Bill Schilling's Workshop Subjects
Bill often presents workshops at festivals, but has also found them to be a valuable way of sharing information with classroom students, conference and seminar participants, church and senior citizen groups, and others. The following subjects and descriptions will help you decide on the best workshop(s) for your event. Check with Bill for other specific subjects you would like him to cover.
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the autoharp, acquainting them with different harps, playing styles, setups, simple repairs, practice hints, and/or resources. Participants will hear and use different playing styles.
Beginning Autoharp Accompaniment
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to accompaniment playing styles on the autoharp which will allow participants to quickly and easily accompany folk-style singing or lead instruments in a jam by using simple strumming techniques on an in tune autoharp. Participants will play different accompaniment patterns and sing along (if they choose). Feeling the beat and/or counting will be emphasized along with chord changes.
Beginning Melody Autoharp
The purpose of this workshop is to help participants understand how to find melodies for playing leads on the autoharp. Participants will be encouraged and instructed on playing by ear and on playing by finding the notes from written music as we understand how our chord bars are related to the notes of the scale.
The purpose of this workshop is to let the participants see and use different styles of tablature for the autoharp and to learn how they can create their own tablature using similar techniques to write in their strum or picking patterns on standard music notation or on lyric sheets.
Autoharp Melody Strum
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the melody strum method for playing melody and harmony on the autoharp by strumming up to the melody note (and recognizing it when it is heard) using fingers, a flat pick, or a thumb pick. Since frequent smooth changes of the chord bars are essential to melody playing, left hand technique will be emphasized along with the right hand strum and listening.
Autoharp Thumb Lead Melody Playing
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the thumb lead method for playing faster tunes on the autoharp. Participants will practice using an exact striking motion with the thumb and one or two fingers to produce clean melody lines. Left hand technique for quick changes of chord bars will be emphasized. Participants are encouraged to have tight fitting thumb and finger picks for this workshop since they are generally (but not always) used for this style of playing.
Autoharp Pinch/Pluck Melody Playing
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the pinch/pluck method of melody playing on the autoharp. Participants will use fingerpicks and thumbpick (or bare fingers and thumb) to play the melody while incorporating some backup and /or harmony in this pleasing and useful style. Emphasis will be placed on developing right hand accuracy and directionality as well as left hand technique.
The purpose of this workshop is to let the participants ask questions they may have about autoharp playing. Subjects may include (but are not limited to): holding the autoharp; left hand technique; right hand technique; using bare fingers, fingernails, flatpicks, thumbpicks, and fingerpicks; tuning; playing accompaniment; playing lead; chord bar layout; setup and repair; reading and writing tablature and music; playing by ear; chromatic and diatonic styles; amplification, and other things participants are interested in. Hopefully, answers will be provided by the workshop leader and/or the other participants. The participants and leader will play a variety of things whenever appropriate in answering the questions. If the questions run out, a variety of songs will be available for all to play together.
Beginning Bowed Psaltery
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the bowed psaltery, acquainting them with different psalteries and bows, holding the psaltery, bowing techniques, simple melody playing, simple backup playing, and playing with two bows. Participants will hear and use different playing styles.
Crossing to the Other Side of the Bowed Psaltery
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to playing in keys other than C on the bowed psaltery, which requires crossing to the other side of the instrument for the sharps or flats. Participants will play songs and tunes in at least the keys of G, D, and F.
Bowed Psaltery Repertoire
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to various songs and tunes that might work well on the bowed psaltery (and maybe some that won’t work well). Participants will play several songs and tunes and may suggest some of their own.
Accompaniment with Bowed Psaltery
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to ways to use the bowed psaltery for accompaniment. Participants will learn techniques to play bass parts including bass runs, harmonies, descants, and arpeggios, as well as using two bows to play parts of chords.
Beginning Guitar Chords & Strums
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the left hand chord positions for a few basic guitar chords (possibly in key of D, key of G, or key of C depending on student needs) while maintaining rhythmic strumming in different ways with the right hand in order to play basic accompaniment for many traditional folk songs and tunes.
Basic Guitar Fingerpicking Styles Workshop
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to various pattern styles of guitar fingerpicking that can be used with different time signatures for accompaniment and later modified (if desired) for more complex finger-style guitar playing. Participants should feel comfortable forming and changing several chords with their left hands. No previous fingerpicking experience is needed, and those who have only used a flatpick for the right hand are welcome.
Modified Travis Style Picking Guitar Workshop
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to a modified version of Travis style picking. Participants will concentrate on establishing a pattern style of guitar picking that can be used for accompaniment and later modified (if desired) for more complex finger-style guitar playing. Participants should feel comfortable forming and changing several chords with their left hands. No previous fingerpicking experience is needed, and those who have only used a flatpick for the right hand are welcome.
Beginning Hammered Dulcimer
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce beginners to the hammered dulcimer, concentrating on tuning tips, playing positions, hammers & hammering, rhythm tips, practice hints, playing styles, playing occasions, and playing melodies and/or chords.
Playing HD During a Group Sing
The purpose of this workshop is to acquaint the participants with some options they have for playing hammered dulcimer while they are part of a group sing. Naturally, playing melody is an option, but there are other options as well. Participants will be encouraged to listen for and experiment with some of the options such as chords, arpeggios, trills, decorations, harmonies, simple bass parts, and bass runs while playing some simple and familiar tunes.
Beginning Mountain Dulcimer – DAA Melody with Drones
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the learners to DAA tuning and playing. Several tuning methods will be presented and used. Songs will be played using different strumming and picking patterns. Emphasis will be placed on playing the melody, using the drones, and keeping the rhythm.
Advanced Beginning Mountain Dulcimer – DAA Melody with Drones
The purpose of this workshop is to strengthen the learners in DAA tuning and playing. Tuning questions will be addressed. More complex songs will be played using basic strumming and picking patterns with emphasis on playing the melody, using the drones, and keeping the rhythm.
Advanced Beginning Mountain Dulcimer – DAA Chording
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the learners to DAA chording. Players will learn how to read dulcimer chord charts and tablature, will play chords for accompanying lead instruments or vocals, and will use chords along with melodies for a fuller sound than just drones provide.
Minor Mode Melody and Drone for MD
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the plaintive sound of the Aeolian and/or Dorian modes on the mountain dulcimer. Participants will be given assistance in retuning to DAC and/or DAG (and back at the end of the workshop if desired), will get to recognize and try some minor scales, and play some common minor tunes with traditional drone accompaniment.
Through the MD Modes
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the learners to modes beyond DAA Ionian. Tuning methods will develop as modes are changed to DAD Mixolydian, DAC Aeolian, DAG Dorian, DAF Phrygian, and DAE Lydian. Appropriate songs will be played in some of the modes.
Rounds as Parts for MD
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the learners to playing in parts through the use of rounds. Workshop participants will concentrate on listening and working with others as they play rounds in DAA and other tunings. The workshop is appropriate for beginners, but can also be geared for intermediate players.
Playing Parts for MD
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the learners to playing parts of a song with other players. Workshop participants will concentrate on listening and working with others as they try different parts of several songs. Since some players can simply play the melody or chords, the workshop can be appropriate for most dulcimer players. Various tunings may be used with DAA as a beginning point.
From DAA to DAD for MD
The purpose of this workshop is to allow players who are used to playing melody and drone accompaniment in DAA or other tunings to understand how to read and follow standard DAD tablature working on some simple tricks for recognizing and using typical fingering patterns.
Understanding Mountain Dulcimer and the Printed Page
The purpose of this workshop is to allow players to understand how the things they are doing on the mountain dulcimer relate to music on the printed page with emphasis on understanding the whole and half steps in some modal scales and understanding how transposing and changing keys work. There is more discussion than playing in this intermediate level workshop.
Other Instruments and Other Subjects
Campfire Songs, Skits, and Stories
Participants will hear, learn, and take part in a variety of campfire songs, skits, & stories. There will be old favorites, new directions, and ideas on planning, presentation, and programming. Participants will be encouraged to present their favorites for group enjoyment and/or for critiques. This should be a lively workshop. Come set to participate!
Keeping children entertained these days can be a very serious business. This workshop can be presented simply as a concert for children, their families, and others giving folks a chance to observe one style of working with children; or it can be presented as a session for adults who want to start or to improve their skills in working with young people. Come prepared to participate on sing-alongs and rhythms since most of the fun of the workshop comes from the participants.
Folk Revival Songs
The 1950s and 1960s brought a resurgence in folk and traditional music with collectors finding old recordings, old books, and (maybe more importantly) going out to find and bring to the attention of others musicians who had learned the music through the oral (or aural) tradition rather than from the media. A young generation started performing and writing in those styles and many say that the music affected the conscience of that generation. Participants will sing and hear some songs that came back or started during the folk revival, will share reminiscences, and will discuss the times and process.
Folk-Style Songs & Instruments
Workshop participants will sing choruses of and/or play rhythm or homemade instruments with various folk-style songs. They will be encouraged to discuss and ask questions about how the folk song process connects broadsides, ballads, traditional songs, old-time songs, and folk songs to religious, seasonal, satiric, blues, country, hillbilly, western, cowboy, political, topical, protest, and contemporary singer/songwriter songs. They will learn about the history, setup, playing techniques, similarities, differences, and scientific sound principles of various folk and homemade instruments.
People get involved on a Sunday morning (or other time) at a festival -- or any time as a special event at a church, club, or community function -- by singing songs that people have grown up with in church and heard or sung at other events. Participants are encouraged to choose songs and to sing along using specially prepared song sheets. Chord sheets allow others to help make the music with folk instruments (and possibly a piano or organ if the situation is right).
The purpose of this workshop is to enjoy a few of the songs that some people think are funny. There will be chances for participants to sing several choruses, to suggest or perform songs for/with the other participants, and to rate and to discuss how well the humor in the songs works.
Jugs, Tubs, Kazoos, Whistles, Washboards, Shakes and More
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to a variety of backup and rhythm instruments, acquainting them with playing styles and giving them an opportunity to play various instruments along with some familiar songs. Information on finding or constructing the instruments and on jam etiquette will also be provided.
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to some of the ways to put together multimedia presentations. Emphasis will be placed on the slide shows combined with folk-style music that are used in Schilling's Slides, Songs, & Stories presentations. Topics will include: planning the overall presentation, developing the visual presentation, creating the audio portion, adding dance or movement, combining prepared and live media, involving the audience, and evaluating the overall presentation.
The purpose of this workshop is to have participants sing and hear some Shaker music while introducing them to some of the history of that music, some Shaker beliefs, Shaker communities, and Shaker letteral notation.
Some singers find more great songs than they write. Participants will hear (and may share) songs from various sources and find out about some of the resources they may use to find similar songs.
Singing and/or Playing Rounds
The purpose of this workshop is to sing and/or play songs as rounds. Participants will work on simple and/or familiar rounds sung and/or played ensemble and then in increasing number of parts. As time allows, more rounds with more words and/or more complex melodies will be attempted. Participants will be encouraged to lead and/or teach their choices of rounds with the other participants.
Songs from Canal Days
Many songs have been written describing life on the Ohio and Erie Canal and other canals. In this workshop participants will learn about this important part of our transportation history through several songs (particularly ones with words by Pearl Nye to popular tunes) and stories of the time. Participants are encouraged to join in with instruments and voices. This workshop can be even more effectively done when Bill is joined by Linda Sigismondi and/or Marge Diamond.
Songs from the Appalachians
The purpose of this workshop is to acquaint the participant with some of the variety of the songs and instruments that have roots in the Appalachian Mountains, whether the songs are originals from there or were brought from previous cultures by settlers in the area. Participants will have the opportunity to sing along on several songs, to play homemade or rhythm instruments which might have been used in the area, and to discuss and ask questions about the music, instruments, and lifestyle of the area.
Songs of Land and Water
The natural world has been the inspiration for many artistic creations. This workshop will explore several songs influenced by various features of land or water in many different places. Participants will be encouraged to become a part of the workshop by singing or playing along on some of the songs, leading or choosing some of the songs, or sharing thoughts or memories inspired by some of the songs.
Songs of Love
It would probably be safe to guess that more songs have been written about love and lost love than any other subject. Bring some of your favorites about either subject, and we'll see if we can share some laughter (and maybe some tears) as we join in songs from many times and places all celebrating (or bemoaning) love. We'll try to make sure to end with a positive feeling, no matter how many tribulations we go through.
Songs of Peace
Songs that celebrate peace, that bring peace within us, or that make us aware of the horrors of war can all be among the most powerful of our songs. Participants will get a chance to be a part of the peace process as we share some songs of each type and find out the effects they have on the participants.
Songs with Good Choruses
A shared group of voices is something really special. We'll try some rounds, some harmonies, some simple words to remember, some old favorites, and some challenges to the memories. We'll use instruments and we'll sing a capella. Participants may suggest or lead songs during the workshop, but everyone should come prepared to join in the singing!
Songs in the public domain that we don't know an author for come from all over the world and from many times. Participants in this workshop will get a chance to play, sing, or listen to songs from many traditions and will have the opportunity to suggest or perform songs for/with the other participants. Stay alert! See if you can discover when a composed (or even a copyrighted) song sneaks its way in masquerading as a traditional song. There may even be a contest to see who can identify the traditions and can find the ringers.
Vocal Accompaniment for Folk-Style Instruments
The purpose of this workshop is to allow participants to understand more about beginning instrumental styles for accompanying vocals (or melody instruments). Workshop participants will hear accompaniment styles on several instruments and get a chance to try adding their own instruments to the accompaniment. The workshop is appropriate for most folk instruments.
Sometimes a song demands a certain style of singing due to subject matter, area of origination, or a singer's interpretation. Participants will hear (and may share) songs in different voices and explanations of why they seem appropriate.
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