Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, the founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine and author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter and the video series Learn Seven Grateful Dead Classics for Acoustic Guitar, leads workshops on guitar and songwriting. Workshop descriptions and video samples are below.
Click here for information on private lessons in person or online.
Sunday, July 9, 1 to 4:30 pm: Howl Studios, Ithaca, NY
Take Your Songs to the Next Level
In this intensive session, limited to eight participants, each songwriter will share a new or in-progress song for group discussion. Advance reservations required. For more information, email Jeffrey.
Sunday, July 30, 1-3 pm: Passim School of Music, Cambridge, MA
Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar
Read/watch a Boston Globe feature on JPR’s Grateful Dead workshops.
Your ideas were inspirational for all who attended. Accessible, fun, and pretty darn exciting things to do on acoustic guitar.
—Chris Broadwell, Ithaca Guitar Works
“As a two-year guitar player at the beginner’s level, I found Jeffrey’s workshop to be most helpful. Jeffrey’s excellence in both teaching and performance made the method clear, comprehensible, and playable.”
“Jeffrey comes armed with tons of insider information and informed insights on a wide spectrum of the music world.”
—Dick Ward, Guitar League
“Incredibly pleased with this workshop. Jeff’s love of music and creating single-guitar arrangements of songs comes through very clearly, and he explains things simply and concisely so anyone can follow along.”
—David Hodge, editor, Guitar Noise (read his complete workshop review)
“I’ve read and reread The Complete Singer-Songwriter a million times. It has such sound advice for a young musician trying to get started. I was so thrilled to finally meet Jeffrey in person after I moved in New York state. He gave a great workshop at my house to a group of aspiring and working songwriters. Highly recommended.“
More about the workshops:
Writing Songs with Guitar
For a songwriter, the guitar can do more than accompany your voice and fill in the chords—it can be a great writing partner, sparking song ideas and helping to guide you throughout the process. In this workshop Jeffrey shares tips and techniques for using the guitar in songwriting. Learn how to turn riffs and grooves into songs, steal ideas (legally!) from other songs, develop chord progressions, build contrast between sections of a song, and more.
Jeffrey is a patient, calm instructor with a wealth of knowledge and experience to impart. You walk out of his workshop with a definite reboot.
—Bill “the Kid” Claiborne
Take Your Songs to the Next Level
In this intensive workshop, designed for small groups in sessions of three to four hours, each participant shares a new or in-progress song, and Jeffrey leads a discussion about the songs’ strengths and weaknesses and how to bring them to their full potential. Learn tools and strategies for sharpening your lyrics, strengthening the melody and chord progression, cutting whatever is not needed, developing the story, and bringing out the heart of a song. 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.
Getting Started (or Unstuck!) in Songwriting
Songwriting inspiration may be impossible to define or control or predict, but that doesn’t mean that you have to just sit around idly waiting for it. In this workshop, you’ll explore the many ways in which you can make yourself more receptive to inspiration and stir up ideas when you feel stuck or blocked. Topics include free-writing games, using prompts, finding ideas in mistakes and accidents, writing in character, rewriting other songs, using a song template, and more.
Songwriting by Number
Every songwriter needs to be fluent with chord progressions, but the process of figuring out which chords to use and how to sequence them can be mystifying. You can create progressions by randomly trying chords, but with a basic theoretical understanding of chords and keys, you can zero in much more quickly on good options to try in a progression—and become a more productive and versatile songwriter overall. The secret is identifying chords in a progression by number—not by their letter names. In this workshop, you’ll learn the basics of the number system, which allows you to quickly change a song’s key (without a capo), pinpoint what’s happening in a cool chord sequence, make connections between songs, and create stronger and more distinctive progressions.
Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar
Bring the music of the Grateful Dead to life on your guitar in this workshop based on the best-selling Homespun video series Learn Seven Classic Grateful Dead Songs for Acoustic Guitar. Jeffrey shows you not only how to play the chords and create powerful grooves behind your singing on songs like “Friend of the Devil,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Althea,” and “Casey Jones,” but also how to add cool embellishments and lead breaks inspired by the Dead’s live and studio performances.
Jeffrey interviewed both Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir in depth about their guitar and songwriting styles, and draws on insights from those conversations to capture the soul of their timeless songs. The workshop is designed for intermediate players but is also accessible for beginners with knowledge of basic chords.
The specific songs covered vary according to the interests of the group. If you would like to request a song or have any other questions, email Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers sure can play the music—listen to his “Stella Blue” and you’ll know what I mean. Better still, he can teach it.—Dennis McNally, author, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead
Acoustic Grateful Dead video samples
Beyond Strumming: Creative Guitar Accompaniment
When you’re playing guitar behind your singing, you can do so much more than simply strum the chords and keep the time. In this workshop based on Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers’ popular lessons for Acoustic Guitar magazine, 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, cross-picking, alternate tunings, and partial capos.
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