Last week, a team of Southwestern students began filming for a project to provide high-quality guitar tutorials to the Southwestern community and beyond. Myles Kellerman ’20, Justin Milner ’20, Jasper Stone ’19, and Thomas Vanderzyde ’19 worked with Music Department Chair David Asbury to create three new instructional videos aimed at beginning- to intermediate-level players. These videos will add to a collection of 14 tutorials developed by music students in past years.

Kellerman, Stone, and Vanderzyde are all music majors with an emphasis in guitar performance. The latter two graduated this spring, and these recordings will be their final project at Southwestern. Milner is majoring in anthropology and has a passion for film and photography. He has used his knowledge of videography in the past to help create projections for multiple Southwestern theatre productions. Handpicked by Asbury for their talents, these students are being supported for their work by a grant from the University.

David Asbury and Myles Kellerman '20. Photo by Olivia Wise '18.

The group’s goal is to create “green videos,” or videos that will remain visually interesting and pedagogically sound over time. To accomplish this, Kellerman, Stone, and Vanderzyde reviewed and critiqued a wide range of tutorials to determine the most effective ways to instruct through video. Choosing strong teaching strategies was a stimulating challenge, according to Vanderzyde. “There are so many nuances to guitar playing that we take for granted; the hardest part for me was applying the vocabulary to communicate these techniques in a meaningful way to the student.”

After determining their instructional approaches, the students then chose a distinct yet cohesive repertoire of public-domain works, created scrolling musical scores for each, and wrote their scripts. Once their content was finalized, Milner led the performer-instructors through the filming process as production manager and videographer.

As someone who has watched many guitar videos throughout his studies, Kellerman says that being in the position of the creator was interesting. “Seeing that side of the process is something you can only experience. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so finally getting the chance to do this has been a lot of fun.” Kellerman and Milner plan to present the process and results of the faculty–student research project at next year’s Research and Creative Works Symposium.

Now in the final phase of production, Milner is editing the tutorial videos and preparing to upload them, along with the previous 14, to a new YouTube page. The tutorials will stand out from others you might find on the Web: each presents a split screen of close-up shots of the player’s hands paired with a scrolling musical score; offers complementary historical and pedagogical information about the work; and ends with a concert tempo performance of the piece. The team expects to launch the YouTube page by July, so keep an eye out if you are interested in learning guitar techniques from our impressive Southwestern students and alumni!

Justin Milner '20. Photo by Olivia Wise '18.