Class Descriptions

I. Beginner & Intermediate Tracks

We offer more than 100 classes at all levels in various genres.
Among these are several “tracks”, which are a series of classes designed for Beginning or Intermediate players.

Beginner Tracks:

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 other campers of similar skill and experience.

We offer 2 levels of Beginner Tracks (Novice/Beginner and Beginner/Advancing Beginner) in 3-finger (bluegrass) and clawhammer (old time) styles.

Beginner Tracks: Top Nine 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 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 typically be led by the same instructor who teaches the track classes, but no new material will be presented. These review sessions are not mandatory — indeed, none of the classes at either Camp are ever mandatory — and will be driven by the needs of those who attend them.

5. 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.

6. 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

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 Beginner (AB), Intermediate (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 your needs and interests.

Intermediate Tracks at Banjo Camp North:

New in 2018, we’re offering two Intermediate programs in 3- finger (bluegrass) banjo:

(1) “Lower Intermediate” Track:

The distinction among skills levels is not hard-and-fast. A player who has been Advancing Beginner may not feel quite ready to take Intermediate classes. For just such players, we are creating the Lower Intermediate Track to help you navigate this transition. The titles and contents of classes in the Lower Intermediate Track are to be announced.

(2) “Transitioning from Intermediate to Advanced” Series of Classes:

To Be Announced

For more information about the Beginner or Intermediate Tracks, contact Music Camps North by email at or by phone at 203-362-8807

II. Class Descriptions

The class offerings are now in draft, nearing the final stage of development. We’re sharing this information here, while it’s still in draft, so that people can get an idea of the likely classes.

Draft Description of Classes (Subject to Change)

(Note: Classes in italics may be eliminated)

Tom Adams – Bluegrass

1. Fundamentals of Playing Backup in C chord position – we’ll build on what you already know about playing in Open G to cover the rolls, runs, partial chord shapes and fill-in licks that are the foundation for playing in the C chord position. (I)

2. Fundamentals of Playing Backup in D chord position – we’ll build on what you already know about playing in Open G to cover the rolls, runs, partial chord shapes and fill-in licks that are the foundation for playing in the D chord position. (I)

3. Strategies for improvising a break in G – we’ll cover what to listen for as a song that you don’t know is kicked off in a jam session. Between the time the song starts and the moment you’re handed a break, what should you be focusing on? (I)

4. Easy rolling Backup for beginner level players – rolling along while making chord changes is at the very heart of playing the banjo and it’s never too early to start. We’ll stick to playing in the Key of G and you’ll be playing backup rolls in just minutes. You’ll need to know the alternating thumb roll and the forward-reverse roll to take this class. (B)

5. Connecting your break to your backup – …and vice versa to play the whole song – we’ll cover how to start your solo strong, end strong, and lead into your backup in a precise way. Exiting your backup properly will then set you up to start strong on your next solo. We’ll cover the subtle differences of kicking off a song vs. taking a break within a song. (I)

6. Focus on your fretting hand – how you execute slides, hammers, pulloffs, bends, and chord positions has a huge effect on getting a clean, driving sound from your banjo. Stop “just going through the motions” and start moving your fretting fingers with specific intent. (AB / I)

Bob Altschuler – Lower Intermediate Bluegrass Track

Riley Baugus – Clawhammer

1. The Mysterious Art of Dealing with Multiple Keys in a Session – There are many times we find ourselves as old time banjo player, needing to quickly deal with other keys in a session, but we usually have to take drastic measures to retune. Here, we’ll get some solutions for quickly tuning and information to help make retuning not seem like such a chore. (I)

2. Right Hand Control Techniques – This workshop focuses on exercises that will help to improve the accuracy of your right hand. We’ll work on techniques that will help you be confident that you’re going to hit the right note. This is a good workshop for getting better at using drop thumb. (AB/I)

