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Jam Session!

Here I find myself in a familiar situation. Writing out chord charts for our upcoming Jam Session on Friday, February 7th! I always forget that it can be a lot of work to get everyone prepared (including instructors) for something that takes focused coordination. If you're unfamiliar with what I am talking about, we at Matt Burk Music Studio have many performance opportunities for our students. Jam Sessions are a relaxed way to develop what I call "ensemble awareness". It is the idea that it is helpful to play in a group for many reasons. A player must listen when performing with others to keep "in the song". A performer can truly experience the fluctuations that can occur in a group as well. Also, it helps our students meet each other and develop a music community within the studio! While I like to complain about the difficulties of making chord charts (the revisions alone can take days to catch!), truthfully, I enjoy it. I like seeing the students start the songs and hearing what they sound like on the night of the performance. I know they work hard all year but these are my times to literally see the progress! I often end up playing in the groups as a bass player; we have a couple but there's always a bass-shaped hole to fill.  I am impressed by their musicality. I think that everyone, even those with no wish to perform in front of a crowd, should witness the performance at least once to see how Matt Burk Music Studio helps students reach their musical goals!

If you or someone you know is interested in private music lessons custom-tailored to their interests, please check out the rest of our site or stop by one of our convenient North Texas locations in Allen and Frisco! Matt Burk Music Studio: Learn, Create, Perform!



Eliminate the "No"!

The first time I saw an electric guitar up close happened while I was waiting for my mom to finish the paperwork to rent my cornet for middle school band. It was a stratocaster type knock-off, red with white pickguard and it.was.beautiful! I ran my fingers across the open strings and the slight dissonance jarred me. The man behind the counter said out loud, "Would you like to learn that one instead?" and I thought to myself, "Could I ever play that instrument?" It seemed so complicated to me, 6 strings to deal with on both hands? The small things I had learned in the first few days of band class were still foreign to me! I told him "no" and left without much concern, though my mind kept wandering back to the red electric guitar.

It would be three more years before I sat down with my grandmother's acoustic to learn to play, urged on by both a quest to find my identity and the gift of free time that comes with being young. I had a few rudimentary chord charts and a pitch-pipe, yet things seemed to fall into place. . .

I realized that the instrument was, duh!, made for the hands! But the chords did not necessarily make sense to me alone. It took organizing them in a certain order that made it sound interesting to my ears. Of course this was a tortoise-paced, roundabout way of learning harmonic progression, but I wouldn't know that until it was made clear in studies at school.

If I had only said "yes" to the question years earlier would I now be light-years ahead in my skills? One can never say for sure. However when I see my students pick up something that took me years to learn in a few week's worth of lessons, I wonder. . .

I believe that telling yourself "no" before trying them can make easy tasks seem daunting. If we just give ourselves the benefit of the doubt we often find that the task is simple and not outside our abilities. At Matt Burk Music Studio, we can provide small insights into the instrument that YOU are interested in. We offer customized, private lessons in piano, guitar, drums, bass, voice, songwriting, and audio production. Matt Burk Music Studio: Learn, Create, Perform!

Just a Little Push

I am fairly certain that I wouldn't be sitting here typing about the music studio if my grandmother hadn't given me her guitar when I was a young boy. I hadn't thought about playing an instrument before then. She and my grandfather had been in a traveling country band and she felt it was time to pass it to the next generation. Perhaps there is an alternate universe where I bizzaro-me is a CPA and spends his weekends building ships in small glass bottles. Alas, in this universe I am a musician and I have it all to thank from that one little "push" that she gave me so many years ago. As she handed me the case she said, "your fingers are going to hurt a bit at first, but the more you play it, the easier it gets". Sound advice at the time and something I now tell my students who are new to the instrument. Perhaps you know someone that is looking for a hobby, something to relax them from a stressful job, or a way to connect with others. Learning an instrument is, in my humble opinion, is the perfect solution! Maybe they're already thinking about it and they just need that "little push". Are you the person to give it to them? Not sure where to go after that? Let us at Matt Burk Music Studio take over from there. We offer private music lessons for piano, guitar, drums, bass, voice, songwriting, and audio production. Together we can open the world of music to those whom might have not tried it in the first place. Matt Burk Music Studio: Learn, Create, Perform!

