Old Time Week Classes - July 21-27, 2013
In keeping with the tradition and nature of Appalachian music, learning by ear is encouraged. Classes will not generally be taught using tablature or written music, though some instructors may provide tablature and other handouts as memory aids. Hand-held audio (not video) recorders are highly recommended for all instrumental and singing classes. Fiddle classes during Old-Time Week are offered at four different levels: 0 – Beginner; I – Advanced- Beginner; II – Intermediate; III – Advanced (see definitions). Please consider your level of skill carefully when registering for classes.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE 0 (John Herrmann)
This class for complete beginners will start with the basics of tuning, bowing, and finding the notes on the fingerboard. By the end of the week students will have learned cross-tuning, a few simple bowing patterns, how to learn tunes by ear, and be able to play a few standard old-time tunes. Please bring a working fiddle and bow. No prior experience necessary.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE I A (Erynn Marshall)
This is a class for advanced-beginner fiddlers who already know a few tunes and would like to learn how to spice them up, play with greater ease, jump into jams, and get that ‘old-time sound.’ Secrets of bowing and other characteristics of old-time fiddling will be explored. Bring a recorder and your adventurous fiddling spirit. Tunes will be taught by ear in class at normal and reduced speeds.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE I B (Anna Roberts-Gevalt)
This class is for advanced-beginner fiddlers who know a few tunes and are ready for more. Incorporating basic bowing techniques and noting patterns commonly used by southern Appalachian fiddlers, students will learn several tunes in the keys of A, D and G. Expect mostly breakdowns but perhaps also a few waltzes and slower tunes.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE II A (James Leva)
This class for intermediate players will explore stylistic differences in traditional fiddling from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, thereby expanding our understanding of old-time fiddle styles and developing the techniques employed in them. We will expand our repertoire with tunes that are representative of each style and focus on fundamental rhythm and melody, bowing and ornamentation in a variety of tunings.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE II B (Jimmy Triplett)
In this class for intermediate fiddlers, we’ll focus on some of the essential elements of old-style Appalachian fiddling, including bowing and phrasing to achieve a traditional sound, and we’ll explore a number of different tunings. The tunes will come from the repertoires of Central West Virginia fiddlers, including Melvin Wine, Ernie Carpenter, and the Hammons family. The class is especially designed for intermediate fiddlers, but advanced beginners should also feel comfortable following along.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE II C (Joseph Decosimo)
This class for intermediate players will explore some fun tunes and tunings common to old-time music, focusing on the ways we can use the bow in order to create the right kind of rhythm and feel for old-time music. Learning some breakdowns (and maybe a waltz or slower piece) in G, D, A, and maybe C, we’ll work on becoming better listeners capable of fleshing out the tunes. We will also discuss approaches to learning new tunes. Much of our time will be devoted to figuring out how to get our bows to make the sounds and rhythms that we want to hear. The tunes will include those from western North Carolina, Tennessee, and Cumberland Plateau repertoires.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE II D (Brad Leftwich)
The strong, danceable rhythm of most southern fiddling comes from a rich vocabulary of bowing rhythms that you can learn to recognize and use. We’ll look at some of the basic rhythms that traditional fiddlers commonly use, and learn repertoire that gives them a good workout – one or two tunes a day, drawn from different parts of the South. We’ll also talk about other elements of style and quirks of individual fiddlers. This is an intermediate class, so you should already have enough facility on the fiddle to be able to play with others in medium-level jam sessions or bands, be familiar with the most common keys (A, D, G, and C), and be able to learn short phrases by ear. We’ll use other tunings besides the standard GDAE, and you should be willing to learn to use them. Bring a recording device as well as extra strings.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE III A (Brad Leftwich)
We’ll build on the vocabulary of Southern bowing rhythms by looking at some of the complex, syncopated rhythms that traditional fiddlers commonly use, and learn repertoire that gives them a good workout – one or two tunes a day, drawn from different parts of the South. We’ll also talk about other elements of style and quirks of individual fiddlers. This is an advanced class, so you should already have good facility on the fiddle (no difficulty keeping up with others in jam sessions or bands), be familiar with the most common keys (A, D, G, and C), and be able to learn short phrases by ear. We’ll use other tunings besides the standard GDAE, and you should be willing to learn to use them. Bring a recording device as well as extra strings.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE III B (Jimmy Triplett)
This class for intermediate/advanced fiddlers, will use regional tunes from West Virginia to explore the subtleties of Appalachian bowing and ornamentation. We’ll work on a set of favorite tunes, some that are great dance pieces and others that are just for listening, but all of which have deep roots in the Appalachian mountains. If you are unfamiliar with central West Virginia music, this class will ease you into a rich branch of fiddling full of unusual timing and tonality.
