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Roots of the Roots

Instructor:   George Campbell

Roots of the Roots

Instructor:   George Campbell

Course Description:

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

Old time music formed into distinct paths of blues, country, jazz, and gospel music between 1900 and 1930. We will play and sing some of the foundation songs, mostly because they are great songs that are simple to learn. As a bonus, each of these songs carries interesting stories about how roots music grew into its current expressions. These songs also reveal a good deal about the social conditions they grew out of.

We will spend time with songs from the Carter Family, Jimmie Rogers, Leadbelly, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Pink Anderson and others.

You don’t need a whole lot of technique coming in but we will explore how to play simple songs with conviction, so they feel authentic. Learn to use your voice, your instrument(s) and the other players to build a groove with this very cool music.

You need to be able to change chords fluidly in two or three keys, and to sing while you are doing it. All instruments are welcome. The course is about building a feeling in a simple song. There won’t be much fancy technique instruction.

George Campbell

George CampbellGeorge loves how music brings people together. And he loves getting people playing well together in jams, casual settings and performing groups.

George has been a member of two music trios with good grooves (Blue Rambler and JPG) that played lots of old time blues, country and early jazz. He likes performing small concerts, coffee houses and fundraising events where the audience is keen to get engaged and happy to sing.

George grew up in a family that sang old songs and has always been attracted to roots music. He likes the authentic feel of these songs and he is thankful that lots of them have simple structures and so are fairly easy to play and are great to sing. He plays guitar, harmonica and ukulele (in order of skill).

George has been teaching adults to work in collaboration his whole career. His courses have lots of engagement, laughter and productive fun. His music workshops have the same elements without the work stress.

George is a long-time FAMI participant and volunteer.

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.