Martin Guitar Factory!!

2013-09-23 09.28.27I recently had the great pleasure of joining Jon Garon of My Favorite Guitars to the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, PA (cue The Weight by The Band…) Jon was on a wood selecting mission for a customer’s custom guitar, and while he was busy with that, I was treated to a personal tour, led by the company’s wood buyer! I was allowed to hold a 1937 Martin – once in a lifetime for me!! The Martin folks couldn’t have been nicer to me while I went nuts basking in the history and future of cool guitars…Thanks, Martin!

Wonderful Wedding!

The ’53 Swingbillies played a wedding gig last weekend and had a *blast*!! We started out with a bit of bluegrass – usually reserved for the Mark Kreitzer Band – and a few people danced a bit. Then we decided to break out some traditional swing tunes, and the dance floor got  packed, and it stayed that way for the rest of the night. There were many highlights, but the best (like most wedding dances) was the first dance for the couple. What a great job we have – we get to help people’s happiest day be even more fun!!

'53 Swingbillies

’53 Swingbillies

Return to WI!

W:TwinCitiesHotClubI had the great pleasure of returning to WI for a couple of gigs with the Twin Cities Hot Club. We played in Madison for their Live at Five Jazz series. It’s always so fun to see many friends and new faces at a gig, and their must have been a couple of thousand out for the last concert of the season. After a leisurely tour of Madison, we headed to Milwaukee, where we played for a swing dance in a great little pub called the Down and Over. About 100 people partied hardy (what a surprise in Wisconsin, eh?) and danced the night away. After a short night’s sleep, we headed back and I played a solo set for the Healthy Seniors in Coon Rapids – always fun to visit them!

The Tao of Teaching

IMG_9621One of the best books I read about teaching is “The Tao Of Teaching” by Greta Nagel. A very short, incomplete take on it is that students basically know what they need to know/are working toward what they need to know/or maybe even know what they need to know. The teacher’s job is help/allow the student to find the way. Often, in fact, the teacher’s job is to get *out* of the student’s way! I tend to try and explain everything in quite a bit of detail, but many people can’t *stand* to have things explained to them – they’d rather watch what I do, then try it themselves. Or maybe they learn best by talking about what they’re learning, and so after I say what I’d like them to do, they need to repeat it in their own words in order to learn it. Do you have any memories of teachers who helped in unexpected, non-traditional ways? How do you like to learn? How do you help students who have different learning styles than you do?

Write 20 Songs in 12 Hours!

MARKOne day, as I was searching on Amazon, I came across a book called The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook. What I took away from it was a way to get you into a super focused head space for writing. You block out 12 hours straight – I usually try and go 7 am – 7 pm – and in those 12 hours, your task is to write 20 songs. I know, impossible, right? Wrong! The first time I did it, I *only* managed to write 17, but I’ve done it a number of times since, and every time I’ve gotten at least 20 done. Sometimes I end up with a number of fiddle tunes, especially when I’m nearing the deadline and am three or four songs short, but usually they are pretty complete. Anyone else tried something like this?

Kids Can Write Songs

IMG_9607I had the great pleasure of working with the 4th graders at Morris Elementary School last May. Our goal was to write a song about the joys and wonders of living in Morris, so I spent an hour with each of the three classes, singing, talking about how some songs tell stories, and doing writing exercises. What I came away with was quite a long list of the things the students enjoyed/thought about/found unique about Morris, and then I took that home and wrote and recorded the song for them. It was very satisfying for me, and from the looks on some of the faces, I think the students enjoyed it, too! (Photo courtesy of Morris Sun Tribune)

Great gigs, with great folks

'53 Swingbillies trio

I’ve had a very exciting couple of weeks! This photo was taken at a National Night Out event in Minneapolis. I was joined by Tom Schaefer on fiddle and Dean Harrington on guitar. We played some swing, some gypsy jazz, some bebop and some Western Swing, and about 10 minutes after we finished, the skies opened up! With some help, all the PA and band equipment got safely stowed, but it was quite exciting!! I also played with the Daddy Squeeze band in River Falls, WI. It was a gorgeous night, right by the riverwalk.

I’ve been really lucky to meet some of the world’s finest players, and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Smith is one of them. If he’s not the best Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed style player in the world, he’s far ahead of the guy in second place! I got to join him, along with my good friend Jon Garon (of My Favorite Guitars) at a house concert, then again with Jarrod, Tyler and David Walker from Florida – also fabulous pickers, and great guys. We’re going to repeat tonight, then it’s on to Larryfest in WI tomorrow and Friday, where I also get to play with the one and only Clay Hess! What a ride!

Welcome to My New Website

Mark KreitzerWelcome to the Mark Kreitzer website! I’m so glad you found me (or returned – even better!) This is a place where you can find out about my gigs – solo, with the Mark Kreitzer Band, the ’53 Swingbillies, and with some of the other bands I perform with like Patty and the Buttons, the Mill City Hot Club and Daddy Squeeze. I will also be letting you know about my ongoing projects, like the The Americana-Roots Music Project. I’m also going to be posting regular blogs about topics like my upcoming music theory book for folk/bluegrass musicians, my experiences gigging, teaching, and songwriting. Please have a look around, listen to some music, watch some video, learn about the bands and come back often – and please send your friends to look, too!

Welcome to My Teaching Blog

IMG_9607Here’s my first blog about teaching! I’ve been teaching since about 1970, when I taught guitar at William’s Music in Sioux Falls, SD as a high school student. Since then, I’ve also taught German, French and English at the High School and College levels, as well as continuing to teach music. I have since included teaching songwriting, clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, mandolin, mandola, mandocello, fiddle, dobro, bass and ukulele. I’ve also given workshops on harmony singing and arranging. I’m interested in sharing some of my techniques and things I’ve learned over the years which I find useful and helpful, and I’d love to hear from you about your challenges, successes, questions, etc about teaching and working with teachers.