February – Weddings and YouTube Videos

Sheldon Conrich - New YouTube Videos

February – Weddings and YouTube Videos

In my last blog post I talked about all the projects I am excited to be involved in and will be part of over the course of 2017. It’s been a month or so since I last posted and a lot has happened since then. So this blog is really to share with you what’s been going on in my world and to invite you to become vocal and interactive in the content I’m sharing. I’ve been creating and sharing YouTube videos and performing at some great weddings.

New YouTube Videos – Song Intros

I started this little game to test myself on what I could play and to test you lot on your musical knowledge. The concept has been to play the intros to various famous and obscure songs and for you to guess them. But really what has come out of it has been a lot of fun performing some of my favourite songs. And I’ve now been given a nickname by my fellow musicians ‘The encyclopedia’ which I’m taking as a compliment. I’ve recorded all of these intros and turned them into YouTube videos for you to watch.
My encyclopedic knowledge of music was tested at a recent function when I was asked to jam along to some songs the guests were singing without any pre warning of the songs or keys. I love these sorts of challenges. It’s part of the reason I love being a musician – testing my skills and musical ability every day.

New YouTube Videos – Famous Guitar Solos

This next project I’ve been sharing with you is based on famous acoustic and electric solos. I don’t think up until this point anyone has really seen what my soloing ability is like and who has influenced it. So before I start to perform my own solos I wanted to record a load of solos that have made me the lead guitarist I am today. There have been over twenty solos recorded so far, so watch out for these over the coming weeks. But I seriously love this stuff. And if you have any suggestions for me, let me know. I aim to add more YouTube videos over the next month so just keep checking out the playlist.

New YouTube Videos – Guitar Tips of the Week

As well as being a gigging musician for weddings and events I am also a guitar and piano teacher. I was talking to my wife and she mentioned that people might be interested in short simple tips that will dramatically improve their guitar playing. I thought, ok this could be fun. So I’ve started recording and posting a bunch of guitar tip YouTube videos for those of you who want to improve your guitar playing. Eventually this playlist will cover anything from simple chord changes and strumming to advanced soloing techniques and theory knowledge. I guess in some way this playlist will be my legacy for my children to watch when I’m old and grey!

Weddings weddings weddings

Duo musicians and DJ for weddings

It’s been a busy month or so with both weddings and events. I was fortunate enough to provide live music at Nick and Laura’s wedding which was a lot of fun. I’ve also performed a classic acoustic set at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel, gigged at the O2 with the Cocktails and Dreams band and most recently headed to Leeds to perform with the Function Band. Playing at weddings and functions is what I love to do so I’m very fortunate to be able to do it so regularly.

What’s Next?

So what’s coming next? Well I’m a performing musician both as a singing guitarist and DJ and with other musical set ups. So next up for you, I’ll be recording a playlist of cover songs I would usually play at events so you get a sense of what I do every week. You may have to wait a few weeks before this starts to materialise but I’m up for it and I hope you’re keen on watching it too. I’m also sharing a load of photos and videos on my instagram account. If you haven’t seen them then check them out. Do you have any suggestions of new YouTube videos I could post? Get in touch.

So that’s it for this month’s blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed watching and listening to me play and I look forward to updating you all over the next few months about other things going on in my world. But for now, ciao.

P.s. If you have any questions, enquiries or just want to chat feel free to contact me.

New to 2017 – Musical Projects and Performances in 2017

New to 2017 – Musical Projects and Performances

Over the course of the next year I’ll be putting more time into new musical projects and developing older ones. I’ve been very fortunate to have had some great fun over the years with various artists, bands and teaching set ups. For me this year feels different. There is something in my playing and general understanding of music that has evolved over the past few years. And this development has brought me here, to my starting place in music. To many of you that may seem strange. I’ve been learning an instrument of some sort since the age of 7. But the way I see it, you build up a musical identity over years and years of practise and listening.

Listening is really the key element here. When you first start out you listen to music in a particular way for particular things. But as you become more exposed to new ideas, rhythms, influences you start to listen for these in all forms of music. And invariably this takes you on a whirlwind musical journey that really is never ending. I feel I was wiping my feet on the matt before the start of the ‘yellow big musical road’ and I’m taking my first steps on it this year.

