THIS IS THE 2019 CATALOG :: 2020 WILL BE POSTED IN MARCH Old Time Week Classes – July 21-27, 2019

In keeping with the tradition and nature of Appalachian music, learning by ear is encouraged. Some instructors may provide tablature and other handouts as memory aids. Hand-held audio (not video) recorders are highly recommended for all instrumental and singing classes. Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15. Fiddle classes are offered at four different levels: 0 – Beginner; I – Advanced-Beginner; II – Intermediate; III – Advanced (see definitions on pg. 1). Please consider your skill level carefully when registering for classes.



OLD-TIME FIDDLE 0 (Meredith McIntosh)
This class is for true beginners. It will include instrument & bow care, tuning, body care and coordination for playing, a few bowing patterns, and fingering for 1-3 tunes. Very basic music theory is necessarily included. Learning by ear is emphasized though a few handouts will be offered to assist you at home. ‘True beginners’ come! We’ll get rockin’ on some fun rhythms. All other new players should please choose another level class.

OLD-TIME FIDDLE I A (John Herrmann)
Students should have some experience playing the fiddle. We will look at several bowing patterns, including a couple of syncopated patterns, that will help you to get a real old-time sound. We will concentrate on playing mechanics and style, but will also learn some tunes that can be played with others.

OLD-TIME FIDDLE I B (Travis Stuart)
This beginning fiddle class will cover basic southern old-time fiddling techniques such as bowing, left-hand fingering and ways to bring your fiddling to the next level. Basic music theory and ear training with a strong focus on rhythm will be used throughout the class, as well as tips for practicing. We’ll learn a few common tunes in standard GDAE tuning and we might even try cross-tuning for some easy tunes too. This class will be taught by ear.

We’ll survey some regional styles, from Texas to North Carolina to Georgia and the midwest, making stops along the way to dig into some tunes in detail. If folks are interested, we’ll also do a session on singing with the fiddle.

“Drone and Pulse” Are you ready to push your old-time fiddle sound up a notch? In this class for intermediates, we’ll spend some quality time with a handful of beautiful old tunes, while we explore some of the easy left and right-hand techniques that really make it sound old-time! We’ll include ornaments, open string drones, and double-stops. We will also work on becoming the bosses of of our bows with phrasing, simple patterns, doodads, dips, and pulses. We’ll make good use of different keys, and take advantage of more relaxed tempos that will allow us to enjoy the internal rhythm of the tunes along with the magical order of notes! Arcane and not so arcane secrets will be revealed!

OLD-TIME FIDDLE II C (Erynn Marshall)
Have you ever been interested to know more about cross-tunings on the fiddle and love the sound of drones? Want to get that real old-time sound? This is the class for you! Each day, at a relaxed pace, we’ll learn classic, old-time tunes in AEAE, ADAE, DDAD and AEAC# tunings. You do not need any experience with alternate tunings. The tunes will be fun and not too hard. This is an intermediate class. You just need to be able to play and learn comfortably by ear. You’ll soon be able to jump into cross-tune jams and tune like a pro. We’ll cover some of the interesting, old-time bow techniques as well. Erynn will also play popular ‘chestnuts’ in each tuning so you can record to learn later and build your repertoire. Rosin up your bow and get ready for the drone zone!

We’ll look beyond your basic sawstrokes and shuffles to examine some of the complex rhythms that the best traditional fiddlers use, and learn repertoire that gives them a good workout – one or two tunes a day, drawn from different parts of the south. We’ll also talk about other elements of style and quirks of individual fiddlers. You need to have good facility on the fiddle (no difficulty keeping up with others in jam sessions or bands), be familiar with the most common keys (A, D, G, and C), and be able to learn short phrases by ear. You should be willing to use alternate tunings (AEAE, ADAE, etc). Bring a recording device as well as extra strings.

They say the devil is in the details! We’ll take a listen to some classic fiddle recordings to identify some of the elements that make them so powerful, and then work up some tunes with that in mind.

