Happy moments from Monte’s Studio

One of the things I enjoy and love about private music instruction is the process of learning how others learn.  Everyone is different when it come to learning- some are best at sitting in a classroom full of people, some work best in solitude.  Some are book learners, some are interactive learners.  The challenge as a tutor/private instructor is to figure out how to engage each student in the best way, to keep them motivated to advance their knowledge of whatever subject they are focusing on.  When you achieve this, it’s the best feeling in the world, for both the teacher and the student!  Every teacher lives to see that ‘aha!’ moment in those they teach.  Here are a couple of mine:

I recently discovered an app that has really helped my younger students in their guitar/piano studies.  Yousician, available for Android and iOS devices, allows the student to follow scrolling on-screen notes using their own instrument.  The app gives you feedback on which notes are right and wrong, and features a very interactive guide that helps the student, whether an adult or a child, keep proper fingerings and technique.  In my findings, this app is really good for very active younger ones.

Mr. Caine has been a student of mine for a few months now, and he loves to play the piano.  For him, he learns at such a fast rate, that it is very difficult for him to sit still, which creates boredom and lack of interest very quickly.  We were going through a basic instructional booklet, which I found wasn’t helping him very much.  He was struggling with wanting to learn the notes in the left hand, especially.  Then, this happened.  I introduced him to the Yousician app, and everything changed.  Any mistake he made, he wanted to go back and perfect.  He was suddenly eager to learn the notes and identify them as quickly as possible.  Just watch the improvement he made in literally 15 minutes.  Keep in mind, before this, he didn’t even want to use his left hand, let alone identify the notes.

This is just one of the many examples I will be posting in the near future.  Keep checking back for more information!

Tips on making your YouTube page better

Really quick update:  I logged in to my YouTube account earlier today, and realized that I haven’t really updated the format in like… 3 years.  Yeah.  So check out the new and improved page!  For you musicians and YouTubers out there, I definitely recommend you make these changes to your pages as well:

  • If you have personal playlists, make/keep them private!
    • If you’re like me, personal playlists will start to accumulate, just because we all like to be organized.  Not everyone wants to see that stuff!  So just make them private playlists, or make them unlisted so that you can share the link with family or friends that actually care about the vids.  Keep the 200 cat videos to yourself!
  • If you have interesting playlists with information or things relevant to your content, keep a few, or rotate them for interest. 
    • Enough said.  It just keeps things organized.
  • Manage your featured videos!
    • Display your videos on your front page.  Log in via your laptop or PC, look at your landing page, and put the content that you want people to see right in front of them.  You can add as many as you want, but keep it organized.
  • If you have videos of yourself uploaded by others, add them to a playlist and feature them.
    • Some of my highest quality videos were uploaded by bands I’ve been in, or by family (my mom is awesome btw).  I added these to a featured playlist so that those can be displayed on my page for those who may not know to go to other pages to look up sample videos.
  • Change the order of your video to display the latest uploaded videos first. 
    • I may be wrong, but by what I can see, this doesn’t happen automatically.  Just click on your playlist name, go to Playlist Settings, and click on order settings. Change this to ‘Date Published (newest).’  It looks much better this way.

Have you found other things to make your page more professional?  Please comment and let me know!  And make sure to check out my YouTube Page and let me know what you think about it!


“Pray constantly. Give thanks for everything.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18a.

On many of my posts on Facebook, I use the hashtag ‘blessed.’  How true this really is!  I am so grateful for the things I have been blessed with in my life, even the little things.  Never take that for granted!  Just reflecting on the past few days:

Thursday evening I performed at a fundraiser for the Tri-State Multiple Sclerosis Association.  I had an absolute blast, and made some new friends in the process.  Before I began though, my attention was drawn to the cord that I use for my EWI.  I noticed that the very end of it was missing… Of course, first thing anyone would do is panic, which I almost did, especially after I realized on further investigation that the other end was stuck inside the very pedal that I use to connect the EWI to everything else.  But, remembering what my mom always taught me, I kept my cool and figured out another way to route my EWI on the fly so that it would still work for the evening.  Lesson learned: Thank you mom for always teaching me patience, and helping me live up to the quote, “when in doubt, improvise.”  It was so much fun performing for that event.


