Evening Mini-Courses

Evening Mini-Courses

All Weeks

Augusta Mini-Courses add to participants’ daily learning experiences and allow busy local residents to be part of the Augusta experience. You DO NOT need to be enrolled as a full-time Augusta participant to sign up for Mini-Courses. (You DO need to be a full-time participant to stay in campus residence halls.) Check out the wide array of subjects, listed by week, from which to choose! A real bargain, Mini-Courses cost only $60 for four evenings of instruction by world-class artists. Some Mini-Courses may require a small materials fee (which is paid to the mini-course leader on the first day).

All  evening mini-courses meet Monday–Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm unless otherwise noted. Participants register for one mini-course per week. Each session builds upon information presented the previous day.

We have many wonderful mini-courses on our schedule this summer, all taught by amazing artists and musicians who are most importantly great teachers. Mini-courses are a great way to learn a new skill or craft. Whether starting from scratch or broadening your knowledge on a craft or instrument you already practice, the mini courses are a great option for learning.

– Beth King, Augusta Heritage Center Director

Tuition Guide:

Register Here!

Click any name/mini-course below to open more details. Click again to close.

Cajun & Creole Week and Classic Country Week Mini-Courses: July 8 – 11

Accordion from Scratch (Beginning) – Drew Simon

Accordion from Scratch (Beginning)

Hello, I’m Drew. Welcome to my “Accordion from Scratch” mini-course. In this workshop, we will go over the basic fundamentals and techniques to play the Cajun accordion. We will cover what to do and more importantly, what NOT to do, when starting to play. We will discuss the basics, including the proper way to hold the accordion, the C major scale, chords, octaves (doubles), and by the end of the week, hopefully, play one Cajun waltz and one Cajun two-step. Please only bring diatonic Cajun accordions in the key of C. Thanks!

Drew Simon

Drew Simon was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, and developed an interest in Cajun music in his late teens. At 20, he began playing the accordion and started learning the words to many of the songs in his huge Cajun music repertoire. For more than 15 years, Drew has been regarded as one of the best of the “new generation” of dance hall musicians being heavily influenced by legends Belton Richard, Aldus Roger, Phillip Alleman, Walter Mouton, Jesse Lege’, and Lawrence Walker. With bands The Pine Leaf Boys (4x GRAMMY-nominated) and T’Monde, he has brought Cajun music and Cajun culture to 24 countries and 47 states.

Balfa Traditions (All Levels) – Christine Balfa

Balfa Traditions (All Levels)

Class description coming soon!

Photo coming soon!

Christine Balfa

Bio coming soon!

Ballads & Story Songs (All Levels) – Jane Vidrine

Ballads & Story Songs (All Levels)

Class description coming soon!

Jane Vidrine

Jane Vidrine is a musician and music educator from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated Magnolia Sisters Cajun Band. She also plays in the family Cajun band with her husband, John Vidrine, and son, Jo. Jane also stays musically in touch with her Missouri old-time music roots playing square dances and early country concerts around home. Jane says, “Teaching adults who are interested in delving deep into the traditional music I love is a true privilege that brings me so much joy.” She has taught guitar, fiddle, and vocals several times for Cajun & Creole Week at the Augusta Heritage Center. This year, she will teach Cajun guitar styles. She is also a teacher in her everyday life; she created an award-winning classroom guitar program for the Arts Academy in Lafayette and has been teaching about 100 students a day for over a decade.

Cajun Dance 101 (Beginning) – Amelia Biere

Cajun Dance 101 (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Photo coming soon!

Amelia Biere

Bio coming soon!

Cajun Men Cook (All Levels) – Johnny Navarre & Eric Miller

Cajun Men Cook (All Levels)

Jambalaya? Red beans and rice? These are just a sampling of what will be on the menu when Johnny Navarre & Patrick Fuselier show their class how Cajun men cook. Anyone is welcome to participate, not just men!

Photo coming soon!

Eric Miller

Bio coming soon!

