2019 Wintergrass Intensives

Serious musical study for serious students

The Intensive Program at Wintergrass is a unique opportunity for the developing musician to gain musical insight from some of the industry’s most noted performers and experts in a half day or all day in-depth learning session.

The Wintergrass Intensive Program is geared for musicians who consider their skill level intermediate to advanced, unless it is noted that the session is specifically for beginners. It is assumed that most participants will be adults, though a youthful individual with the right mindset might also find benefit and enjoyment in the program.

Morning half-day sessions start at 9:30 and end at 12:30, afternoon half-day sessions start at 1:00 and end at 4:00, and all day sessions start at 9:00 and end at 4:00. All days sessions have a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Lunch is not provided.

To register online please click go to the Wintergrass ticket site.

2019 Wintergrass Intensives Classes & Instructors

Classic Western Guitar Intensive
John Fullerton of Sons Of The Pioneers, with Suze Spencer
Afternoon - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

John Fullerton is a native of Branson, Missouri. He is the seventh generation in his family to work in the horse and cattle business. As a child he was deeply influenced by listening to his grandparents’ gospel quartet who performed together for over 60 years. It was his grandmother who first took him to see Sons Of The Pioneers perform when he was seven years of age. Right then and there, John decided to make this music his life career. He began by learning all the vocal and instrumental parts to every record he could find and he has never stopped learning. Self taught, John has been playing guitar since age 11, and focused on Classic Western style for the past 16 years. He is equally accomplished on mandolin and bass. John has performed professionally since 1994, plays rhythm guitar and sings baritone with the Sons Of The Pioneers.

This rhythm guitar class will address the principals that make up the driving force behind complex harmony singing in the Classic Western style of the Sons Of The Pioneers.
  • Development of right-hand rhythm technique
    • The plectrum device
    • Tone production, Pulse, Timing, Pacing
    • Essential rhythm patterns
    • Stylistic matching
  • Development of left-hand technique
    • Movable closed chord voicing
    • Navigating the fingerboard
    • Damping
    • Sliding in/out of chords using leading tones
  • Skill-building techniques and exercises
    • Tone Production concepts
    • Scales (major, relative minor)
    • Corresponding harmonized scales in three and four note chords
    • Blending stacked instrumentation
  • Articulating it all together to create a steady, smooth, driving force is the goal.
Handouts will be provided in chord frame form with essential left hand fingering patterns to facilitate the chord voicing. Rhythm patterns will be demonstrated with historical recordings and up close demonstration. Chord progression charts will be provided for several selections of Classic Western music. Some singing may be used as part of the learning process, but not a prerequisite for the class.

Participants should arrive at this class with an open mind, prepared to focus on right hand technique, explore movable chord forms up and down the fingerboard of their guitar and to thoroughly enjoy becoming mesmerized by the beauty of this historic music. They should have working knowledge of major scales as well as harmonized scales and be comfortable using a rather thick flatpick. (Flatpicks will be available)

Upon completion of this class, participants may expect to come away with new and improved rhythm skills, an expanded chord vocabulary with a great appreciation of the role of a strong rhythm guitar player in a vocal group. They will gain an understanding of the historical significance of Classic Western music and the instrumentalists that have maintained the style for over 85 years.

This class is intended for individuals who are of intermediate to advanced skill levels.

Suze Spencer was born into one of America’s most renowned Western Music families - The International Cowboys and the legendary Sons Of The Pioneers. Raised in the fold of working ranch hands, musicians, artists and entrepreneurs, Suze’s grandparents and extended family were her vibrant mentors. Suze began learning guitar at age three from her grandfather and Karl Farr who was the original guitarist with Sons Of The Pioneers. She has continued to learn from many members of the group throughout her lifetime. In late 2005 she released her highly acclaimed album “Tall Boots, Rare Gems of America’s Western Music Pioneers. In 2006 she along with ‘Ranger‘ Doug Green of Riders In The Sky, published a guitar instructional book through Centerstream Publishing; “Rhythm Guitar, The Ranger Doug Way”. She teaches master classes in the Classic Western style and Western Swing style at university level and at music camps all across the USA.
Turning Poems Into Song Intensive
Joe Craven
Morning - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Morning.

Poems, whether rhyming or not, tell a personal story. Everyone has the ability to write such stories, short or long, and that is the grist for the mill of songwriting. This is true whether it’s your first song or your 50th.

There are different ways to approach writing a song; sometimes the music comes first and then the lyrics. In this class, Joe will guide you with the approach of story first and then the music to serve the written word.If time allows, in the second half, we’ll look at taking a existing poem by a well known poet and transform it into a song with creative input from the group collectively.

The first half of this class will have each participant write a poem in a 20 - 30 min. time span based on an assigned theme. This is a fast and fun moving class with the goal of timed creative movement with spontaneity. Joe will monitor each individual’s progress and will provide assistance (if needed).

We will be surprised and delighted with the outcomes!

The second half will focus on exploring basic rhythmic feels and harmonic mood to match intention within their poem. By sharing some of these poems, Joe will connect:
  • Various “templates” with how poems can be transformed into songs
  • How to incorporate meter into rhythm
  • Transform poetic content into musical feeling of melody, verse, chorus...even bridges
  • Musical styles explored to render the emotional feeling of the content and
  • Voilá(!): One moves from poet to songwriter.
Ideas harvested can then be applied and finalized outside of class by the student. This can move you to the world of songwriting from an accessible and exciting format.

No prior experience required. Please come with pencil or pen and a spiral ring notebook. String instruments are optional. You can do this!

All instruments and vocals - advanced beginner to advanced intermediate.
Songwriting Intensive
Tim Stafford
All Day - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $105
A Full Day session on Thursday.

Tim Stafford is a guitarist/singer/songwriter/ who performs with the band Blue Highway, which he helped found in 1994. A Grammy winner with Alison Krauss & Union Station, he was named IBMA Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and 2017. Tim has had over 250 songs cut. He is also the co-author of the critically-acclaimed book, Still Inside: The Tony Rice Story.

The course will be an immersive songwriting experience, focusing on craft and process as well as some business issues. We'll write a song together using everything we learn about melody, rhythm, harmony, lyric and spirit, so students should be prepared to participate.

Songwriting is one of the most subjective and fluid topics possible - - there are a lot of ways to make a good song and even more ideas about what makes one. We'll examine successful songs by artists such as Hank Williams and ones that students particularly admire. We'll also have lots of fun and hopefully acquire some skills along the way!

Skill levels - - all
Clawhammer Banjo Intensive
Leonard Podalak
Afternoon - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Take Your Claw-Hammer Playing to the next level.

Leonard Podolak, founder of The Duhks, is known as a unique banjo player. His style is based on traditional claw-hammer technique that comes from Old-time mountain music of Appalachia, as well as from the urban folk revival of the 60's. His musical taste however is much more wide ranging as was the music of The Duhks, incorporating influences from Cajun, African, Scottish, and Irish music, as well as Blues, and Funk.

Leonard Is very pleased to be sharing some of his unorthodox banjo wisdom with the folks of Wintergrass this Festival.

The class is designed for as many folks who want to attend who have already achieved a basic understanding of how Claw-Hammer works, and can play a tune or two, or have kicked around Old Joe Clark in the same way for years, and want to expand on their playing but didn't know how.

This class will cover some fun and exciting ways to take your playing to the next level, expanding your repertoire of ornamentation, including unique pull-offs, hammer-ons, The Famous "Cluck", as well as how to play triplets like a tenor banjo in Irish and Scottish music. The class will give students different ways of keeping the rhythm going when not taking the lead, and the importance of variation when accompanying. This will be done starting with a simple version of a tune, which the class will build upon using the techniques taught. Students should not expect to come out of this class with a bunch of new tunes, but they will come out with a bunch of new tools to make the tunes they know sound a lot more interesting, and the ability to learn and create more easily.

Best for intermediate to advanced players.
Mandolin Intensive
Don Rigsby
Afternoon - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

With over 30 years of experience in the music industry playing at the highest levels, Don Rigsby offers valuable insight into singing and playing for musicians of all levels.

He plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar, sings and writes songs in the traditional Bluegrass style. He has been a member of the Charlie Sizemore Band, The Bluegrass Cardinals, J.D. Crowe and the New South, the Lonesome River Band, Longview, Rock County, and has led his own band for over two decades.

He currently plays with Band of Ruhks, Flashback, Peter Rowan and leads his own band, the Fly-By Knights. He is a sought-after session musician, record producer, and teacher, teaching at camps in CA, WV, TN, Canada and has 15 private students that he teaches weekly.

Students can expect to cover:
  • Soloing:
    • Prepared or improvised solos
    • Playing and quoting lead melodies
  • Backup skills:
    • Techniques for playing fills
    • The many possibilities of the mandolin as a rhythm instrument (Chop, open chords, alternate chord voicing, transitional moves)
    • Double stops
    • Tremolo
  • Also to be included in the Intensive:
    • The mandolin through the eyes and ears of a singer
This session will absolutely be taught from the perspective of Traditional Bluegrass. It will lean heavily toward the bluegrass musicians of the first generation, with an eye towards the innovations of Bill Monroe and the players who followed him. Not as a means of discrediting and music that has come along since, but rather to celebrate the contributions of the first and second generation’s foundational work.

This class is intended for people who are of intermediate to advanced playing levels.
Ukulele Level 1 Intensive
Cathy Fink
Morning - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
This course will be suited to advanced beginner ukulele players who need to build confidence and fluidity in right and left-hand techniques, as well as guitar players who realize that ukulele players are having a lot of fun and want in! (Remember, the uke is the high 4 strings of a guitar, capped on the 5th fret.)


Morning session will cover:
  • Morning session part 1:
    • Get in tune!
    • High G or low G?
    • Best practices for holding the ukulele and finding the “sweet spot” for tone
    • Chord confidence in 5 keys – Learn, practice and drill the 5 most important chords in the keys of C, D, G, A, F and Bb
  • Morning Session Part 2: Repertoire, strums and fingerpicking
    • Let’s take those chords and have some real fun with repertoire. We’ll use 3, 4 and 5 chord songs adding
    • Right-hand strum options, rhythms and techniques
    • Rhythmic muting
    • Percussive sounds
    • Fingerpicking patterns
Participants will build confidence in playing skills and ear training. They will learn good practice skills to continue improving beyond this course. The ukesters will be ready for strum-alongs and jam sessions and will be encouraged to take their ukes everywhere! They will also learn to play a mandolin style “chop” or “offbeat” in order to accompany old-time and bluegrass sessions.
Ukulele Level 2 Intensive
Cathy Fink
Afternoon - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

The Magic of Chorded Melody for Ukulele

Intermediate-Advanced - This course level assumes the player can change chords in first position in C, D, G, A, F and Bb and is comfortable with basic Barre Chords.

  • Afternoon session part 1:
    • Scales and Inversions
    • Major chord inversions up and down the ukulele fingerboard
    • Dominant 7 chord inversions up and down the ukulele fingerboard
    • Jazz chords and their inversions up and down the ukulele fingerboard
    • Major scales and Dominant 7th scales, identifying the intervals of each scale
  • Afternoon session part 2:
  • Building Chord Melodies- combining the skills learned in afternoon session part 1, we will start with a simple well known song, such as Red River Valley, learning the melody first, then the chord inversions that accommodate the melody. Marcy will teach you her method for building these arrangements.
  • This includes the right hand picking or strumming style that works well for each melody.
Bye Bye Blues - A Roy Smeck showpiece, taught by the master to Marcy. Smeck was a multi-instrumentalist whose ukulele jazz and vaudeville showmanship combined virtuosity and entertainment at the highest level.

Participants can expect to understand the elements of chorded melody in order to create their own arrangements on the ukulele. They will learn a very versatile vocabulary of major and dominant chord voicings designed to highlight the melodies of any of the songs they already play, or would like to learn. They will leave with 2 arrangements of well known songs (and understand how those arrangements were created) and one showpiece tune.
Fiddle Intensive
Nicky Sanders
Afternoon - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.







Bluegrass Guitar Intensive
Avril Smith
Morning - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Morning.









Beginning Bluegrass Fiddle Intensive
Kimber Ludiker
Morning - Thursday, February 21, 2019    Cost: $65
A half day session on Thursday Morning.











To register online please click go to the Wintergrass ticket site.