(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)
INTERMEDIATE BLUEGRASS FIDDLE (Bronwyn Keith-Hynes)
This class for intermediate players will cover a variety of songs and instrumentals, as we explore the fiddle’s role in bluegrass. In addition to the history of bluegrass, topics covered will include: playing the melody of a song and how to embellish it, melodic variations on a fiddle tune, and how to play backup to a singer. We will also cover techniques that are integral to bluegrass fiddle, such as: how to shift between positions, producing good tone, playing in tune, vibrato and bowing concepts. We will learn several scale patterns, arpeggios and double stops, and discuss different ways of producing chord sounds on the fiddle. Material will be taught mostly by ear, so please bring an audio or video recording device.
ADVANCED BLUEGRASS FIDDLE (Bronwyn Keith-Hynes)
This advanced class will delve into some of the nuances of bluegrass fiddling. We will explore improvisation in the context of bluegrass and several approaches to taking solos on vocal and instrumental songs, as well as some of the differences that come up between the two. We’ll get into fiddle backup, learn some classic backup licks from the greats and discuss how to make the most of your backup repertoire. Other topics will include moving double stop shapes around the fingerboard, bowing techniques and stylistic differences in bluegrass fiddle. Material will be taught mostly by ear, so please bring an audio or video recording device.
PURSUING POSSIBILITY (Joe Craven)
Explore the value of twisting, tweaking, building up and stripping down content and how it enhances and flexes intention in musical stories. Take a composition ‘shopping’ for new clothes. Play “dress up” with existing repertoire. Mix & match musical styles to a composition. See how packaging changes the way we connect to the content of a song or tune – yours or other people’s. Bring material you’d like to explore. Joe will provide song examples as well. We’ll all be surprised at the results. From detailing with tiny paint brushes to bold strokes with a paint roller – with or without a drop-cloth – it’s all about fearless possibility in creativity. Learning to not become attached to an outcome enables one to move and flow with variety and new ideas. Re-framing words, rhythms and melodies reminds us of the long, historical love affair between tradition and innovation. Everyone has a place and space to create anew from the old, the borrowed and the blue. Let’s liberate ourselves from the tyranny of common sense while exploring our Home on the (Free) Range of Contemporary Instrumental Music. All instruments welcome!
FEELIN’ THE BLUES (Joe Craven)
The blues are truly a foundation and inspiration for most traditional and contemporary vernacular American music. This adventure is open to all bowed instruments. We’ll listen to historical references from early recordings to the present‑. We’ll play basic forms (the 8-, 12- and 16-bar and grill). We’ll feel the grooves from ballads to stomps, rumbas to shuffles, hand jive to swing. We’ll reference the melodic guidepost of the human voice, bending long and short tones and learn some tunes/songs that reflect them. We’ll also tackle how to translate the ‘feel’ of the grease, the groan and the growl of the blues to your instrument, and importantly, we’ll address taking your time sayin’ a bunch without playin’ a bunch of notes. Playin’ the blues suggests the ‘technique’ of clarity over correctness – of intuition, release and expression of your personal emotion. Surrender to the feeling and you’ll do it! We’ll have a great time!
INTERMEDIATE OLD-TIME FIDDLE (Erynn Marshall)
This is a class for intermediate fiddlers who already know a few tunes and would like to learn how to improve them, play with ease and join the jams. Bowing tips and left-hand ornaments will be explored. Bring a recorder. We will learn tunes slowly by ear and have fun!
ADVANCED OLD-TIME FIDDLE (Erynn Marshall)
This class will delve into the old-time-style fiddling which is the living tradition found in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina (and now all over the world!). Secrets of bowing and other characteristics of southern fiddling will be explored as well as getting that ‘old-time sound.’ We’ll learn a great tune or two. Questions encouraged. Please bring a recorder and your adventurous fiddling spirit to class!
FIDDLE REPERTOIRE/STYLES (Alex Hargreaves)
In this intermediate class, we will explore the similarities and differences of bluegrass, western swing/Texas style, and jazz. Although these styles have many unique qualities, there is also quite a bit of overlap in repertoire and vocabulary. This is primarily a repertoire- based class, so students can expect to come away with a number of standard (and maybe obscure) tunes in each genre. In addition, we will also use these tunes as vehicles to talk about basic improvising. Some experience with learning by ear is suggested. There will be no sheet music so please bring a recording device.
