Steve's Workshops


"FUN class - I went from 0 chords to 10 chords played, and heard chord changes in one week!"
Kentucky Music Week student

"Steve Smith was excellent as a teacher! His handouts and music choices were just right - easier to follow and learn!" Kentucky Music Week student

Workshop topics include the following, and may be configured for different length sessions (week-long, one day, two day, etc. and customized for various skill and knowledge levels).


Guitar Workshops


  • How to Accompany Others on Guitar: 
    The art of backing up a lead instrument, such as a hammered dulcimer, is a very special skill that must be learned and developed over time. In this workshop, the student will learn the key factors needed to make your guitar and the other instrument involved sound as though they are one instrument. How to follow and support the lead instrument with complimentary chord progressions and leading runs will be taught, along with how to play with dynamics and expression. ALL SKILL LEVELS [All levels of guitar skills will benefit from this workshop, with intermediate skills the desired norm]


  • Thumb Picking Guitar:
    Basic three finger-roll, right-hand alternating thumb patterns on the lower strings with fingers filling in chords and melodies on the upper strings. How to back up other acoustic instruments with passing chords and supporting ornamentation. INTERMEDIATE SKILL LEVEL [Student needs to be able to play basic left-hand chords smoothly including both open and bar chords.]


  • Intermediate Guitar:
    Take your guitar playing to the next level by adding various chord variations and progressions, leading runs that fill out the tune or song you are playing, and how to play with dynamics and expression. We'll also learn to use the simple "Nashville Number System" for song chord charting used for decades in Nashville recording sessions.



  • Advanced Beginner Guitar:
    Picking up from beginning guitar, this level introduces various right-hand patterns of rhythm, chord progression structure, and bar chord formation. We will learn how to figure out chord progressions by ear, learning to hear what keys and chord patterns are being used, then play them ourselves without using music or tablature. ADVANCED BEGINNING LEVEL [Student needs to be able to play basic left-hand open chords smoothly and have a basic steady rhythm ability with the right-hand]


  • Beginning Guitar: 
    Starting with the basic terminology of the guitar, how to place your left and right hands properly on the guitar, moving on to begin forming basic open chords in several keys and how to play them cleanly so that they ring true. We will go as fast or as slowly as the class needs to build a solid foundation for playing the guitar well. You will learn to play the chords and chord progressions for many familiar songs. BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL [No experience necessary]

Banjo Workshops


  • Clawhammer Banjo from the Ground Up:
    Basic right-hand clawhammer stroke, simple left-hand chords, pulloffs, and hammer-ons, along with simple melody lines to begin to play the old-timey way. BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL [No experience necessary]

  • Clawhammer Banjo ~ Advanced Beginner:
    This is is for those who have accomplished the basic right-hand clawhammer stroke, simple left-hand chords, pulloffs, and hammer-ons, along with simple melody lines and know at least a few tunes. Developing a solid clawhammer rhythm will be stressed. The three basic clawhammer tunings will be taught and used. Drop-thumb, right-hand rolls will be introduced. ADVANCED BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL [Have a decent grasp of the right-hand clawhammer stroke and comfortable left-hand dexterity]


  • Sawmill Clawhammer Banjo:
    Learn the old Appalachian mountain modal tuning called “Sawmill” with the “Galax Lick,” pulloffs, hammer-ons, and a couple of basic drop thumb rolls in a simple arrangement of the mountain favorite “Shady Grove.” ADVANCED BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL [Have a decent grasp of the right-hand clawhammer stroke and comfortable left-hand dexterity]

  • Clawhammer Banjo Repertoire:
    Tunes in Double C/D, Standard G/A, & Old Mountain Modal "Sawmill" tuning. We can work on instrumental and/or vocal versions of tunes depending on students’ preferences and skill levels. INTERMEDIATE SKILL LEVEL [Student needs to have basic clawhammer stroke down, the ability to play a few chords smoothly, and the ability to pick out a simple melody line by ear]

Ukulele Workshops


  • Beginning Ukulele: 
    Starting with the basic terminology of the ukulele, how to place your left and right hands properly on the uke, moving on to begin forming basic open chords in several keys and how to play them cleanly so that they ring true. Simple right hand ukulele strumming will be taught. You will learn to play the chords and chord progressions for many familiar songs. BEGINNER SKILL LEVEL [No experience necessary]


  • Ukulele Tunes &Technique: 
    Learn the variety and styles of music that can be played on the ukulele with an assortment of chords, melodies, strums, rolls, and fingerpicking patterns. You’ll learn to use these techniques on many popular songs. Both vocal songs and instrumental tunes will be taught. ADVANCED BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE SKILL LEVELS



  • The  Aloha Music of Hawaii:
    The ukulele is most associated with Hawaii and its Pacific island music. Learn to play the Hawaiian way on ukulele. You’ll learn many traditional Hawaiian and “Hapa Haole” (mixing Hawaiian and English lyrics) songs including Israel 'Iz' Kamakawiwo'ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Learn the ukulele with Steve, who lived in Hawaii and played music professionally there for 15 years.  [ADVANCED BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE]


  • Ukelele for Guitar Players: 
    This is a workshop for guitar players who would like to start playing the ukulele. The ukulele chord structure is the same as the guitar's high four strings (D G B E) but tuned (G C E A). Right hand standard ukulele strumming and picking will be covered. Several familiar songs will be taught.

    INTERMEDIATE GUITAR SKILL LEVEL OR HIGHER [really familiar and comfortable on the guitar with good left-hand dexterity] NO EXPERIENCE OR SKILL ON THE UKULELE REQUIRED AT ALL


    Note: For 18 years, Steve taught Audio Production/Recording, as well as Copyrights, Publishing, & Music Licensing at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina (retiring in 2014).


Songwriting, Recording, Publishing & Performance Workshops 


  • Songwriting
    Steve, an ASCAP award winning songwriter, shares the steps and methods for creating a well crafted song, both lyrics and music. Students will learn where to start writing a song from just an idea, how to then build that idea into a complete, well-structured song, and finally how to rewrite and rewrite until the song is all that it can and should be. The crucial art of creating music that sets the right emotional platform for your lyrics will be explained and demonstrated.

  • Music Publishing, Copyrights, and Licensing: 
    Learn how to copyright your music. Learn the legal requirements concerning the public use of others' music in your performances and/or in your recordings. This session will clear up the vast amount of misinformation that exists about the legal use of music and how to get permission to use or license it. Public performance and mechanical royalty structure will also be discussed. New developing digital download and streaming copyright issues will be explained. BRING YOUR QUESTIONS. [FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS]

  • How to Create Effective Concerts:
    Choosing songs for your set lists, creating good, short, interesting song introductions, and making a good order for pacing. Understanding your audience and creating the right content and length for your concert. Onstage performance techniques. How to read your crowd and adjust in mid-concert. How to handle sound, lighting and audience difficulties. [FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS]


  • Producing your own CD & MP3s Start to Finish: 
    Includes all aspects of producing, recording, manufacturing, promoting, and selling a professional quality, independent CD and/or Professional MP3s for download and streaming. Either a one or two session overview, or up to a week-long step-by-step course. [FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS]


  • Onstage Miking and Sound Reinforcement for Acoustic Instruments
    Microphone techniques, audio gear choices, and stage setup for hammered & mountain dulcimers, guitar, banjo, fiddle, whistle/flute, bodhran and other percussion, and vocals. [FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS]


  • Studio Recording Techniques for various Acoustic Instruments:
    Learn how to mic and record all acoustic instruments including the unique challenges of the hammered dulcimer; includes mic and gear choices. Learn how to professionally record your instrument including how to mic, what ambient room types are best for your instrument, what effects and signal processing enhance your instrument's voice and which ones diminish its transparency and tone. [FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS]


  • The Musical History of Appalachia 
    Steve,who has a Master's Degree in Appalachian Music & Folklife from Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, takes workshop attendees on a journey through the Scots-Irish Celtic origins of music in Appalachia, including the significance of the fiddle and later the introduction of the banjo during the Civil War, through the old-time string band tradition of the late 1800s and the early 1900s, on to the birth of Bluegrass music in the 1940s and beyond, up to the varied styles of current-day Appalachian music and its influence around the world. 


Steve's workshop teaching credits include:

Merlefest, Wilkesboro, NC
Black Mountain Music Festival, Black Mountain, NC
Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield, KS 

The Dulcimer Jamboree, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, AR
Kentucky Music Week, Bardstown, KY
Kentucky Music Winter Weekend, Louisville, KY 
John Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC 
Southern California Dulcimer Heritage Festival, Costa Mesa, CA
Winter Creek Reunion Music Festival, Bennington, OK
North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association Fall Festival, Helen, GA
ODPC FunFest, Evart, MI 
Cranberry Dulcimer and Autoharp Gathering, Rensselaerville, NY 
Wood-n-Strings Dulcimer Shop and Pickin' Porch, Townsend, TN 
The Smoky Mountain Dulcimer Retreat, Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club, TN 
The Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, Ashley, OH 
Pocono Winter Dulcimer Fest, East Stroudsburg, PA
Upper Potomac Spring Music Weekend, Shepherdstown, WV
New Mexico Dulcimer Festival, Albuquerque, NM 
The Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, FL
Dulci-more Festival, Lisbon, OH 
The Ola Belle Reed Music Festival, Lansing, NC
Western Carolina University Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend, Lake Junaluska, NC 
Gebhard Woods Dulcimer and Traditional Music Festival, Morris, IL 
Central Florida Dulcimer and Autoharp Festival, Mt. Dora, FL
Indiana Hammered Dulcimer Festival, Woodburn, IN 
Cranberry Dulcimer and Autoharp Festival, Latham, NY
River House Dulcimer Retreat, Grassy Creek, NC
Heartland Traditional Music Festival, Elizabethtown, KY
MusicFest 'n Sugargrove, Sugargrove, NC


Plus, Steve taught recording/audio production on the faculty of Appalachian State University, Boone, NC for 18 years (retiring in 2014).


Companion CDs for both of Ruth’s hammered dulcimer arrangements books!
Sheet Music or Buy CDs and Downloadsfor more info.

Steve and Ruth Smith

Steve and Ruth's music is regularly heard on XM & Sirius Satellite Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Highlander Radio Networks, NPR and acoustic music format radio stations around the U.S. Steve and Ruth have been featured on the PBS TV series Song of the Mountains, NPR’s All Songs Considered and Thistle & Shamrock, in Ohio Magazine, and Dulcimer Players News.

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Upcoming Dates

  • 04/25/2019
    Ozark Folk Center - Mountain View, AR
  • 06/08/2019
    Gebhard Woods Dulcimer and Traditional Music Festival - Morris, IL
  • 06/23/2019
    Kentucky Music Week - Bardstown, KY
  • 07/18/2019
    Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest - Evart, Michigan
  • 09/18/2019
    Walnut Valley Festival - Winfield, KS