Guitar Builder Spotlight: Derek Heffner


Hello readers! Justin here to present a very special blog post! My long-time guitar student, Derek Heffner, has made me a beautiful Goldtop Les Paul style guitar! I cannot express just how blown away I am by Derek’s talent and kindness! Derek honed his building skills under the tutelage of the guitar tech of Les Paul himself, Thomas Doyle. While studying with Thomas, Derek learned to build guitars and pickups in a classic style and has expanded to make his very own pickup designs. I am so thankful for all Derek has done for me and can proudly recommend him to those looking for affordable guitars and high end guitar pickups.


10 Tips on How to Prevent Practice and Performance-Related Injuries

10 Tips on How to Prevent Practice and Performance-Related Injuries

  1. DO arm up (take a walk, stretch, begin slowly and easily on your instrument)
  2. DO take breaks (10 minutes per hour, minimum)
  3. DO sit/stand with good posture (shoulders down and back straight, feet flat on floor)
  4. DO increase your practice load gradually and vary your repertoire
  5. DO stress-reducing relaxation activities and exercise (yoga, massage, swimming, bicycling, for example)
  6. DO take one day off a week.
  7. Do be easier on yourself when you are under duress or when you are overtired.
  8. Do move (sitting very still can build up tension – wiggle and stretch and avoid being static in one position).
  9. DO breathe deeply.
  10. DO practice AWAY from your instrument (listen to recordings, study scores, mental preparation and visualizing performing well).

Reference:  “Playing (Less) Hurt” by Janet Horvath

The BumbleBlog

Would you give The Flight of the Bumblebee to a 6th grade student, still in the beginning stages of learning their instrument? I recently said YES, and gave it to a student who:

  1. Went from practicing 1-day-a-week to EVERY DAY, several hours at a time (and actually now has trouble putting her flute down)
  2. Recently started to come to her lessons  more well prepared than ever with material from her 1st lesson book
  3. Started listening to YouTube videos of flute pieces and famous flutists
  4. Has clearly developed a passion for playing her flute
  5. Recently exhibited much more comfort in the balancing of her instrument and has demonstrated a much stronger sound
  6. The Flight of the BumbleBee is mostly chromatic scales, with a few surprise leaps, so it is rich with note-learning and finger-change possibilities, that can only enhance the flutist’s learning experience
  7. She looked at me (wide-eyed) and asked me if she could please play the Flight of the Bumblebee!!!

I do not have issues with giving her this piece, for many reasons. If a student develops a passion for their instrument, it is my job to nurture that passion, because when a fire is first lit, it can go out easily. But, I must proceed with caution and  not damage the passion by giving her an assignment that is way to hard for her.  So, I decided to make the piece all about finger, tonguing and tone exercises. I simply handed it to her and gave her 2 measures to learn.  I told her to do the two measures in manageable ways:

  1. Turn the measures into a long tone exercise, playing each note so slowly that you make each note big and beautiful, full and rich
  2. Play each note in each measure 8x each, on a breath attack, so she could work on the quality of her sound while slowly learning the notes
  3. Play each note 8x as a slow double tongue passage,  so that while learning the notes, she could start to work on her double tonguing.
  4. Since the piece is pretty much all 16th notes, I was able to teach her about how to work on difficult pieces by chunking, the lingering method, syncopating, etc.  These tools are invaluable for learning difficult music, but she would be able to do this in one week, because, after all, it is only 2 measures of the piece!