Johnny Navarre

Firefighters have a reputation for being good cooks and Johnny Navarre is no exception. He started to learn to cook from “the old folks” and has finely tuned his skills at the fire station. His impromptu cooking sessions at Augusta inevitably led to this class.

Focus on Dennis McGee (Intermediate/Advanced) – Mitch Reed

Focus on Dennis McGee (Intermediate/Advanced)

Class description coming soon!

Photo coming soon!

Mitch Reed

Bio coming soon!

Harmony Singing (Beginning) – Debbi Kauffmann & Arty Hill

Harmony Singing (Beginning)

If you can carry a tune and would like to learn Southern harmony singing, this mini-course is for you. No knowledge of music theory is needed. We’ll discuss basic harmony theory and guide you in learning, by ear, to sing both two-part and three-part harmony. We’ll find the close harmonies of great early country, classic bluegrass, and gospel songs, creating the sound that touches our hearts and souls.

Debbi Kauffmann

Debbi Kauffmann was lucky to be born into a musical family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She began singing and playing guitar as a teen and was introduced to both Irish and country music in her early adult years. After moving to the Baltimore area, Debbi had the opportunity to sing and play with great bluegrass musicians at the Sandpiper Inn and Arcadia Bluegrass festival. Later, she began singing with old-time musicians in York County, Pennsylvania, and at many festivals in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Debbi has attended Irish, Old-Time, Vocal, and Classic Country weeks at Augusta. She has studied harmony singing with Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, and has attended several other harmony workshops. Debbi has also greatly benefited from individual vocal instruction with Dede Wyland. In 2001 she began singing professionally with mandolinist Henry Koretzky in the duo Rootbound, recording in 2004. Debbi has also had the honor of joining Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz for several performances. She has been a member of two all-female string bands and two bluegrass bands, singing lead and harmony, playing guitar and bass. Southern harmony is what drew Debbi to this music and has always been at the heart of her love for the music.

Arty Hill

“One of the best country singers going right now is not from Texas or from Tennessee — he’s from Baltimore and his name is Arty Hill. He’s also is a first-class songwriter…” – San Antonio Express. Arty Hill has been a bandleader since he was 13 years old, and currently leads The Long Gone Daddys (bandmember Lynn Kasdorf is teaching pedal steel guitar at Augusta this year). Arty has recorded 7 CDs in the last 15 years, his songs have been in television shows and movies, and he is a co-founder and instructor at the Hank Williams Songwriting Workshop at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL, now in its fifth year.

Arty has jammed frequently at Augusta and he knows how to help a jam session be fun: to help everyone involved bring something good to the table, get a chance to participate, play and sing their best, and make a real pretty sound. Arty knows hundreds of classic country songs and his enthusiasm for the music will make you glad you came to Augusta!

Seconding on the Fiddle (All Levels) – Blake Miller

Seconding on the Fiddle (All Levels)

Everyone wants to learn tunes, which is wonderful, but without the knowledge of chords and the basic rhythm and groove of the songs, all they have are notes. This mini-course will take its time to cover the basic chords on the fiddle, easy transitions between chords, and most importantly, the rhythm. All of this can be incorporated in every tune participants play, and they will be able to sit in on any jam session and back up any accordion or fiddle player. Blake will teach participants what the backbone of Cajun music is.

Photo coming soon!

Blake Miller

Grandson of well-known accordion builder Larry Miller, Blake Miller has been surrounded by Cajun music and culture his entire life. Hailing from the small town of Iota, Louisiana, Blake is a fluent French speaker and songwriter. He acquired a degree in Francophone studies from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He was a founding member of the popular young Cajun band, The Pine Leaf Boys, and became a member of the premiere Louisiana roots band The Red Stick Ramblers. He has also served stints in just about every other Cajun/Creole band of note including Balfa Toujours, Les Malfecteurs and Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole. He now plays accordion and fiddle with The Revelers who were nominated for a GRAMMY in 2016.

