I teach French Café Songs and Swing Guitar, online or in-person. See the descriptions below.

(in case you're skeptical: yes online classes work fine: I, as well as many other teachers, have done that for a while. Different possibilities and mechanics than in person, but hey, these are special circumstances! And added bonus: if you're shy, nobody will hear you, other than your roommates...)

Swing Guitar

I teach this class in-person, as well as online, and also as one-on-one:

  • The current in-person group class at the Freight And Salvage in Berkeley, starts September 14, 2021 and lasts 6 weeks, every Tuesday at 7:00PM -- registration here -- small discount if you register by 8/31

  • The current online group class starts September 12, 2021, and lasts 6 weeks, on Zoom, every Sunday at 5:30PM -- Send me an email oaklandolivier@gmail.com to register (this is not a Freight & Salvage class) -- Note: depending on demand, I may also offer the class on Monday evenings at 7pm; let me know what you prefer.

  • I also teach one-on-one individual lessons, online or in person at my house in Oakland -- Send me an email oaklandolivier@gmail.com to register

If you are an intermediate / advanced player and have played bluegrass, country, folk, rock, or of course swing & jazz, this class is for you. If you are more of a beginner, but you already are able to comfortably play the standard "campfire" or "cowboy" chords, don't worry we'll review the basics as well.

Using songs as examples, we'll review and learn the swing chord fingerings, a.k.a. closed position movable chords, all those 6s, 9s, diminished and augmented. We'll talk about how to use those chords in common swing progressions, patterns and turn-arounds. We'll also take simple songs, everything from standard jazz to country and bluegrass, and spice them up by adding some of those chords.

Chords are one thing, we'll also see how to play with a "swing feel", including the right hand technique and rhythm patterns, and how apply those to the various swing styles, like Classic Jazz, Western Swing or Gypsy Jazz. And, most importantly, how to play with other musicians, in jams or bands.

And if you're interested in soloing, we'll look at that too, with practical tips you can use right away. And if Gypsy Jazz is your thing, we'll learn La Pompe and 3-note chords.

We'll use as little theory as possible. Knowledge of scales, sight reading or solfege are not required.

From previous students:

"Valuable information about pick/strum technique, chord substitutions, and how to make your solos more interesting and effective. This class has a good balance between talking and playing!"

"I've enjoyed the class and your teaching style, which I describe as practical and laid back."

"What I find valuable is the go-a-round which forces us to practice playing rhythm properly and to improvise. You are also a kind and encouraging teacher. "

Here is a little video that describes the class:

French Café Songs

This class is taught online through the Freight And Salvage.

The current session starts September 12, 2021, and lasts 6 weeks, every Sunday on Zoom, at 7:00PM -- registration here -- small discount if you register by 8/31

Learn to sing songs from the classic French Café Music repertoire (Piaf, Trenet, Montand, Gainsbourg, Brassens, etc.) as well as some more modern songs.

Every week we learn and sing together 2 new songs. Those can be famous or obscure songs, waltzes, foxtrots, tangos, political songs, romantic songs, happy songs, broken heart songs.

For each song, I read, explain and translate the lyrics, then talk about where the song comes from, its social, political and historical context, and the references hidden in the lyrics. All stuff you won't find on Wikipedia. And then of course we sing. We'll learn the melody together and work on the pronunciation, so in the end you'll even improve your French!

You don't need to be fluent in French. Some basics of French would be helpful, but don’t worry, I'll help you with the pronunciation, in fact many people who have taken the class didn't speak French at all. Also, no prior experience required in singing, playing an instrument, or any music theory.

I'll send the lyrics and chord charts of the song for each week, along with links so you can listen to the song ahead of time.

From previous students:

"The class was fun! Olivier is an excellent teacher, singer and musician."

"It was well structured for both, more confident and less experienced French speakers ."

"Olivier was very responsive and engaging and a delightful musician who clearly knew his stuff."

Links to some songs we might do:

Here is a little video that describes the class:

Technical, Booking and Payments

For online teaching, I usually use Zoom. For in-person lessons we can do it inside, with a comfortable 6ft distance, or if the weather is good we can do it safely distanced in my backyard.

I am available during the day or evenings, week days or week end.

Payments are possible via PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Bill.com.

Send me an email oaklandolivier@mandosoft.com if you want to talk about taking lessons, or when you're ready to schedule one.