The Northern Lights Music Camp provides a friendly, non-competitive environment for musicians of all ages and skill levels. Perhaps you are just getting started in music? Or you are a skilled player looking to hone your skills? We have a class for you.

Skill Level Descriptions –

Please sign up for the class that best describes your current skill level.  If you are uncomfortable on your first day of class, you’ll have the option to discuss changing classes. 


You are relatively new to your instrument. You have been taking a few lessons or learning through how-to videos and are looking for a solid base to be established. You want to know about correct posture, how to best hold the pick or bow, how to improve chord formation, tips on tuning and intonation, and you want to begin playing songs. You need to be introduced to good study/practice habits, how to read music or tablature, and developing excellent technique.

You are progressing on your instrument. You are ready to start to play with other musicians and you can already play a few tunes from memory. You can play along with a CD if it is at medium speed. You are feeling that you need a booster to get you moving toward the next level. You have a solid grasp of all the basic techniques for your instrument and may be able to read tablature or music.

You are looking for fine tuning tips on how to improve your playing. You can jam with others, improvise fairly well on new tunes and are (or want to) play in an organized band. Your tab/music reading skills are great. You know some scales and how to use them in improvisation situations. Your speed is improving as you use your metronome. You have an arsenal of tunes you can play from memory. You play your instrument or practice almost every day.



Beginner Guitar  with J.C. Radford

JC is from Roanoke, VA originally, but now lives in Kingsport, TN.  JC plays bass and does in exceptionally well, and is also a very good singer/songwriter.  JC says he likes to listen to the old Reno & Smiley band and admires John Palmer as the ultimate bass player. JC wrote the song “Turned Off Cold” which is a crowd favorite.  J.C. comes to Northern Lights as the bass player for Five Mile Mountain Road but is looking forward to teaching our beginner guitar group some fun skills and some great bluegrass standards.


This class is for those who are just starting to play guitar. You will expand your chord knowledge, work on good rhythm and learn to play some easy songs to really get you going.

Prerequisites – Students should be familiar with the notes of the open strings on the guitar, how to tune, how to form the basic chords G, C and D and be ready to play with a pick.

Intermediate Rhythm Guitar  with Brennen Ernst

Originally hailing from Lucketts, Virginia, Brennen Ernst is a guitarist well experienced in bluegrass, old-time, country, and folk styles, though many also know him for his efforts in jazz and swing music as well. Brennen’s strong rhythm guitar, crisp flatpicking, and rollicking stride piano can be heard as one of the key sounds of Five Mile Mountain Road, an old time string band from Southwestern Virginia led by Fiddlin’ Billy Hurt.

Brennen can also be heard on guitar with Philadelphia-based bluegrass group the Keystone Mountain Boys, and Hawaiian and Western Swing group Slowey and the Boats, as well as with various early jazz groups in the region on both guitar and piano. Previously, Brennen played banjo and guitar as a member of the band Karl Shiflett and the Big Country Show. After many years in his native state, Brennen now resides with his wife Breanna in Philadelphia, PA, where he offers private lessons teaching banjo, jazz guitar, and piano, in addition to a steady performance schedule in the area.

Class Description

This class will cover the essentials of rhythm guitar for accompanying bluegrass and old-time music. We will focus on a wide range of pick-based guitar playing techniques with a focus on tone, taste, and timing as well as how to jam. Some techniques covered will be; bluegrass & old-time chords, different rhythm styles and when to use them, the importance of good timing, how and when to use a capo, pick technique, the G-run + other bass runs, and introduce lead playing.

Prerequisites – You have experience playing songs with chords in common keys.  You can change chords with ease, keep time with songs, and you are looking to take your guitar playing to the next level.

Advanced Flatpicking with Alex Leach 

Alex Leach – Hailing from the mountains of East Tennessee, Alex Leach is the sound of a new generation. His “New Traditional” style brings the respect, honor, and feel from music of the “good ol’ days” and mixes it with an updated twist. He has been a Bluegrass DJ since the age of nine, and has been pickin’ guitar, banjo, and mandolin for over 15 years.

Class Description

This class will focus on several rhythm styles as well as flatpicking and crosspicking for advanced pickers. Each day we will focus on a different topic with regard to advanced guitar playing.  For example, one day students will practice their strong rhythm for Bluegrass, another day will be spent working on fiddle tunes for the guitar, and another will pertain solely to flatpicking and crosspicking techniques.

