Millbrae Songwriting Lessons

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Popular Songwriting Teachers Near Millbrae

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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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
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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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Christine J.

San Francisco, CA

About Christine

Who Am I?

I am a fabulous teacher. Really! Designated by Take Lessons as a "Student Favorite," fourteen of my students have written about their excellent experience s studying with me in the student feedback section here.

As a member of NATS (National Organization of Teachers of Singing), I hold my teaching skills to a high standard. No matter what kind music you like to sing, I can help you become more comfortable and have lots of fun! Maybe you want to experiment with pop, jazz or rock? Maybe you like current Broadway hits? Come visit me. Lets play with your favorites, and enjoy! My p
rimary focus is classical, which is the foundation for all healthy singing.

Beginning Theory and Composition? I can get you started. Need to shore up your sight reading & sight singing? I can give you the tools you need.

I just directed a comic opera, The Old Maid & the Thief at my university. It's in English, so have no fear. I teach in San Francisco, and am in the process of relocating my Peninsula studio..

I love singing. It fills my life with transcendent joy as nothing else. I thrive on performing. It feeds my soul to offer my gifts to my audience. I know that for a few hours I have transported them from their daily lives to another world just by using my voice and commitment to the text, and that brings me such pleasure. The natural progression from these first two is the call to share my experience as a teacher of voice, and performing techniques, as well as beginning composition and popular songwriting.

What I Have Done & What I Am Doing?

I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not sing and perform. At the core of my being I am singer. Being a singer informs every aspect of my life. If a day goes by without singing I just don't feel right!

I began performing professionally as a teenager in Los Angeles, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college. After receiving my Bachelor of Arts degree from Sonoma State University. I majored in music performance, and excelled in that institution's highly regarded opera workshop program, led Peggy Donovan Jeffry and modeled on the principles of Boris Goldovesky.

I moved to San Francisco to work with my coach and new teacher, and soon began entering and winning major local, national and international competitions and being cast in principal roles in local and regional opera companies, and solo vocal parts in oratorio works.

I was a finalist twice each for the San Francisco Opera Center Auditions and the Merola Opera Program of the San Francisco Opera. I was finalist twice in the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions, and won first runner-up. I won a national audition for an apprenticeship in the prestigious Glimmerglass/New York City Opera Young American Artists program. While there I performed Violetta in Verdi's "La Traviata" (directed by the delightful Sir Jonathan Miller), Adina in in Donizetti's "The Elixar of Love",and the Female Fan in William Schumann's "Casey at the Bat." The following summer I was awarded a fellowship at the highly competitive Music Academy of the West where I sang Alice Ford in Verdi's "Falstaff" and studied voice with Marilyn Horne. The next summer I went to Austria to study with Professor Joseph Wallnig, head of the vocal music division of the famed Universitat Mozarteum.

Among my roles are all the great Mozart and bel canto heroines, and repertoire of Puccini, Verdi, Strauss and Stravinsky and Britten.

In addition, I am a lyricist-songwriter, and a member of the America Academy of Composers, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP). I've been a member of the Recording Arts Academy and have sung for films and popular recording artists, and has some voice-over work.

*** Lesson Details ***
What Do I Do?
For Singers:
Every voice is different because every body is different. Unlike instrumentalists who pack away their tools at the end of the day, we carry our voices with us. This is an important distinction. How we feel physically and emotionally effects our singing. Our age, our musical experience (or lack of),our educational background, our family and social situations- the great mixture of things which makes us the special people we are. Therefore as a teacher, I teach each student individually, taking into account all these variables.

When a new student comes to see me for the first time, I ask a lot of questions and I listen carefully. Why are you here? What are your goals? Sometimes there is no clear answer to these, and that's okay! Singing is all about process. In fact, it is a lifelong process. Sure, you may have an audition of concert to prepare for, but the fabulous thing about singing is that no matter what our experience, be it beginner or seasoned professional, we are constantly learning and evolving. Isn't that fantastic?

Come join me. We will have fun, and learn together how you can best enjoy and succeed in you singing.

I encourage students to record their lessons, keep a small pocket notebook for taking notes, and create a binder with copies of your music that you bring to lessons. For opera-classical students, I will recommend a specific lyric diction book.

For Theory, Composition and Music History:
I enjoy beginning students. I've had moms bring their weary young piano students to me because they were losing their love of music over the strict demands of the piano studio. I take what a student is learning from piano, and show them how to connect the dotes so they see the BIGGER picture. We have fun, and those kids become more active learners with their piano teachers.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Primary studio is in a home in the front of the house with 2 keyboards, mirrors, with windows across the front. It is on the ground floor with seating available.

Secondary studio is in Belmont, CA.

