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I am an avid listener as well as player. I perform as a solo guitarist specializing in Celtic and American acoustic music. I also work as an accompanist on a variety of instrument (mandolin, dulcimer, banjo, guitar) for singer-songwriters. You can catch my band Harper Valley Hypocrites performing locally. Our material cover Dylan to Zevon as well as some great original tunes. I continue to write and arrange pieces for fretted instruments and find great joy in adapting pop and rock classics to instruments that are not normally used for such tunes.
Over the last 20 years of teaching and playing I am often asked “how do I reach the next level in my playing?” Here are a few things I talk about as I help students grow as musicians. 1) Play songs you enjoy and have listened to often. While you can learn unfamiliar songs, it's best to work on tunes that are in your mind, not just on the page. 2) Spend time just ‘nuddling’ on your instrument. Not only does this relive the tension that tends to build when you have been intensely concentrating on a new tune but it leads to discovering bits of other songs (or creating your own tunes). 3) When you don’t have your instrument in your hands or don’t have time to practice, think about the songs you have been working on. My college roommate who was a violinist and the concert master at OCU said he spent as many hours ‘practicing in his head’ as he did practicing with his hands. 4) Just keep your guitar, mandolin, banjo etc. handy. If it’s in a case, under the bed or in the hall closet it is out of sight and out of mind. And way too hard to retrieve when you end a long day and actually have time to set and play. 5) Lastly, if you decide to work with an instructor or music coach, pick someone who has a passion for the music that has driven you to take up playing your favorite style of music.
I cover both the physical skill of creating a musical sound and building a song from its melodic and rhythmic core. In doing this both children and adults are tutored in proper positioning of their hands and bodies to create a comfortable and relaxed posture of playing. I cover a variety of notation methods including tabulature, staff notation and chordal diagrams. The focus is on melodies the student is already familiar with, engaging their ear, eye and tactical senses. I have found this to be more enjoyable and the path to reaching proficiency more quickly.
I love sharing my hard won skills with all ages from school age to retired seniors. I am constantly searching for the best way to convey musical ideas and translate them into making players with the skills to enjoy what they are playing. We will not only learn how to play but why a piece of music works. Always with the goal of growing a player who is self sufficient with the skills to read, write and arrange for their chosen instruments. We cover melodic theory, basic harmony (especially as it applies to the students chosen musical style) and the concepts of rhythmic repetition and diversion.
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