Friday morning I got up and realized that I had to do something about the broken cord and piece lodged inside my pedal.  So I took the whole thing apart, got the piece out, and ran over to Guitar Center to see if they would replace the cord for me (that’s where I originally bought the cord.)  Thankfully, they replaced it for free, which was great since we’re on an extremely tight budget right now.  Brand new cord for free?  I’ll take it.  And yes, I count that as a blessing.

A few hours later, I started teaching my lessons over at Evansville Music Academy.  My first student is an older gentleman with special needs.  He just started playing guitar with me a few weeks ago as a source of musical therapy.  He is a quiet individual, but has so much positivity and happiness in his heart.  He came in for his lesson and showed me that he had been working on using one finger across all the strings on one fret, an amazing accomplishment.  Taking from what he learned, I showed him a simple power chord, or ‘cowboy chord’ as some may call it.  So he struggled a little bit with getting his finger up to the 2nd fret and keeping it there, but after a few minutes, he was able to play the E chord.  I showed him a strumming pattern, and before you know it, he was playing a simple blues pattern.  After a few more minutes, he was playing a few other notes as a solo, while I played a simple blues progression underneath.  After playing for a few minutes, he looked up, smiling ear to ear, and just started laughing, saying, ‘I’m playing the blues!  I’m playing the blues!’  Let me tell you all, there is no greater joy than that.  The rest of the day was amazing with the rest of my students as well, laughing about ‘scooping’ sounds on the saxophone, watching students play brand new songs that they learned on their own, and watching them progress exponentially in the short 30 minutes I have with them.  Once again, I’m so blessed to be a part of that growing process.

Later that evening, I played at Schaum’s Pizzeria, a local pizza bar that normally my wife and I perform at every first Friday of every month.  Since she is still recovering, I played the gig by myself, and it went very well.  One of my students and his family who always come out and support us was there, and the most beautiful thing happened- I invited him and his brother and sister on stage and they sang a couple songs with me.  It was so awesome!  It’s so very encouraging to see such young ones with a passion for all kinds of music.  What an amazing, loving family they are!  (The video is on facebook… those who are friends with me, check it out on my page!)

Saturday was a very busy day!  The day started off with some wonderful spiritual encouragement at the assembly.  Just what I needed for sure.  After that, I came home to my darling wife, and right back on the road for another gig, a benefit for the local UCS.  before I performed, I watched my beautiful daughter as she took pics for the prom she went to that evening.  Of course, I had to get a selfie before I had to run off to my gig.


The gig went extremely well also!  I got to see some great and very talented fellow musicians, and their sound check was amazing!  Gotta love the love musicians can show towards one another.  Oh yeah, and the venue was incredibly beautiful (thank you ONB Downtown Evansville)!


And then, there was yesterday.  So many amazing, talented individuals!  I had the grand privilege of performing with L.A. R&B/Jazz vocalist and Evansville native Clif Payne, as well as the incredibly talented family of Eli, Jordan and Bob Green.  I was so nervous, especially backing such an incredible artist on bass.  But I tell you, everyone had my back.  We had a huge wall-to-wall crowd, and we really had a party!  I had so much fun; thank you to all those guys, and everyone who came out to support!  It was such an amazing time.


My weekend was amazing, but on top of all that, there is nothing like being a husband and a father.  Being able to come home after all of that and cook dinner for my family, take care of my wife, work in the garage (which is going to be really cool soon, hopefully lol), just the everyday things… it brings its own source of joy and happiness.

Give thanks for everything my friends!  We are a very blessed people!