When you walk through campus at the beginning of the school year at Seattle University, you’ll see a lot of guitars. Besides the fact that the guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world, Seattle University is located on Capitol Hill, one of the Northwest’s most active music and art scenes. It makes sense why there are so many great guitarists here!
Each July, The Capitol Hill Block Party brings over 30,000 people to the neighborhood to enjoy a 3-day summer rock music festival. Each month, The Capitol Hill Art Walk celebrates artists, musicians, and buskers. There’s also the annual Earshot Jazz Festival in the fall, and the Seattle International Film Festival in the spring. (Film music, anyone?)
Jimi Hendrix is celebrated on Capitol Hill where a statue of him welcomes folks to the neighborhood; the same neighborhood where Nirvana and other grunge bands played in the 1990s and where Macklemore shot the video, White Walls in 2013. Seattle is also home to the Experience Music Project, where you can learn about the history of Seattle music, right under the Space Needle. You can hear live music every night of the week on Capitol Hill, and Seattle University students and grads are out there too, listening and jamming.
On campus, Seattle University hosts Open Mics, Quadstock, Record Swaps, and the ever-popular college staple: Battle of the Bands. Seattle University students also utilize a top notch recording studio and radio station on campus. If you talk to the students, you’ll learn about house parties, where bands hone their sets and build their followings. (Students tell me the band Kithkin used to do this.) For the jazz guitarists, there are paid gig opportunities on and off campus; and if worship music is your thing, Seattle University has that too.
While attending Seattle University, students can take guitar lessons on campus for credit. The course always fills up fast because lessons are geared toward understanding fundamental, practical, and contemporary concepts that lead to better musicianship. (See Essential Concepts) If you’re someone who is looking for less structure, you can join the guitar club and get together with other guitarists who meet on a regular basis.
Whether you dig playing or just listening to awesome music, Seattle University is the place to be while getting the well-rounded education your parents and teachers advise you to do. But don’t just listen to me, the guitar instructor at Seattle University, check out what some of the Seattle University guitarists have to say, and give their projects a listen. Feel free to contact me, Susan Palmer, if you have any questions about playing guitar at Seattle University.
Matt Brown, Seattle University Class of 2008
Susan was a great teacher because she held me accountable for my homework. There was time to chat, but she made it clear that if you want to succeed with your instrument you have to work hard. You need a teacher that gets you excited to work hard. One other thing I’ve learned; It takes knowing a lot to make a little sound good.
I am currently promoting myself as a solo artist under my name Matt Brown. I am living in Nashville constantly writing songs, touring, and working hard at my craft. My website is www.mattbrownsongs.com. I also started a song writing entity called Brown & Root. We have a songwriting focus in TV/Film. You can check us out at www.BrownRootMusic.com
Bedy Molina, Seattle University Class of 2017
One of my favorite music experiences while at SU was jamming with other musicians that I have met through my private lessons and in choir. It’s always beautiful to create music with other people with a variety of musical tastes.
Guitar Lessons with Susan Palmer has not only taught me how to better play the guitar, but has also given me an idea on what to expect as a musician in the real world such as making connections, or networking.
At the moment, I’m writing music with a good friend of mine and it’s not a full band so we haven’t recorded anything yet; however, I do have my own personal soundcloud where every now and then I would post songs that I’ve personally written: https://soundcloud.com/bedy-molina
Peter Casey, Seattle University Class of 2012
Guitar lessons allowed me to work on learning how to use the full guitar neck, which I have adapted into various styles including a progressive jazz/pop band and a progressive acoustic style incorporating open tunings, harmonics and various non-standard voicings of 7th and 9th chords. The relationships formed with other musicians through music theory and jazz guitar lessons have been invaluable as well.
My previous band Skydust (formed with fellow Seattle U guitarist Cyril Silverman) has some tracks available on SoundCloud. Some of my recent acoustic work and singing was featured on a compilation of various Seattle U and Capitol Hill based artists on BandCamp.
Ian Carrick, Seattle University Class of 2015
Susan helps me think systematically about the guitar in ways that are eye-opening. She gives me tools to be strategic and logical with my playing, giving my passion and soul direction and guidance.
Here is a link to some of the recordings Daniel Reeve, Kelvin, I and our talented friend Sarah made last year. We are getting the band back together but have no gigs at this time.
Matt Hitchman, Seattle University Class of 2010
My favorite music experience at SU was being encouraged by Susan Palmer to audition for the university jazz band. Once I was accepted she encouraged me further to ask for a solo and helped me work out a chord melody to Beautiful Love, which I eventually performed in a trio at the Spring jazz concert.
