Check Out the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop & Festival

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GUITAR GIVEAWAY! In conjunction with the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop & Festival, we are giving away a brand new Yamaha guitar and 2 new Yamaha guitaleles. Click here to learn more and enter now >>

Join internationally-acclaimed masters of guitar and artists in residence: David Leisner, Shelby Lynne, John Oates, Ana Popovic, Lee Ritenour, and Mike Stern who will teach and perform. Also joining the festival, back by popular demand, is Singer/Songwriter Emily Elbert.

The Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop & Festival stands out not only for its stunning location at Flathead Lake Lodge on the shores of the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi near Glacier National Park in Montana, but also for the caliber of the teachers and Artists in Residence involved, and the personalized time to spend learning, jamming, and talking about shared passion for guitars and guitar music.

“We have built the Crown Guitar workshop and festival into a one-of-a kind, leading International Guitar event.” – David Feffer, COC Guitar Foundation Chairman and Founding Director

This week is for all guitarists from beginner to professional. It’s an opportunity for development for your guitar playing in a non-competitive supportive community environment where the focus is on each individual’s interests and personal goals.

The week long event includes 6 days of workshops in blues, rock. jazz, classical, acoustic, singer-songwriter, bass & beginner, workshops in jamming and nightly concerts. All held in the family friendly accommodations of the 4-star Flathead Lake Lodge. This is an intimate setting that provides a unique opportunity for camaraderie and interaction among all participants, faculty and artists in residence.

“The workshop was a fantastic experience for our son Jefferson. It was beyond our expectations. He learned more in one week than in a year’s worth of guitar lessons.” – Jeff Keever, Advance Rock/Blues Student

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Fingerstyle Blues Improv: #2 Minor Chords

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This free video guitar lesson series by Pete Madsen shows you how to create verse variations and to improvise in fingerstyle blues.

Video Guitar Lesson

About this Guitar Lesson

Pete introduces CAGED minor chord forms and then plays a 12 bar minor blues in A with D minor and E7 chords. Three verses are played with a monotonic bass and chord shapes moved progressively up the neck. Pete then improvises over the 12 bar form, moving chord shapes up and down the neck.

About Pete Madsen

pete-madsenPete is a San Francisco Bay Area-based musician who performs regularly at establishments such as the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA. In addition to performing and composing, Pete is a well respected teacher and writer. Pete has contributed many lessons, reviews and feature articles for magazines, and he also has published instructional books. Visit Pete’s website to learn more.



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Fingerstyle Blues Improv: #1 Ironweed Rag and the CAGED System

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This free video guitar lesson series by Pete Madsen shows you how to create verse variations and to improvise in fingerstyle blues.

Video Guitar Lesson

About this Guitar Lesson

In this video guitar lesson, Pete plays an original song called “The Ironweed Rag,” which uses an alternating bass pattern and CAGED system chord inversions to produce verse variations. CAGED system explained with examples of C major and A major chords moved up the guitar neck. Pete then plays two verses of Ironweed Rag, explaining the chord shapes.

About Pete Madsen

pete-madsenPete is a San Francisco Bay Area-based musician who performs regularly at establishments such as the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA. In addition to performing and composing, Pete is a well respected teacher and writer. Pete has contributed many lessons, reviews and feature articles for magazines, and he also has published instructional books. Visit Pete’s website to learn more.



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5 Ways Music Can Change Your Life

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by Jeff Scheetz, TrueFire’s Director of Education

music-lessonNow more than ever we are surrounded by (some might say bombarded with) music every day. Rather than just letting it wash over you or soak your brain, how can you take all this wonderful music that is available and put it to good use? Here are 5 ways that music can better your life.

1. Play Music

There is great satisfaction in playing a musical instrument. Whether you take it to virtuoso level, or just want to play to amuse your kids, (or annoy your parents) ANYONE can learn to play something! Want to learn to play guitar? A site like TrueFire has over 22,000 video guitar lessons to teach you! You can stream them, download to your desktop, or play on your mobile device, allowing you to learn anywhere.

