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Our American Musical Heritage
“Gary was extremely well received by students and faculty alike. His “Roots of Rock” was both informative and entertaining and his concert was a tour de force by a master musician. We feel fortunate to have had Gary with us and strongly recommend him to other schools.”
R. Bonnefond
Headmaster, Kents Hill School
“...Gary Wittner's presentation on the "Roots of Rock and Roll" was just as exciting musically as it was enlightening historically. Gary is a gifted guitarist and he was able to demonstrate to our students the debt that modern musicians owe their ancestors. He left us with a whole new perspective on rock and roll...”
Jon Harris
Headmaster, Friends School of Baltimore
International Summer Jazz Academy, Poland
More Quotes at bottom of this page.
Guitarist/Educator Gary Wittner has delighted audiences of all ages throughout the United States and Europe since the 1980's with his guitar playing and historical presentations. Our American Heritage Musical Heritage offers a flexible, fun format combining (but limited to) any of the following programs: The Roots of Rock, Understanding Improvisation and an American Music Concert.

Our American Musical Heritage was designed because Gary realized that today's K-12 students have experienced little of their own American musical heritage. Having taught the History of Rock and the History of Jazz for over a decade, and being an active performer as well, Gary has created a presentation both informative and entertaining - showing students the evolving legacy of the popular styles of today. This presentation is extremely flexible, easily adjusting to fit individual school schedules. Our American Musical Heritage consists of three basic components:

* Describes the lineage of today’s popular music styles, and traces roots that go back a century or more to Africa, Europe, and South America.

* Includes styles ranging from Native African and European Classical Music to sounds of the last 20 years such as Rap and Alternative Rock (and everything in between!).

* Uses audio and video tapes of original artists

* Discusses various world rhythms with students clapping examples

* Handouts available including Reading List, Rhythmic Roots of Rock, and Roots of Rock flow chart/time line (poster available for sale, see below)

* No previous musical knowledge is necessary

* Introduces the concept of improvisation, and illustrates how it occurs regularly in everyday life

* Teaches students to experiment with simple vocal improvisations

* Students conduct Gary in simple structured improvisations, and realize that they, too, are improvising

* Explains in simple terms how jazz musicians create new spontaneous melodies

* Discusses the relationship of improvised melodies to the music’s composed structure

* Interested participants do simple improvising accompanied by Gary

* No previous musical knowledge is necessary

* Performances as a solo guitarist and in groups throughout the USA and Europe.

* A recognized authority of the music of jazz master Thelonious Monk (see
Monk on Guitar)

* Gary’s original music has also been performed nationally and internationally (see
Roadway CD info)

* Material for the concert can include any of the following:

    - Blues/Folk Americana
    - music from Roots of Rock presentation
    - original jazz by Wittner
    - jazz standards
    - compositions by Thelonious Monk

* Guitar master class or private lessons
* Working with jazz bands, combos, and rhythm sections
* Speaking with other related classes (American History, Literature, etc.)


“As a faculty member of the International Summer Jazz Academy since 1994, Gary has made a major impact as a performer and educator inspiring hundreds of students from Poland, France, Germany and the United States. He is a ‘one of a kind’ artist who can reach anyone regardless of their ability or background.”

        Dr. Mike Parkinson
        Chair, Music Department, Webster University, St. Louis
        Director, International Summer Jazz Academy, Poland”

“Gary is a welcome addition to our summer arts program. Through his inspiration, our young people (ages 9-21 with varying musical literacy) have discovered the music that was within themselves.”

        Ruth Grauert
        Director, Summer Arts Program
        Bearnstow Camp
        Mt. Vernon, Maine

"We recently brought Gary in for a master class with our jazz combos; his comments were insightful and valuable, and always seemed to impart the exact information needed for the individual student. He was warm without being condescending and tough without being unkind. Our student-musicians really made great strides working with him, and enjoyed every minute of the experience. Highly recommended!"

        Mt. Vernon, Maine
        Director of Music
        Fryeburg Academy

Music & Life of Thelonious Monk
Dos Canosos, Un Tigre
Our American Musical Heritage

©2007, Gary Wittner, All Rights Reserved.