Blues Ensemble


Level: 2-4

Gain further knowledge of the Blues scale and its’ use; regional styles and differences; knowledge of chords with added notes; how to solo and how to accompany vocalists or other soloists. We may, if time allows, also delve into the basics of finger-style Blues guitar…the function of the thumb, how to play a roll with thumb and fingers, and more.



Level: 3-4

Ready to learn some tunes and technique? This class is focused on the Intermediate/Advanced fiddle player and getting a better sound from your violin as well as adding tunes and the ability to chord to your repertoire. We will also be adding harmonies and working on tunes partially by ear. Ornamentation and bowing styles will be covered in a practical and useful way so that you can take the techniques home to apply them to your repertoire. Getting tunes to sound more danceable by adding Jig feel and rhythm techniques for Reels will be covered as well. Paper copies of tunes will be provided and recording devices are welcome! Expect to bring some new tunes, techniques and recordings home with you!

Hope to see you in class at FAMI and the only requirement is to bring a smile!



Level: 2-3

The intermediate fiddle class will focus on learning new tunes and improving the ones that you already know. Different styles of music such as waltz, jig, reel will be discussed. Bowing techniques, rhythms and tempo will be covered as well as posture tips to make fiddling easier. Fiddle tunes will be learned both by ear and with music, so bringing a music stand or recording device would be something to consider.



Level: 2-4

Folk/Rock Ensemble (aka “School of Rock for Folkies”)

With voices and instruments working together in a group context, participants will acquire the “tools” necessary for bringing a song to life. Does that sound like fun or what!? Come prepared to rock out folk-style (i.e. taking rock songs and folkin’ them up!). If you sing (untrained more or less) and play an instrument (beyond the beginner stage), then this class is for you. Some of those “tools” mentioned will include: how to learn and arrange a song as a group, dynamics within a song, blending instruments, listening to each other, knowing when to play simply and when to step it up, how to play in support of the vocalist or soloist, and how to get out of the way and let the song speak. We will also explore how to do tasteful fills, how to sing in harmony, and performance techniques. Any acoustic instrument is welcome (guitar, bass, dobro, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, ukulele, bodhran, accordion, etc etc), and don’t forget about the voice!



Level: 1-2

his course is intended for people who have little or no previous music background. Material will be presented using guitar-based diagrams for chords and riffs. It will not be necessary to read music notation to participate in this course. Open position chords will be introduced using chord diagrams and then used in progressions of chords enabling the student to provide rhythm accompaniment to basic songs. An example of a popular chord progression would be the ’12 bar blues’ form. A variety of strumming patterns will be learned in order to play popular rhythm styles. In addition to chording, the course will introduce the technique of picking single notes. This will be accomplished by playing exercises, the pentatonic scale and then melodies or ‘riffs’. Tablature (TAB) will be explained and used to notate this. From this point, two string picking may be introduced and used in the style of the ‘blues shuffle’.

Topics will include:

  • How to hold the guitar and the use of a pick
  • Tuning the guitar
  • Common open position chords in typical keys for the guitar
  • Strumming a variety of rhythms
  • Chord progressions in different keys and transposition
  • Use of the capo
  • Introduction to fingerpicking
  • Improvising using the pentatonic scale



Level: 2-3

Even if DADGAD tuning is new to you it can be very easily picked up once you already have some knowledge of the guitar. This class will explore the rhythms and melodies of Irish/Celtic music. Great accompaniment is a complement to the melody of a tune and highlights its rhythm. Firstly we will familiarize ourselves with the chords of DADGAD and learn their moveable forms and progressions in both major and minor keys. Then we will move on to the different strumming patterns for jigs and reels and learn how to perform more intricate strumming patterns (triplets, off time stops) while still complementing the tune.

Irish music is a very fun style of music and luckily guitarists get a lot of freedom to explore and experiment while enjoying the music. Please be sure to bring along a spring loaded capo (I find the Kyser capo best).



Level: 3-4

The rhythm guitarist has an amazing capacity to make the soloist or band really shine, yet it’s often relegated to a repetitive strumming or fingerstyle role. Happily, we’re here to change this limiting preconception by finding rhythmical ways to make the guitar front and centre. We’ll do this through learning a variety of new strumming patterns, power chords, arpeggios, barre and open chords in different genres such as Blues, Swing, Latin, Rock, and Folksy type songs. We are actively soliciting Level 3-4 students willing to explore change – it’s not necessary to be shy or underestimate your ability to do this- if you can make chord changes easily you will learn things. Lots of things. This works if you are a songwriter looking at introducing a new approach to an existing song. Perhaps you want to find a new way of expressing an old and tired song that you once loved. Then this class is for you.

By the way – we are really serious about having fun!



Level: 1-2

The course will be an introduction to playing harmonica. I will go through basic techniques of blowing, sucking and bending notes. We’ll examine dynamics, experiment with improvisation and discover style as well. Be prepared to learn a song or two and get up and solo



Level: 2-3

Intermediate Mandolin – Finding Your Mandolin Voice

While going ‘Forward with the Fundamentals’, we’ll explore beyond the ‘Slow, Fast, Halffast’ approach to playing mandolin! Connecting good technique to music that resonates in our heart will be our goal. We will explore different styles and hope that each student will nurture his/her musical voice.



