July 16-18, 2015
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In July of 2015, we held the 4th Interlochen Chapman Stick Workshop in
association with the
Interlochen College of
. The biennial events began back in 2009 featuring instrument
creator Emmett Chapman
and have been wildly successful ever since featuring instruction in Chapman's
technique of playing fretted stringed instruments. In
addition to the instruction, the setting plays a large part in providing an
immersion experience for students of Chapman's method of play.
From the writeup of the 2009 event:
Nestled between Duck Lake and Green Lake in the northern part of Michigan's
lower peninsula, the
Interlochen Center For
The Arts was founded in 1927 and is a world renowned organization boasting
a 2500 student summer arts camp for kids ranging from ages 8 to 18, a 500
student visual and performing arts high school, two 24 hour listener supported
public radio stations, an evolving series of adult arts programs and almost nine
decades worth of alumni worldwide.
The 2015 event featured instruction from world class performers and teachers
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Who Was There?
The faculty and students at this event were as follows:
Glenn Poorman - Novi, MI
Greg Howard - Charlottesville, VA
Tom Griesgraber - Encinitas, CA
Steve Osburn - Ann Arbor, MI
Steve Balogh - Canton, MI
Art Durkee - Beloit, WI
Pete Gilbert - Ann Arbor, MI
Dave Johnson - Andover, MN
Eric Knapp - Monona, WI
Max Kramer - Chicago, IL
Cory McCormick - Glendale, AZ
Mark Nelham - Ilderton, ON
Gene Perry - Temecula, CA
Don Scott - Marlon, IA
Lee Tarricone - Greenfield, IN
Jim Todd - Troy, MI
It felt like everything for this event started early. We started planning early.
Secured teachers early. Made announcements early. It was all a calculated move
to try and draw a larger turnout. Unfortunately it didn't really appear to make
any difference at all. In the months leading up to the event, slow registration
and a large number of cancellations left us pretty light in the attendance
department. Certainly that's good from the point of view of the student. It left
me with a little last minute crankiness though. In the end though, the event
itself was excelllent.
As is usually the case, I appealed to our traveling teachers to pad their stay
a little bit to take in some of what Michigan has to offer. Both Greg and Tom
opted to do just that. With the event itself not starting until Thursday, Tom
flew into Detroit on a Monday morning red eye. Our plan was to battle jet lag
at the house on Monday, visit the Motown Museum in Detroit on Tuesday, and then
head north Tuesday afternoon. As it turned out, this was also the week that Bob
Culbertson was flying into town for the Ann Arbor Art Fair. He was scheduled to
arrive on Monday evening so we made last minute plans that he would stay at my
place for just one evening and accompany Tom and I to the Museum on Tuesday
The museum was excellent. As a native Detroiter, you'd think I would have been
there many times. Truth be told though, this was my first. Tom, Bob, and I got
to the museum a little after 10:00am and there were several people in line
already which surprised me. We didn't actually get in until the 11:30am tour.
The tour was amazing. In addition to the excellent stories of the early days of
Motown, we checked out the attic where, using a speaker and microphone, they
recorded the classic Motown reverb. Then of course, we ended up in Studio A which
gave me chills. There was still on original Steinway piano in the studio along
with an original drum kit and all of the recording gear. On the walls were photos
of some very young artists recording in the very room we were standing in. Artists
like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinsons, Michael Jackson (just to name
a few). This was where history was made just a few short blocks from where my
mom was born and where my grand parents were living back when all of this was going
The three of us grabbed some lunch back at my place post museum and then it was
time to part ways. Bob was heading over to Steve Oz's house to setup base for the
week and prep for the art fair. Tom and I loaded up my vehicle and headed north.
Originally Rasa was supposed to bring our two dogs along with a third that we were
looking after with her on Thursday evening. Due to some issues I won't go into
though, Tom and I had to bring Tucker up with us. So we had my vehicle loaded to
the ceiling with gear and this two by two square cleared right behind the drivers
seat to fit the pup. It was an easy drive though and four hours later, we were
there. We grabbed some dinner at one of our favorite local spots and then retired
back to the house to setup a practice space.
