Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer Music Camps

Summer for the Laughlin's tends to revolve around music
festivals and camps. This year is no exception, but we
will be leaning less toward the festivals (watching and
listening to music) and more to the camps (learning and
teaching music). Here's what's on our agenda for this

In July we're going to Sweetsmill outside of Fresno,
California. The camp has been going since the 60's but
this will be the first time for Pam and me. We have
heard so much about it, yet we really don't know what
to expect. So we'll report back from it.

More familiar to us is Lark Camp in the Mendocino
Woodlands of Northern California. This will be our
seventh (?) year of teaching and learning there. The
staff consists of experts in Celtic, Balkan, Americana,
swing jazz, and just about every type of ethnic music
you can imagine. Classes run all day for seven days,
and at any given hour of the day you have a choice of
about 20 different classes you can take. Total
beginners are welcomed and encouraged.

This year I will repeat my gypsy jazz guitar class and
my duties as piano accompanyist for the swing vocal
class. But I'm putting together a new piano class that
I'm pretty excited about. It's called "Piano
Accompaniment for Vocalists."

Wife Pam will be giving her workshop in elementary
jamming. When the classes are not in session, there are
dances and monster jam sessions. Tons of fun. Last I
heard there were still some openings which is very
unusual for this late in the year. More info at

Finally in September another new one for us. Again in a
beautiful spot in Northern California, this time by the
Russian River. Brazil Camp. We'll be participating in
samba, bossa nova, chorinho, dance, language and
culture classes. It goes for two weeks, but we'll just
be there for the first one, this time as students only,
not as teachers.

So we've picked up a couple new events, but then again
have had to let some others go. Not enought time to do
it all. But it just goes to show the richness,
abundance, and diversity of music instruction. And of
course none of that would happen without demand.

I know it's tough for music in many public school
districts right now. That's really too bad, and I don't
know what to do about that. But over all I would say
that demand and supply of music information is alive
and well.

Now here's a request. If you know of similar kinds of
opportunities for music instructional camps in other
parts of the country, leave a comment here so that
others can be made aware of them. And then I'd like to
see some feedback on these places if you have any first
hand knowledge of them.

And if you happen to be at one of the camps where we
are, please say hi.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

FAQ's Popular Chord Style Piano

Our book and CD combo titled Popular Chord Style Piano
has sold tens of thousands of copies and is used in our
One Day Piano Workshops nationwide. We will soon be
having a sale on this program exclusively for our
Newsletter Subscribers. Here is some information on the

Not a subscriber yet? Visit

Q. What will the product do for me?
A. It will fulfill the same basic promise I give to all
my students when they take my live seminar from me.
Namely, you'll learn to play any song, any style, any
key with two hands.

Q. You do all that in a three and a half hour class?
A. Yup.

Q. And the students actually learn to play?
A. Yup.

Q. How do you know?
A. By the time the class ends, students are in a frenzy
to get home to try my techniques on their own pianos. I
have to remind them to drive safely, to obey the speed
limits, etc. Also I get evaluations. I'll post some so
you can read them. Also I follow up with students, and
they follow up with me. Some of my graduates are
actually playing piano regularly in public now.

Q. You aren't doing any workshops near me. Why not?
A. I can't be everywhere.

Q. So what can I do?
A. Learn from these materials. Although I'd love to
meet you in person, this is how you can take the course
without having to leave your home. And at a fraction of
the price. If you were able to attend one of my
workshops, this would be the book and CD you would get.
It's essential for home practice and additional study.
This courseware can be used on its own, without a
workshop, as it covers the same material. What you will
be ordering is the exact product the workshop students
get and take home with them.

Q. Why is there a CD?
A. That's one of the secrets as to why this system
works. You will learn to play the piano the same way
you learned to speak your native language as a baby. By
listening and imitating and "jamming." You will
actually "jam" the language of music with me on the CD.

Q. So it's going to work?
A. Yup.

Q. You say these half price books are damaged. What
kind of damage?
A. Various things. Maybe an ink smudge here, a stain
there. Most commonly a corner might be bent. But you
will get a clean, fully functional product. And the CD
is most likely going to be brand spanking new.

Q. I'm nervous about ordering something that may be
damaged. Is there a guarantee?
A. You may return any part of the courseware within one
full year for any reason for a replacement.
Imperfections in the book may not even be noticeable.
However, since we're trying to clear these out, we will
not issue refunds. Only exchanges. But we're very easy
to deal with. We want you to be happy.

Q. Hey, I'm a total beginner, I don't even know where
Middle C is. Will this still work for me?
A. The first three pages of the book are for total
beginners. It covers all the basics. You should read
the pages carefully. Anyone who has some basic music
background already can skip these pages. No one gets
left out.

Q. But my wife has had years of piano lessons in the
past. And she still plays. But she can only play
classical music and can only play with music in front
of her. Will this program help her? It sounds kind of
A. Your wife learned to play the way most people learn
to play--by reading notes. The sad thing about that is
that reading notation is really only appropriate for
classical music. And the student can't play a note
unless the music is specifically written out. With this
course she will learn the basics from the ground up and
will be liberated from the confines of classical music

Q. When can I order it?
A. Soon. Very soon.