Week One Classes

Advancing Beginner Guitar is for players who know their basic guitar chords and not much else. We’ll get up the neck a bit, try out some tunings, fool around with rhythm, and learn some shortcuts and cheap tricks. Bring a capo and a favorite song or tune.

  • American Primitive Guitar (int/adv)
  • David Surette
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

This new class will offer a look at the development of the so-called “American Primitive” style of fingerstyle guitar, pioneered by John Fahey. Fahey’s playing and influence, more than anyone else, helped create the world of solo instrumental acoustic guitar music in the 1960s and 70s. We will look at the extensive country/blues roots of this style, cover a couple of cool open tunings and some trad-based fingerpicking patterns, and work on learning, developing, and creating pieces in this style.

  • Appalachian String Sessions
  • Adam Hurt
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

Come learn some great Appalachian traditional tunes while you savor the chance to play in a string ensemble. This is a great opportunity to enjoy playing in a group. Guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, fiddle. All material will be taught by ear in the traditional manner, so the use of recording devices is highly recommended.

We will learn real world sound skills and wander through some "big picture" theory without getting too technical. Much of what makes good sound is really basic: beat back hums and buzzes, set up your stage well, monitor levels in the right places, have good communication with the stage. Class tips and hands-on experience will come in handy at festivals, coffee houses, and home recording. Class members will be asked to crew on stage and be at the mixer for the final student concerts.

  • Beginning Guitar
  • Erica Weiss
  • TBD, 12:00 am - 12:00 am

Playing familiar songs right from the start, we will learn the basic tools for song accompaniment and playing with others. We’ll cover the basic chords, learn which chords commonly go together, and practice changing chords in rhythm. Basic strumming styles will be taught, with an emphasis on bass/alternate or “boom-chuck” strumming with a flatpick. Simple music theory and other useful tools, such as using a capo, reading TAB and chord diagrams, etc. will be included as desired by participants.

This playful class is designed to introduce (or perhaps re-introduce) you to this versatile instrument. We’ll cover holding and tuning the mandolin, how to coordinate the pick, and how to play simple chords and lead lines. Then we’ll relax into a week of songs and tunes to strengthen and expand your mandolin playing and overall musicianship.

  • Continuing Clawhammer Banjo
  • Adam Hurt
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

Designed for the advancing clawhammer banjo player, participants will learn a collection of traditional old-time tunes selected to convey broader ideas concerning technique, style, and aesthetics; concepts that can be put to use well beyond this case-study repertoire. In the process, we will discuss and explore ways of developing one's own personal musical style, as illustrated through the examples of a variety of source musicians. Participants should be comfortable playing in the clawhammer style without reading from tab. Some facility with the drop-thumb technique will help them get the most out of this class. All material will be taught by ear in the traditional manner, so the use of recording devices is highly recommended.

The fiddle is a continuous source of amazement, from basic bow-to-string to more elaborate playing. Using familiar and simple southern old-time tunes, we will build the layers, from finding good basic melodies to adding chords, variations, and rhythm. We will explore bowing technique, drawing mostly from old-time styles, and use some characteristic open tunings. The class will be geared so that beginning fiddlers as well as those new to old-time fiddling will enjoy playing and learning.

  • Filling in the Cracks for Guitar
  • Bennett Hammond
  • TBD, 12:00 am - 12:00 am

Filling in the Cracks is for any guitar players who do OK but want to spiff it up, for old folkies needing to lose bad habits, for more experienced players looking for a technical boost, or for any who have nothing else to do that period. We’ll get you to play just like yourself, only more so. Drop-ins welcome all week.

  • Fingerstyle Guitar in Drop D
  • Rolly Brown
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

Playing in "Drop D" tuning (just tuning your low E string down to D) combines the familiarity of standard tuning with the new tonal possibilities of a not-too-foreign alternate tuning. This approach has been used to great effect by a diverse bunch of guitarists, including Bert Jansch, Jorma Kaukenon, Joseph Spence, Rory Block, and Dave Van Ronk. We'll explore some classic fingerstyle arrangements, and also discuss arranging your own tunes in Drop D. We might even talk a bit about flatpicking in Drop D.

  • Improvising and Jamming 101
  • Rolly Brown
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

The basic goal of this class is to help students overcome their inhibitions about improvising. It's probably much more accessible than you think! We'll begin at the most basic level, with one, two, and three note breaks. Topics will include a beginning approach to phrasing with emotional content and simple note choices, how to improvise blues tunes and major scale tunes, and just a touch of advanced discussion about "inside" vs. "outside" sounds and playing it safe vs. going for broke. This will be a "hands on" workshop, with a lot of chance to explore jamming in a supportive atmosphere.

This class will focus on solidifying the basics of good technique, and expand into a survey of the varying roles of the mandolin. Melodic playing, fiddle tunes, improvising a break, and song backup (both playing behind a guitar player and accompanying yourself as a singer) are likely topics, using a repertoire based on a broad range of traditional American roots music.

