About Our Program

Classes

Midwest Banjo Camp offers highly specialized classes with subjects tailored to the expertise of our faculty. Most of our classes are "hands-on," meaning that teachers have a set of skills or a tune or two in mind to impart, and that students should have their instruments in hand during class. Most classes are one hour and fifteen minutes long.

Note: Once you've registered for MBC, you may attend any class you wish at any time throughout our program. You do NOT have to pre-register for any track, class, or teacher. The questions on the registration form regarding interests and levels are only there to help us plan our program. They do NOT commit you to pursue any particular level, style, or instrument.

Note: Although most of our instructors send students home with written tabs, chord charts, and other handouts, please understand that some very excellent teachers prefer to teach solely by ear. For this reason, we strongly encourage bringing a recording device to help you remember what was taught (the recording apps that come pre-installed in most smartphones these days are of sufficient quality for this task).

Banjo Classes

MBC offers four levels in instruction in both bluegrass banjo and old-time banjo. We also offer full-time programs in “19th century banjo” (featuring minstrel banjo, classic banjo and other early banjo styles) and tenor (4-string) banjo. 

Other Instruments and Special Classes

MBC  offers full-time programs in bass, fiddle, fingerstyle guitar, flatpicking guitar, and mandolin. We also offer a varied program of “special classes” offering instruction in various other instruments along with such topics as voice, clogging and instrument set-up.

Our Format

Midwest Banjo Camp starts mid-afternoon on Thursday and runs through lunchtime on Sunday (those who attended MBC prior to 2016 should note that we no longer divide things up into “regular camp” and “Pre-camp”). The new format allows us to use our time more efficiently and gives us an opportunity for a bit more breathing room. Here are just some of the advantages:

  • A single, streamlined student orientation covers the entire event. This will be held right after dinner on Thursday evening.
  • We can get started with hands-on classes first thing Friday morning; as a result we can offer nine hands-on classes - that's one additional hands-on class relative to what we could offer under the old format.
  • There will be more staff-led jamming opportunities; this means that even our early-to-bedders will have at least one opportunity to jam in the afternoon.
  • All attendees will now have a chance to experience our entertaining and informative “demonstrations” and “presentations”
  • The extra free time means that you’ll have more of an opportunity to get to know your fellow attendees and jam on your own.

Can I Still Attend MBC Just from Friday to Sunday? (The Weekend-Only Option)

Yes, you can. You can still enjoy MBC even if you can’t take an extra day off. Our “Weekend-Only Option” begins with the first class Friday afternoon. Included are seven hands-on classes and all meals from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. Also included are the two faculty concerts, staff-led jams on Friday and Saturday evenings, and staff-led jams and demonstrations on Friday afternoon. Rates for the weekend-only option appear on the “Registration & Fees” page.

Starting and Ending Times

Full Camp. Check-in for the full camp is from 2PM to 5PM on Thursday, June 7. Dinner is at 5:45 PM, Student Orientation takes place at 7:00PM, and activities begin at about 8:00PM. Check the schedule when it appears (probably mid-to-late January) for details. Camp ends on Sunday, June 10 at 2:00PM.

Weekend-Only Option. If you choose this option, check-in is on Friday between 10AM and noon. Pick up your schedule and orientation materials at the front desk; your first activity is 1:30 PM on Friday at the start of the afternoon class sessions and your first scheduled meal is Friday dinner. Friday lunch can be purchased separately at the cafeteria. To get an idea of how the Weekend Option works, check the 2017 MBC Schedule, or check the 2018 schedule when it comes out in January. Camp ends on Sunday, June 10 at 2:00PM.

Activities at MBC: Breakdown by Day

  • Thursday Evening: Student orientation, followed by a round of demonstrations. Concludes with faculty-led jamming
  • Friday: Three sessions of hands-on classes followed by a round of demos and jams; evening program consists of a faculty concert and faculty-led jamming
  • Saturday: Four sessions of hands-on classes; evening program consists of a faculty concert and faculty-led jamming
  • Sunday: Two sessions of hands-on classes

For a more complete sense of our event, check out our 2017 Schedule. Or check out the 2018 Schedule when it comes out in late January.

Use of Recording Devices at MBC

Many of our instructors prefer to teach by ear and example rather than by tab or other notation. Consequently, we encourage students to bring along compact recording devices, so that recordings made in class will be available after camp to serve as memory aids. As a courtesy, however, please ask each instructor at the start of class whether he or she permits the use of such recording devices.