(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)
ROOTS & BLUES: FINGERSTYLE BASICS (Steve James)
We’ll be learning easy-to-play arrangements of some classic blues and folk songs. Music from past masters of six- string simplicity like Frank Stokes and Mance Lipscomb will be augmented by tunes and techniques from Steve’s own repertoire; useful tools and musical fun for players who want to add more syncopation to their song bag. Some tab/notation and handouts supplied. Accommodation will be made at the conclusion of each demonstration for those who wish to use devices.
ROOTS & BLUES: FINGERSTYLE EXPLORATIONS (Steve James)
Experienced fingerpickers (or those who like to jump in at the deep end of the guitar-shaped pool!) will learn a tune a day. Each session will be based around a song arrangement that exemplifies a specific key, mode, chord sequence and rhythmic approach. All will be demonstrated in detail and played hands-on, augmented by references to the various styles and stylists that continue to define hot guitar picking to the present day. Some tab/notation and handouts supplied. Accommodation will be made at the conclusion of each demonstration for those who wish to use devices.
ROOTS & BLUES: OPEN TUNINGS (Steve James)
Steve’s own learning experience included Furry Lewis handing him a guitar and drawling: “I just been in Spanish, put me in Vastapol.” and Bo Diddley growling “Gimme an ‘E’ chord.” as he tempered his rectangular box and dimed out his amp stack. Let’s listen to and learn from these and other iconic guitarists who made extensive use of the open chord tunings that have defined so much of roots guitar style. Then we’ll employ those riffs and rhythms that make these modes work for everything from a ballad to a boogie. Some tab/notation and handouts supplied. Accommodation will be made at the conclusion of each demonstration for those who wish to use device.
SWING GUITAR ENSEMBLE (Greg Ruby)
This experiential class is intended to teach swing music by the simplest way possible – playing it with other people. Through arranged swing repertoire, we will divide the class into different parts of the “orchestra” as we address the fundamentals of swing guitar. Expect to play and have fun while learning about swing 8th notes, dynamics, part-playing, improvisation and good rhythm section practices. Materials will be provided in standard notation, tablature and chord diagrams. Open to all guitarists from a basic-to-advanced understanding of the guitar.
BLUEGRASS SONGBOOK (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 one bluegrass song each day. Lyrics will also be provided, so you can learn the words and add these songs to your jam sessions at home. The class will present songs that allow you to see the rhythm patterns conducive to most of the first-position chord shapes. 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. Students are encouraged to bring audio recorders to class and also encouraged to participate in the Slow Jam that Ed leads every afternoon, following lunch, as a way to reinforce the techniques learned in class as well as learn additional songs/tunes.
DEEP BLUEGRASS GUITAR (Ed Dodson)
As the name implies, this class is for the intermediate to advanced player who really wants to take it to the next level. During the week, we will cover a variety of techniques, including flatpicking leads and playing creative accompaniment behind singers and pickers, using the concept of playing licks around chord shapes, and building effective solos for bluegrass songs. We will start the week learning a few essential “grassy” licks from the Rice and Watson schools of flatpicking. We will then emphasize picking out the basic melody of a song or tune, analyzing where the melody fits within the shapes of the accompanying chord progressionand looking for spaces within the melody line where one could insert some hot licks to create an interesting solo. This class will build upon the techniques covered in Ed’s instructional book, Deep Bluegrass Guitar. Participants are encouraged to listen to the song, “Riding on That New River Train”, as we will be using this as our starting point for melody and lead guitar development. Please note that we will be covering some challenging technique during the week, but with a little bit of elbow grease, along with the tablature that I will provide to you, the motivated participant should emerge with plenty of material to learn and master during the coming year. Familiarity with guitar tablature is very helpful, but not absolutely required. Students are encouraged to bring audio recorders to class.