Sing for energy, sing for joy. We'll sing great songs that are easy to learn, and the class will include plenty of vocal warm-ups and wake-ups. Everyone welcome. All levels.

  • Playin' Them Blues: Intermediate Blues Guitar
  • Sparky Rucker
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

This class will encompass both picking and slide guitar styles. It will run the gamut of the Piedmont songs and picking styles of Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, and Knoxville Blues man Brownie McGee, to the Mississippi Delta-style music of Sam Chatmon, and the slide styles of John Shines and Robert Johnson. We will learn how to hold the bottleneck and work on the rudimentary “bottleneck” or “slide” guitar techniques. Students should show a reasonable knowledge of chords and be prepared to do some singing, as singing is important to getting the rhythms correct. Bring a steel-stringed guitar (plastic or gut-stringed instruments don’t work for slide). Bring one medium to heavy metal slide. Glass is okay, but it needs to be heavy glass. Note: A spark plug socket wrench works! Metal slides will be available for puchase at the SAMW store onsite. The class will learn five or more songs, according to the expertise of the class. Audio recorders encouraged!

  • Playing the Music You Hear in Your Head
  • Jack Williams
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

This class could as easily be called, “Demystifying Music Theory”. How do we actually organize and express the sounds we hear? Is there a process we can identify? Are there shortcuts to make the journey from mind to fingertip quicker and easier? We'll consider all this, and more.

  • Song Repertoire with a Guitar Twist
  • Susie Burke
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

So many songs, so little time! I am always on the hunt for a good song (that suits my voice, my style, my spirit). In this class, we will learn some great songs each day to add to your bag of tunes. In addition, we will get into some of the basic stylistic guitar touches that give various songs the right feel. How about those bluegrass bass runs? A few blues licks? That distinctive Carter family sound? Those cool singer-songwriter-esque chord substitutions? The focus will be on the songs, but hopefully, you will also come away with some transportable guitar techniques.

More music came out of the Civil War than any other war in history. In this class, Sparky and Rhonda will lead participants in singing some of these songs. In addition, they will discuss the causes and events leading up to the conflict, touch on the highlights of the war, and explore its impact on different regions of the country. They’ll discuss the history from the perspectives of both the North and South, including the participation of the African-American soldiers. The stories, some sad and some humorous, include insights into the colorful personalities who participated in the war. Come learn some of these moving and often powerful songs, and discover the stories behind them!

  • Songwriting One (First Drafts)
  • Kate Campbell
  • TBD, 12:00 am - 12:00 pm

This workshop is all about getting started-throwing some words and music down-sketching out song notions so that we have something to edit and complete.
We often stop ourselves before we've even started by wanting the song to be perfectly formed before we commit pen to paper. I'm hoping everyone who participates in this class leaves SAMW with a new song!

  • Songwriting Two (Fixing & Finishing)
  • Kate Campbell
  • TBD, 12:00 am - 12:00 am

This is not a class in furniture building and refurbishing, however it is similar in that we will be talking about the "craft" of songwriting or "building" a song after the initial creative impulse. What are some specific tools we can use to "fix" our songs and know when they're complete? Also, what to do when we are stuck and seem to have trouble "finishing" tunes. Hopefully by the end of the week you'll have some music you feel good about and ready to share.

The emphasis here is on the role of the guitar in the songwriting process, from inspiration to performance. Examples, discussion, experimentation, risk-taking!

The goal here is freedom and fun! Every day, we are presented with situations that call for us to improvise, at work, at home, in line at a store. But we don’t worry about or fear improvisation in these situations, we just go for it. In this class, we will go for that same sense of winging it. We will play with our voices, through games and improvisations and songs and invented languages and our collective creativity. We will learn songs by ear that we may never sing again, songs that we might put in our pockets for another day. We will do group improvisations based on themes or sounds. We will have a good time!

Whether you want to sing Opera, Pop, Gospel, Musical Theater, Blues or Traditional Folk, your instrument is your voice, your body, your intelligence and your soul. Learn vocal technique through vocal exercise and breath management. Learn how to use breath energy to produce a free and effortless tone. Charles will share the tips and techniques that have kept him singing for forty years. You will reach into the depth of your own spirit to bring out the music that is unique to you.

Second section of Charles Williams Voice and Vocal Health class.

  • Whooping and Wailing: Beginning Blues Harmonica
  • Rhonda Rucker
  • TBD, 12:00 pm - 12:00 pm

This is a beginner’s class, and students will not be expected to be able to play harmonica in any style. We will discuss cross harp and work on basic 12-bar blues and introduce improvisation. In addition, we will work on harmonica techniques such as chugging, bending notes, and trills. A recording device is helpful. Bring a working diatonic harmonica (something like a "Marine Band") in the key of “A” for this class or purchase one at the SAMW store onsite. If you have other keys, bring them also so you can play in jams!