and she had to spend a little time with me while she was being trained. At first, we totally hit it off because we both played the piano.

You know how it goes at a job where you don’t know anybody. You try to find anything in common so that you have something to chat about to make the time go faster. Sarah and I were chatting about playing the piano that day. And I asked her if she still played. This was her response,

“No, I don’t play anymore. It got to the point where I could play everything so I was done.”

That response floored me. For so many reasons. Done? A real musician would never be “done.” There is always so much more to learn. There is always another level to get to. Even the most incredible piano players in the world are still learning new things. They would never say they were “done.”

No real musician would say they could play everything. What does that even mean? Can you play every Rachmaninoff piece to perfection? Do you know how to play every jazz standard ever written? Do you know how to play all of the harmonic modes and use them in a solo improvisation?

Of course, she didn’t. She got done with her first-year method book and got bored. She gave up and quit. And then told herself she “knew everything” to make herself feel better about quitting.

Either that or she really doesn’t get it. I’m guessing it’s a little of both.

My point is that if you want to be a real musician, you need to buckle in for the ride. It is a lifelong journey that never ends. You never get “done.” You never know everything. Every time you sit down at the piano, it’s a chance to learn something new.

That is the magic of music. It is never-ending. Sure there are milestones along the way that you want to celebrate like learning a big piece or being able to play a song from memory. But if you truly have the heart of a musician, you will never want to stop learning and growing. You won’t be able to because once you start you are hooked.

Is that you? Do you dream about learning the next song or getting better at some run or lick? BTW, It’s ok if that’s not you. You can be a casual music lover and still really enjoy playing the piano.

But if you’re like me, and you have the fire within you, I’m here to tell you that you can be the player you dream of being. Matter of fact, you will be, if you never quit, and embrace the lifelong journey that is being a musician. It’s quite a ride.

Just remember what you signed up for when you get into a new song and it’s harder than you want it to be. Remember why you started this in the first place. You are capable of amazing things including playing this new song that has you stuck. Take a deep breath and dive in.

Most people quit right before they get to the good part. The good part is coming on the next page and you are going to get there because you don’t quit.

I would much rather be one of the few piano players who can’t “play everything” than one of the many who decided they were “done.” I hope you will join me.

Why your kids should play video games

Kid Playing Video Games.jpg

I still remember getting my first Nintendo. And my first Nintendo was THE first Nintendo.

That’s right kids, I was there when the first Nintendo came out. It was an exciting time.

I used to love playing all the classics - Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3…ok it was a lot of Mario but it was also a lot of fun.

When my mom finally made me shut it off at night, I would head off to bed but the game stuck with me. In particular, the MUSIC from the game stuck with me.

I would spend the rest of the night humming Mario’s theme song. When it was raining out and I was feeling sad, I would hum the underground Mario song. You know the one I’m talking about.

The point is, these simple little tunes were memorable even back then. The sound wasn’t good. They had what seems like ancient technology compared to today’s standards, but we all still knew the songs. Somehow those composers made those songs come alive with the limited 16-bit technology that they had.

And a lot of those songs are still considered classics. Kids and adults both still want to learn the Mario Bros. theme song to this day.

There is a reason for that.

Today the technology has improved so much it makes those old games seem almost laughable. Nowadays, composers can use full symphony orchestras to create the soundtracks to these games. Playing a video game now is like walking into a movie. It’s a magical, wonderful place and the music plays a huge role in that.

Don’t believe me? Try turning the sound off next time your kid is playing his favorite game. He will lose his mind!

When kids and adults play video games, they are actually learning a lot. Hand-eye coordination for one. But I’m here to talk about what they are learning from the music.

Without even knowing, gamers are exposing themselves to intricate works of art. Beautiful soundscapes that inform our imagination.

That’s right - your kid is learning while he is playing video games!

And I bet when he walks away from the game (Finally….after you yank the controller from his hands and hide it in the attic), he will walk away humming the tune. Just like I did all those years ago. That song will stick with him. Maybe for the rest of his life.

What if you could teach him how to play that song on the piano? How excited would he be to learn the song and be able to play it for his friends! Oh man. He would be the hit of the party.

