This is a report of the recent training I received in Edmonton, Alberta on January 26-28, 2018. I attended the BreakForth One conference at the Shaw Centre in order to increase my skills as a teacher in Theatre Arts, Communication Media, GarageBand, and Christian Ethics at Valleyview School in Beauval, Sk.
My first session was with a professional drummer from Calgary named Marty Szucs. Marty is part of the Soultone group out of Calgary and has played in multiple bands, as a study drummer, and on cruise ships. Marty initially thought he was presented to fairly inexperienced drummers, but quickly found out we were a fairly advanced group. As such, he went over how to properly setup a drum set, and then moved to more advanced features like ghost notes and working together in a band setting. Marty emphasized the need to follow the leader of a band, even when the leader “is wrong”. Research of who you are playing for is especially important in this as you don’t want to be caught off guard. Marty also gave us some basic training on how to convert music (basic chords and lyrics) into drumming notation for future performances. Marty was intelligent, insightful and helpful in working with our group to give us practical things we can use in our own drumming.
The conference featured the Christian band from Australia “Hillsong Worship”. This band regularly puts on high-production value (stadium quality) shows and my second training session was with the Live Video production leads from the Band. Paul Martin and his companion went through the stages of Initial Design, Video References, Rough Design, Edit, Final Design, and Equipment as it related to their band. I was overwhelmed with the combination of Creativity and Technical design used in live shows. I learned more about how to use Live Video to enhance existing themes promoted with various lighting (LED, Moveable lights, fog) and musical compositions. Camera work was emphasized in a stadium environment. At the end of the presentation I asked paul if he’d share a link to his presentation which he said he would (unfortunately, I think he forgot about me). Either way, I look forward to challenging my own students next year as we put together our own productions at talent shows and Christmas.
My third class was with the lead electric guitarist of Hillsong Worship, Bobby Wagner. This whole class was full of aspiring electric guitar players and I felt totally out of place because I am far from an expert on the electric. With that being said, it was a great opportunity to learn more about compression, delay, and reverb as they relate to the electric guitar. I have taken these effects for granted, as well as the impact an electric guitar can have in an acoustic guitar or keyboard led band setting. In essence, an electric guitar can have most of the power of a synthesizer but in its own unique context. I now see the Lead guitarist role as one that can also be supplementary. It definitely is not chord driven. Their also was a surprising amount of music theory referenced throughout the presentation. Finally, this was all supplemented with some incredible electric guitar demonstrations.
My fourth class was with Gordie Chochran and Anthony Diehl from the Colours and Shapes production company. This was the lead production company for the entire conference. They chose all the colour themes, fonts, and text and tied them altogether to create one common message. This conference was probably the most practical because after it was over, I had a chance to talk personally with Anthony about the work I get to do in regard to Theatre Arts. He suggested that I get in touch with Breakforth for next year and bring a group of voluteers to help run lighting, sound, cameras, and basically anything that needs to be done in a large production. I am excited for my students about this opportunity and hope we get a chance to allow our students to experience what it would be like to work a large (4000+ audience) production. Maybe I could even get Anthony to come to Beauval? Either way, I’m excited for this potential connection.
In regard to the class itself, Anthony talked about the Design process for the conference. Discovery, Basic Needs, Equipment, Values, Testing, Refine, and Debrief. I think this is a great model for our Theatre Arts students to follow in their own productions.
The last session I was a part of was with GMA Canada recording Producer of the Year, Drew Brown. He gave us the ins and outs of Canada’s Christian music recording scene. Practical instruction was given in regard to goal setting and how production has changed over the last 20yrs. His recommendation was for artists to no longer pursue “record deals”, but rather to produce strong “singles” that can be streamed. He also was frank in the statement that producing music is generally a money losing process. The way musicians earn most of their money now is in fantastic live shows and constant touring. With this, a caution was given in terms of strong vocal work due to the higher stress of constant singing.