Back To School Music Lessons

Scrable letters spelling out Back To School on a yellow notepad with two pencils4 Reasons Fall Is The Best Time for Music Lessons


Getting A Routine With Music Lessons

Getting back into a routine during back to school season can be extremely tough. Wether it’s getting your kids to understand they can’t play as many video games because they have homework, or just getting them to wake up to go to school, it’s hard to find a good routine. The repetition of consistent weekly music lessons promotes routine, and then when you add in practice, you have a beautiful recipe for routine! At Spark, we have tons of awesome ways to encourage kids to practice including our rock star recitals, and our massive prize wall that rewards kids for good practice.

Academic Enhancement 

People have done studies on how music lessons help kids advance in all different subjects at school. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child taking violin lessons, viola lessons, or even ukulele lessons – they all activate the brain in amazing ways. Kids who are learning scales, rhythm, or beats are also learning the way that fractions work. Through this they are also recognizing patterns and mnemonic devices that help with memory. Music lessons also teaches kids about physics. When a student strums guitar strings or plays a violin they are learning about vibrations. Even drums and the mallet percussion, give children the opportunity to understand some basic scientific principles.

Music Lessons Build Confidence 

Starting school, going to a different grade, or even going to a different school can be a terrifying experience. When students take music lessons, they work on turning negative feedback into positive! Learning music, wether through piano lessons, guitar lessons, or any other instrument, is easily applied to advancement of public speaking skills. Then, once the student is advanced enough, they will have the ability to play an instrument in front of people confidently. This will significantly set them apart from their peers.

Music Lessons Are Fun 

Nobody wants to do anything that is boring. Taking music lessons with cool teachers makes learning an instrument easy to love. When kids are playing songs after just a couple lessons, and then learning their favorite songs on that radio after that, their smiles are the best testimonies. We have had kids walking out of piano lessons or drum lessons playing songs by Kelly Clarkson, Justin Bieber, and Led Zeppelin. It’s the coolest thing to see!

4 Ways Playing In A Rock Band Can Help Your Child Learn Teamwork

4 Ways Playing In A Rock Band Can Help Your Child Learn Teamwork

As we roll out our “Rock Band Experience” program this fall, we wanted to share with you the 4 ways that playing in band can help your child learn about teamwork.

  1. Listen – Being in a band means that you have to work together to make something sound amazing.  The drums must be listening to the guitar and piano to know where they are at in a song or how loud to play, the vocalist must listen to the drummer to know how fast to sing, the pianist must listen to the guitarist to make sure they are playing the same chords.  The list goes on and on.  One of the most important skills in being a part of a successful team is learning to listen to each other and not talk (or play) over the other person.
  2. Appreciate – Being a part of a successful team means appreciating each individual personality and voice that is brought into the group.  Playing in a rock band means you have to appreciate what the drums are bringing to the group.  You have to appreciate the textures that a piano can bring to the group.  You have to appreciate the rumble that a bass guitar provides.  Without any of these other unique instruments and voices, we would be back to practicing our instrument all alone.  Music was meant to be done with a team!
  3. Persist – Have you ever been to see your favorite band or singer, then all of the sudden, they make a mistake!!!  Oh no, they aren’t totally perfect!  When they made the mistake, did they stop playing or singing?  Or did they keep on going?  I’m willing to bet they kept going!  Being in a rock band means that you need to be persistent even if you make a mistake.  You must keep going and never stop to derail the whole band.  Your job is to get back on, keep going, and proceed like nothing ever happened.
  4. Fun – Being part of a highly successful team means you get to have fun!  Have you ever seen your favorite band playing on stage and they look like they hate what they are doing?  Probably not!  When you are part of a team or band that values each other, and leaves egos at the door, you can’t help but have fun!  Some of the most magical music moments I’ve been a part of involve another person turning around, rocking out with me, and smiling about how much fun we’re having.  Being a part of a rock band is one of the most thrilling experiences!

If you are interested in having your child be a part of the “Rock Band Experience”, please contact us at (763)445-9516 or fill out our contact form.  We can’t wait to rock out with you!

