Sharing our love of music – and especially the ukulele – has led us all over the USA to give workshops at festivals, ukulele groups, schools, arts communities, and in music stores. We give workshops and presentations on musical instruction, professional development for artists, and the evolution of Kansas City jazz during the wild days of the Prohibition era.  Listed below are our most popular workshops and presentations.  We can tailor any of these to fit your group and student level. We’re constantly working on developing new workshops and new methods to share knowledge, encourage players, and entertain, so if you have something specific in mind that you don’t see here – let’s talk!

Email us at info@victorandpenny.com

Workshops & Presentations:

Musical Instruction, Professional Development, and Informative Entertainment 

MUSICAL INSTRUCTION

Ukulele As A Rhythm Instrument
Want to play more confidently and musically? Erin McGrane and Jeff Freling of Victor & Penny show you the difference between just strumming along and driving the rhythm. Learn simple but effective strumming techniques and delve into the styles of swing, hot jazz and gypsy jazz. Rock steady rhythm is the backbone of every good song so jump on the train!  |  LEVEL: All levels welcome, basic knowledge and proficiency on your instrument recommended.

Performance Skills: Level I
Learn valuable tools on how to present your songs confidently in a live performance. Together, we’ll tackle how to connect with the audience, manage stage fright, and focus on singing, playing and remembering your lyrics all at the same time (gah!).  We’ll break it all down for you as we discover what makes a great performance great, and how you can have great performances too.  | LEVEL: One is best is for the beginner to intermediate player.

Performance Skills: Level II
We’ll take it to the next level in this hands-on open-mic style class.  In a safe, encouraging environment we’ll try out the things we learned in Level I. You get to present your song and work on it one-on-one with V&P to hone your performance and ask questions. This is a great chance to gain experience and have some fun.  Performance II is one of our most popular workshops – come find out why and take yourself to the next level.  | LEVEL: Two is best for the intermediate to advanced player with an opportunity to receive feedback on your prepared piece.

ARRANGING: What’s in Your Toolbox?
So you found the chords to that great song you want to learn. Now what? Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane of Victor & Penny show you helpful tips and techniques to take that song you love and make it your own. We’ll talk about what makes a great song great as we explore key elements of arranging such as intros and tags, interesting chord substitutions (including beefing up with jazz chords), strumming styles, finding the right key for you, dynamics and more. Show your style and mix it up with panache and confidence to sound your best and make a song your own. There will be Q&A time at the end of the workshop.  BONUS: We’ll be arranging a few tunes in class as a group, so bring in a song you’re working on. We’ll work on as many tunes as time allows.  | LEVEL: All are welcome; best suited for guitar and ukulele players intermediate and above. Basic knowledge and proficiency on your instrument preferred.

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

MAKING YOUR MUSIC WORK FOR YOU | Paths to Sustainability
The music industry can feel like a wide-open Wild West with no structure, no sheriff, and where every person is left to find their own way without a guide. Today’s professional musician, like other small business owners, has to wear many hats—creator, producer, accountant, marketer, technologist, social media expert, fundraiser, and more. To many, those disparate tasks can feel overwhelming. How do some musicians find the path to a sustainable, profitable, and satisfying career? Successful musician-entrepreneurs have key behaviors in common, and have learned similar “big lessons.”  In the Making Your Music Work workshop, we will share those ideas, lessons, and best practices to get you ready and excited to apply them to your own career. The workshop includes discussion of portfolio careers, goal-setting and planning, communications strategy, and finances. Presenter Erin McGrane will share insights from her work with artists across discipline through Artist INC (musicians, writers, painters, filmmakers and more); private consulting; and her personal experience as a full-time performing artist for 16 years. The workshop concludes with audience Q&A, so bring your questions.

CROWDFUNDING for Musicians
Crowdfunding can be (should be!) so much more than a “presale” for your CDs. This interactive workshop guides musicians through all the steps of crowdfunding, including how to plan, launch, and manage a successful campaign.  Performers will leave knowing how crowdfunding connects to their strategic goals; how to calculate the cost of a crowdfunding project; how to select the right crowdfunding platform; what makes a successful campaign; and how to create a communications strategy and leverage an existing support network. Crowdfunding for Musicians is 3-hour deep dive into the online world of crowdfunding. The workshop demystifies the process, explains the mechanics and empowers artists to engage with patrons and audiences in new and meaningful ways. 

