Below you can purchase educational worksheets and videos, transcriptions, or any of my albums. The Creative Strings Academy is my comprehensive guide to improvisation and alternative styles. Creative Strings Academy members receive some of these products FREE with their membership!
- Learn to build chords on your instrument and navigate the fingerboard harmonically.
- This 70-page handbook packed with practical theory, practice exercises, and even solo violin transcriptions and charts.
- Includes conceptual, intuitive, and analytical tools for dealing with harmony, along with chord glossaries.
- Skill Level: Intermediate and Up
- Get plugged in and jamming quickly.
- Learn the pros and cons of different gear options including:
- Mics, pick-ups, and solid-body instruments
- amplifiers and PAs
- Effects rigs
Video Lesson Downloads
- Learn to create melodies, harmonies, and bass lines over the ubiquitous chord progression from Pachelbel’s Canon.
- Develop the skills needed to arrange, compose, and improvise over triadic chord progressions- the types of skills needed to make your own cover songs
- This course contains a treasure-trove of materials: 2 videos series, 6 play-along mp3s, a stand-a-lone workbook, and other handouts Written materials utilize our innovative “chord stacks” diagrams which allow you to learn to create lines in a connect-the-dots fashion
- Skill Level: All levels. Workbook is color-coded to help less experienced readers.
- Start improvising NOW- without judgement or fear.
- Develop your own sound and musical signature.
- Includes two full video series that you can dive into immediately no matter your level of fluency in technique, harmony, and contemporary styles.
- Skill Level: All levels Also included in our Creative Strings Academy
- Teach Improvisation to your students in a clear, easy, all-ages-friendly way.
- Gain new insights on the nature of improvisation.
- This series contains 7 lesson videos where Christian Howes’ reveals the secrets behind his unique approach to teaching improvisation.
- Skill Level: Intended for teachers. Concepts are appropriate for all levels.
- Internalize both the sound and mechanics of the diminished scale on the violin, viola, or cello.
- Learn how to apply this essential sonic color over dominant chords.
- This bundle contains 3 lesson videos, one PDF, and one mp3.
- Skill Level: Advanced.
- Increase your comfort and ease playing faster over ii-V-I progressions.
- This series includes 3 lesson videos, transcriptions in all twelve keys, and worksheets for each video.
- Skill Level:< Advanced.
- Change up the melody to familiar songs
- vary the motifs in common exercises
Maria, Maria(intermediate) Billy adapted this tune for a swing arrangement, and he takes an amazing solo. The cello alternates between walking quarter notes and playing in a two feel. The accompaniment violin/viola should be sensitive to the cello by sometimes chopping and sometimes playing legato or syncopated double stops, but always being careful to keep the groove and leave space for the soloist.
Groove Merchant(Advanced difficulty) Get your groove on! Billy plays an amazing intro alone on this tune, showing just how funky the violin can be. Cello can try alternating pizzicato and arco and seeing what’s comfortable. Don’t be thrown off by the notated “chopping” parts in this arrangement. You might be better off simply listening to the recording and emulating the chopping as you hear it.
Turkish MarchFrom the European acoustic trio’s second album, Klazyc (2004). This is another flashy, and sometimes wacky, piece to add for an encore to your set. Audiences always love it because it’s so familiar and sounds very virtuosic. The version recorded on “Klazyc” should be self-explanatory. Instead of a “free” piano solo at the end, we’ve made some motific suggestions for a “free” string quartet solo. (Please note, this arrangement is formatted for string quartet, but could be easily adapted by you for trio).
The Oracle(Intermediate) This is a fun, modal tune, in 6/4 meter with straight (not swung) rhythms. The main vamp in d minor should be comfortable for everyone in the group to solo over, while more advanced soloists will want to play over the form. Billy uses a great off-beat-based, double stop accompaniment style, and the melody lies easily on violin. Watch the temptation to use too much vibrato!
It Never Entered My Mind (Download)(Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate) This ballad features a simple ostinato bass line in the cello, legato double stop accompaniment in the second violin (which can also be divided between viola/violin or 2nd violin/3rd violin), and a simple melody which can be interpreted by the 1st violin very broadly. This also works well with a freely improvised cello solo as an intro to the tune.
Jazz Fiddle REVOLUTION (Download Only) - Christian Howes and Billy Contreras (2004)Tracklist: 1. Doxy 2. The Way You Look Tonight 3. Sunny 4. Maria, Maria 5. Merchants Groove 6. Untitled blues jam 7. Fugue in G Minor for solo violin 8. It Never Entered My Mind 9. Traditional Fiddle Tune 10. The Oracle
Heartfelt (Hardcopy Only) - Christian Howes (2008)Self-described post-bop violinist Christian Howes may shy away from comparisons to Stéphane Grappelli or Joe Venuti, but the young violinist certainly shares those artists’ melodic and lyrical gifts. On his newest outing, Heartfelt, Howes performs ten tracks with a healthy bent in the direction of mainstream accessibility, emphasizing romanticism, conventional performances, and arrangements with a pop sensibility.
Out of the Blue (Hardcopy Only) - Christian Howes (2010)Christian's 2010 release. Blues master guitarist Robben Ford meets virtuoso jazz violinist at the crossroads! The follow-up to the Resonance recording, Heartfelt. Also features acclaimed pianist Tamir Hendelman and drummer Joel Rosenblatt.
Christian Howes & The Horatio Icasto Quartet: Live in Madrid (DVD) (2008)Among the selections included in this network quality production are Jazz classics such as “Nuages" and “I’ve Got Rhythm" and stunning originals such as “Song For My Daughter" and the scintillating “Waltz For Katherine." Featuring the Horacio Icasto Quartet (Horatio Icasto, Piano; Santiago Reyes, Guitar; Victor Merlo, Bass; and Noah Shaye, Drums), this program is guaranteed to entertain Jazz aficionados and music fans alike. 1. I’ve Found a New Baby 2. Pent Up House 3. Waltz for Katherine 4. Song for My Daughter 5. Madrid Blues 6. Nuages 7. Adios Nonino 8. I’ve Got Rhythm 9. Conejitrami PLUS! This DVD includes a picture gallery, alternative endings, instant access to songs and solos, and more! DVD will be mailed to you.
Jazz Fiddle EVOLUTION (Download Only) - Christian Howes and Billy Contreras (2009)Tracklist: 1. Walking on Broadway 2. By the Bay 3. Detective H 4. Sweet Soul Music 5. Voyage 6. Tristeza 7. Buddy’s 8. Riggs in the City 9. Amanda 10. W.S.
Creative Strings Workshop Registration
CSW Adult RegistrationRegistration for the Creative Strings Workshop requires a $200 non-refundable deposit. To ONLY pay the deposit, please do so by purchasing the "Deposit Only" option to reserve your spot today. Please email email@example.com or call 614.332.8689 if you prefer sending a check or another alternative payment.
To purchase the registration in it's entirety, please select the Full Tuition options listed below.
Room and board INCLUDES food for the week.