Tip o’ the Month: Practice = Skittles?

We are all about candy here at Off the Wall.  And we are cool with bribery…and we think it’s awesome when we can combine the two.

So, here is a friendly reminder about our “Practice = Skittles” program here at Off the Wall.
OK, so maybe it’s not really an official program but it still works.  And it works a TON better, when you use a practice chart.

We’ve made a handy practice chart because we think it’s helpful to have reminders to practice. Post it where you think it will help the most.

Maybe your fridge?  So you are reminded about your music when you are eating.
Your desk?  Music practice is kinda like homework, right?
Your front door.
Your forehead.
Your sister’s forehead.
Your dog.

You get the idea.

Put the chart whenever you think it will work best to remind yourself to … practice. And when you’re reminded to practice, then you’re reminded about … Skittles.  See what we did there?

You will get one skittle for for every day you practice and, remember, lesson time is practice time so, BONUS!

Print this at home or find one at the school.  Our apologies to the dog.  But we are all for what works.

Off the Wall Practice Chart



New Rock “Stars” at Off the Wall

Check out the newest Rock “Stars” at Off the Wall!

Rock "Stars"

Sign up for a free lesson today! http://offthewallschoolofmusic.com/scheduling/



Learn How to Read Drum Music fast with this Cool Drum Instruction video!

Are you interested in learning drums, but a little anxious about reading the music??

Check this quick reference video out!!

Rob Litten from DrumsTheWord made the lesson. He did a great job explaining how to read music for drums. At Off the Wall we like to have students use videos as much as possible in their lessons to help them learn faster, and it’s FUN!!

“This three part video series takes you through the basics of reading and writing drum score notation, from total beginner to intermediate level – nothing is left unexplained.” from by www.DrumsTheWord.com



That Face, That Face, That Guitar Face!

It is very easy to get carried away when playing music, especially when you are in the middle of a real kicking solo. Not only does it show in your playing, but it also shows on your face.


Some players “feel” the music they are making in certain unique ways. Their reactions can be quite a sight to see…and that is where some fun can be had.


Imagine if a musician had their instrument replaced with something scary…slimy…like a giant s-s-s-slug!

A variety of reactions could include…







Or…well, we are not quite sure what to call this one…



When you practice, do you get so lost in a part that it takes your breath away…literally?

For more hilarious “solo” faces, check out http://slugsolos.tumblr.com/.



Don’t Miss out on Summer Camp Early Bird Savings!


 The Bandits, a band from Rock Band  Camp Summer 2014 created this music video to their cover of  

“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

Are you ready form your own band and rock and roll??

Everyone over 7 is welcome to join us at our 2015 Summer Rock Band Camp! We match you by age and ability level.

Don’t miss out on the Early Bird Savings! Sign up before March 15th (4 DAYS LEFT) and take advantage of a whole week of camp for only $325!!

We’re looking for campers for the following weeks:

June 22-26- Girls Camp this week!!!

July 6-10

July 13-17

July 20-24

July 27-31

Aug 3-7

Aug 10-14

Aug 17-21

Aug 24-28

Join us!! Sign up here before March 15th and save!http://offthewallschoolofmusic.com/rock-camp/



Ready for the Upcoming February 22nd Recital?

Will, Matt and Josh are getting ready for the upcoming February 22nd recital! We’re excitedly anticipating seeing all of our awesome students show off their hard work!!

We look forward to seeing you at the Hard Rock Cafe on February 22nd!



Creative Musicians – Shovel and Broom Guitars

We all know that musicians are creative people. We came across these two street musicians and just had to share! Check out their inventive creativity!


Have you ever made your own musical instrument? What would you make if you could?





Reinventing The Piano?


Since the piano was invented, its look & feel have changed very little. Some might even call it the perfect instrument.

That has not stopped the French car company Peugeot from working with piano maker Pleyel to try & do basically that: build a better piano. When you first look at it, the piano looks more like something you would find on a spaceship. Peugeot says its shape is based on the hull of a boat.
But they say its most important quality is that the piano sounds better & clearer to both the player & the listener.

