The other day I was cruising You Tube, and I’m amazed at all the wonderful tutoring being offered for free.

I don’t think there’s  a topic not covered on how to do what ever  subject  you’re interested in. Naturally, I’m always viewing  musical instruction videos.   I’ve learned many things  from watching master musicians like, Eddie Daniels and Tom Ridenhauer, giving all sorts of tips related to clarinet playing, and reed adjusting.

While all these instructional videos are quite helpful, nothing takes the place if sitting with a private teacher. With a private teacher, you’re getting  a lesson designed just for you.

A private teacher can monitor your progress, and guide you in the right direction, and help you with any problems with playing that are unique to you. A private teacher can help you with music reading, theory, what instrument to buy or rent. He or she can inspect the instrument you’re currently playing to see if it’s functioning properly, or simply answer any questions you may have.

A private teacher can help you prepare for a performance, audition, provide encouragement, play duets!

The online videos are a terrific supplement to what you’re learning with a private teacher.

Nothing takes the place of the special  relationship that develops with a private teacher and student. While not every teacher is right for every student, when you do find the right teacher, your progress and enjoyment of learning and playing is something that no online video can provide.

















It’s almost October, the piano lessons have started, but that piano does not sound as sweet as it could.

The piano needs a Fall tuning! The mornings are getting cooler, soon the heat will  be turned on. All these temperature changes effect the tuning stability of your piano, which effect the sound quality.

The more frequent the tuning, the more tuning stability between tunings.

Call me today and lets set up an appointment for a tuning!



My band featuring Adam Fleischer on trumpet is playing at Swing City Cambridge.

Saturday night Feb 28th.

West Cambridge Youth Center 680 Huron Ave Fresh Pond/Cambridge

Our music is pure swing, and all instrumental. We play the great American song book.

There’s a dance lesson then we play. For more information follow this link.

Here are some of my favorite musicians in performances

Published on Sep 12, 2013

The Great Jam Session – 1958: Cozy Cole – Coleman Hawkins – Roy Eldridge – Johnny Guarnieri – Carol Stevens – Barry Galbraith – Milton Hilton & the dancing Doormen & Waiter……
Coleman Hawkins – then Roy Eldridge steps in…coincidentally Carol Stevens walks in and joins the band..
The Waiter and the Doormen begin to dance…
More Videos here at DRUMMERWORLD:


Lester Young &Coleman Hawkins 1958


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Listening is Learning

One of the most  important and enjoyable methods of learning an instrument is often the simplest; listening to  master musicians playing the instrument that the student is learning.   This allows the student to hear how the instrument is supposed to sound in a variety of musical contexts..  When I am teaching, one of my methods is to always play for and with the student.

I ask students to tell me “What made them decide to play that particular instrument?”  Most students will say, ” Because it looked easy to carry.”  Although this may be true for the flute and clarinet players, the reasons I prefer to hear are, ” I heard someone playing the instrument and I liked the sound.”

Learning an instrument is very much like learning to speak a language. As you listen to the spoken words  you start to imitate the sounds and tones that you are hearing.  Imagine trying to learn to speak a language  only  from a book, without ever hearing pronunciation, articulation, expression, or tone.  The same principles apply to music.

I recommend that  parents play music in the house of various instruments in orchestral settings such as classical orchestras, big band swing orchestras and jazz combos. Play the music in the background without saying a word and see what questions and reactions this prompts.  You Tube is  a treasure trove of vintage and contemporary performers.

We live in a time when  everyone seems to be locked away in their own musical  worlds via ear buds.  Music used to be a  shared experience.  Take your children to concerts, live  musicals and high school band productions.

With the advances of technology people today  have their music  on “invisible”  digital form devices. When you actually collect CD’s or vinyl records you have a tangible item that is more meaningful than digital downloads.   Turntables and record player-CD combinations are sold all overt the internet.

Although it may seem “old school” to  have a CD or  a vinyl record collection, it is still a great way to develop  an appreciation of music.  I have students who have discovered  vinyl records and CD’s and have begun their own musical libraries which prompts a treasure hunt of great music and fun. With a record or CD you have a piece of useable-playable art complete with photos, liner notes. As the musical  collection grows, so does the student’s ear and appreciation of music.

In the next blog I will post some of my favorite artist that you can view on You Tube.













Summer and the Practicing is Easy and Fun


summerblogpracticeSchool is out for the summer and activities now include fun with friends, summer vacations, and just lazing around in the sun. The last thing on your mind is practicing your instrument.

It understandable that the tendency is to relax all academics, including practicing your instrument. However, music is fun and enjoyable and not supposed to be a chore. You don’t have to follow as rigorous a practice schedule during the summer as you do when you are preparing for your band work. However, it is recommended that you still practice over the summer so you do not lose all the valuable accomplishments you have gained through your hard work during the school here.

Here are 8 practice tips that will still allow you to enjoy your summer but not neglect your instrument.

  1.  Keep it Fun.   Put away that band or competition piece and play songs and pieces that bring you joy and make you want to play. Or – try to teach yourself something new.
  2.  Keep your instrument out of the case so you can easily see it. When you are moved to play, the instrument is waiting for you.
  3. Reeds – keep a fresh supply handy.
  4. Don’t follow a strict schedule, just play when the moment moves you.
  5. Rainy day? Put away the electronic gadgets and make some music.
  6. Have an impromptu concert for your family and friends.
  7. Have a music party. Invite your friends to bring their musical instruments and have a jam session.
  8. Book a lesson over the summer. Many students continue to take lessons but instead of every week, maybe twice a month.

Interested in learning a new instrument? The summer is a great time to try something  new. Give me a call to see about the different woodwinds available or go to a music store and try it out to see if it is something you want to add to your musical skill set.