And as exciting and fun as that would be for him, he also gets to learn a whole lot about music along the way. Not just music, but discipline and appreciation for the beautiful things in life.

You are molding a genuine, caring human being. And video games can be a big part of creating the person you want him to be.

Video games are here to stay. And I think that’s ok. You don’t have to fight it. Instead, learn to embrace it. Video games are amazing works of art. And maybe sometime soon, when your kid is playing his game, you can close your eyes and just listen. I bet you may just love what you hear.

Mario would be proud.

How Do I Practice Piano?

I get a lot of questions from my students and from parents about piano lessons. Do any of these sound familiar?

How often should I practice?

How long until I am really good?

When should kids start taking piano lessons?

Am I too old to take piano lessons?

How do I practice the piano?

I thought it might be helpful to do some blog posts answering some of our most frequently asked questions about piano and piano lessons. So here we go…

FAQ #1: How do I practice the piano?

You know the joke. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Practice. PRACTICE!”

It’s true. One of the most important things you can do for your piano career is work out a regular time to practice. Really what it comes down to is discipline and building a new habit.

Here are 8 ways to set up a practice routine that will make you a rockstar in no time!

  1. Practice at the same time every day. Schedule your practice time. Put it in your calendar. You have to treat your practice time as a sacred time. If you have a job, you have to be there every day at the same time. Piano practice needs to be the same thing. If you want to be a great piano player, then you need to show up. Every day. On time.

  2. Warm up. Start with scales and arpeggios. I know these are not the most fun things to practice, but these are the techniques that are going to make everything else come a lot easier. There is so much that happens when we practice scales and arpeggios. It warms us up, sure. But it also makes our fingers stronger, programs muscle memory so recalling this information later happens automatically, helps us learn our key signatures, helps us learn chords and so much more. If you want to be a rockstar piano player, learn how to LOVE practicing your scales and arpeggios.

  3. Learn how chords work. The thing that really made music fun for me was learning how chords work. If your teacher is not already teaching you this, ask him or her to. Learning about chords is a game changer. It makes learning songs so much easier. If you want to speed up your progress, then learn how chords work.

  4. Work on repertoire. Whether you are learning songs out of a book or you are learning songs by ear, keep learning new material. Each song you learn is performing double duty. First of all, you are building your library of tunes. Next time someone asks you to play something on the piano, you will have that much more to pull from. Secondly, you are learning lots of “mini-lessons” from each song you learn. Fingering technique, chord structure, key signature, rhythms, and more. Never stop learning new songs!

  5. A little goes a long way. In a perfect world, you would practice piano for 2-3 hours every day. But let’s be real. You have a life. Even your kids probably have enough of a life to make that a challenge. What a lot of people do is tell themselves that unless they can get in at least an hour of practice, it’s not worth it. This could not be further from the truth. Even ten minutes here and there adds up. Your practice time does not have to happen all at once. Get in ten minutes when you can. I promise if you do that enough, it will add up to amazing results.

  6. Be accountable to your teacher. One of the best things about piano lessons is learning discipline. That is why it is so great to start kids young. It gets them into a routine early. It shows them the value of committing to something. And it allows them to feel the pride of a job well done. When you want to blow off your practice time, remember your lesson time is coming. You are going to have to sit down and play for your teacher. Make sure you are ready and it will make your lesson a much more enjoyable experience!

  7. Make sure you are learning things that are fun to you. It is super important that your lessons include things that are fun for you to learn. If you are not learning things that are fun for you, tell your teacher. A good teacher will adjust your lesson plan to include music you love. If you are a gamer, ask if you can learn a song from your favorite video game. If you are a movie buff, learn a song from a movie you love. Having these kinds of things added into your practice routine will make it way more fun and motivate you to practice more.

  8. Have patience. Learning any new skill takes times. It takes A LOT of time, so be patient. Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to master it in one day. All you have to do is show up every day and over time you will see how far you have come. You are going to get there if you never give up!

You can truly be the piano player you want to be. Just follow these 8 steps and you will be there in no time!

