Vancouver shredders launch 'Free Guitar Lesson Day'

Kris Schulz, Don Alder and five other internationally-known six stringers offer lessons to kids who normally don’t have access to music

File this one under something you don’t see every day — a group of Vancouver guitarists who rely on music to make a living are giving their music away for free.

Slated to coincide with the Juno Awards on Sunday, March 25, the first annual “Free Guitar Lesson Day” is the brainchild of finger-style guitarist Kris Schulz. He’s enlisted six other six stringers for four hours of free lessons for kids and others who normally don’t have access to music due to financial, cognitive, or physical barriers.

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Sounds pretty sweet, but what’s the catch?

“Absolutely nothing,” Schulz told the Courier Monday. “What we’re trying to do is to open source music to the world. We’re trying to give music away to people who can’t afford it.”

Scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the foyer of International Village Mall, the lessons will be scheduled in 20-minute intervals and tailored to any level of experience. A guitar teacher for close to 30 years, Schulz will be joined by former students and current contemporaries Don Alder, Kelly Brown, Eli Slamang, Clark Grieve, Danny Baruffa and Madelein Elkins.

That’s more than a century’s worth of playing experience across every conceivable genre of music. 

“It’s going to be pretty light,” Schulz said. “What we’re hoping to do is keep building on this model, creating a community of people who we can stay in touch with and I continue to give out free music instruction to.”

Schulz’s crew has the capacity to give lessons to about 60 to 80 students over the course of the afternoon. Beginners will be shown to hold a pick and a guitar, and how to play a riff or two from the likes of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes Army or AC/DC’s “TNT.” Intermediate players can hone their theory as it relates to chords, scales and modes.

“With any advanced players, it’ll be a case of asking them, ‘What is the one thing you would like to talk about?’ It’s like getting a free consult with a world-renowned player,” Schulz said.

Sunday’s freebie is part of a larger vision for Schulz, who’s been a full-time guitar teacher for 27 years. He teaches in the private sector — two days a week at EA Sports — and has a waitlist for the teaching gigs he does out of his downtown home.

The long-term goal is to open a bricks and mortar location in the city where Schulz and other teachers continue giving lessons to those who can afford them, and free sessions to those who can’t.

He’s hoping to launch the Horizon School of Music before the end of this year. It would combine aspects of music therapy with both free and paid lessons in guitar, voice, piano, mandolin and ukulele, among others.

“My school will be a community builder,” Schulz said. “What I am able to do in the tech sector with EA Sports, and working with people who can actually afford lessons, provides me with the opportunity to give my work away for free. I want a place where I can bring people together.”

Those interested in Sunday’s free lessons are asked to email Participants are encouraged to bring their own guitar, although spare guitars will be on hand if necessary.


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