OLD-TIME FIDDLE III C (Tatiana Hargreaves)
This class will focus on finding your own voice within old-time fiddle styles. We will start by closely examining individual fiddlers such as John Dykes, Cuje Bertram, Manco Sneed, John Lusk, and Tommy Jarrell, learning not just the tunes but also zeroing in on what makes each fiddler’s playing unique to them. What musical and cultural influences led them to sound the way they sound? What musical and cultural influences make our playing different today? We will explore these questions and experiment with melodic and rhythmic variations, and by the end of the week hopefully have a better idea of ourselves and our fiddling.

FIDDLE & BANJO DUETS (Rachel Eddy & Tatiana Hargreaves)
In this class we will explore the different ways that the banjo and fiddle work together. The banjo is both a melody and rhythmic instrument, and we will work on how to move between the two in order to accompany the fiddle. Likewise, the fiddle can also take on different roles in relation to the banjo. We will listen and analyze different recordings of our favorite banjo-fiddle duos and discuss the history of the instruments as a pair. We will spend some time working all together, some time segregated by instrument, and by the end we will split off into as many banjo-fiddle duo pairs as we can. (Class limit: 30)



This class, for total beginners as well as novice banjo players hoping to reinforce their clawhammer fundamentals, will build a solid banjo foundation layer by layer. We’ll learn to feel the drive of the clawhammer rhythm, to make the banjo ring with clear tone, and to listen intentionally to ourselves and other musicians. Our focus will be on technique, not repertoire; but we’ll learn one or two common old-time tunes that we can play together by the end of the week. Most importantly, we’ll create a warm and welcoming musical community that offers an encouraging environment for learning! A recording device, an electronic tuner, and an open mind are all useful tools to bring to this class.

OLD-TIME BANJO II A (Sam Bartlett)
Put on your picks! We will look at all the right- and left-hand techniques that make fingerpicking work for old time music. It’s all about the rhythm, so we will get to the heart of the right hand and how to adapt the powerful drive of a roll to the melody and flow of an old-time fiddle tune. Students will learn both arrangements to tunes and approaches they can use to tackle new tunes. We will shamelessly sing tunes and accompany them with our banjos.

For banjo players who have the basics and a nice selection of repertoire under their fingers, we’ll work on ‘making the leap’ from learning by rote, to playing what you hear from the fiddle, or in a jam session. We’ll learn several versions of the same tune, teasing out what makes them distinct. The aim will be to develop your ear to hear nuances in this largely aural tradition and to follow what you hear more easily. In the left hand, we’ll take a look at chord patterns up the neck, to understand how to play tunes in different octaves, or on different places on the banjo. Then with the right hand, we’ll try different syncopations, to be able to connect with fiddle bowing.

This banjo workshop will focus on how to be solid players, and to use your thumb to make the banjo swing in different percussive ways. This will not be a repertoire heavy workshop, but we’ll use a handful of tunes that have helpful techniques and licks. We will address how to have really good economy of motion with your claws, gain speed and drive, and easily syncopate or texturize your playing by using phantom notes and drop-thumbs.

The intermediate level is where you consolidate your essential banjo skills and combine them with new influences and your own creativity to become a better musician. In this class, we’ll break down two-finger thumb- and index-lead techniques in an understandable way. We’ll explore tunings and approaches to lead, backup, and song accompaniment and check out some interesting tunings for these styles. We will spend a small portion of our time listening to interesting and significant recordings. Bring a recording device as a learning aid if you wish.

OLD-TIME BANJO III A (Travis Stuart)
This class will explore alternative tunings used in solo banjo playing from some of the late banjo masters of the Appalachians. Using clawhammer, up-picking , 2- and 3-finger styles, the class will cover playing with a fiddler, regional styles within the Appalachians, chord structures for playing waltzes, and accompaniment for songs. The class will also cover jam sessions, general tips for getting good tone, and some basic music theory for exploring the banjo neck. Participants will find expression in the music with a focus on listening. We will explore possibilities in variations of tunes, maintaining rhythmic integrity rather than focusing on speed and technical display.

