Level: 2-3

“I wish I could do that” is what your friends will be saying after you complete this intermediate-level clawhammer course! Throughout the class sessions, your instructor will vacillate between a tough drill sergeant and the Dalai Lama in order for you to learn the higher-level skills of song accompaniment, solo playing (including a fiddle tune), double & drop thumbing, chords up the neck, tunings (other than “G”), and waltz time. Individual attention will also be given to your right-hand “frailing” stroke.

Completion of a beginner-level course or equivalent in private lessons. Be able to demonstrate the basic right-hand rhythm technique (I-BT or M-BT). Execute simple left-hand hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. Ability to read banjo tablature also required. Note: Banjo players needing a “refresher” in above skills are also welcome to the class.



Level: 2-4

This class will focus on developing a player’s approach to constructing melodic bass lines in support of the style and energy of the music. In addition to exploring technical aspects of bass playing, we will emphasize ideas of rhythm and melody creating music that has a strong sense of motion, direction, and feeling/emotion. We will also work on developing soloistic concepts and each player’s individual voice.

To this end, the class will explore topics related to:

  • Playing bass lines with an emphasis on the line’s melodic and rhythmic elements
  • Creating a sense of forward motion/tension & release within the music
  • The use of alternate chords (harmonic substitutions) to create interesting bass lines
  • Developing ideas to be used when playing solo

These topics will be explored within the context of blues, folk music and common jazz changes.

From a technical aspect, we will focus on issues relating to intonation and proper techniques with an eye towards tone production and facility around the instrument. We will be discussing the role of the bass in an ensemble and as a solo instrument.

I believe the only way to learn to play the bass is to, well, play the bass. So class will be taught in both a group format with lots of hands-on playing and experimenting with different ideas and techniques. Bring your bass (and a bow if you have one) and we’ll have some fun.



Level: 2-4

Blues and gospel music are kindred spirits. This workshop will provide participants with the historical intersections of both genres focusing on musical structures, guitar voicings, vocal techniques and poetic songwriting inherent to these styles. Participants will be equipped with easy songs to share in jamming situations as well as songs that will take practice to perfect over time. Expect fun, excitement and a whole lot of joy!”



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: 3-4

Students will learn and develop skills relating to songwriting, traditional rhythms and performing in a Reggae style. There will be particular attention paid to chord comping, construction of basslines and the musical terminology of the genre. A short introduction to the history of Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae music will offer students insight into the influences of well-known reggae artists and the subject matter that is dominant in Reggae music. A breakdown and analysis of the rhythmical layers of popular songs in the genre will allow students to create their own compositions and/or re-create their existing songs in a Reggae or Ska style.



Level: 2-4

“Be hip; be cool; play like nobody’s fool…”

This is a class with an “ease into” focus on the songs of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and Duke Ellington, and other swing and jazz composers for the memorable and relatively simple melody and chord progression lines. The fun comes with the syncopation and the rhythmic feel these songs exude when we play them.

We would look at the chord progressions and how readily transferrable they are to other jazz, swing, and blues tunes. Naturally, we will explore soloing ideas and techniques derived from the progressions as there’s always an interest in this.

This is an ensemble class, so all instruments are welcome.

Bottom line: We have a serious focus on having fun and playing lots.



Level: 1-2

We will work on good playing technique and apply these techniques to some fun fiddle tunes.

As well, we will choose a couple of tunes to go through the process of polishing a tune – what to do once you learn the notes!



Level: 3-4

If you’re looking to expand your repertoire and enhance your fiddle skills, then join me for Fiddle 3/4.

Students will be provided the opportunity to develop fiddle technique and style through learning traditional and contemporary Canadian fiddle tunes. We will also discuss Canada’s rich history of fiddle music and the various styles and dances unique to this country. My goal is to share the music and concepts that will augment your repertoire, playing ability and love of fiddle music. We’ll be learning music by ear and by sheet music, so please bring a music stand and a pencil. I recommend students bring a recording device.