GUITAR FOR BEGINNERS (Ed Dodson)
This class will cover the very basics of playing and enjoying guitar. Topics covered will include: tuning your guitar, basic chord shapes and patterns, basic rhythm patterns, simple right-hand technique (both flatpicked and fingerpicked), care and feeding of your guitar, and practice tips. By the end of the week, we will work in a tune or two for you to work on back at home. Knowledge of guitar tablature is helpful, but not required. Students are encouraged to bring audio recorders to class and to attend the daily Slow Jam that Ed will lead directly after lunch.
MAPPING OUT THE FRETBOARD (Grant Gordy)
We’ll learn a system of demystifying the forest of lines and dots, and using it to expand our understanding of harmony, theory and melody. This in turn deepens our ability to learn and understand tunes, to break out of our ruts of boxed-in improvisation, and even train our ears.
FLATPICKING WORKSHOP (Grant Gordy)
An in-depth look at bluegrass guitar: fiddle tunes, right-hand technique, soloing and, of course, boom-chucking. We’ll also see how bluegrass is influenced by, and connects directly to, many other styles.
IMPROVISATION TECHNIQUES (Grant Gordy)
Improvisation can happen at all moments, not just during hot solos! We’ll look at the different facets of music like rhythm, form, feel and harmony that we can practice to increase our awareness and be sharper, “in-the-moment” players.
SWING GUITAR WORKSHOP (Mike Dowling)
Swing’s the thing and rhythm’s where it’s at. Starting with solid four-to-the-bar rhythm techniques and jump-style syncopations, Mike teaches the basics of playing 10th chords, chord substitutions, and his own unique rhythm chord “code” for the classic swing repertoire. Mike likes to treat this intermediate/advanced class like a big swing guitar band with a solid rhythm section holding down the beat for more adventuresome students solo-ing over the changes. Lots of playing in class with no stressing allowed. Tab reading will be helpful. Audio recorders encouraged, no video cameras please.
BOTTLENECK BLUES & BEYOND (Mike Dowling)
Explorations in bottleneck guitar styles in open ‘G’ and ‘D’ tunings. The emphasis will be on tone and technique for creating slide ideas based on time-honored songs from artists like Fred McDowell and Tampa Red as well as tunes from Mike’s own bag of original tunes. With a toolbox full of slide tips using fretted chord forms, turnarounds, and crisp right-hand techniques, students will learn how to use the slide to add expression, color and texture to their playing. Students should be able to play an alternating bass fingerpicking pattern. Handouts provided, audio recorders welcome, no video cameras please.
RIFFS, RAGS & BOOGIES (Mike Dowling)
From the Delmore Brothers’ infectious boogies through Louis Jordan’s jump-style grooves, Mike uses tunes from the blues, swing, and ragtime songbag to highlight techniques that will sharpen your ears, tighten your timing, and broaden your playing horizons. You’ll learn new syncopations and chord progressions which will lay the foundation for improvisation. Lots of playing in class, but Mike says to be warned because you just might up with some practical music theory along the way. Suitable for both flatpickers and fingerstylists. Handouts provided, audio recorders encouraged, no video cameras please.
GUITAR GROUP! (Clive Carroll)
This class is for all levels. The group will explore three contrasting pieces: a 16th century dance tune, a swing number from the 40’s and something more up-to-date! We will be using TAB and chord charts and playing parts. This is a rare opportunity for guitar players of all abilities to play together in a relaxed and informal setting.
A COMPOSER’S TOOLKIT (Clive Carroll)
The personal experience of writing music and then performing it to an audience can be extremely fulfilling, challenging, petrifying and more! In this class, I will offer a detailed selection of techniques and exercises to help with musical structure, rhythmic ideas, harmonic choices, melodic phrasing, and textural colouring. We will study a small number of pieces in a variety of genres and coupled with demonstrations in class, I hope that this course will help you to discover some new ideas to add to your unique musical sound.
ADVANCED GUITAR WORKSHOP (Clive Carroll)
Three contrasting pieces will be sent to each player in advance. They will be in sheet music/TAB form and will include a jazz number, an American fingerstyle classic, and an Irish tune. You do not have to learn these pieces from memory(!) but it would be useful to have a few play-throughs and to familiarize yourself with the music by listening to versions on YouTube, for example. Each piece will include a selection of techniques, exercises, and ideas for improvisation.
