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Topic: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

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  1. #1

    anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    I have been searching for a resource for real structured, informative self-study music education courses, and the only real comprehensive program that is available now seems to be this one -- I know he was a very famous arranger and they say he had a very successful music school in California-- but I'm curious about the current distance learning program (as unfortunately he is no longer with us, I want to know how useful the available courses can actually be as a self-study program)-- they claim on the website that they are offerring what they consider to be an alternative to professional music school, if not better--(they say even people with masters in music have found these courses very helpful)
    anyway, if anyone has any sort of info that could help I would sincerely appreciate it--- and as this is my first post I just wanted to thank Gary for his tremendous and innovative work, (GPO is amazing, can't wait for JABB and future releases, each one just gets better than the one before!)--

  2. #2
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    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    I don't know anything about the school, but I do know that you can buy various publications put out by the dick grove school... Maybe you should look at those and see if what they're teaching and the way it's presented appeals to your way of thinking....

  3. #3

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    yeah, i sort of tried that-- on their website if u fill out a questionairre u can access a monthly electronic newsletter from 1998 in which dick grove wrote some informative articles-- I was definitely impressed with his clear explanations and teaching style-- but when it comes to a big financial as well as time commitment, u want to know how far it's really gonna take you in the end, which is not something u can tell simply from the teaching style--

    anyways I spoke with dirk price yesterday, who's like one of the heads of this course, and they do offer a trial period where u purchase the first two lessons with a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied, and I was impressed with what he told me when I asked him all my questions about the course, etc., so we'll see--I'm gonna try it out and I hope it'll fulfill my expectations-- and I'll let everyone here know if it's as good as it seems--if it is, it's really a one-of a kind resource for anyone who for whatever reason cannot be in music school, and the truth is he told me that the people who get most excited about the course are people who have degrees in music, even masters' degrees, because it allows them to really apply all the extensive theory they have been taught but have not yet been able to actualize-- there is no doubt that products like GPO allow students and musicians in general to learn a ton about music, arrangement, etc., but I feel like there has to be as much emphasis and innovation on the music education aspect of it as there is on the sound and playability-- with advancements in both areas that are provided in a way that they are available to everyone, people are gonna start making some serious music around here

  4. #4
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    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    Well, for about 20 years or so, Dick Grove ran the west coast equivalent of Berklee School of Music, ie, an excellent, contemporary music school in Los Angeles. He then retired and moved to Las Vegas and started School Without Walls, a correspondence school with a website. He was quite a man, in my opinion.

    The courses are thurough but REQUIRE a lot of work in order to get the most out of them. There are a lot of exercises to work your way through but there are insights and information in them that is hard to come by otherwise.

    If you are willing and wanting to do the work, they are good and very worthwhile. If not, well...

    If you are mostly interested in learning enough to use JABBE then he wrote a LARGE volume on arranging that is several inches thick and covers more than you probably want to know I got my copy from Amazon for $40 some odd dollars and it will take me a LONG time to work my way through all of it. It's called "Arranging Concepts - Complete" by Dick Grove.

    Tom

  5. #5

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    I don't know anything about the Dick Grove courses, but they look pretty legit, and I'm sure you'd learn a lot from them.

    But before you shell out all that class, let us know a little more specifically what you're looking to learn, and what your experience and training is already (in other words--where are you now, and where do you want to go?). Also, more specifically, what styles--are you looking to learn classical composition, jazz arranging, general musical understanding, music theory, music history, performance practices, repertoire, etc.. If the answer is "all of the above," you will probably want to consider taking courses at a college. Even most local community colleges will offer some good starter courses in music theory, appreciation, and history. You will not find it all under one cover.

    If your desires are a little more specific (or you know where you want to start), there are a number of self-study methods, books, software programs, CD study programs, etc. that I could recommend, based on what you're looking for. Give us some more details and we can steer you a little closer to what you need.

    chris.

