2017 BCN Classes

Banjo Camp North
Classes

The classes and class descriptions are listed below. First, here’s some explanation:

Coaching Sessions are an opportunity for campers to have an individualized lesson with a faculty member of their choice. Campers will determine the topic and level for their time with that instructor. Each session is limited to four campers. All four students will be present for the whole period and the time will be divided equally among those attending. We’ll have sign-up sheets at Friday dinner for campers to pick the instructor of their choice, first come-first served. Each camper may sign up for one coaching session only.

Tutoring – Faculty who are listed below as “tutor” will be available for advice and instruction on mandolin, guitar, or bass throughout the weekend. We’ll have a “Meet the Tutors” session at 5:30 pm on Friday, in the Dining Hall Foyer, where you may arrange a time and place to get together with your tutor. Tutoring is available at no additional cost.

Beginner Tracks

We have two levels of Beginner Tracks — Novice/Beginner and Beginner/Advancing Beginner — which give campers who are just starting on an instrument a “home at Camp” … a place they can go where they know they will be working with an instructor dedicated to teaching at their level and in the company of other campers of similar skill and experience. For more information, click here.

Skill Levels – Campers are welcome to attend any class at any level; there are no restrictions to your choices. To help you select the classes that best meet your needs, the level of each class is indicated in the list of classes.

Here is a description of each skill level. Keep in mind that there’s some overlap between levels. 

Novices (N) are absolute beginners who are just starting out. They may have only recently acquired an instrument, don’t know how to tune and have yet to learn basic techniques.

Beginners (B) are able to tune and have learned a few basic techniques. They may be able to play a little bit and know a few songs but still don’t pick out tunes on their own or have much experience playing with other people.

Advancing Beginners (AB) have some basic banjo experience. They have command of fundamental techniques and are comfortable tuning. They can play a number of tunes and may even have started jamming with other musicians.

Intermediates (I) are comfortable with tuning, can play songs and tunes, recognize changes, and are jamming and playing with others on a regular basis. They may feel that they are not yet playing up to speed and that they may still need to work on their rhythm. They may already read tab or notation, but could use help playing by ear and learning to arrange a tune or song on their own.

Advanced (A) players have command of more advanced techniques, play a variety of tunes up to speed and may play in a band or perform regularly.

(All) indicates a hands-on class for campers of any level of skill.

(Demo) indicates a mini-concert, lecture, or demonstration where participation is minimal at most.

— Classes —

Tom Adams (3-finger banjo)

1.    Beginner’s Guide to Playing Up-The-Neck – Even though you haven’t been playing for very long, it’s never too early to get started on playing above the 5th fret. If you know the three basic chord shapes, you’re ready to learn. (B)

2.    Break Out of Your Routine – tired of feeling like you play something the same way every time? We’ll look at ways to use what you already know to make your old breaks sound new. (I)

3.    I Know the Song, But Not In That Key – someone in the jam says “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” – – – in D. We’ll cover a series of licks that you know in G and you’ll learn to translate them into the C chord and D chord positions. (I)

4.    That One Lick Fits More Than Just That One Chord – it’s easy to think of a particular lick as belonging to a particular chord, but this class will show you how to start expanding your use of the same lick over different chords. I’ll play rhythm guitar so you can hear how your tried and true licks sound when they visit new chords. (AB/I)

5.    Songs of the Johnson Mountain Boys – neo-traditionalist, Grammy-nominated band that I toured and recorded with between 1986 and 1996. I’ll cover several of my breaks and the breaks of my JMB predecessor Richard Underwood. If you or anyone in your jam circle likes to play songs from any of the nine JMB albums, this class will show you how the banjo part goes. (I)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Bob Altschuler (3-finger banjo)

Beginner/Advancing Beginner (3-finger) – Four class sessions, two review sessions

The Novice/Beginner and Beginner/Advancing Beginner tracks will cover some of the following topics according to the individual teachers’ curriculum and time permitting:

