about the Lessons:
First and foremost the lessons are fun. Music is an art form. Art is about self expression, joy, and curiosity.
Mike tries to make the lessons as engaging, interactive, hands on, and as fun as possible.
Secondly, learning music involves a set of many skills and is a multifacted discipline. Mike believes in a balanced and comprehensive approach and he teaches using a combination of many methods and ideas:
playing by ear, chord charts, sight reading, learning popular songs (or obscure ones you love), music theory, improvisation, and song writing
playing by ear:
as valueable as sight reading is, it is easy to forget that music is heard. It is through our ears that we percieve music, through our ears we find it pleasing, or displeasing, through our ears that we hear harmony and disonance, intervals and melodies. I believe nurturing the inate ability to play and learn music by ears alone is one of the most important aspects of becoming both a great musician and composer.
it's a simple concept that can get one playing some of their favorite songs in weeks. It's also how jazz players comp, how folk musicians communicate, and how blues players know what their improvising over.
since the 1400s, and solidified in 1600s with the compositions of Bach, the West now has a very sound and ingrained form of musical notation. Yup, those little note heads on lines. Anyone with a desire to learn and understand classical music must become effeicent at 'sight reading' (simply playing as if reading, without much or any preparation beforehand). Of course, the advantages and joys don't merely extend to classical music but can be applied to every musical genre: jazz, showtunes, death metal, bubblegum pop, rock, folk, etc...
learning popular songs:
most of Mike's students find this to be the most exciting part of the lessons, and possibly the most valuable. There is nothing quite as inspiring and motivating as the ability to play the songs you love and enjoy. Learning dull melodies or tired folk songs can only take you so far. Mike tries to spend a portion of every lesson teaching his student's any song of their choice (movie scores, video game music, and silly songs you heard on youtube are all fair game!)
it's one thing to learn to play a Cmajor7 chord, and it's another to understand it consists of a root, major 3rd, perfect 5th, and major 7th. Understanding theory supplies the player and songwriter with the inner workings of music. The 'physics' or 'architecture' of music. Every great composer throughout history either knew this intellectually and/or intuitevely with their ear. Knowing theory gives one the ability to improvise, learns songs faster, compose more effiecitently, transpose songs to different keys, and gives the player an overall better appreciation for how and why music sounds so pleasing (or displeasing) to the ear and brain.
the ability to flow. One of Mike's favorite aspects of music, and one that makes it the most meditative is the ability to improvise. Improvising is understanding what notes create what effects over certain chords and in certain key sigantures, and then using this knowledge to let go of inhibition and let the notes fly. From Mozart to Muddy Waters to John Coltrane, all were profeicient improvisers. Without learning the ability to improvise it is nearly impossible to continue towards song writing. Two fascinating articles revealing the brain science behind improvisation: This Is Your Brain on Jazz and Music Can be Good for Your Brain
there is nothing in life that compares to the ability to create art that is unique, individual, and moving. There are consumers and creators and in a modern world where we are bombarded with tevlevision, movies, video games, and screens from every which angle, it becomes more diffuclt for both adults and children to set aside time to create instead of consume. On the surface it's a fun time out to explore or extrapolate on various topics and ideas. On a deeper level it is one of the few ways to commune with one's spirituality. Self expression is empowering on many levels. It gives one the quiet and confidence to trust in themselves and explore the infinitie inner workings of the human heart and infinite subconscious (insert rant about metaphysics and cosmology and "god")...but layers above how profound the act of creation is...it's just plain FUN.
Nope. I don't reccomend toddlers playing guitar
Just showing my nephew Rocco the ropes!
Mike offers the convenience of private music lessons in the comfort of your own home
as well as lessons in his studio space in his home in Point Breeze
He teaches: guitar, piano, songwriting, music theory, and voice.
Mike is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and has 10+ years of teaching experience He taught at AET music school in Chicago and started his own practice in Austin in 2008. Beyond the academics Mike has been playing music for over 20 years. He fronted the rock outfit The Queensmen in Chicago, and most recently the Austin Texas based Archer Heights. He has also released four self produced solo records.
As of 2015, with his own child on the way, Mike has relocated to his wife's home town of Pittsburgh and has taken his music practice with him.
about the Students:
Mike has taught children as young as 4 and as old as 72.
Previous to his ten years of teaching students of all ages Mike spent summers as a Camp Counselor for the Chicago Park District and enjoyed running around, entertaining, educating, leading activities, and keeping safe various age groups of kids in both indoor and outdoor settings.
He is comfortable teaching the bare-boned beginner, the intermediate piano player, and the advanced guitarist looking to improve upon and fine tune their craft. No willing student is turned away. Mike is dedicated to working with students from a diversity of backgrounds with a variety of goals and needs. Please inquire. If for any reason Mike feels ill equipped for getting you to reach your goals as quickly as possible he will happily pass you on to other professionals.
about the Pricing:
Lessons are $40 for a half hour lesson in the comfort and ease of your own home.
Mike will drive to any Pittsburgh location and most towns/burbs that are reasonably near by.
You are also welcome to come to Mike's home in Point Breeze for $35 per half hour lesson.
He has a fully eqipped music room for lessons including guitars, an upright piano, keyboard, and recording gear.
A 30m to 1h lesson once a week is reccomended for most students, but of course any accomodation is possible to suit you or your family's needs.
References are, of course, available upon request.
Just click on 'contact' and drop Mike a line.
Previous students and clients of Mike are more than willing to field
any questions and concerns you may have about Mike and his lessons.
Some of Mike's former students down in Austin doing there thing
Thanks, yall! I already miss you!
We need more creators and less consumers. In order to turn our children into free and critical thinkers we need to empower them with creativity and instill in them a great appreciation of the arts. Being able to connect with the arts in life links us to spirituality and a deeper sense of self.
It gives us the confidence to believe in our own ability and our own problem solving skills. This has become even more critical in a modern, digital age. It is art and artistic endeavors that empower us. Art is creation. Creation puts life and the future into our own hands.
Creating art is one of the few endeavors that acts as a reflecting medium allowing us to see that we really are each completely unique individuals.
Art enriches us by affirming and highlighting our innate abilities and talents. As emotional and intelligent beings we are all able to create objects, songs, poems, paintings, stories, and compositions that no other human would or could produce in quite the same way...
We are human because we create, and we create because we are human.
Mike offers you and/or your child the opportunity to learn and engage in the wonderful art of sound.