DC Music School FAQ

Q: What or who is DC?

A: Hello! DC are my initials: Denis Chang. I’m a guitarist based in Montreal, Quebec. I run this operation called DC Music School!

Q: I’m new here! How does this site work? How do I purchase your super awesome products?

A: The website is quite straightforward. All our products are 100% digital. We do not ask for shipping address, nor do we charge shipping. Once you purchase a lesson, it is yours to keep forever! Just create an account, and browse the catalogue. Some of our products are 100% free as well. Consider these gifts for supporting our business. The more support we get, the easier it is for us to give little gifts to the community!

Q: How do the lessons work?

A: All video lessons are streamed on the website. They can also be downloaded for offline viewing on certain browsers (see next question). Lessons also include mp3s for download for extra convenience.

Q: How does the offline download work and why can’t I download the traditional way?

A: DC Music School is powered by Soundslice. On supported browsers (such as Google Chrome), there is a “SAVE OFFLINE” button at the bottom of every video on the site. Click that and Soundslice will save the data to your computer so it’s available offline. Depending on the size of the audio/video and speed of your connection, it may take a few minutes to download everything.

Once it’s done, you’ll be able to return to that page even if you’re offline. You can test it by disabling your internet connection and reloading the page.

Of course, we can’t expect you to remember (or bookmark) the URLs to all your offline DC Music School material, so just visit any page on the site while offline. You’ll get a message saying that you’re offline, plus a list of links to everything that you’ve saved for offline use.

This is new technology and not all browsers support this. However, with time, it is highly likely that all browsers will support this technology.

As to why, it’s not possible to download the traditional way, we want to encourage people to use the features of the site, and we plan to make many improvements with interactive features for community building. Furthermore, certain products get updates and/or upgrades. Once you purchase a lesson, all future upgrades are 100% free!

Q: I love Soundslice! Will every video have the interactive score that Soundslice is famous for?

A: At the moment, only two of our products (“In The Style Of Gonzalo Bergara” and “In The Style of Yorgui Loefler”)have this feature. That’s because they were personally implemented by the Soundslice creator Adrian Holovaty. It was merely to test the website.

Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to implement these features on the site for many reasons.

For starters, we charge very little money for our lessons for the amount of material that you get. Each product has roughly 10-15 songs, on top of the many lesson examples. Each song is painstakingly transcribed using a professional transcription software to get the most professional look. The engraving process (essentially making the layout look beautiful) is a time consuming process and involves customizing scores. What this means is that when we use Soundslice to import these transcription files, many ornaments don’t get converted. For certain artists that don’t use complex ornaments, it’s not a big deal. For artists that rely heavily on ornaments and complex rhythms, Soundslice’s conversion system is unable to accurately translate these, which means significant extra manual work.

Furthermore, DC Music School very strongly discourages the use of transcriptions for learning. Our core philosophy is to learn music by ear and by observing the videos. Subtle nuances in the playing such as timing, ornaments, dynamics can only be learned by listening. Furthermore, certain artists have a non-orthodox sense of time (such as Pat Martino, or Ulf Wakenius). It is a feel based style of improvisation, and no traditional form of notation exists to notate these in a truly accurate way. In these cases, our transcriptions are simplified.

We offer these transcriptions as a last resort if you’re having so much trouble. You can use many of the interactive features of Soundslice to help you. There is a slowdown feature, and you can loop specific passages. You can download mp3s and load them onto any player that allows you to create loops or slow down the audio as well. You can watch the videos in HD to see what the fingers are doing. This is truly one of the best ways to learn music.

That said, we are working with the Soundslice team to see if it may be possible for users to interact with other each other and to collaborate on making their own interactive Soundslice scores. At least, in this way, it fosters community interaction and discussion, which music is all about.

Q: Why are there three prices for lessons?

A: We have two kinds of products on this site: early releases, and complete products. Early releases mean that all the video and audio files are uploaded and are fully functional but transcriptions are not 100% uploaded. We offer these lessons at a discounted price of 29.99$ Canadian. Furthermore, newly released products are on sale for 24.99$ Canadian. Once a lesson is 100% complete as originally intended, the price is 34.99$ Canadian. If/when applicable, further updates and upgrades to lessons are 100% free!

