Old Time Week Classes – July 18-23, 2021

In keeping with the tradition and nature of Appalachian music, learning by ear is encouraged. Some instructors may provide tablature and other handouts as memory aids. Hand-held audio (not video) recorders are highly recommended for all instrumental and singing classes. Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15. Fiddle classes are offered at three different levels: I – Beginner/Advanced-Beginner; II – Intermediate; III – Advanced (see definitions). Please consider your skill level carefully when registering for classes.

 

Fiddle

FIDDLE I A (Emily Schaad)
In this class for beginners who can play a few tunes slowly, we will learn a few rhythmic and bowing licks to take some common tunes beyond “beginner” versions. This class will start in standard GDAE tuning and also incorporate some cross-tuned repertoire. Tunes will be taught by ear.

FIDDLE I B (Erynn Marshall)
This is a class for advanced-beginner fiddlers who already know a few tunes and would like to learn how to improve them, play with ease and join the jams. Bowing tips and left-hand ornaments will be explored. Depending on the interests of class we may discuss other techniques and “fiddle-osophy.” We will learn tunes slowly by ear and have fun!

FIDDLE II A (Judy Hyman)
Ready to have some fun and up your fiddle game? We’ll learn some of my favorite Appalachian fiddle tunes (by ear of course!) in a variety of keys, including some of the most-used open tunings. We’ll start with the melody of each tune at its simplest, phrase by phrase, and build from there, adding drones, double stops, and bowings. In the process, we’ll talk about playing technique, tone, rhythm, and anything else you’ve been wanting to know more about. Be sure to have on hand a tuner and extra strings.

FIDDLE II B (Mattias Thedens)
Ready for a lively jam session? Look no further! In this class we’ll be working on bowing patterns that can be used to add energy, drive and confidence into dance tunes. We’ll be learning straight-forward versions of tunes from southwest Virginia with these bowing patterns, and then looking at how we can add variations with melody and bowing. The techniques we’ll be covering in this class will be applicable to other tunes you’ll be encountering in the future. We’ll be mostly playing in the key of D.

FIDDLE II C (Joseph Decosimo)
This class is for intermediate fiddlers eager to become more confident players, bowers, listeners, and learners. Drawing from the repertoires and styles of some of my favorite historic players, especially from Western NC and East TN, we will explore some delightful tunes and tunings with an eye (and ear) towards how we use the bow to create the right kind of rhythm and feel for Southern Old-Time music. We’ll discuss learning strategies and resources and work on understanding what makes performances captivating. We’ll take advantage of the streaming format and look/listen to some rare media together.

FIDDLE II D (Nokosee Fields)
This class will work on common habits that prevent the generation of good tone and overall musical execution in relation to fiddle music. We’ll create our own exercises to better understand what it is our bodies are doing while playing. We’ll also do some ear training from source material to strengthen our listening skills. A few years experience playing and a handful of tunes played at moderate to quick tempo preferred.

FIDDLE III A (Mattias Thedens)
Dance tunes and how to play them! Have you been playing for people without their legs itchin’? We’ll change that! In this class we’ll focus on dance tunes mostly from southwest Virginia, finding the drive and energy that characterises the music from that region. We’ll learn a common bowing pattern first and then apply it to various tunes throughout the week, adding variations along the way. Once you have the pattern down you’ll be better equipped to pick up tunes on the go without worrying about bowing, either in future jam sessions or while learning from source recordings. We’ll play in multiple keys and tunings, and maybe we’ll throw in a contest tune for good measure if there’s time.

FIDDLE III B (Judy Hyman)
My favorite old-time fiddlers play(ed) with drive, fluidity, bounce, tone, pulse, and their own distinct sense of personality. We’ll work on all of that by learning tunes, exploring bowings, and strengthening technique. We’ll investigate several great open tunings that make our instruments ring and our heads vibrate and listen to some of my favorite examples. Tunes and techniques will be broken down and clearly taught so you can learn by ear. Please bring a tuner and extra strings

FIDDLE III C (Emily Schaad)
This class will focus on building a stylized repertoire, getting rhythm in the bow, and finding that “old-time” fiddle sound. Tunes will be drawn from a variety of fiddlers from NC, KY, VA, and WV, exploring different techniques used for accentuating rhythm. We’ll discuss making choices while learning new tunes, varying rhythms while playing, and some basic ideas for breaking free from playing a tune the same way each time. Some discussion of improving mechanics (tone, articulation, ergonomics) and exposure to source recordings will be included. All tunes will be taught by ear, and be prepared to play in a few different keys and tunings.

