PLAY MUSIC NYCmusic lessons for all
Trial Lesson Sign Up
All prospective students begin with a paid trial lesson. This is an assessment to gauge the student’s learning needs, understand their unique connection to music, and ultimately to see if our program is a good fit. If for some reason we believe another program/teacher would be better support the student’s learning journey, we will provide recommendations.
Yes, we offer online lessons.
Instrument We Teach
Currently we offer piano, drum, vibraphone, marimba, and general percussion lessons.
We’re also connected to an amazing community of teachers who provide lessons on other instruments. So be sure to reach out if you’re interested in another instrument.
We are currently offering online lessons to anyone with an internet connection during the pandemic.
In non-pandemic times, we offer in-home lessons through out Brooklyn and Manhattan.
We also have a home teaching studio in Windsor Terrace Brooklyn, equipped with piano, drums, marimba, vibraphone, and various percussion instruments.
|30 min||45 min||60 min|
Can we drop in?
Home studio lessons are available by appointment only.
Director of Programs: Zaneta Sykes
Currently Offering Online Lessons Only
For years we’ve offered online lessons for children and adults.
We combine fun activities, supportive teaching methods that help students make music they love and build creative connection with others.
Play Music offers progressive music lessons for all ages, from kids to adults, in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Our program takes a joyful and hands-on approach to music, through game and play-based curricula. Activities and projects are student-led and all lesson materials are highly customized to the student’s learning needs.
While our teachers are conservatory-trained, please note this is not a conservatory program. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to imagine, create, and fully express themselves – regardless of age, ability, and access. So Play Music is an alternative to traditional music programs, whereby we focus on helping students forge their own unique path towards creative expression.
From the very first lesson, students will begin improvising, writing their own music, and developing listening skills. These elements are the foundation of our teaching practice.
We teach reading, writing, and technique all through this framework of hands-on experiential learning.
This program does not teach skills for skills sake. Instead, we tie assignments and projects back to student interests and help frame practice as a means to creative vision and expression.
Also, we recognize that no two students are the same. So we customize lesson materials, games, and activities to best support the student’s individual learning needs and interests.
Ultimately we believe that the secret to a long, happy, and sustainable connection to music begins with centering teaching approaches in joy, play, imagination, and student interest.
In this way, students become personally invested in their artwork, rather than playing pieces because someone told them to. They begin to develop their own sense of aesthetics, their own musical preferences and opinions, and ultimately create their own authentic art.
Director of Programs – Zaneta Sykes
drums, piano, marimba, general percussion, songwriting, improvisation
Zaneta’s (she/they) earliest memories include practicing drums in the park with their dad. Fast-forward 27 years, they still strive to keep the same spirit of excitement and love in every lesson.
Zaneta’s work with students spans almost two decades, from public school general music to teaching artist work to training teachers. Their musical legacy includes performing with luminaries such as Alicia Keys and Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as performing on America’s Got Talent and in spaces such as the Walt Disney Hall and the Brooklyn Museum. They also hold a B.M. from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and are Music Together trained.
Zaneta enjoys writing songs, playing drums super loud, teaching womxn and femmes to own their sonic power, reading tarot, and floating in clear tropical waters.
Curriculum Development/Educator – Chris Dingman
piano, drums, vibraphone, improvisation, composition, and theory
At an early age, Chris (he/him) was most enthralled by music of all kinds. Hearing his mother play piano during summer vacation attracted him to the instrument so much that he begged his parents for piano lessons! The next step was the drums. He wanted to make music with other kids, and for that his parents wisely led him to the world of percussion. While exploring rock, funk, jazz, soul, and hip-hop in high school, his curiosity about chords and scales brought him to improvisation and composition. Chris’ inspiration in music continued to grow when he combined his piano and drumming skills to learn the vibraphone. He continues all of these passions to this day, and Chris takes great joy in sharing them with students of all ages, levels, and interests.
In his 12+ years of teaching experience, Chris has presented masterclasses and workshops for general audiences and music students alike at primary schools from Los Angeles to New York, at jazz festivals from Vancouver to Oslo, and at music conservatories in the U.S., Europe, Vietnam, and India. He has taught private lessons to students ranging from beginner to advanced, from ages 5 to 65, in New York City, California, Connecticut, and via Skype worldwide. He has run his own summer music camp; led bands of students in gigs for charity events; rehearsed student bands for rock performances. He has taught countless kids how to read and write music, how to learn and play by ear, how to use their minds and how to follow their hearts through the joy of playing music.
Chris holds a B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University, and a Master of Music with honors from the University of Southern California (USC) and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance (formerly the Thelonious Monk Institute).
Chris enjoys composing, teaching young folx to write their own music, making homemade salsa, playing frisbee, and running.
Teaching Fellow – Matt Bent
drums, piano, improvisation, composition, and theory
A native of Red Bank, New Jersey, Matt Bent has established himself as a creative, versatile drummer. His diverse sensibilities have granted him work with distinctive artists such as The Jon Seiger Trio, Moses Rockwell, his ABC Trio, Claude Bennington’s Fever Dream, and most recently his 10-piece, pop/soul group, The Saplings, who have released two albums featuring Grammy-nominated artist (and musical mentor), Gary Versace.
Matt recently received his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz & Contemporary Media with certificate in the Arts Leadership Program at The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He now performs regularly in New York City and nationally. He also composes for his Trio and The Saplings, as he continues to develop his own voice.
Matt believes that music is the greatest gift he has ever received, and he is delighted to share this gift with drum and piano students through his Fellowship position at Play Music.