3. Riding “Reuben’s Train” – This is one of the oldest tunes in the old time genre. We will learn a version of the tune in the f#DF#AD tuning, then look at a version in “G”, and a version from Banjo Bill Cornett from Kentucky. (I)

4. Just for Banjo, Just for Fun – Many players only play in sessions with other musicians and don’t really do any “solo tunes” just for the banjo. In this workshop we’ll learn a couple of tunes that are beautiful, fun pieces that sound and feel great just on the banjo by themselves. We’ll explore a couple of alternate tunings. The tunes will be Taylor Kimball’s “Troubles” and “Last Chance.” (AB/I)

5. Exploring “Cumberland Gap” Tuning – Perhaps you’ve played the tune Cumberland Gap in either the keys of G or D. Often players will go to a special tuning for Cumberland Gap. In this workshop we’ll look at two special tunings known as Cumberland Gap Tuning. Both tunings are quite useful for other tunes as well. (I)

6. “A” Modal Tuning – This will be a workshop on playing in the A Modal tuning, sometimes called SawMill Key or Mountain Minor. We’ll learn an interesting version of the tune Shady Grove to get some practice in and information about playing in this tuning. (I)

7. Round Peak Basics – Ever wondered what “Round Peak” means, or what it is? We’ll answer those questions and get you playing in the style with a fiddle tune called, “Tater Patch”. (AB/I)

8. Southern Clawhammer Banjo Techniques – In this workshop we’ll look at many different techniques, for both the left and right hand, from several different banjo players, styles and areas in the Southern region of the Appalachian mountains, which you can use to enhance your own playing. (I/A

Janet Beazley – Bluegrass

1. The Joys of Jamming – tips, tunes & techniques for playing music with others. Non-players jaws drop the first time they see a jam session in person. They marvel at the apparent skills of the participants. What’s more, and maybe more important, is the fun and communal joy the players seem to be having. Lick pre-jam jitters with tips from this primer on jamming without fear! (AB/I)

2. Simple Rolls & Licks – learn two easy tunes (B/AB)

3. Productive Practice Tips & Tools – how get the most out of your practice sessions, including rhythm drills for the user-friendly metronome (AB or I)

4. Learning the Neck – exercises for practicing major & minor chord shapes up the neck. (AB or I)

5. All-Purpose Kickoffs and Ending Tags – to songs and tunes (AB or I)

6. Technical Tune-up – reviewing basic Scruggs-style skills with fun & grueling exercises (I)

7. Strictly Licks – how to spice up solos with “moveable” licks. Learn to start using chord-based lick substitution to vary your solos. (I)

8. Lonesome Modal Licks – Clinch Mountain Back Step & Little Maggie (I)

9. Tasteful Backup – explore the various elements of supportive, tasteful backup playing behind bluegrass vocals. (I)

10. Tips for Banjo-Playing Singers – how to accompany yourself while singing. (I)

11. Sing on the Chorus – introduction to bluegrass harmony singing. (all levels) This class is for anyone who has always wanted to learn the basics of 3-part harmony singing, and for more experienced harmony singers who need a bit of a “tune up”!

12. Same Song, Different Style – We’ll compare and contrast Old Time and Bluegrass settings of a couple of classic songs. (demo) (note: Lorraine Hammond and I did this class a couple of years ago at BCN and it was really fun.)

Dick Bowden– Bluegrass

1. Alternatives to Vamping – nearly generic picking and rolling along behind singer or other instruments, moving BEYOND vamping. What would you do in a jam if vamping wasn’t allowed? By ear, no tab. (I)

2. Common Endings – Learn half a dozen common endings for both vocal and instrumental numbers. Also, certain songs have SPECIFIC endings that should be learned. By ear, no tab. (I)

3. Playing for TONE – hand and body techniques (and ear training) to be aware of your tone, and develop ability to improve your tone. There is tone and there are tones, so we’ll survey a few popular banjo pioneers’ tones. Flat head and arch top tone rings! (A)

