Want to know what’s going on right now? Every week I send out an e-mail to all of my students listing my upcoming classes, jams, workshops, etc. If you would like to be added to my e-mail list and receive my weekly updates, or have any questions whatsoever about my teaching, please e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com

CLASSES

Group classes are among my most popular teaching tools, offering students a cost-effective and supportive social environment in which to learn. I currently offer a wide array of classes in bluegrass guitar, mandolin, jamming (open to all bluegrass instruments), and much more. Below are brief descriptions of my most popular courses. If you are interested in any of these classes, or don’t see a class you’re interested in, please e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com

Courses typically consist of 5 to 10 classes, varying in duration from one to three hours. The cost varies depending on the course, but typically includes corresponding handouts and audio files.

Quotes from students in Tony Watt’s previous classes:

  • “While I have studied bluegrass for a while, I have not taken a lesson or workshop yet where the concepts were so clearly laid out.”
  •  “The handouts are great and the mp3’s are a nice asset.”
  •  “Tony’s enthusiasm for the music and for the teaching process is infectious and will inspire any student to become a better picker.”
  •  “I now have a set of materials I can work from that are not too overwhelming.”
  •  “Tony really CARES about the quality of the course.”
  •  “I feel the amount of new material each week was great. It was beneficial to be grouped with appropriate skill levels and work on the tunes.”
  •  “Overall this has been the best group or workshop format class I’ve taken.”

 

GROUP CLASSES BY LEVEL

Classes and jams are ranked by level (from 1 to 5 so far), but not every class and jam fit into this system. After you take a class at a given level, you are ready for the jam and/or class at the next level. For instance, if you took Introduction to Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar (a level 1 class), you are ready for both Beginner/Intermediate Lead Guitar & Mandolin (the level 2 class), and the Weekly Beginner Jam Session (the level 2 jam). Here is a listing of all classes and jams by level:

LEVEL(S)INSTRUMENT(S)CLASS TITLE
Level 1GuitarBluegrass Rhythm Guitar: Basics and Beyond
Level 1GuitarIntroduction to Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar
Level 1MandolinIntroduction to Bluegrass Mandolin: Rhythm & Lead
Level 1BanjoIntroduction to Bluegrass Banjo
Level 2All InstrumentsIntroduction to Bluegrass Jamming
Level 2All Instruments & SingersIntroduction to Bluegrass Harmony Singing
All LevelsAll InstrumentsBeginning Ear Training for Bluegrass Musicians
All LevelsAll InstrumentsBeginning Music Theory for Bluegrass Musicians
Level 3+All InstrumentsBluegrass Band Ensemble Class

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar: Basics and Beyond
The Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar: Basics and Beyond course is intended for those who have played at least a little guitar before, and are able to switch between common open chords (such as G, C and D). In this course we’ll learn bluegrass rhythm guitar: basic and complex, as well as traditional and modern. We’ll cover bluegrass-specific chords, runs between chords, various G runs, and much more. The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play solid bluegrass rhythm and participate in bluegrass jams. Furthermore, we will strive to help students improve their practice and self-directed learning. You don’t need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, or playing with a pick, and you don’t need to be able to read music.
 
Introduction to Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar
The Introduction to Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar course is intended for those who are new to playing lead bluegrass guitar, or who have been frustrated trying to learn to play lead before. In this course we’ll learn how to read tablature (tab), how to play fiddle tunes, and take breaks on vocal tunes (including carter style, crosspicking, and single-string soloing), and get an introduction to improvisation. The primary focus will be on developing fundamental lead guitar skills, as well as helping students improve their practice and self-directed learning. You don’t need to have previous experience playing any style of lead guitar, or know how to read music.
 
Introduction to Bluegrass Mandolin: Rhythm & Lead
The Introduction to Bluegrass Mandolin: Rhythm & Lead course is Intended for those who are new to bluegrass mandolin, or who have been frustrated trying to learn before. In this class we will learn the basics of bluegrass mandolin, both rhythm and lead. We’ll begin with bluegrass chop chords and a discussion of right-hand technique. We will then quickly get into playing lead on the mandolin, as we learn to play both instrumental and vocal tunes common in the tradition. In this course we’ll learn how to read tablature (tab), how to play fiddle tunes, and take breaks on vocal tunes, and get an introduction to improvisation. The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play solid bluegrass mandolin and participate in bluegrass jams. Students do not need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, and you don’t need to be able to read music.
 
Introduction to Bluegrass Banjo
The Introduction to Bluegrass Banjo course is Intended for those who are new to bluegrass banjo, or who have been frustrated trying to learn before. In this class we will learn the basics of bluegrass banjo, with a focus on the fundamentals. Topics covered will include the banjo and accessories, using the capo and tuning, left- and right-hand technique, slurs such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, rolls such as the forward roll, backward roll, and much, much more. The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play solid bluegrass banjo and participate in bluegrass jams. Furthermore, we will strive to help students improve their practice and self-directed learning. You don’t need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, or playing banjo, and you don’t need to be able to read music.
 
