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Jane Miller: Newsletter

The Benedetto Andy - February 16, 2011

I've been having so much fun with my new guitar, the Andy, made by Bob Benedetto. It's a 3/4 size jazz box, but it's no toy. It's really an amazing instrument, and it's a perfect fit for my hands. Check out the photo gallery for pictures of it, and check the Benedetto website for more wonderfulness. Thanks Bob, Howard and Cindy!

Uke Bass - November 11, 2010

When I was in Nashville last June, I fell in love with these little basses called UBass. They are made by the Kala Ukulele company, and they are just amazing. Here's a link so you can see for yourself:

Aria Guitars - November 11, 2010

I got an Aria guitar for Christmas when I was 12 or so, after learning on a little red guitar from Sears. So now, all these years later, I have a new Aria parlor guitar that I want to show you all. It's a beauty, and very fun to have and play. Check it out!

jamplay! - September 7, 2010

The good people at have offered seven days of free lessons to all of you. Go to and enter the password: 5617DB6B8

From there, you can have fun browsing any lesson series you'd like from over forty teachers. There are live chats with instructors going on every day, there are interviews with artists, and performances to watch along with the various levels of lessons. Skip all around and try it out.

You'll find an interview with me (and a performance with the interviewer Jeff Booth and me) and an introduction to the lesson series that I recently filmed with them. Hope you'll enjoy it.

jamplay - August 7, 2010

It's been warm enough for swimming just about every day here with my yellow dog. My scull boat is all set up just right and has seen more of the lake this year than in the past few years. Our garden is thriving. I have been having fun playing guitar a lot. That's a good summer right there.

I had a great time with a live session on yesterday. Thanks for all of the smart questions and the inspiring discussions. It was fun to play for you all from the comfort of home with my dog Betty nearby as always. I'll keep you posted as to more live sessions to come. You can check for lots of good info. Like them on Facebook, too.

I'll be traveling to Colorado in a couple of weeks for a video shoot for the jamplay folks. That means that they will be adding a lesson series from me to their roster of instructors. I'll be talking about a number of some of my favorite topics in the jazz guitar realm. We'll also squeeze in some artist specific talks along with lots of playing and demonstrations. When it's ready to go, I'll turn you on to some free lessons as a sample to check out the site and get a feel for it. Stay tuned!

My monthly column for Premier Guitar, "The Jazz Box," continues, so I hope you'll look for it on newsstands or on-line. I'm working on the October column now, which will include some special and valuable advice from Katherine Riggert, DO, on taking care of our fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders, and our whole bodies. She's my sports medicine doc, and has been a big part of getting me and my crazy shoulder back on the right path. Lots of people wanted to talk about warm-ups and good routines for our practicing and gigs on the chat yesterday. Thought I'd let you in on the column-in-progress.

Meanwhile, the September issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine has a Woodshed Lesson by me about adding 9s to your chords, with examples and a new song to try. You can find it on-line along with my audio examples, too.
Thanks y'all. (Texas in-laws visiting this weekend...)

Home from Nashville - June 25, 2010

I was at the Chicago Midway Airport Sunday night thinking about my song "Home from Chicago." I'd like to spend more time in Chicago someday, but it is very nice to be home for now. I had an absolute blast at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville. I started smiling as soon as I got off the plane and kept it up all weekend. As I had imagined, my new and old friends-- and "virtual friends"-- all came through with great show-and-tell stories and wonderful visits. The instruments were fantastic, and the vibe was friendly all around. An unexpected treat was getting to the Muriel Anderson All-Star Guitar night show. (Thank you, Rick Shubb!) Muriel, Stephen Bennett, Andy Wahlberg, Doyle Dykes, just to name a few off the top of my head. Then came a tribute to James Burton. So great to see him there and to hear him play. He was introduced by surprise guest Emmylou Harris. She then invited another surprise guest to sing a duet with her that she and James recorded on her first album; out onto the stage came Vince Gill. Other standouts were Brent Mason, Joe Dalton, Seymour Duncan, Victor Wooten joining in on bass; what a fun night.

