Folk College

May 24-26, 2024


Folk College 2024 Schedule

Folk College is full of great workshops, concerts, singing and dancing.




2=advanced beginner





E=taught by ear

M=sheet music provided
P=instruments provided
D=discussion, no playing

Workshops are for all instruments unless otherwise indicated

2024 Schedule

Friday, May 24, 2024

Friday, 10 am to 1 pm Pre-Event Intensives

Separate Registration Required​

Basics for Beginners — Simple Gifts
1-2 SI, ear
In this special workshop designed for beginners and advanced beginners of all instruments, we’ll address basic folk music skills that will help you get the most out of the weekend. We’ll particularly look at how to learn tunes by ear, how to jam, how to play backup, how to play melody, and how to play well with other musicians. 

Singing for All — Sally Rogers
1-5 S, l&c
Singing is the most natural thing in the world, but no matter how well you sing, you can improve with attention and practice. We’ll talk about how to listen, breathe, sing in tune, craft our phrasing, and more. And we’ll sing! 

Guitar Techniques — Micah Nicol from The Ruta Beggers–SOLD OUT
Tips and techniques for getting the most out of your guitar playing, including left-hand techniques to make your playing more fluid, approaches to chord playing, and a solid look at rhythm, phrasing, timing, and expression. For intermediate to advanced players.

Mandolin Techniques — Jean Baptiste Cardineau from The Ruta Beggars
The mandolin is a wonderful little instrument that can do so much with melody, rhythm, and backup. We’ll look at some common problems and pitfalls and learn approaches to make your playing shine. This workshop is for intermediate to advanced mandolin players.

Fiddle Techniques — Natham Bishop & Tom Krumm from Midnight on the Water
Technique doesn’t need to be scary! This class is a safe space to air your fiddle grievances, problematic tunes, and unending questions about the bow. You’ll leave with newfound knowledge on how to tackle your fiddle hang-ups and a set of warmups to keep you in tip-top condition. For intermediate to advanced players.

Cello — Danio Hawkins from Midnight on the Water
As cellists, we are the ultimate musical chameleons walking a bass line, bowing long tones, strumming like a guitar, and chopping rhythms like a drummer. We will look at how to use the tools the cello has in its wheelhouse to accompany or lead in any type of musical situation. For all levels beyond beginner.

Bass — Noah Harrington from The Ruta Beggars
This workshop will cover the basics from positioning the left and right hands to backing up fiddle tunes. For all levels beyond beginner.

Old Time Banjo — Howie Bursen
Three hours of banjo with one of the world’s best loved old time banjo players! Howie will teach a variety of right and left hand techniques, from simple to advanced, using a selection of great tunes. The class is for banjoists who already know at least basic clawhammer technique. There will be some tab and chords to take home, but the class will be taught by ear.

Bluegrass Banjo — Trevin Nelson from The Ruta Beggars
For all levels beyond beginner, we’ll explore the ins and outs of playing 3-finger style bluegrass banjo.

Blues Harmonica — Richard Sleigh
For those beyond the beginner level, we’ll look at techniques to take your playing to the next level, including tongue blocking, pucker style playing, note bending, octaves, chord effects, breath control, volume projection, and tone control. 

West African Percussion — Kelly Parker & Lori Russo
Come explore the culture, rhythms, and techniques of West African Drumming. Explore the role of the Djembe and DjunDjuns. Discover how each blend in a polyrythmic language. Djembes will be provided, or bring your own. For all levels of drummers, including beginners.

Folk College Begins

Friday, 3 to 4 pm

Body Percussion – Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-5)
With your hands, tap and slap your own body to keep a beat, create rhythms, and feel the music!

Songs of Social Justice – Sally Rogers (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
There has long been a strong connection between art and social movements. This session explores songs that have served as cultural tools in the process of unleashing the potential for change in individuals and in communities

How to Learn Melodies by Ear – Jay Best (Level 2-3, I)
Learning melodies by ear is difficult for a lot of people. We’ll look at various approaches to figuring out how to play back what you hear, and also approaches to remembering what you just played back. We’ll focus on melodies. If you’re interested in figuring out chords by ear, please see the “Hearing Chord Changes” workshop just below.