  • how to hold the banjo and picks
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and using the capo
  • common rolls, pinches, and other right-hand patterns
  • slurs: hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and chokes (bends)
  • applying the topics listed above to common songs

 

David Benedict (Mandolin)

Mandolin Tutor, Faculty Support

 

Dick Bowden (Banjo)

1.    Entertaining With the Banjo! –  There’s so much more to it than just picking! Bluegrass and clawhammer.  Bring a smile and a hat! (AB-I)

2.    Earl, Ralph, & Don: The Three Classic Early Bluegrass Styles – The same three fingers, but oh how different they sound! Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Don Reno.  (I-A)

3.   Twin Banjos – Although the classic BG model calls for one banjo, twin banjo numbers are a delightful diversion any time two banjo pickers get together.  What’s more, learning to sing and/or play in harmony is a valuable and satisfying skill in any music. With Bruce Stockwell and Larry Marschall. (I)

 

Catherine (“BB”) Bowness (3-finger banjo)

1.    Begin to improvise – Using a single scale in one position, we will begin learning the basic features of improvisation on the banjo. We’ll talk about phrasing and ways to use repetition, syncopation, bending and sliding to make your improvisation more creative and less difficult. (AB)

2.    Playing back up in different musical settings – Different environments require different approaches and techniques. We will walk through some different ways to play back-up so that you feel comfortable no matter the situation. This class includes live demonstrations with Mile Twelve and handouts on closed chord shapes and rolling down the neck. (I)

3.    Creating your own solos – How to approach writing your own banjo arrangement of a bluegrass standard. We’ll build a solo from the ground up, starting with the most basic melody notes, adding in simple rolls and lastly, sprucing it up with some Scruggs-inspired slides, pull offs and other common bluegrass vocabulary. (I)

4.    Transposing your favorite licks – Make more of your favorite licks by learning how to move them into different positions and different keys. This class will focus on broadening your bluegrass vocabulary by taking comfortable ideas from G (I) and transposing them to play over C (IV), D (V), and F (bVII). (I)

5.    Rice On the Banjo – Some of Tony Rice’s neat and amazing guitar moves, adapted for banjo. Really? Yes, really!

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Howie Bursen (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    Ghost Fingers: Getting the Most Expression from the Fewest Notes – A Great Wise Man once said “If you play too many notes, each one is worth less.” We’ll look at situations where less is more. Being musical is our aim. (I-A)

2.    Making the Jump to Double-Thumbing – UNLEASH THAT THUMB! We’ll get that steady rolling clawhammer, and then move on to adding those sweet notes which pop out when you learn to double thumb. It’s easier than you think! (I)

3.    Banjos and Ballads – The banjo was a ballad accompaniment instrument of choice in the Southern Mountains. For many of us it is still the instrument of choice. (All)

4.    Melodic Clawhammer – Getting All the Notes, Clawhammering Your Way up the Melodic Path  – Once you can double thumb, the whole tune is there – if you want it. We’ll take a close look at an easy tune or two. (I-A)

5.    Singing With the Banjo – The right accompaniment can make your singing performance stronger, the wrong one can work against you. Here’s how to approach the challenge. (AB-I)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Ron Cody (3-finger banjo)

1.    Melodic Structures I – basic melodic cliché licks that can be used in many places in your music. Many of these licks were a part of Keith style and have been used by players near and far. We will begin to explore how these patterns were developed from single string positions to utilize open strings and ergonomic positions. (AB)

2.    Melodic Structures II – more advanced melodic patterns and mechanisms. Begin to understand the neck utilizing scales and chromaticism within melodic style, and how to bring these patterns into your playing and improvisation. Mechanisms can be used in different keys, and we will explore how to visualize the same pattern in different keys by altering one or two note positions with the left hand. (A)

3.    Irish Banjo – single string, Scruggs, and melodic style can be used for playing Irish music on the 5 string. Irish music is the foundation for most fiddle tunes, and learning these techniques will broaden your foundation on the banjo! Tablatures will be given and tunes will be selected to easily emphasize these various techniques in Irish banjo playing. (I)

4.    Great V-Chord Licks – The V-chord is the chord that brings you back to the I-chord in music. In the key of G, it is the D chord. In this class we will cover many ways to feel the V-chord, and learn to use it together in our playing in Scruggs style licks and with some classic melodic licks.

