General Camp Info
Meal Plan for Regular Camp
Our catered meal plan for the full camp covers all meals from dinner on Thursday, March 14 through lunch on Sunday, March 17. All meals will be prepared by the outstanding Cerveny Dining Facility. There will routinely be omnivore and vegetarian options at each meal. Cerveny can also provide vegan meals, and provide meals for those with restricted or special diets. Please let us know on the registration form under “special needs” if you require a special diet. Students may opt out of the regular camp meal plan only by special request.
Meal Plan for the Weekend-Only Option
All meals from dinner on Friday evening through lunch on Sunday are provided by the Cerveny Dining Facility.
Note: the weekend-only plan does NOT include Friday lunch, but Friday lunch may be added as an option.
The weekend-only meal plan begins with Friday dinner. However, students registered for weekend-only may opt in to the catered Friday lunch provided for Full Camp participants. The cost is $13.50 per person. Just check the appropriate blank on the registration form.
Vegetarian vs. Vegan Meals
For those unsure of the distinction, entrees classed as “vegetarian” often contain eggs or dairy products such as milk or cheese. Vegan meals contain no animal products whatsoever.
An Outstanding Visual Experience, Too!!
Meals take place at the Varn Dining Hall whose glass-fronted wall allows for an unobstructed view of a beautiful White Lake; featuring abundant Spanish moss and frequent sightings of egrets, herons, and other tropical waterfowl.
Suwannee Banjo Camp Directors
About Our Program
Suwannee Banjo Camp is devoted to offering serious instruction in old-time and bluegrass music, all taught by outstanding musicians who are also gifted and empathetic teachers. Over the years we have come up with a cadre of instructors who fit the bill, and who go way out of their way to make sure students have every opportunity to learn in a warm, non-judgmental environment.
Suwannee Banjo Camp runs straight through from Thursday mid-afternoon through Sunday lunch. We offer nine class sessions — five each on Saturday and Sunday — with just under a dozen class options offered per session. Each session is one hour and fifteen minutes long. There are staff concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings; over the course of the weekend you’ll have the opportunity to hear most (and perhaps all) of our staff in concert. Rounding out the program are demonstrations, and staff-led bluegrass and old-time jams conducted at slow, intermediate, and “up-to-speed” skill levels. We also offer jams with a vocals focus. For a full description of aspects of our program, such as classes, concerts, jams and other activities, go back to the Program menu and select the items you are interested in. See below for an overview.
For information on our banjo, guitar and fiddle classes go to the Classes page and select the tab for the instrument and style that most interests you.
Student Orientation takes place on Thursday evening right after dinner, prior to the start of the Thursday evening activities.
Thursday Evening Activities
On Thursday evening following orientation, we kick off our program with a student open mic and band scramble, in which students can perform as soloists, in groups of their own choosing, or in randomly assigned ensembles (some people call these “band scrambles”). To make the band scramble experience more rewarding, we assign an instructor to serve as coach for each ensemble. The evening concludes with staff-led jams at different levels featuring either old-time or bluegrass music. We also offer jams with a vocals focus.
“Demos” take place on Friday afternoon. They are presentations or mini-performances combined with explication and Q&A sessions. They are similar to the kind of round-robin events called “workshops” at many Folk and Bluegrass Festivals. Click here for more on Demos.
We have two faculty concerts at SBC — one on Friday and the other on Saturday evening. During the course of SBC you’ll have an opportunity to hear our entire staff in concert. To get the idea of what to expect, here is a selection of videos from past SBC Faculty Concerts.
Staff-led jams at different levels are held following each faculty concert for bluegrass and old-time banjo. We also feature jams for vocalists and other specialized interests.
The complete SBC Program schedule listing all classes, demonstrations, concerts, and jams for 2024 will be posted by late December ’23 or early January of ’24. Meanwhile, to get the idea you can check out our 2023 schedule here.
