Online Workshops

Video Replays of previous topics are available any time! If you sign up for any sessions that have already passed, you will receive links to the video of the session plus any materials that go along with it.


Practical Music Theory: Nuts and Bolts for Everyday Musicians

Lots of folks are scared off by music theory, but don’t be! It’s all about giving names and categories to common things so that you can recognize and understand them more quickly when you encounter them.

In this series of workshops, we’ll go over common nuts and bolts topics that will help you learn your music faster and sight read more easily, recognize how your part fits into the context of an ensemble piece, and gain a more detailed understanding of music you hear.

The format for these will be slightly different from the previous ones. In each session, we’ll go over the basics of a specific topic and include a variety of practice exercises to help you internalize it as a skill on your instrument. We’ll finish with some suggestions for how you can practice these skills on your own or with a friend. You can attend as many or as few sessions as you see fit, although each session will assume some familiarity with the material from the previous ones.

Please note: You may sign up for individual sessions in this series รก la carte, or you can sign up for all of them together at a discounted price. All registrants for each session will be sent a link afterward to the recorded video of the session plus all accompanying material. So if you miss one or even if you sign up after it has already happened, you can still catch up. And of course you can always go back and review later if you want!

This series includes:

1. Intervals – Sunday February 7, 5:00-6:30 PM EST
Musical intervals are the basic building blocks of any melody. We’ll go over what they’re called and how to remember them, and how they relate to each other. Practice exercises will go over hearing and recognizing common and less common intervals; reproducing specific intervals on your instrument; and identifying and reproducing unexpected intervals when they occur in pieces.
These practice exercises are also a fantastic basis for creating technical exercises of your own as you need them!

2. Scales, Modes, and Keys – Sunday, February 14, 5:00-6:30 PM EST
Scales are the framework we use as a starting point for melodies, and they come in many flavors called modes. We’ll discuss the most common ones and how they’re used. We’ll also go over the order of sharps and flats; how to figure out what key a piece is in; and why some Baroque pieces in minor keys don’t fit the modern rules. Exercises will include scales and how to help make the tricky keys easier to learn – both intellectually and technically on your instrument! Getting scales under your fingers really pays dividends because there are so many passages in pieces that your fingers will already know how to play.

3. Chords and Arpeggios – Sunday, February 21, 5:00-6:30 PM EST
Lots of folks who play melody instruments get a little lost when we talk about chords. But recognizing common chords and how your part fits into them is important to lots of aspects of performance – not least of which is tuning! In this session we’ll learn how to identify common chords and practice ways of hearing and recognizing them, even if your instrument can only play one note at a time. We’ll also work on arpeggios (which are, after all, just broken chords) and practice hearing the whole chord when playing it only one note at a time. Besides being great technical exercises, getting common chords under your fingers is important preparation for reading from a lead sheet or improvising harmonies.

4. Counterpoint – Sunday, February 28, 5:00-6:30 PM EST
Counterpoint is when multiple independent voices make music together. We’ll go over basic principles of how different voices move in relation to each other, and practice recognizing how your part fits in with the others. These concepts have been an integral part of musicians’ training for centuries, and are a fundamental part of how ensemble music works. We’ll also take a quick look at using these principles to help you create harmony parts of your own.

5. Harmony and Chord Relationships – Sunday, March 7, 5:00-6:30 PM EST
This session will look at how individual chords relate to each other, and to the overall context of a piece of music. This topic is critical to seeing the bigger picture in not just ensemble music, but also in music with only a single line because of the harmonic content that is implied in the melody. We’ll practice identifying tonic and dominant chords and their relatives; and the most common types of cadences. Exercises will include listening practice for identifying these concepts, musical analysis of familiar pieces, and methods for continuing to delve into these topics on your own.

Video Replays of Previous topics:

These sessions have passed, but if you sign up you’ll be sent a link to the video replay and any accompanying materials where applicable.

Memorizing Music
Think memorizing music is a special talent that you just don’t have? Think you can’t do it anymore, now that you’re no longer 15? Feel like you mostly know your music, but you can’t quite get away from the page and you’re likely to forget it all under pressure? Think again!

Learning to memorize more effectively can help you internalize your music better, play more musically, and feel more confident when it comes time to perform. In most musical traditions and throughout much of musical history, memory has been a crucial skill in which every musician was expected to be proficient. If they could do it, you can do it!

1. Introductory Presentation Video Replay

In this lecture I discuss our various kinds of memory, and what we can learn from other ways people train their memory. We’ll discuss the benefits of memorizing your music; how to get started doing it; reasons why some music is harder or easier to memorize; circumstances that make memorization easier or harder, and what you can do about them.
And we’ll go over ways you can practice memorizing your music that help make it stick – whether it’s a new piece you’re just starting to work on or a piece you’ve been practicing for years.

2. Memorization exercises workshop Video Replay
In this 2-part workshop, we’ll do a variety of exercises to illustrate the concepts from the lecture and give you some concrete practice exercises and things you can apply to pieces you’re working on. The two parts of this workshop are spaced a week apart to give you some practice time in between (don’t worry, it won’t take too much time!). We’ll also have more opportunity for questions, discussion, and follow-up on the previous week’s exercises. Registration for this session includes the video replay of the Introductory lecture.