Our instructors are some of the top working musicians in their industry. Our alumni boast an impressive range of accomplishments, including working with the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, The Dixie Chicks and more. The skill required for them to play at this level takes diligence, patience and practice. Not only are they masters of their instruments, but they are also teachers, skilled at passing their knowledge on to learners both new and experienced. No matter your skill level or instrument of choice there will be a class and instructor for you!
Intermediate Guitar with Lucas Welsh
Born and raised near Blaine Lake, SK, Lucas Welsh began his musical journey as a classical violin student. As his talent grew so did his desire to explore other styles of music as well as other instruments. With nominations at the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards for fiddle, guitar, and instrumentalist of the year, Lucas has been described as an “amazing man with a graceful, humble talent”. Lucas has performed with some of the country’s most distinguished and accomplished traditional musicians, and has added his musical gifts to more than 30 recordings for artists across Canada.
In this intermediate class we will be focusing on Bluegrass rhythm accompaniment playing as well as licks and tricks you can add to your playing to make you a more rounded guitar player. We will also work on some flat picking tunes and techniques for some bluegrass standards.
Advanced Guitar with Marc Roy
Marc Roy has spent the last 26 years with an instrument in his hands. Raised on Bluegrass and Canadian Fiddle music, he emerged as a young teen on the Toronto music scene, earning his bluegrass stripes at the iconic “Crazy Strings” residency at the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto. Along his way, he has been fortunate enough to play bluegrass, country and roots music with world class musicians and songwriters who have become friends and mentors. Marc was honoured at the Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards with Guitar Player of the Year from 2007-2012 and is now on the honour roll for that category, and Mandolin Player of the Year in 2012. He is a musician’s musician with a well-trained ear being able to pick up an instrument and improvise on the spot with anybody. Now as a growing instructor he is giving his take on the music and how he plays it, and people keep asking for more! His
love and passion for music is deep and it always shows on his face and through his fingers. You will enjoy your experience with Marc Roy!!
In this class we are going to cover all the bases when it comes to understanding and playing flat-pick guitar in the bluegrass and old-time genre. From the history of acoustic flat-pick guitar and the style and influence of key players to experimenting with rhythm, leads, fills, and playing with melodies. We will talk about dynamics and syncopation, cross picking, kick offs and endings, and down beats.
We will talk about strings, picks, straps, different ways to hold a flat-pick hand anchorage and more. We will work on tone, taste, and timing and talk about ways to build or gain that. Students will learn some new G runs, licks and how to play and fit them into songs, and most importantly, play together and have fun!
Bluegrass Banjo with Miles Zurawell
Miles Zurawell is a performer, recording artist and teacher based in Victoria, British Columbia. He has toured internationally with renowned acts such as Greg Blake Band, Blaine Sprouse, John Lowell and Zachary Lucky.
Raised in small town Alberta, Miles Zurawell was immersed in a wide range of music from an early age. A pianist and self-taught guitarist in his formative years, he fell in love with bluegrass when he was inspired to pick up the banjo by a university biology professor. Soon after, he discovered the dobro (resonator guitar) as well. In 2018, he left behind the golden handcuffs of his government biology career to focus intensively on learning the dobro, and travelled all over North America seeking out the best teachers.
Now armed with the technical skills acquired from intensive study of the bluegrass genre, along with his eclectic taste in music, his musical focus is to help bring the beautiful timbre of the dobro to other genres of music apart from bluegrass.
For Northern Lights 2021, we’re going to have a combined beginner and intermediate banjo class. As such, the focus of the class is going to be fundamentals of the bluegrass banjo, our role in a jam or band context, and how to support our fellow musicians. We’ll cover the fundamentals of picking and left hand technique, chords in open positions and up the neck, different ways to play back-up, and strategies for taking solos. Hopefully we’ll have some time to do some listening studies of great players, particularly JD Crowe, as well.
