Arrival and Class Descriptions



oldschoolbluegrasscamp-6458Arrival time is between 2 – 4 pm on Sunday June 30th.  We will help you find your camping spot and settle in.  Orientation time is 4:30pm.  We want you to be well informed of all the options at The Old School Bluegrass Camp so you don’t want to miss your orientation.

Once you are well oriented, you are invited to join us for our opening night BBQ.  After dinner, we will have a fun filled evening with music and socializing.

A typical day at The Old School Bluegrass Camp looks a like this:

9:00                 Breakfast

10:00 – 11:30  Instrument Class

11:45 – 12:45   Private Lessons or free time

1:00                  Lunch

2:30 – 3:15      Band Labs

3:30 – 4:15       Clawhammer Workshop or Instrument Care Class

4:30 – 5:00      De-brief of the day with Instrument Instructor

5:15                  Band Jam

6:00                 Dinner

8:00 – 9:00     Instructors Concert – Stanley Brothers Night

9:00 – 10:00    Jams

10:00 – 11:00    Free time

Class Descriptions

Instrument Class

Maximum of 10 students on a particular instrument with their instrument instructor.

Clawhammer Banjo – Sam Allison

This year’s students will enjoy a discussion of banjo styles and a quick demonstration before we get down to our main focus, which is of course Clawhammer Style. Your comfort level and fun are always the focus of my classes. If you took my class two years back you may remember that we had a fairly organic approach to leaning, including a refresher on the basics, and then moving on as a group to isolate the challenging aspects of this wonderful style. Clawhammer can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want it to be, and we will help you find that easy place, whether it is to accompany yourself singing a song with a simple strum pattern, playing an old time fiddle tune, or learning some simple tricks for improvisation. There will be a diagram or two provided for chord positions, but there will be NO reading of notes or tablature for this course–all will be shared in the AURAL tradition.

Bluegrass Banjo – Rob McLaren

Unlock the secrets of 3-finger bluegrass banjo! Amaze your friends with your command of this unique instrument! In this course, we will tackle all aspects of accompaniment and lead playing on the banjo with a focus on learning by ear and playing interactively. We will begin with basic rolls and chord shapes, outlining techniques for both right and left hands with an emphasis on tone production and musicality, and showing how these rolls and patterns can be used in all playing situations. We will then learn how to construct or arrange the melody, adapting rolls and licks to piece together the notes you would sing. This will include some basic theory and ear training to help you get along. We will also cover as many of the following topics as we have time for:

–       Different styles of accompaniment and how to showcase the leader

–       Leading the break

–       Playing up the neck

–       Learning a tune on the fly (AKA the art of Faking It)

–       Introduction to Melodic Style

–       Fiddle tunes: what to do when someone calls one

We will also be sure to make a few additions to our bag o’ licks! By the end of the week we should all be playing with more confidence, playing better together, and having more fun!

Vocal – Kristine Schmitt

We’ll work on strengthening your voice and personal confidence in order to enjoy singing alone and in a group. You already have your own voice – if you’re nervous about opening up, we’ll work in that direction. If you already enjoy singing, we’ll do some polishing and editing to reveal the best of it. We’ll work as a group, as harmony duos, and in private sessions.

 This course will focus on all of the elements that go into vocal performance in addition to the voice: breathing, body language, emotional expression, stage etiquette and microphone technique specific to bluegrass, and tips for connecting with your fellow musicians and communicating with the audience. We will primarily use bluegrass repertoire for our examples, but everything we will cover will applicable to many other styles of performance, and also spills over into everyday life!

 We will divide our time between working on a song for performance in the student concert finale, and splitting up into groups and as individuals to work on harmony and individual performance with your own songs and the class piece. You’ll receive a link to the group performance piece a few weeks before camp, so you’ll have a chance to get used to the song.

 Please come to camp prepared with a song or two you’re already comfortable singing, and a recording device if possible.

