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Zarephath, NJ Songwriting Lessons

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About Erica S.

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Belleville, NJ
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Learn how to discover the creative potential you already have in you and channel it to create your own personal music with a well-rounded teacher who specializes in composing and arranging.

The process of composition is a very individual and tailored path, and there isn't a set way of approaching composition. It is tailored to the student's strengths and weaknesses, musical interests, and the way a student approaches music (intuitive vs. analytical). But things I often cover are analysis of music the student enjoys, figuring out pieces by ear (having a strong ear is very important to the composition process), creating pieces based on moods or images, working on forming a piece and telling a story, and orchestration.

If composing is your interest I often have you keep a journal and ask you to listen to some music you like, and write down some things you like about what you hear, and then try to figure out what they're doing. These things help you discover what you love about ...

About Erica
Hi! My name is Erica, and I am a private lesson teacher, composer, arranger, and pianist currently living, writing, performing, and teaching in North Jersey. I believe that by having such a versatile musical background, I will be able to understand different needs and interests you may have and help you begin or continue your musical journey and reach your goals.

I currently teach 30 private piano and composition students in North New Jersey, and I am consistently inspired by all the progress all my students have made! My students have played classical pieces in recitals, played in jazz combos with other student musicians, written music that was performed by professional ensembles, learned how to play ragtime, and more. No two students have gone down the same path, because the curriculum was developed around the individual.

As a com
poser, I've penned over 15 charts for Jazz Ensemble, in addition to several charts for Studio Orchestra, Jazz Combos, Chamber Groups, Vocal Groups, and Film, and I've won a few awards, including 1st Place in the International Zurich Jazz Orchestra Composition Competition, a 2011 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and a 2012 ASCAP Plus Award. I co-lead a jazz orchestra that has performed in several NYC clubs. My pieces have also been performed by her own chamber group "Community of the Spirit," Kurt Elling and the Metropole Orchestra the Zurich Jazz Orchestra, Todd Coolman's Quintet, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Studio Orchestra, Bernie Williams and the William Paterson Jazz Orchestra, Weapons of Jazz Destruction, and others.

I've also been inspired by many teachers along the way. I have a BM in Jazz Writing (Composition) with high distinction from the Eastman School of Music, and an MM in Jazz Arranging from William Paterson University. My composition and piano teachers have included Jim McNeely, Bill Dobbins, Rich DeRosa, Harold Danko, Raymond Torres-Santos, Tony Caramia, and Adrien Cohen, and I am a current member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in NYC.

I'm a very passionate teacher and I'm excited to begin your musical journey!

*** Lesson Details ***
In addition to a customized lesson plan (dependent on your goals, strengths, weaknesses, and interests) you get introduced to a wide variety of styles and concepts. Some of the things you will do in your musical adventure with me include:

1) Learn classical pieces ranging from short Bach Minuets if you're a beginner, to Chopin Nocturnes and Bach Preludes and Fugues if you're advanced.
2) Learn the "why" behind music... Why does this sound quirky? Where does the musical statement end? What harmony is the composer using?
3) Write your own music. We might take a new concept you learned, and you may compose a song based on it. Or you may have your own ideas, and I'll help you take them to the next level.
4) Learn to improvise and learn how to play some jazz. You will play over blues and learn jazz standards. You will also learn how to play by ear.
5) Learn basic conducting.

*** Studio Equipment ***
home: fully-weighted keyboard, seating for parents, music stands, sheet music, printer (for printing custom handouts), free wi-fi
music studio : fully-weighted keyboard, seating for parents, music stands, sheet music, printer (for printing custom handouts), free wi-fi

*** Specialties ***
I teach classical and jazz, and usually like to incorporate both into lessons at some point, even if the student may have a greater interest in one of these (so you don't have the classical pianist that has never played one note not written in the music or doesn't know how to spell a simple major triad, and you don't have a jazz pianist whose reading skills is not up to par, and has no regard for tone/touch). Typically students not only read classical repertoire (Bach, Beethoven, Bartok, Kabelevsky, etc.) but also learn how to improvise over a blues, read a lead sheet, and figure music out by ear. I'm also comfortable with rock styles.

