Welcome to January’s Newsletter.
A belated Happy New Year to one and all.
The Christmas Break seems a distant
memory now – I swear, time speeds up over the holidays – not sure if
Einstein ever addressed this phenomenon in his Theory of Relativity. I
can’t believe that we’ve already held a Blues course this year.
We start the year as we ended the last –
being deluged by all sorts of inclement weather making the dark mornings
and evenings even worse than they already are. Anyway, we’ve got a few
things to possibly brighten your weekends! Dreadful introduction – hope
you’re still with us – please read on!
There are a number of things to cover on
new and suggested courses, including the next instalment of the
Graphical Fretboard Mastery Lesson from Malcolm, and so I’ll crack on.
We had 109 responses. Names were put
into a hat and the winner of a free 2013 playing course is Andrew
Leggetter of Cambridge – congratulations to Andrew.
Thanks to everyone who took part – we’ll
do something similar again at the end of this year. Based on the
feedback we’re now much nearer to deciding what we’re likely to focus on
in the Themed Weekend.
On the subject of our Weekends……….
8 February – Cumbria, Improvers with
1 March - The Cotswolds, Strugglers with
8 March – Cumbria, Blues to Jazz (new
course – see below) with Rod Sinclair
There are a few limited places left on
these – let me know if you’re interested.
The Blues to Jazz is another new course
for this year – it’s for those players who like to noodle in blues and
rock but who have an inkling to try something more challenging.
The course is designed to take such
players into the realms of jazz through a focus of modal playing over
slow changing chord sequences. Some theory is involved but there’s also
lots of practical improvisation time – this is the best known route for
a move into jazz for the uninitiated (used by John Scofield and
Robben Ford many moons ago!).
It is at times
called Jazz/Blues, Jazz/Rock or Jazz/Funk, a clumsy description for what
is simply the combining of the emotional stuff of Blues/Rock or Funk
with the sophistication of Jazz. The creative us of modes will be
explored through the playing of modal tunes such as Canteloupe Island (Herbie
Hancock) and Sissy Strut (The Meters).
THEMED WEEKEND (8 Nov, Cotswolds)
This course builds on Improvers and
looks at the songs and techniques of a few artists. It looks like the
consensus is: Shadows, Eagles, Clapton (but this might change based on
the tutor’s feedback– I’ll update everyone via the website next week).
We’ll likely take a few songs from each
and see how they were constructed, how they could be arranged
differently and how they can be performed; we’ll most likely use them as
the basis for the Saturday night projects and so practising them ahead
of time would be useful.
ACOUSTIC FOLK (27 Sep, Cotswolds)
This is a brand new course being
introduced this year and run by Lin Flanagan (of Strugglers I and II and
Introduction to Jazz fame). Leave the electric at home for this one!
Many of you seem to
want to delve into fingerpicking and even fingerstyle whilst not
forgetting flatpicking. It will also cover techniques such as
rhythm patterns, use of a capo in different keys, drones and alternating
many folk styles from the 60s and 70s such as Bob Dylan, Donovan, Ralph
McTell, The Beatles etc. If you want to find out more then let us know.
PERFORMANCE WEEKEND (6 Dec, Cumbria)
Recently, at the Improvers Weekend just
gone, I was discussing with Rod, our Blues tutor, about possibly
changing the nature of the Blues II course – I’m throwing this idea
out there to see what sort of take-up it will get before committing to
it. A number of you mentioned to me last year that you would love to
have the opportunity to go on some sort of “professional performance”
It would also serve as an end-of-year
Here’s the suggestion.
A list of songs would be handed out a
few months in advance to those students attending (covering a number of
styles – you choose what you’re interested in); you would need to learn
the songs before coming along - the Friday and Saturday would be
dedicated to teaching how to perform these tunes and set up the gear. On
the Saturday evening the students would perform as part of a
professional band (Rod and some fellow pros) with videos taken of the
performances. There are some logistical things to work out here but
where there’s a will then there’s a way!
We’ll likely limit the number of
performances to two per student – the band would get no warm-up – they
should be able to handle it easily from a session musician viewpoint –
you would be leading the band in every way possible!
The Sunday would be spent on analysing
the performances, providing feedback on areas for improvement and maybe
getting a chance for a rerun in a more relaxed and less professional
setting. All students would learn from others’ performances and
Since it’s a professional performance
then we might invite non-attending Weekenders, guests of the venue and
maybe even some other groups in to watch the performances.
Watch this space for updates – if you’re
interested in such a course then it would be really helpful if you could
let me know if it’s a strong possibility for you.
Note – the price may have to be a little
more for this course given its nature.
POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL COURSE – Farncombe.
We’ve had some feedback asking why there
isn’t a Blues course in Farcnombe early in the year – last year we
focused on getting Farncombe off the ground as our southern venue and
the start of this year if heavily focused on doing the same with the
Westmorland Hotel as our northern base, still with Beckfoot as our
Maintenance Course. I’ve checked with Farncombe and there’s potential to
fit in a Blues course on 12 April – if you’re interested then please let
me know and I’ll see what I can organise – we may make it a combination
of Blues II and Blues to Jazz – again, we’d value your feedback but
I’ll need it by Monday 4 Feb to have any chance of booking something.
ODDS ‘N’ ENDS
- Remember that if you’ve been on one of our courses then you’re
eligible to join the Guitar Weekends Members-only Group. Let me know if
you want to join – it’s great for sharing information on gear, what’s
on, great players/groups to listen to, etc. and keeping up to date with
any last-minute cancellations.
– as ever, we’ll be attending a number of guitar shows this year. Top of
the list is a three day show in Edinburgh this year (don’t miss it) –
more details next month. Please pop along for a chat and maybe a jam.
– Unique Spanish Classical Guitar
A friend has asked me to see if anyone is
interested in his Spanish classical guitar (model
Marizapalos) – I’ve played it and it’s outstanding (the guitar – not my
playing!); I can’t believe that he’s trading up for another one. It’s
only available in Spain from a famous luthier called Angel Benito (www.angelbenitoaguado.com).
It’s a 2011 build with cedar solid top, back
and sides of Indian rosewood, neck is Honduras cedar, fingerboard is
Kenyan ebony. Price is £1500 o.v.n.o. (over £2000 new).
Let me know if you’re interested and
I’ll put in touch.
OPEN DAY – Westmorland Hotel.
As with Farncombe last year, we will be
hosting an Open Day at the Westmorland Hotel later this year (probably
September, before the weather turns inclement again! – details to
follow). This is an ideal opportunity for those of you who haven’t yet
dipped their musical toe into one of our Weekends – we’ll be around for
a chat about our courses and how we run them as well as an assessment of
your playing technique with one of our tutors.
Also, note that there’s always an open
invitation wherever or whenever we hold a course – it’s a busy weekend
but we’re always available for a chat and you can get a glimpse of how
things work – best times are probably on the Saturday before dinner
(around 6pm) and after lunch on the Sunday around 2pm. It’s a good idea
to let us know if you’re thinking of coming along so that we make
From now on we’ll have this section
dedicated to the tutors so that we can find out what they’re up to and
see if they have any recommendations for gigs to attend, equipment to
Maybe even a best question answered
THIS MOHTH’S FREE EXERCISE
Continuing Malcolm’s graphical approach
to mastering the fretboard here is part two. We’d appreciate your
feedback as to what you think of the approach and whether it has helped
in any way (or suggestions for how it can be improved). It can sound
complicated but the principles are straight-forward and logical both
across the strings and up and down the neck.
Click here for this month’s lesson.