National Guitar Workshop Gears Up for 25th Season

Looking forward to teaching at NGW this summer. I’ll be at the Chicago and DC Campuses. – John

Article by Dr. Matthew Warnock via [Modern Guitars]

Founded in 1983 by Dave Smolover, the National Guitar Workshop has since grown from its humble roots in South Kent, Connecticut, to become one of the top guitar workshops in the world. The NGW has built its strong reputation by providing guitarists the chance to study with some of the top names in the guitar world in an educational, though relaxed, environment. Students who attend any of the Workshop’s week-long sessions can expect to spend time everyday in clinics with big-name players, jamming alongside fellow musicians of similar levels and musical tastes, getting one-on-one instruction from a private teacher and basically eating and sleeping guitar the whole time they are there. Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, the National Guitar Workshop is moving forward into its second quarter century by adding a new campus, bringing in legendary artists and adding several new courses that are sure to be hits with students and faculty alike.

Though there are many summer guitar camps and courses offered each year throughout North America, none can compare to the National Guitar Workshop’s wide range of world-class, and often legendary, guitar faculty. The NGW offers students of any genre and background the chance to study with some of the top players in their fields. This summer clinics and classes will be taught by jazz legends such as Pat Metheny and Pat Martino, who will also be giving private lessons; shred masters Herman Li of Dragon Force and perennial favorite Paul Gilbert; blues legends Buddy Guy and Jimmy Vaughn; and Country guitar virtuoso Brent Mason.

One of the most anticipated clinics of the 2009 session will be given by none other than Steve Vai. While Vai has recently been on tour with his Alien Guitar Secrets workshop, his clinic at the SUNY Purchase campus will give students the rare opportunity to study with one of the biggest names in guitar and one of the most respected teachers in the rock guitar world. With such a wide variety of genres being covered by these top-notch players, it is no wonder that the NGW has become the place to study guitar each summer for thousands of players all over the country.

While this summer’s sessions at the NGW will feature many of the same classes, clinics, master classes, ensembles and private lessons they have offered in the past, several new courses have been added to their 2009 roster. The first new course offering will be the Modern Acoustic Workshop that will take place at the NGW’s Los Angeles campus and will be taught by acoustic virtuosos Ed Gerhard and Peppino D’Agostino. Students who sign up for this unique workshop will spend half of the week studying with Gerhard and the other half studying with D’Agostino. Spending time with both of these master players will not only provide participants with a wealth of information to take home with them, but will give them the opportunity to receive direct feedback from two of the top artists in the field of acoustic guitar.

The second new course offered this summer is the Guitar Teacher Certificate Program that will be given at the SUNY Purchase campus this coming July. The course is aimed at providing training and experience to guitarists who are new to the guitar teaching world and are looking for help and guidance as they begin their teaching careers. The curriculum will focus on providing participants with the skills they need to properly develop lesson plans, how to pace lessons of different lengths, how to approach a one-on-one lesson compared to a group lesson and other relevant aspects of the guitar education system. At the end of the week-long course, each participant will receive a certificate of completion. The course will be taught by nine-year NGW veteran Kim Perlak who is on faculty at the Austin Community College and the Austin Guitar School when she’s not teaching at the NGW.
National Guitar Workshop Attendees

One of the newest additions to the NGW family, and one that they are very excited about, is the new campus at the State University of New York Purchase, which will replace the old campus in New Milford, Connecticut. While some students and faculty members may be saddened to say goodbye to the campus in New Milford, the Purchase site boasts air conditioned dorms and classrooms, apartment style adult housing and a beautiful recital hall that will be used for student and guest artist performances. All of these aspects are improvements on the old campus which, though beloved by many faculty and students, didn’t offer these modern conveniences that participants will no doubt enjoy. As well, one of the main reasons that the campus was moved is that SUNY Purchase is closer to New York City, one of NGW’s feeder communities, and is easily accessible from any of the five boroughs. Though leaving New Milford was not an easy choice for the NGW staff, they feel that it is a positive step in the evolution of the workshop and one that will be enjoyed by everyone involved.

With a myriad of guitar workshops, clinics, camps and seminars to choose from the National Guitar Workshop is aiming to make this decision an easy one for anyone wanting to study guitar this summer. The wide variety of courses and clinics, offered at campuses all over the country, allows the NGW to provide a high-quality educational experience to guitarists of all backgrounds and tastes in any region of the US. The wide range of musical genres covered, alongside world-class guest artists and a deep dedication to the students’ educational experience, has made the NGW one of the premiere summer guitar workshops over the last 25 years, a trend that they plan to continue for many years to come.

About Dr. Matt Warnock
Dr. Warnock, a Modern Guitars columnist, has performance certificates from the Royal Conservatory as well as degrees from McGill University, Western Michigan University and the University of Illinois. He is currently professor of guitar at Western Illinois University and is the jazz guitar instructor at the Interlochen Arts Camp, and has taught at Western Michigan University and the University of Illinois. He has studied with Roddy Ellias, Fred Hersch, Tom Knific, Gene Bertoncini, Jack Grassell, Chip McNeill, Billy Hart, Ben Monder, Jim McNeeley, Elliane Ellias, Marc Johnson, Jake Langley and Theo Bleckmann and has performed with Slide Hampton, Darmon Meador, Jim Pugh, Jim McNeeley, Chip McNeill, Joel Spencer, Roddy Ellias, Tom Knific, Keith Hall, Stefon Harris, Glenn Wilson and Randy Brecker. He also writes for Just Jazz Guitar, Fingerstyle Guitar, the Jazz Guitar Gazette, Jazz Guitar Life, is a freelance contractor with Hal Leonard, and has co-authored a book of Kurt Rosenwinkel transcriptions for Mel Bay.

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