I also have a lot of experience accompanying (musical theatre, instrumental, vocal...) and I like teaching the student how to follow a soloist. I teach students how to read lead sheets so they can read whatever they may get from a vocalist, and I teach chord theory so that they can easier recognize patterns in music when playing with an instrumentalist or vocalist.

I incorporate composition and theory into lessons, usually in conjunction with whatever piece they are learning (explain what type of chords are in their piece, or explain how they move, or why something may sound discordant or may go somewhere expected, or I may teach them phrases in music just like sentences work in English.) I definitely, however, work with students who are more serious in composition as well and talk about how to develop their pieces, how to create ideas, how to get out of a "writers block," orchestration techniques, encourage them to expand their instrumentation, etc.
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Reviews
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Angela L. August 25, 2017
· Piano · In studio
Erika is the best. She has great sense of music, she made you thinking more than just playing the music on piece of paper! I highly recommend her.
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Angela L. May 20, 2017
· Piano · In home
Erika is pretty nice and professional piano teacher. As a beginner, I have great confidence in growing my piano skill with her.
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Doris U. September 25, 2015
· Piano · In studio
She is excelent.I enjoyed her classes
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Erica S.

Erica S.

Belleville, NJ 07109
(6)
starting at
$35 / 30-min

About David C.

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Fords, NJ
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About David
I started playing guitar 29 years ago at 11 years old. After studying classical and jazz throughout high school I attended William Paterson University from 1994 - 1997, majoring in Music Education and then later in 2003 at CCNY majoring in jazz performance.

In 1997, I moved to Brooklyn and cut my teeth in the NYC R&B and rock club scene and with various jazz combos at many other clubs including the Blue Note and the Knitting Factory. In 2003 I returned to college at CCNY (city college of New York), majoring in Jazz Performance and studying with Ornette Coleman alum, Kenny Wessel. I also started my long standing weekly Hip Hop event, Freestyle Mondays in the East Village. Freestyle Mondays has attracted some of the best musicians in NYC and the world to sit in or just hang out, including Tarus Mateen, Marcus Miller (Miles Davis bassist)
, Ari Hoenig, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Tim Motzer, Adam Deitch and countless others. I have recorded with Lauryn Hill and have toured in China and the UK.

For last 6 or 7 years, my bread and butter has been theater. It really tests my versatility. I have been a sub guitarist on Broadway for the Tony award (best score, best orchestration 2008) and Pulitzer prize winning musical Next To Normal, The Visit on Broadway, first guitar at the 2010 Williamstown Theater Festival Production of critically acclaimed musical "The Last Goodbye" which features the music of Jeff Buckley (the first project licensed by his estate since his untimely passing in 1997), Be More Chill at Two River Theater as well as many other regional theater productions. Most recently I performed with the Orlando Philharmonic and a veritable who's who of B'way including Kelli O'Hara, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Norbert Leo Butz in Orlando at a benefit for the Pulse Nightclub victims' families. My main gig, however, is with The Midtown Men. It features 4 stars from the original cast of Jersey Boys on Broadway. We have played at venues all over north America including the Beacon Theater and NJPAC as well as having a PBS special and performances on the Today Show.

*** Lesson Details ***
Like my musical abilities, I am an extremely versatile teacher. If you need a strict program, I can "crack the whip", but if you'd rather just learn some tunes you like, without all the theory and technical stuff, we'll find a balanced program that works for your learning style.

I have been teaching for 18 years, so whether you're trying to make the high school all state jazz band, learning your new favorite song or anything in between, I can steer you in the right direction. I'll keep you motivated to improve and become the artist you want to be. With simple, clear direction from me and a little practice and hard work from you, we'll have you playing your favorite music in just a couple of months.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Dedicated to music, many guitars and amps, weighted casio, room for parents to wait

*** Travel Equipment ***
I can provide a guitar, but if a student is going to practice, I would think they would need to purchase a guitar at some point. I suppose I could bring an amp as well. Students should also have a manuscript book and/or a method book (depending on their level).

