How to Hold Their Attention

I discovered a new trick with my loop pedal. It may be obvious to you but it was a revelation to me.

The problem: Setting up the song accompaniment with a looper is boring to listen to.

The trick: On the last measure I switched to the bass line (instead of waiting for bar 1). This shortens the setup.

It will make more sense if you watch this video:

The false problem and how to arrange

Most people think loop pedals are about fancy tech. This assumption creates a false problem. In reality, you can learn the tech in 30 seconds in a group class.

The real skill needed to use a loop pedal well is arranging.


Think about an arrangement in three parts:

  1. bass line
  2. inner voices (aka the “middle stuff” between melody and bass)
  3. melody (You can add percussion as a fourth part, but it’s not necessary).

There are two components to inner voices and bass lines:

  • harmonic– this stays the same across different grooves and styles
  • rhythmic- this changes depending on the groove or style

You probably know how to play melodies, and have a blind spot when it comes to making bass lines and inner voices.

To become confident with arranging get this course, or join me in class.

which part of the arrangement goes into the first loop?

In this example, I record the inner voices first because they have more subdivisions than the bass.

why use a loop pedal besides as a gimmick?

The performance linked above was for 4th graders as part of an all-day visit to a k-12 school district. The 4th graders don’t have instruments yet, so I gave them a concert and Q&A to get them excited about joining the orchestra next year. Using the loops is more interesting for 4th graders than an entire solo violin concert, and it’s more affordable than hiring a band.

For grades 5-12, I use the loop pedal as a teaching tool in the classroom:

  • to get them playing the entire class.
  • to help them stay together,
  • to easily adjust tempo, key, or types of groove for different levels of students.

I also use it:

opportunities for teachers

Want to give your students a creative, fun experience this school year?

If so, consider bringing me to your school/program, bearing the following in mind:

  • In September I worked with over 1,000 students in 14 schools, grades k-12 & college, + teacher training.
  • The students played 95% of the time in every class, and they had fun
  • We covered groove, ear training, improvisation, applied theory, arranging/comp in eclectic styles, et al
  • Every teacher looked me in the eye afterward and said the teaching was well-paced and packed with useful lessons.

This wasn’t always true in the past.

20 years ago I’d ask teachers “what can I improve”? and they either gave comments, or their body language conveyed that there was something they weren’t telling me.

I listened. Because even if most teachers don’t understand the skills I teach yet, they understand teaching.

It took a long time and a lot of growing up for me to develop teaching skills and a “teacher’s heart”.

Nowadays, when I ask “what can be improved”, teachers answer immediately, “nothing. It’s great. We want to bring you back”.

That’s why I’m confident recommending you bring me in person or on Zoom. That is if you want to:

  • augment your skills,
  • give your students a quality enhancement to their normal school year, and/or
  • meet more of the recommended music teaching standards.

To explore the opportunity, schedule a call. I’ll make it easy for you. But don’t wait because I accept a limited amount of dates and my calendar fills fast.


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