THIS IS THE 2019 CATALOG :: 2020 WILL BE POSTED IN MARCH Traditional Song Week Classes – July 7-13, 2019

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

Western North Carolina has a long history of shape note singing. From the haunting melodies of William Walker’s Christian Harmony to the complex, moving parts of Stamps-Baxter Conventional Hymn Books, this class will be an exploration of the evolution of shape note. You will be able to hear the differences through group singing. We will discuss a variety of singing styles that are most effective for each hymn and above all, have fun! Gospel harmony has always been an important part of traditional singing and you’ll get the chance to hear where Josh, along with many others, got their start in music. We will begin by learning the shapes, so no prior experience is required. Get ready to have lots of fun hearing some amazing harmony and experiencing it with a full group in four parts. (No class limit)

MUSIC THEORY (Josh Goforth)
Ever hear a song and wonder why it’s so pleasing to your ear? Have you always wanted to be able to sing in harmony without approaching it like a math problem? Have you tried to learn theory before and just didn’t find it interesting in the least or just way too difficult? Perhaps you are thinking, “Why do I need music theory as a traditional singer, shouldn’t it just come naturally?” Well, this class is for you! We will explore the advantages of visual and aural learning in traditional music. No experience or formal music training necessary! This is a good way to get pleasantly thrown into the deep end of music theory and ear training basics.

This class will be all about the singing and the song. This will be an opportunity for you to learn what you need to know to unleash the power of song in your community. Matt will share his experience as a song leader and community performer by teaching and leading a wide variety of songs in a wide variety of styles. This year, there will be a special emphasis on the songs and influence of Pete Seeger, in honor of his one hundredth birthday year. Participants will be encouraged to bring in songs and try out their song-leading talents on the class. You will sing everyday and leave on Friday inspired to take what you’ve learned back into your community. (No class limit)

Bringing traditional songs alive is all about choices. In this interactive class, Matt Watroba will show you the choices great singers make to get the most out of a song. Participants will then be encouraged to apply what they’ve learned to the songs they choose to sing. This workshop promises to be a safe, friendly place where beginners and professionals alike will benefit from the wisdom of the instructor and the group. Phrasing, style and performance techniques are just a few of the areas this class will explore on the way to wowing any audience with the power of traditional music. (Class limit: 12)

Our focus will be on proper breathing and body alignment, and overcoming tongue and neck tension which is paramount for free and easy singing. Bring music you’d like to work on.

We’ll be spending the week helping each other be better musical storytellers. With very simple interpretation tools and text exploration we can feel more confident in what we are communicating, and with calm acceptance of our fears and mistakes we can become genuine performers! Please bring pieces you’re passionate about to work on. (Class limit: 12)

Len has a large repertoire of happy songs on many themes – a symphony of jingles, tongue-twisters, lilts, nonsense verses, songs of ceremony and humour galore! This class is suitable for ALL ages, 7-107. Most of the songs have rhythm and thus will lend themselves to instrumental arrangement. However, this class will be unaccompanied and will be taught by repetition and ear with song lyrics provided. Participants are encouraged to bring an audio recording device. (No class limit)

In this class, Len will share songs from his extensive collection of songs found in the Irish tradition in the English language. Many themes will be covered including classic and broadside ballads, songs of love, politics, emigration and much more. Each song will be put in context, giving historical and social background. As an oral tradition these songs will be taught by repetition and ear with lyrics provided. Participants are encouraged to bring an audio recording device. (No class limit)

Songs have been the backbone that has stabilized the cause for freedom and fueled the quest for civil and human rights here in the U.S. and around the world. From the spirituals and shouts of the Underground Railroad to the freedom songs of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, songs have been and remain a marvelous vehicle for inspiring awareness and change. In conveying information, inviting collaboration, participating in direct action, and experiencing and inspiring personal transformation, this is a legacy to be continued. With Reggie Harris leading, the group will explore the depth of this tradition from its roots in the African American slave experience to the present day. (Class limit: 20)

In the tradition of Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger, Bernice Johnson Reagon and others who have used traditional song frames to express personal and global concerns, this course will provide participants with a framework for writing from the old to the new. We will spend each day examining some aspect of traditional song and applying it to modern day situations, both personal and global. We will use what we know from the collective power of song to reflect on and address the events of our communities and our lives. Open to writers and non-writers alike, come prepared to discover new insights of creativity and connection. (Class limit: 20)

The Carter family is one the most influential groups in music history. In this class we’ll learn the melodies of songs that have become standards in folk, old-time, country and bluegrass, and will learn a few that you may not have heard. We’ll also look at the unique way that Maybelle and A.P. Carter treated harmony and will learn their parts.