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in jazz guitar, but am experienced and well versed in rock, blues, classical, hip hop, R&B, funk and pretty much anything else.
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Reviews
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Jonathan J. April 5, 2014
· Guitar ·
Great Lessons!

David is a wonderful instructor. He would always provide me with information that helped me take my guitar playing to the next level. He was extremely patient and helpful in his lessons and never seemed to become annoyed when I would not get things right. Sign up for him today!
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ErikaR1 March 27, 2012
· ·
5 yr old guitar lessons

David has been excellent with my 5 year old. He is extremely patient, fun, and friendly and is teaching her how to play the guitar. i am amazed. I didn't think it was even possible for her to learn as much as she has. i would highly recommend David to teach any child music.
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JackR February 2, 2012
· ·
Dave is a very enthusiastic teacher with good theoretical knowledge on the piano. His practical knowledge is OK. Dave is very good with letting the student determine his goals and then he tailors his lessons around those goals. This makes the lessons more enjoyable. The only suggestion I would have is that he should have the sheet music written in advance for that day's lesson. He had the music written in advance on our last lesson but for one or two previous ones, he was writing the music during the lesson which took time away from the lesson. Overall, I was very happy with Dave and would recommend him.
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David C.

David C.

Fords, NJ 08863
(6)
starting at
$40 / 30-min

About Vincent T.

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West Long Branch, NJ
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About Vincent
I have taught for 18 years, giving both private and group lessons. I am a professional musician, having played in numerous bands, recorded and played shows. I have taugh all ages, and all elvels, and all styles. I play a number of instruments including piano, guitar, bass, violin, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica, in addition to writing and singing. I took private lessons for over 10 years, and also studied music in both high school and college.

*** Lesson Details ***
A student can expect to be treated with respect, and have a lesson tailored around their abilities, interests, and amount of practice time. I make the lessons fun but also informative. I try to get to know my students so that they feel comfortable. I am laid back, but also determined that a student practice well, and learn not only the instrument but music fundamentals a
s well. I try to show students that learning music is a lifelong pursuit that can provide all types of fun and personal fulfillment, in addition to being a potential career and social outlet. After 3-6 months, the student will be playing songs, good ones, not just scales. They will also have learned basics, such as chords and scales, as well as sight reading.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Basement converted into music studio with instruments, and piano and keyboard. Parents can sit in on lessons. Street parking available.

*** Travel Equipment ***
I provide all lesson materials, listening examples, and, on occassion, an instrument. I often use my laptop to play songs and tutorials for students (who don't buy records like we did in the old days.) Generally, students must provide instrument.

*** Specialties ***
I tailor my lessons based on three factors: a student's interests, their ability, and their amount of practice time. I do not use a cookie cutter method of teaching because each student is different. I have studied, formally and informally, rock, pop, blues, jazz and classical. My specialties are rock and blues. On occasion, I will use method books, such as the Schirmer books for piano, but only if the student clearly seems to benefiting from them.
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Vincent T.

Vincent T.

West Long Branch, NJ 07764
starting at
$25 / 30-min

About James R.

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North Brunswick, NJ

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You don't need to be a musician to be a Songwriter, But it does Help if you are an artist and want to maintain control of how your Songs are Played. You achieve what you want in some cases buy just having a Basic understand of Music, Chords, & Chord Progressions.

About James
PLEASE READ : Thank you.