Guitar – Kyle Kirkpatrick

This course will focus on giving you the tools and techniques needed to play Bluegrass Guitar. We’ll spend time working on our flat picking as well as our rhythm guitar playing. Rhythm playing is the most important and essential role a guitarist has in any band. We’ll take a look at some standard strumming patterns needed for solid rhythm playing as well as ways to smooth out our picking technique. We’ll also go over some open position scales and learn how to apply them for licks, runs, instrumental tunes, and building solos over any bluegrass vocal standard. Though there will be a lot of playing and learning by ear, I’ll provide tablature handouts with practice exercises you can use after the course to continue practicing these techniques and improving your speed when playing fast-tempo bluegrass tunes.This will be a hands-on learning experience so come prepared to play, take some risks and have fun!

Mandolin – Joey Wright

I’m thrilled to be teaching mandolin this year! I’ve been playing the mandolin for just over 25 years and have navigated my way through bluegrass, old time, singer songwriter, folk, various traditional fiddle styles (Irish, Texas, Canadian..), jam bands, rock and likely some others that I’m forgetting.

Starting with the basics – I’ll go over chords and rhythm through basic song structure including mandolin ‘chop’ varieties, rhythmic embellishments and interaction.

I’ll cover some basic theory items like various chord inversions (same chord – different shape), chord number system and I’ll do my best to simplify all of the music lingo that’s out there that can seem overwhelming and confusing.

Within the idiom of bluegrass I’ll go over some specifics of the instrument including runs, common ‘licks’, tremolo,  double stops and cross picking. How to improvise a solo. How to learn the melody. How to ‘jam’. The importance of dynamics. How to back up other instruments.

I would love to touch on some of the greats like Bill Monroe, Bill Napier, Curley Seckler, David Grisman, Adam Steffey, Jethro Burns, Jesse McReynolds…. up to and around new masters like Chris Thile and Sierra Hull.

More advanced concepts may be touched on including the influence of swing, jazz and classical – songs with ‘weird chords’ – incorporating flow into music – and modern harmony.

I will be teaching and encouraging the development of good learning habits though joy and rhythm. I’ll be sharing my hills and valleys of development like what got me out of a rut, the importance of listening and playing along with recorded music as well as jamming, practice away from your instrument and much more.

Looking forward to the eight string scrum that awaits us!

Bass – Tim O’Reilly

This class is all about life in the doghouse – playing the upright bass. The bass is not only a massive instrument, it is also the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of the band. We’ll cover the fundamentals of playing the instrument – holding the instrument, finding notes, managing the fingerboard, and a few different right hand techniques. We’ll also work to better understand the role of the instrument within the band. We’ll work on time-feel, two-feel, playing in a few different common keys, and will do lots of jamming. Everybody needs a bass player – it could be you!

This class is open to players of all abilities, but the more you know coming in, the more ground we’ll be able to cover.

Fiddle – Nathan Smith

If you’re looking to explore new ways of playing with others on the fiddle, this is the workshop for you! In this workshop we will be learning a couple of tunes from the old-time and bluegrass repertoires as well as techniques to accompany others and add variety to a jam setting. We’ll go through some fun bluegrass ways to spice up your playing and some licks you could use to even craft a solo!

-Playing basic Bluegrass standards in different keys

-Common chords and progressions and how to adapt them to the fiddle

-Rhythm patterns for accompaniment

-Varying bow patterns on fiddle tunes

-Melodic variation and crafting a solo

-Some fun Bluegrass licks and when to play them


Band Lab

This instructional session allows you to get to know your band mates, and learn to work together as a band.  Your band instructor will facilitate these sessions and focus on dynamics, arrangements, harmonies, solos, backing up voice and solos, chordings, rhythm, communication and more.

Band Jam

IMG_20150709_142721254This is scheduled time for you to hang out with your band and jam.  Every band needs to rehearse and find their own sound.  Band Jam is not facilitated by an instructor allowing your band to work as a whole together.



Private Instruction

This is the half hour of one on one instruction with your instrument teacher.  A fantastic opportunity to improve your skills, and ask those questions that are unique to you.  Each camper receives one half hour of private instruction during camp.

Free Time

IMG_8840You may choose to spend your free time relaxing in a hammock, taking a short drive to beautiful Sandbanks beach, shopping in Picton, or pickin’ under a shady tree.