Study Fiddle, Fingerstyle Guitar, Flatpick Guitar, Mandolin, 4-String Banjo & Bass Full Time at MBC
For 2018, we have full-time “tracks” in several instruments other than 5-string banjo. Here are more complete descriptions. Take all the classes offered for one instrument, take a few, or just dip in and out as the spirit moves you.
Levels: Please be aware that all instruction in tenor banjo, bass, fiddle, guitar and mandolin is likely to be at an intermediate level. Note that we NOT offer novice-level classes for any of these instruments (we only offer novice level classes for bluegrass and old-time banjo).
The MBC Fiddle Track: We offer a full program in fiddle, with one option during each class session. You can either study fiddle throughout, part-time, or just take an occasional fiddle class. Most classes in our fiddle program focus on “old-time,” or Appalachian style, but there will be some instruction on bluegrass fiddle as well. This track is recommended for fiddlers of any kind with at least one year’s experience, and for violinists with classical or jazz training who are interested in expanding their horizons. Our principal fiddle for 2018 is Janie Rothfield. Other fiddle instructors for 2018 include Roy Andrade, Adam Hurt, and Peter Knupfer.
The MBC Fingerstyle Guitar Track: MBC’s fingerstyle guitar track is now regular part of our program. There will be one fingerpicking guitar option during each class session and you can study it full-time, part-time, or just take the occasional class. Note: to be comfortable in this class you should already be able to strum in rhythm and change comfortably among the most basic “open position” guitar chords (C, G, D, A, E, etc.). Our principal fingerstyle guitar instructor for 2019 is noted soloist Mike Dowling. Other fingerstyle guitar classes will be taught by Chris Rietz.
The MBC Flatpicking Guitar Track: MBC continues to offer a full program in flatpicking guitar, with one option during each class session. You can study flatpicking guitar full or part time. Note: to be comfortable in this class you should already be able to strum in rhythm and change comfortably among the most basic “open position” guitar chords (C, G, D, A, E, etc.). Our principal flatpick guitar instructor for 2019 is Rick Faris from the band, Special Consensus. Other flatpick guitar classes will be taught by Dave Para.
The MBC Mandolin Track: MBC offers a full program in mandolin, with one option during each class session. You can study “mando” full-time, part- time, or simply take an occasional class. Note: to be comfortable in this class you should already be able to strum in rhythm and change comfortably among the most basic mandolin chords. Our principal mandolin instructor for 2019 is Nick Dumas from the band, Special Consensus. Other mandolin classes will be taught by Keith Baumann.
The MBC Bass Track: We offer a full program in bass, with one option during each class session. You can study bass full-time, part- time, or simply take an occasional class. Our principal bass instructor for 2019 is renowned bluegrass sideman Mark Schatz. Other bass classes will be taught by Tom T. Ball.
The MBC Tenor Banjo Track
MBC Tenor Banjo Track. We now offer a full-time program in tenor banjo (tuned CGDA), with one option during each class session. You can study tenor banjo full-time, part- time, or simply take an occasional class. Our instructor for 2019 is New Orleans jazzman Don Vappie. Other tenor classes will be taught by Keith Baumann. Note: to be comfortable in this class you should already be able to strum in rhythm using a pick and change comfortably among a few basic tenor banjo chord shapes.
Tenor vs. plectrum. 4-string banjo is generally played with a flatpick, or “plectrum.” Plectrum banjo is a very close cousin of the 5-string ; its four strings are tuned CGBD – pretty much like the four long strings of a 5-string banjo. Tenor banjo is a bit more of distant cousin of the 5-string; it is tuned in “fifths” like a violin or cello. Note that our program is based on original jazz-tenor tuning (CGDA), and NOT Irish style tenor. Irish-style tenor banjo uses a different tuning and a different picking approach.
Can I attend the MBC Tenor Banjo Program if I mostly play plectrum banjo? Yes you can, and our instructors can help you translate tenor scales and shapes to plectrum tuning. If you’re a plectrum player and are not sure if our program will work for you, don’t hesitate to contact us.
The MBC 19th Century Banjo Track
Experienced banjoists of any skill level are invited to take part in our “19th Century Banjo” track, taught by noted banjo player – and banjo-scholar – Greg C. Adams, assisted by another instructor TBA. The purpose of this track is to provide newcomers and experienced hands with opportunities to learn more about Early Banjo – banjo tunes and techniques from the 18th and 19th centuries, and their legacy in more recent playing traditions. We’ll be using a variety of teaching methods – learning by ear, reading tab and using sheet music – while working together in both large and small groups. Depending on the number of people and the types of banjos they bring (e.g., a modern fretted banjo or an original/reproduction mid-nineteenth century banjo), the primary tuning we’ll be using is gCGBD or the lower tuned equivalent dGDF#A. Click for more information on our 19th Century Banjo Program.
Note: You can participate in the 19th Century Banjo track full time, take just one class, or anything in between.
New!! Announcing a New Track: Jam-Skills for All Instruments
Over the years MBC has offered many classes focused jamming from the banjoists viewpoint, but we felt that many students would also benefit from having the opportunity to focus more systematically on all the many aspects that go into successful jam participation. Beginning this year, MBC offers a special Jam Skills Track. The track gets underway, on Friday afternoon and runs through Saturday afternoon, and is positioned so that you have the opportunity to try out what you’ve learned during the staff-led jams on Friday and Saturday evenings. Instructors in the program are Janet Beazley, Jeff Burke, and Elizabeth Loring.
Our offerings cover the following five topics.
- How to sing bluegrass and sound authentic
- Jam Etiquette and procedures
- Developing Ear Skills
- Tips on Soloing
- Intro Bluegrass Harmony Singing
For this first year our focus is mostly on bluegrass jamming skills, and our jams-skills program is part time. Depending on student participation and comments, in the future we may make this a full-time track and also expand to old-time jam skills.