Workshop Descriptions

The info on this page presents workshop descriptions organized under each instructor's name. As our faculty instructors are mult-talented, some are offering 'shops on more than one instrument, and sometimes more than one instrument in a workshop. There are about 40 workshop offerings, and you have only 5 workshop periods (1.25 hrs each) - so choose carefully!


The workshop sign up form is available here. On this page you can download a sign up form  for 'a la carte' workshops, or for the full weekend of workshops and other activities. If you want to attend the full weekend please also download and fill out a Registration form available here.


About Skill Levels:

Use the indicated skill levels for each workshop as a rough guide. To help understand what we mean by our skill level ratings, here is how we loosely define them:

Skill Level 0: Novice with this instrument, but knows some melodies

Skill Level 1: Basic competence with this instrument, can play 5+ tunes at slow tempo

Skill Level 2: Knows 10+ tunes and can play 5+ at performance tempo

Skill Level 3: Can play 20+ tunes at performance tempo


Some workshops are geared to a range of skill levels. In every case, your instructor will tailor your classes to the interests and abilities of participants. Your faculty is here for YOU.



Allie Bennett: For intermediate & advanced fiddlers, plus some guitar


Allie is available for consults by email prior to camp - if you have any questions about his course content or to help you decide if his workshops are right for you.

Email Allie at:


Fiddle: Skill Levels 2,3

Brenda Stubbert Repertoire

This workshop is designed for the Intermediate to Advanced Player, and will feature a cross-section of tunes composed by legendary Cape Breton fiddler and piano player Brenda Stubbert.  Allie has been teaching Brenda’s tunes for over 20 years. Special emphasis will be placed on a couple of the beautiful Marches Brenda has composed, as well as a Strathspey, Reel and Jig.  


Fiddle: Skill Levels 2,3

Bagpipe Tunes

Tunes from the Highland Bagpipe Tradition will be taught at this workshop. Over the years many pipe tunes have found their way into the regular repertoires of Cape Breton fiddlers. Some have been altered slightly to suit the fiddle, and an emphasis will be placed on how these alterations work, complete with note ornamentations that emulate the pipes.  This workshop is also designed for the Intermediate+ players.


Guitar: Skill Levels 1,2,3

Accompanying Jerry's Airs & Waltzes

Allie will teach participants how to read chord charts for guitar, and will demonstrate the basic chord patterns for some Jerry Holland tunes, as well as substitution chords that can enhance the accompaniment for these tunes. This workshop is designed for all playing levels, with the tempos kept slower so everybody can participate and learn something new and practical.


Guitar: Skill Levels 2,3

Celtic Picking Techniques

This workshop will feature basic fingerpicking patterns that beginners can learn, first using the thumb and two fingers, progressing to a few patterns using the thumb and three fingers. A good knowledge of the basic major chords is all that is necessary to participate. These patterns can be used for many folk songs, as well as Celtic slow airs and waltzes.


Dwayne Côté: Mostly fiddle, with a bit of guitar (for fiddle backup)


Fiddle: Skill Level 0

Fiddle From Scratch

For the absolute beginner.  Come experience a fun way to learn about fiddling.  We will focus on holding the fiddle and bow and finger movements. The desired end result for this course is that you will have an interest in fiddling and want to learn more in the future. Bring your own fiddle if you like, we have fiddles available if you don’t have one.


Fiddle: Skill Levels 1,2,3

Practice Makes Perfect

This course is designed to help fiddlers from beginner through advanced-intermediate move to the next level. Dwayne will demonstrate practicing techniques, better bowing skills, posture and other helpful hints that he's learned throughout his own career. By learning some of these "tricks of the trade", his goal is to help you along the road to fiddling success.


Fiddle: Skill Levels 2,3

Winston Scotty Fitzgerald Tunes

This is a repertoire-oriented workshop to introduce Winston Scotty Fitzgerald’s styles, with a focus on the techniques you need to play like this revered Cape Breton legend.


