Comments on National Guitar Workshop??

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by glendrix, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. glendrix

    glendrix Member

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    Last few years I have been contemplating attending NGW, one of their week long lessons and might just make the move this year. Since I live in Texas just looked at the Austin one since I could drive there. Apparently they have the Blues Summit going on there. I dig Matt Smith and saw he was instructor for one session. Also have a jazz blues focusing on Grant Green and Kenny Burrell. Anybody here ever gone?

    One thing, are most of the students kids, teenagers? I have been playing in bands for several years (ain't no spring chicken) and very comfortable playing the blues but I do not have the Jazz blues thang in the bag. I could use a week long infusion of Burrell, Green into my playing for sure. I like the idea of playing geetar for a week straight but for that kinda cash, I need to make sure it will be challenging and not just jamming on blues in "E" for a week with guys just starting out. Nothing wrong with that but not cost effective for me.

    So before I drop some significant cash, wanted to see if anyone here has attended on of their sessions and was it worth the cost of admission? Experiences? Opinions? Thanks!
     
  2. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

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    I've been an instructor at the L.A. campus for a few years. I'll let others comment on whether it is worth it, but I will say that we have a lot of students return from year to year. As for age range: In L.A., it's about 80% teens and 20% adults. L.A. is the rock campus, so that range probably varies from place to place.
     
  3. TonyV

    TonyV Member

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    I have attended the CT campus eight times. I have taken the Jazz I Major and attended Summits and Seminars for Jazz, Blues, Rockabilly, Slide, R&B.
    It definately helped me grow as a player. A week there will give you stuff to keep you busy til the next year.

    I took Matt Smith's week long Chop Shop and his Bluesblaster II. I would highly recommend either.
    Chop Shop will give you stuff to work on for years.

    I took a class at one Jazz Summit week with Tom Dempsey and he may be who is doing the Grant Green / Kenny Burrel Jazz Blues class you mention, I found him to be an excellent instructor. I also did a Blue Side of Jazz course and a Swing Jazz minor with David Hamberger which also could be the one you mention. He was good also, I found his Swing Jazz course more helpful than the Jazz I major.
     
  4. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

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    I know several of the instructors like UnderTheGroove and HarryJ hang out here. You might contact HarryJ for his opinons as well. I'm sure there are a good number of members who have attended NGW. If you don't get many responses here you might move this post to a higher traffic area like the Sound Hound Lounge.

    Good Luck!
     
  5. glendrix

    glendrix Member

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    Thanks for the info! I think I might just make the move this year.
     
  6. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    I've been to the CT campus 5 times about 10 years ago. Highly, highly recommended.
    I've done the regular curriculum a few times, Blues summit twice, and jazz summit once.
    As TonyV said, "A week there will give you stuff to keep you busy til the next year."

    As far as being challenged, for me it worked out very well. Even the first time, I was in a blues class with Murali Coryell, and we were challenged to play "The Stumble" - on Monday I couldn't get that rif, had to do it on stage that Thursday. Lotsa fun.

    Matt Smith is great people, an amazing guitarist, and one of the best teachers ever (his tone ain't bad, either).

    The summit's have a few more adults than the regular weeks, but even on those weeks there's plenty of old-school folks around to play with.

    Definitly one of the best things I ever did. And a much better use of one's $$ than buying equipment (IMHO).
     
  7. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    I've done 7 yrs. at NGSW Ct. ('97-03) and I'd say one week there gives you years of stuff to work on... however, the price has gone way up in recent years and where it used to be a real bargain IMO, it no longer is and so it's been harder to justify given that I have 7 yrs. worth of material to work on already.

    But Matt Smith, Tom Dempsey, and Dave Hamburger (not to mention Harry J) are all excellent players and teachers IMO.

    Cheers,
    Jon
     
  8. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    Allright, Jon C showed up, now where's Jon Silberman on this thread?
     
  9. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    I went to the CT Blues Summit a few years back. I had an absolute blast. Took Matt's course and also the swing minor with David Hamburger. Loved Matt but David was an excellent teacher and I'd have liked to have made his class my major.

    At CT there was a fair amount of older guys. Don't expect to get any sleep though. My highlights:

    1. Watching Robben Ford and Ronnie Earl trade back and forth. At the end of one song Robben rips off this diminished lick and you can see Ronnie mouth "I can't play that". Robben encourages him and Ronnie rips off an almost as good lick. Priceless.
    2. The nightly instructor's concerts. Wow, as mentioned before, the instructors are incredible.
    3. Having breakfast every morning with Rod Carey (Ronnie Earl's old bass player and an instructor when I was there). Some great stories there.
    4. The jams. Terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. Found out I wasn't the worst but no where close to being the best.
    5. Finding out I knew more theory than I thought.

    The only downside:
    Ronnie Earl told us at the start that he was going to have each of us play for him and give us feedback one-on-one. Terrifying to hear but also disappointing when it didn't happen.

    Tyrone Shuz took the jazz class the same year I did (the week after) and he thought it was great. Jody Fisher and the other instructors are superb.

    Oh and one more thing, the concerts downtown at the clubs that the instructors did AFTER the official instructors concerts at the site were awesome as well.
     
  10. GtrWiz

    GtrWiz Member

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    I'm either friends with, or went to school with (Berklee) a lot of the teachers for NGSW. I'd have to say they are all very competent musicians, and prolly great teachers as well. There's one guy on the staff that I saw play a few times when I lived in Austin, he's a total hack IMO. I won't say his name, but he's a local teacher, and it's not David Hamburger. Dave's great.
     