  6. #6

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    hi, thanks guys for the input-- chris, i sing, i've been playing keyboard for like 7 yrs.( i'm 22) and composing since i was 8 -- but everything was by ear, including recently i did my first professional arrangement--which is around the same time i realized that it is completely ridiculous that i couldn't read any music-- so i bought the programs earmaster 5.0, which is very good, and musition, from sibelius, as well as a sightsinging book and some stuff on more advanced music theory-- i am getting better at reading and writing music, and at eartraining to some extent-- ok, so that's where i am now-- my goals are: when i say i did a professional arrangement, the particular song i was working with did not need a brass section (better w/o imo) so it was basically rhythm section and some strings (which i had help on from the copyist who did the notation) and the main part of the arrangement was the creative aspect, like the intro, interlude, and general feel of the song-that's something i can handle, but i need to focus on the technical aspects of arrangement-- so first off, i want to be able to arrange properly for stringsand jazz ensembles, as well as broaden my knowledge of different styles of music which i can incorporate into my arrangements-- and obviously be able to write down anything that comes into my head (rhythmically, which seems to not be so easy on more complicated and syncopated rhythms-- i wanna just know it, without having to think about it--i know that part should be pretty much second-nature--the pitch aspect of notation is not as bad)

    but while i'm at it, seeing as i never had formal education , i obviously need more training in counterpoint, voice-leading, etc.-- ok, so i know that's broad, but with time constraints i do not have opportunity to take classes even at a local college/university-- that's why this course seems right up my alley, from the theory/musicianship aspect to the arranging part-- so if u have any suggestions i'd be glad to hear them, or if u know of any other programs, as u allude to in your post, i would take a look at them-- thanks for your help!

  7. #7

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    thanks tom, yeah i have taken a look at berklee's program, the biggest problem for me is that even though it's an "on your own time" program, it's more restrictive time-wise than a real self-study course, and also u need a somewhat constant internet connection, which is not always available to me (I run all my music on an internet-free computer), whereas with the dick grove course I'd only need to periodically e-mail some stuff or fax, and never on any sort of deadline or schedule-- i probably sound really disorganized and afraid of time commitment, but really the opposite is the case-- i am so busy the rest of the time that I am just trying to make room for this, but it is very important to me and i am certainly motivated and willing to put in the effort required--for me it's all about the resources from which i will actually learn something once i apply myself, that's what i'm looking for-- but hopefully i found it, ya know? we'll see how it goes...


    Sam

  8. #8

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    Sam,

    Good for you for wanting to develop your skills! I know a lot of very talented musicians who have a similar level of experience as you, but whose attitudes are "hey, i'm naturally talented, I don't need no fancy book-learnin'"

    In this message I've posted the text of two messages I've written in the past giving advice on resources for 1.)jazz (and general) arranging, and 2.)ear training. Any (or all!) of these resources could be very useful to you, so check them all out and decide for yourself.

    Given your level of experience, you might need some more basic training before you delve into some of these books/courses (for example, the jazz theory and arranging books mostly assume you can read music and have a basic understanding of music theory). In that case, I'd recommend taking a course or two at a local community college (or your current college, if you are in school). Music Theory Level I, or its equivalent, might be enough to get you kickstarted, depending on how far it goes.

    Not to go full circle, but if going to a local college is impossible for you, maybe the Dick Grove courses are exactly what you need. I don't know anything about them, so I can't vouch for them personally, but their website mentions that you can call for a phone consultation. Call them up, tell them exactly what you told me, and ask them if you have the knowledge/skills to join--they should be able to tell you if you need to learn some basics first. Ask if they have a placement test, or a preview of the first lesson or two--this way you can guage whether you're at the right level to start with them. While you're at it, you might want to ask for a preview of the *last* lesson, to see if the course will take you as far as you'd like to go for your money.

    Here's the other information: (copied verbatim from messages I've sent to other people, so don't be confused if it doesn't apply specifically to your situation).
    =====
    ON ARRANGING (Particularly jazz)

    "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine is an excellent resource that has just about everything you'll need.

    Also his "The Jazz Piano Book" will fill in some other details, especially when it comes to chord voicings.

    Those books are great for understanding the pure theory... When it comes to instrumentation and arranging (which is just as important, if not more, for capturing the flavor of jazz), here are some great books to check out:

    "Inside the Score" by Rayburn Wright
    "The Professional Arranger Composer" by Russell Garcia
    and the arranging books by Sammy Nestico and Don Sebesky

    I have a little handbook by William Russo called "composing for the jazz ensemble" which packs a lot of great information into a little book. I would use it as a supplement, but not a main resource for learning.

    There's a book called "More than Just a Fake book" with scores and manuscripts and rough drafts of Mingus works.

    There's another similar one with Gil Evans scores, which I think is just called "The Gil Evans Collection"

    Most importantly, study standards... Listen and follow along with lead sheets, play through them, study how one chord flows to another, find patterns in how certain alterations are used (#11, b13, etc). Buy some fake books and go to town!

    ============
    ON EARTRAINING:

    I tried EarMaster Pro a few years ago and was happy with it--a lot of options and level of detail.

    A lot of people recommend Auralia. From what I've heard, it's just about the best out there, but I don't know many details myself.

    I would HIGHLY recommend a CD course, entitled "The Relative Pitch Ear Training Course" by David L. Burge. www.eartraining.com -- It's VERY in-depth and thorough, starting from basic intervals and ending up with complex voicings of extended jazz chords and progressions. It's actually fun to do--I listened to the lessons during my commute. I think 41 lessons in all, with rigorous self-evaluation. Check out the "course content" link and click through all the levels. It's a bit pricy (I got it at a discount because I owned the original tape course), but you can pay on their monthly plan and think of it like paying for private lessons--it's actually very cheap when you think of it that way.

    (This is the same guy who advertises the "Perfect Pitch" course in all the magazines--I have that too, although I haven't ever put the time into using it. It actually seems legit, but I'd say you'd be better off with the Relative Pitch course. Either way, let's not start the "can you learn perfect pitch" debate now. As far as plain old meat-and-potatoes ear training is concerned, I think you can't go wrong with the Burge course.)

    I'd also recommend the ear training books/cd sets by Bruce Arnold, at http://www.muse-eek.com/books/books.html -- also available at Amazon.com if you want to read more about them or read reviews. These are great books and take a different approach. I'd recommend using them as a supplement to another ear training course because they're not really in-depth on their own--they're more like super bonus exercises and practical approaches to ear training.

    Also, play a lot of piano, sing, and play your instrument a lot. Even if you're a crappy pianist, just sit and improvise a little every day--and read simple pieces and Bach Chorales if you're able, even if you're a very poor sight-reader (like me). Join a local chorus if you can. And listen to music while following along with the score--for ear training purposes you're probably better off doing this with smaller scores--quartets, chorales, choral music, etc.

    You might also want to check on ear training classes at your local community college or conservatory. I took an advanced ear training course at Juilliard to keep my ear fresh between college and grad school, and it did wonders for my ear--there's nothing like having a teacher to keep you motivated and accoutable. I've tried software and CD courses and books, but my motivation and interest fizzles out after a while--in a real course you have some accountability. A lot of community colleges courses only cost $150-250 per class (50-75 per credit), which is probably not much more than you'd spend on a piece of software.


    ==========

    whew. Good luck Sam!
    chris.

  9. #9

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    hey, thanks a lot chris for providing a lot of very useful info--( I was surprised about the perfect pitch course u mention, I had seen his website and (disregarding the perfect pitch debate) i just had no idea if it was legit; not that i'm so interested at learning perfect pitch at this juncture)-- well, I'm gonna start off with the first two lessons (w/ money back guarantee) from the dick grove course-- I had a phone consultation with them and I'm pretty excited about what he told me-- I don't need any more prereq knowledge, and they say that the course will take u well past a master's degree level in ear-training as well as arranging, and is supposed to be a complete solution, as long as u put in the effort and time (which is one thing I know I can do)-- it almost sounds too good to be true, except that first of all everyone seems to agree that dick grove was an amazing teacher, and also no one is promising that u'll be directing blockbuster movie scores within 30 days-- he said the musicianship part takes around two yrs. to master, (obviously varies and if one is blessed with real natural ability it could be done more quickly, although that's something one will only find out as they progress)
    u mentioned that a lot of people just rely on their natural ability-- when i was younger, i always thought that, but really it was out of ignorance to some extent, b/c i thought music school was basically for people who couldn't figure it out on their own or for more classical-oriented music as well as training in proficiency at one's instrument-- also, all the people i knew who could read music couldn't play anything by ear basically, so i was like " why should i learn to read music, everything i play i can basically do by ear--music notes are more for people who can't play by ear"-- eventually i realized how much there was to learn b/c i reached a point where there's not so much more i can progress on my own--some things can't be figured out and actually need to be studied, and i decided exactly the opposite of what i used to think: if i think i have talent in some area, i want to get the best i possibly can , no matter what it takes, it's such a waste otherwise!-- that's why i'm generally very impressed with the folks on this forum, who no matter what level they're at always feel like there's more to learn, never satisfied with where they are now-
    thanks again for your info, book reviews, etc. i really appreciate it!