On Wednesday, Greg arrived in town along with Gene Perry. Gene had flown from
California into Cleveland and Greg picked him up on his way from Charlottesville.
They arrived shortly before dinner and we all had dinner in. Later in the evening,
Art Durkee arrived at the house while Greg and Tom set out for Interlochen to
check into their lodging for the remainder of the workshop. Gene and Art were both
staying with me along with Cory McCormick and Steve Oz who were both to arrive on
On Thursday, things officially kicked off. The schedule for the day read as follows:
Optional Campus Tour
Greg - Basic Free Hands Technique (Beginner)
Tom - Refining your timing (Advanced)
As is usually the case, the later start on the first day meant that this would be
the only day that we'd be able to wake up at our leisure. We wanted to get there
just a little early though so I think we were all up around 9:00am and headed out
to Interlochen at around 10:30am. As luck would have it, Art was sporting a rather
large van which was big enough for every one plus gear. So ... Art became our
driver for the weekend.
At around 11:00am, we arrived at Mallory-Towsley. The immediate plan was to meet
up with Leslie Donaldson and make introductions. Since our last workshop in 2013,
Leslie had taken over Matt Wiliford's duties as the director of the College of
Creative Arts. I had met with Leslie several times over the last year and a half
but the rest of our crew would be meeting her for the first time. She also had
two new interns Garret and Crystal who were tasked with keeping our ship running
smoothly for the weekend.
As is always the case, students started rolling in before the scheduled noon start.
We used the time to talk logistics of where everything was going to happen and to
start getting people setup. At noon, registration officially opened. This just
meant that everybody could grab their packet and name tag. We also decided to use
the same hour to allow anyone who wanted to have Greg look at their instrument and
its setup. This was about the time where we all met Max Kramer. Max was our
youngest player this year (17) and had come to us from Chicago. His girlfriend
was taking guitar lessons from Matt Tate who is a Stick player and well known to
all of us. While going through old instruments belonging to his father, Max had
stumbled onto a very old Stick dating back to the late 70s. It was an original
Ironwood 10-string model. Max was already a fine young bass player and showed the
instrument to Matt. Matt gave him an introductory lesson and suggested he come to
Interlochen. The whole thing made for a great story.
So with Greg doing setup work, Gene and I retreated to the Stone Hotel for a quick
lunch. From there, it was back to the 1:00pm intro session. Here Leslie made her
introductions and talked about campus logistics. From there I introduced the
workshop itself and we went around the room finding out a little more about all
of our participants. From there we broke into the first of our sessions.
We had four beginners in the group. Greg always likes to be the first to
work with the beginners. He has a beginner workshop that he's really refined over
the years and its a really great introduction for those guys. Tom took the rest
of us into one of the classrooms and did an excellent workshop on timing. He'd
actually taken one of his own looped pieces and notated it out into separate parts.
Making it work with different players playing the different parts really required
a lot of listening to each other to get the timing right. Tom hinted during this
particular course that if we could get it sounding pretty good, we might be able to
perform it as a group on Saturday.
From there we broke into the official ensemble practice. As in 2013, we set some
time aside every day for the teachers to work on ensemble pieces with the group
that those groups would get to perform in front of an audience on Saturday night.
We started with Tom taking the beginner group and Greg taking the more advanced
group. Greg pulled an old favorite out called "Madrone"
that we'd performed
as a group on Salt Spring Island back in 2003. He also pulled out a tune he himself
had only recent started working on.
At 5:00pm we broke for dinner. The cafeteria had just opened up at this point
leaving a pretty big lineup to get entrees. We all waited it out though and then
ventured out to the deck outside of Kresge to take in our dinner on Green Lake.
