Mando & Banjo Week Classes – June 30-July 6, 2024


THE DAWG HOUSE (Mike Marshall)
I joined the original David Grisman Quintet in 1978 and spent 5 years under the tutelage of David, Tony Rice, Darol Anger, Todd Phillips and a host of other bandmates who passed through the group during those years. I consider it my graduate school years as a musician. We’ll learn some of David’s iconic tunes, discuss the band’s whole musical concept and how the Dawg pointed the way to so much of what is contemporary mandolin today. I’ll give you some insights into what that music is all about and break it down into manageable parts for you.

Back in our van-riding touring days of late 1970s, we used to listen to a bootleg cassette tape of Brazilian mandolinist Jacob do Bandolim. We had never heard of a pandeiro, a cavaquinho or a 7-string guitar. It would be many years before I would travel to Brazil and learn how this music was put together. I fell deeply in love with the genre and got to play with some of the greatest exponents of the style. I’ll break down the rhythmic concept of the music for you and help you get your Brazilian groove on through some beautiful, classic tunes by Jacob, Pixinguinha, Waldir Azevedo and others.

A basic knowledge of some common jam tunes is helpful but not necessary for this intermediate class. We will learn basic melodies to some of your favorite bluegrass jam tunes as well as ways to make our solos more interesting and fun!! We’ll work on finding the melody in different places on the fingerboard, position shifting, double-stops, improving your slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs. 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 progression. We don’t want to play random notes and hope for the best: we want to be able to anticipate how a note might sound 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 (staring 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.

In this class we will examine and practice various approaches to soloing on jazz and swing tunes. Taking a cue from the truism “It’s hard to play something if you don’t know what it sounds like”, we will examine melodic phrasing choices, licks, and solos from masterful jazz improvisors as a way of assimilating the language and aesthetic. We will also work on using ‘harmonic analysis’ on various songs/tunes as a way of deducing scalar options.

By diving deep into the catalog of one of the most renowned fiddlers in bluegrass music, we will build strength in our ring- and pinky fingers and discover new shapes on the fretboard. From finger twisters like “First Day in Town” to flowing melodies like “Roxanna Waltz”, students will come away with popular tunes ready to try out at jams and more difficult arrangements to tackle after camp. This class will also serve as an opportunity to strengthen ear training and pattern recognition to pick up any fiddle tune quicker at jams.

This class has been updated for the 2024 camp with new exercises and tunes! Come see why two notes are better than one as we look at interval studies, jumping positions up and down the neck, and try to build our own mini-mandolin orchestra. This class is geared towards upper-intermediate and advanced players who want to take that next step with their double-stops game.

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 “The North Shore.” For uptempo bluegrass-style playing we will learn “Big Bug”. For single-note fiddle tunes we will learn “Cazadero”. For syncopated right-hand rhythms we will learn “La Arboleda.” For more progressive bluegrass and New Acoustic music we will learn “Old Grey Coat” and “Cascadia.” For jazz chord/melody we will learn “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” 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 guide and hone your playing of the larger, mandolin-family Irish bouzouki, covering techniques of accompaniment to jigs, reels, and other traditional dance music as well as songs. We’ll focus on right- and left-hand positions, posture, picking and strumming patterns and rhythm, tone production, tunings, and capo use.

Starting with a healthy dose of John Hartford Songs (ones we haven’t covered 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.

The joy and fun of playing confidently, creatively and musically, is the goal of many of us who play and study the mandolin. This class is intended to enlighten, open minds and widen perceptions of mandolin playing in any genre and setting. Using familiar tunes from several genres, we will learn how to establish accurate melody and then delve into the fine art of improvising and its endless possibilities. Learn how to recognize the tools of creativity, and how to freely explore your creative palette to treat yourself and your listeners to fresh ideas and creative mandolin playing. We will also cover inventive steps on how to take a standard familiar tune and turn it into a chord-melody presentation. Emory will take the class through creative improvisation exercises, and get you started on your way to creating great solos that are fun and always evolving. No preparation required, but just a fun class with lots to absorb, thinking ‘outside of the box’. Handouts will be provided. Lots of questions are always useful and welcome, and often provide interesting and informative topics for exploration

This class will focus in-depth on developing your skill as a mandolin player and a musician, in a bluegrass band or jam setting, as well as reaching beyond into other related genres. We will cover foundational subjects such as overall technique, fretboard knowledge and language, use of mappings, and also delve into favorite techniques such as tremolo, multi-string (crosspicking), and increasing speed by managing ‘tension’ and ‘energy’. For bluegrass content, we’ll cover how to ‘kick off’ tunes, get into and out of breaks, ‘presentation’ of melody, and approaches for improvising, as well as rhythm and chord choices, working with and controlling time, and how to use the mandolin in a band or jam setting to help yourself and others play and sound better. Thoughts on practicing and rehearsal strategy, as well as some fun ‘unusual’ practice techniques, will be discussed in this class. Emory will give tips and strategies on ‘listening and interpreting’, ‘acting and reacting’, to familiar and unfamiliar music around you, and concepts such as ‘play first, think second’, and ‘play it again’ will be presented and discussed. Handouts will be provided. Lots of questions are always useful and welcome, and often provide interesting and informative topic exploration.

