10 Q&A's about The Jenny Brook Bluegrass University
Class Descriptions & Instructor Bios Below
Q. What is The Jenny Brook Bluegrass University?
A. Six beginner classes for adults held at The Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival. The classes are two and a half hours of hands-on instruction on Saturday from 2 until 4:30 pm, and the cost is $35.
Q. What are the classes and who are the teachers?
A. See below for class descriptions and teacher bios. Although each teacher will be addressing different topics (see below), all teachers will be gearing their classes towards beginners and beginner/intermediate musicians. These classes are geared towards those who want to get the right start or review the fundamentals.
Q. Can I take more than one class?
A. No, unfortunately all of the classes are held at the same time on Saturday from 2 until 4:30 pm. But all of the teachers have additional availability, and we recommended you ask the teacher about other options, such as a private lesson at another time.
Q. Where will the classes be held?
A. The classes will be held at various locations throughout the festival, usually at the instructor's own campsite.
Q. How do I find the specific class location?
A. Come meet your teacher at the Bluegrass University Preview at 6 pm on Friday and/or the Meet & Greet at 1 pm on Saturday. Then be sure to arrive no later than 1:45 pm on Saturday so you can go with your teacher to the class location.
Q. What are the Bluegrass University Preview and Bluegrass University Meet & Greet?
A. Hour-long sessions meant to introduce you to the Bluegrass University instructors and their classes. Please stop by and say hello, and we can answer any questions you may have.
Q. What do I need to bring?
A. You need to bring an instrument and a chair, preferably a folding (armless) chair. You should also bring $35 in cash or check made out to your instructor.
Q. Do I need to preregister?
A. No, you can walk up as late as 1:45 pm on Saturday, but class size is limited and preregistration is encouraged; you can preregister for all classes by e-mailing Tony Watt at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 615-330-6396. You can preregister beforehand or at the festival.
Q. What are the limits on class size?
A. The class size is limited to 3 students minimum and 9 students maximum. The maximum class size ensures that every student gets a small group learning environment. Unfortunately teachers may not be able to offer the class if there are less than 3 students. In that case, we highly recommended you ask your teacher about other options, such as a private lesson at the same time.
Q. Can I record the class?
A. Yes, you are welcome to make an audio recording of your class, provided you agree not to post it on the internet or share it widely. Video recording is not allowed without explicit permission from your teacher. Some teachers may even record the class for you and send you a copy later.
The Jenny Brook Bluegrass University features beginner classes for adults who want to get the right start or review the fundamentals. Classes are held for all instruments and vocals, in a small group setting (between 3 and 9 students per class). The classes will be held on Saturday, Jun 28th from 2 until 4:30 pm, and the cost for two-and-a-half hours of hands-on instruction is only $35. Students are asked to bring an instrument and a folding (armless) chair, however some loaner instruments can be provided if we have enough notice.
In case you missed it last year, there was a great article about the Jenny Brook Bluegrass University written by Dick Bowden on Bluegrass Today: http://bluegrasstoday.com/jenny-brooks-bluegrass-university/
Banjo - Bruce Stockwell
The class will begin with gear issues (basic setup for easy playable in tune instruments, the important accessories (picks, strings, capos, 5th string spikes, straps and tuners), tuning techniques, and positioning for comfort, faculty and tone production. We will then discuss the three responsibilities of the bluegrass banjo player: rhythm, backup and soloing. We'll likely stick to the key of G and it's three basic chords G, C and D, although major and minor chord form charts will be provided. We'll play a basic rhythm pattern followed by the all important "roll" patterns, starting with alternating thumb and forward. We'll work through tabs of basic tunes using these rolls as well as additional left hand techniques like slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. Throughout the session, we'll address music theory topics as they come up, depending upon the prior experience of those in attendance. The goal at the end of the class will be to have everyone performing at least a couple of actual tunes!
