This class examines the story of 20th-century America through its songs, exploring both harmonic structures and social context, and by playing classic songs from each decade. The songs will be examined by listening to (watching when possible) original versions and then playing through songs with class members using their main instrument (bring whatever you play -- flute, trumpet, violin, etc).   

Students will then learn to play these songs on guitar, be introduced to the nuanced styles required (jazz chords, finger picking, rhythm parts, chord/melody, improvisation) as well as participate in all-new guitar ensemble renderings for trio, quartet or guitar class.  Students must provide their own guitar and should also bring their main instruments for participation in the class ensemble.

Students will be required to create and present a brief curriculum to one another on the final day of class that incorporates the means by which this information can be incorporated into existing or newly developed guitar curriculums.  At this moment, the class becomes a guitar-instruction think tank where ideas are shared and innovation occurs.  

1900-1960 includes Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, Jack & Nora Norworth, W.C. Handy, Fats Waller, George & Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, The Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Doc Watson, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley

1960 to 2000 includes The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Eagles, Grateful Dead, Rage Against the Machine, Tracy Chapman, Johnny Cash, Carole King, Burt Bacharach, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson.  

Pre-requisite: This course is not for beginners, but rather for people who know basic chords already and can keep an even rhythm for accompaniment.   

Instructor: Michael Miles 

Michael_Miles_Headshot_2012Michael J. Miles has taught guitar at Villanova University and VanderCook College of Music for 20 years. He is an author for Mel Bay Publications and Publications International. He has served as President of The Folk Alliance (1990-1993) and Program Director at the Old Town School of Folk Music (1984-1998) where his instructional programming brought the school international acclaim. A renowned banjo player with five highly acclaimed CD's, his one man show, “From Senegal To Seeger: Stories of the American Banjo, as well as his concert performances have been featured Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution, Ravinia Festival among others. Multi-instrumentalist, writer & composer Miles has earned critical acclaim and professional collaborations with Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger, and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s dePasquale String Quartet. Theatrical works created by Miles include Chicago Rhythm & Rhymes; America 1941, How Africa Met Ireland In American Song, The Magic Banjo, America 1968, Songs of the Earth, & Transcontinental, America 1957 and the Tin Pan Alley Times. After many years as a self taught musician, Miles earned an MA Music degree from Northeastern IL University.

VanderCook College of Music - (312) 225-6288