Class Format


The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges to the safe presentation of in-person gatherings of all types. For 2022, our safety protocols will be guided by the recommendations of the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Buncombe County Health Department and those of Warren Wilson College. We anticipate that these measures will continue to evolve in response to the progress of the virus, but as of this writing:

All participants, including children, must provide documentation, verified with a photo ID, that they are up to date with a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and have gotten the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC. For maximum immunity, please insure that your immunizations are up-to-date at least two weeks before your participation in the 2023 Swannanoa Gathering.

– We recommend that Gathering participants remain on campus throughout the week. 

– Other Covid precautions may be imposed in the spring depending on conditions projected for July. Registrants will be notified in advance of additional safety protocols.

– Participants will be updated throughout the spring of any changes or additions to these safety measures.


The workshops take place at various sites around the Warren Wilson campus and environs, including classrooms, Kittredge Theatre, our Bryson Gym dance-hall and campus Pavilion, the campus gardens and patios, an outdoor amphitheater, and our own jam session tents. Each year we offer over 150 classes. Each class is a five-day course of study. Students are free to create their own curriculum from any of the classes offered for each week. Students may select a class choice and an alternate for each of our scheduled class periods, but concentration on a few classes is strongly recommended, since taking too many may not leave enough opportunity and/or practice time to absorb all the material presented, and class selections are required for registration. We ask that you be thoughtful in making your selections, since we will consider them to be binding choices for which we will reserve you space.

After their first class meeting, students have until Monday at 6:00 pm to switch into another open class if they find they have made an inappropriate choice, and are then expected to remain in those classes. Unless indicated in the class descriptions, classes have a maximum of 15 students, and when those limits are reached, classes will be closed and additional students wait-listed. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Some of our class descriptions define required skills in detail, but when the following terms appear, Beginner refers to those with no experience at all, or those who play some but are not yet comfortable with the basics. Intermediate students should have mastered basic skills, and be able to tune their instruments, keep time, play the principal chords and scales cleanly, and know how to play a few tunes with confidence (dancers should know basic steps and figures, and how to lead and/or follow). Advanced students should be very comfortable with their instruments and able to focus on style, arrangement and ornamentation. Roman numerals after a class title indicate a difference in focus or skill level of the same subject, while capital letters denote different sections of the same class. Many of our classes may include musical notation or tablature, though in general, we emphasize learning by ear. Our classes have no age restrictions, but we require that all students, especially minors, be sincerely interested in the subject and not a distraction to others.