Central New York musicians: take advantage of your indoor time this winter and sharpen your guitar playing or songwriting in these workshops led by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and author of Beyond Strumming and The Complete Singer-Songwriter (more about JPR).

See the details below. Space is very limited—each workshop will have no more than eight participants—so reserve your spot while you can using the form below. Workshops will be held in the Fayetteville/Manlius area.

Beyond Strumming

Tuesday evenings: Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, 7–8:30 pm. $70. Sign up now.

When you’re playing guitar behind vocals, you can do so much more than simply strum the chords and keep the time. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to add variety and power to your accompaniment with such techniques as partial chords, chord embellishments, bass lines, muting, string percussion, and cross-picking. The material is oriented toward flatpick playing but applicable to fingerstyle too. Participants should know basic open chords and be able to accompany songs.

Before the workshop, choose a song in your repertoire (original or cover) that you’d like to play in a more dynamic way. Let me know in advance which song you choose, bring chord charts if possible, and we’ll work on your song as a group. Bring a capo.

A great resource for people looking to play songs in new ways, Beyond Strumming provides guitarists with a useful toolbox of accompaniment techniques in a methodical and clear format.

—Chris Eldridge


Take Your Songs to the Next Level

Sunday, Jan. 27, 1–4:30 pm. $35. Sign up now.

Once in a while, you may write a song that arrives fast and whole and feels just right. But most of the time, songs need editing and rewriting to reach their full potential. In this workshop, you’ll learn tools and strategies for being a more effective song editor—sharpening your lyrics, strengthening the melody and chord progression, cutting whatever is not needed, developing the story, and bringing out the heart of your idea.

During the afternoon each participant will share a new or in-progress song, and we’ll discuss its strengths and weaknesses and ideas for improvements. You’ll learn as much from giving constructive feedback about others’ songs as you will from comments and suggestions about your own work. Bring a song that you’d like feedback on and are open to changing (not one you feel is exactly how you want it!), and enough lyric sheets for the group.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, I’m convinced you’ll find Jeffrey’s songwriting workshop to be informative and highly inspirational—excellent for recharging your creative songwriting batteries!

—Will M.


Take a Lead

Tuesday evenings: Feb. 19, Feb. 26, Mar. 5, 7–8:30 pm. $70. Sign up now.

Want to take flight improvising guitar solos? In this workshop, you’ll learn an approach to soloing based not on generic scales but on chord progressions—and on the chord shapes you already know. The shapes approach will help you navigate confidently up and down the neck and play solos that are truly in sync with the songs, in any style. 

The workshop is designed for early intermediates and up who are fluent in open chord shapes and use barre chords. Bring a capo.