Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Marsalis on Practice

I would say that from the time I was age 6 to 12, I would go to these different teachers, and when I would come home I would tell my Daddy, "Well they didn't really teach me anything because they told me I have to practice to be good and I know I need to practice already so what do I need a teacher for?"    -Wynton Marsalis

This seemed like a great follow up to my last post on the importance of practice. These quotes and the video are from one of my favorite musicians, Wynton Marsalis. My Grandpa gave me a tape of Wynton's Carnaval album when I was 12 or 13. I was hooked. It still blows me away today. Then I discovered he was also a jazz musician. I couldn't understand how one guy could be so talented. Wynton's dedication to music education is also admirable. These quotes are coming from a guy who is one of the best in the world at what he does and is willing to teach others how to get there. Take a couple minutes to watch. 

"Three hours will allow you to cover all aspects of playing, but 45-60 minutes is enough for one sitting. The quality of the practice is more important than the length of time it takes." -Wynton Marsalis

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Maintaining a Practice Log

I recently found this graphic and thought it summed things up well for the musician!
Practice is a key part of being a musician. In fact, if you want to do anything well it's all about putting the time into it. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of the "10,000-Hour Rule" in his book Outliers. The 10,000-Hour Rule is based on a study by Anders Ericsson of chess players and how many hours they spent playing the game to achieve the grandmaster level.
...cognitively complex activities take many years to master because they require that a very long list of situations and possibilities and scenarios be experienced and processed.
Gladwell says that from the Beatles to Bill Gates it took a combination of natural aptitude and 10,000 hours of practice/experience to reach greatness. There's a great article on newyorker.com by Gladwell where he discusses this further. Here's the link - Complexity and the 10,000-Hour Rule.

This 10,000-Hour Rule is easily transferred to learning an instrument. How do we make sure we are getting our time in though? One of my new favourite quotes, and I'm not sure who said it, is "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Well, I don't want to plan to fail and I certainly don't want that for any of my students.

Maintaining a practice log is a great plan for tracking your progress and time. I put one together for my students and wanted to make it available to anyone else who may find it useful. I usually talk with my students about a weekly goal of how many minutes they think they can practice each week. A great starting point is 100 minutes which works out to 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Each person will have different goals and different amounts of time they are willing or able to commit to their instrument. A log helps us to see what needs to be done to reach our weekly goals. If you just want to know how to play the instrument and have some fun, 100 minutes a week works great. If you want to hit the 10,000 hour mark at some point in your life you will need to increase that. 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for over 19 years should do the trick!

Should you be practicing right now?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The C Clef

Many people have asked me about my logo and what it means. It is essentially a C clef mirrored. You may ask what is a C clef and who uses it anyway?

Most of us are familiar with the treble clef and the bass clef. These are the two clefs used by anyone learning to play the piano and by most instruments used in school band programs. Each clef has a note name associated with it, for example, the treble clef was historically called the G clef and the bass clef was called the F clef. Those names are hardly used today. The notes associated with the names determine where to find those notes on the staff. For instance, the two dots of a bass clef are on either side of the line we call F, thus F clef. If that clef was moved to a new line that line would then become F. It is very rare today for the bass clef to be moved.

If you are looking at the image of the C clef pictured above, I bet you can guess which line we are to call C. Take a look. Got it? It's the middle line. The exact middle of the clef. In this position the C clef is known as the alto clef and is typically used by violas. If the clef is moved up one line we then call it the tenor clef. The tenor clef is used by the bassoon, cello, euphonium, double bass, and trombone. 

As we worked on a logo we played with a few different musical symbols and just loved how this one turned out. Plus, there may as well be an opportunity to learn something even just from looking at a logo!


p.s. more info on clefs can be found here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bio & Testimonials

Glenn Lavender is best known for his time spent playing bass and trumpet for Nashville-based recording artists Downhere. Downhere recorded 11 studio albums, toured North America and Europe for 14 years and was the recipient of four Juno Awards, one Dove Award, and many others. Since 2012 Glenn has made his home in Williamsburg and has contibuted his musical talents to the Williamsburg Community Chapel leading worship and the praise team. Glenn studied jazz trumpet at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario and has been teaching between gigs ever since.


"Do I have trumpet lessons again today? I wish I had trumpet every day!"
- John, Age 9

"Thanks for making my dream become a reality!"
- Natalie, Age 19 (guitar)

"As a first time guitar player I was unsure of my ability to learn.  Glenn has made learning fun and exciting.  He is a tremendous resource for those looking to learn or improve their playing."
- Matt, Adult (guitar)

Lesson Info


Lessons are available as one-on-one private lessons or in classes of 3 to 10 students. 

There are many benefits to learning in a class setting. Students learn how to play together which improves their overall musicianship. Students learn from each other and are propelled forward by seeing the success of their peers. Group lessons are also much more cost effective!
Length: 60 min
Cost: $25/lesson
Note: If there are not enough students to form a class I offer a reduced-rate 30-minute private lesson at $30 until enough students are available.

Private Lesson
Private lessons offer a personalized focused experience that cater to the needs of the student. These are also available by Skype if you do not live in the Williamsburg area.
Length: 30 min
Cost: $35/lesson

See bottom of this page for tuition payment info.

Guitar - Acoustic, Classical, Electric
Lessons and classes will be crafted around each student's ability. Students will learn or improve how they read and understand notes, rhythms, musical symbols and chords. They will also work on strumming and fingerpicking styles, scales, reading tablature, classical technique and much more! 

Bass Guitar - Acoustic, Electric
Lessons and classes will be crafted around each student's ability. Students will learn or improve how they read and understand notes, rhythms, musical symbols and chords. They will also work on common bass lines, patterns and rhythms, scales, reading chord symbols, tablature and much more!

Brass - Trumpet, Baritone
Crafted around each student's ability these lessons and classes will help the student who is just beginning or the student who is prepping for college auditions. Students will learn to read music, have proper playing and breathing technique, major, minor, and chromatic scales, how to play melodically and much more.

Music Theory - Preliminary, Advanced
In these lessons and classes students will learn notes and pitch, time values, rhythm, major and minor scale construction, intervals, chords, transposition and much more. Advanced lessons are available where the student will learn basic chord construction, modes of the major and minor scales, basic substitution, voicing, polychord nomenclature and much more.

Tuition Payment Info

Tuition payments are due at the beginning of each month, and reserve a weekly lesson time. Students will receive an invoice by email where payment can be made online by credit card or through a bank transfer. Checks brought to the lesson should be made out to "Glenn Lavender." Notification of inability to attend a lesson is a courtesy to the teacher but does not excuse payment. THERE ARE NO CREDITS OR REFUNDS FOR STUDENT ABSENCES. Therefore, there is no reduction in tuition for a missed lesson. Make-up lessons may be available at the discretion and availability of the teacher. Monthly tuition may be adjusted for vacations with a minimum of 2 weeks notice to the teacher. Students wishing to discontinue lessons must notify their teacher at least 24 hours before the next scheduled lesson. Lessons will be charged until notice is received. Please note that if the teacher finds it necessary to cancel a lesson that is already paid, the lesson credit will be applied to the student's next unpaid lesson. The same policy applies to lessons cancelled due to inclement weather.