Mando & Banjo Week features classes in two of the instruments that are at the core of several of the most popular folk genres we offer, including bluegrass, old-time, Irish and Scottish, as well as some of the more adventurous blendings of traditional and jazz flavors known as ‘new acoustic’ music. For the mandolin students, we also offer classes in improvisation, traditional swing/jazz, classical mandolin and blues, while the banjo students can sample a variety of classes in three-finger plucked or clawhammer styles.
Mando & Banjo Week has been paired with our Fiddle Week, offering classes in similar styles, to encourage students from both programs to jam with each other, and, with guitar classes in both programs to provide rhythm players, the possibilities for impromptu bands and jam sessions are rich indeed. There will be concerts throughout the week featuring our world-class staff, and the Student Showcase at week’s end will be an optional performance opportunity for those students who wish to show off what they have learned.
Most classes are taught at the intermediate or advanced level, but we continue to offer a few introductory classes for students who want to gain confidence in learning and playing by ear, and for those who are newer to the instrument.
For the intermediate classes, it is recommended that students have mastered beginning skills, be able to tune their instruments, keep time, play the principal scales cleanly, and know how to play a few tunes with confidence. This level is also appropriate for advanced players who would like to explore a style that is new to them, or for experienced players who need to get more fluent playing by ear.
The advanced classes are designed to build on previous experience in the style. Advanced students should be able to easily learn by ear, have a basic repertoire in the style, and be comfortable playing in more challenging keys.
This year, folk legend Janis Ian will be offering her “Master Class in Artistry” during all five weeks of the Gathering. 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 Fiddle Week, or participate in the Daily Bluegrass Jam, or visit our Luthier’s Exhibit featuring several luthiers including bowmaker Roger Treat, and violin maker Joe Thrift who will be demonstrating their craft and will also have finished works on hand to sample. Master luthier Lynn Dudenbostel will once again be on hand to offer repair services.
Mando & Banjo Week runs concurrently with Fiddle Week, and students are free to take classes in either program.