Classes, Workshops & Sessions
The heart of the Acadia Trad Festival is world-class instruction students receive from our faculty and workshop instructors. Whether you are registered for the full week, a single day, or you just wish to drop in for an afternoon workshop, we have over 200 educational opportunities that will appeal to almost everyone.
Morning classes focus on student’s chosen major, and are open to registered students only. Classes are progressive throughout the week. All instrument majors (except for those note as specifically for Beginners) are intended for students at the Intermediate, Advanced or Master level (see below for a description of the levels and descriptions of the morning class curricula).
In addition to major classes, afternoon workshops and jam sessions are offered for all levels (including beginner) in all instruments and dance. All workshops and sessions are included in full-time and daily tuition rates. Workshops and sessions are also open to the public for a small fee (in 2018, fees were $30 for a 75-minute workshop or $15 for a 75-minute jam session. 2019 fees will be posted as we approach Festival week).
View Schedule of Classes and Workshops (Matrix view) (PDF, subject to change).
View Schedule of Classes and Workshops (by instructor) (PDF, subject to change).
View Afternoon Workshops Descriptions (PDF).
Major courses of study are offered at four skill levels: Beginner (fiddle and guitar only), Intermediate, Advanced and Master. Students are expected to focus on their major for the morning classes, but are free to explore other instruments during afternoon workshops and jam sessions. Afternoon workshops are offered at all levels.
BEGINNER fiddle classes are geared toward those who have little to no experience with fiddle. Beginner guitar students should have a basic understanding of simple chords (G, D, C, etc). The main criteria is the desire to learn! Want to play another instrument or learn to dance? Many afternoon workshops are offered at the beginner level.
INTERMEDIATE students should be able to play their primary instrument at slow and intermediate sessions. All major courses of study are available to students at the intermediate level.
ADVANCED students are people who are comfortable playing out at dances or in bands. An advanced student can lead a session, play fast, and take solos. All major courses of study are available to students at the advanced level.
MASTER students are typically very active performers and/or music teachers. Classes are rigorous and fast-paced, and available only to selected instruments.
- Guitar (beginner)
- Songs & Accompaniment
*Beginner classes offered too!
NEW! Songs & Accompaniment
Morning Class Descriptions
This class will focus on accordion technique (bellows, LH chord combinations, RH ornamentation, etc), ear training, repertoire, and Rhythm, Rhythm, Rhythm, and more Rhythm! Jeremiah will cover a variety of genres in the class, including dance music from France, Quebec, the Northeast US, and Cajun country.
The French Connection – from the King’s court to the Cajun kitchen: French and North American traditional musics have a long history of connection and overlapping influences: peasant dances popularized by the Court of Louis XIV, leading many centuries later to recognizable forms of dance associated with New England contra; turn of the century Parisien Bals musette incorporating the new sounds of jazz emanating from the United States, which helped usher in the era of so called Gyspy Jazz of 1930s and 40s; the mixture of Celtic and other world music danced to by thousands at Fest-Noz throughout Brittany; the Bal Folk scene in Central and Northern France, vibrant today; the enormous commercial appeal of Quebecois and Cajun music not only in the US but world wide. These are a few examples of the musical connections between the United States and France. This class will focus primarily on repertoire from Northwestern, Central, and Southeastern France, but will also include tunes from Quebec, New England and Louisiana. It will also involve discussion and listening to different groups, old and new, that highlight the connections between the USA and France.
Dance Music from the North: Quebec & New England are home to many great dance tunes, and we’ll learn chording as well as melodies from old sources as well as newly composed tunes.
DANCE (Kieran Jordan): Sean-nós (“old style”) Irish dance is a joyful expression of both movement and sound. Traditionally performed as a solo, improvised form, sean-nós dance features footwork danced close-to-the-floor, a relaxed upper body, and a playful dialogue between the dance and music. In this class, students will enjoy listening and responding to traditional Irish music while gaining confidence as percussive movers. We will start with a focus on timing, technique, and building a body of basic steps to use as tools for improvisation. By the end of the week, dancers will be creating longer step sequences, practicing smooth transitions, and developing their own personal solo style.Please wear comfortable shoes with a smooth hard sole (leather or hard rubber soles preferred), and bring water, a notebook, and a recording device.
CAPE BRETON FIDDLE (Andrea Beaton): We’ll concentrate on the “general rules” of Cape Breton style bowing and applying them to the tunes we learn. We will also work on basic ornamentation and trying to get the rhythm of the tunes.