Special resource links for Winston Scotty Fitzgerald tunes:

Fishers Hornpipe:

Archie Menzie:


Guitar: Skill Levels 1,2

Guitar Chording Accompaniment to the Cape Breton Fiddle

A great introduction for guitar players who want to make their fiddlers sound great, delivered by a fiddler who knows what it takes.

Kelli Trottier: Fiddle workshops, plus Swingin' Singing and some Steps


Fiddle: Skill Levels 1,2

An Ottawa Valley Waltz

The motivation behind these waltzes is danceability and so Kelli will teach you how to make the 3/4 rhythms flow while making sure they have lift at the same time. Some simple waltz melodies to consider for this class: Country Waltz, Westphalia and Peek a Boo Waltz.

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Sheet music: Country Waltz
Country Waltz.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.3 MB]
Sheet music: Westphalia Waltz
West Phalia.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.1 MB]
Sheet music: Peek a Boo Waltz
Peek a Boo Waltz.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.3 MB]


Fiddle: Skill Levels 2.3

Valley Girl in Cape Breton - An Ottawa Valley Clog

Clogs are similar in time to Strathspeys and very much meant for dancing. We look at the tempos and lift required to give the rendition an Ottawa Valley Feel. The tune Kelli's selected to teach you is Minstrel’s Fancy.

Sheet music: Minstrel's Fancy and a few more clogs
MinstrelsFancy better.png
Portable network image format [35.0 KB]


Voice: Skill Levels 0,1,2,3

Sing Some Swing

You'll have some fun with a Swing / Country Swing song from Kelli's newest relase, called 'Til the End of the World'. It's a straightforward song which will be great to get you into the groove, and Kelli will put some fiddle licks behind you in the workshop.


Dance: Skill Levels 0,1,2,3

An Intro and some Finesse: French Canadian Step Dancing

In this workshop Kelli will help you understand the similarities and differences between Cape Breton step dancing and the traditions in Quebec – using a Reel to drive the steps.You'll learn some new moves. This promises to be a good workshop for beginners, and will add some steps to the repertoires of intermediate and advanced Cape Breton style dancers.


For your inspiration:

An awesome Clip of Donnie Gilcrist - who I have always felt was the Grandfather of French Canadian Stepdancing.

Kelli Dancing Ottawa Valley Style:

Richard Wood: All Fiddle, and something for every level


Fiddle: Skill Level 1

Notes, Scales and a Simple Tune

More info to come!


Fiddle: Skill Levels 1,2

Bowing and Fingering Techniques

More info to come!


Fiddle: Skill Levels 1,2

Playing from the Heart

In this workshop Richard will impart his ideas about ‘emoting’ a tune through the fiddle. Known for his amazing and intuitive renditions of traditional tunes, you'll learn that it comes from deep down inside. Richard will help you connect to your 'inner fiddler'.


Fiddle: Skill Levels 2,3

Fiddle Fusion - Making Old Tunes New

This workshop will help intermediate level fiddlers get comfortable with improvising and finding a ‘fiddler’s scale’ to personalize and modernize a traditional classic. This class will be tailored to suit the interests of participants.


Yes dear, we have way more than fiddle workshops

Darren McMullen: Fresh from his trophy-gathering expedition at the East Coast Music Awards with Coig.....


Guitar: Skill Levels 1,2

Alternate Tunings: DADGAD

DADGAD is a popular tuning for both folk singers and tune accompanists. It's basically the standard tuning for most UK trad. players. This open-style sound makes even simple chord progressions sound fuller and more colourful. We'll look at some chord ideas for songs, and some rhythmic playing for tunes. Time allotted for questions.


Mandolin: Skill Level 1

Mandolin  Intro - for fiddle players

Admit it, you've always wanted to play the mandolin! This workshop is perfect for you. Like any instrument, it is important to start off with the right approach, so we'll look at the basics, and make sure you're on track with the right techniques. From 0 to playing a tune in one workshop! Perfect for fiddlers, as the mandolin is tuned identical to a fiddle. Trade your bow for a pick, and your fingers already know where the notes are!


