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Basic Level Bluegrass Jam Camp

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Taught by Harry Gambrill using the Wernick Method*

Silver Bay, NY at the Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center

87 Silver Bay Rd, Silver Bay NY 12874

August 22-27, 2021

Assisted by Tom Behan

Tuition: $450

$100 deposit holds your spot; 50% refundable for cancellations more than one month in advance.

Each student must submit either proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test dated no earlier than August 18.

With these measures taken, we expect that all can relax and enjoy the class!

Though Silver Bay now has online booking options, if booking for Bluegrass Camp please instead call Silver Bay’s Reservations Team at 518-543-8415 for the favorable group rate. Rates include all meals. Call anytime and get a call back during business hours.

In 2021 we will have two concurrent camps:

Basic Camp (this camp)Level 2 (directed by Pete Wernick)
QualificationsAbility to change chords smoothly between G, C, D, A (fiddlers and bass players: know which notes go with which chords)Experience with bluegrass jamming; able to play in more than one key; able to follow guitar chord changes; willing/able to lead songs; know basic chord number system and jam etiquette
Tempos60-95 beats/minuteRanging over 100 beats/minute
SingingPlease try!Singing, more or less “in pitch”, is expected; harmony singing taught to those who can learn
and “hold” a harmony part most of the time
SoloingMinimal “placeholder” soloing taught, and acceptable; more advanced soloing taught but not requiredWilling/able to fake passable solos. Melody-based solos are the standard, so we try for that; ability to locate melody notes is expected (exceptions: bass players and rhythm-only guitar players)
PerformingNo performing expectedPerformance opportunity (expected but optional); some performance coaching; extra coaching available for bands
Night ActivitiesAttendance welcome at all nighttime activitiesOpen to participate in open mic and karaoke
If you’re not sure if you qualify, write Pete regarding your skills in these areas.

Both camps will run Monday-Friday 9am-5pm daily, in separate but close-by locations at Silver Bay. (Sunday is check-in day, with an informal and optional gathering after dinner.)

Stately 700-acre Y Camp on the shores of Lake George, est. 1902


For accommodations reservations, call 518-543-8415 or email reservations@silverbay.org.

Call any time… Your message left will get a callback during the next business hours. The Silver Bay reservations team will help you with housing choices and all info.


Harry Gambrill was bit by the bluegrass bug early and began playing the banjo at age twelve. He plays banjo with regional bluegrass band The Jersey Corn Pickers. Harry also plays the bass, dobro, and guitar, and has been giving lessons for over 20 years.

Harry’s students say:

“Harry is an excellent teacher. He exudes a true love for bluegrass music.”

“Great class…very challenging, but fun!.”

“Harry was a helpful and encouraging teacher, even though I am a rank beginner.”

“A wonderful experience. I would highly recommend Harry’s class to anyone trying to learn the basics of bluegrass jamming.”


Tom Behan teaches and performs in the Capital District area of Upstate NY and has been playing the guitar and banjo for over 40 years. He currently holds down the guitar and lead vocal spot with the High Peaks Bluegrass Band based in Saratoga Springs. Tom has been successfully teaching guitar and banjo to children and adults for over 20 years, including a Beginning Bluegrass Guitar Workshop at the Saratoga Library.

Tom’s students say:

“A welcoming and enthusiastic person with a positive teaching style. His infectious passion for interesting music leaves me with handfuls of material to analyze and be inspired by.”

“Tom was friendly and flexible and provided a welcoming environment.”

“Tom was great. I have months worth of great material to work on, well fitted to my level.”

“I really liked Tom as a teacher. He’s a great guitar player and singer as well.”

* Wernick Method Classes teach real bluegrass jamming!

  • All bluegrass instruments welcome
  • No jamming experience necessary
  • You will be jamming the first class!
  • Friendly, encouraging, knowledgeable teaching.
  • Gentle tempos! Mistakes expected!
  • Music reading not needed or used
  • Singing not required, but encouraged and taught.
  • Easy 2- and 3-chord songs, slow speeds.
  • Soloing not required! “Faking” solos taught.
  • Understanding, low-pressure, time-tested teaching
  • Intermediates welcome, and given added challenges
  • Hands-on learning in large and small groups
  • Learn many bluegrass standards
  • Full ground rules and etiquette of typical jams
  • How to lead songs and how to follow new songs
  • How to find melodies, fake solos, sing harmony
  • Ear skills taught and emphasized, as in real bluegrass
  • Group and individualized instruction on backup skills

Click any photo to enlarge.

  • All Wernick Method classes/camps will be conducted either outdoors or in very well-ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Safe 6′ distancing at all times
  • Temperature screening of all participants upon arrival, followed by all washing hands
  • Prior disinfecting of common surfaces (doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.)
  • Student materials (all paper) will not touched, except by just-washed hands, for at least 24 hours before distribution.
  • Anything handed from one participant to another (such as a borrowed tuner or capo) will be disinfected before transfer.
  • With these measures taken, we expect that all can relax and enjoy the class!
  • We welcome you to register and promptly receive 18 pages of useful student materials, with access to video playlist of 116 jam favorites and great ways to work on jam skills!
  • If dates of this class change, we will promptly update this page and notify all registrants to switch their registration if the new dates work for them. If they don’t work a full refund will be given.
  • Deposits fully refundable on request until 7 days pre-class — a change from our usual policy.
  • Watch our class listing, always updated, and go here to be notified of future classes.

  1. […] added a brand new Basic Bluegrass Jam Camp for entry-level jammers, running at the same time, at the same facility. It will be led by Harry […]

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