Bruce Stockwell has been playing bluegrass banjo since 1968 and began teaching in the 70's. By age 16 he had won banjo contests, recorded his first album and opened for Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John Hartford and many others. In the late 70's he worked with Phil Rosenthal and Mike Auldridge as Old Dog. Since the 80s Bruce has performed with brothers Barry and Al in various acoustic/electric formats. In 2005 he won the Merlefest Banjo contest. And in 2008 a NH Arts Grant led to the formation of Hot Mustard, a double banjo bluegrass band with his wife Kelly and a NH couple Bill and April Jubett. He's also been on staff at Banjo Camp North since 2004.
Guitar - Lincoln Meyers
In this class we'll be discussing what you need to focus on to get started playing right away. Everything from learning basic chord positions and pick technique to playing rhythm patterns and exercises utilizing single strings to develop right and left hand coordination. For the more advanced players we'll discuss cross picking and how it utilized in playing rhythm as well as soloing, exercises that are essential for developing good tone and speed, learning by ear and practice techniques. Of course this will be an open forum to discuss any and all questions that you have pertaining to guitar and music in general. All information being discussed will give the student, no matter what level, ideas and options to choose from to help them progress in their playing.
Lincoln Meyers is an award-winning guitarist who has been on the New England music scene for the past eighteen years, and has been playing professionally for thirty. Lincoln, who was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar magazine’s November/December issue 2010, has toured the world and has performed with bands including Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection, The New England Bluegrass Band, Tony Trischka, April Verch, and most recently Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. Lincoln is a veteran instructor, teaching private lessons as well as being involved with and conducting guitar workshops and seminars around the country.
Lead & Harmony Singing - Mary Maguire
Ever try to stick to your own harmony part and find someone else is on your note? What’s up with THAT? Mary Maguire will quickly show you how to solve that problem without the use of duct tape! Our small-group class at Jenny Brook will give you a strong understanding of harmony and fun exercises guaranteed to expand your range and ability to find those ever important intervals which make harmony. We’ll ask you to bring your song ideas for us to work with as you sample new ways to deliver a convincing lead vocal. We’ll help you increase your comfort with lending your voice in a bluegrass jam or anywhere, as you build your knowledge of how to choose keys and make the most of the voices at hand. Most of all, we’ll have FUN! Recording the class for your own practice needs is permitted. We’ll have hand-outs for you to minimize note-taking. Please bring drinking water to wet your whistle.
Formerly lead singer and guitarist for Northern New England’s renown acoustic swing and bluegrass ladies, Sweet, Hot & Sassy! , Mary Maguire now heads her own distinctive trio, The Mary Maguire Band. She has 6 recordings and has been a guest artist on recordings of others, and toured with southern New Hampshire’s Second Wind Bluegrass Band. Mary has taught well-loved vocal workshops for over a decade at New York’s Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, as well as classes at Joe Val (MA), Podunk (CT) Bluegrass Festival, and Maine's Thomas Point Beach and Ossipee Valley Music Festival. Mary is also a long-time teacher of guitar and piano, and a song-writer.
Mandolin - Tony Watt
Intended for those who have never played bluegrass mandolin before, or who have been frustrated trying to learn before. In this class we will learn the basics of bluegrass mandolin, both rhythm and lead. We'll cover bluegrass chop chords, left- and right-hand technique, and lead mandolin, as we learn to play both instrumental and vocal tunes common in the tradition. In this class we'll learn how to read tablature (tab), how to play fiddle tunes and take breaks on vocal tunes (time permitting). The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play solid bluegrass mandolin and participate in bluegrass jams. You don't need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, or know how to read music. If you don't have a mandolin and you let us know at least a week in advance, we'll try to get you a loaner for the class; unfortunately, we cannot get you a loaner mandolin if you don't let us know at least a week beforehand.
Award-winning flatpicking guitarist and mandolinist Tony Watt has performed throughout the United States and Europe, on the Grand Ole Opry, and elsewhere. He has been featured in Bluegrass Now Magazine and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, and toured and recorded with Nashville-based Cages Bend, east Tennessee-based Meridian, with Rounder Recording artist Alecia Nugent, and most recently with Leigh Gibson, guitarist for The Gibson Brothers. Tony currently performs with his band, Southeast Expressway. He has taught privately for over 10 years, and now teaches courses in bluegrass guitar, mandolin and jamming for the Boston Bluegrass Union's Bluegrass Academy. He has also taught workshops and Kids' Academies at bluegrass festivals including Grey Fox, Joe Val, Thomas Point Beach, and many more. Tony teaches lessons,classes, workshops and jam sessions in Albany, NY, Cambridge, MA, and points in-between.
