Now approaching its 44th iteration, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop’s logistical preparations essentially run themselves. Longtime coordinators Janet Peterson, Peter Langston, and Flip Breskin have refined the cogs in the retreat’s clockwork over the decades, and thus it’s been fairly quiet on the Northwestern Front so far as administrative nuts and bolts. However, all that will change once the doors open July 23, and having participated in PSGW as a student four years back, I have some idea of what to expect in terms of pace and culture.
The workshop runs in three semi-regimented week-long sessions, with a more freeform five-day retreat, new this year, tacked on to the beginning. Sessions features about thirty continuous courses, from which students choose three. Each course runs two hours daily, and to make all eighteen sessions (first day off) during the week is regarded as a minor feat in PSGW’s ‘round-the-clock lifestyle; the prospect of returning in an educational capacity is equally daunting as stimulating.
My work thus far has been concerned with lesson planning and pedagogical theory; largely self-directed, occasionally checking in with ideas and questions for the supervisors. While I won’t be an official instructor (those are selected months in advance and nearly all returnees), I will be a teacher’s assistant flitting between sessions (exact number TBD) that match my strengths, chiefly vocal instruction, aural skills, and music theory.
I’m currently developing theory exercises drawing on my training as a pianist: while chords are easier to master on stringed instruments (sliding a shape up and down the neck yields the same grouping of notes), a piano keyboard provides a clearer visual template with the 1:1 ratio of keys to exact pitches, and thus a more comprehensive tool for theoretical explanation. On the technical side, I’m transcribing some exercises I’ve developed (in both tablature and sheet music) for speedy flatpicking (courtesy of my background in metal guitar) which will hopefully be put to use in the recurring concerts and jam sessions.
I’ll also have responsibilities not strictly musical, for which one of my qualifications is simply being a tech-savvy millennial. I’m going to make a promotional video for the website (and possibly contribute some design suggestions to same) but since video recording is not allowed at the camp, I’ll have to make creative use of still images coupled with music and narration. I’ve already drawn up a rough outline, but the precise script and recording will be on-site and mostly spontaneous. Each week also has a student/teacher concert and dance, for which I’ll be acting as stagehand. Last, but not least in my mind, PSGW sits on the shores of a medium-sized lake, in which I’m hoping to offer a relaxing bait and fly-fishing clinic for anyone who wants to participate.
Experiences like Hunter’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.