OLD-TIME FIDDLE III C (Erynn Marshall)
This class is for intermediate/advanced fiddlers who wish to expand their repertoire and explore a variety of archaic fiddle styles from Kentucky, North Carolina, and the Virginias. We will delve into left-hand ornamentation, blue notes, alternate tunings, and the intricacies of bowing (rocks, pulses, and dwells), and other nuances typical of traditional southern fiddling. Recording devices are recommended. Fiddlers should be comfortable playing by ear, have good facility on their instrument, and enjoy beautiful old tunes.
OLD-TIME BANJO I (Gordy Hinners)
In this class for the total beginner, students will learn the basics of clawhammer banjo technique. By the end of the week, students will be able to play a handful of old-time tunes, and will have learned some of the tricks of playing back-up on the banjo
OLD-TIME BANJO II A (Joseph Decosimo)
In this class, we will work on intermediate old-time banjo repertoire and techniques that will be useful for solo playing, playing with a fiddle, and playing with stringbands. We will pay close attention to the right hand as the engine that drives clawhammer banjo. By rooting ourselves in some delightful tunes that utilize several tunings and techniques, we’ll work on developing our ear, our ability to flesh out tunes, and our sense of where the banjo fits in when playing with others. Ultimately, we’ll work towards being better listeners and more confident players, capable of learning and working tunes into our own repertoires. If time and interest permit, we may spend a day discussing the rudiments of some old-time up-picking styles. Plan to have fun.
OLD-TIME BANJO II B (Carl Jones)
For the advanced beginner/intermediate player, this class will focus on gaining better right-hand technique as we combine some helpful music theory and apply the left hand’s ever-essential hammers, slides, and pull-offs. We’ll learn a few great tunes along the way and explore the banjo’s role as the fiddler’s best friend and supporter. Our goal for the week will be to make our banjos dance and our picking more musical.
OLD-TIME BANJO II C (Gordy Hinners)
For advanced-beginner/intermediate clawhammer banjo players who know some tunes in the clawhammer style, this class will focus on the rhythm of Southern clawhammer playing and explore tunes and ‘licks’ in several banjo tunings. The use of a recording device is highly recommended, as all tunes will be taught by ear.
OLD-TIME BANJO III A (Tom Sauber)
This class for intermediate/advanced players will start with a recap of the Round Peak style of clawhammer banjo. Using the common tunings for the keys of A and D we’ll review the left- and right-hand licks that are used so effectively to play the melody, while at the same time providing a driving rhythm to support the fiddle. From there, we’ll venture outward from the Blue Ridge, applying the Round Peak approach to tunes from other regions and repertoires such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, and the mid-west. We’ll also explore several alternate tunings, which work quite well for tunes in the keys of G and C, and which are under-represented in the Round Peak repertoire, but quite common in other areas.
OLD-TIME BANJO III B (John Herrmann)
This class for intermediate/advanced banjo players will focus on playing banjo with a fiddle. Emphasis will be placed on the rhythmic connection between the two, the relationship of melody to chords/drones, and the tight interplay between these two instruments, which are the core of the old-time band. This is not a tune-oriented class. We will mainly cover technique and theory and there will be tips on how to play tunes you don’t already know.
