Group Workshops

Playing Music By Ear for Classical Musicians

This workshop is open to all instrumentalists at any level

Learning by ear is wonderful way to learn repertoire that is not written down, or contains idiomatic language that literally cannot be written down. Many classical musicians have a gap between the sound that enters their ear and the impulses that direct their fingers on their instrument. This link can be strengthened to the point that it actually becomes a conduit, which allows the fluid transfer of aural information to physical reproduction. This connection not only opens the door to improvisation and composition but also creates a greater awareness of how to effect a desired result in any musical ensemble, whether one is reading music at the moment or not. The ability to play by ear will strengthen the innate musicality of any musician in any musical situation. Students will participate in echo-ing exercises, improvisational games, and will learn several tunes from several folk idioms including Irish, bluegrass and Balkan musics. After learning this repertoire by ear, students will cooperatively create their own musical arrangements or these songs, also by ear. If there are students interested in composing material for the class that can be arranged as well.


Balkan Folk Music Workshop

This workshop is open to all instrumentalists from intermediate to advanced levels

Music from the Balkan countries (Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia and many more) contains so-called “odd meters”, such as 7/8, 5/8 and 11/8. While this may seem complicated, this is dance-based music and the flow of these rhythms is actually completely natural, once you feel them.
The scales used in music from this part of the world are very distinctive and beautiful. The repertoire itself is as varied as the languages are. A variety of material will be presented by ear and stylistic components of these styles including ornamentation, playing back up rhythm and improvisation
will be covered. Please bring recording device to class if possible. Written music will be offered at the end of the workshop as well as burned CD’s with source material will be provided.


Workshop for String Teachers

This workshop covers ways to incorporate improvisation, non-Western repertoire, playing by ear, and other ideas you read about on this page.


Fiddling for String Players

This workshop is open to musicians who are proficient on their instruments and have some experience playing by ear

Many classical players wonder why, when sight-reading from a book of fiddle tunes, they come out sounding more like Beethoven than bluegrass. Classical musicians have “accents”. The accent is quite different when playing folk music, and quite different depending on which style of folk music one is considering. Components such as phrasing, musical stress, bowing, vibrato (or the relative lack thereof), ornamentation, bow pressure, and many more subtle and no-so-subtle things create the “feel” of any given song. We will take apart several fiddle tunes from various traditions and put them back together with a new “accent”. Styles may include: Greek, Bulgarian, Klezmer and Bluegrass. Material will be presented by ear, though written music will be handed out at the end of each class for home study. Please bring recording device to class if possible. Burned CD’s with source material will be provided at the end of the workshop.


Beginning Improvisation

This workshop is open to all instrumentalists at any level

There are as many ways to improvise as there are styles of music in the world. Improvising doesn’t have to mean negotiating a bebop chord progression with a chord on every beat! The act of improvising can be exhilarating and gratifying–a way of expressing ideas, emotion, humor and your inner quirkiness. Through simple improvisational exercises, call and response and simple forms such as working with drones, blues progressions and simple folk songs, students will be improvising with confidence by the end of this workshop.


New works for Chamber FOLKchestra

This workshop is open to all advanced instrumentalists who are proficient at reading music

In this ensemble workshop, new repertoire by Kaila Flexer, Gari Hegedus, Ross Daly and other folk-based composers will be presented. Students will be coached on the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the composer’s work. Special attention will be given to phrasing, bowing, alternative string technique and ornamentation. If student composers are interested in writing for this ensemble, they can submit work three months in advance of the workshop for consideration. Flexer will offer private sessions for the honing of original material that is in progress at the time of the workshop.


Music Literacy/Applied Music Theory or Reading Music for Folk Musicians

Open to all instrumentalists

Have you always wanted to read music and have tried without success? We’ll work systematically and you’ll see that it’s actually not as hard as you think.

Music theory is not rocket science! For some reason many of us were taught musical concepts in a very convoluted way. If you apply these ideas directly to your instrument, light bulbs WILL go off inside your musical mind. I promise! Reading music and having some fluency with musical vocabulary and harmonic concepts will help you communicate more clearly with your fellow musicians. Skills in this area lend solutions to that it-sounds-funny-but-I-don’t-know-why feeling!


Ensemble Coaching

Whether your ensemble is a string trio or a Celtic band, it’s great to have an outside ear to help with arrangement ideas, choosing repertoire, not to mention that I am a Licensed Band Therapist (LBT) and can help you hash out troubling questions like, “Why does it take _______ SO LONG to pack up his _________?

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