Prerequisite:  This class is for guitar players at an advanced level. Students should have moderate experience playing lead lines/flatpicking tunes, and should be comfortable playing complex chord structures.


Bluegrass Banjo with Brandon Masur

Brandon Masur – At just 22 years of age, Brandon Masur has shown great talent and promise in the Bluegrass world. Growing up in New York state, he studied Dr. Ralph Stanley’s music while also admiring the music of Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, and legends of today such as Ron Stewart. Whether it’s hard-drivin’ banjo pickin’, clawhammer, or tasteful backup, you’re sure to enjoy what Brandon brings to the stage.

Class Description

This course will focus on the three finger Bluegrass style of picking. We will examine the different roll patterns used by Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, and other pioneers of Bluegrass banjo playing. Some other things we will cover include chord progressions and playing melodies of Bluegrass standards and which rolls to use. For our intermediate students, we will cover solo work and how to jam with others.

Prerequisite: Students should have a knowledge of basic rolls and timing. Finger picks and capos are required.

Old Time/Clawhammer Banjo with Seth Boyd

Seth Boyd is a native of Franklin County VA with musical roots that go back generations.  He is a member of a large and well known musical family.  A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Seth is the muse for Five Mile Mountain Road, playing clawhammer and three finger style banjo, bass  and guitar. Seth has a vast knowledge of Old Time music and many other genres, and he brings an energetic and tasteful approach to everything he plays.

Sessions will be focused on creativity and encouraging/helping people find their own voice through clawhammer banjo and old time music.  Learn some new tunes to add in your repertoire and hear some new ideas of how to approach practicing, jamming, and performing.

Pre-requisite:  This is an all skill levels class, however students playing at a beginner level should come with some clawhammer or frailing experience.  Students should understand the difference between “clawhammer” and “three-finger” style and be familiar with some old time banjo tunes.


Beginner Mandolin with Danny Knicely

Danny Knicely comes from a musical family steeped in a mountain music tradition for generations. He first learned music from his grandfather, who played dances and social events in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia beginning in the 1930’s. Danny has shared his music and collaborated with musicians in over a dozen countries spanning four continents, including U.S. State Department tours in Tunisia, Morocco, Russia and Cabo Verde. He has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle and flat-foot dance expertise in local and national contests and has taught at some of the leading music camps in the U.S. including Augusta Heritage Center, Common Ground on the Hill, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Millwood Blues Week. Danny has performed with many of the greatest artists in Bluegrass music including Vassar Clements, Mac Wiseman, Charlie Waller, Tony Rice and Tim O’Brien.

Class Description

This class is targeted to beginning mandolin players who can play a little bit, but don’t know many songs and don’t feel comfortable playing in a jam.  You can tune your instrument and know the chords to a few songs.  You know the melody to at least one instrumental and want to learn about improvising on the mandolin.  We will look at left and right hand technique, scales and chords, and the basics of the Nashville Number System.  There will be lots of playing in a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere.  In this course you will get comfortable jamming with others and become a better player!

Intermediate/Advanced Mandolin with Josh Gooding

Josh Gooding – Originally from California, Josh Gooding comes from a Bluegrass music family. With influences such as Frank Wakefield, Bill Monroe, and many others, Josh combines several styles along with his own. He has already gained many fans who have heard his mandolin playing.

Class Description

This course will focus on incorporating improvisation in the student’s playing. We will work on a straight melody and build variations off of it. We will also explore cross tuning, double stops, playing up the neck, and crosspicking. We will also study work from Frank Wakefield, Jesse McReynolds, and Bill Monroe.

Prerequisite: The students should have a solid knowledge of chord progressions, playing melodies, and be comfortable in a jam-atmosphere.

Beginner Fiddle with Emilyn Stam

Emilyn Stam is an Ontario-based fiddler, pianist and accordionist who creates, performs, records and teaches in folk, trad, and neo-trad styles from Europe and Canada.

Emilyn has taught at various fiddle camps (Castlegar, BC Fiddle Camp, Goderich Celtic College, AlgomaTrad) across Canada, teaching both her unique piano accompaniment style and fiddle classes in ensemble playing, fiddle composition, Canadian fiddling, and Oliver Schroer tunes.

Emilyn has performed festivals (Montreal Jazz, Vancouver Folk Festival, etc), house concerts (Home Routes), venues large and small throughout Canada, Western and Eastern Europe in various musical projects. She has released 8 albums and appears on at least 30 other recordings.  She has 4 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominations,  2 Juno Award Nominations (Lemon Bucket Orkestra) and has performed in both seasons of the TV show Galala (UNIS TV), as a member of the house band , co-arranger and co-composer.   She comes to Northern Lights as half of the duo, Smith & Stam, with musical partner, Nathan Smith (The Barrel Boys).

Class Description

Emilyn will show beginning and aspiring old-time fiddle players some of the core techniques and tricks of the style. Through fun, simple tunes and harmony fiddle grooves, Emilyn will help players master the basics of playing in tune, playing in time and bringing the music to life!

Pre requisite:  Students should have some experience with the fiddle and be working on a few simple tunes. Music will be taught by ear.

Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle with Billy Hurt Jr

Born and raised in Boone’ s Mill Virginia where he still makes his home, Billy Hurt Jr. began playing fiddle in the late 1970’s .  His father was good friends with fiddle legend “Clark Kessinger” who was a major influence on Billy’s style and approach to fiddling. Absorbing what he heard from his fiddling hero, Billy grew up with a love and appreciation for Old-time fiddling, Classic Country and Bluegrass music.  The type of music we all refer to as “Real Country Music”.

Billy has worked with many top groups in the business including The Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, The Po Ramblin Boys, The Bluegrass Brothers and David Parmley & Continental Divide.  He recently recorded a Fiddle CD released on Patuxent Music called “Fiddlin’ Billy Hurt”. The project has received widespread airplay and rave reviews. Billy joins us with his latest band, Five Mile Mountain Road.

When he’s not fiddling, he also works as stage hand for large music concerts at the Roanoke Convention Center. His hobbies include building hot rods, working in his blacksmith shop, raising a garden and hunting & fishing.

Class Description

We will pick a few tunes within the bluegrass and old time style and focus on being able to play different accompaniment figures underneath the melody.  We will be exploring the methods and particularly bowing techniques you can use to improve your playing ability that can be applied to a variety of musical styles.  Overall, expect to come away playing as many tunes as we can pack into the week!

Prerequisites: Students interested in taking the Intermediate Fiddle class should possess some prior knowledge and a moderate degree of skill in old-time or bluegrass fiddle music and know some of the most common tunes within the styles.

Upright Bass with JT Coleman

JT Coleman – East Tennessee native, JT Coleman, is a music student at the University of Tennessee. He is a connoisseur of many music genres and has enjoyed working with The Alex Leach Band and diving “bass first” into the world of Bluegrass music.

Class Description

This course will focus on standard bluegrass timing along with the basics of the Doghouse Bass. We will run over techniques such as walks and runs and implement them into some driving Bluegrass songs.

Prerequisite: Students should understand basic timing. Previous experience on the bass is encouraged.

Sing Out Strong with Miranda Leach

Miranda Leach – From Upstate New York, Miranda Leach grew up in the classical music world, singing with her award winning school choir for twelve years. It wasn’t until she met her husband, Alex Leach, that she found her true passion in roots and freestyle singing. She now makes her home in East Tennessee.

Class Description

This course will focus on building confidence and technique in your voice. We will start each class by warming up our voices, using exercises the students can use long after the camp is over. We will be doing breathing exercises to learn how to sing from the chest so we don’t strain our vocal chords. We will also be studying examples of different kinds of Bluegrass and folk singing and learn how/when to transition from your chest voice to falsetto (head voice).

Prerequisite: This is a class for anyone who enjoys singing and is comfortable singing solo or with others.

Jam Band with Nathan Smith

Nathan is a Toronto-based fiddle player and singer-songwriter, originally hailing from North Bay, ON. His upbeat and soulful original songs and fiddle tunes combine his bluegrass and old-time experience with his upbringing playing celtic and traditional Canadian fiddle music. He performs in a number of ensembles in the Toronto area, including innovative bluegrass band The Barrel Boys, western swing outfit The Double Cuts, and his dynamic duo with multi-instrumentalist Emilyn Stam. His debut solo album, “Let It Rest, Let It Rise” was released February 2020.

Nathan has taught workshops in fiddle, vocals, and bluegrass ensemble playing at camps across Canada, where his combination of experience and enthusiasm for musical discovery have made him a favourite among his students.

Class Description:

This class is for people who are comfortable playing their instrument and want to learn more about jamming and performing with others within the context of a safe and supportive band setting. Bluegrass and old-time music will be the vocabulary we will draw from as we arrange songs to play in large and small ensembles throughout the week. We will spend our time together exploring the different roles instruments play in a band, experimenting with dynamics, singing vocal harmonies, and learning techniques for performance. Come prepared to let loose and try new things, to sing and play a lot, and to have fun!

Vocal Harmony with Nadine Landry and Sammy Lind

Nadine Landry was born and raised in a musical family on the Gaspe Peninsula on the east coast of Quebec. She’s spent a significant portion of her musical life playing upright bass in the Yukon with the Canadian bluegrass band Hungry Hill. She has also leant her talents to various bands ranging from old time to honky tonk to swing and Cajun.

Born in Minnesota, Stephen “Sammy” Lind has established himself as one of the most critically acclaimed old-time fiddle players in the country. Cofounder of the Oregon based Foghorn Stringband, Sammy has traveled the world playing and teaching a vast repertoire of tunes from Appalachia and the Midwest.

Together they make beautiful harmony in their repertoire of fiddle tunes, old country and Cajun songs. Their new recording “Granddad’s Favorite” reflects their versatility in genres and instrumentation. Alternating between fiddle, banjo, guitar and accordion, they play true to the roots of American music with energy and respect. They are also members of the Foghorn Stringband, the Dirk Powell Band and Cajun Country Revival.

Class Description

This workshop is for anyone who loves to sing and wants to explore lead and harmony vocals in a safe, supportive, and fun environment. Working with repertoire drawn from both bluegrass and old time archives, we’ll look at the finer points of lead and harmony singing, including breathing and vocal production, exploring your vocal range, singing solo and lead parts, how to find harmony parts, how to “blend” with other voices when harmonizing, and how to use your voice to work with tone.

We’ll look at single voice songs, and move on to duet, trio, and quartet harmonies, as well as call and response. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn lead, tenor, and baritone parts, and we’ll spend time singing all together and in small groups. We’re really looking forward to doing some singing with you!

Prerequisite: The ability to sing a melody line in tune.  If you are new to singing, or require more experience singing confidently, we recommend enrolling in our Sing Out Strong class to develop a good base prior to taking Vocal Harmony.

FUNGRASS  – Children’s Music for ages 6-9 with Eliza Doyle

Over the past 16 years, Eliza Doyle has recorded and released 10 full length albums, and toured Canada, the US, Europe and the UK extensively. This feisty international and award winning Saskatchewan artist has a unique way of captivating audiences around the world with her charismatic performances, stylistic clawhammer banjo playing and sophisticated songwriting. She is a versatile player, a seasoned performer, teacher, and session musician who brings an authenticity and energy to her music through her unstoppable and ferocious spirit. Be it large concert halls, a small coffee house gatherings, or a garage jams, her love for music, family and friends is always present in her quick smile. Listen to her music, enjoy her energy and share with your friends, the experience is most definitely worth your time. “Bright, feisty, and fierce and a troubadour of exceptional talent and vision.”

Starting on the streets of Saskatoon during her university days, Eliza Doyle could always be seen with her banjo in tow, joining some musical project and heading somewhere around the globe to sing her songs. Since 2003 she has been performing around the world with various bands. She completed her Bachelor of Education degree in 2009 and began working with music therapy in alternative education. She has experience in both teaching in music camps, as well as being a children’s performer. Currently, she is developing music programming to be accessible to remote northern communities, and is working on turning her music festival, Doylefest, into a non-profit organization to support this initiative.

Class Description

The class will focus on many different and fun elements of Bluegrass and Old Time music.  In this class, students will explore music through the use of rhythm, art, dance, play, singing and songwriting. Try an array of musical instruments, make homemade ones too, and go on musical treasure hunts.  Children will visit the various classes held around the site and have a great time being introduced to the bluegrass and old time music genres.

*Please note that this is not a drop-off camp class.  Fungrass participants must have a parent or designated guardian on site with them at all times.



Guest Meals

Northern Lights offers guest meal packages for spouses or parent/guardians. Please see our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS page for more information on Guests.

**When purchasing meals please use NA on parts of the form that do not relate to you.

Guest Lunches Only Package

– Camping Spot (must be accompanying a registered participant), Monday BBQ, Tuesday – Thursday Lunch, Friday Brunch, Snacks, Evening Activities. 

Guest Full Meals Package

– Camping Spot (must be accompanying a registered participant), Monday BBQ, Tuesday – Thursday Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Friday Brunch, Snacks, Evening Activities.

Early Bird Rates are as follows:
Guest – Lunches Only – $160
Guest –Full Meals – $235