Guitar Week Classes - July 24-30, 2016


(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)

(Al Petteway)
The first acoustic guitar solos I remember learning were flatpicking arrangements of traditional fiddle tunes by guitarists like Doc Watson and Clarence White. After playing tunes like Red-Haired Boy, Frosty Morn, Bonaparte’s Retreat, Shady Grove and others for many years in bluegrass bands, my interest in their origins led me back to the British Isles. Many of the tunes survived the crossing of the ocean almost unchanged while others had evolved into similar tunes with slightly different melodies and names. After playing for a few years in Scottish and Irish groups and being corrected from all sides as to which was the proper version of any given tune, I decided to come up with my own arrangements for solo fingerstyle guitar. Of course, a solo player without a band to provide backup has to find a way to create their own accompaniment. I found DADGAD tuning to be perfectly suited for this since I could use my fingers to play the melodies across the strings, much like a banjo or harp, while playing the bass with my thumb. In this class, we will explore, step by step, the process I go through when arranging traditional tunes and demonstrate some of the more important techniques and ornaments used to spice up these arrangements. It’s just one more small step to composing your own “traditional” tunes, but we’ll have to save that for a another class!

This class is about All Things Clawhammer for guitar. We will begin with the basic pattern and spend some time internalizing it. Then we will move on to the various pyro-picking techniques that Steve demonstrates in his YouTube video lesson, “Wasilla Weed.” This class is for fairly advanced players and it is recommended that participants spend some time working on the YouTube lesson before camp starts. Class is gonna be rigorous, and fun!

ORKNEY TUNING (Steve Baughman)
Do you feel stuck in a musical rut? Does your guitar playing sound to you clichéd, predictable and dull? Tune to Orkney (CGDGCD) and instantly experience a new lease on your musical life. In this total-immersion class we will learn chord shapes, riffs, textures, vocal accompaniment tools and maybe an instrumental tune. There will also be a chance for students to share their explorations and discoveries with the class. Great for singer/songwriters as well as instrumentalists.

RHYTHM (Steve Baughman)
Rhythm is everything. You can know all the notes and the chords, but putting them together is what makes it musical. In this class we will spend lots of time grooving on various rhythms, beginning with simple rhythms where we focus on locking with each other and keeping good time. We will then experiment with odd rhythms like seven and eleven and even a twenty five. The goal will be to learn to play better with others and to break away from the rhythmic ruts that we tend to find ourselves trapped in. Beginners to advanced players welcome.

Intermediate/advanced players already with some flatpicking facility can find some techniques to make jigs and reels work in this style of guitar. How does “Celtic” flatpicking differ from bluegrass? What rhythms are typical to Celtic music? We’ll look at jigs/reels/slip jigs etc. What ornaments can we steal from, say, fiddlers to make the guitar more idiomatic? How might we accompany jigs and reels? Come to this class and find out!

We’ll look at the meaning of the term “Celtic Music” and how the guitar fits into it. We’ll look at music from Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Brittany and the different rhythms and grooves in these tunes and look at some altered tunings (DADGAD, CGCGCD, DAAEAE) as well as standard to make these tunes come alive for fingerstyle guitar.

I have found some really beautiful tunes over the years that make ideal entry level guitar pieces. Come and explore airs, strathspeys, marches etc. We’ll cover some basic ideas in DADGAD and Dropped D tunings – basic enough that they can be used by those who first picked up a guitar two weeks ago, but useful for more experienced players also.

Using simple but attractive and bluesy song arrangements for solo guitar as a vehicle, these classes will offer a “hands-on” approach to syncopated thumb-and-finger picking combined with the essentials of blues harmony. Steve will quote some past masters and also demonstrate some of his own tunes and techniques. Some tab/handouts will be supplied at the conclusion of each session, and accommodation will be made for participants who wish to use portable recording devices.

