Level Descriptions

Level Descriptions2018-01-19T08:46:45+00:00

The Handmade Music School offers lessons, classes, and workshops for students at different levels. It is important to find the best fit for the teacher and the student. In group settings, such as workshops and classes, the effectiveness of the opportunity is strengthened by placing a balanced group of individuals together. Take some time and familiarize yourself with our system, be honest with yourself and take advantage of some great learning opportunities!


Beginners

All Instruments: This level covers all students beginning their musical journey. There is no expectation to start at the beginner level other than to come to lessons and/or classes with a good attitude. Having an instrument is important so that you can practice at home. The Floyd Country Store has instruments for sale or rent. If you need assistance, please ask your teacher or a friendly Floyd Country Store staff person.


Advanced Beginners

All Instruments: Should know basic open chords, 3-6 chords at least: G, C, D, A, E and maybe F. Maybe also their minor counterparts. Should be able to strum and/or change chords easily and steadily. Should know up to 12 simple songs, playing them by using single notes. Should be able to tune their instrument by ear or with a tuner, know which string is which (first, second, etc) and the names of the strings.

Fiddle: You can play 1 octave scales such as A and D. You know some songs and fiddle tunes at a slow to moderate tempo. You are concentrating primarily on playing in tune, getting good tone and controlling the bow. You may know the basic shuffle bowing (Long short short, LSS)

Old Time Banjo: Have some experience with the right hand Clawhammer technique and understand that it is NOT the same as Fingerpicking. Helpful to know a few chords in G tuning.

Guitar: Should know basic open chords, 3-6 chords at least: G, C, D, A, E and maybe F. Maybe also their minor counterparts. Should be able to strum and change chords easily and steadily. Should know up to 12 simple songs, playing them by using single notes. Quarter notes good for the melodies. Should be able to tune their instrument by ear or with a tuner, know which string is which (first, second, etc) and the names of the strings.


Intermediate

All Instruments: All of the above plus… Should be able to comfortably play chords, some scales and be able to get a good sound from the instrument. Understand the use of a capo. Should be becoming aware of the instrument’s role in a group situation and be asking questions such as: “How do I backup another musician or singer?” or “How do I play solos up the neck? ” or “How can I learn to play faster?”

Fiddle: You can play at least a single octave major scale in common keys A, D, G, C, F. Some of these scales in minor keys. You are comfortable using the full bow. You can play some double stops. You can play slurs and slides. You use drone strings. You are somewhat comfortable using your 4th finger. You have good rhythm and intonation and have played with other folks some. Play at least 10-20 instrumental tunes from memory.

Banjo Players: Should be able to play 3-4 different rolls up to speed. Should know 1st and 2nd position chords and hopefully 3rd position chords. Should be able to interchange rolls and riffs. Should be able to play the off beat (2 and 4 beat) rhythm “Chunk” back up.  You can play several rolls, and they’re smooth and in good rhythm. You can do at least one intro lick and one ending for bluegrass songs. Play at least 10-20 instrumental tunes from memory like Cripple Creek, Salt Creek, Old Joe Clark, etc., Foggy Mt. Breakdown.

Old Time Banjo: Right hand technique in Clawhammer style should be solid. Able to change chords in G tuning and double C (or double D) tuning. Must be able to play several songs and tune in each tuning. Play at least 10-20 instrumental tunes from memory

Bluegrass Guitar: Should be able to keep alternate bass going during a tune, should know first position chords and understand how they translate up the neck. Play at least 7-20 instrumental tunes from memory.


Advanced

All Instruments: Should have a large repertoire. Interested in the finer points of improvising and experiencing music as a language. Should have a basic knowledge of music theory and realize that an ever expanding knowledge of theory will open more doors to them. Should be striving for more precision and mastery of both the right hand and the fingerboard.  Should be able to improvise a little and have some understanding of playing up the neck. Should be performing in bands or solo or just on the edge of being able to do so.

Fiddle: You learn new tunes quickly (by sight reading or by ear). You are comfortable with 3rd position, and may also play in 2nd, 4th and 5th positions. You can back up others in a jam using double stops and chops. You can improvise some leads. You play well with others and are used to jamming at a pretty fast tempo. You play (or can play) double shuffle bowing and Georgia shuffle bowing. You can play a variety of stylistic ornaments like trills, rolls, slides, and drones with 4th finger slide. You are comfortable playing in most keys. You’re an experienced jammer or performer. You can play well at a fast tempo

Bluegrass Banjo: You are an experienced jammer or performer. You play melodic leads comfortably and at a variety of speeds. You can play with dynamic control. Your rhythm is rock-solid. You can improvise on most any tune or song.

Bluegrass Guitar: Should have a large repertoire or at least 20 tunes minimum but more like 50-500. Of that large repertoire, should be able to play the melody and a variation to all. Possibly play same song in different keys. Should have a strong understanding of chord structures and progressions, movable chords. Should be able to play most songs at speed (200-228 bpm). May be able to play out of positions up the neck.

All Instruments: Should be extremely comfortable with their instrument. Should be able to improvise somewhat melodically in most keys without the sole use of pentatonic or blues scales. Be a theme or melody player with continuity. Should have comprehensive ideas on how music fits together. Should play with compassion and feeling for those around them trying to keep up. Should be able to play what you are thinking, not thinking about what you wish you could play.