Music for People offers a variety of programs providing advanced training in music improvisation and workshop facilitation skills. Each of our programs emphasizes a unique aspect of musical development, with individualized attention to each student’s needs throughout the year. Our programs are woven together within the framework of our yearly calendar of workshops open to the public, with weekend classes in October/November, early February, early May and late June, as well as week-long events in the summer.

Musicianship and Leadership Program (MLP)

The MLP is a four-year program that places equal emphasis on musicianship development in improvisation and workshop facilitation in small and large groups. The first years of the program teach comfort and confidence in improvisational music in solo and group settings, within an increasing variety of musical styles from around the world and throughout history. All styles are welcomed. People from the classical music tradition have found this program especially useful in making the connection between deep personal feeling and its expression in music. Yet since the form of music making we teach is exclusively improvisational, no prior formal musical training is necessary to begin the program. Some of our most successful candidates do not read and write music fluently, while others have extensive formal schooling.

Throughout the training, candidates are exposed to up to date techniques for sound recording, to better capture their musical development and create keepsake CDs and tapes of solo and ensemble playing. Many of the large group workshop sessions are recorded and available for home study, and each weekend includes a recorded “open mike” session of improvised solos and ensembles.

After the candidates establish a base of improvisational techniques and competencies on voice, drums, piano, and any instrument of their choosing, they begin classes designed to shape their own unique style of leading workshops. These classes include observing the leading styles of more experienced teachers and peers, and observing the process of giving coaching and feedback in a way that builds confidence and self-worth. The Music for People philosophy is fundamentally humanistic, that all people are inherently musical; candidates within the program are trained in how to emphasize strengths in the people they coach, and give truthful, accurate feedback in supportive language.

The first two levels of the MLP and Musicianship Program (MP-below) are identical. These levels build improvisational techniques across a broad spectrum of musical styles. Candidates are paired throughout these levels with a more experienced peer mentor, with whom they exchange recordings between workshops for feedback on their progress.

In the third year of the training, MLP candidates take on the responsibility of Mentoring entering candidates throughout the year. They also become featured leaders of small breakout groups during each weekend class, where they are observed by more experienced teachers and staff. As the Mentors receive sensitive and caring feedback about their own development as facilitators, they become better equipped to give similar feedback to the candidates under their tutelage. Mentors also teach breakout classes during the week-long summer workshops.

In the fourth year of the program, the class emphasis turns to practical ways of using Music for People group leading techniques in the world. Candidates conduct their own workshops in settings of their choosing, and bring selected video samples of their teaching for peer and staff feedback. They compare publicity materials, and trade information on successful marketing approaches to bring their gifts to the world in ways that can sustain their love of music.

When the program requirements have been met at each level, candidates become Certified Music for People teachers, and are eligible for work referrals. Graduates are hired back at every workshop to lead large groups and offer small elective classes in their areas of specialty.

Due to the intensive and personal nature of the feedback given at each level of the program, MLP/MP candidates are required to attend all four weekend workshops in the series each year.

“Never play a thing the same way twice.”
— Louis Armstrong

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