My third year of teaching at National Guitar Workshop in New Milford, CT was my best experience there yet. I was happy to see all my friends from previous sessions again, meet a new class of students, and hear some fantastic music. Enrollment was down for the week, and while that’s not good for NGW’s bottom line, it made for smaller class sizes and allowed for plenty of individualized interaction with the students. My Modern Acoustic I class ended up having a total of five guitarists in attendance and I had a wonderful time working with them. Over the course of the week, we covered a lot of topics, played a lot of tunes, and on Thursday night performed “Hey Jude” for our portion of the student concert with Tom and Terra contributing vocals. The audience was a rowdy bunch and didn’t hesitate to help us out in singing “Na Na Na Naaa…Hey Jude!” while Ben played some bluesy fills during the final vamp. I was really pleased with how well the group played, and how well the audience responded to them. Congratulations on a job well done!
Below are a few pictures from the week:
The week also boasted three big-name players who stopped by to give clinics:
On Monday afternoon Scott Ian, rhythm guitarist for the metal band Anthrax visited. Although Scott was very down-to-earth and gave thoughtful answers to all of the questions asked, I don’t know that there was much of educational value to this particular clinic. He seemed to have nothing prepared and played very little during the clinic. However, I did appreciate much of what he had to say and enjoyed hearing all of his behind-the-scenes-type stories about his time in VH1’s reality television series SuperGroup (which he described as “scripted”) and his exploits with Anthrax other groups such as Metallica and Public Enemy. So if nothing else, it was an interesting look at the work that goes into being a highly successful rock musician. He was also pretty damn funny. When one student asked him the ridiculous question: “What was your most un-metal moment?” Scott replied, “Everything I do is metal. When I clean my house, it’s metal.”
Michael Angelo Batio
Tuesday afternoon we were visited by guitarist Michael Angelo Batio. Michael’s clinic was the complete opposite of Scott’s. I can’t even begin to describe how over-the-top this guy was. He performed several pieces demonstrating his amazing technical facility including pieces written for his 29-fret rocket guitar and his double-neck guitar. If you watch either those linked YouTube videos you’ll see that Michael is a pretty intense guy, but in person he was absolutely nuts. He continually made the Corna sign while speaking in a variety of weird voices, occasionally shouting comments into the microphone, and generally acting like a hyperactive kid who just ate all of his Halloween candy in one sitting. Michael had a LOT to say on topics ranging from technique to music history but his favorite topic was himself and his many innovations that have since been appropriated by other guitarists. At one point he even took credit for the A minor arpeggio. Despite all of that – or maybe because of it – we were all highly entertained, and I think the students were inspired and took away some good information form the clinic.
It was announced on Wednesday morning that acoustic blues guitarist Rory Block would be appearing that afternoon. I hadn’t heard that Rory would be there, and I was pretty excited to see her as I had only heard a few songs from her in the past. Before lunch, I showed my class a YouTube video of “Silver Wings” that I particularly like in hopes that they’d all come for the clinic, which was scheduled during everyone’s free time. Unfortunately, come 4:00pm Rory didn’t have much of an audience but she was obviously an experienced clinician and treated the small audience to a selection blues pieces laced with personal stories and practical information.
Next week I’m off to Chicago to teach for NGW campus there. Hopefully it’ll be another great week.