Winter Cowan 2023

January 16, 2023 @ 7:00PM — March 23, 2023 @ 8:00PM Eastern Time (US & Canada) Add to Calendar

Winter Cowan 2023 image

Cowan Creek Mountain Music WINTER SCHOOL begins January 16th, 2023!

Cowan Creek Mountain Music WINTER SCHOOL begins January 16th, 2023! Registration opens Friday, December 30.

For the third year we will offer virtual classes to keep you progressing in fiddle, banjo, voice and guitar. Each class meets for one hour each week for 10 weeks, during the evenings via Zoom. All class times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.

Tuition is $130 and scholarships are available!

Thanks to a generous bequest from Nancy McClellan, full tuition scholarships are available ages 11 and up. Class size is limited to 15 so register online soon!

To request a scholarship, select Scholarship Request for your ticketing and contact Stacy Dollarhide at or call or text her during the day at (606) 335-5350. She’ll be tickled to hear from you!

Winter School 2023 Classes:

Early Intermediate Fiddle (Art Mize, Thursdays at 7:00 pm. First class January 19 – Last class March 23, 2023) is for folks who have taken a beginner course or who have been playing about a year. Art will cover some fun and easy tunes inspired by critters: “Rat’s Gone to Rest”, “Devil Eat the Groundhog”, “Cluck Old Hen” and more. He will also focus on bowing so you can fiddle with a steady, danceable rhythm.

Intermediate Fiddle: Square Dance Tunes from Eastern Kentucky (Blakeley Burger, Mondays at 7:00 pm. First class January 16 – Last class March 20, 2023) This class is for most fiddlers who have been playing for a couple of years and aspire to play for dances. Blakeley will teach tunes from Emma Lee Dickerson, Doc Roberts and John Salyers in standard tuning, most straight and a few crooked. She will also teach bowing techniques to give your fiddling the solid rhythmic groove that makes dancers’ feet fly.

Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle: Cross-tuned Fiddle Tunes from Kentucky and West Virginia (John Harrod, Tuesdays at 7:00 pm. First class January 17 – Last class March 21, 2023) is for fiddlers who can play common tunes up to dance speed. If you have not yet dipped into the deep well of mountain tunes which depend on cross-tuning for their full sound and distinctive character, this class is for you. John will cover older tunes in the mountain repertoire using seven alternate tunings. These will be variations of G, D and A so you should be comfortable playing in those keys in standard tuning. Handouts with fingerboard charts and tune lists for each tuning will be provided.

Songs of East Kentucky (Sarah Howard, Tuesdays at 7:00 pm. First class January 17 – Last class March 21, 2023) is for anyone who loves to sing. Sarah will teach songs she learned growing up, drawing on influences such as mountain church singing, Ray Slone, Jean Ritchie, the Stanley Brothers, and the Carter Family. For guitar players who would like to accompany themselves, Sarah will also cover chord progressions for the songs. A capo will come in handy when it is time to find the key that is comfortable for your voice.

Intermediate Banjo: East Kentucky Banjo Styles (Randy Wilson, Mondays at 7:00 pm, First class January 16 – Last class March 20, 2023) is for banjo players who are comfortable with the clawhammer strum and can play a handful of tunes. Randy will cover clawhammer and beyond, exploring the diverse styles of mountain banjo playing and alternate tunings, including tunes and songs from George Gibson and Lee Boy Sexton.

2023 Winter School Faculty:

Art Mize shop

Art Mize (Early Intermediate Fiddle) grew up in a musical family in Laurel County. Besides being surrounded by instrumental music, he picked up a cappella shape-note singing at church. Art is now a master luthier and versatile fiddler in Lexington, Kentucky. He has performed widely with bluegrass, celtic, old time and jazz swing bands. He currently performs in the old time trio the Jarflies, whose upcoming recording is Driving Down Hurricane. Art’s dedication to instrument making, as well as Kentucky’s traditional music, was recognized in 2007 with the Homer Ledford Award.

Blakeley Burger 2

Blakeley Burger (Intermediate Fiddle: Square Dance Tunes from Eastern Kentucky) has studied violin and guitar for nineteen years. She holds a B.M. in violin performance and a minor in Spanish from the University of Louisville. Experienced in a broad assortment of styles including oldtime/bluegrass, classical and jazz, Blakeley has performed at countless venues throughout Southeastern USA and the Midwest. She made her international debut in 2018 when she performed as part of a Bluegrass trio at La Universidad del Bosque in Bogotá, Colombia. Most recently, Blakeley worked as a session musician for JuneAppal Recordings. Currently she lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she performs, records, composes and teaches private music lessons both online and in-person.

John Harrod cropped2

John Harrod (Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle: Cross-tuned fiddle tunes from Kentucky and West Virginia) of Shelby County, Kentucky first learned old time music from Darley Fulks, Bill Livers, Asa Martin and Lily May Ledford. In the 1980’s he produced a large and influential body of field recordings of musicians around central and northeast Kentucky. These can be heard on Rounder’s Fiddle Music of Kentucky (2 volumes) and Along the Ohio’s Shores. John performs with the band Kentucky Wild Horse and can be heard on their CD Spirits of the Lonesome Hills. June Appal Records recently released his first solo recording Johnny Come Along. John has taught at Cowan since its founding and has also taught at Augusta, Swannanoa and the Festival of America Fiddle Tunes.

sarah howard

Sarah Howard (Songs of East Kentucky) is a mountain gospel and ballad singer, fiddler and educator from Perry County, Kentucky. She was one of our first Cowan Creek Mountain Music School students. At 13 she studied fiddle with Ray Slone through a Kentucky Folklife apprenticeship and later learned from Art Stamper. Sarah joined the CCMMS faculty in 2007 and has taught harmony singing, fiddle and old time string band. She performs and records with her parents, brother Ron and his wife Kinsee as the Howard Family, a bluegrass gospel string band.


Randy Wilson (Intermediate Banjo) from Leslie County, Kentucky, is a talented multi-instrumentalist, dance caller and story teller. He recently retired after decades of engaging public school kids in Leslie and Knott Counties with traditional and home made music, storytelling and dance. Randy has also taught at Hindman’s Family Folk Week. He performed and recorded Heritage on June Appal Records with the late poet James Still. In 2003 he appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. and in 2007 at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington.

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