Guitar & Mandolin
OLD-TIME GUITAR I (Meredith McIntosh)
This class will start with basic technique (chord shapes & the right-hand strum) and emphasize ear training. It will include basic music theory such as learning the relationship of the chords to the scale and how to use them to accompany songs and tunes. Bring a guitar and a medium weight flatpick. (You can get a pick at the Gathering.) A pre-event handout will be available for registrants upon request.
GUITAR II A & B (Alice Gerrard, Kevin Kehrberg)
If you know a handful of basic chords, and can hold on to a flatpick, you’re ready for this class. Learn back-up guitar for stringband tunes and songs. Topics will include: the boom-chuck rhythm, chord choices, bass notes and runs, keeping time, tuning, learning to listen, and putting it all together into a duet, trio, or band. Guitar students may get together with fiddle and banjo students during the week.
PIEDMONT BLUES GUITAR (Lightnin' Wells)
This finger-picking guitar class is an introduction to piedmont-style blues guitar. The class will explore blues tunes in the keys of C, G, A, and D, as well as dropped-D. Students will learn tunes from the repertoires of legendary piedmont blues artists such as Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, Sylvester Weaver, Elizabeth Cotton, and William Moore. Students should have some familiarity with finger-picking guitar techniques.
OLD-TIME UKULELE (Lightnin' Wells)
Lightnin’ Wells will teach vintage tunes in the mainland style for the standard (soprano) ukulele. We’ll explore old tunes from the 1920s, when the uke reigned supreme in America, such as “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’,” “Insufficient Sweetie,” “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll” and “Shake That Thing.” Several intros and endings in several keys for this small, but mighty, instrument will also be taught. Copies will be available of many of the songs presented, from vintage sheet music from the era with chord diagrams. All songs will be presented in the now widely-accepted C tuning for the ukulele - G-C-E-A.
FLATPICKING GUITAR (Paul Kovac)
Making the jump from playing chords, to “Maybelle”-style leads, to flatpicking fiddle tunes in eighth-note style, requires good fundamental right-hand rhythm, comfort with a flat pick, some knowledge of the fingerboard, and a good ear for melody. In this class, we’ll use a few common fiddle tunes/songs to cover such topics as making the leap from quarter-notes to eighth-notes, pick direction and accenting (playing with a pulse), left-hand positions that put your fingers in the right spots, playing out of chord positions, using double stops to create leads, breaks and turnarounds, and good practice habits and exercises. If you can play “Wildwood Flower,” can kind of hear fiddle tunes in your head, and just need the skills to get to the next level, this is the class for you.
OLD-TIME MANDOLIN I (Wayne Erbsen)
Old-time mandolin for beginners. We’ll play lead and backup to your favorite old-time songs and tunes, learn to create your own licks and fills and discover many of the tricks of improvising.
OLD-TIME MANDOLIN II (Carl Jones)
This intermediate-level class in the old-time style mandolin will focus on learning songs and tunes, with a good dose of music theory included. Two- string chord shapes will be utilized to aid in improvisation and to raise students’ mandolin comfort zone to new heights. An audio recording device is recommended and having fun while learning will be our goal.
MOUNTAIN DULCIMER I (Don Pedi)
Easy and fun! This class is for absolute beginners or those interested in building a solid foundation for playing mountain dulcimer in old-time music. Class will include dulcimer history, as well as playing techniques for developing the old-time sound. Traditional songs, tunes, and hymns will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided. Bring an audio recorder.
MOUNTAIN DULCIMER II (Don Pedi)
This class for intermediate players and above will focus on playing techniques for old-time music on the mountain dulcimer. We will learn traditional tunes, songs, hymns, playing by ear, various noting techniques, different modes, dulcimer history, and more. The class will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided. Bring an audio recorder.
OLD-TIME BAND 101 (Wayne Erbsen)
This is the right place for novice old-time musicians who can play several tunes and know some basic chords but want the thrill of bonding and playing with other musicians in a no-stress, fun string band. Bring your list of tunes and songs and we’ll learn to play and sing together. All stringed instruments and singers welcome! (No class limit)
OLD-TIME BAND LAB (James Leva & Kevin Kehrberg)
Students in this class will form string bands and with a little coaching, learn how to play together and achieve a cohesive band sound. We will consider each individual’s responsibility in a band, how to start and end tunes, tempo, rhythm, lead, back-up, chord choices, singing, band dynamics, and playing for dances or concerts. Bands will have the opportunity to perform at a student showcase or play for a dance at the end of the week. It is expected that students already know how to play their instrument, and that lead instrument players know a few tunes and/or songs in several keys with the accompanying chords. (No class limit)
INTERMEDIATE BASS (Meredith McIntosh)
This class is for musicians who already know the basics of old-time bass playing and have a solid understanding of basic music theory. This includes knowing how to play in G, D, A, and C for 4/4 tunes/songs and waltzes at a moderate to fast pace. We will work on tunes, songs, and waltzes, examine their oddities, and explore how the bass part changes with them. We will also learn ways to support their melodic and rhythmic character and the ‘groove’ of music sessions in general. If time allows, we will listen to and explore other kinds of music as well.
AUTOHARP I (John Hollandsworth)
The autoharp has been a part of mountain culture since the early 1900s and since then has played a prominent role in old-time and early country music with the original Carter Family, Pop Stoneman, Kilby Snow, and others. Drawing on tunes from the old-time repertoire, topics in this beginner-level class will include right- and left-hand techniques, finger memory, tuning, timing, playing in 3/4 and 4/4 rhythms, basic chord progressions, playing in major and minor keys, harp setup, and playing scales that will lead you into melody playing. Ability to read music or tablature is not necessary, but handouts on the tunes and techniques covered will be provided. Students must have an autoharp in good playing condition, one thumb pick, and two finger picks. A music stand might also be helpful.
AUTOHARP II (John Hollandsworth)
During the past twenty years the autoharp has experienced a huge revival, with some major performers and landmark recordings. This class will provide insight into what top players are doing and how to expand the role of the autoharp as a melody instrument. Drawing on tunes from the Appalachian tradition, we will cover both chromatic and diatonic playing, rhythm changes, syncopation, chord substitutions, playing in 3/4 and 4/4 time, arranging, alternate tunings, and how to interact with other instruments in a group situation. Students will refine their playing skills and gain a good understanding of clean melody playing on the autoharp. Some basic knowledge of melody playing would be helpful, but ability to read music or tablature is not required, and handouts on the tunes and techniques covered will be provided. Students must have an autoharp in good playing condition, one thumb pick, and two fingerpicks.
Songs & Folklore
HISTORY OF OLD-TIME MUSIC (Ron Pen)
What IS old-time music? How is bluegrass different from old-time? What do terms such as “authenticity” and “revivalism” really mean? What are drop-thumb, frailing, clawhammer, two-finger, and rapping? Where are Galax, Clifftop, and Mount Airy? Can you dance a Tobacco Hill? What is a crooked fiddle tune? The answers to these and other such mysteries will all be revealed here. Focused presentations on “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” the Georgia Fiddle Contest of 1924, ‘Affrilachia,’ moonshining, and Marion Sumner will provide windows on the style and culture. Discussion, recordings, videos, and guest presentations will nurture an overview of the history and context of old-time ballads, fiddle tunes, hillbilly music, and string bands from the Skillet Lickers to Uncle Earl. (No class limit)
SHAPE-NOTE SINGING (Ron Pen)
