Raise The Bar Classes

Treehouse clan

I enjoy sharing things I know will make your playing easier and more fun.  I’ve been teaching multi-level classes at Olympic College since 1978 and July 2022 marked ten years of my RTB (Raise the Bar) classes.

Classes are now on-going again in Kingston at my daughter’s home studio. Separate from the home, the studio has room for several students and there’s plenty of parking across the street on Bannister. There’s comfortable seating, a restroom and a fridge (yes beverages allowed).

Tuesdays, I offer two 1-hr classes each week. Classes are either on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays or the 2nd and 4th, depending on which one is right for you.  You’re welcome to attend each week – some do.

LOCATION:  26059 Bannister St NE Kingston WA 98346.

Enter studio by going down the mulch path in between the house and garage then turn right. Studio entrance is at the rear of the garage, the red door with stained glass.


1st and 3rd Tuesday – Beginner-mediates 5:30  / Grassy Jam 6:45


Beginner-mediates

My beginner-mediate class has always been a favorite! It’s for those who are still working on changing chords smoothly, and also for those who can already play some songs. I start with people of different skill levels and musical interests (and instruments) and throw them all together in a group,  pick a song (or piece) then assign level-appropriate “parts” for the sake of learning to play together. We don’t use any form of written music but use typical  jamming language and etiquette which helps prepare for real-life jamming!  If you’re wanting to learn to play and jam with others and have the patience and desire to work on your music in a group setting, this class is for you.

Grassy Jam

This class is for people of various levels who are interested in standard Bluegrass repertoire and wanting to jam better with others. We take time with each song and discuss shortcuts and tips and such things as licks and arrangement ideas.  We often will play a song (or fiddle tune) a number of times trying different ideas. This is not just a “jam with Roger” class, rather a chance to learn a trick or two, with discussion between songs.


2nd and 4th Tuesday – Basic Swing/Jazz Harmony 5:30  / Beyond Those Basics 6:45


Basic Swing/Jazz Harmony

Using standard Swing repertoire, the focus of this class is basically looking at chords beyond I  IV and V.  Not just minor chords you might see in a song, but what we might consider “fancy” chords that fit between these basic chords. We’ll learn the basic theory behind these chords, which are always present in Classical music, pop and jazz. We’ll use basic swing standards as our examples. I’ll be using a curriculum I created to help students quickly identify the shorter chord progressions (motifs) that ultimately string together, underpinning swing/jazz style harmony. It’s fascinating and fun!  I have play-along mp3s, charts, and TAB for many selections. There are also several pictures of guitar and mandolin chords and some videos. If you know your basic open position chords,  and possibly a bar chord or two this class is for you.

Beyond Those Basics  (The Other String Theory)

This is where we dig just a little deeper and actually begin to arrange some tunes, discuss which scales to use over certain chord progressions, learn some jazzy licks, etc.


  • Classes are weekly, back-to-back, drop-in and on-going.
  • Suggested donation for each hour class is $20.
  • The goal is to have a great music group experience in a comfortable setting.

The fear of playing with and in front others can be very scary, so we will be discussing some of the psychology behind those fears to help overcome performance anxieties before they take root. It is challenging, fun and frustrating at times.

Classes are open to all instruments. If you are a violin, viola, or cello player please have already learned basic bowing and fingering techniques.  Same for horn players – but also bring a mute. I tailor each class’ curriculum around the students who show up that day. You don’t have to register or commit to anything long-term. With these drop-in classes there is always a slight chance that you could be the only one to show up (it has happened) in which case you get a private lesson at the cost of a class admission!

I’ve been teaching multi-level classes at Olympic College since 1978 and July 2022 marks ten years of my Raise the Bar (RTB) classes.

I started my first RTB classes with a fluctuating group of mostly guitar and mandolin students downtown Poulsbo, WA. I’ve since held classes in local restaurants, coffee shops and bars.  Some of the past places include the Hare and Hounds, the Martini Cafe in Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island’s Pegasus Coffee, Treehouse Lounge and Cups Espresso.  The Guitar Cafe in Silverdale was an especially popular spot before its closing.


W DAVE MELODY RON RHO AND TIM DIANA


H&H logo

Offering music lessons at the pub was originally proposed by the proprietors of the Hare & Hounds Pub in Poulsbo. Knowing the potential commotion in a public place can be distracting, I had doubts how well this would work, but to my surprise it worked great!  Students could hear and focus with no problem and above all, they played with less inhibitions because the overall vibe was so casual… this proved to be great fun for everybody! While we are currently not in a “bar” setting, the name has stuck.