Week 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.


Each week commences with supper, an orientation session, and jam sessions and socializing on the Sunday before classes begin. Most classes will meet for morning or afternoon sessions, Monday through Friday. Friday evening’s activities will close the week. Some classes may meet in the evenings for performance critiques, rehearsals, or jam sessions. Most of our programs also feature staff members in concerts open to the a public. See the Public Concerts page for details.

In addition to the scheduled classes and instructor staff, we will have various ‘potluck sessions’, guest instructors and adjunct staff to call dances and lead picking sessions and ‘slow jams’, or tune-learning sessions. Evening activities might include open mikes, dances, staff concerts, student showcases, jam sessions, song swaps and more. Some concerts and dances will be open to the public. Please note that although there is no deadline for registrations, both class size and total enrollment are limited for each calendar week, so early registration is encouraged. Students enrolled for instrumental instruction should provide their own instruments, and most of our instructors encourage the use of small recording devices like tape- or mini-disc recorders as a classroom memory aid. Students wishing to videotape classes will be required to obtain the permission of the instructor prior to the first class meeting, and must sign a release form stating that no commercial use will be made of any recorded materials. The Swannanoa Gathering reserves the right to cancel, add, and/or substitute classes and personnel where necessary.

Our program’s ‘open’ format, which encourages students to take several courses a day, allows a breadth of understanding of our folk traditions seldom found in workshops of this type. For example, a fiddler may take a class in her instrument in the morning, then, after lunch, a dance class that uses tunes from her fiddle class, and a folklore class in the afternoon describing the cultural context in which both tunes and dances developed. This may then contribute to a more complete grasp of the nuances of the style during her practice time, and a more authentic fiddle sound. We encourage all students to come to Swannanoa with an open mind and a willingness to try something new.