Helpful tips and funny thoughts from a musician's mind

Tag: reflection

My Learning Allegro Story: Miss Haleigh

My Learning Allegro Story: Miss Haleigh

Miss Haleigh shares her Learning Allegro journey with us in this last blog post of 2018. The last week of December is an interesting paradox. Within the span of a week, we go from celebrating the past to cheering on the future. Christmas is all about […]

Thankfulness at Learning Allegro

Thankfulness at Learning Allegro

One of the best parts of November is the chance to slow down and think about the blessings in our lives. Life, even with all of its pitfalls and hurdles, leaves us with so much to appreciate. We just wanted to share a few of […]

A Year in Review: Learning Allegro

A Year in Review: Learning Allegro

Learning Allegro has been blogging for a whole year! Here’s what happened since last October.

 


 

Since the Learning Allegro blog has now been active for a full year (woohoo!), we’d like to take a minute to look back on everything that has transpired since last October.

 

1. WE STARTED A BLOG. Let’s go with the obvious first. Blogging lets us connect with our families and friends beyond the studio. It’s also like a real-time scrapbook, in some ways! We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our venture into the blogosphere this year, and we plan to keep on flooding your feed with great musical content.

 

2. NEW STUDENTS. We’ve seen our student population grow–and with that growth, we’ve seen a great new diversity in the types of instruments and musical styles being taught in our building. Thank you for helping us make Learning Allegro a bigger family!

 

3. NEW TEACHERS. Where would we be without them? In the last twelve months, we brought new guitar, voice, piano, woodwind, and drum teachers on staff. Each one brings something special to the studio and clearly loves what they do. We’re so blessed to have awesome teachers under our roof!

 

4. GROUP CLASSES. We started a group strings class this year, which has been great (shout out to Miss Amanda!). We’ve also seen group guitar and rock band classes take center stage.

 

5. ART! The people have spoken: art at Learning Allegro is a huge hit! Budding artists of all ages have composed their own creative works under the skilled eye of Miss Sarah. Our walls are getting full of paintings, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

6. OUR LIVE MUSIC BUSINESS TOOK OFF. This year, we started a live music group for special events. We never dreamed it would take off so quickly–but WOW, were we busy! Allegro Music played for a small army of events, including weddings, memorial services and corporate dinners. We also became the preferred musicians for several venues in the PA and New Jersey region. (Thank you!)

 

7. WE VOLUNTEERED. We played at local festivals, farmers markets, in pits for community theatres, and volunteered at a local elementary school’s talent show. We love doing our part to make the community more musical and cohesive.

 

8. WE HAD TWO GREAT RECITALS. See videos at the bottom of this post!

 

9. WE DISCOVERED THAT MUSIC IS AWESOME. Okay, this one is a freebie…but seriously. This is a discovery that we make every day at the studio. Every time a student aces that “impossible” song, or one of our teachers creates something awesome, we realize how blessed we are to be on this crazy ride as a music school.

 

 

 

2017-18 was a year of real growth for Learning Allegro, and we can’t wait to keep growing right alongside the rest of the Chester County region. Thanks for being part of our family!

 

To learn more about Learning Allegro, visit our website

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

FAQs about Renting an Instrument

Renting an instrument for the first time? Here’s what you need to know!   If the idea of renting an instrument stresses you out, take a deep breath! When you have the right help, renting is actually an easy process and comes with LOTS of […]

How a summer camp helped me see the FUN in violin lessons

How a summer camp helped me see the FUN in violin lessons

In last week’s post, I said that I did not start playing violin in a community-oriented way until I had been in private lessons for thirteen years. That’s a partial truth. My middle school and high school did not have onsite music programs, so until […]

Thoughts from above a stage

Thoughts from above a stage

This week, Miss Haleigh shares a little bit about the important role music plays in live theatre. 

 


 

This spring, a number of the Learning Allegro teachers, myself included, have been playing in the pit for local theatres. If you’re not familiar, “playing in the pit” is a term we use to describe a small, live orchestra that plays for the actors in musical. Normally, pit musicians are literally seated in a pit in front of the stage, but that’s not always true. My “pit” for Titanic: the Musical at SALT Performing Arts was actually in a recording booth above the stage.

I’ve played in orchestras and wedding quartets before, but this was my first experience playing in a pit for live theatre. Here are a few of my observations.

 

MUSIC IS IMPORTANT. LIKE, SUPER IMPORTANT.

I often tell my Learning Allegro students that language is largely effective because of its musicality. I can say something as simple as “Yes, mom!” with many different tones behind it…and in my younger years, some of those tones might even have gotten me grounded! How we say something is often just as important as what we say.

Playing for a live show really underscores the musicality of simple speech (pardon the pun). It gives the actors an idea of what emotions to put into their words, and it gives the audience a framework for interpreting the mood of the story.


LIVE MUSICIANS HAVE A TOUGH JOB. 

While the actors are delivering lines onstage, the pit musicians might have to speed up, slow down, or repeat segments of music to accommodate the speed of the actors’ conversations. The orchestra has to stay attuned to what’s happening onstage and be prepared for sudden changes.

In a normal orchestra setting, the music is the main event; in a pit, the story is the main event. That means the role of a pit musician is much more interactive than that of an orchestra violinist. You have to stay flexible and make sure the emphasis stays on the actors — all while playing beautifully.