Hearing Chord Changes – Howie Bursen (Level 2-3, SI, ear)
Hearing and feeling chord changes puts you at home, right in the middle of the music. Howie will help you discover what he calls the “hidden heart of western music”. He promises to show you how to unlock the secret

How to Play a Solo – Henry Koretzky and Wayne Fugate (Level 3-4, I, ear)
You’re at a jam and it’s your turn to play a solo. What do you do? In this workshop, Henry and Wayne will give advice on how to construct an interesting solo.  

Pennsylvania Tunes – Rachel Hall (Level 3-4, I, music)
We’ll look at several wonderful but virtually unknown tunes collected in Pennsylvania. Sheet music and chords will be provided. 

Quebecois Tunes – Kalos (Level 3-5, I, ear)
Working by ear, we’ll look at some fun-to-play tunes in the Quebecois style.

Blues Theory – Richard Sleigh (Level 4-5, SI)
This workshop will focus on the scales, chord progressions, and rhythms of blues music. You’ll leave with a roadmap of what to practice and listen to become a blues musician. 

Friday, 4:15 to 5:15 pm

Try a Ukulele – Jay Best (Level 1, P)
Discover why these little instruments have captured the hearts of people everywhere. It’s so much fun and easy to do. Learn a few easy chords and songs. Ukuleles will be provided.

Songs of the 60’s – Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
Learn songs written or popularized in the 1960s. Lyrics and chords will be provided.

How to Write a Song that Changes Your Life – Shanna in a Dress (Level 1-5, SI)
Shanna is a master manifestor who believes in the power of songs to create your dream future. She’ll give you a songwriting prompt, share some examples, and lead you through a few exercises. Then you’ll get writing time to get to it! We’ll try to leave time to share our progress out loud at the end. 

How to Jam – Henry Koretzky (Level 1-2, SI, ear)
Learn some skills that will help you join in jams. How do you figure out what to play, and what do you do if you don’t know the tune being played?

Arranging Bluegrass Songs – Ruta Beggars (Level 2-5, SI, ear)
A good arrangement makes a song really shine. Learn how to use harmony, instrumentals, and arrangement techniques to take a simple bluegrass song and arrange it into an interesting performance piece.

Mediterranean Tunes – Gypsy Funk Squad (Level 3-5, SI, music)
You’ll learn a fun, simple Turkish folk song “Üsküdara” (oos-koo-da-ra). Sheet music will be provided, but this is a simple tune you can easily learn by ear. This class is also open to percussion (only 2 different rhythms). If we have time, we can try an Armenian or Arabic song as well!

Weird and Wonderful Tunes – Midnight on the Water (Level 4-5, I, music)
This is your chance to learn something really different! Bring an instrument and come prepared for some fun. Sheet music and chords will be provided.

Scottish Tunes – Kalos (Level 4-5, ear)
Working by ear, you’ll learn tunes in the Scottish repertoire.

Friday, 7 pm Faculty Concert

Simple Gifts

Gypsy Funk Squad
Shanna in a Dress
Midnight on the Water

Friday, After the Concert

Beginners’ Jam – Simple Gifts (Level 1-2, SI)
A slow-paced, supportive jam especially for beginners, also a good setting for more advanced musicians to experiment with improvisation.

Rise Up Singing – Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
We’ll sing old favorites and new favorites from the Rise Up Singing collection. 

Celtic & More Jam – Kalos (Level 3-5 I)
The focus will be instrumental tunes in the Irish, Scottish, French, and New England traditions, but you’re welcome to lead a tune in any genre.

Songwriters’ Circle – Shanna in a Dress and Micah Nicol (Level 1-5 SI)
Bring a song to share, or come to listen, and get feedback on your original songs.

