July 11-15, 2016
Acoustic Guitar Camp

Photos by Stewart Dean
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Acoustic Guitar Camp

Monday, July 11-Friday, July 15, 2016

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Swing, Blues, Gypsy Jazz, Folk and Country—plus practical music theory, mini-concerts, jam sessions and song swaps. World class guitar instruction featuring a variety of levels and styles including flatpicking, fingerpicking and more!


Ashokan Acoustic Guitar Camp offers guitarists of all levels an opportunity for real immersion and growth on the instrument in a friendly environment where people can sing, jam and share valuable musical information.

You’ll come away with new repertoire and techniques, a reinvigorated sense of direction and purpose, and a greater confidence and joy in creating music.

There’ll be classes in blues, country, finger-picking, flat-picking, Bluegrass, blues and jazz/swing melody and accompaniment. Levels from beginner to advanced will allow you to hone your existing skills or try something new.

Each instructor will offer two classes a day. There are four 90 minute class periods each day with four classes each period. You’ll have the opportunity to study with more than one instructor and take as many as four classes a day. While it’s best to stick with a class for all three days, you are free to switch if you find a class doesn’t suit your needs.

Evenings will include hosted jams, mini-concerts and presentations, where instructors will talk about and demonstrate their musical influences, share their iPods and answer questions.

Can’t make it to the camp this year? Don’t miss the Beppe Gambetta’s Ashokan Concert on Sunday, July 10 at 7:30pm Tickets are on sale now!

Instructors for 2016

Our instructors are among the top in their craft. Each has a wealth of performing and teaching experience and is eager to connect with students of all abilities by being open and accessible.

Our staff has also been selected to be musically simpatico. We hope that you are as enticed by the prospect of exciting musical collaborations – planned and impromptu – as we are. We look forward to a week rich in stylistic cross-pollination, discovery and musical fun!

Peter Davis

read more about Peter

All Levels
If you’ve never improvised on the guitar, or if you’ve dabbled – here is a class for you.  Starting with a specific framework of moveable pentatonic, major and minor scales and patterns,  we’ll analyze the qualities of what makes an improvisation memorable to the listener.  We’ll study how every melody was once an improvisation and why it’s important to learn melodies.  We’ll also study how licks and riffs can make you sound cool.   You’ll come out of the class knowing which patterns to use with blues, jazz, folk, country and rock music.  And there’ll be plenty of chances to practice in class.

Starting with Travis picking patterns for accompaniment and continuing with the concept of “keeping-your-thumb-steady-while-playing-melodies-with-your-fingers”  – we’ll study the style of players like Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton.  You’ll  learn how to create your own fingerstyle arrangements.   A good intro to Del Rey’s classes!

Molly Mason

read more about Molly

All Levels
I’ll work one-on-one with students to develop and improve their accompaniment skills—whether you want to back up your singing, accompany a melody player, or be the rhythm guitar player in a band. We’ll delve into bass runs, passing chords, arrangement ideas and even some very valuable, user-friendly music theory.

For players who can already play a few bar chords and would like to delve into the worlds of swing and Western swing. We’ll learn a few new chord shapes, right hand rhythm techniques and basic music theory, and  some classic songs from the 1930s and 40s.

Jefferson Hamer

read more about Jefferson

Low-Intermediate and Up
In this class, we’ll examine two classic songs, one ballad, and one country waltz.   We’ll talk about ways of preparing them for sharing or performance. We’ll learn new techniques and brush up on old ones as we go. We’ll substitute some chords. We’ll write some intros and outros. We’ll build a few bridges out of the existing verses. We’ll take some solos. We might even have some fun.

Intermediate and Up
Learn new ways to accompany songs using a variety of techniques including flatpicking, hybrid picking, alternate tunings, capo placement, and melodic accompaniment. Get beyond the basic chords and strum patterns. Use the guitar to harmonize with your singing voice. Use the song as a template to improve both lead and rhythm guitar playing. Come to think of it, what’s really the difference between lead and rhythm guitar playing? Let’s find out!

