Teaching

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​Instruction available in the Petaluma, CA USA area or online. Background, Pedagogical Outline, and practice suggestions below.

 Background

I am continually looking to craft my offerings for private students and group classes. As such, I have found that defining an emphasis is apropos. My specialization has been taking shape through a conscious effort on my part since 2011; however, the knowledge and skills I am eager to share is most certainly the result of my lifelong interests in both music and the world of letters. There are many ways in which the guitar and the written word interact. Singing, perhaps the most apparent way, is an activity I would hope to include in all of my lessons, but it is not required. I welcome students interested in accompanying oneself while singing, writing texts to music, studying cultural backgrounds of certain pieces or composers, writing instructional texts, and exploring any and all manifestations of Textual Chordophonics, traditional or innovative. My aim is to improve skills in guitar, voice, composition, arranging, and theory, while instilling a sense that the entirety of the musical experience thrives on language arts.
Practice Suggestions
I offer here some ideas on how to organize your practice session:​1.) Beginning with a meditation, prayer, or some other sort of centering ritual can be beneficial. Relatedly, gather any materials you will need and tune your instrument. You can also set goals for the practice session, cultivate awareness, reflect on aspects of music you need to work on, etc.
2.) Warm up and stretch your body. Breathing exercises are helpful here. If you feel comfortable running through a current composition or improvisational concept/style you are working on, it could be helpful in deciding on rudimentary exercises.
3.) At this point, think phonation (sound making), but not yet intonation. Warm up further as you begin to make sound with your voice and/or instrument, but refrain from scales, phrases, etc.
4.) Now go ahead with more musical exercises: scales, technical patterns, rudiments—think about drawing these from today’s composition/improvisation.
5.) Work some expression and detail—dynamics, articulation, color …
6.) Sing and/or play a piece or improvisational work with which you are already familiar, ideally something you know thoroughly and are comfortable with.
7.) Work on new music, sight-reading, new ideas for improvisation.
8.) You may want to spend this last phase improvising and/or composing, making notes on your practice session, doing some ear training—essentially finding some way to build your practice and progress.
9.) Close with a meditation, prayer, or other centering ritual if you are so inclined.

Pedagogical Outline

The lesson phases below are designed to apply to students of any level. They provide structure for instruction, but will be flexible according to the particular needs and interests of the student as determined by open dialogue. Each phase is comprised of a composition/melody of creative, technical, and historical importance to the guitar (more than one composition/melody in similar styles may be used); a study in harmony and chord progressions; two techniques or sets there of, one related to plucking, one to strumming; a theoretical concept central to understanding the instrument; and lastly, a particular historical period that has shaped the guitar into what it is today.

With my guidance, students will be able to lead themselves through topics of interest and pursue creative excellence. Each phase lasts a minimum of two months, though the duration will likely vary from student to student. All instruction is drawn from historically pertinent canons, bolstered by the best of my creative production (J.S. Bach employed a similar approach, using both masterworks and original compositions).

All phases consist of a composition/melody, a harmonic progression, two sections on technique (one plucking, one strumming), a theoretical concept, and important historical information from a given time period.

Lesson Phase 1:

Composition(s)/Melody(ies):

-Calvi vi (E=Do)

-Transpose to C=Do

-Pashto Folk Tune; Lars’s “Ornaments Phrase”; Vocal phrases to gain command over initial technique

Harmony:

-Drones

-Jácaras in A Minor

Technique:

-Plucking: Tremolo, Vibrato

-Strumming: Base​ (down i, up p)

Concept(s):

-Music making as a process of creating environment

-Reading Tablature, Rhythmic and Pitch Notation

-Mode vs. Key

-Transposition vs. Graha Bhedam

Historical Period:

-Ancient Harps

 

Students will be able to: Read Music, Ornament and improvise, and compose melodies; strum drones and chords in a variety of styles; Explore a variety of ways to change mode and key, and reposition melodies and harmonies on the guitar; Perform basic arpeggios, explore multi-string techniques

 

Phase 2:

Comp./Mel.:

-LCR, “Caminar por la calle”

Harm.:

-Jácaras de la Costa in C Major

-Pasacalles in G Maj.

Tech.:

-Plucking: Bend

-Strumming: Tresillo (down i, down p, up p)

Con.: 

-Combining melody and harmony

-Composing according the rhythms of spoken language

-Expressive functions of pitch and overall form

Hist. Per.:

-First lute-family instruments

 

SWBAT: Perform all learning outcomes from Phase 1 in the context of Phase-2 material; Improvise over chord changes; Compose chord changes according to 5-1 resolutions and relative-major and -minor shifts; imitate and perform combinations of melody and harmony; lute-family instrumental technique in the context of vocal music, microtonal tunings, enhanced timbral effects

 

Phase 3:

Comp./Mel.:

-Conde Claros strummed as well as plucked style

-Mudarra, “Fantasia XI del primer tono (Guitarra al temple viejo)”

Harm.:

-Folías

-Marionas

Tech.:

-Plucking: Slide

-Strumming: Trío (down i, up p, down m)

Con.:

-Creative takes on issues of consonance vs. dissonance

Hist. Per.:

-Oud to Lute

 

SWBAT: Perform all learning outcomes from material of Phases 1 and 2 in the context of Phase-3 material; Polyphonic technique, improvisation, composition; Exploring less-standard techniques on various instruments

 

More to come!