• For Parents 11.03.2013 Comments Off on New 4/4 School of Music Now Open in Bellevue!

    We are very excited to announce the opening of our newest school in Bellevue, WA.  Here is a link to the info page.  http://www.44school.com/washington/bellevue.html

    The address is:

    1504 145th Place S.E. Suite #5
    Bellevue, WA 98007

  • Buyers Guides, Drums, For Parents, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 31.01.2011 Comments Off on Drum Buyer’s Guide

    So you are looking to buy a set a drums but you don’t know what to get? If you’ve done an online search for drums, you’ve probably seen that there are thousands of parts and accessories! What’s the most important things to have first? We are here to help guide you through the basics.

    If you aren’t sure whether you want to invest in a full set, you can at least buy a practice pad.
    These are small pads that don’t make much noise, but let you get used to the feel of hitting a drum. Great for practicing drum rudiments and working on stick skills. Even if you have a full set already, this is a great, portable way to practice. The Vic Firth Single-Sided/Divided Practice Pad is a quality product. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Vic-Firth-Single-Sided-Divided-Practice-Pad-447607-i1139989.gc

    For younger drummers (age 4-8), a junior drum set is just what Dr. Rhythm ordered!
    Let’s face it, if your feet can’t reach the pedal you are going to have a hard time keeping a solid beat. While the junior sets are smaller and cheaper than the full sets, you can still expect to spend between $100 and $300 for a well made kit. Sound percussion has a great, low priced kit, and Ludwig offers a higher quality and more expensive set. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Deluxe-Jr–3-Piece-Drum-Set-108081902-i2556147.gc#customer-reviews


    For full sized kits, you’ll find that most are priced without the cymbals
    (and the cymbals are pretty important), so don’t be fooled by low prices on one given kit. One of the most economical sets is the Sound Percussion Pro 5-Piece (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Pro-5-Piece-Drum-Set-with-Chrome-Hardware-581099-i1455915.gc). While it may say Pro in the title, this isn’t really professional quality, but it has what you need to get drumming! For higher quality sets, turn to the names you can trust in percussion. Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Gretsch and DDrum. Expect a basic shell set (minus the cymbals) to cost between $300 and $700. Top quality sets will probably start at around $1000. It’s worth noting that putting new drum heads on a basic kit can dramatically improve its sound and only cost between $40 and $100.

    Cymbals (that usually aren’t included in the drum kits) are necessary!
    But you don’t need them all at once. A hi-hat is absolutely essential. What you’ll need is a hi-hat stand (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-650-Hi-Hat-Cymbal-Stand-483425-i1421818.gc) and a hi-hat cymbal set (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sabian-sbr-Hi-Hats-424112-i1527815.gc). After that, you can start adding various types of crash and ride cymbals to complete your set. Sabian and Zildjian are both high quality cymbal makers.

    If you are concerned about noise in the house, electronic drums can save your sanity!
    Don’t get me wrong, if you need volume, you can plug into an electronic drum amp and bam! you are making serious noise. But for when you don’t need to be loud, you can put headphones on and lose yourself in a little drumming world. We prefer Roland electronic drums. Their quality seems to far surpass their competitors in this field. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Roland-TD-11K-S-V-Compact-Series-Electronic-V-Drum-Kit-H82854-i2468066.gc

    Hopefully this has answered some questions for you. Good luck on your drum buying journey. Remember, your drum teacher is a great resource for ideas as well! Happy Drumming from 4/4 School of Music!

  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Guitar, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 30.11.2009 Comments Off on Guitar Buyer’s Guide

    As a beginner, or someone shopping for their first electric or acoustic guitar, there are several different categories to pick from.

    Which ever guitar you choose, make sure that…

    The strings aren’t really high off the fret board.  This is good. Twice this much space would be difficult to play.

    File:Guitare action.jpg

    It is comfortable to hold.  This Stratocaster design electric guitar is usually the most comfortable for beginners.