ADVANCED IMPROVISATION (Alex Hargreaves)
Improvisation is often thought of as this high-pressure moment in the spotlight to show off your licks. While there is nothing wrong with that in moderation, my favorite improvisers often seem to have a more communal approach to the whole thing. In this class, we will primarily focus on rhythm/groove, melody/voice leading and harmony. However, we will also explore how these fundamental techniques can help create a mood/emotion with your solo, and open up your ears to interacting with fellow musicians. Please bring a notebook and a recording device.
MADISON COUNTY MOUNTAIN FIDDLIN’ (Josh Goforth)
Madison County, NC has a rich heritage of fiddle players and styles. Whether you are looking to learn some toe-tapping breakdowns or silky smooth waltzes, there is something for everyone in this exploration of mountain fiddlin.’ Geared to the advanced fiddler, this class will introduce old-time bowing styles and techniques that can be applied to tunes you already play, as well as the ones you learn through the course of the week. You will also learn how to improvise – that’s right! Sounds crazy for old-time music, but fiddlers from Madison County were accomplished at coming up with new versions of the same tune. You can do it too! Along the way, you’ll get to meet some interesting characters like Gordon Freeman, master of the breakdown bowing style and Asbury McDevitt, Josh’s fiddling great-great-grandfather and proud owner of a talking pet crow. Sounds fun, huh? So bring a tape recorder, fiddle, and a cake of rosin and let’s trek deep into the heart of Madison County to find some good ole mountain fiddlin’.
THEORY FOR FIDDLERS (Josh Goforth)
Ever hear a tune and wonder why it’s so pleasing to your ear? Have you always wanted to be able to play in harmony without approaching it like a math problem? Have you tried to learn theory before and just didn’t find it interesting in the least or just way too difficult? Perhaps you are thinking, “Why do I need music theory as a fiddle player? Shouldn’t it just come naturally?” Well, this class is for you! We will explore the advantages of visual and aural learning in fiddle music. No experience or formal music training necessary! This is a good way to get pleasantly thrown into the deep end of music theory and ear training basics.
BRAZILIAN RHYTHMS & GROOVES (Andrew Finn Magill)
This class, open to all instruments, is a crash course in the beautiful polyrhythmic landscape of Brazilian music. We will study the basic rhythms of choro, maxixe, samba, forró, xote, frevo and more. This will not be a tune class. Instead, each day we will study a different rhythm and its variants by learning various grooves. As an example, we will transpose the many layers of a samba partido alto (percussive ensemble) to harmonic instruments like mandolin, fiddle, etc. This class is meant to get you thinking about and applying new and unfamiliar rhythmic concepts such as polyrhythm, cyclical time signatures, Brazilian swing or “suingue” and much more. We will clap, snap, and stomp as well as strum, pluck, and bow. The more variety of instruments the better! A tape recorder and a positive attitude are strongly recommended. Vamos lá pessoal!
BACKING UP SINGERS (Andrew Finn Magill)
Ever been asked to play fiddle lines under a song and felt completely lost? This class is meant to sharpen your accompaniment instincts as a fiddle player specifically in the folk and singer-songwriter idioms. As fiddlers we’re often asked to provide some tearjerking solos and/or harmonies to a singer and there are specific techniques good fiddlers use. In this class we’ll listen to recordings of some of the best in the biz and talk about what makes them the best. I’ll give you my basic ‘do’s’ & ‘don’ts’ and some quick cheats that I use to not get in the way of the lyrics. It’s very important we have a few singers sign up as well so if you don’t mind singing in front of the class, please join us! We will focus on the bluegrass and country language of fiddle accompaniment, but can touch on Irish, swing, and other genres per the class’ request. Our goal is to leave class with a small arsenal of tools and understand when and how to apply them when you hear a song. A tape recorded is recommended.
INTERMEDIATE IRISH FIDDLE (Liz Knowles)
This class will cover basics of learning by ear and what to listen for in Irish music, some technique as it applies to Irish music, practice techniques for ornamentation and bowing in an Irish style, and we will learn as many tunes as the general class level allows, touching on various types of tunes, jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches, etc. I will provide sheet music for tunes and anything else we cover in the class. Please come with a recording device!
