Keene Valley Guitarist-Composer Workshop

The Keene Valley Guitarist-Composer Workshop is a week long workshop for student guitarists and composers who are interested in composing and performing their own music. Daily classes focus on helping students find and refine their voice as composers and skill as performers of their own music. We work on specific exercises to improve creativity and compositional technique, and we explore issues central to developing a personal style on our instrument.

The workshop is located in Keene Valley NY, in the heart of the Adirondack Park, about 20 minutes from Lake Placid. The dates of the 2018 workshop are July 29-August 5. Students should plan to arrive on July 28 or 29 and depart on the morning of August 6.


The workshop concludes with an evening student/faculty recital, presented by the East Branch Friends of the Arts, that includes student compositions and some ensemble music. During the week there’s an additional performance at the Keene Valley Library. The daily class meets at the historic Holt House in Marcy Field, a beautiful location with the great range of the Adirondack High Peaks in the background.


The workshop is a fantastic way for classical guitarists that are interested in performing their own music but do not have much experience or training in composition to dive in and start developing the ability to write music that might be lurking inside their imagination. Composing guitar music is hard work but extremely gratifying to both musicians themselves and audiences. For centuries, the guitar repertoire was primarily provided by guitarists (and lutenists!) writing and performing their own music; music that reflected their lives and cultures. This is still true in our time, around the world and in a variety of styles and settings, and it’s in this spirit that the workshop hopes to further the tradition of the guitarist-composer.

Experienced guitarist-composers will find the workshop inspiring and exhilarating as they are challenged to develop better focus and vision in their writing, and enjoy sharing their music with their peers. Director Matthew Dunne is an award-winning composer with music on several highly acclaimed recordings, including the GRAMMY winning LAGQ Guitar Heroes CD. He has a decades-long distinguished career as an educator and is committed to helping guitarist-composers further their craft and careers.

Although the workshop is only in its fifth year, students have generated excellent work through their participation. Here are some samples of those works:

Here’s a score to a very nice arpeggio piece written by (then) high school student Dan Schumacher at the class a few summers ago:

Flux – Guitar

Here’s a video of Colton Chapman playing his evocative piece Daysenight:

Here’s a video of Dan Schumacher’s ragtime piece for two guitars composed in 2016. Performing is Dan and Aaiden Witten, another student of mine and workshop participant.


The dramatically beautiful workshop location, Keene Valley, NY, is a small town in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks region near the Olympic town of Lake Placid. Fantastic hiking, climbing, swimming, and paddling opportunities are in the immediate area. As a group we try to do an afternoon hike during the week.

KV hikeIMG_0372

Even for those not inclined towards these outdoor activities, the area provides an inspiring environment for creative thought and relaxed, stress-free study. The summer weather is Keene Valley is usually sunny, with days in the high 70s- low 80s and nights in the low 50s.

Students are provided housing with host families as part of the workshop, significantly reducing the cost of participating and making the Keene Valley Guitarist-Composer Workshop an exceptional value at $500. Getting to Keene Valley is not difficult; Adirondack Trailways has daily bus service to Keene Valley from NYC and the Albany NY airport. Other international airports within driving distance are Montreal Quebec and Burlington VT.

Anyone interested in applying to the Keene Valley Guitarist-Composer Workshop should contact director Matthew Dunne by email.


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