After watching these videos of pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell playing Chopin on it, what do you think? Can you improve on how a piano sounds as well as how it looks?



How to make practicing your instrument more fun – Practice Chart 2.0

We’ve added a new practice chart!

Print this off at home or grab one at the school. Then hang it up in the entrance.
Off the Wall Practice Chart

Here are some quick tips for making it easier to practice:

  • Keep your instrument out in the open and in a public area like the living room.

    • Kids don’t really like to practice alone. Parents should sit with them or keep them company and give them encouragement while they’re practicing.
    • We find that pianos kept down in the basement don’t get played as much. Especially if they’re in a place you don’t regularly go. Buy some wall hooks for your guitar and hang it up on the wall so its out and you can easily pull it down without having to go open up your case and pull it out. Thats an extra chore before you even start practicing.
  • Set a timer or goal for number of repetitions

    • Setting a small goal like 10min every day is a good place to start. If its only 3 days a week, you’re less likely to build a habit, but if you do something everyday, it will become much easier after about 20-30 days.
    • Some students will just watch the clock, so if this is a problem, try repititions instead of time. Start with practicing each song once or five times and go from there. Your teacher should circle or highlight problem areas that you keep making mistakes. You’ll want to practice those troublesome spots at least ten to twenty times when you sit down.
    • Some parents have had success with young students that aren’t great at counting with using a bowl filled with 5 or 10 skittles or marbles. Every time they finish their song or whatever they needed to practice, they would pull out one of the skittles.
  • If you’re trying to build a habit, start with a small goal:

    • With brand new adult students that are especially busy and don’t feel like they have time to practice a lot, we’ll challenge them to just sit on the piano bench each day. They don’t HAVE to practice, but they usually realize they have time for one song. This is a good way to trick your brain into starting something larger by making the initial task seem small.
    • With kids that are starting out, we’ll ask them to play through their song once each day of the week. Then increase it from there the following week.
    • Practicing too much can actually cause you to burn out or skip the next day and get out of a routine. Learning an instrument is like a marathon, not a sprint. So practicing a smaller amount regularly is better than an hour irregularly.
  • Use a practice chart. Make it a visual reminder.

    • Creating a visual reminder that you need to practice is a huge help. There is so much going on in your head that anytime you can offload some of that, you’ll have more success.
    • We suggest attaching this practice chart to your fridge. Then you can use dinner time as a trigger to remind yourself to practice. When you finish eating and see that you haven’t checked off your practice for the day, it will help jog you to action.

Here is a practice incentive if you are motivated by sugar:

If you practice one through six days and turn in your practice chart, we’ll give you one skittle. If you practice all seven days though, we’ll give you SEVEN skittles at your next lesson!

Happy Halloween!




15 Of The Greatest Bass Guitar Solos In Rock History

October 9 marked what would have been the 70th birthday of The Who bass guitarist John Entwistle, who died in 2002. As Entwistle’s loud playing style helped turn the bass guitar into a lead instrument, in honor of the occasion, VH1.com counted down 15 of the greatest bass guitar solos in rock music.

Here are a few songs where the bass guitarist gets to step out & shine.

Deep Purple “Fireball”

The title track & opening song to their 1971 album, it is one of the band’s fastest songs. While it seems everyone in the band is giving it their best, the volume of Roger Glover’s bass solo proves to be the song’s biggest surprise.

The Allman Brothers Band “Mountain Jam”

Legendary as a live band for their long, improvisational solos, this jam based on Donovan’s classic song “There Is A Mountain” was featured on their 1971 album Eat A Peach, which contained both studio & live music. At well over 33 minutes, it had to be spread across 2 album sides on vinyl. Bassist Berry Oakley’s trading of solos with guitarists Duane Allman & Dickey Betts is stunning.

