Guthrie Govan, Andy Wood, Mattias IA Eklundh: rma review

Spotted on the Petrucci forum... need to look out now for the photos of the show which will be posted on the forum. CE24Nomad says:
Guthrie Govan, Mattias IA Eklundh, Andy Wood Summer Workshop at the RMA

I’m going to preface this by saying I’ve had a really, really great time as usual. Everybody there was into it, kind, and had a great time. Paul really knows how to pull this stuff together, that’s for sure. Kudos to you, Mr. Warren.

Tuesday 14th

12:30 Orientation
Tuesday morning was an interesting one. Like an itty bitty kid before Christmas, I was hardly able to sleep out of excitement. I got there with my friend Jeff (who goes by MetalHeadd here) at the very beginning of orientation. Paul and Addie (sp?) were handing out the badges with our names and the event on them at the door to greet everyone. There were a lot of different age groups represented. People as young as 13 or so, and there were plenty of people on the opposite end of the spectrum. The environment was pretty good – a lot of jetlag and exhaustion circled the room, but it still was a very positive environment.

1:00 Guitar Tech Class - Robert Horne
Robert is someone who any guitar player can look up to – and very easily. He’s an exceptional blues player with stage presence for days, and the most incredible feel I’ve ever heard. He went over a lot of really important things like intonation, truss rod adjustment, how to set action, etc. The class was a little shorter than expected, but nobody really asked any questions. Not a whole lot of interaction for this portion – I think it had a lot to do with everyone’s trips here.

2:00 Guitar technique primer - Chris Ptacek
Chris, you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread. Except for maybe a steel fork. Those are pretty, erm. Metal. The intention of this class was to give a brief overview of any techniques. There were going to be a lot of technical words thrown around for the rest of the week, so Chris wanted to make sure no one was left in the dark. He explained a multitude of things – sweep picking, hybrid picking, legato, casting spells at your guitar, etc. It went by pretty well, and definitely helped. It’s something that should be added every year from now on, it was a great idea.

2:30 Music Theory for Guitar 101 - Chris Ptacek
Besides having technical difficulties (lol c wut I did thar?) with a white board, marker, and paper towel, Chris did a really good job of teaching this class. Regardless of how high and mighty anyone’s music theory knowledge is, Chris can explain it in such a way that it makes even more sense than it did before – a very useful class for everyone, not just the people who never have studied it.

3:30 Freak Harmonics & Sounds - Mattias IA Eklundh
Mattias is truly a mad man, and only in the best way possible. He’s a very unique person, and just as unique in his playing. I was thrilled to meet him and get to spend a lot of time with him. He started the class by telling a story about how his left ball grew to a million times the size of the other one, and then… well, I doubt he wants that all on the internet The class portion was awesome, his character really made it great. He showed a few ideas for harmonics, and made a point of visiting everyone at their chair, and offering advice on a certain technique. Tip-top guy

7:30 Chickin Pickin 101 - Andy Wood
Andy Wood, my brother. Assuming the majority of you haven’t met Andy, he’s someone you should definitely try and meet. He’s a really positive spirit, very outspoken, and absolutely hilarious. Total redneck, but I’ll forgive him just this once He showed us quite a few cool licks. There’s certainly a lot for us to work on, and this class got us used to using the right hand’s fingers to pluck strings as well. Definitely a whole new realm of playing – Andy, I plan on keeping in touch with this stuff. You’ve got to keep me in shape, man!

Wednesday 15th

1:00 Blues Guitar - Robert Horne
I already mentioned how ridiculous of a player Robert is, so I’m not going to re-iterate myself. He went over the general idea of figuring out chord tones, and making your own voices for them. Basically, he wanted to stay away from the average barre chords, and get something a little more interesting sounding. He had quite a few different grooves and progressions, with the help of Hugh and Abdala (both great players and people) as a backing band. I believe everyone attending got up and played, and it was really cool. Had a few mistakes myself, but it’s a learning environment, and that’s the idea.