PLAYING UP THE NECK (David Benedict)
Still struggling to get past 7th fret? Fret no more. This class for intermediates and up will be an in-depth look at how to traverse higher up the neck. Together, we’ll explore fretboard navigation by using common shapes and techniques that professional players use to scale the neck. Along the way, we’ll learn some familiar tunes in high places, and start to unravel the mysteries of the FFCP (Four Finger Closed Position) Method.

DOUBLE-STOPS & BEYOND (David Benedict)
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 for intermediate and advanced players will explore double-stops’ many uses. 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.




Developing great listening skills and being able to figure out melodies as quickly as possible are essential to becoming a successful banjo player in jams, in bands and in improvisation. In this brand-new workshop focus, Bill will present a method of learning melodies in which the key, scale and chord progression of any given song provides a road map to more easily find melodies in both open and closed banjo chord positions in any key. We’ll figure out a few familiar melodies by trial-and-error using this method (and mistakes are welcome!) and discuss how to begin to construct a bluegrass banjo solo from what we discover. We’ll add roll patterns, licks, and left-hand techniques in a step-by-step method that will give you confidence to create your own solos in a bluegrass style. In the process, we’ll leave tablature behind (for the most part) and learn how to rely on our ears to more quickly become better banjo players.

The three main techniques used in bluegrass banjo are Scruggs-style, melodic, and single-string banjo. In this session, we’ll analyze each approach, unlocking the secrets that allow you to create your own music using each technique. Along the way, we’ll discover the advantages and the challenges presented with each way of playing and when best to use each approach. We’ll learn a few classic tunes that will open up the banjo fingerboard as well as illuminate how great players such as Earl Scruggs, J. D. Crowe, Bill Keith, Don Reno and others incorporated these techniques into their own playing. Students will get lots of individual attention in this class as they work up a solo on their own to present at the end of the week with the goal of more fully understanding each way of making music on the five-string banjo.

Two-finger banjo is a versatile way to play instrumental old-time music. It can be syncopated, driving, sharp, or sweet. You might have heard Nick Hornbuckle, Mike Seeger, or Kirk Sutphin play two-finger on stage or in the studio. In the thumb-lead style, the index finger plucks the first string and the thumb plucks the other four strings. This class will focus on thumb-lead versions of square dance tunes and jam favorites. Likely repertoire includes “Arkansas Traveler,” “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” “Ducks on the Millpond,” “Mississippi Sawyer,” and “Old Joe Clark.” Matt will provide tablature for every tune, drawing arrangements from his book, Thumb Lead Two-Finger Banjo. This class is for intermediate and advanced banjoists but no prior experience with two-finger picking is required. We will make ample use of the slide, hammer-on, and pull-off and employ these tunings: gDGBD, aEAC#E, gCGCD, and aDADE. Please bring extra strings and your favorite capo.

Many of the most revered thumb-lead, two-finger banjoists used the style to accompany their voices. If you have heard Roscoe Holcomb, Lee Sexton, Morgan Sexton, Paul Brown, or Nora Brown, you have heard musicians sing along with this charming style. You don’t have to be an experienced singer to enjoy this class. If you like to sing or want to gain confidence playing with singers, this class is for you. Our focus will be on the banjo parts, and students will be welcome to sing along whenever they would like. Lyrics will be provided. Matt will also provide tablature for all the songs, pulling from the arrangements in his book, Thumb Lead Two-Finger Banjo. This class is for intermediate and advanced banjoists but no prior experience with two-finger picking is required. We will make ample use of the slide, hammer-on, and pull-off. Please bring extra strings and your favorite capo.

For this week of banjo classes, we will focus a lot on how to be solid players, and to use your thumb to make the banjo swing in different percussive ways. We will work through several tunes that have helpful techniques and licks, and talk about how to apply those ideas to tunes you already know. Some time will be spent addressing how to have good economy of motion with your claws, how to gain speed and drive, and easily be able to syncopate and texturize your playing by using phantom notes and drop-thumbs. For this class it is encouraged that you be comfortable using your drop-thumb on all the strings, be able to play in different tunings, and know the chords in each tuning. I teach only by ear, video recording is encouraged in a session at the end of class each day, and audio recording is always welcome.

In this workshop we will look at some repertoire that is really suited for the clawhammer banjo from a melodic perspective. So often banjo is the rhythmic accompaniment for fiddle tunes, but when we practice alone it’s important to have pieces that really highlight the melodic aspect and possibilities of the instrument. Also, we will look at some ideas on how to accompany and complement singing, offering harmony lines on banjo to the sound of a voice. I teach only by ear, video recording is encouraged in a session at the end of class each day, and audio recording is always welcome.




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.

Welcome mandolin, fiddle and banjo players! This hands-on beginners’ class will introduce you to the skills needed to unlock the joy of playing guitar. 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 in a variety of styles. 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 eighth 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 required. (Find this class in the Fiddle Week Schedule)

This is a class to develop skills in rhythm, chording, and theory to put into practice when accompanying jigs, reels and other dance music in the Irish tradition, as well as song accompaniment. We’ll cover alternate tunings, right-hand techniques, chord structures and substitutions, and more. Students should have an intermediate experience level on their instrument for this class.



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 mandolin builders Wes & Will Wienman, 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: