(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)
MANDOLIN OVERVIEW (Mike Marshall)
This class will be an overview of the basics of my general approach to playing the mandolin. There will be a strong emphasis on the fundamentals, basic posture, right- and left-hand technique and exercises. We will work on some simple songs (TAB and music provided) play some of the easy-ish fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs together and discuss how each of you can move forward in your mandolin journey. We’ll cover some of the basic moveable chord shapes and play in a few different keys and look at some rhythm patterns from a few different musical traditions. I’ll keep the class at a reasonable pace, pretty light-hearted and fun.
MANDOLIN EXPANSION (Mike Marshall)
This more advanced class will go at a much quicker pace than my Mandolin Overview class. We will learn some more advanced fiddle tunes and talk about how to create variations and improvise on these kinds of tunes (music and TAB provided). We’ll look into improvisation in the classic bluegrass repertoire and how to play fills on vocal tunes. We’ll give you some tips to help you ‘spruce up’ your rhythm playing and from there we will dive deep into swing and jazz, which, of course leads to theory on the mandolin, arpeggios and scales and how to move them up and down the fingerboard, and how to find chords using three basic moveable shapes. We’ll learn some Brazilian choro music and break down the mystery of those syncopated rhythms. We’ll also do some call and response improvisational things and if anyone is playing any J.S. Bach these days I’m happy to give some pointers there too.
NEWGRASS MANDOLIN (Matt Flinner)
This class will focus on many subjects designed to improve the clarity and precision of your mandolin playing, including technique (both left- and right-hand), tone, playing with clarity and confidence, crosspicking ideas, playing up the neck, rhythms and rhythm playing at speed, chord inversions, rehearsal strategy and thoughts for practicing. Handouts will be provided, and tablature will be used in the handouts and in the teaching of this class. Bring your audio or video recording devices if you wish, and lots of questions are always useful and welcome, and often provide interesting and informative topic exploration.
FIDDLE TUNES FOR MANDOLIN (Matt Flinner)
We’ll look at the myriad styles of American fiddle tunes and look at ways of creating your own solos on them. Changing octaves, using chord tones and adding some new melodic ideas will be the focus, along with some theory and ear training. Tunes will range from old-time to slightly swingy, and variations will range from fairly basic to fairly advanced. We’ll also integrate chords and inversions of chords into how you play both lead and backup.
INTERMEDIATE BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN (Alan Bibey)
A basic knowledge of the fingerboard including chords and double stops will be of help in this class. We’ll build breaks to common bluegrass songs and instrumentals, finding the melody in different places on the fingerboard, position shifting, double stops, improving your slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, building speed and learning the steps to improvisation. We will work on kick-off and turn-arounds to popular bluegrass vocal tunes as well as alternate breaks for common fiddle tunes to enhance your knowledge of the mandolin. We’ll also cover playing rhythm with a band as well as your role in other ensembles, adding rhythmic variation, and groove. We’ll cover how important it is to listen to music around you to find groove and play tastefully. We’ll learn classic licks to make your bluegrass playing sound more authentic. Your questions are always appreciated and I encourage you to bring recording gear. There will be some handouts but a lot of ear practice as well. Its gonna be fun!!
ADVANCED BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN (Alan Bibey)
This class will focus on some advanced techniques in bluegrass mandolin and mandolin in general. We’ll look at standard bluegrass songs and some more obscure tunes as well as classic breaks in bluegrass. We will also explore how to “play around the melody” tastefully with traditional as well as more modern approaches. We will talk about the journey to true improvisation as well as discussing how to alter some of your favorite licks to get much more out of them. This will be an exploration of the mandolin that will help you down the road to creating your own style! Bring all your recording devices and plenty of questions. There will also be handouts in this class as well. Gonna be a blast!!
21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MANDOLIN (Don Julin)
Contradances, traditional Irish sessions, and bluegrass jams can all be great, but the mandolin can go far beyond these genres and is limited only by your imagination (and your understanding of the harmonic and rhythmic characteristics of other genres). Each day we will take a look at a genre or style that is influencing acoustic string music in the 21st century. Genres include: Latin (Brazilian and Afro-Cuban), bluegrass, classical, swing-blues, and rock-funk-hip-hop. Once you begin understanding the basic rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic elements of these common genres, you will start to recognize the influence in today’s acoustic string music. Just as Bill Monroe did when he created bluegrass, today’s players are combining elements of popular music with traditional acoustic string band music, and coming up with something fresh and exciting. By studying different genres or even other instruments, you can expand the musical possibilities of that Prince of All Stringed Instruments…..the mandolin.
