Fingerstyle champ Proctor enjoys holding workshops
A few hours before U.S. Fingerstyle Champion Chris Proctor performs at Riffs Acoustic Music on Saturday, Nov. 1, he will hold a guitar workshop from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Proctor has been presenting guitar workshops since the mid-1980s and the idea has always been to help guitarists of all levels get to the next tier of their playing.
This was something Proctor wished he had when he was starting his music career.
"I remember listening to albums and trying to figure out what Leo Kottke was doing," Proctor told The Park Record. "I would try to tune my guitar just right and cue up the songs."
Back then, there weren’t a lot of resources for acoustic musicians. There were no videos, no Internet and no YouTube.
So once Proctor had established himself as a champion guitarist, he decided to provide a service for those guitarists who wracked their brains and hands, trying to figure out how to play.
"There are a million questions that flash through a guitar player’s mind and one or two of them can be revelatory, which once the answers come a door swings open and boom," Proctor said. "So I thought it would be a good thing to do."
He spoke with Taylor Guitars, with whom he was collaborating at the time on a small-body guitar for fingerstyle players.
"I went to them and said, ‘Look, I’m going around the country doing concerts and will always have two or three days off and can I go to the dealers who carry your guitars and do a little impromptu workshop?’" Proctor said. "They thought it was a good idea and would send out a few fliers to the dealers."
Over the years, the workshops have morphed into an institution in themselves.
"We have six or seven of us doing this all over the country, now," Proctor said.
The crux of these workshops is to teach players how to utilize their abilities to the fullest.
"The guitar is divided up in a weird way," Proctor explained. "One hand is choosing the note and one hand is striking the strings in some way.
"The one that hits the note has to do that in more than one organized way if you’re going to play the rhythm, bass and melody," he said. "So I developed a curriculum around that and apply parts of it as needed to the people in front of me."
The lessons change to fit the need.
"Sometimes workshop participants want to learn bottleneck slide," Proctor said. "Sometimes they want to learn a Beatles tune."
When he readies a workshop at Riffs, Proctor speaks with owner Larry Hart.
"He finds out what people want to learn and I’ll come up there and spend a couple of hours on those things," Proctor said. "I also teach at a guitar camp each summer in Tennessee and found that everybody always need to learn more discipline to develop their abilities and I teach the same things in the workshops at Riffs."
Throughout his career, Proctor has created a few fingerstyle instruction manuals and DVDs
"I did three with MelBay over the years and you can contact them and get downloadable PDFs," he said. "They are more like transcriptions of my pieces."
The true instruction manuals he has done were for six- and 12-string guitars for Homespun Videos and Tapes, a company out of Woodstock, New York.
"The company has been around forever," Proctor said. "The six-string volume contains the crux of information on how to use the thumb to go back and forth and how you can build on that."
Proctor has hosted workshops for more than 30 years, and he still enjoys them.
"I like walking six, 12 or 20 people through a lesson," he said. "It’s also fun to see people who took my handouts a previous year return and show how much they’ve worked on."
Although Proctor is the teacher, he has learned a lot from his students.
"Watching how people learn is interesting to me," he said. "I’ve had a couple of students that I’ve assigned my piece to and they figured out some fingering that wasn’t what I gave them, but it turned out better."
Also, he has seen the different ways people learn.
"Some will watch my hands and some will look at the stuff and listen to me play and then go back to their rooms to play," he said. "Some will store the information in the brains. Some will learn one line at a time. Others will try to learn everything at once, which to me is total pandemonium."
Proctor scheduled the Riffs workshop from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"That will give me time to slip across the street to Windy Ridge before I play the concert," he said.
Riffs Acoustic Music, 1205 Iron Horse Dr., will present U.S. Fingerstyle Champion Chris Proctor on Saturday, Nov. 1. Proctor will host a guitar workshop from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. and perform a concert at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information or to buy tickets call 435-649-1940 or visit http://www.riffsacousticmusic.com.
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