  10. #10

    Re: anyone know anything about Dick Grove's School Without Walls?

    Good luck with the course, and let us know what it's like as you go along--I *have* a master's degree in composition, but I'm always looking for more outlets for learning.

    The "training vs. natural talent" debate has always fascinated me. I've studied music for years, and I don't regret that. But there's a part of me that wishes I never learned to read music. In all my experience as a musician and teacher, some of the most talented musicians I've ever met had no formal training whatsoever. I'm starting to think that the best music training you can get is to grow up in a black Baptist church, playing gospel music every Sunday. I've known so many kids who can really wail on drums, piano, bass, etc. but can't read a note of music. Learning music just by doing it, with your ears and your gut (instead of your eyes and your brain), can produce a deep, familial, visceral relationship with music that you might not ever get with formal studies. Of course, formal studies are invaluable too, and the best musicians have both. But I think that immersion should come first.

    If I could trade in all of my studies and re-learn music in that way, I would do so in a heartbeat. It's funny, when I was in high school and all my friends wanted to be rock stars, I wanted to be a composer. Seven years later when I graduated from the conservatory, I wanted to be a rock star instead! It took all of my education to realize that (and this statement will be controversial I'm sure) -- being a musician means making music live, here and now. I could be the most brilliant and talented composer in the world, but sitting and putting dots on paper is *not* making music, even if I'm writing a masterpiece. The kid next door wailing Green Day tunes poorly in his garage every day is more of a musician than I am, and I mean that unflinchingly.

    I still want to be a rock star ;-) but I've managed to get my music immersion from conducting, teaching, and occasionally performing on woodwinds. I learned more about music from a year of attempting to be a church pianist than I learned in years of study. I'm learning more about music by conducting a local chamber choir than I ever did in school. It's not that I'm learning more *stuff,* it's just that my gut-level instinct and understanding of music is developing more than it ever did sitting in theory class. I really love Stravinsky's famous quote, "I haven't understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it." To me, this summarizes everything I *really* learned in my musical education.

    Not to detract from the value of formal education. There's a lot to be said for learning *stuff* and it never hurts to know a lot *about* music (except when your brain starts taking over for your gut). But keep a few things in mind:

    1.Music theory isn't music, it's a language for talking about music
    2.Dots on paper aren't music, they're a language for communicating musical ideas.
    3.Music history isn't music, it's history.
    4.Music exists above, beyond, and regardless of any of these things.

    I'm sure I could come up with more, but you get the idea.

    Whew,
    chris.





    Quote Originally Posted by sammy24
    hey, thanks a lot chris for providing a lot of very useful info--( I was surprised about the perfect pitch course u mention, I had seen his website and (disregarding the perfect pitch debate) i just had no idea if it was legit; not that i'm so interested at learning perfect pitch at this juncture)-- well, I'm gonna start off with the first two lessons (w/ money back guarantee) from the dick grove course-- I had a phone consultation with them and I'm pretty excited about what he told me-- I don't need any more prereq knowledge, and they say that the course will take u well past a master's degree level in ear-training as well as arranging, and is supposed to be a complete solution, as long as u put in the effort and time (which is one thing I know I can do)-- it almost sounds too good to be true, except that first of all everyone seems to agree that dick grove was an amazing teacher, and also no one is promising that u'll be directing blockbuster movie scores within 30 days-- he said the musicianship part takes around two yrs. to master, (obviously varies and if one is blessed with real natural ability it could be done more quickly, although that's something one will only find out as they progress)
    u mentioned that a lot of people just rely on their natural ability-- when i was younger, i always thought that, but really it was out of ignorance to some extent, b/c i thought music school was basically for people who couldn't figure it out on their own or for more classical-oriented music as well as training in proficiency at one's instrument-- also, all the people i knew who could read music couldn't play anything by ear basically, so i was like " why should i learn to read music, everything i play i can basically do by ear--music notes are more for people who can't play by ear"-- eventually i realized how much there was to learn b/c i reached a point where there's not so much more i can progress on my own--some things can't be figured out and actually need to be studied, and i decided exactly the opposite of what i used to think: if i think i have talent in some area, i want to get the best i possibly can , no matter what it takes, it's such a waste otherwise!-- that's why i'm generally very impressed with the folks on this forum, who no matter what level they're at always feel like there's more to learn, never satisfied with where they are now-
    thanks again for your info, book reviews, etc. i really appreciate it!

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