Folk Ensemble

Instructor:   Steve Goodchild

Course Description:

Level: 2 – 4  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

There is no “I” in band …..  

A good way to become a better performer is to play and sing with others. The ensemble class provides an opportunity to do just this – as an instrumentalist, vocalist (the class is open to those who might just like to exercise their vocal chords!) or both – in a comfortable, supportive setting where folks can listen to – and learn from each other.  Instrumental skills and technique for guitars (6 & 12-string, simple bass and possibly open-tuning), banjo, mandolin family, ukelele and percussion will be included and the overall emphasis will be on how to perform as part of a band, including:

     – how to arrange songs, interact and support each other;

     – why, when, how and what to solo and “making space” for soloing;

     – singing while playing – both lead & backing vocals including harmonizing;

     – taking an active role in the ensemble, controlling one’s own input in relation to other musicians, as well as building repertoire.

Songsheets and chord diagrams will be provided and a variety of instruments will also be available in case folks would like to try something new. Bring your willingness to share your talents vocally and/or on your acoustic instruments of choice – it would be great to have a variety of instruments in the class so we can create full and interesting arrangements.  

Above all, the goal is to make music together and have fun!

NOTE:  This class is open to amplified acoustic basses.  You will need to supply your own small portable bass amp. Please see our Amplifier Policy for further information.

Steve Goodchild

Steve is a substantially self-taught (“lots of short-cuts and bad habits!”) multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter who got his first 6-string at the age of eleven and had his first professional gig shortly before turning sixteen in 1974, playing guitar and mandolin with the English Folk group “Cuckoo’s Nest”. 

With a day job that subsidised a bad case of G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome!) he has been fortunate enough to travel extensively and play in diverse settings from Country Folk with “Just Five” – a 1980s “institution” in Mombasa, Kenya; Country Rock and full-on Rock ‘n Roll with “Rocky Roads” in Sarawak, East Malaysia; regular Folk and Acoustic settings in the UK (with “The Volunteers”, “Full House” and Graham Bellinger & “Root Chords”), Netherlands and Denmark; and Americana and Bluegrass with trio “Across the Water” in Houston, Texas.  Since moving to Calgary in late 2010, Steve has performed solo; with son Christopher, and with “Horizon Ridge”, featuring his wife Helen and fellow FAMI alumni Dianne Quinton and Peter May. He also plays as an instrument & harmony-vocals sideman with The Carolyn Harley Trio and both he and Helen play with Calgary singer/songstress and fellow FAMI instructor Christie Simmons. 

Currently counting 6, 9, 12-string, bass, tenor & baritone guitars, dobro, mandolin, mandola & mandocello, bouzouki, cittern, banjo and Appalachian dulcimer in his musical armoury, this jack-of-all strings (and master of none!) has a repertoire encompassing styles ranging from British and American Folk Tradition; contemporary singer-songwriter; country & bluegrass; folk & gospel acapella and good old rock ‘n roll, as well as his own compositions. He has recorded five CDs with Across the Water; a solo album - “Nooks and Crannies” - featuring his own compositions, and two CDs with Horizon Ridge. 

Steve lives on Calgary’s west side, builds & repairs guitars & other instruments, and helps to run the Rocky Mountain Folk Club.

WebsiteHorizon Ridge

Playing Experience Levels

These guidelines aim to ensure that all camp participants have an enjoyable experience. They represent what your playing capability should be before you take the class (prerequisites).

Classes are generally designed to pace themselves to match the participants' abilities. Level 1 classes aim to proceed at the pace of the slower students in the class. Level 2 and 3 classes aim to move at the pace of the majority of students in the class. Level 4 classes are designed to push the capabilities of all students and will target the pace of the more capable students  Class descriptions that show a range (Levels 2-3) means the material presented is broadly applicable across that range.

LEVEL 1: You are new or relatively new to your instrument. You may be able to play basic chords or scales slowly. You want to learn the basics of the instrument. You have very little experience playing with others.

LEVEL 2: You are competent with basic chords and/or basic scales. You can keep rhythm and/or play basic melodies and/or sing and play at the same time if the song is familiar. You generally need the chords or melody to be written out in order to play along. You have some experience playing with others.

LEVEL 3: You are reasonably comfortable with most chords, basic major and minor scales, and can play at an appropriate tempo for songs. You are aware of time signatures, song keys, and know that there are chords called 6th, 7th, 11th, etc even if you can’t play them all. You are comfortable maintaining good rhythm and are willing to taking breaks while jamming with others, even if the breaks don't always turn out the way you planned. You may be hoping to take your playing up to the next level of performing with a group or band (beyond jamming) and you want to further improve your technique and speed.

LEVEL 4: You are skilled on your instrument and have a good understanding of musical concepts including scales, arrangements, harmonies and some improvisation. You play lead and back-up with a steady rhythm and can play skillfully with others. You know there is life further up the neck on your instrument and have some capability in that world. You have performing experience, can hold a tune, and can harmonize.