OLD-TIME BANJO III B (Brad Leftwich)
We’ll take a detailed look at the playing of master banjo pickers from northwest NC and southwest VA, especially the Galax and Round Peak areas. Our object is to understand and appreciate the subtleties and musical craftsmanship of some of the best traditional players, with a view to enriching our own playing. (Note: this class is about style and taste, not pyrotechnics!) You should have command of basic clawhammer (frailing) right-hand technique, as well as drop-thumb, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. You should be able to keep up easily playing along with others and learn short phrases by ear. Bring a banjo that you can tune- or capo up to A and double D, some extra strings, and a recording device.

OLD-TIME BANJO III C (John Herrmann)
In this class we will learn clawhammer techniques based on Round Peak style, rooted in the playing of Fred Cockerham, and Kyle Creed. We will be looking at ways to accompany a fiddler playing tunes you don’t know.

OLD-TIME BANJO III D (Gordy Hinners)
Goal #1 of playing the banjo is to have fun, and hopefully we will! For advanced-beginner/intermediate players who know some tunes in the clawhammer style, this class will focus on the rhythms of southern clawhammer banjo playing and explore tunes and ‘licks’ in several banjo tunings. The use of a recording device is highly recommended, as all tunes will be taught by ear.


Guitar & Mandolin

This class is for guitar students who know the basic chord forms but need help in developing techniques which allow them to become more comfortable in accompanying songs and tunes. Emphasis will be on right-hand techniques, from basic strumming patterns to fingerpicking styles. Students should be familiar with chord patterns in the keys of D, A and G. Elementary theory will be covered as well as the use of the capo.

In an old-time ensemble the guitar plays a crucial role by providing a solid rhythmic base in support of the fiddle, banjo, and vocals. If you know a handful of basic chords and can hold on to a flatpick, then you are ready for this class. Topics will include: boom-chuck rhythm, chord choices for fiddle tunes and songs in the common keys of C, G, D, A, and E, bass notes and runs, keeping time, tuning, learning to listen, different right-hand techniques to achieve a variety of rhythmic patterns, and putting it all together to play rock-solid, back-up guitar in an old-time stringband. Bring a tuner, capo, flatpick, and extra strings.

In this class we’ll delve into the art of back-up guitar for stringband tunes and songs. As we explore the many ways a guitar supports a fiddle tune or enhances a song, we will apply simple theory concepts to add variety, have more fun, and sound better. Knowing the distance between the notes of a chord makes ‘keys’ and the fingerboard truly a ‘playground’ we can enjoy navigating. We will play in several keys and put a few new tricks up our sleeve. We will also try joining with other classes to give our new guitar prowess a whirl. A notepad and recorder is always recommended.

In this class we’ll explore the joys of boom-chuck guitar back-up in the keys of A,D,G ,and pay particular attention to the raggy key of C, and the more advanced 2-note and 4-note bass runs as used in the songs and tunes of Riley Puckett, Roy Harvey, and Jimmie Rodgers. We’ll move beyond I, IV, V, and add some IIs and VIs! Bring a few flatpicks, because we’ll wear some out!

In this class we will fingerpick various old-time tunes and songs focusing on both melody as well as back-up. Our goal will be to improve our right-hand versatility and learn how to stress any string the melody dictates. We will also focus on using 2 or 3 strings and being able to use the whole fingerboard with some basic theory concepts. We may play a rag, waltz, bluesy tune or even make up something new. Join me as we let our fingers do the walking and our guitars do the talking.

MANDOLIN I (Ellie Grace)
This class for the advanced-beginner will explore the driving rhythms and clear melodies you can create on the old-time mandolin! You will learn healthy and approachable techniques to play melody/lead on an old-time tune or two and will explore some practical music theory. You will also work on basic chords and strum patterns and practice backing up both tunes and songs. Most of all, you will experience a daily reminder of the joy of making music!

MANDOLIN II (Sam Bartlett)
This class will zero in on the quality that really distinguishes the mandolinist: rhythm. Through the lens of traditional and composed old-time tunes we will unlock the techniques and practices that make your mandolin melodic and metronomic. We will explore the essentials of the picking hand, tremolo and ornamentation and get inside the 2- and 3-finger chords that make the mando fun. This will be a fun and funny class. Be prepared to learn by ear, sing along with your instrument (no matter how badly!), and kiss bad habits goodbye. Bring a recording device, picks, and a change of clothes.


