Upcoming Classes Celebrate Irish Music & Dance

Irish Set Dancing in Open House near the Folk School Vegetable Garden

Do you love the sounds of Irish music? Do you dream of playing a reel or dancing a jig? We have some great upcoming classes to immerse you in the spirit of Ireland! Gain confidence to join in the fun of traditional Irish music and dance in your community and abroad.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day is the wildly fun weekend class, Irish Set Dancing. If you are familiar with American square dancing, Irish set dancing is like the Celtic cousin waving from across the Atlantic. Both Irish set dancing and square dancing are descendants of quadrilles, so they are a little similar. Jim Morrison is an excellent teacher who will break down the moves and figures patiently and clearly. The music is jumpin’ and lively and will keep you in the St. Patty’s spirit for the rest of March.

Anglo concertina (left), bodhrán (right)

Two upcoming music classes,  Get a Good Start on Concertina! and Bodhrán: Intro to Irish Drumming will introduce you to an Irish instrument, even if you are a complete beginner. Like an accordion, a concertina is a bellow-driven, free reed instrument. The Anglo concertina (which is shaped like a hexagonal box with buttons) is the specific instrument Aaron Olwell will be teaching in his class. Students will learn to play melodies and chords and to learn tunes by ear. A bodhrán (pronounced bow-rawn) is a handheld drum beaten with a tipper, a short wooden stick. The bodhrán is always played vertically, resting on the musician’s knee. Instructor Andrew Kruspe will focus on instrument background and practical application, giving student a good balance of historical and cultural, along with lots of playing time. Both classes cover fundamentals, Irish rhythms, and will give you the confidence to join in a beginning Irish music session in your town.

Fiddling in the Music Studio

Already play the fiddle and looking to expand your repertoire to include Irish tunes and rhythms? Tom Morley’s intermediate weekend class, Irish Fiddle: Intro to Fun Irish Trad Tunes, will provide the tools, skills, and tip to play Irish-style music. We also have a Folk Harp Gathering week-long class led by Lorinda Jones & Sue Richards geared toward continuing and intermediate harpists who want to gather, share, play and learn together. This class is during Scottish Heritage Week, but this beautiful, fairytale-like sounding instrument has its roots in ancient Celtic culture, trickling down to both Scottish and Irish cultures.

Continue reading Upcoming Classes Celebrate Irish Music & Dance

Rags to Riches with JoEl Levy LoGiudice

Rag rug weaving embraces the folk art tradition of using everyday, readily available materials to build aesthetically beautiful, yet functional art: textiles made from the things we have, can forage, or acquire. With the craze du jour surrounding KonMari, now is a good time to think about new options for all those clothes you may be putting into the “Thank you, goodbye” pile. Rag rug weaving might be your perfect option!

A table runner made by JoEl with woven plastic bags! See a photo below of the process.

Rag weaving a craft that always offers a student the opportunity to get in the spirit of upcycling. I recently talked with longtime Folk School instructor, JoEl Levy LoGiudice about this sustainable, functional, colorful, and beautiful type of weaving. JoEl has taught rag rug weaving, among other subjects, at the Folk School since 1987. She has two classes coming up: Fabulous Fabric Necklaces on May 17–19 and Woven Rag Rugs and Runners on Oct 13–19. Enjoy our interview!

CP: You’ve been teaching at the Folk School for over 30 years! That’s so awesome. Do you remember the first time you came to the Folk School?

JLL: I learned about the school from a former student of mine when I taught at the Appalachian Center for Crafts. Douglas Atchley had recently moved to Brasstown to manage the craft gallery (at that time it was located in the History Center) and he thought I would enjoy teaching here. He put me in contact with Ruth, who was directing programs at that time, and the first class I taught was Appalachian Rib Baskets. Continue reading Rags to Riches with JoEl Levy LoGiudice

Studio Batik with Jessica Kaufman

Photo by Nicole McConville

Have you ever wanted to try batik and hand-dyeing? We have a very special surface design class coming up on April 7–13, 2019 with Jessica Kaufman: Studio Batik: Many Techniques, Amazing Results. Jessica has studied batik methods from Indonesia and India and is the owner of WAXON Batik & Dye Studio in Asheville, NC. With over 16 years of teaching experience and an MA in crafts education, Jessica has taught batik and tie-dye to summer campers, school children, high schoolers, and adults all over the country. We are lucky to have her for a week-long intensive focusing on this gorgeous and functional art form. Enjoy our interview!

