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D&E’s Augusta Heritage Center sets schedule for summer courses

Staff report

The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS, W.Va.  — The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College is planning an exciting assortment of affordable evening mini-courses with top notch instructors each week of the summer sessions starting July 10. Most courses meet every Monday through Thursday from 6-7:15 p.m. on the College campus and are designed to fit the schedules of people who can’t spend the entire day taking in the Augusta experience.

Masterful mandolin player and Elkins native Jeremy Wanless works one-on-one with a participant in his Augusta Heritage Center mini-course, Monroe Style Mandolin, in the library of historic Halliehurst mansion. The course is for intermediate to advanced mandolin players who want to hone in on techniques that achieve the classic bluegrass sound of Bill Monroe’s mandolin. The class will meet from 6-7:15 p.m. July 31 to Aug. 3. For more information and to register, visit
(Submitted photo)

With instruction in various forms of traditional music, dance and craft, classes are available in all levels including several “from scratch” offerings that require no prior experience to participate. Registration is currently open at Call the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-637-1209 for more information.

“This year we are very excited to offer such a new array of evening mini-courses,”Becky Hill, events coordinator at Augusta, said. “We hope the Elkins community and Augusta participants take the opportunity to learn traditional dance, music and craft with fantastic instructors from all around the country. Who knows, students might find a hobby they’d like to pursue for years to come.”

Starting with week one, Cajun & Creole and Classic Country Week, July 10-13, class offerings are Cajun Men Cook; Accordion Repair; Beginning Harmony Singing; Sampling Cajun French; Seconding on the Fiddle; Dance Party — South Louisiana Style; and Where Do Country Songs Come From?

Cajun Men Cook follows a different schedule. From 4-6 p.m., Johnny Navarre and Patrick Fuselier will teach the secrets of how to cook up a Cajun jambalaya, red beans and rice, and much more. Anyone is welcome to participate and students get to eat what they cook.

A participant in Augusta Heritage Center’s evening mini-course Cajun Men Cook enjoys some homemade Cajun cuisine under the trees on a sunny afternoon. Taught by Johnny Navarre and Patrick Fuselier, Cajun Men Cook is open to everyone — not just men. The course will be conducted from 4-6 p.m. each day July 10-13. Participants will learn to cook authentic Cajun food and enjoy the music and camaraderie of Cajun & Creole Week at Augusta. For more information and to register, visit

Jesse Lege will teach Accordion Repair where participants will learn common maintenance and repairs for the accordion.

Beginning Harmony Singing with Tom Cook and Debbi Kauffmann will provide participants with a from scratch chance to practice by ear two-part harmony through duets and small groups.

Sampling Cajun French with Zach Fuselier is designed to enhance participants’ ability to speak French and understand the songs that are sung in Cajun music. Students must have some basic comprehension of French.

Courtney Granger will instruct Seconding on the Fiddle for all levels. Participants will learn basic fiddle chords, easy transitions between chords and rhythm that can be incorporated into every tune they play.

Jim Phillips and Christy Leichty are going to throw a Dance Party — South Louisiana Style every evening and teach students how to two step, waltz in both Cajun and country styles, and zydeco. Beginners are welcome.

In Where do Country Songs Come From? with Mary Battiata, students will learn to sing classic country songs with memorable lyrics drawn from nature. They also will have a chance to give songwriting a try.

Week two, Blues & Swing Week, July 17-20, mini course offerings are Blues Harmonica Performance; Barbecue Cooking; Variations on the 12 Bar Blues; and Fundamental Lindy Hop — Expressing Swing Music through Movement.

In Blues Harmonica Performance, Joe Filisko will provide critiques on students’ playing, stage presence and musicianship while educating them on how to be good performers. All levels are welcome.

Thomas Bryan Eaton will teach Variations on 12 Bar Blues. The class will start with basic theory, beginning with the simplest 12 bar blues and add chords to the progression. All levels are welcome.

Barbecue Cooking with Derrick Helzer will run from 5-7 p.m. Participants will learn the tricks on how to barbecue and get to eat what they cook.

Fundamental Lindy Hop, instructed by David and Amy Loomis, is an introduction to swing dancing for beginners and the experienced. Participants will learn how to connect with the music and their partners.

In week four, Bluegrass Week, July 31 to Aug. 3, classes will be offered in Monroe Style Mandolin; Clawhammer Banjo; Introduction to Herbal Medicine; and Roots & Branches of Bluegrass: From Ancient Ballads to West Virginia Songs of Work & Freedom.

Participants in Jeremy Wanless’ Monroe Style Mandolin will study the fundamentals of the traditional Monroe style bluegrass mandolin and its role in a band setting. The class is geared for intermediate and advanced musicians.

Introduction to Herbal Medicine taught by Maureen Farrell will teach participants how to identify, harvest and use five basic herbs that are either native or gregarious in our ecosystem. Participants will learn basics of wild crafting and plant structure. The class is open to all levels.

Clawhammer Banjo is a beginner offering taught by Kevin Chesser and will include tuning, chords and how to play a simple old-time melody on banjo in the drop thumb style. Participants need not have ever picked up a banjo to take this class.

Roots and Branches of Bluegrass with Michael and Carrie Kline will teach students ballads and work songs that serve as the foundation of bluegrass music. The class is open to all levels.

The final week of Augusta, Old-Time and Vocal, Aug. 7-10, will offer mini-courses in Flatfooting Basics; Fingerstyle Banjo; Folk Songs & Ballads of West Virginia; and Yodeling for Everyone: An Introduction to the Lost Art of Yodeling.

Rina Rossi will teach Beginning Flatfooting using the Tennessee walking step as the focal point. Students will spend the week learning to dance as drummers for live old-time music. Beginners are welcome.

Fingerstyle Banjo is an all levels class taught by Clarke Wyatt. The course will focus on two and three finger up-stroke banjo techniques. Participants will learn thumb lead and index lead two-finger styles, and then practice switching fluidly between the two.

Folk Songs & Ballads of West Virginia is an all levels singing course taught by Gerry Milnes. From children’s ditties to child ballads, railroad songs to humorous folk songs, the class will be an overview of traditional songs in the Mountain State.

Yodeling for Everyone taught by John Lilly is an introduction to the basics of yodeling and all that comes with it.

“We have many wonderful mini-courses on our schedule this summer, all taught by incredible artists and musicians who are most importantly amazing teachers.”Augusta Director Beth King said. “Mini-courses are a great way to learn a new skill or craft. Whether starting from scratch or broadening your knowledge on a craft or instrument you already practice, the mini-courses are a great option for learning.”

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