Arranging & Stagecraft

DON GOWAN

Level: 1-3

Conside this: music is absolutely meant to be performed! This class is designed to help you make a good impression at a music performance. We’ll learn how to arrange songs to make them more unique to you. Chord progressions, vocal and instrument dynamics, rhythm structures, and time signatures are really fun and easy to implement. We’ll examine ideas on connecting with fellow jammers/audience through thoughtful preparation. Effective verbal and non-verbal communication tips are included. In addition, we’ll learn to prepare for damage control if things hit the ditch.

The purpose of this class is twofold: learning to become more confident and realize perfroming can be fun-filled and satisfying; second, at all times we’re serious about having a lot of fun in class. If you are nervous or intimidated in front of others, this class is for you. Seriously.

As an ensemble class, we welcome all instruments (including vocalists) from Levels 1-3.

Banjo - Clawhammer

PAUL SILVERIS

Level: 2-3

In this class we will learn some intermediate songs and tunes, and look at how to learn new songs. We’ll use drop thumb and double thumb to create useful licks and add texture to your playing. 

BASS

RHONDA SHIPPY

Level: 1-2

The bass is the heartbeat of music, holding everything together as part of the rhythm section. No matter what style of bass you play, the function of the bass is the same so we’ll be studying the role of the bass and how to support the music with tone, timing and taste.

For the upright players we will review essential left and right hand techniques and stance, as well as fingerboard positions and patterns. For those on fretted basses we’ll look at patterns and placement, note choice on the fretboard and some right hand techniques. We will be playing right away, using songs from various genres to practice the techniques we are learning.

Learning some basic music theory will provide a foundation for creating simple bass lines while working on good technique and tone, and developing a common musical language.

Thinking about chord progressions and how to move through a song building different textures will be a focus. We will also cover timing, intonation and practice techniques that will benefit players at every level, including metronome and right hand exercises.

Students will also go home with study tools, as a booklet or in a digital format, and learn about ways to support their learning such as computer programs and applications.

No matter what level you’re at, we will help you move along your path of learning.

When legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90, he replied, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

BLUES ENSEMBLE

MATT TATA

Level: 2-4

What happens when you put a bunch of musicians in a room together and tell them to start playing? Well that could go brilliantly, or it could be total chaos. In this course we’ll learn and practice some of the fundamentals of playing in an ensemble so that you can achieve brilliance and avoid chaos. It comes down to two critical things that each musician needs to know: you need to know what everyone else is going to play, and you need to know when they are going to play it. Blues offers a great opportunity to learn these skills because many blues songs have well-known forms with straightforward chord changes and easy rhythms. We’ll work on understanding and practicing 12-bar blues (and other forms) and the kinds of chord progressions that happen in blues. We’ll work on intros, turnarounds, and tags so that everyone always ends up at the same place in the song at the right time. And we’ll practice listening carefully to each other to keep it all super tight.

All instruments are welcome in this course! You should have some technical skill with your instrument so that you can move smoothly through easy chord progressions, but you don’t need to know lots of fancy chords or be able to play flashy solos. You don’t even need to have experience playing specifically blues. Expect to play a lot in this course because we’ll practice the skills and concepts as we go.

FIDDLE TUNES FOR ALL INSTRUMENTS

DONNA TURK

Level: 2-3

This class will work on making instrumental music as a group. I will bring arrangements of tunes and we will put it all together. It’s not about the notes, but the music!

All fiddlers are invited but please note less time will be devoted to technique and more on Making Music!

Friends of fiddles… Guitar, mando, uke, penny whistle, banjo! All friends are invited to join us; however, you need to be proficient on your instrument and know how to follow chords or music.

FOLK ENSEMBLE

DOUG BAKER

Level: 2-4

How do you define folk music? People have been debating that for years. And while it’s hard to nail down, most of us, upon hearing a song, will have an opinion on whether it’s folk or not. In the folk ensemble class, we’ll visit a number of great songs that most of us would agree seem to fit the genre. We’ll play songs spanning the past 150 years or so to see how folk music has evolved but also examine the common aspects of folk songs written decades apart.

I’ll bring the lyrics and chords to a number of folk songs from different eras and styles. All you need to bring is your willingness to share your talents vocally and on your acoustic instruments of choice. It would be great to have a variety of instruments in the class.
I’m looking forward to working with you to create really interesting arrangements of these influential folk songs.

Prerequisites: Students should have reasonable proficiency with their instrument as no instruction in how to play the instrument will be given.

GUITAR - FLATPICKING

KEITH LARSEN

Level: 2-3

Using Fiddle tunes (with ear training and tablature for back up), we will explore the “bag of licks”, tricks and runs to spice up your playing. I love to talk guitar so we will cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Picks.
  • Jam etiquette.
  • How to reduce tension in your playing.
  • Picking out melodies.
  • Breaking away from the melody and improvising.
  • Putting the “Blues” in Bluegrass.
  • Right hand technique.
  • Solid rhythm playing.
  • The 3 “T”s of music: Timing, Taste and Tone.
  • How to make you a better musician all around, solo and when playing with others.