*** Specialties ***
When performing any style of music as a singer, the most important thing one can present is a dedication to the words. The words serve the music. Meaning the words will naturally color one's voice, and the audience will feel an authenticity from the singer.

I also believe that muscle memory plays a great part in developing a healthy technique; this requires patience of both student and teacher, time to create new habits, and trust that one's instinct is most often correct.
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Reviews

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Aletheia C. February 12, 2014
Singing
Verified Student
Skilled, caring and fun teacher!

I am so happy to have started classes with Christine. In the couple months I've been working with her I feel a huge improvement in the quality of my singing and comfortabity with technique. Christine has tailored our lessons to meet my exact needs. She's an expert in classical voice and her depth of knowledge means I'm learning about musicality, composers, technique, and performance. She is a fantastic teacher, fun to be around, and has empowered my voice more than any other teacher I've worked with! I'd highly recommend Christine.
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Lorraine H. December 11, 2013
Singing
Verified Student
Great for a beginner

I came into these singing lessons with zero singing experience, and it's been really positive. Christine helped me to feel comfortable right away. She's been engaged with what I've wanted to learn, and put thought into customizing instruction for me.

We talk about listening for harmonies in different types of popular music, how to train my ear to hear, suggestions of different recordings to listen to, and even a bit of music theory. I have some historical music experience (violin), and she's found ways to connect the singing instruction to what I already know. I'm now (attempting) to learn a folk song she's suggested, and found myself surprised to be able to learn and observe quite a bit through the process-- and begin to pull it off-- I think. :)

I see several reviews here from trained singers, but wanted to chime in that Christine has been great for a very untrained student as well!
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Bronya F. November 27, 2013
Singing
Verified Student
Great Teacher

Christine is an incredibly generous person who deeply cares about her students' needs. She carved out time for me from her own performance rehearsals when I was under a lot of pressure to measure up for a performance that was just around the corner.

She is extremely encouraging and positive, and she knows the techniques to get your performance level higher or to expand your range.

I would definitely recommend her.
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Christine J.

Christine J.

South San Francisco, CA 94080
(14)
starting at
$45 / 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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Lance June 12, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Great first lesson
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Lauren D. March 6, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Very good at reassuring me when I'm stressed out from the piece I'm learning... which is all the time. He is very helpful and really knows his stuff!!
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Gayle S. December 13, 2014
Music Theory · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin is excellent, a music theory whisperer. In a few hours, my son went from a complete block to totally understanding and completing of all the music theory he was assigned. Most of all, he now understands the concepts and application and use. Really amazing work, incredible teacher. Can't say enough.
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Benjamin G.

Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(10)
starting at
$40 / 30-min

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Songwriting Lesson Reviews from Students

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Recent Songwriting Articles from the Blog

Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned pro, check out the Songwriting articles on our blog.

Tips for Writing a Song | Starting Songs And Ending Writer's Block

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Tips for Writing a Song | Starting Songs And Ending Writer's Block
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How to Write Lyrics: Steps to Success for Any Musical Style
Interested in learning how to write lyrics and songs? Here, New Jersey guitar teacher Matthew H. explains an easy 3-step process to follow...  Songwriting is not easy; just ask any composer or lyricist. While the musical composition is highly important (making sure the melody is catchy without sounding too trite), having a strong, relatable message to go along with a great tune is just as, if not more, important. Here are some tips on how to write lyrics for a good song. 1) What is the
Logic Pro Tutorial: How To Create An Audio Slow-Down Effect
Want to add a cool slow-down effect to your music? Learn how in this Logic Pro tutorial from Brevard, NC teacher John C...   If you've listened to popular radio in the past several years, and I’m guessing you have, you've heard either a vocal melody line or an instrumental part of a song make a particular effect. Listen to the following Fall Out Boy song and pay attention to the music in the background at 00:27 seconds, again at 1:27, and once again at 2:27: Did you hear it? Th
How To Write a Song Today: 4 Easy Steps
Learning how to write a song is easier than you think! Greeley, CO teacher Andy W. outlines the steps here...  Don’t you wish you could write a song that tells your own story - whether it’s about love, hardships, or finding humor in life? There’s no reason that you can’t do that today! To help get you started, here are four easy steps to writing your own song: 1. Play chords or a riff. 2. Sing or hum over the harmony. 3. Repeat steps 1-2 to form a chorus and then a bridge. 4. Place
6 Resources for Creating Your Own Sheet Music
As you develop your musical skills, you may become interested in writing your own music. While learning to play an instrument and being able to play others' music is a wonderful skill, nothing compares to creating sheet music full of your own compositions! As a budding songwriter, you’ll need to add some additional skills to your repertoire. Writing music can be as simple as putting a pen to paper, or you can take advantage of the many songwriting tools technology offers. Whether you’re sketchi

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