Group Classes for July / August 2021

A glorious Thursday morning to everyone!

Typically, I start out with a statement along the lines of “is it really time to put out another one of these?” The good news is that I don’t worry about where the time goes. I’ve come to terms with the fact it’s going to pass at whatever rate it chooses; there’s not a thing I can do about it. Consequently, I am more at peace and less anxious, which is a very good thing!

Besides, it’s always exciting to be writing up the new slate of classes! This new set will be starting up right after the Fourth of July.

In addition to the class listings, you’ll find news about how we’ll be trying to work out in-person group lessons come September.

As always, classes can be broken down into three distinct formats:

  1. Straight lectures. Time is devoted to questions and specific demonstrations in regard to technique or concepts in question
  2. “Typical” group classes. “Typical,” for Zoom, is that we start out with questions and demonstration, but during the playing part, participants must mute themselves as not to disrupt the sound
  3. “Showcase” classes. Here, a student gets the “stage” to perform a piece while the rest of the class listens and then, after the performance, takes part in the discussion to help the performer target specific changes that can bring about a better arrangement, performance, or song.

Even if you’ve not taken one of these classes before, you’re more than welcome to come and experience it. Everyone is capable of helping each other out. That’s been the beauty of these classes – In spite of pandemic, politics, and disappointments, people found a refuge in my classes. More important, they find a bit of peace and purpose for their playing. Do come join in!

Here is the latest slate of classes. There are some new ones as well as old favorites. If you’re interested, just drop me a line at or call me directly at (413)717-1996.

Music Theory Workshop – Basics (Scales and Chords) (Mondays 5:15 – 5:55)

(nine total classes – classes start July 5 and end August 30)
$50 ($25.00 per month)

In spite of what you’ve heard, music theory isn’t hard. If you can count to thirteen and keep a level head, we’ll teach you how to put together the Major scale and also understand how chords are made.

We’ll then explore chord progressions, learn how to transpose songs into generic terms, and come to terms with how to use “underappreciated art of using a capo.”

As I used to say, think of it as “Theory Without Tears!” 

Arranging Songs for Performance (Mondays 6:30 – 8:00)

(nine total classes – classes end August 30, 2021)
$150 ($75.00 per month)

In this class, we work on arranging songs for single-player performance (unless you’re fortunate enough to share residence with another musician!). One of the (very) cool side-effects of this particular class has been the introduction of artists that are unknown to the other members of the class. To me, this in and of itself has been worth hosting the class!

Both covers and originals are fair game.

During the first class, we’ll lay out our individual goals and work our way through ideas. Sometimes, we manage to decide on a single song that everyone can do her or his own arrangement. Sometimes we simply see what has moved people to create.  It’s always fascinating.

One goal is to be able to play a three-song set by the end of the two-month session. The last class will be devoted to creating a “virtual coffee house” setting.

Basic Rhythm Fundamentals Workshop (Tuesdays 5:15 – 5:55)

(nine total classes – classes end August 31)
$100 ($50.00 per month)

We’ll address different ways of strumming, picking, and (most importantly) combining basic strumming with picking in order to create wonderful rhythm parts. My plan is to use songs that everyone knows and to explore how to add more parts to them. As always, I’ll make a point to help you grow based on where you are. Every week we’ll also have exercises specifically designed to help you be a better player.

This course is good for ukulele players as well as guitar players.

Building a “Vocabulary” Workshop (Tuesdays 6:00 – 7:00)

(nine total classes – classes end August 31)
$100 ($50.00 per month)

The biggest difference between a beginner guitarist and an intermediate one often boils down to the fact that the latter can come up with more interesting ways to play than simply strumming. Simply put, the experienced guitar player has developed a “vocabulary” –   ways of getting from one chord to the next, or even having ways of making one chord sound good when you’re stuck on it for several measures in a row.

They also know how to land on the new chord at the appropriate time!

During this class, we will focus on one chord at a time and explore the different ways of making the chord itself more interesting to play and also how to creatively move from it to other chords.

