Licks‘n’Tricks Workshops

LT1  | Richard Smith

A Fingerstyle Guitar Overview

All Levels

Class Description

In this workshop, fingerstyle champion Richard Smith will teach:

  • Thumb/finger independence: Our “band” and soloist. Making sure we have good co-ordination and independence between the thumb and fingers.
  • Banjo Rolls: A look at Jerry Reed/country style  closed position and chromatic style banjo rolls.
  • Alternating Harmonics: We’ll take a simple step by step approach to learning how these work, and how to make the harmonics ring.
  • Practice right! Practice to improve. Practice to clean up your playing.
  • The metronome: Why and how to use it.
  • Use your ears, not your eyes! How to develop your ear and what to listen for without watching videos of other players.
  • Arranging: Using you ears is key, but what we aim for and avoid when arranging for solo guitar.
Richard will provide tabs of short songs, turnarounds & excerpts to demonstrate these skillsets, and strongly advises you to record the workshop for reference.  Please feel free to ask questions throughout the clinic.
Instructor Bio


Richard started playing the guitar at age 5 and has never looked back. Focusing early on with the fingerstyle guitar of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, he began transcribing classical music, jazz, the gypsy style of Django Reinhardt, bluegrass, ragtime and the blues to Sousa marches. As the 2001 National Finger­style Guitar Champion and 2008 Thumbpicker of the Year, Richard has thousands of performances worldwide to his credit and become renowned for his mastery of instrument and for his knock-out entertaining shows. Having married American cellist Julie Adams, he moved to Nashville in 2000. Since then, he has toured constantly around the US and Europe solo, or collaborating with Julie, his swing band The Hot Club of Nashville, Tommy Emmanuel, and countless others.


LT2 |  Tim Sparks 

Fingerstyle Blues Workshop


Class Description
This workshop will teach two classic songs associated with Eric Clapton. We will begin with Freddie King’s ‘Hideaway” and then learn an instrumental version of “If I Could Save the World”. Both songs are in the key of E and we will will break down and learn several cool riffs and chord phrases used to play these great songs.
All in all, this course will offer beginning and advanced students a lot of new licks and tricks to play blues in E. For fingerpickers but flatpickers are welcome too. Tabs and notation will be available.
Instructor Bio

Tim Sparks
Tim Sparks has been redefining the acoustic guitar repertoire since he won the National Fingerpicking Championship in 1993 with a ground breaking arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Sparks continues to surprise, challenge, and thrill audiences with his diverse repertoire and stunning technique. Equally at home with Country Blues, Jazz or World Music, Sparks’ extraordinary ability has earned him an international reputation as one of the most innovative guitarists working today. On his latest release, Chasin’ the Boogie, his playing evokes the sounds, sights, and smells of “New Orleans sportin’ houses, Harlem speakeasies and a world of tobacco fields, fire-breathing itinerant preachers, moonshine on Saturday night, and rapturous Gospel singing on Sunday morning.”


LT3  |  Kinloch Nelson 

Mapping the Fingerboard

All Levels

Class Description
Mapping the Fingerboard will explore and explain:
  • What if there were only One String? Adding strings one at a time. Arrive at Standard Tuning.
  • Points of Reference: where the notes are (multiple locations), fretboard markers and the octave grid.
  • Nut to Bridge, String to String: the linear aspects of fingering in melody and chord motion.
  • Chord Components and their relationship to scales. Scale layouts both across and along the fingerboard.
  • Why Standard Tuning produces only five primary chord shapes: E, A, D, G, & C. (What happened to B?)
  • Using the Five Shapes and the Octave Grid as framework for understanding and cataloguing everything else: scales, melodies, riffs, bass runs, other chords…
  • The colorful world beyond triads.
  • Tie this all together to play songs: as accompaniment to vocals, as material for solo arrangements.
  • Applying this system to Altered Tunings.
Players of any level are welcome, handouts provided and audio recording is permitted.
Instructor Bio


Kinloch Nelson’s 45-year career has run the gamut from solo classical recitals and folk concerts, to club and festival dates playing country, jazz, rock, rockabilly, and R & B. His fingerstyle guitar work has appeared in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, been reviewed in Just Jazz Magazine, and featured on PBS Television and Radio. A composer and recording artist, Nelson has authored a book on Alternate Tunings, released four solo CDs, one instructional DVD and a PBS-produced live concert DVD. Teaching credits include 25 years at Hochstein Music School in Rochester NY, summer sessions at Maryland Center For The Arts, and guitar workshops at the University of Rochester, S.U.N.Y. College Oswego NY and music festivals around the country.


