Red Rocks Report: Mammoth Music Lesson May Be World's Largest

Pete, Billy Nershi and Trace Bundy teach This Land Is Your Land and Sweet Home Alabama.

Of the near-sellout crowd of 7000+, 815 were instrumentalists. The event, organized by Denver's Swallow Hill Music Association, was threatened all day by rain, but as the sun came out and the crowd swelled, the three performers, assisted by over 20 other music instructors, made the skies ring with handmade music.

Pete reports:

"It was a thrill and a challenge to lead so many people. We had a lot of guitars and mandolins, some banjos, a few saxophones, a trumpet, a harp, a vena (a large stringed instrument from India), and quite a few percussion instruments. All acoustic. We were amplified on stage, but we sometimes went quiet, so the crowd could be heard unamplified. That has got to be a unique sound! At one point, I had them just sing, and not play. I thought that was the best sound -- everyone singing This Land Is Your Land without accompaniment.

"For the instructional aspect, I got everyone playing in 'boom/chick' rhythm on the three chords, and taught them the chord progression, both the chord names (C/G/D/G) and the number system (4/1/5/1). I got them to sing the first five notes of the G scale, and that leads right into the song, since the melody just walks up the first four notes from a G to a C."

A report was heard over Colorado Public Radio for the next day, including an interview with Pete.

According to the event's principal organizer, Swallow Hill's Michael Schenkelberg, "The almost official count for people with instruments is now 815. So we are going to send out a release that says our request is pending with Guinness and give the number of attendees and number of people with instruments. Here is a link to some photos of the event done by Shutterbug Doug:[email protected]/sets/72157621755721021/"

Video of a song led by Pete with Swallow Hill faculty at Red Rocks.

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