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When you go to music stores, there is a feeling of endless posibilities and as if you are were you belong as a musician. Of course it also depends on which store you find yourself in, but in many cases, it’s not just about selling products, it’s more about a community, where musicians can find a place to find instruments, fix them, broaden their posibilities with different accesories, and make bonds with other musicians.

Sometimes going into a music store can bea little intimidating, with all the instruments hanging around you, drum sets, pianos, and all the posibilites with the small problem of having enough money to be able to have it all.

There is nothing like going to the place were the only reason to be there is music.

Forty-eight Street Stores

In an article by the New Yorker by Thomas Beller, he writes about some of the greatest music stores in New York, that are now gone.

Forty-eighth Street was once famous for stores that sold musical instruments. Those stores catered to musicians of every stripe, but the vibe was very rock and roll. The names that stand out for me are Manny’s and Sam Ash, but there were several others, packed together, one next to the other, each a world unto itself. In my own private atlas of the city, that street was also notable for the degree its character changed in the course of one block, from Seventh Avenue to Sixth Avenue. The music stores, like the support of a seesaw, were the point at which that character made its pivot.

Writing about this minutia brings me back to the spirit of those music stores on Forty-eighth Street: they weren’t merely a place to buy musical equipment. They were an immersive world where all this stuff was highly important. There were photos on the wall, the trappings of fame, money, the sense that giants had strode into this place, that the gods bought instruments here, or just strings and picks. Just by walking into these places you became a part of the ecclesiastical grit of rock music in New York.


That is the magical thing about all these little experiences in music stores, it’s all about being a part of something bigger than yourself.

There was also the question of style and taste—the look of the guitar being tried out. The dress of the player. The kind of music the potential buyer was interested in. It was an exercise in both “Name That Tune”—because usually, the riffs were famous riffs—and name that style. This guy is into Kiss, this guy into the Byrds, this one into the Clash. There was a lot of metal. I was going to these stores from the late nineteen-seventies until the mid-nineties, a time when the hard crunch of metal was prevalent in one form or another. Maybe I shouldn’t say metal. Maybe I should say rock and roll, in all its glorious young-dumb-and-full-of-come stupidity. Or just rock.


As a musician, it’s very important to be out there as such, because there is definitely a lot to learn from other musicians, but learning is not just about a classroom or online music lesson. Little things such as a tip from a stranger that plays in a music store can change your relationship with music, even if it is just a little bit, these changes matter in the big picture.

Whether it is learning about performance, instruments, history, music in general or just knowing people, music stores exist as a place for reunion and excitment for musicians of all ages, and while it’s a sort of tradition that doesn’t always appear to be real, it is real in many places, and it certainly is a candy story for musicians.

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It’s very well known that young children many times have big dreams, including becoming great successful musicians like their idols, and as teachers, the idea has to be always to get them closer to the dream as long as it’s alive, because sometimes, their goals change. Still that is their choice, to decide whether or not they love it as they get closer, and avoid them getting bored or hate what used to be their dream.

Eli Yamin, a Jazz composer, pianist, singer and teacher has a few words for young aspiring musicians:

Young man, you must ALWAYS play music.  The music you make brings beauty and positive spirit to the world.  And goodness knows, we need more of it.  Choosing a career in music is a separate decision.  A successful music career relies on the cultivation of many skills both musical and non musical.  To make a living or good wage as a musician, you need to develop skills in business and/or education.  These may or may not be of interest to you.  So, before putting all your eggs into the making-your-living-by-playing-music basket, spend time finding out where you are at in these other areas.

A lot has been said about parents encouraging their children, and teachers encouraging creativity but the part that really makes a boy or a girl want to make music is sometimes forgotten in search of better understanding of their abilities.

How is it possible to encourage this side of things? easy, talking about it, and asking about it.

The thing is, that it’s not very easy to find children talking about their dreams and experiences, i we were to search in google, chances are the results show tips on how to teach kids or how to interact with them but not their actual thoughts or opinions.