Yes “The Fish”

On their 1971 album Fragile, all 5 members of Yes were given a solo song to spotlight their talents. A showcase for bass guitarist Chris Squire, “The Fish” is also his nickname. This is often played together with the album’s previous song, “Long Distance Runaround”.

Rush “YYZ”

Although he has claimed to not be a real fan of soloing, Rush bass guitarist Geddy Lee sounds like he is thoroughly enjoying himself on this grooving instrumental from their 1981 album Moving Pictures. “YYZ” is the code name for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, near the band’s hometown.

The Who “My Generation”

While it may not be the first-ever bass solo in rock, John Entwistle’s performance on this 1965 song certainly helped bring the instrument out of the background & changed people’s opinions about what it could do. Many of the bass guitarists on this list probably were inspired to pick it up from hearing this song.

For 10 more bass solos, click here: http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2014-10-09/greatest-bass-solos-in-rock/


Would you like to learn to play Bass? Check out our free lesson!



Donations Welcome!

The Grand Room at Off the Wall School of Music

The Grand Room at Off the Wall School of Music

Are you looking for a new home for your piano? We accept donations! If we can’t take it personally we will share it with our students and see if any of them are in new of a piano for their house!

If you would like to donate a piano it’s as easy as 1…2…3!!

1) Send us a picture off the piano via e-mail to offthewallschoolofmusic@gmail.com
2) Include any additional information you many have regarding the piano
>Thank you for helping us keep music alive!
3) Let us know if it would need to be picked up (include location) or could be delivered.

That’s it!

If you haven’t had a chance to check us out come on in and take advantage of a free lesson!!

Thank you for helping us keep music alive!



21-month old girl plays “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” perfectly

Most of us can still remember the very first song we ever learned how to play. This little internet sensations is already off to a great start, managing to pick out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, using both hands…and making no mistakes!


She’s only a couple years away from taking piano lessons at Off the Wall School of Music! We start piano lessons at 5!




10 Bass Guitarists You Should Check Out

10 Bass Guitarists You Should Check Out:


1. John Entwistle (The Who)—Nicknamed “The Ox”, Entwhistle was also often called “Thunderfingers” from the speed at which his fingers moved across the fretboard.

Bass lines to jam out: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Boris The Spider”


2. Paul McCartney (The Beatles)—Playing rhythm guitar in the Beatles before moving over to bass, McCartney looked up to Beach Boy Brian Wilson & Motown bass guitarist James Jamerson as primary influences on his melodic playing style.

Bass lines to jam out: “Paperback Writer”, “Rain”


3. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)—In a list of “The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists” published in Paste magazine, Jones was ranked first.

Bass lines to jam out: “Ramble On”, “Black Dog”


4. Bernard Edwards (Chic)—Edwards’ bass line for Chic’s song “Good Times” was not only sampled for The Sugarhill Gang’s early rap song “Rapper’s Delight”, but was a huge inspiration for Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”.

Bass lines to jam out: “Good Times”, “We Are Family” (Sister Sledge)


5. Jaco Pastorius—Most identified with a fretless 1962 Fender Jazz Bass nicknamed “The Bass Of Doom”, Jaco’s trademark bass is currently owned by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo.

Bass lines to jam out: “The Chicken”, “Coyote (Joni Mitchell)



6. Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones)—Wyman’s unique, almost vertical way of holding the bass was mostly created because he always felt his hands looked small.

Bass lines to jam out: “Paint It Black”, “Street Fighting Man”


7. Stanley Clarke—Known for a percussive playing style inspired by Larry Graham, right-handed Clarke also owns a left-handed bass, given to him as a gift by fan Paul McCartney.

Bass lines to jam out: “School Days” “The Magician” (Return To Forever)


8. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)— Originally a trumpet player, Flea took up bass in high school & his initial playing style was an aggressive one inspired by his discovery of punk rock.

Bass lines to jam out: “Under The Bridge”, “Aeroplane”


9. Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone)—Graham developed his signature percussive “slapping” style to make up for the absence of a drummer in a childhood band.

