Seminars 2022

Seminars 2022

To read more about the Seminar Leaders, see our Instructor Bios page.


Level 1 : Beginner // Level 2: Beginner – Intermediate // Level 3: Intermediate // Level 4: Advanced

Sue Malcolm

Beginners Repetoire
This class is for beginner guitarists who can play a few basic chords. We’ll learn a bunch of easy songs with two or three chords from the country, folk and bluegrass repertoires. We’ll play songs in a variety of keys to give you the experience of playing different chord combinations. No music reading is required for this class. Although geared to guitarists, other instruments are welcome. Please bring a capo.

Performance Skills from the Bottom Up
Have you been performing for your cat for quite a while and are now ready to move on to humans? Let’s explore the elements of performing: preparation, relaxation, how to connect with the audience, what to do with your hands, what to wear….and more. You’ll have the opportunity to experience performing in a safe and supportive space. Everyone is welcome.

Sarah Jane Scouten

Songwriting – The Basics
In the basics of songwriting we’ll get started with some good songwriting habits and teach you some easy exercises you can try at home. We’ll be breaking myths about creative genius and learning that just about anyone can write a song! We’ll start writing right away in a creative environment so you can start flexing those songwriting muscles.

Songwriting – Advanced
In advanced(ish) songwriting, we take a deeper look at the songwriting and editing process (writing is editing!) What makes a song work and why? How is songwriting different from other kinds of creative writing? What kinds of songs are there and what purpose do they serve — to make you feel, dance, laugh, to put your kids to sleep? Please bring an original song or song fragment (chorus, verse, melody) you are willing to work and try new things with!

Barry Truter

Ensemble Delight: Level 2 – 4
Open to singers and players of any and all instruments. Using well-known songs from a variety of styles, we’ll develop unique ensemble arrangements by changing up rhythm, groove, timing, and tempo. In the process, we’ll learn how to collaborate musically, proving that the sum is greater than its parts. Bring your skills and talents, and be prepared to participate in the creative process.

Jenn Forsland

Vocal Technique
For beginners or as a “brush-up” for more experienced singers. Learn about tone quality, flexibility of voice and comprehensive breathing. All will be achieved in a peaceful and safe environment that will enable you to utilize your singing voice to its top potential.

Free Your Voice: The Singers Master Class
Here is your opportunity for some personalized coaching on vocal technique. Discover a safe and fun space to take a risk, build confidence, and find your authentic voice. Practice strategies and techniques to gain better control of your breath and the musculature most associated with healthy vocal production. Unleash your musical creativity and learn to connect with your audience with confidence and emotional depth. Come prepared with a song of your choice memorized. Please bring sheet music or a chord chart.

Michael Dunn

Introduction to Gypsy Jazz: Level 2 & 3
Suitable for someone who is comfortable with basic chords but is a beginner in the Gypsy Jazz style

Intermediate Gypsy Jazz: Level 3 & 4
Intermediate course with the strong emphasis on rhythm guitar and soloing in the style. Rhythm guitar is the most important identifying feature of Gypsy jazz and it’s far more complicated than it looks (or sounds).

Soloing a little easier as students may have their own style and can adapt it to fit the style. This has been my experience in teaching Djangology…

Suitable for those with basic familiarity with the style but could use further work on rhythm and soloing in the style

Jeff Dill & Miriam Sonstenes

Harmony Singing with Jeff and Miriam
In this class we will go over the basic skills needed to add harmony to a melody, and some of the tricks for building confidence as a harmony singer. We’ll learn about 2 part and 3 part singing and how to find harmony notes, as well as how to work around issues of keys, note choices, and tuning. Using common repertoire, and some other examples from our collections, we’ll try to cover all these topics and more.