Watching – and Singing! – the Songs of Early Country Music TV (All Levels) – Mary Battiata

Watching – and Singing! – the Songs of Early Country Music TV (All Levels)

Long before the advent of CMT and cable television, early broadcast television beamed classic Country music into millions of American living rooms. From the late 1940s all the way into the early 1970s, television shows such as The Ozark Jubilee, The Jimmy Dean Show, The Buck Owens Ranch Show and The Porter Wagoner Show, among others, made household names of radio stars like Roy Acuff, The Carter Family, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Pretty Miss Norma Jean and many more. In this early evening class, students will pull up a chair and watch iconic and obscure video clips from a four-decade span of Country music greatness. We will share memories of watching country music on the small screen and consider how TV portrayed Country music, then and now. In addition to watching, we will do some singing and playing each night, too, paying special attention to songs written by three of Country music’s best: Harlan Howard, Cindy Walker and Floyd Jenkins (the pen name of songwriter and music publisher Fred Rose). Students will learn to play and sing a song by each of these songwriters (one song a night) and will be encouraged to share one of them at the student showcase at the end of the week.

Mary Battiata

Mary Battiata’s latest CD, The Heart, Regardless (2018), is getting five-star reviews and significant airplay from the UK to Austin, Texas. “This is a gem of an album,” said Whisperin’ Bob Harris, legendary Country and Americana deejay on BBC Radio 2 in the UK. Country Music People critic Chris Smith awarded the record five stars and wrote: “Ms. Battiata has a fabulous voice and wraps it around some excellent lyrical content, the quality of which for me, rivals Rodney Crowell … ” In 2018, the record climbed to #15 on the Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Country and Top 50 Country Americana album charts, a roundup of 200-plus commercial Country and public radio stations in the U.S., and made radio Best of 2018 lists in Nashville, Austin and Europe. RnR magazine (UK) said: “Everything you most loved about Dolly and Rosanne is here, with heart-tugging hooks that snag like spurs, chiming banjo, sweet fiddle, tempered with the stringent whisky-burn of heartbreak, timeless as sunrise.” Mary tours from NYC to Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and beyond from home base in Virginia. She has performed at such iconic venues as The Blue Door in Oklahoma City, The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery AL, and the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah OK. For more info and upcoming show dates, see Mary’s website at http://lwww.littlepinktheband.com

Old-Time Week and Blues & Swing Week Mini-Course: July 15 – 18

Country Blues Harmonica: Solo & Unaccompanied (All Levels) – Joe Filisko

Country Blues Harmonica: Solo & Unaccompanied (All Levels)

We will explore the rural acoustic repertoire of players like Sonny Terry, DeFord Bailey and their peers from the foundation and up.  Bring your diatonic harmonicas, A & C preferred. All levels, including beginners, are welcome.

Joe Filisko

Revered as a master player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher, and historian, Joe Filisko is arguably the world’s foremost authority on many aspects of the diatonic harmonica and a key figure in today’s harmonica scene. Over the past 20 years he has had a tremendous influence on developments in the culture of the instrument. His much sought after custom harps are used by a remarkable roster of players and are prized for their superb response and tonal qualities by a client list that includes a large proportion of the world’s diatonic harmonica elite. Since the early 1990s, his groundbreaking work in improving the playability of the instrument has directly affected the production of all major harmonica manufacturers. In 2011 Joe Filisko entered into a close cooperation with Hohner as Head of Certification Process for the company’s new Affiliated Customizer Program, a bold move to guarantee standards for purchasers of custom harmonicas which is without precedent in the harmonica industry. He also made important design contributions to the latest model of Hohner’s Marine Band range, the Thunderbird, which bears his signature and has been cited as the finest low key harmonica available on the market today.

Fueled by his desire to preserve historical harmonica styles from extinction, Joe Filisko has amassed not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire gamut of traditional harmonica techniques, but has mastered them to an extent unrivaled among contemporary players. His passion for both the well-known and the unsung heroes of the 10-hole diatonic has made him a riveting performer in his own right, with a fluid command of a wide range of styles and possibly the most powerful hand effects ever heard. A master of tone and complex, nuanced tongue block rhythms, he has for many years shared his knowledge with students on five continents and so contributed enormously to the widespread understanding of traditional harmonica styles among a new generation of players.

