Close the gaps in your skills and transform your musicianship, whether you’re a student, amateur, or elite performer.
Show up once per week with your instrument ready to play along. Or choose premium for a more intensive experience.
DoES this Sound Like You?
You can play your instrument but you're unsure if you'll ever be able to improvise, feel confident playing with a band, or have your own creative voice.
When you improvise you're not sure of the chords you're playing over, you repeat the same few ideas, or you feel like your improvisations are too "classical sounding".
You like to practice but when you come out of the practice room you're not sure whether anything you did led to measurable growth in the areas you're most interested in improving.
You're afraid that your skill gaps point to an inherent deficiency in your musicianship because no one has ever given you a clear structured way to overcome them
If so, let me help you...
Gain clear structure to deepen your foundation of improvisation, harmony, & rhythm in various styles, so you can collaborate confidently with other musicians or share your own creative works. For amateurs, mature students, and elite performers.
Teach skills relevant to your students’ interests. Increase student engagement, promote diversity, encourage independent learning, and meet national standards related to improvisation, composition, arranging, and eclectic styles.
Attract a more consistent stream of better projects and income
Hear What Participants Are Saying
My overall achievement was actually discovering exactly what I need to do to get to my next level of satisfaction.
Ken FordViolinist, Recording Artist for the likes of Bruno Mars, Jill Scott, Wyclef Jean, Chaka Khan, Barry White, Cee-Lo Green, Erykah Badu and more..
This course was Life Changing
Bailey PoesneckerViolist, violinist, and private teacher who draws from both Suzuki and non-traditional approaches.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...
When I was 16 my friends started a band.
I remember thinking, “I’m not creative like them”. That thought crushed me.
I wondered, “What if I could learn to be Creative”?
I had nothing to lose. Playing violin in a rock band was novel in 1988. I could play anything and audiences would be impressed.
Except I didn’t want to just be a novelty. I wanted to feel on par with the other members of the band. They spoke a different language and I felt somehow on the outside.
As I tried to fit in with my friends in the rock band I realized that there were so many skills and topics I had never received via classical training- like groove, chord progressions, scales, licks, arranging, composition (when to play and when not to play), & how to play amplified.
I learned what I could from rock musicians and kept joining bands, from R&B and Gospel to Bluegrass, Latin, Jazz, and more…
Each time I met a new community of musicians I felt locked on the outside, doubting whether I had what it takes as a musician to gain their respect.
While I could impress audiences with novelty, chops, or tone, the musicians saw through me. Since I lacked experience and knowledge of their musical culture, I’d bulldoze ahead, oblivious to mistakes I was making that were pushing me further away from the very musicians I wanted to be accepted by.
Mocked by musicians who made faces onstage behind my back
Told to “do a two-step and hit a cowbell” (not allowed to play violin!).
Made to sit through jam sessions for hours without being invited up.
Cursed, insulted, even threatened..
Many of these “misunderstandings” could have been avoided if I simply asked the right questions, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Luckily I met mentors along the way. Their help combined with time spent in a wide range of musical situations led me to develop skills, a personal voice, and most importantly, self-acceptance. I finally realized that I am creative, and that I am enough, regardless of my limits.
I eventually built a method to help other string players save decades of painful trial and error.
I’m Christian Howes.
I help musicians solve these problems:
Inconsistency with improvisation (in most any style.)
Not knowing the chords to songs.
No idea how, what, or when to play (without sheet music).
You come out of the practice room not really sure whether you improved anything in a permanent way and don’t know how to organize, moment to moment, what to focus on in your practice.
Reluctance to join or initiate new musical collaborations
Settling for gigs you don’t want even though you’re qualified for ones you do
Your students want to play other styles but you’re unsure how to help them.
A tendency to beat yourself up instead of appreciating your musical abilities.
You’ll learn in 7 weeks what it took me decades of trial and error to figure out on my own.
What's Covered: Course Details
Visualize & Apply Harmony with Easy Tonal Improvisation
Many bowed string players tell me that they have trouble remembering, hearing, or applying the chords of songs.