Howie Bursen – Clawhammer

1. Mountain Minor Tunes – There’s nothing like that eerie lonesome sound. We’ll look at a few choice tunes, and at some useful tricks. (I)

2. Cut Loose – A free right hand lets you strike anywhere, with accuracy and punch. We’ll investigate ways to get the right hand moving freely. A close look at Sarah Armstrong’s tune is a good way to illustrate these techniques. (I/A)

3. Blues Banjo – Learn how to expand your clawhammer playing into the world of the blues. (I)

4. Waltz Time (3/4) and Jig Time (6/8) – So much great music is locked up in jigs and waltzes! This wealth lies comfortably in your right hand. (AB-I)

5. 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) 6. 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. with Lorraine Hammond (Demo)

Greg Cahill – Bluegrass

1. Building blocks for creating solos: Finding the melody, intros and endings in the keys of 8. G, C and D (without using a capo) (I)

2. Down-the-neck and up-the-neck backup concepts and licks: Suggestions for playing backup behind singers and other instruments; common down-the-neck licks and patterns and up-the-neck Scruggs-style licks (I)

3. 435 Formula: Connecting the three primary major chord positions over the fingerboard and how to connect basic I-IV-V chords over the fingerboard (AB)

4. Improvisation and Transposing: How to interchange licks and passages within songs/tunes with same/similar chord progressions; how to transpose solos to different keys/positions (AI-A)

5. Basic scales and how to create licks from scales: Learn basic scales in closed positions and using open strings; use scale notes/patterns to create licks (AI-A)

6. Tips on how to learn songs/tunes and efficient practice time: Suggestions for ways to learn more quickly from tablature and by ear and for efficient practice sessions (AB)

7. Playing in 3/4 “waltz time” and in 6/8 “jig” time: Thoughts on how to play in these timings; integrating different styles when playing in these timings (AI-A)

Allison de Groot – Clawhammer (to be edited down to six classes)

1. Getting Started on Old-Time Banjo – This class is for students who are starting from the very beginning or those who want a refresher on technique. We will focus on the bum-ditty & double thumbing patterns and learn a tune you can practice them to. We will learn by ear, so bring a recording device! Tablature provided if requested. (N)

2. New Jordan – A tune from Norman Edmonds. We will focus on phrasing, drop-thumbing, and introduce the alternate string pull off. We will learn by ear, so bring a recording device! Tablature provided if requested. (B/AB)

3. Banjo & Fiddle Duets – We will explore ways in which banjo and fiddle interact. Timing, phrasing and communicating with each other are key, and can be developed at any level! Come prepared to play; we’ll do some demonstration as well. with Bruce Molsky (All)

4. Double Thumbing – We’ll go over the mechanics of double thumbing, an exercise you can practice your technique with, and a version of Cumberland Gap (fDGCD) that uses almost entirely the double thumbing pattern in the B part. We will learn by ear, so bring a recording device! Tablature provided if requested. (B/AB)

5. Up the Neck with 3-Note Chord Shapes – The goal of this class is to help you navigate the fretboard with movable 3-note chord shapes. Playing melodies that go up the neck, transposing up an octave, chording behind songs, or taking solos, these shapes can help guide you across the whole fretboard. Bring a recording device, and a page with the chords written out will be provided at the end of class. (A)

6. Natural Bridge Blues – This is a tune that I heard from the playing of roundpeak player Fred Cockerham. Syncopation, slides and a less common chord progression make this tune really fun to play on the banjo. (I)

7. Wilson Douglas’ Stoney Point – We will learn a crooked version of Stoney Point that comes from West Virginian fiddler Wilson Douglas. We will learn the tune by ear, but tablature will be provided and bring a recording device! (I)

