American Roots Music Program

AGES 18+

Now in its fourth year, this broad reaching program welcomes singers, banjo pickers, fiddlers, guitarists, and mandolinists—players interested in many facets of roots music. Along with private and group instruction, students learn to craft vocal and instrumental music arrangements of their own. The program probes blues, bluegrass, Cajun and Creole, old-time mountain ballad and song styles, square dance fiddling, and works by newer singer-songwriters and instrumentalists who draw their inspiration from traditional music. Events include a live dance with caller, a banjo seminar, a student and faculty sing-around, and a workshop on Rio Grande fiddle tunes from Native American and Spanish colonial traditions.

(participants under 18 welcome with adult chaperone)


Fees, Faculty and Schedules






Non-student room and board $275
Private cabin with bath $250
Bedding (optional) $50

Sharon Arms Fiddle, Guitar, Voice
Matt Brown Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar
Peggy Browning Banjo, Guitar, Voice
Larry Edelman Fiddle, Dance Caller
Mary Flower Lap Slide Guitar, Guitar, Voice
Maria McCullough & Yahvi Pichardo Fiddle, Percussion, Zapateado, Jarana, Marimbol, Guitar, Voice
Aaron Smith Double Bass, Banjo, Voice
Harry Tuft Guitar, Songwriting, Voice
Dick Weissman Banjo, Composition, Guitar, Piano

Friday, September 1

9:00 AM to 11:50 AM: Participants arrive

12:00 PM to 12:50 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM to 1:50 PM: Introducing the Program. Faculty members describe their courses, presentations, and workshops.

2:00 PM to 2:50 PM:
Entering Tradition Ourselves, led by Peggy Browning, with fellow faculty members. Make music with others as we create new arrangements of some core tunes and songs. We’ll work on dynamics, rhythm, melodies, and harmonies. We play and sing music from gospel to blues, old-time numbers to lyrical ballads. All instruments and levels welcome. Every day we’ll find routes that eventually lead us to the Monday night concert.
Songwriting and Composing: Dick Weissman with Harry Tuft leads a two-day program. Songwriting is a logical extension of an interest in roots music, and many of the important figures in traditional music at the very least, came up with original musical arrangements and original instrumental pieces.  This class will show how songwriting and composing work, and how they can be a logical extension of interest in traditional music.

3:00 PM to 3:50 PM:
How Music and the Guitar Work Together with Harry Tuft. This three-day series includes understanding of the root-fifth relationship, the circle of fifths, using the fingerboard to advantage, and developing accompaniment styles according to the song.
Mary Flower, Blues Guitar: This four-day class explores 8- and 12-bar blues forms in different keys. Students learn different songs and the turnarounds and patterns that make them unique. All classes geared toward advanced beginner and advanced levels. Ability to read tablature helpful and students are encouraged to record the classes.
Beginning and Intermediate Mandolin, with Max Wolpert, all four days. Technique and tunes.
Four-Day Banjo course, first day with Peggy Browning, focusing on Pete Seeger’s standard-C tuning. Chords in first position, harmonizing up the neck, working out a piece in this tuning. Beginners through intermediate.
Bass with Aaron Smith, day one.  Instrumental techniques for upright bass across a variety of traditional idioms.

4:00 PM to 4:50 PM:
Mary Flower, Finger-picking Ragtime Guitar. Often called Piedmont style, and practiced by Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, and others. Students learn about syncopation, alternating bass, and moveable chords and melodies.
Matt Brown: Fiddle Forum: Learn to play two old-time fiddle tunes in four days, and then help write one! Matt teaches phrases in a call-and-response fashion with equal focus on the melody and the bowing. Students will collaborate with Matt to write a new old-time tune by the end of Monday’s class. Mandolin-playing friends are welcome, too!

5:00 PM: Open time

5:30 PM: Social Hour

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM: Dinner

7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: A Gallimaufry of Story Songs: A Faculty Presentation on Ballads, with Harry Tuft, Dick Weissman, Aaron Smith, Mary Flower, Yahvi Pichardo, Maria McCullough, Matt Brown, Peggy Browning, Stephen Wade, Max Wolpert, Sharon Arms.