    $70 – $100

    Usually these guitars are smaller sized for smaller players. These guitars generally are not crafted to last for a lifetime. But if you are not sure whether or not you want to play for a lifetime, they can be a good way to test the waters. The Squire Mini Strat (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Squier-Mini-Strat-Electric-Guitar-102091261-i1146335.gc) is a good entry level model that gives the Fender feel without the Fender price. If you are looking for an acoustic guitar in this price range, Epiphone (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-DR-100-Acoustic-Guitar-101392025-i1150077.gc) and Yamaha (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-F335-Acoustic-Guitar-102919487-i1166364.gc) have several quality instruments for the price. If you are confident that you (or who you are buying for) will play guitar longer than a few months, this range is generally not recommended.

    $100 – $200 – TOP PICK if you are NOT sure you will stick with it.

    In this category, Squire, Epiphone and Ibanez offer the best value. Most of these are full sized and can last the typical beginning student one to two years. The major factor to consider with this range is whether you want the Les Paul feel of the Epiphone Les Paul Special (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-Les-Paul-Special-II-Electric-Guitar-100161340-i1149983.gc), the Stratocaster touch of the Squire Bullet (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Squier-Bullet-Stratocaster-HSS-Electric-Guitar-with-Tremolo-105788061-i1502378.gc) or the rocker appeal of the Ibanez GRX series (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-GRX70QA-Electric-Guitar-107407850-i2075931.gc). For younger girls, Daisy Rocks (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Daisy-Rock-Debutante-Rock-Candy-Electric-Guitar-105778211-i1395727.gc) offers surprisingly good quality guitars in shades of pink. For acoustic guitars, Epiphone (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-AJ-100CE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-107234684-i1150008.gc) and Yamaha (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-FG700S-Folk-Acoustic-Guitar-103114252-i1149962.gc) have the best options for these prices.

    $350 to $750 – TOP PICK if you ARE SURE you will stick with it.

    These are our top recommendations for beginning students. It can be frustrating for a new player to practice hard and still not be able to get a good sound because their instrument is holding them back. Fender offers their “Made in Mexico” (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Standard-Stratocaster-Electric-Guitar-with-Maple-Fretboard-H76526-i2032186.gc) models in this range and what you get is a quality guitar that can last a lifetime if you want them to. (I have an MiM Strat that I’ve owned for 17years and still play!) Epiphone Les Pauls (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-Limited-Edition-Les-Paul-Traditional-PRO-Electric-Guitar-105939029-i1515777.gc) offer high quality instruments and feel extremely similar to their Gibson counterparts. Ibanez (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez-Iron-Label-RGIR20E-Electric-Guitar-with-Tremolo-and-EMG-Pickups-108588534-i2824643.gc) has become a very reliable brand and offers many guitars that have hard rockability and looks.  Fender (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-DG200SCE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-with-Rosewood-Back-and-Sides-106500697-i1709796.gc) and Epiphone (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-FT-350SCE-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-with-Min-Etune-J06077-i3609203.gc)  are the most popular in this range for acoustic guitars but if you are looking for something a bit more unique, Breedlove Guitars (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Breedlove-Pursuit-Concert-Ebony-Acoustic-Electric-Guitar-110006178-i3449803.gc) offer high quality acoustic guitars at a great value!

    $750 and Up!!

    At this point, the world is limitless with options. You can spend thousands of dollars on high end guitars with premier tone and playability but aren’t necessary at all for learning the instrument. Once you’ve been playing for a while, you will get a sense for what your dream guitar is. You don’t need to start with the best. When you are ready to rock stadiums, you’ll know what to get.

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.

  • For Parents, Jennifer Iovanne 16.10.2009 Comments Off on Making the Most of Your Lessons

    Learning an instrument takes consistent work, but it should also be
    fun and relaxing.  After playing a song, I’ve heard countless students
    remark that it “sounded better at home.”  Lots of people – kids and
    adults – tend to get a little self-conscious in lessons, especially
    early on.  The following tips are great ways to help you focus, relax
    and enjoy the process!

    1. Get to lessons a couple minutes early

    When folks are late, they tend to be frazzled, feel rushed and
    unfocused.  Aim to get to the studio a few minutes early – this is a
    great way to immediately feel more relaxed prior to your lesson!

    2. Wash your hands before your lesson

    Besides the germ-busting factor, washing your hands before each lesson
    will also help you focus your mind on the task at hand, and mentally
    prepare for a calming, fun, focused lesson.