Of course one may argue that children’s opinions may not help as much as an expert’s opinion on the subject, or tips that let’s us organize our minds, but the truth is that sometimes there is a part of the dialogue that’s missing.

In the end music is very much a personal experience, while it can be shared it’s the relationship between the individual and the sounds

Dr Eric Rasmussen says:

There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake. The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music. Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.

In many ways it shows that music can help children be more connected with themselves and develop creative skills while learning more about the world that surrounds them.

In the end, the truth is that a children’s mind doesn’t really recognize the line between imagination, dreams and the “hard” reality. This is something that it begins to lose strength as we grow older, and our dreams begin to fade into routines, jobs, and just getting life in order.

Undying Dreams


There is a part of the way children’s minds work with these things that must stay the same, that’s why it’s so important in this case for children interested in music to have good guidance and express themselves about their goals and dreams. Casey van Wensem has an article about the line between dreams and realistic goals as a musician, she says:

While they may feel different in our minds, dreams and goals are essentially the same thing – they’re an idea of something we’d like to achieve at some point in the future. While a dream may seem like a far-off fantasy, it becomes more realistic when we connect it to the present through a series of short-, medium-, and long-term goals.

Dreams don’t die, we organize and learn to have a sense of discipline, which then makes them real. Children need to maintain their dreams, while learning how to use the tools to make them real, and for that, the best thing to start is a good little conversation.

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There are many ways to share the love for music, some choose to see it as hobby, others as a full time job, but there are cases in a musician’s life where they live to practice various ways to live from music, and it’s interesting to see how someone as a teacher goes from cultivating young minds to becoming legends in the history of music.

While it may sound more common for it to be the other way around, there are a few famous musicians who started teaching before getting all the glory for their work.

Gene Simmons: Rocker Teacher

It’s hard not to be aware of what KISS is, and if you know KISS you know Gene Simmons, maybe not by name but for his demon like make up and tongue. Well this rock and roll monster used to be a teacher for sixth grade children at a school in New York in 1973. He later came back to teaching as a part of a reality show called, “Rock School” which was very reminiscent of the movie called “School of Rock” witch Jack Black.

I really wanted to expand young people’s minds because everything begins with a great idea. But then of course, you enter the corporate world, and I was not allowed to bring in Spider-Man comics and teach the kids that you can be a pimple-faced teenager that the cops don’t like and the bad guys don’t like, but you can still become Spider-Man, which to me is more inspirational than teaching a Puerto Rican kid in Spanish Harlem about Jane Eyre, a rosy-checked white girl in England

Even as a teacher Gene Simmons always maintained his rocker attitude by saying that students would hate him for pushing them to be better, but would love him afterwards after enjoying the benefits of being a great musician.

Art Garfunkel and Math


Art Garfunkel from Simon and Garfunkel was also a teacher befora and after his succesful career in the music industry.

After being asked in an interview what he could have don if he hadn’t met Paul Simon, he said that teaching would have been his life.

I would have been happy being a teacher. Architect, no. I went to architecture school for three years and it just didn’t happen. I didn’t have the gift. A mathematician? That’s a funny word. Mathematicians make their livings being employed by the Defense Department, or industry, and I would not have made it there. But a teacher, yes. I would have been comfortable being a teacher. I supported myself in high school by tutoring kids, and making decent money at it. That was my first instinct about what I could do to make money.

Garfunkel was back and forth concerning his life as a teacher. After “Simon and Garfunkel” he went back to teaching math in a school for a while, but not long after, he released a solo album, maybe inspired by his time as a teacher.


Before The Police, Sting had his fair share of classes as a teacher for around two years while he also played in Jazz bands, however it was not something he really loved doing.

I just was in hell when I was teaching. I inspired the kids only by teaching them what I liked and what I was inspired by and enjoyed – that was basically soccer and poetry. “The rest of it I couldn’t teach.”

And that is ok, because sometimes there is no relation between talent and knowledge and being a good teacher, even when it would seem logical, there is a passion and a sort of specific inteligence to know how to inspire other people while passing down the knowledge from one person to another.

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