SCOTTISH FIDDLE (Mari Black): Are you searching for your authentic Scottish voice? Looking for more sparkle in your playing? Wanting to get grooving with a real Scottish fiddle accent? This week, we’ll explore how to create a believable stylistic Scottish feel. We’ll learn traditional tunes: driving reels and jigs, stately marches, mighty strathspeys (the signature Scottish tune type!), and haunting slow airs. We’ll discover how to capture the stylistic essence of each tune type through good choices in bowing, ornamentation, phrasing, and rhythmic groove. You’ll leave with an arsenal of tunes and a real command of how to make them sound truly Scottish.
ACADIAN FIDDLE (Anastasia DesRoches): Acadian tunes from PEI are known to have a great “swing”! In this workshop we’ll discuss and learn the various bowing techniques and podorythmie that players can use to achieve this sound. We’ll cover some of the classic Acadian compositions as well as some newer and more obscure pieces. Jams and kitchen parties are common in PEI, this creates a fun and inspiring learning environment. We’ll do our best to recreate this ambiance!
IRISH FIDDLE (Liz Knowles):
Intermediate: We will use some tunes — some you may know already and some you may not — to help establish and strengthen some of the foundations of good violin/fiddle and Irish fiddle technique: bowings, ornamentation and style. The focus of this class will be about giving you tools to take home in order to access and learn Irish music. We will take a deeper look at the bow and the fiddle as separate entities in order to develop good practice techniques. Liz will introduce you to some of my favorite recordings of fiddle players and you might come away from the week with a better understanding of how to access other players’ style, sound and technique using recordings.
Advanced: Liz will tailor this class to the attendees’ levels and interests. She’ll cover style, interpretation, tunes, and concepts rather than technique so ideally, players should be proficient at learning by ear, be able to play in all keys, bow in any suggested pattern of slurs and articulations, and have a working knowledge of Irish style, ornamentation. Please come with your list of a few of your favorite players to whom you have been listening to and emulating.
Masters: This class will function like the construct of a classical master class. A high level of proficiency both technically and stylistically are a prerequisite to participating attendees of all levels that simply want to observe are welcome. Each student participating in the class will be given individual attention to a particular tune (or technique or particular playing issue) of their choosing and then Liz will give a critique that will include both an assessment of the players’ attributes as well as approaches and techniques to improve the things needing attention. Open discussion about style, technique, interpretation, as well as many other topics will be encouraged.
CAPE BRETON FIDDLE (Troy MacGillivray): During the 1800’s, an influx of Scottish settlers descended upon the shores of northeastern Nova Scotia. They brought with them the Gaelic language, food, music, and dance – a way of life. Today the traditions live strong and the music has become known as the Cape Breton fiddle style. Jigs, reels, marches, and strathspeys are still among the most popular types of tunes played. Together we will learn standards, the old tunes, which provide an excellent base for musicking in social gatherings, alongside new music written by contemporary composers. The learning process will provide the opportunity to gather the “things” that sets the style apart from others.
QUÉBECOIS FIDDLE (Véronique Plasse): It is with great pleasure that Véronique will share with you the most interesting and enriching pieces of from the traditional Québecois repertoire, learned in the sessions of Montréal and Joliette. This is a lively repertoire, and through this class you’ll deepen your understanding of the the particular groove and well-worn airs of Québec fiddle, always with your own expression and personality.
FLUTE (Shannon Heaton): In this class, we will work on ornamentation, phrasing (breathing), and rhythmic style. Please come with a tune to workshop—any jig or reel you really know. And we will learn tunes in class as well.
BEGINNER GUITAR (Dan Faiella): Learn the basics of learning how to play and accompany traditional tunes on guitar! Find out how to play and back up reels and jigs effectively and artistically, reading the tunes’ contours and crafting chord progressions that complement the melody. We’ll explore chord substitutions and a variety of chord voicings, which introduce a new level of variety into our musical interpretations.
Also see the Workshops for afternoon offerings from Jeremiah McLane.
Songs & Accompaniment
WHISTLE (Shannon Heaton): This class will focus on rhythmic feel, tone, and basic ornamentation. We will discuss different ways to build repertoire and skills. For players intimidated by aural learning, we’ll address simple, no-nonsense strategies for picking up tunes.