Del Rey

read more about Del

Intermediate & Up
Learn the guitar vocabulary you need to figure out most any Memphis Minnie song you might want to learn that she plays in G or C. We’ll listen to a selection of Memphis Minnie originals in class and learn how to figure them out. We’ll also learn ways to make duet guitar parts work on solo guitar (Minnie often worked with a partner).Be able to maintain an alternating bass with your thumb and be comfortable with first position chords. Beginners welcome – lots of interesting material.

Intermediate – Advanced
Want to play like a pianist? Walking, double and boogie-woogie bass lines for fingerstyle guitar, inspired by Albert Ammons, Lloyd Glen and other pianists. Learn the positions where you can find both chords and moving bass. You’ll need good finger flexibility for this one.

Mike Dowling

Grammy Award Winner

read more about Mike

Mike Dowling:   BLUES IN OPEN TUNINGS, WITH AND WITHOUT A SLIDE Intermediate/Advanced
From the Piedmont-style fingerpicking of Mississippi John Hurt to the more uptown sounds of the great Lonnie Johnson, Mike is a master of acoustic blues guitar. Participants in this very hands-on class will learn licks, tricks, and a few new tunes in open D and G as Mike demonstrates syncopations, chords shapes, turnarounds, and the alternating thumb and slide techniques that are the foundation of this uniquely American genre.  Bring a slide if you have one, Mike will have a few extras.  Handouts provided, audio recorders encouraged

From the Delmore Bros infectious boogies through Louis Jordan’s jump style grooves, Mike will use tunes from the blues, swing, and ragtime songbag to show you techniques that will sharpen your ears, tighten your timing and broaden your playing horizons. You’ll learn new syncopations and chord progressions as Mike begins to lay the foundation for improvisation. Suitable for both fingerstylists and plectrum players, but Mike says be warned. You just might pick up some practical music theory along the way.  Lots of playing in class.  Handouts provided, audio recorders encouraged. No video cameras please.

Beppe Gambetta

Composer, teacher, and researcher of traditional music and instruments, a flatpicking master… a “virtual United Nations of musical influences.”

read more about Beppe on his website

All levels
This class will introduce the main characteristic and aesthetic of Flatpicking: the technique developed in the American tradition by exceptional artists like Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Tony Rice and many more.  Guitarists that are not specifically trained in Flatpicking style will find an intriguing potential in the expressions of this traditional technique. The timing, syncopation, tone, groove and music choices that can be learned from old Fiddle Tunes and Carter Family Style melodies are treasures that many artists continue to enjoy today and apply to the music of our modern times.  The journey into the style will touch the main technical aspects: from the picking of the single notes, to strumming, to arpeggios and crosspicking, and all the combinations of them. We will use exercises and tunes and look for the perfect balanced practice, from the traditional material to the more progressive developments, exploring the potential of the style in many directions.

In this class we will learn, examine and train the basic elements of the accompaniment and backup guitar.  A good accompaniment involves Grooves and Rhythm Patterns, Strumming and Arpeggios, Rhythm Licks, Bass Runs, Fill in Licks,  Bass Lines and more. It requires great attention and patience to train yourself to blend all these elements and place them tastefully into the music. You must also work carefully so that your right hand has control of dynamics, muted or percussive parts and more.  We will learn to do this with specific exercises and examples from well-known tunes and songs to practice with.

Denis Chang

Denis Chang

read more about Denis

Technique & Theory – Intermediate to Advanced (but fun to observe for beginners.)
This workshop is for musicians of almost any genre interested in studying improvisation. This is not your typical improvisation lesson where we focus on modes/scales, and arpeggios. Instead, the primary focus is strictly on the basics: interpretation, ear training, and timing. There is a tremendous focus on harmony, and training your ears to hear chords and chord progressions. Through harmony, we will learn how to voice lead in order to create melodic improvisations, rather than just playing patterns. We will train our ability to react to any given situation so that we are in total control of the music. The importance of phrasing and the different kinds of phrasing are thoroughly discussed. Improvisation is more than just playing the right notes, it is also about the timing of these notes, and the placement of phrases. Interpretation also plays a big role in how audiences perceive your improvisation. If you are interested in any of this and much more, then this workshop is for you!