At 7:30pm, we kicked off the faculty concert. I opened up with a short set of my
own. After that, Tom and Greg each did two sets. At the end of Greg's first set,
he and Gene Perry did a duet of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street"
singing. That was followed by a solo tune from Gene. All of the sets were
exceptional and it was a really good kickoff event for the rest of the weekend.
After the concert, several of the people staying on campus retired over to the
Hofbrau while Gene, Art, Cory, and I went back to our house. By this time Rasa
had arrived with the other two dogs and she had a bonfire going on the deck. We
sat up and chatted over some beers before eventually retiring for the night.
Glenn - Looping workshop
Greg - Bass navigation in 5ths (Advanced)
Tom - Fretboard harmony (Beginner)
Greg - Right hand melody and fretboard navigation (Beginner)
Tom - Fretboard harmony (Advanced)
Greg - Got a solo? Don't just noodle, say something (Advanced)
Tom - Articulations: adding new life to the same old notes (Beginner)
Everyone was up and ready to go on Friday morning and we arrived on campus with
time to spare. I set aside the first hour of each day for Oz and I do some short
workshops. Oz hadn't arrived yet so I took Friday's time slot and did a looping
discussion. From there we went back into our sessions with Greg and Tom.
Tom took the first beginner class and talked about fretboard harmony. Greg took
the rest of us and launched into a brand new class of his own making regarding
a new way of navigating 5ths bass. This was a logical next step in his own way
of playing the instrument bringing arm movement and three handed playing to the
bass side of the instrument.
From there we had a two hour lunch. I had purposely started scheduling longer
lunches giving students time to either wander the campus or to find a quiet place
to practice on their own. The gorgeous weather was still with us so we again were
able to take in our lunch on Green Lake.
At 2:00pm, we kicked off our afternoon sessions with Greg and Tom switching places.
Greg took the beginners off to work on the right hand and general navigation of
the fretboard. Tom worked with the rest of the group talking about fretboard
harmony and generally torturing the group with some heavy theory. Very good stuff.
We took a short break after that and our teachers switched places again. Tom moved
back into the beginner group to work on articulations while Greg did a class on
soloing stressing singing what you want to play so as to make your solos come from
your head and not your hands.
At 5:00pm we did another hour of ensemble practice. Greg stayed with the more
advanced group this time continuing the work we'd done the day before while Tom
continued to work with the beginner group. At 6:00pm we broke for dinner and
then prepared for our one night off.
Generally our night off will consist of either a bonfire on Good Harbor Beach or
a gathering back at our house. Usually the weather is the deciding factor but this
year, lake levels were up just about everywhere and during a scouting trip on
Tuesday, Tom and I found that there was virtually no beach. So we opted for our
house. When we arrived, Rasa and our friend Janice had already done a wonderful
job of prepping for a party and that's just what we had. Everybody attending the
workshop was there and we also were paid a visit from the former director of the
College of Creative Arts Matt Wiliford. Steve Oz had arrived earlier in the day
as well and he brought a 24-string Harpejji for everyone to try out. It was a
really interesting instrument. Like any instrument, you'd need some time with it
to really get a good feel but Oz was able to make some music with it already and
everyone else had a go before the night was over.
By around 10:30pm, everyone who was going back to campus cleared out. The rest of
us had another drink on the deck before retiring ourselves. It was a great evening.
Oz, Gene - Goals
Greg - Independence training: how to train your hands to function as autonomous entities (Beginner)
Tom - Articulations: adding new life to the same old notes (Advanced)
Ensemble Practice (last run through)
The move to get up and out of the house was a little slower all the way around
on Saturday morning. We still managed to arrive pretty close to 9:00am though.
For this mornings opening hour, Oz and Gene decided to team up and talk about
the students opinions on the ups and downs of the workshop and also to let them
talk about their goals for the coming year. It was a good discussion but what
was supposed to be an hour turned into three and when we wrapped up, it was time
We cut lunch down to an hour and then re-worked the afternoon schedule. Luckily
I had slotted three hours for a master class planning for a much larger turnout
and had scheduled a "wrap-up" for a half hour at the end. Considering that our
morning session was essentially the wrapup, we were able to still schedule our
last session post-lunch and still have time for a group practice and master class.