That means that if you buy a lesson for 24.99$, before the transcriptions are ready, you still get them when the price goes up!

Q: Why do you not just release lessons when transcriptions are ready?

A: DC Music School operates on a business model that is extremely generous to artists. Furthermore, each lesson that DC Music School produces is extremely expensive to make. It requires tremendous time and resource to make each lesson happen. As a producer, I spend weeks if not months researching the artist that I will be working with, in order to better help him/her come up with the ideal lesson plan. Not all artists are teachers, some are even very nervous to speak in front of a camera. I am present at all recording sessions to help the artist out. Furthermore, DC Music School has a small team of dedicated transcribers, and we pay them to help transcribe the songs. The truth is that we are creating “boutique” lessons and giving as much as possible for as little money. We want things to remain accessible to as many people as possible all around the world. While as artists, our income comes from our art, at DC Music School, we place a priority on quality before money. Having the early release sales helps us hire more transcribes and continue to deliver high quality content.

At DCMS, we are extremely committed to include as much information as possible in each package for as little as money as possible. We strongly believe in music education and making it accessible to people from all over the world. There are not many companies out there giving away as much for so little! We had to make a choice: either release products with less songs/transcriptions and finish the transcriptions earlier, or record as many songs as possible but take more time to finish the transcriptions. Given the choice, which would you rather choose? With Bireli Lagrene, we’ve recorded close to 100 songs, all carefully transcribed. Then, in the lesson portions, there are over 200 playing examples also carefully transcribed! Where else do you find this much for so little? Likewise with Pat Martino, we have over 50 songs, and roughly 100 playing examples! We truly want to give more than others. The more we can include the more we get a better picture of the artist’s playing style, and the more educational it can be to see how an artist’s playing remains consistent across many songs! For instance, in the over 50 songs that we recorded with Pat, you’ll see how his thought process works when it comes to improvising changes. You will see that he has certain ornaments and patterns that he likes to play. These are the key ingredients to his style, and when you see him repeat these across over 50 songs, and you see how he changes them up melodically or rhythmically, you begin to understand how he is thinking!

Q: How long does it take to complete transcriptions?

A: It depends on the playing style of the artist. Certain artists’ playing styles are straightforward, in which case, it’s usually 20-40 minutes per song, and then 5-10 minutes for doing the engraving.

Certain artists, however, have extremely complex playing styles. The more complex it is, the more time it takes. Some have taken many hours just to complete 2 minutes of music! For instance, with Bireli Lagrene, we recorded almost 100 songs! It took many months to complete all these!

DCMS’ team of transcribers help accelerate the process, but I, Denis Chang, then correct every transcription, and sometimes it takes me hours to correct something that was submitted. It’s not that my transcribers are incompetent, but as a musician with strong formal training (I have a degree in classical music theory), who also has lots of experience teaching and performing, and who has been doing professional transcriptions for almost 20 years, I have acquired tremendous experience in this field. Some of DCMS’ artists have extremely complex playing styles that simply cannot be notated using traditional western notation systems; this is where my expertise comes in handy.

I am not saying that I am the holy master of transcribers, but, without being cocky, I think I’ve earned the right to say that I’ve reached an extremely high level of authority when it comes to transcribing.

To answer your question, it can be a matter of weeks for simple transcriptions. For complex transcriptions, it can take many months! We thank you for your patience, but please remember, that we constantly encourage training your ears. It’s truly one of the best ways to improve as a musician!

Q: I found some mistakes in your transcriptions.

A: Due to the high volume of transcriptions that we do, it does happen that we make small mistakes, these are usually typos. If you see anything, please let us know, and we can correct them.

However, sometimes we take the liberty to make certain changes in certain scores for various reasons. A lot of our recordings of artists are live takes, and when it comes to live performances, little glitches happen. Sometimes, I make executive decisions to correct certain notes that I think might have been intended. Sometimes I simplify things that aren’t always played clean.

Q: What is your policy on refunds.