 

Banjo

BANJO I (Ben Nelson)
This class for total beginners as well as novice banjo players hoping to reinforce their clawhammer fundamentals, will build a solid foundation layer by layer. We’ll learn to feel the drive of the clawhammer rhythm, to make the banjo ring with clear tone, and to listen intentionally to ourselves and other musicians. Our focus will be on technique, not repertoire; but we’ll learn one or two common old-time tunes that we can play together by the end of the week. Most importantly, we’ll create a warm and welcoming musical community that offers an encouraging environment for learning! An electronic tuner, and an open mind would all be useful.

BANJO II A (Carl Jones)
In this class we will learn some of my favorite old-time tunes and start out with a bit of clawhammer technique exercises for each one to make the melodies easier to “grab.” We will use several tunings and also work on playing the chords for back-up. Being able to switch back and forth from melody to rhythm will add to our music fun.

BANJO II B (Gordy Hinners)
This class is for advanced-beginner banjo players who know at least a few tunes and want to expand their repertoire and learn more clawhammer technique. Students will work on a basic repertoire of tunes that are familiar to many musicians, as well as some North Carolina standards.

BANJO II C – SONGS (Rick Good)
We’ll be mining great melodies from traditional sources, like Uncle Dave and Blind Alfred, and learning to play them on the banjo, fingerstyle and/or clawhammer. You will learn some great old-time songs to play on the banjo and make them sound good.

BANJO II D (Jake Blount)
Participants will move beyond the basic bum-ditty banjo, learning how to make informed rhythmic and melodic decisions that can define the feel of a jam or an ensemble. We will not only learn tunes, but learn how improvisation and flexibility fit into the picture. Banjo is one of the most flexible instruments in the old-time ensemble, and different approaches will be required in different settings. The aim of this class is to expand the number of approaches you’re familiar with, and to help you decide which ones to use.

BANJO III A (Joseph Decosimo)
In this course, we will appreciate the immense creativity that the banjo has inspired and consider some traditional old-time two finger up-picking approaches that make for excellent (and fresh) song and tune accompaniment. We’ll develop a versatile and useful toolkit for old-time fingerpicking and consider how these techniques can add texture in ensemble playing or allow you to embrace the banjo-iest of sounds when you’re playing alone. This study will explore index-lead and thumb-lead approaches as well as a few that defy categorization. Beyond techniques, we’ll survey some historical players who employed fingerpicking techniques. We’ll take advantage of the screen-based format and work with some rare videos and sound recordings to develop our ability to learn and root our playing in older music making our own sounds.

BANJO III B (Jake Blount)
Participants will delve into field recordings as a group, picking apart the nuances of historical styles. Potential artists include Etta Baker, Murph Gribble, Odell Thompson and Nathan Frazier. Participants will not only learn new techniques and repertoire, but develop their ability to learn by ear and adapt to different styles as the situation demands.

BANJO III C (Gordy Hinners)
In this class, we will focus on keeping the drive in southern clawhammer banjo-playing, while adding to your “tool box” of licks with both the right and left hands in several tunings. All tunes will be taught by ear, and hopefully we’ll have some fun along the way.

 

 

Guitar & Mandolin

GUITAR I (Sharon Leahy)
This beginner class will introduce you to backup guitar for tunes and songs. We’ll practice forming chords, keeping rhythm, and getting comfortable with your instrument. We will also explore ways to hold your guitar to prevent repetitive-use injuries and stretches for shoulders, wrists and fingers.