Speaking of Victor Wooten, I attended a clinic that he did back at the NAMM show. His book, The Music Lesson, and his playing and teaching style are all inspiring and fun to take in.

It was very nice to see some friends from Premier Guitar Magazine there. "The Andy" from Benedetto Guitars is amazing, and I had fun hanging out at the booth with Howard Paul. Chris Thomas is always a joy and the Martin Guitars are continuing to live up to their long-lived reputation. Thanks to Chris for getting me to NAMM this year.

The UBass is a Ukulele Bass that you have to try and hear to believe. Great little instruments.

Tom Stadler from Tennessee is making some beautiful archtop jazz guitars. I was very moved by his instruments and his stories about them. What a nice guy. Someday...

Lots of fun with Richard Hoover of Santa Cruz Guitars, Randall from Kyser Capos, the folks at D'Addario and Planet Waves, and on and on. Thank you all.

Now back to life at the lake: writing, teaching, playing, and swimming with a big yellow dog.

Oh, and mowing the lawn.

Canoe Ride - April 24, 2010

Earth Day has come and gone, but my family and I are still marveling at the lake, the grass, the great blue heron and the rocks poking up from the water, the sticks in the yard carefully selected by my dog Betty to display, and the good luck that is ours for being privy to it all.

The May issue of Premier Guitar Magazine is out now. You can have a peek on-line and browse through the many terrific articles by clicking below: My Jazz Box column for this month is called Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I hope you'll find something useful to play and think about in there.

I had a great time playing music with Chet Williamson last night. We have dates lined up through the summer, so please stay in touch here or "like" me on Facebook. There will be some dates with Doug Lowe, also.

Keep looking for-- and maybe even pestering me about--news of my next recording, which will be a solo guitar effort.

Oh, and ask me how my book's coming along, too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Your sound - March 26, 2010

Here's the April Premier Guitar Jazz Box column, in which I discuss tone.

three four - March 5, 2010

New lesson in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, the April issue out now.

new - December 29, 2009

happy new year. happy new decade. if you need to resolve things, or if you resolve to make resolutions, or if you resolve to not make resolutions, or if you just like to play guitar, here's a fun link for you:
i have been having fun writing The Jazz Box column for Premier Guitar magazine this year.
i am grateful for the patch of snow that saved my car and 1/2 of the residents of my house from going over a small cliff after sliding out of control on our icy street the other day.
i am grateful that my friend jane gets to rest all week and heal and be well.
i am glad to have a new lesson coming in the spring in Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
i am still having fun being a musician and setting up a new little demo recording space in my house.
i am grateful that my dog came back safely after disappearing on us for a bit longer than we were comfortable with.
i am glad to still be enjoying teaching and lucky and happy to have a great teaching gig.
i am most grateful today for the many layers of warm clothing i have to put on before venturing out to play with the dog.

i am looking forward to seeing you at gigs this coming year or hearing from you on these pages or through magazine reader mail or facebook or in the classroom or studio. wherever we may find each other, i wish you peace and health and joy.

winter - December 7, 2009

the snow has made playing in the yard extra fun and challenging. it's fun to look out later and see all of the footprints and pawprints all over the place as we warm up by the fire.
i'll be playing with my friend chet williamson this thursday night at picassos's, which is a wonderful little restaurant in barre, ma. then friday and saturday night, it's back for another year of christmas music and celebration with mark marquis and friends at the unitarian church in downtown leominster,ma.
for those of you cd shopping, i have added my three cds to the bargain bin at which means you can buy any three cds in the bin (there are a lot to choose from) and pay just 5 bucks each. also, i have lowered the price on each of my individual cds if you just want to buy one at a time instead. the 5 dollar sale (of my cds, anyway) will last until the end of the holiday season, which i figure, is my birthday. the epiphany. the 12th day of christmas. little christmas. ok, january 6.
as always, check out premier guitar magazine for my monthly column called "the jazz box."
future alert: work is underway for a new lesson in acoustic guitar magazine for a spring issue.
enjoy the season and best wishes to all.

