I teach French Café Songs and Swing Guitar, online or in-person. Scroll down to 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

Learn / improve your guitar skills to play Swing songs: the "swing" style and sound, chords, standard progressions, and soloing.

I teach this class in-person, as well as online:

  • The current in-person group class at the Freight And Salvage, in Berkeley, starts July 19, 2022, and lasts 6 weeks, every Tuesday 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm

Click here to register through the Freight & Salvage.

  • If you prefer online, I'll teach a similar class on Wednesdays at 8 pm, starting July 20

Register by emailing: oaklandolivier@gmail.com.

  • I also teach one-on-one individual lessons, online or in-person at my house in Oakland

Send me an email oaklandolivier@gmail.com if you're interested.

Click here for details

If you are an intermediate or advanced player in folk music, bluegrass, country, or rock, and are comfortable with the standard "campfire" or "cowboy" chords, you're ready to play swing.

If you already play (some) Swing, we'll take it from there and dig deeper.

We'll build on your knowledge and learn / review the chords and rhythms used in Western Swing, Classic Jazz like the Great American Songbook, and Gypsy Jazz. Very little theory, don't worry, no scales, solfège, or music notation.

Using common swing tunes as examples we'll learn the closed-position movable chords (you know, those not-so-intimidating-once-you-know-what-they-mean, 6s, 9s, diminished and augmented), and also look at standard progressions and turnarounds. And how to use chord substitutions to "swing up" a simple song.

Chords are only one aspect; we'll also see how to play with a "swing touch", so we'll talk about tone and feel, including the right-hand technique and rhythm patterns, and, most importantly, how to play with other musicians, in jams or bands. And if you're interested in soloing, we'll look at practical tips you can use right away. And if Gypsy Jazz is your thing, we'll learn La Pompe and 3-note chords.

And by the way, except for the chord diagrams, a lot of this class is applicable to other chordal instruments like the mandolin.

Class prerequisites: knowing how to finger the simple chords or even the basic Swing chords. That's it! We'll learn all the chord fingerings using simple diagrams. If you already know how to read a chord chart or grille, great, if not, we'll learn that too.

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. "

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a little video describing the class...

French Café Songs

We'll learn to sing all those classic songs French songs you've heard before (La Vie En Rose, Les Feuilles Mortes, Ménilmontant, J'Attendrai, etc...) and a bunch you've never heard before.

The current online session starts July 20, 2022, and lasts 6 weeks, every Wednesday 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm

Click here to register through the Freight & Salvage.

Click here for details

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, prior experience in singing, playing an instrument, or any music theory is NOT required.

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:

Scroll down a bit for a little video describing the class...

Technical, Booking and Payments

For classes taught through the Freight And Salvage, registration and payment are all through their site.

For classes I teach myself, Payments are possible via PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Bill.com.

For online teaching, I usually use Zoom or Duo. 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, weekdays or weekends.

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