"Surya is a thoughtful, terrific teacher and wonderful human being. He was well prepared for the lesson, and ready to meet me exactly where I was at. I left my lesson feeling inspired, excited, and ready for more!"
Voice lessons are fun and well-paced, keeping young people engaged in the process. Lessons include visual tools, body movement, encouragement and positive reinforcement, age appropriate songs, ear-training and more.
Voice lessons begin with fun exercises to wake up the body, loosening the pelvic muscles and opening the muscles in the torso, chest, neck and face. This includes some movement to get the heart-rate and breath going. Posture is an important part of singing, and the student learns to check their own singing posture to see if it is in alignment.
This is followed by breath work. Singing is basically making sound on an exhale. Students learn about the action of the diaphragm, how to build good breathing habits, how to lengthen the exhale and build stamina.
After working on breathing, we move to making sound with air support, using "the Siren" (sweeping up and down the student’s range). Moving to the piano, Surya takes the voice through exercises in stepwise motion. Exercises include the trill, slides, and legato and stacato sounds. Different vowels are introduced here, with different consonants added as well (such as Mee, May, Mah, Moh, and Moo).
Once the voice has been warmed up, lessons includes learning Solfege(movable Do) with accompanying hand gestures. This teaches young singers how to identify the notes of a scale in a fun way.
Singing involves articulating sounds that differ somewhat from normal speaking articulation, so students learn fun tongue twisters to get their lips and tongue muscles working.
Following articulation, the student learns a song. The song is broken down into different musical parts: the scale and key, the vowels and consonants, the rhythm and other elements such as dynamics, legato vs stacato, and breath management.
Surya writes down what was done in the lesson, and the student goes home with plenty to practice for the next week.
Stretching/movement, Posture check - 5 min
Breath work - 5 min
Sigh, Siren, and Exercises - 10 min
Solfege and Articulation - 5 min
Song - 5 min
Total time = 30 min, three or more times in a week.
Surya uses The Full Voice curriculum, as well as material from The Contemporary Singer by Anne Peckham, Singing Lessons for Little Singers by Frankenbehler, Hoffman Music Academy and Faber Music Theory.
Piano lessons include learning scales, music theory, reading and writing music notation, ear-training, chords, songs and more.
Students start with posture at the piano, finger power, finger numbers, high and low sounds, and call and response. Melodies are played in both left and right hands, as well as together. Students learn to identify all the notes on the piano. Lessons include hand-over-hand warm-ups, note identification games and dictation. Student learn to sing the melodies they play, using note names, solfege, and rhythm language.
Students learn to read notes on the Grand Staff, to identify and understand rhythmic notation, and how to write the notes themselves. Students learn to improvise in different modes, beginning with the C major pentascale, or to improvise with different set rhythms that they compose themselves.
Surya uses visual, kinesthetic, vocalization and listening tools. Students learn to hear melodic patterns and rhythmic patterns and to reproduce them on the piano or on musical staff paper. Each song a student learns contains particular challenges that build the student's skill level, which in turn prepares them to learn their next song.
Surya uses the Hoffman Academy resources and Faber piano books.
Many students take Beginning Piano in conjunction with voice lessons or drum lessons.
These lessons will give you the tools to be a solid and creative drummer, to practice daily and also to have fun with the instrument. Lessons include stick technique, limb coordination, beats, and playing the drums with musicality. You will learn diverse styles, fills and solo development, how to read music and drum charts, and how to groove.
Drum lessons usually begin with some call and response to wake up the ears. This is followed by stick control work, learning singles, doubles, paradiddles, flams, closed rolls and other rudiments. After working on stick control, students work on independence between the hands and the bass drum. This is called coordination work because you are learning to do at least 2 different things at once. Students learn to sing rhythms as well as play them.
After coordination work, students works on drum beats, usually involving three parts(hi-hat, snare, and bass drum). Once the student can play the beat steadily and repeatedly, we add a fill to the beat. This introduces the idea of soloing on the drums and using the rudiments we learned in Stick Control.
Finally, the student learns a beat to a song, along with breaks, fills, intros etc, and plays along with the song in the studio. The song teaches the student how to play in an ensemble and understand the role of the drums. It also teaches them tempo, dynamics, and how to mark the form of a song. Many of these songs are classics and become part of the student’s repertoire.
Once the student has become comfortable coordinating three limbs(HiHat, Snare and Bass), Surya introduces using the left foot as a fourth limb. This coordination is more advanced and is the beginning of studying jazz rhythms, latin rhythms and more complicated funk beats. The student's repertoire will expand to include songs with odd meters, songs with cross-cultural influences(such as reggae, african or latin), and transcribing beats. Students will also learn to play longer solos, including trading fours and eights, as well as reading big band charts.
General Suggested Drum Practice Outline for younger students(Older students just double or triple the amount of time spent on each subject):
Stick Control (Hand work) - 5 min
Syncopation (Coordination work) - 5 min
Funky Primer (Beats with Fills) - 5 min
Song - 5 min
Total time = 20 min; three or more times in a week
Surya uses the books Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone, Syncopation For the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed, and A Funky Primer by Charles Dowd as the main instruction books. In addition, more advanced students will use Master Studies by Joe Morello and the All-American Drummer by Charles Wilcoxon.
More information to come...
Surya teaches West African rhythms on the djembe, as well as rhythms adapted from around the world. Instruction includes learning the different tones on the djembe such as bass, tone, and slap; using music books such as Syncopation for the Modern Drummer and Djembe Method by Paul Jennings; playing along with recordings; and improvising or soloing. Students will learn popular West African rhythms such as Kuku, Yankidi and Denadon, and adaptations of Middle-eastern rhythms(i.e. ayoub, malfouf), Brazilian rhythms(baiao, samba, samba-reggae), American rhythms(funk, church, 12/8), and more. Surya uses the book Djembe Method by Paul Jennings.
Surya is amazing in so many different ways. Not only is a great musician but his patience as a teacher is beyond my comprehension. Our 7 year old son started by learning drums 1.5 years ago and fell in love. After about 8 months, Surya suggested adding piano and it has been a grand success. He has made learning rhythm, reading music and playing both instruments so much fun. Now my very shy 5 year old who has started singing lessons with Surya and it has been so delightful to see her blossom both in her ability to understand pitch and notes but more importantly in her willingness to take risk and her confidence in herself. Surya has just made her so comfortable, even in virtual classes during SIP, that she looks forward to her lesson and giggles and jumps up and down with excitement as her lesson starts. She's excited to sing to him and with him and we never imagined they would have such lovely a relationship. We feel so lucky to have found Surya and are so grateful to how much he cares about our kids. He has instilled in them a love for music that is priceless.
Cool person teaching some great vocal lessons for my 6year old. He builds a good rapport with the kid so that the kid can feel comfortable and rest is all focused learning using fun ways. Definitely recommend anyone who wants to get into the world of music and singing.
I loved and miss my drum lessons with Surya. Hoping to go back soon. He is a professional, skilled, warm, patient man. Our first lesson he assessed what I wanted to work on and what my skill level was, and tailored my lessons thoughtfully in a methodical way. He was always prepared and is a very experienced teacher. I have taken drum lessons with others and none had the teaching chops or were as professional, thoughtful and organized as Surya. I give him the highest recommendation.
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