What I really liked was that I was able to bring all the theory and ear training I was learning in my other music classes to Susan and she’d help translate it to my instrument. Her approach allowed me to study the guitar rigorously and academically while opening a space for me to collaborate with other students to express ourselves artistically.
My current project is being the co-teacher of The Rock Project at Cornish College of the Arts. Information is available on Cornish’s website under the Summer at Cornish Music section.
Daniel Reeve, Seattle University Class of 2014
Susan challenged me to think about the guitar in ways that I had never thought of and forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Without the lessons that I took from Susan I really wouldn’t be the musician that I am today.
I’m currently playing in a Seattle rock group called Wandering King. We are going into the studio the first week of March to record our first ever EP and have a show at The Central Saloon on March 14th.
Matt Bishop, non-matriculated Seattle University student in 2009-10
My band also played Quadstock. It was fun to see how the SU community really embraces the local music scene.
I had been playing guitar for almost 15 years before I took lessons with Susan, but I’d really only taught myself first position chords so I could write songs. Susan has given me the tools to see how guitar can be an excellent lens through which to understand music. I’m a better writer and a much more capable communicator with other musicians. And I have a lot more fun playing guitar than I did before.
I’m in a band called Hey Marseilles. We’re currently recording our third album, which is scheduled to come out fall 2015. You can learn more at: www.heymarseilles.com
Stefan Wanigatunga, Seattle University Class of 2013
Guitar lessons with Susan were some of my best memories at SU. I practiced the skills and technique of guitar yet I also opened my imagination to take creative risks and opened my mind to new sounds.
I am composing music to a documentary I directed called Point Hope and I am recording new music in the studio this month!
Joe Kirk, Seattle University Class of 2014
During my sophomore year at Seattle University, my band, The Brass Monkey Band, played a small run of tour dates with one of my biggest influences, Murder by Death. I also played in a band called Dead Partners.
Guitar lessons with Susan helped to break down and organize my musical goals, creating an environment where I could advance to more complex playing styles while learning the musical building blocks that I largely ignored as a younger guitarist. Currently, the knowledge I gained under Susan’s instruction motivates me to continually analyze my playing, allowing me to keep learning even though I am no longer a student at S.U..
I am currently working on producing film scores for Marshall Granger, a former band-mate, close friend, and talented filmmaker based in Missoula, Mt. (Marshall’s Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/mgranger). I am also in the beginning stages of forming a garage rock band with some of my fellow Seattle musicians.
Colt Kraft, Seattle University Class of 2007
Susan Palmer taught me a great deal about playing guitar- one thing that stuck with me is: watch out for bad habits when learning to play the guitar. They’re easy to learn and very difficult to unlearn.
The Colt Kraft Band: www.coltkraft.com
Jon Cardiello, Seattle University Class of 2015
I think my favorite music experience thus far at SU was having the chance to play at Barboza with my band Wrinkles with another SU band, Albatross. It was such a magical experience to play on such a good sound system with some of my best buddies.
My other favorite music experience was getting together with three friends whom I had never played music with (drums, viola, cello) and arranging a song for Scratch my Sophomore year. It was a great feeling to take one of my songs and play it in a whole new arrangement.
Growing up as a piano player, I always knew I had a long ways to go before feeling equally as comfortable on the neck of a guitar as I did on the keys, but after taking lessons from Susan I realized that even the best guitar players are practicing and learning more about the guitar every single day. I learned that learning to play guitar is a never-ending road that allows you to constantly be discovering new things and honing in your skills, a road that I hope to continue down!
Terra Clark, Seattle University Class of 2019
Susan’s lessons have helped me become more comfortable with being out of my guitar comfort zone of finger picking and chords. Her lessons have given me the big picture of how important it is to learn simple, but fundamental music theory in order to collaborate with others.
I have a SoundCloud, in progress. I am working on getting enough songs together re-record and finalize all the parts by the end of the school year.
Brandon Moss, Seattle University Class of 2014
My favorite music listening music experience was going to Bumbershoot at Seattle Center. It was amazing to see local and national artists performs at a festival in such an urban setting and so close to home. My favorite playing experience was playing jazz gigs with my classmate, Joe, at the university and off campus at university sponsored events (and getting paid to do it)!
Guitar lessons at SU gave me a toolbelt full of methods to practice and perform jazz, blues, and rock music in both professional and informal settings.
I don’t have any current projects of my own to promote. Mostly just me and a friend (who plays drums) having some fun on the weekends jamming. I did audition for a jazz band at the local college, but the band is full on guitarists this semester. Maybe in the fall there will be space for me!
