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Just For the Love of It

Level 3

In this wide-ranging, intermediate-level class, aspiring fingerpickers will learn arrangements to the blues, ballads, folk and country songs that are the backbone of Happy’s uniquely eclectic style. He will include a fingerpicking version of Norman Blake's “Church Street Blues;” Big Bill Broonzy’s “In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down;” the classic cowboy ballad, “Spanish is the Loving Tongue;” Brownie McGhee’s “Careless Love Blues;” Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood,” and Woody Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got no Home,” among others. The class will branch out in any other song directions the students want to pursue. Participants will learn to incorporate bass lines, steady-rhythm thumb, improvisations for soloing, harmony lines and other devices to make a song truly “sing.” Happy’s 2015 CD, "Just For the Love of It,” received a four-star review in Rolling Stone and was #1 on the Folk Charts. Many of the songs he will teach were featured on this recording, and those who sign up will receive a copy of the CD in advance of the class.

  • 05/11/18 - 05/11/18
  • Just For the
    Love of It
  • Apply Now!

Songs of Bob Dylan

Level 2/3

Happy Traum's long association with Bob Dylan makes him the perfect instructor to teach arrangements of Dylan favorites. His perspective on Bob's music dates back to their first meeting in Greenwich Village in 1962. Happy's group, the New World Singers, was the first to perform and record some of Dylan's earliest songs, including the first recorded versions of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” His duet with Bob on Let Me Die in My Footsteps appeared on "Broadsides" (Folkways) in 1963. Later, Bob invited Happy to join him in the studio to play on three songs for his "Greatest Hits, Vol.2" release: Down in the Flood, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere and I Shall Be Released.

In this workshop, Happy teaches intermediate-level guitarists how to make their own fingerstyle arrangements and create interesting accompaniments for a number of Dylan classics. He brings his arrangements to life with movable chord shapes, bass runs, harmony lines and other nuances that will add distinction to every song you play. Each song features a different fingerpicking approach: Traditional three-finger patterns, Travis-style swing, steady-bass blues, Carter Family strumming, and more. The idea is to use these songs to help make you a better all-around fingerstyle player.

Ideas and Arranging Techniques for Intermediate Fingerpickers Passing on the Tradition of Blues and Traditional Song Accompaniment and Soloing

Level 3

This class could be called “making the best with what you’ve got.” Happy shows intermediate players how even a simple a song can be arranged and played in a way that makes it interesting and compelling for the listener. Happy will teach material from his vast repertoire of traditional folk, blues and country songs, with even one or two contemporary ones thrown in. These will incorporate alternate-bass fingerpicking, bass runs, chord substitutions, double-stop harmonies, dropped D tuning, blues improvisation and other essential musical devices. Prerequisites: You should be adept at basic chord changes and be generally comfortable with your instrument. Some fingerpicking experience would also be helpful.

The Blues of Brownie McGhee

Level 2/3

Brownie McGhee’s rhythmic fingerpicking style, rich accompaniments, intricate lead playing and wide-ranging repertoire influenced generations of guitarists around the world. Happy Traum learned to play directly from this master bluesman, and he knows how to make Brownie’s songs and techniques accessible to all aspiring acoustic blues players.

Happy starts with the basics so that even novice blues players will be able to get off to a solid start. Concentrating on the keys of E and A, his detailed lesson covers all the musical components that made Brownie’s playing distinctive. Happy provides numerous playing tips and advice along with first-hand insights into Brownie’s life and music.

You’ll learn to play classic songs from Brownie’s repertoire, including I’m Gonna Tell God How You Treat Me, Move to Kansas City, Betty and Dupree, Me and My Dog, Sporting Life, Living with the Blues, Key to the Highway, Blood Red River, Careless Love and Pawnshop Blues.

Passing on the Tradition

Level 2

This class could be called “making the best with what you’ve got.” Happy shows intermediate players how even a simple a song can be arranged and played in a way that makes it interesting and compelling for the listener. Happy will teach material from his vast repertoire of traditional folk, blues and country songs, with even one or two contemporary ones thrown in. These will incorporate alternate-bass fingerpicking, bass runs, chord substitutions, double-stop harmonies, dropped D tuning, blues improvisation and other essential musical devices. Prerequisites: You should be adept at basic chord changes and be generally comfortable with your instrument. Some fingerpicking experience would also be helpful.

Blues and Country Fingerpicking 101: Conquering the Challenge of the Steady Thumb Level 1/2

This class is open to any players, from near-beginners to experienced guitarists, who want to unravel the mysteries of the steady-bass thumb-and-finger styles used by blues and country pickers as well as by innumerable folk singer/songwriters. The necessary coordination of maintaining a rock-steady rhythmic bass while picking syncopated melody notes stymies many learning players, but Happy has had fifty years of experience and, if anyone can get you picking this way, he can. A wide range of songs and styles will be taught, along with exercises and pointers to improve your playing skills. Class prerequisite: Ability to play and change chords smoothly in the basic positions.

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About Happy Traum

During the past forty years, Happy Traum's interest in traditional and contemporary music has brought him recognition as a performer, writer, editor, folklorist, teacher and recording artist. He has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has appeared on recordings as a featured artist, as a member of various ensembles, and as an accompanist. He has played and recorded with Bob Dylan, Chris Smither, Maria Muldaur, Eric Andersen, Rory Block, Jerry Jeff Walker, Allen Ginsberg, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and innumerable others. Happy is the author of more than a dozen best-selling guitar instruction books, has written numerous magazine columns and articles, and for three years was editor of Sing Out! The Folksong Magazine. Perhaps Happy's most important and lasting musical contribution has been Homespun Tapes, which he and his wife Jane founded in 1967. They have a catalog of approximately 400 different music instruction lessons on audio cassette, CD and video tape, taught by top professional performing musicians. Happy produces all of the lessons, and brings to Homespun his many years of experience as a popular and productive member of the music community. www.happytraum.com

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