Hello friends from far away land! If any of you would like to come to Montreal, Quebec to study with me, you can possibly stay with me. I live in the heart of Montreal, in a neighbourhood called the Plateau. I have two very comfy private guest room, and you will be very close to all the hot action in Montreal.
These lessons are for reserved for serious and respectful students only. I simply ask that guests respect a few basic house rules, which we will discuss via email.
As we would be living with each other, it’s important that we be on the same wavelength. None of us do drugs, we keep things tidy, and we are very respectful of each other and our neighbours. We are very honest people too; if we found a briefcase with a million dollars in it, we wouldn’t think twice, we would try to do everything we can to return it to its rightful owner. But then, you may ask, what if it’s stolen money? Well then, the rightful owners aren’t the thieves, right? OK but what if it’s stolen from a bunch of people? OK smartass, you get what I meant.
Money is not my biggest priority. If you are a full-time musician or aspiring one with limited financial means, I am happy to offer discounts for students; just get in touch with me, and we’ll try to work something out. Please get in touch with me for rates! Please note, however, that I am in very high demand; I have been booked solid months ahead of time, since the start of this program in September of 2015!
You can arrive the day before the scheduled start of the lesson, and leave the day after the last scheduled lesson, and I will happily pick you up at the airport/bus station/train station. For airport pick-up, I will ask for a one-time 20$ fee for the parking and gas (for both pick-up and return trip to the airport). Taxis cost 40$ plus tip (therefore 80$ plus tip for return trip), and public transportation is 10-20$ (therefore 20-40$ return) and won’t bring you directly to my home! These 2 extra days won’t cost you anything, if we don’t have lessons. So, if you come for one day of lessons, say on February 30th 2019, you can arrive on February 29th, and you can leave on February 31st. You will not be charged for Feb 29th and 31st!
There is super high speed internet access, washing machine/dryer, A/C. The entire condo unit is very clean and tidy. The fees do not cover food, though I am happy to provide meals for a very small cost to cover ingredients/preparation.
For international students, please check Canadian laws on immigration/tourism for more info on visiting Canada. Be sure to visit the Canadian Immigration website to see if you need a visa. In some instances, you can find work to help cover expenses. Try to find out if your country has certain partnership programs with Canada or special programs for living abroad. Canadian residents are eligible for provincial or federal government grants such as the Canada Council For the Arts. Perhaps your country has similar scholarship/grant programs. I would be happy to provide the necessary documents for your application.
Montreal is located in the province Quebec, where French is the official language. However, Montreal is fairly cosmopolitan, and since I’m centrally located, you should be able to get by in English. I’ll be happy to teach you a bit of French as well, if you are interested.
I also do not count hours. If I feel that I need to spend more time with you, I will. Of course, it’s not always possible to master everything in one day; a lot of days will most likely be spent reviewing what we covered. I will help guide you so that you stay on the right track. We will also jam a lot during lesson hours, or even off lesson hours.
As I mentioned earlier, these are for serious students only. What’s a serious student? Basically, someone who can commit to my lessons, and who is willing to practice outside of lesson hours. Even though many of our hours will be spent practicing the material that we covered, you should still practice on your own time. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 years old and planning to become a professional musician, or 60 year old semi-pro/hobbyist. Obviously, you should have some experience playing music already, as these lessons are not suited for people who have never played music before!
What kind of material will we cover in our lessons? Please check some of my other blogs posts below for more info:
Last but not least, you are welcome to record/film every single session! In fact, I highly recommend it!
Here are some reviews of previous homestay students:
I had amazing experience going to Montreal to learn with Denis. He was able to teach more the few days I was there than I have learned entirely on my own. He covered everything from the fundamental techniques I was lacking in as well as more advanced material that kept me engaged in practicing for months to come. The flow of the lessons was smooth and 100% catered to my level and style of playing, making learning gypsy jazz a lot less tedious and more fun. During my stay, Denis also sowed me around all the hot spots in Montreal and took me to many jam sessions with local musicians to put my playing into practice. Overall he was an excellent host throughout my whole stay. I strongly recommend this fully immersive learning experience to anyone serious about learning gypsy jazz, at any level of playing.
-Nathan Beja, Toronto, ON, 2015
If you’re on the fence about deciding wether or not to visit Mr. Chang in Montreal then let me help make it easier to decide. I stayed with Denis for one whole month and I must say that it was a decision that I wouldn’t take back for anything. I was nervous at first before arriving because I didn’t know what to expect but when I got there I felt almost immediately comfortable and fully welcome in his home. He gave me a key and set me up in the spare room and I honestly felt like it was my home away from home within hours of arriving.
