Educational workshops can be a great add for any festival or local jam and can help improve the overall musicality of any session. Below are brief descriptions for a few of the workshops I can lead for your festival or jam. Generally most workshops include handouts (both paper and online in standard notation and tab) for attendees to use after the session.  All attendees of my workshops also receive free PDF worksheets of topics covered (which can be made available before the event) and a free 20 minute Zoom lesson at no additional cost to help answer questions that come up after the workshop.

If you’d like me to lead a workshop for your festival or jam, or have more questions, please contact me for more information.

Intro to Bluegrass Jams (Beginner)

Playing in a bluegrass jam is probably the best thing about the genre.  For those newer to the genre or to music in general though, jams can be a little intimidating – especially when complex and/or fast tunes are being called.  In this workshop, Matt Bruno reviews some common bluegrass songs and fiddle tunes every jammer should know.  Attendees will receive basic chord and melody charts along to play along with.  For recurring local jams, this workshop usually is best held immediately before the jam starts.

Double Stops I: What are they and how to use them (Intermediate to Advanced)

Double Stops are a fantastic tool to help musicians move around the fingerboard and create interesting solo and rhythmic ideas. In this workshop, Matt Bruno provides a comprehensive overview of what Double Stop are, how they are created, and where on the fretboard you can find these gems.  Attendees will receive charts showing the 6 main double stop positions as well as examples of how to use these positions with tab and standard notation.

Double Stops II: Extended Double Stops (Advanced)

Once you’ve mastered the major and minor double stop positions, it’s time to dive in to the extensions!  Extensions that build on the main triad’s (like 7ths, 9ths, and 13ths) can add a lot of color and texture to your solos while improving your ability to solo.  In this workshop, Matt Bruno will cover Extended Double Stops adding 7ths, 9ths, and 13ths.  Attendees will receive charts showing these additional double stop positions in tab and standard notation.

All about Chords I: Basic chord shapes and positions (Beginner)

For any starting musician, knowing how to play music major and minor chords is an important first step. In this workshop, Matt Bruno explains basic chord theory (like the “1 3 5”) and how to use this information to play major and minor chords in basic open and closed positions for popular song keys.  Attendees will receive a chart highlighting two positions for basic chords in G, C, D, A, and E along with the notes that make up those chords.

All about Chords II: multiple positions and inversions (Beginner to Intermediate)

Playing chords is an essential part of jamming with a group – but playing the same basic chords can get boring and repetitive. Also, knowing where these chord tones are can really improve a players ability to solo and improvise. In this workshop, Matt Bruno dives into basic chord theory and how to form chords all over the fingerboard. Attendees will learn how to play chords from basic progressions in at least 3 different positions.

All about Chords III: Advanced Chord theory (Advanced)

Once you’ve mastered the basic chords and their inversions, it’s time to really dive in to substitutions, advanced comping, and chord melody ideas. In this workshop, Matt Bruno reviews complex chords and progressions by reviewing chord progressions from standard jazz and gypsy tunes. Attendees will leave the workshop with an understanding of how to substitute chords in standard progressions and how to create interesting Chord Melody ideas through substitution.

Basic music theory (Beginner to Intermediate)

Chord books and tabs can only get you so far as a musician. Learning and understanding basic music theory is an important aspect of growing as a musician. In this workshop, Matt Bruno explains basic music theory topics including how to create chords, basics of harmonization, understanding the difference in major / minor / dominant chords and scales, and much more.

Jam tactics (Beginner)

Being able to play in a jam is more than just being able to play a song. Whether you’re jamming with friends, at a regular meet up, or a festival – being able to read the group and playing without clashing with others is really important. In this workshop, Matt Bruno showcases the essentials for how to play in a jam. This includes basic Jam Etiquette, what to do when a song you don’t know gets called, and playing to the group rather than to the song.

Playing in the Band (Beginner)

One of the main reasons to play music is to play with your friends and meet new people.  But for many beginners, knowing how to play with a group to avoid over (and under) playing isn’t so straight forward.  In this workshop, Matt Bruno covers how to properly play in a band environment including where and when to add riffs, how to stay out of the way of the soloist / vocalist, how to use visual / non-verbal cues to “talk” with bandmates and much more.

Comments from workshop attendees

That was a great workshop, thanks a ton! It’s a lot of info, but nice and clear and useful. It will take quite some time to digest for this beginner, but it will be excellent practice for me. Thanks again.

Dave J.

It definitely was a worthwhile workshop. Matt has a talent for making complicated concepts clear. His stepwise excercises are great: start here, then next do this, and then after that put them together like so, then this is how you can use it in a few tunes.

I’m looking for ways to bridge the gap between beginner and intermediate, and Matt’s offering some of the puzzle pieces

Sue R.

Great lesson Matt! Quite a challenge to cover so much ground – but you cracked it! It would be great to see minor double stops in the same way – maybe a future lesson! I know I could work it out but I’m super lazy!

Rob B.