TIME IS ON MY SIDE (Don Julin)
Most folks will agree that the most difficult part of the learning music is the timing. Sometimes the space between the notes is actually harder to play than the notes themselves. This hands-on workshop explains basic timing and will get the participants feeling the beat, dividing beats, playing rhythm patterns and melodies. We will also explore the power of the mandolin as a rhythm instrument. With simple chord forms, rhythm patterns, mutes, and more, you will be able to turn your mandolin into a serious rhythm instrument. You will also learn a metronome practice technique that will change your groove forever!
OLD-TIME/EARLY BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN (John Reischman)
In this class, the emphasis will be on learning to keep the basics in mind, i.e., playing a song’s melody cleanly with good tone and timing. We will learn some fiddle tunes and songs from the old-time repertoire. The fiddle tunes will show the proper right-hand picking patterns. The songs will incorporate double stops. We’ll look at the bluesy style of Bill Monroe and other early bluegrass practitioners like Everett Lilly and Pee Wee Lambert. We’ll also discuss basic technique, with emphasis on tone production. Prerequisites: students should know all the standard bluegrass closed chop chords, and know some fiddle tunes and be able to play them at a reasonable tempo. Students are encouraged to bring a recording device.
MELODIC MANDOLIN (John Reischman)
In this class we will learn some great traditional and original tunes in a variety of styles – old-time, bluegrass, New Acoustic, Latin, and jazz. In addition to the melodies, we will examine the techniques involved in playing the stylistically-varied tunes. For example, to work on double-stops and tremolo we will learn “The North Shore.” For uptempo bluegrass-style playing we will learn “Big Bug”. For single-note fiddle tunes we will learn “Cazadero.” For syncopated right-hand rhythms we will learn “La Arboleda.” For more progressive bluegrass and New Acoustic music we will learn “Dawg’s Bull” and “Devlin.” For jazz chord/melody we will learn “Yardbird Suite.” The rhythmic accompaniment for the various tunes and styles will be covered, as well as some improvisation ideas.
CLASSICAL MANDOLIN BASICS (Caterina Lichtenberg)
This class will bridge the gap between the folk mandolin and classical mandolin. We will begin by working on the fundamentals of sound production, and the philosophy of the classical mandolin sound, then move on to some basic mandolin techniques that include cross-picking, some warm-up exercises and some wonderful simple melodies. Lastly, we will work on coordination and speed, but we’ll keep the focus on having fun. The ability to read music will really help in this class.
ADVANCED CLASSICAL MANDOLIN TECHNIQUES (Caterina Lichtenberg)
This class requires the ability to read music. We will build on the classical mandolin basics and the pieces will become a bit more challenging. We will give you an overview of the classical mandolin repertoire that spans 300 years. We will also work on speed, double stops, coordination, tremolo, duo-style, and the harp arpeggio techniques from the 18th and 19th centuries. I always like to work up some ensemble pieces together featuring some beautiful original mandolin compositions for our performance on the last day.
CELTIC MANDOLIN & TENOR BANJO (David Surette)
This class will explore the different ways the mandolin can play a role in Celtic music, with a focus on both melodic playing and varied forms of accompaniment, both for tunes and for songs. We will look at various stylistic elements that are essential to Celtic music, and will also cover topics that will be useful for musicians in many styles. We will also work on technical elements such as picked triplets and drone and modal-based playing. Classes will be taught mainly by ear. Students are encouraged to bring an audio recorder, pen and notebook. Note: this class is also open to tenor banjos in Irish tuning (GDAE), an octave below the mandolin. The technical elements will be similar for both instruments.
MANDOLIN FOR THE COMPLETE BEGINNER (Steve James)
Recent surveys conducted at a college in Western North Carolina suggest that it’s actually easier to play the mandolin than it is to not play it. It’s the ideal second instrument for the guitarist or violinist, of course; but even those who have never plucked a string before can have fun with the two finger chord shapes, first position runs and basic pick techniques that comprise mandolin rudiments. These will be detailed in hands-on sessions and applied to simple song arrangements – fiddle tune, waltz, rag and blues – that employ the chime, twang and backbeat bark of this handy little unit that’s been described as “uke with an attitude.”
BLUES MANDOLIN (Steve James)
The sound of a bluesy mandolin has been an essential voice in American music, from deep blues and jug band to roots country and western swing. In these sessions, we’ll listen to and learn some of the tunes and techniques that have defined solo and accompaniment style for mandolin blues; then use them as a vehicle for ensemble playing and improvisation. A 2018 participant wrote: “I really enjoyed your mandolin class. At first I thought it would be too basic for me, but it really improved my blues playing. Not so much the notes but the feel of it….And the stories – I could listen to them for hours!”