summer - July 16, 2009

the july issue of premier guitar magazine is out. in it, you'll find my column, called "the jazz box." this month's topic is "A Bargain Chord." I'm writing a new one every month now, so keep an eye out. Future topics include practicing with a metronome and adding bass lines to your comping. to me, there's nothing like flipping through an actual magazine, perhaps while sitting on the edge of a dock dangling your feet in a lake, or maybe stretched out on a lawn chair, or just right there in the grass next to the dog. oh, i mean, keep it in your practice room on the music stand, yeah, that's right. anyway, if you don't have to hold the glossy paper in your hands, then you can also find it on-line here:

acoustic guitar community profile - July 16, 2009

this is kind of fun, and if you're an acoustic guitar enthusiast, sign on up.

premier - May 4, 2009

got the premier magazine column done for the july issue.
look for musings from me in those pages every other month in my new column.
there is a beaver swimming around and having a good old time right outside my window, right there near the canada goose. every now and then it climbs up out of the water onto a patch of grass or a rock and i can't believe how big it is.
this is the sort of thing i have to contend with while writing.
by the way, does this mean my yard will flood sometime soon?

check it out - April 23, 2009
for the new lesson in the woodshed department about guide tones. it's out in print mag soon. the on-line version is up and has audio examples and a bonus song.

water - April 11, 2009

there is water right outside my window. there is water right across the dirt path. there is water over there in the woods. there is water next to the dirt road. there is a small canoe leaning up against the shed. there is a bigger canoe leaning up on the deck. there is a rubber raft hanging on the back of the deck. there is a scull boat stretched out along the edge of the deck. there are paddles and oars inside of the shed, separated from their boats. there is an eager water lover sitting here typing. the ice was fun for awhile, but jeeeeeez.

look for a new acoustic guitar magazine lesson/article coming out in a couple of weeks. all about guide tones. i'm recording new examples and a song to go with the on-line version of the lesson.

also, look for news about a column in premiere guitar magazine in which you can read my philosophies, ideas, lesson ideas, and more every other month starting early this summer.

this is to say, of course, that i get to look at the many brooks and streams and swamps and the lake and write about guitars and music and then hop into a canoe and then come back and write some more and then play and then record and then look at the water some more. it's a very lucky life i lead. i get to balance it out by being in boston to teach three days each week and that's a very lucky thing, too. this is not news, of course, but it's just what's right in front of me.

news would be like, say, i am playing with chet williamson on april 24 at val's in holden ma from 6-9. chet is a jazz harmonica player of the highest order and a wonderful old friend of mine.

happy spring in new england, happy musical adventures wherever you are.

red and orange - February 26, 2009

i saw the sky turn red and orange from the prudential center skywalk observatory a couple of nights ago. i looked at fenway park and the citgo sign and traffic patterns and the charles river. now i am watching the sky turn red and orange again from my window here at home, where the sky hangs above the frozen marsh and the gray trees and tree stumps and the old snow and ice. my dog betty showed me the way to the beaver dam one recent saturday afternoon.
come be my friend on facebook if you'd like. i am working on updating my musician page with music. it's not working yet. any advice? i'll be adding some music and photos to my regular old facebook page as well, so check it out.
i have some writing to do in a few different areas over the next few days.
i feel like playing guitar more and more. like, whenever i play.
cheers, dick albert.

power trips - December 19, 2008

hi folks,
first of all, to fans of the guest book, i will try to get that back up and running soon. just have to delete all of the stupid entries. i have been majorly spammed here.
second of all, to those concerned about my little corner of the world, thank you. we are back up and running now, too. someday, i will try to describe what it's like listening to trees fall and poles snap and wires get yanked out of the side of your house while you try to sleep, all with the steady rhythm of freezing rain in the background. with no electricity, heat, or water, we hung out at home as long as we could, about 48 hours or so. our fire in the fireplace betrayed us a bit on night 2 when it started to burn right through to the sub-floor. some time during the next day, we decided to flee to an undisclosed location, but let's just say we're so lucky that mom got her power back. the next day when we went back home for a few more things, including guitars, it was 29 degrees inside of the house.
now my whole family is safe and warm and back home with everything restored, just about. we have some damage to repair, but we have overflowing gratitude for all of those who helped us in our neighborhood and in our extended family. it might be spring before we can clean up the trees and limbs, but for now, we can watch holiday movies and bake cookies and cuddle with the dog and cat and create a holiday scene that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
happy holidays, everyone.