Miriam Sonstenes

Old Time Jam Tunes for all Instruments
Joining in on an old time jam can be fun if you know some of the common tunes like Angeline The Baker or Over The Waterfall, but what about those less played but equally fun tunes like Shove That Pig’s Foot A Little Further Into The Fire or Late For The Dance? Come add to your repertoire of old time tunes, and maybe a song or two as well, as we cover a typical old time jam tune list. Melodies and chords will be demoed and jammed, bring a recording device for further home practice!

Jeff Dill

Bluegrass Flatpicking: Level 2 & 3
Flatpicking the guitar over fiddle tunes is a great way to work on left and right hand technique, and to understand how melodies relate to scales and chords. Once you understand some of the building blocks for improvising on guitar, you can have a lot of fun, experimentation and expression during solos. Such as: What chord are we on? Which frets or notes sound “good” over this chord? What scale are we using (major, minor, or blues)? What are the notes or frets of the melody? What is our muse telling us to play? Do we want to use a lick from our bag of tricks?

Let’s look at each of these and then put them all together! We can review some flatpicking technique and have lots of chances for trying out solos.

John Miller

Country Blues Fingerpicking in Open Tunings: Level 3 – 4
We will spend class time looking at open tunings that were commonly used in Country Blues guitar in the period 1925–present. We will look at least at Spanish and Vestapol tunings (open G and open D tunings, respectively), and as time permits, will also look at Cross-note tuning (open D minor) and G tuning, DGDGBE, focusing on the left hand in these tunings, chordal positions for them, and the kind of songs that suit them best. We’ll learn one song per tuning. Previous experience fingerpicking with an alternating or monotonic bass required.

Intro to Bossa Nova / Samba Back-up: Level 2 – 3
We will work on learning right hand picking patterns used to accompany Sambas and Bossa Novas, with emphasis on rhythmic accuracy, playing chord changes in the right places relative to the patterns and internalizing the patterns. We’ll use simple but appropriate chords as we practice the patterns.

Stephen Nikleva

Blues for any Instrument: Level 1 – 2
The blues is a musical approach that forms the bedrock for many musical styles. This is a course for players and singers who would like to learn more about the blues. We will learn some simple blues songs, look at some variations in chord progressions and learn how you can improvise or create a solo through the use of a melodic motif (riff).

Building on What You Already Know: Level 2 – 3
I spend a lot of my time as a teacher showing my students how they can build on what they already know – how they can ‘recycle’ what they have already learned to create new things. I will start with written examples but will allow plenty of time to deal specifically with students’ realities as they arise in class. I will help you understand what you are doing, put it in context, and show how you can expand on it. While style of music is not an issue, this class will be most useful to students who have some knowledge of harmony, moving up the neck, or are interested in extending their improvising skills.

Jim McLennan

Arranging For Fingerstyle Guitar: Level 3 – 4
Developing an instrumental version of a familiar piece of music that retains the integrity of the composition is arguably the ultimate accomplishment in fingerstyle guitar. We’ll go over the steps toward this, which are:

  • Finding and choosing a suitable song;
  • Choosing a suitable key;
  • Working out fingerings to play the melody, bass line and inner voices simultaneously;
  • How to practise, such that the song is playable and pleasant to listen to.

Introduction to Improvising Solos and Fills: Level 2 – 4
When someone calls your name to take a solo do you panic? We’ll look at beginning to improvise using three methods:

  • Three and four-note chord shapes that can be moved up the neck;
  • The pentatonic scale;
  • Using licks or phrases you’ve played before.

We’ll work on spontaneously creating solos and fills by combining these elements.

Phil Belanger

Swing and Folk Style Accompaniment:
This class will get you groovin’ on the snare drum, hi-hat, and cymbals using brushes and sticks. We’ll explore what makes a rhythm “feel good” and how to support and “lead” the band. Other percussion instruments are welcome as well.

Latin and Brazilian Rhythms:
This course will involve playing the most common rhythms, including the bossa-nova, samba, cha-cha and salsa. We’ll have fun learning the basic playing techniques for congas, shakers, guiro, cowbell, pandeiro, surdo and more!