Photo by Nicole McConville

CP: When did you first come to the Folk School? When were you a host?

JK: I grew up with relatives in Penland and would visit the school for community days, but couldn’t align my work schedule in a way that would allow me to take a class there when I was a young full-time teacher. Someone suggested I take a look at the John C. Campbell Folk School and it was absolute love at first sight. The week-long classes, offered year-round, were a dream come true.

I saved my pennies and booked a clay class over my spring break in 2005. I was teaching in a Haywood County public school and this class just lined up with my vacation days. Ted Cooley was our class assistant and two young women I knew from Asheville were the Hosts. I immediately saw the potential for myself there. I took a few more classes as a student, and then, in 2009, I served six months as Host. I was the last six-month host (the school went to a four-month system after that) but I wished it was still a 2-year position, as it was in Ellie Wilson’s time. I would have signed up instantly for that! Continue reading Studio Batik with Jessica Kaufman

Weavers’ Work Week

In our recent letter from Folk School Director Jerry Jackson, Weavers’ Work Week was featured in Janet Davis’ story (if you missed it, read the letter online here). I thought this would be a great time to talk to Pam Howard, the Folk School’s Resident Weaver, about this special week. Weavers’ Work Week is an annual tradition at the Folk School where skilled weavers are invited to come for a week and volunteer their time to do projects around campus and make improvements in the studio. Let’s learn more from Pam…

Pam Howard at the loom

CP: What is Weavers’ Work Week, and how did it start?

PH: The idea for Weavers’ Work Week started in 1992. A weaving teacher, Betty Hancock Smith and her weaving student, Dee Richard were talking about how hard it was sitting all week on the loom benches. Those two got to talking about what if weavers were invited to come to the school and weave fabric to make the cushions. They asked Jan Davidson, former director and Ruth Truett, former programs director. It was approved, and in the spring of 1993 the first Weavers’ Work Week happened.

I was assisting Betty in her weaving class in 1992, and I was the first weaver that was asked to participate. I have been to every one since. From 1993 to 2000, Betty was in charge of organizing the yearly event. In 2000, I became the Resident Weaver and took it over organizing it. Things went on fairly smoothly till 2008 when I had health issues and inherited relatives I had to take care of. After the dust settled and things had calmed down in my life, I thought it was time to restart the tradition of WWW. So, on February 4, 2015 I sent a letter to the “powers that be” and got Weavers’ Work Week back on the schedule. Continue reading Weavers’ Work Week

We Welcome Ted Cooley as the Folk School Music and Dance Program Coordinator

We are so happy to welcome Ted Cooley as our Music and Dance Coordinator. Ted has an illustrious history with the Folk School. He’s twice served as a host, and then settled in the area to help launch our JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) Program in 2005. He taught and served as the JAM Program coordinator for 8 years. Ted has taught over 40 Folk School classes over the years. He served as the Nature Studies Resident Artist, and is currently the Storytelling Resident Artist. I talked to Ted about his experience in the Folk School community, and his thoughts on returning as the Music and Dance Coordinator. Enjoy our interview!

CP: What originally brought you to the Folk School?

TC: Like so many of us, I found out about the Folk School by happening upon a catalog, and I was amazed that you could study so many different things at one place! At the time, I was a graduate student at ETSU and I immediately decided to take a break from my studies and apply for the Host position. The rest (as they say) is history.

CP: What’s it like returning to the Folk School as a full-time employee?

TC: It has been wonderful reconnecting with the greater Folk School community! Though I have been teaching in Virginia, it feels, in many ways, as though I never left. One of the magical qualities of the Folk School is that you always feel at home here.

Ted playing a fiddle tune outside the History Center.

CP: What are the strengths of the music and dance program at the Folk School? What are you excited to bring to the table?

TC: The Folk School is unique in regard to the amount of programing offered in music and dance. There are weekly opportunities for folks to study a wide variety of musical instruments and dance styles. There are also opportunities for the larger community to attend live concerts and participate in weekly dances at the Keith house. There is always something being offered!

I have a deep love for traditional music and dance. During the last few years my social life revolved around playing music at weekly jams and going to dances around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I also enjoy running sound and coordinating events. One of the advantages that I have in my new role is that I have been working for the Folk School for many years. I have been a host twice, been a Resident Artist and Recreation Leader for our youth programs. I not only have met a lot of artists connected with the School, but these opportunities have also given me a unique perspective that I feel will be helpful during my tenure here! Continue reading We Welcome Ted Cooley as the Folk School Music and Dance Program Coordinator