As a combined class, we’re going to exercise our patience and find ways to help one another. While beginners may not feel comfortable enough to take solos, our intermediate students can practice and learn some techniques in that regard while folks just starting test out their skills in backing up their friends. Intermediate pickers will also benefit from re-evaluating their technique, going back to the basics, and smoothing out any habits that may be holding them back from progressing.
I’m looking forward to seeing ya’ll up in the north woods!
Clawhammer Banjo with Patrick Hamilton
Born and raised Yukoner Patrick Hamilton picked up banjo at a young age and was quickly added to the family band. Since then Patrick has become a multi-instrumentalist and genre spanning player, finding success behind the drums, surrounded by synthesizers or with a banjo in hand. Touring internationally as a drummer or teaching at bluegrass camps around Canada comes naturally to Patrick who thinks finding the joy and humour in music is key.
In this class we’re going to emphasize the fundamentals while tossing in tricks and tips that work well at any level. We’ll cover all major techniques, time signatures and playing styles as well as have some discussion on the history of banjo and its role in culture. Working through a small potent repertoire of round peak standards you’ll gain the tools and abilities to jam with others practically and continue your old time journey.
Bluegrass Mandolin with Jim Malmberg
Growing up in southern Alberta, Jim was raised on a wide variety of music. His mother favoured classical music while his father enjoyed the stylings of Nat King Cole and The Sons of The Pioneers. It wasn’t until he heard Doc Watson in his late teens that he became passionate about music. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Jim has focused on guitar and mandolin playing bluegrass, old-time music, and early 20th century swing. Since 2003, he and his wife and musical partner Penny have led the string band Back Porch Swing playing extensively around Western Canada. Jim has taught music camps for the Northern Bluegrass Circle Music Society at Camp HeHoHa, the Mountain Fever Bluegrass Camp in British Columbia, and the Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Music Camp in Saskatchewan. He has also presented workshops at Blueberry Bluegrass, Shady Grove Bluegrass, Peace Country Bluegrass, and Robson Valley Music Festivals. Jim is very happy to be back teaching at Northern Lights.
This class is geared to the intermediate to advanced player. Students should know chords and be able to play some
songs or fiddle tunes. There will be a little theory but ability to read music or tab is not required. The course will cover how to get good tone, playing up the neck, alternate chord voicing, and approaches to soloing and backup. There will be lots of playing time and of course the plan is to have fun!
Bluegrass Fiddle with Nathan Smith
As a kid, Ontario-based fiddler Nathan Smith learned traditional Canadian old-time tunes alongside his classical violin training , setting the tone for his rich and winding musical path. While studying viola in university, Nathan was drawn to the high lonesome sounds of bluegrass, and after his schooling finished , he hit the road fiddling and singing as a bluegrass sideman. He settled in Toronto and began singing, playing, and writing with his innovative bluegrass band, The Barrel Boys, who released their third all-original full-length album “Mainline” in 2020, landing them a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for vocal group of the year. An inquisitive and versatile musician,
Nathan performs with a number of Toronto ensembles playing country, Western swing, Quebecois, Metis, French, and Swedish traditional music as well as his own traditionally-inspired compositions. His debut solo album “Let it Rest, Let it Rise” was released in February 2020, Nathan has taught fiddle workshops and camps across Canada and his combination of experience and enthusiasm for musical discovery have made him a favourite among his students.
Get ready to play a lot of fiddle together! We’ll learn a couple of fiddle tunes that are common to both the bluegrass and old-time repertoires., but we’ll mostly be stepping outside the box of the melody to explore the fiddle as an ensemble instrument for jamming. We’ll get familiar with different combinations of rhythmic patterns and chords that allow a fiddler to be versatile accompaniment player, and we’ll dive into scales and licks that will enable us to create interesting melodic variations and craft our own solos!
Prerequisite: Students should have some experience playing fiddle and be able to play at least a handful of tunes in either the old-time or bluegrass style. Music will be taught by ear during the class, but sheet music will be available as a supplemental resource.
Old Time Fiddle with Sarah Hamilton
Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, by two professional musicians, Sarah was surrounded by old-time, bluegrass, ragtime, and swing music from an early age. Sarah has toured nationally and internationally with The Done Gone Stringband (YT), Annie Lou Band (BC), Combo Royal (ON) and many others, and plays locally with her family’s western swing band The Swingin’ Pines. Her passion for American music has pulled her around the states to study, observe, and participate in some of the finest Appalachian, Cajun, and Swing music the vast country has to offer.
Sarah has been teaching fiddle privately and in group settings for over 10 years. She has experience teaching children and adults privately, and at music camps across Canada including NimbleFingers Workshops and Festival (BC), Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Camp (SK), Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival, and Yukon Summer Music Camp.
Sarah is extremely passionate about teaching fiddle, singing, music theory, and dance and is currently programming and teaching a long running fiddle group in Whitehorse called Fiddleheads, of which she is an alumni.
A solid repertoire of tunes, good intonation and strong technique are essential in your journey into old-time fiddle. We will work on all of these important skills as well as bowing techniques and patterns, while learning old-time tunes from the Appalachian region of the United States. You should have a couple years of fiddle basics under your belt to get the most out of this class.
Upright Bass with Nico Humby
Nico Humby is an avid and playful bass player and singer who’s dipped his fingers into a multitude of genres ranging from R&B, Funk and Swing to Folk, Bluegrass, and Classic Country. With this experience, he brings a new groove and flavour to the existing world of Bluegrass. Previously, he’s toured internationally alongside such fellow musicians as Greg Blake, Jeff Scroggins, and Jesse Brock. He has spent the last year playing private house concerts to himself.
Let’s learn how to conquer the BEAST! In the Bluegrass Bass class, we’ll be looking at how to improve your technique and save your hands while getting the most tone out of your bass. We’ll also focus on improving timing, groove and intonation. We’ll take a look at different ways of guiding people through an unfamiliar song with the
use of runs, and maybe we’ll even do a little bit of singing and playing! Apart from all that, we’ll analyze what our “job” is in accordance with others, whether it be in a jam or on stage with a band. Turn that terrifyingly large beast of an instrument into your new dancing partner!
Jam Band with Penny Malmberg
Penny Malmberg is a story telling, singing, songwriting people person with a contagious zest for life. She and her husband Jim formed the string band Back Porch Swing in 2003 and since then has been touring western Canada playing bluegrass, swing, folk, and original material.
This is her third time teaching at Northern Lights Bluegrass camp and she is very happy to be coming back to play music with new and old friends.
Want to have more experience playing in a group setting? Then this is the class for you!! This class will focus on how to play as a group/band while learning songs together. We will be practising the importance of timing , dynamics, listening, how to “work up” a song, mic technique, lead and harmony singing and a guaranteed good time! Students will need basic knowledge of their instrument for this class. Don’t forget your tuner.
Vocal Harmony with Ellen and Jaxon
Ellen Froese and Jaxon LaLonde met at Northern Lights when they were seventeen and fourteen, where they and their friend Kasia formed a bluegrass/old-time/folk band called In With the Old. This led them all over Canada and the US, playing festivals like Merlefest and Winnipeg Folk Fest. The band has since branched off into their own musical directions; Ellen as a solo musician and Jaxon with The Local Group. Both have played and recorded extensively throughout the years, each with their own projects and as back-up musicians for others. Years of singing together has given these two a special instinct while harmonizing, and a long-lasting friendship to boot.
They are both so excited to teach at Northern Lights for the first time, and jam with everyone around the campfire again!
Both Jaxon and Ellen have taught music lessons, but this will be their first time teaching together! This is sure to be a super fun and spontaneous class, meant for singers of all levels, ages, and experience levels (a bit of experience holding a tune would be handy here, though)! This is a vocal harmony class, so the focus will be on learning to sing three-part harmonies as a group. They will touch on theory, but spend lots of time just learning and singing a variety of songs in different styles. This class is for folks who have always wondered how to sing in harmony, but never quite knew how to take the leap. The instructors hope to inspire you to do it confidently, and to see how fun it can be to sing with others!