THIS IS THE 2020 CATALOG :: 2021 WILL BE POSTED IN MARCH. Old Time Week Classes – July 19-25, 2020

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 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.” Bring a recorder. We will learn tunes slowly by ear and have fun!

FIDDLE II A (Rhys Jones)
Students will learn better articulation, clarity and precision in their bowing, using tunes from the repertoire of southern WV and the Midwest as a basis for teaching. We will explore how to apply common bowing patterns found in many tunes. Special attention will be given to improving control of rock-bows, pulses, drones and double stops while significantly expanding repertoire.

In this class for intermediate-level fiddlers we will explore some fun ways to broaden our creative musical toolkit, with a focus on how to meld together variations in rhythm (i.e., bowing) and phrasing to pull the most from our tunes. We will cover multiple tunings as we learn some new tunes in each, and work on some tricks to create the best tone we can from our instruments. The class will be taught by ear, so bring a recording device if possible!

FIDDLE II C (Eddie Bond)
Get ready for the contest! This class will explore some favorite contest tunes in a couple of different cross-tunings: “Sally Johnson”, “John Brown’s Dream”, “Grey Eagle”, “Durang’s Hornpipe”, and “Otis Burriss Fortune”. If time permits, we’ll also cover some easy old-time tunes like “Mockingbird”, “Piney Woods Gal”, “Flatwoods”, and “Say Darling, Say”. We’ll learn the tunes in a traditional call-and-response method, and recording devices are encouraged

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 (Kirk Sutphin)
Kirk spent years learning directly from legendary fiddlers like Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham. He also mastered the playing styles of H.O. Jenkins, Charlie Higgins, Emmett Lundy, Henry Reed and others. You’ll learn Round Peak and Piedmont tunes and focus on Tommy Jarrell’s down-bow style of bowing. Tunes will be taught by ear quickly in the old, traditional way with no music given out. Questions are encouraged and feel free to ask Kirk for suggestions on how to play the best-loved Round Peak tunes better. Bring a recording device.

FIDDLE III B (Rhys Jones)
Take a deep dive into the music of southern WV and parts of the Midwest. We’ll focus on bringing out the student’s own voice while remaining true to the tradition. We’ll examine the nuances and details of a broad range of tunes, learning to preserve the essential components of traditional style while expressing musical individuality. We’ll focus on strengthening rhythm through efficient bow use, introducing variation, and learning how bowing choices can influence both rhythm and style.

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. Please bring a recording device, as all tunes will be taught by ear, and be prepared to play in a few different keys and tunings.

FIDDLE III D (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 recording device, a tuner, and extra strings.

FIDDLE & BANJO DUETS (Judy Hyman & Bob Carlin)
The fiddle-banjo duo forms a cornerstone of old-time music of the southeastern U.S. We’ll give you the tools and understanding to increase your enjoyment of playing with another person. You’ll work separately by instrument and in fiddle/banjo pairings to learn tunes and techniques for interlocking with your partner and finding musical bliss. (Class limit: 30)



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! A recording device, an electronic tuner, and an open mind would all be useful.

BANJO II A (Gordy Hinners)
Goal #1 of playing the banjo is to have fun, and hopefully we will! For advanced-beginner/intermediate players who know some tunes in the clawhammer style, this class will focus on the rhythms of southern clawhammer banjo playing and explore tunes and ‘licks’ in several banjo tunings. A recording device is highly recommended, since all tunes will be taught by ear.

BANJO II B (Trish Kilby-Fore)
We’ll focus on honing skills and techniques to play in an old-time band setting. We’ll also cover the mysterious drop-thumb and have fun incorporating it into playing tunes, explore the ever-popular D tuning (aDADE) and listen to the music of some historic banjo players. While most of this class will be taught by ear, I will provide handouts of a couple of tunes written in a non-traditional tab style. Please bring your banjo, tuner, capo, extra strings and a recording device to class.

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 (John Herrmann)
We’ll work on technique for playing with a fiddler and learning, on the fly, tunes you don’t know with an emphasis on getting the job done with confidence and groove. We’ll check technique to make sure students aren’t making things difficult for themselves. Students should have an interest in fiddle accompaniment. This class will not emphasize learning specific tunes.

BANJO II E (Kevin Fore)
In this class we’ll work on playing cleanly and using the 5th string as a melody note. We’ll cover the right- and left-hand nuances that make the Round Peak banjo style special and play some simpler tunes that apply those techniques. We’ll be playing in D and A. Bring a recording device.