The atmosphere will be relaxed and supportive. We will play a lot and have fun and some laughs along the way.

GUITAR - INTRODUCTION

SHERI BRAKE

Level: 1

This course is designed for those with little or no experience playing the guitar who want to learn the basics. Fun, laughter, and an unapologetic beginner mindset (we’ll take our time and we’ll figure it out) are welcome here!

Throughout this course we’ll focus on laying a solid skill foundation that you can use right away or continue to build on as your guitar skills progress. We’ll work on learning basic first position chords, exploring several keys, changing chords evenly, and strumming consistently while working on tone and rhythm. We’ll even explore the fret board a bit!

We’ll learn some tunes that you can play with just a few chords to enjoy on your own or with friends. We’ll talk about the most important things to consider when playing with others and how you can participate in a jam with just a few chords. We’ll also discuss the proper use of basic guitar gear including guitar straps, tuners, picks, and capos.

GUITAR - SOLOING

STEVE FISHER

Level: 2-4

For guitarists who have been mainly rhythm players, becoming a soloist can be a daunting prospect. This class is for guitarists who are ready to begin that process or who want to expand their soloing skills.

We’ll look at several approaches to making a musical guitar solo including playing the melody and building a solo from the chords of the song. We’ll also look at a few simple scales that are common in folk, blues and country music and learn ways to phrase the notes you play to make them more expressive.

MANDOLIN

MICHAEL HEPHER

Level: 2-3

Level Up Mando: Plunky to Funky

The mandolin is a funny little instrument that can sound a bit thin on its own, but with a little practice can add so much to any musical style.

First we are going to focus on adding richness and depth to our playing by looking at picking-hand techniques for good tone, alternate chord shapes (like movable chords, double stops, chop chords) and strumming techniques to fill in the sonic gaps.

Next we are going to look at improvising on the mandolin with some different ways of looking at the fingerboard (that don’t include memorizing notes) that will help you hear breaks, and then play them, no matter what song comes up at a jam.

We’ll use some familiar tunes and some new ones to reinforce these ideas, and we’ll play some nifty mando games to get us all listening and picking a little better than when we walked in.

Mandos of the world unite!

PLAYING BY EAR

BARRY LUFT

Level: 2-3

Free at last! Yes, it’s time to lose your dependence on “the page” – that’s not where the music resides, anyway. In other words you are finally getting a divorce from the chord chart in order for your music to take on new life!

Hearing chord changes will be the focus of this class for singers who play chord-types of instruments (guitars, banjos, ukuleles, mandolins, and autoharps). Please note that this class is for those who cannot hear the basic I, IV, V, VIm chords and feel “hopeless” in accompanying 3-chord songs without visual help no matter how well they can play.

You will learn how songs and tunes are constructed chord-wise, and class exercises will sharpen up your ear 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, “Hey, bring your guitar and sing “Happy Birthday” to Aunt Edna, or “Let’s jam!”

ROCKA-LELE (UKULELE)

ANIE RADISH

Level: 2-3

Join Anie Radish in some top 40 classic rocka-lele ensemble fun! We will learn and play a few rock songs complete with all the sounds and beats a uke can muster! Be ready to brush upon your basic and rockabilly uke chords and strums, and even try to jam with a simple break.

This class is for level 2 players who would like to move into a level three. Can you Rock that? (Yes you can!)

SONGWRITING

JOHN WORT HANNAM

Level: 1-4

I‘m not sure songwriting can be taught. Not because I think it’s some mystical power only a select few have. (I think everyone can develop into a songwriter) but because songwriting is a moving target, impossible to hit every time. But through writing activities and exercises we can develop our own songwriting abilities.

We will try to nurture the discipline of putting pen to paper through techniques such as scaffolding other songs, timed writing, co-writing, and song prompts.

We will take it slow and build a supportive atmosphere where we can share ideas and work.

We will touch on structure, rhyme, and imagery but mostly you will spend the majority of the time writing, so come prepared with some unbound sheets of paper, any pieces of songs or ideas you have, and also print out the lyrics to two of your favourite songs for one exercise.

VOCALS

DON HANSEN

Level: 1-4

This class is for everyone interested in singing. If you’re inexperienced, even afraid to sing, or think that you can’t sing, you’ll discover that if you can speak, you can sing. If you’re an accomplished singer looking for new information or skills or just the simple joy of singing, this is the class. Almost all of our time will be focused on singing a great variety of songs, but also covered will be basic information about the voice, as well as how to develop, maintain and care for this most wonderful of instruments.