The Workshops

Most workshops are 1 hour long. On Saturday there will be 2 morning sessions and 2 afternoon sessions (last Saturday session is 1.5 hrs), and one on Sunday morning....with a variety to choose from in each time slot.  Some workshops will be repeated during the weekend to give everyone an opportunity to get their favourite choices.


All instructors encourage you to bring your own digital recorders, notebooks and pens, and lots of questions. And don't forget your instruments!


Current workshop descriptions appear below, by instructor's name. We invite your questions and comments. These descriptions may yet be modified based on your feedback.

Dwayne Côté


Well-versed in a wide range of traditional fiddling styles: Scottish, jazz, classical, swing, bluegrass and Irish; Dwayne has brought his deep knowledge to music workshops all over the world. He focuses on teaching tunes by ear. By learning to memorize tunes on-the-fly without music notation, students learn the traditional aural style of sharing and learning fiddle tunes. This skill points many students on a new trajectory preparing them to participate in folk music camps, jam sessions and fiddle workshops, where playing by ear is expected. Ear training also provides a new level of confidence and performance proficiency, particularly with those who struggle with reading music. Dwayne also puts an emphasis on bowing, helping musicians capture the spirit of the music, and knowledge which helped him along the way. Dwayne encourages all interested  students to bring a digital recorder with them, so as to have good material to practice with at home.


Dwayne will offer three fiddle workshops, guided by his play-by-ear philosophy, with individual attention to the specific needs of each student.


Beginner Celtic Fiddle:

For players with 10 or more tunes under their belt


Intermediate Plus Celtic Fiddle:

For players with a few dozen tunes or more in their repertoire who learn by ear easily and want instruction on advanced techniques


Jazz and Swing Fiddle:

For fiddle players with basic competency in any genre, an introduction to the world of jazz and swing, including techniques. Also a good observer's workshop for players of other instruments interested in jazz and swing

Darren McMullen


Mandolin for Beginners

A great workshop for guitarists or fiddlers who want to add a new instrument to their arsenal. Darren’s focus will be on how to approach the instrument physically: holding the mandolin and pick, and how to get comfortable with the neck. Darren will demonstrate and teach you easy chord and scale patterns, as well as a tune or two written on the staff and as TABs.


Intro to Tenor Banjo

This instrument has become extremely popular in the celtic genre, and Darren is definitely the maestro of these four strings. He'll show you 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.


Mando and Tenor Banjo Intermediate

We'll look at some interesting tunes to understand key and time signature changes, and explore harmony lines in tunes. Both these instruments are tuned the same so students can work on either or both in this workshop.


Allie Bennet


Guitar Chording for Celtic Tunes (beginner and advanced workshops)

Allie will be demonstrating various chord progressions for accompanying Celtic fiddle and bagpipe tunes, concentrating on ways to enhance the skill of the player. Rather than playing the regular three chord patterns that some people identify with, the participant will learn variations on these patterns to further develop accompanying skills. Also, Allie will demonstrate strumming techniques for marches, strathspeys and reels, as well as the elusive "jig strum", which many guitar players either ignore or have difficulty with.


The Right Way to Play Bass

There is "bassically" one correct way to play bass, and many, many wrong ways. With over 120 album projects to his credit as a studio musician, Allie will concentrate on fingering positions and proper left hand technique, as well as teaching where to have your right hand positioned (opposite if you are left-handed). Tone comes totally from the right hand and the strategic ways to vary the tone will be demonstrated.  Chord progressions for accompanying Celtic music will also be taught.

Roger Stone


Banjo Primer

Roger will introduce the two most important banjo styles: 1) ‘Earl Scruggs’: you’ll learn foundation rolls, chords, and a tune that uses these techniques; and, 2) Clawhammer. Roger will demonstrate the essential right and left hand techniques required to play this mountain style banjo.


Bodhrán (prounced Bow-Ron)

This Irish drum – originating from the last millennia– has been seen more and more often with the rising popularity of Celtic bands. Students will get a short history, and learn basic playing techniques for jigs, reels and different time signatures. And you’ll learn how to care for these special instruments as well.


Singing 101

An introduction for new (and maybe a re-introduction for old) singers to the absolute basics, essential for anybody who wants to enjoy their voice. Learn about proper breathing, note recognition, harmony and counting time.

John Campbelljohn


Introduction to Slide Guitar

John will introduce guitars for playing slide - "normal”"acoustic guitars, spider & biscuit resonator guitars, and electric guitars. Learn the differences between open tuning and standard tuning. And explore what you can do with bare fingers vs. picks: the Duane Allman tone vs. the Bonnie Raitt tone. You’ll hear and try out basic tunings - E/D major, A/G major, dobro/blues G, bluegrass G, C6th.


Bluesier Bag of Tricks

This class will get you excited right off the top with a taste of "Keith Richards tuning", and you’ll learn about the magic suspended-dominant-4 chord for blues. Hear the difference between roundneck slide style verses lap slide style and learn the methods and means to play both. John will demonstrate where and how to play minor chords, major chords & “no 3rd” chords on open-tuned guitar. Find out what’s behind the slide roundneck voicing (minor chords, dominant 7th chords, major 6th, and more). If you are moved by the blues, this class will motivate and focus you.


Pedal to the metal & A day in the life of a Celtic bluesman

John will demonstrate the crying pedal steel on the E9th neck, & swing blues on the C6th neck. Then we get to some stories. He’ll share his experiences making a living as a self-employed independent artist, with a focus on his unique genre as blues player raised in Celtic country. John will share ‘business’ related advice about making a living this way, and his particular experience connecting with the Europe markets. And of course, there will be time for questions and answers.

Barbara White


Composition Lab

How do you put your individual stamp on a new tune while staying connected to tradition? What makes some tunes merely tasty and others completely addictive? In this hands-on workshop, we’ll try our hand at shaping tunes that demand attention. We’ll also experiment with a few “classical” tools to see how they might appeal to musicians who play mostly by ear.



A Quick Start at Reading Music

If you would like to fortify your playing by learning to read music, this nuts-and-bolts workshop will get you started. Barbara will show you how the musical staff is used to describe melodies, one note at a time, and you’ll leave with a basic understanding of how to read pitches, rhythms and key signatures. This workshop is designed for musicians who play by ear and who want to use notation as a memory aid, to gain access to more tunes, or to write down tunes to share with others.

Paul Davis


Tinwhistle Workshop 1 – For absolute beginners

This is an excellent workshop for anyone who wants to start, or has just started playing tinwhistle. Paul will introduce and explain the whistle and its traditions, explain fingering charts and demonstrate scales, and show you how to read basic sheet music. You’ll learn how to continue learning with simple exercises to practice; and you’ll receive a package of resources for song and tune collections, and tips and on-line links for free software such as ABC Navigator and Best Practice – a slow down program which allows you to learn tunes at your own comfortable speed. You must bring your own D whistle to this session.


Tinwhistle Workshop 2 – Jigs and Reels

Participants for this workshop should be familiar with and able to play the D Scale in two octaves. Paul will introduce some simple jigs and reels, and will deconstruct example tunes into play-and-repeat sections for quick learning. You’ll learn about cuts, taps, slurs and basic rolls. As in Workshop 1, participants will be provided with a package of resources for whistle music collections, and free-on line software to help you with ongoing learning at home. You must bring your own D whistle to this session.

Roddie's Square Dance Society


Square Dancing Session

Veteran dancers from Roddie’s Square Dance Society, and a caller, will show new dancers how to form the traditional local sets and keep them square. Roles for lead and side couples and the steps (Grand Chain, Chasay, Turns and Promenades) will be demonstrated, and all participants will have ample time to practice and enjoy this energetic session. Live music with local players Meagan Burke (fiddle), Kevin LeVesconte (piano) and Al Martin (guitar); called by Reg Landry. Even if you don't get up to dance, this is a joy to watch and listen to.

Johannes Sturm


Luthier workshop

Master luthier Johannes Sturm will discuss the construction, maintenance and repair of violins and other stringed instruments, and will introduce the components of the fiddle and bow; and the tools and methods of the luthier. Participants are invited to bring their instruments for evaluations and minor adjustments. For those who are too busy with other workshops to attend this one – Johannes will be on site Saturday and Sunday for individual consultations, minor instrument repairs and adjustments.

Band Lab (all instructors)


This class will appeal to those of you who want to know what its like to play in a band. Based on resumés requested at registration, you’ll be assigned to a new band, select a name, a leader, and learn a tune or song or two to perform at our Sunday luncheon showcase. Each band will be critiqued and assisted by a roving team of workshop leaders during your formation and practice sessions.