THE MUSIC OF MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT (Scott Ainslie)
Mississippi John Hurt first recorded in 1927 and 1928. The Great Depression deep-sixed his nascent career and he wasn’t heard from again until his re-discovery in 1963. By 1966, he was gone. But his spirited playing left an indelible mark on the folk music revival. In this class, we’ll begin to assemble the hand skills necessary to play his work, concentrating on his ragtime fingerpicking style while gradually building up a picking vocabulary that will eventually have you playing Hurt’s music with ease. In a very real way, this is a course about how to build up these techniques over time. The week will give you a significant head start on playing his tunes and in that style. As with all courses, it will simplify things if you listen to Hurt’s work before class begins and get immersed in the sounds he made.
LESSONS FROM A WHITE BLUES SINGER (Scott Ainslie)
This workshop outlines specific phrasing and expressive techniques used by blues singers and then drops them into a song you already sing. The virtuosity and vocal power of iconic black singers is undeniable. From Bessie Smith to Aretha Franklin, from Son House to Otis Redding, black singers have consistently delivered powerful, emotional performances. In performances of spirituals, gospel, blues, jazz, R&B and soul music, audiences seem to be literally drawn into the songs. Listeners become incapable of being passive music consumers. They respond emotionally, and sometimes bodily. In addition to whatever raw talent they bring to the table, black singers are culturally encouraged and trained to use the phrasing and expressive techniques customarily used in speech, in song as well. This is not a ‘talent,’ but a technique. And it can be taught and learned. This workshop will begin by lining out familiar techniques we have learned and used since childhood for communicating emotion in speech. That done, we’ll look for places to use them in songs. Simple. But, there is some alchemy to this. To do it effectively, we need both a singer and an audience. In the spirit of play, we will rotate through singers one at a time. Participants will have the opportunity to sing a verse or two, and then at my suggestion, to try out small, specific changes in the delivery of a particular line or verse. Over the course of the workshop, both the singer and audience will develop an appreciation for the emotive power of specific techniques, as slight changes in phrasing/delivery affect how we hear the song. The voice is our most personal instrument, tender and powerful. I will be the only person offering feedback on phrasing and delivery and I promise a safe and playful space for some experimentation and play. As a white blues singer, with the approval of my black mentors and the old people, I have learned something about our very personal instrument. This workshop is a bit like letters from the front, from across a cultural border that I have had the privilege and honor to cross. I bring this work to you with the utmost humility and respect for my teachers and friends, now gone.
HOW DID ROBERT JOHNSON DO THAT? (Scott Ainslie)
Born in 1911, dead at just 27, Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson has had an outsized impact on the development of rock & roll. By bringing conventions from the piano blues of the early 1930s to the guitar, Johnson created a musical vocabulary of solo acoustic blues that became a model that has stood the test of time. In this class we will explore Johnson’s guitar vocabulary in various keys in standard tuning, dropped-D and open tunings with an eye to opening up his guitar parts and expanding our understanding of the acoustic guitar as a solo, accompaniment instrument. Understanding these techniques will serve you whether you play blues or not. It will be good to immerse yourself in Johnson’s recordings and be familiar with the sounds he made before walking in the door.
FINGERSTYLE PERFORMANCE & ARRANGING (Steve Baughman)
Do you throw yourself into creating arrangements on the guitar only to have that nagging sense that something is missing? Do you find that it gets even worse when you try to perform your beloved arrangements for others? This class will be conducted partly in a ‘master class’ format, with each student having several opportunities during the week to perform one of their arrangements for the class and to then receive instructors comments both about the arrangement and about the performance presentation. Advanced intermediate and advanced players only.
