Peter Benjamin Music Workshop

& Creative Services

 

Peter Benjamin's Music Workshop and Creative Services is not just a music education platform, it's a partnership with musicians, individuals, and communities intended to bring together our disparate lives into a greater network of art, creativity, and connection. It's an ongoing project to help people re-envision and reconstruct their lives within a hyper-economic world.

"Of all human activities, only labor, and neither action nor work, is unending, progressing automatically in accordance with life itself and outside the range of willful decisions or humanly meaningful purposes."                                                             

 

"... we have almost succeeded in leveling all human activities to the common denominator of securing the necessities of life and providing for their abundance. Whatever we do, we are supposed to do for the sake of "making a living;" such is the verdict of society, and the number of people, especially in the professions who might challenge it, has decreased rapidly. The only exception society is willing to grant is to the artist, who, strictly speaking, is the only "worker" left in a laboring society."                                                               

                                                                                              - Hannah Arendt

 

We act in the world through both our work and our labor. Today we understand a large part of our identity through our work, that is, what we do to make money. However, for most of history, our identities have been principally defined through their labor, that is, what they do in order to maintain their lives. Though work is important, I argue that we've put too heavy an emphasis on it as a signifier of our place within society. I want to reassert the importance of repositioning our labor- the things we do for our health and home- as much more fundamental to our lives than our work. I also want to insist that learning and creativity are essential to this re-attenuating of the relationship between our labor and our work.

Consider this hypothetical example: A highly specialized engineer or tech worker today can make an impressive wage with his/her skill set. However, this skill set may not be optimal for maintaining a good diet, being conscientious about exercise, or keeping a home that is beautiful, inviting, and a capacious space for a creative and reinvigorating home life. Our hyper-technological economy tends to favor and reward our work at the expense of our labor.

 

I believe we must focus first on our labor in order to balance and strengthen our lives in the workplace. To the extent we attend to our health, diet, and home, we directly affect our work for the better. The inevitable outcome of this strengthening of the individual through his/her labor and work is one of cascading benefits for the society as a whole. Simply put, while not everyone will have access to a high paying job, everyone needs their labor to produce healthful and beneficial outcomes for themselves and others!

 

This re-balancing of labor and work is integral to the overall mission of The Peter Benjamin Music Workshop and related creative services....

 

Instruction and consultation is available for students, adults, professional and amateur performers, podcasters, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and people of all walks of life who seek to improve their lives through their creative work and essential labor.

 

Email Peter at peterbenjaminmusic@gmail.com to enroll as a patron of the PBMWCS.

 

"If you want to help the world, teach people how to live in it..."

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                            - Joseph Campbell

 

.........

Music Education- 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

Programs

 

The PBMWCS features the following areas of focus. 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.

 

- Master Class Series (advanced concepts and practicum for developing/performing musicians). For the musicians 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 class forums will be held 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

 

- Student Artist 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 Peter has been offering for years now, with a slightly greater emphasis on projects and goals. These projects 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. Performance and ensemble participation are powerful tools to aid in each student’s developmental goals.

 

$35 - 30 minute session

$50 - 45 minutes session

$60 - 1 hour session

- Creative Forum 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

 

- 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

check out this excerpt from the upcoming Peter Benjamin Music Workshop Handbook 'The Tallest Island'

Testimonials:

My wife and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon Mr. Peter Benjamin and his musical offerings. Our 17 y/o guitarists has found a constructive, organized and inspirational educator in Mr. Benjamin. Peter takes his time to listen, guide and inspire our son to transform his original musical ideas into full songs revealing the benefits of home studio technology and creativity. If you or your musical son or daughter are wishing to express your creativity through music and would like a comprehensive guide to getting started, we highly recommend Peter Benjamin.

                                                                                                      - Rick Moran  Sumner,WA

Peter Benjamin Schatz earned a Bachelor of Musical Arts from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 where he studied under renown composers, choral directors, and thinkers. He supplemented his music studies with a broad range of philosophy, religion, and humanities courses. His time at PLU was a seminal moment in his intellectual and artistic development.

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