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The Real School of Music - Blog

Music for Real: Child wants to rock; parent wants classical training

Posted by Andrew Clark on Mon, May 07, 2012 @ 33:01 AM

Music for Real is a column written for The Burlington Union by instructors from The Real School of Music.

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Tags: guitar, lesson, the real school of music, Music for Real, Choosing the right instructor, education, burlington ma, classical music

The Value of Listening to Alternative Musical Styles

Posted by Thomas Byrne on Fri, Jul 08, 2011 @ 39:01 PM

By: Erik Ringstad

Why should you learn and listen to other styles of music that may be outside your main interests?

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Tags: guitar, practice, performance, real school, faculty, education

Real School's Erik Ringstad Discusses "3 Musical Heroes"

Posted by Thomas Byrne on Wed, Jul 06, 2011 @ 23:08 AM

The Beatles are my first musical heroes. Believe it or not, I became a Beatles fan when I was just three. I spent years at the turntable as a kid listening to them, and watching their TV cartoon on Saturday mornings (anyone remember that?). My friends and I even pretended to be them, and gave concerts to our parents, with tennis rackets for guitars, boxes for drums, and pillows for amplifiers!! Their amazing songs still hold up today. For me, they are the greatest pop songwriters ever. How they could write something so simple and make it sound so right, so often, is astounding. They also were the model for bands that write and perform their own music, as that really didn't exist on any large scale before they came along! As an instrumental solo guitarist, I have played their tunes a lot at gigs, and they usually work great on the guitar as solo pieces, too -- a testament to their strong melodic and chordal sensibilities. Check out The Beatles' "Oh Darling" here!

2. Steely Dan
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Well, they were categorized as rock when they were active in the 70's, but they used jazz harmony in ingenious and nontraditional ways, mixed with rock rhythms and virtuosic solos in their music. What a combination! They were my bridge into jazz. I used to learn a lot of their tunes, and I could play their music, but I didn't understand a lot of what I learned from them (unlike most of the other music I learned back then) until I went to music school and learned about harmony. Then, I really came to appreciate them even more -- genius songwriters who used the best studio musicians in the country to realize their vision. They combined sophisticated musical concepts with cryptic, sometimes subversive or blue lyrics, along wiht brilliant performances. I don't think any other band has managed to push the envelope of extended harmony in rock like Donald and Walter.  The AJA album for me, was a landmark recording that perfectly encapsulated what they were about. Check out Steely Dan's "AJA" here!
For me, the all time underappreciated genius was Frank Zappa. Frank was a prolific composer of rock, classical, jazz, avant garde music, who dabbled in many musical styles. He was a singularly unique guitar stylist (no one played like him), and he wrote music that could be funny, sarcastic, silly... but  even then it was also dense, difficult, serious, and beautiful. Franks was a social satirist, a politically active rabblerouser, was extremely intelligent and dedicated to his craft, and stone cold sober (yes, that's right!). I also consider him a role model. He hired great players for his bands and exploited their unique talents. He was a strict disciplinarian as a bandleader, rehearsing his bands hard every day while preparing for tours. This helps to explain how his bands could pull off some of the most difficult music ever written for rock bands. Check out Frank Zappa's "Inca Roads" here!
Who are your musical heroes? I'd love to hear from you!


Erik Ringstad is a guitar instructor and is Real School's Director of Curriculum, and serves on the Faculty Leadership Team. Erik has been writing and recording original music for 25 years, with approximately 1,000 titles to his name. In 2006, Erik completed a new recording entitled Reflections, a solo project consisting of original ballads and jazz. He has also been performing with fellow Real School instructor Vykki Vox for 12 years.

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Tags: guitar, practice, performance, real school, faculty, education

Private Music Lessons: In-Home vs. Music School

Posted by Thomas Byrne on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 @ 33:01 PM

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Tags: music lessons, education

John McLaughlin at House Of Blues!

Posted by Thomas Byrne on Sun, Nov 21, 2010 @ 51:04 PM

This past Tuesday the 16th I was able to witness the father of fusion guitar (debatable I’m sure) JOHN MCLAUGHLIN at the new and already storied House of Blues in Boston! I called in some Real School favors considering our strong relationship with the venue and was able to grab a will call ticket along with fellow Real School instructors Joe Peck and Ryan Taylor. Unfortunately, I missed one of my heroes JIMMY HERRING opening the show (gave lessons until 8:30 and hustled to Kenmore) but didn’t miss a note of John McLaughlin. His show was impressive as he drew from his post Mahavishnu solo career. Flanked by glove wearing bassist Etienne Mbabbe and drummer Mark Mondesir the show fully straddled the lines of hard jazz fusion with just an occasional touch of a blues or rock feel. John curiously went without and amp and went direct to the board, but his tone was still slightly overdriven with a lot of sustain. Definitely not a setup I’m used to! Also, wanted to make sure everyone knows that John is currently touring with a rad Godin guitar. GODIN of course is assembled in New Hampshire, the greatest state in a great country. One more item of particular note was the presence of GARY HUSBAND, British born multi-instrumentalist. This guy was mindblowing. He switched during each tune from keys to drums. To do that with an all time talent like JMc at an exceedingly high level like this is like a consistent all-star baseball player at a pro level playing both pitcher and say, power hitting gold glove centerfield year in and year out. I can’t stress this enough. Check out his impressive discography. Be sure to catch John on this tour or another shortly. The man is pushing 70 with an unbelievable head of hair and unflagging talent, not even to mention the formidable recording history or seminal position in the ever-evolving genre of jazz/rock fusion.

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Tags: live music, entertainment, faculty, education