CHORO MANDOLIN (Tim Connell)
A Brazilian cousin of dixieland and ragtime, choro has experienced a revival in the last few decades in Brazil and increased popularity here in America, thanks in particular to the fact that it prominently features the mandolin. This class will be primarily a performance ensemble this year, with Tim leading the group in performance of as many choros as we have time for. Students may play chordal accompaniment or melody. Lead sheets and mp3 files of all repertoire will be distributed ahead of time via Dropbox so that students can prepare the material for camp. Tim will also provide a brief music appreciation session, with recorded samples of some choro masters, discussion of the form, and idiosyncracies of the genre. Regarding levels and prerequisites: Choro music is harmonically advanced and melodically dense; it is not for beginners. All sheet music in this class will be in lead sheet form with no tablature. Students should be able to read notation, even slowly, or should be able to prepare melodies in advance. Students should be familiar with basic music theory: a few basic major and minor scales, as well as some chord voicings outside of the bluegrass “chop” chord voicings.
SOLO ARRANGEMENTS FOR MANDOLIN (Tim Connell)
Learn to arrange songs to be played on mandolin alone, with both melody and harmonic structure represented. Tim will first task the class with creating solo arrangements for several very simple melodies. The challenges this assignment presents will act as a springboard for a discussion of various challenges and strategies inherent in arranging melodies and chords for solo mandolin. Students will also perform and analyze several popular tunes which Tim has arranged for solo mandolin, featuring arrangements from Tim’s CD/book, MandAlone. Students are also encouraged to bring in their own solo arrangements to perform for the class, to receive feedback and ideas in a master class format.
INTERMEDIATE SWING/JAZZ MANDOLIN (Don Stiernberg)
“Rhythm & Repertoire.” Improve your accompaniment playing in any style by adding color tones, connecting chords, substitutions, and ‘cool notes.’ We’ll learn some ultra-standard swing jam favorites and increase our understanding of chord progressions and how to dress them up – what to add, what to leave out. Amaze your friends and fans! Why play 3 chords when you could play 50? Handout materials will include chord diagrams, fakebook style chord charts, and the like, so all you’ll need to bring is a tuned up mandolin and your ears. Helpful but not essential is the ability to relate to chords and progressions by number(I-IV-V, ii-V-I, etc.). We’ll be looking to add more progressions, voicings and tunes to your vocabulary.
ADVANCED SWING/JAZZ MANDOLIN (Don Stiernberg)
“Melodic Materials.” Here we’ll approach improvisation from a few different angles: ornamenting the melody of a tune and examining how other players have done so; making fills in the spaces of a melody and examining how other players have done so; making a new melodic solo by drawing notes (the Good Notes!) from a tune’s chord progression. Learn some chops by developing some essential swing and jazz melodies: “the fiddle tunes of jazz.” Learn many licks and tricks for adding swing feeling and schnazzy jazzy pizazz to your melodic creations. All handouts in this class are in both standard notation and tablature, supplied mostly for reference as we emphasize the ears and hands in finding ideas on the fretboard. Fundamentals that would come in handy for these sessions would be the ability to find scales(major, minor, dominant 7th, diminished, etc.) with open strings included and the all fretted moveable positions, and the ability to understand and transpose chord progressions. We’ll supply the cool notes that are “in the cracks”.
INTERMEDIATE BLUEGRASS BANJO A (Tony Trischka)
For this class, Tony will discuss the all-important concept of playing the ‘syllables’ of a tune. This is a Scruggs concept that allows you to play the real melody of a tune. In the process you learn how to play solos up the neck and in different keys without a capo. We’ll feature Earl’s Pearls… a compendium of some of his greatest obscure licks. The class will also cover tools for improvisation, the ‘melodic’ style, ‘single-string style’ and back-up. Tab will be provided. Please bring an audio or video recording device. (Class limit: 20)
INTERMEDIATE BLUEGRASS BANJO B (Bill Evans)
Jam sessions and playing in bands require you to quickly master tunes and create solos, often with songs and tunes that you’re just hearing for the first time. In this practical, hands-on and ‘let’s-play’ style of class, we’ll develop a strategy for analyzing, learning and mastering new tunes by ear using a step-by-step approach to first identify song forms and chord progressions, find melodies in different keys and create great sounding solos and back-up. We’ll start with what you already know and then take you to the next level by exploring the different approaches used to play a wide variety of bluegrass music, from classic vocal tunes, to fiddle tunes, modal/blues songs, ¾ time songs and some of the more unusual songs often played in jams. The emphasis will be on moving you forward by setting individual personal goals for the week. (Class limit: 20)
ADVANCED BLUEGRASS BANJO A (Tony Trischka)
