Hours and Fees

Lessons are $22.50 per 30 minute lesson paid at the beginning of the month by cash or check. An additional convenience fee is added to paypal purchases.

My schedule is constantly changing to suit the needs of my students but I currently have the following time slots available:
9:30, 12:00, 3:30, 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, 6:00
4:30, 6:00, 6:30

Call or email to schedule your lesson!
musiclessonsbymaggie@gmail.com 815-370-2655

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Summer Classes!

I hope everyone is as excited as I am with how close summer is!  I'm also excited to announce my summer classes have been finalized!  To see or print a copy of the flier, click here ==>  Summer Classes

If you are ready to register for the classes, click here ===> Registration Form

A couple notes though...  
  1. If you are registering and paying with cash or check you can drop it off by my house.
  2. If you are paying by mail please only pay with check.
  3. I just set up paypal which is on the left side of your screen. <===  You will need to EMAIL me the registration form so I know who is coming to the class.  Paypal has ADDITIONAL CONVENIENCE FEES associated with it.  If you don't want the fee, don't use paypal.  But if there is a problem with paypal please let me know as I just started using it today!

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Putting together group lessons


First, a reminder that next week, April 1-3, I am on vacation and am not hosting lessons.  Lessons will resume as usual on April 8th. 

We also have our first Master Classes coming up on April 12th.  The time is TBD still based on your schedules but will be 30-45 minutes long and each person will have an opportunity to sing or play something they are working on.

Group Lessons

I am in the process of putting together some group classes and would appreciate your input. 

Group lessons may include:
  • Theory Level 1 (any age)
  • Theory Level 2 (any age)
  • Beginner Guitar (7yo+)
  • Beginner Ukulele (7yo+)
  • General Music (4yo-7yo)
  • General Music  (7yo-10yo)
  • Choir  (9yo+)
I can only guess as to what people are interested in and what is convenient for your schedules.  I appreciate your feedback even if you are not interested in taking group lessons.  I also understand that even if you express interest in these lessons you may decide not to take them.  Regardless, your feedback is very valuable to me and I appreciate the time you take to help me offer well timed group lessons.

  1. If you, a family member, or a friend are interested in any of these classes, what classes are you interested in? 
  2. Are there any classes not listed you would like to see offered?
  3. Group lessons will most likely be 50 minutes long.  What day of the week and what time would fit into your schedule best?
  4. Should group lessons be offered all year long or just in summer?
  5. For guitar and ukulele, would you prefer to purchase your own instrument or pay an additional fee to rent one from me?
  6. For theory, would you prefer one lesson a week, two a week, or to come each day for one week which would finish the entire level?
In case you are wondering...
Theory will be following Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory.  It can be for a beginner or for someone in the middle of their book.  While the lesson time is done as a group, attention is given individually and each person can be at a different point. 
Guitar and Ukulele will be for people who have little to no knowledge of playing one of these instruments.  If you know a couple chords and a few notes, you will still learn a lot in these lessons and find this beginner level enjoyable.
General Music will be for any level of music knowledge.  The younger group will spend time each week exploring instruments, learning new songs, singing story books, and learning the basics of music theory.  The older group will do similar things but they will also learn to play one or more songs on the glockenspiel (what you would call a xylophone), ukulele, guitar, and piano.
Choir will be small and focus on proper technique.  We will learn a few songs in unison as well as a few with harmony.  The difficulty of the music will depend on those involved.  If enough people are interested, choir will be split into two groups based on ability to offer advanced students the opportunity of singing more challenging music.

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you think is interested!  I welcome any and all feedback!

Have a great day!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why read music? and a bit about Theory Lessons

"Why should I learn how to read music if I can already play my instrument?"

Whenever I hear a statement similar to that my instinct is to say "because you should" which isn't very profound or helpful.  The truth is that all dedicated musicians read some form of music notation but there is only one form that is clear, allows for intricate details, and translates across all languages. 

Reading tablature, chord charts, arrows going up and down, or single letters written out are all forms of music notation.  Literally they are all ways to write music so this could be confusing but I'm going to refer to the one on the staff as music notation for the purposes of this post.

Music notation is a language.  Each symbol means something different, just like letters.  When you string them together in different ways you create different sounds, just like words.  Just as it takes time to go from sounding out letters to reading novels, it takes time to go from reading notes to reading a score. 

TAB (tablature) is a really fast way to learn melodic lines on a guitar.  There is a line for each string and the number tells you the fret to play but it doesn't tell you the rhythm or the meter.  In order for you to know these things you need to listen to the music.  Plus, it doesn't readily translate to other instruments.  TAB as well as chord charts are readily available online for free.  Great!  Except very few people who make them can make them accurately so generally you learn the song incorrectly by reading them. 

