Booze violin and guitar classes

String and tonic! Slopers teach boozy music lessons

Brooklyn Daily
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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.

Posted 12:00 am, August 5, 2014
Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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