Music

Try your hand at guitar, banjo, dulcimer, Native American flute, bodhrán, and more, or learn to “play well with others” in classes all about jamming. Perfect for those picking up an instrument for the first time or looking to build on their skills.

Explore The Studios

Music Studio in Davidson Hall

Comprising the second floor of Davidson Hall, our Music Studio is a wonderful gathering space for musicians of all kinds. It’s a light-filled room overlooking a deck with long beautiful views of the herb garden and rolling hills. The spacious studio, with room enough for everyone to gather in a large circle, also has several private practice rooms. A fireplace is a special treat in this welcoming space.

Open House

An open-air pavilion allowing the garden breeze to flow through, Open House offers a way to enjoy the outdoors while dancing and playing music together. Shaded from the sun, and offering a beautiful panoramic view of the valley, Open House was built in 1947 and became the original site of the Folk School’s annual Fall Festival.

News & Stories: What's Happening in Music

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Winter Dance Week 2022

We’re very happy to welcome...

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Online Classes Return This Winter

The Folk School is excited...

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Welcome to Our New Website

Our new website is here!...

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Autoharp Musings with Leah Dolgoy

On Friday, May 29, the sweet-stringed sounds of Leah Dolgoy’s autoharp filled Folk School ears with joy and magic for our Facebook Live Morningsong. If you missed the live show, be sure to watch the recording via the link posted here in our blog post. Also, enjoy an interview with Leah, originally published in 2016.

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Tune Into Virtual Morningsong Every Friday

Join us every Friday morning on Facebook Live for Virtual Morningsong. It’s a great way to start the day! To watch live, all you have to do is visit our Facebook Page at 7:45–8:15 a.m. on Fridays. If you miss a Morningsong, or want to re-watch, you can view the recordings by following the links in the artists section.

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A Look Back at Folk School May Day Celebrations

Wishing you a happy May Day! We’re looking forward to dancing around the May Pole together again, but until then, we put together this post filled with photos of years past, a video from 2011, and an excerpt by Nanette Davidson about May Day from The Folk School Cookbook. Enjoy!

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Thank You for a Wonderful Friends & Family Day

We had a wonderful time at our first-ever Friends & Family Day on May 11! Community members of all ages toured our open studios, participated in hands-on making, watched demonstrations, enjoyed music & dance performances, savored local food, and learned all about the Folk School.

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Folk Harp Gathering

Folk harp enthusiasts! Come celebrate Scottish Heritage Week with the ancient instrument of Scotland, the Celtic or lever harp, in our class Folk Harp Gathering. This class encourages harp players to come together and share the history, learn tunes of the ancient harpers, and play songs and dances from Scotland and nearby Celtic lands. It is also a time to rekindle the friendships from past harp gatherings, meet new harp enthusiasts and play together in ensemble.

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Flourishing at the Folk School: Corie Pressley

Corie Pressley has lived in tiny Brasstown, North Carolina, all her 21 young years. She commuted to college for two years but this scenic Appalachian community is where she’s grown up, developed, and matured. You might think her life experiences have been limited in this small town. But that’s where you’d be wrong.

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Folk School JAM Program Passes on Appalachian Musical Traditions to Local Teens

On Friday, April 8, high school students in the Folk School JAM Program played a concert in the Community Room to celebrate the conclusion of the first session. Under the direction of Johnny Scroggs (guitar) and Peggy Patrick (fiddle), students spent 12 weeks learning traditional Appalachian music as part of the Folk School JAM program. We recently sat down with Program Director Hannah Levin to find out more about this wonderful program preserving traditional Appalachian music in our local high schools. Read on to find out how you (or your teen) can get involved!

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Autoharp: It’s Not a Harpsichord! My Interview with Karen Mueller

As a host at the Folk School, sometimes really incredible opportunities come your way. Karen Mueller is an innovative, virtuosic musician and highly sought after music educator. I recently took Karen Mueller’s intermediate-advanced autoharp class and weekend beginner mountain dulcimer class back-to-back. At the end of our time together, she agreed to sit down with me and answer a few of my questions about her life, career, and relationship to the Folk School. 

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If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out with Aubrey Atwater

Using clogging, music and storytelling to charm Folk School audiences since 1996, Aubrey exudes a talent, grace, and humor unique to only the most tenured and talented of performers. Aubrey returns to the Folk School this September to teach two dynamite classes: Singing with Clawhammer Banjo (Sept. 8-13) and Clogging (Sept. 13-15 – Weekend). She is also scheduled to perform in special Thursday night concert, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn to play, laugh, sing, and dance with Aubrey this fall!

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Interview with Annie Fain Liden-Barralon

The Folk School is so happy to welcome Annie Fain Liden-Barralon to the position of Music and Dance Coordinator! I sat down with Annie Fain to find out about her experience growing up in the Folk School community and what it’s like to return as the Music and Dance Coordinator.

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Brasstown Dancers greet Olympic Torch, win the Wickham Cup

Brasstown Morris Dancers greeted the Olympic Torch in Kenilworth, England, and brought home the “Gold” of West Yorkshire Morris Dancing. Except it’s not gold and they didn’t bring it home. The Wickham Cup, actually a silver plated mug, remains in its place of honor in England, but newly inscribed with the name Dame’s Rocket.

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Learning Guitar at the Folk School

“What was I thinking?” passed through my mind several times last week while I sat in “Intro Guitar” class at the Folk School. In other studios, I imagined, students happily wove Shaker rugs or rolled polymer clay into intricate beads. Why had I signed up for a music class? My left fingers hurt from pressing on the steel guitar strings, I couldn’t change from a G chord to a D chord fast enough, and I’d probably never get “Goodnight Irene” out of my head again.

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Dance Musicians’ Week 2010

Here we are at John C. Campbell Folk School for another week of music and dancing.  This is the seventeenth year of this fantastic class, with dancing every night for everyone, and dancing and playing every day for the 21 instructors and students participating in the class.

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Calling Class: Learning by Doing

Summer is here and so is Little/Middle Folk School.  While the campus is taken over by kick ball, card games, picnics, and the fire truck that stopped by on Tuesday to spray the kids off – there is still one adult class happening, and that’s Dance Caller’s Week.

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Tipper Pressley Shares a Memory

Music and dancing is the heartbeat of the Folk School.  While students, instructors, and staff work during the week, it is at the dances and concerts when the community comes together to have fun.  Free concerts are held almost every Friday night at the school and this Friday Paul and Jerry Wilson and their family will perform.  Groups who play here often travel from afar to share their music, but this week the band will be coming from just down the road.   Tipper Wilson writes about her memories at the Folk School:

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Folk School Friend: Norman Kennedy

You meet the most interesting people here.  Over the years, I’ve learned from and enjoyed talking to some of the world’s great characters right here in Brasstown.  Shortly after I became the Director of the Folk School, I asked some of my musical and crafts friends to tell me great people we should try to get to teach at the Folk School.  A trusted musical advisor, Beth Ross Johnson, said “Get the great ballad singer Norman Kennedy.”  My weaving advisor (spouse Nanette) said, “Get the great weaver Norman Kennedy.”  These two turned out to be the very same ponytailed Scotsman.  So for the last eighteen years or so, he has made visits to Brasstown which are always memorable for us here, jazzing up weavers and spinners, slamming tweed on the table to the beat of the ancient waulking music, where the singing and the weaving come together, as the song propels the cloth sunwise around the table while all the hands of the people lift it up and slam it down and pass it on to the next waulker.  In this way, the wool is preshrunk, softened, bonded and unified.  The people likewise, except they are not preshrunk.

Charmaine Slaven headshot

Music and Dance Coordinator

Charmaine Slaven

Originally from western Montana, Charmaine has worked for over 16 years as a Seattle-based professional musician, flatfoot dancer, dance caller, instructor, and administrator specializing in traditional American roots music and dance events. She takes great joy in sharing her passion with people of all ages and abilities and has gained a great reputation for her fun methods of engagement. Charmaine has a knack for teaching and organizing and became an anchor in the Pacific Northwest’s old-time music and dance communities. She hopes to bring diverse music, dance, culture, and joy to the Folk School.

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Music and Dance Coordinator

T-Claw Crawford

T-Claw Crawford is a dance caller, musician, and community organizer. He grew up in Nashville, TN, and played punk rock and jazz until he heard old-time string music. T-Claw has toured by bicycle across eight states and New Zealand with Fiddle Pie, an old-time variety show band. He is the “Johnny Appleseed” of square dancing, having instigated his enthusiastic brand of community music and dance get-togethers far and wide. T’s favorite foods are pie and biscuits, and he enjoys river sports, honky tonkin’, yard games, wildcrafting, and cribbage. He bops around Brasstown with his beloved wife and delightful daughters.

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