one year - November 20, 2008

a lot can happen in a year.
one of my favorite questions from students is: "so, how do you improvise?"
it's also one of my least favorite questions.
answering the question itself relies on the art of improv.
how do you have a conversation with someone?
do you recognize your friends' speech patterns? do you recognize familiar voices on the phone (without looking at caller i.d.)?
do you listen a lot? do your friends listen a lot? do they talk on and on and on sometimes without stopping for responses, or even air? do you? do you sometimes get into a car and ride silently for miles and no one minds? are you funny? serious? do you respond to others' with thoughtfulness? do you talk over each other without really paying attention all the way?
maybe we all do all of those things some of the time.
maybe we play lines that are completely unrelated to the harmony, intentionally or unintentionally. or maybe we always play right inside the harmony without any risks.
our ears tell us what to do. we just have to teach that to our hands and fingers.
i got married, bought a house, didn't know i was going to do any of that. my dog betty and i got a step-cat. we got a new groove. and even though it's ours forever, (no one can actually take that away) we can make changes and reharmonizations and get haircuts and buy a car and laugh and throw up and vote and celebrate and watch baseball and renew our vows and paddle a canoe and slide on a boogie board in the snow and not get hurt and a lot can happen in a year.
happy thanksgiving.

saturday eve - October 16, 2008

another doug lowe gig is fast approaching. we're playing in acton, ma this saturday night, oct 18, the early show from 7-830.

my dog betty and i took a nice walk today and the fall foliage color was about the most beautiful thing i've ever seen. what a celebration.

things that rock:
vibrant health vibrant green drinks
baseball at fenway park, even though...
pellet stoves
going out to buy bread and coming back with cool furniture instead
watching guy van duser work out a chord solo and brainstorming with him
the lake
the ducks
betty swimming with the ducks
working out my own arrangements
surprising myself
writing an article from home and having betty nearby without interrupting
interruptions from betty
teaching and realizing that i thought of something new again
playing and realizing that i thought of something new again
chai lattes
love and gratitude

one day - August 18, 2008

dog, boat, dog, dog, boat, wireless, troubleshoot, troubleshoot, orthopathic wrestling match, whiffle ball, badminton, boat, boat, sun, water, peaches, dog, dog, npr, terry gross, boxes, recycling, organizing, shed, nice breeze, water, water, boat, walk, dirt road, idea, story, lesson, guitar.

proto's child - July 8, 2008

i just added a link on my music page for listening to a demo version of "proto's child," a song i wrote and recorded in 2003 while trying out a nylon string guitar. just for fun here; feel free to add comments.
as for recording plans in the future tense, i'll of course be recording the newest AG magazine examples and a new etude for another lesson to be out in print in the oct issue (available end of august), on-line in september. tune up and get ready to give your open strings a ride. thanks for the good response to the diminished chord and scale lesson in the july issue. dan a. rocks and came up with this good idea for me.
next, the plan is to record a solo acoustic cd in august, due out sometime this infinity.
as for live shows, i'll be playing with the doug lowe group on july 19th 7-830pm at the acton jazz cafe. he's got a killer rhythm section and the cafe is a delightful hang. come early for dinner and then stay late for a show by the "geezers" for you late-nighters.
my dog and her best friend are here sleeping away the hot humid new england summer day.

dim the lights - May 7, 2008

i got to play with my old pal chet williamson last friday night. he is a jazz and blues and anything style harmonica player. it's like working with a horn player. they don't come better than chet. hopefully, we'll have more gigs to tell you about soon, but for now, i was filling in for our friend steve cancelli (amazing guitar player). you can catch the two of them every friday night at val's in holden, ma. nice place, nice owner, nice music. chet is an encyclopedia of american music history and is just an absolute blast to work with. he is also editor and writer at worcester magazine. we know each other from doing radio in worcester, where he was my mentor and we spun the platters and hosted concerts and had all kinds of fun.
i have a piece in the next issue of acoustic guitar magazine. it's the july issue, out at the end of may. they wanted a story about diminished chords, so if you want to read a story about diminished chords, check it out. there's a new song for the lesson in there, too, which can be heard on their on-line magazine site once the print mag is released. it's called "dim the lights." many more stories to come for acoustic guitar mag, so keep an eye out.
my dog, betty, is quite a story teller, too. she's in the middle of a forensic investigation of some crow feathers on the hill. and some bread under the neighbor's house. and the leaves that maybe a deer or something like that must have brushed by this morning, or was it last night. and that stick over there. and and and...

