Brett's Blog
Contact Brett

 Brett Ridgeway - Anyone Can Make Music © 2017
Brett Ridgeway
Skype Lessons                 Workshop Instructor
Private & Group Lessons 
Performer                         Songwriter
fbridgeway@juno.com/ 724-777-5234
"Your workshops are fantastic! I plan on going whenever offered. "– Jim Beck, Willowick, OH
"I just attended one of Brett's workshops…
I learned more in one hour with Brett than I learned in a 3-day workshop in 
Gettysburg, Pa. I am very pleased with 
his easy and to-the-point teaching methods.”

– Tammy, Wooster, Ohio

"This was the most relaxed and FUN workshop ever! Once you get rid of the visual "clutter" (strings, frets, music, etc) it's just you and your dulcimer. It was a whole new perspective on my relationship with my dulcimer. I hope we repeat this workshop! Great job Brett! I can always count on you to create unique worKshops to make learning easy and fun!" 
 Lynn, Pennsylvania
"When I practice, I often close my eyes because I know it's best to avoid relying only on my vision when I play, but doing the workshop blindfolded...with your step-by-step instructions (beginning with taking my instrument out of the case and figuring out where/how it should be sitting on my lap!)...it was a *totally* different (and positive!) experience that gave me a new perception and understanding of the instrument and my playing! In fact, the step-by-step instructions were crucial to this process. 

When I practice with my eyes closed, I know the option is still mine to open them and I tend to move my hands only in the way, and to the places on the fret-board, that I'm already comfortable with as a 'sighted' person. Plus, I'm still partially focusing on keeping my eyes closed rather than completely focusing on what my other senses recognize...what my hands and fingers are feeling. 

With the step-by-step instructions, I actually *had* to break out of my comfort zone and rely on my other senses to make the non-visual connections (like knowing that, in my case, the 5th fret is in front of my navel!) that made me more aware of—and focused on—the instrument rather than what I was seeing. It also got me thinking that, if for some reason I lost my eyesight one day, I'd still be able to play the dulcimer. It's a comforting thought! I'd *very* much like to have more lessons like this!" — Jane, Pennsylvania
All Instruments: These are VERY popular workshops for ALL Levels and ALL Instruments at the same time! Learn to make music...coming through the back door....a different approach. These workshops will help you to see music in a different way than you ever have before!

Practice Smarter, Not Harder: Have you ever practiced and practiced and felt like you were just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? Can’t memorize your music? Can’t get through those musical tough spots? Well, guess what—you can practice until your fingers fall off and never make the progress you desire because the secret to playing successfully is NOT just practicing, but knowing HOW to practice. Many people waste HOURS of time and effort practicing their instrument, and don’t realize their practice methods often serve as a roadblock toward reaching the end-result they desire. This workshop will teach you some proven techniques, tested guidelines, and provide some hands-on practice experience teaching you exactly HOW to practice for the most efficient and effective results! Why waste hours practicing harder when you can productively practice smarter?

Learning to Play by Ear: "Does anyone have the music for..." (cringe) FREE YOURSELF and your dependency of reading music, standard notation or tab to learn a tune! This is definitely our largest and most requested workshop! Using traditional Celtic techniques, virtually anyone can learn to play any instrument by ear, they just don't know it, or know how to do it, and are often surprised at their ability to do so! Noodling and diddling, also called jigging, lilting, dowdling are excellent tools in learning to play the hammered dulcimer, Appalachian dulcimer, banjo, fiddle, guitar...or any instrument for that matter! This is a HANDS-ON workshop for all instruments and will help you to learn and understand your instrument from the inside out! Using simple ear training exercises, playing a simple scale and you will be picking out tunes-by ear- by the end of this workshop! You will surprise yourself! I have used these techniques several times in my workshops and one-on- one teaching and the most often exclaimed phrase is, "I can't believe I can do this!!!" Whether you read music or not, learning to play by ear is a helpful skill and yes, can be learned in this workshop! Level: All Levels; All Instruments 

How to Play Well With Others/Surviving a Jam: Has there ever been a time that you wanted to join in on a jam, but found the idea of making it through one too intimidating? Have you ever joined a jam, only to find yourself lost and not able to keep up? Come learn tips that are so simple yet valuable techniques that will help you maneuver through the next jam with ease and enjoyment. Learn to anticipate chord changes, understanding chords and key changes, keeping time, jam etiquette and how to "mess up well"! It only takes a few tips and a little practice and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a proficient jammer! This is a hands-on workshop so bring your instrument! Level: All levels and instruments. 

