Millbrae Songwriting Lessons

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Check out some of our most popular teachers near Millbrae including Burlingame, Pacifica, San Bruno, San Mateo and South San Francisco.

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Tracey H.

San Francisco, CA

I've been writing for 17 years, solo and as part of a band.

About Tracey

I've been singing, performing, songwriting, and studying voice for 17 years. I attended Berklee College of Music, where I studied Voice/Vocal Performance, and earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance from Musician's Institute in LA. I've been teaching since 2006, and work with a wide range of contemporary genres with a focus on rock, pop, country, folk, Americana, R&B, blues, and soul. I like to take a "back-to-basics" approach to voice by helping students develop the core aspects of breathing/breath control, correct vowel placement/vowel tuning, and a focus on muscle memory as
it relates to stretching the cords. I've been told my approach is simple yet effective, and a unique blend of classic concepts with a practical/modern approach to getting in tune with one's one unique voice. Currently a gigging musician and songwriter in SF, I am in the trenches alongside many of my students, which gives me a unique perspective and empathy for the many stages of personal and career development as a musician. I have a lot of first-hand experience with the music business and what it means to manage a band and a DIY-career. Another area I specialize in (and which is probably the nearest to my heart!), is performance anxiety. Having overcome performance anxiety myself and gone on to be a bandleader and gigging musician, I have a close relationship to this and take a special interest in helping students overcome their own fears and anxieties, identify their own voice and identity as a singer, and taking the steps to develop that.

Mostly, I aim to debunk the mystery that the voice can be shrouded in, and change it from being elusive and temperamental to something that students can feel in control-of and at-ease with. I've taught a wide range of students, from young kids to a Marine (true story!), so am comfortable dealing with an equally-wide range of goals and voices.

*** Lesson Details ***
Well, my students tell me that I have the unique advantage of "being young/in touch with the real-world of the music business, but with real professional training and chops." That's about as good as I could have said it, I suppose! I like to pull from all the different facets of my experience and background to inform me as an instructor: formal education and training, as well as my first-hand experiences with my own band, my own struggles with performance anxiety, and my discovery of my own voice through the very methods I now teach to my students.
What that means for you is that rather than focus on a rigid set of rules, we'll focus on your voice and custom-fit a program that is built from solid vocal technique coupled with specific tools to help you develop your own voice and style. I do truly believe in building a solid foundation for you to build your voice upon, but am unconventional in that I believe the best way to learn to sing is by breaking down what is actually going on in there- in a way that students can understand and interpret themselves. Nerd alert: Vocal technique can actually quite liberating and fun! Yes, we will teach you how to breathe correctly; yes, you will be singing scales. But the key is that you'll know why you're singing each note, and what is going to get you to sing those notes more effectively. I believe in hard work because the voice is a musical instrument; but I also believe in making it easily digestible and fun.

In our lessons, you'll learn how to breathe correctly, test your vocal range, and start working on strengthening your head and chest voices to achieve some continuity in your range. We'll also develop the mask and what I like to call your "vendor voice." Oh yeah- it's good stuff. You'll have warm-ups and scales you can use on your own time to get ready for a gig or to continue strengthening the muscles.

*** Studio Equipment ***
PA/monitors, keyboard, microphones.

*** Travel Equipment ***
If I am traveling to you, I bring a laptop and small set of speakers on which to play recorded scales and pull up songs for song work. I also have a portable digital recorder to record lessons if that is desired.

*** Specialties ***
I have experience with a wide range of styles, but my main genres of focus are rock, pop, Americana, country, blues, soul, and R&B.
I specialize in vowel tuning/correct vowel placement as a way to strengthen the muscles of the voice, in order to correct pitch/tone and solidify muscle memory as it relates to the voice as instrument. I teach from a "ground-up" approach, meaning I feel it's crucial for my students to understand how their voice works, why it works in certain ways, and how they can use vocal technique to their advantage as singers and performers. Building upon that strong foundation, I customize a program for each of my students to address their own set of strengths and challenges.
...

Reviews

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Niki I. June 13, 2015
Singing · In studio
Verified Student
Tracey is so good at making you feel comfortable. Obviously singing in front of someone, especially while they are critiquing you, is something that scares a lot of people and might make them shy away from taking lessons, but Tracey is the coolest person ever and in the handful of lessons I've had so far she makes me feel more comfortable and confident each time. I highly recommend her!!
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Julia J. May 6, 2014
Singing
Verified Student
One amazing teacher!

