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Atomic Bob Goes To Rock Music Camp

Aye,

For those who don’t know! I’ve officially taken on the title of “Music Director” out at this years Rock Music Camp 2012. This is a big step up for me as a guitar instructor in the previous couple of years. Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like I’m Larry Bird and instead of playing on the court I’m on the sidelines coaching. Being this years music director is the “in addition to” title that allows me to also take on the responsibilities of a beginning to advanced guitar instructor, intermediate band manager and pro tools recording clinic director.

Today was officially day #1 which started off with a couple of students and counselors getting on stage and performing with the other instructor (Josh) and I. We welcomed the student campers with some Metallica, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Paramore. The Administrator (Val) was a great sidekick during the opening ceremonies.

Classes started and the guitar classes went awesome. Beginning students learned to sightread. Intermediate students got to learn some vocabulary. Some of the more advanced students got to learn sweep picking techniques and did some in depth studies on progressions and scale patterns.

The bands got together in the afternoon and revolved on and off stage getting all the stage fright out of the way first day. The bands got to create their own identity, name their act, create logos, and rock out for hours at a time.

After lunch the vocalists got together and started working in some choreography starting a sort of Glee camp. This was exciting for me cause it adds a whole other dimention to what we normally come out to address as rock and roll musicians. This all of a sudden turned into a clinic that will be taking place the rest of the week.

We finished off the day with a Pro Tools clinic and a “how to” with the Guitar Pro to produce some professional recordings from which I had assistance from Matthew and Olivia to get everyone hyped up about getting some recordings of their own finished this week.

It was a ton of hard work, but at the end of the day all the staff members as well as myself just looked at each other and said “wow, I can’t believe that just happend”.

Rock and roll! Stay tuned for further updates!

JM

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Day #2

Rock Music Camp day #2 is officially over!

As music director, my day started at the break of dawn running errands getting ice, buying ink and paper, and setting up my studio to get my clinics in order. My former student Cole, who came to me as a student to study in depth music theory and composition a few years ago, made it out as an instructor for his 2nd year in a row.

Classes built to an apex throughout the day starting off by building chord progressions, working through 3-note-per-string scales, and then developing the sweeping patterns off of those patterns. By the 2nd session, everyone got to compose a song together adding one track on top of another starting off with a similiar exercise from earlier in the day. By the time the ProTools clinic came around all the students got to record their individual part.

The bands are coming along great. The lyrics are coming together well and I’m pretty sure none of you have ever seen a girl of this stature come up with material like this before in this kind of setting. I’m excited with the way its coming together. The guitar players have a big job to do, I have a feeling they’re gonna be working on a larger setlist before the end of the day tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking on the young musicians with a large body of water ballons. Should be a good time!

JM

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Day #3

Exciting day, great times.

Being the music director at a music school formerly known as a National Guitar Workshop has been so far something that if you would have told me 16 years ago, “Jason, someday that school you want to go to will be your responsibility” I would have thought you would have booked me as director that same year. But to be perfectly honest, I was directly told that the company is no longer NGW so I guess that the title is really just a working title that I use to help people understand what I do without trying to complicate it. I met a the bassist from a band from Chicago back when I used to book bands who later he confessed that he wasn’t really from Chicago, he was from a town outside of Chicago but he never actually tells people that he’s from that town cause no one knows where the heck that is. Same idea.

My day started out filling up hundreds of water balloons helping out my administrator Val who had an upperhand on me getting that task done. Wednesday was action packed with water balloon fights, contests, photoshoots, artist management and t-shirt designs. The cops even showed up to the party after and unknown party (possibly the librarian) triggered the silent alarm upon departure. Long story!

The first instrument class started off with warm ups, progressions and improvisation, and a general understanding of major and minor movable 3rds on the high e and b strings. I got to work with the vocalists to get in some classical training and how to harmonize major and minor chords in 3 part harmony. The band I was working with completed their first song and got to work on a 2nd cover song from a well known local band.

After the water balloon fight, during the 2nd instrument session we tried moving around 5 sequential notes in the key of A without making it sound like an exercise. Points were given based on creativity and it was interesting to see who could learn how to break the rules in order to make them work by using such techniques as string bends and grace-note slides. With the amount of exercises I’ve given so far I hope to get the students to start implementing these techniques into their own style and start using them in real world band settings. The 2nd band session of the day got a visit from a couple guest artists that some of you know as Team Nicholas, the infamous Nick and Lexi came in to sit in on drums and cameo a guitar piece for us.