I'm a trained Musician (Private Lessons) and have been Studying & Teaching for over 37 years. I've taught, Recorded & Played everywhere from small to Large venues from NJ, NY to CA and back. So you don"t just get the Lesson, You also get all that culture and experience along with it in every Lesson you take. All Lessons are done at my Music School, located in North Brunswick, NJ which I am the Owner and Head Teacher at the School. I do offer Lessons through Skype as well if for some reason it's more convenient for you. I Guarantee you"ll learn more studying with me in one year, then with anyone else around. I Pride myself in giving my student 100% my undivided attention in every Lesson. The School is equipped with a Class A Recording Studio (which I incorporate into the Lessons) so you not only get a Great Less
ons but you'll also get the experience of working and being recorded in a Professional Recording Studio. You will learn a lot in a very short period of time, but you will also have a lot fun doing it as well. For The person interested in learning Guitar I'll teach you to Understand that you'll Develop Correctly, and Much Faster By always practicing on the Acoustic Guitar, and then if you'd like to go and play or perform on the Electric Guitar, you'll be 100% Better as a Musician then if you just played only on the Electric Guitar. That is a Key element to what all the Professionals Musicians like myself do.
I Look forward to working with you to Help you attain the goals you set out to achieve.
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Reviews
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Allison October 3, 2017
· Acoustic Guitar · In studio
Jimmy is a great teacher, he has tons of knowledge to share and also a lot of patience!!
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Barbara September 18, 2017
· Ukulele · In studio
I'm an ABSOLUTE BEGINNER, and James is very patient and thorough. I look forward to each lesson!
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Daniel N. September 11, 2017
· Dulcimer · Online
I've only just had my first lesson with James (aka Jimmy), and it is evident he has a very deep knowledge and experience. The manner with which James imparts his obvious talent and/or complex music theory to a novice like me is expressed in perfectly understandable terms. I hope to continue anon with James as I am able.
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James R.

James R.

North Brunswick, NJ 08902
(84)
starting at
$45 / 30-min

About Arron K.

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New York, NY
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10 year experienced music teacher for after school students and adult beginners.

Lesson materials will be provided or student brings a method that he/she wants to learn.

Recital opportunities.

About Arron
Jeonghun Arron K. is a composer, arranger and singer.

He started his career in music by performing in many local bands and also working for game companies and movie OST in South Korea, after he got a degree in Music Composition and Education from Baekseok Arts University in Seoul in 2005. He found ‘Let Us Music Inc.’ and had worked as a studio engineer and a co-producer from 2003 to 2008.

He is a scholarship winner of Nyack College School of Music in NYC, where he studied music composition and singing. He performed as a choir member in many classical concerts; New York Philharmonic: PHILHARMONIC 360 at Park Avenue Armory, Requiem (Bradley Ellingboe) at Carnegie Hall and Nyack College Concert at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center.

His band 'Almost an Orchestra', released an EP album in 2012. The band arranged performed music for Oc
cupy Olympus, performed by Magis Theatre Company at Flamboyan Theatre, New York International Fringe Festival in 2013.
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Liam July 5, 2017
· Guitar · In studio
I have had one lesson with Mr. Arron and it is enough to tell that he is a great teacher. He clearly knows how to play guitar. He is both encouraging and firm. He explained to me the expectations for my practice and what he wants me to learn by next week, I am very happy to have him as my guitar teacher.He is an amazing talent and provides me with much needed inspiration.
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Adora J. June 5, 2017
· Korean · Online
Very patient and kind. I recommend him to anyone wishing to learn Korean!
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Isaac April 28, 2017
· Korean · Online
Great instructor! He was very patient and approachable in the first lesson. He also uses dad jokes to help you remember vocabulary. I would definitely recommend him to anyone interested in learning Korean.
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Arron K.

Arron K.

New York, NY 10004
(32)
starting at
$40 / 60-min
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About William E.

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Belmar, NJ
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Songwriting is my specialty. There's nothing like applying your musical skills via bringing something new and creative into the world. They say songwriting is not something that is useful in our modern world, but they couldn't be more wrong. In many cases, it is difficult if not impossible to get certain ideas across. We may feel that we don't always have the right words to express ourselves or that our ideas won't be received through conventional methods. This can all be solved by writing a killer song that everyone can relate to!

About William
Hello there!

I am a problem solver. For better or for worse, the role in life that I seem to have fallen into is one of help and support. In addition to enjoying subjects like Math and English, I am an avid guitar player and songwriter. There is nothing like the feeling of fulfillment I receive from helping someone succeed in life, if only for something as simple as helping change their perspective on things. I look forward to meeting and working with you!
...
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William E.

William E.

