Evan Makes Music offers lessons in voice and piano, in both half-hour and hour-long lessons. You can also pre-purchase a block of four half-hour lessons at a discount. Lessons can be offered at one of our locations (in Belleville or Garfield) or can be arranged online using a format like Zoom or Facetime. For pricing, just click "Payment."
What Should I Expect At a Lesson?
To prepare for your lesson, make sure you have your materials ready to go. For piano lessons, I recommend using the Piano Pronto series, and sometimes combining it with the John Bastien Series. For adult beginners, I find the Alfred Adult Beginner All In One does well. You should keep your books along with some pencils and your metronome in a tote bag or backpack, so it's always organized and ready to go. You'll also want a black 3-ring binder so you can add any photocopied or printed sheet music. Great sites to print sheet music at home or download PDFs to your tablet are SheetMusicPlus or MusicNotes.
To practice at home, I recommend you have a piano or an 88-key touch-sensitive keyboard with sustain pedal. A keyboard is usually less expensive, and has the added benefit of being able to practice with headphones. A piano usually has a nicer sound, look, and feel, but also requires regular tuning. It's often possible to find pianos and keyboards for free or at very low cost by searching online.
If purchasing isn't an option right now, there are many places that have pianos, such as schools, churches, community centers, senior centers, etc. By being resourceful and asking politely, you can often find plenty of places to practice regularly.
For voice students, lessons will typically begin with a brief warm up, where we prepare the body and the mind to sing, and make adjustments to technique. Then we'll start on your repertoire, singing through it once, and then going over it in finer detail making adjustments in technique and performance practice. For voice students, please bring your black 3-ring binder with your sheet music neatly organized, legible, and ready to go. Some students bring two - one for them, and one for me, so I can accompany - and this is very helpful. You'll also want to bring your reusable water bottle and some pencils. We can talk in lessons about the best way to set up your binder.
As far as repertoire books, it depends on the kind of music you like to make, but two classic mainstays of beginner voice lessons are the Singer's Musical Theatre Anthologies (which provide sheet music in the original key as it appears in the score) and 26 Italian Art Songs and Arias, which is offered in Medium, Medium High, and High Voice.
NEW! Video Lessons
Distance Learning is great, especially during the pandemic, but it is different in format from regular lessons, and requires a little extra preparation. Here are some helpful tips to make your video lesson run smoother:
1) BE ON TIME. It takes time to establish a good connection and make sure everyone can see and hear each other. Please be ready to go a few minutes before your lesson, and don’t be surprised if a 4:30 lesson runs from 4:28 to 4:58. This is so I can make sure I’m connected and ready to go for my 5:00 student.
2) PREP YOUR WORKSTATION. Make sure your devices are set up properly, connected to a battery source, and that you’re well lit, so I can see your pretty face and your hands on the piano. If you’re a vocalist, you want to stand a couple feet back from the phone so I can see your posture and stance while you’re singing. Have your music, a pencil, paper, metronome, your phone, and a glass of water handy.
3) HAVE A GAME PLAN. Know what songs you were assigned, and what you want to work on in the lesson that day. Keep a journal of your practicing during the week, along with any questions you want to ask me.
4) TAKE TURNS. The best distance-learning is where we take turns. You show me something and I listen...then I’ll give feedback, and you listen. We can’t make music at the same time because of the lag, so this especially affects vocalists - you’ll need to have any accompaniment tracks ready to go on your end so you can sing along and I can listen.
5) MAKE SURE I HAVE YOUR MUSIC. Please either email or text me the music you’re working on at least ten minutes before your lesson starts. What you may want to do so you don’t have to keep sending me the same photos each week is to create a folder in Google Drive that has all your sheet music clearly labeled. That way I can go to the same place each week to look at your sheet music instead of getting a fresh round of pictures. This also solves the problem of “Oh no, where did I leave my book/binder??”
6) USE AN EGG TIMER. If you don’t have a physical egg timer, you can use the oven timer. Set a duration for daily practice, whether it’s five minutes or fifty-five minutes, and stick to your daily goal.
7) CREATE OR UPDATE YOUR REPERTOIRE LIST. This is especially important for vocalists. Your repertoire list is a Google Document where you list all of the songs you have learned and worked on by genre. Then, you hashtag each one of the songs so it’s easily searchable for auditions.
I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Oughtta My Hair #major #uptempo #Broadway #musicaltheatre #classic #vintage #southpacific #rodgersandhammerstein
Now when you see an audition posting that says “Give us 32 uptempo bars of a classic musical theatre piece” you can search for any of those terms in your repertoire list and each song will pop up that fits the criteria. Having a current and well maintained repertoire list is really helpful for all musicians, but especially for vocalists.
8) BRUSH UP YOUR AUDITION BINDER. Is your black binder neat and pretty? Are only your very best pieces in there, neatly three-hole punched, with as few page turns as possible? Are all of your audition cuts clearly marked in pencil? Are you still memorized on all these songs?
Distance learning will take some getting used to, but making a game plan, practicing regularly, and coming prepared and on-time will greatly increase the value you get during your lesson time!
Stay safe and healthy out there!