This is Our 2023 Faculty
- Old-Time Banjo: Paula Bradley, Hilarie Burhans, Frank Evans, Adam Hurt, Ken Perlman, and Maggie Shar
- Bluegrass Banjo: Scott Anderson, BB Bowness, Greg Cahill, James McKinney, Alan Munde, and Tony Trischka
- Fiddle: Erynn Marshall (principal instructor); classes will also be taught by Adam Hurt and others TBA
- Guitar: Jim Hurst (principal instructor); classes will also be taught by Alan Munde and others TBA
- Guest Faculty: TBA
Photos and bios of our staff are posted on the 2024 Instructors page.
Starting and Ending Times for Full Camp and Weekend-Only Option
Check-in for the full Camp Opens at 3:00 PM on Thursday March 14; hands-on classes start promptly at 9:15 AM on Friday March 15. Camp ends following lunch at 1:30 PM, Sunday March 17. Check-in for the Weekend Only Option starts at 11:00 AM Friday, March 15; your first camp meal is dinner (6:00 pm). The program begins about 1:30 pm that afternoon and continues through the morning of Sunday March 17.
Jams & Concerts
Creating successful jams in a camp with so many banjoists takes skill and planning. To make things run as smooth as possible, we have Camp fiddlers, guitarists and other musicians on hand to assist at our various scheduled jams. Then we try to fulfill your preferences by offering various jamming options:
- Slow jams for relatively inexperienced players (and for others who prefer relaxed tempos).
- “Jam Workshops.” On the first evening of camp we will offer How-to-Jam Jams in both bluegrass and old-time that focus on jam etiquette, logistics and survival skills.
- Intermediate jams: well-known tunes at moderate tempos.
- Regular Jams: for the slightly more adventurous. Instructors will may push tempos a little and suggest somewhat more demanding tunes, depending on the skill level of attendees
- Vocalists jams: for folks who really like to sing and pick at the same time!!
Note: Every registrant is encouraged to join in our staff-led jams and all instruments are welcome. They’re not just for banjo players!!
Additional Advice: Although our expert and fully well-meaning faculty members are there to facilitate your jamming experience, please understand that to some degree the quality of that experience is up to you. If tunes are too hard or tempos get too fast for the posted level of the jam, if you get inadvertently skipped over when breaks are passed around, or if you’re simply not sure what your role is, please don’t hesitate to speak up!
Our Faculty Concerts take place on Friday and Saturday evenings, and you will have a chance to hear all of our staff in concert. If you are a fan of bluegrass music, old-time music, or simply old-fashioned musical virtuosity and good taste, these concerts are simply not to be missed. Many students at our live camps have told us that the concerts alone are worth the price of admission.
To hear some samples of previous SBC Faculty Concerts, check out our Suwannee Banjo Camp Youtube Archive.
On Friday afternoon, we offer an entire class-session that is devoted to demonstrations, or demos. Demos are essentially presentations or mini-performances combined with explication and Q&A sessions. They are similar to the kind of round-robin events called “workshops” at many Folk or Bluegrass Festivals. Following are a few examples of the kinds of demos we might offer:
- Old-time finger picking styles
- Singing with the Banjo
- Alternative Tunings
- Banjo-Fiddle duets
- All Scruggs All the Time
- Tips on Playing in a Band
- Jazz & Swing on Banjo, 3-finger Style
- Fiddle Tunes on Banjo
Why attend Demonstrations? Although there’s no hands-on instruction, demonstrations offer a valuable learning experience. By watching our instructors play in the demos, and listening to their explanatory remarks and verbal interchanges, you get a strong sense not only of the state of the field, but also of the history of bluegrass and old-time music. What’s more, observing the instructors in action is a great way to discover whose styles you are most attracted to, and whose methods of presentation suit you best.
There will be two faculty concerts at SBC – one on Friday evening and the other on Saturday. We plan to have about half the faculty performs each evening, so by the end of Camp you will have had a chance to hear our most if not all of our staff in concert. If you are a fan of bluegrass music, old-time music, or simply old-fashioned musical virtuosity and good taste, these concerts are simply not to be missed. Many students at our live camps have told us that the concerts alone are worth the price of admission.
There are a couple of performance samples on this page; to hear more check out our Suwannee Banjo Camp Youtube Archive.
Old-Time Fiddle Track
Although this is primarily a banjo camp, we offer a full time Appalachian-style fiddle track with considerable appeal to serious fiddlers. Pete Vigour returns as our primary fiddle instructor for 2020. Some fiddle classes will also be taught by Paul Brown and John Herrmann, both of whom are also expert old-time fiddlers.
Level of Instruction: Because there is only a single fiddle track, instruction will almost certainly geared to an intermediate level. This is a good place for old-time fiddlers with at least a couple of year’s experience to burnish their skills and make their playing sound more authentic and professional. Classical violin players and fiddlers who play music from other traditions will find this program a good introduction to old-time fiddling.
Note: We do NOT have a program that teaches basic violin skills; you probably need at least a year or two of experience on the instrument in order to take full advantage of our program. Although we can’t get you started on violin, we can teach authentic fiddle style and help make you a better fiddler.
SBC has a full-time program in flatpick guitar. The focus is bluegrass accompaniment and soloing, but we generally also feature a couple of classes in other aspects of the instrument. Jim Hurst returns as our primary guitar instructor for 2020. Additional classes in guitar will be taught by Alan Munde and Joe Newberry.
Level of instruction: Because there is only a single guitar track, instruction will almost certainly geared to an intermediate level. Students should probably have at least one year of playing experience. In practical terms, this means that you should be able to handle a flat pick and change relatively comfortably among the most common basic guitar chords.
Important Note: The SBC Guitar Track is NOT for total beginners.
We always feature a number of classes that don’t fit into our regular tracks. In 2019 our special class offerings included ukulele, singing, bass, and banjo set-up. For this year’s special offerings, check our 2020 schedule when it comes out (probably in December). Note that the number of special offerings on the schedule usually increases as we get closer to the start of Camp.
Suwannee Banjo Camp Work Study Program
We offer a few work-scholarships each year. The deal is as follows: we offer $250 off your tuition in exchange for roughly 10 hours of work. Among the jobs you might be assigned to are helping with set-up and registration, assisting at the camp store and at meal times, and serving as “go-fers.” Be prepared to appear on site about an hour before check-in and to remain on site to help with cleanup for an hour or two after the conclusion of Camp. Applicants should be physically fit, and should be unable to afford coming to camp without the scholarship. We would particularly like to encourage those under 25 to take advantage of this plan. If you are interested, please contact us and describe your situation. We reserve the right to discontinue this offer once we figure we have enough people signed up.
Youth Scholarship Program
Apply to our Youth Scholarship Program. If you are 25 or under and would like to apply for a youth scholarship, email us with a few paragraphs describing your musical experience and ambitions. It will also help to attach a recommendation from one or more instructors or established musicians who know you. The number of grants we are able to offer in any given year naturally depends on the level of contributions received. It is likely that most grants offered will take the form of partial scholarships.
How to Apply for a Scholarship
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and give us an idea of your musical background and why you feel that attending SBC 2024 will help you achieve your musical goals. A note of recommendation from your music teacher or from another music pro – particularly one of our current or former instructors – would also be helpful.
Donate to our Youth Scholarship Program
Youngsters often get a tremendous kick-start by being exposed to great players and to the exciting atmosphere of a banjo camp, but they often have trouble finding the resources to attend. In an effort to remedy this state of affairs — and help ensure the future of the music we love — our youth scholarship fund is aimed at helping to bring more folks under 25 to Camp.
If you can afford to contribute $25, $50, or even $100 to this cause, please note the amount of your donation in the appropriate box on the Registration Form.
Thank you for your support!
We Expect to Post Our 2024 Program Schedule in late December or early January.
Meanwhile, you can get the idea by checking out the SBC 2023 Program Schedule