Mando & Banjo Week Classes – June 25-July 1, 2023



This class will be an overview of the basics of my general approach to playing the mandolin. There will be a strong emphasis on the fundamentals, basic posture, right- and left-hand technique and exercises. We will work on some simple songs (TAB and music provided) play some of the easy-ish fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs together and discuss how each of you can move forward in your mandolin journey. We’ll cover some of the basic moveable chord shapes and play in a few different keys and look at some rhythm patterns from a few different musical traditions. I’ll keep the class at a reasonable pace, pretty light-hearted and fun.

This more advanced class will go at a much quicker pace than my Mandolin Overview class. We will learn some more advanced fiddle tunes and talk about how to create variations and improvise on these kinds of tunes (music and TAB provided). We’ll look into improvisation in the classic bluegrass repertoire and how to play fills on vocal tunes. We’ll give you some tips to help you ‘spruce up’ your rhythm playing and from there we will dive deep into swing and jazz, which, of course leads to theory on the mandolin, arpeggios and scales and how to move them up and down the fingerboard, and how to find chords using three basic moveable shapes. We’ll learn some Brazilian choro music and break down the mystery of those syncopated rhythms. We’ll also do some call-and-response improvisational things and if anyone is playing any J.S. Bach these days I’m happy to give some pointers there too.

A basic knowledge of the fingerboard including chords and double-stops will be helpful in this intermediate class. We’ll build breaks to common bluegrass songs and instrumentals, finding the melody in different places on the fingerboard, position shifting, double-stops, improving your slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs. We will map out the breaks so they will be easily transferable to your other favorite bluegrass songs. We’ll also cover playing rhythm with a band as well as your role in other ensembles, adding rhythmic variation, and groove. We’ll cover how important it is to listen to music around you to find groove and play tastefully. We’ll learn classic licks to make your bluegrass playing sound more authentic. Your questions are always appreciated. There will be some handouts but a lot of ear practice as well. It’s gonna be fun!!

This class will focus on some advanced techniques in bluegrass mandolin and mandolin in general. We’ll look at standard bluegrass songs and some more obscure tunes as well as classic breaks in bluegrass. We will also explore how to play ‘around the melody’ tastefully with traditional as well as more modern approaches. We will talk about the journey to true improvisation as well as discussing how to alter some of your favorite licks to get much more out of them. This will be an exploration of the mandolin that will help you down the road to creating your own style! Bring plenty of questions. There will also be handouts in this class as well. Gonna be a blast!!

As improvisors, we want to have a strong sense of the relationship between notes that we’re choosing and the underlying chords in a chord progression. We don’t want to play random notes and hope for the best: we want to be able to anticipate whether a note is going to sound good or bad against a given chord, and to make choices with these effects in mind. Our work in this class will be centered around two main ideas: learning/practicing/internalizing arpeggios (starting with the simplest triads and moving to more complex varieties of 7th chords) as a way of finding and organizing chord tones and non-chord tones, and in using voice leading exercises and guide tone lines to transition into using arpeggios to create improvisational lines.

‘DAWG’ MANDOLIN (Joe K. Walsh)
David “Dawg” Grisman is one of the most influential mandolin players of all time, a prolific tune-writer, a hugely important band leader, and a champion of our beloved eight-string box. His compositional and arranging sensibilities expanded the collective definition of what is possible for the mandolin, and bluegrass in general, and his stylistically fluid body of recorded work laid out a genre-hopping path that many other mandolin players have followed. In this class we’ll take a closer look at all things Dawg, learning a number of his iconic tunes and solos, and breaking down some inventive and effective arrangements.

MANDOLIN BASICS (Casey Campbell)
Let’s learn to play mandolin! For folks just starting out with this 8-stringed-wonder, this class is for you! Throughout this course you’ll learn all you need to know to start playing music with others right out of the gate. We’ll begin with some fundamentals, including an overview of mandolin technique and posture, right-hand picking theory, open/chop chord shapes and strum patterns, as well as some bluegrass and old-time melodies that you can play at the jam. Then as the week goes on we’ll dip our toes into some music theory, ear training, jam etiquette, and other concepts that will help give you the next steps you need to keep progressing and gain more confidence playing music with others.

Double-stops are incredibly versatile shapes that are useful not only for a fuller sound, but as a way of better understanding and executing ideas along the fretboard. This class is geared towards upper-intermediate and advanced players who want to take that next step with their double-stops game. Together we’ll flesh out all the different facets and implications of this topic through interval studies, exercises, fretboard mapping, and advanced song arrangements in different genres using double-stops.

