What We Teach


orkshops will be scheduled throughout the year with each weekend focusing on one main element so the classes will be supportive of each other. Fiddle and banjo, fiddle and guitar, banjo and guitar, old time duet singing, and rhythm and repertoire (which will be included in each course) will be offered. Class descriptions are below.

Clawhammer Banjo from Scratch

Level: Complete Beginner
If you have never picked up the banjo before, this is a good place to start! The basics of tuning, keys tunes are played in , and timing will be taught. Students will learn how to play the clawhammer style and apply this to simple tunes during the weekend.

Banjo for the Adventurous

Level: Intermediate / Advanced clawhammer banjo
The goal will be on improving a student’s playing style by focusing upon both right hand and left hand techniques used to play typical mountain dance tunes. Emphasis will be on learning tunes and variations based on the playing styles of Mac’s influences, the old masters from the Southwest Virginia area. Rhythm, timing, and emphasis will be stressed as one learns to play the basic melody of our local dance tunes.

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Basic Guitar

Level: Beginner
As with banjo from scratch, this class is for those who know nothing about playing guitar. Designed to give basic fundamentals of guitar playing, this class will focus on learning chords and chord changes. Tuning the instrument and timing will also be addressed.

Back-up Guitar

Level: Beginner/Intermediate
For students who have mastered chords and chord changes, can easily play along in a slow jam and are ready for something new. Tasteful runs will be incorporated into the tunes while emphasizing the importance of strong rhythm. This class will put students well on the road to becoming an accomplished guitar player.

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Level: Intermediate/Advanced
This course will focus on improving one’s playing of mountain dance tunes using common bowing patterns that complement the traditional clawhammer banjo rhythm. Tunes in the keys of D,A, and G, will be taught using standard as well as traditional non standard tunings used by old masters of Southwest Virginia. Rhythm and timing will be stressed as tunes are played up to dance tempo.

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Rhythm & Repertoire

This class will focus on group playing of interesting versions of mountain songs and dance melodies on what ever instrument one is most comfortable with. Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar, Mandolin, and Bass are ones we can help you with. Harmonica players are welcome too.

Time will be spent getting familiar with lots of tunes and songs that involve basic but challenging techniques and chord patterns. Knowledge of rhythm patterns, timing, speed and phrasing are important to understanding what goes into making good music. We will help each participant learn to hear subtle nuances in the early recorded music which adds crucial elements to building “the sound”. Participants should have a moderate amount of playing experience to get the most from this workshop. Fun should happen automatically.

For a review of a similar Rhythm & Repertoire weekend, please visit our blog post from May 15th, 2013.

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Duet Singing

You don’t have to have a good singing voice to be able to make a pleasing sound! Close harmony singing creates an element that is greater than the sum of it’s parts!! In fact, to sound closer to the original recordings of the early “greats” (more authentic), having a less than perfect voice is more suitable! Students absolutely need to be able to sing in key for this class. Basic duet singing principles will be explained and demonstrated, with the break down of each part for students to learn and put together. Due to the very nature of “duet” singing, it is important for each student to take this course with your singing partner. Yodeling duets will also be part of the fun!

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