Drum Circle – Gypsy Funk Squad, Kelly Parker and Lori Russo (Level 1-5)
Fun with drums!

Friday, 11 pm

Bedtime Yoga – Trevin Nelson
Besides being an incredible musician, Trevin is a certified yoga instructor. A yoga session right before bed will give you sweet dreams!

Dorm Jam – Eric Ian Farmer, Wayne Fugate (1-5, SI)
Stop by the dorm lounge for informal jamming before you roll into bed. Anything you want to play or sing is welcome!

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturday, 9:30 - 10:45 am

Try a Cajón – Rodney Azagra and Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-3, P)
This will be a basic intro to an easy and fun instrument. A cajón is a box-shaped percussion instrument that you can sit on and play by slapping and tapping the front, side, or rear faces with your hands. (Drum brushes work too.) A few instruments will be provided, and we’ll take turns playing them. Bring your own if you have one.

Performance Pizzazz – Shanna in a Dress (Level 1-5, SI)
In this workshop, volunteers will perform a song in front of the group and get feedback on how to enhance their performance in a way that connects even better with the audience. We’ll talk about performance tips and tricks such as banter, stage fright, showmanship, expressiveness, body language, dynamics, and any tips to make your song better!

Alternative Gospel Songs – Henry Koretzky (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
A non-religious approach to gospel songs, for voices and instruments. Lyrics and chords will be provided.

Awesome Easy Tunes – Nathan Bishop and Dani Hawkins (Level 2, I, ear)
Tunes don’t have to be challenging to be awesome! In this class, we will learn some wonderful tunes from several different traditions, all of which are easy to play and learn by ear. For all instruments, with tips for both melody and backup players

Reading Rhythm – Lori Russo (Level 2-3, SI, music)
We’ll use sheet music that has just rhythm, no notes, to help you better understand and improve your rhythm.

New England Tunes – Ryan McKasson and Eric McDonald (Level 3-5, I, music)
We’ll learn a few jigs and reels from the New England repertoire, with attention to both melody players and rhythm players. Sheet music and chords will be provided.

BalFolk Tunes – Jeremiah McLane (Level 3-5, I, ear)
Working by ear, you’ll learn tunes from this interesting tradition. There will be tips for both melody and backup players.

Chord Substitutions – Rachel Hall (Level 4-5, I)
Learn how to add variety to what you are playing with interesting and useful chord substitutions.

Mandolin Clinic – Wayne Fugate (Level 2-5)
A highly interactive session to help you get past the obstacles that stand between you and being a better mandolin player. Each participant will volunteer one or more stumbling blocks they are experiencing that prevent them from taking that elusive ‘next-step’ in their playing. Then, we will tackle these problems using the collective wisdom of the group such that by the end of the session, you’ll have several specific, actionable strategies to use in solving your most frustrating mandolinistic problems.

Backup Guitar – Howie Bursen (Level 3-5)
Good backup guitar glues a group together, making the music come alive, driving the music forward and building a space for solo instruments to shine. Howie will teach tried-and-true backup techniques for both fingerpicking and flatpicking.

Mini-Lessons on Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar – Jay Best (Level 1-5)
Sign up for a short one-on-one session with Jay on the instruments indicated or for feedback on general musicianship. Signup sheets will be available during orientation, Saturday 8:45am. Please have a question or issue ready to discuss. 

Saturday, 11 am to 12:15 pm

Try a Banjo – Jay Best (Level 1, P, ear)
Starting at the very beginning, learn the basics of clawhammer style banjo. Banjos will be provided.   

West African Drumming – Kelly Parker and Lori Russo (Level 1-5, P)
We’ll look at the rhythms and techniques of traditional West African drumming, exploring the role of each drum and then putting it all together. Drums will be provided or bring your own. For all levels of drummers, including total beginners.

Songwriting Hooks and Melodies – Shanna in a Dress (Level 1-5)
What makes a melody great? What makes a hook hooky? We’ll distill some of popular music’s greatest melodies to demystify the mystical ear candy of an extraordinary melody! Shanna will start with examples and then you’ll get a chance to put them into practice on your own.

Singing for Beginners – Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-2, S)
We’ll spend time on the communication between your mouth, your ears, and your heart.  Learn together with others and receive fuel for your courage!

Band Groove Exercises – Ruta Beggars (Level 2-5, I)
Learn the exercises the Ruta Beggars follow to develop an integrated and cohesive band sound.

Irish Tunes – Ryan McKasson and Jeremiah McLane (Level 3-5, I, music)
You’ll learn a few Irish tunes, with tips for both melody and backup players. 

Non-Western Scales and Rhythms – Gypsy Funk Squad (Level 3-5)
We’ll try a few different rhythms from around the world, including some 4/4 beats such as maqsum and Punjabi. How about a Turkish 9/8? Bring your hands (or percussion) to clap along. Listen to and play the very popular Hijaz Middle Eastern scale. Hear how a slightly detuned 3rd can sound more pleasant in atonal music. Bring your instrument or just listen and clap along.

Jazz and Swing Improvisation – Tom Krumm (Level 4-5, SI, ear)
For many who are used to playing folk tunes, the world of jazz improvisation represents a daunting leap into the dark. Learn the basic tools necessary to begin exploring and developing your own style.

DADGAD Guitar – Eric McDonald (Level 2-4)
We’ll retune our guitars to DADGAD, and then we’ll explore scale and chord relationships specific to DADGAD tuning. With this foundation we will move on to techniques that develop solid rhythmic and lyrical playing for accompaniment.

Harmonica Overview – Richard Sleigh (Level 1-5)
Learn more than you ever thought to ask about harmonicas. See, hear, and learn about tremolo harmonicas,  chromatic harmonicas, and octave tuned harmonicas as well as the most popular harmonica, the diatonic or blues harmonica. This workshop will be interesting for both harmonica players and those who don’t play but want to learn about the instrument.

Mini-Lessons on fiddle, mandolin, guitar – Karen Hirshon (Level 1-5)
Sign up for a short one-on-one session with Karen. Signup sheets will be available during orientation, Saturday 8:45am. Please have a question or issue ready to discuss. You may also come to discuss general musicianship on any instrument.

Saturday, 1:45 to 3 pm

Try a Fiddle – Simple Gifts (Level 1, P, ear)
In a session designed for people who’ve never touched a fiddle, we’ll look at the very basics. Instruments will be provided.

Intro to Belly Dance – Gypsy Funk Squad (Level 1-5)
Come learn the basic techniques of belly dance, and then we’ll work on some choreography. Enjoy the empowerment and liberation of this traditional style of dance!

Jean Ritchie Songs – Sally Rogers (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
Learn about this American icon as you learn some of her songs.

Easy Waltzes – Rachel Hall (Level 2, I, music)
The waltz is one of the oldest and most romantic dance forms. In this class, we’ll explain the rhythm and basic sound of waltzes and then, with sheet music and chords provided, we’ll play a few easy waltzes. There will be tips for both melody and backup players.

How to Learn Melodies by Ear – Wayne Fugate (Level 2-3, I)
Learning melodies by ear is difficult for a lot of people. We’ll look at various approaches to figuring out how to play back what you hear, and also approaches to remembering what you just played back. 

Metronome Games – Richard Sleigh (2-5, SI)
You will learn how to use a metronome to create hypnotic dance rhythms and give the music you already know a new level of aliveness. 

Contradance Band Practice – Midnight on the Water (Level 3-4, I, music)
We’ll play through the music planned for this evening’s contradance and learn arrangements and approaches that make them come alive! Music and chords will be provided. [Note: It’s ok to skip this workshop and play for the dance anyhow or to come to this workshop but not play for the dance.]

Jamming with Members of Ruta Beggars (Level 3-5, SI, ear)
This is your chance to meet and jam with members of The Ruta Beggars!

