Creative Strings Workshop: Part Three

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PART THREE: LATE NIGHT JAMS, Unscripted CLINICS AND TAKEAWAYS

Each day of the workshop was scheduled full of ensembles, clinics and performances with little time from breaks and shortened meals. So you would think that after a long day of intense learning and music making, I would be inclined to lay my head down and get some good night sleep... Not so fast.

Sometimes, music begets more music. Despite the relentless schedule, the music just wouldn’t die, even through the midnight hour. At the beginning of the week, ensemble coaches and clinicians went to town on the stage during faculty performances. One evening the entire workshop traveled to a Columbus dive spot, Dick’s Den to invade the storied stage and jam out. Getting to know and work with these truly gifted musicians left me motivated and inspired with each performance.

There is a magnetic field that a group of fiddlers creates when playing fiddle tunes or improvising around jazz leads that attract other musicians to listen and often join in a play along. Jam sessions were scattered throughout our residence hall - in basement classrooms, outside on courtyard and within the kitchen common areas. It was a beautiful cacophony of fiddle, jazz, funk, R&B styles prominent throughout the week. I would often drift from group to group sometime sharing a tune, learning a tune or just listening for inspiration among these talented players.

Even after midnight, the learning did not stop. Toward the end of the week, coaches were offering unscripted, late-night clinics on off-beat, yet highly important musical topics. The more famous ones included the 2 AM lesson on “Advanced Chopping” by Andy Reiner. This had to be one of the most memorable and pertinent sessions of the weekend as Andy announces, “So you want to play music… and you want to learn to chop… [long silence w/ intermittent laughter].” There was also a 1 am clinic by Jason Anick on Bach and Jazz theory using Bach’s Suites to understand and learn jazz chords.

There were many other memories and moments I will remember about my week at the Creative String Workshop. Not the least of which was a special event that the entire workshop participated at a local church near downtown Columbus. The event was a mixture of conversation and music around the topic of “Equity and Access for Women in the Workplace.” A conversation was facilitated by Cedric Easton, one of the workshop coaches, with a panel of highly regarded women in the Columbus community. Between topics, were musical number that highlighted the issue and help inspire action. A truly beautiful event to elevate awareness about an important issue.

Takeaways:

I’m not sure there was a workshop that so perfectly stoked my musical passions in a supportive, communal environment. I couldn’t help but think of the new skills and techniques I could pass on to my students. I look forward to sharing about ways to think about improvising and developing a unique voice; about ideas for playing and performing; and of course all the great new tunes I learned. The workshop also validated my philosophy that music is an intrinsically social activity whether by the act of playing along with a band or ensemble, or while gathering with a common pursuit to learn our instrument in a new and revealing way. I certainly look forward to returning in future.