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Folk Ensemble

Instructor:   Steve & Helen Goodchild

Folk Ensemble

Instructor:   Steve & Helen Goodchild

Course Description:

Level: 2 – 4  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

There is no “I” in band …..  

A good way to become a better player is to play with others. The ensemble class gives you an opportunity to play with other people in a comfortable, supportive setting where folks can listen to and learn from each other.  

Instrumental skills and technique for guitars (6 & 12-string and bass), banjo, mandolin family, fiddle & ukelele will be included, but the emphasis will be on how to play as part of a band:  

  • how to arrange songs, interact and support each other;
  • how and when to solo and to “make space” for soloing;
  • singing while playing as well as harmonizing; and
  • taking an active role in the ensemble, controlling their own input in relation to the other musicians, as well as building repertoire.

Songsheets and chord diagrams will be provided and a variety of instruments will also be available in case folks would like to try something new. Bring your willingness to share your talents vocally and on your acoustic instruments of choice – it would be great to have a variety of instruments in the class so we can create full and interesting arrangements.  

Above all, the goal is to make music together and have fun! 

NOTE:  This class is open to amplified acoustic basses.  You will need to supply your own small portable bass amp. Please see our Amplifier Policy for further information.

Steve Goodchild

Steve is a substantially self-taught (“lots of short-cuts and bad habits!”) multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter who got his first 6-string at the age of eleven and had his first professional gig shortly before turning sixteen in 1974, playing Guitar and Mandolin with the English Folk group “Cuckoo’s Nest”.  

With a day job that has subsidised a bad case of G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome!) he has been fortunate enough to travel extensively and play in diverse settings from Country Folk with “Just Five” – a 1980s “institution” in Mombasa, Kenya; Country Rock and full-on Rock ‘n Roll with “Rocky Roads” in Sarawak, East Malaysia; regular Folk and Acoustic settings in the UK (with “The Volunteers”, “Full House” and Graham Bellinger & “Root Chords”), Netherlands and Denmark; and Americana and Bluegrass with trio “Across the Water” in Houston, Texas.  

Since moving to Calgary in late 2010, Steve has performed solo; with son Christopher in coffee houses and most recently at the Rocky Mountain Folk Club; and with “Horizon Ridge”, featuring fellow FAMI alumni Dianne Quinton and Peter May along with his wife Helen. He also plays in a trio with Calgary singer/songstress Christie Simmons and as an instrument & harmony vocals sideman with Canmore-based recording artist, Cori Brewster – both also sometime fellow FAMI instructors.  

Currently counting 6, 9, 12-string, bass, tenor & baritone guitars, dobro, mandolin, mandola & mandocello, bouzouki, cittern, banjo and Appalachian dulcimer in his musical armoury, this jack-of-all strings (and master of none!) has a repertoire encompassing styles ranging from British and American Folk Tradition; contemporary singer-songwriter; country & bluegrass; folk & gospel acapella and good old rock ‘n roll, as well as his own compositions. He has recorded five CDs with Across the Water; a solo album - “Nooks and Crannies” - featuring all his own compositions, and a recent recording with Horizon Ridge – “Enough is all you need”.  

Steve lives on Calgary’s west side and is the Artistic Director of the Rocky Mountain Folk Club. 

WebsiteHorizon Ridge

Helen Goodchild

Helen is a classically-trained piano & violin player who has the rare capability of being able to “read the little black dots” as well as playing and improvising by ear. She is also an accomplished choral singer and has performed in choirs around the world (UK, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, USA and now Canada!). With many years’ experience teaching music in schools, Helen has formed and instructed bands; produced musicals and arranged for – and assembled junior choirs.  

Despite a solid background in music teaching, choral singing and classical music, since meeting Steve over 30 years ago Helen has also performed in several folk bands, from as far afield as Mombasa, Kenya, to Leiden in The Netherlands, most recently with Calgary’s Horizon Ridge, along with fellow FAMI alumni Dianne Quinton and Peter May. She also plays and sings harmony vocals – along with husband Steve and Calgary singer/songstress Christie Simmons - with Canmore-based recording artist, Cori Brewster.  

In addition to fiddle and keyboards, she also plays acoustic and bass guitar, recorder and is working on The Northumbrian Pipes (!), and can claim to be the only Horizon Ridge band member (so far) to have performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall! 

Playing Experience Levels

These guidelines aim to ensure that all camp participants have an enjoyable experience. They represent what your playing capability should be before you take the class (prerequisites).

Classes are generally designed to pace themselves to match the participants' abilities. Level 1 classes aim to proceed at the pace of the slower students in the class. Level 2 and 3 classes aim to move at the pace of the majority of students in the class. Level 4 classes are designed to push the capabilities of all students and will target the pace of the more capable students  Class descriptions that show a range (Levels 2-3) means the material presented is broadly applicable across that range.

LEVEL 1: You are new or relatively new to your instrument. You may be able to play basic chords or scales slowly. You want to learn the basics of the instrument. You have very little experience playing with others.

LEVEL 2: You are competent with basic chords and/or basic scales. You can keep rhythm and/or play basic melodies and/or sing and play at the same time if the song is familiar. You generally need the chords or melody to be written out in order to play along. You have some experience playing with others.

LEVEL 3: You are reasonably comfortable with most chords, basic major and minor scales, and can play at an appropriate tempo for songs. You are aware of time signatures, song keys, and know that there are chords called 6th, 7th, 11th, etc even if you can’t play them all. You are comfortable maintaining good rhythm and are willing to taking breaks while jamming with others, even if the breaks don't always turn out the way you planned. You may be hoping to take your playing up to the next level of performing with a group or band (beyond jamming) and you want to further improve your technique and speed.

LEVEL 4: You are skilled on your instrument and have a good understanding of musical concepts including scales, arrangements, harmonies and some improvisation. You play lead and back-up with a steady rhythm and can play skillfully with others. You know there is life further up the neck on your instrument and have some capability in that world. You have performing experience, can hold a tune, and can harmonize.