The Music You
Hear in Your Head
Exploring the music "in your head" and making it happen on your instrument... immediately.
Improving your skills for playing competently in jams, song-circles, and ensembles.
Separating the wheat from the chaff in Music Theory.
Getting out of musical ruts and away from habitual playing.
Improving improvisational skills - replacing "muscle-memory" with musical freedom
"Training" your ear, where you can KNOW what you're playing and even what chords,
melodies, and bass-lines you're hearing on recordings or in live performance.
"Connecting" more directly to your music, to not play "absent-mindedly" or by chance - but mindfully.
Finding Your Inner Rubber Chicken (Performance)
Performance guidance and critique. We will explore what makes a performance capture the interest and imagination of an audience - whether that audience be at an open mic, in Carnegie Hall, in a church coffeehouse, or just for your family on the back porch. An emphasis will be on holding your audience's interest without resorting to unnecessary or extreme performance measures, debunking the myth that an artist, with excellent music, talk, and stage presence, must use a "gimmick" - a "rubber chicken" - to succeed in performance. We'll focus on how to plan a performance, how to keep a set "flowing"; how to handle "dead air" which results from tuning or other momentary distractions from the music; and how make each person in your audience feel "connected" to you and your music. We'll discuss considerations such as song-arrangement, patter or story-telling, stage presence and movement, and we'll explore varying the key and character of the songs in your set-list, all of which play a huge role in the "flow" of your set. We'll work to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative in your own musical performance and will seek to increase your confidence for the next time you step before an audience.
The Guitar as Greek Chorus (Accompaniment)
* The fine art of accompanying yourself
* The fine art of accompanying others - in song circles, jams, or on-stage
* The exquisite art of playing in a musical ensemble
* Song circle & jam etiquette
* The guitar as surrogate band
(In addition to the points below, which may be covered in a general session with students of
various skill levels, I do more specific workshops which range from basic
songwriting - including working with first-time writers - to advanced.)
* Songwriting from the Right-brain – even for Left-brainers
*Knowing your audience and your purpose - money or love?
* Trusting your experiences, observations, instincts,
even your talent - no matter how modest you think they are
* Step away from that guitar (when writing lyric and melody)!
* The rhythm of words
* Melody: exploring uncharted waters or drawing from the well
* Fly fishing in the stream of consciousness
The Songwriter's Guitar
*Considering every aspect of the guitar in the songwriting process
- from initial ideas to finished performance
*Special emphasis on the "Guitar As Greek Chorus":
as accompanist, inspiration, commentator, colorist, comforter, crutch, and as equal partner in songwriting
*Discussing how and when the guitar can hinder the songwriting process, as well as
how it can add melody, counter-melody, and the "glue" to vocal melody,
which can sustain and propel a song
*Discussing the development of "relative pitch" - an essential for
players as well as writers
*Gentle discussion and critique of songs written (or in
progress) by the students
Fingerpickin' for Music, Not for Show
*Making good musical choices - knowing your audience and finding a few good notes
* Showing how - first of all - anything you choose to do to get the sounds you want
is right, without regard to any style or technique
*Learning to find the relation between what you're singing and what you're playing
* Focusing on melody and bass-line – de-emphasis on chordal thinking
* Drawing the music out of your strings
* Discussing the guitar as surrogate band
*Discussing the power of silence and space
De-Mystifying Music Theory
We'll discuss how too much theoretical knowledge (and the quest for it) can impair or stifle musical creativity.
We'll discuss the importance of "hearing over knowing".
We'll explain what I call chord-"additives", that is, the notes which
may be added to basic chords to change their "purpose", to add tension, or to expand and alter their color
(ie: 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, & the horrifying 13ths).
We'll separate the "wheat from the chaff" to explain everything in theory that's helpful to know,
and point out all that is harmful to the processes of creating, playing, and listening to music.