Indie Rock workshop.

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So I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be giving a summer camp/workshop for teenage musicians in Hanoi at the excellent YoungHitYoungBeat academy (click the name for more information) . It’s going to be focused on ensemble/group playing, in the context of rock/pop format.

One of the difficult aspects of learning an instrument, isn’t necessarily the acquisition of technique, but the acquiring of musicianship skills that can only really be experienced and understood when one interacts with other musicians. Playing with other musicians is one of the great, if not the best, way to learn how all the time you spent practicing alone manifests itself in the real world. Unfortunately, many young musicians don’t have an outlet to make this happen. Sometimes it merely depends on luck. If your friends are musicians, or if there is a practice room available, or maybe there isn’t enough free time in your day.

I was lucky as a young musician, and I had a friend, who lived close, and we found time most days of the week to play music together. It was, without a doubt one of the most influential times in my musical career, and exposed me to many of the ideas, concepts, and strategies, in music making, that simply can’t be acquired by oneself alone. Of course if one pursues music at a post-secondary level, the opportunities become more plentiful, but the joy and learning of “jamming”, and writing music, of improvising, making mistakes and then correcting them, shouldn’t be reserved solely for the later years.

I will be offering this class for teenaged musicians, of any instrument/voice, who have already acquired some basic musical skills. While I will of course address the subjects of technique and theory, our primary goal will be to have fun, as a group, and become aware and comfortable in the roles of our ensemble, and the individual parts which we bring to each piece of music.

The format will follow a familiar progression that I have used in university ensemble courses. We will divide the class into different ensembles. The size and number of ensembles will depend on the registration. Every week throughout the camp, we will work on a new song, with each group presenting to the others the following week. At the end of the camp, each group will select the piece(s) they feel best about, and we’ll have a little concert.

I’ll be creating a list of the music to play. Most of the tunes will come from the  genre we call Indie Rock, as much of this music lends itself well to different interpretations, and there will be a wide variety of samples to choose from. Meaning, that the aim of this camp is not to necessarily challenge yourself on the difficulty of a songs parts, but to grow your skills of playing in a group. There will be easy two-chord songs, and there will be multi-part odd-time difficult tunes. Each group can choose something that suits their level. Again, the primary goal will be to develop one’s listening skills, rhythm (in relation to others), dynamic control, and of course, the inter-personal skills required to help realize and produce a beautiful piece of musical art.

While the pace will be dependant on the levels of the students, I will also be addressing arrangement and compositional techniques. Which will first start out as composing an alternate part for your own instrument (i.e. an alternate bass line that stays within the confines and aesthetic of the tune). However, if these exercises work well, we will also approach songwriting/composition, and in this case, hopefully present some original tunes for the final concert.

I’m really looking forward to this. Small group playing is one of the great joys in the musical life, and it will be exciting to work with some of the exceptional young musicians of Hanoi in developing some beautiful new skills, and make some great music.

Alex

© Alex Formosa