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Kentucky Music Week 2009

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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