My experience as a stay-over student with Denis was much more than I expected. Having a teacher there to correct you in your practice anytime you need, a person that can answer basically any question about the style of music and an amazing Montreal tour guide made the experience an unforgettable one. With Denis, I learned various techniques that are required in the style of gypsy jazz but are also needed to have a high level of musicianship when performing and playing with others. Denis also helped me get in touch with other musicians in my area and created opportunities for me in the future. If anyone had the chance to study with Denis Chang, they certainly should never pass up the opportunity!
-Sara Labriola, Coldspring, NY, 2015
Watch me whip. Watch me nae nae.
Experiencing Casa Chango means living and breathing gypsy jazz night and day. Denis will guide and help pave a pathway towards whatever goal you have in mind. Every lesson is catered toward your ability and what you want to achieve. Lessons are full of vital information but Denis is very good at providing it at a steady and easily digestible pace. Of course if you want to apply what you learned you will need to practice and jam a lot! (And there will be plenty of opportunities to jam!) Also, Denis is a good listener and very patient, but do not expect to be babied. He will be very straight forward. He will lock you in his dungeon, zip up his latex suit and tear apart any and all inefficient habits and techniques and rebuild it from the ground up! This is exactly what I needed to improve and I would not have had it any other way!
“I could not have been happier with my trip to Montreal! Denis is the best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of studying with. His dedication and knowledge of the gypsy jazz style is astounding and contagious. My bandmate Andy and I studied with Denis together and everything from picking us up from the airport, to delicious dumplings, and accommodations in the heart of the hip Les plateau area,exceeded our expectations. Our 5 days of lessons felt like a full download of gypsy jazz, with years of practice material now at our disposal. Denis has a keen focus on the basics but also paired that with a variety of fun bossa and bolero rhythm styles, and an in depth study of improvisation and lead guitar playing. I think the best way to put it is that he has “illuminated the path forward” Obviously in less than a week it is not possible to magically become a master guitarist, but I was hoping for practice materials and strategies that I could take home and expand upon. We got everything we hoped for. Thank you Denis for everything you do for gypsy jazz and the passion you clearly have for sharing this wonderful music!”
Where does one start when recounting their experience with Denis Chang? Do you mention the immeasurable amount of musical knowledge in the style of gypsy jazz that he bestows on you on a daily basis? Do you mention the amount times you think you’ve learned it all, but then Denis slaps the bejeezus out of you with new ideas and ways to think about the guitar and your own playing? Or how about mentioning the fact that he’s an incredibly patient and thorough teacher, who works at your pace to make sure you acquire the skills you need to be the best musician you can be?
All of this is true (and more!) about my stay at Master Changs house. Even my experiences outside of my study were just as memorable, ranging from eating at the best poutine joints in town, to jamming with local musicians, to exploring the heart of Montreal’s hippest neighborhoods and thoroughfares. I found a love for the city of Montreal, and thanks to Denis’ excellent hosting, it made getting around so easy, with a comfy home base to return to.
To all who seek guidance from this wizard of jazz manouche, CONTACT HIM IMMEDIATELY. He’s a busy guy, and thankfully he found time for Alex and I. You will not regret it!
Taking lessons with Denis taught me so much. He is vastly knowledgeable about guitar and gypsy jazz in particular, but what was especially valuable was that he could pass so much insight on new things he was teaching us and different ways to look at things we had already been doing. Denis is incredibly well-versed in theory and technique, but what sets him apart is his ability to impart that knowledge onto his students.
One of the best lessons that I have taken away from my experience in Montreal is a more systematic approach to practicing. Before, I felt a bit lost whenever I practiced. After studying with Denis, I feel that the time I spend practicing is much more effective. I feel much more grounded and structured in how I learn and practice material.
Aside from lessons with Denis, he was an incredible and hospitable host and tour guide. While staying with him at his home in downtown Montreal, I got to experience nearby restaurants and some of the best coffee. More importantly, he arranged gigs for me and Luca in Montreal. It was a great experience for me professionally, giving me the opportunity to make contacts in the area and learn from other musicians as well.