Dave Dick – Bluegrass

1. Getting Started Improvising – We will demystify the notion of Improvising by taking a very bare-bones approach. At the heart of Improvisation is the idea that it’s simply making choices in real time, it could be as simple as deciding to stop playing and leave a space. One must be willing to try to play something unexpected; this requires an acceptance of making a mistake since mistakes happen regularly when improvising. Once you learn how much fun it is to take chances you’ll be able to do simple improvisation quite quickly. With a foundation of initial success, you’ll be able to build up your skills and do more elaborate improvisations. (B)

2. Improvising for Intermediate Level – For those who already can do some improvising, we’ll examine some techniques than can be used to develop a collection of ideas, chord partials, scale fragments, rhythms and rolls that become raw materials for improvising and soloing. We will work with some very easy songs and provide you with some musical “tools” that you can use to vary your playing. Knowledge of how to write and read tablature will be very helpful for this class. (I)

3. Improving your Timing – Developing an inner sense of rhythm and working along reliable sources of groove are the best ways to get your own rhythm working better. Understanding the relationships of sub-divisions of the beat, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, etc., and how those sub-divisions FEEL compared to the pulse of the beat is essential to gaining more control over rhythm. We will discuss, and use, metronomes to assist with this class. There are excellent metronome apps which are useful. (All)

4. Fine Tuning Your Technique – Whenever we get to watch truly great players, whether it’s banjoists, guitarist, violinists, pianists it is very clear that the best players have great technique. You might say that they “make it look so easy!”. Well there’s an important point there which is those players have figured out how to hold their arms, hands, body, and instrument in harmony with each other. There are some fundamental aspects you can learn about holding the instrument, and using both of your hands in the most efficient way. We will spend time together examining each other’s flaws as well as attributes about this subject and learn how to improve. (All)

5. Fundamentals of Playing Backup – So, you have begun playing music with other musicians, it’s time to recognize that in most group situations somebody is going to be doing lead, whether it’s singing, or playing and the others are going to be “backing” up what they are doing. In fact, once you start making music with others you’ll spend the majority of your time playing backup. So, what is backup, and how do you decide what to do? This class is focused on that stage of your development. Being a good backup player doesn’t require advanced playing skills, more that that it requires being a good listener and being knowledgeable of the etiquette of successful group dynamics. (B/I)
6. What is String Bending and How to Use It – The banjo isn’t an instrument that players do a lot of string bending. Usually that’s done on instruments with notes that sustain longer, such as the electric guitar. In the old school, a technique called “choking” was done quite a lot by early pioneers such as Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley. Many banjo players, especially those who also play guitars, have added string bending to their repertoire and it’s a neat technique you can add to your playing. We’ll look at some basic, easier bends you can do, talk about developing strength in your fingers, and consider some more difficult bends. (I/A)

Cathy Fink – Clawhammer (to be edited to six classes)

1. Practice Smarter, Play Better – Learn to organize your practice time so that you improve your playing systematically. We bring ton of information home from camp, but sometimes are overwhelmed by it and don’t know how to approach learning one new thing at a time. We’ll discuss the tangible and intangible tools for good practice as well as learning to schedule “manageable bites” of music to learn in manageable time frames. (All)

2. Right Hand Drills for Solid Clawhammer Playing – a systematic approach to right hand drills that will help your right hand accuracy, tone and timing. Banjos in hand, we’ll be learning these drills and addressing problems and issues you may have with right hand technique. (All)

3. Ear Training for the Beginning Player – Where are these notes? Why do we use these chords? Almost everyone has more natural ear training than they know and you’ll learn how to unlock that info for your banjo playing. This workshop focuses on using your voice to connect ear-voice and fingers. You don’t need to be a great singer, just come prepared to actively use information you have, but haven’t used! (N/B)

4. Changing Tunings and Changing Keys – Get over your fear of changing tunings. We’ll explore 5 tunings and PRACTICE changing from one to another, with a little music in each one. We’ll also practice using a capo and retuning the 5th string to give access to a variety of keys. (LI)

5. Old Time Fingerpicking – A starter for intermediate players. Focus will be on thumb lead for 2 and 3 finger style old time picking. (LI)