Other Instruments

Easy and fun! This class is for absolute beginners or those interested in building a solid foundation for playing mountain dulcimer in old-time music. Topics will include dulcimer history, as well as playing techniques for developing the old-time sound. Traditional songs, tunes, and hymns will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided at the end of the sessions. Bring a recorder.

This class for intermediate players and above will focus on playing techniques for old-time music on the mountain dulcimer. We will learn traditional tunes, songs, hymns, playing by ear, various noting techniques, different modes, dulcimer history, and more. The class will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided at the end of the sessions. Bring a recorder.

OLD-TIME BAND 101 (Greg Canote)
In this class, we’ll explore what it takes to put together and play in a band situation. We’ll cover group listening, creating a cohesive band sound and establishing a solid rhythmic foundation! We’ll also dig into repertoire, basic stagecraft, and the all-important choosing of a band name! (Class limit: 20)

OLD-TIME BAND LAB (Paul Brown & Linda Higginbotham)
Do you play well with others? In this class, you can take your ability to play in a band format to a new level. We’ll listen to some great bands, form bands for the week, and work on achieving a band dynamic that results in a sound that’s more than the sum of its parts. Your instructors have experience in numerous bands, and will be on hand to guide you. (No class limit)

BASS BASICS (Abby Ladin)
We’ll explore beginning techniques and basic framework for backing up old-time tunes, including rhythm and timing, listening skills, and choosing chords. We’ll learn to play common tunes in the keys of A, D, G, and C and also discuss communication, and how to find a session’s rhythmic sweet spot.

AUTOHARP (John Hollandsworth)
During the past twenty years the autoharp has had a huge revival, with some major performers and landmark recordings. This class will provide insight into what top players are doing and how to expand the role of the autoharp as a melody instrument. Drawing on tunes from the Appalachian tradition, we will cover both chromatic and diatonic playing, rhythm changes, syncopation, chord substitutions, playing in 3/4 and 4/4 time, arranging, alternate tunings, and how to interact with other instruments in a group situation. Students will refine their playing skills and gain a good understanding of clean melody playing on the autoharp. Ability to read music or tablature is not necessary, but handouts of tunes will be provided. Students must have an autoharp in good playing condition, one thumb-pick, and two finger-picks.

UKE I (Gordy Hinners)
For beginning uke players, this class will use standard uke tunings for soprano, concert, and tenor ukes. (No baritone ukes please.) The class will focus on basic chords and rhythms to play primarily with old-time fiddle tunes. We also will have some fun along the way! (Class limit: 20)

UKE II (Jere Canote)
If you know the handful of basic chords and can strums a few tunes, you are ready for this class! We’ll work on creating solid rhythm for tunes and songs using the ‘freight train’ strum, and classic novelty strums. We’ll use them on songs from Uncle Dave, Charlie Poole and Riley Puckett! We’ll also explore banjo techniques, including clawhammer, and 2 finger-picking. Bring a soprano, concert, or tenor uke with a high g (gCEA) tuning. Banjo-ukes are welcome! (Class limit: 20)

This a time for Swannanoa teens to come together for music, dance, mystery adventures, and games. Some activities may include a young old-time flash mob, arranging country songs and practicing two-stepping for the Honky Tonk, creating our own square-dances, old-time-ifying pop songs, big group harmony singing, and a little clogging for good measure. Group games and mischief abound. All proposals for fun activities will be considered! (Class limit: 20)


Songs & Folklore

What IS old-time music? How is bluegrass different from old-time? What are drop-thumb, frailing, clawhammer, two-finger styles? Who are Lily May Ledford, Moonshine Kate, and Fred Cockerham? Where are Galax, Clifftop, and Mount Airy? What makes a crooked fiddle-tune crooked? This class will present an overview of the history and social context of old-time music. Focused presentations on “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” the Georgia Fiddle Contest of 1924, ‘Affrilachia,’ and ‘Hillbilly music’ will provide insight into the style and culture. Discussions with power point presentations, recordings, films, and guest presentations will nurture an overview of the history from the Skillet Lickers to the Foghorn String Band. (No class limit)