We’ll do so by exploring simple songs and chord progressions as examples. I’m hoping to have the songs that are used in the “Continuing Guitar” class following be good songs to practice whatever we’re doing in this class on any particular week. For example, if we work on riffs based on the G chord in “Vocabulary,” you can expect a song that has a lot of G chords in “Continuing.”

Continuing Guitar (Tuesdays 7:00 – 8:00)

(nine total classes – classes end August 31)
$100 ($50.00 per month)

This class is very much the way it’s been since its inception at the BCC. In a Zoom format, you won’t be able to hear everyone in the group play and that takes a little getting used to at first, but it will worth your while. Every week, we’ll look at one or two songs (and I’m open to requests) and explore the various ways of playing it.

Basic Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop (Wednesdays 5:15 – 6:15)

(nine total classes – classes end June 30)
$110 ($55.00 per month)

Playing fingerstyle guitar is high on most folks’ list when they start playing guitar, but it tends to become less a priority compared to strumming and chord changing.

One thing about any group class is that, typically, each student is at a different level of ability. I’ve developed goals for each level of fingerstyle guitar, from simple arpeggios to complex Travis style picking to hybrid combinations of picking and strumming. Each song we tackle will have definitive goals for any level in order to challenge everyone to become more proficient finger pickers.

Exploring Chord Melodies (Wednesdays 6:30 – 8:00)

(nine total classes – classes end September 1, 2021)
$150 ($75.00 per month)

Creating chord melodies ties together many aspects of guitar playing and music theory. In this class, we’ll start out slowly – developing very basic chord melodies while exploring what goes into the choices of keys, chords, and fretboard positioning.

As with a lot of aspects of guitar playing, the more technique one develops, the more one can add to an arrangement.

Our goal will be for each student to be able to play a chord-melody arrangement for the others, who will critique and offer up ideas and suggestions.

“Kind of Absolute Beginners’ Guitar” 2021 (Thursdays 5:15 – 6:15)

(nine total classes – classes end July 1)
$100 ($50.00 per month)

This class is not totally an absolute beginners’ class. If you know the basic chords and can change them reasonably well, you should do fine.

As with “Continuing Guitar,” we work on expanding your existing knowledge to help you improve more quickly. We’re

Jam Prep (for any instrument) (Thursdays 6:30 – 8:00)

(eight total classes – classes end July 1)
$150 ($75.00 per month) Let’s be honest – we’re all ready to get back to playing with others. This class will be very much like the old “Jam Classes” we’ve had at the BCC and Crissey Farm. My plan is to use songs that everyone knows and to explore how to add more parts to them. As always, I’ll make a point to help you grow based on where you are.

Just how much you get out of this class will be up to you, as you won’t be able to hear anyone besides me when we play “as a group.” If you’d like to improve your group playing by working out parts that are different than what someone typically plays (and we’ve all been in groups where six or more guitarists are all playing the same thing!), you are more than welcome to do so. You can play an instrument that you “kind of” know without being embarrassed.

You can also work on developing harmony vocal lines…

Hopefully, this class will provide an excellent way to prepare for playing for real when the occasions arise (hopefully) in the near future.

Do let me know what you think about these, especially if you’re interested. Class size initially will be limited to eight, but the cool thing about this is that we can start a second class should one get filled.

As always, I’m more than willing to answer any questions or entertain any suggestions you may have. Email me directly or call me on my cell (413 – 717 – 1996).

And (again, as always), I am taking on new students (only online – no one-on-one lessons for the immediate future) should you be interested. Just email or call and we can discuss what your objectives are.

This seems to be a good place to mention that I am in the process of scouting out possible locations for holding in-person group sessions come September. I’m thinking maybe one or two nights a week, such as Monday and Tuesday.

Please feel free to send me suggestions. I’m hoping that, starting in September, being able to be in class together somewhere will help everyone with their playing.

Also, please feel free to share this with anyone you think may be interested. I look forward to sharing music with you all once more. And to learning all sorts of cool things to play in the summer of 2021!

Stay well.