Sign up for The Bluegrass University classes!

If you're interested in attending The Bluegrass University classes at Grey Fox , Thomas Point Beach (TPB) , Jenny Brook , Pemi Valley or Podunk , or if you have any questions, please e-mail:


10 Q&A's about The Bluegrass University

Q. What is The Bluegrass University?
A. Seven beginner classes, each two and a half hours of hands-on instruction, for adults and teens. The classes are taught on Saturday at the festival from 2 until 4:30 pm, and the cost is $35.

Q. Who are the teachers and who are the students?
A. See for class descriptions and teacher bios. Although each teacher will be addressing different topics, 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 on Friday at 6 pm and/or the Meet & Greet on Saturday at 1 pm. 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 me (Tony Watt) at 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 festival.

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.

Class Descriptions & Instructor Bios

Although each teacher will be addressing different topics (see below), all teachers will be gearing their classes towards beginners and beginner/intermediate musicians.

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.

About Lincoln:

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.

Banjo - Rich Stillman

Indulge your dreams of being a bluegrass banjo player with this two and half hour class. This class is designed for total beginners or people who have struggled to learn from a book. The course will include short group lessons and supervised practices. By the end you should have enough of a foundation in the bluegrass banjo style to play a simple tune or two and to continue learning on your own or with an instructor. If you don't have a banjo, let us know when you preregister at least a week in advance, and we'll try to get you a loaner for the day. Sorry, we can't get you an instrument if you register later than that.

About Rich:

Rich has been a banjo player-about-town in the Boston area for many years. Among other acts, he founded and led the progressive bluegrass band WayStation and played and recorded for Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, The Bogus Family and currently Southern Rail. His banjo playing has appeared on a number of studio releases by other bluegrass folk and acoustic artists as well. He is six-time winner of the bluegrass banjo category at the Lowell Fiddle and Banjo Contest, and winner of the 2002 and 2003 New England Banjo Championship held at Maine's Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival. Rich is currently teaching at The Music Emporium, The Real School of Music and at his own studio, and at Tufts University as an Applied Faculty member. He also teaches Internet lessons through Skype, with students in four countries, and teaches private lessons at several New England bluegrass festivals. Rich is a regular faculty member at Banjo Camp North and contributed a chapter to the book Banjo Camp, along with Pete Seeger, Tony Trischka, Pete Wernick and others.

Mandolin - Tony Watt

About Tony:

Award-winning flatpicking guitarist 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.

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.

About Mary:

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. 2011 will be Mary and Jeff's 11th year presenting their well-loved vocal workshops at New York's Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, as well as repeat classes at Joe Val (MA), Podunk (CT) Bluegrass, and Thomas Point Beach (ME) Festivals. Mary is also a long-time teacher of guitar and piano, and a song-writer.

Dobro - Andy Katz

Andy will lead a general dobro class covering a range of topics, with the focus tailored to the interests and abilities of those attending (including beginners). He will feature ideas and techniques you can immediately put to use in your next jam. Among the areas he'll cover are:

* 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

* Playing in a variety of keys (including minor and modal settings), with and without a capo

Andy will have tablature to help participants practice what they learn; he encourages recording the class as well.

About Andy:

When Andy Katz first heard the dobro (played by Jerry Douglas, on Tony Rice's Native American album) he was stunned, hooked by the plaintive vocal sound of the instrument. When he finally saw one played live, it was Roger Williams who got him started with an instrument and some pointers. Andy soon discovered Josh Graves, "Uncle" of the bluegrass dobro, and studied with Mike Auldridge, Andy Hall, Sally van Meter and Rob Ickes. He enjoys working out and picking fiddle tunes, though he feels that the "voice" of the dobro is particularly suited to supporting a singer. He's been fortunate to have picked with nearly every bluegrass picker in New England, and is a founding member of the Boston-based band Flatt Rabbit.

Fiddle - Ellen Carlson

Bass - Steve Roy