Fiddle - Bronwyn Keith-Hynes
Intended for those who have played at least some fiddle before, and are able to play a common melody or fiddle tune. In this class we’ll delve into the fundamental left-hand and bowing techniques that are necessary to play with good form and tone. Beyond this the primary goals of this course are: (1) to provide you with the foundation needed to play basic bluegrass melodies with a group perspective including an introduction to the fiddler’s role in a bluegrass jam and (2) to provide a brief synopsis of the bluegrass fiddle tune repertoire. You don't need to have previous experience playing bluegrass or reading musical notation.
Bronwyn Keith-Hynes is a Boston-based musician originally from Charlottesville, Virginia. Accepted on a scholarship to Berklee College of Music at age 16, she graduated in 2013 with a diploma in Violin Performance. Bronwyn is fast gaining recognition for her fiddling in both Irish and Bluegrass circles. Bronwyn has shared the stage with renowned musicians including Peter Rowan, Darol Anger and Mark O'Connor. She has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts; The Inter-Celtic Festival in Lorient, France and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, among others. She toured France in 2012 with the international Irish music and dance show Celtic Dances, and she has also performed with Tomaseen Foley’s Irish Times show alongside Grammy winner Bill Coulter.
Bass - Kelly Stockwell
Let's get you in that jam with assuredness and confidence. The role of the bass in a band or a jam is unique. We're expected to never miss a beat, and never play a wrong note- through the whole song. The bass is loud and out there, and no one else is in our register so you can't blame it on the mandolin player. The goal of this class is to go over some bass basics with the hope that everyone leaves more confident. Depending on time and direction the class wants to take, we'll go over (1) the fingerboard: where the notes are, (2) hand position for the left hand: getting to those notes with minimal motion and minimal strain, (3) right hand position: getting good tone with out removing skin or blistering up, and also suggestions for good tape to use, (4) catching chord changes: reading them from the guitar player, going through the different levels of expertise - looking like a deer in headlights, to scowling at the guitar player using up the neck chords, to hearing/anticipating the chord changes of a song you might not have even heard before... yes, you do eventually get there, and you do still guess wrong, (5) "Nashville number system" of calling out chords: you don't get to capo so there's some brain gymnastics to learn, (6) runs of notes between chords, and arpeggios, (7) gear talk, strings, setup, action, what you can do with sandpaper, and of course if you really want to know how to slap we can go over that too... it's useful to get out of a jam you don't want to be in.
Kelly Stockwell started on banjo, and soon realized two banjos in one house was two banjos too many. She switched to doghouse bass in 2006 and never looked back. She learned through the school of hard knocks and dirty looks from guitar players; joining in at jams, parties, and as the staff bassist for Banjo Camp North and Mandolin Camp North. Now a fearless bass player she's willing to jump onstage with anyone who will ask. Able to pull a bow and slap a little, Kelly continues to expand her range on the bass. Not afraid of carpentry work she has also figured out the best setup for her bass to be loud and easy to play.
Dobro - Sam Stambler
Sam will lead a beginner Dobro class covering a range of topics, with the focus tailored to the interests and abilities of those attending. He will feature ideas and techniques you can immediately put to use, including some of the following (time permitting): useful rolls for practice and performance, licks and kicks in a variety of keys, rhythm playing, fiddle tunes and instrumentals, backing a singer, working the Dobro into a band or jam setting, and playing in a variety of keys, with and without a capo.
Sam Stambler has been playing guitar, banjo and Dobro since he was 14. He is known for his high energy performing and outside the box approach to bluegrass. He has an eclectic musical background and is not afraid to admit that he loves both Scruggs, Sondheim and Schubert. He also likes Schrödinger, though not much of a musician, he was one heck of a physicist (Sam's other love in life). Sam has performed regularly for years with various Boston-based artists including Red Hot Black Top, Tony Watt & Southeast Expressway, Slatt & Fruggs, and Grace Van't Hof.