Ready 2 head back 2 school?! Find out what that means for your music practicing! Also learn about our fall group programs: Sunburst Rocks, Emerging Artists, Explore and the Suntones...

Sunburst News

–August 2017–

In this Issue:

• Getting your Routine back
• Sign up for Group Programs!
• How I Became a Songwriter
• Instructor concert calendar
• Burghsong Concert Series Fall 2017

Important Dates:

  • Sunburst at Squirrel Hill Night Market - Sat Aug 26th
  • Sunburst Rocks Season Finale @ Hard Rock Cafe - Sun Aug 27th
  • Group Programs Fall Season Start Date - Fri Sep 1st 
  • Sunburst House Band at RANT - Sat Sep 2nd
  • Sunburst House Band at Squirrel Hill Night Market - Sat Sep 26th

Sunburst instructors jamming out at Shady Lane SchoolBack 2 School: The Issue

OK OK OK summer’s not over yet, there are still plenty of great con- certs, local events, and lazy afternoons between you and September... However, it’s still a good time to start thinking about what fall may bring! Here’s what it means for our music students and families: 

Get Your Routine Back!

Consistency is extremely important for learning anything, particularly things with a muscle memory component like playing an instrument. For kids (and adults), the start of the school year means returning to our routines, hopefully with a renewed focus and energy. While attending a weekly lesson is a big part of this, the biggest part is getting back to a regular practicing schedule. Each fall we welcome lots of new and returning students to the school, whether you’re picking up where you left off or starting something brand new we’d like to encourage you to define your goals and go after them! What do you hope to accomplish this season? Where is your music going to take you? Time to dig in and find out! 

Sunburst Rocks, Suntones, Explore, Emerging–Sign up for Group Programs! 

Our group programs really get rolling in the fall as kids start in on a new set of songs for performances throughout the holiday season into January. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s what:

Sunburst Rocks Main Stage (Ages 10-17)

Sunburst Rocks Main Stage takes on RHCP“SBR” puts kids who play a variety of instruments together into bands and teaches them how to take to the stage. The theme for this fall is “Pennsylvanication - The music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and tangential acts). Sunburst Rocks is appropriate for kids 10-17 who’ve got some experience on their instruments, read more about it here or talk to your instructor if you think you might be ready.

Main Stage will run Mondays 5-7pm, Fridays 4:30-6:30pm and Saturdays 1-3pm (we may offer a Wednesday time as well if we get enough kids...)

Also, just a heads up that this season we’re going to require all of our drummers to be prepared to play a secondary instrument (voice, bass, guitar, uke, keys, bagpipes...). This is because we can really only have one drummer drumming at a time and we want to make sure that all of our awesome drum students can participate!

Sunburst Rocks Emerging Artists learns Songs of the StrokesSunburst Rocks Emerging Artists (Ages 8-10)

Our Emerging Artists group is for kids who’ve had at least 6 months of lessons and are ready to try playing together as a group for the first time. The program helps build rhythmic skills and teamwork and includes performances at venues like Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh. Fall theme is “Music of the Strokes”. 

Emerging meets Thursdays from 5-6:30pm.

The Suntones (Ages 10-17)

The Suntones is our group voice and a capella program. For young singers ready to dive into the art of harmony and the thrill of live performance, Suntones is just the ticket. There are a few ability prerequisites, please discuss with your teacher if you think you’re ready.

The Suntones meets Sundays from 3-5pm.

Check out our new Explore Program offeringsExplore (Ages 4-7)

Our Explore program is expanding with new times and ages in our new “Explore Room” (Check it out around the corner to the left next time you come in!). There are now 2 age brackets for the program: 4-5 year olds, and 6-7 year olds. Explore is a fun introduction to playing music as a group and teaches the basics of 5 instruments while building rhythmic skill and musicianship. Explore schedule is as follows:

Ages 4&5 - 30 Minute Class
Wednesdays 4:30-5pm starting 9/6
Thursdays - 4:30-5pm starting 9/7
Saturdays - 10-10:30am starting 9/23

Ages 6&7 - 60 Minute Class
Wednesdays 5-6pm
Thursdays 5-6pm
Saturdays 9-10am
(We may add Monday and/or Tuesday times as well based on signups)

BurghSong Fall 2017 Season 

Burghsong concert series at Sunburst

September 16

Ben Shannon / Heather Styka

$10 for Sunburst students!

Instructor Concert Calendar

Kiki, Ernie, Jonathan G, Casey

The Buckle Downs - Mr Smalls Theater, Aug 18th


Heather Kropf - Backstage Bar, Aug 26, 5-7:30pm


townsppl - James St, Sep 8th


Telavision - The Goldmark, Sep 13th


How I Became a Songwriter

Mikey Meiers details his journey into the world of tunesmithery - and how he and we can help you get there as well!

Talk to us about songwriting lessons with Mikey and our other instructors!It’s interesting how certain events can leave a memory etched in your mind. You remember the exact moment, time, and place forever... That’s how I felt when I first heard the Beatles self titled record known as the “White Album”. I was suddenly fascinated with the concept/science of songwriting. “How does this happen? Where are the ideas coming from? How the heck do people write hundreds of songs? Eventually you’ll run out of ideas, right!?” I’d like to say I discovered the answer quickly but I didn’t. My first attempt at songwriting was during my senior year of high school when I formed my first band, although I use the term “band” loosely. We played in my friend’s basement and at my graduation party. You have to start somewhere! 

Fast forward a few years. I spent a good amount of my early twenties playing, touring, and slowly progressing as a songwriter. After awhile I got tired of touring and booking shows. (Sleeping in Walmart parking lots can get old) I focused my musical energy on becoming a better songwriter and helping other artists do the same. Reading books from lyricists Pat Patterson and Robin Frederick, taking a few online songwriting courses and setting a weekly quota on the number of songs I should write, helped me progress. 

I often hear students and bands say “songwriting is impossible”. My response is: no it isn’t. Songwriting is like a muscle and if you use it often (and write with others), it will improve. The challenge is completing a song and moving on to the next one. The number one rule I’ve learned is to finish the song, don’t leave it hanging! Once I started to practice this on a weekly basis my songwriting got better. I then moved to co-writing with other people. People who were often much better and more experienced. This made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable and I liked it. I got quicker with melodies, more creative lyrically and wasn’t attached to my “vision” but was able to see and learn from others ideas. Songwriting lead me to better understanding the process of recording and production. Taking a song, narrowing down the “sonic landscape” and tracking parts that complement the song are the next step.

So no matter what stage you’re at–curious about writing, not sure where to start or just want to improve your skill–we’re here to help. We’re excited to begin offering songwriting lessons at Sunburst. We’ll deconstruct your ideas, teach exercises for chord progressions and lyrics as well as narrowing down your genre and style, getting you on track to write more consistently.

As always we love to hear your feedback about the newsletter, or anything else for that matter. You can reach us at (412) 475-8280 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks for reading, being a part of things at Sunburst. If you love your lessons at Sunburst, please leave us a review on Google and Facebook, it really helps!

–Sunburst Team