We will engage in musical and social harmony through the recreation of a rural 19th-century singing school. Singing from the Sacred Harp tune book (1991 edition), which features intoxicating harmonizations written in a unique four-shape notation of triangles, squares, circles, and diamonds makes learning to read music easy and enjoyable. We’ll also cover background historical and social context. Songs from other tune book traditions will be explored, including the Southern Harmony, Christian Harmony, and the Shenandoah Harmony. The class will accommodate both total beginners and veteran singers. Books will be available to borrow for class use. At the end of the week, members of the class are invited and encouraged to participate in the annual Swannanoa Singing with dinner on the grounds. This will be held on Saturday, July 27 from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Warren Wilson College Pavilion. (No class limit)

During the summer and early fall months of 1916 -1918, the renowned English folklorist Cecil Sharp collected what he called, ‘English Folk-Songs.’ He gathered 231 ‘love songs’ in Madison County and the majority of the singers were my relatives including my great-great Aunt Mary Sands (25 songs), Mrs. Ruben (Clora) Hensley (26 songs), and Mrs. Tom (Ona) Rice (18 songs). They were first cousins to both my grandmothers. In this workshop, we’ll tag along with Sharp and through my family stories we’ll ‘visit’ with the singers and listen to their songs as they were passed down to me. Come prepared to learn at least one of those love songs that I’ll teach in the same manner in which it was taught to me. Please join us for the other side of the story of Sharp’s meanderings through my part of the world! It’ll be great fun!

These are the songs I grew up singing in the many different Baptist churches in Sodom, NC. You’ll recognize many of them: “I’ll Fly Away,” “Build Me A Cabin,” “Where the Soul Never Dies,” “Farther Along” and “Palms of Victory” are but a few. This class will ROCK! You can sing melody or find a harmony. I’ll provide the words and music but we’ll sing them without accompaniment. Come ready to sing and sing some more! I love teaching this class! For more info contact me at (No class limit)

This will be a survey class that features both well-known and lesser-known singers from Wise, Scott, Smyth and Dickenson counties in VA. We will listen to recordings and learn songs from the region. Lyric sheets and chords will be provided. Students who play instruments are invited to bring them. (No class limit)

Alexander Technique teaches that mental stress and physical tension can be re-directed into whole-body use. As we observe the tension in our habitual way of playing, we can begin to sense what is hindering our experience of joy and ease. We will learn simple anatomy and mindful movement to understand how our bones and muscles function together for balance and coordination. We will apply this knowledge to playing music in general and as it relates to specific instruments. Taking this class may very well allow you to play without injury or pain for a very long time. This is the first time this week-long class in musician wellness has been offered at the Swannanoa Gathering! (Class limit: 16)

CARTER FAMILY SONGS (Kari Sickenberger)
If you enjoy playing, singing, and/or listening to old-time, gospel, country, bluegrass, or even rock & roll music, you have the Carter Family to thank for being perhaps the most sturdy block in that musical foundation. Their moniker – “The First Family of Country Music” is richly deserved, as the Carter Family created and circulated hundreds of songs from 1927 until their break-up just a decade later. We will draw from this rich canon and sing, sing, sing! We will also explore ways we can make these old songs our own, for each voice is unique in the world, and this circle is one of celebrating the songs as well as ourselves, as we are among the media through which they are shared and passed on, right? Right. (Class limit: 20)

COUNTRY HARMONY (Kari Sickenberger & Vollie McKenzie)
The world of Classic Country music is wide, but the Golden Age only lasted for about 50 years, from the 1920s – 70s. It is from this time period that several stand-out harmony duets emerged, among them, Porter and Dolly, George and Tammy, and Buck and Don. In this class, we will draw from the cream of this crop and have a lot of fun learning both the melody and harmony parts of some standard as well as some lesser-known classic country gems. Be prepared to stretch yourself, sing A LOT, and have fun! (Class limit: 26)