the seventies - April 17, 2008

my dog's best friend comes by from time to time to visit. we have to spell his name around our house because the very thought of him causes so much excitement it's hard to bear. when betty is just about jumping out of her skin either when her friend comes over or when i come home or go to pick her up from her vacation spot, she grabs the first toy she sees to show it off. i like to think of it as her way of story telling. here's what i've been playing with since i've seen you last. here's what i can do with it. here, you try it. try to take it away. see how strong i am.
it could be that none of that is in her head at all. it could be that she feels like she'd better grab something or else she just might bite me because she's so excited. or it could be that she just wants to play. but it makes me think of the many ways of expression. many art forms. many teaching styles. many sports. many languages. many studies.
max is a big boy dog, one month older than betty. he teaches her how to stay around and play with us rather than running off to find food in neighbors' yards. he teaches her to come in the house with us when the games are over. he teaches her to drink like a big slobbery dog out of the big water dish. he teaches her to be and have a best friend. so when i started spontaneously singing "ma-a-a-a-a-aps" from the "yeah yeah yeahs" the other day, betty's eyes lit up and her body stiffened ready to spring for the great outdoors to see her pal in the yard. no such luck. but when he is there and i say "go see maxi" and she leaps like a bunny all through the field until she finds him, i am in the lucky position of witnessing pure joy.
that's the draw toward guitars. that's the draw toward learning and listening to music. that's what we pay for to either learn or listen to in classrooms, studios, clubs, concert halls. as i played a lick during an impromptu jam with susan werner one day last year, she said "i want that for christmas," and i knew she felt the joy of music in the right spirit of fun and excitement.
you can't force that stuff. it's as natural as betty and max. when it's right, it just is.
today, i have a lot of work to do for school and for a magazine assignment and some general other parts of life to take care of, but there's no way i'm doing any of it right now because it's in the seventies here in new england, and i am following my heart to the great outdoors with betty.
you gotta be flexible with that stuff.

snippets - March 13, 2008

open strings are so cool.

someone that plays loud and confidently can sure fool a lot of people into thinking that they are adept or musically accomplished when in fact they might just be having a blast and not be either of those things and that's ok, too.

java chip ice cream is so good.

roy clark showed up on the beverly hillbillies now and then and played his butt off.

playing bass is an absolute blast. i almost believe that bass players and drummers must belong to a secret club.

what, that chord again? try finding a new note.


oh, good, that chord again--i love that one.

hey, who took my F#? you know when you take your finger off of the first string when you're playing a D chord and it sounds cool, but you kind of miss that F# that got sacrificed? try making a barre across the first three strings on the second fret and then add the E on the 5th fret of the second string. you'll get your pretty "9" sound but you won't have to lose the good F# in the process.

on a different topic, there will be a new acoustic guitar magazine article/lesson/song of mine in an upcoming issue. not sure when.

last year during spring break, i got injured in my own back yard. this year, i'm going away.

every now and then my dog reminds me that she is indeed an animal. and by every now and then, i mean a lot.

i have a mandolin. i don't practice much. if you turn your guitar upside down and try to play like that, that's how i feel with my mandolin. it's a blast.

in the morning, my dog wakes me up singing eric dolphy licks.

on days when i have to work at home writing, i spend the rest of the day wearing her out.

at night, she sleeps in the big chair in my office and lets me type.

if i try to rush that process at all, i get eric dolphy-ed again.

expressive and artistic and real and raw.

give me a D-7 in third position with F on the second string and the open high E string singing along.

give me a decaf grande mocha.

sshhhhhhhhh the yellow dog is sleeping.
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