4 Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Music Lesson Confidence 


4 Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Music Lesson Confidence

At Spark, we believe that we have the ability to change the lives of students. A big piece of that is working with students to develop and nurture their confidence. Wether your child has been taking piano lessons for years, self taught themselves drums, or just started guitar lessons, we work with them to build their confidence. Here are 4 ways we can help nurture your child’s confidence.

We Encourage Curiosity

We love helping our students explore styles that they might not be comfortable with. Wether it’s learning to sing a jazz song, or play a rock song on a ukulele, showing a child there is more out there than just the music they know, helps facilitate curiosity and build confidence.

Learn From Our Mistakes

Nobody is perfect. As hard as we can try to achieve perfection, we still make mistakes. Our music teachers use the opportunity to teach students the importance of learning from mistakes. We do this by recording students in their music lessons or encouraging them to record themselves practicing at home. These are opportunities to help students learn and grow to become better musicians, students, and community members!

Encourage Practice, Don’t Pressure

We all want the best for our kids, especially when it comes to making a piano or violin sound beautiful. We have found that pressuring our students to practice can actually make them resent playing music. We teach our students that practicing will help them grow their skills, and if they practice, confidence in their music lessons and abilities will grow exponentially.

Let Them Find The Answers

Life is full of surprises and situations where we have to dig for the answers. We love leading students to uncover answers. Our music teachers work with students by not giving the answers right away, but rather asking questions to help the student find the answer. For example, if a student is taking piano lessons and doesn’t know what note they have to play, the teacher will ask questions about notes surrounding the unfamiliar note, in hopes that the student will find the answer using context clues.

Music Lesson Stocking Stuffer Guide

Music Lesson Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide

Happy Holidays!  This time of season can be stressful for a lot of people.  As you run around trying to figure out what you are going to get for your child, family member, friend, or coworker who loves music, we have come up with a simple stocking stuffer gift guide to help relieve some of that stress. 


Moon Gels – $6.99

With a name like moon gel, you know you’ve found the best gift of the year. 

“Moongel Percussion Dampening Gels are a wonderful and easy way to control unwanted resonance and overtones. Move the pad around on the surface of your drums or cymbals to create the desired tone. These washable pads are made form a soft nylon gel. They are self-adhesive and retain their stickiness for years. The RTOM Moongel Percussion Dampening Gels come in a 4-pack plastic carrier.” Every drummer should have these in their arsenal!

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Drum Key – $2.95

I don’t know how much to say about this.  If you know someone who plays drums and doesn’t have a drum key, this should be the first thing you buy them.  Drum keys fit the tension rods of the drums to tune them up and make them sound pretty.  It can also be used to tighten certain hardware.  If you have someone in drum lessons, this is a must have.  Being the cheapest thing on the list, its a great option to throw in the stocking!  

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The Singing Machine Wireless Microphone – $12.99


If you have the next Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, or karaoke superstar in your life, this is the best gift you can give them!  

“Channel your inner pop star. The Singing Machine Wireless Microphone is a Uni-Directional dynamic wireless microphone with a VHF receiver. Plug it into your microphone Jack and do away with messy cords. The Singing Machine Wireless Microphone has a wide frequency response and high sensitivity for optimal performance. Note, you can only use one SMM107 per machine, as more than one receiver will cause interference. Battery Operated”

If you have someone in voice lessons or just loves to sing check out this item!

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String Winder/Cutter – $7.93

This is one of the best tools (besides a tuner) for a person in guitar lessons, or who just loves playing Van Halen licks in the basement.  Having a guitar string winder/cutter saves time and hassle by making it easier to get your guitar strings tight and cut.  

“The Planet Waves Pro-Winder is a patented high-quality peg winder with a built-in string clipper. Ergonomically designed with hardened tool-steel wire cutters. The Pro-Winder enables you to change strings with just a single tool. Easy and comfortable to use. Unconditionally guaranteed.”

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Electric Guitar String – $4.45

I can’t tell you how many people don’t realize they need new guitar strings!  The natural oils on our hands will slowly destroy your strings.  If you have someone who plays electric guitar, these are our favorite strings on the market.  Plus, they are cheap! 