Old Time Banjo – Howie Bursen (Level 2-5)
Make the leap from just playing the notes to playing the tune – with feeling. You’ll learn techniques to help you play with expression. Being musical is our aim, plus you’ll learn some great new tunes.

Bluegrass Fiddle – Sam Stage (Level 3-5)
This workshop will be especially appropriate for fiddlers who’ve played old-time or Irish styles and now want to expand to include bluegrass fiddling.

Mini-Lessons on guitar and mandolin – Henry Koretzky (Level 1-5) 
Sign up for a short one-on-one session with Henry on the instruments indicated or for general musicianship. Signup sheets will be available during orientation, Saturday 8:45am. Please have a question or issue ready to discuss. 

Saturday, 3:15 to 4:45 pm

Folk Band Rehearsal – Faculty coaches (1-5, SI, ear, music)
Based on the form you filled out during orientation (Saturday 8:45 am), you’ll be assigned to a band that will rehearse with the help of a staff coach and then perform at Sunday’s Student Concert. There will also be an option to join a non-performing band. Band lists and locations will be posted in Von Leibig Lobby.

Saturday, 7 pm Faculty Concert

Sally Rogers & Howie Bursen
The Ruta Beggars

Saturday, After the Concert

Contradance – Bob Nicholson (dancers 1-5)
Dances will be taught and called by the world’s best dance caller and party leader! If you can walk and count to 4, you can contradance! 

Contradance Open Band – Midnight on the Water (instruments 3-5, I, music)
Play along with the contradance band and watch with amazement as the dancers are in sync with what you’re playing! Sheet music and chords will be provided. Make sure to wear your wackiest hat and zanyest sweater.

Singing Jam – Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-5, SI, ear)
This will be a relaxed, fun time of singing old favorites and perhaps some new favorites as well. For all voices and instruments.

Jamming with the Ruta Beggars (Level 3-5, SI, ear)
You just heard the Ruta Beggars perform. This is your chance to ask them to repeat a song you want to sing/play along with and to bring other songs to sing and play with the group.

Open Mic with Feedback – Simple Gifts (Level 1-5, SI)
This is an open mic where you can go to perform for the group or to listen, but there’s the added benefit of having Simple Gifts give feedback on each performance.

Saturday, 11 pm

Dorm Jam – Jay Best and Lori Russo (Level 2-5, SI, ear)
Stop by the dorm lounge for informal jamming before you roll into bed. Anything you want to play or sing is welcome!

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sunday, 8:45 to 10 am

Try a Harmonica – Richard Sleigh (Level 1)
For the absolute beginner, Richard will get you started playing this fun instrument. Bring a harmonica in the key of C, or you can buy an inexpensive one at the workshop.

Hymn Singing – Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen (Level 1-5, SI, l&c)
Come warm up your voice and start the day with songs of hope, love, joy and peace–both traditional and contemporary.  If you have a favorite song, feel free to lead it!

Effortless Mastery – Trevin Nelson (Level 2-5)
For musicians of all levels, explore the barriers to creativity and mastery of music by challenging the conventional perception of skill. By embracing creativity, we move towards greater musical confidence. 

Secrets of Storytelling – Shanna in a Dress (Level 1-5, D)
Storytelling is the key to capturing your audience’s attention and emotion. What are the elements of a fantastic story? We can use these components to write better songs, have more engaging stage banter, and be more compelling when you’re just hanging out with your friends or meeting new people. Shanna will share the sorcery behind master storytellers, then we’ll do a fun game with it and apply it to your creative endeavors!

Cümbüş, Oud and Foot Percussion – Jack Lowry (Level 1-5, D)
Meet the Middle Eastern Oud and Cümbüş. The Oud is a fretless lute-style instrument traditionally strung with double courses of gut or nylon strings with a round back wood body. The Cümbüş (joom-boosh) has a banjo body style and steel strings, made to be played in louder party settings. We’ll also try Zils (finger cymbals) which are popular with belly dancers, and we’ll learn Middle Eastern foot percussion with foot tambourines, ankle bells, and electronic foot pads.