2:30 Freak Sweeping & Tapping - Mattias IA Eklundh
Mattias taught us quite a bit of this stuff. Many, many tapping licks, and just as many sweeping licks. In my opinion, regardless of how good you were at either, he was going to find a way to trip you up and make you think about what you were doing. Very unconventional sweeping patterns (no 5 string major arpeggios) and the tapping stuff had a very precise rhythm. Both were really, really great exercises, and made complete sense when he explained them. He’s a really solid teacher.

3:45 Legato Guitar - Guthrie Govan
Guthrie. I don’t know how much else there is to say. Arguably the best guitarist in existence was mere feet away from all of us. Regardless of how intimidating it may have seemed, his calm, British sensibility was more than enough to make it a relaxed environment. In the book Paul gave us, all of the teachers, aside from Guthrie made extensive handouts for us to use. Guthrie’s was blank He started the class by ultimately saying “we’re slotted to learn about legato, but I don’t think I’m going to teach you that.” A little concerning at first for me, but he gave an INCREDIBLE lecture about things like tone, technique, and how he didn’t care for the words “feel” and “emotion” in the general sense of the word. It was a very insightful class, quite possibly my favorite of the whole week.

7:30 Songwriting - Guthrie Govan and Mattias IA Eklundh
This class was also a really cool one. No guitars were really needed – this was purely for the sake of education. It was really cool to pick the minds of these guys, their view on everything was very different and very much the same in a lot of ways. Mattias showed us a bit of the new Freak Kitchen as examples of his songwriting technique. I believe we were the listening party, if you will. Very cool stuff! We got Guthrie and Mattias to “write” a song on the spot, and it really sounded as if it were written before. The two of them are musical geniuses, I was shocked at how fluid it was.
Thursday 16th

1:00 Changing gears (mixing note values, building intensity, dynamics) - Guthrie Govan
Guthrie’s classes are really difficult to write much about. He never really followed the course description, but answered everyone’s question in a really easy to understand manner. His classes were almost information overload – he knows sooooo much, and nearly everyone had a question for him. I believe this is the class where he mostly went over chords. At one point he played “happy birthday” and managed to throw a lot of triads and interesting chord voicings in, which prompted the question. I enjoyed this class a lot, as well. This made me want to do some exploring of the fretboard, if you will.

2:30 Music Theory for Guitar 102 - Chris Ptacek
Modes! The most controversial subject of this lovely forum Chris also did a great job of teaching this one. He got a couple of students to go up on stage – had one play G major, and the other move the root note around, and vice versa to demonstrate how modes work in creating a different sound. This class ended up being a little shorter than it should have been, but it still was explained very well.

3:45 Expanding your tapping - Guthrie Govan and Mattias IA Eklundh
This class was also quite fun to have both teachers on stage. A good portion of this class was spent showing different general ideas the two of them used. The general consensus was that they wanted people to be more original than the typical EVH tapping phrase – adding tuplets, moving frets, adding bends, and anything else you can imagine one of them doing. It really opened up a lot of doors for me, and my terrible tapping, so that was pretty cool.

7:30 Mattias IA Eklundh - performance clinic
He knows how to put on a show. Kept us laughing the whole time, and when he performed, kept our jaws on the floor. He did a good job of explaining what he was playing before he actually did, so it helped make a little more sense of what is “strange and Swedish” music.

Friday 17th

1:00 Freak Time (working on odd time/odd tuplets) - Mattias IA Eklundh
Mattias taught a plethora of subjects in all of his other classes, while retaining the main focus of them. This class was sort of a melting pot of everything he taught us, since he had to leave in an hour or so afterwards. He took this time to try and show us a few excerpts of the songs he had written out for us so that we could at least get the general idea, and let the rest be homework. I thought it was a very cool thing of him to do that, he didn’t want anything to be unsaid, even if it had to be said rather quickly and Swedish-y.