Reading Music in the Modern Age

  A  long time ago, before radio and television, families would sit together and play through popular songs that were available as sheet music. Perhaps dad played piano while the rest of the family harmonized with mom. Or brother and sister played violin to counter mother and fathers' viola and cello.   No TV programs for the family to watch, no radio to listen to. People made "conversation" through reading music together. These things still occur, of course, but with a modern twist. Here at Matt Burk Music Studio we have many students who have siblings, parents, and children taking lessons congruently. This allows for conversations about music between family members that may bring them closer together; they might play songs that they're working on, or at least have someone to talk to about music in general and help with tricky rhythms and melodies. Reading music may seem difficult to grasp, but no matter if you take private piano, drum, voice, guitar, or bass lessons with us, we can teach you to read proficiently! Matt Burk Music Studio: Learn, Create, Perform!


Getting the Most Out of Lessons

At Matt Burk Music Studio we dream of every student experiencing the joy and passion that comes with expressing themselves in music, learning their craft proficiently and becoming a success in their own right. We want each student to have an exceptional experience with us. There are three elements that contribute heavily towards this goal. When these three elements are working in concert, then the greatest results are achieved!


Ian Osborne coaching voice students at a Jam Session

As teachers, we certainly play a key role in each student’s overall success. One of our primary goals is to listen carefully to find what inspires and motivates the student, and then customize a lesson plan with that in mind. We use a lot of encouragement and positive reinforcement in the teaching process. Our purpose is to help students achieve their unique goals in music. Our teachers work with each student to customize lessons and a practice plan that will work with their specific goals, interests and schedules.


Collin playing lead guitar at a student Jam Session

Each week, students spend a relatively short amount of time in lessons – typically either 30 minutes or 60 minutes in one-on-one lessons with their teacher. As such, the majority of the progress a student sees will typically take place at home, between lessons. What happens at home is one of the biggest factors that determines a student’s progress. With this in mind, our teachers work with students very specifically to understand how much practice time you can realistically commit to each week. Then they will work with you and structure lessons accordingly. We do not have any set amount of practice time that we expect, but rather understand that each student’s schedule is different, and work from there. It is important to keep in mind that often times, if practicing is not a scheduled part of the student’s week, then it simply doesn’t happen.


Parental involvement is also a very important element in the student’s musical journey. Our desire is to keep the parents informed about what is happening in lessons, and to keep the lines of communication open at all times. The more information that we receive from parents (and students), the better. If the student’s musical interests have changed, or they need some different inspiration, or they would like to further explore another aspect of music (e.g., songwriting, improvisation, etc.), or whatever it might be - we would love to know that, so we can adjust lessons accordingly. So communication is key with us. We want to make sure that we continue to meet each and every student where they are.

Parents often ask us what they can do to best support the learning process.

A grandma taking picture of her granddaughters after performing at House of Blues Dallas.

Parents also play a huge role at home. The support a student receives at home is critically important in the overall success of lessons. In order for the student to get the most out of lessons, the parents need to be involved in a positive, encouraging manner. Some students thrive with more parental involvement and some students thrive with less. We know that you know your child best, and as such, we generally defer to you in this area. However, from time-to-time, we may make suggestions and ask you to help us by trying different approaches (e.g., being more or less actively involved in lessons or practice) as a part of our teaching process.

Australian musician, music teacher and author, Philip Johnston, in his renowned book, “The Practice Revolution” put together a list of seven key things that parents can do to support their child in the learning process. Below are those keys, along with some quotes from Johnston’s book. We have also included some of our own comments - based on our personal experiences with students of Matt Burk Music Studio.

