Doug Leece

Level: 2 – 4

Before mutli-track recording music was always played together, the spontaneous blending of sounds and almost telepathic communication between players can be exhilarating. This year’s FAMI acoustic rock ensemble may not be “Live at Wembley” but promises to be a lot of fun. As the course title implies, we’ll be using acoustic instruments to play some rock and pop songs and use the time together to develop ensemble skills than can be applied to any genre of music.

Changing out electric instruments and assorted gear for acoustic instruments requires a bit of rework to recapture the original rock band energy but a good groove is undeniable regardless of the volume. This will be a rhythm heavy class but other elements like dynamics, fills, harmonies, solos, and more will all get thrown into the melting pot we call arranging. Since rock was originally never intended to be serious music, we’ll have plenty of creative latitude.

While there is often talk of “chemistry” good bands never happen by accident, there is a craft and protocol underneath it all, even if the musicians are unaware of it at the time. That said we’ll learn by doing, not lecturing, using some well-known rock songs from different eras as a starting place for deconstructing the essential elements and reassembling something new with an acoustic rock vibe.

In keeping with the ensemble tradition all instruments are welcome, singing at any level, lead or backup, is highly encouraged and a percussionist or two would be most welcome. For musicians who primarily perform solo a new experience awaits, for those with lots of group experience this will be a chance to enjoy everything that is great about being in a band. This class will involve lots of playing and every effort will be made to keep things light with enough time to work out more complex parts if needed. That said, to get the most out of this class proficiency with your instrument of choice is recommended.


Peter May

Level: 2 – 3

Note: This class will not teach methods for playing upright / double / standup bass.

At some point in your musical journey, you may have tried acoustic bass guitar. You may even own one! Whether you are relatively new to the instrument or have been playing for a while, this class aims to develop your acoustic bass guitar bass-ics. We will focus on:

  • Basic elements and functionality of playing bass
  • Role of the bass in an ensemble
  • Right- and left-hand techniques (including injury prevention)
  • What to play and when to play it
  • Beginning improvisation
  • Jamming

We will use songs as the basis of our learning (we will play by ear or use tablature – “tab” – no standard music notation).

The class will be suitable for those instruments supported by FAMI’s Bass guidelines for acoustic bass guitars (acoustic non-upright basses).

Prerequisites / Instruction Level:

Understanding that many people interested in this class will have some prior experience with stringed instruments (e.g., guitar), this class is targeted at Level 2 to 3 (per the FAMI guidelines ). Because we will be discussing the “bass-ics”, the class is also suitable for newer bass players who have some musical experience – especially playing a stringed instrument.

That’s the starting point for what we will be working on over the weekend. I will tailor the material to meet the needs of the students.

Bass Amps

The FAMI Bass policy allows the use of small bass amps. The purpose is to encourage the use of acoustic bass guitar in musical ensembles. If your bass does not have a pickup (i.e., cannot be plugged into a bass amp), don’t worry about it (because it is ‘acoustic’ you should be able to hear it when you play it already!). If your bass has a pickup (i.e., can be plugged into an amp), then please bring a small bass amp if you own one (or borrow one). If your amp supports headphones, please bring the headphones. Please bring an extension (power) cord. Depending on what we have for basses and amps and the space in which we will gather, I will have the final say on how we manage using amplifiers and the overall volume.

To reiterate, I aim to ensure that you can hear what you are playing – which allows you to maximize your learning, all the while not impeding the learning of your classmates. We will not be loud.

What To Bring:

In addition to the acoustic bass guitar and possibly an amp (see above), I also recommend bringing a notebook, pen or pencil, music stand, and something to record with. Of course, a smartphone / iPhone does all that.

Finally, and most importantly, please come with a thirst to learn, share and have fun!


Barry Truter

Level: 2 – 4

Calling all minstrels! This is your invitation to come sing, play, and collaborate! Bring your main instruments, exotic percussion toys, lutes, bagpipes, sitars, whatever, and your voices – the greatest instrument of all.

What will we do? We’ll dive into the core elements of music (melody, harmony, rhythm) and consider how we might change things up to make well-known songs uniquely our own. We’ll explore the use of tools like modulation, dynamics, and key and tempo changes to add lift to a song or change the mood. In the process, we’ll learn how to collaborate musically, proving that the sum is greater than its parts.