Have any suggestions on how to practice piano? Or do you have any questions about piano practice? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Piano Lessons Online

The internet is an amazing tool. It has become a crucial part of our daily existence. I mean, can you imagine the world with no internet?

Me neither.

I have used online tutorials to learn so much about music, marketing and more. YouTube alone has supplied me enough information to get a doctorate in multiple subjects.

Whenever I want to learn how to use some new software, I go to YouTube. Whenever I have a question about business or marketing, I go to YouTube. Knowledge is power and all the knowledge we can handle is right at our fingertips.

Can you learn how to play piano through YouTube videos?

There is certainly no shortage of piano tutorials on there. If you want to learn how to play a chord or figure out a specific voicing in a song you love, YouTube is a great solution.

Sometimes more does not mean good. Sometimes we can be oversaturated with information. There are so many different piano how-to videos on YouTube, how would you know where to begin? It’s extremely overwhelming.

I have had many students come to me because they tried to learn on their own but soon became confused and stressed out by all the information out there. It seemed like to large of a mountain to climb on their own. They also needed someone to encourage them and keep them accountable. YouTube won’t do that for you.

Look, we just can’t take in every video on YouTube. No one has that kind of time. So what is the answer?

We need a guide. We need someone who has been down the path that we want to travel to show us the way. We need someone to put the chaos into order. We need a plan. And we need accountability.

And that is what a great piano teacher can do.

I love the internet. I love YouTube. But I also love my mentors and coaches who have guided me along life’s path. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and I will continue to have teachers in my life to help me sift through all the information that google leaves on my front door. With the combination of a good teacher and all the information the internet has to offer, I know I can conquer the world. And so can you.

If you are having trouble wading through the chaos of YouTube piano videos, we can help. Hit the button below to get some more information about piano lessons in St. Louis.

P.S. Do you think STL Piano Lessons should offer online piano lessons?

Piano Lessons Near Me

piano lessons near me

Have you heard of this new thing called “the internet?” It’s all the rage in Europe. ;)

One of the best things about the internet, is finding products and services we need so quickly. I don’t even remember how we did that before the world wide web, but it is pretty amazing.

All you have to do is type in the thing you need with the words “near me” and you will get hundreds if not thousands of suggestions.

Need a new lawn mower, it’s there. Need a pizza STAT, it’s there. Need piano lessons for your kids, it’s there!

Before I start sounding too much like an old man and start asking you to help me program my VCR, let me get to the point. If you type into a search engine the words “piano lessons near me” you are going to get a lot of great options. In any city, you will find so many great teachers. And I know this is no exception in St. Louis.

St. Louis is a vibrant music town. It’s one of my favorite things about this city. The musical history alone is so full and robust, let the alone the current scene we have today. There are a lot of amazing musicians in this town, and what do most musicians do during the day?

They teach.

We are blessed with so many great music teachers and STL Piano Lessons is proud to be amongst them! And while some schools offer many different types of instrument instruction, we focus solely on piano because we want to be the best. It’s important for us to have the best teachers in town. And it’s important for us to value you as a student and to do all we can to help you reach your musical goals!

So the next time you type in “piano lessons near me,” know that we are proud to be a part of those search results. It can be an overwhelming process finding the right teacher, so we hope you will reach out to us with any questions you may have. We are more than happy to help you find the perfect teacher, whoever that may be.

Be sure to take full advantage of this whole internet thing. I think it may just be a fad like fax machines and cell phones, so who knows when they will take it away. Better enjoy it while you can!

Piano Lessons For Kids

You are never too young to start learning about music. And when your kids get to 5 or 6, it is definitely time to start piano lessons!

Piano lessons for kids

When I was 5, my parents made me take piano lessons. It was the last thing I wanted to do. All I wanted to do was play outside with my friends. Every day my parents would make me practice before I got to go play or watch TV. How dare they?!

But then something strange started to happen. I started to like it. And once I got a little older, around 7 or 8, I started figuring out how to play the songs I liked on the piano. I would record songs off the radio onto my little cassette player (yea, remember cassettes?). Then I would sit at the piano, play the tape, figure out one note of a song. Then rewind the tape and figure out the next note. I did this over and over again until I figured out the whole thing. I was playing Bon Jovi songs on the piano and that is when it became a whole lot of fun!

