What do you all think about new class offerings?

I’d like feedback on some new Academy classes that we may offer this year. In the past, songwriting and vocal mentoring spaces have been offered on a sign up basis throughout the week. But you’d have to miss part of an instrument class to take part in the mentoring. What do folks think about a separate songwriting/vocal class that would be offered to 10 students for the entire week? Also, same with dance; clogging, hambone, traditional styles. Eileen Carson from Footworks has offered to teach a four day course that would be available as a separate class. Seems like the time has come to branch out a little more and I like the idea of adding movement to the week.

Also, any mando building students who have completed a kit in the last 14 years should know that this year, for the first time, we will have two guitar kits available to build along with the family of mandolin kits.

The webpage will have all the details soon, but in the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on these academy considerations.

Thanks in advance, happy picking,


Hello Steve - Along with great hopes that our family will win in the lotto, we fully support the idea of dance and would request also a traditional celtic step dance component too. Having the class for the whole week would be great but missing out on an instrument class is acceptable as well. I do like the idea of movement being added and especially with instruction form Footworks!!! The vocals intensive sounds great as I was gone singing last night in part due to encouragement from John Cowan last year and budding luthiers will embrace the guitar building I am sure!

Thanks for creatively growing the program and taking into account the component of movement which needs music to bring it to life :wave.

Linda Baker

I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I know of two people that were not planning on going to the academy that said they will sign-up if this is an option. I would also hope that more signing classes are offered as electives too.


I know you offered clawhammer banjo a couple of years ago, and you didn’t get enough students to fill the class. But the one’s who attended really enjoyed it, and I’ve been in touch with a couple of them who said they would love to see it offered again. Maybe once every other year, or every couple of years?

I play novice mandolin, and I would probably favor the songwriting/vocal course this year.


I think it’s a great idea to have songwriting/vocal and a dance class for the entire week. I’ve already signed up for the songwriting/vocal class. Sure hope I get in this year.

Phx, AZ

Hi Steve,

To be honest, I like the idea of adding vocal as a separate main ‘instrument’ but I am kind of baffled that you’ve combined it with songwriting. To me, they are really different. As someone who wants to focus on bluegrass vocal technique, I’m reluctant to sign up for that class as my ‘major’ because I’ll have to sit through a bunch of songwriting stuff that I have no interest in. I also know a number of folks who love to write songs, but aren’t particularly interested in polishing their vocal technique.

As a suggestion, maybe at a future academy you could try out having ‘bluegrass vocals’ as a major, and offering songwriting as an elective that’s open to everyone.

Best wishes, Jessica

I’ve never considered the academy because I don’t play an instrument and am not a song writer, but I might reconsider attending if there’s a “bluegrass vocal” class. I do love to sing if I know the words. :flower

Hey Steve and everybody, :wave

I think the new classes are fantastic and a nice representation of the broader cultural background of bluegrass. The dance class is especially fitting. Traditional dance has been a big part of traditional music. If you saw Bill Monroe perform, you know he liked to kick up his heels and show some of his clogging and high-stepping footwork in the middle of a show, or pick a partner from the audience to get up on stage and dance with him. Eileen is the perfect choice as an instructor. Her credentials go on and on. I have seen her teach before and she is a master. The bluegrass roots will go a little bit deeper this year at Planet Bluegrass. Thanks!

I am still bummed that I did not get into the singing class because of demand. Perhaps this class should be expanded…I’m the lead singer, and besides guitar…(which I also didn’t get in because of demand…)


as an FYI, I’ve coached vocals for about 20 years and learned a lot of new tools and techniques from shadowing John last year. That, and the positive impact he had on so many students last year lead me to enthusiastically encourage you to keep doing it. As for songwriting as a formal part of the academy, I’m all for it…how do I sign up? Actually, I just sent Laura an email, so I may already have done just that.

Eric Stone

Love the new additions…I wasn’t able to get into the music workshops (boo), but as a stepdancer w/ McGinley Academy of Irish Dance…I am thrilled to see Miss Eileen teach a workshop and I would love to get into that workshop! It still says TBD on the RG website…so is it full or not? Can one still get in? Please let me know…I will still be a volunteer at the festival again this year.

Looking forward to it!


Great news! There was a cancellation in the dance class…and I took the slot! I will be there camping out for the week…is there anyone from Nederland camping out and taking workshops?
I also am confirmed a volunteer at the Libation Station :slight_smile: Go NB!!!

Looking forward to that lovely week!

Wonderful! I think that is awesome…would love to see your mandolin when it’s finished :slight_smile:
You kinda look familiar…do you go to Nederland very much (or First Street Pub & Grill?)?

I know Doc Joe…do send him a ‘get well soon’ message, please :slight_smile:
I have been learning the tunes someone sent me on a list here on RGA talk…and I’ve also learned some others that interest me! Can’t wait, but hope there are some other novice players because I am not up to-as we say w/ Celtic playing-“session speed” on my fiddle. On my whistle, yes! Fiddle…not so much- Darn. But patience is what I do have! Anyone else out there w/ some awesome BG tunes you would like to share?

As far as fiddle tunes go
Here are a few you would likely find
in a local jam ( from roughly most likley to hear,
to least likely) ( of course it would depend on which jam
you went to as well) :wink:

Angeline the baker
old Joe Clark
soldiers joy
red haired boy
Whiskey for Breakfast
blackberry blossom
salt creek
cluck old hen
cotton eyed Joe
big Mon
big sandy river
bill cheatum
billy in the low ground
Cherokee shuffle
clinch mountain back step
cripple creek
Dixie hoedown
fishers hornpipe
forked deer
gold rush
swallow tail jig
over the waterfall
St Anne’s Reel
Lonesome fiddle blues
southern comfort
Beaumont rag
Raw Hide

I tried whistle for a while, cause you can’t help but love the sound,
but it ended up being to much for me.

If it’s not already, place your instrument out of the case,
somewhere easily accessible, like next to your bed, or
next to the TV, There are little 5 -10 minute windows,
that appear, where it’s really enjoyable to keep working
on a tune while you wait for someone to call you back,
or for your favorite show to come on. It’s surprising how
all those minutes add up.

My wife has suggested to me that there is a limit however,
on how many instruments, one should place around the house.
According to her over 4 is too many, and an Upright Bass does
not belong in the bedroom.

IMO you can never have too many instruments. but my limit is 6. and my wife says I"m not allowed to play my banjo in the house…or take my fiddle off the wall :frowning:
As far as having the bass in the bedroom???won’t even try that :wink:

Bring your mandolin by, and you can pick with us as well as say hi. For me, part of
the joy of Bluegrass is watching all levels of ability come together and create something
wonderful. :slight_smile:

just look for the fish and bubbles.