Level: 1

This course will help new guitar students play standard chords smoothly and in time. We will focus upon playing common chord progressions in the keys of G, C and A major, common strumming patterns with the right hand and understanding the basics of the Nashville Numbering System to learn new songs and play them in keys that suit your voice. By the end of this workshop you will have learned how to identify key parts of the guitar, the names of the open strings, the process of tuning the guitar, how to hold and use a pick and how to play a simple song using chords from G major, C major, and A major. Students should bring an acoustic guitar, a tuner, a capo, a pick and a pen. Handouts will be given out in class.



Level: 3-4

This class will be about learning to take guitar solos in straight forward folk, pop and country songs . We?ll look at a variety of techniques including playing the melody, using simple scales and following the rhythm of the song to develop phrasing ideas. We?ll also look at ways to begin and end a solo and some standard licks that can be played in different contexts. Students should have a good working knowledge of most open position major and minor chords. Familiarity with common barre chords would also be helpful.



Level: 2-3

Rhythm guitar for song accompaniment (tips, techniques and twiddly-bits!)

Preparing your song, yourself and/or your band for the stage; obligations, essentials and nice-to-haves for that Sing-around/Song-circle, Open-mike or Concert Hall/Arena; how to get the best out of yourself and your audience. Bring your instrument(s), your song(s), your nerves and your stage-fright and get ready to have some fun.



Level: 1-2

Harmonica – The Ultimate Portable Instrument

In this class we will introduce and work on basic techniques, styles and approaches to the use of the harmonica in folk, blues and rock music. We will learn how to play chords and single notes, melodies and rhythm backup / accompaniment. In doing so, we will learn both the basics of reading and playing harmonica TAB as well as playing by ear. Once we have that under our belts, we will look at other techniques including playing the harmonica in different “positions” (e.g., 2nd position or “blues harp”), beginning to “bend” notes, do trills and tremolo, playing in a rack, etc.

Prerequisites: There is no experience necessary but some ability to play a few notes cleanly will help you get more from this course and will allow you to play more of the Level 2 material.

(that is a hint to practice ahead of time…)

What to bring: Enthusiasm and a love of music! Also, please bring a diatonic (10-hole) harmonica in the key of C at a minimum. If you have other harmonicas, feel free to bring them as well. If you play guitar and harmonica on a rack, bring them both and we will spend some time on that skill, time allowing.



Level: 1

If you are a raw, beginner mandolin player or simply want to give this beautiful instrument a try, this class is for you. If you have become frustrated with “how to” books, I’ve been there, let me share my short-cuts with you. We will cover all of the basics at beginner speed but, this course will be more about your strumming and less about me talking. Expect sore finger tips, tons of ideas for you to build your own style upon and the ability to chord along to songs around the campfire this summer. After all, It’s called “PLAYING” for a reason!



Level: 2-4

Roots Music Ear Training and Music Theory – Expand your playing through deeper knowledge of these key skills

The class will explain where chords come from, and different ways to use them. The Roman Numeral chord identification system will be introduced and students will learn to think of chord function, rather than just the letter name. We’ll develop the practical skills required when playing with other instruments, when using a capo and when having to transpose to a new key on the spot. The class will consist of theory, playing and ear-training components, where students will learn to recognize chords by hearing them.

Students should review the description of FAMI levels 2-4 and ensure that they meet all of the requirements for level 2 at a minimum. You should know your way around your instrument/fretboard reasonably well. If it’s a guitar, know the standard “guitar chords” in the keys of C, G, D, A, E.



Level: 1-4

The Songwriter Class will be open to all styles of songwriting as Norm will encourage the development and musical presentation of a variety of genres. There will be a strong emphasis on learning how to identify an idea as a song possibility and how to explore the musicality that best suits the the idea or poem. Song construction as it relates to rhythm and rhyme, imagery and emotion, music and meter will all be discussed and exercised with each student. Instruments are encouraged but, its not necessary to know how to play. An idea, a pencil and note pad are really all that’s required. Together, the class will work at writing a complete song over the weekend as well as working individually on songs.