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Step Into Something New At Dusty Strings Music School

by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 11 August 2017

 

Explore and play at Dusty Strings this summer and fall!  Photo by Adrian Laney, Oct '14

Explore and play at Dusty Strings this summer and fall! Photo by Adrian Laney, Oct ’14

Now is the perfect time to break out of your comfort zone and attempt something new – especially when Dusty Strings’ Music School provides an environment of learning in community, ideal for your first, or next, step in playing music.

“We’re inviting people to come and play with each other,” Jonathan Shue, Dusty Strings’ Education Director, explained.  “There really is something for everyone, at any age, at any level.”  For beyond its well-deserved reputation as the most highly sought store for folk instruments and acoustic music supplies (along with being makers of the most gorgeous dulcimers and harps,) Dusty Strings offers a music school with classes in a vast variety of genres of music.  Best of all, they have classes accessible at every stage of learning – from beginner to super-duper advanced.

‘So Much Happening’

“There are so many entry points,” Shue recently observed.  This summer, they’ve been giving students terrific access not only to a regular schedule of series classes – given over four, six or eight week sessions – but also special, one-time-only workshops with musicians that have mastered their fields.  These one shot classes highlight certain genres, and take advantage of guest appearances by professional, practiced musicians.

“There is so much happening,” Shue observed.  For instance, on October 14th, Grammy-Award winning Mark Hanson will stop by the school to teach Hawaiian Slack Key, something Shue has had students request.  This is not a class for those who play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, but for intermediate guitar players who want to learn a new way to address their instrument and their music.  As with most of the single classes, this opportunity costs $40.

On August 27th, Dusty Strings will host a free class with Ray Mooers on the hammered dulcimer.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Aug '15

On August 27th, Dusty Strings will host a free class with Ray Mooers on the hammered dulcimer. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Aug ’15

This month, renaissance musician Eric Madis will guide students in their study of slide guitar, with two classes on August 26th:  Delta Blues Bottleneck Slide II from 10:30a – 12:30a, and Southern Blues Bottleneck Slide II from 1:30p – 3:30p.

On August 20th, Greg Ruby will lead two classes in the hot jazz guitar style pioneered by Django Reinhardt.  Ruby will instruct in Hot Jazz Basics for Beginners from 12:15p – 2:15p, and Hot Jazz Rhythm Guitar for Intermediate Players from 2:45p – 4:45p.

For all levels, on September 9th at 10:30a, Jim D’Ville will teach ‘Learn Ukelele By Ear!’  This one-hour session will give you a method for playing along to familiar songs using the most popular chord progressions in western music.  This class is hands and ears-on, so students will need a ukulele, tuner, music stand and recording device.  Also on September 9th, at 11:45a, D’Ville will teach intermediate to advanced ukulele players the ‘Magical Mystery Chords’ for playing over twenty classic Beatles tunes.  Each of these classes is also $40 apiece.

Some of the best Dusty Strings’ classes can be enjoyed for free!  On August 27th, Dusty Strings’ co-founder Ray Mooers will give a fun and entertaining exploration of the hammered dulcimer.  Learn about the historical background of this beautiful instrument, and how it is used today, along with a virtual tour of Dusty Strings’ manufacturing facility (once located in Fremont and now in Interbay.)  Free for all ages and level.

Also free is a guitar clinic, on September 9th, at 11a, on Tonewoods, and what makes one guitar sound different from another.  On October 7th, at 11a, Shue and Jeff Nagel will lead a free clinic on guitar amplifiers:  how to use them, how to get the sound you’re looking for and what to look for when shopping for one.

For beginners, Dusty Strings offers classes in nearly every instrument imaginable.  Photo provided by DS

For beginners, Dusty Strings offers classes in nearly every instrument imaginable. Photo provided by DS

For October, Dusty Strings has partnered with Kenyon Hall, where Aaron & Nicole Keim (The Quiet American) and Del Rey will be performing on October 1st.  On October 2nd, these amazing performers will bring their skills into the Dusty Strings classrooms.  Del Rey will give an intermediate class in moveable ukulele chords, while Nicole & Aaron Keim will teach two classes – one on singing old-time gospel music (for all levels) and the other on the ukulele music of Maybelle Carter.

‘Everyone Can Play’

Many of the one-time classes lean towards the intermediate player, yet Shue doesn’t want beginners to feel discouraged – “for the total beginner,” he advised, “that’s what our series classes are about.”  Get a guitar, ukulele, mandolin, or dulcimer in your hands, and find out the basic methods of addressing the instrument over a four, six or eight week session.  Best of all, Dusty Strings has a new series class starting at nearly any time.

On August 20th, Greg Ruby will lead two classes in Hot Jazz Guitar at Dusty Strings. Photo provided by DS

On August 20th, Greg Ruby will lead two classes in Hot Jazz Guitar at Dusty Strings. Photo provided by DS

For those who don’t happen to have the instrument sitting around, Dusty Strings rents nearly all instruments they teach (except the fiddle.)  It’s possible to take a class in something you might never have considered playing, without having to make a long-term commitment.  (Although, rental credits can be applied towards purchase – so if that mandolin you just tried out turns into a favorite passion, it is easy to buy one of your own!)

Once students master the basics, they can look at one-time workshops, and great jam sessions hosted at Dusty Strings each week.  On the first Sunday of each month, from 2:30p – 4:30p, a Dusty Strings music school student, Jalaine Madura, leads a friendly, supportive meet-up for guitar players in a no-pressure setting, allowing each participant to take turns playing whatever they happen to be working on, ‘As Best You Can’.

“We give you the tools so that you will keep doing it, keep exploring,” Shue said.  “We want to bring music into people’s lives,” he explained, “everyone can play an instrument and sing.  Music is truly a universal language.  We want to get people to play music, and we want to give them the right tools.”

“We had an 84-year-old who had never played an instrument before,” Shue said about a new student, “they picked up the ukulele,” in one of the beginning classes, “two years later, and they’re still studying and playing.”

Always wanted to try a new instrument?  Dusty Strings not only has the class, but also the instrument rental for you to try out!  Photo by Rhett Brown

Always wanted to try a new instrument? Dusty Strings not only has the class, but also the instrument rental for you to try out! Photo by Rhett Brown

“Pick an area that fascinates you,” Shue observed, “we have a teacher for you.”  Dusty Strings has access to experienced musicians and instructors in every musical genre.  “You are learning from the best of the best,” Shue praised his teachers, “the know how to play and they know how to teach – and they love doing it.”

Not A Monumental Thing

“We want people to be able to keep playing,” Shue explained.  They want to get people the skills they need to keep exploring, by themselves or with the community they meet through their classes.  “This is for the person who really wants an educational and pleasurable experience,” Shue said, “it doesn’t have to be this monumental thing to play an instrument.”

For more information about Dusty Strings’ classes, and how you can get playing, visit the DustyStrings.com website, or call 206/634-1662.

 

 


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©2017 Kirby Laney.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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