Greetings! Welcome to DC Music School. My name is Denis Chang, and I am the one behind all the operations here! If you would like to know more about me, please check out my personal website at www.denischang.com.
I am basically a Gypsy Jazz guitarist based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This is the reason why you see lots of Gypsy Jazz lessons on the site; it's the style where I have the most experience and have the most connections. We've got the who's who of the style on this site. However, DCMS is more than just one genre or instrument.
DCMS has been in existence since the summer of 2011. Within 5 years, we have released well over 50 products featuring some of the best artists in their respective genres. Within these same 5 years, over 15,000 users from over 50 countries have logged on to the site to learn from these artists!
At DCMS, we're not a big corporation nor do we ever intend to be. We want to keep things small and give the best customer service possible like the good old "mom and pop" days. I, Denis Chang, handle almost everything myself, and I supervise all the important operations. We are really just a small team behind the scenes.
Keeping the team small means more work, but ultimately, it means that the quality of products will always remain consistent, and with the reduced expenses, artists earn more, and customers pay less!
How did DC Music School come about? It all started in 2006 when I produced a series of Gypsy Jazz DVDs for a Canadian company. These DVDs turned out to be highly successful. In those days, Gypsy Jazz usually referred to the style of Django Reinhardt as played by Gypsy musicians such as Stochelo Rosenberg, Bireli Lagrene, Angelo Debarre (all DC Music School artists). Today, the term has lost a bit of its original meaning, as there are groups from all over the world dedicated to the style.
The Gypsy musicians often play in a particular way, with particular chord voicings, ornaments, and a particular way of interpreting songs. I learned to play Gypsy Jazz directly within the Gypsy community of western Europe. What I learned, I started to share with people who were interested. The DVDs that I produced were a result of my learning experiences among the Gypsy musicians.
I created DC Music School so that I could take matters into my own hands and embrace the technologies of the future. I realized early on that DVDs were quickly becoming a thing of the past. Furthermore, by working with another company, the costs of production were often quite high, and these extra costs were handed down to the customers at the expense of the artists.
The DC Music School infrastructure was created by Adrian Holovaty. It is running on his innovative Soundslice technology. This technology is constantly evolving, and we will always be embracing future improvements!
I figured I would take the time and effort to learn all about the basics of production, so that I could handle all the important tasks on my own. This meant that the artists could get a higher share of profits, and that we could keep costs down so that everything is as affordable for people all over the world. Thus DC Music School was born!
DCMS runs in a way that is very different from most businesses. Here, profit is not the priority. Of course, we rely on the money to survive in life, and to make our business grow, but the priority has been and will always be the content. We strive to make the very best lessons possible with each and every one of our artists. Our artists are very carefully selected so that we present only the cream of the crop.
I oversee the production of every single lesson. Sometimes I spend weeks if not months researching, analyzing, and profiling an artist so that we can come up with the best lesson plan. Some artists are camera shy, or don't have experience sharing information. Sometimes they don't even know what they're doing! If necessary, I coach and guide them throughout the entire process, while remaining faithful to their musical philosophies.
This is one of the major points of DCMS. Conventional wisdom in music pedagogy seems to tell us that we have to be well rounded musicians and that we need to learn all sorts of skills: theory, sight-reading, various techniques, repertoire, etc.
At DCMS, we don't believe that. Instead, we focus on the importance of community, and the importance of only learning what you're interested in. A lot of styles such as Gypsy Jazz are best learned not through one on one instruction, but within the context of a community. There's a reason why Paris has a strong Gypsy Jazz scene; why Nashville is the hotbed of country music; why New York has a thriving jazz scene. DCMS will never be able to create anything like that, but we can invite the best musicians from these communities to talk about their learning experiences!
One thing that all of our artists have in common is the love for the music that they play. They were never forced to learn things they didn't enjoy; they only focused on what they liked. By doing things this way, they developed their own voice and their own approach to music. Instead of trying to learn everything that conventional wisdom teaches us to learn, we should focus on the things that we personally enjoy. It goes without saying that if we are open-minded, then, we are likely to improve more than someone who only likes one or two things. Even then, it doesn't matter if all that we love is that one thing. We focus on it, and it becomes our specialty.
Therefore, you may find that one artist will say one thing, and another will say the opposite. That is perfectly valid, because it reflects their personal musical vision. My hope is that when you hear all these different opinions, you, yourself, can find your own path. Listen to what the artists have to say, listen to their playing, and see where you fall!