In this class, the emphasis will be on learning to keep the basics in mind, i.e., playing a song’s melody cleanly with good tone and timing. We will learn some fiddle tunes and songs from the old-time repertoire, most in standard tuning, but some in cross tunings. The fiddle tunes will show the proper right-hand picking patterns. The songs will incorporate double-stops. We’ll look at the bluesy style of Bill Monroe and other early bluegrass practitioners like Everett Lilly and Pee Wee Lambert. We’ll also discuss basic technique, with emphasis on tone production. Prerequisites: students should know all the standard bluegrass closed chop chords, and know some fiddle tunes and be able to play them at a reasonable tempo.

In this class we will learn some great traditional and original tunes in a variety of styles – old-time, bluegrass, New Acoustic, Latin, and jazz. In addition to the melodies, we will examine the techniques involved in playing the stylistically-varied tunes. For example, to work on double-stops and tremolo we will learn “Waltz in Bluegrass.” For uptempo bluegrass-style playing we will learn “Bluegrass Signal”. For single-note fiddle tunes we will learn “Little Pine Siskin”. For syncopated right-hand rhythms we will learn “La Arboleda.” For more progressive bluegrass and New Acoustic music we will learn “Birdland Breakdown” and “Devlin.” For jazz chord/melody we will learn “Yardbird Suite.” The rhythmic accompaniment for the various tunes and styles will be covered, as well as some improvisational ideas.

This class will bridge the gap between the folk mandolin and classical mandolin. We will begin by working on the fundamentals of sound production, and the philosophy of the classical mandolin sound, then move on to some basic mandolin techniques that include cross-picking, some warm-up exercises and some wonderful simple melodies. Lastly, we will work on coordination and speed, but we’ll keep the focus on having fun. The ability to read music will really help in this class.

This class requires the ability to read music. We will build on the classical mandolin basics and the pieces will become a bit more challenging. We will give you an overview of the classical mandolin repertoire that spans 300 years. We will also work on speed, double-stops, coordination, tremolo, duo-style, and the harp arpeggio techniques from the 18th and 19th centuries. I always like to work up some ensemble pieces together featuring some beautiful original mandolin compositions for our performance on the last day.

This class will consider the variety of ways in which the tenor banjo and mandolin can function in Celtic music. The tuning and technical playing elements are similar for both the mandolin and the tenor banjo. With an emphasis on melodic playing of traditional Irish and Scottish tunes, we will explore ways of playing that are both idiomatic to the mandolin and tenor banjo and at home in traditional Celtic music contexts. We will develop approaches for accompaniment and think about how to complement other melody players. We will also delve into techniques for good tone and projection, focus on technical stylistic elements like triplets and crosspicking, and further our understanding of the fretboard. Melodies will be taught by ear in GDAE tuning and sheet music will not be provided.

Starting with a healthy dose of John Hartford Songs (ones we have not looked at in past years), we’ll look at a standard double-stop and position-playing approach to taking solos, and then branch out from there into some other “newgrass” approaches. Following the lead of players like Sam Bush and David Grisman, the course will explore ways of adding new elements to your playing, from fiddle tune phrasing to rock & roll to a bit of jazz and more.

This course will focus solely on playing rhythm – something we do probably 90% of the time when we’re playing with other people in a jam session or other group settings. So why not learn some new approaches? This course will help students learn ways of playing rhythm in bluegrass and folk music, with a bit of blues, swing and “newgrass” mixed in. Basic chord forms will be given, and the course will gradually build on these into chord inversions, double stops and melodic “fills.” Songs will be taught in several keys to help students get more familiar with the fretboard and be able to play more comfortably in jam sessions.

“Essentials of Swing” will focus on chord voicings, progressions and rhythm playing for time-honored favorites of swing, jazz, and related styles such as Western Swing and Gypsy jazz. We’ll learn how to work with progressions and forms – what to add, what to leave out. We’ll have chord diagrams, fakebook-style chord charts, and plenty of tunes. You bring a tuned-up mandolin and your ears. It’s good if you relate to chords and progressions by number(I-IV-V, ii-V-I, etc). Your friends will be amazed when they see you playing a seemingly different chord on every beat!

“The Good Notes” is about single-note (melody) playing and improvisation. Improv is a two-part process where we choose pitches to play by what effect they have on the melodic line you are creating, plus we choose rhythm patterns to state things in. We’ll look at the process from a few angles: ornamenting a melody, coordinating scales or modes with chord tonalities, analyzing existing tunes, analyzing the choices made by great players, finding phrases that fit certain harmonic situations. Handouts will be in standard notation and TAB, but we’ll mostly be learning by ear and eye. Helpful fundamentals to prepare include the ability to find scales(major, minor, dominant 7th, diminished) in both all fretted moveable positions and with open strings included, and ability to readily transpose progressions. We’re going looking for The Good Notes!