So to my musical projects of 2017..

The Jazz Duo

Duo and Trio for events - Sheldon Conrich

I plan to put more time into developing my instrumental jazz duo. I feel we’re at the very start of something interesting. Whilst we have performed a lot over the years pulling out jazz standards arranged for acoustic guitar and saxophone, we’ll be looking to freshen up our sound, look and performance levels.

Che Bello

Che Bello - Italian Music Duo for events

‘Che Bello’ is my first attempt at learning and mastering traditional and modern Italian songs. There’s a lot of jazz, soul and pop in the Italian genres. So it’s been fun doing this with Alice Edun’s cracking vocals. So watch this space over 2017.

Chord Melody Guitar

One of my core passions is guitar chord melody. This involves adapting and performing instrumental versions on my guitar of songs I like. It takes a fair bit of chord and melody knowledge to be under your fingers before you can just let go and see your own style emerge. This has been a big transition for me and I’m excited to arrange and record a load of material that will go on my YouTube Playlist.

DJ Shel

sheldon-conrich-dj-for-events

It’s been quite a year of learning and improving. And something I’ve really spent time on this year is DJing. This really has been born out of trying to make lives easier for clients at events who want the mix of acoustic music and DJing. As my DJing experience and catalogue has grown I’ve been able to offer clients more and more and save them time and stress looking for separate musical entities. So I look forward to DJing a lot more in 2017.

Guess The Intro

Guess the intro is just a fun little game I’ve been playing for the past few months. I’ll record literally the intro of a song and you the public must guess what I’m trying to play. Some songs are obscure and some quite current. So it’s been a good learning experience for me. I’ve had to test my musical knowledge and I look forward to posting new videos of this every week.

Cocktails and Dreams Band

Sheldon Conrich - Full band

This is really a small side project I’ve been involved with for the past year. A 5 – 6 piece function band, this musical project really allows me to play around with party pop tunes and keep in touch with what the kids are listening to these days. As a serious musician you can sometimes go long periods without listening to the modern pop charts. So bands like Cocktails and Dreams keep me fresh on the scene.

The Function Band

Wedding ideas on a budget - DJ Live

As always and ever present I’ll be performing with The Function Band over the coming months at weddings, corporate events, private parties, Bar Mitzvahs and many more. This musical project has been part of my staple music diet for the past ten years and I feel very lucky to be involved with the DRE team.

So there you have it, my 2017. And to add to that I have a little mini me on the way, yipeee. See you at an event real soon.

Teaching piano to students with ADHD

Sheldon COnrich Piano Teacher

Teaching piano to students with ADHD

Sheldon COnrich Piano Teacher

Over recent years I have taught a number of students with ADHD on both guitar and piano. The condition has a relatively new label in the medical world. So I’m sure I’ve taught many more students with ADHD but it is only in recent years that parents and schools have brought my attention to it.

In this blog I would like to feature a student I’ve been teaching for around a year. He suffers with diagnosed ADHD and learns the keyboard. I will discuss common observations I have noticed over this period and some of the solutions I have found to helping him learn better.

Teaching Student E the keyboard

Teaching keyboard to students with ADHD

Over the past year student E has been learning the keyboard with me. I was initially approached by a local school to take on the student as a way of helping him focus. The idea was that playing an instrument would introduce a weekly routine and a pattern to aid his ADHD. They originally asked me to teach him guitar but for a particular reason unrelated to his ADHD this was not possible, so we decided to move to the keyboard.

The keyboard is very different to the piano and especially to children with ADHD. There are many buttons on a keyboard which can be very distracting. Each button can change the sound of an instrument being played. And if the child finds a particular sound they like it can distract them from the learning. So be aware that this may be an issue from very early on if the child learns keyboard. A simple solution is to cover up these various buttons with a piece of paper and over time the student will understand not to touch the buttons.

Learning an instrument requires a few key components for any student to flourish. The first is that there needs to be an inner desire to want to learn the instrument and a general interest in listening to music. I would say without these two in place you really can’t teach a student an instrument. If the student does have these two components, the next one is a good attention span. Often learning an instrument requires understanding concepts or ideas and it will take a lot of focus for these to sink in. The last component to learning an instrument is a strong will to practise and repeat something which may sound awful at first.