Belmar, NJ 07719
starting at
$30 / 30-min

About Christopher J.

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Old Bridge, NJ

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Writing a song comes from the heart. Some people may not be able to realize this at first and I would love to show how to tap into this ability. When singing you want to paint a picture with your music and express so the listener can feel what you felt when you wrote it. Studying poetry, rhythm, melody and form are essentials to what we would go over.

About Christopher
Christopher Joseph has been playing guitar for 11 years and has studied and performed genres such as classical, jazz, cumbia, Latin, Spanish, Brazilian, rock and pop. He has performed with many different artists/bands and has composed for a variety of styles. While in high school Christopher studied Classical guitar and violin under the tutelage of Bernard Mathews and now at New Jersey City University he studies Classical guitar with Francisco Roldan of the ZigZag Quartet and with Joao Luiz from the World acclaimed Brasil Guitar Duo for ensemble. At the university he is currently a senior.
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Reviews
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Gaspard August 25, 2017
· Acoustic Guitar · In home
Great first lesson with Chris !
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Ashley August 5, 2017
· Guitar · In studio
Chris is a wonderful teacher! My daughter is a shy 7year old, but she said he made her feel proud and comfortable. Chris surely knows how to teach young minds with his patience and calmness. My daughter is already looking forward to have another lesson with him soon!
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Arsh July 8, 2017
· Classical Guitar · In home
Chris is a great instructor. He can adjust to the student's pace and helps the student learn all types of guitar techniques. I have progressed a lot through his lessons.
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Christopher J.

Christopher J.

Old Bridge, NJ 08857
(11)
starting at
$25 / 30-min

About Dan S.

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Montclair, NJ
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Dan S holds a diploma in Modern Guitar Performance from La Musique Academy International and a Bachelors of Music in Guitar Performance and Jazz from Montclair State University. Dan Has been teaching since 2008 and brings both structure and a fully customizable approach to teaching, making sure you learn what you want and what you need to know to accomplish any musical dream. Dan has extensive experience working with children and teens as well as adults.

About Dan
Dan S. holds a diploma in Modern Guitar Performance from La Musique Academy International and a Bachelors of Music in Guitar Performance and Jazz from Montclair State University. Dan Has been teaching since 2008 and brings both structure and a fully customizable approach to teaching, making sure you learn what you want and what you need to know to accomplish any musical dream. He has extensive experience working with children.

At age 9 Dan began studying such instruments as the viola, saxophone, piano and guitar. By the age 12 he identified more with the guitar and chose it as his primary instrument of musical expression. Dan is currently playing venues in and around NYC and the metropolitan area, jamming with some of the best live musicians around. He has also performed in France and looks forward to tour more of Europe.

His musica
l influences range from The Blues, Pop, RnB, Rock and EDM. This range of music continues to influence his writing and vocal styling developing a sound that is truly unique.
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Patrick F. August 9, 2016
· Guitar · In home
I've taken guitar lessons from a few teachers and Dan is the best fit I've ever had. He is very patient and does a fantastic job of tailoring lessons to individual needs. He clearly loves to play music and is very thoughtful about how he shares this knowledge in his lessons. He never fails to encourage me as a guitar player and reinforces a 'can do' attitude. His positive and calm demeanor also make for a fantastic instructor. Thank you, Dan.
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Patrick F. July 13, 2016
· Guitar · In home
Dan is a patient instructor who is always encouraging. He also makes the lessons fun. I appreciate how he customizes each lesson for my needs.
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Maria B. May 3, 2016
· Guitar · In home
First lesson was a great experience for my kids. They are practicing on their own!!! I could tell they couldn't wait for their next lesson. Thank you Dan!!!
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Dan S.

Dan S.

Montclair, NJ 07042
(13)
starting at
$40 / 30-min

About Natalie W.

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South Plainfield, NJ
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Songwriting very special ,There isn't exactly a wrong way to do it in my opinion but there is a better way. I am a Lyric and Melody writer. You may also hear Lyrics and Melody writers being referred to as "Top Liners" Topics like song structure, Melody writing, Finding the "Right Lyrics", Writers Block, Song splits, choosing a performance rights society are all covered in our lessons.

