The Greg Madison Music Studio teaches students from 5-years old through adults of all ages and beginners through professional levels of learning. I have been fairly successful with students that haven't done well in the past as well as with learning disabled and slow learning students. Visit our testimonial page to see what our students and/or parents have to say.
The studio is located in Bergenfield, NJ and students have come from the entire Metropolitan Area. Our studio is one of the best equipped studios around. We have a selection of high end, top of the line, professional music software and also many types of audio, visual and electronic equipment. See our Studio page for more detailed information.
Private one on one instruction on the piano are offered in the studio with home lessons also available. Group theory and jam classes are also available for those students that are ready for them. All aspects of music will be taught, including technique, theory, harmony, improvising, arranging, music transcription, reading, music writing, rhythm, ear training and more....
The piano is still one of the most diverse instruments. I tell my students that the piano is like two instruments. The left hand could be looked at like one instrument and the right hand like a second but you can also combine these two instruments to get other possibilities Technically a percussive and solo instrument, the piano is capable of producing the most beautiful sound of any of the instruments.
The piano can be played with the melody in the right hand and chords, such as block chords or broken chords, in the left hand. The left hand can also play the bass notes like the bass guitar. You can play the chords with melody in the right hand (chord solos) and still play chords in various other ways. These possibilities exist in all the various styles.
The musical styles taught are rock, blues, funk, R&B, rockabilly, jazz, classical, folk, country, bluegrass, reggae, gospel, Latin, Brazilian style, broadway, pop, and more!
The difference between a teacher that teaches classical music only and a teacher that can also improvise in addition to their classical ability.
Most of the lesson material would be the same for any style of music. The difference is that a classical player will use the material learned (scales, arpeggios, chords, ornaments, and technical exercises etc). differently. Both classical and improvisational musicians get the same benefits and skills developed from the scales, arpeggios, etc. Learning this material would develop strength, coordination, flexibility, speed, and knowledge of the instrument. Doing these things with the right technique will allow a player to have more control of their sound and what they want to play. A player who has developed the correct technique has the ability to get a nice long sustained, connect, smooth, pretty sound. The player who has not mastered the right techniques with all the lesson materials learned would get a short, choppy sound with a break in sound between note(s). An accomplished player could also get the short, choppy or any other sound or variation that they wanted to create but it will not be because they did not have the right technique, it would be because the player chose to play what they wanted to play and hear.
The difference of how the classical musician and the musician that can also improvise differ.
The classical player will use the skills they learned to be proficient to play classical, show tunes, or any other pre written music by music composers.
The accomplished musician who can improvise can also play the pre written music of composers. In addition they can also play the songs in an unlimited amount of different ways each time using the same scales, arpeggios chords as the classically trained musician. This type of musician could also use their improvising skills for any other styles and variations of rock, blues, R & B, jazz, Latin, country, bluegrass and show tunes. I Play all these styles, so the sky is the limit for what I want to play and hear at any moment. It just gives a player so many more options to create interest, excitement, and the desire to want to play your instrument a lot more. All these options make me a practice robot who just loves to play. These options give a player the ability to create more interest, excitement, and pleasure for anyone who would listen as well.
Possible reasons why students don't study the art form of improvising.
- People are not as familiar with improvisation as much as classical training which was popular long before the improvised styles that we know of today.
- Classical lessons go back to family roots and tradition for a long time.
- Students or their parents are not comfortable with the unknown.
- A student is more comfortable with a sheet of music which is a know factor that they just have to follow.
- Students or their parents are not secure in their or their child's creative ability.
- Only a few percentage of teachers teach an improvised style, so they are harder to find.
- Students or their parents are not familiar with how to go about finding a teacher that teaches one of the improvised styles of music.
For students who want to learn how to improvise, it is so important to find a teacher who is very skilled at teaching the improvisational style and who has the patience to work with them. I have never had a student that was ever taught how to improvise no matter how many prior years of lessons they had. This is true for all the other instruments I teach as well.
When I get new students with prior music background I will ask them many questions to find out what they know. Then I ask them to show me how they do some of these things. Most times in about 7 minutes, I will know where we have to start. At some point in the first week to 4 weeks the scale discussion will probably comes up, for most students 12 and older. It could be later for younger students. Most of the students will show me that they know one or more scales. At that point I will play the same scale(s) with them on one of the guitars or another piano also in the studio. I will play this scale with them several times so they can see and hear that I am doing the same thing they are doing. Then I will say " watch what I am going to do with that scale." After I improvise with the same scale we did together in a jazz, blues, or a rock style, they are in disbelief that I am playing the same scale. I ask them again if they want to play the scale with me again, so they can watch where I am playing and can see that I am in the same place doing the same thing they are. Some students want me to do the demonstration over again. Most all students are generally shocked at what I did with the scale. Now we will discuss this some more until they get a rough understanding of what was just done. A demo like this will motivate most students to want to work on the scales and learn how to use them like I demonstrated. When my method books are finished there will be some basic riff type lessons in the first and second books. They will use basic scales, and different rhythms. Most will be set up with the guitar and bass guitar parts included. There will be additional books that go into all kinds of music styles, advanced improvising and other subject matter later.
Some more interesting facts about improvising styles.
Asian families are very big on their children learning classical piano and violin. Also very interesting is that Jazz musicians are very popular in Japan and other countries. Various friends have told me many times that they get the biggest reception from the Japanese than anywhere else they perform. This is why I am so surprised that only a few percentage of the Japanese study an improvised style on piano or violin. I would have thought more of them would want to learn this style in addition to or in place of classical lessons. As I have mentioned I play all most all the styles of music. I am not into rap as an example. If someone wanted me to teach it to them that I would, but I just would not enjoy it because of the constant repetitive rhythms.