Introduction to Bluegrass Jamming
The Introduction to Bluegrass Jamming course is open to all bluegrass instruments: banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, and Dobro (a.k.a. resophonic guitar), and is geared towards beginner and intermediate musicians who are interested in learning how to play with other musicians. We will focus on the basics of bluegrass jamming including collaboration, ear training, keeping time, non-verbal communication, and jam etiquette. The primary goal is to provide the students with the skills and experience needed to participate in bluegrass jams. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don’t need to be able to play solos on your instrument, sing, or read music. Guitar, banjo, and mandolin players should be able to switch between the chords G, C, D and A smoothly (and ideally, E and F as well). This class will focus on the skills necessary to play songs you’ve never heard before, including how to follow a guitar player’s chords.
 
Introduction to Bluegrass Harmony Singing
The Introduction to Bluegrass Harmony Singing course is open to all instruments, all levels – both rhythm and lead players – but it is geared towards those who have trouble finding harmonies on their instrument and/or with their voice. The course is focused on two core skills: learning how to determine harmonies and learning to teach yourself to sing harmonies using your instrument as a guide. Harmony singing is often taught only by ear, and while that’s a great way to learn, it can be challenging for some people. The course will teach you how to match your singing to your playing, making it easier to find the right notes and stick with them. And, you will learn how harmonies are created and how you can create harmonies of your own after the class is over. We will focus on a handful of common bluegrass songs, and there will be homework each week including both singing and determining harmonies. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don’t need to be able to read music or play lead. You will need to bring an instrument with you to class each week, and although it’s not required, please familiarize yourself with the G Major scale in the first position of your instrument.
 
Beginning Ear Training for Bluegrass Musicians
The Beginning Ear Training for Bluegrass Musicians course is open to all instruments and all levels, and is geared towards those who have trouble finding either the melody or chords on their instrument. Have you marveled at those musicians who can just pick up a tune on the fly, and play a melody-based solo seemingly instantaneously? Have you ever wanted to be able to find the melody of a song so you could incorporate it into your solos or sing it cleanly? While some people may be born with a strong ear for melodies, most of us have to work hard to develop the ears to do it. Fortunately, ear training includes a set of skills that you can learn and practice just like learning chords or solos.
 
Beginning Music Theory for Bluegrass Musicians
The Beginning Music Theory for Bluegrass Musicians course is open to all instruments and all levels, and is geared towards those who want a deeper understanding of the music they are learning and playing. Are you sure you know what people are referring to when they say “1, 4 & 5” versus “1, 3 & 5”? Do you know the difference between modes and modal music as they relate to traditional music? Music Theory is a wide-ranging collection of concepts that are common to nearly all styles of music, and help musicians gain a faster and deeper understanding of music. In addition to the number system (1, 4 & 5 versus 1, 3 & 5), this course will focus on the sounds of traditional music (major, minor, modal, and bluesy), the relationships between keys, notes, and chords, the basics of harmony, and advanced concepts in rhythm such as syncopation. This class focuses on the most practical aspects of music theory, particularly as applied to traditional and acoustic music.
 

Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class
The Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class is open to all instruments, all levels – both rhythm and lead players – but it is geared towards those who are comfortable singing and/or taking solos. Therefore, I usually recommend that this class is best suited to those who have been attending my jams for a year or more, or who have commensurate experience playing bluegrass with other folks. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don’t need to be able to read music or play lead. Here’s a bit more detail about the class:

Have you ever wondered why some bands sound so good when compared to some jams? Well, of course, it’s partially due to the rehearsal time some bands spend working on music together, but it’s usually a lot more than that. And what do bands work on when they get together to rehearse that makes them sound so good?

In the Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class, we’ll explore some of the aspects that make bluegrass in a band setting different from bluegrass in a jam setting. We’ll cover a wide variety of ways to arrange a song, from instrumental licks to vocal tricks, and then we’ll be putting that knowledge to good use: culminating in a performance for Bluegrass Tuesdays.

We will be limiting the class to between 8 and 12 people, and we will be trying to get a mixture of as many bluegrass instruments as possible. Starting in our first class we will be splitting up the class into two separate bands that will remain together for the entire course. These two bands will then work each class session to create and learn arrangements to a limited repertoire of songs that they will perform at the completion of the course.

In this class, we will spend time listening to classic bluegrass recordings, studying arrangements of well-known bluegrass songs, and then applying the concepts we learn to our in-class bands. The bands will have time to rehearse together as part of the class time and will perform for each other towards the end of the class.

To help better split up the class, please let me know if you play more than one instrument (and if so what your primary instrument is), and if you sing lead and/or any harmony lines (and which ones). If we are short on bass players, I will be available to quickly train a non-bass player to play acoustic-electric (or full-electric) bass.