Is it more for beginners or intermediates?

See previous section, concerning typical skill levels.

Though there is flexibility according to the skill levels of the attendees, the classes and camps are tailored to musicians who are just getting into jamming or want to. At registration, attendees are asked: How often have you jammed/”, with the choices: Never / Rarely / 5-15 times / 16+ times. The makeup of any of the classes typically includes some of each, and often the numbers in each category are about equal.

“Pete Wernick is a master teacher with decades of experience in promoting and advancing bluegrass education at all levels. His methods seriously address the fact that most pickers quit while still at a beginning level due to the use of ineffective materials and methods. His approach quicky leads one to becoming an independent and successful learner.”

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What are the requirements for Wernick Method classes and camps?

Note: these are the same basic requirements as for all elementary jamming.

You must be able to tune your instrument accurately, in a minute or two, with an electronic tuner.

You must be able to smoothly change on your instrument, between the chords G, C, D, and A. Fiddles and basses need to play the single notes that go with each chord.

To be sure you meet these requirements: Pete’s video Bluegrass Slow Jam for the Total Beginner presents 17 songs using only G, C, D, and A, at minimum bluegrass tempos. Learn to follow guitar chords, shown magnified on screen. G, C, D, and A are shown on all six instruments. Order from the Jam Store. Playing along with this video will build your confidence!

If you are having problems with either of these skills despite using the item above, please contact your teacher, whose email address is on the page advertising your class.

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What are the average age and skill levels for jam camp?

All skill levels are welcome. The only prerequisite is the ability to change smoothly and quickly between simple chords like G, C, D, and A. Often there are quite a few who have never or only rarely jammed. The camp is designed for them. But often there are also more experienced/skilled players, and they generally fit in quite well, with the understanding that when jamming with the less skilled, they need to keep the songs easy and the tempos moderate. Wernick Method teachers are trained to give a variety of extra challenges to more experienced players, and when possible, to group them together.

Two Wernick Method students, ages 10 and 88

Average age varies by camp and is hard to guess, but we’ve had folks from under 10 to over 80.

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What’s the difference between a camp and a class?

WM Teacher Larry Kernagis (far right) and students from his
Maggie Valley, NC camp in 2017

Our teachers offer both “classes” and “camps”, though we use “class” as the generic catchall term that means either type. We call it a “camp” if the teaching happens over two or more full consecutive days. Otherwise, we call it a “class”, which may be weekly sessions, a one-day event, or a few daily sessions at a festival. And we even have holiday classes! See all the variations here.

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What’s covered at a Wernick Method jam class or camp?

WM Teacher John Holenko leading students in a classroom-style session.

At the first session, after a little orientation, the teacher leads the class on 2- and 3-chord songs, at easy tempos. If you’ve never jammed before, this first session will get you going. Everyone will be invited to sing, take solos, and show their stuff… or just work on following along. Keeping it together and keeping it fun will be the main goals.

The first part of every session is classroom-style, instructing on topics including: following new songs smoothly, jam etiquette and traditions, how to lead songs and avoid “train wrecks”, finding melodies, faking solos, kicking off and ending songs, picking keys, using capos, the chord number system, harmony singing, and a lot more!

After the classroom half of the session, the full group is divided into small jam groups, each coached by the teacher or an assistant.

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How do I pay the deposit?

The standard method is to pay with your credit card by clicking the red “register now” button on the class page. This will take you to a registration page, which allows us to collect all the necessary information. Once you have submitted that information, you will be presented with a pop-up to pay with a credit card via Stripe. 

Other options include contacting the teacher to arrange payment, or contacting us at to arrange payment via Zelle, PayPal, or check.

Please note that most of our non-U.S. classes require that you contact the teacher directly to make arrangements for payment.

A few of our classes are completely free of charge!

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How should fiddlers prep for jam class or camp?

The advertised requirement is “able to change smoothly between simple chords”. A fiddle doesn’t exactly chord, but a fiddler needs to be able to follow simple chord progressions, and be aware when the song is on a G, or on a D, etc. That allows for playing of correct backup notes for either bowing or “chopping”, and if she ventures a lead, using licks that are most easily categorized by what chord(s) they go with.

Important: For bluegrass jamming, it is not really sufficient for a person to know only how to play tunes and lead lines. This is where bluegrass and other kinds of music differ: All instruments are expected to play backup, for which there is no printed music available. You just have to watch (the guitar player’s left hand) and listen for chord changes, and play something appropriate, even if it’s a single note for each chord.

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How do I register?

The red “register now” button on the class or camp page. This will take you to a registration page, which allows us to collect all the necessary information. Once you have submitted that information, you will be presented with a pop-up to pay with a credit card via Stripe. 

If you prefer to pay with a method OTHER than credit card, please use this form <to be created by Leslie> to send us your registration information. We will be in touch with you regarding payment of the deposit.

Once your deposit is received, you will receive an email confirmation that includes the class preparation materials as a PDF attachment. 

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