This class, open to dancers as well as dance callers, of all levels, will focus on the traditional square-dances of the southern Appalachian region. No prior experience is required. We will learn about, and dance four-couple squares as well as Southern big circle dances, and students will have the opportunity to try their hand (or voice) at calling out the dance figures. Dance callers of all levels will have the opportunity to expand their repertoire and receive feedback to improve their calling skills. We’ll have fun dancing and learning about the traditions of southern Appalachian square-dances. (No class limit)

CLOGGING I (Abby Ladin)
Clogging Basics: We’ll learn the fundamental steps, how to string them together and keep a rhythmic pulse. If you already clog, Abby will challenge you with syncopation and beginning improvisation. (No class limit)

CLOGGING II (Evie Ladin)
For cloggers who have the basics, we’ll explore some interesting syncopations and vocabulary to expand your repertoire for ‘freestyling.’ In the process, we’ll look at dancing the tune, playing the melody of the fiddle with your feet, and choreographic sequences. We’ll also work with partnering, and how to best dance with another person while maintaining steady rhythm. We’ll use those partnering skills to dance through some traditional square-dance patterns combining all of these skills. Always tailored to the skill level of the class, Evie can give every dancer a comfortable level in which to participate, while challenging more advanced dancers. (No class limit)


Special Events

T’AI CHI (Don Pedi)
Start the day with a smile with these ancient, gentle, easy to learn rejuvenation exercises. Includes: T’ai Chi, Chi Kung, Standing Meditation, Eight Pieces of Brocade, and more. No experience necessary and no registration required. (No class limit)

In addition to the regular class sessions, Potluck Sessions are offered on most afternoons. These one-hour mini-classes give students access to the entire teaching staff, and provide a wide variety of class offerings to choose from. No advance registration necessary.

After supper each night, students have the opportunity to participate in slow jams and singing sessions. At the slow jams, common tunes are played at a speed that is accessible even to beginners. The singing sessions are a chance to share your voice and songs.

Teenagers have the opportunity to get together each evening after supper for a young-folks-only hour of music and socializing facilitated by Ben Nelson. The Young Old-Time band that forms at this jam session will have the opportunity to play for the square-dance on Wednesday night! Young string players, singers, dancers, and non-musicians are all welcome.

Evening dances will be held throughout the week, with plenty of chances to dance a variety of traditional Southern Appalachian squares and circles. Thursday features the long-standing weekly dance, the Old Farmers Ball.


Children’s Program

We offer a full-day program, taught by Melissa Hyman, for children ages 6-12. Children must have turned 6 by July 1st to participate. No exceptions please. Kids must be be fully potty trained – bathroom independence is a non-negotiable prerequisite. Maximum age is 12 on July 1. Some older children may be able to work as junior counselors. Please email Melissa if interested: Evening childcare for ages 3-12 will be provided at no additional cost.

This year, we are exploring FAIRY TALES from around the world! Through arts, crafts, music and games, we will learn about the stories people have told for thousands of years to help explain this crazy world. Fire up your imaginations, because we will be learning about fairy tales – and creating our own – all week long! Bring your favorite books and toys if you’d like, to teach your fellow campers about the stories you love most. It’ll be another unforgettable summer of friendship, water balloon fights, scavenger hunts, songs and stories from every corner of the world… and we hope you’ll join us! With the help of our very talented music teacher Kevin Williams we will write our own original song, and perform for the whole Gathering at the student showcase on Friday. We’ll also have visits throughout the week from Gathering staff, who will teach and perform just for our kids, and continue our traditions of shaving cream hairdos, slip-n-slide madness, movie night, messy games, and other old favorites. If we have access to the Warren Wilson College pool this summer we’ll close out each busy day with an hour of free swim. Non-swimmers must be accompanied by a parent to join us in the pool. Even if the pool remains closed, please bring at least one swimsuit with you for cooling-down activities like running in the sprinkler. Get ready for a week of magic and imaginative mayhem with us!! There will be a $30 art/craft materials fee for this class, payable to Melissa on arrival.