Doublestops and Droning for Irish and Old Time Fiddle (Alex Caton) Are you interested in adding more depth, grit, and interest to your fiddle playing? In this class, we will work on some exercises to practice chording on the fiddle and then pick Irish, old time and even early country phrases to add in these elements of style. All levels are welcome to take this class.
Polkas! (Alex Caton) There’s nothing like the pulse and drive of an Irish polka, a tune that is 2/4 time and usually played quite fast. We will learn one or two of these forms of tunes in this class and work on ways to play them at dance tempo. Emphasis will also be given to the unique pulsing on the off-beat that gives the tune its special character. Open to all levels of Irish fiddle and designed to attract old-time fiddlers as well.
Clare Tunes For Irish Fiddlers (Alex Caton) Irish music can be divided into several regional fiddle styles with Clare style being particularly lyrical, slightly swingy, and melodically beautiful. We will focus on a tune from this Clare repertoire and talk about how to best bring out the Clare feel with bowing patterns, tone, and ornamentation. We will also come up with a list of good Clare tunes to have in your repertoire. All levels welcome.
Advanced Irish Fiddle (Alex Caton) Open to fiddlers who are well versed in Irish traditional fiddling playing, who are comfortable learning tunes and bowing patterns by ear and familiar with ornamentation. We will work on a more challenging tune and mainly focus on bowing patterns found in Sligo or Clare styles.
Up Your OT Fiddling: Down Bowing, Shuffling, Double Stops, Bow Rocks (Dick Harrington) In the key of D, in ADAE tuning, we’ll first work on and eventually play rather slowly and smoothly the elegant tune “Star of Bethlehem,” from the contemporary Georgia fiddler James Bryant. Why? Because it’s so enchanting. It’s bowed with a shuffle pattern, so you’ll get practice doing that. It’s an ideal tune for learning and practicing the rich melody-harmony made possible by double stops. It offers opportunities to learn about and try bow rocking for rhythmic spice and for ending a phrase with an up bow so you can start the next phrase with a down bow, should you be so inclined. And, well, to repeat myself, it’s just plain enchanting.
Get-down, Foot-stomping, Hoedown Fiddling (Dick Harrington) One thing many strong hoedown dance fiddlers do for drive, in 4-4 time, is bow-punch the 1 & the 3 beats as against the 2 & the 4 beats. A tasty example is the 1927 recording of John Dykes playing “Tennessee Girls” with Dykes’ Magic City Trio. (It’s on YouTube, in the key of C, with Dykes’ fiddle tuned down a whole tone to GCGD.) We’ll work on it and eventually play it, more slowly than Dykes, in the key of D, using ADAE tuning (comparable to his GCGD; many OT fiddlers use ADAE for most tunes in D). After getting a grip on the tune itself, we’ll work on bow-punching the 1 & the 3 beats and see if we, too, can make sparks fly.
Ensemble (Interns and Alex Caton) Learn how to be in a band and arrange songs and tunes as a group. Open to kids 6 to 13 who play any instrument, this class will be a hands-on experience in collaboration plus they will complete an unusual and amazing art/ music project. Led by interns and supervised by Alex Caton, students will make a “crankie”, a box with a moving screen that will illustrate the song that they will arrange and perform.
Beginning/Intermediate Clawhammer Banjo I & II (Tom Marshall) The sound of clawhammer (or frailing) banjo takes players and listeners to another time. The melodies are as ancient as the tones are lonesome and playing this music can’t help but make one feel like they’re tapping into something sacred and raw. This class will start students down the road of clawhammer banjo by introducing basic right-hand technique (drop-thumbing for those who are ready!), and left-hand techniques such as hammer on’s and pull off’s. We’ll look at two tunes in two different tunings. Finally, we’ll talk a bit about the ever so familiar scenario of sitting in a jam, not knowing the tune that was just called, and how to still play along!
Singing With Your Banjo (Tom Marshall) The great American songwriter Harlan Howard once said real music is “three chords and the truth.” In this class, we’ll learn to combine our banjo skills will our favorite songs. Clawhammer banjo does not have to sit quietly in the old time corner and is a wonderful way to accompany your voice on just about any folk song. We’ll explore accompanying with basic chords, rhythm, and hunting down the melody.
Swing Guitar (Tom Marshall) Back by popular demand from 2016, this class will be focused on swing guitar and the crossroads of the old-time, jazz, and blues music of the early 20th century. Players will learn to play closed-position chords in multiple positions, hot licks for intro’s and outro’s, and be introduced to some great resources on swing music in general.
Singing Appalachian Style (Dick Harrington) Appalachian ballad singing is often stark, gritty, haunting. We’ll work on styling our singing to capture, as best we can, a stark, gritty Appalachian depiction of “The Three Babes,” my favorite ballad and the creepiest song I know. It was brought here two or three centuries ago by settlers from the British Isles, passed down orally through generations, and recorded in 1941 by Virginia ballad singer Texas Gladden (my source). Key question: Did “the Lord” take the lives of those three star-crossed little children, or did their mother murder them? Whatever the answer, let’s give ourselves chill bumps singing this creepy ballad.
It’s an Open Jam! Everybody’s Welcome! (Dick Harrington) Even if you’re a rank beginner. What makes it guided? Me. I’ll ask for a tune suggestion and a show of hands indicating who knows it. If few know it, I’ll ask for another suggestion. I’ll also keep the pace manageable so each tune is fun for everybody. Anxious? Please join us anyway. No judgments. Just tunes. If need be, put a mute on your fiddle or play softly. Be a fiddle whisperer. Forget self-consciousness. Be with the music and one another. Play tunes for the sheer joy of it. If you don’t know a tune, listen and then try to play along. If you screw up, who cares? Ain’t no contest!
Irish Open Jam (Alex Davis) All levels and instruments welcome to attend and play. Alex will guide you through building sets and setting tempos to help everyone feel included. Feel free to ask questions about Irish music in general, session etiquette, or anything that will help you understand playing in a group situation more comfortably.