During the time for artist management today the bands got to do their photoshoots and I got to see the bands get together and really be themselves which is really where the memories were made. One of the bands did a dead photoshoot which turned out pretty cool, and I dragged another one of the bands under a bridge for a separate shoot. Later the bands got together and started on the stencils to get their t-shirts printed up.

The ProTools clinic went on during a drum clinic today so I got a lot of the students to start recording actual drum tracks, bass tracks, keyboard tracks, rhythm guitar tracks, etc by using proper mic techniques. Seeing the talent involved get together to get the job done was rewarding, I can say that if these guys had the equipment at their own home they would be able to make solid recordings.

Week #1 over half over! Voyage-Air called today to make sure that I get some shots of the kids with the Voyage-Air Guitar…. might get a few shots in of myself somehow as well.

JM

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Day #4

Big day, big moves.

All week the students have been working hard to master their craft to get the most out of their season at this rock n’ roll camp and today although the most sucessful was also the most gruelling. Kids lost teeth, shins got kicked in, I think someone landed on their head… and zombies came back from the dead.

The guitar players got to form a song on their own outside their band to get a chance to shine in their own light and played strengths based upon what skills they currently have. It was great to see everyone play to a metronome and come in at specific times bringing to the table all different aspects of musicianship. From what I heard after the day was done, this was the best part of the camp today. Being able to come together as a group and jam with others is what makes making music fun. When everyone cam jam together it can form bonds that wouldn’t have otherwise been formed if their only other jam time was in their band.

The vocalists got to learn all the techniques that I have been wanting to introduce from the Melissa Cross series the Zen of Screaming. The exercises were fundamentally important and I think the girls were just as excited to be learning new vocal techniques as when they are performing as Glee artists doing their dance moves. I sincerely wish there was more time to work with these ladies now that tomorrow will be their last day out.

The band sessions came together introducing stage presence and full on zombie costumes. The only thing about this camp that I know the students have a hard time with is rehearsing and re-rehearsing, and then rehearsing again. As a musician, this is one of the ways that I think is the most critical. Like in anything I learned growing up, you always need to practice like you are performing. Although I’m a perfectionist, I understand not everyone is and so putting in all that hard work seems counter productive if you think you got something after running through it once or twice.

Cole was a big help today in making T-shirts for all the different bands. They turned out great and I have a feeling everyone was very pleased with the final product. Another big step up for Cole was that he got to run his own Bass clinic. This was something new as he hasn’t really any full on clinic experience. I remember how stoked I was after my first shred clinic and so even though he was just getting his feet wet, he worked hard getting his scales written to run them through for all the guitar and drum students.

Looking forward to a big day tomorrow getting all the bands on stage to perform!

JM

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Day #5

Friday the 13th.

On the day when most people steer clear of black cats and cracks on the sidewalk, I feel at my prime. Today the guitar class started their first session on the stage in the auditorium putting together the masterpiece that became the epic feature outside the band creations in the final performance tonight.

We started off working on our individual parts. Esentially, what we did was start up with a bassline that would give the root tone to an open chord progression that would start off two measures later. Every two measures a new student would come in and show off their skills. Following the strumming came in a single power chord strum over each measure which led into an octave solo. Two measures later a rhythm and lead piece came in and that would be before we had a 7th guitarist come in and lay down a 5 note pattern on top of those two. At the end we had a climactic solo in 12th position come in at the end.

Although everyone worked their parts, the showmanship was dull and it just kinda looked as if the others were waiting for each other. So what I did is have everyone face the back wall and as they came in they would find their spot and the whole thing came to life. After every guitarist turned around it was was like an announcement “It’s my turn” and felt so much more epic. We were on the right track for the evening.

The band sessions came next and each band got on stage to run through their performances to get ready for the concert. Every band had their songs together and we started doing some ProTools recordings using the things we had learned in the clinic sessions throughout the week. One of the more advanced guitar players would step up before the final rehearsal and made sure everything was perfect. This included making sure the Line In was correct, the track was titled right, the levels never clipped out, etc. Joey was the one who helped out with this and I think he got some really great experience in.

The recordings worked out well for the most part. I tried to record everything as well as possible so if any errors occured during the trial runs they would be taken care of by the evening gig. The only couple of things that I noticed were that at times the peice got over blown so that the CPU was running too hard for the ProTools to keep up. To remedy all I had to do was create a new track and everything was back to normal.

The ladies got to run through all their hard work through the Glee clinics and got some choreography put together nicely. The staff got together afterwards and started to work out a blues jam and get together with Matthew for a run through Paranoid. Olivia made it through A Day to Remember song and that wrapped up everything but the final rehearsal.