You can always figure out the correct music yourself but that means you are limited to what you can currently hear.  This is called aural dictation which is a skill that takes time to learn and is substantially harder than reading music notation.  Teaching this skill I refer to it as ear training.

You may have noticed that all of these rely on either you or someone else listening to the music.  Aural dictation is an amazing skill and very important to being a good musician but if you rely on it you are constantly being held back from reaching your potential

Taking the time to learn how to read music notation will accelerate your playing.  You will know with certainty what you are playing or singing, will learn what you are hearing and how to notate it better (here's that aural dictation popping up again), will allow you to write it down such that someone else can read it or can play it on a different instrument, and so much more.  You will be a better musician if you can read music. 


Theory and composition lessons with me encompass a wide variety of possibilities.  They are the most flexible forms of lessons you can take and are formulated around your goals.  They are also easy to teach multiple students at the same time (I don't charge extra for the second person).

Theory and composition lessons could be for:
  1. The person who plays an instrument but doesn't know how to read the music.   (Even if I don't know how to play your instrument I can teach you to read music and what the notes are on your instrument).
  2. The person who plays and instrument and reads the music but doesn't understand more complex things like chord structures, cadences, modalities, etc.
  3. The person who needs help with ear training/aural dictation.
  4. The person who wants help learning how to sight read.
  5. The person who doesn't know how to write down their own ideas/compositions.
  6. The person going away to college to study music that wants to pass out of classes.  (In college you can take proficiency tests to show you already know the subject matter.  It allows you to free up time in college and saves a lot of money since college credits can cost over $1000 per credit and theory/ear training classes often are 3-4 credit classes). 
Whatever you are looking for, I will tailor lessons to your needs and since these lessons don't need to be every week to be beneficial you can save money by taking lessons only as often as you see fit. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Refer a friend and receive free lessons!

If you are currently a student of mine and you refer a friend for a free trial lesson, you receive $5 off just for having them come in.

If they sign up for lessons, you both get a free lesson after their 6th paid lesson.

There is no limit on how many friends you can refer!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Upcoming Recital

We have our (rescheduled) Winter recital coming up on February 1st!  For many students this will be their first performance but they have worked quite hard.  I'm looking forward to the event!

Anyone is welcome to attend so feel free to come on over!  

Winter Recital
Saturday February 1st at 11:00am
Crossroads Christian Church
1451 Black Road
Joliet, IL 60435

The recital will be approximately 30 minutes.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How often should I practice?

Anyone who practices will improve so even if you only practice a few times a week you will make progress.  However, if you practice daily you will improve daily.   Practicing is the most important part about learning music and the amount of time you spend practicing reflects your goals. 

If your goal is to slowly improve you should make sure you get three or four good practices a week (I'll explain what a good practice is below).  That is enough to make sure you are first keeping up any skills you have learned and to make some progress forward.

If your goal is to perform gigs on the side or have fun playing with your friends then you will want to practice more than that.  Your practices will also need to include time spend in front of a mirror or practicing with a microphone or amp or time spent playing with others.  While many musicians performing in bars don't need to practice regularly they already have put the time in and learned their instrument.  They already memorized the music.  You are trying to get to their level and need to put in more of an effort. 

If your goal is to be a performer, recording artist, composer, etc where you make all of your income from music you should be practicing even more.  You should practice daily.  You should practice warmups, scales, technique, old music, and new music every time.  You should spend time analyzing recordings of others as well as of yourself.  You should be researching what it takes to make it in your chosen field.  No one is going to hand you a job in any of these fields.  You must work for it.

I know I didn't tell you how often to practice but use your goal as a guide for yourself.  Life is about choices and how often you practice will determine what you can do with music.

What is a good practice?

It is more important to practice well than to spend a set amount of time practicing.  People who practice the same amount of time like it is a chore often are thinking about how much time they have left to sit there instead of what they are doing.  If you are not thinking about what you are doing you won't be able to improve it.  Focus your thoughts on what you are doing.

Typically you will need to spend time:
  • Warming up
  • Practicing Scales
  • Sight Reading
  • Reviewing older music (or an old section)
  • Learning new music (or a new section)
Some people will need to spend time:
  • Singing while dancing
  • Practicing with someone else
  • Specifically memorizing a piece
  • Singing while acting
  • Improvising

But mostly you need to spend time fixing problems.  

It does you no good to play the same song all the way through if you have one spot you play wrong every time.  Instead you need to focus on that one spot or any other spot that is a problem.

