Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Week With Chick Corea: Part 3 -- Elation

Table Of Contents
A Week With Chick Corea: Part 3
Chick’s first ever 5-day Master Workshop with John Patitucci (bass) and Antonio Sanchez (drums) held at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA from August 27 - 31, 2012


Much to everyone’s amazement, we received some better than expected news from Chick Corea’s manager Bill Rooney along with some e-mail from Chick Corea himself. Chick decided to hold the workshop as scheduled in spite of the bankruptcy and even more amazing was the fact that Chick decided to pay for everything out of his own pocket including room and board for all attendees! What unheard of generosity! It seemed too good to be true, but the good news kept coming and we kept hearing more from Chick and his staff so the disbelief and grief turned into joy and relief!

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Chick Corea Productions

Date: Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Subject: Chick Corea Workshop is On!

Hi Michael,

We are very pleased to announce that we've worked out the logistics to enable Chick Corea Productions, Chick's own company, to deliver the residency at the Cranwell Resort, in Lenox, MA from August 27 - 31, 2012.
We have retained a team of individuals whose business is the production of music workshops to handle all the remaining details, and to ensure that you have a fulfilling experience with Chick, John Patitucci and Antonio Sanchez. You will be hearing from the residency organizers very soon with the latest information. But, your travel plans should remain exactly the same as before.

We need to clarify that the National Guitar Workshop, the company that had originally engaged Chick for the workshop, is still filing bankruptcy. They will have nothing to do with this workshop now. It is entirely presented by Chick Corea Productions, Inc. Your hotel rooms and all meals will be provided, checking in on August 27th and checking out on August 31st.

We are not able to provide any refunds, as your payment was made to National Guitar Workshop, and not to Chick Corea Productions. Chick Corea Productions has no access to your payments. In order to present the workshop and not disappoint the attendees, Chick Corea Productions has elected to personally cover the costs of hotel rooms and meals, which were supposed to be paid for with the monies you paid to National Guitar Workshop.

The bottom line is that Chick cares deeply about his fellow musicians, and from the moment he heard about this situation, wanted nothing but to work out a way to spend these days with you as you had expected. He is really looking forward to seeing each and every one of you at this intimate workshop.

We look forward to seeing you all at Camp Corea in August!

Warm regards,

Bill Rooney

E-mails from Chick!

And then we received this series of e-mail messages from Chick himself!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 8:37 AM
Subject: From Chick

Dear Friends,

So sorry for the mix up on this workshop. Fortunately we were able to solve the situation, and so have our get together as planned.

I'm really looking forward to meeting you all and having some fun with The Muse.

See you soon.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM
Subject: Lead Sheets for Chick Corea Workshop

Dear Workshop Friends,

Here's a bunch of lead sheets I found poking through my PDFs. Many are new pieces that I have never tried out. I thought it would be fun to work these out together and have them as discussion pieces.

I realize that each one attending has different interests and different strengths and weaknesses - as we all do. So have a peek at these. And I'd like your feedback as to how easy or complex these pieces seem. I'll send some MP3s as well - the demos that I've made of some of them.

If you have any requests - please write in advance. Any songs you'd like to look into particularly?

This is going to be a lot of FUN!!

See you soon = all the best,


PS: I will bring my laptop with tons of other PDFs - - so we will have plenty of lead sheet material to fool with.

All compositions © Crystal Silence Music, Inc.
You are receiving this message because you registered for Chick Corea's Music Workshop.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Subject: "Imaginings" Demos
Dear Work-shoppers,

Here are 3 pieces for you - scores and original Logic demos. We can look them over or not. I wrote them as a commission for a piano contest in Europe. Reflections was for "beginning students." "Afterthought" was for more advanced students. And "Contest" is a flamenco bulería for 2 pianos - - not so easy I would say.

This is a gift for you to do with as you like.

Best - Chick

You are receiving this message because you registered for Chick Corea's Music Workshop.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Subject: A few more pieces

Ok Work-shoppers,

This is the final installment for now. A few of my old jam tunes. A new piece John wrote for me (I'm honored) that we haven't tried yet. And a piece I wrote for Antonio's first solo outing plus 2 other never-tried originals of mine.

Send me feedback and requests if you like - - otherwise I'll see you there.

Best, Chick

PS: we don't have to fool with any of this - - just suggestions > > >

You are receiving this message because you registered for Chick Corea's Music Workshop.