It doesn’t help that:
our training focused on technique playing in tune or drawing the bow
our instruments lack a visual grid (like frets or keys) to guide us in seeing the harmony
But while we don’t have shortcuts for learning chords like guitarists or pianists, that’s okay! You’ll get a simply way to “see” the voice leading (i.e., the relationships between all chord tones in a chord progression).
Following my step-by-step process will prepare you to:
Improvise, compose, and/or harmonize melodies
accompany others in duo, trio, and quartet with or without bassist
make loops, acapellas, or covers
arrange unaccompanied performances of songs
You’ll gain the ability to apply this system to all kinds of tonal music based on triads, from folk to rock, pop, worship, and more.
Nurture Your Creativity with Free Improvisation
Many musicians postpone improvising until they learn harmony, licks, and/or songs.
In The Creative Strings Workshop you’ll get start improvising right away, whether or not you have technical facility, theory, or stylistic language.
Whenever you invest time in building your own language or sound, tension or resistance can come up around not wanting to sound “bad”.
There’s a difference between playing something unfamiliar vs bad. Exploring your creative voice makes space to grow past artificial constructs and into your true full expression.
Btw, free improvisation doesn’t need to be angular or 12-tone. It can be pretty, spacious, or whatever you want. You get to make it align with your voice, your values…
Through simple concrete exercises, you’ll develop:
a method for getting out of ruts and playing the same things all the time
skills that apply to both solo and ensemble playing
your own musical language and self-confidence
Because what good is knowing how to play over changes if you can’t express yourself?
Improve Productivity and Efficiency with Mindful Integrated Creative Practice
Figuring out what and how to practice can be overwhelming.You’ve got a million things that you feel you need to improve, and you’re throwing all your time at as many as you can, only to come out of your practice sessions unsure if you really accomplished anything.
You may even reach a point where you wonder what the point of practicing is if you aren’t improving.
Rather than getting caught in a spiral of negative self-reinforcement, frustration, and shame, my mindful integrated creative practice framework will allow you to not only make real improvement, but establish a positive mindset.
It’s a method that fosters joy and positive self-reinforcement with every note that you play.
if you've ever struggled with:
You’re not alone. Inner conflict often stifles progress by locking us into cycles of negativity.
Mindful practice breaks that cycle. You’ll learn to notice what is going on in your body and mind when you play, then use that awareness to make positive changes.
There are so many skills you could practice. It would take lifetimes to master them all. So how do we make the most of the practice time?
You’ll learn to integrate technical, creative, and internalization of new information into each exercise. Like practicing improvisation (creative) over a scale (harmonic internalization) while noticing your bow arm (technical)
We’ll address clear ways to measure strengths and areas for improvement. Instead of vague generalizations like I sound horrible, you’ll be able to articulate specific areas of focus- I improved my intonation in bar 32, and I’ll focus on improvising with space in the second chorus.
I’ll help you prioritize the skills you want to work on based on your goals, values, and life circumstances so that you can integrate the most important things for you.
You know how to practice a fixed melody on a page. In your practice for this class, you’ll be improvising. Your creative voice is unique, valuable, and incomparable. Stop measuring yourself as less than against a standard. Discover the power of your own creativity, and the joy of constant discovery, growth, and inspiration.
Make Your Music Feel Good with Rhythm and Groove
While improvisation is often said to be about “finding the right notes,” in many styles of music, the real key is in the groove. I’ll show you how to:
Use your bow to embody the rhythmic subdivisions of a groove
Understand and play over common rhythmic guide patterns like the Afro-Cuban clave
Be equally comfortable in triplet-based and duplet-based grooves.
Prepare You to Play Better with Other Musicians
Learn how to function in multiple roles within a musical group:
supportive backup player
Each week, we’ll work on multiple song forms in class. You’ll discover how to play the bass line, accompanying parts and fills, and the main melody or improvised solo in multiple styles including Latin, folk, jazz, pop, and funk/R&B, with a focus on the fundamental skills needed which apply to ALL of these styles.