Mandolin: Skill Levels 1,2

Rhythm workshop for Mando - with guitars too!

We’re going to put some guitars together with some mandos, get you all on the same rhythms, and show the guitars how to get in the background and complement the mando. It’s a mixed instrument workshop that will focus on right hand techniques for mando and guitar players.


Electric Bass: Skill Levels 1,2,3

It's the spaces BETWEEN the notes

"The most important part of music is the space between the notes" - Albert Einstien.

Maybe it wasn't Einstein, but whoever said this was right. Darren will demonstrate and teach you a few techniques to make sure you're getting into the right groove. Then this workshop will show you how to play bass effectively with other musicians. You'll look at a few different styles, and as always, time will be allotted for your questions.


Enjoy where Darren does and doesn't play bass, with Matt Anderson and friends at Stanfest 2012. Clilck:


Tenor Banjo: Skill Levels 1,2

Intro to Tenor Banjo

This instrument has become extremely popular in the celtic genre, and Darren is definitely the maestro of these four strings. You'll learn how to approach the instrument and get a few tunes happening. Much of the focus will be on picking technique including triplets and slides. As always, Darren will allot time for questions and answers and you can expect to get up-close and personal attention.


Roger Stone: back again as our Music Director - with a few things to teach you too.


Guitar: Skill Levels 1,2,3

Strumming to your singing

This lab will focus on playing rhythm while you sing, or accompany a singer.

We will focus on proper right hand technique, counting time, what kind of pick or finger style will help add the right colour to your song. 


Guitar: Skill Levels 2,3

a la Estwood Davidson

This workshop focuses on the stylings of legendary guitarist Estwood Davidson, whose career with Winston Scotty and The Radio Entertainers and beyond influenced guitar players from near and far. We will focus on his techniques of walking bass lines, bar chords, and accompaniment to Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe in the Cape Breton fiddle style. Students will need to know Major, Minor and Seventh chords.


Resource links: Estwood Davidson playing with Winston Scotty Fitzgerald

Fishers Hornpipe:

Archie Menzie:


Voice: Skill Levels 1,2,3

Singing 101

This is a popular workshop we’re repeating from last year. It’s designed for the beginning singer and is also good for those who have had some experience. We will review breathing, vocal warm-up and focus on posture and projecting the voice. This year we will also look at some differences when singing lead, and when harmonizing in a duo or group situation.


Here's a handy resource:

Effective Voice Technique.
Effective VoiceTechnique.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [128.5 KB]


Ukulele: Skill Level 1

Intro to Ukulele

This class is for people who have spent just a short time with the ukulele. You’ll learn the basic chords, rhythm, strumming techniques, and to play a song or two. We will also discuss care, set up of the instrument and where to go in the future. Ukuleles can be provided for students who can't bring one with them.


A few resources for new Ukulele players:

Ukulele Songbook PDF
Adobe Acrobat document [353.4 KB]
Ukulele Chord Chart - Standard Tuning PDF
Adobe Acrobat document [110.5 KB]

Hilda Chiasson: An Island of 88 keys


Note to all piano students:

You can bring your own keyboard if you wish, but we will have keyboards available for you to use courtesy of our local public school, East Richmond Education Centre.


Piano: Skill Levels 0,1,2,3

Talk and Demo: The Cape Breton Piano Traditions

Hilda has prepared a presentation to introduce the back-up piano styles played in Cape Breton over the past number of decades, illustrated with recorded music - interpreted by Hilda so you can learn about the evolution, and the impact that the 'big instrument' has made on Cape Breton's music scene. This session will be very informative for anybody seeking to better understand some of the more unique aspects of Cape Breton piano players and their techniques.


