Guitar Week Classes - July 22-28, 2018

(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)

Back in the late-twenties the genius of Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson put the Paramount record label on the map. I’ll teach you their songs which contain exciting and uplifting techniques that will bring your playing to a new level! You’ll be swinging and bouncing in no time! This class is for players that already have intermediate fingerpicking skills – keeping a bass line going while playing melodies on top.

Men weren’t the only ones that played masterful fingerpicking guitar. Elizabeth Cotton, Memphis Minnie, and Etta Baker – the latter of whom I personally studied with – made their mark in this genre as well. We’ll have a ball playing their songs as we take an in-depth look into their wonderful styles. This class is for players that already have intermediate fingerpicking skills – keeping a bass line going while playing melodies on top.

If you’ve always wanted to learn the soulful style of slide guitar in a quick and fun way, then I think you’ll love this course for intermediate players. You’ll learn fundamentals like good tone, vibrato, and the ‘rubber sound,’ and apply these to songs by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and others. Both flatpickers and fingerpickers are welcome.

DADGAD JAM (Al Petteway)
From the beginning of my guitar playing life, I have been really into jamming for the pure joy of just improvising and trading licks over a groove. In this class we will concentrate on learning some grooves and riffs that can be played over simple chord patterns for extended jamming, but in DADGAD tuning. Jamming is one of the things I’ve enjoyed most and on acoustic guitar, using a lower tuning makes it easier to stretch and pop strings like you might on an electric. Flatpickers and fingerstylists of all levels are welcome although the fingerstyle players will be able to jam by themselves more easily. There will be something for everyone to do at his or her own level in order to participate in jamming with others. Be prepared to have too much fun.

Learn the basics of scale and chord construction and how you can use this knowledge at any level to expand your perception of music and of the fingerboard. We will combine this knowledge with ear training in a way that helps you learn melodies faster and find them on the guitar. This work will also help you better understand what you already play. The idea is to eventually merge three things into a kind of second nature musical ability – the sound of the note(s); the knowledge of what’s going on theoretically; and the mechanics of what it looks like on the fingerboard. We’ll also work on hearing chord changes and on how scales and note choices relate to chord changes. And I’ll give you an organized way to learn the fingerboard so that wherever you are on it, you will know your surroundings.

For students who have played rhythm guitar and some tunes or solos. We’ll learn tunes to build repertoire and expand technique while focusing on the most important fundamentals of playing and practicing so that you can make everything you play sound better.

For students with more extensive experience with flatpicking. Improve the way you practice. Listen more closely to your playing. Pay more attention to the most important fundamentals, and use common sense problem-solving to guide you to better technique, better sound and deeper musicality. We’ll learn some great tunes and take some time for individual coaching. We’ll also work on discovering your own ideas and growing strong and coherent solos using simple embellishments to the melody.

For students who can make some basic chords (e.g. G, C, D); it’s not required that you move quickly between one chord and the other. We’ll look at basic right- and left-hand techniques and put it to use in actual songs. You’ll learn some simple rhythms and how to play alternating bass and easy bass runs.We’ll do pretty much everything by ear but some handouts will be provided.

For students with some experience playing simple solos. We’ll look at tools for creating solos and improvising: cross picking, harmonized scales, folded scales, neighbor notes. We’ll look at how some of our flatpicking heroes did things (Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Tony Rice and others) and we’ll steal some of their ideas. We’ll do most everything by ear but some handouts will be provided.

For students with experience playing solos who want to explore ways of being more creative. We’ll look at building musical vocabulary and putting it to use in real-life situations: minor and major blues, open and closed positions, arpeggio and scale exercises closed and open, up the neck. How to improvise over the circle of fifths and changes with no obvious ‘key center’, targeting chord tones and more! We’ll do most everything by ear but some handouts will be provided.

This class for the beginner focuses on technique and how to develop the slack-key sound. We will work on the open-G tuning (Taro Patch Tuning) and touch on slack-key scales, vamps and licks, which will lead to a song, (or two!) If you have limited guitar skills, that’s fine, you will be in a comfortable environment that will make it easy for you to learn the basics.