BANJO III A (Kirk Sutphin)
We’ll start with the basic “Charlie Poole” style “Low Bass” or “Classical C” thumb-lead, going into index-lead and three-finger picking, along with most of the chords that I use. We’ll also learn the “Jenkins-Style” two-finger picking, learned directly from Oscar Jenkins’ son. This style was also played by Mack Woolbright, an influence on Earl Scruggs, and one of Uncle Dave Macon’s many ways of picking too. A banjo with low action and a recording device would be recommended for this class.

BANJO III B (Kevin Fore)
This class will focus on the stylistic similarities and differences of Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed and Charlie Lowe. We’ll dissect tunes and learn how to use double- and triple-noting most players do not use these days. We’ll also explore the importance of the fretless banjo in the Round Peak style. Students should be able to play tunes up to speed and know how to do drop-thumbs, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. We will be playing in D and A. Bring a recording device.

BANJO III C (Bob Carlin)
This class will provide a complement to my fiddle/banjo class taught w/fiddler Judy Hyman. Each day we’ll learn tunes that go well with the fiddle. Day One will highlight Piedmont NC with “I Went Down to Raleigh/Rya’s House” and “Georgia Buck”. Day Two will cover the playing of James Bryan with “Ora Lee” and “Farewell Trion”. Tunes From Missouri will be covered on Day Three: “Eminence Breakdown” and “Woodchopper’s Reel”. On Day Four, we’ll play in ¾ or “Waltz” Time, investigating Tommy Jarrell’s “As Time Draws Near” and John Hartford’s “Delta Queen Waltz.” Finally, when your brains are full, we’ll conduct a review of all the banjo basics: choosing an instrument, setup, holding the banjo and hand position.

BANJO III D (John Herrmann)
We’ll work on more advanced techniques for playing with a fiddler and learning, on the fly, tunes you don’t know. Emphasis is on getting the job done with confidence and groove. We’ll examine syncopation and its use in fiddle accompaniment. This is not a solo banjo class.


Guitar & Mandolin

GUITAR I A (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 I B (Trish Kilby-Fore)
This class is for students who want to learn how to play old-time guitar but are unsure of exactly how or where to start. We’ll learn by ear how to tune the guitar and the basic chords in the keys of G, A and D. We’ll cover changing chords with the left hand, and strumming patterns with the right hand. The goal is to build a strong foundation for a solid rhythm-guitar playing technique. Please bring your guitar, tuner, capo, pick, extra strings, and a recording device to class and prepare to have a good time!

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 recording device, 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, recorder, 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.



Other Instruments

In this beginner class we’ll learn the basics of the instrument including tuning, right and left-hand techniques, fretboard familiarity and key changes. We’ll learn the role of the dulcimer in an old-time stringband. Lloyd is a multi-instrumentalist and uses his knowledge of other instruments in the classroom.

This intermediate to advanced class will dive a little deeper covering multiple keys and exploring more complex fiddle-tunes. We’ll cover chords, cross-string picking and how to effectively use a capo. Lloyd will integrate his knowledge of other instruments to show the role of dulcimer in old-time music. Capo required.

OLD-TIME BAND 101 (Eddie Bond)
Have you been playing alone all this time? Well, it’s time to broaden your horizons. Eddie will teach you what it is like to play as a cohesive group. This is a favorite part of his experiences in teaching at Grayson County High School. Learn the role of each instrument in order to make the band sound great! (Class limit: 20)

OLD-TIME BAND LAB (Gordy Hinners & M.J. Epps)
Students will form string bands and with some coaching will work on achieving a band dynamic and a sound that’s more than the sum of its parts. Topics we may consider include each individual’s responsibility in a band, how to start and end tunes, tempo, rhythm, lead, back-up, chord choices, singing, and playing for dances and/or concerts. Bands will have the opportunity to perform at a student showcase or play for a dance at the end of the week. (No class limit)

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.

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.

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 k now the basic chords of A, Am, D, E, Em, G, C, and F. Bring either a uke or banjo-uke, a tuner, a recorder, and a desire to play a steady, propulsive role in the dynamic engine of southern fiddle and stringband music. (Class limit: 20)

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. A recording device is recommended. (Class limit: 20)

This a time for Swannanoa teens to hang, dance, sing, play games, and more. Activities will include body percussion, improvisation, practicing two-steps and waltzes for the Honky Tonk, learning to call and create your own square dance, clogging and much more. We’ll choose our own adventures and create our own traditions together. No previous experience necessary. All creative proposals will be considered, so come with an idea or two! (Class limit: 20)



