2017 GMCN Classes

Guitar & Mandolin
Camp North
Classes

 

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

Opportunities for Individual Attention:

“Find Your Level”:  Intended primarily for Beginners, Advancing Beginners and Intermediate players, campers may meet with an instructor (between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm on Friday in Sage Hall) who will listen to them play and assess their approximate skill level (see descriptions of levels, below). Since there is overlap between levels, these assessments are intended to be helpful, but not limiting.  Campers may attend any classes they would like, but, as a matter of etiquette, we ask that campers not try to make a class proceed faster or slower than the advertised targeted level for each class (see Description of Classes, below).

Coaching Sessions are an opportunity for a camper to have an individualized lesson with a faculty member of his or her choice. Each session is limited to four campers. All four campers will be present for the whole period and the time will be divided equally among those attending, for one-on-one attention. Each camper will determine topic and level for his or her time with that instructor. We’ll have sign-up sheets in the dining hall at 6 pm 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 fiddle, banjo 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 on your choices. To help you select the classes that best meet your needs, the level of each class is indicated in the Description of Classes, below.

Here’s a description of each skill level. Please, keep in mind that there is 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 experience on the instrument. They have some 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 —

(subject to change)

Dick Bowden (Guitar)
1. Guitar Styles of Earl Scruggs and Mother Maybelle – Two visionaries whose playing laid the foundation for the following generations of guitar pickers. Bring thumbpick and fingerpicks if you want to try some of their licks. (I-A)
2. Thumb-Driven Guitar – rhythm and lead styles in old country and bluegrass music. Mother Maybelle, Riley Puckett, Charlie Monroe, Clyde Moody, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Carter Stanley, Edd Mayfield, etc. Bring a thumbpick and one or two finger picks, and a capo. Techniques are applicable to flat pickers too. (I-A)
3. A Mandolinist’s Approach to the Music of Narmour & Smith – This popular fiddle/guitar duet from Mississippi left enduring tunes from their recordings in the ’20’s that are played to this day. “Carroll County Blues“, “Little Star“, “Charleston No. 1“. With Mike Compton. (I-A)
4. Mandolin & Banjo/Tremolo Variations – Class focuses on feel and texture changes used by Bill Monroe to meld with the banjo work of Earl Scruggs in the classic bluegrass band of the 1940’s. With Mike Compton. (Demo).

Chris Brashear (Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle)
1. The Guitar and Jimmy Rodgers– “Waiting For A Train“, “My Old Pal“, “Peach Pickin’ Time In Georgia” (I-A)
2. Missouri Tunes for Mandolin – “Pike’s Peak“, “Jeff City“, “Five Miles From Town” (I-A)
3. Mandolin Basics– easy chord voicings in every key, how to construct simple melody lines out of basic chord voicings (I)
4. From Mandolin to Fiddle – They’re tuned the same, but they’re oh so different in ergonomics, scale length, bowing. Loaner fiddles available. (I-A)
5. Fundamentals of Rhythm Guitar – guitar rhythm for old-time, country and bluegrass, with a little bit of swing thrown in (AB-I)
6. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Susie Burke (Guitar)
1. Introduction to Fingerstyle Guitar – the basics of fingerstyle technique, based on the classic Travis-picking style.  Note: this class will be scheduled twice. (B-AB)
2. Accompanying a Singer With Mandolin – play around, behind, and with a singer, providing support and variety without getting in the way! Come to class prepared to play. with David Surette. (AB-I)
3. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Mike Compton (Mandolin)
1. Building On Bill – explore the threads tying today’s progressive mandolin styles to Bill Monroe’s earthshaking innovations. With Frank Solivan (Demo)
2. A Mandolinist’s Approach to the Music of Narmour & Smith – This popular fiddle/guitar duet from Mississippi left enduring tunes from their recordings in the ’20’s that are played to this day. “Carroll County Blues“, “Little Star“, “Charleston No. 1“. With Dick Bowden. (I-A)
3. Mandolin & Banjo/Tremolo Variations – Class focuses on feel and texture changes used by Bill Monroe to meld with the banjo work of Earl Scruggs in the classic bluegrass band of the 1940’s. With Dick Bowden (Demo).
4. On & On” (and on and on and on…) – One of Monroe’s most beloved and popular songs. Class will get an opportunity to compare variations from Bill’s own hand. (I-A)
5. Using the 5th Fret as Home Base – This class focuses on working up the neck primarily anchored at the fifth fret instead of using open strings and first position chord voicing. (AB)
6. The Real “Gold Rush– Even right hand and full chord voicings, not single string lines. We will take an hour dissecting/indulging ourselves in the huge sound of Monroe’s original version of this most popular tune. (I)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Rich DelGrosso (Mandolin)
1. Jug Band Jam – All instruments and levels invited including spoons and washboards! Includes a taste of music from the great Jug Bands of the 20s and 30s (All)
2. Linthead Stomp – Phebel Wright’s classic, early bluegrass from the cotton-mill in Kentucky
 (I)
3. Armstrong and Martin – The unique styling of the last of the twenties’ generation Black string band performers, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong and Carl Martin (I)
4. Solo Style – Start with a melody, add chords for spice, blend it all together and you have a solo piece (I)
5. Blues 101 – the essence of the Blues and how it plays on the mandolin, with reference to the great African-American players. (B)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Dave Dick (Guitar)