5.    Simple Jazz tunes on the banjo – learn a simple Jazz tune such as Aint Misbehaving or Bye Bye Blues that you can have fun with for many many years. We will talk about the chords and learn the melody in a voice-leading chord style! (I-A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Wendy Cody (Bass)

Bass Tutor, Faculty Support

 

Allison de Groot (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    John Salyer’s Jack Wilson – While building repertoire, we will also review drop thumbing, hammer-ons and pull-offs and pay close attention to technique. (AB)

2.    Sprucing Up Common Tunes – You may find yourself in a jam where you already know many of the tunes. That’s the perfect place to experiment with variations. We will explore ways to add character and variation and learn an interesting take on a standard old-time tune. (I)

3.    Wild Goose Chase – Clyde Davenport has given us a wealth of recordings of his incredible playing and repertoire. We will learn Clyde’s fiddle tune Wild Goose Chase set for clawhammer banjo. (I)

4.    Old-Time Women Banjoists – From Lily May Ledford to Samantha Bumgartner to current artist Rhiannon Giddens, women banjoists have made (and continue to make) amazing music in private and public spaces, sometimes needing to challenge social constructs to do so. We will talk a bit about this history and learn a tune from the clawhammer playing of Matokie Slaughter. (I)

5.    Fiddle & Banjo Duets – What makes the fiddle and banjo sound so good together? When you’re not responsible for playing all the melody notes, there is a lot of space for the banjo to explore! With Jane Rothfield (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Cathy Fink (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    Right Hand Drills – Improve your playing through right hand drills that will help solidify and build confidence in timing, accuracy and versatility with the right hand Participatory (AB)

2.    Darling Nellie Gray – An advanced arrangement. G tuning and including embellishments of instrumental and tips for backing up singing. Participatory (A)

3.    Singing With the Banjo – We will take one song in G tuning and one in Double C tuning and learn to accompany the song with an introduction, chordal backup, instrumental turnaround and closing. (I)

4.    Change Tunings With Confidence – There are over legal 75 ways to tune a banjo and we will practice going from one tuning to another quickly, using about eight different tunings. There are tips and tricks to making tuning efficient. The more comfortable you are getting from one tuning to the next, the more tunings you will use, coloring your playing. (All)

5.    Old Time In ¾ “Waltz Time” – We will explore both clawhammer and fingerpicking techniques for playing banjo in waltz time for both lead and accompaniment of songs and tunes. (I)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Bennett Hammond (Clawhammer banjo)

TBA

 

Lorraine Hammond (Clawhammer banjo)

Novice/Beginner (Clawhammer) – Four class sessions, two review sessions

The Novice/Beginner track will cover some of the following topics according to the individual teachers’ curriculum and time permitting:

  • how to hold the banjo
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords, keys, and alternate tunings
  • slurs: hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides
  • applying the topics listed above to common songs

 

Beth Hartness (Guitar)

1.    Old-Time Backup Guitar – Take your preexisting guitar knowledge and apply it to old-time music as we discuss alternating bass, the “boom-chuck” rhythm, and simple runs that tie chord changes together. Please bring a capo and a flatpick and/or thumb and fingerpicks. With Adam Hurt (I-A)

2.    Be the Banjo Player in the Old-Time Ensemble! – Join Adam on fiddle and Beth on guitar as you learn to play well with other instruments in the traditional old-time trio! We will play tunes of volunteers’ choice, one participant at a time, and discuss ways to make these collaborations go smoothly for everyone. With Adam Hurt (I)

 

John Herrmann (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    Old-Time Banjo Songs From African-American Folk Roots – some African-American songs from Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, the Warner Collection, etc. that make good old time banjo songs, a couple of tunings that are especially good for bluesy playing.

