Looking for some creative, fun workshop sessions to add to your festival, music camp or school program? I offer a variety of workshops that cover a wide range of interests and skill levels. From mandolin specific sessions designed to help advancing players improve their playing skills, to more generalized sessions addressing the 'best practices" of general musicianship, my workshops sessions are packed with useful, practical information and a presented in professional way that is as entertaining as it is engaging.
"I attended two of your workshops Saturday night at the Dance Flurry, on double stops and on metronomes. It was my first time at this event and I actually attended primarily because of the workshops you were giving." ~ Daniel L.
"Thanks for the metronome workshop! It gave me the inspiration I need to take action on my tempo issues as well as some good info." ~ Chris W.
"The workshop was very helpful to me and the handouts you created contributed both to the workshop and to further study." ~ Judy G.
"I'm the new mandolin player who took three of your mandolin workshops this year (Sound Fundamentals I and II, and Bach). I really can't thank you enough -- learning how to practice is invaluable, and now I have a set of tools that I can work with!" ~ Brenna O.
The examples below are representative of some of the workshops I have done in the past. All workshops are "hands-on" in nature - participants are encouraged to bring a recording device so that they can refer to the material later and of course, their instruments so they can play along as we learn together.
Have questions about any of the workshops listed here or an idea for a workshop that you don't see listed here? Use the CONTACT form and let's talk ... I would love to help contribute to the success of your program by offering a workshop specifically tailored to your needs!
A User's Guide for Effective Practice
No matter where you are on your musical path - beginner or pro - your creative output will hinge on your knack for carving out practice time and using it productively. This session is intended for all musicians regardless of level or instrument.
We are all told from our very first lessons on an instrument that we should practice daily but exactly how should we organize our practice time to ensure that we continually propel ourselves forward on our chosen instrument?
In this session we will look at how we learn and discuss several strategies for learning new material in a deeper, more efficient manner. We will then present a methodology for setting up our practice space and for organizing the tunes, technique & skills for musicianship that we wish to develop in such a way as to maximize results with minimal effort. Practice strategies, logs and pre-performance timelines and inventories will be presented and discussed.
Mastering Your Metronome
Playing with good time is fundamental to making good music, yet this critical aspect of musicianship is often ignored. This workshop is intended to help all musicians regardless of their chosen instrument, to improve their feel for rhythm by practicing with a metronome. Even players who have been playing for years can benefit from the material presented in this session.
Topics covered include: an overview of different types of metronomes (mechanical, digital, software and phone apps), metronome basics, playing standard time signatures, sub-dividing the beat; playing odd time signatures; accenting different beats; practicing rhythm to melody transitions; playing on, ahead of, or behind the beat; fun games to try with the metronome and other useful information intended to help you make friends with your metronome!
Revisiting the Three "T's"
This session will re-visit the basics necessary to produce the essential "3-T's" that are of critical importance to good musicianship; Tone - Technique and Timing.
Tone - We will discuss how the choices made in everything from picks to strings to the angle that our pick hits the string affects the production of tone.
Technique - exercises will be presented that will give both the right and left hands individual attention (to increase agility and develop speed) as well as exercises designed to improve coordination between the two.
Timing - we will discuss metronome basics as well as other tools including "Band-in-a-Box" that can be used to improve timing
Demystifying the Modes
Most musicians who are at the advanced beginner/ intermediate level have at least heard of “the modes of the major scale” but many aren’t exactly sure what the modes are, much less how to apply them to their playing.
In this session, we will completely de-mystify the modes of the major scale in a very easy-to-understand way. We’ll learn about their history, how they are created from within the major
scale, the unique sound that is characteristic of each one of the modes and most importantly … how to apply them to actual tunes.
We’ll even take a jazz standard and as a group, play the appropriate modes over the chord changes of the tune. You’ll be amazed at how easy this is but you’ll also leave this session
with an understanding of how incredibly useful the modes can be in adding some spice to your playing!
Mandolin Player's Troubleshooting Clinic
A highly interactive session with a single purpose in mind ... helping YOU to get past the obstacles that stand between you and being a better mandolin player.
The concept is simple ... each participant will volunteer one or more stumbling blocks they are experiencing that prevent them from taking that elusive 'next-step' in their playing. Then, we will tackle these problems using the collective wisdom of the group such that by the end of the session, each participant will have several specific, actionable strategies to use in solving your most frustrating mandolinistic problems.
Chord Basics for Mandolin
Never rely on chord diagrams, books or 'encyclopedias' again! In this workshop, aimed at beginning mandolin students, we will develop an understanding of the basic harmonic theory needed to wean folks away from a reliance on chord books and diagrams.
By the time we're done, you will be newly empowered, having the knowledge required to confidentially find multiple ways of playing virtually any chord needed for virtually any tune likely to be encountered in Western music.
A lofty goal? Perhaps ... but well within the grasp of anyone who attends this workshop.
Beyond the Melody: Creating Melodic Variations for Fiddle Tunes
In this session, we'll take a standard fiddle tune in its most basic, skeletal form and then introduce a variety of strategies for developing the tune in ways that will allow you to put your unique stamp on it.
The goal of the session is to help you open the door to creating these melodic variations for any fiddle tune you encounter and ultimately, to open the door that will allow you to improvise spontaneously on other types of material as well.
Creating Chord Solos For Mandolin
The craft of chord soloing (simultaneously playing melody with supporting chords at the same time), in the style of masters ranging from Wes Montgomery to Jethro Burns is the focus of this session.
We will discuss 'best practices' for creating a chord solo. Then we will jump right in and create a chord solo of our own using a popular tune. We'll start with a complete analysis of the tune, and progress to thinking melodically, supporting melody with underlying chords.
Participants should be familiar with the basic theory behind chord construction (i.e., the scale tones needed to build major, minor, and seventh chords).
Using Double Stops to Create Mandolin Solos
Double stops are a great way to play simple, but full and interesting solos on the mandolin. In this session, we will learn several bluegrass and old time melodies that employ a variety of double stop voicings; from basic double stops using open drone strings, to harmonized scales in closed positions that can be easily transposed to other keys.
The Music of J.S. Bach Duets for Mandolin
Stylized music based on dance rhythms pervades Bach's compositions. In this session, we will look at one or two of Bach's compositions - originally composed for keyboard - and as a group, learn to play them as mandolin duets!
When you hear how these pieces come together, you will swear that Bach originally wrote them with the mandolin in mind! Reading of standard notation or TAB is required for this session.
Power Your Playing with Pentatonics
The Pentatonic scale is simply a five-note scale and is one of the most commonly used scales in virtually all forms of ‘roots music’. It is an easy but super-effective platform for learning to improvise in any of the styles of music that are commonly associated with roots music (blues,bluegrass, old-time, folk, gospel, western swing, etc).
These scales are so ubiquitous, that you’ll also find them used in pop, rock, jazz and classical music as well.
In this session, we’ll learn both the major and minor pentatonic scales. We’ll listen to some examples of familiar tunes that use these scales, talk about why they are so important and useful and most importantly, how to use them. Then, we’ll dive right into the deep end of the pool and allow each participant in the session the opportunity to take turns using these scales and actually improvise a solo over a commonly used chord progression.