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, 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.

Tuition Guide:

Register Here!

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

October Old-Time Week Mini-Courses: October 14-17, 2019

Harmony Singing (All Levels) – Val Mindel & Emily Miller

Harmony Singing (All Levels)
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 that are both fun to sing and 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.

Val will be joined by her daughter (and Augusta’s new Artistic Director), Emily Miller.

Flatfooting and Clogging (All Levels) – Elizabeth Brown & Carmensita Woodward

Flatfooting & Clogging (All Levels)
Beginners can expect to learn some basic flatfooting steps that can be used when dancing to live music. More advanced dancers will get advice on dance technique (including tap and clogging), more complicated dance steps to add to their repertoire, and plenty of chance to dance and practice.

Elizabeth Brown & Carmensita Woodward

Elizabeth Brown, from Roanoke, VA, is a trained tap dancer who learned clogging as part of the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble. She has been performing with the Appalachian Ensemble all over the region for the past four years.

Carmensita Woodward grew up in Chicago, IL and Elkins, WV. She performs many percussive dance styles as a member of the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble and is President of the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Music & Dance Club.

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!

Cajun Dance 101 (Beginning) – Amelia Biere

Cajun Dance 101 (Beginning)

Come learn basic steps for dancing with Cajun groove and style!  We will work on being better leaders and followers using partner dance form and signals. Expect to cover Cajun waltz, two-step, open and closed positions, as well as turns and ideas to spice up the basic. We might also learn a few line dances commonly done in Louisiana as well as the basic Whisky River Jitterbug if there is any time or interest! All levels welcome!

Amelia Biere

Originally from a small town in Wisconsin, Amelia was exposed to many forms of traditional music at an early age. She grew up listening to her dad sing, play guitar, piano, and fiddle. Fate took her to Minneapolis for college, where there were regular Cajun dances.  She got hooked!  Mentored by a few of the stalwart musicians of the Twin City music scene, Amelia started learning French, playing and singing.  Two bands resulted: Ana and the Bel-tones and Millie and the Mill City Heavyweights. In 2014, Amelia decided to move to the source of it all – Lafayette, LA.  There she has been soaking it all in, ever expanding her love for the culture.  In addition to playing cajun music, she plays old-time guitar and loves to dance. When not playing music, she is a wedding florist.

FULL / CLOSED Cajun Men Cook (All Levels) *NOTE TIME – 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! This class meets from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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)

In this class we will study Dennis McGee’s reels, contradances, waltzes, mazurkas, and the accompaniment that goes along with them. Come learn a bunch of Dennis McGee’s tunes! Be sure to bring an audio recorder, a notebook and a pen or pencil.

Mitch Reed

Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, traditional music instructor, and storyteller Mitch Reed was born in Bayou Vista, Louisiana and raised in Lafayette by musicians and storytellers from Mamou. When he was 12 he started playing the cello and at 15 began playing the fiddle. By 17 Mitch was touring and performing with Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy and DL Menard. Over the years he has built an extensive repertoire and learned an old style of playing which is evident in his sound today.

During his career Mitch has played alongside Louisiana greats such as Canray Fontenot, Wade Frugé, Michael Doucet, Steve Riley, Charles Neville, Zachary Richard and George Porter. In addition he has worked with Richard Thompson, Natalie Merchant, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Natalie McMaster and Kenny Baker, to name a few.

Since 2008 he has performed on four Grammy Nominated albums. In 2009 Mitch was awarded a Grammy with BeauSoleil for the album “Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival”.

Of course he’s also a Traditional Music Instructor. Besides offering private lessons, group classes, and online fiddle breakdowns he has taught at Fiddle Camps hosted by Jay Ungar, Mark O’Connor, and Louisiana Folk Roots. In addition he has worked with the Smithsonian Institution Office of Folklife Programs in Louisiana schools and at International conferences since 1989.

Mitch recently retired from 11 years on the road as the bass player and second fiddler with BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet. In addition he expanded his music school from Louisiana to Maine with his wife and their family. These changes have afforded him the opportunity to continue passing on the unwritten tradition of Cajun fiddling and storytelling, while exploring the connections between the musical traditions of Acadia and Acadiana.

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

African Drum & Dance (All Levels) – Laurie Goux

In this mini-class you will learn to play some traditional West African rhythms of the Djembe drum, Djun-Djun drums, shekere, and ago-go bell along with songs in various African languages. Understanding the rhythms help you dance freely to the beat. A cultural journey with Mama Laurie that you will enjoy.

