Learn to improvise on fiddle tunes, create new melodies over chord changes, practice the arpeggios and scales you need to play jazz tunes, and more with Joe K. Walsh. In this eight-week live workshop, Joe lays out his approach to improvising and practicing improvising that he’s developed from years as a professional musician in a variety of musical contexts and as instructor at the Berklee College of Music, Peghead Nation, and numerous music camps. With exercises and solos that illustrate Joe’s unique, widely acclaimed, freewheeling style. Joe’s workshop is designed for intermediate-to-advanced-level mandolinists and fiddlers. See Joe’s introductory video above for his thoughts on this workshop series.
The fee for the eight-part workshop is $200 and, in addition to admittance to all eight workshops, students will receive PDFs (notation and tab), as well as access to recordings of each workshop. Workshop recordings will be available to students a week after each class, in case they miss a class or want to review what they’ve learned.
Sessions will be held every other Saturday on Zoom, from 10 am to 11 am PST (1 pm to 2 pm EST), starting on Saturday, May 8.
After the workshop is complete, students will continue to have access to workshop recordings and materials when signed in to their Peghead Nation account.
Joe K. Walsh
Hailed by Nashville’s Music Row magazine for his “lickety-split mandolin work” and by Vintage Guitar magazine as “brilliant,” Joe K. Walsh is one of the best mandolinists of his generation. Walsh is known for his exceptional tone and taste, and his collaborations with acoustic music luminaries, including legendary fiddler Darol Anger, flatpick guitar hero Scott Nygaard, folk legend Jonathan Edwards, and pop/grass darlings Joy Kills Sorrow, have taken him all over the musical and figurative map.
Joe has played with everyone from John Scofield to Béla Fleck to Emmylou Harris, and performed everywhere from bluegrass festivals to laundromats to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. After a number of years helping bluegrass supergroup the Gibson Brothers rise to the top of the bluegrass world, and stints with a group with Grant Gordy and Darol Anger called Mr Sun, he now leads his own band and tours with Danny Barnes.
An avid mandolin educator, Joe is a mandolin instructor at the Berklee College of Music. He teaches regularly at music camps throughout North America and beyond, and has taught hundreds of students near his home in Portland, Maine. Joe is also co-director of the Berklee American Roots Festival camp in Boston and the Ossipee Valley String Camp in Maine. skinnyelephantmusic.com
Learn to improvise on fiddle tunes, create new melodies over chord changes, practice the arpeggios and scales you need to play jazz tunes, and more with Joe K. Walsh in this eight-week live workshop. Joe lays out his approach to improvising and practicing improvising that he’s developed from years as a professional musician in a variety of musical contexts and as instructor at the Berklee College of Music, Peghead Nation, and numerous music camps. With exercises and solos that illustrate Joe’s unique, widely acclaimed, freewheeling style. Joe’s workshop is designed for intermediate-to-advanced-level mandolinists and fiddlers.
Using the tune “Whiskey Before Breakfast” Joe examines all of the ways you can change a melody while still playing something recognizable as the melody, from simple variations to more abstracted extrapolations. You’ll also learn a Ronnie McCoury solo for “Whiskey Before Breakfast.”
In this workshop Joe works on developing your knowledge of and fluidity within a closed position using your first finger (and pinky) on the root note. Call it an “oasis of knowledge,” moveable for every key! Using several melodies and transcribed solos, including David Grisman’s “East Virginia Blues” and Dan Tyminski’s “I Can't Get You Off of My Mind,” he shows you some patterns and how they are applied in the real world.
In session three, Joe works on finding sounds and vocabulary out of the chop-chord shape. So much vocabulary comes out of this shape, especially blues-inflected sounds, and it complements the "first finger root note" shape well. He shows you a few solos from Sam Bush and Aubrey Haynie so you can internalize some chop-chord shape language, and you’ll also work on shifting between the two shapes.
Using a 12-bar blues as our form, this workshop will focus on moving shapes through I–IV–V progressions, finding vocabulary in each chord. We will work on developing some sounds out of both of our shapes and learn some phrases that help you connect the two. You’ll learn three blues melodies in the key of F and three blues melodies in the key of C. Also, because how could we not, we will take a number of short phrases through all twelve keys.
This session focuses on arpeggios and ways to practice connecting them using voice leading. Voice-led arpeggios are a really great way to work on internalizing chord tones to songs you want to improvise on, and the exercise you’ll work on is one Joe has been using in his own practice for many years. It’s an exercise that he still uses anytime he’s feeling less than fluent on a new song. Joe uses the chord progressions to “Your Cheating Heart” and “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” to demonstrate his exercise.
Arpeggios in the real world! In this workshop Joe gives you advice and examples on practicing chord changes in several different ways, using your knowledge of arpeggios to help make informed choices. He shows you how to start constructing solos on the chord changes of the David Grisman tune “EMD,” aiming for nice motivic development. He also shows you a spectacular Miles Davis solo for inspiration (“So What” from his classic Kind of Blue album).
This session looks at phrasing choices and ways to create patterns and expectations that will help you create variety and surprises in your improvising. Joe gives you some exercises that will help broaden your phrasing sensibilities, and looks at creative ways to use (and sometimes not use) the chord tones you've been working hard to internalize. The session also includes a quick drive-by look at one Joe’s favorite mandolin solos: “Candy Girl,” as played by Darol Anger.