Level: 2-4

Maybe you have always wanted to play in a band but didn’t know where to start; maybe you enjoy singing and don’t play any instruments; maybe you would like to try singing harmonies with a mandolin player and a tuba player! Whatever your skill level, come and join Magnolia Buckskin in a fun, creative and chaotic class. We will form smaller groups with people who have similar aims. Perhaps one group will focus on playing a solo lead within a group, perhaps another group will be an a capella vocal group, so many possibilities! Come with your instruments, favourite song suggestions, original songs and an open attitude for trying new things.



Level: 2-3

Free at last! Yes, it’s time to lose your dependence on “the page”. In other words you are finally getting a divorce from the chord chart and your music will now start to have new life. Hearing chord changes will be the focus of this class for instrumentalists and singers who play chord-types of instruments (guitars, banjos, ukes, mandolins, and autoharps to name a few).

Please note that this class is for those who cannot hear the I, IV, V, VIm chords and feel “hopeless” in accompanying 3-chord songs without visual help no matter how well they can play. If you are able to follow along on 2 and 3 chord songs without paper, then this course would not provide much benefit.

You will learn how songs and tunes are constructed chord-wise, and class exercises will include ear training with lots of playing and singing in both ensemble and individual contexts. Ability to sing or hum in tune is also a prerequisite. Never again will you panic when someone says, “Bring your guitar and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Uncle Joe”, or,”let’s jam!”



Level: 2-4

Mark’s philosophy and style of music:

The groove rhythm and attention to detail
Practice (develop neuron paths and muscle memory)
Study the greats (What do they do that moves you?)
The rule- Listen listen listen …. to yourself and others
If it sounds good do it
If it doesn’t sound good, try something else!
Quality Control
The instrument can decide (Arlo Guthrie)
Giving ourselves permission to write
It’s about the show/ Be interesting. (communication + schtick)
The Guitar is a Candy store of notes
Leaving space (dynamics and cadence)

Class content

1 – A very quick review of terms and language of the stage so we are all on the same page

{Name of the strings, how to find notes related to the piano, (Eddy/Freddie + Barrie/Carrie, sharps and flats)
The Major Scale, numbers 1 to 8,
important numbers 1,4,5 How to recognize it /root-5s / octaves
The bar
The 12 bar progression example:
Importance of timing and metronome practice}

2 – History and examples of Roots, Blues, Rockabilly, Folk, Jug Band music
Philosophy History of great music- Where did it come from? Proto Jazz, Gospel

3 – Artist’s styles
Chuck Berry, BB King, Joseph Spence, John Hurt, Ray Charles etc.

4 – Rhythms (keeping it simple because the groove is everything)
Straight up (The Shape I’m In), Billy strum, surf, Bo Diddly, waltz, shuffle, boogie, straight eights, latin, bolero

5 – Minor Pentatonic Scale
Improvisation based on the Minor Pentatonic Scale

6 – Hot Licks
attacks, grace notes, hammer on’s, pull off’s, banjo rolls, machine gun flat picking (David Wilcox), bends (Amos Garrett), steel bends, cadence

7 – Walking vrs Root 5’s on bass

8 – Travis picking (alternating thumb/bass)

9 – Bottle neck slide playing (Bring a bottleneck. My personal favourite is a “Dunlop 215” clear glass for about $8)
Regular tuning
Open tunings

10 – Vocal
Attention to detail
Find your range
Stylings in Rockabilly (Elvis for example)

11 – Jug Band
How I make a wash tub bass

If you are interested in playing other Jug Band instruments bring these with you….
Washboard (with metal thimbles or paint can openers),
Harmonica (A blues style “C” harmonica is a good idea)
Jug (An old rinsed large plastic bleach jug will do)



Level: 2-4

Singer/Songwriter According to Ruth

In Ruth’s class, there is gonna be some singer/songwriter ground covered! She will explore performance & songwriting methods, inspiration, various techniques for getting the song to completion, and everyone will collaborate to choose a piece to present at the final performance of August’s Camp. Bring your questions, ideas, stories, and, of course, your songwriting weapons! Be they instruments, pen & paper, or just the pen, paper and a fierce ambition to write, arrive at this course ready to explore a diverse dialogue about The Song & its Presentation. Whether you seek to find the beginning of songwriting or are already well into your discipline, this class will provide opportunity for creation, exchange, collaboration, networking, &, especially, for writing.



Level: 1-2

If you’ve never played Ukulele before, this class will get you started. If you have some experience (i.e., Level 2), Jake will open the door wider to this fabulous instrument. We will play the ukulele as a simple rhythm instrument, learn some basic strumming patterns (and some more complex ones for those who are ready for that) and finger positions for essential chords, and play some popular songs individually and as a group.

The class is BYOU (Bring Your Own Uke).