Bass lines to jam out: “Thank You”, “I Want To Take You Higher”


10. John Taylor (Duran Duran)—Taylor started out as a guitarist in Duran Duran, but changed over to bass after discovering music of Chic & their bass player Bernard Edwards.

Bass lines to jam out: “Planet Earth”, “Rio”




Piano Donation Available

Baldwin Piano purchased new 1945-1948 Baldwin Upright Piano circa 1940s

NOTE: Free piano available:
“An Everett Upright Piano 60+ years old, needs refinishing, has some chipped keys and needs tuning. Has been in one family all of its life. I would like to donate, if someone is willing to pick up. I would like to have it out of my house by 9/26.
These photos are taken with my cell phone. Not the best quality, but I think you can get the general idea. We had a musician play it and he said its definitely functional but needs tuning for sure. Ultimately refinishing would be a good idea. There are a few chipped keys. There is a bench also. You are certainly welcome to come look at it. Please let me know if you are interested in accepting this piano as a donation.
Thank you for your consideration.”


Please Contact: offthewallschoolofmusic@gmail.com or 206-407-9610 for contact information



10 Songs That Are All About That Bass

One of the biggest hit singles of this summer has been Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”.

A good summer jam is often highlighted by a prominent bass riff that will get any listener up & moving.

In a top 10 list made for VH1.com, Trainor names some of her favorite songs, for any time of year, that really ARE all about that bass.

Check with your instructor about learning any one of these.


Michael Jackson “Billie Jean”

On a song centered almost completely on drum machine, the thumping bass riff is what grabs the listener at the beginning. Surprisingly, that lengthy intro was almost cut from the final recording.


Chic “Good Times”

Probably the bass line that launched a million rap tunes, it was sampled for the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, the first rap song to cross over to the pop charts & become a national hit.


Queen “Another One Bites The Dust”

Bass guitarist John Deacon was directly inspired by “Good Times” to create his own classic riff for this song, which became the band’s biggest hit & was suggested by friend Michael Jackson for release as a single.


Parliament “Flash Light”

Although this song’s bass line was actually played on synthesizer by keyboard player Bernie Worrell, it is one that can easily be accomplished on a bass guitar.


The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”

As the band did not have a bass guitarist, the descending riff was actually from Jack White’s guitar after it was altered by a recording trick to lower its pitch.


For 5 more look here:  http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2014-08-20/10-songs-that-are-all-about-that-bass/



May 18th Recital Awesome-ness!!

We had so much fun at our May 18th Spring Recital at the Hard Rock Cafe!! All of our students did an amazing job!!

Recitals provide an opportunity for students to showcase their talents and practice performance skills in a safe and fun environment. We are so proud of all of our students for performing and hope that they had as much fun as we all did.

We wanted to share with you just a taste of this great event.

Here is a video recap of our 11am youngsters doing their thing!

We look forward to the next recital and hope that you can join!



4 Songs That Will Turn You Into A Jazz Fan

Jazz has a rather undeserved reputation as background music to put on while having a dinner party, reading a book, or meditating. However, if you have never considered yourself a fan of jazz in the past, there is a good chance you may have already liked a jazz song, but never realized it. It could be a tune that is later used in several movies or TV shows, or as a popular sample in a rap song.

Here are just a few jazz numbers that you might find yourself liking more than you thought you would.

Check with your teacher about learning some of these.

“In A Sentimental Mood”

Duke Ellington recorded this song many times after he wrote it in 1935. His 1963 version with John Coltrane has been used in more TV shows & movies than you can name. Originally performed in D minor, the Coltrane take was recorded in B-flat minor


The title track to his 1976 album & a cover of a song by the late Bobby Womack (1944-2014), guitarist George Benson’s version of “Breezin’” was later used by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for their song “Time To Chill”.

