Guitar Workshop: "First Steps to Flying Fingers"

2 to 4 hour workshop - an introduction to picking melodies on acoustic guitar

Ever watched one of the legendary flatpickers like Doc Watson, Tony Rice or some hot guitarist at a bluegrass festival and thought, "I'll never be able to play like that"? Take the first steps - learning to play melodies to simple traditional fiddle tunes builds your technique, fretboard knowledge and confidence.

Workshop is appropriate for advanced beginner/intermediate guitar players/students; should be able to easily change basic open chords in rhythm (C-A-G-E-D). Some familiarity with the open G, C and D scales will be a great foundation to build on. Guitar tablature (TAB) and sample MP3s provided in advance to all who register early.

By the end of the workshop, students will learn:

  • How to play a couple of traditional tunes, lead and rhythm (melody & chords)
  • How to read TABs and pick melodies to many other fiddle tunes on your own
  • Some basic music theory to help you navigate the fretboard and open scales more easily
  • Some great tips on practicing to improve your technique, tone and speed.


Why learn these oldtime tunes? Great question! Many of them have become standards at bluegrass and oldtime picking circles because so many players know them. But they also give us a great use for all the scales and fingerings we've worked so hard on, as well as practice for tone and technique. Check out Scott Nygaard's article "Arranging Fiddle Tunes" from the Feb. 2011 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine for a great in-depth look under the hood as well as lots of wonderful TABs and video clips.

And if you'd like to do a little advance scouting, Flatpicking Guitar magazine has a few great free lessons with TABs and MP3s to start out on - check out the classic and lesser known tunes they are generously sharing.