Here are the measures I gave her last week, which she actually learned very well and played at a fairly quick piece this week : IMG_6016.JPG

During this week’s lesson, she played the above passages for me, and we worked on lightening up her fingers, keeping her fingers closer to the keys and how to listen for un-evenness in the passages. I showed her how I would sound if my fingers were far off the keys, as a beginner tends to play.  Then I showed her how the piece was so much easier with my fingers close to the keys, and I played it delicately and fast.  I sent her home with the assignment to work on those aspects of playing well. I also gave her a few more measures.  She then asked me to teach her the very beginning of the piece (students ALWAYS want to start at the beginning, even when I do not want them to as much) At the beginning the flute music starts up high and moves down quickly in a chromatic passage.  Even though she was not playing those high notes yet in her lesson book, I decided that she probably could start playing that notes based on the quality of her sound production. I gave her the fingerings and sent her home with just the beginning 5 notes of the piece to learn.  For the record, we continued to work in her 1st lesson book, so that we do not miss any important progressive flute-learning steps along the way!IMG_6017.JPG





Homeschool classes for the younger set

We have added 2 new homeschool classes for younger children. Music for Little Mozarts is for children ages 4-6, and The Singing Spot is for ages 4-7.  In Music for Little Mozarts, we go on a Musical Adventure with Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear as we learn how to play the piano.  We also dance, sing, color in our workbooks and just have fun with music! MFLM runs for 15 weeks and a parent or guardian must accompany the child to the class.  Tuition is $12.50 per class, payable by the month, or $175 if you pay the entire tuition up front.  Level 1 starts on March 1, so there is no time to lose to sign up!

The Singing Spot is a voice class for ages 4-7, and again the tuition is $12.50 per class, payable by the month.  In The Singing Spot, we will learn how to sing using the Do Re Mi syllables and proper technique.  We will sing a variety of fun songs.  Other activities will include games, dances and playing simple instruments. Class starts March 1 and runs for 8 weeks.  Come one, come all and sign up for The Singing Spot.

The Singing Spot is 2-3 on Thursdays and MFLM is 3-3:45 on Thursdays.  You can register on our website,  Hope to see you there!

Piano Classes for Adults and Teens

We have just started a new beginner class, which is held on Saturday afternoon from 2-3.  Our later beginner class runs on Saturday morning from 10-11. The later beginners are just about to go into the Faber Adult Book 2.  There are spaces still available in both classes, and the tuition of $120 for 8 weeks will be prorated.  Please visit our website for more information or to register.  We have fun in our classes, learning music of different styles.  Come one, come all and join us!

How to listen to classical music using storytelling

Hello there!  This is Molly, flute instructor and one of the owners at the Perfect 5th.

As a music therapy student at Temple University, I was a participant in a few “Guided Imagery and Music” practice sessions that masters and doctoral level Music Therapy students subjected me to.  After my first session of progressive muscle relaxation I was listening to Wagner, and with the help of  therapist verbal prompts, I found myself flying around in outer space with my cat, Willow!  I was laughing out loud and feeling quite giddy, thinking how cute my cat looked in her astronaut suit! I did not want to stop listening to the music and still remember how powerfully the music held me there, floating in outer space.

Currently, I often travel around the country to the national and regional flute conventions, as I  am sometimes a presenter at flute pedagogy workshops and work with the Blocki Flute Method and at my own Fluteplace booth. While there, I like to take the opportunity to attend concerts and workshops.  I always want to attend the concerts of some of the greatest flutists around the world at these conventions. I have to admit, I experience some listening fatigue, as I am exposed to whirlwind of flutes, flutists, music, noise, and flute information almost 24/7!

Finding myself in San Diego a few summers ago at a fabulous piccolo concert, followed by another concert of  newly composed music, I became increasingly sleepy and had  trouble concentrating.  I did not want to “check out” and lose focus, so I thought back to my experiences with guided imagery and began making up a story.   Soon, in my imagination, the unfamiliar classical music that I was hearing suddenly became alive, and each new section and new key became a new part of a story.  I found myself running along a river and I had birds flying along with me. I jumped in the river, swimming at lightning speed, and suddenly was in a race with another person.  I jumped out of the river and was running again until I came to a tree!   The tree was beautiful and majestic and reached up to the sky and animals were all drawn to it.  The music I was hearing suddenly became alive again, and each new section and new key became a new part of my story.