  11. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    I am not big on judging or otherwise negatively commenting on other players, but I thought I'd throw this in.
    I have, on one or two occasions, seen a couple of the lower level instructors at NGW who knew all the theory, knew the fretboard, but did not impress me at all as players. I was somewhat shocked, and I understand how the phenomenon happens. It didn't matter, because the classes they taught they were good at.
    However, all of the main instructors (and all but a couple of the others) were excellent players. In fact, I would say that some of the "Instructor Concerts" I saw were among the best nights of guitar playing I've seen - Matt Smith, David Hamburger, Jody Fisher, Harry Jacobson, Terry Syrek, these folks are awesome.
    In addition, the after hours jams are worth the whole thing. Seeing Matt Smith & David Hamburger playing the blues & swing at 2 am in an empty classroom is one of my great musical memories.
    and I haven't even started on the guest artists.....
     
  12. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    I just pulled the trigger on the slide seminar in Austin this summer. We'll see how it goes! If I can't learn to play slide after a week of intense classes, I'll finally face up to the fact that I suck and don't deserve to live (slide guitar-wise, at least). :)
     
  13. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    Hey folks,

    Well this will be my 20th year teaching at the workshop, many of the teachers (including Murali Coryll) are former students of mine. Next year I'll need a friggin cane! Speakin' of "cane".... For the past 5 years I had been lobbying to bring one of my personal favorite guitarists to the workshop. The admin was concerned that not many would recognize the name, so the draw may not be great.
    They finally listened to me and last year Chris Cain finally was on the roster of clinicians! I got to play a concert with him in Chicago. What fun that was! For those not familiar with Chris, I have posted the entire concert on my site as a teaser, now go out 'n buy all his stuff!

    Glendrix, Chris will be at Austin this year... dude, prepare to be wowed, and don't forget to wear protective head gear so you don't hurt your jaw as it hits the floor!
    Be sure to see Redd Volkaert as well (I got to play with him a few years ago) If you like country or not Redd is truly amazing. He mixes country,swing,jazz,blues and rock. He usually plays a clinic for all (not in catalog)

    At this point, I have done almost all of the campuses. Each has it's own cool vibe. The age balance changes all the time. Don't let that be too much of a factor.

    Gtrwiz, I'm pretty sure I know who you are referring to...he is a great teacher dude, very animated, and a storehouse of knowledge.
    There are stellar players, and there are stellar teachers... sometimes when the stars align jus' right, the twain shall meet :)

    There are a ton of postings by former NGW students in my guestbook. Feel free to contact them for the student perspective.

    If you find yourself in a class, or with an instructor that doesn't thrill you, CHANGE!! Do NOT wait. I suggest approaching an instructor to discuss any issues.

    There have been a few times in the past where I have had a total beginner sign up for my seminars. I have had a room full of students that want to learn drop voicings, jazz/blues and Robbenesque diminished superimpositions and 1 student who is working on memorizing the open strings. I can remember strongly suggesting a class change. They choose to stay, only to complain later that everything went over their head.

    Your workshop experience can be absolutely mind blowing in a good way or bad.

    A week of intense instruction $?
    Seein' some mind blowing clinics $?
    Hearin' someone ask Eric Johnson who does his hair priceless!

    I would say in general, the workshop is a phenomenal experience. You have the opportunity to not only sponge off the teachers, but learn from some pretty amazing students!

    I would advise bringing a recording device like a MP3, minidisc, DAT, or even one of those antique cassette thingies.

    Hope this in some way helps. I would be happy to answer more specifics.

    By the way... <plug, plug> The workshop now has an online instructional site at www.workshoplive.com There are some very cool lessons by many great instructors!

    I have 10 instructional video lessons on different wacky bending and inflective approaches.

    Harry Jacobson
    www.harryj.net
     
  14. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    Kirby is a bud and a killer performer/teacher
    Unfortunately, he won't be in Austin this time
    Will be Geoff Hartwell. Name doesn't ring a bell

    HJ
     
  15. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    I went in Austin 3 years ago. Honestly, I'm not not sure if it was really worth the cost -- in many ways I've wanted to go back every year since, but I always find a reason not to -- which is I why I say (deep down) I'm not sure it's worth the cost to me. However, this year I think I really am going to go back and I plan on taking that same course that you are (I think that one is Hamburger - he's an amazing player).

    Let me give you some pros and cons:

    Pros:

    Total guitar immersion! It's fun to be around like-minded guitar geeks all day for a whole week.

    The most fun thing was on the last night, many of the adult campers (and about 50% of the total population were adults) and most of the instructors went to an off-site bar, and took over the stage for a jam night. This wasn't a pre-planned camp activity. Everyone who wanted to got a chance to play a few tunes. But the cool part was that everyone really encouraged everyone else. It was just a really nice scene.

    David Grissom, Redd V and Eric J. sessions were pretty cool. The teacher concert was fun too.

    All the teachers were open to chatting with me about guitar geeky stuff. That was nice.

    Cons: I didn't get much out of the regular classes. I started in the Blues 2 major (that was the highest level in Austin), but after the first few hours I realized they weren't going to to learn anything I didn't already know. So I switched to Jazz 2. There were only 5 people in that class - that was nice. But one of the 5 was practically a beginner, I have no idea why he was in Jazz 2 instead on Jazz 1. Each of the 5 of us had very different skill levels, knowledge levels and approaches to guitar, so he really had to work with each of us 1 at a time; that slowed things down. One of the teens in my class had great technical skills (played Eric Johnson stlye), but couldn't play chords (had no idea what a G7b5 was, for instance). And the teacher, while he was a great guy and a great jazz player, was not the best teacher (for me at least).

    I drove home each night (I live 8 minutes from the campus), so I can't comment on the dorms.

    Maybe I'll see you there.
     

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