2.    Playing Tunes You Don’t Know – This is an essential skill for those who want to be able to play in sessions. How do you make the transition from playing set pieces you have learned to winging it?  Hints from a lifetime of faking it.

3.    Round Peak Technique and Beyond – I’ll try to demonstrate everything I know in one class.

4.    Pete Seeger, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and Joey Burris Style – This is the first style I learned from Pete Seeger’s book.  It’s a combination up picking and down picking and it can be used for playing fiddle tune accompaniment.

5.    Zen Practice and Music – Many rhythm players are aware of the mantric aspect of music and of the release it brings. How do you take that absorption into the rest of your life?

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Adam Hurt (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    Review of Clawhammer Basics – We will fine-tune your basic right-hand approach to clawhammer via some simple aiming exercises on open strings, and we will discuss ways of making your playing as effortless and economical as possible. (AB)

2.    Mastering the Mechanics of Tone – Learn how the body’s interaction with the banjo influences its tone, and optimize your own tone in the process. Instrument setup will also be addressed, but the physicality of banjo playing and the resulting sound will be our primary focus. (All)

3.    The Round Peak Clawhammer Style of Tommy Jarrell – Tommy Jarrell of Surry County, North Carolina had a distinctive way of playing both banjo and fiddle that influenced a generation of old-time musicians. Get to know Tommy’s banjo aesthetic by learning some of his signature licks and versions of tunes. (A)

4.    Exercises for Developing Smooth and Accurate Clawhammer Technique – Learn some straightforward scale-based exercises, with and without drop-thumb, that are more methodical than tunes but technically configured like them. If you can play these exercises well, your tunes will benefit! (I)

5.    Be the Banjo Player in the Old-Time Ensemble! – Join Adam on fiddle and Beth on guitar as you learn to play well with other instruments in the traditional old-time trio! We will play tunes of volunteers’ choice, one participant at a time, and discuss ways to make these collaborations go smoothly for everyone. With Beth Hartness (I)

6.    Old-Time Backup Guitar – Take your preexisting guitar knowledge and apply it to old-time music as we discuss alternating bass, the “boom-chuck” rhythm, and simple runs that tie chord changes together. Please bring a capo and a flatpick and/or thumb and fingerpicks. With Beth Hartness (I-A)

7.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (Fiddle)

  1. Intro to Fiddle for Clawhammer and Bluegrass Banjo Players (B)
  2. Fiddle for the Classical Violinist (A)
  3. The Twin Fiddle Sound – The what, when, where, how, and why of twin fiddles. With Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (A, Demo)
  4. Fiddle Backup – What do you do when another instrument takes a solo, or a vocalist steps forward? Do you lay out? Chop rhythm? Use long bow double stops? Find out what these terms mean, and when to use them. With Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (I-A)
  5. Improvising (I-A)
  6. Kick-Off of Songs and Tunes (I-A)

 

Pete Kelly (3-finger banjo)

1.    How to Create Rolling Down-the-Neck Backup From Scratch – Once you have learned to play backup chords (commonly called “chopping” or “vamping”) a good next step is to learn to play rolling backup down the neck, mostly below the fifth fret. In this workshop you will learn a step-by-step method for creating such backup, and we will use the method to create backup to a simple bluegrass or folk song of our choice. (I)

2.    How to Use the Amazing Slow Downer – The Amazing Slow Downer is a commercial ($50, ronimusic.com) software tool for learning and practicing. With it you can slow down music, change keys, and do many other useful things to help you get better. In this demonstration class we’ll go over all of the basic features of this software and how they apply to banjo, and look at some of the advanced features if time permits. You don’t need a computer for this class. (I, Demo)

3.    Improve Your Left Hand Timing and Accuracy – Most of us know that right hand timing is a cornerstone of sounding good. But the left hand has to play an equal role, with accurate finger movements coordinated with the right hand picking. We will go over these fundamentals in detail and work through some exercises that, if done regularly over time, will make you a better banjo player. (AB-I)

