A Unique Curriculum
Tango For Musicians at Reed College features a rigorous curriculum designed to maximize student learning within and across our many featured activities.
Tango for Musicians at Reed College offers an intensive week of hands-on training covering all aspects of tango music, including:
- Instrumental techniques classes
- Student ensembles
- Specialized masterclasses
- Concerts and milongas
- Private lessons (individual or group)
Example of Tango for Musicians Class Schedule
|9–11 a.m.||Instrumental Class|
|11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.||Morning Masterclass
|2–4 p.m.||Ensemble Classes|
|4:15–5:30 p.m.||Afternoon Masterclass
The Tango for Musicians at Reed College program features a rigorous curriculum designed to maximize student learning within and across many activities.
Every year, two tracks will be offered, focusing on specific aspects of tango music:
- Musicians Track
- Arrangers Track
Participants will be able to choose the track of their interest at the time of registration. Each track will feature specific masterclasses every day (see below for more details). Participants in any track will have free access to all public events, including the concerts and milongas.
The Musicians Track curriculum includes:
- Instrumental technique classes
- Student ensembles
- Specialized masterclasses
Previous experience with tango is not necessary or expected, though technical proficiency on the instrument and the ability to read music are required for this track.
Instrumental Technique Classes
Instrumental technique classes will be organized into two groups (A and B) based on technical proficiency and previous experience with tango. Students in group A will focus on developing practical approaches to tango using hands-on materials designed specifically for their instrument. Students in group B will additionally be able to work on material from their own repertoire in masterclass settings. Changes in group assignments will be subject to the discretion of the leveling team and the artistic faculty.
All the pedagogical materials will be sent to registered participants in advance, providing the chance to thoroughly prepare before arriving on campus in June (see Teaching Materials below).
Themes to be covered in instrumental technique classes and elsewhere in our program include:
- Playing and creating rhythmic and expressive tango melodies
- Construction and use of different tango time marking models, including marcato in 4, marcato in 2, “síncopa a tierra,” “síncopa anticipada,” “yumba,” and many others
- Typical resources for playing tango “a la parrilla” (with improvised arrangements)
- Extended techniques and tango’s famous percussive effects
Morning and afternoon masterclasses will be offered by the artistic faculty on a wide variety of topics. Students will be able to choose freely among these masterclasses on a day-to-day basis, though they are tiered toward beginning, intermediate, and advanced audiences. These masterclasses will allow students at all levels of experience to get the most out of our program. These 90-minute masterclasses will feature workshops focused on:
- Lyrics and Vocal Interpretation
- Tango Styles
- Tango Improvisation
- Transcription and Analysis
- Tango Fundamentals
- Tango Pedagogy
- The History of Tango
Student ensembles will be organized into ‘Orquestas Típicas’ (tango big bands) or in smaller ensembles with mixed instrumentation (up to six people). Ensembles will rehearse for two hours each day with different members of our artistic faculty in rotation. This will give students in each ensemble the widest possible perspective on their repertoire and the challenges it poses for effective performance.
Ensembles will work with pre-arranged parts, and smaller ensembles will also have the chance to develop their own arrangements in the “a la parrilla” style.
As with our instrumental techniques classes, ensembles will be grouped by our evaluation team according to the participants’ different levels of experience and the order of registration. Changes to the ensemble assignments will be subject to the discretion of the leveling team and the artistic faculty.
Only pre-formed ensembles or groups which have at least four members will be accepted (See Pre-Formed Ensembles below).
Only pre-formed ensembles or groups which meet the following conditions will be accepted:
- The group must have at least four members
- All members of the group must register at least 60 days before the start of the event
- The ensemble must provide and send in advance its own arrangements or compositions to work on in ensemble classes
- If the group can’t attend with its full line-up, the group itself must arrange their repertoire so that it’s ready to work on in the class with the artistic faculty
Members of the group will not receive any additional discounts for being part of an ensemble. Each member should indicate the group's name in the comments field of the registration form at the time of registration.
Concerts and Milongas
Tango for Musicians at Reed College will also feature a selection of concert performances featuring the artistic faculty in various combinations and other tango-related public events. Participants will receive free tickets for all of these activities. Additionally, students will have the chance to share in performance what they have learned throughout the week, whether as part of public concerts or private student showcases. These will be arranged by the artistic faculty and the production team and will be subject to any change the artistic faculty may consider necessary.
The Arrangers Track is aimed at intermediate and advanced arrangers who would like to experiment within the tango genre, focusing on traditional tango and danceable tango arrangements. Basic knowledge of the use of marking models, melodic treatment, and counterpoint orchestration are necessary. This track is recommended for those who have previously attended Tango for Musicians more than once.
The Arrangers Track will provide its participants with the chance to work on their own arrangements with an ensemble made up of experienced U.S. tango musicians. The artistic faculty will propose different assignments to be written during the week.
Participants in the Arrangers Track will have access to specific daily masterclasses focused on the most important tools for arranging tango music. The week-long curriculum will culminate in a concert program featuring works by the participating arrangers and composers.
Those who attend the Arrangers Track will have access to the full program of activities and concerts that are part of the larger Tango for Musicians at Reed College event.
- Each participant in the Arrangers Track will receive two one-on-one, 40-minute coaching sessions (one with each faculty member) in which you’ll be able to discuss personal arranging, orchestration, and composition projects. The schedule for these sessions will be set a few weeks before the beginning of the program and will be sent by email to all participants. One of these classes will be scheduled in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
- Arrangers will be able to attend the instrumental technique lessons offered during the morning when they don’t have a private coaching session scheduled. They will also have the chance to spend that time working on their assignments and writing new music. Arrangers will have priority access to private classrooms with pianos.
- During the usual morning masterclasses time slot, Arrangers will have a special group class with one of the faculty members in which arranging assignments will be given. These assignments will relate to arranging techniques for tango.
- During the ensemble time slot, Arrangers and one of the faculty members will work with the Redwood Tango Ensemble (which will be the resident ensemble for the program) on performing the assignments given earlier each day, providing an ideal environment in which to listen to the different devices applied for tango arranging played by experienced musicians.
- During the afternoon masterclasses time slot, Arrangers who are not in a private coaching session will be able to attend to the regular masterclasses of Tango for Musicians on tango styles, history, and other relevant topics. As in the morning, Arrangers who prefer to spend this time working on their assignments will have priority access to rooms with a piano.
Participants of the Arrangers Track will not be assigned to a regular ensemble, since during that time slot you will be in your own class with the resident ensemble.
The performance of pre-written arrangements or compositions which are not assignments given during the week by the artistic faculty will be up to faculty’s discretion. This year we will also feature jam sessions at the end of the day, and we’ll encourage proficient participating musicians of the program to try to play these compositions and arrangements informally outside the framework of the class.
Example of Tango for Musicians Arrangers Class Schedule
|9–11 a.m.||Private lessons, join TFM classes, or write music|
|11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.||Arrangers Class|
|2–4 p.m.||Ensemble Class with Redwood Tango Ensemble
|4:15–5:30 p.m.||Private lessons, join TFM classes, or write music|
Arrangers track registration
Arrangers will also be asked to submit a link to a PDF file of the full score of an arrangement of their own with their registration form.