A Letter to our students from our Creative Director:
To the Students of BreakDownWay.com:
As we grow we want you, our students, to help us on this journey. We grow together. We believe that we are offering the next best thing to a private, one-on-one session with the masters themselves. It is our primary mission to have you learn to play music better; to teach in a way that we feel will make you a better musician in the long run, to enjoy the results and to share the resulting pleasure with others. It is with this mission in mind that we continuously ask for your feedback and attempt to integrate it where we can and to keep you apprised of our progress and our goals. So with no further ado:
My name is David Wolff. I am the founder and what I have been dubbed by others, the Creative Director of BreakDownWay.com. I thought it was high time that I introduce myself and provide a brief history into the genesis of BreakDownWay.com and our aspirations for the future.
Let me start from the start. I began listening to Jorma Kaukonen at the tender age of 15. I can remember the very day that I heard his wonderful music for the very first time as though it were yesterday. I recall closing my eyes in a futile attempt to imagine how one man could be responsible for all that I was hearing. That was the moment I set out on my musical journey. I simply had to learn to play. And thus, my mission began. I spent some 30 years teaching myself to play this music. I would follow Jorma around the country, pen and pad in hand taking "notes," attempting to emulate his moves.
Like many others, over that period I developed methods of learning using whatever technology was available to me at the given time. From lifting the needle on a phonograph doing my best not to scratch the vinyl in order to pick out licks to using VHS tapes and DVDs offered by Homespun to finally having the opportunity to learn directly from Jorma, I struggled to find the best way to achieve my goal of learning a seemingly endless number of techniques and to expand my music "vocabulary”. As fate would have it, years ago I befriended Jorma and the learning became a bit easier to say the least.
It was always my intention to share with others the methods I procured in learning to fingerpick. I held strong to the belief that if I could do it, well just about anyone who was willing to put the time and effort in would also be able to get there. I define “there” as that glorious day when the thumb seems reborn with a mind of its own.
A few years back, I was using the computer to store music and videos when it occurred to me that I had come across a great way to learn from the masters when not afforded the time or wherewithal to learn in person. I believe the beauty of this method is displayed by BreakDownWay.com's many features including the ability to offer more flexibility, portability and tools on the site as technology advances. Unlike DVD’s, BreakDownWay.com can change with the times as well as include our students’ suggestions for improving the learning experience almost instantly. I decided to find a way to share this learning method with fellow students/musicians and with that in mind I approached Jorma and Vanessa with my vision for BreakDownWay.com. The BreakDownWay.com Theater was a direct outgrowth of watching the site develop. It occurred to us that we had a chance to ultimately offer live webcasts of performances as well as previously taped performances. It is our intention to film student performances at the Fur Peace Station and offer them at the BreakDownWay.com Theater. We are currently developing this feature and hope to have it ready to go in the near future. Jorma & Vanessa also shared my vision and the desire to offer numerous other musicians the chance to move into BreakDownWay.com. This would offer the chance for musicians to teach with the added ability to communicate directly with their students. The rest as they say is history. We assembled what turned out to be a fantastic team of professionals who turned this vision into reality.
As for many of you, the creation of FPR was a dream come true. It was after having spent time participating in and observing workshops that it occurred to me that there had to be a way to enable students to maximize their experience in the workshops. I had witnessed many students laboring to “tab” every note Jorma was hitting and, in my opinion, not fully enjoying the incredibly special moment at hand. I felt that if students understood that the lesson was back home waiting for them when they returned from FPR they could more fully enjoy the workshop and focus more on the big picture. BreakDownWay.com provides that “rest assured” feeling that you will not be missing a thing. It provides a year-round refresher course. In addition, for those who are less fortunate, unable to either experience FPR at all or could not become “repeat offenders”, BreakDownWay.com is there as the next best thing.
Lastly, I’d like to offer to you my top 2 “musical
1) To focus on mastering but 2 songs a year
2) No tab
Many students have requested that we offer tablature in addition to the offerings on our “chalkboard”. Jorma and I agreed that it will indeed serve to make one a more prolific musician if forced to develop the ear. The goal should not be to play each and every note exactly as Jorma or any other master does. This is not to say that tab does not serve a purpose. Of course it is a useful aid. We simply feel unwilling to provide the temptation to use it as a crutch. So we hope you enjoy BreakDownWay.com as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. It truly is a labor of extreme love. As Jorma says: Rock on!!
David Wolff, Creative Director, BreakDownWay.com LLC.