The final countdown went great. By this time everyone had a chance to work out any kinks in their set that needed any work and we had the set list together to keep things running as tight as possible. At the end of the last batch of recordings and performances a crowd started to come in. From what I heard, a huge crowd. The entire parking lot was full and even took on a second parking lot soon after.

For the show, just as rehearsal the planets had been aligned. The staff blues jam was pretty fun, I had a great time jamming through Paranoid w Matthew, Olivia came in and did a killer performance on her song while Diego came and tore it up on Cliffs of Dover. I heard the Glee crew did great. However, the guitar solo piece I heard was incredible. The piece almost seemed like a dance and was beautiful was one of the comments that I heard. I got on stage myself and played a few chords as well. The bands all did well! I really liked the first bands work and would consider their sond to be Indie. The 2nd band railed through their set and left some feedback to entice the crowd a bit more at the end. The final band got on stage and took their playing and songwriting ability and ran with it.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd and I was really excited about the feedback and response after the show. Most of my pictures were from throughout the day, but I managed to find one or two from the show that I’ll be able to post as well.

Cheers to a great weekend.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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Week #2, Day 1!

I made it back for a second week after enjoying a nice weekend at the beach. This week was the “busy” week as it was known as a couple weeks prior to July 4th. It turns out that the 2nd week is possibly 1 student larger than the 1st which was pretty cool. I saw a lot of familiar faces this morning and a couple of them were returning from last week.

I’ll be honest, last Friday was awesome! But it also put me into “GO!” mode which happened to roll over to the energy that we all had coming in today. Maybe it was just the experience that this weeks artists had, but the energy levels kept elevating throughout the day. The day started off by getting the stage set up to do a staff performance consisting of Metallica, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Rage Against the Machine. The final song “Killing in the Name” I got to use my Whammy Pedal delivering a Tom Morello style solo in Am moving the notes up an octave each time which was so much fun for me. I think I’ll need to bring in my Whammy Pedal more often, seriously.

The instrument sessions I had some extra help as David came in and I had Cole out to help with my bass student as well. This class seems pretty smart and familiar with sightreading which is great when it comes to learning new licks. One thing that separates this class from last weeks class is that we started off on the Blues and took turns soloing around the room. It was great to learn how this guitar class could quite possibly already have a stage performance idea set up for Friday on day 1.

The ladies in the vocal sessions this week got their exercises right off the bat and the amount of power that we were able to give in the classroom and on stage. We were able to work in some guitar cover songs and did a little bit of study with the vocals of bands like Queen, Pat Benetar, My Chemical Romance and others.

The ProTools sessions started off really cool with a couple of the returning students coming in to take the lead. To keep things fresh I got to show off a song that I put up on Sound Cloud a month or so ago I called Rasta Sabbath. The track has about 24 tracks and we got to isolate the individual tracks, pan my instruments, mute the instruments and play around with the song in general. The day ended by getting the students to create a new track and everyone got to add a track reflecting what instrument they played using a few of the same techniques that we were able to use in our final recordings from last week.

Looking forward to some awesome sessions tomorrow.

JM

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Day Jams Week 2 Tues Wed Thurs!

What a week so far. The trials and tribulations of starting a band have come and gone and the week has been awesome. I’ve been talking with Val at the end of each day with the same sort of “How did we manage to make all that work” speech before we take off. This week I had the pleasure of having to create new bands out of smaller bands at a variety of levels. Just getting things to work was the challenge. I believe that every musician has strengths that can bring the best side out of them without having to be a virtuoso.

The guitar sessions have been primarily fretboard theory all week with songwriting sessions, four chord progressions, sweeping patterns, 12-bar blues in a variety of keys while discovering the scales that would work with them. We went in depth into the “caged” method and started breaking down the notes as well as intervals around each chord shape bringing out how to locate the dominant 7th tones etc.

Today we did a bit of sightreading and bonding over recording the 12 bar blues in the key of A giving each student a chance to solo over the top. At the end of the day, during the ProTools clinic, we mixed the session and ended with a 30 minute blues jam. The other ProTools sessions this week have been great as well. All the students got a chance to record and perform, record and perform, etc until they could do it with their eyes closed. Today we got so far as to even record the individual bands during their sessions as well.

The bands, like I mentioned earlier had trials that could push one to give up, but forged ahead to make the magic happen at all the right times. With the band that I was helping to create, I was able to transcribe their work into Guitar Pro so that they always had the bigger picture in mind before attemping their piece. I’ve seen so much progress that Monday feels like a year ago.

Tomorrow is the big concert day so hopefully I’ll be able to blog even more good news tomorrow night!

JM

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