How do you practice improvisation and creative music?
This was the question I wanted to ask four of my favorite young improvising string players; players all well-rounded in a mix of classical, jazz, and world music.
Alex Hargreaves, Mike Barnett, Eli Bishop, and Greg Byers live at the Creative Strings Workshop
Scroll down to listen in with or without your instrument to the 90 minute interview and interactive workshop brought to you by Electric Violin Shop.
This episode is jam packed with amazing value which can help you develop specific practice strategies and gain insights to develop musically including:
-How to practice improvisation
-How to internalize harmony and song forms
-Connections between fiddle styles and jazz
-Tone production across different styles
-How to practice playing and improvising faster
-Rhythmic exercises away from your instrument
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Meet the Young Guns
From the age of 3 until 11, Eli studied the Suzuki violin method. After completing the eighth book of the method, he began studying traditional classical music under the instruction of Cornelius Heard at the Blair School of Music. At 16, Eli’s interests shifted from classical to western swing and he began studying with Nashville legend, Buddy Spicher to spend the next year mastering western swing music. He later went on to study at the Berklee College of Music. An active freelancer, collaborating frequently with the likes of the Deadly Gentleman and Jazz at Lincoln Center, he recently won a Guinness World Record in speed clapping! Visit Eli Bishop’s Facebook page.
Violinist Alex Hargreaves is an active performer, playing on stages around the world including Austin City Limits, A Prairie Home Companion, Grand Ole Opry, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, Newport Jazz Festival, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, as well as venues in the UK, France, Italy, Canada, and South Korea. He is a member of world-renowned mandolinist Mike Marshall’s Big Trio, along with bassist Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers). Matt Glaser, artistic director of Berklee College of Music, American Roots Program, states simply, “Truly, Alex Hargreaves is the best young jazz violinist in America.” Visit Alex Hargreaves’ website.
“I’ve been having a blast travelin’ and performing around the country and internationally with heroes of mine. Having grown up in Nashville, I have a special place in my heart for bluegrass and country music. Fiddle camps- Mark O’Connor String Conference, Christian Howes’ Creative Strings Workshop, Mt. Shasta Fiddle Camp—have provided a tremendous source of inspiration and exposure to incredible players from a wide variety of genres. The great bluegrass fiddler Aubrey Haynie inspired me to record my first CD ‘Lost Indian‘ when I was 14. One summer at Crystal Plohman’s ‘International Fiddle Camp’ at Vanderbilt, I had the great honor of working with Bobby Hicks, Buddy Spicher, and Vassar Clemens, three of the finest people and fiddlers there have ever been. They willingly showed me everything I could get my ears on.” Learn more about Mike Barnett.
Since Greg started playing cello at 2 1/2, he has immersed himself in many branches of music, each cumulative aspect elevating the others: performance, composition, recording, education, entrepreneurship. His debut EP Some Dark, Beautiful Morning was orchestrated jazz fusion, but his newer work finds Greg as singer/songwriter; a nuanced interplay of natural and artificial, nature and technology. The language of music is unique in that it can provide every listener with similar yet distinct messages of truth, beauty, freedom; this has motivated Greg to express his own authenticity through precise songwriting and improvisation. Visit Greg Byers’ website.
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Clips in this episode
Throughout this episode are various exercises and jams played by the Young Guns, Christian and the attendees of the Creative Strings workshop. We’ve also added several clips of the various projects that the Young Guns are involved in.
- Eli Bishop – 2014 Grand Master Fiddle Competition Finals Round Performance
- Grisman, Leslie, Hargreaves & Smith – “Harkeesh, Harkash” from The Brotet EP
- Michael Barnett – “It’ll be Alright” from One Song Romance
- Greg Byers – “Glimpse Inwards” and “Dweg Byorz” from Glimpse
Don’t forget to visit Electric Violin Shop, and use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order.