In this class for intermediate and advanced level players we will cover the basics of blues, bluegrass and jazz (swing, Latin and modern styles) with the emphasis on improvisation in those styles, a step-by-step system on how to practice improvising, mapping out the whole fretboard, ‘modern’ chord forms and chord substitutions, open tunings, odd time signatures, slide mandolin technique and usage of the bottleneck slide in open and standard tunings, chord melody, arranging for solo mandolin, the ‘duo style’ and sound reinforcement ideas. Several handouts will be available.

In order to grow as a musician, it is important to develop your ability to recognize what you hear in live music sessions and recordings, and then translate that to your instrument. This class will teach you to correctly recognize what you hear more quickly, allowing you to interpret and respond to music with greater conviction and expression because you are more certain of the notes you are hearing, playing and singing. It builds connections between your inner hearing (or aural imagination), your voice and your instrument. Melodic ear training: intervals, scales, modes. Harmonic ear training: harmonized scale, six basic types of chords and their extensions, chord progressions, key centers and modulations. It will be taught using well-known songs and tunes. The main emphasis will be on practical use of this skill, making you better at your playing, singing, improvising, arranging, transcribing, teaching and composing. Printed materials will be provided and audio recording is encouraged. This class will be taught using the mandolin, guitar and keyboard though it is open to players of any instruments, and all levels are welcome.




Jam sessions and playing in bands require you to quickly master tunes and create solos, often with songs and tunes that you’re hearing for the first time. In this practical, ‘hands-on and let’s-play’ style of class, we’ll develop a strategy for analyzing, learning and mastering new tunes by ear using a step-by-step approach to first identify song forms and chord progressions, find melodies in different keys and create great sounding solos and back-up. We’ll start with what you already know and then take you to the next level by exploring the different approaches used to play a wide variety of bluegrass music, from classic vocal tunes, to fiddle & instrumental tunes, modal/blues songs, ¾ time songs and some of the more unusual songs often played in jams. The emphasis will be on moving you forward by setting individual personal goals for the week with short assignments given each day.

Bill shows you how to turn technique-building exercises in Scruggs, melodic and single-string styles into powerful licks that you can use in everything from traditional bluegrass improvisations and solos to fiddle tunes and blues and jazz-tinged solos. The class will begin by exploring roll-based exercises and licks that will strengthen the clarity and drive of your Scruggs-style lead playing and backup. We’ll then map out the fretboard and master major scales, octave shifts, chromatic licks and more in melodic and single-string styles while gaining a new understanding of the theory underlying these contemporary approaches. You’ll be able to work up your own versions of tunes using melodic & single-string techniques after this class has ended! We’ll even throw in a bunch of great tunes that put to use what you’ve discovered through these exercises. Short assignments will be given each day with the emphasis on keeping you moving you forward by setting individual personal goals for the week.

This clawhammer and fingerpicking class will help you build your skill and style on the banjo through a combination of repertoire, technique, practice and context. We will work on keeping excellent time, understanding melody, developing a personal musical voice, and refining style as we learn both classic and more obscure tunes of the southern mountains. Come prepared to explore repertoire of legacy players including Wade and Fields Ward, Matokie Slaughter, Giles Lephew of southwest Virginia; Tommy Jarrell and other Round Peak artists, and more. We will also consider the history and context of southern mountain banjo music through commentary listening to recordings. About three-quarters of our class time will be devoted to learning on the instrument, and about one quarter to context and guided listening to recordings of outstanding legacy artists. Come prepared to play your banjo, clap and sing. You’ll have a great time and learn a lot. Please bring extra strings, a capo and, if possible, a banjo strap.

This class presents an opportunity to focus at an advanced level on tunes, tunings, technique, style and context. The class will be based in clawhammer style with fingerpicking instruction as well. You should arrive able to play comfortably in at least three keys in clawhammer style, and able to tune your instrument with some facility. We’ll consider the core characteristics of the banjo – melody, drone, rhythm and percussion – and how to bring them out. We’ll work on training the ear for melody, and we’ll focus at a high level on keeping exquisite time. We will add repertoire, mostly from the southern mountains, in unusual as well as standard tunings. We will devote about a quarter of our time to the history and context of southern mountain traditional music, including guided listening to recordings of great players. This will provide understanding you need in order to best bring out the banjo’s core characteristics at your level of playing. You’ll have the chance to play in a duo with your instructor on the fiddle or guitar, further improving your understanding of timing and of interplay with other instruments and musicians. Please bring extra strings, a capo and, if possible, a banjo strap.

