Peter Benjamin Music Workshop
Starting in January of 2020, Peter will be offering a new and innovative music education and consulting program designed to serve the needs of a diverse range of students, developing musicians, songwriters, composers, producers, and church worship teams.
The following is a short primer on his philosophy of music education. If you’re a current student of his you can skip down to the description of specific program tracks and pricing information.
Philosophy and Methodology
Music is a language of meaning that our brains create through interaction with sound. My approach to teaching music, therefore, understands and emphasizes the way in which we learn language. All children develop language skills first by becoming fluent (the ability to understand and speak a language), and then becoming literate (the ability to read and write).
You can see how, though the perception of music is something the brain does, the production of sound is something that our bodies must do! Therefore, becoming fluent in music is an embodied process- the same way we learn to throw a ball, ride a bike, or even walk for the first time. Many of us who’ve learned to play an instrument can attest to how awkward and unnatural it can feel to play even a basic chord or scale on the piano or guitar, for example. After time though, these novel ways of using our bodies become as natural as the use of a casual or even unconscious gesture to express ourselves. We must first learn to play music as something that our bodies do, rather than something that our brains understand conceptually.
The fundamental grammar of music used for communication and expression is represented by distinct elements such as rhythm, harmony, and melody. Our goal is to develop mastery both within these distinct realms of music and in how they combine to form the music that we want to play.
- Peter B. December, 2019
This program will feature the following four essential areas of focus, or, series. Of course, there is considerable overlap in terms of the format and content between each series, so you can think of them as slightly different styles or contexts in which to learn.
1. Student Artist Symposium Series (standard, in-home one-on-one instruction)- Instruction is now available for piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, trumpet/cornet, drums/percussion, and voice and involves the same one-on-one instruction that I’ve been offering for years now, with a slightly greater emphasis on projects and goals. These projects will include student symposiums as well as opportunities to learn more advanced performance practicum, and access to recording and production projects. Symposiums are different from the standard student recital model in that they include opportunities to showcase a broader range of creative work like recordings, interviews, pedagogical demonstrations, and of course, individual and group performance. These new offerings are not mandatory, but they are strongly encouraged as very powerful tools to aid in each student’s developmental goals.
$35 - 30 minute lesson
$50 - 45 minutes lesson
$60 - 1 hour lesson
2. Master Class Series (advanced concepts and practicum for developing/performing musicians). For the students who have successfully developed a degree of embodied musical fluency, I offer a comprehensive set of tools with which to conceptualize the language and performance of music. We will explore the concept of tonality and tonal language as guiding principles with which to understand and master harmonic and melodic dimensions of music. We will also develop our rhythmic fluency and literacy as part of our embodied and conceptual knowledge base as we explore the idiomatic landscape of various musical styles. Particular emphasis on composition, arrangement, improvisation, and recording technology will be used to focus our skills in this advanced track. Master classes will be conducted for artists in this series featuring sets of music (several songs instead of just one) and opportunities to perform their music with established area musicians.
$35 - 30 minute session
$50 - 45 minutes session
$60 - 1 hour session
3. Music Education for Atypical Learners. I have had a significant degree of experience over the past 5 & 1/2 years interacting with students on the autism spectrum, as well as those presenting a range of other atypical learning patterns such as ADHD, dyscalculia (difficulty with symbols, including music notation!), and dysgraphia (difficulty with transcribing material into written format). You can begin to see how the traditional approach to learning music which is characterized by the already difficult process of reading or interpreting highly graphical notation and then ‘mapping’ the visual field onto the the body (fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, hips, legs, feet, etc.) might represent a major challenge to some kinds of learners.
Despite some of the difficulties that often arise, I continue to see profound levels of creative potential with atypical students that I hope to help unlock. To do this, I often keep open the option to explore music learning and creativity through dialogue and conversation through a process I call 'creative dialectic.' Creative dialectic offers a way of understanding the creative process through a much broader range of ideas and concepts such as games, athletics, language, philosophy, psychology, history, and other areas of artistic pursuit (visual art, design, etc.). This process is actually similar to and inspired by my time studying composition at the college level with renown composer Gregory Youtz.
Believe it or not, students who experience difficulty with the process of learning to embody music making are often extremely good at thinking about creativity, problem solving, deep learning, and their own subjective aesthetic experience on a more intellectual level. It's my personal believe that world can benefit profoundly from their perspective! Many of these conversations will be available on the Creative Dialectic podcast available on this site and others starting Monday, January 13th.
Participation in this track also avails you to the symposiums that will take place 2 to 3 times per year- typically in the Issaquah/Sammamish area.
$35 - 30 minute session
$50 - 45 minutes session
$60 - 1 hour session
4. Ensemble Workshops and Practicum (Group instruction/coaching for bands and church worship teams). My experience in producing, collaborating, consulting, and coaching a range of amateur as well as professional ensembles, bands, church worship teams and artists has given me a unique insight into what makes a functional musical relationship between people. In addition to musical and technical considerations, this program gives groups the opportunity to better understand the proper tools for communicating and verbalizing musical ideas. This track in particular emphasizes arrangement, part playing/development, and live recording as essential skills for ensemble players.
$60 - 1 hour session/consultation
$100 - 2 hour session/consultation
$150 - 3 hour session/consultation