We will engage in musical and social harmony through the recreation of a rural nineteenth-century singing school. Singing from the Sacred Harp tune book (1991 edition), which features intoxicating harmonizations written in a unique four-shape notation of triangles, squares, circles, and diamonds makes learning to read music easy and enjoyable. The class will also include background historical and social context. Songs from other tune book traditions will be explored, including the Southern Harmony, Christian Harmony, and the Kentucky Harmony. The class will accommodate both total beginners and veteran singers. Books will be available to borrow for class use. At the end of the week, members of the class are invited and encouraged to participate in the seventh annual Swannanoa Singing with dinner on the grounds. This will be held on Saturday, July 27 from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Warren Wilson College Pavilion. (No class limit)
BALLADS & CRANKIES (Anna Roberts-Gevalt & Elizabeth LaPrelle)
Ballads are old story-songs handed down through the centuries from the British Isles & Ireland to the Southern Appalachians. A ‘crankie,’ also known as a scrolling panorama, or crank box, is a box containing a length of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like the film in an old camera, illustrating a story or song. In this class we’ll learn ballads by making crankies to illustrate them, working with cut paper to make silhouettes. ‘Non-artists’ are encouraged to give it a whirl – you may be surprised with what you come up with! Making pictures of the songs is sure to spark discussion about the stories and their meanings. Then we get to perform our efforts to each other, and to the rest of the camp. (To see videos of crankies, visit: http://annaandelizabeth.com/watch.html) There will be a $10 materials fee for this class, payable to the instructors on the first day of class. (Class limit: 20)
UNACCOMPANIED SINGING (Elizabeth LaPrelle)
Bring a song or two to sing, and the rest of the class will be your audience. The focus will be on experimenting with how we deliver the “story” – what works best and is the most effective. This class will be a friendly environment to work through nerves or stage fright; try some tricks to improve projecting the voice; find a “high lonesome sound;” think critically about how to artistically interpret a song; or just share great songs with fellow music-lovers. Instruments aren’t forbidden, but stepping up to sing ‘without music’ is encouraged! (Class limit: 20)
SOUTHERN HARMONY (Alice Gerrard & Tom Sauber)
This harmony class will focus on how to find and sing traditional old-time and bluegrass duet harmonies. How do you find a harmony? How do you work with another person to get a good harmony sound? What goes into harmony singing besides the right notes? We will examine the challenges of different combinations: two women, two men, etc. One of the goals of the class will be to end up with students singing in duets. Brad Leftwich will also be joining us a few days for some trio singing. (Class limit: 20)
CLASSIC COUNTRY SINGING STYLES (Kari Sickenberger)
Country Music’s Golden Age spanned half a century, from the 1920s–1970s. Within that time period, there were only a few artists with the integrity, grit, and talent to rise to the top to become undisputed Classic Country stars. Among them was Hank Williams, who paved the way for many to follow. In this class, we will explore some of the greatest country songs of all time (though perhaps not the most well-known) and the stylistic qualities that make them great. Through close listening, and lots of singing, we will honor and appreciate the most exemplary Classic Country styles, and have a lot of fun doing it. Be prepared to sing A LOT. (Class limit: 20)
LOUVIN BROTHERS-CLOSE HARMONY (Kari Sickenberger & Paul Kovac)
The Louvin Brothers took harmony singing to a new level, and with their unique duet sound they had a profound effect on early country music. Originally a gospel act, the Louvins’ skillful songwriting coupled with their own close harmony innovations inspire discriminating music lovers and singers – like us! In this class, we will focus on one Louvin Brothers song each day, examining their singing styles and harmony parts and honing in on the tricks and talents that carried these two country boys from a poor Alabama farm to the Grand Ole Opry and beyond. (Class limit: 20)
SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN SQUARE DANCE & DANCE CALLING (Phil Jamison)
This class, open to dancers as well as dance callers, of all levels, will focus on the traditional square dances of the southern Appalachian region. No prior experience is required. We will learn about, and dance four-couple squares as well as Southern big circle dances, and students will have the opportunity to try their hand (or voice) at calling out the dance figures. Dance callers of all levels will have the opportunity to expand their repertoire and receive feedback to improve their calling skills. Mainly though, we will have fun dancing and learning about the traditions of southern Appalachian square dances. (No class limit)
