Photo by Len Villano

Master Classes, Workshops, Demonstrations and Community Outreach

Arts-in-Education programs for all ages, available for in conjunction with Howard's concerts or as stand-alone events. Recent educational residencies have included:

  • Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT   (Read Howard's blog post about his Hotchkiss residency)
  •  Keene University, Keene, NH
  • Door County Community Center, Fish Creek, WI
  • Castleton University, Castleton VT
  • Dual Language & Arts Magnet Middle School, Waterford, CT
  • The College of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas)
  • Mercyhurst Institute, Erie, PA
  • Connecticut College, New London, CT


Howard working with Hotchkiss students on improvisation and arrangement

Performance and Improvisation (Master Class/Workshop)

75 minutes, available in formats geared for college/adult, high school, or middle school

  • Music in Performance: What is personal expression, and how does it change when an audience is present? What ways can a musician best prepare for a performance? What challenges can arise in performance, and what are some tools for managing them?
  • Improvisation: What is improvisation, and how can it both enhance and detract from a performance? How can an ensemble improvise together? What are ways to prepare for successful improvisation is performance? What is an individual musical voice, and how is it cultivated? What roles do listening and silence play in improvisation?

Optional: If programmed at a learning institution, the music faculty is encouraged to choose a limited number of students to bring their instruments to the class.

Songwriting (Workshop)

75-90 minutes, Available in formats geared for college/adult, high school, or middle school

Topics include:

  • Songwriting: What makes a good song? What harmonic choices exist that can make a song more interesting? What’s a “hook,” and how does it work with a composition?  What are the “rules” for a classic pop song, and when can they be broken?
  • Orchestration and arranging: What orchestration options are available to make a song most effective? How can a song be arranged for different sized ensembles? What are some of the differences between the recorded version of a song and the way it can be performed live?

Photo by Len Villano

Music as a Business Master Class/Seminar

75-90 minutes, Available in formats geared for college/adult or high school

An interactive session that caters to the needs and specific questions of the participants,  but also gives a broad overview of what it's like "on the ground" as a professional working in the music business, be it as a performing artist, booking agent, publicist, manager, producer, record label, or any combination thereof. Topics include:

  • I'm a great musician -- now what?": Choosing a path that's right for you
  • "How do I make a living in music?" The changing face of the business
  • "Do I need help?" Publicists, agents, managers and record labels
  • "Creating a scene": Working with friends and peers
  • Licensing and Publishing: Making your music work for you
  • Thinking outside the box: Alternate ways to make an impact in the business
  • The fun stuff: Writing, performing, recording and touring

“The Old, Weird America” (Seminar/Demonstration)

75-90 minutes, Available in formats geared for college/adult, high school, or middle school

Generally programmed in conjunction with Howard’s “Basement Tapes Project,” “The Old, Weird America” uses Greil Marcus’ text of the same name as a springboard for talking about topics including:

  • The history of American vernacular music, using examples from the Basement Tapes repertoire like “Cool Water,” The Hills of Mexico,” “Ain’t No More Cane” and “Bucket’s Got a Hole” to demonstrate the influence of country, blues, gospel, jazz and cowboy music on American pop
  • How musicians improvise arrangements and work together to record a song
  • The value of spontaneity and the unknown in musical collaboration
  • Violence in American music
  • Bob Dylan’s lyrics as literature (recommended for more advanced age groups)
  • Writing about the arts and how music writing can inspire new ways of listening (advanced ages)

Music and Improvisation For Kids

Watch a video of Howard and the band performing a Kids Show in Vermont

45 minutes, Ages 4-12

Demonstrations of how the different instruments in the band function and work with one another; how rhythm, tempo and key affect the feeling of a song; interactive drumming and recorder participation; improvisational renditions of favorite song requests; and a Q and A.

Photo by Matthew Perry