Essential Bluegrass/Country Shuffle Bowings
The key to sounding authentic in country and bluegrass fiddle music is to master the rhythmic feel. Central to the groove is the “train beat,” sometimes referred to as a “country shuffle”, which you can see broken down in this video. As you can see, this drummer has a constant movement/stream of notes on the snare drum, with an accent on the “backbeat”
Essential Country and Bluegrass Bowings:
Nashville Shuffle (Two slurred, two separate)
Georgia Shuffle (Three slurred, one separate)
Straight Shuffle (All separate, accent on the backbeat)
3, 3, 2 Shuffle (three slurred, three slurred, then two separate)
-(In the video above, the drummer describes this as the "Bo Diddley Beat"
The shuffles can be used as an accompaniment technique, using double stops and chord tones, or as a rhythmizing tool to incorporate in your improvisation to make melody lines more authentic sounding.
Bluegrass Backup Fundamentals for Fiddle
Supercharge your practice by infusing fundamental scales and double stops in an accessible, fun, and engaging way. This interactive workshop will show you how to practice along with recordings while still focusing on fundamental skills. PDF sheet music and tab available upon request.
More than 80% of your fiddle playing in a bluegrass band is improvised BACK-UP to a singer. Here are the skills you'll need... Scales: Major Pentatonic, Major Blues, Minor Blues, Minor Pentatonic and Bowings: Straight Shuffle, Nashville/Simple Shuffle, Georgia Shuffle. Learn how to practice these core skills in a musical setting so that they organically come out in your improvisation.
The Roadmap to Country and Bluegrass Fiddle/Mandolin Mastery
A step-by-step pedagogical guide to mastering country and bluegrass Fiddle/Mandolin
Sequential and easy to follow
Clear and defined instructions
Mastery broken up into three categories: Harmony, Melody, Rhythm
Don't waste time "noodling" - supercharge your practice by working with INTENTION on you musical goals. Listen to a description of the roadmap here
Essential Double Stops for Mandolin and Fiddle
Supercharge your practice by infusing fundamental double stops in an accessible, fun, and engaging way. This interactive workshop will show you how to practice along with recordings while still focusing on fundamental skills. This definitive guide will leave you with all the possible iterations of double stops on your instrument. We will also learn how to practice double stops in a musical setting so that they come out in your backup naturally. There will also be accompanying PDFs that include sheet music and TAB for all the possible double stop combinations in all the bluegrass keys.
Bobby Hicks Licks and Tricks
Learn some killer Bobby Hicks Fiddle breaks and licks and get them transposed to keys where you’ll find them most useful in a jam setting. Included are famous licks such as the waterfall arpeggio
10-time Grammy winner Bobby Hicks is known for two major achievements in his professional life as a bluegrass fiddler: his flawless work on a series of now legendary instrumentals that were recorded in the middle and late 1950s while he was a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and for his near quarter-century tenure with country/bluegrass headliner Ricky Skaggs and the band Kentucky Thunder.
“But I Learned My Break in G! What to do when the Singer Calls a Different Key”
A, C, E, Bb, F, B... A singer can call a tune in any key based on their vocal range. Are you ready to transpose on the spot? This workshop will give you the essential skills and practice required to transpose melodies quickly. You'll also learn some key bluegrass sounds and shapes that are unique to each key. Instead of thinking about learning "Will the Circle be Unbroken" in ALL TWELVE KEYS, we will think instead to learn it in just 4 different finger patterns. Together, these four patterns will give you all the shapes you need to play in any bluegrass key.. Taught on fiddle, with mandolins welcome.
You may have learned the melody to country classics like "Faded Love" - but what do you play for the rest of the song when you are accompanying a singer? We will look together at some of the common country idioms, like "suspensions", "color" notes like the 6th and the 9th, and other ways of playing tastefully behind a singer.
Putting the Blues in Bluegrass
Scales, rhythms, double stops, and bowing techniques to put some grit into your playing.
Learn the art of twin fiddling on some bluegrass standards and fiddle tunes.
Four Step guided process on how transcription is taught at the college level.
Practice licks in real musical scenarios to move them from finger/muscle memory to intuition. Take licks you already know and practice them over I, IV, and V chords, then transpose them to different keys so that you can use them in any musical scenario. -------------- How to Practice Creatively
How I practice playing through chord changes, voicing double stops, incorporating rhythms/bowings, transposition, and microimprovisation.
Demystifying Bluegrass Vocal Harmony
Learn to sing standards in perfect three-part harmony. We will explore important terminology like "Baritone, Tenor, and Lead singing", how to practice and learn harmony parts, and how to develop a natural understanding and approach to harmony singing.
Good three-part vocal harmony can be the most exciting part of bluegrass and folk music. Learn the basic terminology of bluegrass harmony singing (Lead, Tenor, Baritone), how to find your first note, how to "stay in your lane" and not sing what the person next to you is singing, and how to blend.
Always wanted to try this out? Here's your chance, with a knowledgeable and supportive teacher! No requirements on your vocal experience or proficiency, with relaxed L2 pacing for the workshop.
Tips on Vocal Harmony and Learning New Songs
How to Find your Starting Note
Here are just a few Iconic duets that I consider favorites:
Louvin Brothers - One of the greatest duet singing groups of all time, the Louvin Brothers were known for their non-traditional harmony and incredible songwriting.
If you need an introduction, I want to recommend one of my all time favorite albums - a tribute to the Louvin Brothers: Livin', Lovin', Losin', Songs of the Louvin Brothers… Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, Linda Ronstadt, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash- the list goes on and on. Hazel and Alice - Check out this Smithsonian Folkways Animated presentation on Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard - They were influenced by the Stanley and Louvin Brothers. Check out their duets on Childish Love, My Better Years, or The One I Love is Gone Delmore Brothers - One of the earliest recorded brother duets, these two were regulars on the Grand Old Opry. They are most known for their song: “Blues Stay Away From Me” Stanley Brothers - Carter and Ralph Stanley’s influence on bluegrass duet singing is unmatched. Ralph Stanley’s tenor singing had that “high lonesome sound” that defines so much of the core bluegrass sound. Their first album at King Studios is considered to be one of their greatest. Skaggs and Rice - Their album together has several duets that are known and loved by the bluegrass community. It’s beautifully recorded and is a must listen: Skaggs and Rice Jimmy Martin and Ralph Stanley - Jimmy Martin and Ralph Stanley were both members of Bill Monroe’s band for a time- they later got together to record a duet album: First Time Together Other
Duets to check out: Everly Brothers, The Blue Sky Boys, Osborne Brothers Check out this great detailed article on the history of early Country Duets
Bluegrass/Country/Old Time/Swing Jam Hosting
Some simple description would be:
"Learn the ins and outs of jamming with founder of CTBA and Wernick Method Bluegrass jam teacher Austin Scelzo. Suitable for the beginner, requirements are knowing a G, D, C, and A chord."
Pete Wernick Jam Instruction
Pete Wernick’s inventive and time-tested method harnesses students’ natural wish to play music in a small group setting. With basic skills and good guidance, students start making music and having fun — almost immediately. Your Wernick Method teacher will show you the ropes of a bluegrass jam session, fitting in at your own ability level.
Pete Wernick now has the perfect solution for novice bluegrass players who want to start jamming, or for any picker wanting to build experience and confidence. He has gathered several top musicians to create a "virtual jam session" that players of any level can get in on. Here's an opportunity to participate in this wonderful activity, and get ready for the "real thing" -- so grab your instrument, open your download library, and pick along!
Austin has led the Kids' Academy at Grey Fox and Jenny Brook bluegrass festivals, and plays old-time fiddle and guitar as well. He'll have a few good jam tunes in mind, and kids and teens can suggest most of the others. Bluegrass tunes (and songs) generally feature individual instrument breaks (for those who want them), while old-time tunes (and songs) are played all together.
Hearing Chord Changes Learning Songs Faster with the Number System
Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Lesson: How is it different from Country, Rock, and Folk? Basics of strumming pattern, chords, and the "Do's and Don'ts" of playing. G, D, C, Chord voicing included.
Fun with Rhythm Guitar: Finding Bass Lines, The "Flourish" and the "Push" and more for Bluegrass & Folk Guitar
How to add variety to the boom-chuck rhythm pattern in a way that is exciting and tasteful. Bass Lines - Strategies for not just finding the notes, but also the TIMING/Counting of common Bass line runs in your Rhythm Guitar Playing The "Flourish" - Use this technique to back up singing or instrumentals in a way that is more engaging and dynamic. Taught on guitar, but bass players welcome.
Developing a Positive, Lifelong, Participatory Relationship with Music
Give students a broader exposure to music and ways of thinking that will help them feel equally comfortable playing in a community band/orchestra/choir as they would sitting around a campfire or with singer songwriters or an acoustic band or plugging in, like using a microphone in a jazz or rock setting.
Learn to communicate with musicians outside of the western classical music world. Develop a wide variety of musical skills, including arranging, improvising, analytical listening, and applying practical music theory.
(Bring an instrument)
Strategies for Increasing Student Engagement and Parent Involvement using simple Free Tech.
Ten practical, easy to apply strategies/tips for increasing student engagement and parent involvement (No Apps, software, or fancy extensions)
Use these strategies to motivate students, hear from parents more frequently, and increase the likelihood that students will follow through with what you ask them to do (practice, study, listen, read, etc.)
Bluegrass Music Deep Dive
Bluegrass music developed in the 1940s as a distinct genre of american folk music. It draws influences from blues, celtic, jazz, country, and pop styles. The bluegrass band consists of 4-7 players who sing and accompany themselves on the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass (and sometimes dobro). Learn more about the music, sing some vocal harmony, and learn the basics of bluegrass jamming in this bluegrass music deep dive. Instruments available to try - bring an instrument if you can. See more here:
Creative Project Ideas for the Music Classroom
Here are seven creative music project ideas for the music classroom