Song Writing

All Levels

This will be an extremely hands on session. In the course of the week, participants will find themselves writing a number of songs. We will be demystifying the creative process and hopefully opening the door where each student will write songs without being intimidated by the process.I have always felt that music is a great way to dialogue. The really good songs are songs that when you hear it…there’s just something about it that touches your heart, and you don’t know why. I will mentor each of my students on how to keep their heart and ears open always listening for the story that needs to be told.

  • 05/12/17 - 05/15/17
  • Songwriting
  • FULL
  • This workshop is currently full. Please fill out an application to be added to the wait list. No Deposit required.
  • Apply Now!

The Entrance Ramp: BASIC FINGERSTYLE GUITAR with David Wolff and Tom Feldmann

Level 1/2: Beginner/Intermediate

This workshop will provide a solid introduction to fingerpicking guitar, including development of that reliable thumb so essential to mastering this style. This pianistic style of playing often characterizes the music of Master Instructor Jorma Kaukonen, and is typical also of the great country blues artists such as Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt and other seminal musicians that have deeply influenced 20th century guitar styles.

We will emphasize the thumb’s job in holding down the alternating and often syncopated bass line, against a picked melody. We’ll venture out of first position, and work with chord shapes up the neck, as well as with related licks that add color and personality to songs. And it is, after all, about the songs!

This special workshop will have a triple threat of instructors, so that participants will receive individually tailored attention. Along with the Captain, singer/songwriter/guitarist Tom Feldman will provide expert instruction focused on fretboard navigation and songcrafting, and BreakDownWay maven David Wolff will guide students in the careful rendering of some country blues favorites exemplary of this genre.

It will be assumed that students have familiarity with first position “cowboy” chords, and may even have substantial experience as lead or rhythm guitarists, but are relatively new to the fingerstyle approach to picking.

  • 05/05/17 - 05/08/17
  • The Entrance Ramp
  • Apply Now!

Electric Jorma

Level 3

Jorma Kaukonen is one of the most important guitarists of our time with a body of work lasting over four decades. His brilliant fretwork and songwriting, a compelling blend of rock, blues, folk and country influences, has defined the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna with his signature sound. From the mind bending psychedelia of the mid 60′s to his dizzying electric guitar gymnastics, Jorma has remained both of and ahead of his time. This workshop will give you a rare opportunity to learn his electric guitar sound and also study with him in an intimate setting as this class is limited to eight students.

I Belong to the Band

Level 3

Music moves us in ways we understand and in some we don’t fully. We will open the door to the amazing joy and optimism in the deep repertoire of The Rev Gary Davis.

  • 10/20/17 - 10/23/17
  • I Belong to the Band
  • Apply Now!

Songs of QUAH Revisited After Four Decades

Level 3

Quah was my first solo album…a big deal for me at that time. The album was recorded with my friend, Tom Hobson. The initial plan was to have side-A be my work and side-B be Tom's. However, RCA felt that Tom’s recordings, would not be accepted by the public. Today, he would be considered a quirky alt-country singer/songwriter and people would love him. Then, however, the suits at RCA opined that his work was too eccentric. Initially, the record was planned to be released in mid-1973, but because of the issues with RCA and Tom, I returned to the studio to record new tracks for side B in May 1974. I have always thought that this recording was one of my best. I am still so proud of it today. It is with deep thanks to Jack Casady and Mallory Earl for helping to make this project stand the test of time.

I will take my students on the journey that I took so long ago and teach them some of my favorites from this work…like Genesis, I’ll Be Alright Someday, I’ll Let You Know Before I Leave, Flying Clouds, Another Man Done Gone, I Am The Light Of This World & Midnight In Milpitas. I will be breaking down the songs in terms of left and right hand architecture in addition to overlaying vocals on those songs that have them. As always, I will illustrate these songs in such a way that my students will perceive them in the entirety as songs and not just collections of licks.

  • 04/21/17 - 04/24/17
  • Songs of QUAH Revisited
  • Apply Now!

Movin On Down The Road: Fingerstyle Guitar

Level 3

For players with a well honed thumb, and fingerstyle experience, Jorma will employ his effective teaching technique of presenting his songs by breaking them down into comprehensible parts. He will demonstrate the variety of licks, runs and embellishments that provide style and nuance, and also represent a vocabulary of tools that may be used in various keys. This is an excellent repertoire- building workshop, and will encourage skills that can also be applied to original music, improvisation and arranging.

  • 10/13/17 - 10/16/17
  • Movin On Down The Road
  • Apply Now!

Say Amen

Level 3

Why do I love "spirituals" so much? It was some of the first music that set me on fire as a young musician. It washed away the dust from the deepest part of me and It was the medicine I craved. I will be diving deep into the well of spirituals with my class.

The Way I See It

Level 3

As a young musician/performer, I wrote no songs of my own but learned many of them from the Masters I held dear. Each one of these songs was a portal that guided me to the level I was seeking. I will break down the techniques and styles from many of these tunes and you will see what very long legs this music has and how it directly inspires your own journey.