9:45 PM: Three kinds of collective musicking into the night:
Singaround with Harry Tuft.  “The central idea is that while there may be ‘jamming’ – folks joining in on a given song – this is not emphasized. In fact, my introduction at the beginning is that we, the other players, become the ‘back-up band,’ and try not to interfere, but more to support the person doing the song. I’m encouraged to do this because Peggy is so good at doing a ‘sing-a-long’ jam, and as long as she’s up for that, we can have each.  Folks can decide on the one they want.” — Harry Tuft
Celebrating Traditions Jam.  In the spirit of the Old Town School of Folk Music’s fabled second half, we’ll join together to sing and play.  We’ll celebrate our commonalities, picking songs and tunes rooted in tradition. Led by Peggy Browning and Maria McCullough.
Old-Time Jam: Join Matt and Aaron to play and sing old-time favorites. Emphasis will be placed on playing together. No soloing is necessary. We’ll play our fair share of square dance numbers like “Soldier’s Joy,” “Mississippi Sawyer,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “June Apple,” and sing gems like “Handsome Molly,” “Say Darling Say,” “Gold Watch & Chain,” and “Chased Old Satan.” This jam is recommended for those who particularly enjoy playing in D, A, G, and C.


Saturday, September 2

8:00 AM: Breakfast

9:00 AM to 9:50 AM:
Entering Tradition Ourselves, led by Peggy Browning and others, day two.
Blues piano for Beginners, with Dick Weissman, and the difference between Blues Guitar and Blues Piano. The piano offers many interesting opportunities for musical enjoyment and expression, and this session is designed to show how blues piano works, and how it differs from blues guitar.
Old-time country guitar, with Matt Brown.  Explore on guitar the timeless music of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Delmore Brothers. We’ll experiment with plectrum playing (bring a flat pick) as well as the Carter Family scratch, a fingerpicking style made famous by Maybelle Carter. For the latter, a thumb pick and a finger pick will be helpful.

10:00 AM to 10:50 AM:
How music and guitar work together, with Harry Tuft, day two.
Three Great Gals, Part One: Peggy Browning and Maria McCullough present Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens, and Ella Jenkins. Get to know three pivotal women in traditional music. We’ll work on creating arrangements in their styles, focusing on rhythm, melodies, and harmonies.
Four-day Banjo, with Matt Brown and Stephen Wade. Second day. Two-finger traditional banjo styles.

11:00 AM to 11:50 AM:
First-Person Encounters with Brownie McGhee, Josh White and Rev. Gary Davis. Dick Weissman. Today’s young musicians are learning from musicians who had direct contact with traditional musicians.  Dick had the good fortune of an informal apprenticeship with Gary Davis, did his first real professional gig on a bill with Brownie McGhee, and attended a half dozen shows by Josh White.
Sotavento/Jarocho workshop with Maria and Yahvi, including zapatedo dancing. This workshop is open to anyone who would like to sing, play and/or dance. In this workshop, we will concentrate on one son from Southern Veracruz. We will sing, play and dance together to see how each individual part comes together to create the fandango (community) experience through music.

12:00 PM to 12:50 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM to 1:50 PM:
Mary Flower, Blues guitar, day two
Songwriting and composing ,with Dick Weissman, second day.
Matt Brown, Fiddle Forum, day two.
Bass Presentation: Aaron Smith explores with recorded examples and demonstrates live a range of vernacular bass approaches, emphasizing country and early jazz in both plucked and bowed styles.
Mandolin, with Max Wolpert, day two.

2:00 PM to 2:50 PM:
Mary Flower, Ragtime guitar, day two
Tunes of the Southwest: Led by Larry Edelman, with Matt Brown. Teaching several tunes including a dance piece from northern New Mexico and a tune from the Gu-Achi fiddle band from the Tohono O’odham tribe.

3:00 PM to 3:50 PM:
Mary Flower, guitar open tunings: Explores how to listen, improvise, and arrange in a variety of tunings. Students learn various moves in common between these accessible settings.
Towards Tonight’s Dance: Three or four great square dance tunes on all instruments plus discussion of called and square dance history. Larry Edelman, assisted by available faculty.

4:00 PM to 4:50PM: Harmony singing and harmony traditions with Harry Tuft, Aaron Smith, Matt Brown, Peggy Browning, Maria  McCullough and Yahvi Pichardo, Sharon Arms, and Mary Flower.