Intermediate and Up  
When one thinks of swing accompaniment, one tends to think about the quarter note pulse Chunk-Chunk-Chunk-Chunk that is pervasive in the prewar jazz made famous by guitarists such as Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Freddie Green, etc. It is also a style of accompaniment widely used in Gypsy Jazz; the French call it “La Pompe” (the pump). However, this style of accompaniment is more than just playing quarter notes; there are many subtle intricacies to this style of accompaniment that can have a tremendous impact on the feel of the music. In this workshop, I’ll talk about all the different ways one can play quarter notes; you’ll see what a difference interpretation can make!

Will Dickerson

read more about Will

All Levels
In this introductory course you will learn simple but versatile chord voicings that can be used to play almost any song in the Django/swing catalogue. We will start with All Of Me, Minor Swing, Coquette and Minor Blues. If there is interest we will explore more advanced chord voicings typical to the Gypsy Jazz idiom.

*** ABOUT CLASS LEVELS: Ashokan classes are both practical and conceptual. Most contain some combination of technique, theory and repertoire. Although classes do have ability guidelines, one can attend any class to glean some chestnuts, even if a bit above or below one’s skill level. Audio recording and note taking are welcomed, so that if an instructor’s pace is beyond someone’s ability level, one can always return to the material. Most classes will include handouts. Video recording is not permitted.


While the 2016 schedule is being developed, you may download the
2015 Guitar Camp Schedule

Tuition & Meals

Tuition includes all classes, dances, workshops, and meals. Work exchange and youth scholarships are available.

$595 Adult
$495 Ages 13-25
$395 Ages 5-12
$395 Parent/Guardian*
Children under 5 are free

*Camp attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We offer a special Parent/Guardian rate which includes meals, dance and concert, but no classes.

Lodging is additional.

You may select regular, vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals. We make every effort to include a range of allergen-free dishes and to inform diners of meal ingredients.

Payment/Cancellation/Refund Policy

You may hold your place with a deposit of $150. Full payment is due no later than six weeks before camp begins.

Partial refunds are available until two weeks before camp begins. To cancel, please log into the account you created when registering on Regonline and select the option to cancel. Cancellation fees apply.

Please refer to our official payment/cancellation/refund policy for important deadlines and dates for this workshop.


Enjoy the full Ashokan experience and choose comfortable onsite lodging as part of the registration process. More information and costs here.

What to Bring

  • If you are staying onsite: Sleeping bag or sheets, blanket, pillowcases, towels, soap, toiletries. There are light quilts in each private room and a small number of light blankets for those bunkhouse residents who are unable to bring one of their own. If you will need us to provide one, please let us know well in advance and we’ll do our best.
  • Flashlight, camera.
  • Clothes and shoes for wet and dry weather.
  • Public consumption of alcohol is discouraged.

Acoustic Guitar Camp “What to Bring” info sheet – See this page for more info about what to bring, the schedule for the first day of camp, directions to Ashokan and additional important information.

Youth Pricing and Scholarship Fund

We’re excited about the growing interest in traditional music and dancing among young people–the future is in their hands. To help young people take part in Ashokan Music & Dance Camps, we offer major discounts for children and young adults and have established a Youth Scholarship Fund. Anyone age 25 or younger can apply by filling out our Youth Scholarship Application.

Work Exchange

A limited number of work exchange positions are available to partially defray the cost of the camp. A list of available positions can be found here.

Indicate your first three choices of positions during online registration and make a deposit of $150 or more to hold your registration.

Contact us by phone (845) 246-2121, or email office@ashokan.org for details.


Please do not call to register or send in payment before registering online.

If you prefer to pay by check, or with a credit card by phone, you may select that option when you register.

You may hold your registration with a deposit of $150 for each attendee until six weeks before camp begins, when full payment is due.

To purchase tickets for the concert only, click here.

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