This class is for those who want to learn basic chords, strums and melodies. We’ll be also learning Hawaiian songs and melodies to compliment your ukulele playing. Taught with plenty of aloha, this class will definitely help add to your private or public performance repertoire!

In this class we will study a selection of pieces in-depth to discover how and why they work. We will look into the various compositional devices which can help turn melodic/harmonic ideas into full-length songs and each player will be guided through the process of writing their own piece. Clive will also introduce the class to the art of arranging for solo guitar. The group will then work together to create an arrangement of a popular melody. All course materials will be provided at the start of each session.

This class will be loosely centred around two of the most influential musicians in the Elizabethan era: John Dowland (1563-1626) and William Byrd (c.1540-1623). The striking melodies and beautiful compositional phrasing of both composers translates well to the guitar and the class will learn a piece by each artist. The class will also explore lute tuning, additional ornamentation, and stylistic improvisation. All transcriptions will be made accessible through the use of modern tablature.

Three contrasting pieces will be sent to each player in advance. They will be in sheet music/TAB form and will include a jazz/blues number, a contemporary piece and a South American classic. You do not have to learn these pieces from memory but it would be useful to have a few play-throughs and to familiarize yourself with the music by listening to versions on YouTube, for example. Aspects of each piece may lead to discussion about various techniques and exercises.

John S. Hurt developed his ragtime, blues, and popular-song-influenced guitar style in the early years of the 20th Century. He recorded in 1928 in Memphis and in New York City. When the market crash came in 1929, the recording industry went down as well, taking Hurt’s recording career with it. The greater nation didn’t hear from him again until 1963 when he was ‘re-discovered’ in the folk revival. He died in 1966, having transformed it with his gentle kindness, beguiling manner, and deceptively simple-sounding guitar style. This class for intermediate/advanced players will explore Hurt tunes in keys he commonly played in with a focus on developing a strong and steady right hand as we play steady alternating bass on the low strings while beginning to integrate melodic picking on the treble strings. A familiarity with fingerpicking is necessary for this class. (If you only play with a flat pick, put it in your pocket and play with your fingers until July…). And listen to his work. Get that sound in your ears.

Blues Techniques for Non-Blues Singers. African-American singers brought a wide palette of vocal sounds to the job of singing a song. From my perspective, as a white blues singer, what I hear are techniques we commonly use to express emotion in speech being applied to the delivery of a song. This participatory class will outline and coach you in these techniques and explore their application in the context of songs you already sing, with the aim of bringing out the emotion of the lines. This is a workshop class: bring a couple of songs you already play, sing, and care about and we’ll experiment together with the lyrics, using these techniques to develop new ‘readings’ of the lines with an eye to creating a wider range and contrast of emotions in the listeners. They need not be (and in some ways, I’d prefer that they weren’t) blues songs.

We’ll begin in standard tuning, and, taking one string at a time, develop five new hand skills. We’ll look at all the muting techniques necessary to make the music work without the harmonic support of open tunings. Then, having established the basics, we’ll move to several different open tunings. When we’re done, you’ll understand and possess the keys to the kingdom of slide guitar. Hand and guitar posture, controlled slide movement, getting a decent tone and developing several types of vibrato will all be covered as we proceed through slide in several major and modal open tunings and take a look at solo and ensemble slide playing in standard tuning as well. Even if you currently play some slide guitar, this review and fine-tuning of basics will be useful. The music of Muddy Waters, David Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt will be featured. Bring a slide that fits snugly on your little finger. For notes on choosing a slide for acoustic instruments, please see here.

Swing’s the thing and rhythm’s where it’s at. Starting with solid four-to-the-bar rhythm techniques and jump-style syncopations, Mike teaches the basics of playing 10th chords, chord substitutions, and his own unique chord ‘code’ for the classic swing repertoire. Mike likes to treat this class like a big swing guitar band with a solid rhythm section holding down the beat for more adventuresome students learning to solo over changes. There will be lots of playing in class with no stressing allowed. This class is for intermediate to advanced students who feel ready to play “up the neck”. Tab reading will be helpful. Audio recorders encouraged, no video cameras, please.

This class will explore bottleneck guitar styles in open G and D tunings. The emphasis will be on tone and technique for creating slide ideas based on time-honored songs from artists like Fred McDowell and Tampa Red as well as tunes from Mike’s own bag of original compositions. With a toolbox full of slide tips using fretted chord forms, turnarounds, and crisp right hand techniques, students will learn how to use the slide to add expression, color and texture to their playing. Students should be able to play an alternationg bass fingerpicking pattern. Handouts provided, audio recorders welcome, no video cameras please.

RIFFS, RAGS & BOOGIES (Mike Dowling)
From the Delmore Brothers’ infectious boogies through Louis Jordan’s jump style grooves, Mike uses tunes from the blues, swing, and ragtime songbag to highlight techniques that will sharpen your ears, tighten your timing, and broaden your playing horizons. You’ll learn new syncopations and chord progressions which will lay the foundation for improvisation. Lots of playing in class, but Mike says be warned because you just might up some practical music theory along the way. Suitable for both flatpickers and fingerstylists. Handouts provided, audio recorders encouraged; no video cameras please.

This intermediate/advanced class will offer a wide variety of strategies for engineering and improvising solos in jazz, pop, and blues contexts. We’ll look at pentatonic substitution devices, chromatic approaches, and ‘shape-shifting’ to deepen our knowledge of harmony and the fretboard.

Walking Bass & Comping for Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar. This intermediate/advanced class will explore an exciting and fundamental technique in chamber jazz and for solo guitar. No bassist on the gig? No problem! We will learn how to construct basslines in swing, jazz waltz, and straight 8th settings, as well as adding chord hits on top in the style of jazz pianists. We’ll also discuss playing with singers, accompaniment techniques, reharmonization, improvising intros, and more.

In this class for intermediate/advanced players, we’ll take a look at and work through some standard techniques of jazz guitar. These will include various styles of picking (alternate, directional, hybrid, ‘Benson”), using octaves and block chords, fingerstyle and thumb techniques, plus exercises for developing facility with the fretting hand in multiple positions. Handouts will include a number of technical exercises and excerpts from transcriptions of recorded masterworks.

This class for intermediates will cover using the thumb and fingers as separate voices, achieving a smooth sound, creating new rhythms and incorporating alternating-bass fingerpicking with other techniques in compositions.

This advanced class takes an open-minded, multi-style approach to composition. We’ll cover tactics for overcoming writer’s block and creative plateaus, and writing your own music – and practicing it – as a powerful, organic way to progress technically and ultimately find your own sound. Students will be encouraged to compose their own piece during the week and perform it for the class.

This intermediate/advanced class will approach the acoustic guitar as an orchestra, a rock band, a jazz ensemble etc., with the two hands as separate voices. We’ll cover drum and percussive sounds and techniques; how to incorporate a percussive groove in your playing; using integrated percussive playing as accompaniment for vocals; how to practice for maximum benefit and how to avoid injury.

In this class for intermediates, Adam will show you how to make your blues playing sound jazzier. You’ll learn some easy jazz licks to toss into your solos, some jazz “transition chords,” and walking bass lines to add new color and flavor to your blues and blues-based songs. We’ll have plenty of handouts but please bring pencils, and blank music paper.

In this class for beginning/intermediate players, Adam will show you some of his well-known solo guitar arrangements for Beatles songs. You’ll play them in class as a guitar mini-orchestra so you can see how the arrangements are constructed with bass, melody and accompaniment. We’ll then work on assembling the parts onto a single guitar note by note.

In this class for all levels, you will learn the ‘inner workings’ of how to groove. You’ll learn an African rhythm pattern that will re-program your system, and then become part of any music you make, on any instrument or with your voice. We’ll also study some guitar basics, easy theory, technique and Q & A. This class will have lots of hands-on playing, and will be a fun way to acquire new knowledge.

In this intermediate-level class we’ll learn how to build chords (instead of just memorizing a bunch of ’em) and analyze them in the context of songs. We’ll learn basic formulas for major, minor and seventh chords and their extensions, and learn to embellish songs through the use of chord substitution and different inversions. We will also study distinctive chord progressions and look at how they are put to use in a variety of songs. Handouts including chord charts and diagrams will be supplied.

