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When the light turns on...

WyzAnt gave me the opportunity to tutor a student entering Berklee School of Music. I was tutoring Music Theory. I had 6 weeks to tutor 2 semesters of theory. My student did an excellent job with assignments and was a pleasure to work with.  Here is what my student wrote after she started at Berklee:   “Hey Ric, I just wanted to let you know that I took my entering placement test over theory today and I knew EVERYTHING on it! I am so thankful for all that you did to help me get where I am! You are such an amazing teacher and I hope to work with you again in the near future. Thank you so much!.”    When a student excels and they can go from somewhat interested in a subject to very interested, especially something like music theory I love it. Theory can be a dry subject as presented by some. I find it exciting and because I teach it in a way that gets students excited about it because they can see the benefits of it. It is "how"... read more

Boy o Boy.....

It has been an extremely busy several weeks. My Guitar book is out in print & ebook form. It is doing very well and has now received endorsements from the guitarist on American Idol and The Voice. It has also been reviewed by a number of Nashville recording session musicians and is getting great response. I did quite a lot of arranging in Nov. & Dec. including pieces for orchestra & choir (premiered in Houston), string arrangements for Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area and also McKinney Memorial Church where my "Little Drummer Boy" arrangement was very successful for concerts. I also performed with the McKinney ensembles. Another recent development has been my playing (guitar, co-directing and arranging for the Joshua Experience Big Band. I did a big band version of my song "Moonlit" that they played last Sunday and it went very well. The same arrangement was purchased by a college in Il. for a jazz series concert in Feb... read more

Math + Music = Elementary Fraction Success

By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety.   For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction... read more

REVIEW OF MY NEW BOOK "GUITAR TIPS"...

"As a guitar player, I am always looking for new resources to help me get better at my craft. I have gone through book after book that held some good tips for improving my playing. Some better than others. I have been playing the guitar for 40 years now and still consider myself a rhythm hack. I must confess that I do not spend the time like I should but that is another article. A friend of mine recently released a book titled Guitar Tips - What Every Guitar Player Should Know. I love this guitar manual for a ton of reasons. It's practical, easy to follow and gives some great tips for advancing my playing and understanding of music and the instrument I so love. I have a degree in music but often fail to implement the basics of theory in my arranging of worship music. This book is not so much a "how to play the guitar better" as it is a "how to use your guitar in a band setting". Ric F. is an amazing guitarist, performer, arranger, musician,... read more

Guitar Manual Completed!!!

I have completed my Guitar Manual. The manual will also be turned into a video series. The manual is not meant as an exhaustive study on guitar or theory, but a 30 page manual on "what has worked for Ric" in years of recording studio work and performing as a sideman and artist. My hope is that the concept of "your hands will work about as good as what your head knows" will lead more guitarist to want to be better overall musicians as well.

Student Success!!!

My Composition student, Ken (who is also a college music teacher) completed an arrangement for Flute Choir on a Christmas Carol. The piece was played through yesterday with success! The music director ask Ken if he could do another and have both premiered in an upcoming Christmas concert - Congrats Ken!   My international student Melody has scored a video montage and did an excellent job not only in the approach she chose, but also in the execution. Congrats Melody!

Congrats to...

2 of my international internet students have had some recent accomplishments. Melody has written an exceptional arrangement of a hymn for an "un-plugged" chamber ensemble that was premiered last Sunday (Sept. 29, 2013) and went great!   Ken (also a music teacher at colleges) has been commissioned to arrange a Christmas Carol for Flute Choir.   Congrats to my students!!!

Welcome Message!

