GSL: Guitar as a Second Language teaches the critical combination of musical skills and clinical insight.
How it all started...
Toward the end of my music therapy bachelor's degree, I applied for one of the most prestigious internships in the country. I was fairly confident going into the interview because I had excellent grades and was one of the most experienced musicians in my class. So the director's words as she turned me down came as a surprise: "Jamie, you are definitely an accomplished musician, but you're going to need to work on your clinical skills."
The most surprising thing about her statement was that I didn't know what she meant.
Over a decade later and with countless experiences running sessions and training interns myself, I now know exactly what she wanted me to understand. And I have dedicated my career to helping others gain that vision for themselves.
In the GSL series I walk you through the two parts of practicing with clinical excellence: We work on dozens of out-of-the-box musical skills that help you understand how the guitar is set up, so you can improvise exactly the kind of music you want to play at any moment. Then I give you hands-on clinical insights from using those skills in sessions and songs, how the clients responded, what worked and what didn't, and why. We go into music therapy theory and research so you gain an effective overall paradigm as a music therapist: You have the tools to play anything you want, and you know when to use them, why and how to use them, and how to change them in response to your client's emerging needs in the moment. You take your music to the level of clinical excellence.
In essence, GSL teaches you to "speak guitar" effectively, just as we learn to express ourselves in verbal language effectively. You gain the tools not only to play bar chords, but to understand their design so well that you can break the rules of bar chords to create new chords with beautiful drones and dissonances. You learn how to easily bring out the essence of blues anywhere up and down the guitar's neck. You begin to move open chords in creative ways that add the grounding, leading, stimulating, or relaxing non-chord tones that can affect your client's responses. You create strum patterns and fingerpick patterns based on exactly what you want to hear, because you understand so well how they are created and what fingers or motions you need for different sounds. You learn an instant method for open tuning the guitar, with its endless examples and possibilities for creating compelling melodies and chords with just one or two fingers.
All of these tools are presented in the context of music therapy sessions, giving clinical examples that illustrate the theory behind what we do.