Blues Ensemble

Instructor:   Matt Tata

Blues Ensemble

Instructor:   Matt Tata

Course Description:

Level: 2 – 4  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

What happens when you put a bunch of musicians in a room together and tell them to start playing? Well that could go brilliantly, or it could be total chaos. In this course we’ll learn and practice some of the fundamentals of playing in an ensemble so that you can achieve brilliance and avoid chaos. It comes down to two critical things that each musician needs to know: you need to know what everyone else is going to play, and you need to know when they are going to play it. Blues offers a great opportunity to learn these skills because many blues songs have well-known forms with straightforward chord changes and easy rhythms. We’ll work on understanding and practicing 12-bar blues (and other forms) and the kinds of chord progressions that happen in blues. We’ll work on intros, turnarounds, and tags so that everyone always ends up at the same place in the song at the right time. And we’ll practice listening carefully to each other to keep it all super tight.

All instruments are welcome in this course! You should have some technical skill with your instrument so that you can move smoothly through easy chord progressions, but you don’t need to know lots of fancy chords or be able to play flashy solos. You don’t even need to have experience playing specifically blues. Expect to play a lot in this course because we’ll practice the skills and concepts as we go.

NOTE:  This class is open to amplified acoustic basses.  You will need to supply your own small portable bass amp. Please see our Amplifier Policy for further information.

Matt Tata

Matt was born in Boston and grew up in New York. He started studying classical guitar at age 8 and continued through high school, then switched to playing rock and blues in university. He spent some time studying jazz at Berklee College of Music before setting music aside for even more school, which he realizes was a silly thing to do. A few years later Matt was captured back into acoustic music, but this time it was to take a deep dive into the strange and addictive world of Bluegrass. Over the past years he’s played in several local bands, including a few years playing electric guitar loudly with the Jan Jelli band in Lethbridge. In his spare time when not playing music, Matt is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge where he studies how the brain processes and understands the visual and auditory world.

Playing Experience Levels

These guidelines aim to ensure that all camp participants have an enjoyable experience. They represent what your playing capability should be before you take the class (prerequisites).

Classes are generally designed to pace themselves to match the participants' abilities. Level 1 classes aim to proceed at the pace of the slower students in the class. Level 2 and 3 classes aim to move at the pace of the majority of students in the class. Level 4 classes are designed to push the capabilities of all students and will target the pace of the more capable students  Class descriptions that show a range (Levels 2-3) means the material presented is broadly applicable across that range.

LEVEL 1: You are new or relatively new to your instrument. You may be able to play basic chords or scales slowly. You want to learn the basics of the instrument. You have very little experience playing with others.

LEVEL 2: You are competent with basic chords and/or basic scales. You can keep rhythm and/or play basic melodies and/or sing and play at the same time if the song is familiar. You generally need the chords or melody to be written out in order to play along. You have some experience playing with others.

LEVEL 3: You are reasonably comfortable with most chords, basic major and minor scales, and can play at an appropriate tempo for songs. You are aware of time signatures, song keys, and know that there are chords called 6th, 7th, 11th, etc even if you can’t play them all. You are comfortable maintaining good rhythm and are willing to taking breaks while jamming with others, even if the breaks don't always turn out the way you planned. You may be hoping to take your playing up to the next level of performing with a group or band (beyond jamming) and you want to further improve your technique and speed.

LEVEL 4: You are skilled on your instrument and have a good understanding of musical concepts including scales, arrangements, harmonies and some improvisation. You play lead and back-up with a steady rhythm and can play skillfully with others. You know there is life further up the neck on your instrument and have some capability in that world. You have performing experience, can hold a tune, and can harmonize.