Greetings Music Lovers and welcome to my first blog posting on WyzAnt! This is a great place for us to share tips, tricks and anything else of a general nature that you have found helpful with your music and would like to share with others. It's also a great place to ask general questions seeking advice and feedback from the community. I look forward to your questions, comments and suggestions! Daniel

Digging In Deep

As I mentioned in my profile, I prefer to teach from a different perspective than most teachers. If you want to just learn some songs on your instrument - of course I can teach them to you! I can easily turn them into something you can relate to and get under your fingers quickly =) My real specialty, however, is how I teach music theory - both to its students and to students of guitar / bass / piano. Usually, when you learn music theory you start with some preconceptions. There are notes, for instance - twelve of them. You can use these notes to form all kinds of structures - seven note scales, three or four part chords, two note intervals, etc. These various structures are given names, like "Major," "Minor," "Perfect," "Augmented," "Diminished," etc. You know that a Major chord sounds happy and uplifting. You know that a Minor chord sounds sad and depressing. But in all of your lessons, with all... read more

coming out of the comfort zone

As a teenager growing up in the late 70's and early 80's, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest guitarists of that era. I would put on my favorite albums and try to play the song note for note and I would even attempt the solo of that song as well. Randy Rhoads was my guitar hero and still is to this day. He died in a plane cash in 1982 at the young age of 25. When I heard "Crazy Train" for the very first time I was blown away. The raking of the strings to the monstrous guitar riff intro, incredible. I wanted to be the next Randy Rhoads. Practicing for hours just trying to learn his style I knew that someday I would be able to play like that. Randy recorded 2 albums with Ozzy "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman". In those days there wasn't "Youtube" or the internet for that matter. I would go to the local music store to try to find music books. What I did learn from this was how to take a chance. Learning an instrument... read more

Experience

Hi I'm Phil. As I said in my introduction, I've been working with kids my whole adult life, actually since I was a teenager. From the time I was old enough to drive I have been working with church youth groups - in Southeast Missouri, Chicago (where I received my bachelors) and now in East Tennessee (where my beautiful girlfriend graduated and works with children herself). My Junior and Senior year I volunteered with an after-school program for college credit. It was then I first fell in love with teaching. I tutored 5th grade up to 8th in Math, English and Spelling, and Music. After high school I continued working with middle school church ministries as counselor, small group leader, and, at one point, interim youth director. My latest ministry experience was as Youth Worship Director to middle school students at Willow Creek Community Church in West Chicago, IL. I held that position for 13 months until I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design. Currently,... read more

Tone Deaf Students

When I taught an eight year old boy who had not received any musical training, within a few sessions, I noticed that he was tone deaf. So I took the liberty of buying a guitar tuner that also played solid tones. I played a tone, let the child listen and then I switched the device to the "tuning" function. Then, as the child sang the note I had him listen to, he could see how much he was on (or off) the note! This visualization worked very well and within around a couple of months later, he improved very much! Needless to say, I am very proud of him!

Normal Learning Process

Are you wondering about how normal learning occurs as you try to help your student or perhaps yourself acquire new concepts? First, let’s think about what is normal. Normal is not a single state. In reality, every person is unique. Our brains all have the same basic structure but each person seems to be wired slightly differently. That is both wonderful and frustrating for someone trying grasp new ideas. In the beginning of life: As a child develops the parents and family members surrounding the child are the first instructors. Whether this teaching is done with intention or happenstance, everything that occurs around the child provides stimulus and occasions for learning. Most of this learning is by imitation. That is the moral behind the maxim to parents, “watch what you say, little pictures have big ears.” It’s also why the admonition “do as I say, not as I do” creates tension in a household. By now, since you are on a tutoring website, I think it safe to... read more

Teaching Music Online

While most subjects must be taught face to face, music performance is successfully taught online. Is anyone else doing this? I tutor a score of folks each week this way now, some of them local (even through Wyzant), but many more of them are from all over the world from places I could never physically visit. Instead of connecting to a student in a physical space, we connect in a virtual space. My student and I are both at home on our own computers, with an audio headset, a common chat channel and sometimes a mini-camera active. We can tutor over Google-Talk, Second Life, There, MS Chat, or Yahoo Messenger, but my favorite music-teaching platform is Skype. Skype service is free for all, the sound and video streams is fantastic and I can inhibit new callers so the student and I are not distracted by incoming calls during our session. I always spend the first few moments of the tutoring session making a good connection so we can hear and see each other clearly. If static,... read more

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