Winter School 2024


Here’s a sure cure for the winter blues:

Cowan Creek Mountain Music WINTER SCHOOL begins the week of January 8th, 2024!   

winter mountainsFor the fourth year, we will offer virtual classes to keep you progressing in fiddle, banjo, guitar, and new this year, mandolin.  Each class meets for one hour each week for 8 weeks, during the evenings via Zoom.  Last classes will be held the week of February 26th, 2024.  All class times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.  Tuition is $150 and youth scholarships are available!  Thanks to a generous bequest from Nancy McClellan, all youth ages 11 to 22 can receive full scholarships.  Scholarships are available for adults who need one too.  Class size is limited to 15 so register online as soon as possible.  To secure a scholarship, simply click the “scholarship” button when registering.  If you need help with getting registered or have questions, contact the CCMMS coordinator, Stacy Dollarhide  at  or call her during work days at (606) 335-5350.  

2024 Winter School Classes:

Intermediate Mandolin (Art Mize)  Mondays 7:00pm:  Is for mando players who can play a handful of tunes and are comfortable with basic chord changes.  Art will teach some favorite of mountain fiddle tunes adapted for mandolin, with the added goal of building in some basics to help you learn more of the repertoire yourself.  

Early Intermediate Fiddle (Sarah Howard)  Wednesdays 7:00pm:  This class will be just right for students who have completed a beginner class and can play a few common tunes slowly.  Sarah will teach easy and fun tunes from southeast Kentucky greats, Ray Slone, Art Stamper and Lee Sexton.  

Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle (John Harrod)  Tuesdays 7:00pm:  Blues and ragtime-derived pieces were a large part of the repertoire of Kentucky fiddlers.  This was another area where black and white fiddlers interacted to create new styles of music.  I’m this class we’ll explore this overlooked musical territory. We’ll start at an intermediate level and move on to more complex settings that will turn out to be easier than you expect – just shortened scales, sliding, and syncopation. Everybody has got the blues so let’s play some and see if things get better!

Intermediate Banjo (Randy Wilson)  Thursdays 7:00pm:  This class is just right for folks who have taken a beginning class in banjo and are familiar with the clawhammer strum. Randy will teach favorite southeast Kentucky tunes and songs using familiar tunings.  He will also introduce some alternate tunings used in the region. Randy will also get you started on singing simple songs while accompanying yourself on the banjo.

Flatpick Guitar (Ron Howard)  Tuesdays 7:00pm:  This class is for guitarists who already know the basic chords and can back up a few common old time tunes and songs.  A capo will be helpful for this class.  Ron will introduce flatpicking the melodies of old time tunes and taking breaks for mountain songs.  


2024 Winter School Faculty:

Art Mize shopArt Mize  (Intermediate Mandolin) spent his early years in Laurel County.  He grew up in an a cappella shape-note singing church but played baritone ukulele with his family from the age of 6 and started fiddle at 10.  Art is now a master luthier and versatile fiddler in Lexington, Kentucky.  He has decades of performance experience in bluegrass, old time, celtic and swing jazz fiddling.  He currently performs in the old time trio, the Jarflies and with his wife Diane as DnA Strings.  Art’s dedication to instrument restoration, as well as Kentucky’s traditional music, was recognized in 2007 with the Homer Ledford Award. 

sarah howardSarah Howard (Early Intermediate Fiddle) is a mountain gospel and ballad singer, fiddler and educator from Perry County, Kentucky.  She was one of our first Cowan Creek Mountain Music School students.  At 13 she studied fiddle with Ray Slone through a Kentucky Folklife apprenticeship and later learned from Art Stamper. Sarah joined the CCMMS faculty in 2007 and has taught harmony singing, fiddle and old time stringband.   She performs and records with her parents, brother Ron and his wife Kinsee as the Howard Family, a bluegrass gospel string band.

John Harrod cropped2John Harrod (Intermediate /Advanced Fiddle) of Shelby County, Kentucky first learned old time music from Darley Fulks, Bill Livers, Asa Martin and Lily May Ledford. In the 1980’s he produced a large and influential body of field recordings of musicians around central and northeast Kentucky. These can be heard on Rounder’s Fiddle Music of Kentucky (2 volumes) and Along the Ohio’s Shores. John performs with the band Kentucky Wild Horse and can be heard on their CD Spirits of the Lonesome Hills.  June Appal Records recently released  his first solo recording Johnny Come Along.   John has taught at Cowan since its founding and has also taught at Augusta, Swannanoa and the Festival of America Fiddle Tunes.

RANDY-WILSON-229x300Randy Wilson (Intermediate Banjo) from Leslie County, Kentucky, is a talented multi-instrumentalist, dance caller and story teller.  He recently retired after decades of engaging public school kids in Leslie and Knott Counties with traditional and home made music, storytelling and dance.  Randy has also taught at Hindman’s Family Folk Week.  Currently, he teaches dulcimer at the Cordia School and banjo at Centre College.  He  performed and recorded Heritage on June Appal Records with the late poet James Still.  In 2003 he appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. and in 2007 at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington.

Ron Howard 2023Ron Howard (Flatpick Guitar) is a mountain gospel singer and multi-instrumentalist from Perry County, Kentucky.  He was already a seasoned performer at age 11 when he learned clawhammer banjo at CCMMS 2003.  He has taught harmony singing and stringband at CCMMS and well as guitar, dobro and mando for Hazard Community & Technical Colleges traditional music program.  His lead guitar playing and tight harmony singing can be heard on the Howard Family recordings Same Today, Follow Me and Our Style

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