Beginner/Advancing Beginner Guitar – four class sessions plus two review sessions

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

  • how to hold the guitar and pick
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and using the capo
  • boom-chick rhythm
  • bass runs and the G-run
  • leads for fiddle and/or vocal tunes

Skip Gorman (Guitar, Mandolin)
1. Composing Bluegrass Instrumentals in the Old Style – “Bluegrass Ball Club Waltz“, “Timber Mash“, “The Old Style Mandolin” , “Green River Ramble” etc. (A)
2. “Bluegrass Breakdown” 1946 – The 1946 recording deconstructed. Skip has studied this recording for more than 50 years and hasn’t heard anyone’s rendition that can beat it for smoothness and power. (I-A)
3. Tunes in the Key of C – “Panhandle Country”, “Back Up and Push“, “Frog On A Lily Pad“, etc. We’ll work these tunes for nuance and spunk. (I)
4. Melodies from Mandolin In the Cow Camp – lonesome, wild & woolly old-time tunes and melodies from the Old West, Appalachia and the “Old Country”.  (AB-I)
5. Old Time Mountain and Bluegrass Guitar Styles – We’ll start with simple Jimmie Rodgers runs used behind vocals and work our way up through Riley Puckett, then on to Jimmy Martin bluegrass licks, and finally to the wildness of Gene Mead who used to back up fiddler Clark Kessinger. (I)
6. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Bennett Hammond (Guitar)
1. It’s Not Just for D – Drop-D, or “God’s Tuning”, which is good ol’ Standard Tuning with a divine extra. Easy power chords in all keys, no capo. Fabulous low notes no one else has, in all keys, no capo. Melodic octave bass runs in all keys, no capo. Harmonics, cheap tricks, it goes on and on… DADGAD? Faugh! In Drop-D we change keys with no capo. (I-A)
2. Double-Stop Melodic Rhythm Harmonies, Riffs and Stuff – Two-note chord fragments up and down the neck. Here’s a handful of simple fingerings that do “double duty,” standing for more than one chord at a time, depending upon how and where they are placed. (AB-I)
3. Thumb-Pickin’ 101: Unmistakable American Sound – Teach your right hand to do this, and school’s out. Flatpickers use it too, à la Steve Gillette et al. (I)
4. The Big Picture – This is the key to transposition and up-the-neck work. Guitar chords weave around the fretboard like the spiral coils of DNA. Millions of chords, maybe, but only three chord-shapes, and they line up like ducks in a row. (All)
5. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Lorraine Hammond (Mandolin)

Novice/Beginner Mandolin – four class sessions plus two review sessions

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

  • how to hold the mandolin and pick
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and chopping
  • leads for fiddle and/or vocal tunes
  • double-stops and tremolo