Jian Liu, Seattle University Class of 2008
Guitar lessons with Susan provided me the foundations that I still use in my everyday playing. From the CAGED system, Pentatonic Scales, rhythmic strumming to 7th chords!
Briana Van Craeynest, Seattle University Class of 2010
After I learned the pentatonic scale, I started jamming with a friend of mine. It was amazing to collaborate with someone experientially like that. It was like realizing I was fluent in another language.
I don’t have any recordings online, but as my capstone project at SU, I recorded an album. Guitar had been so important in moving me emotionally through that year that it felt right to dedicate something meaningful to that.
Learning guitar became very important to me both personally and academically during my senior year. I’d just finished a year (including summer) of intense study abroad programs, and I felt burned out and directionless when I came back to SU for my final year. I was suddenly back in lectures instead of the dynamic language classes I’d adjusted to, and the dreaded mystery of what would happen after graduation was always looming. Guitar gave me a focal point. It allowed me to channel my restlessness and gave me a productive alternative to panicking over the unknown. Guitar gave me a greater sense of control. I couldn’t push off graduation, but I could absolutely affect positive change in my life.
After I started taking lessons, I also suddenly became aware of just how many people played guitar in the area. If the sun is out, you are guaranteed to see at least one person on Capitol Hill walking around with a guitar on their back. I realized that even just my little social circle was full of accomplished guitarists. Learning guitar allowed me to connect with my friends in new ways. I could jam with fellow guitar-players, sing with others, and even have a great way to engage with people I’d just met. I’ve even introduced a few friends and family members to guitar, one of whom is now making music into a side career!
Joshua Guerci, Seattle University Class of 2009
More than any other discipline, music is so conversational. And because of that, Susan was unique among my professors in her ability to see where I was at, help me see what I was struggling with, and motivate me along my unique path.
Music has always been a method for getting at those emotions I can’t put into words. Cliche as that might sound. Since SU, I’ve been shifting my focus into film and interviewing but the intent is still the same. I’d like to think there is a visual music to what I do. Or when I sit down to interview someone for documentary pieces, there is a method to shaping the timbre of a conversation that I borrow from music theory. And a piece of Susan is always with me when I’m getting back to the basics of my craft.
Here’s my Cinematography Website: www.joshuaguerci.com
Brian Clawson, Seattle University Class of 2014
My favorite music experience while I was at SU was when I saw Del the Funky Homo Sapien at Quadstock. His guitarist and bassist soloed on the stage at the end and they were incredible. From that point on I knew that I wanted to possess that kind of talent one day.
Guitar lessons truly gave me the foundation to learn guitar in a way that was both efficient and inspiring. It was through the persistence of Susan to master the fundamentals that I became the guitarist that I am today.
Starting Junior year and up until I graduated I was the president of guitar club and I am very proud that my friends and I were able to come together and make it happen. There is a very big music community both at SU and in Seattle so I encourage anyone to get out there and meet others with the same passion.
Eric Sorensen, 2007-2009 while working as a Senior Writer at Seattle University
Susan opened me to the possibilities of playing more than cowboy chords–learning the fretboard, understanding the harmonic relationships between chords, the value of practicing.
I’ve since moved to Pullman, Washington, and played in a jazz band called Pork Pie Hat. We had a good run, playing events, open mics, happy hour at the local pub. It ran its course. I’ve also continued lessons with a music faculty member here. My job has overtaken that. Work duties made it hard to keep my responsibilities to the band and the teacher, so I’m on a hiatus.
Elijah Poston, attended Seattle University 2013-2014
I had no idea how to read guitar before I started taking lessons from Susan. She’s helped me stand out as not “just another dumb guitarist who can’t read/doesn’t know any theory.”
I’m starting a band here at Loyola New Orleans, which should have some music out soon, and I released a recording of a song we made last semester: http://elijahposton.bandcamp.com/
Kelly Benkert, Earned Masters in Student Development Administration from Seattle University in 2011
One of my favorite music experiences happened when Susan Palmer and her student (Bedy Molina) were entertainment for our Community Partner Lunches. Oh, and when the Garfield High School Drumline performed at the CSCE’s Spirit of Community Celebration a couple of years ago.
I always wanted to learn to play guitar for fun, but couldn’t manage to ever really get started. Susan’s course gave me an understanding of the fundamentals of picking, chords, rhythm, and a great review of reading music. Even though I was only able to take lessons for one quarter, I felt so successful after nine weeks that I am still playing and learning, whereas with previous attempts at starting to play, I would feel like guitar was too hard and I’d stick it in a corner and not pick it up again for months at a time. Susan’s course was fun and engaging, and her teaching style and methods are very effective! Building on small successes each week, I was amazed at what I could play by the end of the quarter.