6. Little Billy Wilson – an intricate arrangement to this beautiful three part tune. Includes many left and right hand techniques and tricks with slides, hammer-ons, pull offs, triplets and variations. (A)

7. Composing New Tunes on Banjo – Open to old time & bluegrass advanced players. We’ll discuss tune construction, how to find the “muse” and how to work on an idea once you’ve sketched it out. (A)

8. Arranging a Song and Its Accompaniment, Clawhammer Style – This will not just deal with song accompaniment, but putting together a cohesive arrangement with introduction, vocal backup, instrumental turnarounds and breaks, etc. (A)

9. Variations on a Tune – How to create variations once you’ve learned a tune on the banjo. Tips, tricks, philosophy and note-by-note demonstration. (A)

10. Playing Clawhammer With Bluegrass Drive – Ralph Stanley’s “Rocky Island” and “Riding on the Midnight Train” are great examples of songs that adapt well to hard driving clawhammer. Rather than a notey style, we’ll focus on drive and energy while still playing melody and backing up the vocals.

Bennett Hammond – Idiosynchratic Fingerstyle

1. RockaFolky Right Hand – This is a particular, specific skill: a bone-simple Blues-based 2-finger picking style that assigns most of the melody and all of the beat to the thumb, even on the first string. It sounds a little like a cross between bare-fingered Scruggs-picking, old-time frailing, and Piedmont thumb-picked guitar. It will take us from Cripple Creek and Sandy Boys to Not Fade Away and Party Doll, and back. Why learn the RockaFolky right hand? Because you never know when something like it will come in handy. (I/A)

2. Banjo-Picker’s Left Hand – We’ll cover:

The Big Picture: A very simple visualization of where everything is on the grid. In application, it leads directly to the…

Triads: The key to transposition and up-the-neck work. Banjo 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.

Double-Stops: Two-note chord fragments up and down the neck, melodic rhythm harmonies, riffs ’n’ stuff; a handful of simple fingerings that all do “double duty,” standing for more than one chord at a time, depending upon context.

Cross Key: Switching to A and D in G tuning, no capo; Key of G in Double C tuning, no capo. And so on.

And So On: Composition, weird noises and strange instruments.

Lorraine Hammond – Novice/Beginner Clawhammer Track

1. Banjos and Ballads

Beth Hartness – Guitar

1. Old-Time Backup Guitar – (intermediate…this class’ level could be flexible as long as it does not encourage participation by those who have no guitar experience…in other words, we will not focus on the fundamentals of playing the INSTRUMENT but rather on how to style it to fit the GENRE): 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. TO BE ASSISTED BY ADAM HURT ON FIDDLE.

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/A)

Adam Hurt – Clawhammer (to be edited to seven classes)

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 Kyle Creed – Kyle Creed had a distinctive take on the clawhammer style that influenced a generation of banjo players. Get to know Kyle’s banjo aesthetic by learning some of his signature licks and versions of tunes. (I/A)

4. Understanding the Structure of Old-Time Tunes and How This Helps Your Playing – Learn how most old-time fiddle and banjo tunes break apart into manageable-length, easy-to-recognize, and often-recurring phrases, which can help save you a lot of time and effort when working them out for yourself and help you play along when unfamiliar tunes come up in jam sessions. We will “map out” the structure of several common and less-common tunes, including tunes suggested by class participants, and discuss how to keep this mapping going on your own. (Demo)

5. Mapping the Fingerboard: Strong and Efficient Note Locations – Locate the relevant major scales in the double-C and open-G tunings and in the process develop the most efficient left-hand roadmap for playing in these tunings. Participants will come away from this workshop having created color-coded fingerboard diagrams! (AB/LI)
6. Demystifying the Drop-Thumb – Learn the fundamentals of smooth and efficient drop-thumbing via some simple open-string exercises. (AB/LI)