Jimmy Heffernan (Dobro)
1. Using Rolls to Play Standard Bluegrass Jam Tunes – Learn how to get melodies out, using simple rolls and key pockets of notes you will use constantly (AB)
2. Go-To Licks – Everyone needs licks that are ready to go at a moments notice that do a bunch of the heavy lifting! We’ll be learning licks that fit right into popular jam tunes and learning to grab “Go To Licks” and how to place them. The goal will be to expand your musical vocabulary and make that next jam more successful.  (I)
3. Major Scales and How to Use Them – Break free of following the chords with your bar; how to play over chord changes without moving your bar to each chord position (I)
4. Pentatonic Scales and How to Use Them – Break free of following the chords with your bar; how to play over chord changes without moving your bar to each chord position. Blues scales: how you can bring them into your soloing. (I)
5. Minor Chords on the Dobro -Where to find minor chords on the Dobro in G tuning and in Drop E tuning (E B D G B D) (I)
6. Simple Embellishments to Spice up your Playing – Dress up your expression on simple melodies like the pros. Add simple rhythmic figures to melodies like Rob, Mike, Jerry. (I)
7. Dobro Meltdown – Jim and Stacy will play tunes in a duet setting, demonstrate and discuss some of the wide range of Dobro genres, and take requests and questions about the differences in our styles. We will also touch on some topics not covered in our previous classes. With Stacy Phillips (mostly Demo)

Jim Hurst (Guitar)
1. Let’s Get to Work! – how to make the most of our ‘practice time’: utilizing an ongoing task list to keep us working on necessary items, and only play 1 out of every 4 practices. The more we learn, the more we enjoy! (AB)
2. Improvisation, What is It? – We’ll begin using what we know to solo and play “off the cuff” while making sure the chord pattern, and for sure the melody, guide us while we use them to create. The CAGED system/theory, positional awareness, and “less-is-more” discipline, will help us to awaken creative juices. (I)
3. Building on Fundamentals – We’ll work on getting comfortable with rhythm and solo dynamics, and we’ll start with the basics: the importance of scales, simple melodies, and the “3 Ts” – Timing, Tone, and Taste.  (I)
4. Fundamentals to Expression – We’ll work on using melodies and chord shapes to develop solo ideas, how to move from very pretty and clean melodic playing to venture into secondary melody lines and thoughts (I)
5. Knowledge is Power – Know your melodies? Know your chords? Know how to use capos? What next? We’ll work on using your own abilities to grow as an overall musician and learn to find your own musical voice. Melodies and harmonies, and more in 1st and 2nd positions. (A)
6. Jamming Etiquette – Let’s play some together and learn how to listen first and play second, how to learn songs on the fly, when to decide to take a solo or be featured, how to adapt to a new key, a new song, and how “less is more” 90% of the time. We’ll discover some ideas on how “not to suck” at jamming, and have fun even when we don’t feel we’re “good enough”. (All)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Lincoln Meyers (Guitar)
1. Navigating the Fingerboard – Understanding the fingerboard can sometimes be daunting. Let’s take a look at how to better understand what’s going on with discussions including chords, scales, patterns, and some tips and tricks to help you get around more efficiently and effectively. (A)
2. Swing It Up! – Let’s spice up your rhythm utilizing interesting chord voicings, turn-arounds and walking bass lines. We’ll learn to take a simple 3-chord progression and swing it in any key. We’ll also look at right hand techniques to get that swing feel. (I)
3. Take your Rhythm Guitar Playing to the Next Level – If you’re tired of doing the same thing every time you play rhythm, we’ll look at a variety of rhythm patterns, when and where to utilize bass note walks from chord to chord, and acquire some new practice techniques to develop better right hand control. (I)
4. OK, So You Want to Get Better at Practicing – Practicing sounds an awful lot like work! Is it supposed to be difficult, or can it be fun? How do I best utilize my practice time? How structured should my practice time be? What do I work on? How do I know when I’ve practiced enough? These are all important questions. We’ll look at ideas and tips that can help you develop a practice routine that works best for you! (I)
5. Flatpicking Fundamentals – This class is for those who are new to, or have been trying to learn, flatpicking guitar. We’ll take an in-depth look at the art of flatpicking and the techniques needed to get you well on your way. (AB)
6. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Glenn Nelson (Luthier)
1. Mandolin and Guitar Care and Maintenance – advice on setting up your instrument, diagnosing problems, evaluating an instrument before buying (All)

