Invitation to Record

Dear Musician,

I am developing a how to play a musical instrument video series and am looking for players and teachers to participate. The job consists of coming to my studio for one or several 2-3 hour recording sessions where you teach and/or play songs.

This section “Invitation to record” details what the series is about and includes a few paragraphs on the history of the project. The next section “Taking Part in the Project” describes, if you decide to participate, how to make the recording sessions go smoothly. The next two sections, Appendix A and B, aren’t related to the video project but what I’m willing to trade for your involvement with the project. Appendix A “Making a Recording” describes what I can offer in regards to making you a CD or an audio file that can be uploaded. Appendix B “Making a Performance Video” details what I can offer you regarding filming you or your band. In both Appendix A and B there’s a couple of paragraphs how I work and how we’d work together in these two mediums but also a description of the gear, what it does, how it works and what’s special about it. I added this because if you’re like me you will enjoy learning about it. If you’re not interested in recording for the video series I can create a CD or performance video for a fee.

Right now I’m recording piano but will expand to drums, guitar, wind and string instruments. I would like to record players from the more popular genres of music including alternative, blues, classical, country, hip hop, holiday (Christian and gospel), jazz, latin, pop, r + b, reggae and rock with or without vocals.

Players could simply play several songs during a session or teach as they play such as explaining how a song was improvised. I want teachers who can explain the very fundamentals for beginners to advanced concepts of music. What songs to play and what to teach will be discussed before the session. For player’s who teach I recommend to try and think back to what insights, advice, instruction and discoveries helped you develop as a player. The target audience is beginners to advanced so beside some of the easier to play ballads some of the professional players who are used to playing songs more complicated will be asked to play simpler versions for the beginners and intermediates. If that’s possible I don’t know. I recorded Scott Grube playing Otis Span, very fast and complicated, but that can’t be played any other way and by watching it with the video in slow motion it can be learned by intermediate and advanced players. For players who are not familiar teaching, or for teachers who are not accustomed to teaching without a student on the bench, realize any mistakes, misstatements, errors or pauses can be easily edited to ensure the presentation is smooth and comprehensible.

Several of the beginning recordings were unusable for different reasons. In one session the player said he couldn’t teach and his style was too complicated. In another there was no pre-session meeting or phone conversation of what to play or teach, and trying to “wing it” wasn’t working, so we spent the time working on an outline for a future session. In another session one player leaned too far forward too often blocking the camera. These sessions have taught me how important it is for you and me to work on a curriculum either thru a phone conversation or meeting prior to the recording session.

The pay for these sessions is flexible and is based on the players or teachers skill, style of music, desirability and need for this project. So far the rate has been $300.00 per session. A player’s time to prepare for a session or any pre-session meetings will be paid for at an agreeable rate and amount. Besides getting paid for a session or trading work for me making you a CD or performance video you can chose to collect royalties which is explained in detail in the Royalty Payments letter.

Not mentioned in the trade for work in Appendix B I can collaboratively make a mini documentary about your life as a player or teacher. I can help write a script, do the interview, record the voice over, edit the production and deliver you labeled copies. If you’d like to see an example of how your film could be cut, pictures panned and zoomed, (that way of adding drama to a still picture is called the Ken Burn Effect which he learned in the 70’s and made popular in his many documentaries) or the sound of my voice in a voice over look at the documentary I made and posted on YouTube under “74 Foot Homemade Boat”. It’s about an unfinished homemade boat I bought and worked on for over 20 years. If you’re a boater you might be interested in this documentary. Because I got over 265,000 hits on this obscure story I think my sales estimate’s in the royalty payments article were quite low.  I think it possible half million people will visit the site eventually and spend an average of $40.00. which will boost everyone’s share considerably.

If this letter finds you and you are interested in working on this project please e-mail me at [email protected] or call at 773-307-1399. Since each session takes about 5 days to edit, these recordings will be scheduled over the period from Mach 2018 and beyond. Each player’s picture will be on the website along with a link to their own website as well. Players will be asked to sign a waiver giving up their rights to these recordings which also states they are not responsible for any licensing for songs played during these sessions for their own protection. Thank you for reading this letter and I hope to hear from you.

History of the project

The idea came to me thirty years ago when I signed up for lessons but soon got frustrated with the slow progress and the fact much of the material was forgotten before having a chance to practice. If only I could record him and watch the lesson repeatedly at home I thought. My teacher agreed to be video-taped and from there and through several generations of video and equipment upgrades this system of piano instruction developed. The first of these recordings were done with security cameras because the industry had a device to split the screen horizontally. With the video quality marginal, I used a very expensive VHS player manufactured by Panasonic that played clear in slow motion which was developed for sports professionals to analyze golf and batters swings. It wasn’t feasible to market this idea until the CD capable of being played in slow motion and looped on an affordable machine was created.

It wasn’t until 2011 that a couple good years in business allowed me to take time off to develop this project. I built a recording studio designed to the specific standards and recommendations of professional acoustic engineers. I researched the video and audio industry for professional equipment to buy. I learned to use and run these devices and programs from online tutorials, books, forums and video and audio engineers. After perfecting and testing these systems I am now recording.

The market is full of how to play piano sites but they don’t really work because it’s hard to make out what notes the fingers are depressing. By removing the fallboard, cutting away the top rail and side of the piano and shinning a light across the back of the keys you can see an accompanying shadow when a key is depressed; which is much easier to follow. If it wasn’t for this shadow trick, this system of learning piano by video would not work.

Does the public want this? One professional blues musician who after watching a DVD said “If I had this when I was learning to play I would have been good in three years instead of ten.” Since none of the music he played was written down he learned by listening to records and following blues players around picking up a riff here and there. It’s difficult to learn to play by ear and seeing it with the ability to slow it down  makes learning easier.