How will we do this? We’ll form “bands”, choose songs, conjure up arrangements, test run them, practice, perform, invite feedback, tune and tweak and refine until we arrive at a notion of “good enough” and maybe even “damn fine”. We’ll take risks and in the process discover the difference between “ensemble delight” and “ensemble train wreck”.

Bring your skills and talents, your curiousity and imagination, a spirit of laughter and playfulness, and be prepared to contribute to the creative process. See you there!


Jarred Albright

Level: 2-4 

How to be an employable fiddler 101

Do you play the fiddle? Do you have friends who play instruments other than fiddles? Do you long for jamming on more than just fiddle tunes?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this might just be the class for you! We’ll identify how to see and hear chord changes on guitar, what capos mean, and how to play tastefully over easy folk songs, even ones you have never heard before. In essence, this is a class for fiddle players who want to be part of a band!

A basic working knowledge of your instrument and all the notes in 1st position are a great asset for this class, as well as easy scales and arpeggios.

Guitar - DADGAD

David Morrissey

Level: 2- 3 

Medium to advanced level class in DADGAD guitar.

Even if DADGAD tuning is totally new to you, it can be pretty easy to make new pleasing sounds quickly. However there are new chord shapes which may be a challenge to less experienced players. DADGAD’s open A, D and G strings are the same as in standard tuning! That means 50 percent of this tuning is completely familiar. The evocative and enigmatic sound of DADGAD is one of the guitar’s best-kept secrets and is a great way to elevate your songs or tune accompaniment.

Please bring a tuner and a capo.

Guitar - Three Chords and the Truth

Brian Volke

Level: 1 – 2 

Have you just learned how to play three chords? Have you just started to strum boom chukka boom chukka? This is the class for you! We’re going to learn some three and four and maybe even five chord songs. We’re going to learn how to navigate our way through folk, rock and blues strumming. We’re going to get a grip on being able to sing and play and rock and folk all at the same time.

Hope to see you there!

Guitar - Swing

Rick Moore

Level: 3 – 4

Welcome to the next step in your study of Swing Guitar!

If you can:

  • Strum a swing rhythm,
  • Play the four or five common swing chord shapes as demonstrated by fine players such as Ranger Doug, Freddy Green or Joey Mackenzie
  • And can play simple improvised solos

Then you have the tools to double your swing playing pleasure in this FAMI class.

You will learn three inversions of major and minor chord shapes suitable for swing rhythm playing. This will allow you to give that moving bass so prevalent in this style. (Think Eldon Shamblin) You will be introduced to Drop Two chords which make comping come alive. You will learn Cycling Arpeggios to get you started in playing more interesting solos. All this instruction will be in the context of the great standards of Western Swing and the Great American Song Book.

Get ready for a Full-on Dose of Fun among friendly people and a supportive atmosphere.

Note: You may contact me at for prerequisite chord shapes, scales and a listening list.


Dana Sipos

Level: 1 – 4

The art of song writing is suspended in the delicate balance between the elusive gift of a song morsel, and the time and effort of continuously practicing your craft. As a process, songwriting can be meditative, playful, emotional, frustrating, satisfying. The practice can be transformative, healing, challenging and it is just that – a practice, and a discipline that improves with time, care and attention.

For this class, we will be exploring techniques and tricks of the trade through various writing exercises such as song prompts, co-writes and timed free writes. We will explore elements of what makes a compelling and classic song through melody, structure, lyrics and incorporate these ideas into the song(s) we will write over the course of the weekend.

I am so looking forward to diving into the art of songwriting with you all, in the nurturing and supportive environment we will create to collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other. Bring your favourite pen and journal!

Vocal Harmonies

Cara Luft

Level: 1 – 4

Come experience for yourself the fun and unique qualities of singing with others in harmony and learn how to capture the essence of a song with your voice. You will learn listening techniques, how to recognize chordal relationships, how harmony fits into a melodic landscape, how to sing better lines while picking up some vocal techniques and exercises along the way.

Join us for a fun and empowering experience! Everything is taught by ear and learned as a group.