A: We highly advise that you read the product description very carefully. Along with the description, each product has free samples so that you can make informed decisions on the product you wish to purchase. We also have a Youtube and Facebook channel with extensive video samples of our products. If you, somehow, accidentally purchased the wrong item; please email us immediately with a request for refund. Requests need to be made within the hour of purchase. Otherwise, given the clear descriptions and samples of each product, we do not issue refunds.

Q: The free lessons are great! Me want more! MORE!! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!!!!! nom nom nom nom nom…

A: Thank you so much! Sharing is very important to us and we will definitely continue to produce more free lessons/downloads. However, in order for that to happen, we need more support from the paid products. If you find a paid product that interests you, please consider purchasing it. It will allow us to work faster, and therefore, allow us to release more free products!

Q: Your lessons are too expensive, can you give me a discount?

A: As I mentioned already, new lessons are already discounted, and remain so until the transcriptions are fully uploaded. Furthermore, since this site is running on the incredible technology that is Soundslice, there are regularly expenses that we need to cover. We also give our artists an extremely generous deal. We include as much high quality content in each of our lessons for as little money as possible. A private lesson with one of our artists costs 300$ US. On our site, one volume of his costs 24.99$ (CAD) at the discounted price, or 34.99$ (CAD) at its final price. Each volume contains more info than a private lesson would cost. And don’t forget, you would also have to arrange travel and accommodation to get to the artist’s house!

Q: Tell me more about this school? What makes it different from other online music schools or any music school in general?

A: Short answer: DC Music School is so awesome that it caused the dinosaurs to go extinct eons before the site came into existence. True story.

Long answer: Our team is dedicated to bringing you the absolute best in music education. Our teachers are highly accomplished musicians and among the most respected in their genres. It is often said that world-class players don’t know how to teach; this is generally true, and many publishers often use their names to sell a product at the expense of quality instruction. This is not always intentional on the part of the publishers, as their area of expertise is marketing not production; they are often non-musicians or simply amateur musicians and thus, are unable to understand how quality music instruction is made. This is not the case at DC Music School; as producer, I, Denis Chang, am highly passionate about effective, and practical pedagogy and have given workshops to students all over the world, from beginners to seasoned pros. I do so, not because I have to, but because it has been a lifelong passion of mine. I am also a performing artist and have been blessed to have shared the stage at prestigious venues with many renowned artists. I understand what it takes to reach a high level of musicianship and I know how to transmit this knowledge to the next generation of aspiring musicians.

Q: So… Who are these artists giving out “wrong” information?

A: Well, we’re not in the business to criticize or badmouth our competitors but here’s what we’ll say: At DC Music School, we guarantee you that every lesson is accurate and taught by artists who are highly respected by their peers. Each artist works closely with the producer to offer the very best in instruction; every lesson is carefully crafted and made to be as clear and accurate as possible. We also fully welcome criticism; if you feel that some of our lessons are dubious, please let us know, we will gladly investigate, and rectify the situation . Our priority is simple: QUALITY!

Q: OK, what makes you so special mister “producer”?

A: I grew up speaking 3 languages and come from a very cosmopolitan and multicultural family; along the way I picked up the basics of a few other languages. I have a very good understanding of how people think and behave based on cultural upbringing. From a social aspect, I have had to deal with people of all walks of life. I am deeply fascinated by psychology which I believe is the key to transmitting knowledge. I firmly believe that learning music is like learning a language and immersing oneself in a culture. I find this analogy to be very true; sometimes, a language is more than just words. Culture plays a big part in a language; words and phrases change meanings between regions; accents and inflections change as well. I learned to speak English by watching American TV shows as a child. Quite frankly, I know very little about the rules of the English language, but I think you (if I may be so bold) would agree that my English is more than acceptable; is it not? All this from watching TV! I grew up in a French city whose culture is different from that of France’s but I went to school under the French (from France) system. As such, I grew up learning both idioms, and acquired the skill to hear the tonal inflections between the accents. I also grew up speaking an Asian language with multiple tones. All this came in handy when I was learning to play music.

Musically, I come from two very distinct backgrounds, as I have formal training in music from a classical perspective, but I also learned to play music by ear with the Sinti Gypsies (the tribe to which the legendary Django Reinhardt belonged) in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. I understand the thought processes from both schools.