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Pre-Gathering Workshops
at the 2017
Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering

MLAG is pleased to present three Pre-Gathering workshops. Though the Gathering proper does not begin until Wednesday, these Pre-MLAG workshops will provide some wonderful options for early arrivals. The workshops will cost $130 per person.. New this year, you may register on-line for these workshops or use the form below. Please send your check (remember, made out to MLAG) and registration form to MLAG, c/o Coleen Walters, 12228 Hollowell Church Road, Greencastle, PA 17225. We will be limiting the maximum number of students in each workshop to twenty so, if you’re considering taking one of these workshops, you should register as soon as you can.

The workshops will be conducted in three 3-hour sessions beginning at 9am on Tuesday, June 20th with location to be determined at a later date. You will be notified prior to arrival. While the campground will be available, the regular meal program doesn’t begin until dinner on Wednesday. On Tuesday, we have arranged for our caterer, Laurie of Townside Cafe, to provide a buffet lunch. It will cost $11.00 per person and you must pay in advance. Enclose a separate check made out to MLAG along with your pre-Gathering registration form. Mail all pre-Gathering materials to Coleen Walters (address is on registration form). You may certainly provide your own meal as well and we have no plans for Wednesday lunch at all.

These workshops provide a great opportunity for some hands-on training with three of the best autoharp players and teachers in the world. For at least the next few years there will be a Patsy Tressler Memorial Award. A random drawing from the names of all Pre-Gathering participants (who are registered for the full Gathering) will be made on Wednesday night and one lucky individual will be given a check to cover the cost of the class.

You may either register on-line or download a printable registration here.



Pre-MLAG Workshops
Tuesday 9-12 & 1-4 • Wednesday 9-12


Beginning (Charles Whitmer)

This class is for those who are beginning to play autoharp, have limited experience playing autoharp or who have been playing for a while who want to upgrade their melody playing skills as well as learn and brush up on the basics of playing rhythm accompaniment. The class will progressively move forward primarily on melody playing techniques to the edge of early intermediate playing by the end of the sessions. Participants will be given a packet of song material written out in both standard music notation as well as autoharp tablature, but knowledge of reading standard notation is NOT required.

Intermediate Chromatic (Drew Smith)

Become a really well rounded CHROMATIC AUTOHARP player!

Drew’s promise: In my MLAG Pre-Gathering Chromatic class, starting with a refresher of the basic elements of playing, I will teach EVERYTHING I KNOW, as a result of how I taught myself. I came to understand simple Formulas that became obvious to me through playing the autoharp over many years. I have developed this course from having taught many years at the Ozark Folk Center with great success, as well as at Sore Fingers in England. I've done Early Bird classes at California Autoharp Gathering, and been invited back many times. I have taught coast-to-coast at many autoharp learning centers, including Augusta Heritage, Swannanoa Gathering, Cranberry Gathering, WVAG, NWAG, and many others.

I’ve developed my MLAG Pre-Gathering Course to teach FORMULAS for playing in MAJOR KEYS ... playing in MINOR KEYS ... when and where to use SEVENTH CHORDS, the "II" CHORD, and FLATTED 7TH CHORDS. There is NO NEED to read sheet music. After defining each FORMULA, I’ll have many handouts of song examples with chords above words, which will demonstrate the use of all these Formulas. You’ll learn by playing.

In addition we will cover various methods for playing MODAL TUNES for Appalachian music, using two chord bars together (as well as only one bar). We’ll cover Middle Eastern modes, and well known songs which use the Mixolydian Mode. I’ll also teach different ways to play BLUES songs. I’ll teach how to play with “feeling” and excitement ... also, how we can make interesting song endings ... and we’ll have Questions & Answers ... and MORE!

There will be many handouts covering song examples for all the Formulas being taught. I will provide flexible plastic binders to hold my 3-hole punched handouts ... amounting to 40 or more pages. I suggest that all participants bring a music stand. Upon completion of my MLAG Pre-gathering Chromatic Workshop Course, you WILL have the elements to be able to become a really well rounded Chromatic autoharp player ... and jammer!

That’s my promise!

Intermediate Diatonic (JoAnn Smith)

Diatonic Immersion: this workshop is designed to provide the student with the hands-on experience of playing a purely diatonic autoharp. No previous diatonic playing experience is required, but the student should possess solid, intermediate autoharp playing skills and have a good understanding of autoharp mechanics. Students wishing to take part in the class will be asked to bring along an autoharp with a specific setup for the key of C, which can be accomplished by making temporary changes to their own instrument. The changes are minor and can easily be reversed when the class is completed. The setup specifics will be provided well ahead of time, and will involve temporary re-tuning of the strings and the re-felting of four chord bars.

A broad range of topics will be covered in this class, from diatonic playing techniques — such as open-noting — to chord progressions, chord substitutions, basic chord theory and song arrangements. The importance of hand position, body mechanics and and pick choice will be discussed along with emphasis on precision and playing by ear. If you have ever wanted see what it’s like to play a pure diatonic autoharp and explore its potential, this is the class for you!