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Kentucky Music Week 2011

Posted by dbrooks on Sunday, July 3, 2011

My blog posts have been infrequent -- in part, because I've been busy playing and also because I don't presume there to be a lot of interest in my updates.

But I do need to post a few comments about Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, Ky, which took place June 20-24.  It was another good year for turnout with some 350 attendees taking 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 classes.  I taught two clawhammer banjo classes.  My students were very engaged and made great progress. 

In the Introductory class, I taught the double-thumb (bum-pa-ditty) used by Dan Levenson and Oldwoodchuckb.  Students do find it easier to learn the right-hand stroke when playing pairs of eighth notes rather than a quarter note and eighth-note pair used in the usual bum-ditty.  We used 3 tunes to give them something to practice with that would add some interest and a sense of progress.

In the Intermediate class, I stressed learning by ear and techniques that would make a clawhammer banjo more welcome in a dulcimer jam.  Most of the KMW attendees play lap or hammered dulcimer, and most of my students were interested in learning a 2nd or 3rd instrument, rather than becoming full-time clawhammer banjo players.  So we tuned to double-D and spent the week tackling 5 or 6 tunes often played by dulcimer groups.

I got great feedback from both classes that led me to think that the changes I have made are improvements.  This is the third year I have taught at KMW.  There were 5 clawhammer banjo classes this year.  Cathy Barton, Jeff Fruman and Steve Smith each taught one class, and I taught two.  These other instructors taught classes on other instruments as well.  I was the only banjo-only instructor.

Nancy Barker does a great job with KMW and has a top-notch list of instructors.  A list of instructors and classes is available here:


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