As its common name suggests, this open tuning (D-A-D-F#-A-d or, more exactly, I-V-I-III-V-I) has a long history. Called "the learning key” by Furry Lewis, it was the modal weapon of choice for slide guitar icons from Tampa Red to Elmore James; and found its way into various styles-from the pristine parlor/country of Harvey and Copeland to the kinetic Texas skrank of Frankie Lee Sims. Steve will host a hands-on excursion through a tonal territory full of musical surprises. Some tab/handouts will be supplied at the conclusion of each session, and accommodation will be made for participants who wish to use portable recording devices.

Basing these sessions around some of his more popular workshop themes over past decades, Steve will demonstrate some of his favorite song arrangement ideas. Expanding on these, the sessions will cover topics including chord harmony, picking “behind the beat”, and getting good tone quality and intonation with a bottleneck slide. Hands-on as always, with Q & A encouraged.

Pete has been incredibly lucky to play guitar everyday for decades without encountering the common pitfalls of muscle tension, musical boredom or frustration with technique. He’s managed to avoid these creative obstacles with a few techniques that his mentors, including great players like Joe Pass, Tony Rice and Doc Watson, showed him early on. In this workshop, he will pass those tips along to you. We will 1) cover a basic daily warmup that includes a hand relaxation routine, 2) learn an easy exercise to keep the fingers strong and flexible, 3) discover a short cut to learning all the notes on the neck, 4) begin some right hand exercises to increase your picking skills, 5) learn how triads will open the upper reaches of the neck, and 6) get an introduction to some techniques using harmonics that will make you feel like you are playing a whole new instrument. These exercises are all things you can start doing right away, and you will see results quickly, even if you have limited time to practice at home.

As great as standard tuning is, there is an alternate world of sound when the guitar is tuned to resonances that bring out a tone that is often darker, deeper and richer. Pete will introduce you to a different tuning each day and include songs and stories from some of the players noted for their exploration of open tuning. In the course of learning the basics of G tuning, Sawmill tuning, Open D, DADGAD and D minor tunings, we will hear how Ry Cooder influenced the Rolling Stones, Taj Mahal influenced the Allman Brothers, and we will see what Joni Mitchell and Keith Richards have in common. We will also look at some licks that will unlock some of the secrets of Robert Johnson and the mysterious Skip James. This is a basic introduction for intermediate players. We won’t be doing any exotic tunings, multiple capos, etc., just getting a thorough overview of the most common open tunings.

This is going to be fun! These rhythms require ensemble playing, so there will be class participation. I will teach the simple component parts of these wonderfully orchestrated styles. We will work up a James Brown tune, a Jamaican reggae “riddim”, learn the secret to Brazilian guitar, and put together a multi-layered African Soukous piece that is guaranteed to make you smile while you groove along. None of the parts are difficult, but they will require intermediate level ability to play riffs around the fretboard.

(Scott Ainslie)
Do you have a guitar accompaniment that you think could sound better? Feel stuck in what you know? For this class for all levels, bring a song you’re in the middle of working out (or have played forever) and we’ll listen to your accompaniment and dress it up, expanding your technique, knowledge, and musical thinking in the process. We’ll look at guitar alternatives in the accompaniment you already have established: chord forms, altered tunings, strategic use of the capo, bass runs, use of dynamics, delivering on the emotions of the lyrics with both guitar and vocal coaching. Most musicians get through building one accompaniment, heave a sigh of relief and turn to the next song. Our goal is to take the next step, make another version of the accompaniment and strengthen the piece by using all the artistic tools at your disposal. The beauty this course is that these are five minute fixes, not “Go home and practice your minor pentatonic scales in all keys starting on the sixth string, the fifth string, the fourth string – then play them in thirds, fourths, etc.” We’ll explore concrete guitar instruction built solidly on the foundation of what you already know.

These two great branches of African American traditional blues form the backbones of country, boogie-woogie, rhythm ‘n’ blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. This intermediate class will explore some of the repertoire and showcase the differences between the ragtime-based, East Coast/Piedmont styles with the more clearly African rhythms of the Delta Blues. We’ll look at Robert Johnson pieces in both traditions and examine common figures in the usual solo blues guitar keys in both styles. This course will function as a lexicon for developing expertise and new arrangements based on those who have gone before.