With student E we could tick the first two boxes quite easily. I would go further to say that he actually had an interest in writing songs or at least coming up with simple melodies of his own. However his attention span and willingness to practise regularly has proved a real stumbling block.

In Lessons Observations

I noticed that student E had a lot of difficulty with basic reading and writing skills. I’m not an expert so I can’t say for certain this is common with all students with ADHD but it was very noticeable with student E. This meant that reading music posed a problem. Part of reading notes requires a kind of photographic or picture memory which student E is fine with. However connecting letters to these pictures has proved very tricky. As an alternative I have devised a more organic approach to his learning process. I’ve managed to teach him the names of the white and black notes on the keys because he has a strong visual recall. He actually really likes to draw  and so I decided we would write letters rather than notes as a way to reference melodies. From here we have been able to write and develop simple melodies using both the white and black keys. We’ve covered both single octave ideas and double octave melodies. I feel the note reading may have to be introduced at a later stage once he understands pitch, note distances and note names better.

Something else I’ve noticed in lessons is that if we focus on something too long – a melody or song – his attention will wane. He will ask about playing a different game or even suggest new games to play. This is fine for non instrument based learning but as mentioned the key to learning an instrument is repetition. So this is where the ADHD proves to be the biggest hurdle. While he can only focus for short periods of time on one idea (melody, hand technique, scale, song etc) we will find progress slow.

Lesson Length for students with ADHD

Teaching a student who has difficulty focusing and holding their attention means that the lesson length is important. From my experience in general kids tend to have shorter attention spans anyway so my usual hour lessons are reduced to 30 minutes. I would say that with student E this 30 minute lesson length was basically the threshold point. Anything longer than that and I would’ve lost him, so I made sure we packed as much varying exercises as possible in a 30 minute time frame.

Solutions for teaching keyboard to Student E

Icons of musical notation

I will go as far as to say that ADHD is certainly something that makes learning an instrument more difficult. However it is not impossible. With the development of great music apps to aid learning, these seem to have been a real revelation in helping student E improve. These apps are able to use interactive and fun animated games that deal with separate music ideas. Anything from melody, rhythm, technique, reading notes and more can be found in the app store.

As mentioned before a large problem is the constant need to switch focus regularly. So it’s important to decide on three games per lesson which you know will be cycled throughout the lesson length. Even if you get five minutes of one and move to the next app, you can then come back to the previous one later and it will feel fresh to the student. If you are really clever you can find three apps which essentially teach the same thing but in a slightly different way. By swapping between these apps you’ll end up teaching the student without them realising it’s the same concept. If the student isn’t interested in what you’re trying to teach them then move on. Don’t be fixed on one lesson idea or piece of music. If it’s not working then move on.

Some good app recommendations are My note games, Rhythm Cat and Note Teach Free. Just to say I tried Yousician but for a student with ADHD there is a lot going on and it’s very busy. It can be very intimidating for them and as much as the app has a lot to offer I wouldn’t recommend it to students with ADHD.

For teachers it’s really important you maintain patience throughout the lesson. Never get angry with your student – in general – but especially with a student with ADHD. The more relaxed they are the easier they are to teach and the longer their attention span lasts. You will need to constantly find ways to keep their attention on the task in front of them. Just keep persisting and if they aren’t interested in the thing you’ve asked them to do, move on. They will get quite agitated if you persist on something they don’t like and they’re attention will be everywhere except on the music.

Conclusions

  • Keep lesson lengths short (max 30 minutes)
  • Keep the content varied (multiple exercises)
  • Keep lessons fun (fill them with games)
  • Keep the student relaxed (Reassure and praise the student when they do the smallest thing correct)
  • Focus on note letters and writing at first rather than reading sheet music
  • Give the student plenty of time and patience
  • Be reactive and don’t be too rigid about lesson content

If you or your child has ADHD and you’re looking for piano or keyboard lessons, it is very possible to learn the instrument. If you have any questions or would like to learn piano/keyboard or guitar with me feel free to get in touch. I hope this blog has been helpful for students with ADHD and teachers trying to improve their lessons with ADHD students.

 

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