Overall, I truly value my time studying with Denis. It was a lot of fun and very enlightening. Here in Austin, I have a ton of material to work on and better habits for my practice. I recommend studying with him for any level of guitar player, from beginners to more advanced. Furthermore, musicians from any style, would benefit from working with Denis.
P.S. And then Bireri asked me what bukkake was… and I was like… uhm, I don’t know!
-Alex Conner, Austin, TX, 2016
Coming to live and study with Denis was the best investment I’ve made yet for my future as a musician. He presented his lessons to me in order of what I needed to cover first, and then we worked our way deeper throughout the week. I now have material which I will be practicing for years to come. Not only is his knowledge expansive, but so is his network of friends and fellow musicians. Denis introduced me to, and had me perform with, a handful of Montreal based musicians. He also connected me to musicians he knows in my area so I can continue playing with others in the gypsy jazz style back home! Denis is a nice, generous guy, and he is also hilarious! His humor will have you laughing every day. Also, Denis’ hospitality is superb, with delicious meals served each day, a comfortable guest room equipped with a couple guitars to use, and he is happy to show you around the city as well. Overall, this is a unique and valuable experience if you are serious about getting better as a musician. Don’t wait to book your stay with him, since Denis is a busy guy!
Never gonna give you up! Never gonna let you down!
I did the home stay lessons with Denis for the month of August. It was truly a life changing experience. Denis is the best teacher that I have had the pleasure to study with. From his background of studying and playing with the best musicians in the style he has a wealth of knowledge to share in gypsy jazz and musicianship. Denis is a very thoughtful and patient teacher and has a natural gift for teaching. I have been playing gypsy jazz for about 6 years and had been feeling like there were some elements of my playing that were holding me back. Denis was able to pinpoint these areas of my playing and give me clear instruction on how to improve these areas of my playing. Denis was very generous with his time. The entire time I was there in and out of the lesson time was a learning experience. Spending time with someone as passionate and talented as Denis leaves you feeling inspired. Outside of the lesson time Denis gave me tours of Montreal via car/bike, brought me to the famous sights and restaurants, jammed with me in the park, introduced me to musicians living in Montreal, showed me examples of recordings incorporating what we covered in the lessons and even had me join him on some amazing gigs! The food that he offers for his homes stay students is delicious, the guest room is very comfortable and the space very clean. He really does live in the most hip area of Montreal with beautiful Mt. Royale just behind his place. The moment I walked through the door I felt like it was home. It was a trip that will stay with me as a very important and fond memory in my life. I left Montreal feeling the most inspired I have felt in years. If you are thinking about making a trip to Montreal to study with Denis dive in and do it!
Denis’ teaching is amazing. Rather than present a stock course or set lessons, Denis’ method of teaching was uniquely tailored to address the weaknesses in my playing. He has the impressive ability to observe a person’s playing and almost immediately recognize how to fix the problems he hears. Although I was only with Denis for four days of lessons, my timing and knowledge of the fretboard were noticeably improved when I returned home. In addition, he gave me a clear roadmap of lessons for the next year (or more) which, if I put in the necessary time, will allow me to play the way I’ve always wished I could. The amount of knowledge Denis has gained from studying and playing with the best gypsy jazz players is simply astonishing. Even more amazing is the generosity with which Denis shares that knowledge, his time, and his wonderful home in Montreal. If you are serious about becoming a better player, I highly recommend studying with Denis.
Where to start?
If you’re serious about studying swing manouche and (like me) you’re trying to learn it on your own, do yourself a favor and message Mr. Chang. He is SO knowledgeable in this style of music, and he is a very good teacher. Lessons are crafted towards the needs of the student and are jammed packed, giving you alot to work on for months to come. Rythmn, lead, timming, phrasing, technique, theory, you name it.
For me, my biggest problem was playing with the “gypsy jazz” picking technique properly, and getting the right sound. This is what made me message Denis in the first place. Needless to say, I’m on the right track now, and gypsy picking is feeling comfortable, and sounding much better!
As for stay itself, It is very comfortable, the rooms are quite cozy, the food is great, and the location of the house is right in the middle of the city.
During my stay, there was another student there who was very dedicated he was alot fun to jam and hang out with. Now I have a brother in gypsy jazz, who lives in Mexico!
Also there are several venues that play gypsy jazz and hungarian music in Montreal, which I recommend going to see. And lastly Denis is a super chill guy, really easy to get along with and has a good sense of humor,
Gypsy Jazz is the way!
PS: A vote for giant douche is a vote for our future