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.

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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 incorporated in addition to noter technique and modes and tunings, including using the dulcimer as a harmony voice, arrangement, and crooked rhythm.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)
  • Mining the Archives: Explore Ritchie Family and other song archives readily available online and navigate how to learn these delightful songs on the mountain dulcimer.
    (Intermediate and up)
  • Chording and Singing, gasp, at the Same Time!: Participants will learn basic chords in DAD and how to sing and play some verrrrry simple songs! We will also talk about the keys best for YOUR voice.
    (Beginner/Advanced Beginner)
  • Chording and Singing at the Same Time!: Participants will learn basic chords in 1-2 easy tunings and how to sing and play several songs! We will also talk about the keys best for YOUR voice.
    (Advanced Beg/Intermediate)
  • Chording the Melody: Aubrey will present pieces in DAD, such as the Shaker hymn, The Willow Tree, in which we will play chords in various positions to bring out the melody.
    (Intermediate and up)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • “Spotted Pony”: Flatpicking for the First Time: Aubrey will provide an arrangement for the traditional dance tune, “Spotted Pony” and give important tips on alternating the direction of the flatpick, fingering, timing, tempo, and feel. We will also discuss the functionality of this type of tune, traditionally used for dancing, and the far reaches of this framework in American music. BE SURE TO HAVE A FLATPICK ON HAND.
    (Advanced Beginner/Intermediat and up)
  • “Kinlock of Kinlock”: Flatpicking for the First Time: Aubrey will provide an arrangement for the traditional Scottish jig, “Kinlock of Kinlock” and give important tips on alternating the direction of the flatpick, fingering, timing, tempo, and feel. We will also discuss the functionality of this type of tune, traditionally used for dancing, and the far reaches of this framework in American music. BE SURE TO HAVE A FLATPICK ON HAND.
    (Advanced Beginner/Intermediat and up)
  • Fingerpicking for the First Time: Aubrey will present simple fingerpicking patterns in 3/4 and 4/4 time for song accompaniment as well as an introduction to fingerpicking the melody as an instrumental. Bring fingerpicks or just your fingers!
    (Beginner/Advance Beginner)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tunings, Keys, and Modes: Explore an intuitive way of understanding the distinctions among tunings, keys, and modes on the mountain dulcimer. Aubrey will use several songs to illustrate her points, harkening back to Jean Richie and the Ritchie Family’s folk style of playing the dulcimer and address, in a “lay person” way, concepts such as diatonic, chromatic, gapped scales, and solfege.
    (Intermediate and up)
  • A Study in D-G-D: Explore the wonders of this stunning reverse tuning. We will cover four songs: The Conscript's Departure, A Country Life, The Devil and the Farmer's Wife, and As I Roved Out.
    (Intermediate and up)
  • 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 traditional songs such as "Pretty Saro."
  • Going to the Cleaners: This workshop addresses cleaning up your playing. We will have students play songs and pieces they already know and discuss how they might refine and improve technique. Come prepared to present one piece.
  • Funny Songs: This repertoire workshop presents up to six humorous songs, traditional and contemporary, including The Devil and the Farmer's Wife, The Mermaid, and Johnny Be Fair. Be prepared to slap strum and play in a couple of different tunings!
    (Advanced Beginner and up)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • A Study in Song: Spanish Lady: It is easy to spend a full workshop examining and learning this fascinating, beautiful traditional Irish song. Chording, slap strumming and other rhythmic techniques, singing, crooked rhythm and the song’s historical back story will all be covered in this exciting session!
    (Intermediate and up)
  • A Study in Song: The Blackest Crow: It is easy to spend a full workshop examining this beautiful traditional song that has many variants. Deciding key and tuning, chording, fingerpicking patterns for 3- or 4-equally distant strings, singing, fingerpicking melody, using the dulcimer as a harmony voice, identifying melodic structure, drilling difficult parts, and discussing the song’s historical back story will all be covered in this exciting session!
    (Intermediate and up)
  • A Study in Song: Dan Dutton's "The Angel's Part": Join Aubrey in this in-depth examination of the beautiful song, The Angel's Part, written by Daniel Dutton about his mother's childhood longing for the part of the angel in a church play. Skills and concepts covered include playing with four equally-distant strings in the unique tuning C-G-D-C; drones; fingerpicking patterns; fingerpicking the melody; singing and playing; creating instrumentals; arranging and interpreting.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • A Study in Song: “The Conscript’s Departure”: It is easy to spend a full workshop examining this beautiful 19th-century song. Techniques and skills addressed include playing in the stunning reverse tuning, D-G-D, chording, fingering, fingerpicking, singing, crooked rhythm, interpreting and restoring archives, and the song’s historical backstory.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • A Study in Song: Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You": Join Aubrey in this fascinating foray into one of Joni Mitchell's magnificent songs. We will explore her beautiful lyrics, tunings, chord shapes, irregular rhythms and phrasings, and her myriad renditions of just this one song over time. Focus will be on the 1971 version on her seminal album, Blue.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • A Study in Song: Joni Mitchell's "All I Want": Join Aubrey in this fascinating foray into one of Joni Mitchell's magnificent songs. We will explore her beautiful lyrics, tunings, chord shapes, irregular rhythms and phrasings, and her myriad renditions of just this one song over time. Focus will be on the 1971 version on her seminal album, Blue.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • 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.
  • Coping in a Jam Session: What is a jam session and how do we participate? What is the culture or etiquette? Are there different kinds of jams? How do we deal with key changes? Should we develop a repertoire of common tunes and songs to better speak the “language”? Do we play along with the melodies or use back up chords? Tuned to D-A-D, we will address these issues and more! Bring a capo and questions that have been stumping you all these years.
    (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate and up)
  • 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)
  • Unmetered and Crooked: Looking at Rhythm in Traditional Folk Music: Through listening, discussion, and playing, we’ll explore the basics of rhythm as well as its various faces in American folk music--what is common, what is not—including delightful irregularities and the challenges of transcribing folk music. A variety of musical pieces will be presented to illustrate points as well as try out as a group. Aubrey will also play one of her short Ozark Highlands Radio segments, “Unmetered and Crooked.”
    (Intermediate and up)
  • 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
    What an interesting and strange thing to do on a dulcimer! Aubrey will discuss what capoing means on the dulcimer and how it differs from the guitar or banjo. The class will do some experimenting and run through a few songs and tunes using the capo. Bring a capo!
  • Easy-Peasy Four Equally-Distant Strings: Separate your two melody strings--adding another drone--and create new chord flavors. You can do this with songs you already play! Aubrey will discuss getting your feet wet with the four-string configuration and present a few songs normally tabbed out for three strings. lt’s an easy transition!
    (Intermediate and up)
  • Songs of the Sea: Aubrey, an Ocean State native, will present traditional seafaring songs each in its own way beautiful, playful, tragic, or joyous. You will need a capo for one of the songs.
  • Religious Songs: Drawing from a variety of sources in American folk music, Aubrey will present two Shaker Hymns, a minstrel-era song called “Angel Gabriel,” the exquisite “Resignation,” and the well-known “Angel Band.” You’ll need a capo for one of the songs!
  • Protest Songs: In this repertoire workshop, we will learn songs inspired by the Abolitionist, Civil Rights, Peace, and Labor movements.
  • Feisty Women!: In this fun and raucous repertoire workshop, we'll learn traditional story songs about women warriors who wear disguises, outwit the devil, hold out for true love, or otherwise state their needs!
  • Reverse Tunings!: What is a reverse dulcimer tuning and why use one? Come find out! Aubrey will present songs in Reverse Ionian, Aeolian, Mixolydian, and Dorian. You’ll be surprised at how interesting, great-sounding, and easy it is!
  • Celebrating DAA: Aubrey will present a few lively and hauntingly beautiful songs to be played on the mountain dulcimer in what is now thought of as an old-fashioned tuning: DAA. Be sure to have a noter and pick on hand!
  • 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 Equidistant Strings, and Using the Noting Stick.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced -- can be in two parts, as well)

Ballads and Traditional Song Workshops

  • 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, betrayal, the challenges of true love, or the occasional happy ending!  Participants are invited to share ballads they know.
    (All Levels)
  • Traditional Songs: Folk songs leave no stones unturned when it comes to the human condition! Aubrey will present a broad spectrum of traditional Appalachian and Celtic folk songs with themes of work, the sea, humor, love, children's songs, play party songs, ballads, longing, nature, gospel/spiritual, cowboys, and more. Participants are also welcome to share songs they know!
    (Can be co-taught with Elwood Donnelly)

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.
  • Dance Tunes: Aubrey will teach several popular Southern and New England dance tunes.
    (Beginner/Intermediate OR Intermediate/Advanced)
  • The Songs and Banjo Styles of Lily May Ledford: Pioneer clawhammer banjo player, radio star, and leader of the first all female string band, The Coon Creek Girls, Lily May Ledford had a fascinating life story and career. In 1992, Aubrey traveled to eastern Kentucky and befriended Lily May's granddaughter, Cari Norris, who taught Aubrey repertoire and technique from Lily May's legacy over many years. Join Aubrey in this workshop to discuss Lily May's life, variations of banjo technique, and learn a few of her traditional songs.
    (Advanced Beginner and up)
  • A Study in Song: Clarence Ashley's iconic "The Cuckoo": Join Aubrey in an exploration of this magical and beloved old-time song. Skills/concepts covered include basic clawhammer banjo technique and variations including the "Galax Lick"; "Sawmill" Tuning; gapped scales; singing and playing; playing harmony while singing; historical notes.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • A Study in Song: Nora Brown's rendition of "Frankie and Albert": Join Aubrey in an exploration of this iconic American song also known as "Frankie and Johnny." We will examine how young banjo prodigy Nora Brown plays the song two-finger style which has become particularly popular in old-time banjo circles in recent years. Skills/concepts covered will also include tuning; gapped scales; singing and playing; historical notes.
    (Intermediate level & up)
  • A Study in Song: Pete Seeger's "John Henry": Join Aubrey in an exploration of this iconic song and banjo style. We will examine how Pete Seeger played banjo FAST with a combination up- and down-strokes, chords, and hammer ons. Skills/concepts covered will also include tuning; singing and playing; "riffs"; and historical notes.
    (Intermediate level & up)

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.
  • 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.
  • 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"


  • 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)
  • 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.

Multi-Instrument Workshops
(Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly)

  • Playing for the Dance! This multi-instrumental workshop addresses the magic of playing for a contra or square dance, as well as clogging and other step-dancing. Unravel the mathematical mystery of dance or "fiddle" tunes and how they pair seamlessly with dancing. We will work with well-known tunes--their melodies and chords--and try to play up to speed. What fun it is to watch people laughing and dancing to the music YOU are providing!
    (Intermediate and up)
  • 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)
  • Talk About Rhythm!: With foot percussion, hand clapping, and strumming instruments, participants will explore rhythmic patterns commonly and frequently played across string and percussion instruments in folk music.
    (All Levels)

Elwood Donnelly Workshops


  • Contra for Everyone!
    This workshop is designed for anyone who wants to master the steps and figures needed to dance confidently, and includes circle mixers, reels and contras.
    (All Levels)
  • Cracking Chestnuts!! *
    The "chestnuts*" term is sometimes used for a group of older dances, ones that have been part of the contra repertoire for a long time, somewhere between 100 and 200 or so years. In many cases, but not all, there is a tune associated with the dance: Money Musk, for example, gets played for the dance of the same name, as does Rory O’More and Lamplighter's Hornpipe.

    *As for the origin of the term, I direct your attention to a book David Smukler and David Millstone wrote on the subject, called "Cracking Chestnuts," which was published by Country Dance and Song Society.


  • “dadgad” Tuning
    We will explore DADGAD, a haunting alternate guitar tuning with effortless chord progressions that enhance songs and tunes. We will learn songs, as well as simple finger-picking breaks. You must be able to change chords in a timely fashion.
    (All Levels)


  • Notes, Chords and Tunes on Major Key Harmonica
    We will explore three positions on the harmonica: straight (melody), blues styles (cross-harp), and the relative minor, with emphasis on learning tunes in the 1st position. The “C” harmonica will typically be used, except for festivals or camps that include Mountain Dulcimer workshops, in which case we will use the key of “D”.
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)

Mountain Dulcimer

  • Using The Noter
    Participants will learn how to play the mountain dulcimer in D-A-dd 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 while building a song and tune repertoire.
    (All Levels)
  • Chording, Strumming and Singing
    Participants will learn basic chords for the D-A-dd Mixolydian tuning and how to strum accompanying rhythms while singing and playing at the same time! Elwood will choose from some of his favorite traditional ballads.
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)
  • Finger-Picking for the First Time
    Elwood will provide a framework for finger-picking simple tunes on the mountain dulcimer in D-A-dd. Participants will learn basic patterns for vocal accompaniment as well as methods for finger-picking in common and ¾ time signatures.
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)
  • Songs of the Carter Family in D-A-D
    Discover the wonders of this early pioneering American country music group whose songs have bewitched music fans and players for decades. Using songs from Elwood's songbook, Such Singing You Will Hear, participants will use the noting stick, chords and finger-picking styles to build a repertoire of these glorious songs.
    (Beginner/Early Intermediate)
  • Write your own Tablature in D-A-D
    If you ever wanted to uncover the mystery of tabbing your favorite songs, this workshop is designed to teach just that. We will first tab out the melody of a song, then determine the main chords and their positions. Finally, we will turn each note into its own special chord until the song is completely tabbed to our pleasing.
    (All Levels)
  • Coping in a Jam Session
    Learn to play in different keys on the mountain dulcimer (tuned to D-A-dd) by using simple I, IV, V chord progressions, as well as by retuning and applying a capo. The class will do some experimenting while learning songs and tunes.
    ***Bring a capo.
    (Early Intermediate/Intermediate)


  • Percussion for Fun and Enhancement
    Using bones, limberjacks, spoons and feet, Elwood leads this popular workshop where rhythms rule. Participants learn to incorporate percussion into their solo or band performances. Some instruments supplied, but feel free to bring your own.
    (All Levels)


  • Songs of the Carter Family
    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.
    (All voices, instruments, levels)

Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly

Professional Development

  • Incorporating Traditional American Folk Music and Dance into School Curricula
    Join former classroom teachers, Aubrey and Elwood, in a professional development session addressing how to incorporate traditional American folk music and dance into general elementary and middle school curricula. Examples are: dancing the Virginia Reel in P.E.; exploring immigrant history in social studies through song; using a ballad to outline the elements of a story in language arts; looking at counting, rhythm, fractions through music in math class; rural life and farming in science, and much more. We will present ideas, lessons, and resources, try out a few dances and songs with the group, and make time for Q & A. You will learn the Virginia Reel, go out to find the cows in a Kentucky play party song, sing songs about riddles, and listen to a song about letters written from Ireland in the 19th century. This will be a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with our singing, dancing, playful selves in a context that is enriching and educational for all.

Atwater~Donnelly Workshops

Theme Concerts and Workshops

  • General Program: Aubrey and Elwood introduce participants of all ages to traditional folk music and instruments. Interaction and questions are a strong part of the program.
  • Heritage: American folk music, like American people, is a fusion of many influences and cultures. Participants explore heritage as we travel in time and geography to different lands and learn about what makes up American folk music and dance.
  • Dance: Here is a delightful opportunity for participants 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.
  • Instrument Playing, Jam Sessions, Singing, and Dance: Aubrey and Elwood offer a wide variety of workshops for guitar, Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Irish tin whistle, old-time banjo, harmonica, and percussion as well as jam sessions, vocal classes in harmony, ballad, group, and hymn singing, and dance classes for clogging, square and contra dance.
  • Winter Holiday Show: In celebration of winter, light, and American diversity, Aubrey and Elwood sing ancient and new carols and songs of Christmas, winter solstice, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
  • Valentine's Day Show: Drawing from their extensive repertoire of traditional American and Celtic folk songs as well as original songs, Aubrey and Elwood present a lively, humorous, and participatory Valentine's Day concert leaving no stones unturned with regard to the beauty, humor, and peril of romantic love!
  • Celtic Music and Dance In America: During the last few centuries, millions of people have left Ireland, Scotland and other Celtic regions, many settling in North America. Explore the Celtic roots of American folk music and dance and the fascinating fusion with African-American, Native-American, and European influences of beat, melody, and story.
  • Funny Songs! Enjoy a session of humorous, silly songs and jokes. Aubrey and Elwood have designed one silly program for children and one with a little more risqué material for adults. Come sing and laugh!!
  • Songs of the Sea: Explore how music was used historically to aid in the work of sailors as well as to tell vivid stories of life on and off shore.
  • Mountain Songs of the Sea: Wait. What? In this delightful program, Aubrey and Elwood present traditional folk songs commonly found in the Appalachians and Ozarks that make reference to the sea. Come find out why and explore a fascinating expression of human migration.
  • Play Party Songs, Games, and Dances: Step back in time and go to a rural play-party! Aubrey and Elwood will present old-fashioned, interactive songs, dances, and musical games that are a part of our American heritage.
  • Images of Women in Folk Music: Learn about extraordinary "ordinary" women now and in history. Aubrey and Elwood present folk songs of love, adventure, and everyday life that connect to women's and other social issues. A moving and unique program for Women's History Month or any time of the year. 
  • Oral Tradition: Imagine a song or story passed from person to person 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 such as family stories, jokes, jump rope rhymes, songs, etc.
  • 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 emigrate to other countries. Participants are asked to think about if, when, and how their own ancestors came to the United States.
  • 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. The ballads often tell us that, despite technology, people are still very much the same.
  • 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.
  • Instrument "Petting Zoo": Participants can see, hear, and touch folk instruments including the very ones that Aubrey and Elwood use in their concerts. This is an intimate and multi-sensory opportunity to sit with the artists and talk about the instruments and the lives of performers. 
  • French Program: Since part of American history includes French and French Canadian settlement and immigration, here's another spin on American heritage and folk music: simple childhood songs in French as well as some French narration. Aubrey, who studied briefly in Paris during college, will teach students French phrases and songs.
  • The Anthropology of Folk Music and Dance: Music and dance are social behaviors used across the globe for communication, celebration, mourning, and worship. Learn how the universally human need to create music and dance is expressed across cultures and within our own in this traditional American folk music and dance performance.
  • 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.
  • Songs of Jean Ritchie and the Ritchie Family: Of all the primary source singers Aubrey and Elwood have had the privilege to meet, Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) is their greatest influence. From eastern Kentucky, Jean was one of the most important traditional folk singers in American music history. Join Aubrey and Elwood as we explore the life and history of Jean and the "Singing Family of the Cumberlands," delving into some of the 300 Ritchie Family songs.
  • Songs of Pete Seeger: Singing songs the iconic Pete Seeger wrote or made famous, we'll learn about his long life as a courageous activist and folk singer of great integrity. Enjoy his wonderful legacy through song!


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