For this intermediate class, we’ll begin in standard tuning, taking one string at a time, and developing five new skills. We’ll look at slide in standard tuning first and all the muting techniques necessary to make the music work without the harmonic support of open tunings. Then, having established the basics, we’ll move to open tunings. When we’re done, you’ll understand and possess the keys to the kingdom of slide guitar. Hand and guitar posture, controlled slide movement, getting a decent tone and developing several types of vibrato will all be covered as we proceed through slide in several major and modal open tunings and take a look at solo and ensemble slide playing in standard tuning as well. Even if you currently play some slide guitar, this review of basics will be useful. The music of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt as well as my slide arrangements will be featured. Bring a slide that fits snugly on your little finger. For notes on choosing a slide see here.

Improve your technique and interpretation organically through cool new easy tunes handpicked for this intermediate class, including “Settling the Spirit.” Based on Muriel’s Essentials Fingerstyle course, Muriel will first perform an arrangement and then break it down, measure-by-measure emphasizing key concepts, techniques and creative approaches.

In this intermediate class, we’ll go through the process of creating easy fingerstyle arrangements of popular and handy seasonal tunes such as “Auld Lang Syne” and more.

In this class Muriel will focus on advanced techniques and interpretation, teaching some of her own arrangements, as well as giving individualized instruction to each student on his/her own arrangements and playing styles.

In this class for beginning/intermediate players we will learn right- and left-hand exercises to improve strength and precision. We will also examine a few simple tunes in different musical styles using ear training and basic theory that can be applied immediately to the guitar fingerboard.

In this intermediate class we will explore different musical styles, techniques and rhythms from various cultures: Fingerstyle, Bossanova, Country, Blues, Classical. How are these styles adapted to the acoustic guitar and what techniques are necessary to make them interesting and effective in solo guitar arrangements? The following acoustic sound effects will be demonstrated and explained: string bending, percussive techniques, slide techniques, bent harmonics.

A variety of composing techniques will be covered in this class using Peppino’s own compositions. The challenges in composing for steel-string guitar are multiple and difficult to overcome. The general tendency is to either relax into predictable and boring musical territory or to show off with useless displays of speed. As a composition instrument, the steel-string guitar will be approached as an orchestra with infinite possibilities. Where can guitarists look for inspiration when composing and how will their compositions be used (video games, movies, documentaries, etc.)?

This class is for all levels, no experience necessary, and guitars are not required! Drawing from eastern and western traditions, we’ll sharpen our rhythmic awareness and expand our rhythmic vocabularies by combining inner (meditative) work with outer (walking, chanting, moving) rhythm exercises. Through group rhythm circles, we’ll explore pulsation, syncopation, beat, off-beats, sub-division and more – all with a sense of spontaneity, flow (Boom Whackers, of course!) and FUN!!

This intermediate class is for any player who would like to learn some of the percussive techniques used by Vicki and players like Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Kaki King, Jon Gomm, Andy McKee, and many others. We’ll cover finding the drum sounds on your guitar, playing simple strum-drum patterns, harmonics, thumb slapping, and growing your ‘rhythm chops.’ We will play in open tuning as well as standard. Handouts galore! Bring a tuner! Check this video for a taste:

This intermediate/advanced class is for any player who wants to dive into the world of open or alternate tunings, in a safe and fun environment! Drawing from Vicki’s instructional course, Essentials: Open Tunings, we will explore 4 or 5 open tunings, from the more common to the sublime. We’ll learn arrangements of popular songs specially created around each tuning. Some examples: CGDEAD - What’s Going On; DADEAD - Norwegian Wood; CGEbFBbD - Free Falling. Arrangements will be available to accommodate both Intermediate and Advanced levels. Handouts included. Bring a tuner, extra strings AND a capo!

