by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 18 August 2015
This fall, Dusty Strings invites all of us to tap in to music. They “recognize the power of music to transform lives,” according to Jonathan Shue, who serves as Director of the Dusty Strings Music School, “Music is a powerful healing agent.” Beginners are welcome to come learn an instrument, singing, and/or a new musical genre this autumn at Dusty Strings. Practiced performers can also build up their talent. “If you are accomplished in one instrument,” challenged Shue, “pick up another one.”
Teaching, And Transforming
Shue, an actor, singer-songwriter and teaching artist, came on at Dusty Strings in February, working retail. When they started a search for a new school director, a few months later, his teaching experience and his passion for learning earned him the position.
Shue is very pleased with the fall’s packed schedule of classes, and the world-renowned teachers who offer up this wealth of valuable and quality knowledge to students. “We operate with professional standards,” Shue explained, “if you learn poor habits playing a guitar, you are going to quit playing.” At Dusty Strings, they instill the same love of acoustic music, and instruments, that the staff have.
For Shue, learning comes down to three essential ideals:
- discovery – exposure to new things, new instruments, new cultures, new ways of playing
- transformation – moving from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I did it!’
- craft – learning it, appreciating it and mastering it
For himself, and the other 40 teachers at Dusty Strings, classes help not only the students. “I’m a much stronger actor because I teach,” Shue observed, “Our teachers are inspired to teach – it helps them become better musicians.”
This fall, Dusty Strings offers classes in guitar, harp, ukulele, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harp, hammered dulcimer, songwriting, yodeling, Contra Dance band, and singing (both alone and/or part of a group.) The fall quarter begins, on September 3rd, with ‘Introduction to Bluegrass Jamming’ taught by experienced instructor, and professional bluegrass musician, Rob Bulkley. On September 8th those interested in guitar can begin ‘Group Guitar’ taught by Barry Pollack, on September 9th, try ‘Beginning Guitar 1’ with Papa Josh, or consider one of the other three guitar classes offered. They also have two different series of six classes in ‘Beginning Songwriting’ with Tai Shan, one series begins on September 15th and the other on November 3rd.
In addition to the formal classes, Shue recommends the free jam sessions. Dusty Strings currently offers opportunities for beginners to professionals to come together for Bluegrass, Old-Time, Ukulele and Circle Singing jams. “The important thing about them is that they are all free,” Shue said, although donations – to the jam leader – are welcome.
“Playing with other people is a skill,” Shue said, “You don’t have to stay.” For those looking for a fun activity for a Saturday or Sunday, drop-in for a jam session. “There are going to be people at different levels,” he observed, “I can’t stress the importance of that enough: the value to the advanced performer playing with beginners.”
Shue also encourages practiced musicians to step outside their genres, and Dusty Strings offers a wealth of genres to try on. “Pushing yourself outside of yourself as to genres is a way you can grow as a performer. A Blues player can learn new licks at a [Rob] Bulkley Bluegrass class. We want everyone and anyone who wants to learn more.”
And for those looking for a musical release during the work week, Dusty Strings continues its free weekly sing-along, now called Gather & Sing. Led by Alice Howe, every Wednesday attendees can sing songs they know and love around an imaginary campfire, in a place where, as Shue observed, “everyone should feel welcome and open to try.”
In addition to regular classes, Dusty Strings Music School also offers more than two dozen one-day workshops, on different genres, instruments, and techniques, each one costing from $35 – $50. On September 12th, four guitar workshops take place – two with Steve James teaching Blues fingerstyling for guitar, and two with Hans York teaching the DADGAD technique. On September 19th, John Lilly will teach ‘Yodeling for Everyone.’ And on September 26th, Jocelyn Pettit will teach Canadian step dance music and moves.
Take A Class
Registration is open for all Music School classes and workshops (the jams and ‘Gather & Sing’ are drop-in.) Shue recommends registering on-line although inquiring students can call 206/634-1662 or stop by the store.
“You can register all the way up to the first class,” in any series, Shue observed, although he acknowledged that some classes will fill-up, with a waiting list for other interested students. Most classes also allow drop-in students, at a cost of $25 per, but Shue recommended signing up for the whole series, and the savings that comes with it.
Shue hopes the Music School can make the resources Dusty Strings has in plentiful supply – experienced teachers, knowledgeable staff and a world-wide reputation for quality instrument making and sales – more available and accessible. Come in, take a class and transform your life with the power of music!
- Get Social. Get Jammin’. At Dusty Strings.
- by Kirby Lindsay, July 18, 2011
- Making Beautiful Music: Dusty Strings Signature Harps & Hammered Dulcimers
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©2015 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.