    3.  Turn off the cell phone

    For 30 minutes, allow yourself to focus on develop your musical
    prowess.  Ignore the cell phone, try to put away any worries or
    concerns that are on your mind.  Let the outside world go and you’ll
    be more likely to connect with your instrument.

    4. Practice during the week

    For obvious reasons, the more prepared you are, the more focused and
    confident you’ll feel in lesson.  Consistent practice most days of the
    week is the best approach!

    5. Identify short and long-term goals

    This is great for kids and adults alike.  Your goals can be as
    specific or broad as you want — learn a particular song or genre,
    enjoy music, become familiar with chords, perform in a recital, develop
    a new hobby — and so forth and so on.  Reflecting on your personal
    motivation for being in lessons helps develop a positive, focused
    attitude in lesson and throughout the week with practicing!  If you’re
    not sure what you are looking for or how to get there, that’s okay!
    You can also work with your teacher to identify goals and interests.

    6. Remember that we’re on your side!

    Teachers aren’t just musicians — we are there to help you and
    encourage you. We want to help you succeed in your musical goals!

    ~ Jennifer Iovanne

    Find out about Guitar, Piano, Voice lessons and more at

    4/4 School of Music

    Guitar Lessons in Clackamas Oregon

    Guitar Lessons in Vancouver Washington

  • For Parents, Practice, Rachel Nichols, Summer 07.07.2009 Comments Off on Make Practice Fun During the Summer!

    The sun is out and the weather is beautiful!  It can be so hard sometimes to stay inside and want to practice your instrument during an amazing Seattle summer.  That is why we should make our learning in the summer interesting!  Here are a few ideas to “spice” up your practicing.

    Get a new book full of fun and entertaining songs you have always wanted to learn…Start a jam session with a friend…Go to a concert that will inspire you…take your instrument outside (to a park, to the backyard, ect.)…set new goals.

    Here is a great website that has free sheet music of your favorite TV shows and movies!  Use this site to help fill up the summer with exciting new songs!


    Make music a part of your summer!

  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Piano, Purchasing an Instrument 22.04.2009 Comments Off on Keyboard & Digital Piano Buyer’s Guide

    As a beginner or someone who is shopping for their very first digital piano or keyboard, there are four main categories from which to choose.

    $30-80 Keyboard for Kids

    Usually less than 61 keys and NOT touch sensitive. Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note. Only children under the age of 7 should consider these keyboards as they are an inexpensive way to see if your child is really interested in sticking with piano lessons for more than a couple months. If you feel pretty sure your child will be taking lessons for longer, don’t even consider one of these.

    $80-$200 Portable Keyboard

    In this price range you will generally find Casio and Yamaha brands are the best quality and value. Most of these have 61 full-sized plastic keys. This is the minimum that you really want.  Make sure to get a “touch-sensitive” model.  Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note.  This is the most important thing to look for.  It is how a real piano works.

    Many of the keyboards in this range have lots of extra sounds and beats built in.  These can be fun but are not necessary to learn to play.  In fact you might choose to get the simplest keyboard so that you aren’t temped to waist time instead of practicing.  Practice is the only thing that will make you a better player! Make sure you like the “Piano” sound that the keyboard has to offer.  That is the sound that you will spend most of your time listening to.

    $350-$700 Digital Piano (Our Top Recommendation for Beginners)

    For around $450 or so you can get what many teachers believe to be the best value in terms of playability and sound. Again Casio and Yamaha rule the roost.  We have had excellent luck with the Casio PX series or the CDP-100 keyboards.  Here is a link to Guitar Center where you can shop around for them. www.guitarcenter.com We have many of these at our school and absolutely love them!  They feel great, are very small in total size and sound really nice.  88 full-sized weighted keys give these the feel and range of a real acoustic piano.

    $700 and up!  Digital Piano.

    There are so many options available in this price range and you can spend thousands on the state of the art models that literally play themselves but what fun is that?  In all seriousness, the extra high end features are not necessary to learn the instrument.  After you have played for a while and decide you want to score a symphony you can always upgrade to one of these beauty’s that have every sound in the orchestra, band, concert hall and more!

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.

    4/4 School of Music, LLC
    Seattle | Kirkland | Lynnwood | Everett | Bothell | Redmond | Renton Wa.

