TGC Mt. Bethel, PA 2023

Review by Giovanni Pagano

Location: Delaware Water Gap, Mt. Bethel, PA at the home of the Dorough family.

Attendees: Markus Reuter, Giovanni Pagano, John Councill, Aralee Dorough, and Corin Gatwood.

Day 1, June 4th: Arrival on Sunday at 6 pm for dinner and jazz at the Deer Head Inn. A perfect setting in the Pocono Mountains for a small gathering before our intense week with the TGC. It was great to get to know everyone and set the tone around what we wanted to get out of the imminent course. The location of the course was to be at the Dorough’s family home,  and much to our surprise the home of the writer of Schoolhouse Rock, Bob Dorough. The music room was filled with memorabilia, photos, writing credits, and a wonderful grand piano. 

Day 2, June 5th: After a thorough tuning, we jumped into what we now call the “Eternity” exercise which incorporates much of what we have been focused on with the chromatic bracket in our TGC at-a-distance course. As this exercise would eventually be in four distinct segments, we tackled part one solely and focused on that fingering, linear melodic lines, and the intervals as the chromatic bracket would give rise to successive parts in the next days. The pace fit well for all of our technical level, but we also were challenged every bit of the way. The day was broken up into morning session, afternoon, and late session ending around 9 pm. In the latter part of the day, Aralee’s aunt paid a visit, had dinner with us, became an audience member, and took the group pic for us. In addition to the Eternity Exercise, we also reviewed Do Re Mi exercise, chromatic bracket, mode review, and even an evening improvisation before calling it quits for the day.

Day 3, June 6th:  Our morning continued with review of part 1 of the Eternity Exercise and then transition to part 2. There were timing drills, more chromatic reviews and pentachords. Markus also challenged us by playing the chords over the arpeggiated lines of Eternity Exercise to keep in time.  After a long day, we had some time to listen to some new music projects as well as a practice session of Marcus (on U8) and Aralee (on flute) doing scale runs at high tempos! After this TGC, Markus was headed to Texas to meet up with Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn for a new project call tu-Ner. 

Day 4, June 7th: our goal this day was to complete parts 3 and 4 of the Eternity Exercise. Progress was slow but we were determined to get it. With sour notes and try after retry we finally put it all together, with rests in between the segments. Among other work we accomplished was, minor pentatonic, adding one additional chromatic note to Ionian, and a quick review of the Grandfather Exercise. By this day we were met with smoke from the Canadian fires and had to remain indoors most of the time. Luckily, we ventured out earlier for a bit to check out some local scenery and have a lunch in town.

Day 5, June 8th: Today was a test of our ability to grasp the breadth of the Eternity Exercise. During the prior evening, each of us came up with and shared our methods of memorizing this exercise in hopes to make it more fluid. We tried to keep it as much to listening and not watching hand positioning or charts as possible. By this time we knew that the concentrated time we had here was paying off. Entrenched in music all day, humming the lines we had learned, recognizing patterns, and keeping our fingering in line were all things we would take home with us. 

Day 6, June 9th: Half Day…We looked ahead to see where the Eternity Exercise would take us. We understood that this was just the Ionian version and there was much to explore, but now we had the tools to do it. Markus showed us the use of the tritone and how he moved through different modes and we talked about how all this ties in. It was also today that we recognized how far we had come in such a short time and also how much more there was to learn. Aralee suggested future meetings at her family home. We were all very grateful for her hosting the location and providing wonderful healthy meals throughout. We look forward to doing it all again.

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