Whether you want to be eclectic in many styles or a specialist in one style, reinforcing foundations universal across all styles will help you feel confident so you never need to feel stuck on the sidelines of any jam again.
Expand Your Harmonic Vocabulary
In addition to the harmonic vocabulary covered in our introductory Easy Tonal Improv unit, we’ll dive into:
Modes and pentatonic scales
Advanced voice-leading for triads and extended (4+ note) chords
Between the two, you’ll develop the harmonic vocabulary to play in almost any popular style.
For those of you interested in going deeper into jazz territory, we’ll cover bebop, altered, diminished scales, and all your favorite nerdy stuff too.
Expand Your Teaching and/or Business (Optional)
Join us at the end of class on weeks two, four, and six for Music Business Mastermind. Part Q&A, part open discussion- we’ll cover the topics that are important to you and your music career, whether it’s teaching online, getting more playing gigs, or flipping your classroom/studio.
Attend fast-paced weekly guided practice sessions for 7 weeks to gain my entire curriculum
Show up with your instrument and play along to my prompts. You’ll play 90% of every class ( 90+ minutes).
Like a Yoga or Fitness class, modifications are provided in every exercise to suit your level of advancement.
You’ll be muted, with the ability to ask questions anytime.
At the end of 90-minutes of playing to my prompts, you’ll have the opportunity to get (or observe) 1-1 coaching from me in front of the group.
We provide additional 1-1 coaching times for:
-teachers looking to save time by “flipping the classroom”,
-freelancers seeking to attract more income or opportunities
Classes meet twice weekly Thursdays @ 12 pm & Saturdays @ 7:30 pm Eastern (US). The course is structured so you can show up once a week, but you won’t be bored if you come to both.
" The highly organized musical plan... to understand and play improvisational music with feeling via the live zoom sessions was both highly inspiring and challenging."
Gain the ability to compose, arrange, and improvise over tonal chord progressions in any style. Apply the skills to your own projects, like arranging your own covers, writing your own parts in a band, or accompanying your students.
10 play-along videos with Chris and a young student
3 play-a-long video masterclasses with Chris
3 play-a-long videos with Chris and a high school orchestra (90 minutes)
A printable workbook so you can work away from your computer or instrument.
Backing tracks in multiple styles
Visual diagrams which will help you to always choose the “right notes” from minute one. If you’re classically trained, this will change the way you see harmony forever.
How to use bebop scales to play fast, burning lines over jazz and other styles. Dive into melodic minor for a Gypsy Jazz or modern sound. Master blending pentatonic scales together to make your lines sound richer in Blues and related styles.
Bossa and Samba
Perform beautiful melodies in these gentle, accessible, Brazilian styles.
Internalize rhythms, scales, forms, and a few key secrets that no one else will teach you.
Master the anatomy of rock licks and style. Jam out to piees like “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix
Learn tunes by ear or by sheet music. Learn how to apply stylistic bowings or how to accompany, solo, and chop if you want.
3. Modal Improv
Learn to improve using modes. Useful for rock, blues, fiddle styles, jazz and more..
4. Efficient Practice
Learn how to incorporate harmony, rhythm, and improv into your technical warm-ups for increased gains in less time.
5. Rhythmic Internalization
Develop your sense of groove in styles beyond classical
Entrepreneurs: I’ll show you the tactics and strategies I use to
Escape the feast-or-famine cycle.
Attract a more consistent stream of projects, clients, and income.
Have more time and energy to devote to other things you care about, like music, self-care, and time with loved ones.
Gain clarity and confidence to take action on things that serve your vision and align with your values.
You’ll have access to extensive cutting edge curriculum related to musical skills, teaching online, and entrepreneurship. While you can access some of this curriculum by purchasing our DIY courses, the structure, personal attention, and community of this guided bootcamp is set up to ensure you finally get it done.
A PRIVATE COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT
Meet Your Mentors
See What Other Participants are Working On
Accomplish Your Goals doing only what's relevant to you
Create the outcomes you want.