“Regular Slinky Electric Strings are Ernie Ball’s top-selling set and are favored by many musicians around the globe. Regular Slinky wound strings are made from a nickel-plated, steel wire wrapped around a hex-shaped, steel core wire. The plain strings are made of specially tempered, tin-plated, high-carbon steel, producing a well-balanced tone for your guitar. 
All Ernie Ball strings are precision manufactured to the highest standards and the most exacting specs to assure consistency, optimum performance, and long life.
Ernie Ball is a pioneer of rock and roll guitar strings. Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Steve Vai, and Slash are among the long list of Slinky players.”

With a list like that of guitarists, you’d be crazy to not pick these up.  Who knows, maybe if you change those strings you can start playing like them too(Not guaranteed). If you know some in guitar lessons, toss these things in the stocking and watch everyone be a lot happier.

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Acoustic Guitar Strings – $10.99 

Just like the electric guitar strings, putting new strings on your guitar is crucial.  These strings usually last longer than a lot of other brands, which makes our guitar students happy, and our guitar teachers even happier!  

“Elixirs are the first major innovation in strings in over forty years, and they deliver what they promise: great tone and long life no matter what you put them on or how often you play. Nanoweb coating permits strings with the feel, bright tone, and punch of traditional strings. 
Elixir Acoustic Guitar Strings are covered with an ultra-thin, space-age polymer tube that contacts the string on the tops of the windings only. This leaves the all-important winding-to-winding-to-core space free from the fear of the enemies of tone!
Most players report that Elixir Strings keep sounding great 3 to five times longer than ordinary strings.”

These strings are an industry standard and something that we recommend to all of our guitar students for their lessons.  The strings that normally come on the guitar are not awesome, so now is the time to get that guitar lover in your life the gift of better tone.

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Violin-Viola-Cello Rosin – $9.99

Players of violin, viola, and cello rub cakes or blocks of rosin on their bow hair so it can grip the strings and make them speak, or vibrate clearly.  This should be the case of every violin, viola, and cello student.

“JADE rosin is made by a venerable French manufacturer, steeped in formulating professional quality rosin for well over a century. JADE rosin is a new, refined formulation, with remarkable qualities of dust-free adhesion. Avoiding metallic residues, which do not contribute to adhesion and may indeed scratch fine varnishes, JADE rosin incorporates highly refined resins to produce a smooth yet firm grip. From symphony musicians to concert artists, JADE rosin has received enthusiastic acclaim. Each rosin is mounted on a protective velvet cloth wrap and comes with its own attractive lidded container with gold and slate graphics.”

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Ear Plugs – $15.99

This is hands down the most important thing on this list.  Wether is going to a concert, mowing the lawn, or using power tools, EVERY PERSON NEEDS TO OWN EAR PLUGS.  I can’t say how many tragic stories I have heard of people losing their hearing because of rock concerts, playing drums, or playing with their band.  Please, if you don’t own any ear plugs buy them for yourself, and buy a pair for someone else.  

“Hearos High Fidelity Ear Plugs are a breakthrough product that delivers flat attenuation for musicians. With flat attenuation you hear the music just as it was intended, but with the elimination of up to 12 decibels of potentially damaging noise. For concerts and jam sessions that can exceed 125 decibels, Hearos High Fidelity Ear Plugs are the way to go. Washable and reusable.”

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Top 3 Music Apps Of 2015

As a working musician, I am quickly realizing how important it is to use technology to stay relevant. So many songwriters are using electronic samples and sounds that are vital to the song. For a drummer, this may mean using a sample pad to replicate different sounds. For a keyboardist, it may mean building synth patches or sampling various sounds. Or, it could be running a computer with Ableton or another Digital Audio Workstation(DAW). With the advancement of technology the ability to do so many things in the palm of your hand, and the start of a new year, I have comprised a list of my top 3 music apps of 2015.

tempo-frozen-ape-logo 1. Frozen Ape – Tempo $2.99

This is hands down the app I use most frequently. I use this almost every day for teaching and gigging. This metronome app has the ability to set tempos which are easily adjustable for teaching purposes. You can set multiple subdivisions (quarters, eighths, triplets, sixteenths, swung triplets, and swung sixteenths) to fit any need. However, my favorite feature on this app is the “gig” mode. On this setting you can save all of your song titles, tempos, and subdivisions then simply press the arrow key to move through your set list. You can have multiple set lists for those playing with multiple bands. To customize this app you can change the sound of the click with the 15 included samples, change the display, and change accent. This is the app I have all of my students download after their first lesson.

