Program Information


This new initiative by the Swannanoa Gathering and Warren Wilson College consists of courses of live-streamed classes presented during the dates of our usual week-long workshops. The Mando & Banjo and Fiddle Week programs will again be paired, as will Contemporary Folk and Guitar Weeks, since many of our attendees during those weeks prefer to take classes in both programs. As much as possible, we have kept to our usual schedule, offering the same classes in the same periods we had scheduled them for 2020. However, some classes, like shape-note singing, couple dancing, etc. are not possible to teach virtually, and some instructors were unavailable for 2021, so some classes may now have substitute instructors or be missing from the schedule entirely. Classes will be live-streamed Mon.-Fri., and, as usual, students are free to take a class in each period. On the Sunday evening which begins each Program Week, we will present an Orientation which will lay out the plan for the week, followed by brief greetings from the Program Coordinator and instructors. There will be ‘Sessions’ in the evenings, in the form of instructor-led virtual song circles tune swaps and socializing to give students the opportunity to interact with each other online. On Friday evening at the end of the week, we will present a virtual concert featuring that week’s instructor staff. 



The Swannanoa Gathering is a continuing education program of Warren Wilson College. Contact: or 1-800-934-3536 for college admission information. This year, SGOnline, our virtual instructional program, offers over 200 classes, all of which will be live-streamed. Each class is a five-day course of study. Students are free to create their own curriculum from any of the classes in any programs offered for each week. Students may list a class choice and an alternate for each of our scheduled class periods, but concentration on two, or perhaps three classes is strongly recommended, and class selections are required for registration. After the first class meeting, students have until 6pm on Monday of that week to switch into another open class if they find they have made an inappropriate choice, and are then expected to remain in those classes. This year, our usual default class limit of 15 has been relaxed. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Look for updates and any corrections to our print catalog here on our website.

While our classes remain in the same time slots as in 2020, this year’s periods have been shortened from 75 to 60 minutes to reduce ‘zoom fatigue’ and the class schedules have been condensed to make them more accessible to folks logging in from different time zones. All class times listed are Eastern Standard Time. Each meeting of a class will be recorded and made available for review by students enrolled in those classes for an additional four weeks after the program ends.


live-streaming recommendations

This year, SGOnline will be using Zoom as our streaming platform.While not required to join meetings, we recommend downloading and installing the Zoom app. It’s free. Your device should have speakers, a microphone and a webcam. The quality of your internet connection makes the biggest difference for the optimal experience of a Zoom meeting. Poor service from your internet service provider (ISP) or a weak signal in terms of distance to your wi-fi router will directly affect remote connections, particularly for virtual private network (VPN) systems. As a general guideline, a download speed of less than 12 megabits per second (Mbps), an upload speed of less than 3Mbps, or high latency will result in a negative experience. You can use tools like to verify your device’s capacity. To maximize your available bandwidth during a Zoom call, many have reported better performance when all other browser windows and tabs are closed. We encourage you to review Zoom’s recommended minimum requirements for virtual meetings: 


Skill levels

Our students come from all backgrounds and skill levels. Some class descriptions define required skills in detail, but when the following terms appear, Beginner refers to those with no experience at all, or those who play some but are not yet comfortable with the basics. Intermediate students should have mastered basic skills, and be able to tune their instruments, keep time, play the principal chords and scales cleanly, and know how to play a few tunes with confidence. Advanced students should be very comfortable with their instruments and able to focus on style, arrangement and ornamentation. Please assess your skill level carefully in order to derive the greatest benefit from your classes. Roman numerals after a class title indicate a difference in focus or skill level of the same subject, while capital letters denote different sections of the same class. Many classes may include musical notation, tablature or other handouts, though in general, we emphasize learning by ear.