2:30 Practicing guitar & advancing technique – Guthrie Govan and Mattias IA Eklundh
The general subject matter of this class only lasted for a few minutes. Guthrie and Mattias both explained that they didn’t “practice” in the regular metronome insanity way. For them, their practice comes in jamming, writing songs, etc. Mattias had to leave during this class, so we all went outside and took group shots for him to put on the Freak Kitchen site. After Mattias left, it turned into another question and answer session with Guthrie, which is always pleasant.

4:00 Chickin Pickin 102 - Andy Wood
So. Many. Notes. So. Much. Redneck. This class brought a little more to what were taught before in an earlier class with Andy. There were a few more licks to be taught this time, most of them were (imo) a bit harder than the previous class’ version. Again, I feel like it was mostly to get some homework material rather than mastering the technique in an hour – should be a challenge.

7:30 Improvisation - Guthrie Govan
This class was really cool. With full bellies, and plenty of six string guitars, Guthrie invited more questions to be asked. By the third question, a person asked “Can we talk about improvisation?” to which Guthrie replied, “Oh like we’re scheduled to be talking about, right?” Everyone laughed, and he did an amazing job of teaching us a few ideas on the subject. A very good class, and plenty of Guthrie being Guthrie.
Saturday 18th

1:00 Note Choice - Chris Ptacek & Robert Horne
This class had a lot of interaction as well. A few practice amps were put on stage for us to all use and demonstrate the ideas they went over. I was one of the first chosen to participate, and had a good time. Chris started with saying “just play E notes”, then added the third of the chord, the fifth, and so on. It did a good job of showing the importance of the chord tones, and the tension/release idea. Very cool.

2:30 Playing in and out - Guthrie Govan
Guthrie actually talked about what was scheduled! It was a great moment in history This was also a very cool class, he showed us a few ideas on how to get outside of the key and make it work. This is definitely something that I have full intentions of pursuing. It has a really cool sound, and would be a healthy challenge. Guthrie was a great teacher for this class.

4:00 Hybrid picking for rock - Andy Wood
Andy did a REALLY good job teaching this class in particular. He showed us licks from his album (which I’ll post a review of later) which were really cool. What I appreciated the most was that he slowed things down to stupid speeds and made sure EVERYONE was following along, and got the licks he showed us. He also had a couple people get on stage and play with him. Very cool experience, and it was a riot to hear his explanation on jamming with people versus playing with yourself. It had something to do with the reproductive system

7:30 Suhr clinic with guests Guthrie Govan & Andy Wood
This was a very fitting end to the whole week. The place had quite a few more visitors to come and see Guthrie live. Daniel from Port City was there (although he spent most of the week with us – top notch guy), Ed Yoon was there, and who I consider to be a good friend, Eddie Berman from Indoor Storm. Guthrie’s playing was phenomenal. He broke a string in the middle of Ner Ner, and you’d have never known that happened unless you witnessed it. It was a great opportunity for him to mention how he endorses Rotosound strings, and that wasn’t a Rotosound that broke. Before he played Fives, he explained how in most circumstances, he’d have a beer during the bass solo and sit off to the side. He was purely saying it for the sake of fun, but Chris still found a way to cater him with a beer on a plate during the bass solo. Probably the greatest moment in recorded history Andy and Guthrie both played Rhode Island Shred together which was just unbelievable. Phenomenal players, the both of them. There was also a jam at the end of the night that really showcased everything the two of them could do. Also, just a stunning performance. Definitely the best guitar-centric live show I’ve EVER seen. Guthrie and Andy were both more than welcome to hang out afterwards, whether it be saying goodbye, taking pictures, or signing their albums.

A few things that I missed out on saying happened inbetween these classes and afterwards. The 5-day class people were able to have dinner with Guthrie, Mattias, Chris, Andy, Paul, and that turned out to be a great experience. Near the end, we were all banging on the tables with Mattias helping us understand polyrhythms. As he said, those tables will never be the same again, and can be sold on ebay for 2$

We're also on Freak Kitchen's site now. It's about halfway down for those interested.

I'll be adding pictures too, as soon as I can get my hands on them.
Anybody that was there and has pictures, PM me. I'll give you my e-mail, and I can add them here, or just keep them for my collection.
forum post... images to follow