GarageBand-Icon2. Garage Band – $4.99

Are you a songwriter who wants to explore getting your songs recorded? This is the app for you. It is an easy to use music recording app. I’ve used this app from recording quick song ideas in the car all the way to recording live mixes from gigs. Guitarists can use this with a mini recording pod and track what they are playing. Vocalist’s can sing right into the mic on the phone. If you play piano, you can use the built in keyboard and play with your fingers or you can get an adapter and plug in an electric keyboard. This is also an extremely useful practice tool, as you can record a practice session and listen back to what your playing. The recording will point out your flaws and other areas of improvement. It’s like having your music teacher with you all the time! Plus it’s pretty cool that you can show your friends a song that you wrote and recorded.

ASD3. Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) – $14.99

I first found this amazing program on the computer and then discovered the app. One of the first things I tell my students is start something slow and work to speed it up. I have found this helps my students learn rhythms faster and helps them to play at any tempo. With this app, you are able to import a song, slow down the tempo and loop sections without losing audio quality. If you are working through a song that is too fast or struggling to hear a specific guitar line or drum fill, then you need this app. There are cheaper, even free, versions of this app, but I have found the price is worth it.

Why Is Music So Important?

Why Is Music So Important?

4646392_origI started thinking about how important music is to our children and society. As I read articles understanding the importance, I realize how music is worked into many of the school subjects that kids are learning in school today.


The science of music and sound is something that we take for granted every day. From the strumming of an acoustic guitar, or the pounding of drums, the sound waves travel to our ears in unique ways. Changes in frequencies or volume and how we hear the sound is all science. The size of a room, what the room is made of, or even what is in the room can all change the way we hear the music.


In music, everything is mathematical. Rhythms are based on subdivisions and fractions. Knowing how many beats are in each measure, you can then do the math to find out how many notes and what subdivisions you can place in that measure. I frequently have my drum and piano students counting out and writing specific rhythms in a measure, to make sure they fully understand why the notes fit.

World Language

Music is frequently referred to as the universal language. Most of the terminology used is in music is Italian, German or French. Many of the most beautiful operatic pieces are in foreign languages, forcing vocalists to read, speak, and understand what the composer was trying to express.

Physical Education

As a working musician, I experience this everyday. From the movement of our bodies, to coordination of the fingers on a guitar, all 4 limbs on a drum set, and the lips and facial muscles of a vocalist. All require muscle movement that make you burn calories. Studies have shown that there are as many calories burned by a symphony trumpet player in one performance, as there are by a quarterback in the NFL.


As someone learns music, they are reflecting on the time and place of the creator. Whether someone is playing a classical piece by Bach on the piano, or a pop tune on the radio today. All are showing what society was like, and the emotions of people during those times. As we learn the music, we can also begin to learn history behind why its sounds the way it does. In the 1930’s, Soviet composers were expected to write optimistic, patriotic music that communicated directly to the masses. Shostakovich wrote music during this time that seemed to almost mock the Soviet government, to the point where he faced arrest or imprisonment.


Music has a very unique medium, as it can be repainted over and over again. Slight and subtle changes can be made for someone to translate it into an emotion they’re feeling. Sometimes a beautiful piece of music can be transformed into something funny, such as Weird Al’s music. Or a joyous “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” could be turned into something sad, such as Andrew Belle’s version.

I don’t expect my students to become music majors, and create a life being a musician.  My goal is for my students to have fun and translate their thoughts and emotions through their instrument. Music is a versatile subject that covers many of the topics studied in school and can be carried over into their professional career

Spark Music Studio Receives 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award

Press Release


Spark Music Studio Receives 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award

Maple Grove Award Program Honors the Achievement

MAPLE GROVE December 10, 2015 — Spark Music Studio has been selected for the 2015 Best of Maple Grove Award in the Music Schools category by the Maple Grove Award Program.

