Morning Classes

Held 9-12 am at the Cowan Elementary School. Parents with young children, check out Kids on The Creek.


Beginning Banjo (Carla Gover) 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.

Early Intermediate Banjo (Brett Ratliff) is just right for banjo students who have completed a beginner class or learned a few tunes.  Brett will venture into Kentucky banjo styles, techniques and tunings in search of that lonesome sound.

Southeast Kentucky Banjo Styles (John Haywood) is for intermediate and advanced banjo players who can play common tunes up to dance speed.  John will offer a closer look at old time banjo techniques such as up-picking, drop-thumb and two-finger style while focusing on the repertoires of George Gibson, Morgan Sexton and Roscoe Holcomb.

Melodic Dropthumb Banjo (Jimmy McCown) is for intermediate and advanced banjo players who can play common old time tunes up to dance speed.  Jimmy will focus on the banjo repertoire from Pike County and beyond, while emphasizing a melodic style which can adapt complex fiddle tunes to the banjo.


Beginning Fiddle (Erynn Marshall) is for folks with no prior experience.  Erynn will teach good noting-hand and bow technique from the start, plus some fine Kentucky tunes. This class will be fun and give you the tools to learn more tunes on your own.

Early Intermediate Fiddle (John Harrod) is for folks who have completed a beginner class and most fiddlers who have been playing at least two years.  This class will build your repertoire of basic Kentucky tunes that are easy and fun to play while focusing on bowing patterns and tone production.

New Class!  Nearly Intermediate Fiddle (Linda Jean Stokey) is for most fiddlers who have been playing two or three years and are comfortable with the basics.  This class will focus on repertoire building as Linda Jean draws from her favorite Kentucky fiddlers such as J.P. Fraley, Art Stamper and Clyde Davenport.  She will also introduce cross-tuning.  

Intermediate Fiddle (Don Rogers) is for fiddlers who can play a few common tunes and are ready to expand their repertoire.  Don will use tunes from his favorite Kentucky fiddlers to introduce bowing techniques and phrasing for an authentic sound as well as tricks for learning tunes by ear.

Advanced Fiddle (Jamie Wells, Jesse Wells) is for fiddlers who are comfortable playing common tunes at dance speed.  Jamie and Jesse will cover tunes from some of their favorite Kentucky fiddlers such as Buddy Thomas and John Morgan Salyer.  They will also explore lesser known treasures from the Center for Traditional Music’s archive. Experience in cross-tuning is not required but will surely be a help.


Beginning Guitar (Karly Dawn Milner) is for folks with no prior experience.  Karly will cover the essentials, such as holding the pick, the basic strum, chords for common old time tunes and backup for a few simple songs.

Intermediate Guitar (Russell Wright) is for guitar players who know a few basic chords.  Russell will cover essential chord progressions, right hand technique and the skills you need to arrange guitar back up on your own.

Advanced Guitar  (John Schwab) is for guitarists who would like to learn specific, older, traditional styles of backing up old-time tunes and songs. We will focus on “source” musicians, such as the wonderful guitar players who accompanied fiddlers Doc Roberts and Buddy Thomas. If you’re already comfortable playing guitar, then get ready to take it to the next level!

Upright Bass (Nate Polly) is for all comers. Whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced bass player who would like to kick it up to the next level, this is your chance to learn how to anchor a string band. For beginners, experience in guitar is helpful but not required.


Old Time String Band (Sarah Wood) is for intermediate and advanced level players of any string instrument and singers. Students will work in small groups to polish tunes and songs for performance.  You’ll cover a wide range of pieces, from mountain fiddle tunes to songs with instrumental accompaniment, while building the confidence you need to work well in a band and take the stage yourself.

Class Combined with Stringband!  Singing Old and New Songs (Sarah WoodIn this class, we’ll dive into singing standards and lesser-known gems of mountain music featuring Appalachian singing styles such as call and response, gospel and a cappella. We will discuss how to make a song your own, and will also explore songwriting techniques to write new songs that sound old.

Storytelling (Angie DeBord) will weave the students’ stories and experiences into a story play to be performed on Friday. No experience is necessary. You’ll be led in story-remembering and story-sharing exercises.  Bring your stories, songs and ideas, and get ready to have fun. Lots of laughing is allowed!

Class size for all instruments is limited to 10. Please register as early as possible to be sure you get the class you want. If interested, you can indicate a second class choice on the registration form in case your first choice isn’t available. Students registering for the string band class should indicate what instrument they will be playing.

Unsure of what level you should take? Sign up for the one that you think would best fit, and know that once you get here, you can try the class out on Monday and make sure it works– if not, we can find the class that suits your level!  

Tuition for 2017 classes is $200 for Kentucky residents and $250 for out-of-state students.  Tuition for Kids on the Creek is $100.  Opportunities for youth scholarships and workstudy are available.

2017 Registration Form

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