BTW, it was very cool to see copies of original handwritten charts for world-famous classic Chick Corea tunes such as Spain, 500 Miles High, and Armando's Rhumba. I was expecting to see professionally printed copies of those tunes since they've been published in various books, but was amazed to see that Chick had sent us copies of the original handwritten first drafts. We would soon find out during the workshop that Chick encourages studying the original scores of any piece of music in order to get as close as possible to the composer's original intent.

So I sent in my requests to Chick:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike Prigodich
Date: Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 7:57 PM
Subject: Re: Lead Sheets for Chick Corea Workshop
To: Chick Corea

Hi Chick,

Thanks for sending the charts! Time to lock myself in the woodshed and check them out in advance. Looking forward to this chance of a lifetime happening just a few weeks from now.

Below are my humble requests for things to cover in the workshop if possible, though I'm sure I'll learn a ton just working on whatever material you choose:

1) Since you'll be there with the Dr. Joe trio, I'd love to work on the title track Doctor Joe. That's one of my favorite tunes from your Five Trios box set.

2) I'm also interested in learning more about composition in general, so it'd be great to work through writing a new composition or two during the workshop.

3) I'd love to get inside your head more as far as your melody development, both in your solos and your writing, as well as your approach to voicings, etc.
4) I know at least a couple of us at the workshop would be really interested in looking at the following tunes:
* The Yellow Nimbus
* Brasilia

5) A couple other songs I'm also interested in if there's time:
* Folk Song
* Little Flamenco

M i k e   P r i g o d i c h

Chick responded to our requests and said he’d bring some of the exact tunes I requested!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Sat, Aug 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Subject: A Response from Chick

To All who responded to my PDF score mailings,

Thanks for all your emails. I appreciate your interest.

Got it on all your comments and requests - - as you requested, I'll bring with me: "Yellow Nimbus," "Brasilia," "Folk Song," "Got A Match" and "Romantic Warrior." As I said I'll have my laptop with me loaded with PDFs of most of my scores and other music as well.

Ok to write lyrics to any of my melodies - - although to publish a lyric to the song requires the composer's approval - but I think you know that.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all at the workshop. It's going to be a fun hang.

All the best,


You are receiving this message because you registered for Chick Corea's Music Workshop.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chick Corea
Date: Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Subject: Thanks for your responses

7 Aug 12

Dear Work Shoppers,

Thanks for all your responses. I was happy to hear from all of you.

I realize by your responses that there are many and various interests and abilities and goals amongst us all. This is no surprise, and is as it should be. There were lots of other song requests in addition to the songs I sent. Combined, your interests span a pretty wide area.

So I will try to focus in on things that we're all interested in, of course. There will be opportunity each morning for hanging out and jam sessions if you like. Or you can hole up in your room and practice on your own.

I'm bringing lots of lead sheets in PDF form - ready to send to the printer if we want to explore some particular standard.

Safe journey to Lenox and see you soon,

All the Best,


You are receiving this message because you registered for Chick Corea's Music Workshop.


Chick Corea Productions hired some of the former National Guitar Workshop staff and contractors to assist with the Chick master class, so we started received communication from Allyson McFerren, someone we had been in contact with at NGW prior to the bankruptcy. Allyson set up a Facebook page for the workshop attendees so we finally had a chance to virtually meet and interact with some of the attendees prior to the meeting in person at the workshop. Through this page, several other workshop attendees found out about the Chick Corea and Gary Burton concert at Tanglewood and were able to buy tickets and arranged to meet up at the concert the night before the workshop started. One of the people I met this way was Scott Erichsen, a blind piano player traveling on his own all the way from Australia! I offered to give both Scott and Fernando a ride to and from Tanglewood and a ride to the Cranwell Resort the next morning. Also, both Scott and Fernando stayed at the same motel I’d found in Lee, MA the night before the workshop started in order to save a little money rather than spending extra to stay at the higher priced Cranwell Resort an additional night.

Here’s the Facebook page that Allyson set up for us:

I was also relieved to see the following e-mail about the video and audio recording policy since I was a bit worried that people bringing a bunch of recording devices into the workshop would be distracting and I was pretty sure that Chick, John, and Antonio wouldn’t want random unapproved clips posted on-line for the world to see without their permission, as well as many of the other workshop attendees (myself included). I was happy to see that the workshop would have minimal distractions in order to focus on maximum learning opportunity. This would also help prevent sudden urges to tweet about every little thing that happened or post on-going commentary on Facebook every few minutes! This would also help preserve the exclusivity of the workshop for those people that had signed up for it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Allyson
Date: Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 6:51 PM
Subject: Chick Corea Workshop Recording Policy

Dear Workshop Participants,

Thanks once again for signing on for Chick's music workshop. Since the session is just a few weeks away, I'd like you to please take a look at the workshop's recording policy.

