Upper Potomac Music Weekends

PO Box 1474, Shepherdstown, WV  25443

(304) 263-2531   upperpotomac@gmail.com

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2020 Classes: (in process... changes and more updates coming soon!)

Classes listed in blue are predominantly for fiddle. Classes in red type indicate instruments other than fiddle are welcome!

If you have questions about classes, your playing level or about festival logistics, feel free to contact our festival office. upperpotomac@gmail.com (304 263-2531)

Class 1 – Saturday 10am-12 noon

  • Beg +: Intro to Fiddle  (Ken Kolodner)
    The course will help participants be efficient, effective and confident learners, and to enjoy the main groove of playing traditional old time music. It will include helpful tips on mechanics, techniques, and resources, as well as lots of individual coaching and feedback, while learning some great tunes along the way.

  • All Levels: WV Fiddling: The Life and Music of Melvin Wine (Erynn Marshall)                                                            Melvin Wine was born April 20, 1909, in Stout’s Run, Braxton County, West Virginia. His mother and grandfather were ballad singers and his father and great-grandfather were fine fiddlers. Melvin received National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts and was considered a national treasure. He played fiddle well into his 90's and his music was beautiful, archaic and from another time. Melvin was a mentor to Erynn for many years and she wrote a book about him and other WV fiddlers and singers called, Music in the Air Somewhere.  In this class we will share stories and tunes about this amazing southern fiddler. Erynn will teach one or two of his signature fiddle tunes (with bowing and ornaments) that were passed down in his family for generations. Video-taping is welcome. Recording devices are encouraged.

  • Adv Beg - Int: Scottish Slow Airs and Marches (Elke Baker) 

  • Adv Beg - Int: Irish Jigs (Seán Heely)
    Enter the wonderful world of Irish jigdom with Seán. Learn how to manipulate your bow arm to create the right lilt and flow for your jigs, We will also look at the difference between other jig forms like hop jigs, slip jigs, slides, etc.

  • Int - Adv: The Swing in Québécois Fiddle (Lisa Ornstein)
    This workshop, geared towards the advanced players, will show you some of the important fiddle bowing patterns in Québécois music. These techniques are especially helpful for dance players. The learning of these bowings will be integrated with learning some square Québécois tunes that they help bring to life.

  • Int - Adv: New England Dance Band  (David & Rebecca)                                                                                             Create a medley of a jig or two into a reel or two, with all tunes from common repertoire (or, as common as possible).such as Swallowtail Jig and Bell’s Favorite (jigs) and a classic Northeastern reel (e.g. Reel de Gaspé, Fisher’s Hornpipe, Rickett’s Hornpipe).  We could send you transcriptions of these tunes so people could woodshed in advance of the class.

  • Int - Adv: Old Time Banjo Workshop (Carl Jones)                                                                                                                     In this workshop we will focus on clawhammer style banjo as we hone our right and left hand techniques. A few exercises to warm us up with music theory stirred in for maximum “up the neck” comfort and fun. We will learn a tune or two along the way and add to our repertoire as weboost our banjo skills. Relaxed, informative, enjoyment is our goal for the session.

  • Int –Adv : Piano Intensive (Dave Wiesler)                                                                                                                            This is your chance for a lesson on whatever it is that you’d like to learn or work on.   It’s also a chance to listen in on other partipants’ lessons as they explore their interests.   Dave will be happy to help you with technique at any level, playing in different styles (he plays a lot of different types of music), or playing specifically for dance, or unlocking whatever problem it is that you’re working on.    Reading is not necessary, but bring some specific music to work on.

Class 2 – Saturday 2-4:30pm

  • Beg +: Intro to Fiddle  (Ken Kolodner)
    The course will help participants be efficient, effective and confident learners, and to enjoy the main groove of playing traditional old time music. It will include helpful tips on mechanics, techniques, and resources, as well as lots of individual coaching and feedback, while learning some great tunes along the way.

  • Adv Beg – Int: Old Time Guitar  (Carl Jones)                                                                                                                       An Old Time Guitar workshop exploring ways to back up fiddle tunes and songs using various techniques such as outlining parts of the melodies within the chords, exploring “up” and “down” bass walks, and using some basic theory to feel at ease using more of the fingerboard while we enjoy tapping into the guitars amazing supportive  potential.  A good basic chord knowledge and moderate changing speed would be beneficial as well as a recording device.

  • Adv Beg- Int: New England Fiddle (David Kaynor and Rebecca)                                                                                      We will teach both the melody and and some styling for a couple of representative tunes:  A jig and a reel.  If time allows, a little basic harmony, as well.

  • Int-Adv: Quebecois Repertoire for all Instruments (Lisa Ornstein)                                                                                  Learn some lively Quebecois reels and marches suitable for a few medleys in the evening contra dance.