Play By Ear Follow-Up: The pennywhistle is simply the easiest tool in helping one to learn to play by ear. In this workshop, you will not only learn to play several tunes this beautiful instrument, but how to use it as a tool to help the learning process of playing by ear. Pennywhistles are inexpensive and we start from the very beginning. No need to read music or even know how to hold the whistle! 

Noodling to Make Music: This is simply a FUN workshop that will teach you to make music, not only on your instrument, but even on an instrument you have never even played! As a group, we will put together original pieces and be jamming and playing WITH NO PRESSURE at all! And its simply cool! I taught this in one of my string band clubs and a visitor who was simply working nearby was blown away by the music! She could not believe how it came about and how simplistic the ideas were and thought the club had been working on the tune for a few months...not something that occurred right then in moment! Trust me, this workshop is a blast and will show you just how easy and fun it is to make music happen! 

Nothing to See Here, Folks! When you tie your shoes, do you need to look at the laces for your hands to know where to go and what movements they should make? Probably not; you’re so familiar with the feel of the shoes and laces and know the process so well, the task happens almost involuntarily. In the same way, when an accomplished musician plays his or her instrument expertly, that instrument almost becomes a natural extension of his or her hands or body—the movements and connection with the instrument are seemingly instinctual. As we learn to play an instrument, we tend to overly rely on our eyes and essentially ‘get in our own way’ as we struggle to improve our playing. Throughout this unconventional (and fun!) workshop, completely blindfolded, you will learn an entirely different method of visualizing and playing your instrument strictly through tactile experiences and sensations. Via step-by-step instruction, you will explore a new approach toward playing your instrument, understand the importance of the relationship between your body and the “feel” of the instrument, change your perspective, perception, and level of awareness, and “see” your instrument solely through your fingers and hands, while strengthening your “muscle memory” and building confidence in your abilities.  This workshop not only teaches you play without relying on your eyes, but will ultimately improve your capacity to play instinctively—without visual reliance that can impede your progress. You will be surprised at how we hinder our own musical potential by teaching our eyes to play rather than teaching our hands…and body!

Canoodling Your Noodle!:
It’s time to quit relying on other people’s musical compositions and, instead, simply learn to play the instrument right in front of you. In this workshop, you will understand how to play without relying on what is written on a musically-prescribed piece of paper! This is not a “tune” workshop, but takes learning much farther.In this workshop, you will learn to “mix it up” learning to improvise and embellish on the fly. If you play any tune ten times through, you will learn the techniques and skills to play it ten different ways, never having to play the tune the same way twice. This will change how you play and give you a new-found freedom and joy in your playing. Quit playing with your eyes, and start using your noodle!

Let Those Fingers Fly
Tired of playing fiddle tunes like a funeral dirge? Not able to keep up? Playing fast is not a matter of talent, but a method of practice. I have taught these techniques to all ages and all skill levels on many instruments…AND THEY WORK! One of my students after learning these simple practice skills said in amazement, "It’s almost like your fingers play by themselves!" This workshop will teach you to play smoothly, quickly, accurately and Yes…like your fingers are playing all by themselves!

Fingerpicking So Simple:
Fingerpicking is EASY to learn.and provides a gentle undulating rhythmic flow to a tune. Using simple picking patterns you will learn how to arpeggiate tunes and chords with a smooth rising and falling turning a simple melody line into a beautiful, expressive, purely acoustic and interesting piece. Put your pick aside and let your fingers feel the music!

Hammered Dulcimer:
Its All in Your Head 
Hymn Embellishment Workshop
Christmas Carol Embellishment Workshop
The 5-Note Hymn
The Chromatic Devil's Dream
The Laid-Back Beginner Hammered Dulcimer Workshop
Play by Ear Workshop
​Its All About the Chords

Mountain Dulcimer:
Introduction to the Mountain Dulcimer
Flatpicking the Mountain Dulcimer
Hymn Embellishment Workshop
Christmas Carol Embellishment Workshop
Finger Picking the Mountain Dulcimer
Moveable Chords
Wooing With the Dulcimer

Introduction to Clawhammer Banjo
Learning the Elusive Drop Thumb EASILY!
Tunes in Double C Tuning
Introduction to Bluegrass Banjo

Brett is available for festivals, club organized workshops.
He travels wherever and teaches on a full-time basis. 
For more information, please contact him at fbridgeway@juno.com
or call him at 724-777-5234.

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