CLAWHAMMER GUITAR (Steve Baughman)
Clawhammer is a powerful banjo-based right-hand technique that gives solo guitar playing rhythm, melody, bass and chords, all from one repetitive pattern. This class will be a total boot camp immersion in clawhammer technique. We will groove on the basic pattern to get it in our blood. Then we will begin applying it to simple tunes and basic vocal accompaniment. This class is for players who already have basic fingerpicking skills.
MUSIC, MEDITATION & PERFORMANCE (Steve Baughman & Rev. Heng Sure)
In this class we will explore ways to achieve a deeper sense of connection and awareness while playing the guitar. Rev. Heng Sure will guide the class in focusing the breath and calming the mind, and will teach a variety of contemplative tools useful to musicians. Steve will lead the class in a number of rhythmic and musical exercises that integrate the contemplative format of this class into musical performance. Students can expect daily hands-on grooving as a group. We will also discuss performance tools and encourage each student to perform at least once for the class.
ORCHESTRAL GUITAR (Sean McGowan)
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to co-teach a week-long guitar workshop with one of my all-time guitar heroes, Tuck Andress. This class will revisit the topics we explored in that class, as well as some of my own ideas and interpretations pertaining to the art of fingerstyle jazz guitar. We’ll explore chord voicings & basslines, reharmonizing strategies, accompanying a singer, percussive techniques, harmonics, and extended fretting techniques.
THREE VIEWS OF THE BLUES (Sean McGowan)
This intermediate/advanced class will focus on developing solo vocabulary for jazz-blues progressions and tunes, in the style of three legendary jazz guitarists: Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, and Grant Green. We’ll explore how to create lines in the style, call & response shouts, using octaves and block chords, blues and bebop licks, and also how to adapt jazz language in blues, and the blues in jazz standards.
HOLIDAY FAVORITES (Sean McGowan)
This intermediate/advanced class will explore some of the best-loved Thanksgiving/Christmas songs arranged for solo fingerstyle guitar in notation and tab. We’ll work through arrangements in standard and alternate tunings, and along the way analyze and discuss different approaches to harmony, fingerstyle techniques, and arranging for solo guitar. The Holidays are always right around the corner!
INTRO TO LAP TAPPING GUITAR (Yasmin Williams)
This class will explore a technique called lap-tapping. Lap-tapping consists of performing hammer-ons, pull-offs, and other general playing techniques with the guitar horizontally in your lap, much like a lap steel guitar. This allows you to play intricate melodic lines with ease and allows for ample exploration of the guitar’s different timbres. Through simple lap tapping exercises, we will discover how to play melodies, bass lines, and harmonies at the same time. This class is open to intermediate and advanced students and will utilize Open-D tuning exclusively. Sheet music and tablature will be provided. Bring a capo.
ARRANGING POP SONGS IN OPEN TUNINGS (Yasmin Williams)
This intermediate/advanced class will explore arranging songs from various genres of music, from pop to hip-hop, utilizing fingerstyle guitar and tapping techniques. We’ll explore fun methods of playing each piece, maintaining their core while adding your own stylistic flair. Throughout the course, we will transition from simple fingerstyle and strumming arrangements of the selected repertoire to more advanced tapping arrangements with some percussive elements matching the drum parts of the songs. Sheet music and tablature will be provided. Bring a capo.
THE MUSIC OF ELIZABETH COTTEN (Yasmin Williams)
This intermediate class will learn select pieces by folk guitarist Elizabeth Cotten using fingerstyle techniques. Cotten is known for her unorthodox playing technique, called Cotten-picking, in which she, a left-handed player, plays her acoustic guitar upside down and uses her thumb to play the treble strings and her index finger to play the bass strings. We will be playing some of her pieces using standard fingerpicking techniques (no upside down guitars necessary!) and will use recordings to dissect her seemingly simple, yet intricate playing style. We will be playing in standard tuning as well as Open-D tuning. Sheet music and tablature will be provided.