7. Introduction to Clawhammer Syncopation – Break out of the usual rhythmic boxes associated with clawhammer banjo and learn some syncopated patterns that will enhance any tune in your repertoire. (UI)

8. 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/A)

Pete Kelly – “Transitioning from Intermediate to Advanced” Series of Classes

To Be Announced

Dave Kiphuth – Bluegrass

1. Dixie Hoedown – Jesse McReynolds’ great tune (A)

2. Chord Shape Patterns – The true roadmap of the neck that leads to real understanding of the neck. You need to be fluent in basic full chord shapes (I)

3. Up-the-Neck Breaks in the “Cage System” – demystifying creation of upper neck breaks. The melody notes are in the chords (A)

4. All About Backup – up and down the neck (I)

5. Right- and Left-Hand Technique and Dynamics – analyzing how Earl got the fluid tone he invented. This is a basic but extremely important subject. (B/AB/I)

6. Creating Basic and Simple Breaks – So much can be done with simple techniques. (B)

Ned Luberecki – Bluegrass

1. Let’s Start With The Melody – Easy melodies to play by ear and how to work them into a banjo solo (N/B)

2. The Easy Way to Learn and Practice Chords – Chords and how to play them, explained in a way that you can actually use and how to practice them! (N/B)

3. Jam Session Survival/Faking It – How to make up a solo on the spot to a standard bluegrass chord progression (AB/LI)

4. Kick The Tab Habit – How to learn bluegrass style banjo solos by ear and train yourself away from Tab (AB/LI)

5. Using Melodic & Single String Style to Spice Up Your Scruggs Playing – (I/A)

6. Learn to Sing and Play Backup at the Same Time – Techniques to use to accompany yourself while singing or while singing along. (I/A)

7. Playing in Keys Other Than G Without a Capo – Tips and examples for playing in C, D, E, F, and even Bb (I/A)

Larry Marschall – Bluegrass/Jazz (to be edited to six classes)

1. Earl’s Banjo in D Tuning — Earl Scruggs’ classic arrangement of Reuben’s Train is fun to play and easy to learn, but has a lot to teach about D tuning. We’ll take a look at some of Earl’s licks, and introduce others that fit well with the song. (I)

2. Fiddle Tunes in D— Standard G tuning works great for melodic tunes in D. We’ll work on one or two popular fiddle tunes here, possibly including Saint Anne’s Reel, Angeline the Baker, Whiskey Before Breakfast, and the Cuckoo’s Nest. (A)

3. Intervals and Inversions for Harmony Backup: Effective backup and fill, especially for slow songs, works well with three, two, and even one-note harmonic licks. In this workshop we’ll demonstrate and work through a toolkit of helpful backup forms that you can incorporate in a wide variety of vocal numbers. (I)

4. An 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 like Over the Rainbow (I/A)

5. The Great American Songbook for the banjo—For Jazz lovers, we’ll look at some chord melody arrangements familiar songs you can improvise, as well as some Scruggs and melodic arrangements like “All of Me”, inspired by (if not taken from) Alan Munde’s new book (2017) of jazz standards: “The Great American Banjo Songbook. (I/A)

6. Nifty and Novel Licks— Some favorite licks that you may have heard but won’t find in most books, taken from the playing of Sonny Osborne, Mike Munford, Bill Keith, Earl Scruggs, and others I made up myself. Contribute your own favorites as we interact! (All)

7. Standard Bluegrass Licks— The basic licks you’ll hear in Earl’s playing and the playing of others—to end and connect phrases. These will help you go from basic rolls to the real Scruggs sound. (All Levels Welcome)

8. Twin Banjos– Twin Banjos – Although the classic bluegrass model calls for one banjo, twin banjo numbers are a delightful diversion any time two banjo pickers get together. The tradition goes back to 1950s-era performances by Earl Scruggs and Don Reno. 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, June Apple, and Old Joe Clark—plus additional twin-banjo fun on numbers such as Big Ben, and Ground Speed, etc. With two-for-the-price-of-one instructors Larry Marschall and Rich Stillman (I)

