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Pete Wernick's Jam Camp Comes To ROMP

By International Bluegrass Music Museum
March 28, 2010 - 1:30 pm

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International Bluegrass Music Museum

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Owensboro, Ky. — For the first time, the Bluegrass Museum's ROMP (River of Music Party) activities will include a music camp. Pete Wernick's Jam Camps have inspired "closet pickers" all over the country. This much-anticipated 4-day camp will be held in Owensboro June 21-24, overlapping the ROMP dates of June 23-26.

The camp will be held at the Museum and other places within the RiverPark Center Complex from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Thursday. Pete plans to include special guests and top bluegrass talent to help teach at the camp.

Bluegrass jam camps were first conceived by Pete to help encourage novice fans to participate in the bluegrass community. "A jam camp is to help closet players or people getting into bluegrass—or even more experienced musicians—develop their ensemble skills," Pete says. "A lot of people are learning to play bluegrass, but are rarely taught the skills involved in playing as part of a group."

Pete uses a variety of teaching methods, including traditional classroom workshops, large group lessons and small group ensembles in a fun, low-pressure environment. "In a few days, everyone gets the hang of the process. Even if they can't lead a song or take a solo, they can be a 'follower-alonger' as we say."

Using multiple teaching strategies ensures that everyone is included in the learning process, Pete says. "People learn all sorts of ways, but one thing we try to make clear is that bluegrass is not about reading chord changes or solos from a piece of paper or only being able to play what you've memorized," he continues. "We show how to follow along by watching and hearing the basic chord changes, which is the key to making it all work. We even teach how to solo convincingly when you barely know the song, but are just going from the chord pattern."

Soloing isn't a requirement nor is it the main focus of the camp, according to Pete. All that is required of potential Jam Campers is the ability to tune their instruments and change smoothly between G, C, D and A, nothing more. "We especially like to welcome people who have been struggling with trying to play instrumental solos as a way of starting to play bluegrass," Pete says. "We tell them to never mind that, it's more about following chords, keeping rhythm and hopefully doing some singing. It's often news to them that singing is more fundamental than instrumental soloing, and that we don't expect people to play at fast tempos."

Pete, who was a long-term president of IBMA, says he's especially pleased at the success of the Bluegrass Museum and is looking forward to seeing old friends and returning to the Riverpark Center. "This building and the IBMM are living monuments to the dedication of people worldwide to the beauty and power of bluegrass music," Pete says. "As a native of New York City, I understand if people are surprised at my lifelong commitment to bluegrass, but it feels as natural as can be, and returning to Owensboro and the Museum are going to be among my highlights of 2010."

Additional information:
Jam Camp information and registration
Museum web site

Click map pin for driving directions to International Bluegrass Music Museum, 117 Daviess Street, Owensboro, Kentucky 42303.

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