Let's say you can't sing the correct interval in measure 15.  Start by singing that interval with a pitched instrument.  Sing it over and over, record yourself, adjust your posture, take a better breath, bring the sound forward, sing it without the instrument, etc.  Sing it until you can sing it correctly 5 times in a row.  Now, add the next note or two after that interval.  Sing it over and over until you sing it correctly (again 5 times in a row).  Next add the note or two before that troublesome interval.  You repeat this process until you can sing it correctly with a full phrase before and after. 

Sometimes you won't fix it in one practice.  Many times you can fix the spot but then the next time you practice it is incorrect again.  This happens!  Every time it happens you need to go back to how you fixed it the first time.  Each day you will be able to fix it in less time than the day before.  Now if your problem is more about getting something like dynamics where you then need to apply the same thing you just fixed to multiple phrases then take each one at a time and fix each one before applying it to all of the phrases. 

Any way you look at it you need to think while you practice.  A person who puts thought into their practice will make more progress in less time than someone who is just going through the motions.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Benefits of Master Classes

Master classes are a type of group lesson.  Multiple students take turns playing or singing something they are working on in front of the other learners.  The listeners then comment on what they hear or see and the person who performed has a chance to try out any suggestions offered.

Benefit 1 - Eases Performance Anxiety

Master classes provide a low-stress environment for people who are not used to playing or singing in front of others.  Everyone knows that any piece is a work in progress and will not be perfect and everyone in attendance will take a turn in front.  This builds trust between the musicians making it easier to get in front.

Benefit 2 - A Place to Learn HOW to Perform

For many people their first experience playing or singing in front of others is at their recital.  They have one chance to perform and it would be rude to interrupt them to give a tip so they could restart.  With master classes, before a recital everyone will have a chance to perform as though it is the recital.  This allows the performer a chance to fix any errors and to restart.

Benefit 3 - Listening is Half the Battle

Being able to play or sing something well is all about being able to hear it and hearing music is so much more than listening to the radio.  By sitting in a master class the listener is able to hear how small changes affect the sound of the music.  They will hear how a change in posture affects the tone quality of a singer.  They will hear how playing forte changes the feeling of a piece.  They hear it better as an observer than when in their own lessons.

Benefit 4 - Critiquing Accelerates Learning

First off, critiquing is not criticizing.  Critiquing involves noticing what went well, what stays the same, and what needs improvement.  It involves offering suggestions for that improvement and never includes ignorant statements (ex: It just wasn't good).   More importantly though is the science behind critiquing.  When someone starts to critique another musician they become the teacher.  They need to think deeper and try harder to notice the details that go into the music.  A student can learn more while critiquing for 10 minutes than they learn in a week of practicing (although practicing is essential)!

Benefit 5 - Self Reflection Accelerates Learning

When students are spending this time critiquing they learn to reflect on what works well for them.  Also, after seeing a suggestion work on another learner, they may try it next time they practice.  A reflective musician puts more thought into their practicing and lessons.  They learn music at an accelerated speed.

Benefit 6 - Other Learners Inspire Growth

All musicians go through a phase where they do not feel much like practicing but hearing what practicing does for another person often inspires individuals to practice harder.  And for those who think they will never be good, seeing the improvement that another person makes from week to week is a strong motivator.  Plus, it can be difficult to only hear people who have mastered their craft.

Benefit 7 - Making Friends with Similar Interests and Positive Influences

Especially with all of the technology around, how easy it is to watch a favorite show, how easy it is to play 6 different games in a night, and how easy it is to be distracted from practicing it is hard to find friends for yourself or for your children who are a good influence on practicing.

For children, staying the night at a friend's house may mean they do not have a chance to practice.  But what if that other child plays too?  They may spend time playing together!  Or, that other parent may offer to have both children spend time practicing or that is something you could offer to anyone staying the night!  Children who grow up with a friend who is also a musician learn so much from each other. 

For adult learners it can be hard to find musicians with similar interests that you can create music with.  There are people out there looking for a jam session, looking to form a jazz group, looking to play duets, and way more but finding people in area near your skill level can be very hard.  Plus, as an adult you have so many more distractions from practicing that it can be very hard to make the time.  Spending a little time playing with others, even once a month, helps to give adults a reason to make practicing a priority.

Meeting only once a month for master classes means developing a friendship may take quite some time but the influence of having friends with similar interests makes a huge difference in how much of a priority practicing becomes.

When students participate in master classes they learn so much more than can be covered in private lessons it is hard to understand why so few teachers offer them.  Wouldn't all teachers want to see their students grow so fast?