1. Be interested.

“The single best thing parents can do to help their child practice is to be genuinely interested in what’s going on with their music lessons. To be hungry to find out what happened in the last lesson, and how their child plans on being ready for the next one.”

We know you have an interest in your child’s music lessons, or you wouldn’t be willing to invest your time and money in this process! Even still, we wanted to be sure you’re aware that questions about what song your child is working on, what made them choose that song, which scale they like or dislike the most, where they are struggling, where they are excelling, or what song they want to learn next, can have a tremendous impact on the student’s progress and overall excitement about music lessons. Whether you are a professional musician or have no musical experience whatsoever, your interest in your child’s learning process is extremely valuable!

2. Encourage.

Parents don’t need to be gushing over every correct quarter note, but calculated positive feedback from parents is a great way of reinforcing behavior.”

The best way to encourage your child, is to be well informed about what goals are being set for them to accomplish each week. The more you know about the specifics of the lessons, the more targeted you can be in your encouragement. In order to get you as much information about lessons as possible, we talk to parents at the end of every lesson (assuming you are available), and we also send home a practice and progress form each week. The practice and progress form will include information about the student’s strengths as well as specific practice instructions and goals for the week. And remember – your child’s instructor will work to strengthen their skills and correct their weaknesses. So we encourage parents to really focus on the positives!

3. Reflect.

Parents can ensure that the communication between studio and home is complete by having the student reflect back to them the essential information for the week ahead.”

It is of critical importance that when students leave the studio they have a clear understanding of what their practice goals are for the week. This is important since the vast majority of progress takes place during the week, in-between lessons. By having the teacher, student, and parents, on the same page and with the same expectations, it greatly increases the success of lessons.

4. Steer.

Even when kids are completely clear on what their goals are for the week, and have a comprehensive list of practice techniques to use to pursue those goals, they can sometimes be confused as to how to organize it all.”

Often times students can be a little overwhelmed as to how to properly manage their practice goals for the week. You as parents can play a helpful role in your child effectively practicing by working with them to plan out a “roadmap” for the week as to what should be accomplished first, second, third, and so on. For example if you hear your child playing through a part of a song, for an extensive period of time, that they feel comfortable with, then you can steer them to spend some time on a section that they need more work on. This is just one of many scenarios where you as parents can steer you child in the right direction for practicing.

5. Enthuse.

While praise can be useful for reinforcing what a student is already doing, being enthusiastic can help motivate students to be excited about things they haven’t even started yet - affecting practice sessions that may not take place for months, or even years.”

Often times students only see what is directly before them. It’s important for them to sometimes “look up” and see what’s down the road if they continue pursing music. It’s easy for any of us to lose traction or motivation if we don’t have a vision for what’s to come. As parents, you can help provide that much needed vision for your child by mentioning songs that they would love to be able to play one day, but aren’t quite ready for yet. It’s an important part of the process to be “hungry” for things yet to come. You can also really influence them to take advantage of our exciting performance opportunities! This enthusiasm can really instill a sense of purpose and drive that students need. It’s all about encouragement and inspiration!

6. Progress checks.

One of the best ways to assess progress is with a couple of well-spaced midweekcheckpoints,” and the parent is the perfect audience for the student to show off their work so far to.”

As we all know, the week has a way of flying by. Mid-week check-ups are a great way to assess what has been accomplished up to that point, and then to plan out the rest of the week. These “checkpoints” are not necessarily designed to assess how much practicing has been done but rather the way practicing has been done. The success of practicing should not be measured in the amount of time spent, but rather in progress made. Simply put, a student can accomplish more in 10 minutes of correct practicing, than in 30 minutes of incorrect practicing. We’re not interested in students racking up huge practice numbers, but rather accomplishing specific goals. Your teacher can help shed more light on this subject.

