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Book a Lesson with Byron Fry
Having ‘dabbled’ on piano from babyhood, Byron officially commenced his musical escapades on ukulele at three, guitar at five and began formal education on piano at nine with acclaimed Bay Area concert pianist Gloria Dolan; his first steady live ensemble on guitar was at ten.
He grew up in a very musical family, benefiting from exposure to everything from Mussorgsky to Miles and Stravinsky to Shankar, as well as going to see Ozawa conduct the SF Symphony often. His teen years were an exploration of odd-time-signature writing and playing with like-minded musicians in ensembles around the East Bay Area.
Fast-forward to twenty-one and Dick Grove’s Composing / Arranging program in Studio City—now lauded as having been an educational high-water mark—where he was very fortunate to have instructors Sammy Nestico (orchestration), Dick Grove (Composing / Arranging) Diz Mullins (copying), as well as guest instructors Lalo Schifrin (thematic development), Henry Mancini (music business), Tom Scott, Tommy Tedesco, etc. He also studied improv with Russell Tuttle, staff guitarist with Columbia. The intervening years have been spent amassing experience and credit in the LA music industry.
As a Composer / Arranger / Producer, he has scored dozens of hours of footage for Film and TV; written, arranged and produced every style for live shows and records; been musical director of a musical’s 3-month run; written his first symphony and conducted its premier; spearheaded the writing of a major-label rock opera by an international team with multiple platinum records and number one hits under its belt; written two string quartets and two pieces on commission for an award-winning 26-piece band.
His first Guitar-Centric Rock/Fusion album “Combustible” stayed at the top of the fusion charts at numberonemusic.com for five solid years upon its release in ’08, getting over 1.8 million plays so far. The new album, ‘Explosive‘, is doing even better, getting rave reviews and winning critical acclaim from industry dignitaries in the genre.
As a Guitarist, Composer, Arranger and Producer, he is extremely versatile and adept at all styles from Jazz to Jazz/Fusion to Classical, Big Band to Funk / R&B, the myriad of Rock styles, Blues to Latin to Country, Slide and Acoustic Finger-Styles.
As an educator / clinician, he’s been a Contract Artist for the State of California, has been on faculty at the academically elite Deep Springs College, is on faculty at California College of Music in Pasadena, gives clinics, workshops and master classes at colleges, music schools, high schools and Guitar Centers, and teaches privately online.
As an educator / clinician, I've been a Contract Artist for the State of California and a faculty member at the academically elite Deep Springs College (until I moved away from that area when I returned to the Los Angeles music industry). I'm currently on faculty at California College of Music in Pasadena. I teach clinics, workshops and master classes at colleges, music schools, high schools and Guitar Centers, and I teach privately online. My teaching style, while uniquely tailored to the needs of each student, tends to be accelerated and geared toward preparing the student for the realities of the real-world musical workplace, using nuts-and-bolts terminology that minimizes ambiguity and confusion.
Below you can find my teaching curriculum, outlining the many subjects that I teach.
A) THE BASICS:
1) The Master (AKA ‘Grand’) Staff
2) Scales, key signatures, modes
3) 3rds and 7ths in Chords; how chord symbols work
4) Rhythmic Note Values
B) BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE MUSICAL—HARMONY:
(This is an in-depth look at all eleven harmonic structures in conventional Western harmony, including all of the chordal functions, interior 3, 4, 5 and 6-part chords, some special voicings, improv tricks, stylistic considerations and the trouble-shooting of faulty chord symbols.)
1) The I MA13(#11) chord in Major
2) The ii mi13 chord in Major
3) The V 13 chord in Major
4) “ii-V-I: What is chordal function, REALLY?”
5) The i mi MA 13 chord in minor
6) The ii mi7 (b5) in minor
7) The IV 13(#11) chord in minor
8) The V13(b9) in Major and in minor
9) The V7(b9 b13) in minor
10) The altered dominant / tri-tone subs
11) The so-called diminished structure and the 8-note dominant scale
12) The V9 (b13) in Major and in minor
C) BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE MUSICAL—RHYTHM :
1) Basics of time signatures
3) Rhythmic sightreading
4) recommendations on how to become fluent in Rhythm
5) Metronome practice techniques
6) Klaves! They drive everything!
D) COMPOSING AND ARRANGING:
1) The Score
2) The ‘Envelope’
3) Thematic development
4) The Arranger’s toolbox (klaves, entrances, pads, harmonizing the melody, obligato, ostinato, pedals, alternating triads, distilling melody down to its truth, target notes, counter-melody, thumb lines, bass line 101, master rhythm charts, etc.)
5) Stylistic considerations to applying the 11 chords in arrangement
6) Special harmonic techniques—12-tone, reharmonization, parallel, etc.
7) Stylistic considerations of applying Rhythm to arrangement
8) Music Copying / Transcribing / Notation
1) Introduction to the instrument families
2) Writing for Woodwinds
3) Writing for Strings
4) Writing for Brass
5) Writing for Mallets, Percussion and Rhythm Section
6) Developing an ‘orchestral ear’
1) Pre-Production; midi, the DAW and such
2) Signal flow theory
4) The Mix
1 through 11) An in-depth look, chord-by-chord, at how to fly with the 11 harmonic structures
12) Superimposing tonalities; polychords
13) Composing a solo; more on the ‘envelope’
14) Comping (Accompaniment—if you’re a guitar player, this is the most important skill set you’ll ever build.)
H) PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF PLAYING GUITAR :
1) Litany on motor skill development; building motor engrams; exercises for building independence, synchronization, speed & accuracy
2) Tuning; string winding / headstock 101; instrument care and feeding
3) Care and feeding of the forearm flexor / extensor muscle / tendon / ligament machinery
I) TIPS ON APPLYING GUITAR IN THE WORKPLACE :
1) Understanding your function
2) Studio protocol / stage protocol
3) Tracking Guitar—the basic track, overdubs, obligatos, ostinatos, the fill track, the solo track, the acoustic track, engineer psychology 101, producer psychology, FX theory
J) PLAYING DIFFERENT STYLES ON GUITAR:
2) Straight-ahead Jazz
6) AAA (that ‘polished’ sound)
7) Hard Rock
8) Old school rock
9) Psychedelic tricks
10) Finger-style / Travis Fingerpicking
12) Scatting / singing harmony with your guitar
K) MISCELLANY :
1) Listening and responding to the music around you
2) Ear training tips
3) More polyrhythms
4) The science—and love—of stupid, inane parts we must play
5) Bandleader psychology
6) Audition strategies
7) Packaging yourself