During the class times, and in rehearsals and performances, we ask that you do not record or post videos, do not take pictures or record and or post audio of the sessions online or elsewhere.  If you must bring a cell phone into the sessions, please turn the ringer off and go out of the room if you need to use it.  No cell phone usage inside any of the classes or sessions will be allowed.

The main reason for this rule is that we want to make sure that this is a fun and productive workshop, and we've found that recording interrupts the flow of the sessions. The lessons and performances are much more useful without these disruptions.

You should know that there will be plenty of time to take photos with Chick, John and Antonio. They are all very happy to join you for pictures outside of the sessions and class time, and, if you like, sign autographs. There's no restriction on that.

On top of that, we will be recording the final student concert professionally, and we'll be sending that performance to you afterward, along with a keepsake video we'll be shooting during the workshop.

I really appreciate your understanding with this policy. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

This is going to be an unforgettable week — see you all soon!

Warmest regards,

Bill Rooney

Chick Corea Productions

P.S.  Chick asked that you please bring blank manuscript paper and pencils for writing music during the classes.  Thanks!

By the way, I also sent off an e-mail asking about the availability of keyboards to practice on. Here’s what I got in response:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Allyson McFerren
Date: Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 2:10 PM
Subject: Corea Workshop Logistics

Hello Mr. Prigodich,
Yes, keyboards will be available for you to use while at the workshop.  We do not have enough to set one up in everyone's guest room and in the main classroom, so if you'd like to practice in your room, you will have to bring it back and forth.  But again, we will be providing you with a keyboard, stand, and music stand for the event.  I hope that makes your travel plans a bit easier.
Thanks very much for checking in and have a great day.
Kind Regards,

Fernando also passed on some scheduling info to me that he received from Allyson:

From: Allyson McFerren
Date: August 9, 2012 23:07:33 GMT-03:00
To: Fernando Giuffrida
Subject: Re: Chick Corea Music Workshop on Facebook

Hello Fernando,
Check-in will be between 9am-11am on Monday.  And check-out will be around 12 noon on Friday.  I will be sending a schedule to you very soon.

Preparation (or lack thereof)

Between my day job testing storage software for Dell and my family life with two kids at home (ages 7 and 10) and my own part-time self-employment moonlighting as a jazz musician and bandleader, I didn’t practice the music that Chick sent us in advance of the workshop nearly as much as I would have liked to. I felt under-prepared for the workshop. Part of it was being busy with work and preparing for my own gig a week before the workshop started, though I felt underprepared for my own gig too since I tried to spend time practicing Chick’s music instead of my music. The other part was simply that I felt more than a bit intimidated looking at all the complicated new music that Chick sent us.

I’m a poor sight-reader. I’m mostly self-taught as a musician and haven’t spent the time I need to improve my sight-reading skills. Some of the music that Chick sent was very high level piano scores commissioned for piano competitions along with other challenging through-composed pieces. The simple chord chart lead sheets with melody and chord symbols are challenging enough for me to read, but throw two staff piano music in front of me with written out treble and bass clef and I start to freak out. I can read, but I read very slowly with lots of mistakes. I basically have to slowly memorize pieces in order to be able to play them anywhere near full speed. It has been and continues to be a major handicap in my playing abilities. I need to spend some serious time improving my sight-reading one of these years.

Anyway, I played a gig with my band on Friday, August 17, 2012 at a jazz club in NW Portland, OR called Ivories. I actually forgot how to play two of my own songs on that gig after spending so much time working on Chick's tunes instead of my tunes! How embarrassing! One of the tunes I forgot how to play was Armando’s Birthday, the tune I’d written for Chick! Good grief! Oh well, things happen on live gigs. That’s just how things go sometimes. Especially when I have to work my day job sitting in a cubicle all day and drive straight to my gig and have to start playing music without having any chance to warm up or practice the day of the gig.

Well, enough of my whining and excuses. The days till the workshop kept disappearing and before long, it was time to pack and there was no time left to cram practice time at the piano before catching my flight.

Up Next: Part 4 -- Getting There

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