Group Classes for May / June 2021

Good afternoon to all!

It’s hard to believe that April is almost over! It’s also hard to believe that I’m once again wondering where the time goes…

But I’m always glad to be writing up the new slate of classes, which start the first week of May.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

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.

Practice Prep and Pep (Mondays 5:30 – 5:55)

(eight total classes (no class Memorial Day) – classes end June 28)
$20 ($10.00 per month) 

Think of this as a “support group for practice – deficient musicians. Each week we’ll set goals for practicing the coming week and discuss how we made it happen (or how it didn’t happen, if that happened to be the case).  We’ll let people in on tips, tricks, and other sources that can help. I’m very excited about this – so much so that I’m offering the following deal: if you sign up for one of my other workshops, this one is only $10. If you sign up for two (or more), then you are free to come to this one! 

Creating Song Arrangements for Ukulele (Mondays 6:00 – 7:00)

(eight total classes (no class Memorial Day) – classes end June 28)
$100 ($50.00 per month)

It’s been ages since I’ve done a “ukulele only” class, but I think this will be a good one.We’ll start out with some simple pieces and work our way through more challenging ones. Songs I’ve chosen so far include “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “To Make You Feel My Love,” When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Aloha Oe,” and a chord melody version of “Over the Rainbow.” As always, I’m more than happy to take requests… 

Arranging Songs for Performance (Mondays  7:00 – 8:30)

(eight total classes (no class Memorial Day) – classes end June 28)
$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. 

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

(nine total classes – classes end June 29)
$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. 

Continuing Guitar (Tuesdays 6:00 – 7:00)

(nine total classes – classes end April 27)
$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. 

Songwriting Workshop (Tuesdays 7:00 – 8:30)

(nine total classes – classes end June 29)$150
($75.00 per month)

Thrilled to be doing this on Tuesday evenings again! It’s been ages since we’ve done this on its original night!

Songwriters of all levels are welcome. You will present a song and the group will give you its immediate reaction to it. It’s like a coffeehouse open mic where you get instant feedback. We consider every song presented to be a “work in progress” and offer each writer tips on how the song may be improved upon.

“Assignments” (that you can use or ignore) are given on a weekly basis. We also discuss ideas on how to come up with song structures and explore writing in different styles. Our objective is to make you a better writer and a lot of that involves getting out of your personal comfort zone as a songwriter.   

Ear Training Workshop Basics (Intervals and Chords)

(Wednesdays 5:15 – 5:55)(four total classes – classes end May 26)

This class will, hopefully, help you improve with identifying what you hear in terms of intervals and chords. People mistakenly think that they need perfect pitch to do so. Like anything, it’s a matter of practice and in this class we’ll give you the tools to be able to identify intervals as well as to identify whether a chord is major, minor, augmented, or diminished.  

Music Theory Workshop – Basics (Scales and Chords)

(Wednesdays 5:15 – 5:55)(five total classes – classes start June 2 and end June 30)

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

Basic Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop (Wednesdays 6:00 – 6:55)

(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.

In this class, we’ll start with very basic exercises and work our way up through basic Travis-style picking.   

Song de Jour (Wednesdays 7:00 – 8:00)

(nine total classes – classes end June 30)
$10 per class

Exactly what it sounds like – each week I’ll pick out a single song for us to explore in depth (and I’ll announce it a week ahead of time). Just let me know whether or not you’d like to come and I’ll get you the chart and we’ll see you there. First one will be Jim Croce’s “Operator.”      

“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. Focus these up-coming months will be on Neil Young songs. 

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 be an excellent way to prepare yourself 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.

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 2021! 

Stay well.