About Natalie
Ive been in the music industry for 10yrs , I got started singing myself and soon after found a major love for songwriting. In 2007 I landed a Major Publishing deal with Sony ATV and also became 1/2 of a notable songwriting Duo "Pen Up Girls" . As a Pen Up Girl I have had the joy of working with Many top Major artist, as well as a host of New artist.

In my career so far I have written on 3 Grammy Nominated albums as well as albums that have had "US Gold" and "International Platinum" status. I love Music . My goal is to pass on what I have learned.
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Natalie W.

Natalie W.

South Plainfield, NJ 07080
starting at
$50 / 30-min

About Kate D.

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New York, NY

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Focus on song ideas, writing suggestions, edits, song arrangement, accompaniment

About Kate
I am a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter who is very interested in teaching younger kids about self expression through music and writing. I have a Bachelor's degree in music performance from the Manhattan School of Music and have been working as a professional musician (within many genres) for a decade.
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Breaker October 10, 2017
· Ukulele · In home
Kate is WONDERFUL and so very patient with my 6 year old son! He loved his lesson!!
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Vitoria September 23, 2017
· Ukulele · In home
Kate's wonderful talent for music is impressive and so is her teaching method.
I started off knowing basically nothing and had no sense of rhythm. Although I knew it was going to be challenging, I was determined to have fun while learning, no matter what - and picking Kate as my teacher was a very fortunate decision.
I am so glad that throughout the course of two months, I was able to learn how to play some of my favorite songs on the uke and also was gifted with precious tips and tricks to improve my practice in the long term!
Kate is patient, sweet and will amaze you with her skills - and you'll also be amazed by how much you can learn in one hour with her. I'd rate the classes with 10 stars if that was even possible :)

Thanks so much Kate!
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Melissa P. May 25, 2017
· Ukulele · In home
Kate is fantastic!! She has such a warm, easygoing personality, and I was very comfortable having her in my home. She is extremely knowledgeable about the uke and was able to immediately recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I feel challenged, but not overwhelmed. I had so much fun and can't wait for next week's lesson!
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Kate D.

Kate D.

New York, NY 10013
(3)
starting at
$60 / 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.

The Anatomy of a Hit Pop Song [Infographic]

The Anatomy of a Hit Pop Song [Infographic]

When you're learning how to write a song, looking at how other songs are structured can be a great place to start. Like looking at a map before you go on a roadtrip, checking out the basic elements of songs you love gives you a sense of how they were written and what you need to do to write a song of your own. If analyzing all your favorite songs sounds like a daunting task (it is), you're in luck. The Billboard Experiment wanted to know if there was a formula that could determine which songs … Read More

The Anatomy of a Hit Pop Song [Infographic]
When you're learning how to write a song, looking at how other songs are structured can be a great place to start. Like looking at a map before you go on a roadtrip, checking out the basic elements of songs you love gives you a sense of how they were written and what you need to do to write a song of your own. If analyzing all your favorite songs sounds like a daunting task (it is), you're in luck. The Billboard Experiment wanted to know if there was a formula that could determine which songs
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
Quiz: What Should You Write Your Next Song About?
Writing songs is hard enough work without having to deal with songwriters' block! To help you find inspiration for your next song, we created this easy personality quiz. Take the quiz and find out what your next hit single will be about... For more songwriting tips and songwriting prompts, check out our infographic guide 25 Ways to Break Free from Songwriters' Block! Share your songwriting ideas, struggles, triumphs, and questions in the comments below.   Interested in
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
Songwriting Tips | The Wisdom of a One-Of-Kind Song Title
What's in a name? If you're looking for songwriting tips as you pen your next tune, check out this advice from Perth Amboy, NJ teacher Jeff S...   There is not one "right" or preferred way to write a song. It's a very individual choice. Some songwriters start out with a patch of melody or a line or two of lyric as their creative catalyst. Others will initiate the songwriting muse with a unique and instantly-captivating song title or writing from their emotions. And in this ever-cr

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