4.    How to Figure Out New Songs by Ear and Make a Chord Chart – In this workshop we’ll look at the steps necessary to figure out the key of a song, its “form”, its chords, and how to write out the chords in a useful way using the Nashville Number System. A detailed handout will be provided so you can reproduce this method at home. (I)

5.    Getting Started With Classical Music on the Banjo – Why not take advantage of several hundred years’ worth of good music that can be adapted to the banjo? In this workshop we’ll look at the basics of playing classical music on the banjo, go over some resources you can use as you learn, and work through a Bach minuet. (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Dave Kiphuth (3-finger banjo)

1.    Three Chord Shapes Are The Key – A close examination of the 3 interlocked patterns of the banjo neck in G-tuning. Understanding these patterns opens the door to  all of Earl’s backup licks and a full range of up the neck breaks. (All)

2.    Constructing Up-The-Neck Breaks – we will explore how knowledge of upper neck chord theory directly relates to taking high breaks and defining melody. This will open the door to clearing up confusion and fear above the 5th fret (I)

3.    Spinning – how to do that bubbling Scruggs sound behind fiddle tunes. (I)

4.    Scruggs Vocal Backup – It takes more than good chops to support your singers. It takes awareness, sensitivity, taste, and restraint. Earl was the master. Let’s learn from him. (All)

5.    Fiddle Tunes in Non-Melodic Style – Using straight-ahead 3-finger Scruggs rolls to play fiddle tunes (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Larry Marschall (3-finger banjo)

1.   Twin Banjos – Although the classic BG model calls for one banjo, twin banjo numbers are a delightful diversion any time two banjo pickers get together. What’s more, learning to sing and/or play in harmony is a valuable and satisfying skill in any music. This workshop explores the fun of playing harmony parts on two (or more) banjos. We’ll give tips on finding the right notes and examples from simple numbers like Darling Pal of Mine, Home Sweet Home, and/or Grandfather’s Clock—plus additional twin-banjo fun on numbers such as Big Ben, Santa Claus, Ground Speed, etc. With Bruce Stockwell and Dick Bowden (I)

2.    Playing Pedal Steel Licks for Country Solos and Slow Song Backup – Some of the most attractive and soulful breaks for slow songs—pioneered by pickers like Eddie Adcock, Don Reno, and Sonny Osborne–feature passing tones and chord changes borrowed from pedal steel and country guitar.  In this workshop we will explore some of the basic right hand and chord patterns, along with slides, slurs, bends, and other tricks of this type of banjo playing. Examples will show it can be used for solo breaks and backup fill. (A)

3.    Melodic Fiddle Tunes in D and C! Standard G tuning works great for melodic tunes in D. We’ll work on one or two popular fiddle tunes here, possibly including simpler tunes like Angeline the Baker and Whiskey Before Breakfast, and perhaps less-familiar tunes like The New Five Cents  and the Cuckoo’s Nest. (I-A)

4.    Nifty and Novel Licks – Some favorite licks that you may have heard but won’t find in most books, taken from the playing of Don Stover, Sonny Osborne, Mike Munford, Bill Keith, Earl Scruggs, and other lesser-known pickers. Some of these licks break the “rules” by mixing melodic and single-string styles or by using the thumb and fingers in odd patterns. (I)

5.    Introduction to Chord Melody Jazz with a Minimum of Theory – Learn to pick out jazz melodies and find appropriate chords for vamping out a song. We’ll illustrate this with some well-known tunes from pop music and the American Songbook like Over the Rainbow, The Lady Is a Tramp, and Mr. Sandman.  Chord melody examples may also be taken from country songs, like Jimmy Rogers “Miss the Mississippi”. (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Marcy Marxer (Ukulele)

1.    Uke & Banjo Uke for Old-Time Accompaniment (B)

2.    Ukulele 101 (B)

3.    Cocktail Party Songs on the Uke (I)

4.    Fancy Strums and Rhythms (I)

5.    Chorded Melody for Uke (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Michael Miles (Clawhammer banjo)

1.    City of New Orleans & Freight Train – Clawhammer banjo has the perfect groove to deliver the train songs.  Add some funk and syncopation and if your pals play the harmonica, you’re in business.  This class will give you two classics.  (I)