Each year, the Maple Grove Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Maple Grove area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Maple Grove Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Maple Grove Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Maple Grove Award Program

The Maple Grove Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Maple Grove area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Maple Grove Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Maple Grove Award Program

Maple Grove Award Program
Email: [email protected]


HELP! I’m buying my first drum set!

“Help! I need to buy a drum kit and have no idea where to start.”
There are so many options out there, so what is the best for you? Things that will factor in what the best option for you is going to be size/age of the students, noise tolerance, budget, needs, and features.

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Technical…? Feel…? Technically Feel Both.

There are three different areas that musicians and music teachers come from. The first is the technical musician and teacher. The second is the teacher and musician who play off of feel. The third is the musician who uses both. Using both is the most valuable.

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You’re Not Just A Music Teacher Anymore

Recently, I received a letter from a student reminding me how important my role is as a teacher.  Let’s start by reading this.

“Hi, Nick

Thank you for being my teacher these past 2 1/2 years.  I really appreciate you teaching me how to play.  I hope that your teaching career goes well and you are successful because you have not only become my teacher.  You are my friend.  You are very good at what you do and I hope you continue to teach.  I want you to know I will be playing percussion (I hope mostly drums) in the RMS 6th grade band.  Thank you and I’m glad I was your student.”

Wow.  This really struck me.  After reading this, I began to think of my role as a teacher.  What are we doing?  Are we teaching music just to teach someone how to play an instrument?  Are we teaching lessons just because mom and dad want their child to learn guitar, piano, drums, or violin?  While those may be true, I think we can choose to make it more than just a music lesson.

I think the first step to teaching music, is learning that MOST students don’t want to pursue music as a career.  Many are looking to pursue a different hobby, play music in a basement with their friends, or inevitably there are those who are forced into taking music lessons when the child doesn’t want to.  Once we understand that idea, we can begin to dig more into how we can create a bigger impact.

So what does it look like to create a bigger influence in the lives of our students?  I think the next step is making the lesson fun and inspiring.  Find out what the student likes to listen to.  I have students who have loved Classic Rock, and Metal, all the way to a student who loved video game music.  Once you find out what they listen to, find a way to incorporate that into a lesson.  For me, I use Finale and transcribe the songs they love and teach them that.  Many times I have to simplify it, but it gets them playing what they love, and thats really what matters.

The next way I have found to create a bigger impact on them, is find what they love to do outside of music lessons.  Try and relate to them with this, and always inquire about these things.  I’ve had students interested in parkour, hockey, internet technology, football, taekwondo, and many other activities.  While I don’t know much about a lot of these, I always ask and show interest.  This shows the student that your invested in their lives outside of just playing music.  For example, I always start out a lesson asking, “How was your week”, and end with, “Anything fun planned for the rest of the week”?  This lets me know if they had enough time to practice and if they’re going to have enough time to practice next week.  More importantly, it shows that I am interested in them as people, and that I genuinely want to know what is happening in their lives.  This is a major point to gain trust, and friendship with your students.

Lastly, always keep the lesson fun, and never tense.  As soon as you start making the lesson serious all the time, and never taking a moment to laugh, you’re going to lose that student.  I always take advantage of these times.  A lot of times I try to pick out dorky things that I’ve done, or something crazy I may have said.  Think of your lessons as having a conversation with a good friend, but the focus being on learning an instrument.  As soon as this mentality happens, both you and the student are going to feel more relaxed, and enjoy the lesson.

I firmly believe that when you gain the trust of a student and build a personal relationship with them, you’ll notice a lot of things seem to fall in place.  Students WANT to come to lessons even though they were previously forced.  Students will want to stick around with you longer, because you are making music fun for them.  Students will be inspired by what you are doing, because you now have that influence.  Lastly, students will view you as a mentor, and that’s where it really is going to matter for a lifetime.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by parents that they view me as a mentor for their child.  That’s the biggest compliment you can give me.  So with all of this being said, remember this one thing.  You’re not just a music teacher anymore.  You’re an inspiration.  A mentor.  A friend.