YouTube is a great source for learning the basics of many instruments whether it is the Native American Flute, or just the good old Piano. Also, buying an instrument is no longer a matter of having to find the right local shop that has it, but rather it can easily be delivered to your front door from Guitar Center.

2. Create Music

Once you learn to play that instrument, it’s time to write some songs! There is no better way to express yourself than to put your creative hat on and put together your own tunes. Even if you decided not to learn an instrument you can still get in on the creative aspect of music with software like Sony Acid and apps for your phone like Figure that allow you to put loops and chord changes together without knowing anything about how to actually play.

Even if you just throw down some beats and plunk out a simple melody you will be amazed at how liberating and therapeutic it is to send some of your own vibrations out into the Universe. We are not talking Beethoven’s 5th here – just some fun. As Gusteau said in Ratatouille – “Anyone can Cook”, likewise thanks to technology “Anyone can Jam”.

3. Move to Music

There are two levels of engaging with music. Either you passively listen to it, or you actively interact with it. Interacting can come in many ways. You can dance to it, you can play it and groove while playing, you can listen while working out or running where you pace yourself to it, you can worship to it at church, you can sing along while riding in the car with friends, I do freestyle routines with my disc dogs to music.

While there are times when just chillin’ out in your favorite chair as you listen to tunes is a great thing to do, I believe music is often enjoyed on a much deeper level when you interact with it. Don’t be afraid to partake in any of the above, many people refrain from letting themselves get into the music because they are concerned with what other people might think of them or they are afraid they won’t have rhythm and look foolish. Nonsense!! Never let someone else’s possible opinion stop you from being you! As the saying goes “Dance like nobody’s watching”. Amen.

4. Seek Music

Finding new music is easier than ever thanks to our connected society. There are websites dedicated to exposing you to new music from unknown artists like Reverbnation or The Music Ninja. There are streaming sites that will suggest bands based on what you tell them you like to listen to like Pandora.

If you want purchasing suggestions, iTunes or Amazon will give you more than you can digest. Even YouTube is a great source of finding new music and new artists. So don’t just sit around and wait for someone to tell you what you should listen to (although asking friends to recommend some new tunes is helpful as well) but go forth and actively search it out.

5. Share Music

The greatest gifts are the ones you give away. That is certainly true for music. Since music can often move people on a deep soulful level, it really is a powerful gift. Take all those new bands that you have discovered and share them with friends by sending a link to their website.

Spreading the word about new cool music to friends also has the added benefit of promoting the band or artists, which is a feel great, good deed in itself. Helping spread good art makes a serious deposit in your altruistic bank account of Karma!

So whether you play it or listen to it, engaging with all the music the world has to offer will definitely enrich your life! What are some ways YOU use music to brighten your day?

Check Out Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition and Enter Today!

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Calling all guitar players, bass players, drummers and piano/keyboard players, this is your chance to win incredible prizes and priceless professional opportunities including performing at this summer’s Montreux Jazz Festival!

Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition is an online, global contest open to anyone world-wide. They’re looking for diverse players in guitar, bass, piano and drums. The legendary Advisory Board Judges are veritable who’s who of greats, including Lee Ritenour himself. Registration is open through May 15, and all judging will be done online by viewing the submitted videos. Winners will be announced June 1, 2014.

Guitar entries will be accepted in the genres of Rock, Blues, Jazz/Fusion, Acoustic, Classical/Flamenco or Country. Guitar applicants may register in more than one genre but must provide separate email and registration for each genre.

Rhythm section entries may perform in any contemporary music style (such as jazz, fusion, rock, blues, R & B, etc.). Rhythm players may apply as solo, duo or trio under one registration.

Prizes include: Berklee College of Music Scholarships, Yamaha Instruments & Endorsements, Perform as opening band for Lee Ritenour’s show at Montreux Jazz Festival July 7,2014 as well as do 4 nights of after jam session at the Club, Professional Mentoring, Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop & Festival Scholarships & Performing, Monster & D’Addario prizes. One of the guitar finalists will record a track on Lee Ritenour’s forthcoming album in late 2014.

Watch Lee Ritenour’s video to learn more!

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