The wonderful thing about being to imagine while listening to classical music is that it can take you out of your present moment and bring you joy that was intended by the composer.  Sometimes you can hear angst, anger or sorrow in a composer’s music,  which you can also explore through your own imaginative storytelling while listening. You can help identify and express to yourself your own feelings, perhaps leading to your a needed resolution for yourself.

Another positive result of storytelling while listening to classical music, is that the storytelling becomes a way for you to organize what you are hearing and begin to identify the musical structure of the song.  The song can be remembered and recognized later on if you made up a story to it.  Many people start to tune classical music out if they are not given a way to focus on the music and relax.

Next time you are at a concert and find your self beginning to tune out the music and not focusing, try using your imagination.  Or, you can simply lie down on your couch at home, turn on some music and practice listening with imagination.

For parents who want to expose kids to classical music, try putting classical music on at dinner or in the car, and have your family actively make up stories to the music together.  I do something similar in my KinderFlute classes, where I pull out capes, scarves, balls, jump-ropes and other toys, and let my kids run around the room to a piece of classical music, making up a story as they go along!  They love it and they later remember the music when I play it for them again.  This activity is especially helpful if they are to be playing a portion of that same music that they are hearing in a method book or for a recital.  While this is so useful as a teaching tool, I ultimately simply want the kids to love the music and realize that they can use it for their own expressive purposes throughout their lives.

Don’t know where to start?  Here are some great pieces of music that you may want to try:

Masquerade Waltz by Kachaturian

Pines of Rome or Fountains of Rome by Resphigi

Morning from Pier Gynt Suite by Grieg

The Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg

Spring (or any of the seasons!) by Vivaldi

Water Music by Handel

Royal Fireworks by Handel

The Hebrides by Mendelsohn

Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky

O Fortuna by Orff

La Mer by Debussy

Die Moldau by Smetana

The Swan by Saint Saens


(Tips brought to you by Molly Shortridge, Flute Instructor at P5)

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Girls Rock Band Camp returns in June!


Hi everyone, Heather here! While we are stuck in the middle of winter and recovering from multiple snow days, I thought it might be nice to look ahead to my favorite part of the summer – GIRLS ROCK BAND CAMP!

I love all of the teaching I am lucky enough to do, but I can’t deny that this program is where my heart lies. When I was a teenager, my parents let me add bass guitar and guitar lessons to the years of piano study I had already done (thank you, mom and dad!) and it transformed my world. I spent hours curled up with my new instruments in my bedroom, obsessively learning cover after cover by my favorite bands and – for the first time – trying to write my own original music. Having an outlet for self-expression at that age meant everything to me, and soon I had started rock bands with my friends and a whole new course for my life had been set (although I didn’t know it yet!) Writing my own music and being able to express myself in a variety of styles from classical to jazz to rock to pop has enriched my life in too many ways to count.

That’s why it means so much to me to give the same opportunity to the girls I teach. The world of rock and roll can seem intimidating sometimes, and without realizing it girls can get the message that “they don’t belong” there. I’m here to say that is NOT TRUE! Rock and roll is for everyone, and in the hands of girls it becomes something so cool and empowering. The parent of one of my campers from last summer wrote on our website,

“I can’t say enough about Girl Rock Band Camp. Ms. Heather skillfully evoked confidence in my daughter by allowing her to develop hidden talents she wasn’t sure existed prior to camp. A fire has been sparked and she can’t wait to explore more options at P5!”

In addition to having all campers form rock bands of their own for the week, we also explore the history of women in rock and roll, get hands-on experience and instruction on all rock instruments (electric guitar, bass guitar, keys, drum kit), learn how to write songs, and have guest musicians come in to play for the girls and talk to them about their experiences as women in music.

This year’s camp runs from June 25th – 29th from 11am to 2pm each day, with a performance on the final day. Spots are still available for girls age 11 – 17! Call 717-691-9100 or visit today to reserve a spot or find out more.