In this intermediate/advanced class, we’ll take a look at and work through the nuts and bolts of solo fingerstyle jazz guitar. Topics of discussion and practice will include practical chord voicings and substitutions, walking basslines, ‘piano-style’ concepts, playing multiple parts, rhythm and phrasing, and ideas for improvisation. We’ll take a look at a few extended fretting techniques to add color to arrangements of jazz standards and other songs. Included will be a module on how to organize practice sessions at home, and developing repertoire and strategies for solo gigs in local venues. This class will be of interest to fingerstyle players who want to add some jazz elements to their arrangements, and also to jazz guitarists who primarily play with a pick, but would like to explore some fingerstyle techniques.

BOSS GUITAR (Sean McGowan)
This advanced class will explore the styles of ‘Boss Guitarists’ Wes Montgomery and George Benson. Through a study of transcriptions and playing through examples, we’ll examine rhythm and post-bop vocabulary, octave & block chord technique, and how to adapt jazz language in blues, and the blues in jazz standards.

This intermediate class will provide a basic overview of jazz guitar styles through comping and improvising over tunes from the Great American Songbook. This class will not emphasize theory but rather direct application using basic chord shapes and rhythmic ideas, plus solo lines based on the melody, vertical arpeggios, and pentatonic substitutions.

The blind harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) was the greatest of the Irish bards, whose 200-plus surviving melodies, a unique and beautiful blend of Celtic and Baroque influences, have become an integral part of the traditional Irish repertoire – and are perfect for fingerstyle guitar. In this intermediate-and-above class we’ll learn several of Carolan’s pieces and discuss the art of arranging them for guitar, in the process exploring how altered tunings and “harp-style” melody playing can evoke the otherworldly sound of the ancient brass-strung Irish harp. Audio recorders recommended.

The Grateful Dead, the rock band synonymous with the ’60s hippie culture and one of the top-grossing live acts of all time, started out as a jug band and never lost touch with their traditional-music roots. American folk archetypes sprang up constantly in their original songs, even at their most electric and psychedelic; they covered a vast amount of folk, bluegrass and country material, and recorded several albums featuring acoustic guitars predominantly or entirely. This intermediate-level class will examine a wide range of the Dead’s material, particularly the songs of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, and explore possible acoustic guitar interpretations of it. We’ll also have a look at Garcia’s free-flying lead guitar work and Bob Weir’s innovative rhythm style, and listen to some of their lesser-known acoustic recordings. Tie-dye t-shirts optional.

Love the lilting, dancing sound of a bluegrass or old-time fiddle tune flatpicked on guitar in the tradition of Doc Watson, Norman Blake or David Grier? Want to create some of that magic yourself? This intermediate-and-up class will take an organic approach to the music, liberating us from dependence on tablature and bringing the tunes to life while opening up the path to creative expression and improvisation within the melody. We’ll learn some cool tunes, learn how to pick up tunes by ear on the fly, and do lots of playing together. Audio recorders recommended.

In this intermediate/advanced class we will explore the exhilarating world of Chet Atkins’ guitar style, and American fingerpicking in general. Starting with the alternating right-hand thumb pattern and moving to left-hand phrases, fingerings and licks that will put some “Thumb Style” in your style. We will steal from Chet, as many have, in terms of licks, tunes and arranging techniques for guitar. We won’t focus on note for note arrangements, but more pieces and parts that can be used in YOUR music. Recording device recommended.

BLUES MOVES (Pat Donohue)
Here is a strong intermediate fingerstyle class aimed at adding some movement to your guitar playing in both the left and right hand. We’ll cover common chord sequences and positions, mini progressions, bass lines, some single string soloing and other ways of playing what you play more spontaneously. We will take all these things and create a blues in G from the most simple to advanced and study how these devices can be used in thousands of songs. Recording device recommended.

Need a little pizzazz in your guitar playing? This intermediate/advanced class will focus on “cheap tricks” which as everyone knows, work every time. We will look at bass runs, licks using open and fretted notes together, pull-off licks, hammer-on licks, string-bending licks, slides, harmonics, and more importantly how to create them yourself which makes them not cheap tricks at all, but ways of keeping your audience (and yourself!) engaged and entertained by your playing. Recording device recommended.

Ever asked this rhetorical question? For a lot of guitarists, the words “music theory” suggests a dry, soul-killing bunch of “do’s and don’ts” that get used to dictate what is and what isn’t allowed in music-making. In reality, it’s not that at all. Rather, it’s a language which musicians use to express how our ears collectively hear stuff… and, armed with that language, guitarists can develop their own fingerings for chords and scales they need, figure out without trial and error what scales to play over progressions, and make educated guesses as to which chords are likely to sound good with one another in a song. For most guitarists, it’s the biggest “weak link” in the chain of creative personal expression… but it doesn’t need to be as obtuse as it’s sometimes made to appear. In this class, we’ll examine how to “decode” the jargon and make practical, musical use of basic theory concepts, including major scale and chord construction, ear training, transposing keys, etc. Many worksheets will get handed out, and assignments that will pull the veil of mystery from this extremely misunderstood topic!

Fingerstyle blues guitar instruction in the styles of Mississippi John Hurt, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Merle Travis, Dave van Ronk, and others. Topics will include right-hand fundamentals, such as alternate-bass technique, Delta-style drones, palm-muting, and exercises to create effortless dexterity, syncopations and strong grooves. Left-hand issues range from basic chord concepts to sophisticated jazz and ragtime chord substitutions, moving bass lines, “guide tones,” etc. There will be added emphasis on creating your own licks, turnarounds and variations within the style. All levels welcome, but many ideas will be geared to the evolved player. Many worksheets will get handed out, with exercises, TAB transcriptions, chord fingerings, etc… enough to keep you busy for many months afterwards!

Jazz has its own language... and for most guitarists, it’s a foreign language. This workshop explores the skills you need to play Swing Jazz in an ensemble, or solo. This overview will cover chord progressions and rhythm skills, technique-building exercises for soloing, chord-melody approaches, bass-line comping, jazz harmony and terminology, and basic theory concepts that enable you to apply these skills to jazz standards. All levels are welcomed, but some experience with jazz will be necessary, as advanced topics will be covered. Many hand-out sheets will be provided, so you’ll have plenty of material to work on for years to come!

Have you always wanted to learn guitar but didn’t think you had the time? This is the class for you! We will focus on the basics in a fun and engaging way. The goal is to teach you how to teach yourself through practice techniques and motor skill methods that will cut your learning time in half. All you need is a guitar and an ear ready to be trained. Let’s have fun learning together.

There is nothing more important in bluegrass music than learning how to make others sound good. Sure, taking a break is fun but nothing beats lending support to the rhythmic and dynamic sound that is bluegrass. In this class we will focus on rhythm styles, chord selection, and DYNAMICS! Whether playing in a jam, bluegrass band, or backing yourself up while singing, you will learn the tools to take your backup guitar playing to the next level.

Bluegrass is a melting pot of folk music styles that work together to create a unique sound. Learning to improvise within the parameters of this sound can be a daunting task. We will approach the topic both academically and aurally. This will ensure that no matter your learning style, you will be find a way to discover your own creativity. We will focus on pairing your ears to your fingers... sounds weird but that is our main goal. Let’s create some bluegrass music together in a relaxed environment surrounded by the inspiring western North Carolina Mountains.

Gypsy jazz is fun and accessible. This hands-on class is intended for either a beginning guitar player or a player new to Gypsy jazz. We will use tunes from the repertoire to learn the basics of chord voicings, rhythm guitar, pick technique, melodies and using licks to build a solo. Plan to be jamming over your favorite tunes by the week’s end.

This workshop will expand your understanding of Gypsy jazz rhythm guitar by focusing on the essential elements that drive an ensemble. Using repertoire common to the genre, participants learn ‘la pompe’, ‘four to the bar’, Gypsy bossa, and swing waltz rhythms. Launch into chord inversions to expand your chordal vocabulary.

This workshop will focus on the key elements to effective lead guitar playing in the Gypsy jazz realm. Using a variety of tunes, we will investigate melody interpretation, improvising, and adding chordal elements into your solos. We will also look at ways to learn and add Gypsy jazz licks and ideas to your vocabulary.