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS  | Let’s talk about the money!
Discover how understanding your financial numbers can unlock a path to career sustainability.  Learning to use tools (like budgets) is the key to making better decisions, controlling your cash flow, and building a sustainable career in the music business. Topics include:
Why do I need to keep track of my numbers, and how do I do it?
What is a budget, and how do I make one?
How do I use my numbers to make better decisions, stabilize my cash flow, and move me toward my goals?
There will be time for Q&A following the presentation. Come get inspired and put these tips and tools to work for you.

 

INFORMATIVE ENTERTAINMENT 

Musical Time Capsule: The Evolution of Kansas City Jazz
 “Jazz was born in New Orleans, but it grew up in Kansas City.” – B. McDevitt 

Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane of Victor & Penny offer a highly entertaining, living musical history lesson as they delve into a topic close to their hearts: the roots and evolution of Kansas City Jazz. From Euday Bowman’s 1913 composition,“12th Street Rag” to Charlie Parker’s classic 1946 “Yardbird Suite”, experience how the face of popular music changed in the first half of the 2oth century. 

In the course of a 75-minute live concert and presentation, Jeff and Erin bring to life the birth of the Kansas City Jazz sound and the elements that make this music so compelling. The duo takes you to Kansas City during the great depression, when boss Tom Pendergast blatantly rejected Prohibition and KC became known as the Paris of the Plains, a hotbed of creativity and new ideas. Hear how Jazz cut its teeth in this rich culture as its early innovators began to change the sound of the art form.  Soon, Jazz was on its way to national notoriety.  The presentation puts the listener inside the music to hear how Walter Page’s 4-beat bass lines began to drive the rhythm, how Charlie Parker turned harmony and melody on its side, and how Big Joe Turner made what many regard as one of the first Rock n Roll recordings… in 1938! It all comes together as these elements reveal the inspiration behind Victor & Penny’s sound, born of this unique, hard-swinging Kansas City style.

Driven by McGrane and Freling’s effortless and engaging style, this presentation offers a fun and captivating look into the music of the city that was coined “the Paris of the Plains” in the 1930s. A must attend for fans of music and history alike.

LEVEL: None, all are welcome… Some technical aspects are discussed but musical knowledge and/or theory are not required to enjoy this presentation.
 
 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS:

VICTOR & PENNY are Jeff Freling (Blue Man Group, Chicago) and Erin McGrane (George Clooney’s, “Up in the Air” and cabaret troupe Alacartoona). Victor & Penny are 3-time Official Showcase artists for the prestigious Folk Alliance International as well as former Escape to Create Artists in Residence. The duo is currently touring the US and has made over 1,000 public appearances and traveled over 200,000 miles through 39 states in the last 5 years.

ERIN MCGRANE (Penny) | MS. McGrane is a career performing artist; musician and songwriter; film, theater and commercial actress; and the “Penny” in Victor & Penny.  She is an ArtsKC Fund Inspiration Grant recipient and a Mid-America Arts Alliance Professional Development Grant recipient.  Erin currently serves as a peer facilitator and a workshop presenter for Artist INC, a professional development program empowering artists of all disciplines to shape their careers and grow their businesses. Erin has managed a number of successful crowdfunding campaigns for her creative projects and is available for private consulting. Ms. McGrane holds a B.A. in Theatre – Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

JEFF FRELING (Victor) | Formally trained at Berklee School of Music (Boston) and the Conservatory of Music (Kansas City), Mr. Freling spent 11 years as the on-stage string player (electric zither and Chapman Stick) for the Blue Man Group (Chicago). Jeff participated in the international program, The Acoustic Guitar Project in 2014 and is an accomplished composer, arranger, an outstanding instrumentalist. Jeff composes, arranges, and consults with other artists on creative endeavors including film, theatre, television, commercial and recording projects.