The Art of Art Stamper (Alex Caton)
East Kentucky fiddler Art Stamper was a major influence in both old-time and bluegrass genres and is known for his clear, smooth and driving sound. We will study one of his recorded tunes and talk about the elements that go into making it sound like Art.
Fiddle Waltzes (Alex Caton)
If you ask me, waltzes were made for the fiddle. We will learn an old-time or bluegrass classic and talk about how to get the best tone and feel for these three-quarter time tunes. We will also work on some double stopping, perhaps a little vibrato and maybe even try going out of first position.
Country Fiddle Breaks (Alex Caton)
Inspired by the great back-up fiddling for country and honky-tonk musicians such as Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, George Jones and Dolly Parton, we will learn how to employ some basic techniques (including double-stopping), chops and licks to get a great break in a country song. We will cover a little basic music theory to help frame how we back-up and take breaks in different keys. You will also be introduced to some great fiddlers to check out.
Irish Fiddle Rhythm (Alex Davis)
We will look at the basic dance rhythms of Irish tunes: polkas, jigs, reels, and hornpipes. In particular, we will focus on how to keep tunes lively regardless of the tempo and examine how the feel of a tune changes depending on the speed at which it is played.
Ornaments and Variation In Irish Trad (Alex Davis)
Rolls, triplets, cuts, grace notes, oh my! What are ornaments and how can we effectively use them in a tune? Together we will explore a common tune and how ornaments and melodic variation affect its character.
Advanced Irish Fiddle (Alex Davis)
In this class, we will learn a more complicated tune by ear as a vehicle for understanding bowing, rhythm and ornamentation. Students should be comfortable learning a tune by ear and have proficiency with their instrument.
Fiddle Tunes from Central Virginia Fiddlers (Pete Vigour)
Charlottesville native Lovell Coleman, age 94, still plays weekly gigs around town! Pete will teach tunes from his repertoire, plus several from James Chisholm and Tom Isenhour.
Simple Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo (Pete Vigour)
Some of the simplest tunes are also the best. Pete will teach by ear, and will also have tab available for each tune.
Clawhammer Tunes and Tunings (Pete Vigour)
If you play clawhammer banjo, you no doubt have faced the challenges of coaxing your banjo into the best tuning for a particular song. Alternate tunings are fun to explore and greatly add to the beauty of the music your banjo can produce. We’ll look at how the most common tunings relate to each other and will play several tunes in a special G tuning that simplifies the tuning process.
Listening and Backing with Clawhammer Banjo (Jim Plitt)
This class will look at some different ways of playing the banjo and how that can relate to playing backup with other instruments. We will concentrate on becoming more comfortable hearing chords and when they change during a tune. Then we’ll explore some ideas of playing that will give you more options to use even if you have not heard of the tune before.
A Cappella Murder Ballad: “Young Henry” (Dick Harrington)
Murder ballads, both accompanied and a cappella, are still sung throughout the southern mountains and beyond, some brought to America by settlers from the British Isles and elsewhere, others springing up as random murders were and are committed here. I learned “Young Henry” from a recording of the enchanting West Virginia singer Maggie Hammons, 1899-1987 (niece of the legendary fiddler Edden Hammons). Maggie pronounced the name “Henerly, and I pronounce it “Henery.” I chose this ballad for us to work on together because I love its melody, surprise twists, and vivid poetic qualities.
Accompanied Murder Ballad/Rounder Song: “Wild Bill Jones” (Dick Harrington)
A rounder is a rapscallion, troublemaker, miscreant, rogue, outlaw, scoundrel. Countless southern Appalachian songs tell the stories of and even celebrate actual murderers and their crimes. For example, in 1866, Laura Foster was murdered. Confederate veteran Tom Dula, her lover and the father of her unborn child, was convicted and hanged, resulting in the song “Tom Dula.” Here’s the chorus: “Hang down your head, Tom Dula. Hang down your head and cry. For killing Laura Foster, you know you’re bound to die.”
I don’t recall my source for “Wild Bill Jones,” but my version is much like the first-ever recording of the song, by Eva Davis in 1924. I chose it for us to work on together because I love its melody and hard-driving rhythm as well as how boldly the “speaker” of the song, Jones’s killer, tells the story. I copped the last verse, about morphine, from Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter), the African-American 12-string guitar player, folk singer, bluesman, and rounder who brought us “Goodnight, Irene.” For accompaniment while you’re learning the song, I’ll play guitar. Feel free to bring your fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, or other old-timey instruments, so towards the end, we all can perpetrate a raucous “Wild Bill Jones” ruckus.