Author: Cornish, Rick

Who goes to music camp and why?

So, first off, I hear some of you saying, where in the blankety-blank-blank is George Martin this morning? Well, George is off to Mexico for a well deserved get away but he’ll be back next month. I’m filling in and I want to talk a little bit about a subject near and dear to George’s heart….and that, of course, is the CBA Music Camp.

George Martin is a regular volunteer at our music camps, both the summer camp at Grass Valley and our new one in Petaluma—the multi-instrumentalist assists instructors, leads jams, places signage and pretty much whatever else he’s asked to do—and at Isleton we had a chance to chat about the upcoming session in late February. George was aware that immediately following our fall membership get together we’d start hitting the Winter Music camp publicity hard both here and in the Bluegrass Breakdown and he wanted me to make sure that we let folks know what camp is and who it’s for.

“It’s funny”, he told me, “first timers have wildly different notions around what the experience is about and unfortunately this leads many to decide it’s probably not for them.” So who IS it for, I asked. “Well, it’s easier to tell you who shouldn’t come to camp—people who have never picked up an instrument, (or tried to sing), on one end of the spectrum. And on the other end, people who have played for years and years, are super advanced and are looking to do some professional fine tuning. Everybody else, and I mean EVERYBODY, is going to get something at music camp.” So rank beginners who’ve just started playing to hot pickers who play in successful bands will benefit? How does that happen, I asked.

“In a word,” George responded, “it’s Ingrid.” Ingrid Noyes has been the CBA’s Music Camp Director for ten years now and George explained that it’s Ingrid who has formulated the classes and levels of classes, set the standards for them all, hired instructors and painstakingly deployed them into the various slots and then, as Ingrid and only Ingrid can do, made certain that the instructors deliver the goods. (Having worked with Ingrid for a decade now, I knew exactly what George implied about Ingrid’s ‘persuasive’ skills.)

So let me leap directly to the CBA Music Camp’s holy grail, Dr. Noyes’ concept of who should go to music camp, as well as her winter, 2011 dream team of instructors who’ll make certain folks get what they signed up for.

Below is a list of this year’s instructors and the classes they teach. By clicking on the instrument you want, you will find class descriptions for that instrument, along with bios for each instructor, and their websites, which contain yet more information.

Recommended prerequisites are also given, though an open and positive attitude towards learning in a group setting is really the most important prerequisite for having a great time at this camp.

Level 1: Advanced beginner. By this we mean that you already know the basics of how to play your instrument (and tune it!) and can play some songs or tunes, if not up to tempo, at least not agonizingly slowly. The exception this year is our “oldtime banjo from scratch” class, for which you need no experience at all, and we’re even providing instruments for you if you need them, details included in the class description.

Level 2: Intermediate. By this we mean that you are quite comfortable with your instrument, and have at least some experience playing with other people.

Level 3: Upper intermediate. You should have at least two years of playing experience, including some experience playing with others in jam sessions or in bands.

If you’re uncertain which level is right for you, consider whether you’d rather take it slow and easy, or be more challenged, and sign up accordingly. We will allow for some adjustments as needed the first day.

Click on the links below.…classes are listed alphabetically by instrument:

Banjo, bluegrass
Nick Hornbuckle — level 1
Keith Little—level 2
Bill Evans—upper level 3

Banjo, old-time
Evie Ladin—beginners
Steve Baughman —levels 2/3
(Level 1 old-time banjo students, see note on the banjo page)

Lisa Burns —level 1
Trisha Gagnon—level 2

Lisa Berman—level 1
Ivan Rosenberg —levels 2/3

Jack Tuttle —level 1
Greg Spatz—bluegrass, levels 2/3
Heidi Clare—old-time, levels 2/3

Kathy Kallick—level 1
Jim Nunally — rhythm, level 2
Eric Thompson —solos, level 3

Roland White—level 1
John Reischman—early bluegrass/oldtime, levels 2/3
Dix Bruce —level 3

Chris Stuart—level 1
Janet Beazley— levels 2/3

Jamming 101, Levels 1 and 2 (but 3’s welcome!) – In Jamming 101 our motto is “Anyone can Jam”, and after this class you will believe it! Over the last 12 years of teaching jamming at numerous festivals, Sid Lewis has developed what Joe Craven call “the roadmap to jamming”, a complete system of understanding the rules and etiquette of the bluegrass jam. We’ll start you out with chord charts for easy bluegrass favorites, and get everyone on the same beat by going over the details of playing back-up. Everything from tuning to staying in time will be covered, and using the unique Jamming 101 “5 Level System” we can get everyone, from the first week “sore fingers” to the smug advanced player, finding an enjoyable way to fit in. Then we’ll take you to anatomy class…Jamanatomy, that is! You’ll get a birds eye view of the overall jam: how to use kick-offs to start a tune, getting in and out of solos safely, and various standard bluegrass endings. With our custom lead-flag system everyone gets a chance to take breaks if they want, or not if they don’t. As Sid says “Jamming 101 is the place to get all of those mistakes out of your system!” You’ll be led through the “Jamily Tree” to learn how to identify and survive common types of jams, and finally be taught the “Ten Jammandments” of proper jamming. Jamming 101 is more than a class, it’s everything you need to survive as a beginner, get better at intermediate-hood, or learn to enjoy slow jams as an advanced picker. Jamming 101 is truly everyone’s music class, and we welcome all ages, instruments, abilities and interests. If you have most of your fingers and a desire to learn, we welcome you into the Jam!

Prerequisites: We pride ourselves with the “lowest” prerequisites of any class: you don’t even need to know how to play yet, just show up and “Fwap” along on the fingerboard! We even welcome those without instruments to join us for harmony and sing-a-longs. However, to play along with most of the songs, knowledge of the basic chords like G, C, D and A is helpful. But we do have a “Level 1” that allows you to just play a G chord and keep smiling…it works! Jamming 101 is ideal for players just getting started taking leads, as we play the tunes slowly and offer everyone a chance to take a turn. So having pre-learned arrangements is a plus. Last but not least, having the ability to listen to those next to you, and tell if you get out of time, is probably the most valuable prerequisite of all. But not to worry, if you don’t feel you have that, you will when you leave!

Bring: Your instrument, and essential “jam survival gear”: picks, capos and tuners. All music and books for the class are provided, but if you already have you trusty bluegrass songbook and music stand, that’s fine too.

Sid Lewis: Sid Lewis has been performing and teaching acoustic music since he was 12. He won the California State Flat-picking Guitar championships as a teen in 1991-1992 (Redding, CA), and performed with his family band (Lewis Family Band) until he moved to Chico, CA in 2001. After doing session work with various acts including Joe Craven, Michael Hedges, and Radim Zenkl, he founded his own music school: the Acoustic College. The school now features a popular teens rock and roll program the Chico School Of Rock, and is also the home to his extremely popular music “Playshop” Jamming 101. Jamming 101 is currently featured
Posted:  11/11/2010

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