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  • For Parents, Voice 21.04.2009 Comments Off on Singing Lessons for Children

    Children under the age of ten should take piano and voice lessons together. We call this “Music for Kids.” These lessons include learning the basics of piano and singing as well as rhythm, reading notes, etc. and are a lot of fun!

    Since children under the age of ten tend to have very short attention spans, these private lessons are 30 minutes in length. Each lesson is broken down into many five to ten minute segments and each segment focuses on a variety of songs, fun exercises and games designed to prepare your child for more advanced voice lessons when they are a little older.

    Serious voice lessons (Like an older child or adult would take) can damage the young and fragile vocal tissues. You don’t want them to push too hard or sing too high. They can learn a tremendous amount about hearing the proper pitch (ear training) and the other items that I mentioned above though and give the child a huge head start for when they move into more serious voice lessons around the age of 10.

    Additionally, our voice teachers added the following…

    Not only can you do damage if you push the child to hard, but her voice will change immeasurably in the next few years. Any work on the tone or range of a voice at that young of an age is susceptible to change and irregularities. Of course, singing fun songs and learning basic musician and performance skills will put her way ahead of the curve, and make it easier to sing later on. 🙂

    Combining piano with voice and general music study is really beneficial for building strong, engaged musicians. Most students I have worked with seem more interested the more diverse their material is – I would encourage students to see this as a really positive thing – it gives them a big head start no matter what direction they head in music later in life. But I would also add that if they are going to be learning some piano, they will need to practice outside of lessons to get the most out of the experience.

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about voice lessons for yourself or your child.


    Voice Lessons in Vancouver, Washington

    Voice Lessons in Clackamas, Oregon

    Voice Lessons in Seattle, Washington

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  • Ages, For Parents 26.10.2006 Comments Off on Children and Music Lessons – Ages to Start

    These guidelines will help you to have a successful, rewarding experience learning an instrument. These are practical tips that we have discovered from years of teaching and our experiences with teaching literally thousands of students!


    Adults can start playing an instrument at any time!
    Their success is based on how willing an adult is to commit to practicing. We have found that contrary to popular belief, adults learn music much faster than children.  It’s never too late to learn to play!  We teach many students in their 60’s and 70’s.For children, starting at the right age is a key element to the success of their lessons. Some people will tell you “the sooner the better” but this attitude can actually backfire and be a negative. If a child is put into lessons too soon they may feel overwhelmed and frustrated and want to stop lessons. The last thing you want to do is turn a child off to music just because they had one unpleasant experience which could have been prevented. Sometimes if the child waits a year to start lessons their progress can be much faster. Children who are older than the suggested earliest starting age usually do very well. The following are guidelines we have found to be successful in determining how young a child can start taking music lessons.

    3 – 4 Years Old
    If a pre-school age child has a keen desire and wants to start music, a group preschool music class will give them a good foundation in music basics which will be helpful in later private lessons. At this age, private lessons generally do not work as the child has not yet experienced the formal learning environment of kindergarten or school and learns more effectively through the game oriented preschool environment.

    At our school 5 years old is the youngest age that we start children in private piano lessons. At this age they have begun to develop longer attention spans and can retain material with ease.

    “Music for Kids”
    Children under the age of ten can take piano and voice lessons together. We call this “Music for Kids.” These lessons include learning the basics of piano and singing as well as rhythm, reading notes, etc. and are a lot of fun!

    Guitar – Acoustic & Electric
    7 years old is the earliest we recommend for guitar lessons. Guitar playing requires a fair amount of pressure on the fingertips from pressing on the strings. Children under 8 generally have small hands and may find playing uncomfortable. Also, we have found that children and ladies learn faster, have more fun and are more likely to succeed if they start on electric guitar.  The strings are smaller and closer to the fingerboard making playing a lot easier than a standard acoustic guitar.  The body of an electric guitar is smaller and more comfortable as well.  If you already have a standard acoustic guitar it is fine to start on that for a while to see if you are really interested in playing guitar.  You can always change from an acoustic to electric or electric to acoustic guitar at any time.  Both are played exactly the same way!

    Bass Guitar
    Bass guitar students generally are 10 years old and older. This is due to the physical size of the instrument.