Laura Orshaw
Fiddle Tutor – Workshop, Concert, and Jam Session support

Ben Pearce (Mandolin)
1. Learning the Numbers: I, IV, V – the Nashville Numbering System, and a look at the most common bluegrass and folk progressions and the mandolin as a great medium for playing rhythm along with them. We’ll unlock a fundamental secret to navigating the mandolin fingerboard (AB-I)
2. Get a Grip! – This class looks behind the most ubiquitous bluegrass “grip” shape to its roots: thirds and fifths, and extends them as a source for endless variation of licks, fills, and improvisational direction. (I)
3. Chord Crackin’ – Mandolin chords are often convoluted and difficult to decipher due to the large interval between strings. This workshop examines common chord shapes and explains the role of each note to the larger chord. This knowledge can then be used to understand chord inversions as well as modify the chords to include sevenths, ninths, and other less common intervals. (I-A)
4. What Key? Who Cares? – Want to back up a singer who insists on capoing 1 on every song or plays in G#? By looking at chords as movable “blocks”, instead of specific fingerings, we will take advantage of a basic mandolin truth and use it to play in many keys. We will also look at the melodic side of this coin. (I-A)
5. Fifths I – The Stuff Mandolins Are Made Of – This overview points out some obvious and not so obvious advantages of tuning in fifths and how they came to be the bedrock of Western music. Starting with their roots in single string harmonics to building chords with them, we will shore up a fundamental truth of mandolinning. (I)
6. Fifths II – the Unbroken Circle – What key are we in anyway? This class looks at the fifth as the basis of chord changes from simple bluegrass tunes to more elaborate swing tunes. Luckily for us, the mandolin is tuned in fifths and we can use chords we already know. (I)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Stacy Phillips (Dobro)
1. Mandolin Plus Dobro: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Like fiddle/banjo, the timbres of Dobro and mandolin make for a great sounding duet. Don and Stacy will play some swing, American standards, and country tunes. We will examine and discuss how we look at our roles in playing these types of things as well as bandsmanship and ensemble playing. Ask questions! With Don Stiernberg (Demo)
2. One-String Retunings – Changing a Dobro’s tuning can take too much time at a jam or on stage because other strings go out of tune. We will explore 3 or 4 one-string retunings that avoid that problem (AB-I)
3. Dobro Meltdown – Jim and Stacy will play tunes in a duet setting, demonstrate and discuss some of the wide range of Dobro genres, and take requests and questions about the differences in our styles. We will also touch on some topics not covered in our previous classes. With Jimmy Heffernan (mostly Demo)
4. Slants My Way, From the Beginning – Slants fell out of favor for a while but they are back and you’ll be ready! We’ll start from the very beginning with the mechanics of angling the bar while concentrating on economy of movement and intonation. We will also touch on where to find slants (if time allows, both forward and reverse) on the neck and practice scales on the typical 2-string combinations and apply them to solos. (AB-I)
5. Dobro Basic Repertoire Class – We will learn a couple of Dobro standards like “Wildwood Flower”, “Little Green Pill” or “Home Sweet Home”, but the concentration will be on what you need to teach yourself new tunes, including how to find the notes of melodies, how to add variety to your arrangements with double stops, yodel licks, thinking about slides (no slides) etc. etc (B-AB)
6. Music Theory for Dobro Players – Recognizing some of the connections between chords and scales can reduce memorization when learning tunes. This knowledge can also suggest ideas for solos. Music theory is not about jargon but about hearing these connections. The class will begin with what makes major and minor scales and chords, and how these arise naturally out of each other. The number system of chords and scales will be covered. The how and why of the so-called Circle of Fifths will be examined. Bring your instrument. (All)
7. Position Playing and Bar Control –  Learning to deal with chord changes within one position greatly eases the creation of coherent melodies.  We will cover the location of the major and minor triads of all the common chords in “home” position and, if time allows, in the other 2 basic chord positions in G tuning. Knowledge of the major scale out of “home” position and a bit of familiarity using numbers to indicate notes and chords are prerequisites.  (I)

Neil Rossi (Mandolin)

Beginner/Advancing Beginner Mandolin – four class sessions plus two review sessions

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

  • how to hold the mandolin and pick
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and chopping
  • leads for fiddle and/or vocal tunes
  • double-stops and tremolo

