New Year's resolutions are upon us, even for local musicians. While "get more awesome" is a good start, if you want to heighten your skills, creativity, even your music-business smarts, why not resolve to take a class?
Pittsburgh Filmmakers, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, is offering two courses that should inspire more avant-minded musicians. Musique Concrète, taught by notable experimental musician Steve Boyle, will guide students through using analog tape and other devices to create music from "natural environmental sounds and other non-inherently musical noises." The class, which runs Feb. 7-28, concludes with a broadcast on WRCT's "Radio Free Radio" program.
Circuit Building 1, meanwhile, teaches you what's under the hood in synthesizers and effects pedals, and how to design and build your own hot-rodded gear from scratch. The class runs Feb. 17-March 10, and includes electronic parts for the gizmo you'll make by the course's end. For something more folksy, the PCA's Whistle Workshop (March 3-17) is a pottery class in which you construct clay whistles and "experiment with more complex multi-whistles and resonant chambers." (Cocopelli tattoo not included.) Visit www.pittsburgharts.org for more information.
Speaking of folk, the Calliope School has plenty of it, with eight-week courses running Jan. 26-March 17. The school is offering instrument-specific courses for harmonica, bagpipes, mandolin, banjo, bodhran ... and dulcimer, fiddle, guitar and voice. If a group-style is more what you're after, check out the various ensemble classes offered, including blues improv and bluegrass. In the latter, taught by Bob Artis, "you might learn a tune or two along the way, and you might meet some new folks to play with." Sounds like a good way to pick and grin your way through 2009. Register at www.calliopehouse.org.
If you're well on your way, artistically speaking, but could use some new ideas on the business side, check out are the seminars offered by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Upcoming seminars include "Intellectual Property: Legal Considerations for the Savvy Artist" on Jan. 13, providing an overview of how to make sure you're protecting your work, as well as that Creative Commons stuff people are always on about. On Jan. 21, hone your marketing skills at "Love (and Know) Thy Audience," and on Feb. 26, there's "Get a Plan: Online Social Media and the Arts." We all know musicians and artists who use Facebook and MySpace poorly -- it's a good time to resolve to not be that guy. Registration info and descriptions are at www.pittsburghartscouncil.org.