Laurie Goux

Laurie Goux began her Chicago career in 1981 and has served as an adjunct professor of dance at Davis & Elkins College since 2012. She taught her first class for Augusta Heritage in 2011. Laurie is a protégé of dance legends Jimmy Payne, Sr., and Tommy Gomez. She trained in Katherine Dunham Dance Technique and African-Caribbean dance. She has performed with musicians and dancers from Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, and the West Indies. She has shared the stage with Ghanatia International, Rafo International Combo, Alpha Yaya Diallo, Queen Asabia Cropper, Max-A-Million, Preach Freedom, and opened for Youssou N’Dour with Roots Rock Society. Laurie was a principal dancer with Mordine & Company Dance Theater and Sundance Performing Arts Company. She is an alumna and former faculty of Columbia College Dance Center where she taught modern dance as a part of the core curriculum. A recipient of grants from the West Virginia Department of Arts and Humanities Council and West Virginia Department of Education, she developed and implemented Arts-Integration curricula in Randolph and Harrison counties.

While in WV, she has collaborated on her most creative works, contributing choreography for the international film, Dancing Joy, and the following projects: “Rising Down” was a social justice dance duet set on Katharine Manor, extraordinary Tap dancer, and Kaia Kater, singer/songwriter, whose original music bearing the same title was recognized in Rolling Stone magazine. “Caribbean Tapestry” is a group piece set on D&E dance students and Austin Peay State University students, performed at both institutions in 2017 Spring Dance Concerts. “…and the Women” is a work inspired by the spiritual practice, movement, song, and rhythms of the traditional African American ring shout.

Goux is artistic director, co-presenter of the first Chicago Katherine Dunham Awards (1996-1998) and 19th annual “Keep the Legacy Alive: Tribute to Katherine Dunham” held at the Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Theater, Chicago, and the University of Chicago in collaboration with Ms. Ruby Streate and the Dunham Center for the Arts and Humanities. She produced, “Suite Chicago Blues”, featuring Max-A-Million’s rendition of Willie Dixon’s song, “My Babe” at DuSable Museum of African American History and Chicago Blues Museum exhibit of Bronzeville. She was co-presenter of “Ebony on Ice,” an original dance concert on ice to an anthology of black music from Africa to America with an international cast of black skaters.

Her work has been reviewed in Washington Post, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Reader. Ms. Goux’s training led her to master class residencies with Erick Hawkins, Bill T. Jones, Kei Takei, Judith Moss, Talley Beatty, Clay Taliaferro, Anna Paskevska, Hanya Holm, and more. She has performed in the works of Loretta Livingston, Shirley Mordine, XSight! Performance Group, “What are we going to do with Mary?,” “Isosceles Triangle,” and “Wait ‘til it Happens to You,” Jan Erkert’s “Sensual Spaces,” Robin Lakes, “Mouth,” Kate Kuper, Carol Bobrow’s “Hiroshima Trilogy”, Claudia Gittleman’s “Amartia” and Martha Clarke’s, “Haiku,” a trio performed by Mordine & Company with Tim O’Slynne and Brian Jeffery.

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.

Re-Create by Upcycling (All Levels) – Ruth Humphrey

Do you have some favorite fabrics in out-of-style clothing? Recreate them by upcycling: designing and making useful and beautiful accessories from found fabrics. An old flannel shirt can become a pillow, an old dress a cute apron, out of style jeans a great bag. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Ruth Humphrey, a resident of Elkins, is a costume designer who has been creating costumes for the stage for more than 25 years. She will guide you through the design process and help you create two or more projects. Designing will include choosing fabrics, evaluating possibilities of combining colors, textures and patterns, and sketching your ideas. You will then be guided to create your patterns and complete your project through cutting, sewing and finishing. Some sewing skills are helpful, but not required. Bring some favorite items of clothing to recreate or select from the possibilities provided. There will be a materials fee of approximately $5 – $15 depending on your project.

Photo coming soon!

Ruth Humphrey

Ruth Humphrey, a resident of Elkins, is a costume designer who has been creating costumes for the stage for more than 25 years. She recently retired as costume designer and instructor of theatre for Davis& Elkins College where she created costumes for a variety of historical periods as well as designing and constructing fantasy costumes using various crafting techniques.