2.    Paul Simon’s “America” and John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” – Clawhammer banjo is rhythm and melody at the same time.  You can accompany yourself singing these incredible songs and then deliver stunning melodic versions the likes of which no one has ever heard before.  (I-A)

3.    Easy Blues: Walkin’ Boss & Candyman – Folk songs and blues lie at the heart of America.  The banjo can deliver them like nobody’s business. In this class, you can step into some classic blues tunes not generally associated with the banjo but perfectly suited for it…Walking Boss as played by Doc Watson, and  Candyman as played by Mississippi John Hurt. (AB)

4.    Key to the Highway & Blues Scale – Learn classic tune from Willie Dixon, made famous by Eric Clapton and Cream but actually designed for clawhammer banjo and add to that a players guide to how use the blues scale the your playing will reach new heights.  (I-A)

5.    How to Make Yourself a Better Player – Michael taught himself to play, ran a music a school that grew to become the largest community music school in the world, trained hundreds of professional educators across the country. He has some time proven ideas to share that will help you take steps to improve your practice and your playing immediately.  (I)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Alan Munde (3-finger banjo)

1.    Roll Logic or What Do I Do After I Learn The Rolls? – The basic rolls and how melodies are placed in the context of the roll. This class will be taught twice. (AB-I)

2.    The Phonetics of Bluegrass Banjo – The rolls and how they are used, the maneuvers and gestures (licks) that make the basic language of bluegrass banjo. (AB-I)

3.    Creating Solos to Songs – How to combine chord shapes, melody, and rhythmical techniques to make beautiful and interesting solos for slow songs; combining the rolls and melodies in a stylized fashion that produces bluegrass banjo solos. (I)

4.    Playing in Other Keys Than G Without a Capo – What you need to know to play in many keys without the use of a capo. (A)

5.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Evan Murphy (Guitar)

Guitar Tutor, Faculty Support

 

Glenn Nelson (Luthier)

1.    Banjo and Fiddle Care and Maintenance – advice on setting up your instrument, diagnosing problems, evaluating an instrument before buying

 

Laura Orshaw (Fiddle)

  1. Beginning Fiddle – Four Sessions
    • How to hold the fiddle and bow
    • Left and right-hand technique
    • Strings and tuning
    • Common fingering patterns/scales
    • Playing a simple melody
    • Rhythmic concepts (shuffles, chopping, etc.)
    • Overview of the fiddle’s role in old time and bluegrass
    • Practice techniques
  2. The Twin Fiddle Sound – The what, when, where, how, and why of twin fiddles. With Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (A, Demo)
  3. Fiddle Backup – What do you do when another instrument takes a solo, or a vocalist steps forward? Do you lay out? Chop rhythm? Use long bow double stops? Find out whet these terms mean, and when to use them. With Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (I-A)

 

Ben Pearce (Mandolin; Guitar)

Mandolin and Guitar Tutor, Faculty Support

 

Jane Rothfield (Fiddle)

  1. Intro to Fiddle for Clawhammer and Bluegrass Banjo Players (B)
  2. Old Time Appalachian Style Fiddle Repertoire I & II – with an emphasis on the following to get your fiddling up to the next level and to have more fun! Sessions will cover some or all of the following topics, depending on campers’ needs and goals, as time permits (AB-I)
    • Bowing and Rhythm-it’s all about the bow!
    • Old Time Repertoire: Old Tunes-New Tunes
    • How to play better and easier by ear
    • Exploring alternate tunings
    • Make more music with harmony, back-up and chords
    • Fiddling for singing and song accompaniment

 

3. Fiddle & Banjo Duets – What makes the fiddle and banjo sound so good together? When you’re not responsible for playing all the melody notes, there is a lot of space for the banjo to explore! With Allison de Groot (A)