Chez Liu, Seattle University Class of 2012
My favorite music experience in Seattle University was singing for the University Choir. (Unfortunately I actually did not have the chance to witness any guitar performance. I was a business management major who like music a lot.)
Susan’s lessons were very effective in which she has a variety of ways to help me target the specific troubled areas in my music learning, be it theory, familiarizing the instrument, or musical ideas. Her textbooks target all aspect of guitar musicianship that many guitarists sometimes neglect to work on. I really like how the book is written; it comes with CDs which helped me practice.
I’ve always though that guitar was a hard instrument to learn, but I feel like Susan’s lesson really eased me into it. I saw my progress, yet because of the smooth learning curve, I didn’t feel frustrated in tackling more difficult lessons. And most of all, her lessons were fun!
Although I don’t plan on going professional or put out anything major, playing guitar will always be one of my favorite leisure activities.
Kelvin Mason, Seattle University Class of 2016
There are like 6 open mics on campus every quarter, battle of the bands, and open mic shootout, so there are a million great guitarists here! My favorite experience would either be throwing a house show last year with Ian and Dan, or watching Dr. Archibald’s viola recital.
Lessons have definitely helped me focus on what I need in my playing rather then what I like playing, also I am a million times better at sight reading now, which is really helpful when i’m jamming on harder Real Book stuff, because I can always easily resort back to melody licks when I get lost soloing.
Right now I’m playing with Ian, Daniel, and our friend Sarah called Sarah and the Scallywags. There is some instrumental stuff with just the three of us here: https://soundcloud.com/sarah-and-the-scallywags
Craig Jaffe, Seattle University Class of 2017
One of my favorite music experiences at SU would have to be when I reached a point where I learned enough chords to be able to start playing songs of my own that I’ve had tucked away for ages. I write with a melody in my head and words on a piece of paper, but I never knew how to read music, write music, or play an instrument until I started playing guitar with Susan Palmer.
Guitar lessons with Susan Palmer have helped me tremendously in the short amount of time I’ve been doing them. I’ve been able to put actual music to the songs I’ve created and I’ve been learning how to play, take charge, and make mistakes in front of a room full of other people. She’s forced me out of my comfort zone in just seven weeks, and even when I thought I wasn’t going to, I’ve loved every moment of it.
Until I manage to get my hands on recording equipment that aren’t cheaper than dirt, I won’t have anything online, but my personal goal is to have at least one song fully recorded, produced, and available for streaming/sale by the end of 2015.
James Grant, Class of 2010
Learning Jazz chords, songs etc… I primarily love and play heavy metal music but was opened to a whole new world of music through my studies.
I had no rhythm or feeling to my playing and struggled with timing for that reason. Susan taught me to express as well as explore my feelings while playing music which I found increased my ability and love to play.
I just play for fun now since I have had a kid and a busy life. However I am starting to learn piano with my daughter and look forward to diving back in to the study of music.
Chris Doner, Seattle University Class of 2009
I had some previous knowledge of music but never touched the guitar. The Guitar Lesson Companion Vol 1, with Susan’s personal instruction had me strumming some simple tunes in no time while keeping the bar high for other academic aspects of guitar playing. Not to easy… not too hard. Always the right amount of pressure to push to you the next level coupled with her tremendous patience with beginners and endless praise to keep you encouraged.
While attending SU some friends introduced me to Salsa dancing. I was hooked to the music and it changed my life.
I’m not currently active in any music projects. But I do play Rocksmith 2014 with my now 6 year old son. Playing the guitar is cool. Playing the guitar with your son is super cool.
Susan Palmer teaches jazz, blues, and rock guitar styles in Seattle and via webcam. Since 2006, she has been the guitar instructor at Seattle University. Palmer created and taught, “The Rock Project” at Cornish College of the Arts from 2010-15, and she was music instructor at Seattle Girls School for the 2016-17 school year. Palmer is the author of, The Guitar Lesson Companion Method Book Series which is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. Her extensive collection of lesson videos and jam tracks are available for free on YouTube. Palmer’s current and former students perform regularly throughout the country, including these Seattle venues: The Comet, The High Dive, Skylark, Neumos, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chop Suey, The Tractor Tavern, The Rendezvous, The Sorrento Hotel, The Crocodile, The Mix, Cafe Racer, The Edgewater Hotel, The Sunset, and other private events.