Sean McGowan

Saturday, May 12   2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
NOTE: This Workshop requires a separately purchaced ticket in addition to General Admission (see below).

    The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist: Thoughts & Strategies on Improv, Harmony, & Solo Guitar

    This workshop will offer a variety of ideas and strategies for engineering and improvising solos in jazz, pop, and blues contexts. We'll look at pentatonic substitution devices, chromatic approaches, and 'shape-shifting' to deepen our knowledge of harmony and the fretboard. We'll also explore some different ways to organize effective sessions that emphasize musical creativity and enjoyable practice! The class will cover a three-point approach to organizing the fretboard for scales, arpeggios, and chord voicings, and a brief overview of finger style jazz guitar and picking techniques.


    About Sean

    Sean McGowan is a fingerstyle jazz guitarist who combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures within his compositions and arrangements for solo guitar. His first recording River Coffee won the Best Independent Release of the Year Award (2002) from Acoustic Guitar magazine and music from the recording has been published in Japan’s Acoustic Guitar magazine and Mel Bay’s Master Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar, Vol. 3 (2005). His subsequent recordings Indigo (2008) and Sphere: the Music of Thelonious Monk (2011) offer compelling portraits of classic jazz standards performed on solo electric archtop guitar. Sphere was named one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s “Essential Albums of 2011”, and Sean was recently featured on the cover of Fingerstyle 360 magazine (Summer 2012). His most recent solo guitar recordings include Thanksgiving & Christmas Tidings (2014) a collection of seasonal hymns and carols arranged for acoustic guitar, and My Fair Lady (2015) a collection of songs from Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece.
    As a soloist, Sean has performed at several festivals including the Novi Sad International Jazz Festival in Serbia, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in Napa Valley, Copper Mountain Guitar Town, the Newport Guitar Festival, and the Chet Atkins CAAS Convention. He has also collaborated with several dance and improv companies, as well as with jazz and acoustic musicians throughout the Rocky Mountain region.
    Sean is an avid arts educator and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Music and the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado Denver. He earned a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and has conducted workshops at colleges throughout the country. Sean is a strong advocate for injury prevention and health education for musicians, and his workshops incorporate a holistic approach to playing. He is also a contributing editor and educational advisor for Acoustic Guitar magazine. He is the author of the String Letter book/DVD instructional projects The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist, Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials and Holiday Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar, as well as Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Survival Guide and Walking Bass & Comping for Jazz Guitar, both available at


    Saturday, May 12   2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

    Civic Garden Club
    622 South Second St.  La Conner, WA - Map
    Tickets:  $30 in advance - online   $35 at the box office (located in Maple Hall during festival hours)

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