TEEN GATHERING (Ellie Grace)
This class is for teens only! It’s a time for all of you to come together and make plans to take over Swannanoa and possibly the world with music, dance, and other brilliant creations. Some adventures may include creating a young old-time flash mob, learning songs and practicing two-stepping for the Honky Tonk dance, crashing the square dance class, trying out every old-time instrument under the sun (guided by those in the class with instrumental experience), big group harmony singing, and a little clogging for good measure. Games and crankies and more. All proposals for fun activities will be considered! (Class limit: 20)
CLOGGING I (Rodney Sutton)
Let Rodney prove to you that everyone can learn Appalachain clogging steps. This class covers beginning southern Appalachian clogging and buckdancing from “step one.” Learn the basic steps and how to put them to use with live old-time music. Wear smooth-soled shoes – leather is best, and no taps. (No class limit)
CLOGGING II (Ellie Grace)
Are you ready to crank your dancing up a notch? If you have already taken beginning clogging or have previous percussive dance experience, this class for intermediate/advanced dancers is for you. The driving rhythms and beautiful style of Appalachian flatfooting will be explored, and you will learn specific techniques for making a clean, crisp sound and connecting with the music. The dancing will still be highly approachable, but we are going to have a grand time forging ahead towards clogging greatness! Tap shoes are welcomed and recommended, but not required. (Class limit: 25)
T'AI CHI (Don Pedi)
Start the day with a smile with these ancient, gentle, easy to learn rejuvenation exercises. Reduce stress. Focus on breathing, balance, and gentle stretching. Includes: T’ai Chi, Chi Kung, Standing Meditation, Eight Pieces of Brocade, and more. No experience necessary and no registration required. (No class limit)
In addition to the regular class sessions, Potluck Sessions are offered most afternoons. These one-hour mini-classes give students access to the entire teaching staff, and provide a wide variety of class offerings to choose from. No advance registration is necessary.
SLOW JAMS & SINGING
After supper each night, students have the opportunity to participate in slow jams and singing sessions. At the slow jams, common tunes are played at a speed that is accessible even to beginners. The singing sessions are a chance to share your voice and songs.
Each evening, after supper, teenaged musicians get together for Young Old-Time Band, a jam for young players, guided by Dave Leddel, and on Wednesday night, following the staff concert, this group will have the opportunity to play for the post-concert square dance.
Evening dances will be held throughout the week, providing plenty of
chances to dance a variety of traditional Southern Appalachian squares and circles. Thursday night features our valley’s long-standing weekly dance, the Old Farmers Ball.
We offer a full-day program, taught by Denisa Rullmoss, for children ages 6-12. Children must have turned 6 by July 1st to participate. No exceptions please. Evening childcare for ages 3-12 will be provided at no additional cost.
Beneath the wind and waves lies the melody and magic of the OCEAN. This summer in the Children’s Program we will visit the watery, wondrous world of the SEA and all of her inhabitants. We are likely to find sea horses, crabs, dolphins, fish, whales, mermaids, giant squid, sea serpents and much more. If King Neptune allows, we may take a ride in a Yellow Submarine to visit an Octopus’ Garden! Colorful coral reefs, mysterious deep sea creatures, smelly seaweed snacks and a scary shark or two.... who knows what may show up at the Gathering? LOTS of arts & crafts (with many shells), LOTS of water (and dry land) games and LOTS of fun will be our goal. Can you find the pearl in the oyster shell, the lost city of Atlantis or the homes of Sponge Bob, Patrick and Squidward? Let’s not forget the sounds of the sea.... as we sing silly sea songs AND create a band led by Sue Ford (singer, songwriter, percussionist). As a special treat, we will be visited by wandering musicians and artists (Gathering staff) who will perform just for our kids. We will, of course, continue our long-loved traditions of shaving cream hairdos day, movie night, pie-eating contests and the Gathering Scavenger Hunt. Each busy day will close with free swim time in the college pool. Non-swimmers must be accompanied by a parent to swim. So get your snorkels on and practice your fish faces as we dive into some nautical nonsense!! There will be a $30 art/craft materials fee for this class, payable to Denisa, the Children’s Program coordinator, on arrival.