Tracey is a phenomenal voice teacher and I highly recommend her! She's organized, professional and very musically talented. But more than that, Tracey is extremely adept at communicating the subtle and hard to grasp vocal techniques that are so difficult to put into words. In addition to using analogies, she's great at using visual cues (drawings, arrows, notation# and relating vocal movements to colors, physical movements and sensations. She was more than willing to adapt her lessons for me so that I can gain the best understanding.

I have had other teachers in the past, and while they were all talented and very nice, only Tracey has been able to help me improve my singing voice. I improved more in 3 lessons with her than I did in 8 months of lessons with a previous teacher.

Tracey is also very kind and patient #very necessary with beginners!) and very good at correcting without criticizing. She went way out of her way to accomodate my schedule and even comes to my house for the lessons. I think she's the best and I'm sure you will too!
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Tracey H.

Tracey H.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(2)
starting at
$45 / 30-min
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Jim T.

Fairfax, CA

I teach how to develop chord progressions from basic triads to advanced jazz chords. Lyric writing, phrasing, arranging, and basic music theory are also covered. Melody and rhythm and syncopation are studied to develop songwriting skills and performance and recording are also included.

About Jim

My career in music began at an early age (four!) with classical piano lessons until the age of thirteen. After expanding my musical horizons in high school listening to jazz, blues and rock I attended Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA where I studied jazz & music theory with renowned jazz educator Ray Brown and jazz piano with Paul Nagle who has worked with Grammy award winning singer Bobby McFerrin among many others.
I have been performing solo and in groups since the Eighties in a variety of different genres including rock, jazz, blues, r&b, funk, reggae and everything in between! Perfo
rming with such artists as Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Dan Hicks, David Grisman, Tommy Castro, Eric McFadden, Mark Karan & Vinyl I have appeared at most of the major venues in the Bay Area including the Warfield Theatre, the Great American Music Hall, Yoshi's SF, the Regency, Bimbo's & the Sweetwater.
My teaching experience goes back over twenty years and I relocated to Marin County in the Bay Area in 1995 where I've been teaching extensively since 2002. Since then I have helped hundreds of students realize their dream of learning to play piano and keyboards as well as read music, play perfectly in time and learn songwriting skills. Playing music is fun & easy......I can show you just how easy it is!!

*** Lesson Details ***
My style is laid back with a large supply of patience and devotion to my students. I teach beginning , intermediate & advanced piano and keyboards (including organ). For adult beginning piano students I use the John Thompson Modern Course for the Piano Grade One along with Thompson's Note, Scale & Chord Speller books and flash cards for a quick and easy route to learning how to read music and basic music theory. For kids (5-7) I like Thompson's "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" along with the kid's music theory books by Linda Ng.
In the first six months students can expect to study basic finger exercises and scales, how to read music easily and quickly, how to play perfectly in time & develop a repertoire of songs to play. Once students have learned basic skills it is possible to explore many different genres including classical, jazz, blues, rock, reggae and much more. I customize the lessons to fit each student's needs and desires and can also help the students with songwriting and learning from the recorded works of great artists!

*** Studio Equipment ***
Beautiful 1884 carved English maplewood Estey upright piano!

*** Travel Equipment ***
I provide the books and supplies at cost...students should have some kind of keyboard to practice on...preferably a real piano although I have taught many students initially on electric keyboards.

*** Specialties ***
I teach beginning, intermediate & advanced piano in the styles of classical, jazz, blues, rock, r&b, pop, country, etc. ages 5-105! Usually I start beginners in the John Thompson method & speller books along with music flash cards and then am willing to shift into different styles as the students gain basic skills.
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Reviews

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dorothee C. March 4, 2013
Piano
Great teacher for children, including jazz

Our 3 kids have taken piano lessons at our house with Jim for 6 years. Jim is a unique piano teacher, the kind that is hard to find in the bay area. He teaches classical music to beginners and confirmed students and goes to your house to teach. His training was in classical music, and he knows very well that it takes time and effort to get there, he is patient and encouraging, our kids NEVER felt pressured by him and still learned how to play in an exponential way. Thanks to Jim, they like to play for themselves AND in front of other people, which is one of Jim's important goals. Jim is now a renowned jazz piano player and cofounder of a band (Tre Mojo's) and we are always invited in his gigs when they take play in the bay area. Our son is learning jazz with him, it has been impressive to watch and hear, after a year he does know the jazz harmonies and can do impros. Every spring, Jim organizes a very nice recital where all his students come and perform various types of music (from Beethoven, Chopin, to the Beatles, to jazz impro. from beginner to professional level). Jim basically taught our children to play music with no stress, no competition, and still at a high level. Besides, Jim is highly professional, has NEVER been late, and always does what he says and -we believe- says what he thinks. There has never been a bump in our relationship. We would highly recommend him as a piano teacher.
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Jim T.