“Ode To Billie Joe”

Although a saxophonist, Lou Donaldson’s take on the Bobbie Gentry classic “Ode To Billie Joe” has had its drumming sampled on several songs, including Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion”.

“Inner City Blues”

Organist Reuben Wilson’s performance of Marvin Gaye’s classic “Inner City Blues” stands out for its funky bass line, which was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for their song “Youthful Expression”. A Tribe Called Quest was one of the first rap groups to heavily sample from jazz music for their songs.



For more information and songs check out this article:





Piano Scavenger Hunt Free Lesson Schedule!

Hey Guys! Don’t forget to check out our Piano Scavenger Hunt!

We’ll be playing / teaching / pulling people in around the pianos for whatever fun stuff happens at the following times until the pianos are gone on August 17th

Here is our schedule for the weekends until then!

We will update if anything changes!

We will be at the following pianos:

Fridays 3:00-4:30pm

  • Ballard

Saturdays 5:00-6:30pm

  • Greenlake

Sundays 1pm-2:30pm

  • Ballard
  • Greenlake

We would love to see you all there! Don’t forget to upload your videos with#muralcontest and #pianoscavengerhunt to Youtube and our Facebook page!!

Act Fast! Pianos are only there from July 17-Aug 17
Here are a list of parks where the pianos are located:http://pianosintheparks.com/find-a-park-piano/

For a review of Piano Scavenger Hunt information review this blog post: http://offthewallschoolofmusic.com/2014/enter-our-piano-scavenger-hunt/

Or check out our Facebook!



Enter our Piano Scavenger Hunt!

Screenshot 2014-07-25 11.55.56


Off the Wall is having a piano scavenger hunt! We’re giving away prizes to kids that record themselves at the Pianos in the Parks.

– Introduce yourself and what piano you’re playing on- Don’t play piano? That’s fine! Play your guitar, violin or other instrument beside a piano!
– Say Off the Wall School of Music rocks in the video or write it on a sign
– Upload the video to YouTube and share it on our wall
– Add a hash tag #muralcontest (no spaces) to your video

– Record one video and we’ll give you a free shirt.
– Record three videos at three different pianos and we’ll give you a free 30min lesson.

Act Fast! Pianos are only there from July 17-Aug 17
Here are a list of parks where the pianos are located:http://pianosintheparks.com/find-a-park-piano/


We also will be having our teachers at a few of the pianos this weekend offering free lessons!!! 

All times are estimated.

FRIDAY 7/25/14 – SARAH:
Ballard 2pm-3pm
Seattle Center 3:30pm-4:30pm
Westlake 5:00-6:00pm
Westlake 4-5pm
Pier 62/63 5-6pm
SUNDAY – Sarah:
Ballard 3-4pm

Now get out there and practice! We can’t wait to see you!



Casablanca Piano Up For Auction!

An important and iconic piece of movie history is set to be auctioned off later this year, and is expected to receive bids of at least a million dollars.


Used in the classic 1942 movie Casablanca, this beautiful piano was played by Dooley Wilson’s character of Sam.

Items in Movie May Appear Larger Than Actual Size!
The piano used in the film was actually ¾ the size of a real upright to make the actors look bigger!

As the movie was in black and white, the unique color and design was not apparent. This picture proves what a work of art it is. Does the piano you play and practice on have a special history behind it?

Although he did not actually play piano in real life, and pretended to onscreen, that is Wilson’s voice singing “As Time Goes By”, the special song of main characters Rick and Ilsa.

Thanks to its use in Casablanca, “As Time Goes By”, a song which was unsuccessful when first released years before, finally became a hit and has remained a standard to this day.

Seattle Pianos In the Parks!
The pianos in the parks around Seattle are also being auctioned off. They all look amazing and some of the talented artists around Seattle have been used  to paint them. The Seattle pianos are probably not going to get the same price as the piano from Casablanca which is expected to get anywhere from $600k to over $1 million dollars! The pianos around Seattle are being auctioned off with the bidding starting at $250. A much more reasonable price.