This month's newsletter has some practicing tips to help you set and keep goals and keep your playing move in the right direction. BurghSong returns to Sunburst Saturday Nov 19th, plus more details on our recitals, practice session and picture day.

Sunburst News

–November 2016–

In this Issue:

  • Practice Practicing: 5 tips to get yourself to practice better and more often

  • Burghsong Presents the Brother Brothers at Sunburst

  • Ernie’s Pick of the Month: Hiss Golden Messenger

  • December Recitals, Practice Session and Picture Day


  • Instructor Concert Calendar


Important Dates:

  • The Suntones with Pitt Pendulums @ Cathedral of Learning - Sat Nov 19th, 4pm

  • BurghSong Presents - Brother Brothers at Sunburst - Sat Nov 19th, 7pm

  • Sunburst Closed for Thanksgiving - Thu. Nov 24th & Fri Nov 25th

  • Winter Recital Practice Session and Picture Day - Sat Dec 3rd, 2-5pm

  • Winter Recital Concerts - Sun Dec 11th & Sat Dec 17th

Practice Practicing

5 tips to get yourself to practice better and more often


Through lessons we can gather all kinds of amazing information about how to play our instruments, but it’s really the consistent act of playing that helps us really improve. Music is a very physical activity and, like sewing, playing basketball, or omelette making we need to repeat the same motions again and again to make progress. One of the nice things about thinking this way is that whether you’re a total beginner or a pro, your next step to getting better is always clear: sit down and play (or singers should probably stand). 

On the other hand we all lead busy lives (especially kids these days) and sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly how to make time to practice. So we’ve put together a few tips to help you practice more and practice better in order to get the most out of your lessons.

1. Practice. 

OK so this may sound obvious, but it needs to be said that how, when, where, and what you practice are really not that important. The only thing that really matters is that you sit down and play. Calibrate the rest of the list based on this simple idea and you’re already way ahead!

2. Give your practice a home.

Carving out a special place for music in your home is a great way to get make practicing easier and less daunting. Have a sturdy chair, a music stand, your books or materials, a way to listen to music, everything you need for a productive session ready to go, and then when the time comes to play you can get right down to it.

3. Take advantage of weird in between time. 

Some people do well by putting practicing on their calendar along with Some people do well by putting practicing on their calendar along with their other activities. Whether you choose to be this organized about it or not, some of the best practicing can happen in life’s weird little in-between times. By having your space set up and your instrument accessible, you can get unplanned playing in while waiting for the shower, while your husband does the dishes, between spanish and math homework, between periods of the Penguins game, etc. Our brains do better with shorter, more frequent sessions, so even playing for two minutes will really add up.

4. Don’t judge yourself. 

While The Voice and American Idol have certainly inspired a lot of young musicians, they’ve also created a culture of competition and judgement around music that can be intimidating for musicians of every ability level. If you enjoy the act of playing music, keep doing it and keep enjoying it. Don’t get caught up in being good or bad, or right or wrong, or what other people are doing. Feedback can be a very valuable tool for getting better, but don’t let it or anyone, get in the way of your love of playing. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.

5. Perform.

Perform! There’s nothing like an upcoming performance to really motivate you to practice. Whenever I feel like I haven’t been playing enough I book myself a show a few months out and lo and behold I start practicing more. Works every time. 

–Alex Stanton, Sunburst Director


December Recitals, Practice Session and Picture Day

12/3, 12/11 & 12/17

We’re now signing students up for our December recitals. All students are invited and encouraged to perform, and can perform solo, with friends, or with their instructors. Below is the full schedule including which instructors will be at each session. If it is important for you to perform with your instructor, please choose a day and time when they are scheduled for a performance.  

Also remember that on December 3rd from 2-5pm we will be hosting a recital practice session and picture day. Any and all students (even those not performing) are welcome to drop by to get in a bit of extra practice before they perform. We will have a photographer on hand and students who wish to can have their photo’s taken. Digital copies will be available for free, and prints will be available for purchase online. If you know you’ll be coming, please RSVP. It will help us staff this event appropriately. See you then!


Sunday December 11th


  • John B.
  • Mikey M.
  • Mike M.


  • Bryan P.
  • Casey H.
  • Ernie F.
  • John O’B.
  • Jules C.


  • Annina D.
  • Chloe W.
  • Jonathan G.
  • Lucas B.

Saturday December 17th


  • John B.
  • Chloe W.
  • Ben R.
  • Kiki B.


  • Mikey M.
  • Bryan P.
  • John O’B.
  • Lucas B.

Burghsong presents The Brother Brothers

Concert at Sunburst Sat Nov 19th 

brother brothers

The BurghSong concert series–in its second year at Sunburst School of Music–is keeping the tradition of storytelling through song vibrant in the city of Pittsburgh. The intimate shows each feature one local artist and one national touring artist both performing a 50 minute set of original songs and stories.

On November 19th, BurghSong presents Brooklyn, NY based  twins, David and Adam Moss, who go by The Brother Brothers. David, who got his start on the cello, has become the guitarist and lead singer, while his brother Adam plays fiddle and harmonizes in the way that only siblings can. The brothers will be joined by Pittsburgh native, Spencer Allan Patrick.

Burghsong tickets are just $10 for Sunburst students and can be purchased ahead of time at, at the desk at Sunburst, or on the day of the show (which is Saturday November 19th at 7pm). 




Instructor Concert Calendar

Where can you catch your favorite Sunburst Instructors performing live this month? Here’s where:

Ernie, Kiki & Jonathan G.

The Buckle Downs @ James St Gastropub

 - Fri Nov 18th, 8:30pm


The Commonheart @ Mr Smalls Theater

 - Sat Nov 12th, 9pm

John O’Brien

The Clock Reads @ James St Gastropub

 - Sun Nov 6th, Time TBA

Ernie's Pick of the Month

hiss band

Hiss Golden Messanger - Heart Like a Levee

Heart Like A Levee is the product of MC Taylor (vocals, guitar) writing about the struggles of being a family man while also being drawn to life on the road as a musician. The end result is an aural masterpiece and my favorite record of the year. Levee has everything: hooks, correct acoustic guitar production (yay!), peaks, valleys and most important: great songs. It feels cathartic and exhilarating at the same time, building upon itself until its final, stunning track, ‘Highland Grace’.

TL;DR: Bob Dylan and Van Morrison morphed into one person and he lives in the Appalachian Mountains.

Key Tracks: Highland Grace, Biloxi, Like A Mirror Loves A Hammer



Special thanks to everyone who came out to our Halloween Party, Night of the Living Bands! Amazing performances by our young bands Electric Army and By The Process of Elimination. Like em on facebook at and