Tag Archives: portland piano lessons

Portland Lessons: Ableton Live, beatmaking, programming electronic music

Let’s make some beats

I’ve been teaching the guitar in Portland for 11 years. Over time I became bored with the guitar, and focused on playing synthesizers, and using programs like Ableton Live and Reason for music performance and production.  After many requests from my students, I began to teach Ableton Live, beatmaking, and hip hop music production and performance. Being “classically trained” in rhythm gives you creative control over your own beats. Usually these classes begin with rhythm theory, then cover drum set theory, then we program beats on hardware drum machines before working with Ableton and Reason, and similar software.
Ableton Live instructor and Reason beatmaking and hip hop lessons in Portland Oregon
Ableton Live instructor and Reason beatmaking and hip hop lessons in Portland Oregon

For skype lessons on Ableton and electronic music (Pro Tools, Logic, and more) – click here


squirrel@whirlingsquirrel.com  503-577-2311

Lessons for “ADD” people


ADD people … are they just bored?

I taught a 7 year old the basics of “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead yesterday. After that, another student, age 8, learned about key signatures and inheritance of accidentals in key signatures, and she said “YAYYY!! I get HOMEWORK and I get to fill out 3 key signatures!”  The day before, a teenage kid learned about sampling and beatmaking using Reason (a software program for beginning to intermediate electronic/rap & hip-hop music artists). All three music students chose their own lesson subjects; I had nothing to do with the choice of material covered in the lesson. It amazes me what people want to learn, and the mental connections they make when they are learning what they love.
People, given an opportunity to create, are rarely bored.

People learn best when they are empowered to interpret a lesson, in their own way.

Flow, a state we enter when doing something we love, is essential for mastery of any skill. That’s why my students pick their own material. ADD and ADHD people are often excel at flow; the physical, the unspoken.
Free play. About three years ago, I was given a book by a student, who later became a good friend. The book was called Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art.The book completely changed my life, and it completely changed the way I taught music as well. That’s where the name WHIRLING SQUIRREL comes from – I love to jump and play, I think the unexpected is absolutely hilarious, and I can provide a non-rigid framework for people to learn.
I specialize in teaching adults and children complex music theory and difficult mathematical concepts; ADD and ADHD people really “get it.” ADD and ADHD people have exceptional abilities which shine when those abilities are respected, nurtured, and allowed to grow. More linear and logical folks are fun to teach as well – they just have a totally different approach. I have one young student who refuses to play until she learns all about key signatures and theory. She says she loves math, so … cool!


Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art:
Author Web Site

Buy the book on Amazon