I can’t imagine where I would be now if my parents didn’t make me take piano lessons. I am a full-time musician as well as piano instructor. I run a record company called Soul Motivation Records and produce inspirational hip-hop music. I talk music. I breathe music.

Music is my life. And I owe it all to my parents. :)

I always tell parents that you should MAKE your kids take piano lessons. At least for a couple of years. Once they have been at it for a while, if they still don’t like it, then let them pursue other things.

Sometimes when we are kids, we don’t know what we want. Our interests can change daily. But I have talked to enough adults who tell me they really wish they stuck to the piano when they were a kid to know that most kids will grow up to regret giving it up so quickly.

Now is the time to get them started. Music can change their life, you just have to give them a head start!

A New Year's Resolution Worth Making

This is the time of year that I like to talk to my students about their goals for the upcoming year.  It’s fun to talk out loud about what we want to accomplish.  It reminds of why we are putting all this work into something.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day things of life, and piano is no different.  We (hopefully) have a practice routine that we stick to.  We sit down a couple times a week, play some scales and arpeggios, work on playing chords and then play through some songs.  It’s easy to forget why we are doing it?

So every once in a while it’s important to stop and think about what we are trying to accomplish.  And the beginning of a new year is a great time to do that!

Many of the people I talk to like to say they don’t make new year’s resolutions because it is a waste of time.  And although I understand the sentiment, I couldn’t disagree more.  I think the word “resolution” has been so overused that it is meaningless to us now.  So many of us have promised to make big changes in January and then by February have given up.  If you do this enough years in a row, you get bitter and you stop believing in “resolutions.”

But “resolution” is just a word.  What if we changed it to “goals?”  Would you be willing to make some New Year’s goals?  I think everyone would agree that in order to be successful, we need to set goals.  It just so happens that the beginning of a new year is a good time to do it, since it gives us the feeling of a fresh start.

Don’t be afraid to make some big goals this year.  This is the time to get healthy, to make more money, spend more time with family, or take piano lessons.  These are resolutions worth making, and we should never be afraid to set new goals.  No matter how many times we have failed in the past, this is a new year.  A new chance.  It’s okay if we didn’t follow through in the past.  It’s only because we are human beings with busy lives.  We need to let that guilt go and start again.  And a new year is the perfect time to start again!

So what are your New Year’s goals going to be?

Piano Lessons For Adults In St. Louis

It’s never too late to pursue a new skill. We all have untapped passions inside us. And it’s important we let them out!

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be a fire fighter? What ever happened to that dream? Or maybe you wanted to be a rock star? That was always my dream as a kid. Maybe you wanted to be a great musician. Why did you give up on that one? It’s not too late, ya know.

Quite often adults will ask me “Am I too old to take piano lessons?” And my answer is always the same: “NO!”

It’s funny how we view piano lessons as something only kids do. But the truth is most of my students are adults.

Some are younger adults who are settling into a life of working for a living and they need a hobby. They need something fun to pursue on the side.

Some of my adult students took lessons as a kid but then got busy with life. And as they have gotten older, they realize how much they wish they had stuck with piano when they were a kid. The good news is that it’s never too late to pick it back up. And almost always, once they start lessons, most of the stuff they learned years ago comes back. Just like riding a bike.

And then I have some retired adults who are done with their working life and have more time on their hands. They have always wanted to learn an instrument and now they finally have the time. Or maybe they played a long time ago, but got lost in the hustle and bustle of life and had to let the piano go for a while. It’s so great to be there when they pick it back up again!

It’s so fun to watch folks of all ages get excited about music. Life is too short to not pursue the things that will truly bring joy into your life. And if you love music, piano lessons is a great way to do just that.

I help my students learn what they want to learn. Most of my adult students learn songs off the radio that they love. Or they want to learn some classic sing-a-long songs so they can entertain their guests at their next dinner party.

