Morning Classes


afternoon jamMountain 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 the Letcher County Area Technology Center, just to the right of Letcher County Central High School, 435 Cougar Drive, Whitesburg, Ky 41858.  Map here  except for Kids on the Creek which meets at the Cowan Community Center.


Beginning Banjo  (Grace Rogers) 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 and songs.  Grace will also introduce the two-finger style strum.  

Early Intermediate Banjo (Montana Hobbsis for banjo players who have been playing consistently for a year or so, or feel confident enough in their banjo foundation to learn in a group setting.  Montana will help you to tighten up your rhythm and right hand technique while exploring chord progressions, fiddle tunes and singing songs.  She will also cover fun tools to add to your playing, like drop thumb, plus other rhythmic and melodic elements.

Intermediate/Advanced Banjo:  Southeast Kentucky Banjo Styles  (John Haywoodwill 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. 

Intermediate/Advanced Banjo:  Southern American Banjo Styles  (Hubby Jenkinsis for old time banjoists who are comfortable with the clawhammer strum and can play common tunes up to dance speed.   Hubby will cover a range of favorites and lesser know gems from older southern and Appalachian banjo sources, especially tunes and songs from the Black stringband tradition.


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  (John Harrodis for students who have completed a beginner class and most fiddlers who have been playing less than a year.  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. 

Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle   (Erynn Marshall)  is for fiddlers who can play a handful of common tunes.  Erynn will share bowing techniques and explore the styles of traditional Kentucky fiddlers so you can get that “old time sound”.   Also, great tunes and tips for playing in jams and getting the most fun out of your fiddling. 

Advanced Fiddle  (Blakeley Burger) is for fiddlers who are comfortable playing common tunes up to dance speed.  Experience in crosstuning is not required but will be helpful.  Blakeley will uncover the note choices, melodic variations, double-stops, bowing techniques, alternate tunings, and expressive devices of Kentucky fiddlers like Ed Haley, Buddy Thomas, Doc Roberts, Emma Lee Dickerson, and Carlton Rawlings.



Beginning Guitar (Karly Dawn Milner) is for folks with no prior experience.  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.

Intermediate Guitar (Arlo Barnetteis for guitar players who have taken a beginner class and can make chord changes in standard keys.  Arlo will cover back-up for favorite old time tunes and songs, including left-hand techniques such as hammer-ons and walk downs,  and will also introduce flatpicking.  

Advanced Guitar  (Gabe DansereauStudents will learn how to flatpick Kentucky fiddle tunes from key players in the repertoire such as Kenny Baker, Art Stamper, Buddy Thomas, Ed Haley and develop techniques for learning tunes on your own.

Mandolin  (Don Rogers) Is for folks with a range of mandolin skills from early intermediate to moreadvanced. Some basic skills such as the ability to use a flatpick and knowledge of some basic chords will be necessary to get the most out of the class. Students will learn traditional mandolin accompaniment and how to play the melodies of traditional Kentucky tunes.


Songwriting (Jeri Katherine Howellwill explore the wonderful and mysterious world of songwriting that is accessible to us all. With Jeri Katherine’s guidance, you will delve into crafting lyrics, melody and musical accompaniment, and how to take your songwriting practice home with you. We will create a supportive atmosphere to explore your songs and give each other the structure to complete them. All levels of songwriting experience are welcome. It will be helpful, but not required, if you can play a few basic chords on an instrument of your choice.

Storytelling, Crankies & Ballads (Angie DeBord, Phoebe Wagoneris for students age 11 and up who will share their own stories and enjoy Appalachian tales told through song, collage art, and visual storytelling using a cranky.  Crankies are a tradition art form created with a long roll of paper that is illustrated  by students to reveal a song, story or ballad by cranking one image at time.  Bring your favorite songs and string instruments and be ready for a week of creativity and fun.  

Fiddle girl -small 2023 



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 (Angie DeBordPhoebe Wagoner, Cornbread & Tortillas and more) 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, including illustrating and performing songs with a cranky. Thanks to a generous bequest from Nancy McClellan, all kids can receive a full scholarship for Kids on the Creek. 

NOTE:  Class size for Kids on the Creek is limited so please register you child as early as possible.  The Cowan Community Center also offers several additional weeks of summer day camps. For more information:


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