Easy West Virginia Tunes – Jay Best (Level 2, I, ear)
Working by ear, you’ll learn a few easy West Virginia tunes. There will be tips for both melody and backup players.

Performance Tips – Ruta Beggars (3-5, D)
Where musicianship meets stagecraft—that’s the cutting edge of performance. Learn some of the more important details in attitude, delivery, and polish that can elevate your set to the next level.

Slides, Slip Jigs, and Polkas – Nathan Bishop (Level 3-4, I, ear)
Working by ear, we’ll look at 3 kinds of tunes in the Irish tradition: slides, slip jigs, and polkas. We’ll explore their differences and examine the subtleties of making them sound authentic.

Writing Fiddle Tunes – Kalos (Level 3-5)
We’ll look at a variety of approaches to writing instrumental tunes in a traditional styles.

Tunes with Flats – Dani Hawkins and Tom Krumm (Level 4-5, I, music)
Most folk tunes are in keys that have sharps (like D, G, or A). Learn some tunes that have flats instead!

Open Mic with Feedback – Rachel Hall & Eric Ian Farmer (Level 1-5)
This is an open mic where you can go to perform for the group or to listen, but there’s the added benefit of having staff members give feedback on each performance.

Sunday, 10:15 to 11:30 am

Try a Mandolin – Henry Koretzky (Level 1, P)
We’ll start at the beginning and learn the basics of playing this versatile instrument. Instruments will be provided.

Harmony Singing – Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen (Level 2-5, S)
Learn to create and sing harmonies. We’ll look at common pitfalls and strategies to finding harmony parts and work on blending and listening. 

Health and Wellness for Musicians – Trevin Nelson (Level 1-5)
How to play your instrument without hurting your body.

How to Practice – Noah Harrington (Level 2-5, I)
We’ll discuss how to use practice time effectively so you can learn music more quickly, develop skills on your instrument, and have a good time while doing it.

Easy Versions of Common Tunes – Simple Gifts (Level 2-3, I, music)
We’ll look at some of the most common traditional tunes, the sort that “everyone” knows but perhaps you haven’t learned yet. We’ll work from sheet music, with easy version of these tunes provided. There will be tips for both melody and backup players.

Old Time Jam – Jay Best (Level 2-4, SI, ear)
A relaxed and fun time jamming on old time tunes!

Beyond the Melody – Wayne Fugate (Level 3-4, I, ear)
We’ll start with a standard fiddle tune in its most basic, skeletal form and then introduce a variety of strategies for developing the tune in ways that will allow you to put your unique stamp on it. The goal is to open the door to creating melodic variations for any tune you encounter.

Creating Instrumental Harmonies – Nathan Bishop and Tom Krumm (Level 3-5, I, music)
We’ll explore methods for creating your own harmony parts when the melody is already covered. Written examples will be provided, as well as a behind the scene look at how they were made!

Scandinavian Tunes – Dani Hawkins (Level 3-5, I, ear)
Learn tunes that are part of the folk repertoire from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. We’ll work by ear, with music provided at the end of the session.

Filipino Tunes – Gypsy Funk Squad (Level 3-5, SI, ear)
We’ll focus on the Spanish influence on Filipino folk music, which isn’t too much of a stretch from the Western music we’re already familiar with. We’ll look at both the original language and English translation.

Accordion – Jeremiah McLane (Level 2-5)
Tips and approaches to being a better accordion player.

Sunday, 1:15 to 2:15 pm

Folk Band Rehearsals

Sunday, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

Rehearsal with your Folk Band and Faculty Coach

Sunday, After the Concert

The Last Jam – Henry Koretzky and Eric Ian Farmer (1-5, SI, ear)
|Stick around after the concert and jam one last time until we see each other again at the Pennsylvania Folk Gathering in September. This will be a mix of singing and instrumentals, whatever tunes or songs you want to suggest.

*Schedule subject to change