  • Int – Adv: The Nitty Gritty of Old-Time Fiddle Bowing  (Erynn Marshall)                                                                            In this class we will learn a tune that uses an array of old-time bowing including pulses, shuffle bow and a variety of bow rocks. Often ornaments in southern fiddling are achieved with the bow-hand but some noting-hand ornaments will be covered for good measure. We’ll talk about the “rhythmic skeleton” of the tune, how cool bowing accents are, and the back beat too. Come play with us or just listen if you are new to old-time fiddling but are interested what bowing fun lies on the horizon. 

  • Int - Adv: So You Want to Play a Pibroch: Advanced Ornamentation, Scottish Style (Elke Baker)

  • Int – Adv: Irish Reels: Bowing and Ornamentation (Seán Heely)                                                                                Bowing and ornamentation are integral in making the tunes come to life. However, it can be quite difficult to squeeze in ornaments and knowing how to make good bowing choices. We will look at a few standard Irish reels and discuss different styles of ornamentation and bowing.

  • Int – Adv: Waltzes from the Potomac Village Collection (Dave Wiesler)                                                                        We’ll read through and explore some of the twenty-four tunes from Dave’s new book of waltzes.  They range from easy to quite challenging, gentle to manic, in a variety of styles, and we’ll pick tunes based on the abilities and interests of the group.  Reading is essential for this.  

Class 3 – Sunday 10am-12 noon

  • Adv. Beg.Int Wonderful Waltzes (Ken Kolodner)                                                                                                              Learn and enjoy lots of great waltzes from a variety of traditions.  For all instruments. The pieces will be taught by ear but written music will be provided.

  • Adv Beg - Int: Intro to Scandinavian Music (David and Rebecca)                                                                            Combine some show-and-tell (a.k.a. repertoire development) of some representative tune types (walking tune; bridal march; polska; schottische; waltz) with teaching a fairly straightforward schottische or hambo-friendly polska.

  • All Levels: Bowing Technique - Fiddle as a Rhythm Instrument (Elke Baker) 

  • Int - Adv: Tommy Jarrell's Old Time Fiddle (Lisa Ornstein)                                                                                           Please come with fiddle cross-tuned in old-timey D (A,D,A,E)

  • Int: Old Time Stringband Class (Erynn and Carl)                                                                                                                   In this old-time ensemble class, Carl and Erynn will play several of their favorite, southern, fiddle and banjo tunes at slow and faster tempos. All instruments are welcome. We will form an all-star stringband – having fun playing tunes from West Virginia, Round Peak, Mississippi and everything in-between. It will be like a jam with tips on old-time style, rhythm or chord back-up.  Repertoire will be taught quickly by ear during the workshop. Recording devices are recommended. You are invited to join this group of merry music makers! 

  • Int - Adv: Finding Harmony Lines in English Dance Music (Dave Wiesler)                                                                    We’ll explore a few simple English dance tunes and how to build onto them harmonies, counterpoint, textures, and moods, so that you’ll know what to do when you’re not playing the melody.   Reading is helpful, but not essential here. 

Class 4 – Sunday 2:00-4:00 pm

  • All Levels: Old Time Favorites for All (Ken Kolodner and Carl Jones)

  • Adv Beg – Int: Intro to French Canadian Fiddle (Lisa Ornstein)                                                                                            If you are enthusiastic or curious about the music of La Belle Province then this workshop is for you. You'll have the possibility of learning some tunes from the Québécois repertoire which includes Brandys (3/4), Galops, Cotillions, Jigs, Marches and "straight" reels with even or odd number of parts. Please bring a small recording device as all melodies will be taught by ear. Bowing and ornamentation will be discussed and taught as well as how to incorporate the music in your own personal style. No sheet music will be given at class.

  • Int – Adv: Scandinavian Fiddle Style ( David and Rebecca)                                                                                        Looking at a few distinctive village styles and learning a few polskas.

  • Int: Exploring Regional Styles in Old Time Fiddle (Erynn Marshall)                                                                                        This class will delve into the living traditions of Appalachian music found in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina.  Learn secrets of the bowing and other characteristics that define the old-time fiddling of some of the heritage players of the South and their distinctive style. Please bring a recorder to class and your adventurous fiddling spirit! 

  • Int – Adv Playing for the Scottish Country Dance (Elke and Dave Wiesler)                                                                      The art and science of taking a tune from the page and making it into a joyful, engaging, danceable piece of music. Topics of exploration and discussion include phrasing, time signatures, harmonizing, and musical aesthetics. Reading is highly recommended.

All Day Saturday Classes

  • Intro to Fiddle Styles for Seasoned Beginners is designed for newer students who need some work with basic skills and learn more slowly. It will cover some basic elements of playing including holding the violin, left-hand technique, bowing, tone production, practicing and building technical facility while learning some traditional folk melodies in a few different styles. (Ken Kolodner)