You should be able to maintain an alternating bass with your thumb and be comfortable with first position chords. We’ll learn the guitar vocabulary you need to figure out most any Memphis Minnie song you might want to learn. Since her style is such a big influence on early 20th century guitar blues, you will be able to apply this vocabulary to other musicians like Big Bill Broonzy, Lonnie Johnson Bumble Bee Slim etc. This class is organized by keys-G, C, E, D. We’ll listen to a selection of Memphis Minnie originals in each key in class and learn how to figure them out. We’ll also learn ways to make duet guitar parts work on solo guitar (Minnie often worked with a partner). Recorders encouraged.

You should be familiar with basic chords and be able to keep time while changing them. This class will give you an introduction to right-hand fingerpicking and to what makes a melody “blue”. We’ll listen and learn a song each day (by ear-no tab) in class. You will soon be picking solo arrangements of great old tunes from Gus Cannon, the Memphis Jug Band, Frank Stokes, Bo Carter and other giants of ‘20s string band music. Recorders encouraged. Re-entrant tuning preferred.

Parlor music is something interesting and important from our musical past. Getting together to play beautiful songs was a favorite musical activity. In this intermediate/advanced class, we’ll learn the oddly-named “Yaaka Hula Hickey Doola”one of the first Tin Pan Alley tunes to cash in on the Hawaiian music craze of the 1910s. There will be 3 parts, taught by ear, music and tablature and we’ll work on listening and playing with one another as a group. Recorders encouraged.

Swing rhythm guitar is fun to play and easy to learn. As the rhythm guitarist in a swing session you “drive” the band with a steady pulse and dance-able beat. We will begin with basic barre chords and use classic tunes from the Swing Era songbook to transform you into a rhythm-machine! We will also touch upon the three-note rhythm chord style made famous by Freddie Green of the Count Basie Orchestra. This class will teach you how to get the swing feel in your playing, movable chords, flat-pick and finger-style techniques. At the end of the week you will be able to confidently sit-in on swing jam sessions. A steel string acoustic guitar with fairly low action is recommended (we will play chords up-the-neck). No music theory needed. No music reading required. Please contact me with any questions:

The 1930s and 40s were a magical time in the history of popular music. Swing was mainstream. The ukulele was made for swing music! Any uke song can swing and sound jazzy. Its easy to make your instrumental accompaniment more interesting through chord substitutions, syncopation, strumming patterns and single note lead work. The material covered in this intermediate class is not exclusive to the jazz/swing world – it can be used for all styles of music. No music theory needed. No music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Just fun! A concert or tenor sized uke tuned GCEA is recommended. Please contact me with any questions:

Chord Melody is a solo approach to fretted instrument playing where both the chord and melody line are played at the same time. This is a very popular style in the guitar world where many virtuoso players exist – look no further than the Swannanoa faculty for excellent examples. Can this solo style of playing be achieved on the tiny ukulele with its four strings and very short scale? Yes it can! Have no fear – this class could actually be titled “Four strings are plenty enough!” This fingerstyle technique will use chord substitutions and single-note lines to craft complete, stand-alone arrangements. Songs from the Swing Era will be used as tools to learn this very rewarding technique. We’ll start with easy melodies and progress as the week goes on. A concert or tenor sized uke tuned GCEA is recommended. Some basic right-hand fingerpicking skills under your belt will speed you along as well. No music theory needed. No music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Please contact me with any questions:

Special Events

Note: There is no advance registration necessary for the following events.

Come have your instrument checked out and pick up a few ‘care & feeding’ tips.

Throughout the week we will have several of the finest luthiers in America on hand displaying some of their instruments, including Gerald Sheppard, Michael Bashkin, Dave McCubbin and John Slobod, as well as a display of some of the amazing inventory from Dream Guitars, an award-winning local shop specializing in the world’s finest high-end instruments.

SLOW JAMS (various)
Each day, after lunch, a staff member will lead jam sessions of common tunes at a tempo slow enough for folks to learn the tunes as they play.

On Friday, come experience Happy Hour and a special final dinner to end Guitar Week.