Horizon rehearsal and performance Workshops 
  Fiddle   -    Mandolin    -    Guitar   -    Banjo    -    Vocals

——  hosted by John Blasquez ——

(assistants to be announced)

Fiddling for Violinists  |  Music Connection for Kids  |  Acoustic Instruments 101  | 
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Join in the social side of music!
— Now in our fourth year —

Immerse yourself in a wide range of traditional acoustic music: bluegrass, old-time, Celtic, country, international music ... whatever people want to play!

Hone your skills while having fun. Rehearse and jam with friendly coaching and guidance. Perform nightly for an audience of your peers—the other friendly, encouraging musicians who attend the workshop.

Will this workshop be a good fit for you?

Most people think they're not quite ready for the Horizon Workshops, but they quickly find they are. If you're acquainted with the basics, you're probably good to go.

You'll need knowledge of common chords and/or the ability to play a few melodies smoothly. A moderate sense of adventure and a good sense of humor are a definite plus. And, um ... nobody has to do anything they don't want to.

If you haven't started playing with others, if you're still pretty new to jamming, or you want a solid review the basics before jumping in, start off by taking Acoustic Instruments 101 a beginning level workshop that'll get you going for sure!

In the Horizon Workshops, you'll get to:
   • Meet other musicians
   • Rehearse in small groups
   • Perform in a friendly environment
   • Learn new music
   • Participate in master class settings

Learn tips about:
   • Basic rehearsal skills
   • Arranging pieces for performance
   • Stage presence/ audience connections
   • Improvisation & soloing
   • Jam etiquette
   • Tuning, timing, memorization
   • Practical theory (like scales & keys)

The Horizon Workshop is open to fiddlers, mandolinists, and guitarists of varying levels. We also welcome musicians who play banjo, dobro, bass, ukulele, penny whistle, concertina, accordion, bodhran, etc.

I teach fiddle, mandolin and guitar, and a bit of banjo, so I can give specific advice there; also I can offer general coaching to people playing other instruments.

Usually 22 to 25 people enroll per series.

We meet in a large room for activities such as presentations, solo and group performances, and for occasional appearances by guest artists. We break out into four additional rooms for rehearsing in groups.

The evening usually starts with a few brief presentations of potential projects. Each rehearsal coach performs a short arrangement of one or two songs, so you can choose which rehearsal you want to join for the night. Class members are welcome to perform a song that they want to rehearse; if you do so, please bring several copies of words, chords, or notation for tunes.

After about 15 minutes of presentations we break into groups of three to eight musicians and begin rehearsing songs, working out harmonies or solos, practicing improvisation, learning tunes by ear, or playing in instrumental old-time or Celtic sessions.

Sometimes a project consumes the entire evening, like the night guest instructor Erik Hoffman taught us two contradances and coached us on playing for dances.

It's a wonderful group of welcoming people with nicley structures situations that teach you how to have your own jam, or learn how to fit into existing jams.

Unfortunatley many jams are dominated by an elite inner-circle, or they're an awkwardly leaderless, haphazard, free-for-all, sink-or-swim type of jam. Where you play the song once and move on. The Horizon philosophy is pretty much the opposite of that!

The Workshop Assistants

Mitch Polzac is red hot on banjo and guitar and he's a powerful vocalist -- one you can hear all the way over in the next hollow. Enormously encouraging, Mitch has a gift for teaching, with plenty of performing experience under his belts. He provides excellent leadership, coaching groups in bluegrass and old-time styles. His talent, humor, and infectious enthusiasm continually expand our horizons!

Chris Smith is an excellent singer, guitarist, and accompanist. Well versed in the subtleties of folk and bluegrass arranging and harmonizing, Chris is a master of vocal harmony and has successfully coached some riveting Horizon performances. He'll gladly teach you a vocal from scratch, help you hammer out a harmony part, or add finesse to a piece you've been singing for years. Chris is a member of The Mighty Crows

In 2005 Bruce Campbell joined us as a regular assistant, adding his guidance, expertise and humor to the workshop. Bruce plays guitar, banjo and bass, and he usually adds bass to each performance. Bruce performs with the Alhambra Valley Band and Blue Moon Brothers.