Piano: Skill Levels 1,2

Look Ma, 2 Hands: Intro to Cape Breton keyboard techniques

This workshop will focus on Marches including the Glencoe March and Space Available - and more depending on the interest and desire of students to venture a bit deeper into the repertoire. A few resources to help you prepare for this workshop:

Sheet Music: Space Available PDF
Space Available (strathspey) on The Sess[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [95.6 KB]
Sheet Music: Glencoe March PDF
The Glencoe March (reel) on The Session.[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [101.9 KB]


Piano: Skill Levels 2,3

A Jig and some Strathspeys

Hilda will coach intermediate-level players on the techniques involved in playing two of the most popular modes in Cape Breton music - on the instrument that defines a powerful and very unique Cape Breton tradition.

Sheet music: Stan Chapman's Jig PDF
Stan Chapman’s (jig) on The Session.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [76.9 KB]
Sheet music: King George strathspey PDF
King George IV (strathspey) on The Sessi[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [83.0 KB]
Sheet music: Miss Lyle strathspey PDF
Adobe Acrobat document [55.2 KB]


Piano: Skill Levels 2,3

The Cape Breton Reels

We’ll focus here on two classic Cape Breton tunes: King's Reel and Brenda Stubbert's Reel. Intermediate and advanced techniques for playing these reels will be demonstrated, and Hilda will provide personal attention to each student.

Sheet music: Kings Reel PDF
Kings Reel.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [50.4 KB]
Sheet music: Brenda Stubberts' Reel PDF
Brenda Stubbert’s (reel) on The Session.[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [91.7 KB]

Paul Davis: Tinwhistle and Bodhran - the truck of the Irish


All tinwhistle students must bring a D whistle to the workshops!!!

Some of you have asked, what is a tin whistle? Here is the wiki definition. Please come back after looking at it.


A take-away CD containing links for further learning and resources and music collections will be provided in both beginner and intermediate tinwhistle classes. 


Bodhran students should bring their own drum and tipper.


Tinwhistle: Skill Level 0

Intro to the Tinwhistle

We will be working in one octave from lowest D to middle D. See the D scale chart below, and two simple tunes to play with sheet music and audio samples which will get you on the right path for this workshop.

D Scale for Tinwhistle GIF
Graphic interchange format [10.0 KB]
Sheet music: Mary Had a Little Lamb PDF
Adobe Acrobat document [77.4 KB]
Audio file: Mary Had a Little Lamb MP3
Mary Had A Little Lamb.mp3
MP3 audio file [189.5 KB]
Sheet music: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star PDF
Adobe Acrobat document [78.3 KB]
Audio file: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star MP3
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.mp3
MP3 audio file [284.1 KB]


Tinwhistle: Skill Level 1,2

Jigs and Reels

Students for this class should be proficient in the whole D Scale. Here are some tunes you can get familiar with before class. In this class we will also be learning some basic ornamentation, cuts, taps and rolls as well as slurring notes. Some resources to check into before class:

Sheet music: Blarney Pilgrim .gif
Blarney Pilgrim.gif
Graphic interchange format [90.6 KB]
Audio file: The Blarney Pilgrim MP3
The Blarney Pilgrim slow.mp3
MP3 audio file [712.7 KB]
Sheet music: Flowers of Edinburgh .gif
Flowers of Edinborough.gif
Graphic interchange format [65.6 KB]
Audio file: Flowers of Edinburgh MP3
Flowers of Edinborough slow.mp3
MP3 audio file [551.3 KB]


Bodhran: Skill Levels 0,1

Bang 101

In this workshop novice and early-stage bodhran players will learn how to hold the drum and the tipper, and to keep rhythm in reel and jig timing. Paul will provide an overview of the history of this thousand year-old very traditional Irish instrument, and some resources for continuing your practice and development when you get back home.


Delores Boudreau with Adam Cooke: Acadian Roots


Voice and music appreciation: Skill levels 0,1,2,3

Les Vieux Acadiennes: Traditional Songs

Les amis Acadiens Delores Boudreau & Adam Cooke team up to offer a fun, interactive and informative workshop on traditional Acadian music. Besides sharing some favorites, Delores and Adam will describe what they acquired early on, as they journeyed to build their Acadian repertoires. You will be introduced to a colourful collection of songs that is sure to satistfy your Acadian palate. For those who seek some authentic Acadian joie de vivre, this  workshop is set to deliver just that and to have you singing and playing along.

Rob Woodley: Accordion Intro and a new Tune Composition class


Introduction to the Accordion: Skill levels 0,1

Accordion 101

The accordion is to Newfoundland what the fiddle is to Cape Breton. Specifically, we are talking about the two-row diatonic button accordion (rows tuned to G/C, D/G or A/D), as distinct from its many other relatives in the ‘squeezebox’ family. They are played to accompany songs and dances not just in Newfoundland, but across Europe and in particular, the British Isles. This workshop introduces the accordion, exploring its construction, principles of operation and its variations, and demonstrates the range of the instrument through demonstrations and examples. For those with an instrument of their own, there will be an opportunity to learn a simple tune and explore playing techniques to take away and practise.


Composition: Skill levels 2,3 with guitar or piano + ability to read music

Tune Composition – A Beginner’s Guide

Sooner or later, most musicians want to move on from just playing music to creating their own. They will soon become aware that music is all about patterns. Recognising and using patterns helps us develop as musicians and lays the proper foundation for understanding how and why some tunes ‘work’ and others just... don’t. In this workshop we will explore the patterns that underlie tune types, their structure, chord combinations and note sequence. We demonstrate a proven, practical technique that, if followed, will get you started as a writer of tunes and provide a springboard for you to go on to develop your own composition style. This workshop will span two periods (ie, 2.5 hr class with 15 minute recess)

Roddie's Square Dance Society: Rippin' sets with Donna Marie Dewolf on fiddle & Al Martin on guitar


Square Dance Session: Levels 0,1,2,3

Step right in to it

This workshop is a perennial favourite for locals and people from away. The first part of the workshop will teach novices the basic steps for some traditional sets common in the St. Peter's area. The patterns are different in every region of Cape Breton, so if you're not from here, you're bound to learn something new. After the intro, you'll be ready to join the sets with some of Roddie's regular dancers and get some real-time practice. Local players provide the driving music which is a joy to behold. Come and watch, learn and participate. Campers and their accompanists are all welcome!

Johannes Sturm - learn more about your instrument from the master


Luthier workshops: Skill levels don't matter here

Care and feeding of your stringed instrument

Johannes presents a talk and demonstration on caring for stringed instruments. Learn a bit about how your instrument was made, how to take good care of it, and to know when and if it needs professional attention. Tips and techniques for keeping your instrument in tune and best playing conditon.


How fiddles are made: Talk and demo

Have you ever looked inside a violin? Johannes will show you what goes into the building of a fiddle, identify and demonstrate the tools of the Luthier's craft, the materials used in construction, and relate a bit of the history behind these storied instruments. Enjoy an interesting and entertaining talk and demonstration by an engaging craftsman, open to campers and accompanists.


On site luthier services

Johannes is on hand all weekend to tend to any minor repairs or adjustments your instrument may need, to assist with tuning, and to assess your stringed instrument for condition. He is approachable at any time other than during his 2 workshop sessions, and will be set up on-site at EREC, in the midst of where your workshops take place.

Band Labs


All instruments, singers and dancers: For all skill levels

This could be the highlight of your Music Camp experience!

Designed for amateur players at all skill levels who want a 'band' experience, this provides an opportunity to join a complementary group of musicians. You'll fill out a resumé when you sign up for your workshops. Faculty will review these and put you in an appropriate job with a new band. You'll pick a band leader and a name for your ensemble, and learn a tune or two together. You'll have your own practice room, and you'll have guidance from members of our professional faculty to help you prepare .... to perform at our grand finale, the Band Lab showcase, on Sunday after lunch.