Beginner Tracks

Guitar & Mandolin Camp North and Banjo Camp North each has 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. These tracks are available for mandolin and guitar at Guitar & Mandolin Camp North, and for 3-finger and clawhammer banjo at Banjo Camp North.

Beginner Tracks: Top Ten Q&A’s

1. What are the Beginner Tracks?

The Beginner Tracks are sets of connected classes and review sessions taught by a single instructor, which progress methodically through the most important topics for Novices, Beginners, and Advancing Beginners. Each Track consists of four class sessions and two review sessions (in which no new material is presented). Campers need not attend all the sessions, but the majority of people in the track will be attending all the classes. Furthermore, it is likely that the instructors will frequently refer to topics they’ve covered earlier in the classes.

2. What specific Beginner Tracks are available?

At Guitar and Mandolin Camp North we have four beginner tracks: two for mandolin players and two for guitarists. At Banjo Camp North we also have four beginner tracks: two for three-finger style banjo players and two for clawhammer banjo players. At both camps, the two tracks for each instrument are divided by level: one track for Novices/Beginners, and the other track for Beginners/Advancing Beginners.

3. What is the purpose of the Beginner Tracks?

Both the Novice/Beginner Track and the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track are designed to prepare campers for higher level classes. It is common for some campers to want some extra guidance on what to study while at camp, and it can be challenging for some campers to attend Intermediate- and Advanced-level classes. The Beginner Tracks 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 many like-minded campers.

4. What is the difference between the Novice/Beginner Track and the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track?

Both the Novice/Beginner Track and the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track will begin with the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to begin learning an instrument. That means they will cover many of the same topics (see below for examples). The Novice/Beginner Track covers these topics as if the campers have never seen them before, while the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track is more like a review of these same topics. Therefore, the main difference between the two levels is that the Beginner/Advancing Beginner track will move at a faster pace and cover more material than Novice/Beginner track.

5. What does a Beginner Track consist of?

The Beginner Tracks at each camp (for both instruments and both levels) consist of four class sessions interspersed with two review sessions. The four class sessions will be taught sequentially – each new class building on the previous classes. However, campers are welcome to drop in, even if they have missed some or all of the earlier classes. The two review sessions will be led by the same instructor who teaches the track classes, but no new material will be presented. These review sessions are not mandatory and will be driven by the needs of those who attend them.

6. May I attend both the Novice/Beginner Track and the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track?

Campers may choose to attend either track, or both tracks, or switch back and forth between the tracks. As with more advanced classes, campers are welcome to come and go between classes and are encouraged to find the classes that best meet their needs and interests. That being said, the majority of people in the track will be attending all the classes, and it is likely that the instructors will frequently refer to topics they’ve covered earlier in the track.

7. What topics will be covered in each Beginner Track?

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 instrument and pick(s) if applicable

• left- and right-hand technique

• strings and tuning

• chords, rhythm, and using the capo if applicable

• slurs: hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides (for banjo primarily)

• applying the ideas listed above to common songs

8. What topics will be covered in each specific class session?

Beginner Tracks are designed to move methodically through the most important topics for Novices, Beginners, and Advancing Beginners. Each Beginner Track is taught by a single instructor dedicated to meeting the needs of the campers in that track. Most campers will attend all the classes within their chosen track. Due to the nature of the Beginner Track system itself, it is not possible to predict specifically what will be covered in any particular class session.

9. Which track level (Novice/Beginner or Beginner/Advancing Beginner) is better for me?

Detailed descriptions of each skill level are provided elsewhere, but please keep in mind that there is a lot of overlap between the levels. Loosely defined, a “novice” is someone just starting out on the instrument, while “beginners” and “advancing beginners” have already started to learn fundamental techniques and might be able to play a few songs. During registration on Friday afternoon, campers may attend a Find-Your-Level session where instructors help them decide what level classes to attend. Because class sessions of the Novice/Beginner Track and the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track are not taught simultaneously, campers may attend both tracks (starting with the first class of each track on Friday afternoon) to decide which level is better for them. Some campers may decide to attend all class sessions of both tracks.

10. What if the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track (the more advanced track) is too basic for me?

If you find the Beginner/Advancing Beginner Track (the more advanced track) is too basic for you, there are a wide variety of classes held throughout Camp that you may attend. Look for classes on the schedule that are labeled Advancing Beginners (AB), Intermediates (I), (All), and (Demo). And remember, as with every class at Camp (including the Beginner Tracks), all campers are welcome to come and go between classes and are encouraged to find the classes that best meet their needs and interests.