GUITAR II A (Nancy Hartness)
A user-friendly class for all who want to keep a steady and strong ‘boom-chuck’ rhythm, learn some useful runs, relax while playing, and have fun providing the rhythmic heartbeat of a tune or song. Participants should be familiar with basic chords in the keys of G, A, D and C. Bring a guitar, a flat pick, capo, tuner, a pen or pencil, extra strings, and a sense of humor.

GUITAR II B (Jeff Claus)
We’ll focus on playing rhythmically solid backup guitar to create a strong groove that provides a compelling trampoline for fiddle and song. I play mostly with a pick, using a basic bass note/strum or “boom-chuck” pattern, but other approaches are welcome and can fit in. We’ll work on simple techniques for rhythmic playing, and spend time playing with a fiddler at a slow to moderate tempo in the four fundamental keys of D, A, G, and C. We’ll also explore how to vary things within the foundational style, without breaking the flow. This will include some syncopation and a few propulsive bass runs in each of the main keys. You should know how to play the basic chords of A, Am, D, E, Em, G, C, and F. Bring a tuner and capo.

GUITAR III A (Paul Kovac)
Old-time guitar styles vary greatly. The instrument came late to the music, but now it’s hard to imagine an old-time band without one. We’ll explore the stylings of Riley Puckett, Maybelle Carter, Alton Delmore, Jimmie Rodgers, and other well-known guitarists. We’ll cover bass runs, bass-note leads, double stops, and how to fill out a song without breaking rhythm. To get the most out of this class, you should be able to somewhat play “Wildwood Flower”.

GUITAR III B (Beverly Smith)
For those who know the basic chords and can sustain a ‘boom-chuck’ rhythm moving between chords, we’ll dive deeper into what makes great back up for old-time fiddle tunes, i.e., how to listen, create pocket & groove, make appropriate chord choices and sustain a great sound. We’ll learn some cool runs, how to back up crooked tunes and waltzes, how to work up speed and how to create melody lines for songs a la Maybelle Carter. I will be using a flat pick for most of the class but we’ll also venture into Maybelle-style thumb-and-finger picking if there is enough interest.

MANDOLIN I (Ellie Grace)
This class for the advanced-beginner will explore the driving rhythms and clear melodies you can create on the old-time mandolin! You will learn healthy and approachable techniques to play melody/lead on an old-time tune or two and will explore some practical music theory. You will also work on basic chords and strum patterns and practice backing up both tunes and songs. Most of all, you will experience a daily reminder of the joy of making music!

MANDOLIN II (Paul Kovac)
The mandolin has made a place for itself in old-time music as a rhythm instrument able to back up singing or pick out a fiddle tune. We will touch on all aspects of its role, from tone-timing-tremelo-technique, to playing double stops & fiddle tunes. Students should be able to play chords in a few keys, and know a few tunes.

MANDOLIN III (Carl Jones)
In this class we will learn to play several classic, old-time and bluesy rags, (the Dallas Rag and others), exploring pick technique and syncopation along the way. As we learn to navigate the fingerboard with all the basic 2 & 3 string chords, we’ll modify those shapes to make any “jazzier” chords we need

 

 

Other Instruments

MOUNTAIN DULCIMER I (Don Pedi)
Easy and fun! This class is for absolute beginners or those interested in building a solid foundation for playing mountain dulcimer in old-time music. Topics will include dulcimer history, as well as playing techniques for developing the old-time sound. Traditional songs, tunes, and hymns will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided at the end of the sessions.

MOUNTAIN DULCIMER II (Don Pedi)
This class for intermediate players and above will focus on playing techniques for old-time music on the mountain dulcimer. We will learn traditional tunes, songs, hymns, playing by ear, various noting techniques, different modes, dulcimer history, and more. The class will be taught by ear, but tablature will be provided at the end of the sessions.

BASS (Nokosee Fields)
This class will focus on how to get the best tone from our instrument, examine our technique and dissect how to create a pocket or groove in the context of old-time. We’ll explore the common keys (G,D,A,C) work on how to integrate walking lines and also how to take chord change cues from the guitar.

AUTOHARP FOR SINGERS (Karen Mueller)
The autoharp has added an authentic old-time sound to singers from the Carter Family to Dolly Parton, and many more. Learn to easily accompany your singing using the same techniques heard on classic recordings, and develop your own sound. Any model and style of functioning autoharp will work for the class. We’ll learn the essentials of tuning, posture, picks, and strumming, and add some melody picking later in the week.

AUTOHARP: BEYOND THE BASICS (Karen Mueller)
If you can play backup strum patterns and are ready to move on, this workshop will explore melody techniques for instrumental solos and breaks in songs. Emphasis will be on old-time fiddle tunes, and songs by old masters such as the Carter Family and Kilby Snow. Some newer songs and tunes in the old-time style will also be included. Autoharps with 15 or 21 chords will work best, and should include the D and A7 chords. Keys will include C, G and D.

BANJO-UKE/UKE (Jeff Claus)
The banjo-uke and regular ukulele can make a mighty groove. We’ll work on creating and maintaining a strong, steady rhythm and pocket when playing with fiddlers, bands, and others. There will be some demonstration and group exercises designed to help us achieve a solid, rhythmic feel, and spend roughly a day each playing in the four fundamental keys of A, D, G, and C. We’ll play every day with a fiddler to help develop the motor skills critical to great groove-making. You should know the basic chords of A, Am, D, E, Em, G, C, and F. Bring either a uke or banjo-uke, a tuner and a desire to play a steady, propulsive role in the dynamic engine of southern fiddle and stringband music.

UKE II (Charlie Hartness)
So, you’ve got some chord families under your uke fingers in a few keys: C, G, D, A, and maybe F. You enjoy sliding into that string band rhythmic groove, and you are working on making your uke accompaniment to singing sparkle. We will strum, sing, whistle and hum together until we have an entire room of ukuleles playing as one! We might even pick a melody or two. Laughter will be liberally applied to all classes. Please bring a tuner and a ukulele in good playing condition, tuned GCEA (no baritone ukes or low g strings, please), and a pen or pencil. Handouts will be provided.

TEEN GATHERING (Becky Hill)
The Teen Gathering is going to lean into technology and create short virtual experiments. We will collect and share songs, videos, stories and dance moves. We will then combine these ideas to create a collage of traditional art experiments that tell our own stories while celebrating Appalachian old-time music and dance. Do you have an idea for a short film? Ted Talk? Meme? All creative ideas will be considered, so come with ideas to explore! Get ready to mash up old-time music with technology to create something new! No previous experience necessary. (Class limit: 20)

YOUNG OLD-TIME (Ben Nelson)
This hour of music and socializing each day offers a chance for young folks participating in Old-Time Week to connect with other teenage musicians. It can be a time to share stories, ask questions, swap songs and tunes, watch favorite hilarious videos of old-time music, make memes?, and perhaps even put together some collaborative music and dance projects!

 

 

Songs & Folklore

HISTORY OF OLD-TIME MUSIC (John Harrod)
The old-time music that we all love for reasons we can’t explain is nothing without history. Although we are fortunate to have so much of this music at our fingertips, we have lost the local and regional connections that gave it life and made it what it is. This class will be an attempt to re-establish some of those connections with some deep listening to old archival and commercial recordings, with discussion and sharing of our own experiences with tradition. We will start in tidewater Virginia, migrate to Appalachia and points west and south, listen as other sounds come into the mix, and follow it down to ragtime, blues, and bluegrass. Rather than tell people what they already know, these sessions will focus on hidden gems that will point to new territory still waiting to be explored.

WESTERN NC – A SENSE OF PLACE (Cary Fridley)
This is a song-source study of Asheville-area traditional singing. We’ll sing the square dance, festival, and gospel songs of Samantha Bumgardner, Bascam Lamar Lunsford, Frank Proffitt, the Doc Watson Family, and more. We’ll learn harmony, working with instruments, finding the right key for you, and more.

SINGING BALLADS IN FULL VOICE (Cary Fridley)
Learn to sing out like Dellie Norton, Dillard Chandler, Cas Wallin, and other mountain ballad singers. We’ll learn breathing exercises, centering and focus techniques, outdoor singing, and have a visit with Mars Hill traditional ballad singer, John Analo Phillips. We’ll focus on traditional ballads from the Madison County ballad singing tradition.