THE AL PETTEWAY SONGBOOK (Al Petteway)
Each year at the Gathering, guitarists ask me to show them how to play one of my original instrumental compositions. Intermediate/advanced players can learn some of the techniques I use to play some of your favorites. We will pick one of the simpler tunes on Monday and dive right in, so come prepared with questions and fresh strings. Tunings will include DADGAD, DADGBD, CGCGCD, and of course, standard.
GUITAR ARRANGEMENT FOR SONGWRITERS (Al Petteway)
A great song can never reach its full potential if the guitar part is not quite good enough to support the melody and lyrics. Every songwriter should know how to create simple but effective guitar arrangements to back up their songs. In this class for all levels we’ll examine some different techniques and chord choices (and maybe even alternate tunings) that you can apply to your songs to improve them and make them more effective. Bring songs to class that you are having trouble with and we’ll see what can be done with them. Also bring capos.
INTRO TO THUMBSTYLE GUITAR (Al Petteway)
If you love the sound of a rhythm section backing you up, let me introduce you to your thumb. Your fingers can play melodies, blues licks or rhythmic patterns, but the thumb rules the groove. Whether you want to play instrumental music or simply back up your singing, intermediate players will benefit from this class. The goal is to achieve independence between your right hand thumb and fingers so that you can lay down a solid groove behind melodic guitar lines or your own voice.
DJANGO 101 (Gonzalo Bergara)
This class is an introduction to the style of Django Reinhardt. Expect to learn the foundations of solid rhythm guitar accompaniment, good pick technique, common repertoire and a few Django licks. Open to beginners.
DJANGO’S TOOLBOX (Gonzalo Bergara)
This class will help demystify the secrets of Django’s lead guitar playing. Using repertoire common to the genre, the class will investigate arpeggios, better tone through right-hand technique, stylistic nuance and Django licks. For intermediate and advanced students.
HOT CLUB RHYTHM (Gonzalo Bergara)
Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s pioneering ensemble, Quintette du Hot Club de France, was unique in that the rhythm section was driven by the acoustic guitar. This class will demystify the secrets of this rhythm guitar style. Expect to expand your chord vocabulary while learning rhythms such as ‘La Pompe,’ ‘Swing Valse,’ ‘Samba,’ ‘Bolero,’ and ‘Bossa.’ We will also examine some modern approaches to the style. Open to intermediate students.
RAGGIN’ IT UP THE NECK (Jamie Stillway)
If you’ve got some basic fingerpicking patterns up your sleeve and can keep a steady rhythm, you’re prepared for this advanced class. We’ll discuss the importance of thumb/finger independence, how to start playing chords up the neck and understanding the fretboard in ways you never imagined possible. We’ll also spend one day dabbling in an open tuning, to show you that it’s really not as intimidating as you may have once thought. By the end of the week, you’ll have learned some easy classics in the ragtime guitar genre, and some of Jamie’s original tunes. Tablature will be provided.
THE WELL-TEMPERED GUITARIST (Jamie Stillway)
One of the questions many students like to ask is, “how do you practice?” Often, aspiring guitarists have ideas of how and what they want to play, but often lack the patience to get there. This class for all levels will be a journey through the vast terrain of practicing, and will provide you with many tips to keep you motivated and focused when you sit down to play. We’ll talk basic ideas for including improvising during practice, ways to enhance your accompaniment styles, mindful practice techniques, and last but not least, ways to develop a meaningful relationship with your metronome. Fingerpickers, flatpickers, and questions are welcome.
THE JOY OF FINGERPICKING (Jamie Stillway)
Are you tired of looking for that flatpick you dropped on the floor? Despite what you may have heard, fingerpicking is nothing to be afraid of, and you can play many styles of music with just a few simple patterns and basic understanding of rhythm. If you know the majority of your first-position chords and often find yourself tiring of the same old strum pattern, this class is for you! We’ll discuss the what, why, and how of fingerpicking. You’ll learn basic arpeggio patterns that can be applied to several styles of music, ways to weave simple melodies into your picking, and the fundamentals of Travis picking. Tablature will be provided.
CELTIC FINGERSTYLE GUITAR A (Robin Bullock)
This intermediate-and-up class will explore the world of possibilities presented by traditional Irish, Scottish and Breton repertoire arranged for solo fingerstyle guitar. Some tablature will be offered, but students will also create their own individual settings of airs, jigs, reels and the 18th-century harp music of Turlough O’Carolan, sharing arrangement ideas in an informal, hands-on environment. Alternate tunings such as DADGAD, ‘Canine’ tuning (CGCGCD) and ‘Werewolf’ tuning (CGDGAD) will be used extensively to open up the instrument’s full sonic potential. A good time will be had by all. An audio recorder is recommended.
ACOUSTIC GRATEFUL DEAD (Robin Bullock)
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-dyed t-shirts optional.
CELTIC FLATPICKING (Robin Bullock)
This intermediate-level class will explore the art of flatpicking – a technique more commonly associated with bluegrass and related American genres – and apply it to the vast wealth of great tunes from the Irish, Scottish and Breton traditions. We’ll take an organic approach to the music, liberating ourselves from dependence on tablature to instead develop the empowering skills of picking up tunes by ear on the fly. We’ll discuss technique, lift, ornamentation, and other facets of making Celtic tunes sound authentic on guitar. Most of all, we’ll share some cool tunes and do lots of playing together. An audio recorder is recommended.
SWING SAMPLER (Gerald Ross)
The 1930s and 40s were a magical time when swing was mainstream, and the ukulele was made for swing music! Any uke song can swing and sound jazzy. It’s easy to make your accompaniment more interesting through chord substitutions, syncopation, strumming patterns and single-note leads. 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: email@example.com.
UKULELE FROM THE GROUND UP (Gerald Ross)
The ukulele is experiencing a world-wide resurgence in popularity. Why? Because it’s the one of the easiest fretted instruments to get started on. Everybody sounds good on it very quickly. It’s perfect for accompanying vocals. It’s easy to travel with and simply… very cool! We’ll start with basic chords and strumming patterns. You will be playing a song by the close of the first class – guaranteed! By the end of the week you will be able to sing and accompany yourself on basic folk, country and pop tunes. Any sized uke tuned GCEA will work. No previous musical or stringed instrument experience required. Please contact me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHORD/MELODY FOR SOLO UKULELE (Gerald Ross)
Chord Melody is a solo approach where both the chord and melody line are played at the same time. This is a very popular style in the guitar world where there are many virtuoso players. Can this solo style of playing be achieved on the tiny ukulele with its four strings and very short scale? Yes it can! Four strings are plenty. This fingerstyle technique will use chord substitutions and single-note lines to craft complete, stand-alone arrangements using songs from the Swing Era. 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 be useful as well. No music theory or music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Please contact me with any questions: email@example.com.
BEGINNING CELTIC GUITAR (Tony McManus)
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 enough to make some beautiful arrangements.
CELTIC FINGERSTYLE GUITAR B (Tony McManus)
We’ll look at the meaning of the term ‘Celtic Music’ and how the guitar fits into it. We’ll explore music from Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Brittany, 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.
THE GUITAR OF JONI MITCHELL (Tony McManus)
Few musicians have had a more defining impact on the singer-songwriter genre than Canadian icon Joni Mitchell. In this class we will analyze her unique guitar style, hopefully in a way that might unlock some ideas for your compositions or songs. We will look at her use of altered tunings, open tunings- from the familiar, like open G, to exotic tunings with, for example, adjacent strings an octave apart. We will look at her use of suspended chords to imply tension, and examine at least one song in detail per class, looking at her chord shapes and right-hand picking patterns and techniques.
SLIDE GUITAR 101 (David Jacobs-Strain)
In this hands-on class for intermediates, we’ll start with the fundamentals of slide guitar playing: creating a musical tone, developing accurate intonation, and exploring right-hand techniques that can make the slide come alive. Slide can be an incredible tool for emotional expression, and we’ll build our foundation on both mechanics and feel. We’ll dig into a few of the classic blues archetypes as the week progresses, using a call-and-response approach to train our ears as well as our hands. No prior experience with the slide or alternate tunings is necessary. If you’ve wondered where to begin with the slide or how to go from buzzes and clanks to a sound that really sings, this class is for you!