So at 1:00pm, we broke back into groups. Greg did an independence workshop with
the beginners. Tom worked on articulations with the advanced group and also
re-visited the timing workshop continuing to rehearse his tune "Fragments"
for the student recital.
After a short break, we re-convened at 2:30pm for ensemble practice. Tom moved
back over the beginner group while Greg worked some more with the two tunes the
advanced group had been working on.
At around 4:00pm, we had our master class. Our solists for the master class were
Pete Gilbert, Erick Knapp, Art Durkee, Gene Perry, and Steve Balogh. As always,
the atmosphere was friendly and the discussions were fruitful. The performers
who take part in these always find them very useful and this one was no exception.
At about 5:30pm, we broke for dinner having our last meal on Green Lake. We met
back at Mallory-Towsley at 7:00pm to kick of the student recital. The order for
the evening went as follows:
Beginner Group Ensemble Pieces
Advanced Group Ensemble Pieces
All of the performances went really well. The ensemble pieces were great. Tom did
a fantastic job with the beginner group and even worked some circulation into their
performance. Both Greg and Tom did pieces with the advanced group and those went
very well. The soloists all did a great job as well. Art did something we don't
often see introducing an original tune with Stick and vocals called "Shine"
Max (one of our beginners) spent a little time that day with Steve Balogh's NS/Stick
and apparently took a liking to it opting to play it in the recital. The rest of
the performers continued to show improvement from previous years which is always
good to see. After the advance group's ensemble pieces, the workshop officially
came to a close.
Most everybody had planned on clearing out Saturday evening or early Sunday. Oz
left for Ann Arbor right from Interlochen. Gene, Art, Cory, and I went back to the
house. On Sunday morning, Cory left early and Greg moved from campus over to our
place where he and Gene stayed until Monday. We spent a chunk of the afternoon
doing one of Leelanau County's best activities. Wine tasting. The county boasts
around 24 tasting rooms but one needs to pace in order to avoid getting loaded.
So we limited to three and everyone made some purchases. After the wine tasting,
Art set off for a long and scenic drive back to Wisconsin. Gene, Greg, Rasa and
I spent the rest of the night chatting and even managed to get a walk on the
beach. On Monday morning, everyone cleared out and I pretty much slept until
This was another fantastic event. In spite of a somewhat low turnout, the people
that were here were able to get more attention and everyone left feeling very
energized. In the end, that is what it's all about for me so I consider this a
This was our first year working with Leslie Donaldson as the director of the
College of Creative Arts. From our first meeting right up until this week, she
has worked with me every step of the way to make the workshop successful. Her
interns Garret and Crystal were also on hand all weekend to make sure all of
our needs were met. They all did a great job and I can't thank them enough.
Greg and Tom are both world class teachers. Greg simply never stands still as far
as his teaching goes. He's constantly discovering new things on the Stick and is
always bringing something different to the table. Tom has always done really great
group workshops emphasizing things like timing and listening. He brings a wealth
of experience with him from his days organizing his own workshops in San Diego,
his time with Guitar Craft, and his time as a student at Berklee. The top players
of the Stick are always so gracious with their time and energy and they are the
reason that workshops like these can even happen in the first place. Huge thanks
to Greg and Tom.
As I say every year though, our students are our bread and butter. The comeraderie
that always develops among our students is a lesson to everyone and I always say
that the students end up inspiring each other as much as the teachers do. I've
made some great friends over the years with our repeat visitors and hope to do
the same with the wonderful newcomers that came this year. Thanks to all of our
I also have to continue to thank Rasa who always supports our efforts and is
always willing and eager to open up our home to visiting students and teachers
and who also keeps me grounded during the months leading up to these events. I'd
never make it without her.
Of course, the last thanks goes out to Emmett, Yuta, and everyone else at Stick
Enterprises for starting us down this road. What a ride!