To enroll, all prospective students begin with a paid trial lesson. This trial acts more as an assessment than a sample lesson. During the trial, we gauge the student’s learning needs, get to know their unique connection to music, and determine their strengths and areas to be supported. If for some reason our program is not a suitable fit, we will connect you with another program/teacher who we feel would better support your student’s learning journey.
Lesson Enrollment is a commitment for the school year, September through June (through May for private school students). Though students can sign up at any time during the school year.
Students receive 34 lessons for the year. We observe many of the same major holidays and breaks as the Department of Education. Click above on the Program Calendar tab for details.
Enrollment begins with finding a regular time slot that will work for the year. This time slot is a standing appointment, that is only disrupted by holidays observed, a student cancelation, or a teacher cancelation. Otherwise this appointment occurs on a weekly basis.
Once a time slot is set, you will be sent an email to fill out our online enrollment form and pay your first month’s tuition, as well as last month’s tuition which acts as an enrollment deposit. The enrollment deposit covers the final month of lessons, typically June. Though if for some reason your student needs to terminate lessons early, this enrollment deposit will cover your final month.
For tuition, we calculate the total tuition for the school year and divide payments into equal monthly installments that go toward the total tuition. So the monthly tuition payment is the same amount each month. For example, if a student starts at the beginning of the year, their total tuition would be 33 lessons x $60 = $1,980 for the entire year. So the monthly payment would be roughly $198, from September until May, as the enrollment deposit covers June.
CANCELATIONS + MAKE UPS
Each student is alotted 2 make up lessons per year. One for each semester. These make up lessons are taught during make up weeks, which are weeks set aside in our program calendar for make ups.
Teachers are also entitled to 2 make up lessons per year for any cancelations. These make ups are taught during separate teacher make up weeks.
These make up weeks are not included in the total tuition, as those lessons have already been paid for.
If for some reason your lesson falls on a holiday, you will be credited back that lesson in the upcoming month. We are committed to honoring each student’s religous needs and observances. Please let us know if there are specific dates that may conflict.
The Play Music program runs September through June and largely observes the Department of Education school calendar holidays.
We offer to enrollment options: public and private school calendars. The public school lessons finish at the end of June. The private school lessons finish at the end of May.
Our Mission & Vision
Play Music is a program of Inner Arts Initiative, Inc, a Brooklyn-based non-profit envisioning a creatively integrated world, in which expression is fully enabled in service of personal and collective well-being.
The Play Music program for young people and their families focuses on helping students connect with and fully express themselves through music.
We take a joyful approach to music-making and believe that all students, no matter what their age, ability, or access to resources, can learn to play music and benefit from the process.
music party 2019 (it was a bit rainy, but that didn’t dampen spirits)
In-Home Lessons – Brooklyn + Manhattan
155 Seeley Street, Brooklyn 11218 (by appointment only)
see calendar below for holidays observed
Phone & Email
Welcome! Play Music offers progressive music lessons that support individual expression. This is not a traditional conservatory program, but more a process of supporting a student’s ever-changing connection to music. We teach reading, songwriting, improvisation, how to listen, and think critically about theand we customize lessons according to student’s learning needs. So take a look around, we have an amazing blog that give tips and advice on how to support creativity and an awesome newsletter filled with musical activities and articles.
Wishing you all joy and creativity,
Monday, Sept 13
Fall semester begins
Thursday, Sept 16
Yom Kippur – no lessons
Indigenous Peoples’ Day – no lessons
What Parents are Saying
“We love Play Music! We just finished our second year of piano classes in our apartment. Our eight-year old has no interest in learning the traditional way., but has ample natural talent. Chris and Zaneta developed a special curriculum to engage our son and not discourage him, as so many program do that stick to a rigid method. Though he may not practice as much as we would hope, we follow the philosophy and don’t force it. Even so, his music skills are blossoming in leaps and bounds in such creative ways. Topped off with the occasional jam sessions at their home with other kids they teach, this is an incredible program. If you want your children to grow up having fun with music, this is the program. Thank you Chris and Zaneta.”
“Zaneta and Chris at Play Music are both equally talented, innovative, engaged, and wonderful teachers and musicians in their own right. My 8-years son Jai has been taking piano lessons with Chris for the past year and has thoroughly enjoyed his lessons and the whole process of learning to play the piano. Chris is very dedicated, patient, talented, and fun and it is very apparent that he loves to teach. Both Zaneta and Chris are passionate teachers and very caring toward their students. Jai was delighted to receive a song that another student had anonymously wrote for him as part of a Valentine’s day project. I have been so inspired by Play Music that I have also started to play the piano again after 30 years! I am taking lessons with Chris too and I am so grateful. Our family loves Play Music and we feel so lucky to have found them.”
“Before starting at Play Music with Zaneta, my son had tried private music lessons with three other well-trained teachers. Nothing had stuck and we were eager to find someone he would click with. From the moment Zaneta came over to our house, we knew we had a gem. Her calm, kind approach, her enthusiasm, her energy, her tolerance of the times when he might have been tired or hungry–all have made him love drumming and even at times practice! What we hear come from the room is laughter and music. Avery began with a practice drum pad and a djembe. Now he is using an electronic drum set at home and playing a real drum set in a band with a group of other boys his age. With Zaneta’s guidance, at 11 years-old he had the courage to get up in front of 150 people at the Bitter End and play ‘Beast of Burden’, ‘Miss You’, and ‘Tumblin’ Dice!’ Meanwhile, at school, his performance in Percussion Ensemble has been so extraordinary he has become the leader despite being with students up to two years older. Thank you Zaneta for capturing my son’s passion for drumming.”
Get In Touch
Private Studio: 155 Seeley Street, Brooklyn 11218 (by appointment only)
Telephone: (347)470-DRUM (3786)