Suze Spencer

Swing and Western Swing Rhythm Guitar

Class will begin with learning right hand skills to create that magical swing pulse. Once the right hand engine is running smoothly, we’ll add movable four note chords to the left hand and begin to move our newfound skills up and down the fingerboard. We’ll work on common swing chord progressions in multiple keys, then segue to tunes/songs. Plenty of helpful handouts will be provided as well as simple to complex songs in multiple keys.

This class will be for those who are quite comfortable keeping a steady right hand rhythm while changing chords every two to four beats per measure at a walking pace. Students who have conquered the full F chord, easily manage C, G, D, A, E - G7, D7 A7, E7, B7, C7 - Am, Em, Bm, F#m, C#m, will enjoy the venture to the up-the-neck movable chords.

Students should be comfortable using a medium or heavier flatpick and be prepared to review music theory to enhance their ability to hear more complex chord changes. Being comfortable with learning new ideas and having patience with a sense of humor will enhance the experience. Though mainly a rhythm class, it will be enriched by those who are comfortable reading/flatpicking melodies, singing and improvising.

Raised in the fold of working ranch hands and singing cowboys, Suze Spencer comes by her love of western music naturally.

"As a kid, I thought everyone played music. We didn't have TV and only turned the radio on for special programs. My grandparents, their extended families and friends were all musicians. I learned to sing and play chords from them when I was very young, sang in choirs and ensembles in school, always enjoying music. I started playing guitar and mandolin more seriously when my children were little and haven't been able to put it down since, eventually going back to college to study music. I've had a few guitar lessons over the years, but am self taught for the most part. Karl Farr, Lloyd Perryman and my grandfather were my early musical heroes, all of which played fabulous rhythm guitar. Later, Freddie Green was very influential to my own rhythm guitar style."

Suze performs regularly with the hot duo The Archtops, old time music group The Cascade Troubadours, and her fine western swing big band, Way Out West. Many of the musicians that recorded with her on her Tall Boots CD are members of Way Out West. They perform Western, Western Swing and Vintage Country music for dances, concerts, family celebrations and parties. If you'd like more information concerning booking any of these groups, please contact Suze.

For those of us that love to hear about vintage instruments . . .
Suze's main guitar is an early 1951 Epiphone Emperor. It's a well worn, played in archtop cutaway, most commonly known in these parts as "The Empress." She strings it up with D'Addario phosphor bronze strings, 14 to 60 gauge. She also plays a very sweet 1958 Martin 000-18 with light John Pearse 80/20 bronze strings. She prefers to perform and record acoustically, using only microphones for sound reinforcement when necessary.