    Voice Lessons
    10 years old is recommended as the youngest age for private vocal lessons. Due to the physical nature of voice lessons (proper breathing techniques, development of the vocal chords and lung capacity), the younger body is generally not yet ready for the rigors of vocal technique.

    The age of our youngest drum student is 5. This varies greatly depending on the size of the child. They have to be able to reach both the pedals and the cymbals.

    Flute, Clarinet & Saxophone
    Due to lung capacity (and in the case of the saxophone the size of the instrument), we recommend that most woodwind beginners are 9 and older.

    We accept violin students from the age of 5. Some teachers will start children as young as 3, but experience has shown us the most productive learning occurs when the beginner is 5 or older.

    The trumpet requires physical exertion and lung power. 9 years and older is a good time to start the trumpet.


    Group classes work well for preschool music programs, and theory lessons. However, when actually learning how to play an instrument, private lessons are far superior since in private lessons you won’t miss anything your teacher says, and each student can learn at their own pace. This means the teacher does not have to teach a class at a middle of the road level, but has the time and focus to work on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. For that lesson period, the student is the primary focus of the teacher. The teachers also enjoy this as they do not have to divide their attention between 5 – 10 students at a time and can help the student be the best they can be.


    Learning music is not just a matter of having a qualified teacher, but also having an environment that is focused on music education. In a professional school environment a student cannot be distracted by TV, pets, ringing phones, siblings or anything else. With only 1/2 to one hour of lesson time per week, a professional school environment can produce better results since the only focus at that time is learning music. Students in a school environment are also motivated by hearing peers who are at different levels and by being exposed to a variety of musical instruments. In a music school, the lessons are not just a hobby or sideline for the teacher but a responsibility which is taken very seriously.


    As with anything, improving in music takes practice. One of the main problems with music lessons is the drudgery of practicing.  Here are some ways to make practicing easier:   Time
    Set the same time every day to practice so it becomes part of a routine or habit. This works particularly well for children. Generally the earlier in the day the practicing can occur, the less reminding is required by parents to get the child to practice.

    We use this method quite often when setting practice schedules for beginners. For a young child 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity. Instead of setting a time frame, we use repetition. For example, practice this piece 4 times every day, and this scale 5 times a day. The child then does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing their instrument, but knows if they are on repetition number 3 they are almost finished.
    Television & Radio Practice!  (What?)
    Believe it or not if you are working on a scale or exercise that simply needs to be repeated 100’s of times, rent a good movie or watch your favorite sitcom while you practice.  A half hour goes by really fast and you will have played a ton of repetitions.  Sometimes it is just what the doctor (music teacher) ordered!

    This works very well for both children and adult students. Some adults reward themselves with a latte after a successful week of practicing. Parents can encourage children to practice by granting them occasional rewards for successful practicing. In our school we reward young children for a successful week of practicing with stars and stickers on their work. Praise tends to be the most coveted award – there is just no substitute for a pat on the back for a job well done. Sometimes we all have a week with little practicing, in that case there is always next week!


    The reason why you wanted to play an instrument in the first place is because you enjoy music.  Insist on learning some of your favorite songs.  This will naturally increase the amount of time you are practicing.  You must have fun or all the scales and chords in the world will mean nothing.  A well rounded music program that teaches the fundamentals PLUS your favorite songs is the best way to learn to play or sing!

    HAVE FUN!!
    Music should be something that you enjoy for a lifetime! Try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your children to learn too quickly. Everyone learns at a different pace and the key is to be able to enjoy the journey.

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about music or voice lessons for yourself or your child.

    4/4 School of Music, LLC
    Seattle | Kirkland | Lynnwood | Everett | Bothell | Redmond | Renton Wa.

  • For Parents 25.10.2006 Comments Off on Practice Time for Kids

    First of all, the amount of time that a student needs to practice differs greatly! Below you will find some general practice guidelines. More is ALWAYS better. 🙂 My personal best was 14 hours straight one day while attending junior high school. I was nuts!

    5-6 years old > 5-10+ minutes per day, 3-5 days pers week.
    (they will usually need your assistance)

    7-9 years old > 15-20+ minutes per day, 3-5 days per week.

    10-12 years old > 30+ minutes per day, 4-5 days per week.

    13 to adult > 40+ minutes per day, 5-6 days per week.

    — Comments welcome!