Italian violin wizard Luca Ciarla talks about how live looping, sound effects and electronics can enhance a creative performance. Don’t miss his concert Wednesday, June 26th in the Williston Theatre… free admission.
Wondering why your tone has gone downhill? Want to take better care of your instrument, without which you’d be unable to make music? We’re honored to have long-time luthier, Matt Stamell, owner of Stamell Stringed Instruments in Amherst and Poughkeepsie, give a presentation on instrument care. Bring questions, bring your instrument!
The Strum Bowing Method: How to Groove on Strings…
To play authentically in contemporary popular idioms, it’s not enough to know which notes to play—we need to capture the groove as well. Unfortunately, the supportive role of rhythm playing is generally overlooked in the virtuosic world of string pedagogy. The Strum Bowing Method is a clear and comprehensive approach with a focus on how to play and teach the grooves in contemporary popular music, including chopping, ghosting, playing chords/reading chord charts and other skills needed for grooving and playing rhythm to back up other musicians. We will use etudes and examples from my books to explore the rhythmic side of our musical natures.
SB 1: Strum Bowing Basics—Ghosting, Chopping, GPS for Strings
SB 2: Strum Bowing Advanced Techniques—3-D Strumming and an Into to Chords on Strings
SB 3: The Rhythm String Player: Strum Bowing in Action—Chord Charts and Back-up Playing
Why Play an Electric Instrument?
This class will explore the musical opportunities that are only possible on electric string instruments. In the process, we’ll answer questions about electric instruments, the many choices for amplification, we’ll listen to different effects and dig into the enormous variety of gear available. And we’ll focus on the different string-playing techniques needed for playing non-classical music on electric instruments.
JULIE LYONN LIEBERMAN
Learn a Norwegian Tune
You will learn a wonderful modern Norwegian tune composed by Sterla Eide, Dimisjonspolsen Ferrear. A student of mine taught me this tune after returning from a workshop with him in Scandinavia back in the 1990s and I always enjoy this tune’s wonderfully lively spirit.
Learn a Klezmer Tune
We’ll focus on an extremely popular tune, Der Heyser Bulgar, including the left- as well as right-hand techniques from this Eastern European style that dress up the notes.
Learn a Galician Tune
The Galician fiddle style hails from Northern Spain. It’s a remarkable style that almost died out, but in recent years, has been restored. It took me a year while working on my book, A Festival of Violin and Fiddle Styles, to locate someone in Spain willing to research and send me a few of these ancient traditional tunes.
Almost every single melody, regardless of style, contains a recognizable recipe for how to end its form. Most of the time, it ends on the tonal center of the melody. I call it a melodic/harmonic arrow because the ears recognize where the line is headed: home.
For players interested in honing their improvisational abilities over chord changes, working with a four-measure cadence provides an easier route into listening for harmonic motion. A good deal of the time, the chords used for the cadence will most likely be featured in the rest of the tune.
String players focus wholeheartedly on the left hand from day one for intonation and later, to guide their fingers through melodies. The right hand is often neglected so much, that when it comes to soloing, more energy is poured into melodic ideas than rhythmic. It’s startingly difficult to solo over a very simple backing track using only one rhythmic phrase while guiding the left hand. Most players can only last a minute or two before the right-hand rhythm falls apart. This session will provide you with a balance between the two hands.
Practice Protocols that Work!
Most of us are rarely taught HOW to practice, other than being told to repeat whatever we’re working on start-to-finish again and again. But that’s like building a car that only has one wheel on it, and then players become frustrated when trying to play a melody they haven’t played for a while or are called upon to play in front of. We’ll examine how you practice and add some uniquely new approaches that will probably be far more effective.
Why is My Pinky So Difficult to Use?
In addition to being so short compared to the other fingers, the pinky tends to be the furthest away from the fingerboard. And there are additional problems with that lovely little digit. This session will be entirely enlightening. You will learn all you need to know to use this finger as an equal to its neighbors.
Phrasing & Voice-Leading
Julie has a different approach to phrasing and voice-leading that will help you transition from playing “correctly” to playing like an artist. We all start with a focus on intonation, tone, and learning the rhythms and pitches we need for each melody. But many players become stuck at that point, so they play through melodies without expressive content. Expression in roots and contemporary styles is quite different than in classical music.
