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Edmonton Guitar BBQ/Potluck June 2014

A few choice photos from the latest BBQ/Potluck here at the Edmonton Guitar School. 


Staff, students, and friends enjoyed together an afternoon and an evening of relax. The weather was our big concern, but luckily we didn't have (too much) rain. Besides, we had a few hilarious reading of Accuweather ("rain in 22 minutes! Get these sausages ready!")


Here on the left you can see the BBQ corner with our student Robert playing while our teacher Dan studiously ignores the grill :-)


An here on the right, still Dan proudly showing off his fashion sense. (note: I actually love Judas Priest too, so I should not talk...)


During the afternoon we also had some students and friends playing an singing, all of this spontaneous (I love when people make music just because they like to do it!)


We also distributed to students an staff the newest Edmonont Guitar Music School t-shirt, just out of the presses! Here on the left I am showing off mine while I man the grill. I couldn't find my apron: "don't need a recipe, I'm Italian" - so might as well go "official" with the school shirt!


Thanks to all students bringing some of their favorite specialties the menu was very varied: we had tandoori chicken skewers (incredibly spicy), burgers &  sausages, at least 3 different types of salad, sangria (yay!), cakes, and a lot of other things! The menu was suitable for both carnivores (as yours truly) and veggie lovers -  because it's fun to have a party all together even if we eat different things!


(and here on the right our voice teacher Amanda eating something that I identified as a veggie burger. But I could be wrong...)


We had also many friends and students bringing their kids, and at a certain point the party resembled more a kindergarden meeting than a BBQ... but it's so fun to have all these kids running around!


And here, final photo, some of the participants (we had people coming and going all afternoon, so this is just a fraction of the people. Apologies to anybody not in the photo). 


I'm definitely looking worward to another party like this! Maybe we'll be able to organize another one before the summer ends!

Shaping The Future Generation...

Tonight I was watching my 3 year old daughter as she was browsing through radio stations. She is already a music fanatic: she wants to listen to music all the time. 

So, she's changing stations and she is going right through stuff like Kathy Perry, dance music, etc etc without stopping. Then she hits a station playing Vivaldi's Double Violin Concerto.

And she stops.

She SITS DOWN on the couch and STARTS LISTENING. 

(Note: she usually can't stay still more than few seconds).  

When the concerto ends, she goes to grab a book, and now she's reading (ok, watching the pictures in the book...) listening to a Sibelius piece. 


I like to think I'm having a good influence on her :-)

Yes, We Do Studio Coaching Too

 If you ever wanted to record a song (either original or cover) and you need the help of a professional studio, we are here to help you. And, if this is your first studio experience or the song you want to record is a difficult one, you can have one of our teachers present in the studio to coach you to get the best performance.

In this video our student Shivansh is recording a cover and our voice teacher Amanda is there to help him.

It's time to SING!!

I know that many of you reading this blog are dreaming of going on stage and sing. Others here just want to be able to sing for themselves and their friends. And I know taht many of you are plagued with insecurities: "am I talented enough to sing?"; "I think I am tone deaf"; "I've never been good at singing, but I would like to", etc...

Well, here is a video of our vocal instructor Amanda Neufeld, who told me more than once: "I had no talent I had to work for it". Whatever your level is right now, you can sing as well as Amanda - and once you get started properly you might discover that in fact you HAD talent all along.

If you want to finally sing, contact us for your first free Voice session; you will discover that singing is easier than you think!

Christmas Cheer with some METAL!

 So it's this time of the year again. Edmonton is under a snow cover (and a snow warning...), the temperature outside is double-digit in the negative (no matter if you are using Celsius or Fahrenheit), and all we are left with is to sing some Carols to drive the cold winter away. AND taking good care of our houses's insulation, and our furnaces, but hey the Carol thing is more romantic and that's what I am supposed to say here, am I not? 

Anyway I digress.

One of my favorite Carols has always been the Carol of the Bells. I think I have written a half dozen arrangement for it already, but this time I wanted to do something completely different. Here's the result. If you like this video please share it with your friends, and I hope this music can keep you a bit warmer through the winter (metal headbanging should generate some heat, right?) 


Does Practice Pay? See It For Yourself...

 When I was 17, after a gig, I was recommended to stop playing guitar and dedicate my life to something else because (in the opinion of the person talking to me) I didn't "have enough talent to make it". At the time I was insecure enough to believe it.

Cue few years ahead... my students know that one of my catchphrases (i.e. something that I repeat every other lesson) is "talent is nothing". There is NO such thing as talent. There is only correct practice. It does not matter what you want to be able to play (or do), or how bad you think you are, if you practice correctly and diligently you will arrive there. . I have seen countless examples of this, and I am one of them.

I now make my living playing and teaching guitar, I regularly write columns for guitar-related websites, I speak at international conferences of musicians... and above all I am having loads of fun doing it! Not bad for someone with "not enough talent".

And for the people who want objective proofs:

... and if *I* can manage to play that, there is no reason why *you* shouldn't be able too, it you practice hard enough!

HessFest in Chicago - Part 14 (and last)

 Since my laptop failed while at the event (and my desktop had to go through a backup recovery... I am lucky with computers lately), I wasnt' able to post the last installment until now. 

Last day. Tom Hess kicks it out with a lecture on motivation and inspiration. It's a great choice for his last lecture this year. One of the many examples he makes is the fact that his hands are quite smaller than average, but this has not stopped him becoming a great player. To take the message back to my students, I ask Tom to draw his hand profile on my notebook. My hands are not that big, and I have at least 1/4'' of advantage on him per finger...

More 1-on-1 lessons to follow, and a dinner at Red Robin. Aldo and I complete the composition of one instrumental song to perform (inspired to one of Tom's tour stories), and then Aldo has another idea for a vocal song. In record time a couple of the singers present write lyrics for it, so we end up having two songs to perform, and being next-to-last on stage.

Despite my repeated vows to myself to go to bed early, I wind up being up until late to stay with my friends. I go to bed well past midnight, and I have to wake up at 6am to catch my flight. 

Of course, the alarm clock gets me while I am still in need of sleep. I arrive downstairs, I check out, and my student Wes is not there at 6:30am (we are shareing a taxi). I am calling him in his room when somebody asks the concierge what time it is. "5:30am". WHAT? 

Turns out by mistake I advanced the time of the clock by one hour. Oh well, I use the extra hour to get a good breakfast and check my emails. 

The taxi driver takes us to the airport at reckless speed. We pass security in record time and we meet with my other student Les at the terminal. The flight is uneventful. 

For all the travel I can't help thinking how much I learned this year, and how much of it I will pass down to my students. I really needed these two weeks, and I can't wait to share! My job is simply the best in the world :-)

HessFest 2013 in Chicago - Part 13

Next to last day of HessFest.

Today Tom Hess gives a lecture about how to bring out the sound of a chord progression in a solo, and then add spice to it. He asks me to help him by playing chords for him. All good, except that the examples he is making are in the key of B: these are all bar chords (but for one). So I end up playing bar chords for an hour, with cramps and all :-)

It seems that this HessFest I am on stage every day, but always to talk or to play chords for other people. :-)

Following that, we have a session of student performances, and then dinner at Portillo's.

After dinner there are 1-on-1 lessons, and then a free jam. I go on stage with Aldo (guitar), Jere (keys) and Jess (voice) for a rendition of "why don't you do right" (aka the Jessica Rabbit song).

After the free jam ends, we gather in the hall and keep playing. I call it a night at 1pm.

HessFest 2013 in Chicago - Part 12

Today is the second day of HessFest proper. We start with a lecture by Tom Hess on how to use incredibly dissonant chords in our songs and make them sound great. In fact, the more dissonant the chord, the better.

Following, we have a lesson by Mike Philippov ("guitar practice: results per minute") on how to practice in an efficient way. Following Mike's ideas, one could potentially practice only 30m a day and be in perfect shape. I'm going to use that :-) And of course, I will pass most of it down to my students.

After a dinner at Chili's we come back for some 1-on-1 lessons and student performances. During some of these lessons I have a chat (outside of the room) with Karl, a drummer from Ontario. He has an absolutely genial book on how to teach drummers, and to show me how good it works, he teaches me a drum pattern in 10m or so. And then he tells me that a drummer taught by traditional methods may take 6 months to learn it. Quite impressive. (if you are interested: Karl Sloman, "the coordination code").

I help my friend Lori on stage playing rhythm for her, and then listen to some other performances. After we finish the official event, Aldo and I write a song that we are going to play at the student performances. We also prepare a jazzy standard to see if one of the singers here want to perform. At this point we are REALLY tired, and we call it a day.

HessFest 2013 in Chicago - Part 11

Today is the start of HessFest proper. Many new people are arriving: I know many of them from the Hess forum, but others are completely new to me. My students Wes and Les are here today too (they won the right to be here with a contest I did few months ago).

The event does not start until noon, so we have time to sleep in and recover from the information overload of the last nine days.

Tom starts the dances with a lecture on how to obtain what you want in the music business. Wes and I discuss a bit further on it from the perspective of an economicist.

After a Q&A session, it's time for me to give my lecture. I start by showing a mid-level chord progression in an unfamiliar key (for guitarists) and list how many steps of music theory are involved in order to be able to play on it. I discuss the traditional solutions to this problem, and then I show a system that bypasses completely all that.

The reactions to the lecture are just great. People are asking me if I am going to copyright the system and make an instructional on it available, which I will certainly do.

After a dinner at Red Robin (salad for me) we come back to the venue to see some 1-on-1 lessons by Tom and then some student's performance. There are some GREAT players these year, and I'm picking the mind of some of them to se how they write their licks and solos.

I go to bed completely wasted, but happy :-)


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