This class will examine composition, so that you can fully explore your own creative potential. The class will also cover advanced backup techniques as played by Earl Scruggs and J.D. Crowe. Advanced improvisatory techniques such as those used by Trischka, Fleck, etc., will also be covered. In addition, you’ll learn how to subdivide two measures into groupings of 3s, 5s and 7s for freshening up fiddle tunes and beyond.Tab will be provided and an audio or video recording device is recommended. (Class limit: 20)
ADVANCED BLUEGRASS BANJO B (Bill Evans)
Let’s play in as many different keys as we can without using the capo! In this class, we’ll learn how to convert basic bluegrass solos that we already know in G to the keys of C and D – but that’s just the beginning! We’ll then move on to explore playing in the keys of A, E, F and Bb, discovering how to best use the banjo in each of these keys. We’ll also explore how altered tunings can be used to play in different keys and, when we finally do have to put on that capo, how to use the capo creatively to use the banjo to its fullest potential. Along the way, we’ll learn some classic tunes in various keys such as “Farewell Blues” (key of C), “New Camptown Races” (key of Bb), “Squirrel Hunters” and “Old Joe Clark” (key of A), “Reuben” and “Home Sweet Home” (D tuning) and “Farewell Blues” and “Native & Fine” (D minor tuning). We’ll even get the blues in the key of E. (Class limit: 20)
INTERMEDIATE CLAWHAMMER BANJO (Paul Brown)
This clawhammer and fingerpicking class will help you build your skill and style on the banjo through a combination of repertoire, technique, practice and context. We will work on keeping excellent time, understanding melody and refining style as we learn both classic and more obscure tunes of the southern mountains. Come prepared to explore repertoire of legacy players including Wade and Fields Ward, Tommy Jarrell and other Round Peak artists; Matokie Slaughter, Giles Lephew and more. We will also consider the history and context of southern mountain banjo music through commentary and hearing recordings. About three quarters of our class time will be devoted to learning on the instrument, and about one quarter to context and guided listening to recordings of outstanding legacy artists. Come prepared to play your banjo, clap and sing. You’ll have a great time and learn a lot. Please bring extra strings, a capo and, if possible, a banjo strap. Recording devices are encouraged.
ADVANCED CLAWHAMMER BANJO (Paul Brown)
This class presents an opportunity to focus at an advanced level on tunes, tunings, technique, style and context. The class will be based in clawhammer style with fingerpicking instruction as well. You should arrive able to play comfortably in at least three keys in clawhammer style and able to tune your instrument with some facility. We’ll consider the core characteristics of the banjo – melody, drone, rhythm and percussion – and how to bring them out. We’ll work on training the ear for melody, and we’ll focus at a high level on keeping exquisite time. We will add repertoire, mostly from the southern mountains, in unusual as well as standard tunings. We will devote about a quarter of our time to the history and context of southern mountain traditional music, including guided listening to recordings of great players. This will provide understanding you need to best bring out the banjo’s core characteristics at your level of playing. You’ll have the chance to play in a duo with your instructor on the fiddle or guitar, further improving your understanding of timing and of interplay with other instruments and musicians. Please bring extra strings, a capo and, if possible, a banjo strap. Recording devices are encouraged.
CLAWHAMMER BANJO BASICS (Terri McMurray)
Intrigued with the sound of clawhammer banjo? This is the class for you! We’ll work on the basic clawhammer down-stroke style, develop some left-hand techniques (slides, hammer-ons & pull-offs) and pull these all together using some simple, yet great, southern tunes. This class is designed for players new to the banjo or new to the clawhammer style. I can promise a fun, comfortable pace. Singing and laughter is encouraged! I encourage you to bring a capo, extra strings, a strap and a recording device. Tablature will be provided for most of the tunes AFTER we’ve worked on them.
ROUND PEAK BANJO (Terri McMurray)
Although there isn’t one specific Round Peak clawhammer banjo style, there are elements of style that contribute to a recognizable sound from the Round Peak region of northwest North Carolina. This intermediate/advanced class will explore some well-known tunes from the great players of the Round Peak community. We’ll focus on the space, style and timing that make this music recognizable. We’ll go at a comfortable pace in a safe, fun and encouraging environment and spend some time during each class listening to the masters. As the week progresses, we’ll practice refining our tunes to the playing of a particular fiddler. For the most part, we’ll play in the keys of A and D. I encourage you to bring a capo, extra strings, a strap and a recording device. Tablature will be provided for some of the tunes AFTER we’ve worked on them.
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. (Find this class in the Fiddle Week Schedule)
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. (Find this class in the Fiddle Week Schedule)
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.
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.
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.
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 at first band meeting time, no advanced registration required.)