Booze violin and guitar classes

String and tonic! Slopers teach boozy music lessons

The Brooklyn Paper
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Always wanted to learn a musical instrument, but held back by stage fright? Try a little liquid courage.

A pair of Park Slope music teachers are helping their adult students allay first-timer jitters by pairing beginner guitar and violin lessons with alcohol. Instead of starting lessons with scales or chords, string ticklers Pete Lanctot and Ginger Dolden kick off their Booze Violin and Booze Guitar group classes by pouring their pupils a drink or two.

“You have all these inhibitions when you first start, and it’s really hard for people to relax,” said Lanctot, a certified music teacher and faculty member at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope. “We figured if we tied in booze somehow would make a fun environment.”

But the hooch is as much a social lubricant as a creative one, and serving drinks is also about helping students in a group class open up to one another, Dolden said.

“It’s a lonely process if you’re embarking on trying to play an instrument as an adult,” she said. “Having a community is key if you’re trying to started.”

The duo teaches the liquored-up lessons to groups of 10–15 adults over an eight-week semester at their Navy Yard studio. The course culminates in a recital performance at a local music venue — in years past, the classes have performed at Littlefield and Shapeshifter Lab in Gowanus, Lanctot said.

When they’re not rocking Brooklyn bars, Lanctot and Dolden also give private lessons. But they added three “booze” classes to their repertoire in 2013 to reach more people, they said. The lessons were such a hit, the duo is now accepting enrollments for three ginned-up guitar classes and eight vino-imbued violin classes this fall. Students can choose from weekday evening or weekend afternoon time slots for the one-hour sessions, and can bring their own axe or rent one.

A former violin student said the classes provided a comfortable environment for picking up what is often considered a tough-to-learn instrument.

“The group lessons are actually a lot of fun — there’s not as much attention on you so you can relax a little,” said past student Emily Gref, who lives in Kensington. “Of course, the drinks help with that.”

Booze Violin and Booze Guitar courses run Sept. 20 to Nov. 13. Visit to sign up. $200.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ted from Park Slope says:
Sounds dangerous. Those instruments (violins) can cost in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Booze shouldn't mix with them.

Besides, spill some alcohol on the violin and it'll strip the tarnish off.

It seems like a good idea at first, but when you actually consider how most people drink, this is going to get messy.
Aug. 6, 2014, 2:43 pm
SandyV from Snark Slope says:
Love your moxie, Ted, but I'm going to go ahead and guess these novice students aren't playing on the six-figure strings you're thinking of.

This is an awesome idea. I recommend you lighten up and try it out.
Aug. 6, 2014, 4:13 pm
Ted from Park Slope says:
I play the trumpet.
Aug. 7, 2014, 11:50 am
Jim from some other area says:
Slide-trombone. Playin it now in fact.
Aug. 7, 2014, 3:34 pm
Michael Kimbley says:
Great article! If you want some professional violin lessons in Florida for you or your kid, I suggest you Really expert teachers!
Oct. 8, 2014, 4:06 am

Comments closed.

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