Banjo Retreat ~ “Play Well With Others”

August 8, 2021 at Ontario County Park, Naples, NY

Have you ever attended an old time fiddle jam and wondered “how do these people know all these tunes?” Or have you ever worked up the courage to ask a friend to play songs with you, only to find you’re not really sure what to do? Just like learning ‘bum diddy’ or scales on the banjo, you need to build the SKILLS required to play with other musicians. Personally, I find this to be the most rewarding part of playing music: sharing it with others. It’s true what they say about it, that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

With this retreat, I want to help you build these skills in a very low-pressure, low-stakes, educational environment. It’s true that the middle of a jam session usually isn’t the place to ask questions about jam etiquette, nor is the middle of a tune a good time to stop everyone and ask for clarification on the chord progression. But this is that place! Here we’ll provide you with a friendly setting for you to stop the tunes and ask any question you want. This program will be all about getting comfortable with listening to, learning, and playing along with folks in a social setting. We’ll cover all the aspects of what it takes to play well with others.

The retreat is suitable for beginning and intermediate learners of the banjo (clawhammer specifically), fiddle, guitar, bass, or mandolin. If you play something different, shoot me an email here and I’ll let you know whether this class would be a good fit or not.

We’ll start the day with workshops and end with lots of jamming! Both in large and small step-out groups. With me will be two fine old-time musicians and instructors: Pete Thompson playing fiddle, banjo, and guitar, and Chris Stevens playing guitar and bass. Pete teaches guitar and mandolin lessons at Marich Music in Corning, his teacher bio is on this page. And Chris is the bass player for the popular roots band The Hackensaw Boys, you can read about them here.

Here’s a quick run-down of the day:

9:30am – Meet and greet and opening jam (the before picture)

10am – Knowing Your Role (and everybody else’s). Focus: Rhythm

11am – Strike a chord. Focus: Chords, harmony, and common chord progressions. (Also – capos and guitar chords).

12pm – Lunch (provided), and a short Geology Walk!

1pm – Melody and Scales

2pm – Jamming in groups

3pm – Jamming in other groups

3:30pm – Closing thoughts and final jam (the after picture)

Once you register, you’ll be added to an email list where you’ll receive more detailed information including the exact location and what to bring. I’ll also use this list for sending out updates and tune videos to prepare as I have them. Or not! You’ll get a lot out of the day no matter what, but I know that some folks really enjoy feeling prepared. So I’ll make tune lists and some select play-along/tutorial videos for you if you choose.

Registration and Payment

The cost for this one-day jamming retreat is $120. It will happen rain or shine, and if, for some unforeseen personal reason I must cancel the event, you’ll receive a full refund. If you would like to participate, please fill out the registration form below (be sure to click the ‘Register’ button once completed) and then I’ll write back within a day or two with a payment link. Thank you!