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Open the Door to Your Next Adventure

by Cory Marie Podielski on July 11, 2014

in Around Campus, New & Noteworthy


Our new catalog is here! About the Cover: A detail of a quilt made by Julie Sibley. This quilt speaks of the joyful adventures and possibilities that await each Folk School student. Over the years, Julie has created many beautiful quilts for Fall Festival that honor the spirit of the school.

The new catalog includes classes from July 2014 through June 2015. Request a printed Catalog or view the current eCatalog online. You can also search and register for all 2014 classes on our website. Our printed catalog comes out twice a year, in July and December. If you would like to be on our mailing list you can also call us at 1-800-365-5724 or email us.

Have fun choosing your next class!


10 Reasons to Try Shape Note Singing

by Annie Fain Barralon on July 2, 2014

in Community Events, Music! Dancing!

Shape Note Singers with Richard Moss in the Keith House at the Folk School, 1978

Shape Note Singers with Richard Moss in the Keith House at the Folk School, 1978

For anyone who loves to belt it out in the shower, was moved by the church scene in Cold Mountain with everyone belting it out together, or is simply a fan of “belting it out” in life, Shape Note singing is for you!

Every time I have participated in a sing, I have been overcome with the sort of pure emotion that stems from being truly “in the moment” without even realizing it. It is incredibly refreshing and I whole-heartedly recommend it as a great way to spend a summer-time Saturday.

My top 10 favorite things about Shape Note singing (in no particular order):

#1. You don’t have to know how to read music or find harmonies. You can just relax and follow the singing leaders and shapes that resemble each note on the page.
#2. Sitting next to a seasoned singer helps you sound like a seasoned singer (It’s the same theory as a lead biker “breaking the wind” for the riders behind them).
#3. The more raw, gutsy and untrained your way of singing, the better it sounds.
#4. You are not alone! This is true togetherness through song. It is basically a room full of 4 part harmonies happening simultaneously. A perfect opportunity to melt into the crowd.
#5. The harmonies are so different from what you typically hear. They sound so old and heart wrenching… SO beautiful.
#6. Singing increases oxygen to the brain, releases endorphins and reduces stress. All good things, right?
#7. It is a different way to meet folks from our region. At the Folk School sing North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and even Alabama are often represented.
#8. It is a safe space for people of all different beliefs and is simply intended as a mode to celebrate joyful living.
#9. The Saturday sing doesn’t drain your go-out-and-have-fun budget. It’s free!

…and last, but not least

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To have the freedom we had as children: to explore, to try new things, to dabble, to be alright with not being good at it, to immerse ourselves and relinquish all responsibilities for awhile… sound good? Since 1925, John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC has been answering the call of adults who want to have fun learning about music, art, nature, crafts, gardening, cooking, storytelling and writing.


Folk school gardens

Their history is fascinating. The school’s namesake, John C. Campbell was described by his colleagues at Piedmont College as “the guy from up North that you can get along with” when he was president of the school. In 1903, he and his wife Olive Dame outfitted a covered wagon and set out to explore Appalachia. John interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and Olive collected traditional ballads and studied the handicrafts. They aspired to improve the quality of education in the region but they were also studying the wonderful crafts, music and tools that mountain people used. Beyond cruel stereotypes, not much was known of this region at the time. The book of ballads Olive eventually published is still the seminal work on the subject.

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Craft Heaven

by Carol Bjorlie on June 24, 2014

in Featured Classes, Writing

Some of the beautiful flowers grown in our gardens

The beautiful campus of the Folk School inspires the writer in all of us.

The cusp: a potter at her wheel, wood turner at his bench, weaver and loom, blacksmith and forge, fiddler and fiddle, glass-maker and fire, writer and page. Craft communities are small heavens open to ordinary and extraordinary people.

As I prepare to teach Crafting Words at the J. C. Campbell Folk School (Aug. 22 – 24) I am drawn to what unites artists. How does a poet meet a photographer? With awe and respect. We share ideals: perseverance, attentiveness, desire, delight, despair, communication, and the ability to acknowledge the muse and at times, let her have her way.

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Crafting Words

by Carol Bjorlie on June 21, 2014

in Featured Classes, Writing

Observing painters, musicians, enamelists, woodturners and their work is transformative, and being part of the creative process of master and student crafter is a privilege. Word follows image because writers must do something in response to what they see and feel.

I will be instructing a writing class on the weekend of August 22 -24, 2014 titled “Crafting Words” where you can learn to weave, carve, piece, center, and color words in response to the artists that will surround us at the Folk School.  We will observe them, write, and share our work. Writers of all levels are encouraged to attend.

“I write because I love the world. I am learning to love a new world. I am now living in the Blue Ridge mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, near the French Broad River’s shoal-shallow banks. I was born in Richmond, Virginia. My poems sound the way I talk, with words like “veranda, magnolia,” that made me listen to myself when I said them in St. Paul, coming out naturally here as shrimp and grits for dinner.”

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