In recent years, Joe’s reputation as a performer and recording artist has been catching up with his legendary status as a customizer and teacher. Since he first hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Eric Noden in 2003, the duo has released three highly regarded CDs, and has performed at concerts and festivals around the globe. Reflecting their deep affinity with the tradition, their exciting explorations of seminal pre-war styles have won them an enthusiastic international audience and cemented their reputation as one of today’s premier acoustic country blues acts. Joe Filisko was awarded “Harmonica Player of the Year 2001? by the SPAH organization in the US and performed at the induction of Grand Ol’ Opry star Deford Bailey into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Documentaries that feature Mr. Filisko include Harmonica Summit, Imagination is Limitless, In the Reeds, Tin Sandwich, and Pocketful of Soul. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Joe lives in the shadow of Chicago, the Windy City, and performs there regularly as well as teaching popular weekly classes at the city’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

Though his work as a scholar and a craftsman has rightly earned him a place in the harmonica pantheon, it is as a player that he truly shines. Joe Filisko coaxes sounds from the harmonica which few before him have ever created and which open up new perspectives for countless players and lovers of this remarkable little instrument.

Fundamental Lindy Hop – Expressing Swing Music through Movement (From Scratch) – David Loomis

Fundamental Lindy Hop – Expressing Swing Music through Movement (From Scratch): Lindy Hop is a 1920’s/1930’s style of swing dance that is as joyful, exuberant, and expressive as the hot jazz music that inspired it. In this course, you will learn the What’s, How’s, and Why’s of partnered Lindy Hop. You’ll learn how the history of jazz and early swing music inspired a new dance. We’ll connect Lindy Hop movements to their creative musical counterparts, and we’ll practice expressing our own joys through the dance. This class will be geared towards learning the fundamentals of Lindy Hop, and is open to dancers and non-dancers of all levels.

David Loomis

Amy and David discovered their passion for swing dancing in Southern California in the early 2000s, Amy under the tutelage of Erin Stevens of Pasadena, and David under the Bobbysox Brigade of Fullerton. Now based in Morgantown, WV, they teach community classes in Lindy Hop, Charleston, Collegiate Shag, Balboa, and Blues through the WVU Swing Dance Club and Morgantown Swing. Their teaching style emphasizes connecting with the music, developing comfortable partnerships, and communicating clearly as the foundation for every good social dance.

Old-Time Harmony Singing (From Scratch) – Val Mindel

Old-Time Harmony Singing (From Scratch)
We’ll tackle the basics of singing American old-time country harmony, looking at some of the strategies that make this music so compelling – the parallel buzz, crossing harmonies, crunchy notes, and more. In the process we’ll learn some great songs in the old-time genre, good for jams. Expect to sing a lot!

Val Mindel

Val Mindel is a longtime musician, teacher, and workshop leader, known for bringing out the best in singers, whatever their level. Her specialty is the close, buzzy harmony that makes American old-time, bluegrass, and country harmony so compelling. She has taught at numerous music camps – here in the US at Augusta Vocal Week, Ashokan Southern Week, Voice Works, Allegheny Echoes, and others; and in the UK at Sore Fingers fall and spring camps. In addition to her solo work, Val teaches and performs in various combinations, including with California-based Any Old Time, with singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Newberry and with daughter and old-time country musician Emily Miller and her husband Jesse Milnes (they have two CDs together: In the Valley and Close to Home), and has just published a book, So You Want to Sing Folk Music, part of the “So You Want To Sing” series for Rowman & Littlefield and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Val teaches classes across the country and abroad as well as regular workshops at Brooklyn’s growing old-time music school, Jalopy. She lives in Elkins, West Virginia.

Bluegrass Week and Vocal Week Mini-Courses: July 20 – 25

Coming soon!

October Old-Time Week Mini Courses: October 14 – 17

Coming soon!