Jim T.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(1)
starting at
$40 / 30-min
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AJ M.

San Francisco, CA

About AJ

Hey there! My name is AJ and music is my life. Whether its composing, performing, studying, teaching or just listening, I aim to fill my days with music. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my love of music with others, especially when it means helping someone discover music making for themselves. To me, music is a source of endless joy, excitement and fun and I seek to show that to all of my students.

Background - I studied jazz, classical and electronic music at UC Santa Cruz. Received a B.A. in music in 2006. I've been a professional music teacher for 10+ years, including teaching at
various Bay Area music schools and acting as band director for youth rock bands. I have also been actively playing in various bands in the Bay Area for the past 10+ years.

*** Lesson Details ***
First and foremost, I want to teach music/songs that you are interested in. I've found that lessons are much more enjoyable and effective when we are playing music that the student has a personal connection with. What this means is we start off by figuring out songs/bands/genres that you've always wanted to learn and then I provide you with a clear, incremental path towards achieving your goals. I will also help you figure out how to make your person practice time as effective and enjoyable as possible. no more long hours of mind numbing practice that sucks all the fun out of playing music. I have music books and song books that I use to supplement your lessons. I'm also fully capable of providing accurate and custom made transcriptions of any song you want if you can't find the sheet music yourself.

After 3 months, you will be able to play a song from start to finish, just like you hear in the recording, and you Will have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of your instrument and a clear idea of how to move forward and continue improving

*** Studio Equipment ***
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Bass Guitar
Small Practice Amp
Electric Piano
Uke
Banjo
Mandolin
MIDI Controller
Microphones and Other Recording Equipment

*** Travel Equipment ***
Portable Electric Guitar - Ipad (with Midi Keyboard and various drum machine/metronome programs)

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in rock and roll music, specially indie/alternative/punk styles... but I am very well versed and knowledgeable in jazz, folk, blues and pop as well.
...

Reviews

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Jakob W. May 13, 2014
Guitar
Verified Student
Amazing experience

AJ is a wonderful instructor. He really listens to what your goals are and what kind of music you're interested in. His teaching method is focused on practical application so you can start playing real songs quickly. I've loved the sound of guitar all my life but only as an adult have I been able to pursue learning to play. AJ shares a passion for music and it's shows in his enthusiasm during lessons. He's very patient and encouraging. I might never be a beast on the guitar like he is (he's literally has a lifetime of experience) but I'm already able to play songs I enjoy and hope to write some of my own soon.
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Robert L. August 27, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
Overall a great experience teaching an old dog a new trick!

I really enjoyed working with and learning the guitar from AJ. He is incredible with his ear for music and ability to play a variety of guitars! He was patient with me as I started to learn guitar at the age of 49! He was very encouraging and I would highly recommend him to anyone who has never played before. AJ made the chords incredibly simple to learn and I was amazed at how quickly I could actually play something that sounded like music!
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AJ M.

AJ M.

San Francisco, CA 94110
(2)
starting at
$35 / 30-min
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Thomas K.

San Francisco, CA

About Thomas

I've been teaching for over 10 years and I have never had more fun with it. I studied classical guitar for ten years earning a bachelor's and a master's degree in music. During my formal education I not only learned music theory, music history, ensemble playing, and composing, but more importantly I learned how to REALLY learn new things. This ability I try to pass on to my students.I love sharing the things I've learned from all of my various experiences whether it be from my classical guitar background or from one of my various pop/rock bands. I am a working musician and I still learn new th
ings every time I go out to play. It could be classical music at weddings, Jazz at clubs, or Rock and Roll at rowdy venues. There's a lesson to be learned from each.  

*** Lesson Details ***
Playing and understanding music is easy. The notion that it is only for the gifted and super talented is a lie.Fun is the first priority. Everybody wants to learn different things.  I tailor the lesson to the student and their goals. With guitar or theory/songwriting, each person has an 'ideal' they are striving for (rock guitarist ala Jimmy Page, Acoustic folk ala Bob Dylan, songwriter like Paul Simon, or classical guitarist like Andres Segovia).  I work with students to reach their ideal in a laid back, friendly manner.