Six-Count Lindy Hop: Fundamentals of Partner Swing Dancing (From Scratch) – David Loomis

Interested in learning how to pair movement with joyful swing music? Amy and David will teach you how to lindy hop your way into fun, creative, and comfortable social dance experiences. The Lindy Hop originated in Harlem in the 1930’s and can be found on dance floors across the world today. In this class you will walk, then dance, through Lindy Hop’s FUNdamental rhythms, connections, and partnered patterns. This course welcomes learners of All Levels and is suitable for beginning and seasoned dancers alike

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 22 – 25

Appalachian Ballads (All Levels) – Elizabeth LaPrelle

In this mini-course, Elizabeth will teach a variety of traditional Appalachian ballads as repertoire, using them as a springboard to talk about the voice and how to use it in solo performance. Participants will also get the chance to explore the “mountain” sound through listening to a few examples and practicing a few exercises together. Everyone who wants to will get a chance to sing solo.

Teacher name

Elizabeth LaPrelle has been performing and studying Appalachian ballads and old-time songs since she was eleven. Raised in Rural Retreat, Virginia, Elizabeth attended old time fiddlers’ conventions and sang harmonies with her family, who encouraged her to sing their own favorite American folk music. As a teen Elizabeth learned the ‘mountain’ style of singing from mentors Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, which led her to explore archives and field recordings for ancient and little-known songs. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary with a major in Southern Appalachian Traditional Performance, and in 2011 formed performance duo “Anna & Elizabeth” with Anna Roberts-Gevalt. She now tours the US regularly both performing and teaching.

Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch – Kevin Chesser

In this workshop, students will learn the ins and outs of the banjo style most commonly referred to today as “clawhammer.” Rooted in a down picking pattern using the thumb & forefinger, this efficient and versatile banjo method is a great way to get acquainted with the old-time Appalachian repertoire, and a solid introduction to stringed instruments, in general. After breaking down the basic picking pattern step by step, we’ll move on to learning a couple of simple tunes. Students must provide their own banjo. Personal recording devices strongly encouraged.

Kevin Chesser

Kevin Chesser is a multi-instrumentalist and poet living in West Virginia. He’s performed at parties, weddings, senior centers, elementary schools, square dances, and festivals all over Appalachia and the United States, including Wheatland Music Festival, the Rocky Mountain Old Time Music Festival, Nelsonville Music Festival, and others. A two-time winner of the West Virginia Open Banjo Competition, he performs regularly with T-Mart Rounders, and the Laurel Mountain Ramblers.

Mountain Dulcimer from Scratch – Kathy McArthur

This mini-course is designed for individuals who have never played the mountain dulcimer. A few cardboard dulcimers will be available to borrow during class time. Come and learn the joy of making music on the mountain dulcimer! No worries if you can’t read music – a dulcimer tablature will be taught. The dulcimer will be tuned to DAD tuning, and we will learn several simple songs. This is a great mini-course for individuals who have never played  an instrument, but have a desire to learn.


Kathy McArthur

Kathy McArthur was born and raised in Utah, but has lived in the hills of West Virginia for the last 43 years. As a busy mother of 8, she found the dulcimer to be a wonderful stress reliever at the end of the day. Now as a grandmother of 29 grandchildren (yikes!), she still enjoys this beautiful instrument and sharing it with others.

Traditional Irish Dance: Soft Shoe Jigs & Reels from Scratch – Madalyn Humphrey

Learn the techniques, rhythms, and movements that guide Irish dancers gracefully and uniquely across the dance floor in this beginner style Irish soft shoe class. There will be an emphasis on footwork, posture, quick-clean movements, turns, and leaps. We’ll begin with the fundamentals of Irish Dance. Later classes will incorporate rhythms and movements influenced by other traditional dances, modern movements, and creative flows. The goal is to leave the class with a collection of movements and steps ready for solo or social dance. Dancers should wear Irish soft shoes (gillies), ballet flats, or thick socks. This class is open to dancers and non-dancers.

Madalyn Humphrey

Madalyn Humphrey studied and practiced under the direction of Maxine Olson at the Scoil Damhsa Irish Dance School of West Virginia. There she competed, performed, taught, and discovered her passion for dance. Scoil Damhsa focused on Irish dance history, tradition, and precision in technique while encouraging creativity. Olson first brought Humphrey to Augusta for Irish Step Dance Classes in 2000, as an Augusta Scholarship Student where she returned for another eight summers. She was also a performer with the West Virginia Highland Dancers and the Davis and Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble. Currently, Humphrey works as a choreographer with the Old Brick Playhouse in Elkins where she uses her eclectic dance background to teach and foster movement in local young artists.