Frank Solivan (Mandolin)
1. Fingle Fumbers – Learn and apply a few left and right hand finger buster exercises and techniques including slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons, scales and arpeggios to fight against the dreaded fumble fingers. Build up your bag of licks and your bucket of tricks. (I)
2. Fiddle Tunes on the Mandolin – Learn a fiddle tune. See how a mandolin can rhythmically drive a melody using accents, volume and dynamics to become a more robust soloist. (A)
3. The Chop and Strum – Learn some new chord shapes to aid in your quest to be a solid rhythm player. How to chop and when to chop… How to strum and when to strum. (All)
4. The Mandolin Brain – Mentally map your fingerboard with common shapes, easy scales and lateral moves. Some easy music theory will be thrown in at the same time. Get to the next level of Mando awareness. (I)
5. Building On Bill – Explore the threads tying today’s progressive mandolin styles to Bill Monroe’s extraordinary innovations. With Mike Compton (All)
6. Cross Picking – Give some thought to basic cross-picking patterns. It can be a useful tool to enhance the complexity of your solos. Learn how to incorporate them into a couple of tunes and/or licks. (A)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Don Stiernberg (Mandolin)
1. Nothin’ But Licks – gathering improv vocabulary by grabbing great ideas from other instruments, the cut and paste approach, licks that work in common harmonic situations, licks that work in certain spots in the form of a tune, ending licks, why the licks work (I)
2. Mandolin Plus Dobro: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Like fiddle/banjo, the timbres of dobro and mandolin make for a great sounding duet. Don and Stacy will play some swing, American standards, and country tunes. We will examine and discuss how we look at our roles in playing these types of things as well as bandsmanship and ensemble playing. Ask questions! With Stacy Phillips (Demo)
3. Interesting Repertoire for the Swing Mandolinist – “deep catalog” tunes from various subgenres of swing, finding twin parts to the heads of crusty old standard tunes that lay especially nicely on the fretboard, tunes that are a bit nastier on the fretboard, tunes with supercool chord progressions (I-A)
4. How to Make Any Chord, and How to String ‘em Together – methodical survey of handy fingerings for each family of chords,  things that can be added to the basic positions; understanding and having fun with the progression (additions, connections, substitutions); avoiding hanging in one spot for too long (A)
5. Start Off Swingin’ – easy chords, easy tunes, the ones everyone plays; finding the melody; dipping your toe in the waters of jamming (finding your own melody) (AB)
6. Focus on Chord-Melody Style – playing the melody and chords simultaneously; arranging for solo playing; be your own accompanist and amaze your friends (A)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Bruce Stockwell
Bluegrass Banjo – Tutor; Workshop, Concert, and Jam Session support

Kelly Stockwell
Upright Bass – Tutor; Workshop, Concert, and Jam Session support

David Surette (Guitar, Mandolin)
1. Open Chord Strumming – Learn some simple “open” chord shapes that sound great, as well as a variety of strumming patterns in several styles. Mandolin (AB)
2. Piedmont Blues Guitar Fingerpicking – Get a jump-start on this versatile style of fingerpicking, and learn a couple of great Blues tunes. Some basic fingerpicking experience would be helpful. (I)
3. Double Stops on the Mandolin – a hands-on look at the beauty and versatility of two notes. Topics include droning, 6th intervals, and two-note chords. (I-A)
4. Celtic Tunes and Techniques for Mandolin – This class will focus on developing some of the aspects that feature prominently in Celtic-style mandolin, including ornamentation, droning, and jig picking. We will address these topics while we work on a reel and a jig. (I-A)
5. Accompanying a Singer With Mandolin – learn how to play around, behind, and with a singer, providing support and variety without getting in the way! Come to class prepared to play. With Susie Burke. (I-A)
6. Acoustic Rock or Folk/Rock for Mandolin – Beatles, Dead, etc. (I-A)
7. Coaching Session – limited to 4 students, any level

Tony Watt (Guitar)

Novice/Beginner Guitar – four class sessions plus two review sessions

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

  • how to hold the guitar and pick
  • left- and right-hand technique
  • strings and tuning
  • chords and using the capo
  • boom-chick rhythm
  • bass runs and the G-run
  • leads for fiddle and/or vocal tunes