LT4 | Teja Gerken

Introduction to Alternate Tunings

Adv Beginner/Intermediate

Class Description

Whether you’re completely new to playing in alternate tunings or want to expand on the tunings you already use, in this workshop, fingerstyle guitarist and Peghead Nation co-founder Teja Gerken will help you see beyond EADGBE.

Teja will begin by showing musical examples in common tunings such as Drop D, Open D, DADGAD, Open G, etc., and will discuss why you might choose one tuning over another. He will then use his arrangements of the Irish traditional The South Wind (in DADGAD) and the Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps (in CGDGCD tuning) to provide a musical context and to get students playing (music in TAB and standard notation will be provided).

Throughout the workshop, Teja will emphasize ways to understand the common territory between various tunings, as well as their relationships to standard tuning, which will help you navigate the rearranged fretboard. Teja will also demonstrate how alternate tunings facilitate contemporary fingerstyle techniques, how they can be useful in the context of playing with others, and how to use them in multiple keys. This workshop will provide a foundation for Doug Young’s Advanced DADGAD workshop.

Instructor Bio

GerkenTeja Gerken ( has been deeply involved with the contemporary fingerstyle guitar scene for more than 20 years, and his two CDs of solo fingerstyle tunes, On My Way and Postcards have received international acclaim. Teja is a co-founder of the music instruction website Peghead Nation (, and he has written extensively about guitars and guitarists during his 15 years tenure as an editor for Acoustic Guitar magazine, and as a contributor to Fretboard Journal, Guitar Player, Premier Guitar,and other publications. In addition, he is the author of The Taylor Guitar Book.


LT5 |  Kenny Sultan 

Get Your Groove On: Texas & Piedmont Fingerstyle Blues


Class Description
This class is for those that already try to play some finger style blues, but feel that it is too mechanical, and the proper groove is missing.
I will help you establish a better rhythmic foundation, using a combination of right and left hand techniques and will incorporate both alternating thumb and monotone thumb finger-style playing, concentrating on Texas style blues and Piedmont Ragtime Blues.
You will learn the importance of the right hand, especially the thumb, to control the feel and tempo, how to get the backbeat going by utilizing a strong thumb, and also right hand damp technique.
We will also explore some simple up the neck options, using basic chords that you are already familiar with.
Songs will be taught that will incorporate each specific region and style.
Tab and notes will be provided.
Instructor Bio

Kenny Sultan

Kenny has been playing guitar since the age of seven. Soon thereafter, his brother introduced him to the blues of T-Bone Walker and Lightnin’ Hopkins. The effect was permanent.

Kenny’s classes are very informative, but also very loose, and a fun way to bring your guitar playing to another level. He has taught music, guitar and music history at the university level and has conducted countless workshops and seminars. His published instructional works include four books and three DVDs. Kenny has also appeared as a sideman on numerous recordings by other artists, on eight duo albums with Tom Ball, and has two widely acclaimed solo guitar CDs. “This music is played as if I was sitting on my couch around midnight playing for myself.” Acoustic Guitar Magazine raved, “Fluid grooves and a slew of very tasty licks.”


LT6 |  Tony McManus

Celtic Style


Class Description

DADGAD has become intimately associated with Celtic music. Some of the very first pieces arranged by Davy Graham in this tuning were from that repertoire. What is it about the tuning that makes it so suitable for playing this music? Tony will illustrate with some examples of very accessible music in DADGAD and along the way the different structures of jigs, reels, and airs.

DADGAD is not the only tuning that finds a home in Celtic music. Csus2 or CGCGCD is a great tool also, as is CGDGCD. These two differ by one note on the 4th string but they are very different beasts. This can be used to illustrate relationships between tunings that can help us make sense of them. One last tuning is DAAEAE for playing bagpipe music on guitar and we can look at how to emulate the sound of the pipes with the guitar.

We will cover left and right hand ornamentation techniques, useful in any tuning, to help us get inside the Celtic idiom.

Instructor Bio

McManus Rev

From the beginning of his career Tony has been regarded as one of the leading guitarists in Celtic music, collaborating with top musicians in Ireland, Brittany and Galicia as well as his native Scotland. His unique approach to this ancient music has brought him admirers in every corner of the planet and in every genre of music. His restless musicality saw him recently release an album entirely of baroque and classical pieces arranged and played on steel string guitar- prompting Tommy Emmanuel to exclaim “this music is beyond beautiful. It’s perfect!”


LT7 | Ken Emerson & Jim “Kimo” West

Hawaiian Slack Key

All Skill Levels

Class Description

Hawaiian slack key and steel guitar with Ken Emerson and Jim Kimo West: A special Slack Key workshop for guitar, slide, Weissenborn, resonator and dobro players.

Starting with slack key guitar instruction in Open G or “Taro Patch” tuning, we will cover ascending and descending patterns, runs and turn-arounds – the sounds that define slack key. Tabs will be provided so students can play along with the examples.

We will then explore the places where slack key meets Hawaiian blues and jazz and look at some contemporary styles and unusual techniques.  The G Wahine (G Major 7th) tuning will be covered as well as “Drop C”. Between G Major and Drop C tunings and the use of a capo, students can play slack key in any key.

For those with slide guitars, Ken Emerson will teach lap steel techniques and songs in Open G, G6 and others tunings. He  will also demonstrate his unusual “slack/steel” technique. For those only interested in slack key, Kimo will work with each student to provide personalized instruction.

Chord charts and tabs for both “Taro Patch” and “Drop C” tuning will be distributed as well as a tab for Kimo’s composition, “Ulupalakua Sunset” in the beautiful C major tuning.

Instructor Bio

Hawaiian slack key guitar (ki ho’alu) is one of the great acoustic guitar traditions of the world, dating back to the 1840’s when guitars were first brought to Hawaii and relatively unknown outside the islands until recently. “Slack Key” means that some of the strings are slacked from standard tuning, with the bass, melody, and improvisation played at the same time, and is often played to accompany traditional dance or song. Many players use their own special tunings that often remain proprietary secrets.

Jim “Kimo” West first visited Hana, Maui in 1985, after a long summer on the road as guitarist for famed musical satirist, “Weird Al” Yankovic. As the sounds of Gabby Pahinui, the Sons of Hawai’i, Sonny Chillingworth, The Sunday Manoa, and others, played on the turntable, he jammed along for fun and relaxation. Already a devotee of open tunings, he was immediately drawn to the gentle rhythms of ki ho ‘alu (slack key guitar) and soon began writing his own songs. The rich physical and cultural landscape of the Hana Coast has provided the inspiration for many of his compositions.

While always retaining the heartfelt essence of traditional slack key, Jim “Kimo” West brings much of his own musical heritage to his original ki ho’alu instrumentals. His style can best be described as “nahenahe”, meaning “soft, sweet or gentle voice”, a fusion of old and new but still rooted deeply in tradition.

Jim lives in Los Angeles where he writes and produces music for film and television. His music has graced feature films and TV shows on all the major networks and cable channels and his slack key compositions have been featured on National Public Radio, Honda TV spots as well as the Disney Channel.

Kenton Robert Lopaka Emerson is a San Francisco bay area born/ Hawaiian island bred guitarist who covers many musical genres. He has played his special blend of Blues/Jazz Hawaiian guitar for 40 years and running..His original compositions and performances on ‘Slack Key Guitar Vol 2’ (Palm Records) helped bring in the first ever 2005 GRAMMY award for Hawaiian music.


LT8 |  Michael Chapdelaine 

Melody, Harmony & Orchestration for Solo Guitar


Class Description

Any tune or idea that you have ever thought of or heard can be played on solo guitar. It’s like solving a puzzle; knowing what to leave in and what to leave out is the key. We will work on issues of:

  • Melody: What the melody is and where should we put it in the texture and on the fingerboard so that it can sing out and move the player and listener.
  • Harmony: How to discover and voice the chords in a way that will support, and not conflict with, the melody.
  • Orchestration: None of the notes are equal. You will see how to deal with that on a technical level.
  • Technique: You will learn some of the tricks from both the classical and popular worlds that lead to making the music work on our instrument.
Instructor Bio


Michael Chapdelaine is the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world’s top competitions in both the Classical and Fingerstyle genres; the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition and the National Fingerstyle Championships at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield , Kansas.


LT9 |  Doug Young 

DADGAD – Beyond the Basics


Class Description

DADGAD – Beyond the Basics will explore some of the benefits of the tuning beyond the core open-string sounds. We’ll explore:

  • Playing harp-style. We’ll look at how to play melodies so that subsequent notes lie on different strings, creating a harp-like sound.
  • Chords beyond the key of D. We’ll explore both open string and moveable chord shapes that can take us beyond droning in D.
  • Chord progressions. What if someone asked you to back them up on a popular tune, but you were tuned to DADGAD? We’ll explore common progressions that come up over and over in folk, pop, and jazz, in multiple keys, and we’ll see how it can be both easy and sonically intriguing to play them in DADGAD.
  • Advanced chords: We’ll see how to play altered “jazz” chords as well as how to create some uniquely DADGAD jazzy sounds
  • Applying what we’ve learned: We’ll work through and send you home with 2 or 3 performance-ready arrangements of pop or jazz standards that put these ideas to work. Do you think the key of E-flat isn’t guitar-friendly? Or that it can’t possibly be a good key for a D-based tuning like DADGAD? Come and find out!
  • Tab for all tunes and examples
Instructor Bio

Doug Young

Doug Young is a fingerstyle guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in alternate tunings. Besides composing, performing and recording, Doug is a Contributing Editor to Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and the author of two Mel Bay books “Understanding DADGAD” and “Fiddle Tunes in DADGAD.”


LT10  |  Sean McGowan

Solo Jazz Guitar: Arranging & Techniques


Class Description

This workshop will be based on concepts from the Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials (String Letter/Hal Leonard) book, and will include:

• Practical chord voicings and common substitutions
• Piano-style walking basslines with chord comping
• Jazz rhythm & phrasing
• Playing multiple parts simultaneously
• Basics of improvisation for solo guitar
• Developing fingerstyle and hybrid technique with a pick
• Arranging jazz & blues standards for gigs
• Organizing effective practice sessions

Instructor Bio


Sean McGowan is an award-winning jazz guitarist and author of the Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials book/DVD. He is the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado Denver and is a lesson contributor for Acoustic Guitar magazine.


LT11 |  Mark Hanson 

Travis Picking from the Ground Up


Class Description
Mark Hanson’s Fingerstyle “Travis Picking” Workshop will include:
• Short demonstration and history of the ubiquitous alternating-bass fingerpicking style
• Hands-On playing – Everyone plays together!
• Get the thumb going on every beat on the proper strings
• “Pinch” with index, middle and ring fingers
• Fingers pick on and off the beat over the thumb pattern
• First accompaniment pattern
• Chord-change exercises – keeping the picking hand going
• First song!
• Second accompaniment pattern, and turning it into a “Solo Style”
• Picking melodies over the alternating bass
• Learn two playable, cool tunes from Mark
• Handouts included of all material
Instructor Bio

Mark Hanson

Fingerstyle guitarist and author Mark Hanson won a Grammy in 2005 for his contributions to the “Henry Mancini – Pink Guitar” CD. He has shared the stage with many of the greats, including Tommy Emmanuel, John Renbourn, and the late Jerry Garcia. Mark played for the President of the United States in 2009.
Mark has written over two dozen guitar books and DVDs, including “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.” His “Art of Solo Fingerpicking” is included in the recent publication “50 Greatest Guitar Books.” Mark’s music is heard on NPR and Martha Stewart Living, even on American Idol! Each summer he runs his own Accent On Music Fingerstyle Guitar Seminar in Portland, Oregon.


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