INTRO TO MUSIC RECORDING & PRODUCTION (David Jacobs-Strain)
In this hands-on class we’ll make individual and collaborative recordings, and study the fundamental concepts of audio engineering and music production. We’ll take a technical, musical, and social overview of record making; no previous engineering experience is required, but students are encouraged to bring a song to share with the group. Our goal is to support each other’s creativity, while experimenting with microphone selection, signal processing, and musical arrangements. It can be especially fun to record a song with Swannanoa-mates that you may only see once a year!
BEYOND THE BLUES (David Jacobs-Strain)
If you’ve experimented with slide guitar or open tunings and want to go deeper, this intermediate/advanced class is for you. We’ll dive into both right- and left-hand techniques and concepts, going beyond common tunings to use a range of slide guitar and percussive right-hand ideas to stretch out what the blues can be. We’ll explore more complete songs and advanced exercises than in the Slide 101 class, but there will still be an emphasis on fundamentals, albeit at a faster pace. Expect to learn new ideas and form solid habits by playing for much of each class.
NEW ORLEANS FINGERSTYLE BLUES (Cory Seznec)
An intermediate/advanced class that will unveil a New Orleanian “bag of tricks” for fingerstyle guitar. We’ll discuss the early playing style of guitar legend Snooks Eaglin, as well as some tips on how to have more of a rollicking “pianistic” approach to the guitar. The goal will be to help develop different right-hand rhythmic techniques – rumba style, thumb dragging, bass movement, flamenco-esque strumming – and help the player develop passing chords and inversions, incorporate classic bluesy, New Orleanian ornamentation, and generally build up left-hand techniques. Tab will be provided.
FINGERSTYLE ARRANGEMENTS FROM THE GROUND UP (Cory Seznec)
This class for all levels will show you how to add some spicy seasoning to the fingerpicker’s cookbook. Using a few songs that he’s arranged, Cory will demonstrate how he developed them into more “original” arrangements from the ground up. We’ll discuss the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of arranging music differently, using riffs, licks and rhythms to create an original style. This class will be less about how to be “virtuosic” and more about how to have songs “speak” in different ways. Students will be encouraged to arrange or rearrange a song they already know and perform it for the class at the end of the week! Tab will be provided.
AFRICAN FINGERSTYLE GUITAR (Cory Seznec)
This class for all levels will explore different African fingerstyle techniques, beginning with a survey of various guitar traditions ranging from East African omutibo, katanga, chimurenga and rumba to Malian bajourou and blues. Cory will then discuss how he incorporated elements of these and other styles into his own playing through the use of special tunings, polyrhythms and other rhythmic devices, palm muting, and more. This class is not meant to be scholarly but merely to demonstrate the possibilities of expanding one’s fingerstyle game by looking at players & traditions from different parts of the African continent.
MASTER CLASS IN ARTISTRY (Janis Ian)
evel and to colleagues in the arts, focusing on the role of and history of the artist through the ages and up to the modern world. We will be covering history – from the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal to the ancient Greeks and those ugly Romans, the Dark Ages, the medieval troubadours and their role in spreading the news, the Renaissance, and why syphilis gave rise to the “artist as lunatic” perception. We’ll pay attention to fear and its effect on us as creative persons, the poetry and consciousness of wood, what to do when the well runs dry, the importance of both craft and talent, and the impossibility of living up to your ideals. There will be quotes and song illustrations as well. Students will be asked to read 3-4 short stories about artists before class begins. If you haven’t received the short stories three weeks before classes begin, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for copies of these. (No class limit)
Note: There is no advance registration necessary for the following events.
GUITAR MAINTENANCE & REPAIR (Randy Hughes)
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 John Slobod, Tom Doerr, Gage Halland and Laurent Brondel, 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.