Take Your Pick

October 27, 2022

Will You Learn to Play Keyboard? Or Do You Prefer Guitar? Or Both?

Yes! Now you can learn guitar too! It’s never been more accessible to learn your instrument of choice and play your favorite Jewish music with Bassline Pro.

Victoria Dwek

I was outside my friend’s house in Deal, schmoozing on her front porch. She pointed to her two boys who were sitting on the lawn, playing around with guitars.

“Do you know anyone who can give them lessons?” she asked me. “They want to play.”

At the time, I didn’t. I knew where she could go for keyboard lessons, of course. If she didn’t want another car pool, she could sign them up for Bassline Pro’s online or USB lessons. If she was local in Lakewood, they could also go to Bassline’s group lessons. But it was guitar that interested these boys.

A few weeks later, I had my answer.

“A lot of people have been asking me to feature guitar lessons on Bassline Pro,” says Shmuel Bassman, one of the top keyboardists in the Jewish world and the founder of the online/USB platform for music lessons Bassline Pro. “And we finally found the right person. Yisroel Meir Rowner has been giving guitar lessons in Lakewood for over fifteen years—even my own son took lessons with him, and I’ve seen how well his students play. He’s charismatic, clear, and professional, and he teaches so well—and now his lessons are available to the Jewish community at large!”

A lot of people have been waiting for this.

Introducing: online/USB guitar!

Three years ago, having a kosher resource for remote keyboard lessons was groundbreaking. Before Bassline Pro, there was no platform where a child could learn to play an instrument remotely in a kosher way. Children want to learn to play an instrument by learning the Jewish songs they love. The Bassline Pro platform transcended geographic location or age. It wasn’t just young boys in a studio—it was for anyone!

Now, finally, the availability of guitar lessons will give an even wider range of musically inclined children and adults this opportunity.

Shmuel and Yisroel Meir have been working together over the past year, creating the curriculum, video lessons, and homework sheets.

“The guitar program is going to have the same structure as the highly successful keyboard lessons at Bassline Pro,” Shmuel explains. “As long as they’re signed up, students can go back and review each video lesson as often as they like (that’s one perk over live lessons), and Bassline is there for the students for customer service and guidance. There’s a very organized structure—parents can see what students are accomplishing. And there’s no commitment. If it doesn’t click, it doesn’t need to continue—they can cancel anytime. So it really can’t hurt to try.”

Now, music is open to any Jewish child who wants to learn. Not everyone has access to an instructor. Not everyone wants to invest in private lessons. Not everyone is able to carpool. Bassline Pro makes learning either keyboard or guitar easy and accessible! And, no, you don’t need to have internet to access the lessons. Both the keyboard and guitar lessons are also available via USB that’s preloaded with all the lessons and materials. Just plug it into the computer and start playing. Whether you’re accessing your classes from the website or the USB, the whole system is sleek, fun, and easy to use.

From the studio to the simchah

Bassline Pro students can be located anywhere in the world; they can be any age, boys or girls, men or women. Over the years, between in-person and online lessons, Shmuel has taught thousands of students how to play keyboard successfully.

But let’s go back to the source, where it all began: in Shmuel Bassman’s studio, where he’s been teaching Lakewood boys to play keyboard for over 15 years. It started with one-on-one lessons; then, to be able to teach more boys and make lessons more affordable, he began teaching groups. Shmuel’s state-of-the-art lessons studio with a sound system and individual keyboards and headphones allows boys to play simultaneously (and they can only hear themselves!).

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to lots of parents about how much their sons anticipate their weekly lessons and how confident they feel as a result of learning a new, impressive skill. But I never spoke to the boys themselves—and today, that’s just what I’m going to do.

“I first began taking lessons about four years ago, when I was nine; I thought it might be something I would enjoy,” Avi tells me.

Avi is currently in eighth grade, and even though you might consider him a kid, as far as ability goes, he’s reached pro status.

“Did you take individual or group lessons?”

“It was group lessons. But you still felt like it was one-on-one. It wasn’t just about speaking to the group—Shmuel gives lots of individual attention. I went to the first few weeks of group lessons and learned to play a bunch of songs. As I practiced and learned new songs, I was able to figure out the chords. About a year and a half after I started, I began figuring out how to play songs by ear, without any sheet music. In the past year or two, I’ve gained the ability to play a song on the spot, even if I never played it before.”

“Do you still take lessons?”

“Once in a while, I take a private lesson with Shmuel to learn some more advanced skills.”

In the meantime, Avi has gained more experience playing for Bassline Jr., Shmuel’s network of top students who are available for booking. Avi plays at bar mitzvahs, vorts, and sheva brachos, and it’s a win-win. He might be young, but he’s good. With Bassline Jr., ba’alei simchah get a more affordable live music option, and Avi gets the confidence and pride in his ability to bring people simchah (and get paid, of course!).

What does Avi like about playing keyboard?

“I love playing keyboard—it gives me an outlet; it’s geshmak! It’s so much fun, and the better you get, it’s even more and more fun. Plus, it’s nice to be able to do something and see people impressed. It feels good!”

My next interviewee is Shlomo, who has only been taking lessons for a little more than a year—and he’s amazing.

“I started group lessons when I was eleven—before then, I was playing here and there with only my right hand.”

Shlomo tells me that it took a bit of time to learn the first song, but after two or three weeks, he was learning the songs more quickly.

“Only four or five weeks into the lessons, I was already picking up all the songs Shmuel was teaching right away.”

Each round of lessons is eight weeks, and so far, Shlomo has been through three rounds. It was sometime in the middle of the second round that he started being able to pick up songs by ear.

“By the end of the first round of lessons, I could begin to figure out songs by myself. But it was in the second round that I was playing by ear. During the third round, Shmuel upped the level, teaching us harder songs. Each time, it was different. I only play for myself, whenever I want to relax. I also just started private lessons so I can learn more professional skills.”

Even though keyboard players can use headphones (the whole house doesn’t need to hear you practice), Shlomo does not—his family loves to hear him play.

From the parents

Can you get the same results from the online/USB course?

Absolutely. We ask both parents and students for feedback on their experience.

Rachel shares, “Our son loves the online lessons; he has really taken to playing the keyboard. We love the sounds of Jewish music playing in the house!”

Ruchie’s 12-year-old son is using the USB version. “He plays beautifully by ear. It was well worth the investment!”

Mo has been impressed. “My son enjoyed every minute, and I’m blown away by how professional he sounds.”

Leebi’s family is enjoying listening to her son play. “My son has learned so much from his Bassline lessons! They are easy to use, and I like that we can access them at any time. My son is learning to play songs that he knows and can sing along too.”

Rena loves the affordability. “It’s a great website for keyboard lessons that doesn’t break the bank. My son is learning well, and we enjoy hearing him play. I highly recommend it. Thank you for setting up these amazing classes!”

Sara has two sons taking the online lessons. “It’s amazing how quickly they picked it up and are playing some songs already. It’s nice that they can do it at their own pace and on their own time with no pressure.”

Shaya is impressed by how quickly his son picked it up. “My twelve-year-old son found the online course to be very easy to follow, and by the time he finished the course, he was a phenomenal player.And their customer support is awesome as well, extremely accommodating.”

Frankly, I’m impressed.

Give your child the opportunity to be the next accomplished keyboard or guitar player. Whether it’s in person or online, keyboard or guitar, it’s never been more doable. Take your pick!