Classes & Levels

Here’s where you’ll find basic information about Django in June’s instructional program. We’ll cover:

About the Daily Schedule

Please note: although Django Camp officially kicks off on Tuesday evening, we offer a full day of pre-camp workshops throughout that day. These special offerings are designed to help you get the most out of the week to come. We encourage you to check them out: You can do so right here.

Wednesday through Saturday, the daily schedule of instructional activities looks like this:

About the Class Levels

While many of our classes and jams at Django Camp are organized by level, some of this organizing happens more or less informally. For example, three violin teachers or two accordion instructors working as a team will simply divide up their students by rough level of ability on the spot. But there are too many guitarists in attendance at Django Camp for this casual approach to be practical, so their classes are organized by level somewhat more formally.

Below we’ll offer some guidelines as to what we mean by each of the levels you’ll see on the daily schedule for three different types of classes:

Rhythm Guitar Class Levels

Level 1a and 1b: At this broad level of ability we will assume two things about you:

  1. You want a sound introduction to playing rhythm in this style, including both idiomatic chord voicings and strumming techniques.
  2. You don’t want to be rushed.

Still, there are beginners and then there are beginners: if you are really, really new to this style and want to be in our most intro-level offering, opt for 1a. The rest of you are, uh, advanced beginners.

Level 2: This level will work best for those who have already had a good intro to the style and don’t want to start from scratch, but who still need to work on fundamentals to get the sound and feel right or pick up the pace. It may also work well for experienced players of other styles who think they can pick up the basics fairly quickly.

Level 3: You have a strong foundation in the style, but want to work on whatever our teachers regard as more advanced skills: faster tempos, rhythmic fills, chord substitutions, relaxation/endurance, etc.

Level 4: During Level 4 guitar classes we will leave it entirely up to the teacher to decide whether or not to focus on rhythm. Classes at this level are for the most skilled Gypsy jazz players at Django Camp—say, the top 10%—some of whom are also teaching here. Please do not attend level 4 classes unless you know your rhythm playing in this style to be very strong, including at fast tempos. If you have any doubt on that point we can steer you toward a teacher on our staff to check in with about it.

Lead Guitar Class Levels

Level 1a and 1b: As for the rhythm classes we’ll subdivide our Level 1 lead guitar classes into 1a and 1b. In either class our teachers will assume that you consider yourself more or less a newbie to lead guitar in this style. You have few, if any, melodies under your belt, and the same could be said of arpeggios, licks and other tools of the trade. That’s where our teachers will meet you. If you want or need to be sure to be in our most intro-level offering, opt for Level 1a; if you think maybe that will move too slowly for you, try Level 1b. You can always switch.

Level 2: You’re not be a total newbie to lead guitar, but you do not yet have a strong foundation in improvisation. If you are looking for a rule of thumb, answer this question: can you play smoothly through the chord progression of our Tier 1 Core Repertoire, at performance tempo, using only arpeggios of the chords themselves? If not, here’s a good place to firm up that foundation.

Level 3: At this level we will assume that you are comfortable in a typical GJ jam with amateur enthusiasts and can solo at performance tempos on all but the fastest tunes. You not only know your arpeggios but can voice-lead through them confidently, adding tasteful embellishments as you do. You’ve studied Django’s solos, can play some of them start to finish, and occasionally quote them as part of your own improvisations. Each teacher will have his/her own approach to helping you take the next steps as a soloist, but that will be their starting point.

Level 4: Here, the teacher will assume you are already an accomplished improviser in this style. Many of our part time guitar staff attend Level 4 classes. Like them, you can dive right into playing lead comfortably and competently in a GJ jam, even on faster tunes. You probably perform and/or teach Gypsy jazz at the local or regional level. You have a deep bag of tricks, but you’re always on the lookout for new ideas, approaches and opportunities to stretch out. Level 4 classes are intended for the top 10% of players among us. That you? Welcome!

About the Core Repertoire

There’s one more piece you’ll want to know about to understand how we organize things here at Django Camp: the Core Repertoire. Since that is covered in detail elsewhere on this website, we’ll just steer you to the Get Ready musically page.