Follow these suggestions and when you return to school, you will be ready to take on new musical challenges and excel in your musical endeavors.

Have a safe and musical summer.

The Case of the Careless Clarinet

Keep your instruments out of the heat

Keep your instruments out of the heat

As the weather finally warms up, I want to remind you all to remember heat can have a detrimental effect on the functioning of musical instruments. The best place to store your instrument is in the case and out of the heat or extreme cold.

For example, I have read that in the summer when the temperature rises to 90 degrees, your car can reach 110 degrees in just 10 minutes with all the windows shut.

A few summers ago, a young student arrived at my house for her weekly lesson.  She had a student model clarinet, which was made of plastic.  The intermediate and professional models are made of   African black wood also know as Granadilla wood.

Each week as I greeted her at the door, I noticed her clarinet was always out of its case tucked under her arm like a baton.

One attribute of the clarinet that makes it a more challenging instrument is that it is an open hole instrument. This means most of the holes have a ring over them that when pushed down cause the other keys to function.  The finger tips have to close the holes in order to create the notes as opposed to the saxophone, which is a  brass closed hole instrument,  because it has solid  keys that you press with your fingers to produce the notes.

Other examples of open hole instruments are the flute and the bassoon.

As each week passed, instead of my young student gaining more control over those open holes, she seemed to be getting less and less sound until she reached a point where no sound was being produced at all.

In my attempt to figure out how to help her, I noticed that her clarinet was looking odd.  None of the rings matched where the holes were, and they were somewhat elongated and the instrument was misshapen.  Closer inspection revealed that the instrument had melted as if it were in a Salvador Dali painting.   I tried playing her instrument and I couldn’t produce a sound.

That’s when I asked her, “Where do you store your clarinet? “  Her reply was “I keep it in the car, in the back where the speakers are outside of the case”

As we say farewell to the winter and move into the spring, just a reminder, temperature changes affect everything especially musical instruments.  Take care to store them properly and they will give you many years of service and enjoyment.

Considering buying a used piano? Buyer beware before you write that check!

Before you buy an expensive used piano have it evaluated by a piano tuner.

Before you buy an expensive used piano have it evaluated by a piano tuner.


You have just been presented with the opportunity to purchase a vintage or previously owned piano. The price seems right but is it appropriate with the condition of the instrument?   Many pianos can be quite inviting aesthetically but what is under the hood?


People call their mechanic to evaluate the condition of a used car before buying and even take it on a test run.  The same should be done before buying or moving a used or allegedly rebuilt piano.

Let me share with you one customer horror story so you may avoid the same misfortune. I received a call to provide a basic tuning for a customer who told me she recently moved an upright piano from out-of- state. I asked the woman to tell me about the style, age and condition of the piano.

She went on to proudly tell me that before she bought the piano, she paid the out-of- state dealer to have it rebuilt.  When I asked her the age of the piano, she told me the 1930’s.

When I arrived at her home to perform the tuning, I assumed the instrument was in good condition, since the customer told me she paid to have it refurbished.   However, I found the serial number indicated the instrument was much older than the customer was told.  The piano was manufactured in the early 1900’s.

Further examination showed that the hammer felts were completely worn and moth ea\ten and not new or replaced as the customer thought.    The piano was filthy inside and the strings were rusty.

When I tested the pin block (where the tuning pins attach into the piano), I found that the wood of the pin block was completely worn out and in needed replacement.

This piano was untunable but now I was faced with a dilemma.  How was I to tell this nice woman that she was taken?   Section by section I explained what work was not done. The more I explained the angrier she became.    As you can imagine, she did not take it well and I was chased out of the house as the women yelled after me “get out, get out.”

The lesson of this story is, had the woman had a piano/tuner technician go over the piano before she wrote the check, she would have avoided being taken by the dealer.

I perform tunings and basic repairs and also provide evaluations of the mechanical conditions of your piano.   Call me before you write that check.



9 More Reasons Music Lessons are Important


music lessons are worthwhile at any age

music lessons are worthwhile at any age









Several exciting studies have recently been published showing a correlation between brain development and music lessons in young children. These studies show that children eight and younger who play an instrument develop stronger cognitive skills and keep them for life. Mozart began composing songs at age 5 and Beethoven was reported to be 71/2 when he gave his first performance. Does this mean parents should rush out and start music lessons to develop the next great musical prodigy? Or that if you over the age of 8 you’ve missed out on the melodic marvel of music education. Of course not.

As a life-long musician and music teacher, these studies support my belief in music education. Older studies also show that music lessons are beneficial whenever students begin.

Music lessons provide more than brain development. The best music instruction will only help if the student plays an instrument he or she enjoys and will actually practice. Without practice there is no music.

Here are some of my reasons music lessons are important

  1. Music lessons nurture an appreciation for music and creativity.
  2. Music lessons teach you to read music and master timing and rhythm.
  3. Music lessons teach responsibility and time management
  4. Music lessons teach students who play in bands and orchestras how to work together in a group.
  5. Music lessons challenge students to be self-competitive – think about wanting to be the first chair or having a solo in a performance.
  6. Music lessons develop public appearance skills. A two-minute public performance may take months of preparation and then a whole lot of nerve to perform.
  7. Music lessons make you interesting – who doesn’t like hanging out with the musician at the party or lead a sing-a-long.
  8. Music lessons travel well.
  9. Music is universal and anything we can learn to help us connect with other people should be encouraged at any age.

I’ll stop at 9 reasons but I could go on for dozens more. If I may help you on your musical journey give me a call. I teach saxophone, clarinet, and flute. And when you study with me, you always sit in the first chair.

Barry Fleischer, February 2014