Educational Programs – Workshops

In addition to performing, James and Foti are teachers and researchers of the history and evolution of the guitar and the position it occupies on the modern stage. They want to help new musicians realize their potential, improve their abilities and gain full technical and interpretational command of their instruments. They believe that the pursuit of perfection on a musical instrument has as an outcome the emergence of the best of inner qualities in a person. The intention of the following programs is to reveal the rich history of the guitar and its repertoire.

The Guitar and Lute Duet in 1500-1900

This program presents the important composers and authentic repertoire of 4 historical periods. Duets from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classic and Romantic periods are examined. Musical examples are presented to reveal the style, methods and technique of these authentic duets.

The Guitar Duet in the 20th Century

The Guitar Duet occupies a particular position in the 20th century. Its repertoire has been enriched with important works and countless transcriptions from other instruments. Both aspects are examined through analysis of some key works with reference to outstanding and prominent composers and their contribution. Some of the significant performing duos are compared in relation to technique, choice of repertoire and influences.

The History of the Guitar

This is a comprehensive and inspiring PowerPoint presentation on the history of the instrument. It covers 500 years in the rich evolution of one of the most versatile and diverse instruments of the stage. In a parade of visual examples, guitars and lutes from the Renaissance to the present will be displayed. Each musical period will be discussed individually and in comparison, from the composers that wrote for them and the players who mastered them to the makers who tailored them to the demands, aesthetics and needs of each era. We will also draw comparisons by examining key changes in guitar construction and looking at some instruments from the inside out to reveal the secrets of master luthiers. Recordings will provide examples of the sound of each instrument to complete the picture.

Practice and Performance

This program is presented in two parts. The first part is a progressive guide in the study of the guitar and the achievement of realistic goals. Organized practice helps acquiring a true perception of oneÕs abilities. To be effectual it must become a gratifying and productive experience. A systematic approach towards effective and productive practicing is presented and key points discussed. The second part covers the complex role of the Performer. Interpretive ability and artistic creativity, psychology, public relations and booking concerts are all skills the modern musician must posses for a successful career and are addressed in this presentation. Learning the method of performing, overcoming performance anxiety, preparing for concerts are also key points discussed. Developing an awareness of the value of good performance practices is a priceless tool for music students and a source as well as a foundation for further exploration and learning.

The Prepared Guitar Workshop

This is a unique workshop offered by the Portland Guitar Duo. The aim is to expose the participants to the alternative medium of the prepared guitar and give them the chance to perform such compositions.
The interest that compositions for prepared guitar spark at our concerts has prompted us to create such a workshop. Prepared guitar music leaves behind all stereotypes associated with classical guitar music and uncovers new timbres, sonorities, textures and tuning possibilities for the instrument.

The workshop is offered in 4 stages:

  • A brief talk outlining the concept and history of prepared guitar music. The possibilities of its color palette and how composers write and present music for prepared guitar.
  • Guitar Preparation. Participants are given a score and instructions for preparing the guitar. Composer Rebecca Oswald has collaborated with us to provide a number of pieces that have been carefully crafted to showcase a variety of preparation choices and are designed to be read with ease prior to performance.
  • Score Study. A set amount of time is given to read and transfer the score to the fingers and fingerboard. Guidance and instruction is provided for correct interpretation.
  • Performance. The composition is performed in class. Participants are invited to comment on it and discuss the concept of prepared guitar music.

Prerequisites for the class: Participants must be able to read simple melodies and rhythms and have their own instruments, foot stools and music stands. The Portland Guitar Duo will provide all scores and preparation materials.

Master Classes

We invite all guitar students to perform for us. We are enthusiastic teachers and we encourage positively all quests of knowledge about our instrument. The classes are open to students of all levels of ability and age that wish to perform solo or ensemble guitar literature. They are conducted in 2-hour sessions, with half hour segments for each student. If more than 4 students are scheduled to perform, there will be a half hour break between sessions. We make every effort to cover as many aspects of each performance as possible.