Whether you’re a hobbyist, freelancer, or teacher, focus on only the actions that are highest-yielding for what you want to accomplish.
You’ll be supported by a structured curriculum, personal feedback, community, and accountability.
Review- Everything Included in Premium:
1-1 coaching with me
A workbook to track progress & stay accountable.
Fourteen 2-hour+ Zoom Guided Practice Sessions w/ replays
Support for teachers in entrepreneurship and online teaching frameworks
Office Hours for Q and A for your practice, teaching, and/or career
Access to our private Facebook group with an extensive curriculum from me and other mentors
49-day premium email drip course
Seven downloadable digital books
My Personal feedback on all your work and questions
"My students have never been more engaged... I've been listening to 130
of my students submit creative projects this week. Acapella,
Soundtrap, live performances, music videos, iMovie/Wevideo duos, Karaoke, Free improvisations, Original tunes..I feel so much more
invigorated helping them develop musicianship through
their own creative voice."
Austin ScelzoMusic Director at Darien Public Schools
"Prior to the course I was always waiting & it wasn’t going
anywhere. After meeting Chris, in Melbourne I had my first summer as
a consistent session musician. In Tokyo I decided to work on a solo
project, which I never had the courage to do before. Chris has
completely changed my relationship with the violin."
Elle ShimadaPerformer/Producer/Composer (Tokyo/Melbourne)
"The workshop responded to all
my goals (accompaniment, techniques, soloing w harmonic knowledge,
connecting my voice with my viola). Also... the opportunity to
connect & watch other attendees on their journeys."
The ability to focus on your goals in a project-based format
Personal feedback on your work from me and other mentors
Interactive Classes in a community to make sure you get it done
Access to premium learning materials
Materials to share with your students in school-friendly formats (***Teacher Licensing plans only)
Two private coaching sessions with me
What’s this Worth?
Compare to a semester of conservatory, where the most affordable programs are priced at a few thousand dollars
Schools like Berklee, where I used to teach, cost tens of thousands.
Consider whether other options can offer you:
this level of cutting edge curriculum.
personalized feedback & learning path.
diverse community of committed students
full seven weeks for even close to this price.
The next several years will be dedicated to internalizing your zoom classes and the handbooks. The amount of knowledge gained in 7 weeks far outpaced 2 weeks of daily attendance at more traditional jazz camps
I wish that I could have taken a course liket his when I was in college Christian demonstrates on his violin with ease, explains things clearly, gives individual feedback, there's plenty to review, and he does it all with a philosophy of inclusion and encouragement.
Frances Gallviolinist from Castlemaine, Victoria
When I dared to join a band 35 years ago it put me in a position to become:
–Top call violinist in NYC -Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music -An online teaching pioneer -A recording artist on hundreds of albums and films, touring, producing festivals, founding a non-profit, and more.
When you decide that your professional and personal development is worth investing in, you’ll be able to:
-Connect with a wider range of musicians -Share your music and teaching with confidence -Attract more opportunities
In short, you’ll be ready to thrive in this new world on your own terms
Meet Your Support Team
You’ll have the support of these mentors!
Sign up below for our Fall 2022 Session. Classes Start the week of October 3rd.
Get Things Done
Access to Live Zoom Classes
Access to Replays of Live Zoom Classes
Opportunity to Receive Feedback During Live Zoom Classes
Access to Private Facebook Group and Premium Course Materials
Group classes are every Thursday at 12-2 pm US Eastern and Every Saturday at 7:30- 9:30 pm US Eastern
****Classes often go longer than 2 hours. Replays are available.
What happens if I can't make a group class?
Many of a participants can only attend one of the two classes a week- so it's perfectly okay if you have to miss!
We'll post the class recording within 24 hours so that you can rewatch at your convenience.
How long can I access the Zoom group class replays?
Zoom group class replays are availabl for at least 6 months after the course ends.
Will I receive personalized, one-on-one attention?
