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National Guitar Summer Workshop - Nashville Campus

The dates and curriculum are out for the next NGSW in Nashville. Actually, the workshop is in Murfreesboro, TN, about 35 minutes from Nashville on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Registration is July 11th, the day after CAAS ends.

I've attended the NGSW twice, and except for a few minor incidents (psychotic roommate) I've enjoyed myself immensly and learned a lot.

NGSW has workshops in Connecticut, Canada , California and Germany but for a fingerstyle picker like me, the Nashville workshop is the best choice. That's primarily because the workshop offers up-close fingerstyle instruction by John Knowles, who will again be conducting a workshop this year.

John Knowles teaches the tunes of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed as well as anyone I've ever met. John Knowles has been teaching fingerstyle and collaborating with Chet for years. He has done the tab for several of Chet's song books published by Hal Leonard. I learned "Blue Finger" at my first NGSW in 1996, and I was so tickled at the accomplishment, that when I got home I framed the tablature John had given us during class. There was a great comraderie that developed between the students in my class, as they all shared a love of Chet's music and appreciated the instruction from John Knowles. Several of the days during my week at NGSW, the class went off for lunch together, where we would get to hear John tell us stories about Chet and Jerry and Marcel Dadi and Lenny Breau.

At night, students are given the chance to perform on stage in the buildings auditorium. A professional sound man plugs you in and works the mixing board just like you were a real musician! For folks who are used to playing alone or at home this can be a challenging and exhilerating experience. In past years there has also been one night where students may take the stage at the famous Bluebird Café in Nashville to play songs.

Classes are held in the Wright Music Building, and begin Monday morning around 9AM. We met daily in a small classroom upstairs from 9:30 till lunch then maybe an hour after lunch. There was also a lot of informal learning going on. Before class while waiting for John to arrive and unlock the door, we'd pick in the hallway. One of my classmates, Rod Robin, taught me "Borsalino" sitting in the hallway one morning.

Bill Yelverton who is a classical guitarist and instructor at MTSU helped coordinate the event and teach. He was terrific and always available to show the average player some new moves.

The convenient part of NGSW is that it starts right where CAAS leaves off, so you are already in town. And if all the great music at CAAS hasn't motivated you to learn then you are hopeless.

The only negatives I saw were the food (college cafeteria - yikes) and the rooms, which are below average cinder-block college dorm rooms. Okay if you are a teen attending the rock and roll classes, but adults would do better staying in a hotel. Pay the extra $40 per night and get a room at the Hampton Inn. Information on NGSW can be found at their webpage located at www.guitarworkshop.com.

- Tom Redmond

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