 

Tim Rowell

Beginner/Advancing Beginner (Clawhammer) – Four class sessions, two review sessions

Beginner/Advancing Beginner track will cover some of the following topics according to the individual teachers’ curriculum and time permitting:

  • how to hold the banjo
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords, keys, and alternate tunings
  • slurs: hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides
  • applying the topics listed above to common songs

 

Nate Sabat (Bass)

Bass and Vocal Tutor, Faculty Support

 

Rich Stillman (3-finger banjo)

  1. Chord Clouds: Advancing Beginner Techniques for the Left Hand – Left hand mobility and ear training, in one exercise. An understanding of the fingerboard comes from hearing and being able to execute chord changes. This class presents an exercise that leads to better understanding of both hearing the next chord and moving to it. (AB-I)
  2. Roll Construction: Advancing Beginner Techniques for the Right Hand – Moving beyond the standard set of banjo rolls does not mean learning more and more complex rolls. In fact, advanced banjo rolls are simpler to use than the canned variety you learn in book 1. This class will show how to create rhythms with the right hand to echo song phrasing or just to create interesting, abstract rhythms. (AB-I)
  3. Developing a Lead: Advancing Beginner Techniques for Improvisation – Once you’ve learned how to chord and roll, it’s time to get down to the serious stuff: improvising. This class will break down the process of understanding the structure of a melody and finding your way to a playable and good-sounding break using methods that apply to just about all bluegrass songs. (AB-I)
  4. Backup for Advancing Beginners – There are two things to remember: backup is just lead playing without a melody, and you do it far more often than you play lead. This class will move you past the standard vamp and get you playing rhythmic backup that will make mandolin players jealous. (AB-I)
  5. Transcribing Tunes From Recordings – Is there a tune you want to learn from a CD, but you can’t find a tab? Do it yourself! The class will demonstrate how to slow down recordings, bring out and hear the banjo, and write your own tabs from what you hear. (I)
  6. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Bruce Stockwell (3-finger banjo)

1.    Transposing – Spent forever working out that solo in G and now they want to sing it in E?  We feel your pain.  Learn to assess what you know about a tune in one key and move it to another.  (I)

2.    Twin Banjos – Although the classic BG model calls for one banjo, twin banjo numbers are a delightful diversion any time two banjo pickers get together.  What’s more, learning to sing and/or play in harmony is a valuable and satisfying skill in any music. With Dick Bowden and Larry Marschall. (I)

3.    Managing Minor – Most bluegrass tunes are performed in a major key with the occasional minor chord thrown in.  But what about those pesky minor key numbers?  Let’s use what you already know about major to help you get comfortable with minor.  (I)

4.    Music Fundamentals – Even a passing familiarity with the rudiments can help you identify, organize and remember what you hear and communicate more efficiently with other players.  (All)

5.    Fiddle Tunes in D – D may be the most versatile key on the banjo and fiddle players love to play in D.  Let’s check out the possibilities.  (A)

6.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Tony Trischka (3-finger banjo)

1.    Early Earl – learning tunes from Earl Scruggs’ playing….1947 – 1953 (Cripple Creek, Farewell Blues, Bluegrass Breakdown, etc. ) (I-A)

2.    11 Ways to Leave Your Level – Where to go when you’re stuck on a plateau. (I-A) This class will be taught twice

3.    New Ways to Play Old Tunes – Down the neck, up the neck, and octave lower. (I-A)

4.    Creating Your Own Solos – Playing the syllables, effectively using quarter notes, etc. (I-A)

5.    Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

 

Tony Watt (3-finger banjo)

Novice/Beginner (3-finger) – Four class sessions, two review sessions

The Novice/Beginner and Beginner/Advancing Beginner tracks will cover some of the following topics according to the individual teachers’ curriculum and time permitting:

  • how to hold the banjo and picks
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and using the capo
  • common rolls, pinches, and other right-hand patterns
  • slurs: hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and chokes (bends)
  • applying the ideas listed above to common songs