This intermediate-level class will be a study of Open C, Open G and Open D tunings, the advantages of each, their similarities and differences, and how to apply each tuning to solo pieces, accompaniment and slide playing. This class will explore the unique sounds and possibilities you can achieve with alternate tunings. We’ll start by simply dropping the low E to D, and progress from there. Chord diagrams will be available to help map out some basic voicings and songs written in TAB will be used to illustrate this approach.

This class is all about how to back up a vocalist. And it just so happens the vocalist I’ve been backing up for the past 28 years, Kathy Mattea, will be on campus this week! So, she’ll be joining me to demonstrate the interplay between singer and sideman. We’ll talk about how to listen and support each other without stepping on one another, go through the process of choosing songs and building arrangements, and how we navigate dynamics, tempo and feel. We’ll discuss our approach on stage and in the studio and answer your questions.

RAGGIN’ IT UP THE NECK (Jamie Stillway)
If you’ve got some basic fingerpicking patterns up your sleeve and can keep a steady rhythm, you’re prepared for this intermediate/advanced class. We’ll discuss the importance of thumb/finger independence, and how to start playing chords up the neck and understanding the fretboard in ways you never imagined possible. We’ll also spend one day dabbling in an open tuning, to show you that it’s really not as intimidating as you may have once thought. By the end of the week, you’ll have learned some easy classics in the ragtime guitar genre, and some of Jamie’s original tunes. Tablature will be provided.

One of the questions many students like to ask is, “how do you practice?” Often, aspiring guitarists have ideas of how and what they want to play, but often lack the patience to get there. This class for all levels will be a journey through the vast terrain of practicing, and will provide you with many tips to keep you motivated and focused when you sit down to play. We’ll talk basic ideas for including improvising during practice, ways to enhance your accompaniment styles, mindful practice techniques, and last but not least, ways to develop a meaningful relationship with your metronome. Fingerpickers, flatpickers, and questions are welcome.

Are you tired of looking for that flatpick you dropped on the floor? Despite what you may have heard, fingerpicking is nothing to be afraid of, and you can play many styles of music with just a few simple patterns and basic understanding of rhythm. If you know the majority of your first-position chords and often find yourself tiring of the same old strum pattern, this class is for you! We’ll discuss the what, why, and how of fingerpicking. You’ll learn basic arpeggio patterns that can be applied to several styles of music, ways to weave simple melodies into your picking, and the fundamentals of Travis picking. Tablature will be provided.

This intermediate-and-up class will explore the world of possibilities presented by traditional Irish, Scottish and Breton repertoire arranged for solo fingerstyle guitar. Some tablature will be offered, but students will also create their own individual settings of airs, jigs, reels and the 18th-century harp music of Turlough O’Carolan, sharing arrangement ideas in an informal, hands-on environment. Alternate tunings such as DADGAD, “Canine” tuning (CGCGCD) and “Werewolf” tuning (CGDGAD) will be used extensively to open up the instrument’s full sonic potential. A good time will be had by all. An audio recorder is recommended.

The Grateful Dead, the rock band synonymous with the ’60s hippie culture and one of the top-grossing live acts of all time, started out as a jug band and never lost touch with their traditional-music roots. American folk archetypes sprang up constantly in their original songs, even at their most electric and psychedelic; they covered a vast amount of folk, bluegrass and country material, and recorded several albums featuring acoustic guitars predominantly or entirely. This intermediate-level class will examine a wide range of the Dead’s material, particularly the songs of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, and explore possible acoustic guitar interpretations of it. We’ll also have a look at Garcia’s free-flying lead guitar work and Bob Weir’s innovative rhythm style, and listen to some of their lesser-known acoustic recordings. Tie-dyed t-shirts optional.

This intermediate-level class will explore the art of flatpicking - a technique more commonly associated with bluegrass and related American genres - and apply it to the vast wealth of great tunes from the Irish, Scottish and Breton traditions. We’ll take an organic approach to the music, liberating ourselves from dependence on tablature to instead develop the empowering skills of picking up tunes by ear on the fly. We’ll discuss technique, lift, ornamentation, and other facets of making Celtic tunes sound authentic on guitar. Most of all, we’ll share some cool tunes and do lots of playing together. An audio recorder is recommended.

