|Hi Good People, I’ve been in the suitcase living mode for the last month. First some quality tropical time in Kauai with my wife Stef and our daughter Kylie—fantastic adventures surfacing at every turn! We took in the Na Pali coast hike, mega 30 foot surf (not me surfing!) with tow in guys and Laird Hamilton gliding on the water with a his own photo guy in a helicopter following, played a killer concert with lots of enthusiastic folks in attendance, surryed on down through Old Koloa Town with enlightened smoothies and a side trek to the incredible Shipwreck’s beach, and just the supreme good vibe of hanging with family and friends.
Check out the imagery…
Next it’s been a series of tours, dovetailing together. It’s the Billy Childs Ensemble playing the music of Laura Nyro and we first touched down on Boston, Vermont, The Jazz Standard in NYC, Detroit, and St. Louis. I’m back now just for 3 days and then we zip to two hits in Pennsylvania and one Florida concert. It’s a great band and big time fun hanging with the folks passing along the infinite airport waits…
One of the big new and good things in my life is the joining of my online video course with the great algorithm of the sky. In other words, my
First, a little backstory.
When I was really young I took lessons from some great teachers. Then I went to Interlochen Center For the Arts for a more expansive experience and from there I headed into the woodshed and started studying music on my own. Eventually I was good enough to play gigs and also to help others learn music through teaching. I taught both private lessons as well as gigs teaching at Musician’s Institute and at CalArts, both located in Los Angeles. I got to know Freeway 5 intimately. It was fun and it also had a positive influence on my financial puzzle.
As time marched on I got more busy with performing live and also started my recording and producing career at my studio called SpragueLand. Free time kept getting slimmer and slimmer and something had to give. I opted for live playing and doing studio work and pretty much (aside from the yearly UCSD Jazz Camp) put teaching to the side.
Along came technology and the idea of teaching ONCE and letting it blossom out to a bunch of folks. This is a good concept for where I’m at now. I love teaching and sharing what I’ve discovered with the guitar and this way I can go into depth and tell the stories and keep moving forward with new stuff, not having to REPEAT what happened earlier. And the idea of making it into a forum as well—students can write back with comments and questions for more clarification and that could lead to me creating a new video with answers.
And this brings us to the present and my new lesson series.
It was a joy to create. It took a LOT of time to bring around. First I had to make sure the tech part of the whole dance was happy. Video cameras, lighting, microphones, operating the whole thing remotely in the main room as an iPad via wifi talked to the control room —a bucket full of digital details to reckon with.
Then, the next step, what do you actually say, share, and instruct once the camera is turned on? With all of the teaching I did in the past and that mixed in with my music book The Sprague Technique was a logical angle to follow. The series is collection of 46 lessons, tagging along pretty close to how my book flows but with the added help of me going into more detail and demonstrating examples on the guitar. Plus, there’s around 35 pages of additional arrangements, examples, solos, and exercises that are included with the video lessons that aren’t part of the book. Also an online PDF version of the book is included with the video lesson package.
Once the lessons were complete I connected with my friends Peter Martin and Dan Martin in St. Louis. Peter is the pianist and musical director for the Dianne Reeves concert tours that I’ve been part of for the last 5 years. He’s an amazing pianist and composer. Peter is connected with his cousin, Dan Martin, and together they have a company called Open Studio Network. Dan handles most of the tech part of the business and Peter handles the interacting with the instructors—taming down the creatives! Open Studio Network also has instructional video series with Peter Martin (jazz piano), Romero Lubambo (he’s the main guitarist with Dianne’s band and it’s when he can’t do the tours that I get to do them. His vid series is on Brazilian guitar.), Gregory Hutchinson (jazz drums), and now my series which is called Jazz Guitar Foundations.
The quality of the videos is right up there with good sound and multi video angles for both closeups and the normal look. One very cool feature that’s included with my lessons is a technology called SoundSlice. This splits the screen with me playing on the left side of the screen while on the right side of the screen the sheet music is displayed with a highlight letting you know where we are. Also the user can slow the whole thing down to 1/2 speed as well as selecting measures that can be repeated over and over. A guitar diagram rides below, showing the user where the notes that are being played reside on the guitar neck. The science of learning has never been so streamlined and helpful. It’s a great time to get it together!
My lesson series is modeled for intermediate to advanced guitarists and starts out with some basics and heads up from there. It covers music theory with lots of real life examples, solo guitar arrangements, and transcriptions of my improvised solos. I think it’ll take you from where you’re at with your music and lead you into some new territory with jazz. And it’ll be a fun adventure along the way.
There are a few different financial choices of how to be involved with the lessons and you can try a free lesson out here.
Although I’m not teaching private lessons anymore this is perhaps even better than the next best thing. I hope you give it a try and please let me know if you have any questions. Happy guitar-ing!
Up for this week, I’ll be playing two different shows on Wednesday February 3. First up, cellist Lars Hoefs along with Bridget Dolkas on violin and me on guitar will play a noontime free concert at the Encinitas Library. The concert is billed as Choro, Jazz, Música Popular, A South American Continuum. Lars lives in Brasil now and he’s up in the USA for a couple of weeks playing concerts. This should be a good one and I’ve arranged 3 of my songs for the ensemble plus a gem by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Hope to see you there!
And on Wednesday night we head up to Laguna Beach to play a music series called Laguna Live. It’ll be me on the guitar along with my brother Tripp Sprague on sax, Mack Leighton on bass, and Duncan Moore on drums. We’ve got some great tunes planned and I hear this spot for music is fantastic with full on listening and good acoustics. Look below for more details…
That’s the word thus far and thanks for reading along. I head off on Thursday again for more suitcase supreme situations and further adventures. Keep the sky in your head!