Mountain music has been passed down through the generations as young learners listened to and played along with their older family members and neighbors. In keeping with this tradition, classes are taught in call and response, rather than written music. Whatever your age or level, this will improve your ear for music and help you join in the fun of playing with other musicians from the get-go!
All classes meet at Letcher County Central High School, 435 Cougar Drive in Whitesburg (map here) except for Kids on the Creek which meets at the Cowan Community Center.
Beginning Banjo- (Nadia Ramlagan) is for folks with no previous experience playing a string instrument. Students will learn the basic clawhammer strum and chords for accompanying simple old time tunes. You’ll also learn how to tune your banjo in different keys.
Intermediate Banjo (Montana Hobbs) is for banjo players who can use the clawhammer strum to play a few common tunes. Montana will focus on honing the skills you already have and explore different stylings and techniques of old time banjo, with a special focus on Eastern Kentucky repertoire and women banjo pickers. This class will act as a stepping stone for John Haywood’s advanced stylings class!
Advanced Banjo: Southeast Kentucky Banjo Styles – (John Haywood) will explore southeast Kentucky techniques such as over-hand, two-finger, and up-picking that you can use to adapt and personalize your playing for string band, accompanying singing or playing fiddle tunes. John will cover a wide variety of mountain tunes from the lyric two-finger playing of Morgan Sexton to the driving rhythm Roscoe Holcomb.
Beginning Fiddle (Meghan Bryant) is for folks with no prior experience. Meghan will start with the basics – holding the instrument and bow technique to produce the sound your want, while learning some favorite easy tunes. She will also give you the tools to learn more tunes on your own.
Early Intermediate Fiddle (Barb Kuhns) is for students who have completed a beginner class and most fiddlers who have been playing less than a year. Barb will share tips to make playing easier and more fun while teaching some favorite tunes from Pike County’s Owen ‘Snake’ Chapman and Paul David Smith.
Intermediate Fiddle: “A Tune is a Feeling” (John Harrod) is for fiddlers who can play a handful of common tunes. Darley Fulks’ remark some 40 years ago set John on a course of discovering the vast world of sounds and feelings that make up the landscape of fiddling. In this repertoire-building class, drawing mostly from Kentucky and West Virginia, students will explore many different styles of tunes while connecting with the feeling embodied in each one.
Advanced Fiddle: “We Be Jammin'” (Earl White) is for fiddlers who are comfortable playing common tunes up to dance speed. This class will focus on some bowing techniques to enhance your oldtime sound. Apart from a few common tunes, we will explore little known or played tunes that will build your repertoire to share at your next jam experience. A lot of tunes will be taught in standard tunings, but we will also explore several alternate tunings, such as DDAD, AEAC#. Most of all, “we be jammin”.
Beginning Guitar– (Linda Jean Stokley, Karly Dawn Milner) is for folks with no prior experience. Linda Jean and Karly Dawn will cover the essentials, such as holding the pick, the basic strum, chords for common old time tunes and backup for a few simple, fun songs.
Advanced Guitar – (Don Rogers) will cover how to determine key and chord changes by ear when playing in jams or accompanying fiddle or banjo tunes; bass runs between chord changes; flatpicking traditional Kentucky fiddle tunes on guitar; how to create guitar breaks for traditional songs; and basics of fingerstyle guitar.
Intermediate Mountain Dulcimer- (Sarah Kate Morgan) is for students who have completed a beginner class, and/or are able to tune their instrument unassisted and play a few tunes without tab. Sarah Kate will explore mountain tunes with ornamentation and variations so you can make each tune your own.
Old Time String Band (Arlo Barnette) is for intermediate or advanced players of any string instrument. Working in small groups, Arlo will lead students in playing together, choosing material and arranging tunes and songs. Be ready to learn some new tunes and polish the ones you know for performance.
Singing (Sue Massek) is for anyone who loves to sing! Sue will help you find the right songs and keys for your voice and cover a wide range of mountain treasures, old and new: ballads, play party songs, labor songs and more. If you like to accompany your songs with an instrument, bring it.
Class size for all instruments is limited to 10. Please register as early as possible to be sure you get the class you want.
KIDS ON THE CREEK is a music and arts class for students 5 to 10 years old led by a team of gifted and experienced educators. Kids can look forward to a wide variety of activities, projects and fields trips; something new every day! Thanks to a generous bequest from Nancy McClellan, all Kentucky kids can receive a full scholarship for Kids on the Creek.
NOTE: Class size for Kids on the Creek is limited to 20 so please register you child as early as possible. The Cowan Community Center also offers an additional 7 weeks of summer day camps. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/cowancommunitycenter/