Intrigued with the sound of clawhammer banjo? This is the class for you! We’ll work on the basic clawhammer down-stroke style, develop some left-hand techniques (slides, hammer-ons & pull-offs) and pull these all together using some simple, yet great, southern tunes. This class is designed for players new to the banjo or new to the clawhammer style. I can promise a fun, comfortable pace. Singing and laughter is encouraged! I encourage you to bring a capo, extra strings, a strap and a recording device. Tablature will be provided for most of the tunes AFTER we’ve worked on them.

Although there isn’t one specific Round Peak clawhammer banjo style, there are elements of style that contribute to a recognizable sound from the Round Peak region of northwest North Carolina. This intermediate/advanced class will explore some well-known tunes from the great players of the Round Peak community as well some from nearby Galax and Independence, Virginia. We’ll focus on the space, style and timing that make this music recognizable. We’ll go at a comfortable pace in a safe, fun and encouraging environment and spend some time during each class listening to the masters playing the tunes we’re learning. As the week progresses, we’ll practice refining our tunes to the playing of a particular fiddler. For the most part, we’ll play in the keys of A and D. I encourage you to bring a capo, extra strings, a strap and a recording device. Tablature will be provided for some of the tunes after we’ve worked on them.




This class focuses on how to play powerful bluegrass rhythm guitar. We will work on alternating-bass styles of playing as well as using bass runs and other motion within the chords to accent your vocals or the instrumentalists you’re playing with. In addition to these basic building-block techniques, we will learn the rhythm accompaniment part to one bluegrass song or tune each day. The class will present songs/tunes that allow you to see the rhythm patterns that work effectively in most of the first-position chord families. We will also discuss how to use a capo to get the song in a key to fit your voice. All levels of participants are welcome. Familiarity with guitar chords and knowledge of guitar tablature is helpful, but not required. Participants are encouraged to bring recording devices to class and also encouraged to participate in the Bluegrass Jam that Ed will lead every afternoon, as a way to reinforce the techniques learned in class as well as learn additional songs/tunes.

This course will delve into more advanced forms of bluegrass guitar rhythm playing. In addition to learning our way around the standard “boom-chuck” bass note and strum patterns that form the foundation of bluegrass rhythm guitar, we will explore more advanced moving bass lines, substitute chords and inversions, and even some basic three-note swing rhythm patterns to put some extra ‘sock’ into your playing. Along the way, we’ll highlight the concepts of harmonic theory and how to select chords and chord patterns to strengthen the guitar’s support of the vocalist and instrumentalist. Familiarity with flatpicking and guitar chords, along with knowledge of guitar tablature is highly recommended. While tablature will be provided for most techniques and songs covered in class, participants are strongly encouraged to bring recording devices to class as a memory aid, since we will be covering some fairly challenging material.

Whether you are new to swing music or the guitar, this hands-on beginners’ class will introduce you to the skills that you need to play swing music. Using common repertoire, this class will provide a solid foundation for good chord voicings, rhythm guitar strumming patterns, pick technique, melody playing and accompaniment practices. Participants should plan to have fun and play during class. Handouts will be in standard notation, tablature and chord diagrams. (Find this class in the Fiddle Week Schedule)

Open to all instruments. This class will focus on performance practice through learning arranged swing repertoire. With parts divided between instruments and difficulty level, we will assemble a swing ensemble during class as we address the fundamental aspects of swing 8th notes, dynamics, part-playing, improvisation and good rhythm section practices. Materials will be provided in standard notation, tablature and chord diagrams. Open to intermediate and advanced players but no prior experience with swing music is necessary. (Find this class in the Fiddle Week Schedule)

This class will cover a wide range of guitar-oriented subjects for players interested in guitar accompaniment in Irish and Scottish music. The class will be taught out of drop-D tuning, but is open to players in DADGAD and standard tuning. Together, we will think about right-hand techniques and grooves for different types of common melodies, hearing harmonic movement within traditional tunes, counterpoint, different approaches to understanding and visualizing the fretboard, approaches for session playing, and cool guitar player jargon. The class will be taught by ear, though chord charts can be provided.



Other Events

In the last hour before supper, Ed will lead a non-threatening bluegrass jam for all levels and instruments. Come have fun channeling your inner Bill Monroe! (No class limit)

During the last hour before supper, there will be a special class time for students of any skill level to form bands, along with students from Mando & Banjo Week. With the guidance of instructors, band members arrange and rehearse with the option of performing at the Student Showcase on Friday evening. (Sign up for band sessions is at first band meeting time; no advanced registration required.)

Throughout the week we will feature several fine luthiers displaying instruments, including bowmaker Sarah Bystrom Andal, and violin maker Gordon Gross.

Master luthier Lynn Dudenbostel will be offering his repair services throughout the week. Contact him through his website to get on his schedule: