Verlene's single day voice workshops include:

Cool Chords and Groovy Rhythms -- three options:

Cool Chords & Groovy Rhythms Intro class

One session 1.5 - 2 hours
Modern musical styles use chords that include notes beyond the triad, and rhythms that sometimes swing, sometimes syncopate.  In this workshop, we’ll be looking at chord extensions and altered chords used in jazz, pop and blues, how they’re voiced and how they function within a major key. We’ll also cover the standard jazz and pop rhythm patterns. We’ll play through several examples.   Lots of hand-outs and hands-on!

This is the two part version:

Cool Chords & Groovy Rhythms for Arranging & Improvisation

Two sessions 1.5 - 2 hours each

Modern musical styles use chords that include notes beyond the triad, and rhythms that sometimes swing, sometimes syncopate. This will be a two part workshop covering rhythm patterns and many of the chord extensions and altered chords used in jazz, pop and blues.   Lots of hand-outs and hands-on!

During part one, we’ll be looking at chord extensions, how they’re voiced and how they function within a major key, as well as the standard jazz and pop rhythm patterns, and we’ll play through several examples. 

During part two, we’ll be applying it all by arranging two traditional tunes using chord extensions, chord substitutions, and changing the ‘feel’ by playing a different groove.  We’ll also do some improvisation exercises that will incorporate the cool chords and groovy rhythms learned in part one.   Songs will be provided, but if you have a song you’d like help on, feel free to bring that in.

The best way to attend this workshop is to come for both parts.  But those who have a jazz theory background can skip part one and attend just part two, and those who are not interested in the arranging and improvisation application can come to just part one. 

This is the three part version:

Cool Chords & Groovy Rhythms for Arranging & Improvisation

Three sessions 1.5 - 2 hours each

Modern musical styles use chords that include notes beyond the triad, and rhythms that sometimes swing, sometimes syncopate. This will be a three part workshop covering rhythm patterns and many of the chord extensions and altered chords used in jazz, pop and blues.   Lots of hand-outs and hands-on!

During part one, we’ll be looking at chord extensions, how they’re voiced and how they function within a major key and we’ll play through several examples. 

During part two, we’ll look at the standard jazz and pop rhythm patterns, and play through several examples.  We’ll also do some improvisation exercises that will incorporate the cool chords learned in part one as well as the groovy rhythms covered in part two.

During part three, we’ll be applying it all by arranging two traditional tunes using chord extensions, chord substitutions, and changing the ‘feel’ by playing a different groove.   Songs will be provided, but if you have a song you’d like help on, feel free to bring that in.

The best way to attend this workshop is to come for all three parts.  But those who have a jazz theory background can skip part one and attend just part two if they want the improvisation and rhythms, or part three if they’re just interested in the application toward arranging, and those who are not interested in the arranging and improvisation application can come to just part one. 

The Sing-Along Harper
1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class we’ll learn how to “jam” along with a song circle on popular sing-along songs – just like people who play guitar!  We’ll use folk and pop tunes that have words and chords only – no written music.  You’ll learn how to play chords in a variety of rhythm patterns and you’ll learn “fingerpicking” styles to play along with singers and guitarists and other musicians in a group setting.  You can of course also use these patterns to accompany your own singing or another singer or instrumentalist! 

In addition to the song handouts, there are handouts that will help you determine how to set your levers, what notes to omit when the chords travel outside the key, and how to determine the time signature, and establish the “groove” of a song

Singing with the Harp -- two workshops:

Singing with the Harp a Look Under the Hood (or –Singing Technique)

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
This is a basic “how-to” for singers who play the harp.  We’ll take a look “under the hood” at the mechanics of singing to gain an understanding of the physiology of singing.  Visual concepts and practical exercises will be given to provide a clear path to improving the strength, range, and effectiveness of the singing voice.  We’ll also cover issues concerning singing and playing harp and some tips for coordinating all the muscle activity needed to do both harp and singing at the same time. 

Singing with the Harp – Modern Styles
1.5 - 2 hour workshop
Learn the modern grooves and chords to use for accompanying yourself in jazz, blues, R&B, pop, rock, country, and other modern styles.  This will be a hands-on workshop and will be “hand-out heavy.”  So, bring your harps, and be prepared to have a lot of fun learning rhythmic patterns and cool chords!

Singing Mechanics - a Look Under the Hood

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
This is a basic “how-to” for singers.  We’ll take a look “under the hood” at the mechanics of singing to gain an understanding of the physiology of singing.  Visual concepts and practical exercises will be given to provide a clear path to improving the strength, range, and effectiveness of the singing voice.

Vocal Stylization - Elements of Modern and Traditional Styles

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class, you'll learn what elements go into styles like: jazz, pop, country, rock, bluegrass, folk, blues and so on. Elements include voice timbre and registration, pronunciation, phrasing, ornamentation, and vibrato.