How to Capture the Style
The first thing we do when we walk into a room filled with people is to look around for a familiar face. Our ears operate in a similar manner. Between muscle memory from however we’ve trained and the styles we have focused on in the past, when we try to play a new style, it often comes out wrong. This session will guide your ears to the scaffolds that hold each style in place.
Rhythm Changes: The Heart of Swing
The term “Rhythm changes” refers to a chord progression that derives from George Gershwin’s song “I Got Rhythm” (1930). The song became quite popular, and within a few years jazz musicians began to borrow its chord structure for some of their own compositions. However, it should be noted that “Rhythm changes” evolved into a chord progression that was not exactly Gershwin’s. As was often the case with other songs, jazz musicians streamlined the progression, reducing it to a simpler, more improv-friendly harmonic framework.
Songs employing Rhythm changes became a common staple at jam sessions and are today still an essential part of jazz repertoire. The chord progression is a “must-know” for any aspiring jazz player.
Rhythm changes are almost always played in the key of Bb (Gershwin’s original key) but I invite my private students to work on the progressions through all 12 keys. For our purposes, I will first show you how to approach RCs in a simpler framework before focusing on the actual chords.
The Chemistry of Nervousness
This session will address the actual versus mythical chemical processes that takes place via one of our two nervous systems and provide tools to contend with the byproducts of nervousness to free your ability to make and share music in a joyous fashion.
The Art of the Blues
Looking for a gentle entry point into improvisation through one of the first styles created in America (post Native American music)? The blues is a vibrantly expressive art form that packs an incredible array of possibilities into its 12-bar container. This style contributed elements to bluegrass, R&B, rock, boogie-woogie, swing, and jazz. You will learn its chord form in 2 minutes or less (time Julie!) and preferred scale type (pentatonic) and then the session will focus on left- and right-hand techniques as well as approaches to improvisation. Julie will create a safe space for anyone new to this art form through group call and response and group soloing.
Open Reading Session-Sunday’s Concert
We will work on a few pieces from my Planet Strings Informance project for string orchestra that include room for improvisation. During this session, we’ll use backing tracks but will have a pickup band for the concert on Sunday. Soloing in public will be optional.
Learn a Ginger Smock Solo
Ginger Smock was the only female historic jazz violinist! We will focus on her solo over blues changes on the melody, A Woman’s Place is in the Groove, which is riff-based. Smock builds an amazing solo that appears simple on paper but has enormous content within every note and some interesting choices over the chords. I’ll fit as much as I can of her three-chorus solo into the session, and we’ll also spend some time applying some of her ideas to soloing over a backing track. For more information about Smock, read this article by Laura Risk or listen to my NPR program that includes her, Jazz Profiles: Jazz Violin.
Learn a Jazz Solo by Claude “Fiddler” Williams
Claude was an incredibly unique jazz violinist from Kansas City. I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with him by including him in my Third American Jazz String Summit, arranging recording sessions for him, including him in both of my National Public Radio series, and introducing him to Dr. Billy Taylor, who then interviewed him for CBS Sunday Morning News. His solo on “There Will Never Be Another You,” blew the roof off Saint Peter’s Church, the jazz church in NYC, when he played at my Summit. You will have an opportunity to learn the solo he played.
Learn a Gypsy Jazz Tune
Learn a standard swing tune and various classic licks and phrases that will help you start improvising over that tune and future ones. You will learn by ear, but the session will also be supplemented with sheet music. Stylistic approaches such as vibrato and bowing, to name a few, will be addressed to help you get that authentic swing sound achieved by jazz violin greats like Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti.
Violin Fingerboard Mastery
Learn various fingerboard mapping strategies and improvisation studies. Whether you are looking to unlock your ability to improvise, deepen your knowledge of harmony, compose new works, improve your musical memory, or strengthen your interpretation of classical composers, having an intimate relationship with your violin fingerboard is essential.
From Bach to Bebop
Legendary bebop saxophonist, Charlie Parker was known to have engaged in a deep dive into the music of Bach. What did he learn and how did it shape this new jazz style? We will connect the dots and find a through-line between these two genres so we can inform our own practice routine, hone our improv chops, and better our understanding of voice-leading, a skill Bach excelled in.