I might teach out of a book or make our own book as we go along depending on the student, their experience level, and their goals. Each lesson will stress the important music fundamentals and making things easier. Every lesson and every student is different.  I have students as young as 5 whom I help learn music while they are learning how to read and write.  AND on the other side, I have students like my 81 year old mandolin student who has exciting ideas on how we should perform in our next recitals.Learning music is an investment.  Everyone learns at a different pace. There is no norm.  There is no "place they should be" at after a given time of lessons/practice.  I've had students that stagnated for YEARS and then TAKE OFF musically once they really decided to apply themselves.  If you are the parent of a student the best thing you can do is to be involved. After that, nature will take it's course.    

*** Studio Equipment ***
Some amplifiers, spare guitars, and plenty of nick-nacks.  

*** Travel Equipment ***
Instrument

*** Specialties ***
I am trained in classical guitar, but of course I've been playing and teaching electric guitar for years in different bands and professional settings.In addition, I am very passionate and knowledgeable about Irish/Celtic music and instruments i.e. Mandolin, Tin/Penny Whistle, Bouzouki
...

Reviews

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Meredith W. February 6, 2015
Classical Guitar · In home
Verified Student
Thomas is an incredible instructor. I've only had 3 lessons so far and I already feel like I've improved my abilities so much. He not only has mastery of the instrument and of music, but best of all for students, he understands how to teach it well.
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Tom D. November 27, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
Absolutely perfect!

Tom is truly a great teacher. He has tailored his approach to my unique needs-as an accomplished musician learning his 6th instrument, his teaching approach reminds me of things I ought to remember while playing any instrument, and music in general. And my lessons are tons of fun! He has a great knowledge of all the different approaches to the guitar and other stringed instruments which really fits in to what I am most interested in- how to get a particular sound for any given piece of music for the guitar. I'm extremely happy about having found tom to be my teacher.
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Tessa L. September 25, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
Great teacher for my 7yr old!

Thomas is great with my 7-year old son. He has been extremely patient with him. He balances out the session with teaching and getting to know him at the same time. He does not rush through the lesson and makes him feel at ease with the guitar. He was only practicing with Thomas for a year and built enough courage and experience playing the guitar that he performed at his school's end-of-the-year talent show and did an amazing job thanks to Thomas! I was impressed!
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Thomas K.

Thomas K.

San Francisco, CA 94114
(9)
starting at
$37.50 / 30-min
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Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA

Composition, song writing and arranging.

About Benjamin

I have been studying music my entire life. I first sat down at the piano at four years old and have never strayed. After attending a performing arts high school, I studied music composition and theory at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My studies not only enhanced my passion for music, but gave me an understanding of it and the listening experience. My desire to share this love and excitement led me to become a piano teacher. Developing my own teaching practice has required intense organizational skills and independent motivation and enhanced my ability to work with others as I interact w
ith my students, their teachers, and parents. In this position, I have had the pleasure of expanding my students’ musical understanding by introducing them to new and different styles and genres of music.

*** Lesson Details ***
Provide interactive and engaging private lessons to students of all ages at my studio and their homes.
Teach piano, music theory, and composition to students of all ages and skill levels.
Develop lesson plans, practice activities, and homework assignments tailor-made for each student maintaining their interest and heightening their skill.
Improvise and sight-read with students to helping them develop a working knowledge of musicality and movement.
Arrange popular songs and simplify advanced compositions to suit my students’ skill levels.
Help students listen to and understand the music they know and love through musical development and ear training.

*** Studio Equipment ***
I have 2 upright piano's and sound proofing equipment that helps reduce the intensity of the pianos.

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in improvisation and ear training. I love teaching in the postmodernist classical genre. I also love teaching popular styles and methods where the student chooses what direction they would like to go. I do not force my students to play music they don't appreciate.
...

Reviews

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Dan Briton July 28, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Ben is patient when I am moving slowly through exersizes, he makes sure that I really understand how to read music and he is the #1 reason for me being able to learn the piano. He is very encouraging and I'd recomend him to anybody who seriously wants to learn how to play!
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Jassim L. July 22, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin was really awesome. Definitely recommend!
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Rob S. July 10, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Benjamin is a great teacher and a talented musician. It is obvious that he loves music and wants to share that love of music. His lessons are fun and flexible, as he tailors the content to the student’s interests. He has a very large collection of music and I found that he was excellent at selecting music that stretched my ability while still being within reach of learning. I have only been playing for a year, but I was very surprised at how quickly Benjamin was able to help me get beautiful sounding music to come out of the piano. I highly recommend.
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Benjamin G.

Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(14)
starting at
$40 / 30-min

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