Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Piano Camp Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is Piano Camp?
A. It's a two day experience of classes, workshops, guided practice, and personal coaching in the art pop piano playing.

Q. Is it for beginners?
A. There will be two tracks, one for beginners and one for those beyond the beginning stage. Absolute beginners are encouraged. The second track (Beyond) is designed for those students who have taken the Instant Piano Workshop designed by Robert Laughlin or those who already have a little background in pop/chord piano playing.

Q. Who is behind it?
A. The workshop is presented by the New School of American Music. They were founded in 1982 and have directly or indirectly been responsible for teaching hundreds of thousands of students nationwide in their One Day Workshops. These workshops are given primarily in college non-credit programs, in almost all 50 states and in Canada.

Q. Who is teaching it?
A. Over 300 piano teachers have been trained to give these workshops. However the bulk of the sessions at Piano Camp will be taught personally either by the designer of the course, Robert Laughlin or by his wife Pam.

Q. What do I need to know already?
A. Nothing really. However, if you wish a head start you can download a pamphlet to study at

Q. Will there be pianos for everyone?
A. We will have four or five keyboards available for campers. And there will be ample time for practice. But I can't guarantee that there will be a keyboard available for everyone all the time. Therefore, I encourage you to bring a portable keyboard with you, if you have one. If enough people do that, there won't be a shortage. But it's the only way I can guarantee you will have an instrument to play 100% of the time. If you cannot bring your own instrument, I will guarantee you'll have access to one of our instruments at least SOME of the time.

Q. How effective is the curriculum and staff?
A. Robert Laughlin, the designer of this program and lead teacher at Piano Camp, has personally given the basic Instant Piano workshop to almost 25,000 students over a span of almost 30 years. The course has been consistently rated as one of the best courses offered by the dozens of college non-credit programs in which it has been taught. This is not just an idle boast. We have thousands of evaluations in our files, and we get unsolicited praises about the course on a regular basis.

Q. Will classical music be covered too?
A. No. Just pop.

Q. What's the difference in teaching or learning classical vs. pop?
A. Classical music revolves around reading music notation, which is a long process with a steep learning curve. Pop music revolves around chords, a much easier system.

Q. Will there be private instruction?
A. The instructors plan on helping everyone out with their individual needs during the guided practice sessions. There you will have one-on-one contact with the instructors.

Q. What is the deadline for the tuition discount?
A. June 22 at midnight.

Q. What about sleeping arrangements for Saturday night?
A. Sleeping is bunkhouse style. The bunk houses have about a dozen single cots with mattresses. You bring your own sleeping bag or bedding. The bunkhouses are segregated by sex. If you wish, you can opt for a private room upgrade for yourself or your family. Those come with a semi-private bathroom. Again, bring your own bedding. More info on facilities and what to bring are at the Walker Creek Ranch web site. Be sure to read the list of essentials before leaving for camp.

Q. Where is Walker Creek Ranch located?
A. Less than an hour north of San Francisco and less than an hour from the famous Napa Valley wine country, the ranch is located on several acres of pristine natural foothill topography. It's currently used as a nature camp for the Marin County school system. Aside from the wildlife, you won't see any neighbors. It's really beautiful and ideal for short hikes and explorations during your free time.

Q. What about meals?
A. You will get lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. It's all served cafeteria style and is actually pretty good. Vegetarian meals are available and they can accommodate special needs. Be sure to inquire ahead of time.

Q. Where can I get more information?
A. These links.


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