With three assistants on hand I was free to move from room to room, join in on each jam, offer a little advice as needed, and occasionally call people out for special blitz coaching -- usually tips on improvisation.

Keith Little joined us for three of the last sessions of the Spring 2005 series. Keith plays banjo, guitar, and fiddle, plus he's a superb singer, and he's got lot's of advice on delving deeper and refining the essentials.

Mike Stadler joined us too, leading sessions in voice and relaxation, calling on his knowledge of Feldenkrais. Mike is a wonderful performer, songwriter and teacher. He describes his approach as somatic education. For two decades he has deepened the understanding and music achievements of many with his down-to-earth yet penetrating advice and insight.

Other guest teachers have included Jim Nunally, Erik Hoffman, Harry Liedstrand, and Richard Chance.

Many thanks to Catherine Howland for her presence and assistance in previous workshops!

What to bring

Tape recorders, Minidisc recorders, and other recording devices are welcome and recommended! Please bring a music stand to class. And although we have some tuners available, please tune your instrument before you arrive. Guitarists and banjoists, be sure to bring a capo!

Spring Series 2006


February 21 thru May 16, 2006

1st and 3rd Tuesdays
(and 5th Tuesdays too when there is one!)
7:15 - 9:30 pm

7 meetings in this session.
Open to adults and teens!

$196 for this series of seven meetings.
$186 if payment received by Feb 3, '06.
— Registrationinformation directly below —

Horizon Workshop Registration

The Horizon Workshop is open to adults and teens. I strive to balance class instrumentation, so enrollment is open on a semi "first-come-first-serve" basis.

These workshops continue throughout the year with an occasional break, including a break of roughly one month for the winter holidays.

Each series is unique in certain respects, so there's lots of variety, and one series is not a prerequisite for the next. New members can join at the beginning of any series, and occasionally, for a prorated fee, we have room for new members while a series is in progress.

To register, to get more information
call John Blasquez at 925-935-9295

E-mail Singingwood Music

Class size is limited. To reserve a spot,
please pre-enroll with instructor's approval.

Though it has never occurred, if we have insufficient enrollment, class will be cancelled and I will return checks.

Twice the Fun

Several people take Horizon Workshop concurrently with Fiddling for Violinists or Acoustic Instruments 101. They come for a workshop every Tuesday -- one week for Horizon and the alternate week for the other workshop.

In brief, here's the difference Horizon and Acoustic Instruments 101. The Horizon Workshops focus on rehearsing and performing with others. Acoustic Instruments 101 expands your repertoire, improves your skills, and deepens your musical understanding. There is some overlap between classes. However, in the event that we cover material you already know, you can use the time to review, to use focus on better technique, apply good practice habits, to explore accompaniment, etc. — I always have lots of suggestions on how to make good use of the time!

If you're a regular Horizon Workshop member but you find yourself playing only accompaniment, come to AI-101 and learn melodies, scales, and improvisation in AI-101.

If you're in AI-101 and you want more opportunities to rehearse and perform in groups, join the Horizon workshop.

Acoustic Instrument 101 is a great way to prepare to join the Horizon Workshops. In most cases Acoustic Instrument 101 is a prerequisite for the Horizon Workshops.


All classes are at:

   Mt. Diablo Unitarian Church
   in the Gilmartin Building
   55 Eckley Lane
   Walnut Creek

The Gilmartin Building is the first building as you walk from the parking lot toward the new church hall.

The cross street is Walnut Blvd. near Homestead. On Eckley, go up the hill and turn left into the parking lot. (There are two churches and a Synagogue on Eckley, so don't just pull into any ol' parking lot with a house of worship!)

Contact: email Singingwood  |  Singingwood Home Page  |  Singingwood Calendar

Click here for a printer-friendly flier for Horizon

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Bluegrass, American Old-time, Folk, Celtic (Irish Scottish), International ...

In Walnut Creek, California. Near Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Benicia, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, Castro Valley, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Pinole, Alameda, and San Francisco.

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Contra Costa County and Alameda County, CA