National Guitar Workshop Chicago 2007

Getting back into the swing of things in Athens took a little more work than anticipated, so I apologize if this post is a little late.

Overall, my experience at NGW in Chicago wasn’t much different from what I was used to at the New Milford, CT campus. The schedule of events was basically the same, and I taught the same classes both weeks. What was different was the more relaxed vibe of the faculty and campus. There were definitely fewer students in Chicago and a smaller faculty and staff. Paired with the fact that many of our classrooms were spread out across campus (some over 1/3 of a mile away) the campus was much quieter and more relaxed than in CT where we had 15 classrooms filled with guitarists in one small building. The peace and quiet in the basement of the chapel where my acoustic class met was a welcome change from having to compete with blues and rock classes on either side, but at times it was almost too quiet! I really like hearing the sounds of the guitars echoing down the hallways at NGW.

My class was an intimate group with only three students. I was really pleased with how quickly my group mastered the concepts presented. It allowed us to spend time on some topics I hadn’t been able to cover in the CT class and give everyone a bit more individual instruction.

We ended up choosing “Brown Eyed Girl” for our performance piece and the “Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-ti-da!” section was met with as much enthusiasm as “Hey Jude” had a week earlier. I didn’t plan to program another sing-along, but the audiences at NGW are just so enthusiastic, I might have to make these types of songs a tradition! Our ensemble arranged a nice version of the intro for all three guitars, then stuck to the usual strumming patterns though the verses while drum instructor Aaron Lack helped keep us in the pocket with some percussion. Near the end of the piece, we added a cool little percussion break down of our own where we smacked and scratched the guitars in rhythm for a few measures before heading back into the final refrain. Good show, fellas!

Many of the faculty teaching in Chicago were NGW veterans. Some of these guys have been with the program for over 20 years, so they know what to expect from the students, the staff, and even the cafeteria at each location. I had a great time meeting and hanging with everyone on staff, and I particularly enjoyed catching up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a year or more. I’ve posted links below to some of the faculty’s websites.

Faculty Links:
Mike Cramer
Ernie Durawa
Ted Hall of the Austin Guitar School
Harry Jacobson
Aaron Lack
Shawn Purcell
Matt Smith
Gary Tu

I didn’t bother to take many pictures this week but I did remember to at least snap a couple of group portraits of my class.

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