BY EAR HARMONY SINGING (Ellie Grace)
In this welcoming class, you’ll learn a small repertoire of roots- and old-time music in two, three, and four-part harmony. We’ll explore healthy singing technique, quality and style, skills for harmonizing, and working as a unified whole. Most of all, we will sing together! All music will be taught by ear and no previous experience is required.

CARTER FAMILY SONGS (Beverly Smith)
The Carter Family is rightly known as the First Family of country music. They recorded over 300 sides and are cited as major influences by nearly every country artist that followed. We’ll learn to sing a bunch of their songs, both the popular and the more obscure, and learn some of their 2- and 3-part harmonies as well as solo songs and quirky rhythmic phrasing in some of their wonderful source recordings. If you are not already a Carter Family fan be ready to fall in love!

COUNTRY HARMONY (Rick Good & Sharon Leahy)
Learn techniques for country-style harmony singing and some of the theory behind it. Topics include: duets and trios, finding a part, stacking parts, changing the stack, hearing the blend, breath control and serving the song.

 

 

Dance

CLOGGING I (Rodney Sutton)
This class is a ‘”fool”-proof process of teaching anyone the basics of American clogging and flatfoot percussive dance. While geared for beginners or those who have not yet convinced themselves that they are dancers, any experience level is welcome – especially those who have tried before without success. Rodney will also weave stories into the history of each step with the history of who they were collected from – many personal friends such as Willard Watson and Robert Dotson along with many of the early Green Grass Cloggers! NO Taps. Smooth bottomed, low-heeled oxford type laced-up shoes are recommended – leather soles are best!

CLOGGING II (Rodney Sutton)
In celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Green Grass Cloggers, we will delve into more of the precision GGC steps that have defined this hybrid style of percussive dance. This is a follow-up for folks who have taken my Clogging I class, but it is open to anyone who has any experience in any style of percussive dance. Class time will be spent learning specific GGC footwork that will allow participants to become even more comfortable understanding the relationship of their foot drumming to the music they are dancing to. All the while our goal will be to get you to the point where you can become your own freestyle dancer, incorporating flatfooting steps to free you up to improvise! A significant amount of time will be spent learning all four sounds of the Robert Dotson Walking Step – the biggest contributor to being able to teach flatfoot dancing! Leather soled shoes are recommended.

FLATFOOTING (Becky Hill)
We will spend our time together immersed in learning steps from some of my favorite Appalachian percussive dancers including Thomas Maupin, Lou Maiuri, D. Ray White, Eileen Carson and several others. We hope to have special guest dancers visit us throughout the week as well. We will spend time working on improvisation, musicality, and creating our own steps inspired by the masters. Come ready to dance in either leather-bottomed or smooth-soled shoes, and have a spot cleared out in your house that you can move in. I encourage dancing on sprung floors, like a nice hard wood floor, just no cement please. Bring your questions and we’ll have a little virtual dance party.

 

 

OTHER Events

MASTER CLASS IN ARTISTRY (Janis Ian)
This will be a traditional Master Class, normally offered on the university level and to colleagues in the arts, focusing on the role of and history of the artist through the ages and up to the modern world. We will be covering history – from the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal to the ancient Greeks and those ugly Romans, the Dark Ages, the medieval troubadours and their role in spreading the news, the Renaissance, and why syphilis gave rise to the “artist as lunatic” perception. We’ll pay attention to fear and its effect on us as creative persons, the poetry and consciousness of wood, what to do when the well runs dry, the importance of both craft and talent, and the impossibility of living up to your ideals. There will be quotes and song illustrations as well. Students will be asked to read 3-4 short stories about artists before class begins. If you haven’t received the short stories three weeks before classes begin, please email me at janis@janisian.com for copies of these. (No class limit)

HAPPY HOUR HANGOUT
This is an opportunity at the end of the teaching day to kick back and curl up in front of the screen with your beverage of choice to chat and hang out with all your old-time pals.

DAILY EVENING SESSIONS
Each evening, various staff members will lead virtual ‘sessions’, where students can gather in an online community to socialize and swap tunes and songs.