The workshops are classified according to some characteristic levels that will assist participants in making selections best suited to their playing ability. It is assumed that there will be a range of experience within each of the levels described. Additional questions that can be considered are: experience; music genres; performance experience (open mics included); familiarity with chords and inversions; goals.

For questions about placement and experience, as well as specific details of certain workshops, please contact Vanessa Kaukonen at Phone conversations can also be arranged.

The following Levels descriptions apply mostly to fingerstyle guitar classes. For information pertaining to other stringed instruments, including electric guitar, please infer from the following or ask for a consult at the above address.

Multiple level workshops such as those listed as Level 1/2 or Level 2/3 signifies that a range of skills is invited, as described by the Level 1, 2 and 3 descriptions. The instructor is aware of the potential variety of skills, and the presentations can address these individually. Also, the thrust of the class may encompass material appropriate for and challenging to a more diverse class.

Level 1 – Beginner

Knowledge of first position chords and basic rhythmic strumming; simple fingerpicking is useful.

Level 2 – Intermediate

Knowledge of first position chords and basic right-hand techniques; simple fingerpicking including arpeggios, with alternating thumb and rudimentary Travis picking; basic familiarity with hammering on, pulling off and sliding on strings. The class will expand on these techniques and extend from patterns into melodic lines while emphasizing the liberation of the thumb, thus providing a steady alternating bass line. Material will be brought to considerable sophistication, but with more individualized instruction opportunities and at a pace commensurate with skills.

(Mandolin or Flatpick Guitar) Should be comfortable using the pick, basic chords, should know a few instrumental songs, but do not have to be up to speed.

Level 3 – Advanced

Participants should have facility with thumb independence with alternating thumb pattern accompanied by melodic lines, experience with songs that depart from pattern fingerpicking, acquaintance with chord inversions in several positions up the neck. The workshop will further develop these skills, and use songs as vehicles for teaching licks, riffs, runs and embellishments in various keys. The instructor will break down songs, but assume a level of skill permitting a brisk pace.

(Mandolin or Flatpick Guitar) – Students should be able to play some tunes using appropriate alternating strokes at a moderate tempo, understand movable chords, transpose chords from one key to another, and play some tunes with variations.

Level 4 – Masters

This class presumes considerable familiarity with repertoire, and also facility with fingerstyle playing. It is expected that participants have knowledge of chord inversions and variations up the neck, along with solid right-hand technique. Exercises and songs are aimed at experienced players seeking challenge via in-depth techniques such as interpretations, arranging, developing solos, improvising, and playing together. The focus is on bringing pieces to performance level in terms of groove, tone, texture and creativity.

In order to be considered for a Level 4 class, it is required that there has been previous experience with the same instructor in a level 3 class. In some cases, a student may request a review by submitting a recording (CD or mp3) of at least 3 pieces demonstrative of skill; an interview may be requested also.

Bass Guitar Skill Levels

Level 1 & 2 – Fundamentals

Geared for those at entry level who desire a class that addresses the fundamental nuts and bolts of bass.

Level 3 – Proficient

Participants should have proficiency with basic finger rolls and chords, are adept at the fundamentals, and may have some performing experience.

Level 4 – Proficient/Advanced

See description for Guitar Level 4.