SUNY Purchase's precollege music programs are about to enter their fourth year, and we've got a lot of fun stuff planned that I wanted to share!
These programs are of course the Songwriting Workshop, Creative Vocal Lab, and Vocal Intensive. Songwriting runs from June 30 to July 11, Creative Vocal Lab from July 14 to the 25th, and Vocal Intensive from July 28 to August 8.
The first big announcement we have is that we have a new lead instructor for Songwriting Workshop, Mr. Tom Rosato. This guy does everything: he's a rock/pop bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist, he's even been a jazz pianist. But what he really does is produce & engineer. As front of house for the Bard Avon theatre he's mixed everyone from Ben Folds to The Temptations; as a producer he's worked on some of my favorite recent recordings, and recently we had delightful experience of making the Twisted: Twisted record together, which was a blast. In fact, just about anything that's well-mixed on my website was probably mixed by him. We've yet to find a genre he can't handle.
He's helping us to make the program even more hands-on. We're talking guided collaborations, group recordings, performance workshops, lyric-writing labs, etc, with more in-studio recording and songwriting challenges than ever before. We'll be analyzing a combination of classic songs and modern hits, figuring out what makes them work, and creating our own. This program is consistently the most popular and well-attended of all Purchase's summer programs, and it's a real hoot.
Other course instructors include myself, Evan Feist (scroll down for his redonk credits) and Blake Reynolds (who has created some incredible orchestral video game scores, and understands pop music like nobody's business), plus some other awesome peeps.
Once you've learned how to write songs, ditch the instrument and head over to...
Creative Vocal Lab
In Creative Vocal Lab, singers aren't just interpreters - they are songwriters, collaborators, and arrangers, who learn how to turn the sounds in their head into fully-realized music. Students compose melodies, harmonize, create back-up parts & basslines, and lay down drums - with nothing but their voices. No instruments, no sheet music.
A little about my co-teacher for this: Evan Feist was an assistant arranger for the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect, an arrangement editor for NBC's The Sing-Off (seasons 3 & 4), a vocal coach for NBC's The Voice, and he will be providing vocal percussion for the upcoming season of Glee. He also has two master's degrees in music from Columbia University, and generally knows his stuff and is amazing at getting you to know it too.
Singers create a cappella ensembles and learn how to make their own songs & their own arrangements. After two weeks, we have enough original material for an hourlong concert. We also have a really collaborative vibe, and students who attend this camp typically remain friends for a long time afterward - it's a great group.
After you've spent two weeks using your voice in collaborative writing & improvising ensembles, develop your skills as a soloist (once again with myself and Mr. Feist) in:
Purchase Vocal Intensive focuses on developing the vocalist as a solo performer, interpreter, and artist. This isn't a course in any specific style or tradition of singing (operatic, musical theatre, rock/pop) - the skills you develop in this program can and will be applicable to performing in any genre, and you won't have to worry about losing your own personal style. In the past we've done everything: country, alt-rock, showtunes, jazz, even some opera.
In two activity-filled weeks, singers go in-depth with vocal production techniques, song analysis and preparation, audition strategies, acting and performance skills, and sight-singing. Students will leave the program with a diverse repertoire of artistic tools that allow them to deliver dynamic interpretations, take creative risks, and sculpt active, focused performances.
Also, it's really, really fun. (But hey, we're biased.) It's smaller than the other two courses, with lots of personalized attention and song selection.
And we don't have video of it yet! But we will. I promise.