Harmonies in bluegrass are rooted in the gospel music that Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and others grew up with. Bluegrass sounds earthy, with a touch of old-time, but the harmonies are very tight with very little unison or notes that are not in perfect harmony. We’ll look at how harmonies are created in bluegrass and how great bluegrass harmony singers use simple chord extensions to create interest. Some basic theory offered, but we will spend most of our time finding harmony parts and singing standard bluegrass classics.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, ukuleles, dulcimers, whistles, drums etc. etc. to join together with voices to create beautiful arrangements of songs from diverse traditional song genres such as old-time country, Celtic, bluegrass, and gospel. We will take a song, learn to sing it, maybe put on some harmony, and then experiment with various possibilities of instrumental accompaniment. Note – this is not a class to learn how to play your individual instrument, but how to play and arrange your instrument and voice with others in a band setting.

Inspired by my fifth grade songbook and elementary school music class, I recorded an album of the 17 songs I loved the most (back then and now). I then wrote a songbook to accompany it. I hope you will join me in delving into traditional songs like “Shenandoah,” “Red River Valley” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” We’ll also get into some songwriters, like Stephen Foster and John A. Stone. These songs help to tell the history of our country and I discovered some secrets in researching the origins and connections between many of them. I’ve sure enjoyed putting my slant on the songs that started my love for the traveling troubadour lifestyle. We’ll sing and play and toss around some of these stories and the way folksongs evolved, kind of like the game of “telephone.”

I think my love for old country songs was validated when I would find gems on albums by my favorite artists such as Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. After hearing a cover of, for instance, a Hank Williams song or Cindy Walker or the Louvin Brothers, I would research and learn more about their music. A great song is a great song down through history. Heck, even Merle Haggard started out singing covers! Some of my early opportunities came because an artist or executive heard me singing an oldie. You can find your own story and even learn to write your own songs by choosing to sing great songs written by others. I will teach you some of my favorites from these and other country songwriters, and share stories of how these songs opened doors and friendships for me.

DUET HARMONY SINGING (Mark Weems & Julee Glaub Weems)
Learn some of the specific techniques and nuances of duet singing. We will work at choosing keys, finding parts, exploring different types of harmony, building harmony mathematically, blending voices, feeling and phrasing, learning to sing with different partners and developing listening skills. We will learn how to adapt harmonies to different songs and various genres such as Appalachian, Irish, gospel, and country. The initial classes will focus on singing with instruments, to hear the chord structures of the harmonies, consider how they affect the overall harmonic sound, and discuss the creation of tasteful arrangements. As the week progresses, we will work towards freedom from chordal structure in order to encourage experimentation with more diverse kinds of harmony. It is not necessary to read music, as we will be learning by ear. Bring a partner or find one in the class! Note: students should come to this class with some experience in singing melody. (Class limit: 14)

These ancient songs are like a sung period drama – stories that explore human nature through archaic language and simple but haunting melody. Lyrics will be provided and melodies taught by ear. These songs are traditionally sung by a solo performer without accompaniment, and we will spend time listening to examples of ballad singers from various regions in the mountains to gain some perspective on the ‘mountain’ style of singing and the individual touches different singers bring to the songs.

I’ve spent years working with kids & families at summer camps and have built up a slew of favorites! Come share songs you learned as a kid and learn new ones – lullabies, campfire songs, silly songs, and easy-to-learn songs – maybe even some rounds! Some lyrics provided, but we’ll also be doing some casual song-swapping and learning by repetition. (No class limit)

We’ll learn western songs from folk songs to singing cowboy movie-era songs. A song will be learned each day; instruments are welcome but not necessary. (No class limit)

Learn to accompany yourself on swing songs with rhythm guitar. This is a guitar-oriented course, but other instruments, and even no instruments, are welcome to those who want to sing some western swing. A song will be learned each day, and rhythm guitar techniques and chords will be revealed.