The hot jazz guitar pioneered by Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France is fun and accessible. This hands-on class is intended for either a beginning guitar player or a player new to playing jazz, swing or Django style guitar. Using repertoire common to the genre, you will learn the basics of chord voicings, strumming styles, pick technique, and melody articulation. Plan to be jamming with the class by the week’s end.

This class will expand your understanding of rhythm guitar by focusing on the essential elements that drive a “Hot Club” jazz ensemble. Using repertoire common to the genre, participants learn ‘la pompe,’ ‘four to the bar,’ ‘samba,’ ‘bossa,’ and swing waltz rhythms. Launch into chord inversions to expand your chordal vocabulary and develop your abilty to play “up the neck.”

Add Django’s fire into your playing! This class will focus on the key elements to effective lead guitar playing in the exciting hot jazz guitar style of Django Reinhardt. Using repertoire common to the genre, the class will investigate melody interpretation, improvising, better tone through right-hand technique, stylistic nuance, ‘Django licks’ and chordal leads.

I have found some really beautiful tunes over the years that make ideal entry-level guitar pieces. Come and explore airs, strathspeys, marches etc. We’ll cover some basic ideas in DADGAD and dropped-D tunings – basic enough that they can be used by those who first picked up a guitar two weeks ago, but useful enough to make some beautiful arrangements.

We’ll look at the meaning of the term ‘Celtic Music’ and how the guitar fits into it. We’ll explore music from Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Brittany, the different rhythms and grooves in these tunes and look at some altered tunings (DADGAD, CGCGCD, DAAEAE) as well as standard to make these tunes come alive for fingerstyle guitar.

Advanced intermediate players who already have some flatpicking facility will find some techniques to make jigs and reels work in this style of guitar. How does ‘Celtic’ flatpicking differ from bluegrass? What rhythms are typical to Celtic music? We’ll look at jigs/reels/ slip jigs etc. What ornaments can we steal from, for example, fiddle technique to make the guitar more idiomatic? How might we accompany jigs and reels? Come to this class and find out!

SLIDE GUITAR 101 (David Jacobs-Strain)
In this hands-on class we’ll start with the fundamentals of slide guitar playing: creating a musical tone, developing accurate intonation, and exploring right-hand techniques that can make the slide come alive. The slide can be an incredible tool for emotional expression, and we’ll build our foundation on both mechanics and feel. We’ll dig into a few of the classic blues archetypes as the week progresses, using a call-and-response approach to train our ears as well as our hands. No prior experience with the slide or alternate tunings is necessary. If you’ve wondered where to begin with the slide or how to go from buzzes and clanks to a sound that really sings, this class is for you!

In this hands-on class we’ll make individual and collaborative recordings, and study the fundamental concepts of audio engineering and music production. We’ll take a technical, musical, and social overview of record-making; no previous engineering experience is required, but students are encouraged to bring a song to share with the group. Our goal is to support each other’s creativity, while experimenting with microphone selection, signal processing, and musical arrangements. It can be especially fun to record a song with Swannanoa mates that you may only see once a year!

BEYOND THE BLUES (David Jacobs-Strain)
This class for intermediate/ advanced players will examine the blues as a way of emoting and will dig deep into both right- and left-hand techniques and concepts. Going beyond the basic alternate tunings we’ll use a range of slide guitar and percussive right-hand ideas to stretch out what the blues can be. In this class, we’ll be exploring more complete songs and covering more advanced exercises than in the slide class. This class is very much hands-on; expect to learn new ideas and form solid habits by playing for much of each class


Special Events

Note: There is no advance registration necessary for the following events.

Come have your instrument checked out and pick up a few ‘care & feeding’ tips.

Throughout the week we will have several of the finest luthiers in America on hand displaying some of their instruments, including John Slobod, Michael Bashkin, Tyler Robbins and John Kinnaird, as well as a display of some of the amazing inventory from Dream Guitars, an award-winning local shop specializing in the world’s finest high-end instruments.

SLOW JAMS (various)
Each day, after lunch, a staff member will lead jam sessions of common tunes at a tempo slow enough for folks to learn the tunes as they play.

A Friday tradition returns! Come experience a real Hawaiian luau catered by our own slack-key master Patrick Landeza!