Songwriting

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class, we’ll cover the basics on how to construct a song.  This includes lyrics, melodies, and chords.   We’ll look at song forms, how to include a lyrical or melodic “hook,” how to integrate the melody and lyrics, and how to find chords to support the melody.

Understanding Learning Styles

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
It’s never too late to look into your “style” of learning – Kinesthetic? Auditory? Visual? Right brain? Left brain? Concrete? Abstract?  All these and more will be discussed complete with tests you can take to assess your style.  Then, learn to use your strengths to help build skills in those areas that may have seemed illusive in the past.

Improvisation -- two workshops:

Intro to Improvisation

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
Improvisation is very useful. You can improvise: when you forget where you are in an arranged piece; while waiting for the cue to start the processional music; to check your tuning; for meditation; for creative expression…  Learn some simple patterns and tools for improvisation that you can apply right away!

Improvisation for Meditation

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class we’ll learn patterns and modes that work well to accompany spoken meditations and guided visualizations. These same ideas will work well for playing for Labyrinth walks, or in hospital or hospice settings.

Ear-Eye-Hand Coordination

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class you’ll learn to coordinate hearing music (ear) with reading music (eye) and with muscle memory (hand) for more success in playing from written music, or by ear, or improvisationally!

Ear Training -- Part I: Template for Melody

Verlene Schermer
1.5 hour workshop
In this class, you’ll learn to use the major scale as a template that will help you remember melodies and play them by ear on your harp.  We’ll use numerous examples that will help to build your skill and confidence.  This can be applied to songs you have known all your life, or songs that you are hearing for the first time. There will be a CD available for $5 that will help you continue to develop your ear at home.  

Ear Training -- Part II: Context for Chords

Verlene Schermer
1.5 hour workshop
In this workshop, you’ll learn how to add chords to any melody. You’ll learn the function of each chord, and also learn to recognize what chords the melody suggests.  We’ll use several examples of well-known melodies as well as some lesser known, and some completely un-known melodies.

Performance Master Class
1.5 - 2 hour workshop

In this master class, we’ll work on presentation skills such as how to introduce yourself and your songs, how to interact with and engage the audience, what to do with the microphones, how to interact with the sound crew, and how to deliver your song effectively. 

Arranging for Harp Ensemble

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this class we’ll discuss approaches to arranging for multiple harps in multiple levels.  A tune will be used for creating our own multi-level arrangement right in class!

Playing to Heal

1.5 - 2 hour workshop
In this workshop, you’ll add to your repertoire of music to play in a hospital, hospice or even for background music at a dinner party.  You’ll be provided with a few simple transcriptions of some great tunes, and you’ll learn some tips on how to play requests you’ve never played on harp before (finding the melody, finding the chords…)  You’ll also learn a few simple chord progressions that make improvisation easy and effective. Verlene will share some of her experiences in using these tools as a hospital musician at Stanford Hospital in patient’s rooms, ICU’s, Children’s hospital, and the Cancer Center.

Playing “D Blues”

1.5 hour workshop
In this workshop, you’ll learn how to play the blues in the key of D. If you’ve never tried playing the blues, and would like to try your hand at it, this workshop will take you through the steps of playing the blues from simple to complex. You can play along at any level you’re comfortable! Take home the handouts and transpose to any key, and then you’ll be ready to sit in with your blues musician friends. Imagine their surprise, when you are keeping pace with them on your lever harp!

Jazz on a Cross-Strung Harp

1.5 - 2 hour workshop

The cross-strung chromatic harp lends itself quite nicely to jazz, since one of the characteristics of jazz is the inclusion of notes that are outside the key. On lever harp, we leave out the accidentals, or flip levers or simplify chords in order to play jazz standards.  But the cross-strung has all the notes right at your fingertips! This workshop will provide tools for finding all the notes in any jazz chord, and concepts for voicing chords for playing jazz from a “fake book.”  Excerpts from several standards will be provided.

Beginning Harp -- three workshops:

Intro to Folk Harp

1 - 1.5 hour class

If you've never experienced playing a harp before, this is an introductory class that will give you your first opportunity to play a harp! You will learn how to find the notes (why some strings are colored red and blue), how to pluck with fingers and thumbs, and how to play a chord. You will even learn to play a simple song!

Chord Basics
1 - 1.5 hour class

Ever wonder how people know which chords to use?  This is a class that will give you some great tools to use for adding chords to melodies.  We’ll cover all the basic triads, how they fit into a key, and how they work in the different modes, and of course, how to fit them to melodies.  Lots of handouts and hands-on.

Rhythms – Reading, Feeling, and Playing!
1 - 1.5 hour class

In this class, you’ll learn how to improve your sight-reading skills by really getting a grip on those rhythmic patterns.  This class is open to any instrument – we’ll even be doing some clapping, stamping, and singing of rhythms in addition to playing on harps or other instruments. 

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