ADVANCED IRISH FIDDLE (Liz Knowles)
For this class, we will use tunes you already know (as well as new tunes that I will teach in the class) to explore variations, ornamentation, style, and bowings. You should have more than two years of experience in learning by ear and should have a list of Irish fiddle players that you listen to regularly. We will not cover much basic technique in this class but might touch on specific topics like learning harmony and theory through Irish music, dealing with the issues that arise from learning various types of tunes and some good practice techniques applicable to all styles of fiddling. I will provide some sheet music for specific topics like ornamentation and bowing and I hope to give you a tune a day, touching on the various types of tunes in Irish music: jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches, etc. Please come with a recording device!
SWING FIDDLE 101 (Andy Stein)
This class for those fiddlers and violinists who have had experience with their instrument in other styles, and want to learn enough to be able to play, for instance, “Sweet Georgia Brown” in a bluegrass band, etc. We will work on getting a ‘swing feel’ in the bow-arm and the importance of short notes in swing, both ‘on the beat’ and syncopated, with good attack, matching our friends in the horn section. We will learn a minimum of jazz theory in order to distinguish ‘legal’ notes from ‘illegal’ (BEFORE we play them!) and how to weasel our way out of an ‘illegal’ note. We’ll cover proper use and abuse of pentatonic scales/arpeggios, some call-and-answer work, both with our fiddles and our voices, some listening to ‘essential’ or ‘classic’ recordings and learning how to listen for self-improvement. Violin technique will be offered as needed on an individual or ‘master class’ basis. Classically trained violinists often have to work to break the ‘vibrato’ habit. Some who are not classically trained might need a few pointers in basic violin technique. You WILL be asked to practice between our classes (Heaven forbid!).
SWING FIDDLE 201 (Andy Stein)
This class is for fiddlers/violinists who have some (a lot? a little?) experience in swing. We will deal with the same issues as in the ‘101’ class except hopefully have time for more complexity. We’ll cover composing a solo with ‘theatrical’ effect in mind (‘telling a story’), analyzing the thinking of jazz solos we listen to, and more sophisticated knowledge of jazz harmony, depending on the critical mass of knowledge in the room. We’ll also be doing some important listening. We’ll get that Sound and that Feel in our ear, and then we’ll try to use it in finding our own voice.
SCOTTISH FIDDLE (Laura Risk)
This course explores the diverse repertoire and playing styles of Scottish fiddling. We’ll learn tunes and work on ornamentation and bowing, phrasing and expression, and playing “in the groove.” We’ll also discuss Scotland’s regional fiddle styles and fiddling history, and listen to recordings of players from different styles. Technique and theory topics – tone, practice methods, simple chord theory, playing with speed and precision – will be included as appropriate. All tunes, including strathspeys, reels, jigs, marches, and slow airs, will be taught by ear. Students are encouraged to bring a small audio recorder to record musical examples and repertoire.
EAR AEROBICS (Laura Risk)
Do you want to learn tunes faster? Be able to hear a tune and then just play it? This course will help you develop the all-important skill of transferring a melody from your ear to your instrument. We’ll explore different listening, singing, visualization, audiation, and playing exercises that can strengthen your aural learning skills and get your ear, brain, and fingers all working together. We’ll learn to listen for form and patterns, use basic chord theory to help figure out the notes of a tune, and let our ears guide us to explore our instruments in new ways. We’ll also learn a few tunes in the process! All instruments are welcome. Students may be at any playing level, but should have at least a basic facility on their instrument.
FIDDLING FUNDAMENTALS (Nora Garver)
Beginners of all stripes welcome! We will review basic fiddle and bow holds and have fun with some easy fiddling and bowing techniques while working on three styles of traditional fiddle tunes by ear: Old-time, Scottish, and Irish. We’ll discuss ornaments and the stylistic differences between the tunes. I won’t pass the sheet music out until we’ve learned the tunes first by ear, so please bring some sort of recording device so you can listen to and practice the tunes after class. Also, bring a tuner, and please make sure your fiddle and bow are in good playing condition, set up for you with shoulder rest, etc. Most of all, please bring an eager attitude and be prepared to have fun!
CELLO (Julia Weatherford)
The class will be taught by ear and will focus on cello as an accompanying instrument for tunes and songs. We will explore interesting techniques for different styles of music including old-time, Swedish, Scottish and more. The class will cover chord formation, common chord progressions, rhythmic bow techniques (including chopping), pizzicato techniques, bass lines, melody and harmony lines. We will listen to tunes and songs and explore how to adapt guitar or piano parts to cello. We’ll also explore various cello-specific accompanying grooves, harmonies and arrangements. There will be technique tips and thoughts on how to find your role in a jam or band. For this intermediate/advanced combined class students should have a solid background in basic cello technique and be willing to listen, laugh and support each other.