9. Bill Monroe Instrumentals: Santa Claus— This Monroe Instrumental doesn’t get the play it deserves. Here we’ll work on the standard first position break by Bill Keith, and some ways to play a high break, too. (A)

Michael Miles – Clawhammer (to be edited to six classes)

1. Song Accompaniment—when you know basic chords and fundamental right hand technique, hundreds songs are at your doorstep! G, C &; D7 — With the banjo in G tuning there are many partial forms and beautiful voicings of these chords that are simple to play even for new players. (B)

2. Gratification Workshop—enough already with trying this and that to make that thing sound good and play some music on your banjo. Woody Guthrie said that if you could play two chords, you could play all the good songs! (B)

3. Chords for 3 Tunings up the Neck. . G tuning, G modal tuning, and Double C tuning cover a lot of territory for clawhammer style banjo. Knowing and using the chord shapes, especially between the 5th and the 12th frets in all of these tunings will expand your musical horizons in grand ways. (I)

4. Doc Watson for Clawhammer Banjo. Doc was mostly a guitar player but his immaculate playing touched the acoustic music world and influenced Michael greatly as he taught himself to play. A few of his songs—-Salt Creek and Walking Boss. (I)

5. D7 Blues Tuning & Improvisation. This is ADGCD, which has been used before mostly to play in the key of F for modal tunes, but another view of this tuning is that it spells a D7sus chord and is a doorway to the blues that is quite thrilling. (I)

6. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning for Clawhammer – Play this classic tune recorded by the legendary Richard Thompson as recorded on Michael’s New Century Suite recording. RT has his guitar in a C tuning and pushes his guitar in a banjo-like direction. Why not just play the tune on the banjo? (I)

7. J. S. Bach on the Banjo – Michael released his American Bach recording 20 years ago proving that Bach belonged in the clawhammer banjo world. Bring this wonder into your world. (I)

8. Big Bill Broonzy’s “Hey Hey” for Clawhammer – This was made famous by Eric Clapton, but he played it note for note as it was originally played by Big Bill Broonzy on guitar. But it sounds just a little hipper when you play it on the banjo. (A)

9. Afro-Latin and Back-Beat Grooves for Clawhammer The banjo has its origin in Africa and the Caribbean where the syncopation is key and beat is far more elusive. Places like Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic are rich with rhythms that can inform how the banjo can be played. (A)

10. THE BI-PARTISAN BANJO DEMONSTRATION & WORKSHOP – Bluegrass Joins Clawhammer with Greg Cahill and Michael Miles – If the banjo players can do it, so can the nation. Over the past few years Michael and Greg have collaborated on two new books for Hal Leonard Publications: The First 50 Songs You Should Play on the Banjo and the Gold Mine Series For The Banjo (to be released in late 2018). In the demonstration, Michael and Greg will play a few tunes together to share the possibility of mixing bluegrass and clawhammer technique, and then lead those in attendance to mix and merge the same. (Demo)

Bruce Molsky – Clawhammer TBA

Jane Rothfield – Beginner/Advancing Beginner Clawhammer Track

Tim Rowell – Clawhammer

1. Half Past Four – Learn “Half Past Four”. This great tune comes from Kentucky’s Ed Haley. This tune should be in every clawhammerist’s tune bag. (AB)

2. Modal Tunes – Modal tunes have that great darkly-rich mountain feel. John Salyers’ “Jeff Sturgeon” is an excellent tune that can be played out of the Sawmill Tuning. (AB)

3. Dock Boggs Style – Learn the unique up-picking style of Dock Boggs on one of his best-known songs “Oh, Death”. Played in one of Dock Boggs’ more interesting tunings f# C G A D. (LI)

4. Adding Melodic Clawhammer Interest – Mix Alternate-String Pull-offs with Drop-Thumbs to add interesting melodic turns. Taylor Kimballs version of “Green Willis” has plenty of opportunities to apply these great techniques. (LI)