Four Ways to Make Your Fiddle Swing
Explore the four essential tools for perfecting your swing feel — appropriate swing bowing patterns, as well as how to play with drums, use ghost notes, and understand why and when to lay back.
Swing Fiddle Master Class
A series of mini masterclasses! Come ready to perform a short piece and Jason will provide personalized feedback. This session is also open to anyone who would like to sit back and observe.
2-5-1 progressions are the backbone for most jazz standards, and you will learn how to arpeggiate them, play them as chords for comping as well as accompaniment purposes, and start to improvise over them.
Blues and Pentatonics
Explore the basic 12-bar blues form, the major and minor pentatonic scales and their close relative—the blues scale—as well as how to inflect and ornament them in your improvisations in ways that are true to the style and tradition.
Improvisation from Scratch
For those new or relatively new to improvisation, you will begin to cultivate a more creative approach to your playing and personal practice through creating melodies, patterns and licks based on major and minor scales.
Learn a Contradance Tune
The art of accompanying dancers presents its own unique set of challenges. In this workshop Annika will teach a New England contradance tune by ear and focus on a variety of ornaments to make it sound authentic. Annika will help you develop variations on the tune, explore added harmonies, and discuss some of the ways you can add levity to your playing to better engage dancers.
Learn a Quebecois Tune
In this session, Annika will demonstrate a few Quebecois tunes to help you get a feel for the style and then she’ll teach you a Quebecois tune by ear. The workshop will also integrate traditional Quebecois foot percussion and explore the ornamentation and bowing that help bring this style of fiddling to life.
Add a Dance Groove to your Tunes!
Many fiddlers focus on learning the correct notes for a body of tunes without nuance or the ability to instill content into the music with toe-tapping, uplifting grooves. You will learn several different bow patterns as well as shuffles that will add groove and danceability to your playing and you will learn how to apply these bow patterns to a melody as well as its chords. You’ll leave this class able to apply these bowing styles to the melody or chords for any tune.
Shuffle Grooves: (An introduction to the “Add Dance Groove to Your Tunes.”)
Explore different rhythmic shuffles and bowing patterns that can take your tunes and back-up playing to the next level! We’ll focus on loosening up your bowhand and channeling your inner percussionist! Concepts from this workshop can be applied to playing melodies and chords, but we’ll mostly focus on different bow patterns and grooves you can integrate into your playing.
Learn a Bluegrass Tune
After you learn the melody to a popular bluegrass tune, we’ll delve into left- and right-hand techniques as well as variations you can apply to any bluegrass tune to “dress it up.”
How to Back Up a Bluegrass Tune
Do you know how to accompany a tune? Learn a bunch of techniques you can use behind a singer or instrumentalist.
Fills, Frills, and Thrills
Let’s deep dive into the basics on how to add frills to your fills and thrill designed to dress up any melody or solo.
What’s in a song? What’s in a train song? Join us in learning the infamous ‘Orange Blossom Special’ as well as more…
Most string players don’t know about the behind-the-scenes design and manufacture of strings. We try different brands out without an understanding of why they sound the way they do, why some string lines last longer than others, response rate, and so much more. Melissa Brun will fill you in on everything you’ll need to know about strings.
Share a tune you love with all the attendees. Everyone will have a chance to share their favorite style and tune. No judgement. Just fun. Alissa will facilitate this session.
How to Play in a Rock Band
Each band has a band leader. Usually that’s the singer. Since most rock bands use guitars,
the easiest key on the guitar is E, but if that’s uncomfortable for the singer, they’ll choose a
key that suits their voice. If you only intend to play with one band, ask the singer which keys
he/she/they are most comfortable in and practice scales, arpeggios, pentatonic scales,
and melodic phrases in those keys every day. Players who wish to pursue playing in many
bands should practice in all 12 keys. The band leader will usually tell you when to “sit it out”
and when and what to play (i.e. a solo, accompaniment, memorized lines, harmonize with
the melody, etc.). But, in general, there are four roles a bowed string player can step into:
3. Pads (which can be long tones or a rhythmic figure that keeps repeating)
4. Fillers (to avoid playing while lyrics are sung, you play at the end of each line)
5. Solos (you make up your own ideas for whatever length of time the band allows)
We will cover as many of these techniques as possible during this session.
Note: Alissa will be running and teaching in the Youth Program as well.