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Student Song Requests. 2014

During the first lesson, I ask my students what songs, bands, and styles of music do they listen to. This gives me an idea of what the student has heard before, and what they would like to learn in the future. I tell each student to feel free to request any song, band, or style of music, at any time during the lessons. When a student requests a song, band, or style of music, we can either start learning the song in the following week, or start learning things to build up to being able to play the song.

The following ten songs were requested by my students during 2014. There were many student requests, many more than the songs on this list! All year, I was busy learning new songs for students, and my students were busy learning and practising the songs that they requested.

Many of the requested songs were new to me; either I hadn't heard them before, or I hadn't played them before. And many of the requested songs were top 40 hits, either from last year, or hits from the past. I love being introduced to new music, so I tried to put at least a few songs in this list that were new to me.


All songs were requested and learned by students, during this last year.

Every 6 months or so, I publish another list of student requests. No song can be repeated from previous lists.

David Bowie - “Space Oddity” on Guitar

This is one of those songs that gets stuck in my head for days after playing it, because of the catchy lyrics. The student who requested this song spent at least three weeks learning all the different parts.

Leonard Cohen - “Hallelujah” on Guitar.

I had two students request this song. To me, it's a song about the art of songwriting. This song has been covered by many artists, including Jeff Buckley. I've been a big fan of Leonard Cohen ever since I heard his debut album; with songs like “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy” and “So Long Marianne” he caught my attention as a great lyricist with an interesting baritone voice. I'm not crazy about the production value of his later albums, but his more recent song “Everybody Knows” is one of those songs with lyrics everyone needs to hear; because it sheds light on the obvious. In other words, it's one of those songs that I wish I had written.

The Heavy - “Curse Me” on Guitar.

I had never heard of this band before, I was pleasantly surprised by this song after a few listens. The student who requested this song had an interesting taste in music. She would watch certain channels on YouTube that feature live performances from new bands, for example NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. She told me that this was how she heard of most of the new, upcoming bands that she requested. Other interesting songs requested by this student: Feist “Gatekeeper” and “Train Song (“Train Song” originally written and recorded by Vashti Bunyan.) Seawolf “Old Friend.” Honey Honey (one of the members grew up in Cleveland) “Don't Know.”

Santo and Johnny - “Sleepwalk” on Guitar.

This is a great instrumental track from 1959; it's one of my favorites. The student learned the rhythm guitar in the song. Santo and Johnny were brothers from Brooklyn. Their father encouraged them to play guitar, and signed them up for lessons. Santo played an instrument called the Steel Guitar. It has three necks, with eight strings each. The steel guitar is the lead instrument in this song. The melody of the slide guitar is accentuated by the slide guitar's unique sound. It's responsible for the sliding sounds, and dreamy, reverb rich, lead melodies in this track. The steel guitar is also used a lot in country music.

Gillian Welch - “Time the Revelator” on Guitar.

This haunting song was written and performed by Gillian Welch. The excellent guitarist David Rawlings accompanies her, accentuating the great songwriting with his style of guitar. He also sings harmonies, and their voices harmonize well together. This acoustic duo is influenced by folk and bluegrass music. The student who requested this song also learned “Highway Back to You” by this same band. This video is a live version that captures the energy of the performance and the crowd's enthusiastic reactions.

No Doubt - “Just A Girl” on Guitar

A 90's hit with a great guitar intro riff (a riff is a short, repetitive melody.) This band combined rock, reggae, and punk, similar to their influences like The Clash.

8th Day - “Yala Yalilli” on Guitar

This song and band was new to me. This song features Jewish, Middle Eastern, funk and reggae influences. It was written and performed by an American Hasidic pop rock band from California. The title contains the Arabic word Yalla, which means “come on, let's go, or hurry.” I still don't know exactly what the song is about, but you don't always need to understand the lyrics for music to be fun. Music is the universal language; you can tell from the music in this song that it's meant to be danceable, lighthearted and humorous.

The Cure - “Lovecats” on Bass Guitar

If you try to play this song straightforward, it won't sound right. The timing of the song has a swing feel to it, which is a blues/jazz influence in this rock song. This student is looking forward to learning bass lines to songs by The Police.

Black Sabbath - “Iron Man” on Drums

The drummer in this rock band had training as a jazz drummer. The jazz influences in the drumming in this song make it a fun challenge to learn. The student who requested this song had taken a year of drum lessons with another instructor, who taught theory well, but apparently didn't teach the student songs, just exercises. So once I started working with the student, he was excited to request and play full songs. We've played the drum beats to Bob Marley and The Beatles songs, and we analyze the music theory in the context of the song. All my drum students learn to sight read drum music. Thinking about playing drums? Reading drum music is much easier than reading regular sheet music.

Danny Elfman - “Sally's Song” on Ukulele

This song was a fun request. This song is from the soundtrack to the Tim Burton movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which my student saw when it came out. Of course, I also saw this movie when it first came out in theaters, because I grew up loving art and animation. So I'd heard the song before; although it was not immediately recognizable. This song reminds me of a melancholy Eastern European sort of composition and melody. It has interesting timing changes too, which are subtle and follow the lyrics. This student sang and played the song on ukulele.

What songs will my students request next? What song would you request to learn? Call me today to get started!

Check out some of the Student Song Requests from 2013.

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Cleveland Guitar and Drum Lessons
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