Posted by dbrooks on Saturday, June 27, 2009
Kentucky Music Week just ended for over 400 tired attendees and teachers. I was a part-time teacher this year. I had 12 students in an introductory clawhammer banjo class, and I could not have had a better time. The students were enthusiastic and worked hard on mastering the basic clawhammer stroke. (I use Dan Levenson's bum-pa ditty approach with double thumbing from the beginning.) Many of these students were taking 4 or 5 classes all week on multiple instruments.
We started in G tuning and looked at "Miss McLeod's Reel" in a simple and fancy version. This tune allowed the students to play their banjo in a tuning that they probably had used all along and play a very nice melody using primarily double thumb strokes. We then moved to Double C tuning and "Soldier's Joy" and "Angeline the Baker." We closed the week with an introduction to Sawmill tuning and "Shady Grove."
I got to sit in on a class with Cathy Barton and Dave Para who shared a number of Grandpa Jones' arrangements. I also sat in an ensemble class where we learned a played arrangements with 4 or 5 voices. Very different for me and required me to sight read music to play on my banjo. A stretch in a new direction. I also met some fine artists, including Ken Kolodner, Rick Thum, Jim Miller and Les Gustafson-Zook.
There were instructor concerts and large jams in the evenings. Nancy Barker has been coordinating Kentucky Music Week for 27 years now, and she has a great mix of loyal repeat attendess and new folks who discover the event every year. The week-long festival is centered around the mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer, but there are classes on fiddle, guitar, banjo, penny whistle, steel drum, singing, basketry, etc.
This was a very satisfying week for me.
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