Fellowship Spotlight! An Interview with Haakon Kjeldsberg, 2015 Zappa Family Scholar

Taylor Smith Fellowship Spotlight

Amelia Thornton (Crown’s Social Media Manager) interviews 2015 Zappa Family Fellowship winner, Haakon Kjeldsberg on his experience at the 2015 Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival and Workshop.

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How was Crown different from other music camps you have attended?

Haakon:        “I got to meet more guitar-oriented players at the Crown. It felt grander, like a bigger event because of all the stuff happening and all the concerts. And also because of the pre-week I got to experience.”

During the pre-week you got to adventure to Cedar Island in the middle of Flathead lake and face your worst fears, bees!

H:       “Let’s look at all the hornets! I wonder if they’re different here! [laughs] It was good to overcome some of my fear. Now its winter, so it’s no fear!”

Did you get to overcome any other fears?

H:        “I had to speak in front of an audience, which I hadn’t really done before. So that was new for me.”

Has anything changed about practicing or performing since being a Crown participant?

H:       “I appreciate practice time a lot more now. Phil Goldenberg had a great workshop about practice. There is really no better teacher than yourself, because you know what you have to work on. Crown was definitely a boost in motivation, experiencing all these players that are better than you and knowing that they have worked hard to get their results. It is kind of an eye opener, that you can do this too if you just stay at it.
Just go for it. Really.”

You have performed with Dweezil a number of times over the last few years. Your sister Karoline even got to announce you at Crown, and recently at a show in Oslo. How did it go in Oslo?

H:        “It has kind of become almost a tradition, my sister is included and she does stage presentation. She did something crazy, she was asking if she could do some crowdsurfing. Dweezil was a little hesitant at first, “If we are going to do this, we have to make it safe!” It went well, it was a fun thing!”

Since returning home to Horten Norway, what have you been working on in your practice sessions?

H:        “I’m working on chords, really understanding chords and triads. Finding different ways to play them. I kind of had this revelation at the Crown Festival, because I met many great chordal players, who could really integrate nice chords into melodies. I understood the importance of really knowing your instrument and having this control and command of how to execute chords. Different variations and whatnot.”

One of the biggest things I noticed about you this summer were your skills as a teacher and dedication to practice. You were constantly jamming with the other scholarship students and participants and teaching them things you knew a lot about. What would be your advice to guitarists that are trying to improve?

H:        “Chords and substitutions are a great way to avoid the scale trap, which is about going up and down the scale. If you learn the chord tones and extensions you learn the scale but in a different order. The things to work on: number one is Chords, number two is Listening. Becoming a better listener is important in a live playing setting so you can adapt and adjust to the way the sound is. It is about finding your place in the landscape of sound.”  

If you could describe Crown to someone who has never heard of it before, what would your elevator pitch be?

H:       “A fellowship of great musicians and also apprentices. The Crown is people of all different levels, connecting and seeking to improve in some way, while having fun and experiencing music. There is lots of variety.”

Why is Music important?

H:        “You just have to like it. There is no way to escape.”