5. Half Irish – Composed by Kentucky fiddler Owen “Snake” Chapman who was originally a clawhammer banjo player. “Half Irish” is a three-part D tune that was written to imitate an Irish reel. This tune uses left hand fretting techniques to great effect. (I)

6. Crooked Tunes – Crooked like a barrel of snakes. Kentucky’s Luther Strong “Adeline” and Eden Hammon’s “Shakin’ Down The Acorns” both cover a lot of musical territory in both form and tonality. (IA)

Rich Stillman – Bluegrass (to be edited to six classes) (BG)

1. Twin Banjos (taught with Larry Marschall) – Although the classic bluegrass model calls for one banjo, twin banjo numbers are a delightful diversion any time two banjo pickers get together. The tradition goes back to 1950s-era performances by Earl Scruggs and Don Reno. 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, June Apple, and Old Joe Clark—plus additional twin-banjo fun on numbers such as Big Ben, and Ground Speed, etc. With two-for-the-price-of-one instructors Larry Marschall and Rich Stillman (I)

2. Deep Dive: Sally Goodin’ – Sally Goodin is one of Earl Scruggs’ most expressive tunes. It is also a gateway into Earl’s up-the-neck technique, so many of the techniques learned in this song can be directly applied to up-the-neck breaks for just about any tune in G. We’ll use both the tab and the recording of the tune to improve your performance and to start applying the licks learned here to other tunes. (I)

3. Coming up with your second break – You’re in a jam session, playing songs you’ve worked on. You get a chance to play the break you’ve practiced at home for months, but the tune keeps going, and pretty soon it’s back around to you. What do you do? This class gives you the tools to develop that second break that presents a different interpretation of the song. Whether you want to work up an alternate break at home so you’re ready, or improvise one on the spot, this session will give you some ideas about what to do. (AB)

4. Banjo Karaoke – Have you ever had a chance to play with really good pickers – on stage? For this session, we’ll make a band, sound system and (hopefully) an audience available to you for a song or two. Find out what it’s like to hear yourself through monitors and show off your best stuff. Open to players at all levels, or just come to sit in the audience and cheer on your favorite campers. (All)

5. Prewar Petting Zoo – Just about every serious bluegrass banjo player aspires to own a pre-war Gibson Mastertone someday. Unfortunately, these instruments have been copied by luthiers for decades. Many banjos have been passed off as pre-war, intentionally or not, and it’s easy to spend pre-war money and discover – sometimes years later – you’ve purchased a fake. This session will show you some of the ways to tell when you’re looking at the real thing and will give you a chance to examine some of these instruments up close. (All)

6. Exercises to Improve Your Banjo Playing – Most people spend the majority of their practice time playing tunes and songs, but the time can sometimes be spent more efficiently playing exercises that focus on developing particular skills. This session will introduce a number of exercises to improve your playing. (AB-I)

7. Chord Zones – To understand the fingerboard, it’s important to understand how chords relate to each other. This class will look at the relationships between chord positions and how to use chord
movement to help develop breaks. As a side benefit, it will help train your ear to recognize chord changes! (AB-I)

8. Comparative Banjo – Same Song, Different Players – There’s more than one way to play a tune, as prominent players show. We’ll look at classic performances of the same song performed by several top-tier players, to show how different people approach the same melody. (I)

9. 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)
Bruce Stockwell – Beginner/Advancing Beginner Bluegrass Track

Tony Trischka – Bluegrass TBA

Tony Watt – Novice/Beginner Bluegrass Track

Opportunities for Individual Attention:

There are many informal opportunities for individual attention by faculty at the Camp. You’ll share meals with faculty as well as campers, and you’ll find faculty generally “around” when they’re between classes, and they’ll be happy to help you.

In addition, there are two more formal opportunities for indiviual 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. 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

“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.