INTERMEDIATE BASS (Kevin Kehrberg)
This class will cover intermediate principles of bass performance and accompaniment applicable to various musical settings including jazz, swing, and traditional music styles. Topics include bass line construction, following chord progressions, timing and feel, and ear training. Concepts of bass soloing and improvisation will also be introduced. The class will mainly use pizzicato technique, although other techniques may be discussed if applicable (e.g., slap technique, bowing). Students should possess fundamental technical skills and know basic scales.
BLUEGRASS GUITAR ACCOMPANIMENT (Ed Dodson)
This class focuses on how to play powerful bluegrass rhythm guitar. We will work on alternating-bass styles of playing as well as using bass runs and other motion within the chords to accent your vocals or the instrumentalists you’re playing with. In addition to these basic building-block techniques, we will learn the rhythm accompaniment part to one bluegrass song or tune each day. The class will present songs/tunes that allow you to see the rhythm patterns that work effectively in most of the first-position chord families. We will also discuss how to use a capo to get the song in a key to fit your voice. All levels of participants are welcome. Familiarity with guitar chords and knowledge of guitar tablature is helpful, but not required. Participants are encouraged to bring recording devices to class and also encouraged to participate in the Bluegrass Jam that Ed will lead every afternoon, as a way to reinforce the techniques learned in class as well as learn additional songs/tunes. (You will find this class on the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)
ADVANCED BLUEGRASS GUITAR ACCOMPANIMENT (Ed Dodson)
This course will delve into more advanced forms of bluegrass guitar rhythm playing. In addition to learning our way around the standard “boom-chuck” bass note and strum patterns that form the foundation of bluegrass rhythm guitar, we will explore more advanced moving bass lines, substitute chords and inversions, and even some basic three-note swing rhythm patterns to put some extra “sock” into your playing. Along the way, we’ll highlight the concepts of harmonic theory and how to select chords and chord patterns to strengthen the guitar’s support of the vocalist and instrumentalist. Familiarity with flatpicking and guitar chords, along with knowledge of guitar tablature is highly recommended. While tablature will be provided for most techniques and songs covered in class, participants are strongly encouraged to bring recording devices to class as a memory aid, as we will be covering some fairly challenging material. (You will find this class on the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)
SWING JAM (Greg Ruby)
This hands-on class will help you develop the tools to get you out jammin’ at the swing tent. Intended for either a beginning guitarist or someone new to playing guitar in a swing style, we will use repertoire common to the genre to learn the basics of chord voicings, pick technique, melody playing and good accompaniment practices.
HOT JAZZ & SWING GUITAR LEGENDS (Greg Ruby)
This hands-on class will deepen your understanding of swing and hot jazz guitar players of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. We will explore the music of Eddie Lang, Allan Ruess, Oscar Alemán, Al Casey, Charlie Christian, Freddie Green, and Django Reinhardt in order to utilize elements from each player. Plan to expand your chord knowledge, learn how develop thoughtful accompaniment practices, play energetic chord solos and add some ‘hot’ guitar licks into your vocabulary. All handouts will be in both standard notation and tab (with chord diagrams) and is intended for anyone who has a basic understanding of the guitar and/or swing music.
CELTIC GUITAR ACCOMPANIMENT (David Surette)
This class will expand your range as a guitar player, and give you some new strategies and inspirations for playing. Focusing on the Irish and Breton dance tune repertoire, as well as some traditional and contemporary song accompaniments, we will focus on a range of rhythms, chord voicings, chord families, and melodic playing that will facilitate your exploration of advanced techniques as well as basic musical truths. This class will be taught in standard tuning, but will also focus on an approach that uses drones, partial chords, and moving lines. Classes will be taught mainly by ear. Students are encouraged to bring an audio recorder, pen and notebook. (Find this class in the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)
DAILY BLUEGRASS JAM (Ed Dodson)
In the last hour before supper, Ed will lead a non-threatening bluegrass jam for all levels and instruments. Come have fun channeling your inner Bill Monroe! (No class limit)
BAND SESSIONS (staff)
During the last hour before supper, there will be a special class time for students of any skill level to form bands, along with students from Fiddle Week. With the guidance of instructors, band members arrange and rehearse with the option of performing at the Student Showcase on Friday evening. (Sign up for band sessions is at first band meeting time; no advanced registration required.)