7. Knowing when not to help.

Sometimes the best help is not to help at all. Some students work best when they are given room to move, and will actively resent parents leaping in with solutions for every practice problem they face. As students become more autonomous with their practice, the parental involvement model moves gently from helping regularly to simply being available should the student need it.”

This, of course, is a very subjective issue. As parents, you know your child better than anyone. This is a process that only you and your child will be able to monitor, but we wanted be sure you’re aware that it can be an important factor in a student’s progress.

A final note – please talk with us!

Lastly, we want to reiterate the importance of an open line of communication with us. As your child communicates their likes, dislikes, concerns, passions, etc. with you, please share that information with us! We want the lines of communication to always be open between our instructors and our students and our parents. Please do not assume that your child is communicating as openly with us as they do with you. We truly want each student to have an exceptional experience with us. As such, we really want to know how to best connect with them, so please keep us in the loop as lessons progress!

This article is a part of a notebook that what we give to all new students who join our studio. We teach private lessons for piano, guitar, drums, bass, voice, songwriting and audio production at our Studio in Allen, Texas. You can check out this video to get a glimpse of what makes our Studio unique! If you have questions about lessons with us, be sure to check out the rest of our website, email us, or call us at 972.207.9353, and we'll be happy to help you!

(Student) Cole Wilkinson Lands a TV Gig!

Electric Guitar lessons are really paying off for Cole Wilkinson! This summer Cole auditioned for a TV pilot show being filmed at The Studios at Las Colinas. Of the hundreds of children who auditioned, Cole was one of only 27 to be cast for the new show - called "Who Runs This Show?" Cole Wilkinson - guitar student and cast member of "Who Runs This Show?"

Cole took his electric guitar to the audition and was asked to play. The producer said he was impressed that Cole could play and was not shy about performing in front of them. Cole's mom said that she attributed this, in part, to the recitals and jam session opportunities that Matt Burk Music Studio offers to students. Twice each year, we host a student showcase at House of Blues Dallas and a recital at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.  As a student with us, Cole has participated in both events! He has been taking lessons with Art Struck for about a year and a half. Cole's mom says, "We are so thankful to have a resource like the Matt Burk Music Studio in our area for our kids."

We are all really excited for Cole to have landed a TV gig! He is clearly reaping the benefits of his hard work and enthusiasm for learning guitar! And of course, to have such supportive parents is a huge factor in students pursuing the study of an instrument and in achieving their unique musical goals. The show that Cole is a part of is especially noteworthy because the cast (kids) have spent numerous hours in creative writing workshops, brainstorming skit ideas, and casting each other in the different roles, while also learning about what is involved in creating a marketable TV show. The show will air in October on the first social TV network, YouToo, which is backed by Mark Burnett (producer of Survivor, The Voice and many other successful television shows)! If you're not familiar with YouToo, check it out at!

Something else that's fun? You can meet the cast of this new pilot TV show called, “Who Runs This Show?” and even be a part of filming a segment of their Halloween episode this Saturday August 25th from 7pm to 10 pm at The Studios of Las Colinas! The cast is hosting a party called “The Nightmare Before School Begins.” In addition to possibly making it into one of the scenes of an upcoming episode, you can meet the cast, get a sneak preview of their show, win a prize for best costume, dance to the rockin tunes of DJ Omar and Ricky Wilson, eat pizza, popcorn and punch, and have a great time! Get all the details and register for the back to school social at the studio here. Register online, to get the special price of $10! At the door, tickets are $15.

So make plans to go this Saturday night - for a really unique back-to-school party. And when you're there, be sure to find Cole and to congratulate him!

The Correct Practicing Method

We are the premier studio for north Dallas, McKinney, Plano, Frisco, and Allen, TX. We have an arsenal of wonderful instructors teaching piano, voice, guitar, bass, and drums lessons. At Matt Burk Music Studio, we tailor each lesson plan to fit the unique needs of our students and strive to pass on to each student a practical, fun way to learn and play music. Do you wanna learn music? Heed these 10 Practicing Techniques!