Click here to see some GREAT reasons that people gave for coming here and also their reasons for leaving a prior studio.

1. Since September 11, 2001, I have seen a new situation that I have never noticed before. I have been getting a large amount of calls and enrollment from adults aged 38 through 56. Of this group two thirds have had music in grade and or high school, and the other third are people who are doing this for the first time.

 

2. I find that on average, one in every three fretted instruments has some kind of defect or adjustment that's needed. I have developed a list of about fifty plus different problems that I have seen over the years. About twenty of them are fairly common when I look at an instrument. One of the many problems that I look for is the spacing between the strings. People buy guitars that are not correct for their hand and finger size. Manufacturers seem to get careless in the way that they groove the nut (the piece that separates the strings on the fingerboard). At times they do not make good use of the fingerboard width. They will grove the nut starting too far away from the edge of fingerboard causing the strings to be too close together. This makes it harder or impossible to play a lot of the chords for people that don't have slim fingers. Other times they groove the nut so strings are too close to edge of fingerboard. This causes the strings to slip off the fingerboard on some chords. When this happens the sound of that note in the chord is lost and you can get other annoying sounds at the same time. Other problems like bad frets and hard to play instruments are a sure way to get discouraged fast. It is important to get these instruments checked by me with in a very short time after purchasing them. If a problem exists with the instrument you will be able to return it for an exchange with in the store's return policy. I get calls where people don't enroll for lessons until months or over a year after purchasing their instrument and then they are stuck with the problem.

 

3. One of the reasons I schedule the first lesson for an additional half hour is to check a students instrument. I don't charge for this extra time and want to help the student avoid the problem that some instruments will cause them. I don't want to give the impression that an instrument has to be expensive. Beginner acoustic and electric fretted instruments in the $175.00 to $325.00 will do the job if they don't have problems that will make it difficult to learn on. I have gotten students who have come in with old and beat looking instruments that play great or acceptable while other students have come in with expensive new ones that I would not want to play on.

 

4. When students have an instrument that has a problem and they have had it too long to return, I try to explain what the problem is and what the alternatives are. Some problems with fretted instruments can be used until the time it will hold up student progress. Others are an immediate problem that need to be dealt with right away and others can be adjusted somewhat or to a totally acceptable level. When the time comes that an instrument will hold up student progress, I will let the student play one of my instruments so they can see the difference in the way their instrument should play. I don't ever want to be in a position where a student will have a doubt about what I am saying. If the student doesn't play and the instrument is a problem right away, I will do my best to show them the difference between their instrument and my instrument.

 

5.I have had my share of arguments with manufacturers over the many years that I have been in the music business. In the process some where surprised to find out they had these problems and corrected what I pointed out. Others were very frustrated with my complaints even when they saw the problem. One supplier told me that if he was going to buy a guitar I would be the first person he would want to buy from, but then finished by telling me I was the last one he wants to sell to. I guess this was his way of showing me his respect and to get rid of me as a customer at the same time.

 

6. My intermediate to advanced students that go to concerts have mentioned that they are much more aware of what they were hearing and understood what the musicians were doing. The students were also more critical and had more opinions about the ability of the musicians they were watching.

 

7. Most amateur musicians cannot identify the key of a piece of music. They can't tell you how to transpose music to make it easier to sing, or to be able to work with keys to adapt to instruments in a different pitch ranges. They can't tell you the basic rules for making music more interesting. They don't really understand rhythm. They can't read or write music. In short they lack fundamental musical knowledge.

8. To make matters worse, today's musicians are using tablature notation more and more. For those that don't know what this is I will give you some details. It is a crude way to notate music. It is generally used for notating music for stringed instrument mostly like the guitar, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin etc. It is set up to look like a music staff, but the amount of lines used are for the amount of strings the instrument has. There will be five lines for instruments that have five strings like the five string banjo, six lines for a guitar that has six strings, and four lines for instruments that have four strings like the four string bass guitar, or mandolin or violin etc. Numbers are then placed on the lines to indicate the fret to play on each string.

 

I tell my students that you can learn to read music with the same effort you use to learn tab. I explain the flaws and missing notation needed to notate music correctly. Another problem is that you can't see the relationship between the notes in the measure and the chords above the measure. The visual harmonic relationship is missing. You are just looking at numbers. There is a tab notation for harmonica also. The main instruments that used tab prior to recent times were the harmonica and the five string banjo. These instruments were predominantly taught by tab. There were very little music and method books that taught it any other way.

 

When I have to teach these instruments, I teach them by both regular music notation and tab at the same time. I told my students I hope you are paying me to learn something about music in addition to the instrument. I point out if you learn how to read music you can apply it to any other instrument. I also remind them if you learn to play an instrument from me, learning another instrument will be a fraction of what it took to learn the first instrument. I point out you would just have to learn where the notes you already know how to read were on your new instrument. The musical terms theory etc. are all the same. The technique for the new instrument would be the only other thing to learn.

 

The main reason I see a student learning tab is that they can figure it out on their own with an instruction sheet. I read tab very well for all the instruments that this system is used for so I am able to make the educated comparisons. I tell my students I will teach it to them at a time I think it is appropriate. You can learn good ideas and licks from a crude notation like tab. I tell them it is the creative musical idea that is worth while, not the method used to notate it. You can learn an idea from hearing it, reading it from music, or tab etc. I explain nothing you learn goes to waste.

 

Around March 2005 I called to place a sheet music order with a very big music publisher. I got my regular customer service representative who handles the New Jersey area. I started to explain the kind of needs I wanted to fill. He started going over the list of things he wanted to suggest to me. As always I start asking about some of the contents and how the music is notated. To my amazement he had very little that he could offer me in regular music notation only. When the music is notated in both tab and regular music notation it takes up so much more space on the page and gets spread over more pages. I find this annoying. I asked him why this was and his answer was that the music stores kept asking for more and more in tab notation. I told him that I thought this was crazy. He said that he agreed with me and went on to explain that he has a university degree in music and specialized in woodwind instruments.

 

Another example that surprised me happened over the summer of 2005. I got a college student that went to school in Connecticut. He was taking guitar lessons from his college professor at the college but not as an accredited subject for over a year. He knew a decent amount of chords and had the appropriate dexterity for a student of a year plus. You could see he liked to play a lot, which is why he was physically in decent shape. The mental understanding of music was a totally different story. He could not read music, and did not know anything about keys, time signatures, rhythm notations, simple chord progressions, or anything that would help him figure anything out on his own. He could read the tab numbers but not the tab rhythms. This means that he would not be able to play what tab read unless he would know what the song sounded like. Even this would offer only a facsimile of the song. He was learning by rote like the majority of students I get from most any program in music. You can teach by rote using regular music notation, or from tab notation. The teachers expertise and dedication is what it takes to get students reading music notes and their rhythm correctly. After the ten lessons with me over the summer he was able to read basic music in simple rhythms, play the simple chord progressions in the most important keys, and play with better timing and a totally revamped technical approach to playing guitar with his hands.

 

 

I teach the:
Guitar | Bass | Piano | Violin | Trumpet | Flute | Clarinet | Saxophone | Viola | Cello | 4 -string Banjo |
5-string Banjo | Mandolin | Harmonica | Organ | Drums | Trombone | Flugelhorn | Cornet | Accordion | 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 11:00 PM. | Friday hours are 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM | Saturday hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. | Sunday hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 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