Aubrey Atwater & Elwood Donnelly

Atwater-Donnelly

 

 

 

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Workshop Master List

Following is a complete list of workshops offered by Aubrey Atwater and/or Elwood Donnelly. Aubrey and Elwood are also very open to the workshop ideas that festival presenters may have.

To schedule a performance or educational program,
please contact Atwater~Donnelly at (401) 392-1909,
e-mail Aubrey at
aubreyfolk@aol.com
or use the
Contact Us form on this web site.

Here's a short video produced by the Providence Journal in October 2009 called:
"A lesson in making the tin whistle sound Irish, with Aubrey Atwater"
CLICK HERE


Atwater-Donnelly AUBREY ATWATER WORKSHOPS

MOUNTAIN DULCIMER WORKSHOPS
(Beginner classes can be co-taught with Elwood Donnelly)

  • Songs of Jean Ritchie and the Ritchie Family: This is a good repertoire workshop where Aubrey will teach a variety of songs she has learned over the years through her contact with Jean Ritchie and other Ritchie family members. Workshop focuses on the traditional style of playing with the noter and playing in different tunings. For the advanced player, other subjects can be incorportated in addition to noter technique and modes and tunings, including using the dulcimer as a harmony voice, arrangment, and crooked rhythm.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Chording and Singing Ballads: Participants will learn basic chords for the DAD Mixolydian tuning and how to sing and play at the same time! Aubrey will choose from some of her favorite traditional ballads.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Using the Noter: Participants will learn how to play the mountain dulcimer using the noting stick: one of the most ancient and haunting, yet quite simple, methods of playing. Aubrey will teach how to hold the noter most effectively, as well as a few tricks for ornamentation including sliding, hammering down, and pulling off.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Using the Noter with Different Tunings: Similar to the workshop described above except that students will learn to play the noting stick with several different tunings.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Using the Dulcimer as a Harmony Voice: Aubrey will share what she has learned over the years from Jean Ritchie: creating a second voice with the dulcimer while singing.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Playing the Mountain Dulcimer by Ear: Learn to work out melodies, harmonies, and simple chords to familiar songs by ear. This approach is truly a traditional way to play the instrument in the oral, folk tradition. Not using instructional tablature or books helps to train the ear as the player takes on a different relationship to the music.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Flatpicking Fiddle Tunes on the Mountain Dulcimer: Aubrey will provide arrangements for several traditional dance tunes and give important tips on alternating the direction of the flatpick, fingering, timing, tempo, and feel.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Fingerpicking for the First Time: Aubrey will provide a framework for fingerpicking simple tunes on the mountain dulcimer. Participants will learn several basic patterns for vocal accompaniment as well as a method for fingerpicking a melody as an instrumental.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Flowing Fingerstyles - The Next Phase: Students will learn and explore fingerpicking on the mountain dulcimer in greater depth. Aubrey will provide a framework for fingerpicking: participants will learn several patterns for vocal accompaniment as well as a method for fingerpicking a melody as an instrumental.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Creating Instrumentals: Learn how to draw out a song's melody while strumming or fingerpicking integral chords. This workshop takes a "by ear" approach but also addresses how to tab or make note of the arrangement being created.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Tunings and Modes on the Mountain Dulcimer: What makes the dulcimer sound so lonesome and beautiful? One answer is tunings and modes. Participants will learn the difference between a mode and a tuning and about the different modes and where they come from. We will tune to three commonly used modes: Ionian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Tunings and Modes on the Mountain Dulcimer, Part II: A more advanced version of the workshop described above. Students will tune to up to five different tunings as time allows.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • From Nice to Gorgeous: How do we articulate techniques behind beautiful, emotionally compelling playing? Join Aubrey in a discussion and application of these ideas, using several tradtional songs such as "Pretty Saro."
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Demystifying the "Slap Strum" and other Fascinating Rhythms: Participants will learn Aubrey's percussive slap strum as well as other rhythmic patterns including more ways to mute strings, "train-like riffs," and the "air" strum.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Embellishment and Ornamentation: Felix the Cat wasn't the only one with a bag of tricks! Join Aubrey to expand your tricks and learn about triplets, rolls, slides, hammers, pulls, mutes, bends, harmonics, and more.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • One Song: There is a world of ideas and technique in each song we play. In this comprehensive yet leisurely workshop, students will study and play one song in depth, learning it in layers and even playing it different ways. Aubrey will bring selections for the class to choose.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Slow Jam: Group Sing-Along and Play-Along on the Mountain Dulcimer: Playing music in a group can be a scary experience for the beginner but not in this workshop! Learn how to "jam" along with a group to simple folk songs. The workshop will discuss typical, simple two- and three-chord progressions on the dulcimer, playing along with the melody, making sure you are in the right key or tuning, and playing "lead" dulcimer in an instrumental break.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Coping in a Jam Session: Learn to play in different keys on the mountain dulcimer (tuned to D-A-DD) without retuning or capoing. Simple I, IV, and V chord progressions in four or five keys will be covered. Different chord positions, as well as retuning and capoing will be covered as time allows. Bring a capo and diatonic questions that have been stumping you all these years.
    (Intermediate)
     
  • Improvising on the Mountain Dulcimer: Related to playing by ear, learn to play along with the group in an informal, loosely structured manner. The workshop will discuss how to improvise with chords, lead and bass note playing and will articulate some of the tricks and structure behind what appears to be pure artistic "happening."
    (All Levels)
     
  • Children's Songs on the Mountain Dulcimer: Drawing from her repertoire of children's songs, Aubrey will teach music appropriate for preschool to elementary ages.
    (Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced)
     
  • Winter Holiday Songs on the Mountain Dulcimer: Aubrey will teach a variety of seasonal songs drawing from her repertoire of Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa music with several possible tunings and modes depending on workshop level.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Arranging Songs on the Mountain Dulcimer
    (All Levels)
     
  • Using the Capo on the Mountain Dulcimer
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Playing with Four Equi-Distant Strings: Aubrey plays a number of songs with four equi-distant strings although she considers herself to be a "three-string" player. Explore the idea of separating the two melody strings, adding another drone and creating new chord flavors.
    (Intermediate/Advanced)
     
  • Potpourri: Aubrey will bring handouts to the workshops she has developed for festivals over the years and ask the group members what they would like to focus on! Choices will include Chording & Singing Ballads, Tunings & Modes, Fingerpicking, Flatpicking Fiddle Tunes, Playing by Ear, Improvisation, Group Sing- and Play-Along, Using the Capo, Playing with Four Equi-Distant Strings, and Using the Noting Stick.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced -- can be in two parts, as well)

BALLAD SINGING WORKSHOPS
(Can be co-taught with Elwood Donnelly)

  • Appalachian and Celtic Ballads: Aubrey will present ballads collected in Ireland and Appalachia. She will discuss her sources and personal impressions of these beautiful song-stories that often deal with murder or the challenges of true love. If time permits, participants will be asked to share ballads they know.
    (All Levels)
     
  • Making a Song Your Own: Song forms evolve and change through time and every singer is a part of that process. Aubrey will sing her versions of ancient ballads and discuss earlier versions. If time permits, participants will be asked to share ballads they know.
    (All Levels)
     
  • Every Song has a Story - Collecting Folk Songs Today: Aubrey will discuss how and where she and her husband have collected the songs of their repertoire over the years, discussing their trips to Ireland, Prince Edward Island, Appalachia, New England, and the Midwest and singing songs from the regions.

SINGING WORKSHOPS/SESSIONS
(Can be co-taught with Elwood Donnelly)

  • Techniques in Singing: A self-taught singer, Aubrey will present techniques of breathing, pitch control, rhythm, lead singing, harmony singing, and performance that she has learned in her life through experimentation, listening to other singers, and feedback through recording.
    (All Levels)
     
  • Group Singing: Aubrey will sing a variety of songs with the group that lend well to group singing, call response, and harmony. Participants are encouraged to bring songs to contribute.
    (All Levels)
     
  • Harmony Singing: An opportunity to develop harmony singing in an informal but informative way. Aubrey will present her own by-ear techniques used to work out harmony parts. She will provide lots of simple folk songs to get started and get more complex as the group wishes. Participants can also bring their own songs and musical questions.
    (All Levels)

OLD-TIME BANJO WORKSHOPS

  • Songs on the Appalachian Clawhammer Banjo: Aubrey will teach the basics of playing the Appalachian Clawhammer style, using banjo-accompanied songs learned from her friends and mentors in Eastern Kentucky.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Dance Tunes: Aubrey will teach several popular Southern and New England dance tunes.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)

IRISH TIN WHISTLE WORKSHOPS

  • Dance Tunes: Aubrey will teach a few simple Irish dance tunes and give tips on ornamentation and expression that she learned from her Irish tin whistle mentor, Phil Edmonds.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Slow Airs and Song Accompaniment: Aubrey will teach participants some of her own style of playing the whistle with the hauntingly long notes and expressive vibrato that she plays in slow airs and accompaniment to lonesome ballads.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Here's a short video produced by the Providence Journal in October, 2009 called:
    "A lesson in making the tin whistle sound Irish, with Aubrey Atwater"
    CLICK HERE

DANCE
(Aubrey Atwater and/or Elwood Donnelly)

  • Clogging: This is a nice physical break from the sitting and information-absorbing in a festival! Clogging is a percussive form of dance that precedes tap dancing, with rhythmic tapping of the feet, traditionally danced to old-time fiddle tunes. Aubrey will teach simple clogging (also known as flatfooting, jigdancing, or buckdancing) steps learned from the masters in Kentucky and North Carolina.
    (All Levels, All Ages)
     
  • Contra Dancing: Elwood teaches the steps necessary to dance circle mixers, reels, squares and contras. The dances are usually performed with old-time music and/or bluegrass and the students learn such dances as the Virginia Reel, the Tennessee Mixer, La Bastringue and the Hazard Hoe-down. All dances taught, singles welcome and no partner necessary; ages 8 to adult.
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
     
  • Playing and Dancing: This is an integrated workshop where Aubrey, or Aubrey and Elwood, will teach basic clogging steps and a couple of short dances and games and the people NOT dancing will play the music! This is incredibly fun and reminds us of the function of the tunes we often play in jam sessions. Lots of laughing with the dancing and games! ALL LEVELS for dancing. INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED for music players.
     
  • Tap Dancing: Elwood will teach several steps necessary to learn tap dancing routines, including the Time Step, Heel Step, Toe Punch, Swap Wings, Falling Down the Stairs, and much more. More challenging steps may be offered as class develops.
    (Beginner/Ages 11 and up)

MULTI-INSTRUMENT WORKSHOPS
(Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly)

  • Creating a Folk Band: Aubrey and Elwood give guidance in how to start up a musical group. Topics such as collaboration, arranging music, performing, rehearsing, and more will be covered as time allows.
     
  • Arranging Songs and Tunes in a Group
     
  • Music Theory By Ear: Join this multi-instrument jam session and discussion about music and playing with others from an intuitive, "by ear" approach. Aubrey and Elwood will explore and explain their own folk processes and their belief that knowledge of music theory is often most useful in folk music when approached song by song. Topics such as chord progressions, keys, arranging music, modes, and tunings with be covered as time allows. Participants are invited to share their own knowledge as well as bring burning questions. Songs and tunes will be played in a jam session setting to help illustrate major points.
     
  • Jam Sessions: Aubrey and Elwood lead jam sessions for any level, including slow and fast jams.
     
  • Discussion - Playing in Front of Others: Many workshop participants wish to play in front of friends or an audience or both. Aubrey and Elwood will discuss philosophy, tips, and tricks they have developed in twenty years of performing. They will ask participants to share stories and advice.
    (All Levels)


Atwater-Donnelly  ELWOOD DONNELLY WORKSHOPS

GUITAR

  • Basic Back-Up in Standard and Dadgad Tunings
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
    Learn to use your guitar for accompaniment in jam sessions--what chords to play and when to switch them. We will also learn simple songs to get you started. Further, we will explore DADGAD, a haunting alternate guitar tuning with simple chord progressions that enhance songs and tunes. You must be able to change chords in a timely fashion.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 1 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.

HARMONICA

  • Notes, Chords and Tunes on "C" Harmonica
    (Beginner/Intermediate)
    Participants will learn how to play notes, chords, and tunes on the 'C' harmonica. We will also explore two positions on the harmonica: straight and blues styles.
    Harmonicas will be available for $10 or students may bring their own.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 1 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.

MOUNTAIN DULCIMER

  • Using The Noter
    (Beginner)
    Participants will learn how to play the mountain dulcimer in D-A-D using the noting stick: one of the most ancient and haunting, yet quite simple, methods of playing. Students will learn how to hold the noter most effectively, as well as a few tricks for ornamentation including sliding, hammering down, and pulling off.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 1 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.
     
  • Chording, Strumming and Singing
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)
    Participants will learn basic chords for the D-A-D Mixolydian tuning and how to strum accompaning rhythms while singing and playing at the same time! Elwood will choose from some of his favorite traditional ballads.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 1 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.
     
  • Finger-Picking for the First Time
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)
    Elwood will provide a framework for finger-picking simple tunes on the mountain dulcimer in D-A-D. Participants will learn basic patterns for vocal accompaniment as well as methods for finger-picking in common and time signatures.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 1 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.

PERCUSSION AND DANCE

  • Percussion for Fun and Enhancement
    (All levels; appropriate for ages 9 and up)
    Using bones, limberjacks, spoons and feet, Elwood will lead this popular workshop where rhythms rule. Participants will learn to incorporate percussion into their solo or band performances.
    Some instruments supplied, but fell free to bring your own.

    Note to programs director: this class requires either live music or CD player, and unpadded chairs.

    Workshop length: 50 to 90 minutes.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.
     
  • Contradancing
    Elwood teach the steps necessary for success in circle mixers and contras that will get attendees off their chairs and onto the dance floor. It's a fun way to meet other people and make lifelong friends. All dances are taught. Partners are not necessary. Singles welcomed. Students should wear soft-soled shoes.

    Note to programs director: this class requires a minimum of 12 people and either live music or CD player.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 10 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.
     
  • Tap Dance Routine
    (All levels; appropriate for ages 11 and up)
    Learn to dance the Waltz Clog made famous by Pat Rooney who helped create the dance with his silent-screen actor father, a routine done to waltz time that became a fad in the early 1900's. Learn the time step, toe punch, swap wings, falling down the stairs, and much more. Participants must be in good physical health and may wear tap shoes or leather soles.

    Note to programs director: this class requires a hard-wood floor and CD player.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 10 hours.
    Longer workshops available for honing skills.

REPERTOIRE

  • Songs of the Carter Family
    (All voices, instruments, levels)
    Discover the wonders of this early pioneering American country music group. Elwood will teach a variety of Carter Family songs with simple chord progressions that can be adapted to many instruments while exploring their history. Bring your voice and the instrument of your choice. It is helpful to know basic chords.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 10 hours.
    Longer workshops available if desired.
     
  • Folk Sing-A-Long, Play-A-Long
    (All voices, instruments, levels)
    Elwood will lead a sing-a-long using a wide variety of traditional and contemporary folk songs that he has collected while teaching and performing throughout the US. Participants are welcome to bring an instrument of choice. Feel free to bring one of your favorite folk songs, too. It is helpful to know basic chords.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 5 hours.
    Longer workshops available if desired.
     
  • Gospel Sing-A-Long, Play-A-Long
    (All voices, instruments, levels)
    Elwood will teach a variety of gospel songs that he has collected from various sources on his travels throughout the South, with simple chord progressions that can be adapted to many instruments. Participants can also bring songs to share. Bring your voice and the instrument of your choice. It is helpful to know basic chords.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 5 hours.
    Longer workshops available if desired.
     
  • Combination Repertoire Workshop with Gospel, Carter Family and Folk Songs
    (All voices, instruments, levels)
    Elwood will lead a sing-a-long using a wide variety of traditional and contemporary songs, from old-time gospel, Carter Family and collected folk songs. Participants are welcome to bring an instrument of choice. Feel free to bring one of your favorite folk songs, too. It is helpful to know basic chords. All voices, instruments, levels.

    Workshop length: 50 minutes to 5 hours.
    Longer workshops available if desired.

Atwater-Donnelly  ATWATER-DONNELLY WORKSHOPS

THEME CONCERTS AND WORKSHOPS

  • General Program: Students of all ages are introduced to traditional folk music and instruments. Participation and questions are a strong part of the program.
     
  • Heritage: American folk music is a fusion of many influences and cultures. Students explore their own heritages as we travel in time and geography to different lands and learn about what makes American folk music.
     
  • Preschool Program: Children ages 3-6 years can see, hear, and try unusual instruments as well as clap, sing, and dance to captivating folk songs for the very young.
     
  • Dance: Here is a delightful opportunity for students to learn the traditions of square and contra dancing. As Elwood calls and teaches dances learned from the masters, Aubrey plays traditional dance tunes on the banjo. Aubrey also teaches sessions of freestyle clogging, also called buckdancing or flatfooting--a traditional style of dancing she learned in Appalachia that combines elements of African, native American, European, and British Isles step-dancing.
     
  • Play-party Songs, Games and Dances: Step back in time and go to a rural American play-party! Aubrey and Elwood present old-fashioned, interactive songs, dances, and musical games that are part of our American heritage.
     
  • Instrument Petting Zoo: A special time to hold , examine, or try the string, wind, and percussion instruments Elwood and Aubrey use in their concerts.
     
  • Instrument Playing: Aubrey and Elwood offer instrument-playing workshops for percussion, guitar, Appalachian mountain dulcimer, harmonica, Irish tin whistle, and old-time banjo.
     
  • Emigration/Immigration: This program focuses on the Irish people and their story of emigration. Immigration songs are sung and explained and the influence of Irish music and culture around the world is illustrated. The story of the Irish people is only one example of the many peoples in history forced to flee and immigrate to other countries. Participants are asked to think about when, how, and if their own ancestors came to the United States.
     
  • Irish Music in America: During the last few centuries, millions of people have left Ireland. Explore Irish music as a basis for American folk music.
     
  • Images of Women in Traditional Folk Music: Learn about "ordinary" women in history as well as in the present. Hear old songs of love, betrayal, and everyday life as well as songs and poems Aubrey has written about contemporary women's issues.
     
  • Winter Holidays: In celebration of winter, light, and American diversity, hear ancient and new carols and songs of Christmas, winter solstice, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
     
  • Oral Tradition: Imagine playing "operator" with a song or story for five hundred years! In this program, oral transmission is discussed and ancient folk songs are played. Participants are asked to think about oral traditions in their own lives: family stories, jokes, jump rope rhymes, songs....
     
  • Ballads - Early Newspapers: Ballads are stories in the form of song used to convey important events and to entertain. For people who did not necessarily read or write, these songs were often an important means of relaying and receiving major news of wrongdoing, crime, love, war, celebration, or disaster.
     
  • Songs of the Sea: Explore how music was used historically to aid the work of sailors as well as tell vivid stories of life on and off shore.
     
  • Rural Songs: Explore nature and the relationship between human beings and the earth. How were people connected to the earth in the past? How do we relate to nature now? Hear songs of rural and farm life past and present.

 


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