If you sign up for the basic package, you'll still have the opportunity to ask questions in class. The last half hour of each class is reserved either for participants to play individually for feedback (masterclass) or ask music business questions (mastermind)
If you sign up for the premium package or higher, you'll be ablet to post your work and recieve unlimited personal feedback from me via our secret FB group. When you post video, audio, or written work examples or questions, I respond within 48 hrs or sooner. If you choose not to use the FB group or have something private to share you can email me.
How do I schedule my two private lessons?
Private lessons can be scheduled online any time during the seven weeks at your convience.
We suggest that you use one as a entry lesson and one as an exit lesson. This format allows me to help you orient your goals and practice routines throughout the course so you get the most out of it.
Will you have other office hours outside the group classes?
Yes! I will schedule a limited number of additional office hours throughout the course. Times typically vary so that participants in different time zones can participate. All office hours are drop-in: come and go as you please!
What is the curriculum?
As part of the private Facebook Group, Premium Participants will have access to:
All my premium Creative Strings multi-media courses. It is the most comprehensive curriculum for creative string players on earth.
Flipping the Classroom- How to Teach Online Efficiently & Effectively
We'll use this curriculum together to help you work on the goals that you want to achieve via a project-based approach.
Basic-level participants will be given limited access to some of my more foundational materials through the replay document.
What if I only want to work on certain topics?
You can! My curriculum is like a buffet- take what you want. I highly encourage students to focus on their own interests.
In fact (while I don't discourage it)- I would be impressed if anyone ever made it through the ENTIRE curriculum in one session.
What if I don’t use Facebook?
That’s fine! You can still get feedback from me by emailing me privately (if you're a full access participant or above!)
You also do not need to post or share anything to:
Watch what other participants are doing.
Access the curriculum
Nevertheless, many people find FB useful for getting the most out of this course. You can interact and network with other participants and get feedback from multiple points of view if you do choose to post!
All posts are private and will not be shared on your public FB wall.
What do you mean by "a project-based" approach?
A project-based approach allows you to gain skills while creating works you can reflect on, share, and be proud of.
I’ll help you choose your starting project(s), goals, and learning path in week one.
Projects can include practice excerpts, short improvisations, arrangements, recordings, as well as lesson plans for teachers or marketing materials for freelancers.
Are there guest teachers?
Yes. Not only will we have special guest teachers for portions of Zoom Group Classes; you’ll receive access to our mentors via the FB group and some of their curriculum.
I Just Want Private lessons. Can I do that?
I typically recommend the course as a first step and/but I am happy to provide info on the cost of private lessons. Feel free to reach out to my assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the different pricing plans exactly?
Early Registration Price ranges from $399 and up.
(Recommended) Premium Access - $998 includes group classes, unlimited asynchronous support, access to premium curriculum in the private Facebook group, and two 1-1 private consults.
(On a Budget) Basic Access - $499 Group classes and replay document access only
(For those that want the private lesson experience) Deluxe Access- $2500- Seven 50-minute private lessons plus group classes, unlimited asynchronous support, and access to premium curriculum in the private Facebook group
I’m a Teacher trying to understand how the difference in plans applies to me?
****** If you are a Teacher you can join any of the plans.
Join the premium access plan specifically for your own PD.
Join the licensing plan if you’d like the ability to share step by step curriculum and lesson plans directly with students.
-Schools/Districts often sponsor teachers to participate. Ask us if you need help getting support from your school.
What’s different about the “licensing” plans for Teachers?
If you join the licensing plan it allows you to share curriculum, courses, and work-books directly with your students in privacy-approved formats.
You’ll get my personal support in overseeing your students’ work. I’ll also show you how to flip the classroom, i.e., teach efficiently/effectively online. Custom curriculum is possible as well for your students. You do not have to join the licensing plan to gain from the course as a teacher.
I have more questions. Can I speak with a human?
Yes. I will be happy to meet with you personally to answer any questions via phone or Zoom. Schedule 1-1 exploratory call with me at this LINK (acuity) or text me (in USA/CAN) at 614-332-8689