Carnegie Hall: Fingerstyle Guitar

Level 4: Master

This is a master class for the experienced fingerstyle player with a substantial repertoire, and performance experience. The class will focus on certain essential aspects of musicianship, and assume that technical skills, picking hand prowess and knowledge of the fretboard are already securely established. By working on a few exemplary songs, the class will dig deep in exploring how these may be turned into performance pieces with emphasis on dynamics, timing, tasteful improvisation and feeling. It is expected that participants will have taken previous level 3 “proficient player” classes with Jorma, or on occasion, demonstrate clearly equivalent experience based on a screening of submitted material.

  • 11/10/17 - 11/13/17
  • Carnegie Hall: Master Class
  • FULL

Get A Double Dose of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady with a Special Acoustic Duo Workshop!

Level 2/3

A special Fur Peace Ranch class for serious guitar and bass students. Jorma and Jack will combine their teaching efforts and give this rare guitar/bass class. Guitar and Bass classes will be held separately at times, other times the classes will join up for a unique duo workshop that brings together the music the classes have worked on.

If you want to learn the secrets of this dynamic duo's 50+ career....this is your chance.

Open to Guitar and Bass players. An equal number of each will be accepted. Limited to 8 students per class. Don't miss this opportunity!

Jorma on Jorma

Level 2/3

Jorma originals from the erection to the resurrection. We will travel the road from Embryonic Journey to the present. Embryonic Journey was the first song I ever wrote. As my band mates allowed me to write for Jefferson Airplane, I began to visit different musical styles as they called out to me. I will be focusing on the evolution of my composition and performance from then til now.


Level 2/3

Join Jorma on a musical odyssey and adventure of a lifetime. This class...subtitled “The Songbook”... will feature songs that have been a big part of Jorma's canon of music that have comprised his musical journey. We'll start with some of the fundamental blues that were there at the beginning of Jorma's journey.

We'll then travel to the stellar regions with the Jefferson Airplane and some songs that have been a constant in Jorma's musical career. Of course, Hot Tuna has been a big part of the journey and during this workshop several Hot Tuna classics will be analyzed and studied. For good measure we will also take a couple songs from Jorma's distinguished solo career and these will add to the story.

In each of these songs is a story......and also a guitar lesson. So, we will study the material that has been the soundtrack to Jorma's career and enjoy the music while learning techniques that have made these songs so enduring. While the songs are all important... the emphasis and focus will be on the guitar playing style that complemented the music along the way.

For this class Jorma will be joined by David Wolff, his partner in the online music education site, All students signing up for this workshop will receive 2 FREE months subscription to to help enhance this learning experience (subscription will be for 1 month before the workshop and 1 month following the workshop).


About Jorma Kaukonen: Master Guitar Player

In a career that has spanned nearly a half century, Jorma Kaukonen has been the leading practitioner and teacher of fingerstyle guitar, one of the most highly respected interpreters of American roots music, blues, and Americana, and at the forefront of popular rock-and-roll.

Jorma was a founding member of two legendary bands: The Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, The Jorma Kaukonen-Jack Casady duo created much of the Jefferson Airplane’s signature sound, and Jorma’s lead and fingerstyle guitar playing characterizes some of the band’s most memorable tracks.

Over the last three and a half decades Hot Tuna has performed thousands of concerts all over the world and released more than two dozen records. Jorma and Jack continue to tour as Hot Tuna, in recent years with mandolin virtuoso Barry Mitterhoff. The group has played with many of the legends of the music industry. Jorma was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1996, along with the other members of The Jefferson Airplane.

Jorma has also had more than a dozen solo albums, beginning with 1974’s “Quah” and continuing through “Blue Country Heart” in 2002 and “Stars In My Crown” in 2007.

Jorma’s Grammy-nominated “Blue Country Heart.” pays tribute to the rich, deep aspects of American roots music with Jorma performing the works of his favorite blues and country legends, “Stars In My Crown” is more personal. It features an abundance of original songs, such as,“Late Breaking News,” “A Life Well Lived,” “Living In The Moment,” and the deeply moving “Heart Temporary,” It isn’t entirely original compositions, though, with songs of many styles, from Johnny Cash’s chilling “The Man Comes Around” to a reggae song, “By The Rivers Of Babylon,” to the celebratory title cut, “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown.”

At Fur Peace Ranch he’s known as “The Captain,” but for music enthusiasts all over the world Jorma Kaukonen is known as the leader of fingerstyle guitar playing, particularly of American roots music.


  1. “Quah” (1974) with Tom Hobson
  2. “Jorma” (1979)
  3. “Barbecue King” (1980) with Vital Parts
  4. “Too Hot To Handle” (1985)
  5. “Magic” (1985)
  6. “Embryonic Journey” (1994) with Tim Constanten
  7. “Magic Two” (1995)
  8. “Land of Heroes” (1995)
  9. “Christmas With Jorma Kaukonen” (1996)
  10. “Too Many Years” (1998)
  11. “Live” (2001) Jorma Kaukonen Trio
  12. “Blue Country Heart” (2002)
  13. “Stars In My Crown” (2007)
  14. “River of Time” (2009)


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