FORMAL MUSICAL TRAINING HAS FAR MORE APPLICATIONS THAN MOST PEOPLE REALIZE.

Playing in the pit has reminded me how many ways a trained musician can truly use his or her skills. When we think of violinists, flutists, or cellists, we normally associate them with classical orchestras. We sometimes fail to remember that classical training will benefit a musician in tons of different performance situations. Wedding quartets need trained musicians. Pit orchestras need trained musicians. Cruise ships, black tie formals, big-shot recording artists, film scores, and even simple, local functions need trained musicians.

When we put our kids in private violin or piano lessons, I think we fail at times to remind them that their talents have applications beyond school band — applications that are fun and exciting! Which leads me to number four…

PLAYING IN A PIT ENCOURAGES COMMUNITY.

As a kid who grew up in music lessons, I almost never heard about community-oriented ways I could use my instrument. My middle and high schools did not have an onsite arts program. I took private lessons for 13 years before I ever got a chance to play in a group setting. And I have a feeling that many young students today have a similar experience. They know music academically, but have no idea how much fun it can be in a group setting.

In three short weeks of playing at SALT, our orchestra pit has become full of inside jokes, hilarious mishaps (that the actors hopefully didn’t hear!), and a general sense of community I never expected. I hope my students find that musical experience earlier in their careers than I did!

 


Thankfully, kids don’t have to wait until they’re orchestra-ready to see the community side of music. Sign your child up for a summer camp. Look into a youth orchestra. When your child insists that there’s nothing to do, encourage him to go write a song. There are many ways that you can convince your child to see music as fun and interactive. No pit required!

Learning Allegro offers fun, interactive summer camps for musicians of all ages. For more information, visit our main website

Don’t be the 40 percent!

Don’t be the 40 percent!

Here’s a discouraging fact: although many of us will make “new year resolutions” in 2018, about 22 percent of those resolutions will fail within a week. In a month, that number will have doubled to 40 percent. We imagine it continues to go downhill from […]

Some presents don’t fit under the tree

Some presents don’t fit under the tree

If you’ve managed to pull out of your Thanksgiving food coma, congratulations! You’ve come to your senses just in time for everyone’s favorite month-long shopping spree — that dreaded stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least there’s Christmas music on every radio station. That should […]

Confessions of a former bad student: how group music took the “FRIGHT” out of me

Confessions of a former bad student: how group music took the “FRIGHT” out of me

“Confessions of a Former Bad Student” is a series by Miss Haleigh — Learning Allegro teacher, orchestra violinist, and former bad student.


I never celebrated Halloween growing up. I went trick-or-treating exactly twice in my life: once when I was two (my parents, kind souls, ate the candy on my behalf) and once when I was fourteen (when my parents felt badly for eating my candy and sent me out into the world to get my own).

 

I was never big on the whole “getting scared” thing. Halloween and horror movies sounded like as much fun as an appendectomy.

 

But whether you’re two or two hundred, the world is full of frightening things. For me, as a former bad student, one of those frightening things was…wait for it…recitals.

 

Growing up, I was incredibly self-conscious whenever I had to play violin or piano for another person. I honestly can’t explain why. Looking back, I think part of it was that I was always incredibly eager to please–and as any parent or teacher can tell you, the violin does NOT sound pleasing at first. Between bad practice habits and my own self-consciousness, recitals were torture.

 

Even lessons were awful at times. In high school, I switched violin instructors, and at my first lesson with that teacher, I literally cried. And I was a teenager. Talk about embarrassing! (You can verify this story with Wendy, the founder of Learning Allegro; she was that teacher. And she’s not at all scary.)

 

I started private violin lessons when I was four years old. I switched teachers four or five times and played in a number of recitals. But many of those recitals weren’t exactly fun.

 

But believe it or not, after a few years, I did ditch the stage fright. And learning to play with a group was a big part of that change.

 

During my junior year of high school, Wendy encouraged me to audition for a local youth orchestra. Since my school didn’t have a music program, I had had very little experience playing in groups, but I decided to give it a shot.

 

The fear factor definitely came with me to auditions. My hands were shaking so much that the conductor stopped me and asked if I was okay. But somehow, I made the cut–and at that first rehearsal, I totally fell in love with playing in groups.

 

Instead of focusing on the soloists, orchestra focused on the unit. We were taught to listen for each other and to play our parts well while remaining sensitive to the dozens of other melodies happening around us. I made great friends who also loved music–some with way more talent than me and some who were just getting started in the music world.

 

But most importantly, playing in a group gave me, the shy musician, a chance to fade into the background and actually take in the music.

 

Private lessons were great, but the focus was always Haleigh front and center. Orchestra wasn’t about me; it was about playing something beautiful and working together to make it sound great.

 

Today, I continue to play in a local orchestra. I’ve been a member of Immaculata Symphony for seven seasons, and it continues to be something I truly enjoy. I also play in a number of other settings, including for weddings and at my church–and yes, I play alone.

 

And the best part is, as I grew more comfortable in my group setting, I stopped “getting scared” of performing solo. Playing in a group gave me a new appreciation for music itself–and now, instead of thinking of people staring at me, I can play for my own enjoyment, no matter who is watching or who is standing beside me.


AT LEARNING ALLEGRO, WE OFFER GROUP CLASSES FOR ALL AGES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE.