For the past few decades, I have been teaching workshops at schools, colleges, universities, galleries, and other arts-oriented spaces. I started out exploring ways to teach free improvisation and over time that led to composing works where I could invent my own tools and systems. For examples of this activity, you can find images and instructions for my MAP SCORES and BARBEDWIRE scores in the STORE section of this website.
Lately I have been calling these workshops COMPOSING FOR IMPROVISERS, where I introduce open works by other composers and myself, and get the participants to think about how they might create their own language and notation systems. A more recent interest is opening up the dialogue across performance disciplines, in order to create scores that any kind of artist could use. In this way I hope to inspire composers to tackle mixed media ensembles with the potential for multimedia performance.
It is my aim in this work to enable artists to create works where each performer has agency to act as a leader. I am interested in providing models for our society to listen, and engage in playful activity without hard and fast rules on how to behave. If there is a political aspect to this work, it is to encourage independence, agency and responsibility for one’s actions.
leading a workshop with western oregon university's western hemishpheres ensemble photo by keller coker
I have been teaching privately for about 30 years and I truly enjoy it. It’s not something I do on the side to make money. I view teaching as important aspect of music - not only to conceive and to create it, but to instruct and inspire the next generations of composers and musicians.
My sliding scale rates are $60 - $90 for an hour lesson - pay what you can afford. The lessons are taught in my home studio on weekday afternoons.
I want to help students realize their goals as a musician, and sometimes that means helping them to articulate those goals. I have a general outline of what I like to cover - a sort of tool kit of basic skills that every player should possess. I try to leave the repertoire up to the student - often they have pieces they are playing in school or out on the club scene, but I am also keen to help them develop a wider appreciation for music through listening to new works. Here is a checklist of things a student would cover in the lessons:
Long tones (holding a note for an extended period of time) for beauty of sound and tone, dynamic control (loud and soft volumes) and intonation (playing in tune)
Scales - Chords - Intervals for a command of the basic areas of tonal harmony
Rhythm: understanding meter, pulse, tempo, rhythmic notation, polyrhythms, creating motion
Etudes - for technical dexterity and sight reading skills
Repertoire - enables you to have an understanding of the material you need/want to know
Composition - the surest way to reveal or discover your voice as a musician
Improvisation - composing in the moment on your instrument