I think when you are an adult, you know better what you want. You can choose what you want to learn. There is a lot of excitement that comes from that. Sometimes when we take lessons as a kid, we are just doing it because our parents make us. We may grow to like it, but most of the time we are just doing what we are told.

When you are an adult, you get to pick how you spend your time. And if you choose piano lessons, you may just find that you have a passion for music that you didn’t even know was there.

Now is the time.

So what are you waiting for? You’re an adult who gets to make their own decisions. So if you decide you want to pursue piano lessons, hit the button below and we will set up your first lesson!

Jazz Piano Lessons In St. Louis

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

Jazz music is still one of the most powerful forms of music in the world and it all starts with that swing. Swing is that feel that makes you tap your foot or jump up and dance. It’s the sound that makes you want to snap your fingers. Swing is what drives the emotion behind a great jazz performance. It just feels so good.

Have you always wanted to learn how to play jazz piano? Do you want to learn how to swing like the best of them? I got you covered. I have been a jazz pianist my entire adult life and it is by far my favorite style of music to play. But it is also my favorite style of music to teach!

Jazz music is freedom. Sure there are some rules. But once you learn the rules, you are free to break them! All the musical ideas floating around in your head get to finally come out when you play jazz. It’s all about creating on the spot. Art in it’s purest form. And even if you are a total beginner on the piano, you can start learning how to play jazz today!

I have been teaching jazz piano in St. Louis since 2009 and have had a lot of fun seeing my students learn about this whole new musical world! If you are a beginner, I can teach you all the basic piano fundamentals that piano players need to have. I can teach you about scales, key signatures and proper finger technique. Then, I can teach you how to play chords and show you some common musical forms. Finally, we’ll add the extension notes that make jazz chords so cool, maybe a little rhythm, and look out — your’e playing jazz!

“Look out- you’re playing jazz!”

Yes jazz is a complex form of expression, but don’t let that scare you. The right teacher can walk you through all the ins and outs and get you started on the right foot. The right teacher can also help you figure out what the best songs are to learn. Which one’s are easiest for a beginner? Which ones do I need to know to play with other musicians?

Whether you are a total beginner on the piano or already have some skills, I can help answer all these questions for you and more. You’ll be swingin’ in no time!

For more information about piano lessons, just hit the button below!

Best Piano Teachers In St. Louis

St. Louis is an amazing city for music. Whether you want to hear jazz, blues, rock, country, or rap, St. Louis has it all. No wonder the city has so many amazing music teachers. If you want to learn to play an instrument in St. Louis, you have your pick of the finest instructors in the country!

Today, I want to talk about some of the best piano teachers in St. Louis. There are many music schools to choose from. My personal favorite is Shock City School Of Music. Yes, it’s true I have friends who work there. But more than that, it offers a really cool atmosphere to learn your instrument in. You can take your lesson right down the hall from a top quality studio. Who knows who might be recording there on the day of your lesson?

I think when I was a kid I would have loved to take lessons in a recording studio. How exciting and motivating for kids to see where they could be headed if they stick to their instrument.

St. Louis is also home to a large number of private instructors. There are too many to list here, but TakeLessons.com or Lessons.com are both great resources to explore all the wonderful teachers in St. Louis.

STL Piano Lessons is my piano instruction company. I have been teaching piano since 2009 and have had the opportunity to work with so many great students. I teach students of all ages and all skill levels and I specialize in teaching how to play by ear. It’s something that not too many teachers offer to teach and it’s a lot of fun to learn!

“I love the big ah-ha moments my students have when something clicks for the first time. Seeing them start to understand a big concept is truly exciting and is why I do what I do!” — Chris Swan, Founder of STL Piano Lessons

You are not as far away from playing your favorite song as you might think. I can teach you the system that all professional musicians use to learn songs. After a while, you can be the person at the party who hears a song on the radio for the first time and then sits down and plays it! How cool would that be?

If you are looking to take piano lessons in St. Louis, I would love to chat with you, learn what your musical goals are and see if we can’t just get you playing your favorite tune quicker than you might think!

If you are interested in piano lessons, just hit the button below for more info!