Songs & Folklore

What IS old-time music? How does bluegrass differ from old-time? What are drop-thumb, clawhammer, and two-finger banjo styles? Who are Lily May Ledford, Moonshine Kate, and Estill Bingham? Where are Galax, Clifftop, and Mount Airy? What makes a crooked fiddle-tune crooked? This class will present a panorama of the history and social context of old-time music. Focused presentations on “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” the Georgia Fiddle Contest of 1924, ‘Affrilachia,’ and ‘Hillbilly music’ will provide insight into the style and culture. Discussions accompanied by PowerPoint presentations, recordings, films, and guest presentations will nurture an overview of the history from regional roots to international phenomena. (No class limit)

We will engage in musical and social harmony through the recreation of a rural 19th-century singing school. Singing from the Sacred Harp tune book (1991 edition), which features intoxicating harmonies printed in a unique four-shape notation of triangles, squares, circles, and diamonds makes learning to read music easy and enjoyable. Background historical and social context will be provided. Songs from related tune-book traditions will be explored, including the Southern Harmony, and the Christian Harmony. The class will embrace total beginners as well as veteran singers. Books will be available to borrow for class use. At the end of the week, members of the class are invited and encouraged to participate in the annual Swannanoa Singing with dinner on the grounds held on Saturday, July 25 from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Morris Pavilion of Warren Wilson College. (No class limit)

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. (Class limit 20)

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. (Class limit 20))

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. (Class limit 20)

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! (Class limit: 20)

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. (Class limit: 26)




This class, open to dancers and dance callers of all levels, will focus on the traditional square-dances of the southern Appalachian region. No prior experience is required. We will learn about, and dance four-couple squares as well as Southern big-circle dances, and students will have the opportunity to try their hand (or voice) at calling out the dance figures. Callers will have the opportunity to expand their repertoire and receive feedback to improve their calling skills. We’ll have fun dancing and learning about the traditions of southern Appalachian square-dances. (No class limit)

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! (No class limit)

CLOGGING II (Becky Hill)
The class will be a deeper dive into Appalachian percussive dance. We’ll learn several base steps in clogging and flatfooting from legendary dancers, while exploring musicality, syncopation, and improvisation. We’ll focus on dancing the tune and holding a solid groove, and work on basic partnering skills to weave our way through a little bit of choreography that utilizes square dance figures. We’ll construct-to-deconstruct, so everyone will come away with new tools and footwork vocabulary to use on the dance floor. All levels welcome. Come as you are. Leather bottom shoes suggested. (No class limit)



Special Events

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 for copies of these. (No class limit)

In addition to the regular class sessions, Potluck Sessions are offered on most afternoons. These one-hour mini-classes give students access to the entire teaching staff, and provide a wide variety of class offerings to choose from. No advance registration necessary.

After supper each night, students have the opportunity to participate in slow jams and singing sessions. At the slow jams, common tunes are played at a speed that is accessible even to beginners. The singing sessions are a chance to share your voice and songs.

Teenagers have the opportunity to get together each evening after supper for a young-folks-only hour of music and socializing facilitated by Ben Nelson. The Young Old-Time band that forms at this jam session will have the opportunity to play for the square-dance on Wednesday night! Young string players, singers, dancers, and non-musicians are all welcome.

Evening dances will be held throughout the week, with plenty of chances to dance a variety of traditional Southern Appalachian squares and circles. Thursday features the long-standing weekly dance, the Old Farmers Ball.



Children’s Program

We offer a full-day program, taught by Melissa Hyman, for children ages 6-12. Children must have turned 6 by July 1st to participate. No exceptions please. Bathroom independence is a non-negotiable prerequisite. Maximum age is 12 on July 1. Some older children (age 12-16) may be able to work as junior counselors. Please email Melissa ASAP if interested in a junior counselor position, even if you’ve discussed it with her before: Evening childcare for ages 3-12 will be provided at no additional cost.

This year, our theme is MAD SCIENCE! Welcome to the Swannanoa Science Lab, where we are dedicated to better understanding the world around us… and always have an amazing time doing it! We’ll be wowed by surprising and fascinating hands-on experiments. We’ll explore exciting scientific concepts together through arts & crafts, music and games. We’ll even come up with our own scientific hypotheses, and design simple experiments to test them. It’ll be another unforgettable summer of friendship, water balloon fights, scavenger hunts, and discovery… we hope you’ll join us! With the help of our very talented music teacher Kevin Williams, we will write our own original song and perform for the whole Gathering at the student showcase on Friday. We’ll also have visits throughout the week from Gathering staff, who will teach and perform just for our kids. Weather permitting we’ll continue our traditions of shaving cream hairdos and slip-n-slide madness; we’ll definitely have movie night, messy games, and other old favorites. Please bring at least one swimsuit with you for cooling-down activities like running in the sprinkler. Get ready for a week celebrating curiosity, exploration and wacky fun! There will be a $30 art/craft materials fee for this class, payable to Melissa on arrival.