In this class we will look at the repertoire of some tradition-bearers (a heavy term to assign to a song collector in the oral tradition!) and listen to their singing. We’ll try let go of our lyric sheets and learn one or two traditional songs ‘off by heart’ by the end of the week. We will also discuss memory techniques and exchange ideas on how we learn songs. What songs appeal to you and why? What research might we do when we find a song that we wish to learn? Everybody is welcome to this class.

In this class we will look at some of our most famous and beautiful love songs in both English and the Irish language, and explore what it is that makes them so powerful. On the flip side, as songwriter Nick Cave has written: “Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.” We will also explore some laments from the Irish tradition which speak to our experience of loss. Please come ready to share one of your own favorite songs on this theme, or a poem if you are feeling shy! No previous knowledge of the Irish language is necessary for this class and all are welcome.

Join me for a journey through some of the song traditions of Scotland. We will warm-up with easy-to-learn verses, mouth music and fun ditties, also singing our way through a number of old ballads, songs from working communities, Burns songs and more recent compositions. Along the way, we will also uncover the origins of songs and look for connections to versions that have travelled to the United States. By the end of the week you will be singing confidently in Scots! Lyric sheets are provided but we will learn by ear and sing together unaccompanied. (No class limit and plenty of new material)

IF YOU TALK, YOU SING (Kathy Bullock)
African and Caribbean Songs! From South African freedom songs, to Ghanaian praise and worship, to Jamaican folk songs and games, we will celebrate music from various areas of the African diaspora. Covering both traditional and popular forms, we will sing songs, learn the accompanying movements, and share the stories as we enjoy the musical and cultural connections. (No class limit)

GOSPEL CHOIR (Kathy Bullock)
Come Share the Joy! Join us as we sing gospel and spirituals in the African American tradition. From nineteenth century folk spirituals through twentieth and twenty-first century traditional and contemporary gospel songs, we will celebrate music of the African American sacred tradition. This experience is a joyful, inspiring, celebration of life, spirit and community. (No class limit)

This repertoire and technique singing class will focus on songs that made the journey from the Appalachians to the Ozarks, plus some numbers that were home grown in both locations. Selections include ballads, play-party songs, topical songs, and new songs that sound old. For intermediates and above.

Award-winning songwriter Joe Newberry enjoys writing songs that sound like they come from the tradition. This class will help you focus on making your good songs even better, or get you started if you only have a trunk-full of ideas. The workshop will use examples of different types of songs – ballads, narrative, chorus/verse, free-form – with an eye and ear toward simplifying the words to uncover the heart of the song. Through wordplay and writing, writing, and more writing, the song in your head can become the song on your lips.



Community Gathering Time

Note: A highlight of the day’s schedule is when we gather together each day after lunch for these special events. No advance registration necessary.

At an early age words sprang forth as Carl Jones started noodling and learned to play guitar and other instruments too. He’ll share with us a few favorite songs (maybe even a tune or two) that have appeared along the way through the day-to-day. Looking at the ups and downs of life which we all share as a constant flow of inspiration and trying to express that through making up songs and music has been his life long pursuit.

Grammy-winner Dom Flemons, “The American Songster,” will host a workshop that explores the styles, techniques and history of the early American Songsters. This covers nearly a century of tunes that includes early popular music, ragtime, blues, country western, bluegrass and string band music. Participants will learn songs and explore the deeper African roots of the banjo and rhythm bones.

Join us to explore the connections between old songs and ballads of love, loss and migration that connect Scotland, Ireland and Appalachia. Join broadcaster Fiona Ritchie for a conversational musical encounter with singers Elizabeth LaPrelle and Nuala Kennedy. Portions of the interview will be broadcast on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock.

Come and sit in on a musical conversation between broadcaster Fiona Ritchie and Scottish folk singer Ed Miller. We’ll follow Ed’s journey from Edinburgh to Austin Texas and hear some of the songs that have accompanied him along the way. Portions of the interview will be broadcast on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock.

Join broadcaster Fiona Ritchie in a musical conversation with singer and songwriter Suzy Bogguss and learn about what makes a great song, whether traditional or contemporary. We’ll chat about the roots of American song and how Country Music has evolved in recent decades. Portions of the interview will be broadcast on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock.



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.