5:00 PM: Open time

5:30 PM: Social Hour

6:00 PM to 6:50 PM: Dinner

7:30 PM: Saturday Night Dance: Called by Larry Edelman, with Matt Brown, Aaron Smith, Stephen Wade, and Max Wolpert. Peggy Browning will assist any students who want to play along. Maria and Yahvi will give a mid-point presentation on Mexican dance or dance tunes.

10:00 PM:
Peggy and Maria, Celebrating Tradition Jam.
Harry Tuft: Sing-around
Matt Brown and Aaron Smith: Old-Time Jam


Sunday, September 3

8:00 AM: Breakfast

9:00 AM to 9:50 AM:
Entering Tradition Ourselves, Peggy Browning with others, day three.
Banjo with Dick Weissman and Aaron Smith. Innovating,  composing, and combining, day three.

10:00 AM to 10:50 AM:
How Music and Guitar Work Together, Harry Tuft, day three.
Mexican Fiddle Workshop with Maria McCullough. In this workshop you will learn to sing and play a song from Tierra Caliente (Southwest of Mexico). The workshop includes guitar accompaniment by Yahví Pichardo.

11:00 AM to 11:50 AM:
Songs of Social Protest and Complaint: Dick Weissman, Harry Tuft, Maria McCullough, Yahvi Pichardo, Sharon Arms, Mary Flower.
Mandolin and fiddle, with Max Wolpert, day three. Max gives presentation on alternative fiddle tunings in relation to mandolin arrangements in standard tuning.
Bass, with Aaron Smith, day three.

12:00 PM to 12:50 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM to 1:50 PM:
Blues guitar with Mary Flower, day three.
Fiddle Forum, with Matt Brown, day three.
World Music: Dick Weissman (bossa nova and Greek modes), Max Wolpert (Klezmer, Irish, and Metis Indian), Yahvi Pichardo and Maria McCullough (Mexican and border) and Sharon Arms (Cajun and Creole).

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM:  Free Time (faculty prepares for concert)

3:00 PM to 5:30 PM: Music in the Mountains Faculty Concert: Harry Tuft, Peggy Browning, Matt Brown, Aaron Smith, Mary Flower, Dick Weissman, Stephen Wade, Max Wolpert, Maria McCullough and Yahvi Pichardo.

5:30 PM to 6:00 PM: Social Hour

6:00 PM to 6:50 PM: Dinner

7:30 PM:
Singaround with Harry Tuft
Old-Time Jam with Matt Brown and Aaron Smith


Monday, September 4

8:00 AM: Breakfast

9:00 AM to 9:50 AM:  Entering Tradition Ourselves with Peggy Browning and others, day four.

10:00 AM to 10:50 AM: Banjo, solo and duet approaches, Stephen Wade with Max Wolpert, day four.

11:00 AM to 11:50 AM: Presentation with Maria y Yahvi- Music from Around Mexico. Mexican musical styles are as varied as the small towns that make up each region. Maria and Yahvi will share music and instruments from of a few of the regions they have visited over the years. You are invited to ask them questions and try the instruments after the presentation.

12:00 PM to 12:50 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM to 1:50 PM:
Lap Slide with Mary Flower. Bring a Dobro or any lap steel-like guitar and a tone bar, or feel free to observe. Mary will discuss left-hand moves, vibrato, scales and how to find melodies.
Fiddle Forum with Matt Brown, day four.

2:00 PM to 2:50 PM: Three Great Gals, Part Two: Peggy Browning and Maria McCullough.

3:00 PM to 3:50 PM:
Blues Guitar with Mary Flower, day four.
Cajun and Creole song, with Sharon Arms. In this session, students will be introduced to the melody, lyrics, and historical background of a traditional Cajun and a traditional Creole song, as well as to basic guitar and fiddle accompaniment.
Mandolin with Max Wolpert, day four.

4:00 PM to 4:50 PM:
Ragtime guitar with Mary Flower, day three.
Bass with Aaron Smith, day four.

5:00 PM to 6:00 PM: Social Hour

6:00 PM to 6:50 PM: Dinner

7:00 PM to 7:30 PM: open

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM: Student concert, coordinated by Peggy Browning and Matt Brown. Students, this is your chance to delight us with a song you’ve been working on for a while or team up with your friends to try something recently written or learned. Pick a piece that means a lot to you and tell us its story!

Afterwards: Singing and Jamming as desired. Combining Matt and Aaron’s Old Time Jam with Peggy and Maria’s Celebrating Tradition Jam.